Advent Day 7: Lord of hosts

She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” (1 Samuel 1:10–11 ESV)

The Hebrew word translated here as “host” is sometimes translated as “army,” though in other contexts it can be translated as “everything.” For example, Genesis 2:1—“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them”—is sometimes translated as “. . . and everything in them.” According to Eitan Bar, the director of Media & Evangelism/Apologetics at One for Israel, one understanding of Genesis 2:1 is “that all of the atoms, all of the molecules, the vast array of them, were working together . . . all assembled and acting towards a purpose. Like an army.” Basically, to refer to God as the Lord of Hosts is to ascribe to Him all authority over every piece of creation, like a general over an army.

When Hannah prays her vow to the Lord of hosts in 1 Samuel, she is asking the God who made everything out of nothing to create a new life within her barren womb, which He does. After her son, Samuel, is born and she leaves him at the temple, Hannah breaks out in worship through a prayer that speaks of God exalting the humble. Like Hannah, Mary became pregnant through divine intervention, and she too sang a song of praise that speaks of God exalting the humble. Because of the parallels in their situations and songs, it’s very likely Mary was so familiar with Hannah’s story that when she found herself in a similar situation what came out of her mouth reflects Hannah’s prayer. In fact, it would not be difficult to surmise that Mary’s trust in the Lord of hosts—the God who is in charge of all things—was grounded in her knowledge of the Scriptures and history of the Israelites.

When God places you in situations beyond your control, how does your knowledge of His hand at work throughout history affect your trust in the Lord of hosts, if at all? What can you do to increase your capacity to trust in God?