1 Samuel 2:6

ESV The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
NIV The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.
NASB The Lord puts to death and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and brings up.
CSB The Lord brings death and gives life; he sends some down to Sheol, and he raises others up.
NLT The Lord gives both death and life; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up.
KJV The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.

What does 1 Samuel 2:6 mean?

Hannah has warned all who hear her words not to speak with arrogance, as if any circumstance in life is beyond God's ability to change (1 Samuel 2:3; James 4:13–16). Now she adds that this applies even to life and death. Put bluntly, the Lord kills and brings to life. God granted Hannah's request that He bring life through her womb, something completely out of her own control (1 Samuel 1:1–6). She understood the creation of life to be the work of God (1 Samuel 2:5).

The Lord is ultimately responsible for bringing an end to life, as well. Israelites and others in the ancient Near East believed in an afterlife, although their views were vague. sheol was said to be the place of the dead. Those who entered the grave were said to go "down" there. This was not understood to be a place of either reward or torment; rather it was some level of minimal consciousness.

Hannah's statement that the Lord brings people down to sheol may have also been a denial of the claims of false religions that their god or goddess was the one who guided the living into death or sheol. This is the work of the Lord, who is the only God. No matter how powerful, strong, rich, healthy, or unbeatable any human person seems to be, the Lord can end their life in an instant. God is the One who determines death and can even raise up those who have died if He so chooses.

Hannah's statement also hints at the true nature of afterlife for those who belong to the Lord: resurrection. The Lord is the one who raises up, and He will ultimately do this through the Messiah who will die for the sins of humanity and then be resurrected to new life. Those who have put their faith in God, and in the New Testament era specifically in the person and work of Jesus Christ, will be raised to new life, as well (1 Corinthians 15:20–22; Daniel 12:2).

Hannah's point, though, is that God alone is the giver and taker of life (Job 1:21; Psalm 139:13–16; Acts 17:26–27).
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