As night gives way to the approaching sun, we begin our expedition toward the dawn of a kingdom with an obscure family in a remote location. Chapter one of the book of Samuel begins as every story begins, with a mother – Hannah, one of two wives of Elkanah. Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah had children, but Hannah was barren. Though Elkanah loved and sought to comfort Hannah, Peninnah taunted her because of her barrenness causing her much distress. The internal family problems were closely related to the spiritual condition of the nation at that time; God’s people were doing what was right in their own eyes, and as a result, God was not often speaking.
One day while she and her husband were at Shiloh offering sacrifices, Hannah prayed for a child. She vowed that if God would give her a child, she would dedicate him for the Lord’s service. The priest serving at Shiloh, a man by the name of Eli, who himself was judge of Israel, saw Hannah moving her mouth as she prayed; however, he was so unfamiliar with prayer that he believed her to be drunk. But God heard Hannah’s cry, answered her prayer, and gave her a son; she named him Samuel, meaning “God heard.”
Chapter two opens with Hannah’s song of praise and thanksgiving. She praised God for His salvation, holiness, sovereignty, justice, power, and grace. She sings of God as her rock, a title applied to Christ in the New Testament. Her song prophesied of a future king, an anointed one (Messiah or Christ) who would rule over God’s people, even to the ends of the earth. After weaning her son (about 3 years), Hannah and Elkanah returned to their home leaving little Samuel to the tutelage of Eli the priest. Her story demonstrates that God often works out His purposes through people of humble means.
The story of Samuel’s birth foreshadows that of Jesus in several ways: Both of their stories begin in a remote location with uncelebrated, obscure people, living humbly before God. Both Samuel and Jesus were born under miraculous circumstances by God’s intervention. Both were dedicated to God from birth and found ministering in God’s house as a child. As a prophet, priest and judge of Israel, Samuel foreshadowed the three-fold office of Christ as prophet, priest, and king. Samuel would become the one who would anoint Israel’s king David, beginning a kingdom that would last forever. Although they were quite unaware at the time, the initial step toward establishing the royal throne of David was the barren wife of a Levite.