Samuel is the son of Hannah and Elkanah. He was given to them in response to Hannah’s prayer of barrenness, which you can read about in 1 Samuel 1. His name means, “asked for” or “God hears.” As soon as he was weaned, around 3 years, he was dedicated to the Lord, brought to live at the tabernacle, and instructed by Eli.
He saw his parents at least once a year at the annual sacrifice (1 Sam 2:19). Scripture leads us to believe that he is raised by God Himself, as 1 Sam 2:21 says, “the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord,” but it is referring to his continual activity in the tabernacle. At this point in his story, he had neither heard nor seen God.
However, there is something special about Samuel. Perhaps because he was desperately wanted by his mother, Hannah, and was an answer to continual cries of desperation and desire. Or maybe it was because he was dedicated to the Lord as a child. Or maybe it was simply because God designed him for a special purpose. Most likely, what made Samuel special was a combination of all of the above. In addition, he is unique because he is an illustration of the coming boy, Jesus.
You may or may not be acquainted with Jesus in the Old Testament, but he is painted there frequently, and Samuel is a picture of Him. This is just a testament to how God eloquently designed the Bible even though it was written by numerous people over a great length of time. Let’s see how Samuel depicts Christ:
- Verse 2:26 says, “the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men” which mirrors Luke 2:52: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”.
- Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel chapter 2 closely resembles Mary’s prayer in Luke 1.
- Samuel lived in the tabernacle most of His life; Christ came with his parents each year for the Passover just as Hannah and Elkanah did.
- Although we do not know for certain how old Samuel was when God called him as prophet, I believe he was around the age of 12 because of the resemblance to Christ at the temple (Luke 2:41-52). The historian Josephus also estimates him to be 12. It is interesting to note that when Christ is at the temple in Luke 2, he was probably bar mitzvah, and Samuel equally could have been bar mitzvah, meaning that he was now a man according to Jewish tradition, when God called him.
- Samuel is considered to be the last judge and the first prophet during the reign of kings. He also takes over as High Priest after Eli. Again, this is a picture of Christ, as he is called high priest in Hebrews 4:14, judge in 2 Timothy 4:1, and a prophet by the people in many of the gospel stories. Although we know that Deborah was a prophetess before Samuel, one reason Samuel is identified as the first is because he is the first prophet to foretell things about Christ (Acts 3:24).
How are you crying desperately to God?
Do you believe He can and will answer you?
Does it give you hope to know that Jesus is in the the pages of the Old Testament too?
 Kelly, Calvin. iTunes: Valleydale Church podcast. Sermon “Family Values Part 2,” dated 5/8/11