So far, this advent season we looked at the promised child of Abraham and saw how God had promised Abraham one who would continue the family line. How his promised son would be specially chosen by God to be the one to propagate the promises of blessing to the people. We saw how that corresponds to Jesus Christ as the descendant of Abraham, the Seed to whom all God’s promises were made and how we can be inheritors of the promise by being in Christ, too.
Last week we explored John the Baptist’s promised birth to Zechariah ad Elizabeth, descendants of both Aaron the High Priest and Samuel the great prophet, priest and judge we are going to explore today. John came to preach repentance and to prepare a people ready for God to be built into a building and readied into an army. But Jesus actually builds us into the Temple of God, his flesh and body in the world, and his army to proclaim peace between God and men to a dying world.
This week we are looking at Hannah’s son, Samuel. Although there is a striking difference between Samuel and the other promised children we are exploring this Advent season. Abraham was promised a son, so was Elizabeth whom we studied last week, and Eve who we will study on Christmas day. But Hannah was never promised a son by God, rather she promised her son to God.
This makes her story different than the other promised children, but powerful this Advent season nevertheless.
Let’s quickly move through the setting of the story, Elkanah has two wives: Hannah and Peninnah. “Etymologically, Hannah means something like “charming,” reflecting the fact that she was the loved one [which verse 5 tells us]; Peninnah may mean something like “prolific” or “fecund,” corresponding to her role as the wife who bore children [verse 4 – he would give portions of meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters].”
So, every year these 3 characters and the rest of the family head out to Shiloh to worship, and inevitably the family dynamics kick up and life becomes difficult to unbearable for someone, it just so happens that Hannah always happens to be this someone. 1Sam. 1:7 tells us, “This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.” So Hannah prays to God asking, begging God for a son. Just one, give me a child, she pleads and if God will but answer this one prayer, then she vows, “…I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head” (1Sam. 1:11).
How many of us have heard the stories about the crisis prayers. People facing death who beg God to get them out of this difficulty and I will worship you forever. Or provide me the money to make all my bills God and I will give to the next person who asks me for help. Or something else that is pleaded for and promised. The only problem with these “deals” is that rarely do people follow through with them. But not Hannah, she pleads the Word tells us, amidst tears and pain, promising something more difficult than most of us would ever consider. She asks promises to give up the very thing she given, to hand him over to God to be a Son of Service in the House of the Lord. Hannah’s child is promised to be a Son of Service. And she follows through with her word.
She raises him and weans him and then takes him to the Tabernacle at Shiloh and presents him to Eli the priest saying, ““As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he (Samuel) worshiped the Lord there.” (1 Sam 1:26-28).
This is where I want us to really start digging in. What is the promised Son to do? Who is this promised Son to be? Let’s start with the second question first. Who is this promised son to be? He is to be given to the Lord wholly and completely. He is to be God’s child, the Lord’s possession. He is to take his orders from the Lord and his direction from the Lord. He is to be a servant of the Lord and to be used by the Lord as the Lord sees fit. The closest analogy we get for a person being given to the Lord is in Leviticus 27. In this chapter, Moses is telling the people what happens if vows are made. In the first part, he is speaking specifically of “a special vow to dedicate persons to the Lord by giving equivalent values,” (Lev. 27:2). So we can see that one given to the Lord is to be dedicated, single-mindedly set upon serving the Lord and his work. That is who he is to be. But then a few verses later we also learn that those things, which are vowed, are holy and cannot be exchanged. To give something to God is a one-time decision without recourse to re-evaluation or change. Listen to the words from Lev 27:9-10 “If what he vowed is an animal that is acceptable as an offering to the Lord, such an animal given to the Lord becomes holy. He must not exchange it or substitute a good one for a bad one, or a bad one for a good one; if he should substitute one animal for another, both it and the substitute become holy.”
So the promised Son, Samuel, is to be given to God, holy, single-mindedly centered on God’s will and God’s way. He is to be a child of the King Eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God. His life is to be wrapped up in God’s life and God’s ways. Therefore, he must be attentive to the voice of God. This is who he is to be.
So from this description of the character of one given to the Lord, we can return to our first question. What is the promised Son to do? The author of this book tells us, “He worshiped the Lord there.” The promised Son given to God worships. This is going to mean he sacrifices, he prays, he instructs, he sings, he thanks the Lord. Every one of these activities is part of the life of worship, the life of one given over to the Lord. For Samuel is to be a prophet, a spokesman for God. His words are to ring true with God’s words. He is to speak God’s word to the people as one devoted to the Lord. And that is exactly what he does, beginning with his words to Eli concerning his wayward sons Phineas and Hophni and their immanent deaths and continuing throughout his life.
1Sam. 3:19-4:1 tell us, “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. 4:1 And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.” Thus the promised child was to be prophet, a voice of God to the people, telling them how to live and worship. Directing their steps.
But he was also to do a priest’s job of facilitating worship, offering sacrifices and praying for nation. This Samuel illustrates in the 7th chapter where he calls Israel back from worshipping false gods, the prophetic side of his life, but which he goes beyond to offering a “suckling lamb…as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him” (1Sam. 7:9).
But the priest and the prophet also teach the people, which Samuel illustrates in his dealings with Saul, the errant king, in 1Sam. 12:23 “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.” As a priest he also anoints the Leaders of the country, first Saul (1Sam. 10:1) Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance?”; then David, (1Sam. 16:13) So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.
But Samuel does one other task in his life as one devoted to God. He leads the people of Israel honestly and fairly. He began by leading them out of oppression to the Philistines in chapter 7, and the 15th verse tells us, “Samuel continued as judge (leader) over Israel all the days of his life.” He led them faithfully and delicately, honestly and fairly which the word attests in chapter 12:2-3f “2 Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. 3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these, I will make it right.” And the people affirm that Samuel has done none of these things. He has been a good leader, and while Samuel would shudder at this title, King. I believe it is an appropriate designation. Samuel was given over to the Lord and although God didn’t promise him nevertheless, as one promised to, dedicated to God he did the work of a prophet, a priest and a king or ruler.
Samuel is an excellent promised child of Hannah’s as we look forward to the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ – the Prophet, the Priest, and the King who surpasses Samuel’s character and function in every way. For Jesus not only spoke God’s word to the people, he was God’s Word. John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). Where the prophet spoke God’s word, Jesus was the actual word speaking not on behalf of God, but speaking as God. Where the old prophets said, “Thus sayeth the Lord…”, Jesus said, “You have heard it said, but I say to you…”
Jesus is the great prophet; in fact he is greater than any prophet, for he was the Son. Hebrews 3:5-6 “Moses was faithful as a servant (Moses was a prophet, speaking God’s word to the people) in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house.” The parallel is to be prophet-son, servant-son. Jesus is greater.
But Jesus is also the priest. Not only did he offer sacrifice, but the sacrifice was himself, a perfect sacrifice Hebrews 10:4 tells us, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins…Heb. 4:14 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess…Heb. 10:12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy…Heb. 9:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Jesus is our great high priest.
When the OT priests like Samuel entered into the holy place, the people could not go in with them, but now, the curtain has been torn in two, and we are ushered into his presence. Heb. 6:19-20 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus entered before us, as a forerunner, or first runner, so that we may follow him into God’s presence which is exactly what Heb10:19-20 tell us: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body…”
And where the old covenant priests could only pray for one person at a time and hear one person’s request from God at a time, Jesus as our priest can always intercede for us, continually praying for us, always making intercession for us as Hebrews 7:25 and Romans 8:34 affirm, Heb. 7:25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Rom. 8:34 …Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
And He is also the King, or ruler extraordinaire. As a king, he exercises authority over God’s people, ruling the creation, building his church and ensuring that the gates of hell will not prevail:
Matt. 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Eph. 1:19-22 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
Phil. 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Rev. 19:16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
He is the promised child of God, who exceeds anything that man can ever promise back to God. So what are we to make of this promised child who is superior to Hannah’s son, Samuel? We are to imitate him. You heard me, we are to copy him and act in our feeble ways, under his power as the new prophets, priests and kings of this earth by evangelizing the world and thereby speaking the truth of God’s word to a dying world. We are to disciple one another, thereby speaking the truth of God’s word to fellow believers for 2Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
We are to intercede for one another, for the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective, James 5:16 tells us. We are to offer sacrifices of praise and sacrifices of good works as the priests we have been proclaimed according to Hebrews 13:15-16 and 1 Pt 2:5 and 2:9:
Heb. 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
1Pet. 2:5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
We are to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship (Rom. 12:1).
Furthermore, we are to exercise the authority of Christ over one another, serving one another, resisting the devil, stewarding our resources for God’s kingdom and God’s people. Raising our families to know and love God above all other things in this world. Advancing the reign of God in our employment, for our final destiny is to reign with God forever and ever. Rev. 22:5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they (speaking of the church, the body of believers) will reign for ever and ever.
People of God, Christ is coming, greater than the child Hannah promised to serve in God’s presence. He is the prophet, the priest and the King Almighty, so go out as little prophets, priests and kings in your own spheres, for the word promises,
Rev. 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.