“But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever.” (1 Samuel 1:22)
The story of Samuel’s birth (recorded in 1 Samuel 1) is the story of a miracle. The story begins by telling of Elkanah, a devout worshipper of the Lord. His two wives remind us of the wives of Jacob (Rachel and Leah); in that one of the wives has borne children, while the favored wife has remained barren. After praying to the Lord, the favored wife conceives and bears a son who is destined to be a great man of God.
In the case of Jacob, his favorite wife Rachel bore Joseph, who later became a governor in the Land of Egypt and saved his family’s life (along with the Egyptians) from the famine. As for Elkanah, his favorite wife Hannah bore Samuel, who became one of the greatest prophets in the history of Israel and anointed Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David.
There are also significant elements of this miraculous story in relation to the Church. In order to appreciate these elements we must distinguish the different types the story presents. First of all, the name Elkanah means “God is possessing” or “God’s possession.” Bible readers will relate the “possession” of the Israelites with their “inheritance” of the Promised Land. What is the inheritance of the Lord?
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (Psalms 33:12)
God’s inheritance, His possession, is the people He has “chosen for His own.” This fact speaks of His electing grace, and it is the core of the New Testament believer’s hope. The Apostle Paul prayed that the Ephesians would, “…know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).
In Christ we have been “…sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
The Lord’s inheritance is His people; our inheritance is among those people. Elkanah then stands as the called, chosen, elected man of God, serving the Lord in all fidelity. In this he is a type of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Elkanah’s wife Hannah, whose name means “grace,” also serves a very important role in the story. As previously noted, Hannah was barren. Her prayer was for the Lord to look upon her affliction and give her “a man child” (1 Samuel 1:11). Her vow was that this child would be given to the Lord “all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 1:11). The Lord answered this prayer and gave her Samuel (1 Samuel 1:20). As a child of “grace,” Samuel fills the type of every Blood-bought, Spirit-indwelt saint of God. As “a man child,” he pictures those that do obtain the inheritance among God’s people by election as “…an heir [or adult son] of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:7).
Child of grace, you have been called, chosen, and elected. You have been bought with the Blood; sealed with the Holy Spirit; and given an inheritance, or place, among the people of God. This place is in Christ, in oneness with our heavenly Father Himself. You have been given Spiritual Life in Him. This life is eternal, because it is the life of Christ (1 John 5:20). Because you are “a man child,” Grace vows that you are given to the Lord “all the days of his [your] life” (1 Samuel 1:11). Herein is the security of salvation, but we must “…labour therefore to enter into that rest…” (Hebrews 4:11) and obtain our inheritance. This comes through a day-by-day progression of sanctification as we grow in the Word, becoming “…a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13), being doers thereof (James 1:25).
Just as Samuel’s miraculous birth brought him into a life of service in the House of God; so too, our miraculous New Birth brings us into an eternal life of service in the House of God, which is now the Church (Hebrews 3:6), the “…habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).
But before we obtain this inheritance, we have to be weaned of milk:
“For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:13-14)
We must read and study the Word of God, applying its timeless principles in our lives, exercising our senses through its use, and so growing into a “full age” by its “strong meat.” We must come to a level of maturity (“perfection”; Hebrews 6:1), so that, like Samuel who “…grew before the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:21), we too will find our place in our Father’s House (John 14:12), our inheritance in the saints. Then, like Samuel, we will “…appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever” (1 Samuel 1:22).
Until we’ve been weaned, we will be as a child, who differs nothing from a servant (Galatians 4:1), until the time appointed by the Father (Galatians 4:2). For those who have not come to this maturity, “…desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). For those of us who have come to eat “strong meat,” the responsibility is given to us that we should be our brothers’ keeper, travailing in birth again until Christ is formed in them (Galatians 4:19). Let us all therefore labor so that our testimony might meet the type of Samuel’s:
“And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.” (1 Samuel 2:26)