Yesterday’s Advent Door showed us a very different scene from the day before as we were carried into the story of Ruth which is a rural idyll, tender and beautiful. But the people of Israel were still in a mess with no king – no leader. We have been given in Ruth, a glimpse of what will be, but still there is no clear answer on the horizon as to how this will be worked out.
Then we turn the page and, instead of the solution we might have wanted or expected, we are introduced to an obscure family in an obscure place consisting of a man Elkanah with two wives Peninnah who has children, and Hannah who is childless.
Our minds may well go back to Abraham, or to Manoah and his wife (Judges 13) both of whom were apparently irredeemably childless but miraculously used by God for his purposes so the birth of
should immediately heighten our expectations that God is at work. These expectations should be further excited when we read Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2.1-10 and note the similarities between it and Mary’s song of praise on hearing that she was to be the mother of Jesus. But this we can only see with hindsight for those in this part of the History of Redemption played their parts unaware of the huge significance of what God was doing through them
Hannah’s part was to hand over her longed-for child to the LORD in thankfulness for such a gift while Samuel’s part was to act as the one who would, under God, be instrumental in establishing leadership in Israel following the anarchy of the people in the time of the Judges.
John Woodhouse writing a commentary on 1 Samuel* subtitled it ‘Looking for a Leader’ and it is a wonderful Advent read/study as he shows how each event recorded in the book, points to Jesus.
Samuel, was instrumental under God in bringing about a change of direction in Israel, highlighting the depths to which the nation had sunk and as the last of the judges, pointing them back to God. In many respects his life seemed flawless and the victories over Israel’s enemies during his life time were many (1 Samuel 7.12-17), but he too was flawed (see 8.1-5) but the way is opened for the next step towards the fulfilment of the promise.
*’1 Samuel Looking for a Leader’ in ‘The Preaching the Word’ Commentary Series Published by Crossway