For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough


Samuel, the first of the prophets (Acts 3:24), is a type of Christ in His office as Prophet; and a help in discerning the typological picture will be to see that his father Elkanah is a type of God the Father; and Elkanah’s two wives, types of Israel (frequently designated as the wife of Jehovah), Peninnah representing the unbelieving mass of the nation; and the beloved wife Hannah, the believing remnant, beloved by God.  As Peninnah was the “adversary” who “provoked her (Hannah) sore, to make her fret,” 1 Sa 1:6, so was the unbelieving mass of the nation the adversary of the godly remnant.

Like Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel (all types of Mary the Lord’s mother), Hannah was “barren,” so that the birth of Samuel, like that of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph (all types of Christ), was contrary to nature, the result of a Divine miracle.  Like that of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, the birth of Samuel was in response to the earnest pleading of his mother, an entreaty that reflected the desire of the godly remnant for the birth of the long-promised “Seed” of the woman (Gen.3:15).

The state of the priesthood at the time of his birth is another feature which enhances the clarity of this symbolic picture.  In an old and careless Eli who indulged his evil sons at the expense of God’s glory, we have a portrait of a system described in Heb 8:13 as, “... that which decayeth and waxeth old and is ready to vanish away,” while his wicked sons are all too clearly types of those who were the ministers of the temple in the days of Christ. What is written of the one might also have been written of the other, “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord,” 1 Sa 2:12. 

It was at such a time, and in connection with the ministry of such a corrupt priesthood, that Samuel was born, circumstances that few will have difficulty recognizing as being similar to those prevailing when Christ was born.

Following the departure of his parents after their visit to the house of the Lord at Shiloh, Samuel remained there, “And the child did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest,” 1 Sa 2:11. 

Following the departure of His parents after their visit to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, the Lord, as a child of twelve, remained there, and was later found, “... in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.  And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers,” Lk 2:46-47.  And His response to the inquiry of Mary was, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” v.49.  Even as children, Samuel and his great Antitype were “about (the) Father’s business.”

1 Sa 3 records a revelation given to Samuel that had been withheld from Eli, that the corrupt priesthood was to be brought to an abrupt end.  To the Lord also was revealed what was hidden from the priests of His day, not only the abrupt destruction of that evil priesthood, but God’s abandonment of the nation, fulfilled in AD 70.

Years later when the nation rejected Samuel and asked for a king, God assured him, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them,” 1 Sa 8:7.  The type was fulfilled when the multitude rejected Christ, as He Himself foretold in Lk 19:14, “We will not have this man to reign over us,” and as they themselves declared to Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar,” Jn 19:15.  As with Samuel, so with Christ: in both cases the rejection was not of the servant but of God Himself.

To the nation that was about to reject him, Samuel described the nature of the king who would rule them; and declared the evil character of his reign, 1 Sa 8.  To the nation about to reject Him, the Lord also described the nature of the king who would rule them; and declared the evil character of his reign, Mt 24.

Having warned the people of the evil king they would choose as his successor, Samuel then revealed to a select few - Jesse and his family - that the reign of Saul would give place to that of David, the Lord’s anointed.  Christ likewise revealed to a select few - His own - that the evil reign of the beast would give place to that of His as God’s Anointed, Mt 24:30.  Christ’s superiority to all the types is revealed, however, in that while another man (David) would take Samuel’s place, it would be Christ Himself Who would return in power and glory to reign, for in Him are fulfilled all the types.  He is Prophet, Priest, and King.

After the people’s choice of Saul, and God’s revelation of David as the man of His choice, Samuel fades from the scene, except for the brief but significant mention in 1 Sa 19:18-24 in connection with the flight of a persecuted David, “So David fled, and escaped, and came to Samuel to Ramah.... And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth,” v.18.  The rejected prophet and the rejected king dwelt together in obscurity while the usurper reigned.  The type has been fulfilled during the present age.  The One Who is both Prophet and King dwells in obscurity, hidden in heaven from the eyes of men until the day when, “... they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,” Mt 24:30.

Such typological pictures as this emphasize the truth that God delights in the revelation of His Son, and has filled Scripture with that revelation, using type and shadow, symbol and figure, to set Christ before us. 

We are reading Scripture correctly when we look for those pictures, the discovery of each bringing the assurance that the Holy Spirit is fulfilling the promise of Christ, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things,” Jn 14:26.  It is by the discovery of such symbolic pictures that faith is confirmed and strengthened.



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough