In his generation, Samuel was recognized as “a man of God, and . . . an honourable man” (1 Samuel 9:6). Mentioned in Hebrews 11 together with other Old Testament characters, Samuel was a man who lived by faith (Hebrews 11:32).
Have you ever considered the many ways in which Samuel’s life, role, and activities resembled matters in the life and work of our Lord Jesus? Let us look at some areas of similarity, thinking of Samuel as a type of the Messiah.
Like the Christ’s, Samuel’s birth was announced in advance. After Hannah prayed to God to give her a son, Eli told her, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him” (1 Samuel 1:17). Mary was told, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:31).
Both Samuel and our Lord spent time in the house of God at an early stage of their lives. Samuel’s mother “brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh. And the child was young” (1 Samuel 1:24). When Jesus was only a few weeks old, Joseph and Mary brought Him to God’s house in Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice and present Him to the Lord (Luke 2:22-24). At the age of twelve, the Christ also spent time in God’s house (Luke 2:46).
Similar statements are made about the growth/ development of Samuel and Jesus. In the case of Samuel, the Bible says, “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men” (1 Samuel 2:26). What about twelve-year old Jesus? “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).
Like the Christ, Samuel was a messenger of God. Regarding Samuel, it is written, “For the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD” (1 Samuel 3:21). Samuel was called “a man of God,” with this observation: “Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: ‘Come, let us go to the seer’; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer” (1 Samuel 9:9). Jesus is the One through whom God now speaks to mankind (Hebrews 1:1,2). He is identified plainly as the “Prophet” like Moses (Acts 3:22,23). As the Father’s messenger, Jesus said that His doctrine on earth was not His own, but rather it was the teaching of the One who sent Him (John 7:16).
Both Samuel and the Lord Jesus were men of prayer. On one occasion, Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you” (1 Samuel 7:5). At a later time, he told them, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1 Samuel 12:23). And Jesus? He prayed at His baptism (Luke 3:21), He prayed before feeding multitudes, He prayed for His apostles and all who would believe on Him (John 17:6-26), and He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). He prayed alone (Mark 1:35) and He prayed from the cross in the view of all who passed by. There is no mistaking the importance that Samuel and Jesus assigned to prayer in their lives.
Like the Christ did, Samuel trained others. “And when they saw the group of prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as leader over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied” (1 Samuel 19:20). In some fashion, Samuel was leading and training men to serve among God’s people. When we consider the training that Jesus did, we think of the apostles: “And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach . . .” (Mark 3:13,14). Both Samuel and the Christ put in much effort to train others.
Samuel served as a priest, and Jesus now does the same. Under the law of Moses, only male Levites who were the descendants of Aaron were allowed to function as priests. Samuel did that, as we see in his words to King Saul: “. . . and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings . . . (1 Samuel 10:8). Throughout the book of Hebrews, Jesus often is called the high priest of Christians. Yes, He is now high priest over God’s house, the church (Hebrews 10:21).
Samuel is identified as a judge; so is our Lord. In summary fashion, it is stated, “And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 3:15). In Israel’s history, Samuel was its last judge. To say that he was a judge meant he was a person whom God raised up to deliver His people from the oppression under which they were living. What about the Christ? In the future, He will be the One through Whom the Father will judge the world (Acts 17:31).
Whatever is recorded about Samuel, including the ways in which he and his activities resembled those of the Christ, was written for our learning (Romans 15:4).
— Roger D. Campbell
Author’s note: The main points in this article came from notes which I wrote in the margin of my Bible a few decades ago. I do not recall if I got those ideas from someone else or they are my original thoughts. Most likely, they are a mixture of both.