“Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked for him from the LORD’ ” (vv. 19–20).
At several key points in the history of God’s people, a birth under miraculous circumstances heralded a new movement of the Lord. The most well known of these miraculous births under the old covenant is undoubtedly the birth of Isaac, who was born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age (Gen. 21:1–7). And of course, the most miraculous birth of all time is the birth of Jesus, who is the Son of God made incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary (Matt. 1:18–25).
But there are other miraculous births in the history of salvation that portended a new day for the people of God, and one of these is the birth of Samuel. Samuel’s mother Hannah had been barren for several years, for “the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Sam. 1:6). But Hannah sought the Lord, praying for a son and vowing to give him to the service of God at Shiloh if He were to answer her prayer (vv. 9–11). Today’s passage tells us that the Lord “remembered” Hannah, reversing her barrenness and allowing her to conceive a son (vv. 19–20). Of course, that God “remembered” Hannah does not mean He had actually forgotten her, for the Lord cannot forget anything; His understanding is infinite (Ps. 147:5). When Scripture says that the Lord remembers something, it means that He is acting according to His covenant promises or intervening to rescue those who are suffering or downcast (Ex. 2:23–25; Ps. 9).
In the case of the birth of Samuel (1 Sam. 1:19–20), God was both rescuing the afflicted and remembering His covenant promises. He rescued Hannah from the shame she felt over her barrenness (vv. 3–11). More significantly, in giving Samuel to Hannah and ultimately to Israel, God was remembering His covenant promises to His people. In many places we read of the Lord’s pledge never to utterly forget or forsake His people. He swore to always remember His covenant with Israel (Lev. 26:45; Ps. 105:8). And since His covenant promises include blessing the world through Israel (Gen. 12:1–3), there always must be an Israel—a true people of God—in order for the Lord to be true to His covenant. By giving Samuel to Israel, the Lord preserved His people, for Samuel would be a godly leader and would help institute the monarchy that would ultimately give us Jesus, the true Savior and Preserver of Israel (Acts 13:23).
Samuel trained for leadership at Shiloh. Hannah took him to live and work there when he was weaned (1 Sam. 1:21–28).
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
It is a blessing indeed that God will never forget His people. He will never abandon His covenant of salvation with those who have trusted in Him. Thus, even if we think He is absent, He is actually working behind the scenes for our good and His glory. Let us rejoice today that the Lord will never fail to remember us if we have rested in Jesus alone for salvation.