The story of Samuel begins with his mother, Hannah, being barren (1 Samuel 1:2). It's interesting to see how many women are mentioned in Scripture as having been barren for many years before having children - Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Hannah. They all sought God in prayer, and each of them gave birth to a son who had a unique place in God's purpose. They did not accept their barrenness. They prayed to God earnestly for children. God granted them their request and each of them had a child through whom God fulfilled a unique purpose.
Many mothers pray for their children while they are still in their wombs. But these women prayed with an unusual intensity. It's wonderful when a child is born into the world through intense prayer like that. That is how Samuel was born.
Hannah had prayed to the Lord for many years for a child. Finally, she made a vow saying, "Lord, If You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give me a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life" (1 Samuel 1:11). There was a shift in her focus now. At first, she thought only of her own need: "I need a son."Then she began to say, "If I have a son, I'll give him to the Lord, since the Lord has a need as well. "When the focus of our prayer shifts from our need to God's need, that's when we begin to get answers to our prayers. The Lord taught us to pray, "Hallowed be Thy name" first of all.
There was great spiritual need in Israel at that time. God's people had backslidden so badly. Their leaders like Eli, were terribly backslidden too. Israel had never had a prophet since the days of Moses. Hannah was a person who was alert to her surroundings. And she would have recognised Israel's need for a prophet. So Hannah continued to pray, "Lord, not only will I dedicate my son to You, but a razor also will never come upon his head. He will be a Nazirite, dedicated to You. If You can use him to restore this nation back to You, he is Yours." Her whole prayer shifted from her need to God's.
Very often our prayers are not answered, because they are focused so much on ourselves. It's wonderful that Samuel was born to such a mother.
When Hannah gave birth to Samuel, she did not forget her promise. She brought her son to the temple and said, "For this boy I prayed. The Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the Lord. As long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord" (1 Samuel 1:27, 28). She was never going to take him back. She taught that little boy to kneel down and worship the Lord there. It's wonderful to have a godly mother like that. Then she sang a wonderful song of thanksgiving to the Lord (1 Samuel 2:1-10). It is more than likely that Mary's song of thanksgiving (Luke 1:46-55) was inspired by Hannah's song - for the words are so similar.
Samuel grew up to be a young man who changed the face of Israel through his prophetic ministry - from the chaotic state we see in the book of Judges, to the glorious state under the reign of David.