Chapter 4: Hannah: The Origin of Samuel’s Colleges
Israel endured nearly 350 dark years of history under the judges when everybody was doing what was right in his own eyes. That was a disastrous time for Israel—and it is exactly where we are in the United States, Britain and the Jewish nation today. We call it “freedom.” Like their descendants today, the people of Israel were so steeped in sin that they didn’t even reach the logical conclusion: Hey, we’ve had centuries of this misery—maybe we ought to try something different!
But then Samuel came on the scene. This marked a real change in Israel’s history.
The Prophet Samuel established colleges to educate Israel formally in God’s way of life. Many Bible authorities refer to Samuel as the father of prophecy. In many ways he institutionalized prophecy, especially the prophecy about the scepter promise and the throne of David.
Samuel is the next book of the former prophets. 1 and 2 Samuel focus on the scepter promise and David’s throne. That is the throne Christ is going to sit on and that we will share as kings and priests—and this glorious future is recorded in the books of Samuel! These are prophetic books, and they have a lot to teach us today.
Samuel raised up three or four colleges and prepared the way for the great King David. He laid a foundation—a foundation we have been building on ever since. Samuel laid the foundation for Elijah, and Elijah laid it for us. There is a blueprint that will continue on and on.
Tradition says Samuel was just 13 years old when God first appeared to him. That was quite an experience. Samuel had to grow up very fast! I believe Samuel was able to accept that challenge from God because he had probably one of the greatest mothers in the whole Bible. He also had a great father, but it’s his mother who really shines in this example.
We need to recognize that it was her dedication in godly child rearing that really constitutes the foundation of the schools that Samuel established!
Oppression in Israel
In the inspired order of the books of the Bible, Samuel follows immediately after Judges. In the King James Version, the book of Ruth follows Judges, but that obscures the connection between Judges and Samuel. (The book of Ruth occurred during the time of the judges, but that book is not part of the former prophets. It actually belongs in the last of the three divisions of the Old Testament, called the Writings, or the Psalms—the first two are the Law and the Prophets—see Luke 24:44.) Translators came along and, in their vanity and ignorance, decided to reorganize the books of the Bible and confuse everybody, including themselves. Satan is always working to confuse and deceive people.
Events in Judges lead right into those in Samuel. In fact, the first word of the book of Samuel should be “And”—not “Now” as it reads in the King James Version. The word “And” indicates that 1 Samuel was a continuation of those terrible times of the judges. The transition occurred around 1140 b.c.
A man named Elkanah had two wives (1 Samuel 1:1-2). A man with two wives is not a perfect family. Verse 6 calls one of these women the other’s “adversary.” If a husband has two wives, they are almost always adversaries. No matter what people say, that is the truth. But I suppose if you look at it practically, not spiritually, after all the oppression and wars and Israelite men who had been killed, they probably didn’t have many men, and there probably weren’t too many choices for the ladies to even get married. It was a terrible, terrible time, and God let them go through all of that suffering to learn the hard way that their way would not work.
In Galatians 4:22-26, the Apostle Paul reveals that Hagar and Sarah, the two women by which Abraham had children, were a type of the Old Covenant and New Covenant. You could say the same thing applies to Elkanah’s two wives, Peninnah and Hannah: One represented the physical covenant and the other, the spiritual. There is a big difference between these two women! Peninnah doesn’t carry a lot of spiritual significance; she represents the Old Covenant, and that’s not what we’re about today. But Hannah was one tremendous lady with a lot to teach us today!
This is yet another example of how shallow the commentaries are to say that this is only history. Study Hannah’s example, and you clearly see a beautiful New Covenant overview. If you study deeply into the Bible and meditate on it, you comprehend its beauty. But you have to get the whole picture—both history and prophecy!
If you think child rearing isn’t important, consider this example. God really emphasizes this because this is how great nations are made! What makes great nations is strong children—children that you dedicate to God as much as you possibly can!
God prophesied that when Elijah came in the end time, he would turn the hearts of fathers to children and children to fathers—lest He smite His saints with an eternal curse! (Malachi 4:5-6). How important is it that we dedicate ourselves to this responsibility and really teach our children God’s way! Look at the power in that! Look how that builds Israel, and how it saved Israel.
If you’re going to be a good mother or father—or, really, a good anything—you need to have this kind of relationship with God! That makes everything fall into place.
“And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there” (1 Samuel 1:3). Here, just before He raised up Samuel’s colleges, God contrasts two families—that of Eli, the head priest of Israel, and that of Samuel. The priests in Shiloh were committing some terrible acts, and it was a most discouraging time for the Israelites.
An Exceptional Mother
God had shut Hannah’s womb (1 Samuel 1:5). To a woman who passionately desires children, as most women do, that is a real crisis. It certainly was to Hannah, perhaps more than most. But God did it for a purpose. He wanted something really special out of Hannah, so He tried her in a way He knew would trouble her greatly. He was planning to raise up colleges and to revive sin-sick Israel. And He was starting that feat with Hannah!
God was going to use Samuel to revive national Israel. That’s a lot of responsibility. You have to know that God will try and test you before He gives such a job. Today we have to revive spiritual Israel.
Probably any one of us in our human “righteousness” would say, Oh, she wants a child so badly, just give it to her! But God said no. He made her wait until she really went to Him with all her being.
Hannah cried about this trial (verse 7). She went to the tabernacle in Shiloh and prayed there, imploring God to give her a man child! And she made a vow that if He answered her prayer, she would give that child to God “all the days of his life,” and that he would take the Nazarite vow (verses 9-11). She was rather radical in the way she approached this. And when she left, she had faith her prayer was answered (verse 18).
God did answer Hannah’s prayer and gave her a son (verse 19). When the child was born, she called him Samuel, which means heard of God.
This example shows what we can do if we bear down more and take our problems to God. There is no telling what He might do to help us serve Him and His Work. When you see somebody so “fanatical” in her religion (as the world would view it), radically giving herself to God, great things happen. That is also why God performs miracles for His Church today.
Hannah had to be quite a mother because she delivered on her vow. She totally dedicated Samuel to God. She looked diligently after him and was determined that when the time came to bring Samuel back to the tabernacle, she was going to leave him there—“that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever” (verse 22). Hannah didn’t just give Samuel to God for a few years—she gave him to God permanently (verses 26-28). What a mother! And look at the results: God used Samuel to save Israel—because of what this great mother did! She reared a prophet of God! You can see that this is a New Covenant setting. This is for us today.
Hannah recognized Israel’s profound spiritual poverty. The people were oppressed, they had no spiritual understanding, and all they could look to was Eli and his rebellious sons. She was determined to do things differently. She knew the nation needed to be revived. She began to understand what God was doing with her, why this was all happening. She knew God wanted a different mindset for Israel!
Unless we have a different way of thinking in God’s Church and in God’s college today, it will not grow. We won’t get the Work done unless we change our thinking from what is going on in the Laodicean churches, which talk about God but produce no real fruits of any consequence.
Samuel had a good father, but he had an exceptional mother. She really wanted a child, and she really dedicated him to God in a way that few others have. What a mother! (Her husband was limited because he had another wife and children to care for. Men who have an interest in multiple women need to remember this example!)
Keep in mind, this is all building toward the foundational colleges in Israel. This is where they really began: with Hannah and her dedication to God.
A Prophecy of Christ’s Return
When Hannah understood what God was doing, she prayed a remarkable prayer. Hannah must have been a prophetess since God only reveals truth to His apostles and prophets. Right there in Shiloh, Hannah delivered a prayerful psalm of prophecy. I think it is one of the most profound prophecies in the Bible! You can read it in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
“And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (verses 1-2). There is no Rock like God! There’s nothing like God! There is no church like God’s Church—no college like God’s college.
“Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength” (verses 3-4). The Jews still read this chapter on the day of Trumpets; it does have a Trumpets message in it.
Verse 5 is a fascinating prophecy: “They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.” The word seven refers to the seven Church eras that lead up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, pictured on the Feast of Trumpets. Hannah talked about the seven eras described in Zechariah 3 and 4 and Revelation 2 and 3! This lady had vision! Hannah understood her Bible, and God gave this special revelation to her.
Remember, the book of Samuel is one of the former prophets, which are mainly for this end time!
This prophecy has to do with family. Except for those seven children in Hannah’s prophecy, everyone else is barren. They may go off and start offshoot churches, and they may think they’re giving you everything you need, but they’re barren! They are bearing nothing! They’re dying! Only God’s true Church is not barren.
It’s amazing that this lady had such an overview of history and prophecy! The seven Church eras and the Feast of Trumpets are a countdown to Christ’s return, and Hannah knew it would happen that way. God revealed so much to her. What a mother Samuel had!
This is the origin of Samuel’s colleges! God gave birth to them through a prophetess and her son, who was a prophet!
Called to Be Leaders
Hannah’s prophecy continues, “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up” (1 Samuel 2:6). People don’t give God credit for that, but He does bring people up from the grave! Christ is the resurrection! How many people really believe that? Hannah certainly knew it.
“The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (verses 7-8). Do you think Hannah understood the New Covenant? Who are the poor raised from the dust? Who are the beggars lifted from the dunghills? These are God’s firstfruits. We are going to be God’s princes and sit on thrones of glory forever! How silly to think that Hannah’s statement applies to this life only.
Today, God’s Church is looked upon as the lowly of this world—a “beggar from the dunghill.” Soon, suddenly, we shall become the highest royalty on Earth! One day soon, God will set the whole world upon these people who dedicate themselves to Him. It is going to astound the world that God would do such a thing—set the whole world upon people who were so lowly.
We are here to become pillars! We are not just naturally pillars: It takes a lot of work to build a pillar. But that is how God is going to use us. He is working today to prepare us for that responsibility.
Notice carefully what God says. He “hath set the world upon them”! God has already set the world upon His pillars (Revelation 3:12). It has already been done, in embryo. Pillars are used in construction to uphold the whole building. God’s spiritual pillars are used to support the whole world!
God has made us kings and priests in embryo! (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). It is as good as completed—if we remain loyal.
What does a king and a priest do? He leads. Samuel was taught to lead. He helped prepare David, a great man of God.
We cannot use the excuse that we’re just not interested in leadership. God says, I want you to dedicate yourself to me, and I’m going to make you a king and a priest, and I’m going to set the whole world on your shoulders! That is no fantasy—it’s the truth of the Bible!
Can we see why God must rule us today? Do we really grasp what God is calling us to do?
We are called to be leaders, not followers! We must be prepared for this mind-boggling, inspiring future! This is prophecy about the most fabulous reward God ever offers to any human being.
The Laodiceans are following, but they are not following God. They were following a man and continue to do so.
What does it mean for the world to be put on our shoulders? We really are here to build a new civilization. The one we are living in is about to explode! And to lead that new civilization, we must develop our minds and our character. God is going to give us the opportunity to help Christ teach every human being who has ever lived!
Here is what we really have to struggle to learn. Hannah, like most women, yearned for a family, a desire God created in her. But that is only a type of the Bride of Christ. Christ wants His Bride to yearn to have a family that includes everyone who has ever lived!
What a colossal, mind-expanding vision! Please read that last paragraph again.
It’s not natural for us to want to take care of the whole world as our family. That is the opposite of how human beings think. We are here to learn to think like God—not man!
It’s not natural for us to want God to set the whole world upon our shoulders. We are the lowly of the world, and we tend to think, Who am I to have that responsibility?
It isn’t natural, but God says that His Bride must think that way. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …” (John 3:16). The Father gave His Son for the world! What God is calling us to do is loaded with inspiration! We really must work to get that in our minds! We have to think far differently than we’ve thought before.
“He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail” (1 Samuel 2:9). We naturally think that we prevail by exerting more human strength. That’s what the Laodiceans are doing: muddling around in the wilderness of religious confusion, trying to work things out with human abilities. But here is the reality: “By strength shall no man prevail.”
Following God is not about human talent or human strength. What God wants from us most of all is not our great abilities or special talents—although those play a part. He wants you to hunger and thirst for His righteousness! He wants you to look to Him and build His mind and His character! We will have all the power we can possibly handle if we do that! And it all begins with family, or learning about family.
To think that the former prophets are only history is truly a Satan-inspired error. Satan never stops trying to deceive the firstfruits from seeing their eternal, universe-encompassing reward!
The former prophets are not just ancient history. This is prophecy about our future with God—ruling with Him as a part of His royal Family. This is what David’s family throne is all about. God “hath set the world upon them”!
This is the critical background that led to the establishment of God’s colleges!
A Prophecy of David’s Throne
“The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed” (1 Samuel 2:10). What is Hannah talking about? That is a direct, specific prophecy about Christ’s Second Coming! He is going to thunder out of heaven like a tornado and break His adversaries to pieces. Then He will exalt His kings and rule this Earth.
Again, this chapter is read to this day in Jewish synagogues on the Feast of Trumpets. It contains a very prophetic message. The Feast of Trumpets pictures Christ’s Second Coming. This is a Trumpets message in the former prophets. It is clearly a prophecy about Christ’s return—and about the house and throne of King David!
Hannah was prophesying about David and the throne of David—yet David hadn’t even come on the scene! Hannah was talking about the scepter promise of Genesis 49:10! You find that truth throughout this book, and Hannah played a key role in that. She was in Shiloh when she was prophesying about this. The second part of that scepter promise is about the salvation of the whole world. Her whole prophecy is really about being born. She gave birth to a son, which is a type of salvation! That is a precise type of what will happen spiritually: We are going to be born like that child—into the very Family of God!
Hannah’s prophecy shows that David’s throne and the house of David are tied to the Earth—the world! We have to think big! We really are here to become the pillars of the world! That is why God called you.
In this prophecy, she didn’t even speak about Saul. God led her mind straight to David. Hannah prophesied about the house of David ruling forever. This is about the house of David and God setting kings on David’s throne. It’s about faithful priests, sons of Zadok, whom God will have ruling with Him in the World Tomorrow!
Hannah’s son ended up anointing David king. I believe Hannah even foresaw that event. She must have known about the history that was developing. Samuel was honored to be a part of that, and he never would have been if not for his outstanding mother.
Hannah was highly specific in what she said, and it encompasses so much of God’s plan! How unusual that she had such a penetrating vision and understood so much!
Where did this woman get that understanding? God gave her that vision. God was truly moved by this lady and what she did. The scope of the prophecy He gave her here tells you that.
David is a type of all men. God wants family, and I believe He expressed a lot of that through Hannah! In this prophecy, she was kind of a conduit for God’s emotion and His desire for sons and daughters! He wants sons and daughters in His Family, and He wants it more than Hannah ever did. Because He spoke so directly through her, you can sense that. He will have a Family, and if we are as determined as Hannah, we are going to be in that Family, right there with Him, ruling as the house of David forever!
God closed Hannah’s womb, and that really motivated her. When He finally gave her a son, she was one joyful lady! Then God inspired her to structure this wonderful prophecy. The more you read it, the more you’re impressed by it. God motivated her in such a way that she must have become extremely close to Him; then she was able to deliver this in-depth prophecy for all of us today.
‘A Faithful Priest’
Hannah prophesied all this in Shiloh, right at the end of the period of the judges. She lived through a disastrous time. This was a terrible period for Israel because of corruption in the priesthood (1 Samuel 2:12-16). Eli’s sons had become sons of the devil (verse 12). They failed because Eli put them ahead of God.
In many ways, we lived through a similar problem in God’s Church in this end time. “Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (verse 17). That is how so many of God’s people are today: Men abhor offering to God.
God personally chose Eli to do His Work (verses 27-28). That is a mountainous exaltation. If a priest or minister fails, it is an equally disastrous fall. God personally chose many ministers in this end time. Most of them became lukewarm. Their tragic fall is the greatest crisis in this end time.
“Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?” (verse 29). God often uses a physical family. This is a great test on a father. Eli had to learn that not even a son can be honored above God. The scope of such a disaster is terrifying!
God was so disgusted with what those evil priests were doing, verse 25 says He “would slay them.” As Hannah prophesied, God is going to see that His adversaries are broken in pieces! (verse 10). He is a God of judgment. This episode ends with Eli dying because of his terrible child rearing, and because he wouldn’t stand up to his own sons and lead as God wanted him to.
Yet in the middle of all this tragedy, one woman came on the scene and began to change the course of history in Israel! What a lady!
Notice, within this context, what God prophesied to Eli: “And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever” (verse 32). God is speaking in terms of forever—especially in these prophecies for us today. “And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age” (verse 33). Such a failure is the most grievous kind. (Request a free copy of my booklet The God Family Vision for a more thorough explanation of this prophecy.)
The word increase here is the same Hebrew word used in Isaiah 9:7. If we fail God today, we will be cut off from God’s Family forever. That is the price of putting anybody or anything ahead of God.
God’s priests today are His very elect. The rewards are towering. The penalties are dreadful. We either become members of God’s Family forever or ashes under the saints’ feet forever (Malachi 4:3). That verse in Malachi should strike fear in God’s people, but the Laodiceans have lost their fear of God (Malachi 1:6).
The stakes are forever: Live forever or die forever!
God makes it clear what He wants from us today. “And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever” (1 Samuel 2:34-35). Israel (physical or spiritual) is made strong by faithful priests! Please don’t forget that. God is raising up priests today. This is a prophecy of what God is doing now. They are going to be God’s anointed forever! This is a prophecy of the kind of priests God is preparing to rule with Christ.
Samuel’s Family Education
Acts 3:19-24 say that Samuel foretold the times of refreshing that Jesus Christ will initiate at His return. Where did he get that knowledge? He learned it from his mother!
Hannah knew prophecy, and she understood God. She taught her son about the seven eras of the New Testament Church and how Christ was going to return. Samuel was quite a visionary because of all the prophecy and truth his mother taught him. It’s amazing what one person can do by just yielding to God.
What an education Samuel received from his mother! She taught him prophecy—revelation from God—which was something Israel had not had, as they should have, for a long time! Everybody was doing his own thing, and there was no revelation in Israel until Samuel came along (1 Samuel 3:1).
Hannah was tried and tested. She went through a lot of affliction waiting for that son. God made her wait until she was just bearing down all she could. But look at the wonderful results! When Samuel came, Hannah was ready for him.
In the World Tomorrow, we will have to be ready just as Hannah was. This is all a prophecy for today—especially the end time, when Mr. Armstrong raised up three colleges based on what Samuel did. We are doing the same thing.
God’s Work is accomplishing mighty things. Some of our youth may feel too young to make much of a contribution. But again, tradition says that Samuel was 13 years old when God first appeared to him! So God doesn’t just work through adults. What about you, young people and teenagers? What would you do if He appeared to you today? What can God do through you if you obey Him? What kind of understanding will He give to you?
These are extremely urgent times, and young people have to understand this. Young people could consider that a serious burden, but what about Samuel? God really educated this young teenager. God is doing some wonderful work through the students at Imperial Academy and Herbert W. Armstrong College today. These schools are starkly different from those in the world—and we all need to understand that even better than we do. What kind of understanding can He give young people who attend a college that institutionalizes His way of life?
When I look back at when I went to Ambassador College, I realize in so many ways that God was working to educate me. God is doing everything He can to educate every single one of us. He knows you so well, and He loves you so much! He wants you to produce as Hannah did. He wants you to be like Samuel! You can look back on your life and see how loving God is in the midst of your trials. You didn’t want those trials—but they produced something good, and that is the outcome God is looking for.
When we talk about Samuel’s colleges, God has to reveal to us the big point of how it all happened. In order to understand Samuel’s colleges, we first have to understand the family that he came from. God had a big job for Samuel, and this young man had a strong family to prepare him for it.
Herbert W. Armstrong also came from a strong family and had a strong marriage. He taught us that the foundation of a college is Malachi 4:5-6. He taught that if you don’t turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children, you’re not going to raise up anything. There are various ways we can learn that, but the main way is through physical families.
Hannah dedicated Samuel to God, and that young man accomplished marvelous things. What will happen if you dedicate yourself to God? Wonderful, magnificent things will happen in your life! It’s all a matter of whether or not you dedicate yourself to God.
Develop that yearning to be a part of the God Family that will govern the World Tomorrow! Let God build within you a deep desire to help Christ rule the world!