The time in which Samuel was born was very similar to our own times. Historically we are coming, in the biblical story, to the end of the period when judges ruled the land and the beginning of the era of the kings, beginning with Saul and followed by the house of David.
It was a time when there was a lack of civil leadership, but what was even worse was the lack of religious leadership. So the future of God’s kingdom did not lie with those in the nation who had abandoned their commitment to God; rather it lay with the members of a faithful remnant, exemplified by Elkanah and Hannah.
There are some basic principles that we can note at the beginning of our study of this book. First, we have here an aspect of God’s preparation for the man of his choice. Samuel became a great man of God, but much of it can be traced to what his mother did before he was born.
Second, God’s plan to reverse decline can be a long-term one; often his answer to such prayer is the birth of children, occasionally through previously barren women. We can think of Sarah and Isaac, Rachel and Joseph, and Elisabeth and John the Baptist.
Third, God’s remedy for such a situation is given in secret. He does not blow a trumpet to announce that the remedy has come. We can see this later in the book with regard to David, whom God chose as the replacement of Saul when he was still a teenager looking after his father’s sheep.