Samuel’s prophecies were a driving force in the era after the Israelites had settled in one land. His conception and birth, after his then-barren mother Hannah offered her sorrow to God and asked for His mercy and blessing, foreshadows the conception and birth of Jesus.
Hannah dedicated her son to God from the time of his birth. Eli, a priest who knew Samuel’s parents and gave him religious instruction in his youth, was told by God that Samuel “shall walk before My Christ forever” (1 Kgd. 2:45).
Samuel fulfilled God’s decree first by his birth, which foreshadows Jesus’ birth. Also, Samuel always faithfully did God’s will.
Like Aaron, Samuel is attired in the icon as a priest, having been dedicated to the temple as a baby. In his right hand he holds a censer, a vessel for the diffusing of incense, and in his left a shofar, or horn used to hold holy oil, representing Samuel’s anointment of two kings in his lifetime.
When the Israelites had demanded a king, God, though not pleased, granted them one. Samuel found and enthroned the first king, Saul, whom God had selected. When the Israelites repented of their choice, Samuel assured them that God would forgive and provide if they remained obedient. Samuel kept advising Saul, though Saul often refused to take his advice. Samuel continued to mediate between God and king when he anointed Saul’s successor, David.
The Prophet Samuel is commemorated on August 20. This icon was painted by Fr. Theodore Koufos.