Reference: Samuel, First Book Of
The personal history of Samuel is contained in this book: it opens with his birth. He was the son of Hannah and Elkanah, a descendant of Korah, of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim. He was given by God in answer to the prayer of his mother, and was consecrated by her as a Nazarite from his birth, and 'lent to the Lord' as long as he lived.
1 Sam. 2. The beautiful prayer, or song, of Hannah recognises the sovereign grace of God that brings down pride, and exalts the poor and weak. Israel had been brought low in the time of the Judges, and needed to learn that all strength and exaltation must come from God. This prophetic song looks forward to the time when God shall judge the ends of the earth by His King and His Anointed. 1Sa 2:10. The wickedness of the sons of Eli is then brought out, and Eli is solemnly warned by 'a man of God.' Samuel had been growing and was in favour both with Jehovah and with men.
1 Sam. 3. The word of Jehovah was precious: there was no open vision: the priest had failed. God called Samuel, but he supposed it was Eli. On this being repeated three times, Eli instructed him, if he was called again, to say, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." He was called again, and said, "Speak; for thy servant heareth" (omitting as yet the word 'Lord'). God now began to make revelations to Samuel. Because Eli did not restrain his sons, judgement should fall upon his house. When told of this, Eli answered, "It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good." Samuel became God's servant for the crisis: the Lord was with him, and none of his words fell to the ground. From Dan to Beersheba Samuel was recognised as the prophet of Jehovah.
1 Sam. 4. Israel was smitten before the Philistines; but instead of turning to the Lord and confessing their sins, they sent for the ark of the covenant, saying that it should save them, and made a great shout; but God was not in this act, the Israelites were smitten, including the two sons of Eli, and the ark was captured by the Philistines. When Eli heard the sad news he fell back and died. The wife of Phinehas also, in giving birth to a son, called his name Ichabod, I-chabod 'no glory,' and died.
1 Sam. 5, 1 Sam. 6 rehearse the judgements of God on the Philistines while the ark was in their possession, and the fall of their god Dagon. Also the return of the ark, and God's judgement on the men of Bethshemesh for looking into it.
1 Sam. 7. The ark was taken to Kirjath-jearim. After twenty years the people lamented after the Lord, and Samuel said they must put away their strange gods, and prepare their hearts to the Lord and serve Him only, and He would save them. They gathered at Mizpeh, poured out water before the Lord as a token of repentance (cf. 2Sa 14:14), and confessed their sins. On the Philistines coming to attack them they begged Samuel to cry unto the Lord for them. He offered a sucking lamb as a burnt offering, thus recognising the ground of the relationship between the people and God. The Philistines were subdued: God thundered upon them. They came no more to attack Israel, and the cities they had taken were restored. Samuel raised up a stone and called it EBEN-EZER, that is, 'the stone of help.' Samuel went on circuit and judged all Israel. He resided at Ramah, and erected an altar there. The days of Samuel were exceptional: he was not a priest, but he offered sacrifices, and had this altar without either the tabernacle or the ark. He was the man of faith in those days, being owned of God as the upholder of His people.
1 Sam. 8. There is a change here. Samuel was growing old, and had appointed his two sons to be judges; but they took bribes and perverted judgement. The people, making this the excuse, begged Samuel to appoint them a king, that he might be their judge 'like all the nations.' God had separated them from all the nations, and He bade Samuel tell them that in asking a king they were rejecting, not Samuel merely, but Himself; yet He told Samuel to listen to their request.
1 Sam. 9, 1 Sam. 10. God caused Saul the son of Kish providentially to go where Samuel was, and then pointed him out as the one to be anointed as king, that he might save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. On Samuel presenting him to them