God hath heard, 1Sa 1:20, a child of prayer, the celebrated Hebrew prophet and judge, Ac 3:24; 13:20. He was a Levite by birth, 1Co 6:20, and the son of Elkanah and Hannah, at Ramah in Mount Ephraim, northwest of Jerusalem. At a very tender age he was carried to Shiloh, and brought up beside the tabernacle under the care of Eli the high priest. Having been conserated to God from his birth, and devoted to Nazariteship, he began to receive divine communications even in his childhood, 1Sa 3; and after the death of Eli, he became established as the judge of Israel. He was the last and best of the Hebrew judges. We contemplate his character and administration with peculiar pleasure and reverence. The twelve tribes, when he assumed their charge, were in a low condition both morally and politically he freed them from all foreign yokes, administered justice with vigor and impartiality, promoted education and true religion, united the tribes, and raised them higher in the scale of civilization. Their demand of a king, in view of the advanced age of Samuel and the vile character of his sons, showed a great want of faith in God and of submission to his will. Yet He granted them a king "in his wrath," Ho 13:11. Samuel anointed Saul as their first king; and afterwards David, who in due time was to take the place of Saul already, rejected by God. As long as he lived, Samuel exerted a paramount and most beneficial influence in Israel, even over Saul himself. He instituted the "schools of the prophets," which were long continued and very useful. He died at the age of ninety-eight, B. C. 1053, honored and lamented by all. Even after his death the unhappy Saul, forsaken by the God was pleased to cause Samuel to appear, with a prophetic message to the king. In Ps 99:6 he is ranked with Moses and Aaron. See also Jer 15:1; Heb 11:32.
The two BOOKS OF SAMUEL could not all have been written by him, because his death is mentioned in 1Sa 25:1-43, B. C. 1055. Thus far it is not improbable that he was the author, while the remaining chapters are commonly attributed to Nathan and Gad, B. C. 1018. Why Samuel's name is given to both books cannot be known. In the Septuagint they are called the First and Second Books of Kings. See KINGS. The two books comprise the history of Samuel, Saul, and David. They are quoted in the New Testament, Ac 13:22; Heb 1:5, and alluded to in the Psalms, etc.
heard of God. The peculiar circumstances connected with his birth are recorded in 1Sa 1:20. Hannah, one of the two wives of Elkanah, who came up to Shiloh to worship before the Lord, earnestly prayed to God that she might become the mother of a son. Her prayer was graciously granted; and after the child was weaned she brought him to Shiloh nd consecrated him to the Lord as a perpetual Nazarite (1Sa 1:23-2:11). Here his bodily wants and training were attended to by the women who served in the tabernacle, while Eli cared for his religious culture. Thus, probably, twelve years of his life passed away. "The child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men" (1Sa 2:26; comp. Lu 2:52). It was a time of great and growing degeneracy in Israel (Jg 21:19-21; 1Sa 2:12-17,22). The Philistines, who of late had greatly increased in number and in power, were practically masters of the country, and kept the people in subjection (1Sa 10:5; 13:3).
At this time new communications from God began to be made to the pious child. A mysterious voice came to him in the night season, calling him by name, and, instructed by Eli, he answered, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth." The message that came from the Lord was one of woe and ruin to Eli and his profligate sons. Samuel told it all to Eli, whose only answer to the terrible denunciations (1Sa 3:11-18) was, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good", the passive submission of a weak character, not, in his case, the expression of the highest trust and faith. The Lord revealed himself now in divers manners to Samuel, and his fame and his influence increased throughout the land as of one divinely called to the prophetical office. A new period in the history of the kingdom of God now commenced.
The Philistine yoke was heavy, and the people, groaning under the wide-spread oppression, suddenly rose in revolt, and "went out against the Philistines to battle." A fierce and disastrous battle was fought at Aphek, near to Ebenezer (1Sa 4:1-2). The Israelites were defeated, leaving 4,000 dead "in the field." The chiefs of the people thought to repair this great disaster by carrying with them the ark of the covenant as the symbol of Jehovah's presence. They accordingly, without consulting Samuel, fetched it out of Shiloh to the camp near Aphek. At the sight of the ark among them the people "shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again." A second battle was fought, and again the Philistines defeated the Israelites, stormed their camp, slew 30,000 men, and took the sacred ark. The tidings of this fatal battle was speedily conveyed to Shiloh; and so soon as the aged Eli heard that the ark of God was taken, he fell backward from his seat at the entrance of the sanctuary, and his neck brake, and he died. The tabernacle with its furniture was probably, by the advice of Samuel, now about twenty years of age, removed from Shiloh to some place of safety, and finally to Nob, where it remained many years (1Sa 21:1).
The Philistines followed up their advantage, and marched upon Shiloh, which they plundered and destroyed (comp. Jer 7:12; Ps 78:59). This was a great epoch in the history of Israel. For twenty years after this fatal battle at Aphek the whole land lay under the oppression of the Philistines. During all these dreary years Samuel was a spiritual power in the land. From Ramah, his native place, where he resided, his influence went forth on every side among the people. With unwearied zeal he went up and down from place to place, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting the people, endeavouring to awaken in them a sense of their sinfulness, and to lead them to repentance. His labours were so far successful that "all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord." Samuel summoned the people to Mizpeh, one of the loftiest hills in Central Palestine, where they fasted and prayed, and prepared themselves there, under his direction, for a great war against the Philistines, who now marched their whole force toward Mizpeh, in order to crush the Israelites once for all. At the intercession of Samuel God interposed in behalf of Israel. Samuel himself was their leader, the only occasion in which he acted as a leader in war. The Philistines were utterly routed. They fled in terror before the army of Israel, and a great slaughter ensued. This battle, fought probably about B.C. 1095, put an end to the forty years of Philistine oppression. In memory of this great deliverance, and in token of gratitude for the help vouchsafed, Samuel set up a great stone in the battlefield, and called it "Ebenezer," saying, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us" (1Sa 7:1-12). This was the spot where, twenty years before, the Israelites had suffered a great defeat, when the ark of God was taken.
This victory over the Philistines was followed by a long period of peace for Israel (1Sa 7:13-14), during which Samuel exercised the functions of judge, going "from year to year in circuit" from his home in Ramah to Bethel, thence to Gilgal (not that in the Jordan valley, but that which lay to the west of Ebal and Gerizim), and returning by Mizpeh to Ramah. He established regular services at Shiloh, where he built an altar; and at Ramah he gathered a company of young men around him and established a school of the prophets. The schools of the prophets, thus originated, and afterwards established also at Gibeah, Bethel, Gilgal, and Jericho, exercised an important influence on the national character and history of the people in maintaining pure religion in the midst of growing corruption. They continued to the end of the Jewish commonwealth.
Many years now passed, during which Samuel exercised the functions of his judicial office, being the friend and counsellor of the people in all matters of private and public interest. He was a great statesman as well as a reformer, and all regarded him with veneration as the "seer," the prophet of the Lord. At the close of this period, when he was now an old man, the elders of Israel came to him at Ramah (1Sa 8:4-5,19-22); and feeling how great was the danger to which the nation was exposed from the misconduct of Samuel's sons, whom he had invested with judicial functions as his assistants, and had placed at Beersheba on the Philistine border, and also from a threatened invasion of the Ammonites, they demanded that a king should be set over them. This request was very displeasing to Samuel. He remonstrated with them, and warned them of the consequences of such a step. At length, however, referring the matter to God, he acceded to their desires, and anointed Saul (q.v.) to be their king (1Sa 11:15). Before retiring from public life he convened an assembly of the people at Gilgal (ch. 12), and there solemnly addressed them with reference to his own relation to them as judge and prophet.
The remainder of his life he spent in retirement at Ramah, only occasionally and in special circumstances appearing again in public (1Sa 13; 13:15) with communications from God to king Saul. While mourning over the many evils which now fell upon the nation, he is suddenly summoned (ch.16) to go to Bethlehem and anoint David, the son of Jesse, as king over Israel instead of Saul. After this little is known of him till the time of his death, which took place at Ramah when he was probably about eighty years of age. "And all Israel gathered themselves together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah" (1Sa 25:1), not in the house itself, but in the court or garden of his house. (Comp. 2Ki 21:18; 2Ch 33:20; 1Ki 2:34; Joh 19:41.)
("asked of God".) Greek Theaitetus; or probably "heard of God". Last of the judges, first of the successional prophets (Moses was a prophet, De 18:15, but more a lawgiver; Ac 3:24, "all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after," Ac 13:20, shows Samuel was first of the succession); founder of the monarchy. He gives name to the two books commemorating the first foundation of the kingdom under Saul, and its firm establishment in David's person and line. Son of Elkanah of Ramathaim Zophim in Mount Ephraim, and Hannah. (See RAMATHAIM ZOPHIM; HANNAH.)
The father, though sprung from Korah the Levite, lived in Mount Ephraim, and became incorporated with Ephraim. So the Levite in Jg 17:7 was "of the family of Judah" by incorporation. On the brow of the double summit of Ramathaim Zophim was the city of Samuel's birth and residence in after years, at its foot was a great well (1Sa 19:22). While sleeping in the sanctuary Samuel received his first call of God; "he did not yet know Jehovah," i.e. by personal revelation (1Sa 3:7, compare 1Sa 3:1; Ac 19:2). Only at the third call (compare Job 33:14), and by Eli's instruction, Samuel replied, "speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth." With delicate consideration for Eli's feelings Samuel lay until morning shrinking from telling him Jehovah's revelation, and only at his solicitation told all.
The gentleness of the child intensified the awfulness of the doom announced through him to the old priest. Henceforward all Israel, from Dan in the far N. to Beersheba, recognized Samuel as prophet of Jehovah, "for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord, and the Lord let none of his words fall to the ground." Twenty years elapse after the fall of church and state at the fatal battle of Ebenezer, and the destruction of Shiloh the seat of Jehovah's worship (1Sa 7:2-3, etc.). Then Samuel again appears and exhorts Israel, now lamenting after the Lord, to "put away" their idols and "Ashtaroth" in particular (each man besides general sins has his particular besetting sin), and to "return unto Jehovah with all their hearts." Gathering them at Mizpeh, Samuel poured water before Jehovah in confession of sin and in token of their consequent utter prostration and powerlessness (2Sa 14:14, inward dissolution through distress; Ps 22:14; 58:7; Isa 12:3; Joh 7:37).
Realization of our weakness is the necessary condition for receiving almighty strength (Isa 40:29-30; 2Co 12:9-10). The people, hearing that the Philistine lords were come up against them, begged Samuel's unceasing intercessions. The Lord heard him (Ps 99:6; Jer 15:1). As Samuel was offering the burnt offering the Philistines drew near to battle; and Jehovah with a thunderstorm defeated them, and Israel pursued them to Bethcar. At the very spot where 20 years previously Israel was routed Israel set up the Eben-Ezer stone, commemorating victory over the Philistines by Jehovah's help (1Sa 7:7-14). (See EBEN-EZER.)
The Philistines restored the cities and adjoining districts which they had taken from Israel, close up to Ekron and Gath, the cities of the Philistines; and the effect of Israel's victory on the Amorites was they kept peace with Israel (compare Jos 10:6; Jg 1:34-35). He visited on circuit as judge Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpeh, the three chief sanctuaries W. of Jordan. His home and judicial center was Ramah, where he built an altar. Strange to say, notwithstanding the awful warning in Eli's case of the danger of not correcting children, Samuel had two sons, Joel and Abiah, whom he made judges in Beersheba, and who unlike their father turned aside after lucre and bribes, and perverted judgment (1Sa 8:1-3). The father seems somewhat to blame in respect to them, the only blemish recorded of Samuel. This was the occasion of the Israelite elders requesting for a king.
Displeased at the request, Samuel had one unfailing resource, he prayed to Jehovah. The Lord punished them by granting their desire (Ps 106:15), which was a virtual rejection of Jehovah Himself, not merely of Samuel. Yet the Lord did not abdicate His throne over the theocracy. The king was but Jehovah's vicegerent holding office only on condition of loyalty to his Liege above; Israel, under the unfaithful Saul, at Nilboa by Bitter experience learned what a vain defense is a king reflecting their own unbelieving carnalism. In spite of Samuel's warning of the tyrannies of a king, Israel insisted on having one, "like all the nations," to "judge" them and "fight their battles." They preferred an arm of flesh to Jehovah's spiritual defense under Samuel. Samuel duly anointed SAUL by God's direction, and after Saul's victory over Nahash renewed the kingdom at Gilgal; here he appealed to the people as to his own past integrity in office, in times when bribery was too prevalent. The people attested his purity, from whence he has been named the Israelite Aristides.
God by sending a thunderstorm in an unusual time, then May or June, declared both his integrity and the people's sin. Samuel assures them nevertheless God will forgive and bless them if loyal to Him, but otherwise He will consume both them and their king (1 Samuel 9-12). (On his title "seer", see PROPHET.) The people consulted him on every subject of difficulty (1Sa 9:6-10), and eiders trembled before his approach as the representative of superhuman power and holiness (1Sa 16:4-5). His characteristic spiritual work was unceasing crying to Jehovah at times, "all night," in intercessory prayer (1Sa 15:11; 7:7-8); so the Antitype "continued all night in prayer to God" (Lu 6:12). Also bold witness for God's law, which as prophet he represented, even before Saul when transgressing it. He maintained the supremacy of the divine rule above the secular at the very beginning of the kingdom.
His sacrificing was not as a priest, but as a Levite and prophet especially called to do so by God, though not of the family of Aaron; a presage of the better dispensation wherein not those alone of one favored family or caste, but all, are privileged to be king-priests to God. Saul's sin lay not in his usurping the priest's office, but in disobedience to God as represented by His prophet (1Sa 10:8; 13:8,15, on which occasion Samuel enunciated the eternal principle, "to obey is better than sacrifice," i.e. not that sacrifice was not required, for God ordained it, but it can never be made a cloak for neglecting the moral, spiritual end for which the positive ordinance of sacrifice existed.) Samuel tore himself from Saul, who desired his prophetic countenance before the people; his rending the garment symbolized the rending of Saul's kingdom from him.
Samuel saw Saul no more, yet grieved for one whose self-incurred doom he could no longer avert, until Jehovah expostulated "how long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him?" (1Sa 16:1, compare Ps 139:21-22). Tender sympathy never led Samuel to give Saul public sanction; but now he is called on to anoint another in Saul's room, and to be of one mind with God in all that God does. Samuel founded "the schools of the prophets," to which belonged "the sons of the prophets," whose education, beside the law, was in sacred, vocal, and instrumental music and processions (10/5/type/bbe'>1Sa 10:5,10; 19:19-20; 1Ch 25:1,6). (See NAIOTH.)
Here David fled as to his spiritual home. Then Saul, by sending messengers to take him from Samuel's very presence, virtually insulted the prophet, but was himself brought under the power of the Spirit. Here David learned the elements of that sacred and prophetic psalmody of which he subsequently became the great representative. Thus Samuel was his spiritual father and the originator of the religious schools of which our modern Christian universities are the offshoot. At his death (1Sa 25:1) all the Israelites were gathered together and lamented him and buried him in his house at Ramah. (See RAMAH.) The "Acta Sanctorum" (Aug. 20) say his remains were translated front Judaea (A.D. 406) to Constantinople, and received with pomp at the pieter Chalcedon by the emperor Arcadius, and conveyed to a church near the palace of Hebdomon.
The life of Samuel is viewed from widely differing standpoints in different sections of the books that bear his name. In the oldest narrative, found in 1Sa 9, he appears as a seer from the land of Zuph, to whom Saul and his servant, who are seeking the lost asses of Kish, Saul's father, apply for help. Saul had hesitated about applying to the man of God, on the score of not having a gift to present, but the servant produced the fourth part of a shekel of silver with which to compensate the seer. Samuel, who had been Divinely apprised of their coming, met them while he was on his way to worship at the high place, and after they had partaken of his hospitality and passed the night with him, he nominated and anointed Saul as Israel's coming king. He further gave Saul signs by which he should know that the promises would he fulfilled, and committed him to the Spirit of God. In another narrative (chs. 1
A prophet, a Nazarite from his birth, raised up by God to be His servant because Israel had failed in its priests, and every man was doing that which was right in his own eyes. He was one whom God answered when he called upon Him, Ps 99:6, and is classed with Moses as intercessor with God. Jer 15:1. Samuel was also a faithful judge in Israel, and acted as priest when Eli and his sons were dead. His history is given in the books that bear his name. He is called SHEMUEL in 1Ch 6:33.
was the son of Elkanah and Hannah, and was born at Ramathaim-zophim, among the hills of Ephraim. [RAMAH No. 2] (B.C. 1171.) Before his birth he was dedicated by his mother to the office of a Nazarite and when a young child, 12 years old according to Josephus he was placed in the temple, and ministered unto the Lord before Eli." It was while here that he received his first prophetic call.
He next appears, probably twenty years afterward, suddenly among the people, warning them against their idolatrous practices.
Then followed Samuel's first and, as far as we know, only military achievement, ch.
but it was apparently this which raised him to the office of "judge." He visited, in the discharge of his duties as ruler, the three chief sanctuaries on the west of Jordan --Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpeh. ch.
His own residence was still native city, Ramah, where he married, and two sons grew up to repeat under his eyes the same perversion of high office that he had himself witnessed in his childhood in the case of the two sons of Eli. In his old age he shared his power with them,
but the people dissatisfied, demanded a king, and finally anointed under God's direction, and Samuel surrendered to him his authority,
... though still remaining judge. ch.
He was consulted far and near on the small affairs of life.
From this fact, combined with his office of ruler, an awful reverence grew up around him. No sacrificial feast was thought complete without his blessing. Ibid.
A peculiar virtue was believed to reside in his intercession. After Saul was rejected by God, Samuel anointed David in his place and Samuel became the spiritual father of the psalmist-king. The death of Samuel is described as taking place in the year of the close of David's wanderings. It is said with peculiar emphasis, as if to mark the loss, that "all the Israelites were gathered together" from all parts of this hitherto-divided country, and "lamented him," and "buried him" within his own house, thus in a manner consecrated by being turned into his tomb.
Samuel represents the independence of the moral law, of the divine will, as distinct from legal or sacerdotal enactments, which is so remarkable a characteristic of all the later prophets. He is also the founder of the first regular institutions of religious instructions and communities for the purposes of education.
SAMUEL, the son of Elkanah and of Hannah, of the tribe of Levi, and family of Kohath, was born A.M. 2848. He was an eminent inspired prophet, historian, and the seventeenth and last Judge of Israel; and died in the ninety-eighth year of his age, two years before Saul, A.M. 2947, 1 Samuel 25. To Samuel are ascribed the book of Judges, that of Ruth, and the first book of Samuel. There is, indeed, great probability that he composed the first twenty-four chapters of the first book of Samuel; since they contain nothing but what he might have written, and such transactions as he was chiefly concerned in. However, in these chapters there are some small additions, which seem to have been inserted after his death. Samuel began the order of the prophets, which was never discontinued till the death of Zechariah and Malachi, Ac 3:24. From early youth to hoary years, the character of Samuel is one on which the mind rests with veneration and delight.