Samuel and His Accomplishments

The Prophet Samuel who was raised by Eli, the priest of God, is a foundational person in the spiritual life of Israel.  He is the key spiritual figure between Moses and the prophets Elijah and Elisha.  His story is found in 1 Samuel chapters 1 through 25. Most people have heard at least one sermon about him and the references probably came from 1 Samuel: 1 -3; they are used a lot in meetings where young people are the target audience.  While studying his role in the anointing of the first two kings of Israel, Saul, and David, it became apparent just how important he really was to Israel.

We are not told how old he was in chapter 4 when Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas all die on the same day.  Nothing is mentioned of him until 1 Samuel 7: 3 when he is calling Israel to repent.  Verse two gives us a time stamp of twenty years that the ark was in Kiriath Jearim.  Why had it not been returned to Shiloh?

A possible reason is that there was no priest who was of age to carry on the proper worship at the Tabernacle or “Temple.”  Phinehas had sons (4:20 and 14:3) but who trained them in their duties as a priest?  I will guess that Samuel either did the training or at least had a hand in doing it; after all, he studied under Eli.  There needed to be an Aaronic priest to serve before the Ark, Samuel was from Ephraim. (Side note – If I was writing this as a novel the Benjamite in 4:12 would have King Saul’s father, Kish.)

While at Mizpah, where Samuel was leading Israel in their return to God, the Philistines attacked trying to keep them in slavery.  Samuel’s leadership was being put to the test and his response is a true act of faith.  He orders the people to continue in their “crying out to God” and he offers a sacrifice.  God responds to this “faith action” with thunder, “loud thunder” that caused the defeat of the enemy.  (I will assume there was a storm with lightning, but what if God just spoke at the enemy and they heard it as thunder.)

The next time reference is Chapter 8:1 and all it says is that Samuel is “old.”  This and the fact that Nahash the Ammonite king was threatening Israel (12:12) made the people think a “king” would be better.  The remaining years of Samuel’s life were spent in hearing about Saul chasing around after David trying to kill him.

The final reference to Samuel in the Book of Samuel is in chapter 28 after he is dead.  Saul breakers his own decree and the Law of God and consults a witch/medium.  Samuel comes “back” and rebukes Saul once more.

The other mentions of Samuel’s life and deeds are found in 1 and 2 Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 9:22 he and David assigned gatekeepers.  I could think that David just added or continued to what Samuel did since Samuel would have been dead when David got around to doing this.

In 1 Chronicles 26: 28 the things that Samuel had dedicated for the “Temple” were brought in when Solomon had finished the building.  So it seems that Samuel was honoring God with offerings even when the Ark was still in the Tent.

1 Chronicles 29: 29 states that Samuel was a writer/historian.  Other people probably took his work and that of other historians and wrote the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.  I have done parallel studies of these books and combined them into one manuscript.   

2 Chronicles 35: 18 mentions that Samuel was the last leader to celebrate Passover correctly.  He did his best to get Israel to honor God as described in the Law of Moses.

There is still more post to come from the study of the anointing of the first two kings, but I have developed a new appreciation for Samuel and his place in the Bible and the spiritual history of Israel.

Samuel and the Anointing of Saul

Samuel, the last Judge of Israel, got to anoint the first two kings of Israel.  The anointing of Saul, son of Kish, is told in 1 Samuel 9 & 10, while the anointing of David is in Chapter 16.  Samuel had lead Israel since his youth and had been a prophet (seer) as well as the judge/leader of the nation.  God revealed Himself to Samuel by visitation and His written Word and had used him in mighty ways.

Even with these credentials, the anointing of Saul and David was a faith act for Samuel.  He got the “word of knowledge” about the tribe of Saul and his mission; he was even given the knowledge about the donkeys, but no name.  Samuel had even made dinner plans (9:23), especially for Saul.

In 1 Samuel 10, the actual applying of the oil occurs with a very intriguing set of “signs” that had to be fulfilled.  These were Saul’s faith builders; I will have more on them in another post.

There are some differences and similarities in the anointings that Samuel performed. Both Saul and David were anointed a second time in front of the nation.  Saul’s first anointing was a very private affair; while David’s first one was done in front of his family and the other guest (possibly) at the sacrifice.  Saul received the list of signs that were to be done and it seems that he took his office fairly soon.  David, on the other hand, waited many years for the second anointing and him receiving his kingdom.  It seems to me that Samuel spent quality time with Saul after the meal (9:25, 26) and again when they met in Gilgal (10: 8), but David only had the time when they were hiding from King Saul (19:18).

Samuel and the Anointing of David

The Anointing of David by Paolo Veronese c1564 -Samuel, the Judge, and Prophet of Israel has just been told by God to go anoint a new king (1 Samuel 16). Father God told him who to go to – Jesse of Bethlehem.  He told him how to maneuver around King Saul, and which son was NOT to be anointed.

Why not just tell Samuel the name “David.”  This is the second king Samuel has anointed in just a few years, why add drama to something that Samuel was nervous about.  Can you imagine how Samuel felt after going through seven sons and having to wait for the eighth one to come in from the fields?  Was God testing Samuel?

In Hebrews 11 Samuel is noted as one who had faith and did great things.  He was an important person, having led Israel since he was a youth, and is mention in several other books for notable things he did.  He heard God’s voice and actually talked with Him.

Test or act of faith; that is really hard for me to say but it seems that is how God worked with him.  Samuel did not falter in caring out his mission of anointing one of Jesse’s sons.  When Samuel anointed Saul there was not a lot of “complete sentences” then either.  In my limited view of these things I often think that Samuel was being tested so he had to move and do these things by faith.  But this needs to be tempered because he was following God’s directive and their long history has grounded him in God and His ways.  The example/lesson for us is that even veteran “generals” still have to hear and be sensitive to God’s leading.