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Fausset's Bible Dictionary
("asked of God".) Greek Τheaitetus; or probably "heard of God". Last of the judges, first of the successional prophets (Moses was a prophet, Deuteronomy 18:15, but more a lawgiver; Acts 3:24, "all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after," Acts 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 ZOPHIM; HANNAH.)
The father, though sprung from Korah the Levite, lived in Mount Ephraim, and became incorporated with Ephraim. So the Levite in Judges 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 (1 Samuel 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 (1 Samuel 3:7, compare 1 Samuel 3:1; Acts 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 (1 Samuel 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 (2 Samuel 14:14, inward dissolution through distress; Psalms 22:14; Psalms 58:7; Isaiah 12:3; John 7:37).
Realization of our weakness is the necessary condition for receiving almighty strength (Isaiah 40:29-30; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). The people, hearing that the Philistine lords were come up against them, begged Samuel's unceasing intercessions. The Lord heard him (Psalms 99:6; Jeremiah 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 (1 Samuel 7:7-14). (See -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 Joshua 10:6; Judges 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 (1 Samuel 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 (Psalms 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 (1 Samuel 9:6-10), and eiders trembled before his approach as the representative of superhuman power and holiness (1 Samuel 16:4-5). His characteristic spiritual work was unceasing crying to Jehovah at times, "all night," in intercessory prayer (1 Samuel 15:11; 1 Samuel 7:7-8); so the Antitype "continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 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 (1 Samuel 10:8; 1 Samuel 13:8; 1 Samuel 13:15, 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?" (1 Samuel 16:1, compare Psalms 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 (1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Samuel 19:19-20; 1 Chronicles 25:1; 1 Chronicles 25:6). (See .)
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 (1 Samuel 25:1) all the Israelites were gathered together and lamented him and buried him in his house at Ramah. (See .) The "Αcta 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.
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Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Samuel'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fbd/s/samuel.html. 1949.
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11