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Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

“And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.”

1 Samuel 3: 19, 20

Samuel, whose exemplary life is recorded in 1 Samuel, was the last and greatest judge in Israel, and he was also a prophet. The Lord compares Samuel with Moses (Jeremiah 15: 1), and he is named as a hero of faith (Hebrews 11: 32).

The Child Samuel

Samuel was the son of godly parents, who promised that from earliest infancy he would be dedicated to the Lord. As soon as possible, his mother Hannah took him to the temple at Shiloh to be trained and used in the Lord’s service under the care of Eli, the high priest.

Young Samuel was evidently accustomed to obeying the calls of Eli for various services at times, so he had a sleeping room nearby. One night the Lord called Samuel three times. Thinking that Eli was calling him, he went to Eli and said, “Here am I.” After the third call, Eli perceived that the Lord was calling Samuel, so he instructed him to say, “Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth.”

In the morning, Samuel hesitated to tell his kind master, Eli, the unfavorable message he had received of the Lord in the night regarding the Lord’s rejection of Eli’s family from serving as priests as punishment for the sins of Eli’s sons. But Eli was anxious to know whatever the Lord had to say, so he importuned Samuel until he told him all.

Samuel the Judge

Following Eli’s death, Samuel succeeded him as judge in Israel. He labored to turn the nation toward repentance and reformation. Finally, he gathered them together at Mizpah to intercede with God on their behalf, that they might confess their sins and renew their Covenant with God. The nation responded, and the Lord manifested His acceptance and favor toward them by delivering them from the yoke of the Philistines. Samuel proceeded to travel from place to place, apparently hearing and deciding such cases as were too difficult for the local judges.

When Samuel became elderly he appointed his two sons as assistant judges in Beersheba, but they proved unfaithful (I Samuel 8: 3). Powerful enemies were also threatening the nation. Under those conditions, the leading men of Israel came to Samuel and requested that a king be appointed over them, like the other nations. This request grieved Samuel, but he took the matter to the Lord in prayer. The Lord pointed out to him that their ingratitude was not to Samuel, but to Him, saying, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me” (1 Samuel 8: 7). Nevertheless, the Lord charged Samuel to hearken to the request of the people and anoint them a king, but to also foretell the evils that would result from their choice (1 Samuel 8: 11-22).

Samuel’s Farewell Address  

Samuel anointed Saul as king, but the latter had only been received half-heartedly; however, the great victory which the Lord granted to His people in their battle with the Ammonites united their hearts to Saul, their visible leader in that victory. Samuel perceived that the right time had come for a public coronation of the king, so he called for a general convocation of the people at Gilgal.

Samuel opened his address by impressing upon the people that his entire life had been one of devotion to the Lord and the people. He next called attention to God’s faithfulness to them from the time that He adopted them as His people and made a covenant with them. He stressed that they must recognize that their earthly king was only the representative of their real, heavenly King, and to give close attention to the commandments of the Lord.

Samuel then performed a miracle by causing a thunder shower in the middle of harvest, normally a dry time, thus reminding the people how completely their affairs and interests were under Divine power. He assured them of God’s continued love and favor toward them because He had adopted them as His people. Samuel then reassured the people of his own love and prayers on their behalf.

The nobility of Samuel’s course may well be copied by the Lord’s people today under the various circumstances of life.