Scribes of Scripture - Samuel: Priest, Judge, Prophet

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Samuel (“asked for of God”) of all the scribes of Scripture is quite unique. His birth resulted when his godly mother Hannah prayed. She was mocked for being childless, a shame for a woman of Israel wishing to bear the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:1515And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)).
She went with her husband Elkanah “yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh” (1 Sam. 1:33And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there. (1 Samuel 1:3)). The tabernacle was set up there, the place at that time where the Lord had chosen to place His name. But the priesthood and sacrifices were despised because of the wickedness of the priests, Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s sons.
“In bitterness of soul” Hannah went to the temple (tabernacle) and prayed, weeping before God. She made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thine handmaid, and remember me... but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head” (1 Sam. 1:1111And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. (1 Samuel 1:11)).
As she prayed silently in her heart, Eli the priest, seeing her lips moving, thought she was drunken. Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I... have poured out my soul before the Lord” (1 Sam. 1:1515And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:15)).
Eli replied, “Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition.”
God answered her prayer and gave her a son whom she named Samuel.
When she had weaned Samuel, she took the young child and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh. Sacrificing a bullock, they brought the child to Eli. She told him, “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition... also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord” (1 Sam. 1:27-2827For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 28Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there. (1 Samuel 1:27‑28)).
Samuel’s Growth Samuel was a Levite of the family of Kohath (1 Sam. 1:1; 11Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: (1 Samuel 1:1)
1Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: (1 Samuel 1:1)
Chron. 6:22,26-27). “Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod” (1 Sam. 2:1818But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. (1 Samuel 2:18)). So he was an acting priest. His mother made him a little coat each year when she came with her husband, Elkanah, to sacrifice—no doubt a larger coat, for as the boy grew physically, he grew in spirit also.
We read of the Lord Jesus, “The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom.... And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:40,5240And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. (Luke 2:40)
52And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52)
).
Samuel’s Call
When the Lord called Samuel as he lay down to sleep, Samuel went to Eli thinking he had called him. Eli said, “I called not; lie down again” (vs. 5).
The third time this happened, Eli perceived it was the Lord calling Samuel, so he said, “Go, lie down... and... if He call thee... say, Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth” (vs. 9).
Samuel’s Service
Samuel urged the people, “Return to the Lord... put away the strange gods... and prepare your hearts unto the Lord and serve Him only: and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines” (1 Sam. 7:33And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. (1 Samuel 7:3)). Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the people fasted and confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord” (vs. 6).
The people asked for a king, since they wanted to be like the nations, and it grieved Samuel. The Lord told him, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Sam. 8:77And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. (1 Samuel 8:7)). Samuel did not choose the king. The Lord directed him to Saul, who was seeking his father’s asses. He anointed this tall, good-looking man. He was the kind of man the people wanted, and he went on well for a time.
At the end of his life of service Samuel said, “I am old and gray headed... and I have walked before you from my childhood until this day,” and he called on the people to witness against him before the Lord: “Whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded?... or... have I received any bribe?... and I will restore it you” (1 Sam. 12:2323Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: (1 Samuel 12:23)).
(Note: According to 1 Chronicles 29:2929Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer, (1 Chronicles 29:29) and Jewish tradition, Samuel is considered to have written the first twenty-four chapters of 1 Samuel. See Handbook of the Old Testament by Walter Scott.)
T. A. Roach