- Samuel used 142 times.
- First Reference: 1 Samuel 1:20
- Last Reference: Hebrews 11:32
- Included in Eastons: Yes
- Included in Hitchcocks: Yes
- Included in Naves: Yes
- Included in Smiths: Yes
- Included in Websters: No
- Included in Strongs: Yes
- Included in Thayers: Yes
- Included in BDB: Yes
Heard of God. The peculiar circumstances connected with his birth are recorded in 1 Samuel 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 and consecrated him to the Lord as a perpetual Nazarite (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" (2:26; comp. Luke 2:52). It was a time of great and growing degeneracy in Israel (Judges 21:19-21; 1 Samuel 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 (1 Samuel 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 (1 Samuel 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 (1 Samuel 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 (21:1).
The Philistines followed up their advantage, and marched upon Shiloh, which they plundered and destroyed (comp. Jeremiah 7:12; Psalms 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" (1 Samuel 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 (1 Samuel 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 (1 Samuel 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 (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 (1 Samuel 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" (25:1), not in the house itself, but in the court or garden of his house. (Comp. 2 Kings 21:18; 2 Chronicles 33:20; 1 Kings 2:34; John 19:41.)
Samuel's devotion to God, and the special favour with which God regarded him, are referred to in Jeremiah 15:1 and Psalms 99:6.
heard of God; asked of God
Miraculous birth of
1 Samuel 1:7-20
Consecrated to God before his birth
1 Samuel 1:11; 1 Samuel 1:22; 1 Samuel 1:24-28
His mother's song of thanksgiving
1 Samuel 2:1-10
Ministered in the house of God
1 Samuel 2:11; 1 Samuel 2:18-19
Blessed of God
1 Samuel 2:21; 1 Samuel 3:19
His vision concerning the house of Eli
1 Samuel 3:1-18
A prophet of the Israelites
1 Samuel 3:20-21; 1 Samuel 4:1
A judge of Israel, his judgment seat at Beth-El, Gilgal, Mizpeh, and Ramah
1 Samuel 7:15-17
Organizes the tabernacle service
1 Chronicles 9:22; 1 Chronicles 26:28; 2 Chronicles 35:18
Israelites repent under his reproofs and admonitions
1 Samuel 7:4-6
The Philistines defeated through his intercession and sacrifices
1 Samuel 7:7-14
Makes his corrupt sons judges in Israel
1 Samuel 8:1-3
People desire a king; he protests
1 Samuel 8:4-22
Anoints Saul king of Israel
1 Samuel 9:9
Renews the kingdom of Saul
1 Samuel 11:12-15
Reproves Saul; foretells that his kingdom shall not be established
1 Samuel 13:11-15; 1 Samuel 9:15
Anoints David to be king
1 Samuel 9:16
Shelters David when escaping from Saul
1 Samuel 19:18
Death of; the lament for him
1 Samuel 25:1
Called up by the witch of En-Dor
1 Samuel 28:3-20
His integrity as judge and ruler
1 Samuel 12:1-5; Psalms 99:6; Jeremiah 15:1; Hebrews 11:32
1 Chronicles 29:29
1 Chronicles 6:28; 1 Chronicles 6:33
1 Chronicles 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. (1 Samuel 3:1-18) He next appears, probably twenty years afterward, suddenly among the people, warning them against their idolatrous practices. (1 Samuel 7:3,4) Then followed Samuel's first and, as far as we know, only military achievement, ch. (1 Samuel 7:5-12) 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. (1 Samuel 7:16) 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, (1 Samuel 8:1-4) but the people dissatisfied, demanded a king, and finally anointed under God's direction, and Samuel surrendered to him his authority, (1 Samuel 12:1) ... though still remaining judge. ch. (1 Samuel 7:15) He was consulted far and near on the small affairs of life. (1 Samuel 9:7,8) 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. (1 Samuel 9:13) 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 Isr'lites 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. (1 Samuel 25:1) 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.
The LXX. translators regarded the books of Samuel and of Kings as forming one continuous history, which they divided into four books, which they called "Books of the Kingdom." The Vulgate version followed this division, but styled them "Books of the Kings." These books of Samuel they accordingly called the "First" and "Second" Books of Kings, and not, as in the modern Protestant versions, the "First" and "Second" Books of Samuel.
The authors of the books of Samuel were probably Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. Samuel penned the first twenty-four chapters of the first book. Gad, the companion of David (1 Samuel 22:5), continued the history thus commenced; and Nathan completed it, probably arranging the whole in the form in which we now have it (1 Chronicles 29:29).
The contents of the books. The first book comprises a period of about a hundred years, and nearly coincides with the life of Samuel. It contains (1) the history of Eli (1-4); (2) the history of Samuel (5-12); (3) the history of Saul, and of David in exile (13-31). The second book, comprising a period of perhaps fifty years, contains a history of the reign of David (1) over Judah (1-4), and (2) over all Israel (5-24), mainly in its political aspects. The last four chapters of Second Samuel may be regarded as a sort of appendix recording various events, but not chronologically. These books do not contain complete histories. Frequent gaps are met with in the record, because their object is to present a history of the kingdom of God in its gradual development, and not of the events of the reigns of the successive rulers. It is noticeable that the section (2 Samuel 11:2-12: 29) containing an account of David's sin in the matter of Bathsheba is omitted in the corresponding passage in 1 Chronicles 20.
are not separated from each other in the Hebrew MSS., and, from a critical point of view, must be regarded as one book. The present, division was first made in the Septuagint translation, and was adopted in the Vulgate from the Septuagint. The book was called by the Hebrews: "Samuel," probably because the birth and life of Samuel were the subjects treated of in the beginning of the work. The books of Samuel commence with the history of Eli and Samuel, and contain all account of the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy and of the reigns of Saul and David, with the exception of the last days of the latter monarch which are related in the beginning of the books of Kings, of which those of Samuel form the previous portion. [KINGS, FIRST AND SECOND BOOKS OF, B00KS OF] Authorship and date of the book ,
- As to the authorship. In common with all the historical books of the Old Testament, except the beginning of Nehemiah, the book of Samuel contains no mention in the text of the name of its author. It is indisputable that the title "Samuel" does not imply that the prophet was the author of the book of Samuel as a whole; for the death of Samuel is recorded in the beginning of the 25th chapter. In our own time the most prevalent idea in the Anglican Church seems to have been that the first twenty-four chapters of the book of Samuel were written by the prophet himself, and the rest of the chapters by the prophets Nathan and Gad. This, however, is doubtful.
- But although the authorship cannot be ascertained with certainty, it appears clear that, in its present form it must have been composed subsequent to the secession of the ten tribes, B.C. 975. This results from the passage in (1 Samuel 27:6) wherein it is said of David, "Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah to this day:" for neither Saul, David nor Solomon is in a single instance called king of Judah simply. On the other hand, it could hardly have been written later than the reformation of Josiah, since it seems to have been composed at a time when the Pentateuch was not acted on as the rule of religious observances, which received a special impetus at the finding of the Book of the Law at the reformation of Josiah. All, therefore, that can be asserted with any certainty is that the book, as a whole, can scarcely have been composed later than the reformation of Josiah, and that it could not have existed in its present form earlier than the reign of Rehoboam. The book of Samuel is one of the best specimens of Hebrew prose in the golden age of Hebrew literature. In prose it holds the same place which Joel and the undisputed prophecies of Isaiah hold in poetical or prophetical language.