Heard of God. The peculiar circumstances connected with his "birth are recorded in 1 Sam. 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 nd 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 (Judg. 21:19-21; 1 Sam. 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 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. Jer. 7:12; Ps." 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 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 Chr. 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 Jer. 15:1 and Ps. 99:6."

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 Sam. 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 Chr. 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 Sam. 11:2-12: 29) containing an account of David's sin in the matter of Bathsheba is omitted in the corresponding passage in 1 Chr. 20

See where Samuel occurs in the Bible...

Definition of Samuel:
"heard of God; asked of God"

Related Bible Dictionary Terms:
Samuel Books of