From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

("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 Ramathaim 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 Eben -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 Naioth .)

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 Ramah .) 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.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [2]

 1 Samuel 1:20 Luke 2:52 Judges 21:19-21 1 Samuel 2:12-17,22 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 (Compare  Jeremiah 7:12;  Psalm 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 1315,15 ) 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. (Compare  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   Psalm 99:6 .

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [3]

Samuel was born into a Levite family who lived at Ramah, in the tribal territory of Ephraim ( 1 Samuel 1:19-20;  1 Chronicles 6:33-38). In accordance with a promise made before Samuel’s birth, his mother took him as a young child to the tabernacle at Shiloh, where she dedicated him to God for life-long service. When his parents returned home, Samuel remained at Shiloh, to be brought up by the priest Eli ( 1 Samuel 1:24;  1 Samuel 1:28;  1 Samuel 2:11). He grew up to become Eli’s helper in the duties of the tabernacle ( 1 Samuel 2:18). By bringing God’s message of judgment to Eli, he showed that God was preparing him to be a prophet ( 1 Samuel 3:10-18).

When Eli died, Samuel succeeded him as chief administrator in Israel ( 1 Samuel 4:18;  1 Samuel 7:15). People everywhere acknowledged him as a prophet from God and the religious leader of the nation ( 1 Samuel 3:20;  1 Samuel 7:3-6;  Acts 3:24;  Acts 13:20).

A national leader

There was an early indication of Samuel’s leadership role after the capture and subsequent return of the ark by the Philistines. Samuel showed his authority among his people by demanding that they get rid of their foreign gods and by leading them in prayer and confession to God ( 1 Samuel 7:3-6). The religious life of Israel now centred on Samuel, who set up an altar of sacrifice in Ramah (for the Philistines had destroyed the tabernacle;  Psalms 78:60-61;  Jeremiah 7:14). The priesthood had become so corrupt that God appointed Samuel to carry out priestly duties, even though he was not from a priestly family ( 1 Samuel 2:27-36;  1 Samuel 7:9;  1 Samuel 10:8).

Israel’s civil administration also centred on Samuel. He moved in an annual circuit around four major towns where he held district courts to settle disputes ( 1 Samuel 7:15-17).

As Samuel grew old, his sons took over much of the administration. But instead of resisting the social corruption that had become widespread through the people’s disobedience to God, they contributed to it ( 1 Samuel 8:1-3). In search for improved conditions, the people asked Samuel to bring the old system to an end and give them a king after the pattern that existed in other nations. This was not so much a rejection of Samuel as a rejection of God. The people’s troubles had come not from the system of government, but from their sins. The answer to their problems was to turn to God in a new attitude of faith and repentance, which they refused to do. Samuel warned that just as God had punished them for disobedience when they were under the judges, so he would punish them under the kings ( 1 Samuel 8:4-22;  1 Samuel 12:8-15).

Subsequently, the people got their king, and Samuel was no longer their civil leader. But he was still their spiritual leader, and he continued to teach them and pray for them ( 1 Samuel 12:23-25).

With the corruption of the priesthood, God made increasing use of prophets, rather than priests, to speak to his people. The emotionalism of some of these prophets led to unusual behaviour at times ( 1 Samuel 10:9-12;  1 Samuel 19:20-24), but rather than silence the prophets, Samuel tried to redirect their spiritual zeal for the benefit of the nation. He established a school for prophets at Ramah, and others were established later at Bethel, Jericho and Gilgal ( 1 Samuel 19:18-20;  2 Kings 2:3;  2 Kings 2:5;  2 Kings 4:38).

Samuel and other national leaders

God revealed to Samuel that he would send to him the man whom God had chosen to be Israel’s first king. That man was Saul, whom Samuel anointed in a brief private ceremony ( 1 Samuel 9:15-16;  1 Samuel 10:1). Some time later, Samuel called a meeting of the family and tribal leaders of Israel for a public selection of Israel’s first king. Saul was chosen ( 1 Samuel 10:17-25) and, after leading Israel to victory in his first battle, was crowned king in a national ceremony at Gilgal ( 1 Samuel 11:12-15).

In time of approaching war, Saul was given one week during which Israel’s leaders could gather the army together, and he himself could go to Gilgal to consult Samuel. There Samuel would offer sacrifices and pass on God’s instructions ( 1 Samuel 10:8). Saul was impatient and wanted complete power, religious as well as political. He therefore did not wait for Samuel but offered the sacrifices himself. Samuel announced that in judgment God would take the kingdom from Saul ( 1 Samuel 13:8-14). He confirmed this judgment on a later occasion when Saul again disobeyed God ( 1 Samuel 15:1-3;  1 Samuel 15:13-28).

God then sent Samuel to choose a person who would one day replace Saul as king. The person he chose was David ( 1 Samuel 16:1-13). When, some years later, Saul became jealous of David and tried to kill him, David took refuge with Samuel. When Saul’s messengers, and then Saul himself, tried to capture David, all of them were overcome by the power of God’s Spirit, which still worked through Samuel and his followers ( 1 Samuel 19:18-24).

To the day of his death and throughout the centuries that followed, Samuel was highly respected by the people of Israel ( 1 Samuel 25:1;  Jeremiah 15:1). Saul so respected Samuel’s power and wisdom that, after Samuel’s death, he went to a woman who consulted the spirits of the dead in order to seek Samuel’s help. But Samuel simply confirmed that God had rejected Saul and that the next day Saul would be dead ( 1 Samuel 28:3-19).

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [4]

A well-known and eminent prophet of the Lord. His name is derived from Shael, a loan, or gift; hence Shem and Urel of God. It would form a separate history to enter into all the interesting particulars which relate to the life and ministry of Samuel. I must beg the reader to gather it for himself out of the Bible, under those writings which bear his name. But the call of Samuel when a child to the knowledge of the Lord is so truly interesting, and forms a point of decline so intimately connected with the gospel of Christ, that I cannot wholly pass it by without begging the reader's permission to offer a short observation upon it.

The Bible account of this event is given in the most beautiful simplicity of representation,  1 Samuel 3:1 etc. "And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision. And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep, that the Lord called Samuel, and he answered, Here am I"

There are a great number of very interesting things in this relation that I must not stay to dwell upon. The preciousness of the Lord's words, in this period of the church, when open visions were for a time suspended; the special grace shewn to Samuel in a season of general depravity, and when even the sons of Eli, who were priests of the Lord, were given up to a state of daring impiety end uncleanness; the childhood of Samuel, so particularly noted in the history, as if to encourage the youthful part of the Lord's people to be found waiting on the Lord in ordinances; all these, and more to the same purport, which this relation of the call of Samuel brings forward, would furnish much observation for improvement. But I must passover the consideration of these things, however interesting, to notice with more special marks of attention the call of Samuel, and the manner of it. Nothing can be more evident, from the history of this transaction, than that at the time when Samuel lay down to sleep, he was perfectly unconscious of all divine revelations, and totally ignorant of their meaning. Indeed, ye are told, in the seventh verse that, "Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord revealed unto him." So that in Samuel's instance, as in every other, of the real conversion of the heart to God, the gracious act begins on the part of God. If we love him, it is because he first loved us, It was the Lord first called Samuel, yea, repeated that call, or Samuel never world have called upon the Lord. This is what the Scriptures call preventing grace; hence David, in a degree of holy rapture, cries out, The God of my mercy shall prevent me; that is, shall be before hand with me in all my need. ( Psalms 59:10)

The next beautiful representation this call of Samuel furnisheth, is the secret, silent, and personal nature of it. Eli heard it not, though the priest of God; it was Samuel only and this by name. Had thousands been present like Eli, it was a voice they would not have heard, and in which they had no concern. It was directed to Samuel, and to him in secret, and what the Lord said related to him personally. Such are the marks of distinguishing grace in all ages of the church. Jesus saith, "My sheep hear my voice, and be calleth them all by name, and leadeth them forth. Who can mark the properties of distinguishing grace in their own case and circumstances without having the heart melted into the fullest sense of affection?"Lord "Lord how is it (said the astonished disciple) that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world." ( John 14:1-31)

One thought more on the call of Samuel. The mercy that was thus preventing, unexpected, unlooked for, and secret, silent, and personal, became also powerful, effectual, and sure, to all the gracious purposes. He that called the child called not in vain. A marvellous light shined with the voice in the heart, and a commanding power accompanied it within. Samuel never lost sight of it, I venture to believe, through all the after-stages of his life. Both the time and place, the manner and effect, no doubt became like Bethel to Jacob, so that he could say with the patriarch, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of heaven." ( Genesis 28:11; Gen 28:17) I cannot prevail upon myself to dismiss our view of Samuel before that I have first requested the reader to remark with me some features in the portrait of this great prophet, which bear resemblance, however faint, to the person and offices of the Lord God of the prophets, Jesus Christ. Samuel, we are told, was so called to shew that he was asked of God. And how earnestly was the Lord Jesus asked by the Old Testament saints before his coming! How blessedly did JEHOVAH, in the opening of Samuel's life, point to the Lord Jesus as the faithful Priest he would raise up, who should do according to all that was in his heart! ( 1 Samuel 2:35) And what a delightful view doth the prophet Samuel exhibit, as typical of the Lord Christ, under the several offices he sustained, not only as prophet, as Priest and as Judge in Israel!

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]

Samuel . The life of Samuel is viewed from widely differing standpoints in different sections of the books that bear his name. In the oldest narrative, found in   1 Samuel 9:1-27 , he appears as a seer from the land of Zuph, to whom Saul and his servant, who are seeking the lost asses of Kish, Saul’s father, apply for help. Saul had hesitated about applying to the man of God, on the score of not having a gift to present, but the servant produced the fourth part of a shekel of silver with which to compensate the seer. Samuel, who had been Divinely apprised of their coming, met them while he was on his way to worship at the high place, and after they had partaken of his hospitality and passed the night with him, he nominated and anointed Saul as Israel’s coming king. He further gave Saul signs by which he should know that the promises would he fulfilled, and committed him to the Spirit of God. In another narrative (chs. 1 3), which differs in point of view rather than in trustworthiness, are recited the incidents of Samuel’s early life and relations to the kingdom. Hannah , his mother, the wife of Elkanah , was barren. During the celebration of the yearly feast she vows that if God will give her a son she will give him to Jehovah. Samuel is therefore the son of answered prayer, and is in due time dedicated to the Temple service at Shiloh, where he assists Eli , is warned by Jehovah of the coming destruction of Eli’s house, and receives the call to the prophetic office.

After the death of Eli and the return of the ark from the Philistines, Samuel becomes ‘judge’ of Israel, calls the people to repentance at Mizpah, and saves them miraculously from the invading Philistines (ch. 7). He is succeeded in the judgeship by unworthy sons, and Israel, outraged at their sinfulness and worthlessness, demands a king a proposition, in the estimation of Samuel, tantamount to a rejection of Jehovah, though no such suggestion was made when he voluntarily appointed Saul. Nevertheless he yields to their wish, hut describes in sombre colours the oppressions they must endure under the monarchy (ch. 8). Accordingly the people are assembled at Mizpah, again accused of forsaking Jehovah, and Saul is selected by lot ( 1 Samuel 10:17-24 ). Samuel now makes his farewell address (ch. 12), defends his administration, warns the people, by references to their past history, of the danger of disobeying Jehovah, and compels nature to attest his words by a thunderstorm in harvest time.

The insignificant rôle played by Samuel in the first narrative cited is very noticeable when compared with the position accorded him in that which follows. In the first he is an obscure seer, and takes but a minor part in the establishment of the kingdom. In the latter he is a commanding and dominating figure. He is a judge of the people, adjudicating their affairs yearly at Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. Saul, as well as the monarchy, is controlled and directed by him.

The narrative of Samuel’s prominence is succeeded by an account (ch. 13) from a different source of Saul’s attack on the Philistines. The story is interrupted at  1 Samuel 13:8-15 by a complaint that Saul had disobeyed in offering sacrifice before the battle, although he had waited the required seven days as instructed by Samuel. It is difficult to see wherein Saul was guilty. Samuel had not appeared according to agreement. The Philistines were closing in upon Saul, his army was fast melting away, it was necessary to give battle, and it would have been considered irreligious to inaugurate the battle without sacrifice. For this rebellion Samuel informs him that his kingdom is forfeit, and that Jehovah has chosen another, a man after His own heart, to take his place.

Again Saul is instructed by Samuel (ch. 15) to destroy Amalek men, women, children, and spoil but he spares Agag and the best of the booty. All his excuses are rejected, and Samuel now attributes the loss of his kingdom to the new disobedience. This narrative does not seem conscious that the kingdom was already lost to Saul. The king confesses his fault, and after repeated persuasion Samuel agrees to honour him before his people by worshipping with him. Agag is then brought before Samuel, who hews him to pieces before the Lord. After this Samuel is sent to the home of Jesse to select and anoint a successor to Saul. One by one the sons of Jesse are rejected, till David , the youngest, is brought from the field, and proves to be the choice of Jehovah (ch. 16). With this significant act Samuel practically disappears. We find an account of his keeping a school of the prophets at Ramah, whither David flees to escape Saul (  1 Samuel 19:18-24 ). Later we have a short account of his death and burial at Ramah (  1 Samuel 25:1 ). There is also a mention of his death in ch. 28, and the story of Saul’s application to the witch of Endor to call up Samuel from the dead.

J. H. Stevenson.

Holman Bible Dictionary [6]

 1 Samuel 1:10 1 Samuel 1:11 1 Samuel 1:28 1 Samuel 2:20 1 Samuel 2:11 1 Samuel 2:26  Luke 2:52 1 Samuel 3:11-14

Samuel was responsible for a revival of the Shiloh sanctuary ( 1 Samuel 3:21 ).  Psalm 99:6-7 relates that God spoke with Samuel from out of the pillar of cloud as God had previously with Moses and Aaron. God “was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground” (  1 Samuel 3:19; also  1 Samuel 9:6 ). Jeremiah regarded Samuel and Moses as the two great intercessors of Israel ( Jeremiah 15:1 ).

Following the death of Eli and his sons, Israel experienced twenty years ( 1 Samuel 7:2 ) of national sin and Philistine oppression. Samuel reemerged in the role of judge, calling Israel to repentance and delivering them from foreign domination. Samuel also exercised the judicial role of judge, administering justice at Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpah, and Ramah ( 1 Samuel 7:15-17 ).

Samuel served as the prototype for future prophets in tension with the kings of Israel and Judah. The sins of Samuel's sons and the Philistine threat led the elders of Israel to appeal to Samuel for a king “like all the nations” (1Samuel 8:3,1Samuel 8:5, 1 Samuel 8:20 ). Samuel rightly understood this call for a king as rejection of God's rule ( 1 Samuel 8:7;  1 Samuel 10:19 ). Samuel warned Israel of the dangers of a monarchy—forced labor, seizure of property, taxation ( 1 Samuel 8:10-18 )—before anointing Saul as Israel's first king ( 1 Samuel 10:1 ). Samuel's recording of the rights and duties of kingship ( 1 Samuel 10:25 ) set the stage for later prophets to call their monarchs to task for disobedience to God's commands and for overstepping God's limits for kingship in Israel. Samuel foreshadowed Elijah in his call for rain during the wheat harvest, the usual dry season, as vindication of his word of judgment concerning Israel's demand for a king ( 1 Samuel 12:17-18 ).

Samuel's relations with Saul highlight the conditional nature of kingship in Israel. Israel's king was designated by God and served at God's pleasure. Saul's presumption in offering burnt sacrifice before battle with the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 13:8-15 ) and his disregard of God's command to leave no survivors among the Amalekites or their flocks ( 1 Samuel 15:1 ) occasioned Samuel's declaration of God's rejection of Saul's kingship. Obeying God's call to anoint another king amounted to treason in Saul's eyes, and Samuel had concerns for his life. Samuel was, however, obedient in anointing David as king over Israel ( 1 Samuel 16:13 ). Later when Saul sought David's life, David took refuge with Samuel and his band of prophets at Ramah ( 1 Samuel 19:18-24 ). Finally, Samuel's death brought national mourning ( 1 Samuel 25:1;  1 Samuel 28:3 ). It also left Saul without access to God's word. In desperation he acknowledged Samuel's power and influence by seeking to commune with Samuel's spirit ( 1 Samuel 28:1 ). Thus in life and death Samuel cast a long shadow over Israel's history of worship, rule, prophecy, and justice.

Chris Church

Smith's Bible Dictionary [7]

Sam'uel. Samuel was the son of Elkanah and Hannah, and was born at Ramathaim-zophim, among the hills of Ephraim. See Ramah, 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."  1 Samuel 2:11. 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,  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.  1 Samuel 7:16. His own residence was still his native city, Ramah, where he married, and histwo 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.  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.  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 Israelites 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.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [8]

God hath heard,  1 Samuel 1:20 , a child of prayer, the celebrated Hebrew prophet and judge,  Acts 3:24   13:20 . He was a Levite by birth,  1 Corinthians 6:20 , and the son of Elkanah and Hannah, at Ramah in Mount Ephraim, northwest of Jerusalem. At a very tender age he was carried to Shiloh, and brought up beside the tabernacle under the care of Eli the high priest. Having been conserated to God from his birth, and devoted to Nazariteship, he began to receive divine communications even in his childhood,  1 Samuel 3:1-21; and after the death of Eli, he became established as the judge of Israel. He was the last and best of the Hebrew judges. We contemplate his character and administration with peculiar pleasure and reverence. The twelve tribes, when he assumed their charge, were in a low condition both morally and politically he freed them from all foreign yokes, administered justice with vigor and impartiality, promoted education and true religion, united the tribes, and raised them higher in the scale of civilization.

Their demand of a king, in view of the advanced age of Samuel and the vile character of his sons, showed a great want of faith in God and of submission to his will. Yet He granted them a king "in his wrath,"  Hosea 13:11 . Samuel anointed Saul as their first king; and afterwards David, who in due time was to take the place of Saul already, rejected by God. As long as he lived, Samuel exerted a paramount and most beneficial influence in Israel, even over Saul himself. He instituted the "schools of the prophets," which were long continued and very useful. He died at the age of ninety-eight, B. C. 1053, honored and lamented by all. Even after his death the unhappy Saul, forsaken by the God was pleased to cause Samuel to appear, with a prophetic message to the king. In  Psalm 99:6 he is ranked with Moses and Aaron. See also   Jeremiah 15:1   Hebrews 11:32 .

The two Books Of Samuel could not all have been written by him, because his death is mentioned in  1 Samuel 25:1-43 , B. C. 1055. Thus far it is not improbable that he was the author, while the remaining chapters are commonly attributed to Nathan and Gad, B. C. 1018. Why Samuel's name is given to both books cannot be known. In the Septuagint they are called the First and Second Books of Kings. See KINGS. The two books comprise the history of Samuel, Saul, and David. They are quoted in the New Testament,  Acts 13:22   Hebrews 1:5 , and alluded to in the Psalms, etc.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [9]


Samuel is named in the roll of the OT heroes who lived and died in faith ( Hebrews 11:32). His unique position in the history of Israel is indicated by two phrases in Acts-‘all the prophets from Samuel’ ( Acts 3:24), and God ‘gave them judges until Samuel the prophet’  Acts 13:20). He is regarded as the last of the Judges and the first of the Prophets. In one stratum-the earliest-of the two books which bear his name he is the ‘seer’ of a small town; in another he is the ‘judge’ who rules over the whole people; in a third he is the ‘prophet’ who speaks like an Amos or a Hosea. But the difficult critical problems raised by the composite story of his life and achievements (see articles ‘Samuel’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols)and Encyclopaedia Biblica) have no bearing upon the NT passages in which he is mentioned. That he played a highly important rôle, religious and political, as representative of Jahweh and as king-maker, at a turning-point in Hebrew history is a fact which criticism leaves unshaken.

James Strahan.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [10]

the son of Elkanah and of Hannah, of the tribe of Levi, and family of Kohath, was born A.M. 2848. He was an eminent inspired prophet, historian, and the seventeenth and last Judge of Israel; and died in the ninety-eighth year of his age, two years before Saul, A.M. 2947, 1 Samuel 25. To Samuel are ascribed the book of Judges, that of Ruth, and the first book of Samuel. There is, indeed, great probability that he composed the first twenty-four chapters of the first book of Samuel; since they contain nothing but what he might have written, and such transactions as he was chiefly concerned in. However, in these chapters there are some small additions, which seem to have been inserted after his death. Samuel began the order of the prophets, which was never discontinued till the death of Zechariah and Malachi,  Acts 3:24 . From early youth to hoary years, the character of Samuel is one on which the mind rests with veneration and delight.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [11]

Samuel ( Săm'U-El ), Heard Of God. A great prophet, the last judge of Israel before the monarchy, which he introduced by anointing Saul. He appears also as the head of a school of prophets. 1 Sam. chaps. 1-5. He was the son of Elkanah a Levite, descended from that Korah who perished in the wilderness.  Numbers 16:1-50;  Numbers 26:11. Little is recorded in detail of his administration. For a number of years he judged Israel—this is the sum of what is told—though whether his authority was recognized by all the tribes may admit of question. The places to which he is said to have gone on circuit were all in the south of Palestine,  1 Samuel 7:1-17; and when he appointed his sons to office it was in Beer-sheba, the extreme south.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [12]

A prophet, a Nazarite from his birth, raised up by God to be His servant because Israel had failed in its priests, and every man was doing that which was right in his own eyes. He was one whom God answered when he called upon Him,  Psalm 99:6 , and is classed with Moses as intercessor with God.  Jeremiah 15:1 . Samuel was also a faithful judge in Israel, and acted as priest when Eli and his sons were dead. His history is given in the books that bear his name. He is called SHEMUELin  1 Chronicles 6:33 .

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

sam´ū́ - el ( שׁמוּאל , shemū'ēl  ; Σαμουήλ , Samouḗl ): The word "Samuel" signifies "name of God," or "his name is El" (God). Other interpretations of the name that have been offered are almost certainly mistaken. The play upon the name in   1 Samuel 1:20 is not intended of course to be an explanation of its meaning, but is similar to the play upon the name Moses in   Exodus 2:10 and frequently elsewhere in similar instances. Thus, by the addition of a few letters shemū'ēl becomes shā'ūl mē'ēl (שמואל , מאל שׁאוּל ) "asked of God," and recalls to the mother of Samuel the circumstances of the divine gift to her of a son. Outside of 1st Samuel the name of the great judge and prophet is found in  Jeremiah 15:1;  Psalm 99:6 and in 1 and 2 Chronicles. The reference in Jeremiah seems intended to convey the same impression that is given by the narrative of 1 Samuel, that in some sense Samuel had come to be regarded as a second Moses, upon whom the mantle of the latter had fallen, and who had been once again the deliverer and guide of the people at a great national crisis.

1. Sources and Character of the History:

The narrative of the events of the life of Samuel appears to be derived from more than one source (see Samuel , Books Of ). The narrator had before him and made use of biographies and traditions, which he combined into a single consecutive history. The completed picture of the prophet's position and character which is thus presented is on the whole harmonious and consistent, and gives a very high impression of his piety and loyalty to Yahweh, and of the wide influence for good which he exerted. There are divergences apparent in detail and standpoint between the sources or traditions, some of which may probably be due merely to misunderstanding of the true nature of the events recorded, or to the failure of the modern reader rightly to appreciate the exact circumstances and time. The greater part of the narrative of the life of Samuel, however, appears to have a single origin.

2. Life:

In the portion of the general history of Israel contained in 1 Samuel are narrated the circumstances of the future prophet's birth (chapter 1); of his childhood and of the custom of his parents to make annual visits to the sanctuary at Shiloh ( 1 Samuel 2:11 ,  1 Samuel 2:18-21 ,  1 Samuel 2:26 ); of his vision, and the universal recognition of him as a prophet enjoying the special favor of Yahweh (3 through  1 Samuel 4:1 ). The narrative is then interrupted to describe the conflicts with the Philistines, the fate of Eli and his sons, and the capture of the ark of God. It is only after the return of the ark, and apparently at the close of the 20 years during which it was retained at Kiriath-jearim, that Samuel again comes forward publicly, exhorting the people to repentance and promising them deliverance from the Philistines. A summary narrative is then given of the summoning of a national council at Mizpah, at which Samuel "judged the children of Israel," and offered sacrifice to the Lord, and of Yahweh's response in a great thunderstorm, which led to the defeat and panic-stricken flight of the Philistines. Then follows the narrative of the erection of a commemorative stone or pillar, Eben-ezer, "the stone of help," and the recovery of the Israelite cities which the Philistines had captured ( 1 Samuel 7:5-14 ). The narrator adds that the Philistines came no more within the border of Israel all the days of Samuel ( 1 Samuel 7:13 ); perhaps with an intentional reference to the troubles and disasters of which this people was the cause in the time of Saul. A brief general statement is appended of Samuel's practice as a judge of going on annual circuit through the land, and of his home at Ramah ( 1 Samuel 7:15-17 ).

No indication is given of the length of time occupied by these events. At their close, however, Samuel was an old man, and his sons who had been appointed judges in his place or to help him in his office proved themselves unworthy ( 1 Samuel 8:1-3 ). The elders of the people therefore came to Samuel demanding the appointment of a king who should be his successor, and should judge in his stead. The request was regarded by the prophet as an act of disloyalty to Yahweh, but his protest was overruled by divine direction, and at Samuel's bidding the people dispersed (1 Sam 8:4-22).

At this point the course of the narrative is again interrupted to describe the family and origin of Saul, his personal appearance, and the search for the lost asses of his father ( 1 Samuel 9:1-5 ); his meeting with Samuel in a city in the land of Zuph, in or on the border of the territory of Benjamin (Zuph is the name of an ancestor of Elkanah, the father of Samuel, in  1 Samuel 1:1 ), a meeting of which Samuel had received divine pre-intimation ( 1 Samuel 9:15 f); the honorable place given to Saul at the feast; his anointing by Samuel as ruler of Israel, together with the announcement of three "signs," which should be to Saul assurances of the reality of his appointment and destiny; the spirit of prophecy which took possession of the future king, whereby is explained a proverbial saying which classed Saul among the prophets; and his silence with regard to what had passed between himself and Samuel on the subject of the kingdom (1 Sam 9:6 through 10:16).

It is usually, and probably rightly, believed that the narrative of these last incidents is derived from a different source from that of the preceding chapters. Slight differences of inconsistency or disagreement lie on the surface. Samuel's home is not at Ramah, but a nameless city in the land of Zuph, where he is priest of the high place, with a local but, as far as the narrative goes, not a national influence or reputation; and it is anticipated that he will require the customary present at the hands of his visitors ( 1 Samuel 9:6-8 ). He is described, moreover, not as a judge, nor does he discharge judicial functions, but expressly as a "seer," a name said to be an earlier title equivalent to the later "prophet" ( 1 Samuel 9:9 ,  1 Samuel 9:11 ,  1 Samuel 9:19 ). Apart, however, from the apparently different position which Samuel occupies, the tone and style of the narrative is altogether distinct from that of the preceding chapters. It suggests, both in its form and in the religious conceptions which are assumed or implied, an older and less elaborated tradition than that which has found expression in the greater part of the book; and it seems to regard events as it were from a more primitive standpoint than the highly religious and monotheistic view of the later accounts. Its value as a witness to history is not impaired, but perhaps rather enhanced by its separate and independent position. The writer or compiler of 1 Samuel has inserted it as a whole in his completed narrative at the point which he judged most suitable. To the same source should possibly be assigned the announcement of Saul's rejection in  1 Samuel 13:8-15 .

The course of the narrative is resumed at  1 Samuel 10:17 ff, where, in a second national assembly at Mizpah, Saul is selected by lot and accepted by the people as king (  1 Samuel 10:17-24 ); after which the people dispersed, and Saul returned to his home at Gibeah ( 1 Samuel 10:25-27 ). At a solemn assembly at Gilgal, at which the kingship is again formally conferred upon Saul, Samuel delivered a farewell address to his fellow-countrymen. A thunderstorm terrified the people; they were reassured, however, by Samuel with promises of the protection and favor of Yahweh, if they continued to fear and serve Him (11:14 through 12:25). Later the rejection of Saul for disobedience and presumption is announced by Samuel ( 1 Samuel 13:8-15 ). The commission to destroy Amalek is delivered to Saul by Samuel; and the rejection of the king is again pronounced because of his failure to carry out the command. Agag is then slain by Samuel with his own hand; and, the latter having returned to his home at Ramah, the narrator adds that he remained there in seclusion until the day of his death, "mourning" for Saul, but refusing to meet him again (1 Samuel 15). Finally the death and burial of Samuel at Ramah, together with the lamentation of the people for him, are briefly recorded in  1 Samuel 25:1 , and referred to again in  1 Samuel 28:3 .

Two incidents of Samuel's life remain, in which he is brought into relation with the future king David. No indication of date or circumstance is given except that the first incident apparently follows immediately upon the second and final rejection of Saul as recorded in  1 Samuel 15 . In  1 Samuel 16:1-13 is narrated the commission of Samuel to anoint a successor to Saul, and his fulfillment of the commission by the choice of David the son of Jesse, the Bethlehemite. And, in a later chapter (  1 Samuel 19:18-24 ), a second occasion is named on which the compelling spirit of prophecy came upon Saul, and again the proverbial saying, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" is quoted ( 1 Samuel 19:24; compare  1 Samuel 10:11 ,  1 Samuel 10:12 ), and is apparently regarded as taking its origin from this event.

The anointing of David by Samuel is a natural sequel to his anointing of Saul, when the latter has been rejected and his authority and rights as king have ceased. There is nothing to determine absolutely whether the narrative is derived from the same source as the greater part of the preceding history. Slight differences of style and the apparent presuppositions of the writer have led most scholars to the conclusion that it has a distinct and separate origin. If so, the compiler of the Books of Samuel drew upon a third source for his narrative of the life of the seer, a source which there is no reason to regard as other than equally authentic and reliable. With the second incident related in  1 Samuel 19:18-24 , the case is different. It is hardly probable that so striking a proverb was suggested and passed into currency independently on two distinct occasions. It seems evident that here two independent sources or authorities were used, which gave hardly reconcilable accounts of the origin of a well-known saying, in one of which it has been mistakenly attributed to a similar but not identical occurrence in the life of Saul. In the final composition of the book both accounts were then inserted, without notice being taken of the inconsistency which was apparent between them.

Yet later in the history Samuel is represented as appearing to Saul in a vision at Endor on the eve of his death ( 1 Samuel 28:11-20 ). The witch also sees the prophet and is stricken with fear. He is described as in appearance an old man "covered with a robe" ( 1 Samuel 28:14 ). In characteristically grave and measured tones he repeats the sentence of death against the king for his disobedience to Yahweh, and announces its execution on the morrow; Saul's sons also will die with him ( 1 Samuel 28:19 ), and the whole nation will be involved in the penalty and suffering, as they all had a part in the sin.

The high place which Samuel occupies in the thought of the writers and in the tradition and esteem of the people is manifest throughout the history. The different sources from which the narrative is derived are at one in this, although perhaps not to an equal degree. He is the last and greatest of the judges, the first of the prophets, and inaugurates under divine direction the Israelite kingdom and the Davidic line.

3. Character and Influence of Samuel:

It is not without reason, therefore, that he has been regarded as in dignity and importance occupying the position of a second Moses in relation to the people. In his exhortations and warnings the Deuteronomic discourses of Moses are reflected and repeated. He delivers the nation from the hand of the Philistines, as Moses from Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and opens up for them a new national era of progress and order under the rule of the kings whom they have desired. Thus, like Moses, he closes the old order, and establishes the people with brighter prospects upon more assured foundations of national prosperity and greatness. In nobility of character and utterance also, and in fidelity to Yahweh, Samuel is not unworthy to be placed by the side of the older lawgiver. The record of his life is not marred by any act or word which would appear unworthy of his office or prerogative. And the few references to him in the later literature ( Psalm 99:6;  Jeremiah 15:1;  1 Chronicles 6:28;  1 Chronicles 9:22;  1 Chronicles 11:3;  1 Chronicles 26:28;  1 Chronicles 29:29;  2 Chronicles 35:18 ) show how high was the estimation in which his name and memory were held by his fellow-countrymen in subsequent ages.


The literature is given in the article, Samuel , Books Of (which see).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [14]

Sam´uel, the last of those extraordinary regents that presided over the Hebrew common wealth under the title of Judges. The circumstances of his birth are detailed at length in the first chapter of the book of Samuel. His mother vowed that if Jehovah should give her a man-child, she would devote him to the Lord all the days of her life. Her prayer was heard, and when the birth of a son fulfilled her hopes, this child of prayer was named Samuel (heard of God). In consequence of his mother's vow, the boy was from his early years set apart to the service of Jehovah, under the immediate tutelage of Eli.

The degeneracy of the people at this time was extreme. The tribes seem to have administered their affairs as independent republics, the national confederacy was weak and disunited, and the spirit of public patriotic enterprise had been worn out by constant turmoil and invasion. The theocratic influence was also scarcely felt, its peculiar ministers being withdrawn, and its ordinary manifestations, except in the routine of the Levitical ritual, having ceased; 'the word of the Lord was precious in those days, there was no open vision' . The young devotee, 'the child Samuel,' was selected by Jehovah to renew the deliverance of his oracles. As he lay in his chamber adjoining the sacred edifice, the Lord, by means adapted; to his juvenile capacity, made known to him his first and fearful communication—the doom of Eli's apostate house. Other revelations speedily followed this; the frequency of God's messages to the young prophet established his fame; and the exact fulfillment of them secured his reputation. The fearful fate pronounced on the head and family of the pontificate was soon executed. Hophni and Phinehas, Eli's sons, both fell in one day; the Israelites were defeated with a great slaughter, and the ark of God was taken. Their father sat by the wayside to gather the earliest news of the battle, for his 'heart trembled for the ark of God;' and as a fugitive from the scene of conflict reported to him the sad disaster—Israel routed and fleeing in panic, Hophni and Phinehas both slain, and the ark of God taken—this last and overpowering intelligence so shocked him, that he fainted and fell from his seat, and in his fall 'brake his neck and died' . When the feeble administration of Eli, who had judged Israel forty years, was concluded by his death, Samuel was too young to succeed to the regency, and the actions of this earlier portion of his life are left unrecorded. The ark, which had been captured by the Philistines, soon vindicated its majesty, and after being detained among them seven months, was sent back to Israel. It did not, however, reach Shiloh, in consequence of the fearful judgment of Bethshemesh , but rested in Kirjathjearim for no fewer than twenty years . It is not till the expiration of this period that Samuel appears again in the history. This long season of national humiliation was to some extent improved. 'All the house of Israel lamented after the Lord,' and Samuel, seizing upon the crisis, issued a public manifesto, exposing the sin of idolatry, urging on the people religious amendment, and promising political deliverance on their reformation. The people obeyed, the oracular mandate was effectual, and the principles of the theocracy again triumphed . The tribes were summoned by the prophet to assemble in Mizpeh, and at this assembly of the Hebrew comitia, Samuel seems to have been elected regent .

This mustering of the Hebrews at Mizpeh on the inauguration of Samuel alarmed the Philistines, and their 'lords went up against Israel.' Samuel assumed the functions of the theocratic viceroy, offered a solemn oblation, and implored the immediate protection of Jehovah. He was answered with propitious thunder. A fearful storm burst upon the Philistines they were signally defeated, and did not recruit their strength again during the administration of the prophet-judge. The grateful victor erected a stone of remembrance, and named it Ebenezer (the stone of help). From an incidental allusion we learn, too, that about this time the Amorites, the Eastern foes of Israel, were also at peace with them. The presidency of Samuel appears to have been eminently successful. From the very brief sketch given us of his public life, we infer that the administration of justice occupied no little share of his time and attention. He went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpeh, places not very far distant from each other, but chosen perhaps because they were the old scenes of worship.

The dwelling of the prophet was at Ramah, where religious worship was established after the patriarchal model, and where Samuel, like Abraham, built an altar to the Lord.

In Samuel's old age two of his sons were appointed by him deputy-judges in Beersheba. These young men possessed not their father's integrity of spirit, but 'turned aside after lucre, took bribes, and perverted judgment' . The advanced years of the venerable ruler himself, and his approaching dissolution, the certainty that none of his family could fill his office with advantage to the country, the horror of a period of anarchy which his death might occasion, the necessity of having someone to put an end to tribal jealousies and concentrate the energies of the nation, especially as there appeared to be symptom of renewed warlike preparations on the part of the Ammonites —these considerations seem to have led the elders of Israel to adopt the bold step of assembling at Ramah and soliciting Samuel 'to make a king to judge them.' The proposed change from a republican to a regal form of government displeased Samuel for various reasons. Besides its being a departure from the first political institute, and so far an infringement on the rights of the divine head of the theocracy, it was regarded by the regent as a virtual charge against himself, and might appear to him as one of those examples of popular fickleness and ingratitude which the history of every realm exhibits in profusion. Jehovah comforts Samuel in this respect by saying, 'They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me.' Being warned of God to accede to their request for a king, and yet to remonstrate with the people, and set before the nation the perils and tyranny of a monarchical government , Samuel proceeded to the election of a sovereign. Saul, son of Kish, 'a choice young man and a goodly,' whom he had met unexpectedly, was pointed out to him by Jehovah as the king of Israel, and by the prophet was anointed and saluted as monarch. Samuel again convened the nation at Mizpeh, again with honest zeal condemned their project, but caused the sacred lot to be taken. The lot fell on Saul. The prophet now formally introduced him to the people, who shouted in joyous acclamation 'God save the king.'

Not content with oral explanations, this last of the republican chiefs not only told the people the manner of the kingdom, 'but wrote it in a book and laid it up before the Lord.' What is here asserted of Samuel may mean, that he extracted from the Pentateuch the recorded provision of Moses for a future monarchy, and added to it such warnings, and counsels, and safeguards as his inspired sagacity might suggest. Saul's first battle being so successful, and the preparations for it displaying no ordinary energy and promptitude of character, his popularity was suddenly advanced, and his throne secured. Taking advantage of the general sensation in favor of Saul, Samuel cited the people to meet again in Gilgal, to renew the kingdom, to ratify the new constitution, and solemnly install the sovereign . Here the upright judge made a powerful appeal to the assembly in vindication of his government, and the whole multitude responded in unanimous approval of his honesty and intrepidity . Then he, still jealous of God's prerogative and the civil rights of his people, briefly narrated their history, showed them how they never wanted chieftains to defend them when they served God, and declared that it was distrust of God's raising up a new leader in a dreaded emergency that excited the outcry for a king. In proof of this charge he appealed to Jehovah, who answered in a fearful hurricane of thunder and rain. The terrified tribes confessed their guilt, and besought Samuel to intercede for them in his disinterested patriotism.

It is said that Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. The assertion may mean that even after Saul's coronation Samuel's power, though formally abdicated, was yet actually felt and exercised in the direction of state affairs. No enterprise could be undertaken without Samuel's concurrence. His was an authority higher than the king's. We find Saul, having mustered his forces, about to march against the Philistines, yet delaying to do so till Samuel consecrated the undertaking. He came not at the time appointed, as Saul thought, and the impatient monarch proceeded to offer sacrifice—a fearful violation of the national law. The prophet arrived as the religious service was concluded, and rebuking Saul for his presumption, distinctly hinted at the short continuance of his kingdom. Again we find Samuel charging Saul with the extirpation of the Amalekites. The royal warrior proceeded on the expedition, but obeyed not the mandate of Jehovah. His apologies, somewhat craftily framed, for his inconsistencies availed him not with the prophet, and he was by the indignant seer virtually dethroned. He had forfeited his crown by disobedience to God. Yet Samuel mourned for him. But now the Lord directed him to make provision for the future government of the country . To prevent strife and confusion it was necessary, in the circumstances, that the second king should be appointed before the first sovereign's demise. Samuel went to Bethlehem and set apart the youngest of the sons of Jesse, 'and came to see Saul no more till the day of his death.' At length Samuel died , and all Israel mourned for him, and buried him in his house at Ramah.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [15]

A Jewish prophet, born, of the tribe of Levi, about 1155 B.C.; consecrated by his mother from earliest years to the service of the Lord; who became a judge when he was 40, anointed first Saul and then David to be king over the till then disunited tribes of Israel, and thus became the founder of the Jewish monarchy.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Samuel'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.