•  3 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Samuel! What memories rise up at the mention of this name — redolent with all that is lovely and dear to the Christian's heart — a name honored of God, and coupled in His Word with that of Moses and Aaron, and David (Psa. 99:66Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the Lord, and he answered them. (Psalm 99:6); Jer. 15:11Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. (Jeremiah 15:1); Heb. 11:3232And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: (Hebrews 11:32)). We love Samuel because he loved and honored God. Jehovah had said by the man of God immediately preceding Samuel, " Them that honor Me I will honor " (1 Sam. 2:3030Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. (1 Samuel 2:30)), and this word was fulfilled to a marked degree in the career of Samuel, into whose instructive life we are about to look. This will appear in detail as we proceed in our study.
Suffice it to remark here, that through all the changes of times and government in Israel during his long life, from the rule of the Judges, including his own, to that of the kingdom under the unhappy Saul, he was held constantly in honor, even in his retirement from public life in Ramah; and at his death he was universally mourned, and honored with a national burial (1 Sam. 25:11And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran. (1 Samuel 25:1)).
His name, heard, or asked, of God, is strikingly indicative of one of the chief characteristics of his godly life of intercessory prayer, in which he sometimes, like his great Antitype, continued all night (1 Sam. 15:1111It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night. (1 Samuel 15:11); Luke 6:1212And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)). He ever stood inflexibly firm for the word of God, as witness his prompt execution of Agag; and from his lips have come down to us the words spoken on that occasion, which have meant so much to the people of God ever since: " Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams " (1 Sam. 15:2222And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)). Yet we find that he was not devoid of tenderness; his mourning for the rejected Saul betokens a heart of more than ordinary sensitiveness (1 Sam. 16:11And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. (1 Samuel 16:1)).
Samuel is one of the very few blameless characters of Biblical history; for we must not conclude from the complaint of the people (ever ready to exaggerate, when seeking an excuse for a course in which their conscience is uneasy), that Samuel had really failed in reference to his sons, or refused to remove them, had it been in his power to do so. It is possible that he was not as exacting of them in connection with the exercise of their judgeship as he should have been, though there is no certain evidence of this. They were his natural and legitimate successors, and were perhaps the best that could be had at the time. No, we love to think of him as Samuel the Blameless, and honor him, not only for the exalted position he occupied, and for his work's sake, but for his personal excellences as well.
With these few words of introduction, we proceed to the happy task of a more minute examination of his life, his character and his times.
Zephyrhills, Fla., 1919