Samuel was a prophet and the last judge of Israel. He led Israel as a priest and as a military and political chief. Samuel was an example of faithfulness and obedience to God.
Samuel’s mother, Ana, was very sad because she couldn’t have children. When she went to God’s sanctuary, she promised that if she had a child, she would dedicate it to God. High priest Eli told him that God would grant his heart’s desire. Ana returned home and became pregnant. She called her son Samuel, because God granted his request ( 1 Samuel 1:20 ).
When Samuel was weaned, Ana took him to the sanctuary, where he was under Eli’s care. Samuel grew up in the sanctuary, ministering before the Lord ( 1 Samuel 2:11 ).
One night, when Samuel was a boy, God called him. At first, Samuel thought the voice was Eli’s. Samuel heard the voice three times, so Eli understood that it was God ( 1 Samuel 3: 8-9 ). The fourth time, Samuel replied and God told him that he would bring judgment on Eli’s family, because his children were evil. This was the first time that God spoke to Samuel.
Some time later, the Philistines attacked Israel and Eli’s sons were killed in battle. When Eli heard the news, he fell from his chair and broke his neck ( 1 Samuel 4: 17-18 ). God destroyed Eli’s family because his children were not faithful and placed Samuel as a priest over Israel.
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Samuel, Judge of Israel
As an adult, Samuel summoned the people of Israel and led the army in battle against the Philistines. With God’s help, the Philistines were defeated. Samuel was recognized as a judge over Israel and began to travel the country, resolving issues ( 1 Samuel 7: 15-16 ). God was against the Philistines throughout Samuel’s life.
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When Samuel became old, he placed his sons as judges over Israel. But their children did many wrong things. So the people asked for a king to be their leader. Samuel did not like the request, because they were rejecting God as their king. Samuel warned about the negative consequences of having a king but went to anoint a king, because God commanded ( 1 Samuel 8: 6-7 ).
A king for Israel
One day Samuel met Saul and privately anointed him as king of Israel. Samuel summoned the tribes of Israel and God revealed that Saul should be king. Samuel and all the people recognized Saul as king. After a military victory by Saul, Samuel confirmed him as king, in an official ceremony ( 1 Samuel 11: 14-15 ). As Samuel was old, he said goodbye to the people and withdrew from the leadership.
Saul turned away from God, so Samuel warned that God had rejected him as king. God sent Samuel to anoint a new king. Samuel went to the house of Jesse and God indicated that David should be king. Samuel anointed David and returned home ( 1 Samuel 16: 12-13 ). David became a great military leader and Saul was jealous of him. Saul tried to kill David, who spent several years as a fugitive. David only became king years after Samuel’s death.
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Samuel died and all Israel wept for him ( 1 Samuel 25: 1 ). He was Israel’s last judge and was very important in uniting the country and establishing the monarchy. Samuel was faithful to God his whole life and God used him to do great things.