Who Was Samuel In The Scriptures?


Who Was Samuel In The Scriptures?

Shemu’el (Samuel), whose name means “heard of Elohim,” was dedicated to Yahuah by his mother, Hannah, as part of a vow she made before he was born (1 Samuel 1:11). Hannah had been barren and prayed so fervently for a child that Eli the priest thought she was drunk (1 Samuel 1). Yahuah granted Hannah’s request, and, true to her promise, Hannah dedicated Shemu’el (Samuel) to Yahuah. After Samuel was weaned, likely around the age of four, he was brought to the tabernacle to serve under Eli the priest (1 Samuel 1:22–25). Even as a child, Samuel was given his own tunic, a garment normally reserved for a priest as he ministered before Yahuah in the tent of meeting at Shiloh, where the ark of the covenant was kept (1 Samuel 2:18; 3:3). Traditionally, the sons of the priest would succeed their father’s ministry; however, Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were wicked in that they were immoral and showed contempt for Yahuah’s offering (1 Samuel 2:17, 22). Meanwhile, Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with Yahuah and with men (1 Samuel 2:26).

At a time when prophecies and visions were rare, Samuel heard what he first believed to be Eli calling him during the night. Though the young Samuel was ministering in the tabernacle, he still didn’t know Yahuah, and the word of Yahuah had not yet been revealed to him (1 Samuel 3:7). The first three times Yahuah called Samuel, the boy responded to Eli. Eli then understood what was happening and instructed Samuel to respond to Yahuah if he called again. Then, “YAHUAH came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ’samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ’speak, for your servant is listening'” (1 Samuel 3:10). Yahuah gave him a message of judgment to relay to Eli. The following day, Samuel took his first leap of faith, telling Eli everything, even though the message was bad news for Eli and his family (1 Samuel 3:11–18). Eli responded with acceptance. Samuel’s credibility as a prophet spread throughout Yisrael, and Yahuah continued to reveal His Word to His people through Samuel (1 Samuel 3:20–21).

The Philistines, perennial enemies of Yisrael, attacked Yahuah’s people. Eli’s sons were killed in the battle, and the ark of the covenant was captured and taken to Philistia. Upon hearing the news of his sons’ deaths, Eli also died. After several months, the Philistines returned the ark to Yisrael, where it remained at Kiriath Jearim for over twenty years. As the Yisraelites cried out to Yahuah for help against the Philistine oppressors, Shemu’el (Samuel) instructed them to be rid of the false elohims (gods) they had been worshiping. With Samuel’s leadership, and by Yahuah’s power, the Philistines were overcome, and there was a time of peace between them (1 Samuel 7:9–13). Samuel was recognized as the judge of all Yisrael.

Like Eli’s sons, Samuel’s two sons, Joel and Abijah, sinned before Elohim by seeking dishonest gain and perverting justice. Samuel had appointed his sons as judges, but the elders of Yisrael told Samuel that because he was too old and his sons did not walk in his ways, they wanted Samuel to appoint a king to rule like other nations had (1 Samuel 8:1–5). Samuel’s initial reaction to their demand was one of great displeasure, and he prayed to Yahuah about the matter. Yahuah told Samuel that they had not rejected him, but had rejected Yahuah as their king. Yahuah gave Samuel leave to permit their request but warned the people what they could expect from a king (1 Samuel 8:6–21).

In time, Saul, a Benjamite, was anointed by Samuel as Yisrael’s first king (1 Samuel 10:1). Even so, Samuel called on Yahuah for a sign to show the Yisraelites the evil of choosing to replace their true king—YAHUAH—with an earthly king (1 Samuel 12:16–18). After a time, Samuel learned that Saul had been rejected by Yahuah to lead His people because of Saul’s disobedience (1 Samuel 13:11–13). Samuel immediately warned Saul that Yahuah had already sought out a replacement for him (1 Samuel 13:14). After Saul continued to disobey, Samuel denounced him as king (1 Samuel 15:26). Samuel returned home, never to be at King Saul’s side again, but he mourned for him (1 Samuel 15:35). Yahuah instructed Samuel to choose another king from the family of Jesse (1 Samuel 16:1), and Samuel anointed Jesse’s youngest son, David (1 Samuel 16:13). Samuel died before David was made king, though, and “all Yisrael assembled and mourned for him” (1 Samuel 25:1). 

The life of Samuel was pivotal in Yisrael’s history. He was a prophet, he anointed the first two kings of Yisrael, and he was the last in the line of Yisrael’s judges, considered by many as the greatest judge (Acts 13:20). Samuel is cited alongside Moses and Aaron as men who called on Yahuah and were answered (Psalm 99:6). Later in Yisrael’s history, when the Yisraelites were living in disobedience to Elohim, Yahuah declared they were beyond even the defense of Moses and Samuel, two of Yisrael’s greatest intercessors (Jeremiah 15:1). This is a clear indication of the power of Samuel’s prayers—and the depth of Yisrael’s sin in Jeremiah’s day.

There is much to learn from the life of Samuel. In particular, we see the sovereignty of Yahuah in Yisrael, no matter whom the people chose to reign over them. We may allow other things or people to occupy the throne of our hearts, but Yahuah will always remain sovereign and will never accept usurpers to His authority in the lives of His subjects.

We can imagine how daunting it must have been for the young Samuel to give an honest account of his first vision to Eli. However, it appears that, even from a young age, Samuel’s absolute allegiance was to Yahuah first. There may be times when we feel intimidated by those in authority, but, as Samuel proved more than once, it is Yahuah who must remain our priority. The world may look on us cynically when we remain steadfast in our faith. However, we can be confident that Yahuah will vindicate those who have remained faithful to His Word (Psalm 135:14).

Though Samuel had deep reservations about letting the people have a king, he was quick to consult Yahuah about the matter and abided by His decision (1 Samuel 8:6–7). Many of us may consult Yahuah about important decisions in our lives, but how many of us are ready to accept His counsel and abide by it, especially when it appears to go against our own desires? Leaders in particular can learn from Samuel’s example of the power he derived from his close relationship with Yahuah, generated by a healthy prayer life. Samuel was a great man of prayer, and his people respected him for it (1 Samuel 12:19, 23). Even though Samuel was aware of the evil in Saul’s life, he never stopped praying and mourning for him. Indeed, Samuel described it as a sin not to pray for the people under his care. Perhaps too quickly we may deem a brother beyond restoration when we see him fall into sin. Certainly, Yahuah’s plans for each individual will come to pass, but it should never stop us from continuing to pray and care for those who are weaker in their faith (Romans 15:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:14).

The main theme throughout Samuel’s life is that Yahuah alone should receive the glory and honor. After making his sons judges, it must have been a very sad thing for Samuel to learn that they were unfit to lead. When he consulted Yahuah about the people’s request for a king, nothing was said in defense of his sons. Samuel was obedient to Yahuah’s instructions to give the people what they wanted.

A key verse in the life of Samuel relates his words to King Saul: “But Samuel replied: ‘Does Yahuah delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of Yahuah? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams’” (1 Samuel 15:22). Obedience to Yahuah’s Word must always be our top priority.



About the author

Gera'el Toma

A highly esteemed elder in the faith of the Natsarim, the first century believers in Messiah Yahusha, and a treasured member of the Remnant House Team.

Gera'el Toma (Gerald Thomas) is an internationally recognized and respected teacher of the Holy Scriptures as originally written in the Hebrew language.

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Gera'el Toma

A highly esteemed elder in the faith of the Natsarim, the first century believers in Messiah Yahusha, and a treasured member of the Remnant House Team.

Gera'el Toma (Gerald Thomas) is an internationally recognized and respected teacher of the Holy Scriptures as originally written in the Hebrew language.

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