Samuel, from the Hebrew Shemuel (meaning Name of God or His Name is El) was a Levitical priest who is generally regarded as the last of the judges (1 Samuel 7:6,15-17), and the first of the prophets (1 Samuel 3:20, Acts 3:24, 13:20). He was an interesting and influential figure in the course of Bible History -
- Samuel was a Levite, the son of Elkanah and Hannah (1 Samuel 1:1-2, 20). At a very young age his parents took him to Shiloh and consecrated him to The Lord, serving under Eli the priest (1 Samuel 1:23-2:11).
- Samuel was eventually chosen by God to succeed Eli because Eli's sons had become corrupt beyond hope (1 Samuel 2:12-26, 3:19-21). The succession became final after the Israelites temporarily lost The Ark Of The Covenant, which had been carried from The Tabernacle in Shiloh into battle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:1-17). Eli's sons were killed in the battle (1 Samuel 4:11), and Eli himself died when he was told the news (1 Samuel 4:17-18).
- After becoming their leader, Samuel turned the Israelites away from their gross Idolatry, and led them to an overwhelming victory over the Philistines, who had been severely troubling Israel for over 40 years (1 Samuel 7:2-17).
- The victory over the Philistines was followed by a long period of peace for Israel (1 Samuel 7:13-14), during which Samuel served as a "circuit judge," going each year from his home in Ramah, about 20 miles north of Jerusalem, around the neighboring towns of Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpah, and then back to Ramah (1 Samuel 7:16).
- Samuel established regular worship of The Lord at Shiloh, where he built an altar, and he established a school of the prophets at Ramah (1 Samuel 19:20), and later also at Gibeah, Bethel, Gilgal, and Jericho (2 Kings 2:3-5 4:38).
- When Samuel grew old, and (just as had happened with Eli) it became obvious that his sons fell far short of the integrity of their father (1 Samuel 8:1-3), the people demanded a king "such as all the other nations have." (1 Samuel 8:5). They foolishly ignored the fact that they already had a King, Almighty God, guiding and protecting them. Reluctantly, but in obedience to The Lord's instruction (see Rock Of Ages), Samuel then found himself as Israel's "king maker" - he anointed Saul as Israel's first king (1 Samuel 10:20-24), and after Saul proved himself to be unstable and unwise, Samuel anointed Israel's second king - David (1 Samuel 16:13)
- When Samuel died, he was buried in Ramah (1 Samuel 25:1). It was a very big funeral - "all Israel assembled and mourned for him." (1 Samuel 25:1)
- After Samuel's death, Saul, by then corrupt and insane, used the witch of Endor to attempt to consult the spirit of Samuel (1 Samuel 28:1-25) (see Witches And Sorcerers).
- 2 Old Testament books are named after Samuel, with, it is generally believed, multiple authors.
Fact Finder: Is Samuel included among the faithful listed in the Bible's "faith chapter"?