Winners and Losers: Part 11 -
Samuel: A Man of Faith Who Followed His Mother's Plan
Kathy's Sunday School Lessons Written for Young Boys and Girls by Kathryn Capoccia
© Copyright Kathryn Capoccia 2001. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.
Samuel is a figure of the Old Testament who holds a unique place in the history of God’s working with man. He is a man who helped his people transition from the time of the judges to the time of the monarchy; he was a judge, a priest and a prophet. He was the last of the Old Testament judges and first man to be a prophet to a king; he also anointed the first two kings of Israel. His unique ministry, which was to call the people of God to a revival of true worship (chapter 7) and to help establish a God glorifying monarchy, had been set in motion by his mother, Hannah, when she made a Nazirite vow for him. Samuel confirmed his mother’s plan for his life by serving God from his early youth until his death as an aged man (1SA 25:1). Let’s look at this godly man and see if we can learn anything from him that will help us grow spiritually.
I. Who Was He? (1SA 1-4;
A. What was his name? Samuel means “His Name is God”; Samuel sounds like the Hebrew for “heard of God”.
B. When did he live? At the end of the period of the Judges and during the reign of Saul (he died before that reign was over; 1SA ).
C. Who were his people?
1. He was a Levite, a descendant of Kohath (the Levitical family from which actual priests were drawn) and under normal circumstances would have started priestly service at 25 yrs. of age and continued until he was 50 (1CH 6:26, 33).
2. His parents were:
a. Elkanah, his father, was an Ephraimite of Ramah. He had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. He was a godly man who obeyed the statues regarding annual sacrificing at Shiloh (1SA 1:5).
b. Hannah, his mother was probably Elkanah’s first wife (see the levirate law, DEU 21:15-17, 25:5-10), who had been barren. She was a godly woman who was long-suffering under ridicule from her rival, Peninnah (1SA 1:2,7).
II. What Did He Do?
A. He was a consecrated child.
1. He was conceived through prayer.
a) Hannah petitioned God for a son (1SA 1:9-11).
b) Hannah vowed that the child would be “devoted” to God (1SA 1:11).
1) He would be dedicated to levitical service for God all of his life (1SA 1:11; see NUM 4:2,3).
2) He would be a Nazirite all of his life (1SA 1:11; see NUM 6:1-8).
WHAT IS A NAZIRITE?
It’s someone who dedicates himself/herself to service for God; the word “nazirite” means “to separate or abstain”. A Nazirite vow could be taken for a specific period of time or for life. There were outward signs of testimony of such a vow: a Nazirite could not eat or drink any product made from grapes, he/she could not cut his/her hair, and he/she could not become defiled by going near a dead person.
*Hannah could think of nothing more important for her son’s life-work than to be a servant of God, not just for a prescribed time but for all of his time.
c) Hannah conceived in answer to her prayer (1SA 1:19,20).
*Hannah’s prayer of testimony and praise in 1SA 2 speaks of Hannah’s great faith and love for God and her joy in her answer to her petition.
2. He was reared apart.
“A father to the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation” (PSA 68:5).
a) Samuel was sheltered until he was weaned, lit. “dealt fully with” (1SA 1:22), probably at 2 or 3 yrs. of age.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (PRO 22:6).
*The implication here is that Hannah wanted to train him spiritually as well as physically before he was to be separated from her.
b) Samuel was presented to God at Shiloh after his weaning (1SA 1:24).
WHY AT SHILOH?
Shiloh was located 20 miles N of Jerusalem and was the religious center of Israel because the Tabernacle resided there (JOS 18:1).
1) He was presented to God with a burnt offering (for his consecration to God; 1SA 1:24).
2) He was given up to the care of Eli, the High Priest, to serve God at the Tabernacle in fulfillment of Hannah’s vow (in this the boy became an “orphan” in the sense that his parents no longer had direct care of him: 1SA 1:24; see ECC 5:4,5 for the payment of vows).
*The fulfillment of this vow was very costly to Hannah because she gave up the one thing she wanted most, her son, and she had to entrust him into the care of a man who had shown himself to be spiritually dull (1SA 1;13-17).
i. Eli was guilty of neglecting parental discipline over his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were wicked and arrogant priests (1SA 2:12-17, 3:13).
ii. Eli’s term was marked by apostasy and prophetic inactivity (1SA 3:1).
*Elkanah, as husband, had the right to uphold or to void Hannah’s vow under the Law (NUM 30:3-8); in this case he supported her by saying, “Do what seems right to you” (1SA 1:23).
3. He worshipped the LORD at Shiloh (1SA 1:28).
4) He ministered before the LORD wearing a linen ephod (1SA 2:18).
WHAT’S AN EPHOD?
It’s a “close-fitting, sleeveless, apron-like garment, extending to the hips and worn almost exclusively by the priest; used when officiating before the altar (see EXO 28:6-14); this information came from “The Ryrie Study Bible”, NIV Version, pg. 413.
5) He was still loved by his parents
i. His mother would make him in a new robe every year (1SA 2:19).
ii. His mother would visit him every year when the family came to make their yearly sacrifices (1SA 2:19).
*Hannah was rewarded by God for her love and devotion to Him and to Samuel; she later bore to Elkanah 3 more sons and 2 daughters (1SA 2:21).
*Samuel regarded Ramah, the place of his early childhood, as his home; he resided there, would judge there and began and ended his judging circuit from there. It was also the location of a school for prophets, no doubt established by Samuel (1SA 7:16,17, 19:19-20).
3. He was called by God (1SA 3:1-14, 19-21).
a. He grew in stature and favor with God and men (1SA 2:26; see LUK 2:52 for Christ’s similar maturation description).
b. He received God’s word
1) as a boy with Eli (1SA 3:1).
a) He was summoned by name to receive a vision (1SA 3:4-10).
b) He faithfully delivered God’s message to Eli (1SA 3:17,18).
2) again at Shiloh (1SA 3:21).
c. He was established as a prophet (1SA 3:19-21).
“God let none of his [Samuel’s] word’s fall to the ground and all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD” (1SA 3:19,20).
“No one takes the honor [of ministering as High Priest] to himself, but receives it when he is called by God… (HEB 5:4).
B. He was a committed servant.
1. He was a judge.
“Now Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he used to go annually on circuit to Bethel and Gilgal and Mizpah, and he judged Israel in all these places. Then his return was to Ramah, for his house was there and he judged Israel; and he built there an altar to the LORD” (1SA 7:15-17).
WHAT WAS A JUDGE?
A judge was a military and civil leader, and an arbitrator of legal questions; the time of the Judges was a time when the rule of Israel was in the hands of a few chosen judges but, because of the people’s apostasy, it was primarily a time “when every man did what was right in his own eyes” (JUD 17:6, 21:25). Samuel was the last of the Judges.
a. He had civil responsibilities (1SA 7:16).
b. He had religious responsibilities (1SA 7:6, 17).
c. He had military responsibilities (1SA 12:11).
2. He was a priest.
WHAT WAS A PRIEST?
A priest was a man who stood before God to minister for his people, offering sacrifices for his people, “daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices…” (HEB 10:11), and praying intercessorily. He also stood before the people for God teaching them the Law. A priest was the one who mediated the covenant of God with Israel and sought to maintain the holiness of the people of God.
a. He made offerings (1SA 6:9,10, 7:10, 11:15).
b. He prayed for the people (1SA 6:8, 7:3-6, 8:6,21).
c. He inquired of the LORD by lot (1SA 10:20).
d. He taught them God’s word (1SA 10:25).
3. He was a prophet.
WHAT WAS A PROPHET?
A prophet was an individual who “spoke forth” the words of God; he/she was a “mouthpiece” for God who received His message and proclaimed it in accordance with His commands. A prophet of God was chosen directly from God: no one assumed the function by inheritance or election. Samuel acted as a prophet on many occasions.
a. He instructed the people about having a king, and rebuked them for wanting an earthly king since that meant that they had rejected God as king (1SA 8).
b. He instructed Saul to defeat Amalek and rebuked him for capturing Agag; he later grieved that Saul was to be deposed (1SA 15).
c. He presided over the school of prophets at Naioth in Ramah (1SA 18-24).
As God’s divine representative a prophet could anoint kings (1SA 10:1; 1KI 1:39,45, 19:16; 2KI 9:6, 11:12).
WHAT IS ANOINTING?
It is a ritual application of oil over the head of someone who has God’s favor: “anointing indicated preparation for service and the gift of God’s Spirit”, “The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible”, Zondervan Publishers, © 1978, vol.1, pg. 171.
a. he anointed Saul (1SA 10:1).
b. he anointed David (1SA 15:13).
*The High Priest anointed priests.
C. He was a conscientious man
a. He was honest and had integrity in the eyes of the people (1SA 12:2-5).
b. When he was old he appointed his sons as judges to carry the LORD’S work (1SA 8:1).
1) His sons, however, were not like him; they did not “walk in his ways” (1SA 8:5).
2) His sons were dishonest, took bribes and perverted justice (1SA 8:3).
WHY WOULD THEY BEHAVE LIKE THIS?
Possibly Samuel had neglected the spiritual welfare of his family as he served the LORD, or possibly Samuel did not even know how to successfully rear sons because his closest role model, Eli, had failed to teach and discipline his own sons.
c. He obeyed God’s commands even at risk to himself (1SA 16:4).
WAS HE A WINNER OR A LOSER?
III. What Can We Learn From Him?
1. Godly parents can make a tremendous impact upon the lives of their children, even if they can only spend a little time with them in person; their prayers, instruction and godly example “can train them up” to become solid believers.
2. God is the One who chooses His servants and the One who picks their ministries; man can walk in a certain direction but it is God who confirms or denies that walk.
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