Samuel the Prophet

C. E. Hocking, Cardiff

Part 5 of 18 of the series Key Men in sacred history

THE PERIOD OF THE JUDGES, as distinct from the scope of the book of Judges, extends from Judges I to 1 Samuel 7. Throughout, all is seen to be fitful, wilful and unsettled. Moral standards were appalling and spiritual things were at a low ebb. Whereas, for the most part, the Book of Judges develops the conditions among the people, 1 Samuel reviews the corruption of the priesthood. People and priests had miserably failed and the platform is set for the introduction of the prophet. When Samuel steps into the breach at the eleventh hour, we witness afresh the sovereignty and the sufficiency of God. 'If all else has failed, God has not.'
Successive phases of his life are described in chapters 1 to 8 of 1 Samuel, incidental references throughout the remainder of the book completing the details.
The preparation for his life's work includes his birth, dedication to the Lord, training at his mother's knee and ultimately in the tabernacle at Shiloh. The crowning of these early years is his call as a prophet, 3. 10ff. Josephus places this event in Samuel's twelfth year.
Following his call Samuel laboured for the Lord in His word. He was in fact established as a prophet among the people before the capture of the ark by the Philistines, 3. 21 to 4. 12. Between the victory of the Philistines, ch. 4, and their ultimate defeat at Ebenezer, ch. 7, another twenty years passed, 7. 2. Throughout this dark period, Samuel's ministry gradually bore fruit and 'all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord'. They turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 7. 3. The