The name Samuel means Heard of God. The peculiar circumstances connected with his birth are recorded in 1 Samuel 1:20. Hannah, one of the two wives of Elkanah, who came up to Shiloh to worship before the Lord, she prayed to God that she might become the mother of a son.

Her prayer was granted; and after the child was weaned she brought him to Shiloh and dedicated him to the Lord as an everlasting Nazarite, 1 Samuel 1:23-28 / 1 Samuel 2:1-11.

Samuel’s bodily needs and training were attended to by the women who served in the tabernacle, while Eli cared for his religious culture. There were probably, twelve years of his life went by, that’s why the scriptures say, “The child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord and also with men” 1 Samuel 2:26 / Luke 2:52

According to Judges 21:19-21 / 1 Samuel 2:12-17 / 1 Samuel 2:22 it was a time of great and growing immorality in Israel. The Philistines, who had grown in number and in power, were practically masters of the country and kept the people in Subjection, 1 Samuel 10:5 / 1 Samuel 13:3.

Who were the Philistines?

Genesis 10:14 a tribe allied to the Phoenicians. They were a branch of the primitive race which spread over the whole district of Lebanon and the valley of the Jordan, Crete and other Mediterranean islands. Some suppose them to have been a branch of the Rephaim, 2 Samuel 21:16-22.

In the time of Abraham, they inhabited the southwest of Judea, Abimelech of Gerar being their king, Genesis 21:32 / Genesis 21:34 / Genesis 26:1. They are, however, not noticed among the Canaanitic tribes mentioned in the Pentateuch. They are spoken of by Amos, Amos 9:7 / Jeremiah 47:4 as from Caphtor, i.e., probably Crete, or, as some think, the Delta of Egypt.

In the whole record from Exodus to Samuel they are represented as inhabiting the tract of country which lay between Judea and Egypt, Exodus 13:17 / Exodus 15:14-15 / Joshua 13:3 / 1 Samuel 4:1 ff. This powerful tribe made frequent incursions against the Hebrews. There was almost perpetual war between them.

They sometimes held the tribes, especially the southern tribes, in degrading servitude, Judges 15:11 / 1 Samuel 13:19-22 at other times they were defeated with great slaughter, 1 Samuel 14:1-47 / 1 Samuel 17:1ff.

These hostilities did not cease till the time of Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:8 when they were entirely subdued. They still, however, occupied their territory, and always showed their old hatred for Israel, Ezekiel 25:15-17.

They were finally conquered by the Romans. The Philistines are called Pulsata or Paulista on the Egyptian monuments; the land of the Philistines (Philistia) is termed Palastu and Pilista in the Assyrian inscriptions. They occupied the five cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, in the southwestern corner of Canaan, which belonged to Egypt up to the closing days of the Nineteenth Dynasty.

The occupation took place during the reign of Rameses III of the Twentieth Dynasty. The Philistines had formed part of the great naval confederacy, which attacked Egypt but were eventually repulsed by that Pharaoh, who, however, could not dislodge them from their settlements in Palestine.

Indeed, the country was properly Gerar, as in Genesis 20:1 ff. They are called Allophyli, “foreigners,” in the Septuagint, and in the Books of Samuel, they are spoken of as uncircumcised. It would therefore appear that they were not of the Semitic race, though after their establishment in Canaan they adopted the Semitic language of the country.

We learn from the Old Testament that they came from Caphtor, usually supposed to be Crete. From Philistia, the name of the land of the Philistines came to be extended to the whole of “Palestine.” Many scholars identify the Philistines with the Pelethites of 2 Samuel 8:18.

At this time, new communications from God began to be made to Samuel as a child. A mysterious voice came to him in the night season, calling him by name, and, instructed by Eli, he answered, “Speak, Lord; for your servant is listening.”

The message that came from the Lord was one of grief and ruin to Eli and his sons. Samuel told it all to Eli, whose only answer was, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems right to him “, 1 Samuel 3:11-18

the passive submission of a weak character, not, in his case, the expression of the highest trust and faith.

The Lord revealed himself now in different ways to Samuel, and his fame and his influence increased throughout the land as one divinely called to be a prophet from God. A new period in the history of the kingdom of God now started. The Philistine yoke was heavy, and the people, groaning under the widespread oppression, suddenly rose in revolt, and went out against the Philistines to battle.

A fierce and disastrous battle was fought at Aphek, near Ebenezer, 1 Samuel 4:1+2. The Israelites were defeated, leaving 4,000 dead in the field. The chiefs of the people thought to repair this great disaster by carrying with them the Ark of the Covenant as the symbol of God’s presence. They accordingly, without consulting Samuel, fetched it out of Shiloh to the camp near Aphek.

At the sight of the ark among them, the people shouted with a great shout so that the earth rang again. A second battle was fought, and again the Philistines defeated the Israelites, they charged their camp, slew 30,000 men, and took the sacred ark.

The tidings of this fatal battle were speedily conveyed to Shiloh; and so soon as the aged Eli heard that the ark of God was taken, he fell backwards from his seat at the entrance of the sanctuary, and broke his neck and died.

The tabernacle with its furniture was probably, by the advice of Samuel, now about twenty years of age, removed from Shiloh to some place of safety, and finally to Nob, where it remained many years, 1 Samuel 21:1.

The Philistines followed up their advantage and marched upon Shiloh, which they plundered and destroyed. Jeremiah 7:12 / Psalm 78:59.

This was a great period in the history of Israel. For twenty years after this fatal battle at Aphek, the whole land lay under the oppression of the Philistines. During all these dreary years Samuel was a spiritual power in the land. From Ramah, his native place, where he resided, his influence went forth on every side among the people.

With unwearied zeal, he went up and down from place to place, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting the people, trying to let them see their sinfulness, and trying to lead them to repentance. His labours were so far successful that all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

Samuel summoned the people to Mizpeh, one of the loftiest hills in Central Palestine, where they fasted and prayed, and prepared themselves there, under his direction, for a great war against the Philistines, who now marched their whole force toward Mizpeh, in order to crush the Israelites once for all.

At the intercession of Samuel God interposed on behalf of Israel. Samuel himself was their leader, the only occasion in which he acted as a leader in war. The Philistines were utterly routed. They fled in terror before the army of Israel, and a great slaughter occurred. This battle fought probably about BC 1095 put an end to the forty years of Philistine oppression.

In memory of this great deliverance, and in token of gratitude for the help they had, Samuel set up a great stone on the battlefield, and called it “Ebenezer,” saying, “Thus far the Lord helped us” 1 Samuel 7:13-14

This was the spot where, twenty years before, the Israelites had suffered a great defeat, when the ark of God was taken. This victory over the Philistines was followed by a long period of peace for Israel during which Samuel exercised the functions of judge, going from year to year in a circuit from his home in Ramah to Bethel, then on to Gilgal and returning by Mizpeh to Ramah.

He established regular services at Shiloh, where he built an altar; and at Ramah, he gathered a company of young men around him and established a school of the prophets. The schools of the prophets thus originated and afterwards established also at Gibeah, Bethel, Gilgal, and Jericho, exercised an important influence on the national character and history of the people in maintaining pure religion in the midst of growing corruption. They continued to the end of the Jewish community.

Many years now passed, during which Samuel exercised the functions of his judicial office, being the friend and counsellor of the people in all matters of private and public interest. He was a great statesman as well as a reformer, and all regarded him with deep respect as the seer, the prophet of the Lord.

At the close of this period, when he was now an old man, the elders of Israel came to him at Ramah, 1 Samuel 8:4,5,19-22 and feeling how great was the danger to which the nation was exposed from the misconduct of Samuel’s sons, whom he had invested with judicial functions as his assistants, and had placed at Beersheba on the Philistine border, and also from a threatened invasion of the Ammonites, they demanded that a king should be set over them.

This request was very displeasing to Samuel. He protested with them and warned them of the consequences of such a step. At length, however, referring the matter to God, he acceded to their desires and anointed Saul to be their king, 1 Samuel 11:15.

Who were the Amorites?

Highlanders, or hill men, the name given to the descendants of one of the sons of Canaan, Genesis 14:7 called Amurra or Amurri in the Assyrian and Egyptian inscriptions. In the early Babylonian monuments, all of Syria, including Palestine, is known as “the land of the Amorites.”

The southern slopes of the mountains of Judea are called the “mount of the Amorites” Deuteronomy 17:19-20.

They seem to have originally occupied the land stretching from the heights west of the Dead Sea, Genesis 14:7 to Hebron, Genesis 14:13 / Genesis 13:8 / (Deuteronomy 3:8 / Deuteronomy 4:46-48, embracing “all Gilead and all Bashan” Deuteronomy 3:10 with the Jordan valley on the east of the river, Deuteronomy 4:49 the land of the “two kings of the Amorites,” Sihon and Og, Deuteronomy 31:4 / Joshua 2:10 / Joshua 9:10.

The five kings of the Amorites were defeated with great slaughter by Joshua, Joshua 10:10. They were again defeated at the waters of Merom by Joshua, who killed them till there were none remaining, Joshua 11:8. It is mentioned as a surprising circumstance that in the days of Samuel there was peace between them and the Israelites, 1 Samuel 7:14.

Before retiring from public life, he convened an assembly of the people at Gilgal, 1 Samuel 12:1 ff. And there solemnly addressed them with reference to his own relation to them as judge and prophet.

The remainder of his life he spent in retirement at Ramah, only occasionally and in special circumstances appearing again in public, 1 Samuel 13:1ff / 1 Samuel 15:1 ff. with communications from God to King Saul.

While mourning over the many evils which now fell upon the nation, he is suddenly summoned. to go to Bethlehem and anoint David, the son of Jesse, as king over Israel instead of Saul. 1 Samuel 16:1ff After this little is known of him till the time of his death, which took place at Ramah when he was probably about eighty years of age.

“And all Israel gathered themselves together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah” 1 Samuel 25:1, not in the house itself, but in the court or garden of his house. 2 Kings 21:18 / 2 Chronicles 33:20 / 1 Kings 2:34 / John 19:41.

Samuel’s devotion to God, and the special favour with which God regarded him, are referred to in Jeremiah 15:1 / Psalm 99:6.



"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."