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JOURNEY

Through The Scriptures

Samuel:
Prophet, Priest, and Judge
By Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein May 2006 $5.00

The Great Prophet, Priest, and Judge Who Led Israel through Dark Times and Anointed the Nations First Two Kings

God Answers Hannahs Prayer Study Points


See Pages: 2. God Answers Hannahs Prayer 3. Samuel Answers Gods Call 4. Victory Over the Philistines 5. The Anointing of Saul 6. Saul Is Confirmed as King 7. Samuels Final Message 8. Samuels Final Days 1

1 Samuel 1:12:36
The birth of Samuel was a blessed event in Israel. This great leader came on the scene at the end of the judges, a dark period in the nations history. Samuel served as Israels last judge, and he also functioned as a priest. But his greatest role was that of a prophet, a spokesman for God who called Israel back to faithfulness. Samuel also anointed Israels first two kings, Saul and David. But all of this was far in the future the day that Hannah, the wife of an Israelite named Elkanah, cried out to God to give her a child as she worshiped in the Tabernacle at Shiloh. Hannah was a devout woman, and God heard her prayer. She had promised to give her child back to the Lord, so when Samuel was still a small boy he was brought to the Tabernacle. There he served under Eli, the high priest who presided over a corrupt nation. In the midst of this unfaithfulness, Samuel grew and served the Lord. An unnamed prophet pronounced judgment on Eli and his family, opening the way for Samuel to assume the leadership for which he was so well qualified.

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Samuel: Prophet,
Priest, and Judge
1. Why were Elkanah and Hannah at the Tabernacle in Shiloh? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 2. Why was Hannah so heartbroken over her inability to have children? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 3. Why was the promise Hannah made to God (1 Samuel 1:11) so significant for the life of both Samuel and the nation of Israel? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 4. Who were the main perpetrators of the corruption occurring in Israel at this time (1 Samuel 1:3; 2:1217, 22)? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 5. Why was Gods judgment on Eli and his family so harsh, as described by the unnamed prophet (1 Samuel 2:2736; see also 3:1214)? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________

Something to Think About:


It is easy to make promises to God when we are asking Him to do something we want very much, and we often do so with good intentions. But sometimes those good intentions fade after we have received what we requested. Hannahs faithfulness to God in fulfilling her vow reminds us not only to be careful in the promises we make, but to be ready to keep them whatever the cost.

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Samuel: Prophet,
Priest, and Judge
Samuel Answers Gods Call 1 Samuel 3:121
Gods audible call to Samuel marked the beginning of a new era in Israel. Up to this point, the primary revelation to the people had been through the priesthood. But with Samuels call, God began a new day of revealing His word through prophets. The nations weak spiritual condition, and the decadent nature of Elis high priesthood, are indicated by the fact that a word from God was rare in those days. So rare, in fact, that Samuel thought he was hearing Elis voice. To his credit, Eli soon realized that the voice calling Samuel was Gods. Elis advice was very wise; Here I am is always the proper response to Gods call. Although the nature of the prophecy Samuel received meant devastating judgment for Eli, he accepted it as the Lords will. Meanwhile, Samuel continued to receive Gods message and spread it throughout all Israel, which recognized Samuel as a man of God. 1. Why do you think God called a boy to do His will when Eli was already in office as the high priest and had many more years of experience than Samuel? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 2. Why did Samuel think it was Eli calling to him that night? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 3. How did Eli know what to tell Samuel to say to God? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 4. What does verse 19 mean when it says that none of Samuels words [fell] to the ground? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________

Something to Think About:


When God calls to us, it is our responsibility and privilege to answer, Here I am. Although God does not speak to us audibly as He did to Samuel, His will is made clear to us in the pages of Scripture and in prayer. But sometimes we have a hard time hearing Gods voice because we allow other voices to interfere. Ask God to help you be sensitive and alert to His leading.
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Samuel: Prophet,
Priest, and Judge
Victory Over the Philistines 1 Samuel 7:117
One of the greatest achievements of Samuels long ministry was the spiritual renewal he led that brought Israel back to the exclusive worship of God. The people had been engaged in idolatry for many yearsand the nation reached a low point when the Ark of the Covenant was captured by Israels archenemies, the Philistines. These non-Semitic people had held the Ark for seven months, and had captured many Israeli towns. The people mourned their condition, and Samuel used this occasion to deal with the root of Israels problem. Samuel told the Israelites that the Lord would deliver them if they discarded their many idols and turned to Him. The people responded, and God answered with blessing as Samuel interceded for Israel. The change was immediate, as God caused the Philistine army to be confused and easily routed by the Israelites. Israel took back many of their cities and drove the Philistines out of their region. Samuel raised an Ebenezer, or stone of help, in honor of Gods blessing. Samuel also continued to judge Israel as a true circuit rider who went from city to city to carry out his ministry. 1. Why was losing the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines so devastating for Israel? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 2. Why did God intervene in the battle against the Philistines described in this chapter? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 3. Verse 9 says that Samuel offered a burnt offering to the Lord. What important role was Samuel fulfilling by this sacrifice? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 4. Why did the Israelites need Samuel to serve as their judge? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________

Something to Think About:


The great spiritual renewal that Samuel led reminds us God is always ready and willing to accept the worship and commitment of His people. True repentance always involves turning away from whatever may be interfering with our devotion to God. Read Malachi 3:7 for Gods promise to those who return to Him.
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Samuel: Prophet,
Priest, and Judge
The Anointing of Saul 1 Samuel 8:110:27
This study begins with a rather stunning report that the people of Israel must have believed would never happen in Samuels lifetime. Like Eli before him, Samuel also had two sons who were unfaithful to God in their service. Samuels sons, Joel and Abijah, abused their offices as judges after the elderly Samuel appointed them to carry out the responsibilities he was no longer able to fulfill. The corruption of Samuels sons became one reason the Israelites began to demand a king to rule over them. Samuel was distressed by the peoples request, for he knew that it represented a lack of faith in Gods kingship. But God told Samuel to fill the request and anoint Saul as Israels first king. In many ways, Saul was an unlikely choice. Other than his striking physical appearance, Saul seemed to have few qualities that would commend him for leadership. Gods choice of Saul did not necessarily mean that Saul was the perfect man for the throneas would soon become clear when Saul failed the Lord. But Israel insisted on having a king, and there was jubilation at Sauls coronation. 1. Besides their wanting to be rid of Samuels sons, why did the Israelites want Samuel to choose a king? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 2. Why would neither of Samuels sons not have made a good choice for a king? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 3. What burdens were the people of Israel accepting when they demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:1017)? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 4. Why was Saul hesitant to become king of Israel (1 Samuel 9:21)? ________________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________

Something to Think About:


This lesson is a stark reminder that, as the common saying goes, we cannot expect something for nothing. Israels desire to have a king would cost the people dearly, but they were not concerned about the consequences of their decision. Every choice has consequencesand we do well to consider those before we pursue our desires.
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Samuel: Prophet,
Saul Is Confirmed as King 1 Samuel 11:115
Although Samuel had anointed Saul the Benjamite as king of Israel, apparently there were still some Israelites who were uneasy with this choice and questioned Sauls fitness to rule. The battle against the Ammonites served to put these issues to rest, as God gave Saul a great victory over a cruel invader who wanted to humiliate Israel. It is possible that Sauls ancestors may have come from Jabesh Gilead, which would have given him even more incentive to rescue the town. The Israelites were so overjoyed at Sauls victory that his supporters wanted to round up their fellow Israelites who had opposed him and put them to death. But Saul showed great restraint and humility in silencing this foolish idea that would have marred a great day in Israel. Realizing that this was the time to confirm Sauls leadership in the eyes of all Israel, Samuel led the people in a great celebration that reaffirmed Sauls kingship. The people of Israel now knew that Samuels choice of a king was also the man God had chosen.

Priest, and Judge


1. Why do you think the people of Gibeah wept when they heard that the Ammonites had besieged Jabesh Gilead? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 2. Why was Saul so angry over the statement of the Ammonite leader? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 3. Why would Sauls supporters want to kill those who had opposed him? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 4. Why did Samuel need to reaffirm Saul as king? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________

Something to Think About:


Many times we also need reaffirming from Godand we do not have to win a battle to see evidence of His hand in our lives. If God has made His blessing known to you in a problem or other circumstance, thank Him for this testimony of His presence with you.

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Samuel: Prophet,
Priest, and Judge
Samuels Final Message 1 Samuel 12:125
Samuel knew that the speech recorded in chapter 12 was his last opportunity to address the people of Israel as their spiritual leader. And ever faithful to his calling, Samuel had some harsh, but necessary, words of rebuke and admonition for the nation. The people had sinned in asking for a king because it meant that they had ceased to rely on the Lord as their true King and Deliverer. The peoples rash request would have long-term consequences, as Samuel had warned them earlier. Samuel recounted events from the past in which Israel had failed to listen to Gods appointed leaders and suffered for it. He declared that God would remove His hand from the people if they turned back to idolatry, or if their king was evil. But the great prophet also reminded Israel that God had not rejected His people. The best thing the nation could do at this point was to stay faithful to God and refuse to worship idols. Samuel also left the people with the comforting promise of his own prayers for them, and his help as they sought to follow God. 1. Samuel began his address by affirming his integrity as Israels judge. Why did Samuel feel the need to remind the people of his honest service? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 2. What facts did Samuels brief recounting of Israels history demonstrate? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 3. Why did Samuel call for thunder and rain? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 4. How does remembering Gods past blessings help us to be faithful to Him today? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________

Something to Think About:


We must be honest and admit that it is difficult to trust God at times. Humans feel the need for earthly power and presence, but in seeking these things we may leave God out of the picture. Samuels message is a needed reminder that ultimate authority rests in Gods hands.

Samuel: Prophet,
Priest, and Judge
Samuels Final Days 1 Samuel 13:122; 15:135; 16:113; 19:1824; 25:1; 28:320
Samuels later years must have been filled with great anguish as he watched King Saul spiritually self-destruct. It was Samuels painful duty to rebuke Saul for his rashness in acting as a priest, and in his disobedience to God in the matter of the Amalekites. Samuel announced to Saul that he had been rejected by the Lord as king and would see his family line removed from the throne. Although Jonathan, Sauls son, defeated the Philistines, Sauls rejection stood and God sent Samuel to anoint the shepherd boy David as the new king of Israel. Samuel went to Bethlehem secretly, knowing that Saul would probably try to kill both him and David. Samuels fears proved real as Sauls jealousy against David exploded into a murderous rage that led him to pursue David until the day Saul died in battle (1 Samuel 31). Samuels death brought all of Israel together to mourn their great leader and man of God. And in a bizarre chapter of Sauls tragic life, the king sought out a spirit medium for help. But both Saul and the medium were stunned when Samuel supernaturally appeared and repeated Sauls doom. 1. Why did God finally reject Saul as king? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 2. Why would Saul try to kill David even though Saul was still firmly in control of the throne? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 3. Why did the Lord continue to speak through Samuel, even though Saul was Israels king? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ 4. Why did Samuel privately mourn for Saul? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________

Something to Think About:


Gods words to Samuel regarding His choice of David are an encouraging reminder that we do not have to be great in the eyes of others to be useful to God, for The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
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JOURNEY
Through The Scriptures
Answer Key for: Samuel: Prophet, Priest, and Judge Page 2: God Answers Hannahs Prayer 1. The tabernacle was the focal point of Israels worship, and Elkanah and Hannah went there each year to worship and offer the prescribed sacrifices to God. 2. In biblical times, not being able to bear children was disgraceful for a woman, even considered a sign of Gods disfavor. Also, children were necessary to carry on the family line, and childbearing was the main responsibility for women of that day. 3. Hannahs promise to the Lord meant that Samuel would be set apart for special service to God all his life, which proved to be an incredible blessing for Israel as Samuel turned the people back to the faithful worship of God. 4. The two culprits were Hophni and Phineas, Elis own sons who were serving as priests in the Tabernacle at Shiloh and thus should have been setting the standard of holiness. 5. Eli had allowed his sons to despise and corrupt the worship of God in the Tabernacle, and other than a mild rebuke he apparently did nothing to stop them. Page 3: Samuel Answers Gods Call 1. Gods choice of Samuel was a clear sign that Eli had forfeited his right to serve as Gods priest and representative to the people of Israel. 2. Samuel had never heard Gods voice before, so it was natural for him to assume that it was the voice of Eliwho was, after all, Samuels employer. 3. Eli had enough spiritual sensitivity left to discern what God was doing. In addition, Eli must have known by now that Samuel was no ordinary child. 4. It means that every word he spoke as Gods prophet came to pass, the true test of a biblical prophet, according to Deuteronomy 18:2122. Page 4: Victory Over the Philistines 1. The Ark was the symbol of Gods presence among His people, and thus was the holiest of Israels possessions. 2. Because the Israelites were in the process of repenting and turning from the worship of their pagan gods to worshiping the true God alone. 3. Samuel was acting as a priest for the nation, another of his ministries in addition to being a prophet and a judge. 4. The nation was still under the administration of the judges, a period that climaxed with Samuel and ended when Saul was chosen as Israels first king. Page 5: The Anointing of Saul 1. The people said they wanted to be like the nations around them that were ruled by kings, and they also wanted a military commander who could lead them against their enemies (1 Samuel 8:20). 2. Joel and Abijah had already proven themselves to be corrupt and unfaithful to God, and would no doubt have led Israel in the wrong direction. 3. Samuel warned the people that a king would press their sons into military service, require many of them to be his servants, reward his attendants with the best of the land, and exact taxes from their possessions. 4. Saul felt he was not worthy, being from the smallest clan in the smallest tribe, Benjaminwhich was also the tribe that had disgraced itself during the period of the judges (see Judges 19). Page 6: Saul Is Confirmed as King 1. Probably because they knew there was no way the people of this small town could defend themselves. 2. Saul was angry over this threat to his peopleand he also knew that in reality, the Ammonites were defying the God of Israel and seeking to humiliate Him. 3. It was the common if cruel practice in that day for a king to eliminate his enemies. 4. Samuel realized that Sauls victory in battle was not only a reaffirming sign from the Lord that Saul was His choice, but an opportunity to establish Saul in the eyes of the people. Page 7: Samuels Final Message 1. Perhaps because his own sons, whom Samuel had personally appointed, had acted with a complete lack of integrity in their roles as his successors. 2. Samuels history lesson was a reminder that God had always been faithful to send Israel a deliverer when one was needed. The point was that they should have called on God to deliver them from the Ammonites instead of insisting on having a king. 3. He wanted to show the people the power of God, and remind them that it is the Lord who has ultimate power, not an earthly king. 4. Since God never changes and has lost none of His power, we can trust Him to act on our behalf today as surely as we have seen Him act in days past. Page 8: Samuels Final Days 1. Saul allowed his impatience to cause him to usurp the role of a priest, and his desire for spoils caused him to disobey Gods strict instructions concerning the Amalekites. 2. Part of Sauls purpose in wanting to kill David was the desire to eliminate a threat. In addition, Saul must have realized that his days were numbered as king, so he may have hoped to extend his reign by killing David. 3. Saul did not honor God, but Samuel remained faithful and so continued to be Gods primary spokesman throughout this period. 4. Saul was the first king of Israel, and a man whom Samuel had anointed. Samuel evidently still loved Saul, even though the latter had proved to be a failure before God, and Samuel was deeply saddened by Sauls lack of faith.

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JOURNEY
Through The Scriptures

An Exciting Adventure of Discovery and Faith in the Pages of Gods Word


Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, an orthodox rabbi, is the founder and chairman of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. He is an internationally recognized teacher of the Bible, and an expert in Jewish life and customs who has helped tens of thousands of Christians discover the Jewish roots of their Christian faith. Rabbi Eckstein is also the author of several books, including How Firm A Foundation, an authoritative guide to Judaism for Christians, and The Journey Home. Rabbi Eckstein has spent over 25 years helping Jews and Christians bridge the gap of misunderstanding and mistrust that has marked the past 2,000 years of their relationships. Realizing what could be accomplished if Christians and Jews came together in mutual respect and cooperation, and drawing on their shared biblical heritage, Rabbi Eckstein founded The Fellowship in 1983 to build bridges of understanding between these two faith communities.

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30 North LaSalle Street Suite 2600 Chicago, IL 60602 312-641-7200 312-641-7201 (fax) info@ifcj.org www.ifcj.org 2006 IFCJ
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Samuel: Prophet, Priest, and Judge


Vol. 2 No. 3

JOURNEY
Through The Scriptures Bible Study Series

An Exciting Adventure of Discovery and Faith in the Pages of Gods Word

INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIANS AND JEWS


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INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIANS AND JEWS


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INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIANS AND JEWS


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The Bible studies presented in Journey Through The Scriptures are intended to be a devotional and practical teaching series, rather than a formal or in-depth examination of biblical theology. For the deeper meaning of many aspects of theology, and of Jewish practice, holidays, and events, we suggest that you consult Rabbi Ecksteins book explaining Judaism for Christians, How Firm A Foundation, and his 3-volume CD-ROM teaching series, Returning to Zion, all of which are available from The Fellowship.