The first book of Samuel is part of a 2 book series and is even further classified into two divisions. The first being the life of Samuel, from Chapters 1 -12, and the rest is the life of Saul, which takes through the end of Chapter 31. 1st Samuel tells you the story of Israel where the ruling changed from judges to kings, with Samuel being the last judge and David and Saul becomes appointed as the first kings. The book starts with God answering to Hannah’s prayers by giving her a miraculous baby, who she names Samuel which means “heard by God”. He lived and served the lord. Unlike any other child, the lord revealed himself to Samuel at a young age through his visions, which were rare. “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” (1 Samuel 3:1). Although he did not understand what he was seeing or hearing; he went and talked to Eli, the priest with weak eyes. Samuel was picked from a bunch and declared a prophet. “And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord” (1 Samuel 3:20).
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As the first order of duty as a prophet, his first prophecy was revealed to him and it was that Eli’s house would be removed from priesthood due to the fact that they were corrupt. After that Israelites declare and go to war on their arch enemy, the Philistines. Followed by losing the war, Israelites loose possession of the Ark of the Covenant and was later returned to them following a judgment send from the Lord. Wanting to have a change in their infrastructure, the people of Israel demanded a King. Samuel appoints a king named Saul, who was a Benjamite, after being warned what the consequences of having a king would have. Saul was a successful king, at first; then he offers sacrifice, at the expense of his son Jonathan. Saul disobeys a direct order from Lord and in turn the Lord had Samuel appoint another King; David who defeated Goliath the giant. King David ends up marrying Saul’s daughter and becomes an enemy of Saul, who attempts to kill David at every instance he gets. Even though he is running from Saul, he maintains a tight knit relationship with the Lord. Towards the final chapters of 1 Samuel, Saul who was lost tries to seek answers. During this period, Samuel dies and his spirit rises up to share one last prophecy. His prophecy said that “tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.” (1 Samuel 28:19)
Imagine a tragedy movie where the beginning is all so sad then it plumps right back up; although for a small period of time, it was good. Once all the happiness had settled down, the rest of the movie is one tragedy after another with some (very minute) excitement in the middle. This is the case with the first book of Samuel. Hannah who doesn’t have a child, after a long time, with prayer receives a child who later becomes a prophet of the Lord. It is interesting how God revealed himself to Samuel; gave him a vision. Similarly in the book of Genesis God reveals himself to Jacob through his dreams. Later on it is written that the people of Israel demanded a king in place of a judge. In my understanding Samuel was angry at their decision, because Samuel had warned them what would happen. Regardless, people wanted a king. This makes me think of an old saying, “Look before you leap”. Was this not said at that time? Where people so blinded by the concept of a king? After all, why would they even need a physical king, when they had an Almighty God as their king?
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Personally, I believe it was greed, or one would say a power trip. For instance, Saul the first king of Israel, who was nice in the beginning but when changed oh so quickly. Talking about change, makes me think of my favorite childhood story about David and Goliath. David was this puny little kid, and Goliath the opposite, a giant. How David defeated Goliath shows us that God was with David at all times throughout the battle. It also shows David’s courage and ability to be a great king. A famous baseball player once said, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game” (Babe Ruth), and that is exactly what David did to defeat Goliath. Some of the main themes in the book of 1 Samuel show us; how people disobeyed the Lord, or replaced him as their king, or go to war because of greed. Like most human being, Saul did the same thing. He had sinned, even though he had an option not to, and towards the end wanted an answer from Lord why this was happening. A question most of ask after ignoring God through all the good times; when something unfortunate happens, we run to the Lord for forgive and ask why this is happening to them? Throughout all this, one concept that makes no sense is the matter of prophets and how some of the prophecies were presented? It seems to me almost a pagan behavior, something so bizarre like in today’s movies. It is as if they were ghosts coming out of the ground like a zombie, attaching it to Saul’s body to present Samuel’s prophecy. If paganism wasn’t accepted, why would it be in the text, what relevance does it have? Especially, when Saul asked the woman, “”Don’t be afraid, what do you see?” The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.””. Does that mean paganism was okay to that extent? Something that must be further analyzed.
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