(Samʹu·el) [Name of God].
A prominent prophet (Ac 3:24; 13:20), traditionally credited with the writership of the Bible books of Judges, Ruth, and part of First Samuel. (Compare 1Sa 10:25; 1Ch 29:29.) His father Elkanah was a Levite of the nonpriestly Kohathites. (1Ch 6:27, 28, 33-38) Samuel came to have three full brothers and two full sisters.—1Sa 2:21.
Promised to the service of Jehovah as a Nazirite by his mother Hannah before conception (1Sa 1:11), Samuel was taken to the tabernacle at Shiloh upon being weaned (perhaps at the age of at least three years; compare 2Ch 31:16) and was left there in the charge of High Priest Eli. (1Sa 1:24-28) Thus Samuel, having a linen ephod girded on, ‘ministered to Jehovah’ as a boy. Annually his mother visited him and brought him a new sleeveless coat. (1Sa 2:18, 19) As he grew, Samuel became “more likable both from Jehovah’s standpoint and from that of men.”—1Sa 2:26.
Becomes Prophet at an Early Age. At night Samuel slept in “the temple of Jehovah, where the ark of God was,” and his first assignment in the morning appears to have been to open “the doors of Jehovah’s house.” (1Sa 3:3, 15) Evidently the words “where the ark of God was” apply to the tabernacle area and are not to be understood as signifying that Samuel slept in the Most Holy. As a nonpriestly Kohathite Levite he was not entitled to see the Ark or any of the other sacred furnishings inside the sanctuary. (Nu 4:17-20) The only part of the house of Jehovah to which Samuel had access was the tabernacle courtyard. Therefore, he must have opened the doors leading into the courtyard, and it must have been there that he slept. During the period that the tabernacle was permanently located at Shiloh, various structures were likely erected, and one of these could have served as Samuel’s sleeping place.
One night, after having retired, Samuel heard a voice calling him by name. Imagining the speaker to be High Priest Eli, he ran to see him. After this occurred three times, Eli discerned that Jehovah was calling Samuel and Eli instructed him accordingly. Jehovah then made known to Samuel his judgment against Eli’s house. Fearful, Samuel did not volunteer any information concerning the word of Jehovah until requested to do so by Eli. Thus began Samuel’s prophetic work, and all Israel eventually became aware that he was indeed Jehovah’s prophet.—1Sa 3:2-21.
Leads Israel in True Worship. Over 20 years later, at Samuel’s exhortation, the Israelites abandoned idolatrous worship and began serving Jehovah alone. Subsequently, Samuel had the Israelites assemble at Mizpah. Taking advantage of the situation, the Philistines invaded. Becoming fearful, the sons of Israel requested that Samuel call to Jehovah for aid. He did so and also offered up a sucking lamb in sacrifice. (1Sa 7:2-9) Of course, as a nonpriestly Kohathite Levite, Samuel was not authorized to officiate at the sanctuary altar (Nu 18:2, 3, 6, 7), and there is no record that he ever did so. However, as Jehovah’s representative and prophet, he could sacrifice at other places in compliance with divine direction, as did Gideon (Jg 6:25-28) and Elijah. (1Ki 18:36-38) Jehovah answered Samuel’s prayer, throwing the Philistines into confusion and thereby enabling the Israelites to gain a decisive victory. To commemorate this, Samuel set up a stone between Mizpah and Jeshanah and called it Ebenezer (meaning “Stone of Help”). (1Sa 7:10-12) Doubtless from the spoils of this and other wars, Samuel set aside things as holy to maintain the tabernacle.—1Ch 26:27, 28.
The days of Samuel brought additional reverses for the Philistines (1Sa 7:13, 14) and proved to be a period marked by outstanding Passover celebrations. (2Ch 35:18) Samuel also seems to have worked out some arrangement for the Levite gatekeepers, and his arrangement may have served as a basis for the organization put into operation by David. (1Ch 9:22) From his home at Ramah in the mountainous region of Ephraim, Samuel annually made a circuit of Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, judging Israel at all these places. (1Sa 7:15-17) Never did he abuse his position. His record was without blame. (1Sa 12:2-5) But his sons, Joel and Abijah, perverted justice.—1Sa 8:2, 3.
Anoints Saul as King. The unfaithfulness of Samuel’s sons, coupled with the threat of warfare with the Ammonites, prompted the older men of Israel to request that Samuel appoint a king over them. (1Sa 8:4, 5; 12:12) Jehovah’s answer to Samuel’s prayer concerning this was that, though the request of the people showed lack of faith in Jehovah’s kingship, nevertheless, the prophet should accede to it and advise them what the rightful due of the king involved. Though informed by Samuel that the monarchy would result in the loss of certain liberties, the people still insisted on having a king. After Samuel dismissed the men of Israel, Jehovah directed matters so that Samuel anointed the Benjamite Saul as king. (1Sa 8:6–10:1) Thereafter Samuel arranged for the Israelites to assemble at Mizpah, and there Saul was designated by lot as king. (1Sa 10:17-24) Again Samuel spoke about the rightful due of the kingship, and he also made a written record of it.—1Sa 10:25.
Following Saul’s victory over the Ammonites, Samuel directed that the Israelites come to Gilgal to confirm the kingship anew. On that occasion Samuel reviewed his own record, as well as Israel’s past history, and showed that obedience to Jehovah by the king and the people was needed to maintain divine approval. To impress upon them the seriousness of having rejected Jehovah as King, Samuel prayed for an unseasonal thunderstorm. Jehovah’s answering that petition motivated the people to acknowledge their serious transgression.—1Sa 11:14–12:25.
On two occasions thereafter Samuel had to censure Saul for disobedience to divine direction. In the first instance, Samuel announced that Saul’s kingship would not last because he had presumptuously gone ahead in making a sacrifice instead of waiting as he had been commanded. (1Sa 13:10-14) Rejection by Jehovah of Saul himself as king was the second condemnatory message that Samuel delivered to Saul for disobediently preserving alive King Agag and the best of the Amalekite flock and herd. In response to Saul’s plea, Samuel appeared with him before the older men of Israel and the people. After that Samuel commanded that Agag be brought to him and then “went hacking [him] to pieces before Jehovah in Gilgal.”—1Sa 15:10-33.
Anoints David. When the two men parted, they had no further association. Samuel, however, went into mourning for Saul. But Jehovah God interrupted his mourning, commissioning him to go to Bethlehem to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as Israel’s future king. To avoid any suspicion on Saul’s part that might result in Samuel’s death, Jehovah directed that Samuel take along a cow for sacrifice. Perhaps fearing that Samuel had come to reprove or punish some wrongdoing, the older men of Bethlehem trembled. But he assured them that his coming meant peace and then arranged for Jesse and his sons to share in a sacrificial meal. Impressed by the appearance of Jesse’s firstborn Eliab, Samuel reasoned that this son must surely be Jehovah’s choice for the kingship. But neither Eliab nor any of the other six sons of Jesse present had been chosen by Jehovah. Therefore, at Samuel’s insistence, the youngest son, David, was called from pasturing the sheep, and then at Jehovah’s direction Samuel anointed David in the midst of his brothers.—1Sa 15:34–16:13.
Later, after King Saul had made several attempts on his life, David fled to Samuel at Ramah. The two men then went to Naioth, and David remained there until Saul personally came to look for him. (1Sa 19:18–20:1) During the time David was still under restriction because of Saul, “Samuel died; and all Israel proceeded to collect together and bewail him and bury him at his house in Ramah.” (1Sa 25:1) Thus Samuel died as an approved servant of Jehovah God after a lifetime of faithful service. (Ps 99:6; Jer 15:1; Heb 11:32) He had demonstrated persistence in fulfilling his commission (1Sa 16:6, 11), devotion to true worship (1Sa 7:3-6), honesty in his dealings (1Sa 12:3), and courage and firmness in announcing and upholding Jehovah’s judgments and decisions (1Sa 10:24; 13:13; 15:32, 33).
Regarding the account of Saul’s request for the spirit medium at En-dor to bring up Samuel for him, see SAUL No. 1.