Evidently a man enabled by God to discern the divine will, one having such insight; one whose eyes had been unveiled, as it were, to see or understand things that were not open to men in general. The Hebrew word ro·ʼehʹ, translated “seer,” is drawn from a root word meaning “see,” literally or figuratively. The seer was a man consulted by others for wise counsel on problems encountered. (1Sa 9:5-10) The Bible names Samuel (1Sa 9:9, 11, 18, 19; 1Ch 9:22; 29:29), Zadok (2Sa 15:27), and Hanani (2Ch 16:7, 10) as seers.
The designations “seer,” “prophet,” and “visionary” are closely related in the Scriptures. The distinction between the terms may be that “seer” may relate to discernment, “visionary” to the manner in which the divine will was made known, and “prophet” more to the speaking forth or the proclamation of the divine will. Samuel, Nathan, and Gad are all called prophets (1Sa 3:20; 2Sa 7:2; 24:11), but 1 Chronicles 29:29 indicates a distinction between the three terms when it says, “among the words of Samuel the seer and among the words of Nathan the prophet and among the words of Gad the visionary.”
First Samuel 9:9 states: “The prophet of today used to be called a seer in former times.” This may have been because toward the close of the days of the Judges and during the reigns of the kings of Israel (which began in the days of Samuel) the prophet as a public proclaimer of God’s will came to be more prominent. Samuel is commonly called the first of the line of men called “the prophets.”—Ac 3:24; 13:20; see PROPHET.