EXAMPLES FROM THE PAST
By Orville Freestone
SAMUEL – A FAITHFUL LEADER
“God let none of his words fall to the ground” –
I Sam. 3:19
Samuel was born in a most difficult time for Israel. The old confederacy of the tribes was badly fraying and the period of the Judges was coming to an end. It was a time of anarchy and chaos. Worse, most of the country was occupied by the Philistines. Samuel was the last of the Judges and also a prophet who would be the transitional leader to the age of the monarchy.
Samuel was remarkable even as a child. In fulfillment of her vow, his mother took him to live at the Tabernacle with an aged priest as soon as he was weaned. In those days a child was weaned at about the age of three years. Imagine leaving such a small child away from mother the father and far from home! But there is no record of his crying for his mother. He always accepted life from the hand of the Lord. Most remarkably, as a child he heard the voice of God. How difficult it must have been for him to tell Eli that God said judgment would come to Eli and his sons.
Israel early accepted that Samuel was a prophet (I Sam. 3:20) and leader and his was a long career. Being a Levite, Samuel served Eli in the tasks allotted to the Levites, but he was not a priest and did not fill the office of priest. He offered the sacrifices that the Patriarchs and prophets such as Elijah offered, that is, the whole burnt offering. There were seers, “men of God,” and even prophets before Samuel, but he founded by his example the prophetic movement in Israel. (I Sam. 9:9)
Israel also accepted Samuel as a Judge and resorted to him for guidance and advice. Samuel also has a “circuit” as Judge where he traveled yearly to judge Israel. (I Sam. 7:15-17) As prophet and judge, he invested first Saul, then David as king thus completing the transition from Commonwealth to Kingdom. Israel universally honored him. God attested to his life and ministry, for He “let none of his words fall to the ground.” All that he said was true and all he foretold came to pass. (I Sam. 3:19) This is said of no other person in the Bible!
Samuel was a faithful and godly leader in the most adverse of circumstances. His character is in stark contrast to Eli and his sons, who were “corrupt and did not know the Lord.” Eli, himself, was rebuked by “a man of God” for not restraining his sons. (I Sam. 2:27-36) With so many leaders of high promise failing so miserably in office, Samuel shows what faithful leader, today as then, is like and what he can accomplish. May we be faithful in whatever position we find ourselves and leave the outcome to the issues of our lives to God.