<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1758373551078632&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Samuel

Our devotion for the commemoration of Samuel today comes from The Word Becoming Flesh.

Devotional Reading

Samuel has always been a difficult figure to classify, but that probably answers to his position on the threshold of one of the major transitions in Israel’s political and theological history, namely from theocracy to monarchy. In many ways he is the last and greatest of the “judges,” and even his venal sons, Joel and Abijah (8:2), are so described.

Presumably he was also a priest, because he was Eli’s successor, and his conflict with Saul (1 Sam. 13:13) implies that he alone had the right to sacrifice. Conversely, Saul’s behavior may presage much later interference in cultic affairs by the monarchy.

In many respects, he must also be understood as the first of the great prophets (cf. Acts 13:20), and from here on we meet many of them also in the historical books. Chap. 9 indicates that he has the clairvoyant powers of a “seer,” yet his “prophecy” towers head and shoulders above the ecstatics among whom Saul fell. As the great prophets of later times spearheaded a “back to Moses” reformation after the devastations of Baalism, so Samuel can be understood as leading Israel’s first great religious revival after her “first love” had failed in the period of the Judges (cf. esp. chap. 7). His famous “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice” oracle against Saul in chap. 15 is in many respects almost the quintessence of the prophetic message.

Thus, Samuel is a veritable “second Moses,” representing virtually all offices in Israel as no one had since Moses. It is no accident that Jer. 15:1 views Moses and Samuel together as great mediators and intercessors for Israel. In this, as in other respects, Samuel anticipates both Elijah and Christ. Typologically, not as much is usually made of Samuel as many other figures, but there appears to be no good reason for that neglect.

In many respects, Moses had functioned as a “king,” and likewise with Samuel, also in his apparent capacity as a “judge.” (Note the reaction of the Bethlehemites at his coming in 16:4.) No doubt, that accounts partly for his coolness toward the idea of kingship in the more formal sense. But it will not do to attribute it all to personal insecurity or pique! . . .

Finally, it should be stressed, as Samuel clearly illustrates, that “prophecy,” humanly speaking, arises in Israel largely as a counterpoise to kingship. One of prophecy’s major and standing tasks is to call the throne to account, especially to remind it that the absolutist, mythological, and “divine right” models of paganism are inappropriate for the covenant society of Israel. And when kings fade after the Exile, prophets soon disappear from the scene too.

Devotional reading is from The Word Becoming Flesh, pages 125–27 © 1979 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Prayer (1 Samuel 2:1–2)

My heart exults in the Lord;
    my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
    because I rejoice in your salvation.

There is none holy like the Lord:
    for there is none besides you;
    there is no rock like our God.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

Featured

1Thessalonians

Books of the Bible—Study Questions: 1 Thessalonians

The Book of 1 Thessalonians calls believers to live in the Gospel and fulfill their calling in the joy of the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds the...

high-school

Adjusting to School as a Lutheran College Student

College is tough. With tough classes, trying to make new friends and getting involved, it can be a lot. Then trying to find a new church...

Hymnals_open-1

Hymns as Poems: What Do They Mean without Music?

Although I think that the music is essential to the hymn in the end, taking the text out of the music can give us a clearer understanding...

Latest

propers-green

Pentecost 8 Devotion on Ecclesiastes 1:2

Today is the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost. The Old Testament reading for the day comes from the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes.

feasts-festivals-commemorations-green

Devotion for the Commemoration of Joanna, Mary, and Salome

Today the Church commemorates Joanna, Mary, and Salome, Myrrhbearers. On Easter, these women went to Jesus' tomb with spices to adorn and...

3 arch books-1-1

Celebrating 150: Arch Books

Remember the books with the Arch in the corner? Those little books have made a huge impact on millions of children's lives worldwide.