Today's Bible reading: 1 Samuel 1-7

Samuel is both Judge and prophet – the link between the age of the Judges and the introduction of kingship.  Of all the Judges, he is not only the greatest, but also the one who most nearly approaches being a national leader.

The account of his birth reminds us of a motif from the patriarchal stories.  A man destined to become God’s special agent has a special birth.  His mother, Hannah, is barren, but God hears her prayer.  The name of the child - Samuel - is highly significant.  It means: “God has heard.”  God heard the prayer of Hannah for a child.  As a young boy at the shrine of Shiloh, Samuel also heard God calling to him, and answered: “Speak, for Your servant hears.”   Throughout his life, this Judge is the sign that God continually hears the cry of His people for help.  Thus he becomes - after Moses - the second great prophet of the Old Testament, continually calling the people to faithful worship of the Lord and to repentance.  As already stated above, he is no local leader.  All the tribes - "from Dan to Beersheba," which means, from north to south – listen to his voice as the voice of God Himself.

1 Samuel 7 records Samuel's appeal to give up all idolatry.  His appeal is successful and leads to the defeat of the Philistines.  But the question left in the mind of the reader is this: Given Samuel's success in the grand confession of sin at Mizpah, why does Israel want a king?  The story of Samuel thus provides the overture to the story of Saul's election, but also stands in considerable tension with the events which follow.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for being present with us to heal us, to firgive us, and to strengthen us in love for one another.  Amen.