SAMUEL: MAN IN GOD’S SPIRIT
Samuel ranks second to Moses as a leader in the history of Israel as a nation (Jeremiah 15:1). Samuel represented the end of Moses’ Theocracy and the beginning of Israel’s Monarchy. Samuel was the most flawless person in the Old Testament. Unlike Samson, who occasionally was endowed with God’s Spirit, Samuel constantly lived in the Spirit of the Lord. Samuel, too, had to learn that God did not go against the will of the people. The people, too, had to learn by trial and by error. Without God’s Spirit and without God’s Laws, man has to depend on his trials and his errors. Hence, “many are called, but few are chosen,” who realize that their trials and their errors are endless, and they lead nowhere. Man needs more than an occasional “Presence” of God’s Spirit.
Samuel, too, was a miracle child. His father, Elkanah of the tribe of Ephraim, loved Hannah even though she was childless. The second wife, Peninnah had children and she was abusive towards Hannah. Hannah took her problem in prayer to Shiloh. Eli was the priest and also the judge over Israel. Hannah moved her lips while she prayed and Eli, the priest, thought that Hannah was drunk.
Hannah answered, “No my lord, I am a woman sorely troubled, I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your maidservant as a base woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” Then Eli, the priest, said to Hannah, “Go in peace and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have made to him (I Samuel 1:15-17).
Hannah’s prayers were answered and she bore Samuel. She weaned her son until he was old enough to make it as a servant in the house of the Lord. Hannah put Samuel in the care of Eli. Hannah’s request was that Eli was to train the boy in the service of the Lord. Young Samuel flourished in assisting Eli. Eli’s sons were disgracing the ministry of God and also their father. A man of God was sent to Eli to inform him that his days were ending. Eli had neglected to preach God’s Word. The Word of the Lord and special visions were rare. Thus, when young Samuel heard a voice, he assumed it was Eli calling him and he ran to him. On the third time of Samuel hearing the voice calling him, Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. Eli told Samuel to say, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears” (I Samuel 3:9). From then on, Samuel’s ears and Samuel’s heart were open to God’s disclosures (I Samuel 1-7).
Young Samuel was fond of Eli. And the first vision, that Samuel received, was that the Lord had taken away Eli’s role as a priest and given it to another priest. After that painful duty, we are told, “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the of the Lord” (I Samuel 3:19-21). The word “prophet” meant that Samuel was a constant recipient and a constant spokesman for God, like Moses before him and others that would follow, in whom the Spirit of the Lord was always present. Being full of the Spirit of the Lord, at all times, was a rare experience, which also is rare, even today. Apart from Jesus, God’s servants required repeated filling like Samson, Jesus’ disciples, and king David. We have to guard ourselves, against the presumption, that our human spirit is that of the Holy Spirit. If my spirit allows me to make a remark, which may offend someone; then, my spirit was not subject to the Spirit of the Lord. The wonderful promise and truth of the Lord is that His Spirit is always available, but also that the human spirit is capable of behaving in the “likeness” or “image of God.” That is why the spirit of man has to be reborn. The Spirit of the Lord is not the spirit of man (John 3:5-8). God’s Spirit does not replace a man’s spirit, but God’s Spirit assists man in the work of transformation of man from a sinner to a saint. A saint is one whose spirit, no longer, allows his flesh to yield to temptation, which is damaging to the human spirit, to the soul as well as to others. We shall study these cases in our search for truth regarding man’s spirit and the Spirit of the Lord.
Samuel provided solid Theocratic leadership. The Philistines were subdued, the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Israel, and Israel had peace. However, Samuel, was getting older and the people were concerned about their future. The people demanded a king to lead them, like other kings of other nations were doing. Samuel argued against choosing a king because the people had no idea what a king would require to support his kingdom. The cost of a king would bankrupt the nation; far worse than that, the king would take the place of God in the nation’s life. Samuel’s greatest fear was that the people would become more accountable to the king, than to the Lord God of Israel. The king would decide what spirit he and his people would follow. The Lord told Samuel to let Israel have a king. Samuel anointed Saul, son of Kish of the tribe of Benjamin to be their first king (I Samuel 8-14). While Saul was looking for his lost donkeys, Samuel poured oil on Saul. And while Saul was on the road Samuel told Saul that he would meet up with prophets and that he, too, would joined them and prophesy. “Then the Spirit of the Lord will come mightily upon you (Saul), and you shall prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now when these signs meet you, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you” (I Samuel 10:6-8). Everything that Samuel promised came to pass. God did change Saul’s heart, empowered him with His Spirit, and Saul was made king over Israel at Mizpah (I Samuel 10).
Saul, the first king of Israel, had the appearance of a king, but Saul did not have the spirit to be king. Saul was handsome and a head taller than most men; yet, he hid when he was told that he also was chosen by lot to be the king of Israel. Saul simply did not make use of the power of the Spirit of the Lord, nor did Saul’s hand forcefully take the kingdom, and neither did Saul bravely face his enemies. Saul’s first challenge came when Jabesh Gilead was besieged by Nahash, the Ammonite and gruesome stories reached the king. And “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power, and he burned with anger.” Saul took a pair of oxen, sliced them into pieces and sent messengers to all the tribes. Three hundred and thirty thousand men joined Saul in destroying the Ammonites to a degree that no two men were left together. As a result of the slaughter, Saul was confirmed king. Nevertheless, Saul’s anger cost him the support of Samuel. Saul also lost the support of the Spirit of the Lord. King Saul’s leadership failed and he became completely helpless. The success of any kind came from his son Jonathan or from David, his son-in-law. Instead of waiting on Samuel to do the sacrificing, Saul did the sacrificing himself. Saul displeased the Lord. It was Saul’s son, Jonathan that initiated the victory against the Philistines. Unknowingly of his father’s instruction who had forbidden to eat before their enemies were subdued, Jonathan ate a little honey. Saul wanted his son to be sacrificed to keep true to his pagan vow of human sacrifice. Saul’s men refused to obey the king. Saul became mad and they had to find people who could calm Saul’s nerves. Unbeknown to him, Saul’s people employed David to play the harp right after Samuel had anointed David to succeed Saul as king. The writer of Samuel concluded, “And the Lord was disappointed that he had made Saul king over Israel” (I Samuel 15:35).
For years, David had to live in the shadow of Saul. David had to watch his back before he became king over Judah and then over all of Israel. On the day Samuel anointed David to be the next king, David received the Spirit of the Lord in power. However, David did not use that power against Saul or against any of his fellow Israelites, but only against the enemies of Israel. David, himself, believed that God could remove the transgressions from him, “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalms 103:12). Yet, David, himself, was not the forgiving kind. David left the punishing of those who hurt and insulted him to his son Solomon (I Kings 2). As far as king Saul was concerned, David did not have to lay his hands on him because the evil spirit was destroying the king with rage, jealousy, and lack of self-confidence. After David slew Goliath, he rose in popularity with the people and he married the king Saul’s daughter. King Saul spent all his energy and his resources to apprehend and dispose of David, his son-in-law. Meanwhile, the Philistines grew in power and forced Saul to consult the witch at Endor. Saul suffered defeat, and he fell on his own sword (I Samuel 28, 31). If anything is to be learned, from Saul’s life and Saul’s service, is that evil feeds on a person’s weakness, and ultimately, that evil self-destructs.
David, in contrast to Saul, had built up the belief that God was with him all times. God helped David develop the ability to defend himself, his sheep, and his people. David was mentally and spiritually motivated to become very skillful with a sling to slay a lion and Goliath. He had confidence in what he was doing was honoring the God of his father’s. David believed that all his success was granted by God and he let his enemies now it. Before he took on Goliath, David said this to the Philistine:
You come to me with sword and with spear and with javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand (I Samuel 17:45-47).
David followed through on his threat and swung his sling and Goliath fell like a log. It was proof that David was God’s executioner and the fear of the God of Israel spread like wildfire. Even when David hid among his enemies from Saul, he was accepted and he was tolerated out of fear for his God. With God and God’s Spirit at his side, David felt invincible. When David was made king over Israel, he brought God and His Ark to Jerusalem. David let the world know where God was located. David united the nation and it caused the enemies to fear God and Israel. David’s weapon was “the fear of the fear Lord.” Samuel’s service ended with the fall of Saul and the rise of David.