Samuel: The prophet who established kingship in Israel

by Narelle Atkins

The prophet Samuel was dedicated to the Lord by his mother, Hannah, at a very young age. He grew up in the temple and ministered before the Lord under Eli, the priest.

“The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a Prophet of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 3:19-20.

Samuel played an instrumental role in Israel’s transition from the rule of Judges to a monarchy. He was a judge over Israel throughout his lifetime and when he grew old he appointed his sons as judges for Israel.

In 1 Samuel 8 we learn that Samuel’s sons were wicked and did not walk in the ways of their father. The elders of Israel requested Samuel appoint a king to lead them like the kings of the surrounding nations. They wanted a king who would lead them out and fight their battles.

Samuel was not happy with their request and he prayed to the Lord. The Lord told Samuel that it was not him they had rejected. The Israelites had rejected the Lord as their king. Samuel told the people the Lord’s response to their petition and how their lives would not be improved under a king (see 1 Samuel 10-18). The Israelites refused to listen to Samuel and the Lord’s response was to give His people an earthly king.

Samuel anointed Saul, a Benjamite, as the first king of Israel. Saul was not a good king and, as earlier foretold by Samuel, the Israelites suffered under Saul’s rule. Samuel later anointed David as the king of Israel. David had a difficult relationship with Saul and he did not rule over Israel until after Saul’s death.