Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

1 Samuel 1

Verses 21-28

A Life Dedicated to God

1 Samuel 1:21-28


We are studying today the story of a man who was noted for his piety, and purity, and prayer. He was not a Prophet as was Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Daniel. He did not foretell Israel's future nor God's revelations of the things to come. He did go in and out before Israel as a man who was appointed of God and who walked with God. It will be interesting for us to know how it was that Samuel came on to the scenes of Israel's national life.

1. He was a child given in answer to prayer. Hannah was one of God's noble women. Her prayers and songs are notable for their clearness of vision and power of faith. She had no son, and her heart was thereby greatly grieved. Thus did Hannah pray and promise saying: "O Lord of Hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thine handmaid, * * and wilt give unto Thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life."

God heard and answered that prayer; answered it to Hannah's joy and to His own glory. Hannah had prayed with a heartfelt eagerness; she had prayed with a definiteness of purpose, and with a persevering earnestness. We may well study her prayer, and pray as she prayed.

2. He was a child dedicated to God for service. Hannah based her plea upon a pledge. She told God that if He would give her a son, she would give that son back to Him and to His service. It is one thing to pray and promise, it is another thing to fulfil a pledge. In this Hannah did not fail God. What she promised she was willing to perform. She took her babe to EH, and she said: "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him: therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord." The Lord remembered Hannah, and she remembered the Lord.

3. A mother with a rejoicing heart. It would hardly be right to pass over Hannah's magnificat, as she gave her child to God for service. Hannah was a real mother, with a mother's heart. She yearned after her child with a tender love, and yet she gladly gave him to the Lord. As she laid her "only son" upon God's altar for service, she said, "My heart rejoiceth in the Lord." Beloved, let us give with a glad heart. Let us sacrifice our all with a song. Shall we hold back from God any gift? God had but one Son, and He gave Him for us; shall we not give to Him our all?

4. He was a child influenced by a mother's life. Some one has said that mothers make robes with which to clothe their children; yet, not robes weaved on the spindle, so much as robes of character. Did not Paul, in the Spirit, say to Timothy: "The unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice."

Parents leave marks indelible upon their children. This is true even after birth. The child follows the example of his sire. The father and the mother both make telltale impressions on their offspring.


1. There had been an early call. It was when Eli was old, that thrice God spake to Samuel, saying, "Samuel." Samuel went to Eli each time, saying, "Here am I." The third time, Eli knew that the Lord was speaking to his young protege, and he said, "Go, lie down: and it shall be, if He call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth." Thus it was that Samuel came to know the Lord face to face. He had learned much about the Lord, but from that day he knew Him.

That night God told Samuel all things that He would perform against Eli and his house. With evident hesitation, but with wholehearted faithfulness did Samuel tell Eli every whit.

2. There was a second revelation of God to Samuel. This revelation come at Shiloh: "For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the Word of the Lord." We all need to close our ears and eyes to every human voice, and say, "Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth." We also must remember that the Lord speaks to us through His Word. He who departs from the Word of God and seeks dreams and visions and voices in the night will get into no end of spiritual darkness.

3. There was a third and definite call from God. This call came after Israel was defeated in battle, and after the death of Eli's sons, and then of Eli himself, It was a masterful sight. In the battle wherein the sons of Eli were slain, the Ark of the Lord was taken and carried by the Philistines to Ashdod. The Ark that spelled peace and blessing to Israel brought disaster to the inhabitants of disbelieving Ashdod. Finally, the Ark was brought back to Israel. It was on this occasion that Samuel had his call to his first recorded public service.

He called the people together and said unto them, "If ye do return unto the Lord, * * and serve Him only: * * He will deliver you." That was a memorable day in Israel. They fasted and confessed their sins, and the Lord heard them and gave them victory. Then Samuel placed a stone of remembrance and called it "Ebenezer," "hitherto hath the Lord helped us."

II. SAMUEL A MAN OF PRAYER (1 Samuel 7:5 )

With what infinite cost did God through Christ Jesus open the door for prayer and make it possible for man to approach his Maker! What infinite loss it would be to the world if there were no approach unto the Father. How great, then, is the shame that the high privileges of prayer are not used more often!

Whether in the prayer of petition or of praise we delight to fall at His feet. We not only grasp something of the effulgence of His power and inherent glory, but we feel that a place at His feet is a place of highest privilege.

Samuel knew how to pray. He carried a burden for the people he served, and he carried them in his heart to God.

III. SAMUEL A JUDGE (1 Samuel 7:15 )

1. A long life spent in service. With Samuel there was no relaxing from his apostleship. He judged Israel all of his life. God give to us such a testimony, as we near the close of our pilgrimage. A whole life spent for God is a whole life saved unto the age to come.

2. A long life spent in faithful judging. As a judge Samuel stood above reproach. In his old age he charged Israel, saying, "Whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? or whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe?"

Here was a man who could review a faithful past. He stood with a conscience free from reproach against God and man. Would that all of us could come to the end of our journey with a like sense of certain assurance. A clean heart, and a clean hand, will lead us into a place of power both with God and men.

3. A long life spent in untiring travel. To judge Israel was no small task. We read of Samuel, "And he went from year to year in circuit to Beth-el, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places." He, also, judged in Ramah, for there was his home.

Let us not think, for one moment, that Samuel's chief task was that of traveling. His burdens were heavier than that. He carried the burdens of a great people. He served a nation into whose very heart sin had bored its way. Samuel sought to center the people in a worship of God, and to call them away from the false deities, and from images of the Phoenicians and the Philistines.

Let us not count our service by the mere physical energies which we spend, but by the spiritual blessings which we may be unto others.

IV. SAMUEL'S DILEMMA (1 Samuel 8:6 ; 1 Samuel 8:20 )

The Children of Israel desired of Samuel that he would give them a king. With this Samuel was greatly displeased. Let us see what Samuel saw in this seemingly forward step.

1. Samuel saw Israel turning away from the Lord. During the years of Samuel's judgeship, God was the recognized Head of Israel, and Samuel was only His spokesman. Therefore, in rejecting Samuel, they rejected God. This is what the Lord said to Samuel, "Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them."

2. Samuel saw Israel patterning her life after the nations among whom she dwelt. The Philistines had a king and they wanted a king. Here is the temptation which befalls many of God's children. They say, "Others do this, or that; others go here or there, and why shouldn't we?" The error in all this is potent. Christ has called us out of the world, and we are not of the world. Between the believer and the world is a great and impassable chasm. There is no ground for fellowship and no basis for unity.

Israel was a people separated from all the peoples of the earth a special people unto the Lord their God. How then could Israel walk after the pattern of those who were her enemies, and the enemies of God? No more can we walk after the men of this world.

3. Samuel saw the sorrows that a king would bring unto the people of God. The Prophet sought Israel's good, and not her undoing. His heart yearned after the people whom he had judged for so many years. He said unto them, "This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horseman." "He will take your daughters * * he will take your fields * * he will take the tenth of your seed." In other words, Samuel said that if they had a king, he would use them, and all that they possessed, for his own good.


1. Saul was a goodly man. Among all the Children of Israel there was none who was goodlier in his person than was Saul. From his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.

The antichrist will also stand, in many ways, head and shoulders above the people. He will appeal to men because of his genius and power. He will, seemingly, be able to lift the people out of the labyrinth of financial, political, and social difficulties into which they have fallen. He will promise much with fair speeches, and plausible promises.

Let us be careful that we make not the arm of flesh the foundation of our trust.

2. Saul was a man designated by the Lord. The Lord said, "Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over My people." God gave Saul to Israel, not because He knew that Saul would deplete them, but because Saul stood for the best that the flesh could provide. If the people would not have the Lord to reign over them, He would give them every opportunity from the best which the world could afford.

It seems to us that from the day that Christ was crucified and rejected as King, God has played eminently fair with Israel and with the peoples of the world. This is man's day, and God has, as it were, taken hands off and allowed man to ply his genius and skill in the world of invention and of social ethics, to develop his own eutopia.

VI. SAMUEL THE AGED (1 Samuel 12:2 )

1. Samuel had to lay his burden down. The time comes to us all, when our last word will be said, our last deed done. We cannot always serve, even if we have proved faithful to our task. How solemn is the contemplation! We need to buy up our privileges, and redeem our time. As Samuel reviewed his past, he spoke with full assurance of his words and acts. He called Israel to notice how unblameably he had served them. This they fully admitted.

2. Samuel gave a final great defence of God. As Samuel stepped aside from his former arduous task as Judge, he said, "Stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord of all the righteous acts of the Lord, which He did to you and to your fathers."

It was an impressive sight. There stood Samuel with his gray hairs, defending his Lord's righteousness. He knew that no man could find just fault with God. The Lord had brought forth His people from Egypt with a high hand. He had led them on through a land of pitfalls and of serpents. He had fed them with the manna from Heaven, and had given them water from the flinty rock. He had taken them into the land of promise.

3. Samuel gave a great call to his people. As Samuel was about to step aside, to admit the leadership of the youthful Saul, he gave the most earnest plea to the people whom he had loved and served so long, to go through with God. He told them that obedience to God would be followed by blessing, and disobedience would bring the curse.



"' As the flower of the sun doth follow the sun, and openeth and shutteth according to the absence of that luminary; so doth the heart of a Christian move after God.' The Divine nature within the believer followeth hard after the Divine nature and longeth to drink in its warmth and light. Everything acteth to its nature. 'We say, "Aqua in tantum ascendit"; and it is true that neither water nor nature riseth higher than its spring-head and center.'

"So when self is our principle and end, we rise no higher than ourselves; but when God becometh the life of our soul we follow after Him, and rise far above the highest point to which nature could conduct us. His grace in us strives to rise to the point from which it came, and it will never rest till it docs so. This argues a high destiny for the believer, and is the foretaste of it. Hence the need to have a good and true beginning, and to draw our life from the eternal fountains above; for, apart from this, there will be no rising up to Heaven.

"How sweet it is to find our mind and heart turning Godward, as the heliotrope seeks the sun! To find our joys begin and end with manifestations of Jesus' love! It is well to pine till the Lord's face be revealed, and. only to flourish when He imparts His gracious influences. It is wise to turn away from all things in which God is not evidently present, but carefully to follow each movement of His shining face that we may always front His love, and bask in the beams of His favor.

"Whatever partakes largely of the light of Jesus should be prized by us, whether it be fashioned after our own favorite model or no: the sun is there, and we must turn to it. 'Anything of Jesus' should be a sufficient attraction to us. A gleam of His sunlight should be prized, for it is far more than we deserve."

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 1 Samuel 1". "Living Water".