Between Judges and Kings: Israel Needed a Leader

click to viewSamuel, Saul, and David.

Three pillars of the Old Testament. But what did they do? Why are they in the Bible?

Raising a Leader

The period of Judges (about 100 years after the death of Joshua) was not working. Sin after sin the Israelites committed. God realized He had to do something else. And fast.

Enter the rise of kings for Israel. This is not something God had ever intended for the Israelites, but it was needed. The Philistines, Israel’s nemesis for centuries, was pressing in, threatening all of the tribes of Israel for territory. They boasted of chariots and a better organizational structure. What was Israel to do?

The Story of Hannah

God had a plan. Using the pain of not having a child, Hannah prays to God for a son whom she’ll dedicate to the Lord. This son is Samuel who would grow into one of the greatest leaders Israel ever had. He had three roles to play:

  1. Prophet–discerning God’s will
  2. Priest–led Israel in worship
  3. Military leader–led Israel against enemies in battle

He and God chose Israel’s first two kings.

From Hannah’s bitter pain comes great promise. Despite being made fun of and taunted for having no children, she had one of the greatest leaders of all time. She definitely got the last laugh. The Israelites followed the same path: from pain comes promise.

The Best Leaders are God’s Leaders

  • Samuel was chosen over Eli’s sons to lead Israel because he listened to God.
  • David, a poor shepherd boy, was chosen to lead Israel because he listened to God.

Samuel: A Transition between Judges and Kings

Samuel unites Israel for the first time in over a century, bringing the Israelites close to being a nation again. He anoints Israel’s first two kings and deposes one who doesn’t measure up (Saul). He delivered both good and bad news and had God’s ear. He settled disputes as a judge and prayed consistently. His life ended with not one black mark on his record, and the people loved him.


BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 4: 1 Samuel 7

Image result for 1 samuel 7

Summary of 1 Samuel 7:

The ark of the covenant is now at Kiriath Jearim, guarded by Eleazar. The ark stayed here 20 years until the Israelites rid themselves of foreign gods and Ashtoreths.

All the Israelites gathered at Mizpah where Samuel interceded for them with the Lord. They fasted and confessed their sins. The Philistines, hearing of this gathering, went to Mizpah and attacked. Samuel continued to pray to God and sacrificed a burnt offering. The Lord sent loud thunder, panicking the Philistines. The Israelites routed the Philistines, slaughtering them as they fled beyond Beth Car.

Samuel set a stone to show the Lord helping them. The Philistines did not invade again. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, Israel regained the land taken from them by the Philistines and there was peace with the Amorites. Samuel served as judge all the days of his life, making his home in Ramah.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 4: 1 Samuel 7:

9) Part personal question. My answer: Samuel told the Israelites to give up their foreign gods. When they did, he interceded for them with the Lord, offering up burnt sacrifices. He prayed for the people on Israel’s behalf and he served as judge for the people and priest as well. Give up idols and reflect God wherever we are. We need to pray for others and intercede for them with God if need be.

10) They gave up their foreign gods. They confessed their sins. They relied on God when threatened by the Philistines. They had faith. God defeated the Philistines for them and gave them lasting peace. God answered their prayers.

11) In chapter 4, the Israelites demanded God to be with them. They put their faith in the ark, an object, not God. Their hearts were twisted and not fully with the Lord. They were prideful. In chapter 7, they entreated God to be with them. They put their faith in God. They confessed their sins. Their hearts were full of faith. We learn we have to have true faith if we want God to fight our battles for us. We have to ask God, not demand God to help us.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 4: 1 Samuel 7:

Once your heart is right for God, He is there. All the pieces come together. He protects and saves and prospers. It’s as simple as believing faith in Him.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 4: 1 Samuel 7:

Image result for 1 samuel 7The ark did not rest in the temple; instead, it rested in the house of Abinadab.

For 20 years, the people weren’t right with God. Their cities were in ruins, their armies were defeated, and they were under Philistine domination. They refused to turn to Him.

Where was Samuel for all this time?

God raised up Samuel as a prophet and a judge (1 Samuel 4:1). Yet Samuel was strangely absent from the whole Ark of the Covenant fiasco. 1 Samuel 4:1 is the last place Samuel was mentioned, right before Israel schemed to use the ark as a good luck charm in battle. We don’t know where Samuel was but presumably in training still.

What was important about repenting to the Lord?

Samuel called the nation to repentance.

  • The repentance had to be inward (with all your hearts) and
  • Outward (put away the foreign gods).

The inward was more important than the outward, and it had to come first. That is why Samuel first called Israel to return with all your hearts, then told them to put away the foreign gods.

However, inward repentance is a secret thing. It is hidden. No one can really “see” the heart of another. Yet the inward was proved by the outward. We can know if Israel did return with all your hearts by seeing if they really did put away the foreign gods.

The Israelites were serving two gods and thought they weren’t rejecting him because of this. They felt they only added the worship of other gods to their worship of the LORD. Samuel called on Israel to turn their backs on these other gods and serve Him only.

Baal was attractive because he was thought to be the god of weather, bringing good crops and financial success. Ashtoreth was attractive because she was thought to be the goddess of fertility, thus connected to love and sex.

Why Mizpah?

  • This is where Jacob separated from Laban (Genesis 31:49) and was the gathering place for a repentant Israel in Judges 20:1. This was a place remembered for separation and repentance.
  • This showed the spiritual need Israel felt at the time. They expressed their repentance both by putting away the bad and by pursuing the good.

A ceremonial pouring of water demonstrated the soul poured out before the LORD. It was an expression of emptiness and need. Lamentations 2:19Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.

Israel also expressed their sorrow over their sin by fasting (a message that nothing else really mattered except getting right with God) and by confession (a straightforward claim of guilt and responsibility).

1 John 1:5-10 makes it clear that confession is vital to maintain relationship with God. As God convicts us of sin or sins that hinder fellowship with Him, we must confess it and receive forgiveness and cleansing for our relationship with God to continue without hindrance.

“We have sinned against the LORD.” This is almost exactly what David said when he was confronted with his sin in 2 Samuel 12:13.

With God fighting for them, Israel was invincible. Small faith in the true and living God is more powerful than strong faith in a lie.

How 1 Samuel 4 is different from 1 Samuel 7:

Image result for 1 samuel 7The last time Israel was in this kind of situation they said, “Let’s get the Ark of the Covenant and take it into battle with us. Then we can’t lose!” Now they are much wiser before the LORD, and instead of trusting in the ark they did the right thing and asked Samuel to cry out to the LORD our God for us.

The battle was won before it began because the LORD answered Samuel.

The Bible speaks of Samuel as a mighty man of prayer: Samuel was among those who called upon His name; they called upon the LORD, and He answered them. (Psalm 99:6)

God not only sent thunder, He also sent confusion to the Philistines and confidence to Israel.

Samuel was:

  • A man of faith
  • A man of peace
  • A man of military prowess
  • A servant
  • A man of prayer
  • A man of hard work
  • A judge
  • A leader


People of the Promised Land: Samuel

People of the Promised Land: Samuel

Known as the Last of the Judges and First of the Prophets, Samuel is so important that he has two whole books devoted to him in the Bible, which cover about 100 years from the birth of Samuel to shortly before the death of David. Again, the author of the books of Samuel is unknown and covers the end of the era of judges, which is approximately from 1050 BC to 970 BC. It was recorded sometime between 930 BC after the division of the kingdom to 550 BC as late as the exile.

Who was Samuel in the Bible?

Samuel starts out life as a frustration. His mother, Hannah, was childless and begged God that if He’d give her a son, she’d dedicate him to the priesthood. God answers and Samuel’s life path is then set as a minister under the priest, Eli. He was dedicated as a Nazirite, the only one named in the bible besides Samson. Samuel was chosen by God as a prophet and throughout his life, he frequently interceded for the people.

Samuel had three roles in his life:

  1. Prophet
  2. Priest
  3. Military leader.  He excelled at all of them.

Towards the end of his life, Samuel anoints the young Saul as God’s chosen King of the Israelites. Saul proved problematic, taking matters into his own hands, presuming to make offerings to God himself (Samuel’s job as a priest) and again disobeying God in the battle with the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). Because of this God chooses David to be King, whom Samuel anoints as well, who at the time was a young shepherd in Bethlehem.

In essence, Samuel chose Israel’s first two kings. Samuel dies while Saul is still king.

The books of Samuel covers exciting and famous scenes in the Bible: Hannah’s supplication, David’s killing of Goliath, Saul’s attempts on David’s life, and David’s affair with Bathsheba. We see the amazing friendship of David and Saul’s son, Jonathan, the grief the death of Jonathan causes Samuel. The book of 2 Samuel ends in a whirlwind with the short revolt of Sheba, battles with the Philistines, David’s praise of God, the listing of his mighty men, and the catastrophe of the census.

What are the Themes of the Book of Samuel?Image result for prophet painting bible

The purpose of all Old Testament writings is to serve as a warning, instruction, and encouragement for us all (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). Here, we see the establishment of the kingship in Israel as Israel transitions from rulership of the judges to the kings. We once again see the sovereignty of God and how He rewards obedience. Hannah prayed. David was anointed and was the youngest son. Samuel was chosen as prophet over Eli’s sons.

Why begin a book about one of the greatest leaders Israel had ever known with a woman, Hannah? Because Hannah’s story mirrors Israel’s. Frustrated, Hannah turns to God, and as a result her son was a priest instead of a farmer (higher in class society). From bitter pain comes great promise, if that pain leads you to God.

Why Was this Time Period so Important in the History of Israel as a Nation?

Under the judges, the kingdom was divided into the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel. It was a chaotic time with little leadership. The tribes began to unite into one nation, and the kingship brought about stability as a result.

The Israelites were fighting for survival with the Philistines, a people who migrated to the Promised Land around the same time the Israelites arrived out of Egypt. The Philistines were much better organized and had superior weapons (namely, the chariot) and were pushing more and more into the Israelites territory.

The Israelites were a loose confederation of 12 tribes who relied on each other only in emergencies. Occasional leaders–judges–would take charge where there was a military threat, but these alliances would dissolve immediately after the threat ended.

What are the Themes of the Books of Samuel?

  • God chooses His own leaders. Rejecting the sons of Eli, traditionally the next leaders, God chooses Samuel instead because Samuel always listened to God.
  • We see God’s sovereignty and control over this world, His providential guidance, and His kingship.
  • Furthermore, man can do nothing without God.