1. SECRETS FOR VICTORY
a. What insights can we learn from Israel’s experience during the time that Samuel judged the nation? 1 Samuel 7:12‚ 17.
“There is need today of such a revival of true heart-religion as was experienced by ancient Israel. We need, like them, to bring forth fruit meet for repentance—to put away our sins, cleansing the defiled temple of the heart that Jesus may reign within. . . .
“Repentance is the first step which must be taken by all who would return to God. No one can do this work for us. We must individually humble our souls before God, and put away our idols. When we have done all that we can do, the Lord will manifest to us his salvation.
“And when the light of Heaven dispels our darkness, let us, like Samuel, evince our gratitude by making a memorial to God.”—The Signs of the Times, January 26, 1882.
b. Why must there be earnest appeals to God’s professed people until the end of time? Isaiah 2:17–22.
2. AN ESSENTIAL STEP
a. What caused the downfall of God’s people? Hosea 4:6. What did Samuel do to bring about enduring spiritual growth among the people?
“Provision was made for the instruction of the young, by the establishment of the schools of the prophets. If a youth desired to search deeper into the truths of the word of God and to seek wisdom from above, that he might become a teacher in Israel, these schools were open to him. The schools of the prophets were founded by Samuel to serve as a barrier against the widespread corruption, to provide for the moral and spiritual welfare of the youth, and to promote the future prosperity of the nation by furnishing it with men qualified to act in the fear of God as leaders and counselors. In the accomplishment of this object Samuel gathered companies of young men who were pious, intelligent, and studious. These were called the sons of the prophets. As they communed with God and studied His word and His works, wisdom from above was added to their natural endowments. The instructors were men not only well versed in divine truth, but those who had themselves enjoyed communion with God and had received the special endowment of His Spirit. They enjoyed the respect and confidence of the people, both for learning and piety.
“In Samuel’s day there were two of these schools—one at Ramah, the home of the prophet, and the other at Kirjath-jearim, where the ark then was. Others were established in later times.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 593.
b. What is to be the keynote of such schools? Isaiah 34:16; Psalm 12:6.
“We are willing that the whole world should know, not only that our youth are educated in the sciences, but that they have continually kept before them the importance of obtaining a knowledge of the laws of God, and of rendering obedience to them.”—College Record, January 1, 1878.
“Are there not some lessons which the educators of our day might learn with profit from the ancient schools of the Hebrews? He who created man has provided for his development in body and mind and soul. Hence, real success in education depends upon the fidelity with which men carry out the Creator’s plan.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 595.
3. SAMUEL DISAPPOINTED
a. What disappointment did Samuel face in his old age? 1 Samuel 8:1–3. To some extent, how was he treated a bit unfairly?
“Divinely invested with the threefold office of judge, prophet, and priest, [Samuel] had labored with untiring and disinterested zeal for the welfare of his people, and the nation had prospered under his wise control. Order had been restored, and godliness promoted, and the spirit of discontent was checked for the time. But with advancing years the prophet was forced to share with others the cares of government, and he appointed his two sons to act as his assistants. While Samuel continued the duties of his office at Ramah, the young men were stationed at Beersheba, to administer justice among the people near the southern border of the land.
“It was with the full assent of the nation that Samuel had appointed his sons to office.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 604.
“The people saw that [Samuel’s] sons did not follow his footsteps. Although they were not vile, like the children of Eli, yet they were dishonest and double-minded. While they aided their father in his laborious work, their love of reward led them to favor the cause of the unrighteous.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 353.
“The cases of abuse among the people had not been referred to Samuel. Had the evil course of his sons been known to him, he would have removed them without delay; but this was not what the petitioners desired. Samuel saw that their real motive was discontent and pride.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 604.
b. Instead of requesting for the wrongs to be corrected, what did the people demand from Samuel? What did he do in response? 1 Samuel 8:4–6.
“The aged prophet looked upon the request as a censure upon himself, and a direct effort to set him aside. He did not, however, reveal his feelings; he uttered no reproach, but carried the matter to the Lord in prayer and sought counsel from Him alone.”—Ibid., pp. 604, 605.
4. WHO IS TO BE OUR KING?
a. How did the Lord bid Samuel respond to the people’s demand for a king? Why? 1 Samuel 8:7‚ 18.
“Those who despise and reject the faithful servant of God show contempt, not merely for the man, but for the Master who sent him. It is God’s words, His reproofs and counsel, that are set at nought; it is His authority that is rejected.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 605.
b. What timeless principle does God want us to glean from this experience, as explained through later prophets? Hosea 13:11; Ezekiel 14:3‚ 8.
“The Lord had, through His prophets, foretold that Israel would be governed by a king; but it does not follow that this form of government was best for them or according to His will. . . . When men choose to have their own way, without seeking counsel from God, or in opposition to His revealed will, He often grants their desires, in order that, through the bitter experience that follows, they may be led to realize their folly and to repent of their sin. Human pride and wisdom will prove a dangerous guide. That which the heart desires contrary to the will of God will in the end be found a curse rather than a blessing.”—Ibid., pp. 605, 606.
c. After Saul, the first king, was instated, how did God mercifully seek to make the best of the situation? 1 Samuel 10:1, 6, 9; 15:17.
d. What was God finally constrained to do to the first king? Why? 1 Samuel 13:14; 15:22, 23; Acts 13:20‚ 22. How does He govern His people today? Ephesians 4:11‚ 16.
“God has not set any kingly power in the Seventh-day Adventist Church to control the whole body or to control any branch of the work. He has not provided that the burden of leadership shall rest upon a few men. Responsibilities are distributed among a large number of competent men.”—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 236.
5. A GODLY LEGACY
a. Name one of the saddest days in the history of Israel and explain why it was so heartrending. 1 Samuel 25:1; Psalm 116:15.
“The death of Samuel was regarded as an irreparable loss by the nation of Israel. A great and good prophet and an eminent judge had fallen in death, and the grief of the people was deep and heartfelt. . . .
“As the people contrasted the course of Saul with that of Samuel, they saw what a mistake they had made in desiring a king that they might not be different from the nations around them. Many looked with alarm at the condition of society, fast becoming leavened with irreligion and godlessness. . . .
“The nation had lost the founder and president of its sacred schools, but that was not all. It had lost him to whom the people had been accustomed to go with their great troubles—lost one who had constantly interceded with God in behalf of the best interests of its people. The intercession of Samuel had given a feeling of security; for ‘the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much’ (James 5:16). . . .
“It was when the nation was racked with internal strife, when the calm, God-fearing counsel of Samuel seemed to be most needed, that God gave His aged servant rest. Bitter were the reflections of the people as they looked upon his quiet resting place, and remembered their folly in rejecting him as their ruler; for he had had so close a connection with Heaven that he seemed to bind all Israel to the throne of Jehovah. It was Samuel who had taught them to love and obey God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 663, 664.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How did Samuel wisely begin his period as judge of Israel?
2. What revealed his foresight to brighten the future of God’s nation?
3. Both Eli and Samuel had troublesome sons, but what was the difference?
4. Why is it so important to fully surrender to God’s will when we pray?
5. Why should we have a deeper appreciation for leaders like Samuel?