The lawless state of God's people, described in the Book of Judges,
is continued in the early part of 1Samuel, and seems to reach its
height when the priests were given over to wickedness [ch. 2],
[culminating in the loss of] the Ark of the Lord [to] the hands of
the Philistines [ch. 4]. We have a solemn lesson of the result of
failure in parental discipline, even on the part of good parents. Of
the sons of Eli we read: ''The sin of the young men was very great
before the Lord,'' and ''Eli restrained them not.'' In the same way,
the sons of even righteous Samuel ''walked not in his ways, but
turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment''
[1Sam 8:3], until the people of Israel made their behavior the
excuse to demand a king. David also seems to have shown an inability
to rule his own house, as is evident in the rebellion of both
Absalom and Adonijah. Of Adonijah, we read: ''And his father had not
displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?'' [1Kin
1:6]. David, evidently, had not acted the father's part in
chastening his son.
Samuel, Saul, and David stand out as the three central figures of 1
& 2 Samuel.
Samuel himself was a picture of our Saviour. The meaning of his name
was one of the perplexities of Hebrew scholarship till the year
1899, when the Twelfth Congress of Orientalists held its meeting at
Rome, and Professor Jastrow, of Philadelphia, showed that, in the
Assyrian, which is closely allied to the Hebrew tongue, the word
sumu means son, and he translated ''Samuel'' as ''son (or offspring)
of God.'' Hannah, in the depth and sincerity of her surrender, gave
up her first-born son to God utterly [ch. 1].
He was ''God's son'' from the moment of his birth. ''Therefore I
have given him to the Lord'' (not ''lent'' as in the A.V.). The
word, common to the Babylonian and Hebrew tongues before their
separation, becomes a witness to the antiquity of the book. It
disappeared from the language of the Israelites so completely that
no Jewish student of the Bible, ancient or modern, was able to
explain it. But it is evident that it was in common use in Hannah's
day; for she wanted every one to know that he was altogether the
Lord's own, and she must have chosen a word, therefore, which every
one could understand.
The name ''God's son'' takes us a step further. The resemblance
between Hannah's Song and that of Mary, the mother of Jesus, [is
remarkable]. Mary's Song is not a repetition of Hannah's, yet both
see the same vision. It is a vision of the earth's full salvation,
and of the Lord's Christ. ''The adversaries of the Lord,'' sings
Hannah, ''shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall He thunder
upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and He shall
give strength unto His King, and exalt the horn of His anointed'' --
that is of His Messiah (1Sam 2:10). ''He hath showed strength with
His arm,'' responds Mary: ''He hath scattered the proud in the
imagination of their hearts... He hath holpen His servant Israel, in
remembrance of His mercy; as He spake to our fathers, to Abraham,
and to his seed for ever'' (Luk 1:51-55).
Hannah's Song, and the name she gave her child, are alike a prophecy
of Christ. She has the honor of being the first to use the name
The Lord of Hosts.
Another and most majestic Divine title occurs for the first time in
the first chapter of this book, and that is ''The Lord of Hosts.''
The Rev. A. Craig Robinson bases upon this fact the following
''The Divine title 'Lord of Hosts' never occurs in the Pentateuch;
it occurs for the first time in 1Samuel 1:3. After this, it occurs
very frequently, especially in the prophets-- 281 times in all. If
the Pentateuch was written by a multitude of writers in the later
age, when this title for Jehovah was so much in vogue, how is it
that not one of them has in the Pentateuch used this expression even
That Jehovah of Hosts was a title of Christ, we see from comparing
Isa 6:1-3 with John 12:41, and Isa 8:13,14 with 1Peter 2:5-8.
Samuel was a type of Christ in combining the offices of prophet,
priest, and ruler. The Schools of the Prophets founded by him are a
foreshadowing of the Lord's service in pouring out His Spirit upon
apostles, evangelists, and teachers.
Above all, Samuel was a picture of Christ in his life of prayer and
intercession. From the time that God ''called Samuel''-- the story
we have loved from childhood [ch. 3] -- his life was one of
continual communion. Samuel had access to the ear of God, and his
own ear was open to God's voice. He and Moses are God's chosen
examples of intercessors. ''Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me,
yet My mind could not be toward this people'' (Jer 15:1). Samuel
said to the rebellious nation, ''God forbid that I should sin
against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you'' [1Sam 12:23].
''Jesus... ever liveth to make intercession for them'' [Heb 7:25].
In Jonathan we have another picture of Christ, showing the love and
friendship of our Heavenly Friend. ''There is a Friend that sticketh
closer than a brother'' [Prov 18:24]. He, the King's Son, was not
ashamed to own the shepherd lad [as] his friend, and Jesus is not
ashamed to call us brethren [Heb 2:11]. ''The soul of Jonathan was
knit with the soul of David, and he loved him as his own soul''
[1Sam 18:1]. Jesus, ''having loved His own which were in the world,
loved them to the uttermost'' (John 13:1, R.V. margin).
Jonathan made an everlasting covenant with David (18:3; 20:15,16;
23:18): ''He stripped himself of the robe that was on him, and gave
it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow,
and to his girdle.'' So Christ stripped Himself of His glory, and He
has covered us with the robe of His righteousness, and has armed and
girded us for the fight. Jonathan strengthened David's hands in God
(23:16), and the Lord says to us, ''My strength is made perfect in
weakness'' [2Cor 12:9]. The picture falls short, as all pictures do,
of the glorious reality. Jonathan, at the risk of his own life
(20:33), sought to reconcile his father to David. Christ laid down
His life as ''the propitiation for our sins'' (1John 2:2). He is our
Mediator, our Advocate with the Father, and has made us sharers of
His throne in glory.
The Shepherd King.
Both as Shepherd and as King, David is a type of our Saviour. In
1Samuel, we have the account of David's long season of preparation
for the Kingdom.
The little town of Bethlehem is the birthplace alike of David and of
his greater Son. The quiet years of toil with his father's flock
remind us of the years spent at Nazareth and in the carpenter's
shop. Many of the Psalms recall David's watch over the flock:
''When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers,
the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;
What is man, that Thou are mindful of him?
and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?'' (Psa 8:3,4)
''The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament showeth His handywork...'' (Psa 19:1)
On the same plains round Bethlehem, the shepherds kept watch over
their flocks by night, while the star which guided the wise men
shown over their heads, when, lo, the angel of the Lord brought them
the good tidings of great joy, of the birth, in the city of David,
of a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. ''And suddenly there was with
the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will toward
men'' [Luke 2]. Those who have watched the sunrise from those plains
where David must often have watched it, tell us that no words can
describe its magnificence. ''In them hath He set a tabernacle for
the sun; which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and
rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race'' (Psa 19:4,5).
In the Shepherd Psalm, David surely describes his own care of the
sheep. How often he had led them by still waters, and caused them to
lie down in green pastures, and many a time he must have had to lead
them down one of the gorges of the wilderness of Judea. This
wilderness is fifty miles long, and ten miles broad, with many
valleys just such as are described by the [Hebrew] word gay in this
Psalm. There are eight different words for valley in Hebrew, but gay
signifies a deep, rocky gorge, some of them only two or three feet
wide at the bottom, almost as dark as night even in the daytime,
because of the steep, rocky sides rising 800 feet high on each side.
Here the hyenas stalk the sheep if they get separated from the
shepherd. But with his club the shepherd does battle both with wild
beast and with wilder Bedaween [sic.], and reassures the sheep with
the touch of his staff in the dark valley. More than once David had
risked his life, and left the rest of the flock, to rescue one lamb
from the mouth of the lion or bear. The good shepherd has always to
take his life in his hand and be ready to lay it down. With what
confidence David says, ''Jehovah is my Shepherd, I shall not want.''
And the Son of David responds, ''I am the Good Shepherd: the Good
Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep'' [John 10:11]. He leaves the
''ninety and nine'' and goes [into the wilderness] after the one
that was lost, until He finds it [Mat 18:11-14].
The Eastern sheep-fold is an enclosure, open to heaven, with a small
place of shelter at the back, and enclosed with a rough, stone wall.
At one corner, there is a tiny doorway, but every shepherd is
himself the door. He sleeps in the doorway to guard the sheep at
night. He stands in the doorway as they come home in the evening,
and examines every sheep before it goes in. He has a bowl of water
for the thirsty sheep, and a bowl of oil for the wounded ones; he
anoints with oil those whose heads have been bruised against the
rocks. The imagery of the twenty-third Psalm does not change in the
middle, as some have thought, to that of an indoor bancquet; the
imagery of the shepherd's care is sustained throughout.
The Shepherd and the King were blended in David and in David's Son.
A true king must always have the heart of a shepherd. When David saw
the Angel of the Lord about to destroy Jerusalem, he cried: ''I it
is that have sinned, and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep,
what have they done? Let Thine hand be on me... but not on Thy
people'' (1Chron 21:17).
''I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even
My Servant David; and He shall be their Shepherd'' (Ezek 34:23). He
The Good Shepherd in death. John 10:11. See Psalm 22.
The Great Shepherd in resurrection. Heb 13:20. See Psalm 23.
The Chief Shepherd in glory. 1Peter 5:4. See Psalm 24.