Advent Series - December 13
We have been talking about the time of the Judges.
The Judges were leaders who came to the help of Israel when there was great need. They united the people to fight against their enemies. At other times, each of the twelve tribes ran their own affairs. The book of Judges ends with the words, “In those days there was no king in Israel: but every one did that which seemed right to himself.” (Judges 21:24)
Now we come to the birth of Samuel.
Samuel’s mother, Anna had wanted to have a baby for a long time. She promised God that if He sent her a little boy, she would give him to the Lord all the days of his life and would never cut his hair (according to the Nazarite law…just like Samson).
God heard Anna’s prayer and sent her a son. When Samuel was old enough, Anna gave Samuel to Heli, the high priest and judge, saying:
“My heart hath rejoiced in the Lord, and my horn is exalted in my God:
my mouth is enlarged over my enemies: because I have joyed in my salvation. There is none holy as the Lord is: for there is no other beside Thee…The bow of the mighty is overcome, and the weak are girt with strength…The Lord maketh poor and maketh rich, he humbleth and He exalteth..” (1 Kings Chapter 2)
Our Lady knew the Scriptures well.
No doubt she had the canticle of Anna in mind when she uttered her own Magnificat;
“My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
… Because He that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is His name…He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble…He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away.” (Luke Chapter 1)
So Samuel lived with Heli and helped with the duties of a priest.
The time came, however, when God was not pleased with Heli, because his sons were wicked and Heli did not correct them.
And one night, God called Samuel, and Samuel answered, “Speak, Lord for Thy servant heareth.” (1 Kings 3:10) “And the Lord said to Samuel…In that day I will raise up against Heli all the things I have spoken concerning his house…For I have foretold unto him, that I will judge his house forever, for iniquity, because he knew that his sons did wickedly, and did not chastise them.” (1 Kings 3:11-13)
At that time, the Philistines were still enemies of the Israelites. There was a great battle, and the Israelites were losing so they called for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought to battle in order to save them.
So the sons of Heli brought the Ark, but they were killed in battle and the Ark was taken by the Philistines.
When Heli heard the news, he was overcome with shock and died.
And the next morning, the Philistines found the idol lying face down before the Ark.
They set the statue up again, but the next morning, they again found the statue lying on the ground, this time with its head and hands cut off! (Remember Genesis 3:15… “she shall crush thy head”)
Wherever the Philistines brought the Ark, God punished them with sickness. Finally they sent the Ark back to the Israelites.
Samuel was now the priest, prophet and judge of the people.
When the Ark returned, Samuel offered sacrifice to the Lord in thanksgiving. The Philistines stopped attacking and there was peace for a time.
Years went by, and Samuel grew old. Up until then, God had ruled the people of Israel Himself; choosing the judges who would lead them in time of need.
Now the Israelites decided they wanted a change. They asked for a king.
God warned His people (through Samuel) that they would not always like having a king rule over them, but He let them have their way.
So we come to a new period in Old Testament history: the period of the Kings.
This period would last 120 years. There were 3 kings during this time; King Saul, King David and King Solomon. Each would reign 40 years.
We will talk about King Saul first.
Saul was a great big tall man, head and shoulders taller than any other man in Israel.
One day Saul was out looking for his father’s donkeys. Presently he came to the town where Samuel was staying, and Saul and his servant went to visit Samuel.
When Saul entered, God spoke to the prophet Samuel, telling him that Saul was to be king. Samuel called all the men of Israel together, and told them that God was going to give them a king. Everyone drew lots to determine who should be king and the lot fell to Saul.
At first Saul was a good king and defended his people from the Philistines, but after a time he began to grow proud. Finally came the day when Saul disobeyed God and God rejected Saul as king.
Tomorrow we will see what happened next!