Posts Tagged With: Jerusalem

Samuel’s Legacy seen in the Lives of those that were Influenced by him

The  Master Builder who Left a United Israel.   

The anarchical mess of the sprawling godless tribes of Israel carried on in ignorance of the seismic change in history that was about to take place over the next generation, all of which was precipitated and initiated through the birth of Shmuel ben Elkanah. That blessed child born in Ramathaim Zophim passed away, some think, about a full century after the day of his birth. It was Samuel’s time. The Samuellian era. The last and highest peak of the line of characters known as the Judges. This man was also the first and, to my mind, possibly the highest peak of the prophetic office and gift that ever ministered to the whole of Israel during the period of time in which the Hebrews lived in the land. He had become a one man institution. He was the posthumous pillar that epitomised what was to be the future greatness of Israel. He was treasured and feared by all in his mature years, and sadly missed after his passing.  He was anointed and appointed by God Almighty as His representative in Israel throughout his lifetime. What he left behind him was as unified, Godly and purposeful as it was the opposite of those things at the moment he had been conceived. Even while he homed in and concentrated on the schools of the prophets after his last words with Saul, the very fact that he was alive and moving “in God,” even though it was in the background of Israel’s political and tribal cosmos, Samuel gave the nation comfort, and a brighter vision to look forward to.

There was, of course, the hope of the great charismatic leader of men, David. But he was a man that Judah and Benjamin loved beyond reason, while the northern tribes knew less about.

The ground had been prepared for the Glory of God to return, just as dramatically as it had left when the Philistines had stolen the Ark of the Covenant in the early days of Samuel’s youth. The Ark was indeed safe in Israeli hands and had been after several months of Philistine illicit ownership, but the Hebrews had never had it been returned to the Tabernacle. There is no way we can possibly imagine that it was left in the home of a certain Abinadab, by Samuel’s forgetfulness, or anybody else’s forgetfulness. It was a deliberate act of “neglect.” That is, it was deliberately left there by Samuel. It was symbolic of a new day dawning. Samuel was so busy relating to God, hearing from God and ministering to the people of Israel, as well as judging them, that to trouble himself with the symbol of the God he was relating to seemed almost irrelevant.  The substance of their faith was much more vital than the symbol of the same. Samuel was a man born out of time, with a world view, belief system and spiritual disciplines far ahead of his generation. Samuel was living in his own, “Holy Spirit church age.” All he did was relate to Him who is invisible, in as real a relationship as Peter, James and John had done in the days of Christ’s ministry. Samuel would have been considered a spiritual gargantuan giant no matter what age he had lived in. Samuel was the classic wild, giant, dangerous prophet.

Samuel’s anointing had led him in a different direction than the proscribed national slavery to what had degenerated into a deadened sacrificial system. Samuel was a man of the Spirit all the days of his life. He was worshipping the Lord with abandon before he had received that first prophetic word in his youth. By keeping the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle in a low profile with the people, it meant that he could keep the person of Yahweh Himself in the highest possible highlight. For Samuel, everything was a matter of the Spirit. The input of the prophetic word, and the spread and education of aspiring prophets was changing the face of Israel then, in a way that would have a future impact on the entire planet. Samuel’s lifelong circuit ministry of judging and teaching was a generational, credible call to return to the purity and faith of a life lived in devotion to Yahweh. This, after all, was the basic reason for Israel’s existence on the planet. How great was the force of righteousness within the prophet Samuel, and how magnificent was the working of the anointing that was upon him.

Samuel’s adherence to keeping the most intimate relationship with God and obeying Him as often and as consistently as he did throughout his life meant that the schools of the prophets had time to have become engrafted into the atmosphere of Israel’s culture within his own lifetime. His withdrawal from public and political life meant he could give his whole being to the development and the solidifying of an understanding into the world of prophecy and how it was to be maintained. Who knows what treasures he passed on to influence the future prophets.  The schools blossomed and developed under him, and were to direct the people and rulers of Israel over the next 500 years or so, not that they always listened to them.  Because of the fact that the prophetic Spirit and prophetic schools in Israel ultimately gave us the writing prophets, we could actually say that Samuel is still impacting the world today through them.  The writing prophets have left us a deep rich seam of truth that has not to this day been fully fathomed.

Samuel was the original seed of which all later prophets in Israel were the flower and growth. Sacrifice of animals was never abandoned altogether of course, but the sacrificial activity was brought into subjection to the flow of the Spirit of God and the prophetic word and office.  Samuel had gone quite some distance in tying Israel to Yahweh rather than to the Mosaic system that was attached to their history. The Tabernacle and the corrupted Levitical priesthood had lost the awe and wonder of the manifest presence of God in the infrastructure of that form of worship. Samuel had brought the drifting vessel of Israel, at first floating without a sail or rudder, back into its divine haven in all its proper function, i.e. loving God and walking in the parameters of His law.  The land of Israel was and is Yahweh’s land. The people of Israel were and are God’s nation. The whole of Samuel’s life and mission was to see his beloved nation brought under the umbrella of the terms of that covenant that they had so crassly broken.

Samuel had died while David was still on the run from the demonised and demented first monarch, Saul ben Kish. Yet even with the sorrow of the prophet dying without seeing the unity of one nation happily existing under the rule of a man who was after God’s own heart, the loyalty that was brewing in support of the anointed son of Jesse might possibly have been seen and perceived by the wise old man as a truly God inspired phenomenon. This would have allowed Samuel to die in peace concerning the future of the nation after he had departed to Sheol. Yet, whether he saw the hearts of the people turning towards David or not, I feel sure he would have seen in the Spirit what kind of a giant killing king Jesse’s son was to become. The priesthood may have turned out to be wimpish and retiring, but there was a Lion out of the tribe of Judah that was moving into maturity and position.

Saul was famous for his bravery across the twelve tribes, if only infamous for his demonic illness around the southern tribe of Judah. The bible reads as if it was only the confidantes of Saul’s court and the intimates of David’s friends and family that new of all the attempts on his life made by the son of Kish. Common folk might have turned against Saul had they known of the demonically inspired murderous attempts the sovereign had made time and again.  The giant killing, sweet psalmist of Israel was on the run from Saul for many years, while Samuel was alive, and the king’s hot pursuit of his successor continued until his death at Gilboa. There was indeed a conflict of loyalties in the hearts of the people. What were the Godly population of Judah to do? Follow Saul the present king who was clearly not the man he was when he was crowned? Or, like all the other nations that surrounded them, should they rid the land of an unwanted megalomaniac, dictator of a king and put the revolutionary “new boy on the block,” on the throne? Which way was the right one?

David had undoubtedly been taught well by Samuel. God had put Saul in office. God would remove Saul from office. Whatever human means or circumstances would bring about Saul’s removal from the throne, it was not to be by the hand of any God-fearing Hebrew, especially the man who was destined to succeed him. Because of Samuel’s integrity, morality and his grasp of patience for God to resolve issues, after Samuel’s death, the nation, in particular the people of Judah, waited to see what was about to happen. It was clearly a wait for Saul to die. Nobody in Israel it seems, wanted to touch this “Ark,” this anointed of God. Saul, as it were, was a holy vessel chosen by God, no matter what the outward display of vileness revealed. The resolution of the issue was all about divine intervention and a trust in the character of the Ever Living God, and His direct interaction with the people and concerns of Israel.  The tribe of Judah would have wanted Saul’s removal to happen quickly. I often wonder if the Northern tribes had a clue about Saul’s political intrigues against his own son and the man he had long suspected wanted to, “steal,” his throne. The North–South divide in Israel, from Joshua’s time on, is plain to see. On crossing the Jordan, the major campaign in the south, under Joshua, was nothing but a thorough conquering of Judah’s territory. As the years passed the fighting spirit that was needed for the conquering of Canaan leaked away like sand in a sieve. The book of Joshua reveals an incredible campaign in Judah, then a list of all the area that was not conquered, and a much lesser campaign in the north. The mid lands of Canaan were seemingly ignored.

One cannot but own the idea that the many people of Judah, and Benjamin, if not the rest of the nation, were aware that Saul’s successor had been anointed by Samuel and was waiting “in the wings” to assume the throne. News would have spread, throughout the southern people of Israel, of David’s two opportunities to have slain Saul – opportunities he had refused to seize, explaining his actions with the now famous words; “Touch not the Lord’s anointed.” Not only would the story have spread like wild fire amongst the people of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin, but it would have inspired them to emulate their future king. “If Saul’s successor, the son of Jesse, dare not remove Saul in order to get to the throne, then it would be wrong to override his will, his intention and his Godly motive. Therefore we, his future subjects as well as being Saul’s subjects must support our present king and wait to see what will happen.”  And so the people of Judah “sat back” as it were in respect of the throne and waited for the appropriate moment to acclaim their darling tribal representative as the rightful king.

As for the other tribes, there was a kind of cultural and social chasm once a person went North of Judah and Benjamin. (I referred above also to Simeon, but the land allotted to Simeon was a kind of annexe in the midst of Judah’s land. After a generation or two had passed, it seems Simeon was totally absorbed into Judah and is hardly mentioned again in the Bible.) Probably in ignorance of the details of the heavy story of Saul’s downfall, depression and demonization, there was a kind of nominal, “God save the King!” attitude amongst those northern tribes. There was little knowledge up north to think anything else but good things about Saul. If one pedantically marks the map of Israel and the narrative’s geographical location, while reading both David’s life and Saul’s reign, very little transpired in the northern tribal areas, but when it did, it shows a king who endeared himself to the people. Saul was much loved up north.  Possibly unawares of the court politics and intrigues, some were more than nominal in their support of Saul. Some risked their lives simply to return Saul’s cadaver to the land of Israel for a proper burial and time of mourning, showing an almost religious commitment to Saul even when dead. No matter what they thought of Saul down south, the north truly honoured their first king.

The deep mindset of division between Judah and the rest of the nation, that later split the whole hegemony into two after Solomon died, was already in the psyche of the people. It started as jealousy and was simmering for centuries before Rehoboam the son of Solomon was crass enough, and silly enough, not to soften the tax regime that funded the king’s lifestyle of luxury. It was the genius of David’s ability to join the nation into one that was a major aspect of the glory of his reign. David was anointed with a Spirit of wisdom. During his reign there was a joining of all the twelve tribes. Solomon’s heavy weight of taxes, and having the nation’s young sons and daughters away from their homes during the course of each year, missing farming time and normal home life for the king’s indulgence was tolerated only because of the wisdom and the character of Solomon and the deep love that the whole united hegemony of Israel had for the demised David and his son. Once the untried and untested son of Solomon had blotted his copy book, the amputation of north from south was done deftly and quickly, without any sociological anaesthetic.

The fact that we can see in retrospect that the nation was on the cusp of greatness, has to be understood as the gift of God on Samuel and then David’s life, a gift that was perpetuated with the very different gift of Solomon. It was an anointing of the Spirit of God that was placed on David’s life simultaneous to the horn full of oil that Samuel poured on his head. It was God that directly made David great. It was Samuel that had anointed David when he was but a child. It was Samuel who had mentored David from the period they had together, near the end of Samuel’s life, leaving the future king with wisdom beyond any of his peers. David proved to his own experience that, “Better is one day in the courts of Yahweh,” that is with Samuel, “than a thousand in the schools of men and worldly wisdom.”

Therefore, conceivably with some of the northern tribes knowing far less about the character of David than the people of Judah, Saul still had a staunch following right up to and even after his death. The nation was soundly formed and stabilising, despite the character of their present king. Samuel had led them away from being a family of tribes with only the religious ties of their history to bind them together while living independent existences.  Samuel, under God, had been the human instrument that had put Saul in office, and, to a degree, as far as externals were concerned, Saul was fulfilling his role. The nation was one, with only the political astute minds of a few who could see the Spiritual and social San Andreas Fault line that ran the whole length of the border between Judah/Benjamin together, and the rest of the tribes to their north, as well as the huge fault line that divided Saul’s character and personality.

David must have been a wise and discerning man, whose company other kings and leaders loved even before he was king. During David’s fugitive years, he made both friends and enemies, however, he befriended some of those rulers that reigned in the days of his loneliness, making friendships that were sustained during the years of his kingship. Some of the kings of those nations that surrounded Israel were still his submissive friends once he had ascended to the throne of Israel.

The nation having been propelled forward by the wisdom of Samuel, a prophet who had an ear to God and the people, as well as a mouth to pray with and teach the masses, built a shrine around his burial place. A building still surrounds his tomb today. Israel has an annual celebration of the life of Samuel.

I salute the son of Hannah, and personally seek God for some slight semblance of his characteristics and Spirit.

4 Nebi Samuel

Nebi Samuel

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Categories: SAMUEL’S LEGACY SEEN IN THE LIVES OF THOSE THAT WERE INFLUENCED BY HIM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Heart! A Heart! My Kingdom for a Heart! That Heart! That Heart! My Kingdom to that Heart!

A HEART! A HEART! MY KINGDOM FOR A HEART!      THAT HEART! THAT HEART! MY KINGDOM TO THAT HEART!
The Entire Horn Full of Oil Brought the Full Anointing of the Spirit.
(1 Samuel 16:4-13)
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Jesse’s seven sons meet Samuel.

OK! This is the big one for Samuel. It is also the last one. It is not the last we hear of him, but it is the last commissioned job that we know of given to him by God. Samuel was on his way, by divine instruction to a place called Bethlehem. It means “House of Bread.” It was in this place that He who said He was the “Bread of Life” was born.  And the big house that was undoubtedly at the centre of Bethlehem was clearly Jesse’s, and undoubtedly the place where the Bread of Life was born.

Most readers will instinctively respond to that last sentence by asking, “How on earth can this writer know that Jesse had the biggest house in Bethlehem?” Here is my answer. Can it be gainsaid?

Bethlehem is about 6 miles or so south of Jerusalem. Bethlehem was within the territory given to the tribe of Judah. Rahab, the woman who was  an innkeeper (not a harlot) in Jericho was grafted into the people of Israel because of her faith, and her actions that sprung from that faith in Yahweh. She married a man named Salmon, of Judah. Salmon must have lived in the big house in Bethlehem. I know that, first of all, because Salmon was the son of Nahshon. According to Numbers 1:7 Nahshon was at least 20 years old when Israel left Egypt led by Moses. He was a prince in Israel. Salmon lived in the biggest house in Bethlehem. We can be sure of that because he and Rahab had a child whose name was Boaz.  Boaz is the “mighty man of wealth” who owned most of the land around Bethlehem. He was well respected and godly. Boaz having a gentile mother, had no scruples at all about marrying a beautiful and godly gentile woman whose name was Ruth – as in “The book of Ruth.” Boaz  and Ruth had a son called Obed. We don’t know who Obed married, but he had a son called Jesse, who had a son called David. Catch the thread, and in so doing, catch the point about the huge dwelling place that was the family seat.

Because family, property and homes  and tradition were held tightly and firmly through unchanging customs and many generations, it is an assertion, generally agreed to by middle eastern people in the know, as well as statements made by historians, that Salmon of Judah who entered the promised land with Joshua, who would have actually known Moses, lived in the same home that David lived in as a child. The house would have undoubtedly been extended and/or “improved” through the generations, but it would, without question, have been the same familial house over  those first half a dozen descendants. It is possible (although I personally doubt it) that there are names omitted from the biblical line of descent, so it may have been over more generations. Bethlehem, it is believed, was known as the house of bread because of the far-famed fields of Boaz, which were corn, wheat and barley fields that had no parallel in Judah. The land given to Nahshon, or if he had deceased, to Salmon, by Moses must have consisted of a house and lands extending down the valley on the eastern flank of Bethlehem and embracing the celebrated fields.

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Bethlehem is a town in the Judean hills fifteen miles north of Hebron and Mamre, six miles south of Jerusalem and the border of Benjamin, and twelve to fifteen miles, depending on which road one takes, west of the Dead Sea. These distances seem trivial, but it must be remembered that, in a day where the average rate of travel is three miles an hour instead of fifty as it is today, these miles must be multiplied by nearly 17 to represent the real time it takes to get from one place to another. This place that progressed to be a town was called, since the days of Naashon, “Bethlehem-Judah,” Jewish people in the area tell the story of how, as soon as the temple was built on Mount Moriah, the weaving of the veils and curtains of the temple and its courts became part of the work of the town and was reported to be especially carried on by the family of Jesse. How that is known, I fail to understand. I would have thought that once David had ascended the throne, and then afterwards when Solomon had entered into an established wealth and grandeur, making curtains would have been the last thing that the royal family of Jesse would do. But, legends are legends.

When Ruth entered into what are now the hallowed precincts of Bethlehem, we are given a unique insight into the life of the time. We learn how Boaz added to his already great wealth the whole property of the late Elimelech and his two dead sons, and then he takes in marriage the Moabitess, Ruth. It seems to have been a done thing in the tribe of Judah to marry “alien” gentile women, Judah himself, the son of Jacob, married Shua, a Canaanite (1 Chronicles 2:3), and to this royal tribe Boaz belonged. It is also fascinating to note, that in scripture the Moabites were under a deeper curse than the Canaanites (See Deuteronomy 23:3). We refuse to bite the bait and follow that strand – in these pages at least.

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Shepherds outside Bethlehem

But, concerning this building that was the home of Boaz, Jesse and David I would just like to digress a little, and add a postscript concerning what happened to the place. In the biblical account of David – the boy Shepherd who became the great king of Israel – when he was nearly sixty years of age, King David had to flee from Absalom his son over the Mount of Olives and then right away to a northern city of refuge called Mahanaim in Gilead, the other side of Jordan some 100 miles north-east of Jerusalem. Here he met with three great sheikhs who cared for him, and one of them, Barzillai, came back with him on his return to Jerusalem as far as the Jordan. The elderly and humbled King pressed Barzillai hard to come back with him to the capital and take a place at the royal table. It was, however, Barzillai’s eightieth birthday, and he said he could not come, but must return to be buried by his father and mother’s side in Gilead. Although Barzillai could not accept the offer, he asked David if his son Chimham could take his place. David accepted. So the King  returned with Chimham and treated him very much as his own son, and commended him to Solomon when he died. Chimham, therefore, lived all his life as a son of David. The next mention of Chimham is in Jeremiah 41:17. Rebels, who had murdered a man appointed as a Jewish leader by Nebuchadnezzar after Jerusalem’s fall, were fleeing to Egypt. On the way they stopped at the place where Chimham lived. And we read of Chimham in connection with Bethlehem. It speaks of the habitation (or inn) of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem. This “kahn,” or inn was at the same site of Boaz and David’s house, “by Bethlehem.” The inns, or kahns of the day were always the largest building in the town. Most English translations refer to the “habitation of Chimham,” the Masoretic text refers to the “kahn of Chimham.” Straightforward logic would therefore suggest that the grand old home of Jesse, David, and his seven brothers had become the possession  and home of the king’s adopted son, Chimham. There is simply no other way to account for the presence of Chimham in Bethlehem.

A sanitised image of Samuel anointing David

A sanitised image of Samuel anointing David

We must therefore suppose that David gave Chimham his house at Bethlehem, according to his promise to do all he could for him, to whom he became so much attached, as is seen by his message to Solomon (1 Kings 2:7); and thus we can readily see how Chimham got his habitation there. That this was so, appears all the more probable in that, as we know, the dwelling was large and spacious, and well fitted to be converted into a khan or inn sometime after  Chimham’s death, as would appear from Jeremiah. Chimham must have made a reputable name for himself for his name to be sustainably used through many generations as the identity of the place. A khan always gave great financial benefit to a town. People local to Bethlehem claim that this khan was one of great importance, as being the “starting-place” of caravans off to trade in Egypt. Alfred Schofield, when not producing his “Scofield Bible,” is on record as saying that “To give a khan to a town in those days was equivalent to giving a park or a hospital to the community now.” I find biblical trails like this, absolutely fascinating.

And there’s more!

The occasion in Jeremiah 41 where Chimham’s kahn is mentioned is also striking.  At this time a man called Ishmael, of the Jewish royal house, killed Gedaliah the Babylonish governor of Nebuchadnezzar. Johanan, another Jewish leader, fearing the wrath of the King of Babylon, fled southwards to Egypt  with a mixed multitude, and in so doing, forcibly dragged the daughters of Zedekiah the king, as well as the prophet Jeremiah, and his companion Baruch. But at Bethlehem, in the khan of Chimham, where the caravan had to be made up, he stayed some little time, during which Jeremiah was asked to pray for guidance as to whether the people should flee into Egypt or no. Jeremiah prayed for 10 days in the old house of David, ie: Chimham’s kahn. Jeremiah told them that the answer was a firm “No!” Nasty Johanan, however, was determined to go on. He declared that Jeremiah had lied and that God had not spoken to him. He then proceeded on his journey with all his company, including Jeremiah. This particular caravan of people, including Jeremiah, returned no more to the land of Israel.

But we haven’t yet finished. We know nothing more about the house that David lived in,  until, nearly six hundred years later. Down the road to Bethlehem from Jerusalem, a man called Joseph and a woman called Mary came to be taxed. Bethlehem was so near Jerusalem that it was always filled at feast-times, and Joseph found no room for them in the only khan, the very well-known khan that now, because of population growth and land expansion, was actually within Bethlehem. Those who know the East and its history, understand very well that the inn ” of Luke 2:7 could be none other than the khan of Chimham, the house of David and the dwelling place of Boaz, the house where Salmon lived with Rahab. It may be fading now, since modern global village culture bites into the traditions of men all over the planet, but  it was so in biblical times of both Testaments, that in any eastern district there was only one khan, and its site and name never changed through the centuries.

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Bethlehem. Could this be where Jesus was born?

Returning to the thrust of our focus, and the elderly prophet Samuel, we follow him into Bethlehem.  As in 1 Samuel 16:4. Samuel had felt it hard to bow to the decree of God concerning Saul being torn from his future dynastic line.  It grieved Samuel as much as it had grieved God Himself.  He had, however, sorrowed so much as to have received a rebuke from the Almighty — the only one recorded as spoken by God to him.

The grief might not have lasted so long with Samuel if he had known the future. That is something that is true of us all. God gives us insights into some aspects of the future. There is biblical prophecy explaining end times. These sections of the scriptures reveal all about the future of the world, heaven and hell as well as the reign of Christ on earth. I have also known and experienced, sometimes as being the subject of personal prophecy from prophetic ministers, and more often as a spectator, when a definite statement has been made concerning my own future. When such personal statements have been made by prophets to myself, I have acted on those words, even though they assumed that a certain point of life was going to go in a definite spoken direction.

As an example, many years ago, I had nine points on my driving Licence in the UK. I was in court for a fourth speeding offence, at which point I would have been banned from driving for three years or so. The possible ban had frozen all decisions of travelling and visiting friends and family. I was not going to stand before a magistrate for 3 or 4 months. It sounds trite as I think of it now, but at the time it was huge. It would have meant, of course, that I would lose my job, as the work I did at the time entailed  around 40,000 miles a year driving.

I was in a church service where a prophet who neither knew my name, my job or anything else about me, stated that, “There is a man here who has a court case coming up about fast driving. You will not lose your job. You will not lose your car. You will leave court with no “hold up” to your future.” I believed the prophecy and immediately made plans that assumed I would have the car and would be driving. When I stood before the magistrate It went exactly as the prophet had foretold.

Knowing the future is a wonderful thing at times. I am sure that knowing the day we will die, or the day our loved ones would pass away would be a torturous thing. But knowing something good is going to happen would bring utter release.

Samuel’s grief was not only because of Saul’s disobedience. It was all about an inner cry of, “What will happen to Israel without a king? Will they go back to the horrible days of the Judges? Will anarchy follow Saul’s death? How is it possible for Israel to progress?” This was the heartbeat of Samuel and his passionate pastoral care for, as well as his prophetic input to the nation.

The grief had stopped the very moment God told Samuel to go to Jesse of Bethlehem and said to the prophet, “I have chosen one of his sons to be king .” There must have been as much joy in his heart as there had been grief the moment earlier.

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Bethlehem Market place in 1907

Imagine also, as an overlay to this story, the fear of Saul in Samuel. I cannot perceive that Samuel did not want to fulfil the God given mission  because of a complaint, but he wanted to know about Saul. He shrunk from this task which added all that was required to confirm the doom of Saul. He sought to shun the duty by expressing apprehensions for his safety should Saul hear of the transaction.  “How can I go? If Saul hears it he’ll kill me.” Samuel lived just a couple of miles from Gibeah of Saul, and if he  went off with a saddled donkey and a pack donkey, Saul’s spies would know he was up to something and would attempt to stop Samuel in his tracks.  It makes logical sense, that if Saul and his followers were now in fear of Saul losing his throne, not knowing the mind of God or Samuel, there must have been a whole raft of random ideas in Saul’s head. “Will Samuel hack me into pieces as he did with Agag? Will he inspire somebody to rebel against me and wage a civil war? Will he  surrender me to the Philistines? Worse of all, will he pray against me in public?”

God’s instruction to Samuel was to take a heifer with him, and to tell folks that he was going to hold a feast with the people of Bethlehem. So here he was at the house of Bread. The difficulty of thoughts of danger to his life had been removed, and he was guaranteed Divine wisdom to direct his conduct. We can all walk safely when we have the counsel of God, when we are assured of strength and wisdom according to our day! The Lord opened up a clear way for Samuel by suggesting an exercise that concealed his chief object. He was to take a heifer with him, and call Jesse to the sacrifice and feast. This seems to have been not an unusual occurrence. A similar occasion took place when Saul was first told of the kingly dignity awaiting him.

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Bethlehem Old Market Place in 1907

Samuel was a living legend. It was quite an event in Bethlehem that the venerable son of Hannah should be there. The people held him in the very highest esteem, and felt an awe upon their spirits in his presence. His was entirely, so far as they were concerned, a spiritual mission. They trembled at the sight of him, crying in anguish, “Do you come in peace?” They had probably heard of his words to Saul. They had undoubtedly had some of the young men in their town present when he prayed a prayer that distressed the Philistines. They knew not to mess with God’s prophet. So, before any words were passed, “Do you come in peace?” seemed the right question to ask,

He declared his purpose. “I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord; sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” They were to wash their clothes-indicative of the spiritual cleansing of the heart which was essential to the right observance of any sacrifice. The text tells us that Samuel himself consecrated  Jesse and his sons and invited them in particular to the sacrifice. Samuel led them, he performed for them the priestly service as he was a Levite. That sacrifice at Bethlehem had its joy in a feasted meal and undoubtedly some good talks with the prophet. The day would be long remembered in the local chat for the sacrifice and the meal with Samuel. Some would be telling their Grandchildren, “I met and talked to the prophet Samuel.” It was a huge event, locally, and as the most important man in the nation was there, he would, of course stay in the largest house of the wealthiest family in Bethlehem. This happened to be the property of the man called Jesse. But before they sat down to feast upon the offered heifer, Samuel had another job to perform.

The great prophet sought a special interview with the sons of Jesse, that he might set apart one of them for a high dignity in the future history of the Hebrew nation. Up to these moments, nobody on the planet was aware of what was to follow, apart from Samuel himself. It wasn’t so much that Samuel would interview any of them before the choice of king, but perhaps, although there is none recorded, he would have the chance to enjoy a chat with the recipient of the kingly anointing after the choosing, as he did with Saul. A man to man talk between prophet and future king would be just what Samuel needed to assure himself of the nation’s future – that is with the assumption that a grown, intelligent man would be the choice.

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Samuel anointing David with onlooking brothers.

We have no idea of who was there when this moment of destiny arrived. Was it just Jesse and his sons (minus David) at first? Or could it possibly have been in the presence of other members of the elders of Bethlehem?  We are not told. I feel brave enough, however, to state that because of the state of mind of Saul, and the danger to all who would dare whisper the results of Samuel’s visit to the house of Jesse, nobody else was there but the members of David’s immediate family. What was about to happen would endanger people’s lives if it was discussed in the wrong company. For these reasons the camera of my mind sees, in glorious Technicolor, Samuel possibly in Jesse’s home just prior to going out to make the sacrifice, or possibly just after the sacrifice and before the feast, seeming to have asked Jesse to introduce to him all his sons. Whether they lined up before him, or were brought into the room one by one we are not told.

However it occurred, while Samuel stood with Jesse, in came Eliab his eldest son. Eliab was a soldier of Israel who was later fighting with Saul’s troops when they were paralysed with fear because of Goliath. He was obviously, tall, strong and able in appearance to look like a king.

We are here allowed into Samuel’s mind. Does this mean that Samuel wrote the text while he lived? Or was it his retelling of this memorable day that allows us into the great man’s thoughts? “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But then Samuel heard Yahweh say, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

0009David is anointed by Samuel as seven brothers and his father watch.Oh! How often have I read these lines and found myself utterly immersed in several points of observation.

  1. Samuel saw everything as “before the Lord.” That is because he himself lived in the presence of God, therefore “before the LORD.” We are not talking here about, “God is everywhere therefore wherever I am I stand before Him.” This is the reality of living in the Spirit, in the manifest presence of God. But because of Samuel’s very essence being in the presence of the Lord, he sees Eliab as, “Before the LORD.” The cusp of the supernatural, the threshold of the doorway between what is flesh and what is spirit, at the opening betwixt Heaven and Earth. Sublime!
  2. Samuel can tell the difference, instantly, between what are his thoughts, and what are God’s thoughts. He is aware, almost instinctively, where his words finish and where God’s words start. He thinks Eliab is the one to be anointed, and immediately the voice of God corrects him. Oh Lord, take me there!
  3. The ESV has Hebrews 5:14 saying, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” This instant hearing of the voice of God shows Samuel’s spiritual maturity. It shows us that his powers of discernment were trained by constant practice, in fact it was a lifelong practice learned since that night in the tabernacle when, as a child God first called him.  Samuel’s gift for distinguishing between what was good and what was evil, what was man and what was God, what was self and what was the Spirit of God, was learned by practice and being practical in his responses to God.
  4. It causes me to believe that God is speaking constantly to all believers in this fashion. It must grieve the heart of God how rarely some of us hear him.
  5. It also informs us how close were Samuel and Yahweh. It’s like best friends walking together. One says, “I think this is right!” and the All Knowing Friend replies, “No! That is not right, because …,” and then gives the friend the reasons for the correction.
  6. If a man of Samuel’s maturity and gifting gets it wrong when he thinks from his own human resources, how much more do I?  The answer Samuel received to correct his error is one of these divine statements which, even without the context of this story is weighty, is simply one of those eternal truths that allows us to rest in our awe of the character of God.  “Man looks on the outward appearance. God looks on the heart.” The application of this principle is phenomenally ubiquitous.  This is the reason, of course, God could not leave the choice of the new king to Samuel, the correct choosing depended solely on God speaking to a man that was able to listen to what God was saying, and to do what the Word said.
  7. The Lord said to Samuel, “Look not on his appearance, or on the height of his stature: because I have refused him: for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  God  knows fully all that characterises the inward and spiritual nature of man. O heart, heart, what are you? A mass of foolishness and absurdities, the vainest, craftiest, wickedest, most foolish thing in nature.

00010 David_anointedSo Eliab stands there with Samuel shaking his head as if he was talking to an invisible other party, which he was. Then Abinadab, Jesse’s second born child entered the room, and passed by in front of Samuel. We are not told what Yahweh whispered to Samuel this time, but we are told plainly that he uttered the words, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” This meant, assuming that Samuel spoke out loud, that Jesse, Eliab and Abinadab were now aware that Samuel was looking for someone for a special purpose. Could they have guessed what that purpose was before Samuel made it plain? Then entered Shammah (stated in 1 Chronicles 2 to be Shimea). “Nor has the Lord chosen this one,” were Samuel’s spoken words. So now we have father and three sons knowing that on this day God has chosen somebody for something. They probably concluded that it must be somebody of the family, but the biggest and best of the bunch were now excluded. Where was Samuel going in his search?

Verse 10 gives me a problem. It states that, “Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen these.” Why does it give me a problem? Because the verse could not possibly imply that the youngest who (as we are all aware) was out looking after his father’s sheep, and was so young as not to be included even in Jesse’s thoughts for anything to do with “Grown-ups Business,” was one of the seven. It leaves us to believe that David had seven brothers. I cannot see how anybody could disagree with me there. But that would mean that the list in 1 Chronicles 2:13-16 gives a deficient list. It says, “Jesse begat Eliab his firstborn, Abinadab the second, Shimea the third, Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, Ozem the sixth, and David the seventh.” We are then told of David’s two sisters, “Now their sisters were Zeruiah and Abigail. And the sons of Zeruiah were Abishai, Joab, and Asahel-three.”  Great! No problem! But why does 1 Samuel 16:1o say that seven sons passed by Samuel, not including David?   Ah well! That is a question for when I get to see God’s face.

So all 6 or 7 sons have past Samuel, and while listening to God, the prophet has shook his head at each one of them. What next?

00011 Bethlehem today.

Aerial view of Bethlehem today.

There must have been a pregnant pause. Seven fine strapping young men, and God says, “No!” to them all. Jesse and his sons must have deduced that Samuel wanted to be introduced to Jesse’s sons because God had told him that one of them  was to be king. So, surely, Samuel must have misheard the Divine voice? But he knew full well he had not misheard at all. Therefore, logically, there must be at least one other son.

“Are these all the sons you have?” asked Samuel. Then we have Jesse’s classic answer, “There is still the youngest, but …”  Ah! “But…” Samuel had asked to see Jesse’s sons. Jesse assumed that the man of God acts on the way things are, and not on the way things will be in the future. Surely the prophet was after a man, a fighting man, a man’s man, no matter what the purpose of the search was. But God was looking into the future. Tomorrow’s kingly man, was today’s junior playing in the yard. Tomorrow’s mighty man of valour and integrity, was today’s “innocent” looking after the sheep. Tomorrow’s leader whose word the masses would hang on, is today’s little boy who is told to shut up, stay away from the men’s business and just look after the sheep.  Jesse did not even use the boy’s name. “There is still the youngest, but he is tending the sheep.” I can see Samuel’s eyes opening wide while he stares at Jesse, and Jesse attempting to justify himself. “He is of no consequence Samuel. He is young, small, good for nothing but the sheep, he is not a man that you or I can talk to. He is not a fighter to recount acts of bravery. He is a little lad.” Enough said!

“Send for him,” says Samuel. “We will not gather round, or be seated until he arrives.” So Jesse sent a servant, it does not suggest one of the sons was asked to go, and the father had this nameless child brought into the house, and the room where they were all stood waiting. We are told that when he entered he was noticeably ruddy, fine and handsome. The NIV tells it as “He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.” The NLT: “He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.” You get the picture. One commentator is convinced that the word “ruddy” is informing us that David was a red-head. Whatever the actual strict translation is, David was a striking looking young boy with external features that projected a warm and open heart.

BibleAs the unnamed boy enters, Samuel hears God clearly and distinctly. “Rise and anoint him. He is the one.” Thank God that Samuel could hear the divine instruction so promptly. It seems the brothers and the father remained standing whilst Samuel sat.  In front of the whole family, at least all the male members of the family – we are not told if this unnamed boy’s mother or two sisters were present, it simply reminds us that it was in front of the boy’s brothers – Samuel stood up, removed the cap of the horn that was filled with anointing oil, and poured the contents all over the boy’s  head.

It is at this point that the Bible tells us the name of this stripling of a boy, and makes a remarkable statement. “From that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.”

This child was to become the man after God’s heart. This future king, who was a boy after God’s heart, at last was found!  This youngster was to be captain of the people of Israel, who would submit to God in all things, who would fulfil in his rule all the will of God. The new king of Israel had been selected. The great type and the earthly progenitor of the Messianic King, and the pledge of Israel’s greatness, had stood out before the prophet’s eye. God had said, “I choose that one!”  Samuel’s grief must now have been utterly assuaged.

We are now introduced to one whose personal history and typical character are of undying spiritual interest to Bible students everywhere. We can see Christ throughout the life of David if only we search for Him. Genius was born in this youngest fruit of Jesse’s loins. Music and poetry were a part of his nature. Both received a high development from his constant attention to his gift. His harp often sped on the slow moving day or the stationery night, as he watched his flocks. David was a poet, and sang his own Hebrew melodies to his tuneful harp. He was godly, and dedicated his music to the praise of Yahweh. He was profoundly acquainted with the word of God, and while setting many of its heroes of faith and events of grace to music, he was permitted to add largely to the volume of inspiration. Samuel rejoiced in David from the day of his anointing, though he saw not yet all things put under him. In like manner may the believer rejoice in the Son of David and the Son of God, though he sees not yet all things put under His feet. We have a pledge of his future government of all things after God’s own heart in what He has already done.

The job was done. What else was there for Samuel to do. We can but assume that the sacrifice and the feast continued with Samuel present. The moment must have seemed like a surreal aberration. Imagine the memory banks of Jesse and his older sons. The legendary prophet Samuel had appeared to make sacrifice and hold a feast. He calls them all in one by one, and shakes his head, saying to Jesse, “Yahweh has not chosen this one! Nor this one! Nor this one!” Then when the troublesome little sibling enters the room, the elderly man bursts into action and pours an entire horn of oil over his head.” We don’t know what Samuel said as he poured the oil. Perhaps he was actually saying, “I anoint you to be king over Israel,” similar to what he did with Saul. The oil poured over Saul’s head had the same effect as that which was poured over David’s head. Then, before they could ask Samuel, debate, or inquire, it simply says, “Samuel then went to Ramah.” In plain English, Samuel went home  – in more ways than one. Samuel could not have even had a heart to heart with such a youngster. We are not told that any words had passed between the prophet and the king elect. The future was set. It would obviously be years before David could become man enough to be king. Samuel must have left Bethlehem half convinced that David’s enthronement was something he would never see.

The only factual observation they could discern that left them all without a doubt as to what had happened was that David was a changed boy. From then on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David. No one could say it was David’s mind, or adroitness in his natural progress and development. Everybody who knew him could see – it was God.

Samuel must have sighed as he reached the Naioth again. Was his life over? Was there anything else for him to do?

The elderly prophet who had served as a slave to benefit the people of Israel, was now estranged from the present king because of animosity from him. Samuel was estranged from the king to be, through age, and the need for him to sit under parental and sibling education. What was the retired life to be like?

 
Categories: 1 Samuel 16:4-13, A Heart A Heart My Kingdom for a Heart That Heart That Heart My Kingdom to that Heart | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Awake! Awake! Oh Samuel And fill your horn with oil. Anoint ! Anoint a new King to rule o’er Israel’s soil

“AWAKE! AWAKE OH SAMUEL! AND FILL YOUR HORN WITH OIL.
ANOINT! ANOINT A NEW KING TO RULE O’ER ISRAEL’S SOIL”
The Last Prophetic Commission Given to Samuel
(1 Samuel 16:1-3)
“How long will you mourn for Saul?” How incredible that Yahweh should interrupt Samuel’s “over grieving heart” to lift him out of his sense of bereavement!
Samuel was quite literally mourning for the living. How could the rest of the nation identify with the exterior sadness of the nation’s greatest asset? Saul was out and about winning victories and regaining lost territory for the nation. The general public were happy, rejoicing and making merry that they had a king who was battling on their behalf, and winning. Joe public, therefore together with Mr John Doe were happy with the status quo.
Samuel, however, the man who knows God intimately, knows more than Joe Public and John Doe, and has insight into most things to do with the nation of Israel, has actually been in mourning.  Those that knew Samuel, seeing his sleepless nights and his drawn face, must have been perplexed.  Samuel may have even shaved his head, or dressed in black. Whatever the outward show of bereavement was in Samuel’s day, it was plain for all to see that Samuel was in bereavement and grief.

 We generally mourn for a human being  when the life has gone from their body, the light has gone from their eye and their form is still, even in death, looking as if they are motionless and asleep.  But Saul was worth a good many dead people. The first king of Israel did not pass to his fathers for something like another twenty-five years after the time these words were spoken concerning him. And yet with Saul in the very prime of manhood, God Almighty said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul?” To the man on the street it was a huge mystery.

Samuel had seen with sorrow, eyeball to eyeball, Saul’s lack of spirituality and faith. The first prophet of Israel that lived in Israel could see clearly Saul’s lack of singular purpose and physical endurance. Hannah’s son had seen the stress of life tearing the anchor of Saul’s faith from the rock.  Judging by the subsequent life and activities of the soon to be ex-king, the divine rejection was a deeper sorrow to Samuel than to Saul.  In fact, did Samuel’s prophetic word concerning Saul’s rejection penetrate Saul’s understanding at all? Samuel knew that in Saul was that spark of goodness that needed but to be fanned to become a flame. Samuel knew as well that Saul, by his own acts, was extinguishing even that spark that lived within him. In the life that people studied and saw, Saul was enriched and blessed.  In the life that God saw, Israel’s first king was impoverished. And even though the inevitable judgment had only been announced, indefinitely, prior to his demise, Samuel mourned for Saul as if his death had already arrived.

In one of the visions of Ezekiel, an angel with a writer’s ink horn in his hand was commissioned to set a mark upon the foreheads of all the men that sigh and groan against all the abominations that were done in Jerusalem. Samuel wailed and groaned before the Almighty for the abominations which were done by Saul in his day. But sorrow, however reasonable and becoming, may be carried too far, too deep and too intrusively long term. Bereavement and grieving can be indulged until it makes us unfit for life and responsibility. Too much grief can darken our faith in Christ, disturb our peace and weaken our energies in whatever is our lot in life. The very tenderness of Samuel’s heart and his jealousy for God had bedimmed his wonderful character and sense of integrity, and kept him bewailing the case of the lost, damned and doomed king.

It is true to say that a person can be dead, though still breathing and active. I know. I have met them. I have met people who are dumb to God’s question, “What will you do then, with Jesus who is called the Christ?” I have reasoned with those that were deaf to the truth when I explained to them that, “You must be born again.” I have experienced the pain of witnessing persons who were blind to the significance of Him who cried, “It is finished!” on the hill called Calvary. Such people are truly, by divine definition, dead  in trespasses and sins, while yet alive. Samuel of Israel, prophet of God, mourned for the living. Today, in the twenty first century, the living still cause Godly and softened hearts to grieve and mourn. In this world I have also seen the truth that a mother’s streaming tears for her wayward and prodigal son may be intensely more bitter than those which fall upon the same son’s coffin. I have wept with father’s whose  anguish for their daughter’s sin was more heart rending than the anguish borne of her passing into the Unseen world. The presence of the dead can be  physically harmful to the living, but the spiritually dead are more harmful for the weight they thrust upon those that love them and seek God for their restoration. Physical death is inevitable, but it is not the worst thing that can befall a man. The death of the soul causes the very angels to weep.

To live life as God planned and predestined us is to live in a mental and spiritual consciousness of victory and accomplishment. To be conscious of victory over sin, sickness, death, the devil and the grave is, without doubt, one of the most natural and inherent desires of the human heart. Ecclesiastes tells us that God has put eternity into the heart of man. This means the bigger picture of human existence is there for us to acknowledge or deny.  Men desire to be mighty, but the might of man must be based upon the eternal might of God imparted to the human being through faith in Christ. Genuine triumph in life is conjoined to truth, and they simply cannot be separated. God has joined them in an indissoluble bond. There was no hope for Saul as a king from the moment Samuel pronounced the reign of Israel to be torn from his shoulders. There was, however, always hope for him as a man, right up to the moment of his last breath.

Samuel was deep in sorrow and grief until God put his hand on his shoulder and gave him the very last divine mission that is recorded for Samuel in his natural life time.

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” Wow! The intimacy and comfortableness in the manner of the relationship between Samuel and Yahweh is something to ache for. God cares for Samuel in the same way He cared for Saul. Samuel was, however, deeply responsive and submissive to the divine will. A new purpose was to occupy the prophet’s heart. A new lover of God, chosen and raised by God for the eternal purposes of the Almighty was about to enter Samuel’s bundle of life. A new divinely given labour of love was to utterly engage the prophet and raise his spirits for the remainder of his days.

We see here, in the experience of Samuel a vital truth for all those of us who are buried in grief, bereavement, or rejection. Hear me when I say that in the obedience to God’s will throughout your life, your griefs will most certainly be ebbed from you closest beach of life. Samuel was summoned from his grief over Saul walking through his valley of the shadow of death, to carry out a new commission. Samuel was to be the human conduit that would manifest on planet earth the new king to follow Saul.

God has nobody else that He can trust with such a mission. The weight of Samuel’s  personal responsibility is made vivid by the divine rebuke and Yahweh’s cure for the hitherto inconsolable sense of loss in Samuel’s heart. “How long will you mourn? Fill your horn with oil, and go, I will send you.” Circumstances call upon you to journey in the service of the Lord.  Self denial of grief and conscious bereavement is required.  One’s persistent regrets and grief that have stretched far beyond the fence of legitimacy indicate need of further shaping by the Potter’s hand and conformity to the Lord Jesus. Our inner grief will be moderated by the satisfaction of our volitional obedience to Christ. In later years to the one’s we are considering, David lay upon the earth, fasted, and prayed, while affliction was upon his dying child. However, when he learned the issue – that the child was dead – he “arose from the earth.” Samuel also was being raised from the grief of death, to the joy and active service of national resurrection to a greater king.

This call of God, and this action of Samuel’s in obedience to the call of God, was almost Samuel’s final expression of his total commitment to the blessing of others. Samuel had always had much more to live for than his own personal interest. He had always been burdened, like a father pursuing the health and growth of his son, with the growth and development of Israel.  Israel was so  vital to Samuel’s heart. Samuel was a very vital member of the Hebrew commonwealth all the days of his life. His joy was the public’s contentment.  His grief was a public calamity. The profound sorrow into which he was plunged by Saul’s conduct and attitude could conceivably do injury to the nation. It could be argued that Samuel’s well being and sound prayer life was the secret of Israel’s spiritual water table rising. When there are others given by God for a person to care for, sorrow must not be sustained and must not go too far lest it become, in the realm of the spirit, illegal. The people that God has put into the care and ministry of a pastor, prophet, evangelist, teacher or apostle make demands upon their anxieties, prayers, and labours. No partial and special affection or feeling for those who are lost can excuse neglect of those who are spared. No grief and heavy bereavement for the dead can apologise for inattention to the living. “But this prolonged mourning, Samuel, is ill-judged, verging on sinful indulgence, and potentially disastrous for the people and the nation you love. Arise prophet, fill your horn with the most fragrant anointing oil, and go to work again for Yahweh.”

But Samuel was a realist in the midst of his profound walk with God. “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” Samuel knew his life was in danger, and that to walk round mindlessly ignoring the threat of Saul’s spies being present, as well as his every move being made known to the king, would have been foolish. Samuel voiced his concern to the Almighty who had treasured and fought on Samuel’s behalf all his life. His intimate acquaintance with God did not make Samuel lax in his sense of self preservation. There are those that fight for God. And there are those that God fights for.

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh. Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

From thoughts of sorrow, bereavement, national confusion and loss, Samuel is now catapulted into joy, a new future, national direction and great gain. I see Samuel being bed bound with his grief, like and elderly man taking to his death bed, and then, after God’s few words with him, springing to his feet like some Olympic sportsman. The elderly prophet now had one great task to do before he could properly and truly retire. And what an eternal weight was bound up in that task. His heart was now filled with hope, a future, a vision and an excitement that new no bounds.

A new  golden age for Israel was about to be introduced to the world. What a day to be alive in!

Samuel meets Shepherd Boy David.

 

Categories: 1 Samuel 16:1-3, Awake Awake Oh Samuel And fill your horn with oil Anoint Anoint a new King to rule o’er Israel’s soil, The last prophetic commission given to Samuel. | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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