After Samuel Died
1 Samuel 25:1
When Saul became king, he was a young man. By the time David was anointed, Saul’s son Jonathan was a capable warrior. So, Saul might have been king for fifteen or more years before the incident of disobedience with the Amalekites. In the incident with the Amalekites, Samuel told Saul the Lord was taking the kingdom away from him and giving it to another. And it probably was at least another four years until David was anointed.
Soon after he was anointed, David was involved in a battle with a giant. Since David was still considered a boy when he killed Goliath and was a warrior by the time Saul tried to kill him, some scholars suggest that David served in Saul’s favor for more than nine years after he was anointed.
The timing and dates are somewhat tricky. However, the commentaries I consulted suggested that Samuel was 57 when Saul became king and 89 when he died. During the 32 years from the time he anointed Saul until he died, Samuel stayed busy, but he had no contact with Saul. Samuel watched Saul decline from a distance. The Scriptures shift their focus to Saul and David and are silent concerning Samuel. However, we can piece together a little of what Samuel was doing during his retirement. While Saul chased David around the kingdom, trying to kill him, Samuel was living the final few years of his life. After giving an account of how David spared Saul’s life when Saul went into the cave where David and his men were hiding, 1 Samuel tells us of Samuel’s death.
1 Samuel 25:1 (NKJV) Then Samuel died, and the Israelites gathered together, lamented him, and buried him at his home in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the Wilderness of Paran.
Samuel was buried in Ramah, where he was born. His mother, who had given him up when he was but a small boy, had received him back. We cannot but assume that Samuel was with her when she died and continued to make her home town his home.
The Lord gave a promise to those who give things to Him.
Mark 10:29–30 (NKJV) 29So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
1 Samuel 2:21 tells us that Hannah had three sons and two daughters after giving Samuel to the Lord. What is not mentioned is that a few years after having been given to the Lord, Samuel returned home and lived in Ramah for the rest of his life. This means that as long as Hannah lived, Samuel was close by. We should never fear to give anything to the Lord.
1 Samuel 25:1 also tells us that all Israel gathered and lamented Samuel. As a judge, prophet, and leader of his people, Samuel was a well-known public figure. Not everyone who serves the Lord receives public recognition, but Samuel was beloved by his people because of his role.
Thirty-two earlier, even though He was a faithful and just judge, the nation had rejected Samuel and asked for a king. Samuel was hurt by this, but God told him to give the people the king they were asking for because, in reality, they were not rejecting Samuel - they were rejecting God. Even though the people had sinned against Samuel and God, Samuel continued to seek their good. He said:
1 Samuel 12:23 (NKJV) Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.
The first thing that Samuel did in seeking the good of the people was pray. He prayed for them. I want to quote two passages of Scripture that make reference to the prayers of Samuel.
First, Psalm 99:6 tells us that Samuel called on the name of the Lord like Moses and Aaron.
Psalm 99:6 (NKJV) Moses and Aaron were among His priests,
And Samuel was among those who called upon His name;
They called upon the Lord, and He answered them.
The Lord recognized Samuel as being a great man of prayer.
Second, in Jeremiah 15:1, God mentions Samuel alongside Moses, as an example of the most effective men of prayer that ever lived.
Jeremiah 15:1 (NKJV) Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people.
Even though this is a negative reference, Moses and Samuel are mentioned as the two men who would carry the most weight with God.
Our understanding from 1 Samuel 12:23 is that Samuel continued to pray for the nation until the day he died. But in 1 Samuel 12:23, Samuel also says he would teach them the good and right way.
Samuel’s work of teaching is seen in the school of the prophets that he established. These schools continued through the time of the kings. They were essential in teaching the people the truth, how to worship and serve the Lord.
Along with his work in praying and teaching, Samuel made preparations for public worship.
First, he established the rotation and practices necessary for the reopening of the tabernacle so that when David was king, he was able to re-establish the ministry of the tabernacle. 1 Chronicles 9:22 says:
1 Chronicles 9:22 (NKJV) All those chosen as gatekeepers were two hundred and twelve. They were recorded by their genealogy, in their villages. David and Samuel the seer had appointed them to their trusted office.
Second, Samuel gave his treasures for maintaining public worship. 1 Chronicles 26:27-28 establishes this fact.
1 Chronicles 26:27–28 (NKJV) 27Some of the spoils won in battles they dedicated to maintain the house of the Lord. 28And all that Samuel the seer, Saul the son of Kish, Abner the son of Ner, and Joab the son of Zeruiah had dedicated, every dedicated thing, was under the hand of Shelomith and his brethren.
Samuel was so invested in leading the people in public worship that many years later when grand celebrations were remembered, they were compared with the celebrations of Samuel’s days.
2 Chronicles 35:18 (NKJV) There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
David, Solomon, and Josiah, and all the kings in between did not hold a Passover that topped the ones held by Samuel. That is an impressive record!
Samuel lived his life for the Lord. I do not want to give the impression he did these things to be saved. He did these things because of his relationship with the Lord. When we meet Samuel in Scripture, he is usually either praying or proclaiming the word of the Lord. He did not leave a legacy because he sought to leave a legacy. He left a legacy because he was willing to give his life in service to his people. Just like his mother, he received back what he gave to the Lord.
One more chapter we must consider in Samuel’s life is what happened to him after he died.
It is easy for us to live as if this life is all there is. We may seek to leave a legacy like Samuel’s, or we may be too busy trying to survive to think about our legacy. But in either case, we focus on this world, this life, and tomorrow. The one thing that 1 Samuel 25:1 says about Samuel that will be true of all of us is “He died.”
Death is so final. He died. For us, this seems like the end of the story. Once a person is buried, we don’t see them again. Life goes on without their presence, and those who remain mourn their loss.
However, in Samuel’s case, we get a glimpse of him after he died. This is true of only a few.
At the end of his life, Saul was facing a battle with the Philistines, and although he sought the Lord, the Lord would not answer him. So, Saul sought out a medium and tried to inquire of Samuel.
Such activities were stictly forbidden by God, and we have evidence that the medium did not expect to see Samuel. So that she was frightened out of her wits when Samuel actually showed up.
God sent Samuel, and the Scriptures give us this account:
1 Samuel 28:15–17 (NKJV) 15Now Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”
And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.”
16Then Samuel said: “So why do you ask me, seeing the Lord has departed from you and has become your enemy? 17And the Lord has done for Himself as He spoke by me. For the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David.
Let this serve as a reminder that death is just a transition. Death is only the beginning of what will last forever. Living as if this world is all there is, is a mistake. This life is soon over, but after the sentence, “He died,” comes a life without end. C. S. Lewis gives us a good perspective on this.
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit— immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)
Think with me for a moment. This Samuel that we are talking about died three thousand years ago, but he is more alive today than he was just before the verse that said, “He died.” All that “He died” means is that his soul left his old worn-out body and went to be with his Lord.
What matters now to Samuel is not his legacy, but that his sins are forgiven, and he is in the presence of God. He was saved by faith the same way you and I must be saved. The death of Jesus on the cross paid for his sins the same as it pays for ours. The difference between everlasting horrors and everlasting splendors that Lewis speaks of is whether or not a person chooses to accept the salvation freely offered by God or chooses not to receive this free gift.
Saul worried about his legacy and ended up a tragedy. Samuel stayed faithful to pray, teach, and worship, leaving a legacy and inheriting eternal life. From this, we must take away two things. First, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. And second, consider others as more important than yourself.