[Copyright by W. R. HARPER, 1887.]
PREPARED BY PROFESSORS W. R. HARPER (Yale University), W. G. BALLANTINE (Oberlin Theol. Sem.), WILLIS J. BEECHER (Auburn Theol. Sem.), and G. S. BURROUGHS (Amherst College).
Fourth Study.—Administration of Samuel.
[The material of this " study " is furnished by Professors Beecher and Burroughs. It is edited by Professor Harper.]
I. PRELIMINARY NOTES.
1. The text cited is to be studied intellectually rather than devotionally.
2. The facts and ideas of the biblical statements are to be mastered, rather than the words. One must also discriminate between primary and subordinate facts. Let the more prominent be fastened firmly in mind, and others grouped about them.
3. It is only by means of the Revised Version that the best help can be gained from these "studies," the historical and literary portions of which have been prepared with reference to its use.
4. Let there be constant exercise in asking questions. If they cannot be answered, write them down. It is not to be expected that all questions will be answered at once. Let the questions be classified according as they relate to the text, the interpretation of the text, geography, customs and manners, religious service, personal character, etc.
5. Use, but do not misuse, commentaries. They may contain information which will be valuable to you if digested and assimilated. But above all things, let not the reading of such helps be substituted for the study of the Bible itself. Depend upon no authority. Do your own thinking.
II. THE BIBLICAL LESSON.
Read 1 Sam. 7:5-ch. 12;1 and study the account (1) of Samuel's career as judge, 7:5-17; (2) of the circumstances which directly led to the establishment of the monarchy, 8; (3) of the story of Saul and the asses, 9, and 10:1-16; (4) of Saul's election, 10:17-27; (5) of the beginning of his reign, 11; (6) of Samuel's address to the people, 12.
III. HISTORICAL AND LITERARY TOPICS.
1. Samuel's Career as Judge; 7:5-17.
2. Circumstances leading to the Monarchy; ch. 8.
3. Saul and the Asses; 9:1-10:16.
4. Saul's Election; 10:17-27.
5. Beginning of Saul's Reign; ch. 11.
6. Samuel's Address; chap. 12.
Indicate the location of
V. CONCLUDING REMARKS.
1. The statement that "Samuel judged the sons of Israel in Mizpah," 7:6, does not necessarily mean that he then became judge; but that is the best understanding of it. His judging Israel " all the days of his life," 7:15, implies that after Saul became king, Samuel continued to be judge, though the judge was now outranked by the king, and was no longer chief magistrate. When Samuel broke off relations with Saul, 15:35, his position of judge may have become merely nominal.
2. The independence from the Philistines continued "all the days of Samuel," 7:13. The natural meaning of this is not all the days of his life, but of his administration as chief magistrate. This agrees with the facts as stated in the following chapters.8 After Saul's accession, and before Samuel's death, there was a time of Philistine oppression worse than those that had preceded it, 13:5-22. But the magnitude of the preparations made by the Philistines for this conquest shows what a formidable enemy Israel had become, under Samuel.
3. The events of Samuel's administration are so briefly narrated, that we are in danger of failing to take in their full importance. Eli's death left Israel under oppression, a humiliated and ravaged country. Samuel's reign began by a swift, well-ordered, and entirely successful blow for independence, and then kept Israel in a condition of peace, territorial integrity, and prosperity. A comment on this is the fact that Saul, at the beginning of his reign, when he had no prestige, could suddenly raise 300,000 (or 830,000) men, 11:8.
4. The time of Samuel's administration, obtained by subtracting the sum of the other numerals for the period from the exodus to the temple from the 480 of 1 Kgs. 6:1, is about twenty years. This is in addition to the preceding twenty years of waiting. (See note on previous study.) This agrees entirely with the statements of the history. These represent Samuel as a young man at the death of Eli, and as an old man, with grown sons, but with many years yet to live, at the accession of Saul. About forty years is a time long enough for these changes, and not too long.
5. An exceedingly important event in Samuel's career, though described in only a single sentence, was the establishment of amicable relations with such of the old Amorite inhabitants of the land as yet remained, 7:14.
6. The following additional statements concerning Samuel, may be verified by references:
VI. QUESTIONS FOR PRACTICAL WORK.
1. From the study of the outcome of life, as seen particularly in the case of Samuel, show the necessity of a rounded manhood, both moral and spiritual, for true influence.
2. From the same character, emphmaize the power of religious personality; the temptations to be met in building it up, the methods by which it is to be built up and strengthened.
3. Notice the qualities of Saul, as he appears in this " study." Enumerate such as were calculated to fit him for noble service. Show what dangers assailed them.
4. What, in general, are the lessons of this " study " as to equipment for Christian work?
1) See Geikie's "Hours with the Bible," vol. 3,pp.40-92;Stanley's " Jewish Church," lects. 18,19, 20, "Samuel and The Prophetic Orderand Teaching;" Edersheim's "Prophecy and History in relation to the Messiah," pp. 232-249,a picture of the times; Delitzsch's " . T. History of Redemption" pp. 75-83.,etc.
2) See Young's concordance for a valuable summary.
3) Questions suggested by 7:16,17,will be more fully considered in the sixth study.
4) See especially Introduction to Kirkpatrick's " Samuel," chap. 4, The Place of the Books of Samuel in the History of the Kingdom of God.
5) It is not supposed that the student will be able to answer all the queries thus suggested.
6) See Kirkpatrick's Samuel, Introduction, chap. 6; Edersheim, pp. 122-124; Briggs, p. 24 seq; Delitzsch, "O.T. History of Redemption," pp. 81-83.
7) For an excellent epitome see Kirkpatrick's 1 Samuel, Introd., ch. 5.
8) It would be inconsistent with 1 Sam. 10:5, if it were necessary to hold that the "garrison" there spoken of was a military post, and was at that time occupied by Philistine soldiers; but that is not necessary.