Tag Archives: Samuel



The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you go on mourning over Saul when I have rejected him as king of Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen myself a king among his sons.” Samuel replied, “How can I go? When Saul hears of it he will kill me.” Then the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and then I myself will tell you what you must do; you must anoint me the one I point out to you.”

Samuel did what the Lord ordered and went to Bethlehem. The elders of the town came trembling to meet him and asked, “Seer, have you come with good intentions towards us?” “Yes,” he replied, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” He purified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they arrived, he caught sight of Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed one stands there before him,” but the Lord said to Samuel, “Take no notice of his appearance or his height for I have rejected him; God does not see as a man sees; man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.” Jesse then called Abinadab and presented him to Samuel, who said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then presented Shammah, but Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” He then asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” He answered, “There is still one left, the youngest; he is out looking after the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send for him; we will not sit down to eat until he comes.”

Jesse had him sent for, a boy of fresh complexion, with fine eyes and pleasant bearing. The Lord said, “Come, anoint him, for this is the one.” At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on. As for Samuel, he rose and went to Ramah.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.


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Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” Saul said, “Tell me.” Samuel continued, “Small as you may be in your own eyes, are you not head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king over Israel. The Lord sent you on a mission and said to you, ‘Go, put these sinners, the Amalekites, under the ban and make war on them until they are exterminated.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you fall on the booty and do what is displeasing to the Lord?” Saul replied to Samuel, “But I did obey the voice of the Lord. I went on the mission which the Lord gave me; I brought back Agag king of the Amalekites; I put the Amalekites under the ban. From the booty the people took the best sheep and oxen of what was under the ban to sacrifice them to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” But Samuel replied:

“Is the pleasure of the Lord in holocausts and sacrifices
or in obedience to the voice of the Lord?
Yes, obedience is better than sacrifice,
submissiveness better than the fat of rams.
Rebellion is a sin of sorcery,
presumption a crime of teraphim.
“Since you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.


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18th JANUARY, BIBLE READING (1 SAMUEL 9:1-4, 17-19, 10:1)


Among the men of Benjamin there was a man named Kish son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah; a Benjaminite and a man of rank. He had a son named Saul, a handsome man in the prime of life. Of all the Israelites there was no one more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders taller than the rest of the people. Now some of the she-donkeys of Saul’s father Kish had strayed, so Kish said to Saul, “My son, take one of the servants with you and be off; go and look for the she-donkeys.” They passed through the highlands of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but did not find them; they passed through the land of Shaalim, they were not there; they passed through the land of Benjamin, but did not find them.

When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “That is the man of whom I told you; he shall rule my people.” Saul accosted Samuel in the gateway and said, “Tell me, please, where the seer’s house is?” Samuel replied to Saul, “I am the seer. Go up ahead of me to the high place. You are to eat with me today. In the morning I shall take leave of you and tell you all that is in your heart.”

Samuel took a phial of oil and poured it on Saul’s head; then he kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you prince over his people Israel? You are the man who must rule the Lord’s people, and who must save them from the power of the enemies surrounding them.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.


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17th JANUARY, BIBLE READING (1 SAMUEL 8:4-7, 10-22)


All the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. “Look,” they said to him, “you are old, and your sons do not follow your ways. So give us a king to rule over us, like the other nations.” It displeased Samuel that they should say, “Let us have a king to rule us,” so he prayed to the Lord. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for it is not you they have rejected; they have rejected me from ruling over them.” All that the Lord had said Samuel repeated to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “These will be the rights of the king who is to reign over you.

He will take your sons and assign them to his chariotry and cavalry, and they will run in front of his chariot. He will use them as leaders of a thousand and leaders of fifty; he will make them plough his ploughland and harvest his harvest and make his weapons of war and the gear for his chariots. He will also take your daughters as perfumers, cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields, of your vineyards and olive groves and give them to his officials. He will tithe your crops and vineyards to provide for his eunuchs and his officials. He will take the best of your manservants and maidservants, of your cattle and your donkeys, and make them work for him. He will tithe your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out on account of the king you have chosen for yourselves, but on that day God will not answer you.”

The people refused to listen to the words of Samuel. They said, “No! We want a king, so that we in our turn can be like the other nations; our king shall rule us and be our leader and fight our battles.” Samuel listened to all that the people had to say and repeated it in the ears of the Lord. The Lord then said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and give them a king.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.


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15th JANUARY, BIBLE READING (1 SAMUEL 3:1-10, 19-20)


The boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli; it was rare for the Lord to speak in those days; visions were uncommon. One day, it happened that Eli was lying down in his room. His eyes were beginning to go dim; he could no longer see.

The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying in the sanctuary of the Lord where the ark of God was, when the Lord called, “Samuel, Samuel!” He answered, “Here I am.” Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, since you called me.” Eli said, “I did not call. Go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Once again the Lord called, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, since you called me.” He replied, “I did not call you, my son; go back and lie down.” Samuel had as yet no knowledge of the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. Once again the Lord called, the third time. He got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, since you called me.” Eli then understood that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, and he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if someone calls say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The Lord then came and stood by, calling as he had done before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”

Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him and let no word of his fall to the ground. All Israel from Dan to Beersheba came to know that Samuel was accredited as a prophet of the Lord.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.


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After they had eaten in the hall, Hannah rose and took her stand before the Lord, while Eli the priest was sitting on his seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. In the bitterness of her soul she prayed to the Lord with many tears and made a vow, saying, “Lord of hosts! If you will take notice of the distress of your servant, and bear me in mind and not forget your servant and give her a man-child, I will give him to the Lord for the whole of his life and no razor shall ever touch his head.”

While she prayed before the Lord, which she did for some time, Eli was watching her mouth, for she was speaking under her breath; her lips were moving but her voice could not be heard. He therefore supposed that she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to be in this state? Rid yourself of your wine.” “No, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman in great trouble; I have taken neither wine nor strong drink – I was pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not take your maidservant for a worthless woman; all this time I have been speaking from the depth of my grief and my resentment.” Then Eli answered her: “Go in peace,” he said, “and may the God of Israel grant what you have asked of him.” And she said, “May your maidservant find favour in your sight”; and with that the woman went away; she returned to the hall and ate and was dejected no longer.

They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord and then set out and returned to their home in Ramah. Elkanah had intercourse with Hannah his wife and the Lord was mindful of her. She conceived and gave birth to a son, and called him Samuel, “since,” she said, “I asked the Lord for him.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.


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“The last of the great Judges of Israel was Samuel, the son of Hannah and Elcana. He defended his people against the encroachments of the Philistines. His influence, however, was felt chiefly in the matter of religion. By his teaching and exhortations he induced the people to give up the worship of the Canaanite gods, Baal and Astarte, and to worship Jahweh alone.

But in his old age he entrusted the power of the judgeship to his sons Joel and Abia. They lacked the virtue and integrity of their father and regarded their power as a means to acquire personal wealth rather than a sacred trust. Besides, the Philistines became an increasingly dangerous threat to the Chosen People. The leaders of the people came to Samuel and asked him to give them a king, a king such as ruled among other peoples.


From a purely human point of view the request must have seemed reasonable. The Chosen People must have observed the stabilising and unifying influence of the institution of kingship among their neighbours. They will have seen also the political and military advantages which a single ruler and government might produce for them.


But, on the other hand, their desire for a human king to rule over them betrayed a lack of faith in the providence of God. Samuel was quick to perceive this and to point out to the leaders of the people the disadvantages of royalty. He told them that kings would levy taxes, draft men for military service and subject the people generally to forced labour. But the people persisted in their desire to be ruled by a king.


Following God’s instructions Samuel anointed Saul, the son of Cis, of the tribe of Benjamin, and the people acknowledged Saul as their king. For a time Saul was a good king. But his disobedience to God made him displeasing to God, and God chose David, son of Jesse, of the tribe of Juda to be his successor.


Samuel secretly anointed David as king of the Chosen People. In this way the blessing which Jacob had given to Juda [Judah] was realised, and the channel of salvation was narrowed down to the family of David. [Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all mankind was to be born in Flesh to the Virgin Mary and her spouse Joseph of the ancestry of David.]

In a war with the Philistines the Israelites were defeated and Saul and Jonathan were slain. David returned to Hebron in Juda. There the men of Juda chose David to be king of the tribe of Juda. Isboseth, the son of Saul, under the tutelage of Abner, one of Saul’s generals, began to rule over the other tribes of Israel. In the struggle for power which ensued, David was triumphant. At the age of thirty he was recognised as king by all the tribes of Israel.


During his reign he forced the Philistines back to the plain of Philistia, defeated the Ammonites, the Aramaeans, the Moabites and put them under tribute. He also conquered Edom and gave the Israelites access to the Red Sea. He also seized Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it the capital of his kingdom.

David also made Jerusalem the religious centre of his kingdom by bringing there the Ark of the Covenant. It was his intention to build a temple for divine worship. But on being advised by the prophet Nathan that it was God’s will that David’s son rather than David himself should build the temple, David contented himself with the task of gathering the materials for the temple.


After ruling forty years, seven in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem, David died and Solomon succeeded to the throne. Solomon inherited from David, his father, a strong kingdom. He increased its strength in several ways: he married a daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt and so increased his own prestige; he continued his father’s friendship with Hiram, the king of Tyre; with Hiram’s assistance he built a fleet and sent it on trading expeditions which brought him much gold; he seems also to have developed remarkably the iron industry of his country; he strengthened his army by the addition of 1,400 chariots and 4,000 horses.


But the most lasting achievement of his reign was the building of the great temple at Jerusalem. From Hiram of Tyre Solomon hired skilled workmen. They were assisted by the enforced labour of thirty-thousand Israelites and one hundred and fifty-three thousand six hundred Canaanites. The Temple was built between the years 961 and 955 B.C.

When it was completed Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant to the Temple. Then the Temple was solemnly dedicated with numerous sacrifices.


Solomon himself imitated the style of the Oriental monarchs of his time. He built magnificent palaces for himself and his harem of wives and concubines. He maintained a large staff of servants and retainers to serve the royal household. The kingdom was organised chiefly to support the king’s army and extravagant expenditures.

But his marriage to foreign women proved to be his downfall. At the beginning of his reign he was faithful to Jahweh, the one true God. But later on his foreign wives induced him to build temples for false gods. He himself worshipped Astarte and Moloch. God became angry with him and told him that because of his sin his kingdom would be divided after his death and his son would inherit only a small part of the kingdom.


As a consequence, at the end of the reign of Solomon, the signs portending the dissolution of the kingdom became apparent. A new Pharaoh replaced the father of Solomon’s wife and he gave shelter to the enemies of Solomon, especially Jeroboam, who as later to seize most of the kingdom from Roboam, Solomon’s son.


In addition, the people became restless under the great exactions in money and service and tithes which Solomon laid upon them. But, for the sake of David, his father, Solomon was allowed by God to rule the kingdom until his death.


The reigns of David and Solomon, from the purely human point of view, mark the period of Israel’s greatest glory. During their reigns the kingdom is one and reaches its greatest geographical extension. Their power is acknowledged by other peoples, and nations pay tribute to them.

Still, it must be admitted that the kingdom of David and Solomon did not rank with the great empires of their own or any other time. They were never so large or so powerful as the empires of the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Medes and the Persians, the Greeks or the Romans. Nor did they reach the cultural level in the arts and crafts of the other peoples of the surrounding lands. Even Solomon had to import foreign sailors to man his fleets and navigate them successfully. To build the Temple he had to import workmen from Tyre.


But the true greatness of their kingdom is found elsewhere. It is found in the covenant which God made with the house of David. When David desired to build a temple for the Ark of the Covenant, Nathan the prophet told him that God wished the son of David to build the temple. But he also told David that his son would establish a house that would remain forever.

And later, at the end of Solomon’s reign, the prophet Ahias told Jeroboam that God had chosen him to rule over ten of the tribes of Israel, but that God had also said: ‘to his (Solomon’s) son, I will give one tribe: that there may remain a lamp for my servant David before me always in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen, that my name might be there’ (2 Kings 11:36). It is God’s intention that the throne of David shall remain forever. This means that both Israel and the world shall be saved through the house of David. The line of God’s plan to save men runs from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through Juda to David. This would seem to indicate also that while the world of man is to be saved through the Chosen People, it will be saved possibly by one individual.


This great honour is given to David because he was pleasing to God. His faith in Jahweh was very great and he never wavered in his service to his God. Unlike Solomon and later kings David never fell into idolatry, not even during his exile among the Philistines. He followed God’s commands as they were transmitted to him by Nathan, God’s prophet. So great was his reverence for the things of God that he would not even try to injure Saul, God’s anointed king. More than once, when Saul was in his power he let Saul go uninjured. After Saul’s death he brought Saul’s son Mephiboseth to live in his own palace. He wished to build a temple to honour God. But when Nathan told him that this was not God’s wish he contented himself with gathering the materials for its construction and allowed the great honour of building it to go to his son Solomon. He centralised the worship of Jahweh by bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. So great was his joy at bringing God’s dwelling place to Jerusalem, his capital, that he himself danced and sang in the procession before the Ark. And this he did with no thought of catering to human respect [what people thought]. The simplicity and sincerity of his soul in this action is made clear by the attitude of his wife Michol, the daughter of Saul. When she saw David dancing before the Ark she despised him because she felt that he had demeaned himself by acting not as a king but as a hired singer. David, however, seems to have felt that even a king cannot demean himself by doing honour to God.

Moreover, in David God found a model of that kindliness and mildness which He Himself practised towards men. David stands out among the Oriental kings of his time for the mildness of his treatment of his enemies. He spared Saul, his mortal enemy. He extended mercy and kindness to the relatives of Saul, even though their continued existence was a menace to his own rule. He was merciful, perhaps even, as some think, to the point of weakness, to his own sons when they challenged his authority. He wished even to spare the life of Absalom, who rebelled against him and attempted to seize his throne.


It is true that David had some human weaknesses. He committed adultery with Bethsabee, the wife of Urias, and tried to conceal it by arranging for the death of Urias. But though his crime was great, his repentance was greater, and he immortalised it in the soul-stirred hymn of repentance, the Miserere (Psalm 50): ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy mercy; according to thy great clemency blot out my iniquity…’

As we see in this Psalm, David repented bitterly and humbly his great crime. But he trusted the mercy and the love of God. Moreover he realised the truth of what Samuel had told Saul, that God preferred obedience to sacrifice, a humble and contrite heart to whole-burnt offerings. He perceived clearly what other monarchs of his time did not, that God preferred the gift of man’s heart to gifts of animals and grain. Briefly David saw that religion must not only be external but also internal. Man’s external acts of religion must proceed from a love of God in the will of man. And in return for God’s love David sang many Psalms in praise of God. In fact so great was his reputation as a singer of praise to God that the Chosen People gave him credit for composing all the psalms in the Book of Psalms, even though many of them were composed by other psalmist.


As for the Chosen People themselves, during this period of their history we see in them a strong desire for national unity as opposed to tribal particularism. This feeling for national unity no doubt strengthened their allegiance to Jahweh, and so we find them forsaking the worship of Baal and Astarte and clinging only to the service of the one true God.

It is clear that their desire for a king was due to a lack of faith in God and to their desire to imitate their neighbours, in a word, to human respect. But God, who realised this, was patient. He acceded to their request and gave them a king and a kingdom. But He turned their desires to His own loving purpose. He will make the dynasty of David everlasting, and through that dynasty He will save men from themselves.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959


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R. The Lord our God is holy.

1. Exalt the Lord our God;
bow down before Zion, his footstool.
He the Lord is holy. (R.)

2. Among his priests were Aaron and Moses,
among those who invoked his name was Samuel.
They invoked the Lord and he answered. (R.)

3. To them he spoke in the pillar of cloud.
They did his will; they kept the law,
which he, the Lord, had given. (R.)

4. O Lord our God, you answered them.
For them you were a God who forgives;
yet you punished all their offences. (R.)

5. Exalt the Lord our God;
bow down before his holy mountain
for the Lord our God is holy. (R.)


Alleluia, alleluia!
Make me grasp the way of your precepts,
and I will muse on your wonders.


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