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Commemoration of Samuel

Commemoration of Samuel
August 20

The Lord be with you

Today is the Commemoration of Samuel on the LC-MS liturgical calendar. Apparently those who framed our calendar took the date from the Eastern Orthodox, who remembers Samuel on this day as well. He is commemorated as one of the Holy Forefathers in the Calendar of Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on July 30. In the Coptic Orthodox Church, the commemoration of the departure of Samuel the Prophet is celebrated on 9 Paoni. (Paoni, also known as Baona, is the tenth month of the Coptic calendar. It lies between June 8 and July 7 on our calendar.)

Samuel was the last of the Old Testament Judges and the first of the Old Testament Prophets (after Moses). He lived during the eleventh century BC. The child of Elkanah, an Ephraimite, and his wife Hannah, Samuel was from early on consecrated by his parents for sacred service and trained in the house of the Lord at Shiloh by Eli the priest. His story begins before he was born. His mother, Hannah, was barren and childless. The family had traveled to Shiloh to worship. There she prayed for a child and promised the Lord that she would dedicate the child to his service if her petition was granted. Eli saw her praying, apparently mumbling to herself, and thought she was drunk. When he spoke to her he quickly realized the reality of the situation and blessed Hannah with the assurance that God had heard her prayer. Sure enough, Hannah became pregnant and Samuel was born. After the boy was weaned, Hannah brought him to Shiloh where he grew up, becoming Eli’s aid and heir apparent. (The story is in 1 Samuel 1.)

Many have seen the parallels between the birth of Samuel and the birth of Jesus. Hannah was childless and Mary, being a virgin, was childless. Both births were brought about by Divine intervention. Both boys grew up to be powerful in the Kingdom of God. All prophets were “types” of the Messiah, and Jesus was the Messiah. Of course, the miracles in reference to the birth of Jesus were all greater than the miracles relating to the birth of Samuel, but that is always the case with types and antitypes. So we see in Samuel, both in his birth and in the rest of his life, pointers to the Great Prophet, the Great Judge, the One who not only spoke the word of God but is the Word of God in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Samuel’s authority as a prophet was established by God (1 Samuel 3:20). All the paintings that depict Samuel as a small child of five or six are sweet, but not accurate. He was probably twelve or thirteen. Shoot, children weren’t weaned until some time between three and five years-old. Samuel anointed Saul to be Israel’s first king (1 Samuel 10:1). Later, as a result of Saul’s disobedience to God, Samuel repudiated Saul’s leadership and then anointed David to be king in place of Saul (1 Samuel 16:13). Samuel’s loyalty to God, his spiritual insight, and his ability to inspire others made him one of Israel’s great leaders.

Prayer: Almighty God, in Your mercy You gave Samuel courage to call Israel to repentance and to renew their dedication to the Lord. Call us to repentance as Nathan called David to repentance, so by the blood of Jesus, the Son of David, we may receive the forgiveness of all our sins; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Other appropriate prayers include:

• For steadfast faith in Christ
• For faithful leaders in the Church
• For the leaders of our country

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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