Because the army of Philistia did not still enter Israel, Israel was now a free country.
Samuel became its leader. However, he did not rule the country as a king or a ruler does. He did not make laws or establish a government. He did not try to make himself rich or important. Instead, he led the country as its judge.
Each year, Samuel went from his home in Ramah to a series of towns. In each place, he made himself available for any of the people to speak to him. He listened carefully to their troubles. When people disagreed in a serious manner, he made legal judgements to decide the matter. All the important people in Israel respected his authority (8:4).
In Samuelís opinion, this was part of his duties as a prophet (holy man). Samuel continued to pray to God for the people in Israel. Also, God continued to speak to his people by means of Samuel. When people needed to inquire of God, they went to Samuel (9:6).
This was an ancient way to lead Israel. Moses had acted as Israelís judge (Exodus 18:13). So did each of the leaders of Israel in the Book of Judges. One of those was Deborah. There is an account of her work as a judge in Judges 4:4-7. Eli, who taught Samuel as a boy, also acted as Israelís judge for 40 years (4:18).
This ancient system respected the fact that God was Israelís true king. It gave him alone the right to make laws and to rule his people.
Samuel was the last person who led Israel as its judge. He tried to appoint his sons after him but they were not honest (8:1-3). So when Samuel finished his work as Israelís judge, a king ruled Israel.
Next part: The request for a king (1 Samuel 8:1-6)
Please use the links at the top of the page to find our other articles in this series. You can download all our articles if you go to the download page for our free 450 page course book.
© 2014, Keith Simons.