When Eli died, Samuel was made a judge in Israel. And he went from place to place to teach men the law. And as the ark had not been brought back to Shiloh, Samuel built an altar in his own house and served God there.
The children of Israel set up strange gods, and the Philistines went to war with them. And Samuel told them to give up their false gods and serve the Lord, and he would save them from their foes. And they did so. And he said, Come up to Mizpeh, and I will pray to the Lord for you.
And they came to Mizpeh, and gave their hearts to the Lord, and were in grief for their sins.
And when the Philistines heard they were at Mizpeh, they went up to fight them. And the children of Israel were in great fear, and Samuel plead for them, and when the fight came on the Lord sent a fierce storm that put the Philistines to flight, and they fled from the field with great loss.
And Samuel set up a stone at Mizpeh, and gave it the name of Ebenezer — “The Stone of Help.”
When Samuel was an old man he set his two sons to judge Israel. But his sons were not just men, and did not rule as their father had done. If a man did wrong, they would say it was right if he paid them for it. And the wise men came to Samuel, and said to him, As thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways, make us a king to judge us.
Samuel felt hurt when they asked him to choose a king, and asked the Lord to tell him what to do.
And the Lord told Samuel to choose a king for them.
Now there was a man whose name was Kish, and he had a son whose name was Saul, a tall young man of fine form and good looks.
And the asses of Kish were lost. And he said to Saul, his son, Take one of the men with you, and go find the asses.
And they went a long way and could not find them. And Saul said to the man with him, Come, let us go back, lest my father think we are lost.
And the man said to Saul, There is a man of God here, and what he says is sure to come to pass. It may be that he can tell us what we ought to do Saul said, Thy word is good; come, let us go. And they went to the town where Samuel, the man of God, was. And they met him on their way.
And the Lord made it known to Samuel that this was the man he should choose to reign in Israel.
And Saul drew near to Samuel, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer’s house is.
And Samuel said, I am the seer; and the asses that were lost are found. And he took Saul and his man to his own house, and made them spend the night there.
The next day Samuel took Saul to the roof of his house, and had a talk with him.
Then they went out on the street, and as they drew near the gate of the town, Samuel said to Saul, Bid thy man pass on, but do thou stand still for a while, that I may show thee the word of God.
Then Samuel took a horn of oil and poured it on Saul’s head.
This was done when a man was made a highpriest; and the same thing was done when he was made a king. And God was pleased with Saul, and gave him a new heart; but as yet none but these two knew that Saul was to be King of the Jews.
Samuel spoke to the children of Israel and told them once more all that the Lord had done for them, how he had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and set them free from their foes, and yet they would not serve the Lord, but cried out for a king. So he bade them all go up to Mizpeh that the Lord might choose them a king.
And the Lord chose Saul. But when the men went to seek for him, they could not find him. And the Lord said, He hath hid in the midst of the stuff. And they ran and brought him out, and he was so tall that all the rest had to look up to him.
And Samuel said, This is he whom the Lord hath sent to rule thee. There is none like him, as thou canst see.
And they all cried out, God save the king! Then Samuel told them what they were to do, and how the king was to rule, and wrote it down in a book.
When Saul had been king for two years, he set out with his son, Jonathan, to fight the Philistines. And a great host went with them. And the Philistines had more men than they could count. And when the Jews saw the strength of their foes, they were in great fear, and ran and hid in caves and pits, or fled to the high hills where the rocks would screen them. So there were but few left to go out with Saul, and they shook with dread.
And Saul came to Gilgal, where he was to meet Samuel, but he was not there. Samuel had told him to wait for him, and he would tell him what he was to do.
But at the end of a week Saul had the flesh brought to him and laid on the stone, and he set fire to it, that the flame might rise to God and bring peace to the land. And as soon as Saul had done this thing, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him, that he might bless him.
And Samuel said, What hast thou done?
And Saul told of the strait he was in, and that the Philistines were near in great force, and said that when Samuel did not come he felt that he must send up a plea to God for aid in this hour.
Samuel told him that he had done wrong. When the Lord told him to wait, he should wait. And now his reign would be a short one, and God would choose a new king to take his place.
In those days men fought with bows and arrows. And while the Jews were held as slaves by the Philistines they would not let them have swords or spears, lest they should rise up and kill them.
And they sent all the smiths out of the land, lest they should make these things for the children of Israel.
So when they went out to fight none of them had a sword or a spear but Saul and his son.
In those days men wore coats of mail, and bore a shield with them so as to ward off the darts. These shields were made of a thick piece of wood, on which the skin of an ox was stretched when dried.
Jonathan, Saul’s son, wore a coat of mail, and had a man to bear his spear and his shield when he did not care to use them. And he said to his man, Come, let us go to the camp of the Philistines. For it may be that the Lord will help us.
And the man said he would go.
Jonathan said this should be their sign: They would go where the foe could see them, and if they said, Wait there till I come to you, they would know the Lord did not mean to help them. But if the Philistines said, Come up to us and we will show you something, they would go up, for the Lord would be with them.
So Jonathan and his man stood out where the foe could see them. And the Philistines made sport of them, and cried out, Come up to us, and we will shew you something.
And the two went up the rocks on their hands and feet, and fought with the Philistines, and slew a score of them. And the Lord shook the earth, so that the Philistines were in great fear.
Now Saul and the men who were with him did not know what his son had done. But his watchman, who was on the lookout, saw that there was a fight in the camp of the Philistines, and told Saul of it.
And Saul and his men went to join in the fight. And all those who had hid in caves and holes, or up on the mount, when they heard that the Philistines had fled, went with Saul, and Israel won the day.
But Saul did not desire to please the Lord in all things. For when the Lord sent him out to fight King Agag, he told Saul to wipe him and all he had from the face of the earth. But Saul kept back some of the spoils, the best of the sheep and lambs, and did not put the king to death as he should have done.
And the Lord told Samuel that Saul was not a good king, and his reign should be short.
And it made Samuel sad to hear this, and he prayed to God all night. Then he had a talk with Saul, who did not look at his sins in the right light. And Samuel told him that his reign as king would soon be at an end.
God told Samuel not to mourn for Saul, but to go down to Bethlehem, to the house of a man named Jesse, one of whose sons was to be made king. And the Lord said he was not to look for one with a fine face or form. For the Lord sees not as man sees, and he looks on the heart.
So he went down to Bethlehem, and did as the Lord told him. And Jesse had his seven sons pass one by one before Samuel. And Samuel thought that the firstborn must be the one whom God chose to be king. But the Lord told him he was not the one. And they all went by, and not one of them was the one on whom God had set his seal.
And Samuel said to Jesse, Are these all thy sons?
And Jesse said, No there is yet one left; but he is quite a lad, and is now in the field where he cares for the sheep.
And Samuel told Jesse to send for him at once. And Jesse sent for him, and he was brought in, and his cheeks were red, and his eyes bright. And the Lord said to Samuel, Rise—for this is he.
And Samuel rose, and took the horn of oil and poured it on the young man’s head. So the Lord chose David to be king when Saul should be put out of the way.
And David felt a great change in his heart, for the Lord was there to make him strong and wise, and fit for the high place he was to fill.
But there was no peace in Saul’s heart, and his mind was ill at ease.
And his men said it might soothe him to have some one play on the harp. For sweet sounds will sometimes calm the mind.
So Saul said, Find a man who can play well on the harp, and bring him to me.
And one of them said that he knew such a man. He was the son of Jesse, who dwelt at Bethlehem, and his name was David.
And Saul sent men to Jesse and told him to send David, his son, who kept the sheep.
And David came to Saul, and stayed with him to wait on him. And when Saul was sad and ill at ease, David would take his harp and play for him, and he would soon be well.