Samuel’s Prayer in The Hebrew Bible
Samuel was disappointed that the people had requested a human king to reign over them instead of God.
“And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you. And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.” (I Samuel 12:1-2)
Samuel was old and tired and he called the people together and admonished them for their continual rebellion. After that, he prayed to God to show the rebellious people a special miracle, which God did.
“Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king. So Samuel called unto the LORD; (I Samuel 12:17)
God’s Answer to Samuel
“and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.” (I Samuel 12:17-19)
It seems that God answered this prayer more for Samuel’s sake than for the people; proving to the people that God was with Samuel.
Samuel’s Prayer in The Quran
Then came Prophet Samuel among them to bring some relief. They asked the prophet’s help in appointing a strong leader, a king under whose banner they could unite and fight the Philistines. Prophet Samuel, knowing their weakness, told them:
“I fear that when the time comes to fight you may refuse.”
But they assured him that they had suffered enough insults and were now ready to fight in the way of God, even if they lost their lives.
Prophet Samuel prayed to God for guidance. God revealed to him that He had chosen one, Saul (Talut), to be their king. The prophet wanted to know how to recognize the future king. He was told that Saul would come to him by himself and that they should then hand over the control of kingdom to him, for he would lead them in battle against the Philistines.
Saul was tall and sturdy, pious, and very intelligent. He lived and worked with his father on their farm. One day, several of their donkeys were lost. Accompanied by his servant, Saul went in search of them. They traveled for many days and were very tired. Saul said to his servant:
“Let us rather go back, for I am sure that my father will be worried by now, and the other animals must also be cared for.”
His servant suggested that as they were already in the land of Samuel the prophet, they should go to him to inquire about the lost donkeys.
Saul agreed, and they carried on. On their way, they asked directions from some maidens carrying water. They were told to go in the direction of the mountain. Here, a vast crowd was waiting for the Prophet Samuel. When Saul set eyes on him, he instantly recognized him as a prophet by his holy men. Samuel also recognized Saul as the king that God had chosen for them. Saul greeted the prophet respectfully. When he asked about his missing donkeys, Samuel told him not to worry, his donkeys were already on their way to his fat’s farm.
He then told Saul that God had chosen him as the king of the children of Israel. His duty would be to take charge of their affairs, to unite them under one banner, and to protect them from their enemies. If he carried out God’s commands, he would be given victory. Saul was surprised by this sudden honor offered to him. It was also a heavy responsibility. He protested to the prophet that he was a of the children of Benjamin, the least famous of the tribes of Jacob; he did not know anything of leadership or kingship and had no wealth. Samuel told him that it was the will of God that he should be the king, that he should thank God for His favor and be strong in faith.
Taking Saul by the hand, Samuel led him to the children of Israel, but they insisted on a direct sign from God. Prophet Samuel told them to go outside the city to see the sign, which they did. Almighty God revealed:
“Have you not thought about the group of children of Israel after (the time of ) Moses? When they said to a Prophet of theirs: “Appoint for us a king and we will fight in God’s Way.”
He said: “Would you then refrain from fighting, if fighting was prescribed for you?”
They said: “Why should we not fight in God’s Way while we have been driven out of our homes and our children (families have been taken as captives)?” But when fighting was ordered for them, they turned away, all except a few of them. And God is All-Aware of the Wrongdoers.
And their Prophet (Samuel) said to them: “Indeed God has appointed Saul as a king over you.”
They said: “How can he be a king over us when we are better fitted than him for the kingdom, and he has not been given enough wealth.”
He said: “Verily, God has chosen him above you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and stature. And God grants His Kingdom to whom He wills. And God is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.”
And their Prophet (Samuel) said to them: “Verily! The sigh of His kingdom is that there shall come to you At a Wooden box, wherein is peace and reassurance from your Lord and a remnant of that which Moses and Aaron left behind, carried by the angels. Verily, in this is a sigh for you if you are indeed believers.”
Then when Saul set out with the army, he said: “Verily! God will try you by a river. So whoever drinks thereof, he is not of me, and whoever tastes it not, he is of me, except him who takes thereof in the hollow of his hand.”
Yet, they drank thereof, all, except a few of them. So when he had crossed it (the river), he and those who believed with him, they said: “We have no power on this day against Goliath and his hosts.”
But those who knew with certainty that they were to meet their Lord, said: “How often a small group overcame a mighty host by God’s Leave?” And God is with the patient.
And when they advanced to meet Goliath and his forces, they invoked. “Our Lord! Pour forth on us patience and make us victorious over the disbelieving people.”
Praying and Calling Upon The Lord
Samuel was another wonderful person in the Old Testament, a man who prayed for the children of God continually. The Bible says that Samuel told the people that he would not sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for them (1 Samuel 12:23). When Samuel learned that King Saul offended God, he was grieved and cried to the Lord the entire night (1 Samuel 15:11). Therefore, the Bible refers to Samuel as a man who called upon the name of the Lord (Psalms. 99:6) and as a man who stood in the presence of God (Jeremiah 15:1). All of this reveals to us that Samuel was a person who prayed continually, who called on the name of the Lord, and who stood in the presence of God. By standing in the presence of the Lord and by calling on the name of the Lord, he enjoyed the Lord, partaking of Him as the tree of life. This motivation and enjoyment made him such a wonderful person in human history.
Samuel is a figure who, in the narratives of the Hebrew Bible, plays a key role in the transition from the period of the biblical judges to the institution of a kingdom under Saul, and again in the transition from Saul to David. He is venerated as a prophet by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. In addition to his role in the Hebrew Scriptures, Samuel is mentioned in the New Testament, in rabbinical literature, and in the second chapter of the Qur’an, although here not by name. He is also treated in the fifth through seventh books of Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews, written in the first century CE (AD).
He is called Samuel the Seer in 1 Chronicles.