|Holy Prophet Samuel (Feast Day - August 20)|
Even the Seer Samuel finally shut his eyes,
But sees the everlasting light after his demise.
Seeing the future, Samuel went hence on the twentieth.
This most holy man, a Prophet of God from childhood and the last Judge of Israel, was from the city of Ramathaim, of the tribe of Levi, the son of Elkanah and Hannah the Prophetess, born around 1155 BC. His mother gave him the name "Samuel", which means "asked of God", because, having previously been childless, she asked God for a child, with many supplications and fervent tears.
When she had given birth to him and weaned him, she took him to the town of Shiloh, where the Ark of God was then, and, although he was still an infant, she dedicated him, in accordance with her promise, to the service of God, and she gave thanks to Him, singing the Third Canticle of the Old Testament: "My heart is strengthened in the Lord...." She then returned to her home and later gave birth to three more sons and two daughters. Samuel, however, stayed in Shiloh under the protection of Eli, who was High Priest of the Hebrews at that time, and served in the Tabernacle of God. On account of his reverent behavior he was well-pleasing to God and to other people, according to the testimony of Holy Scripture: "But the child Samuel led his life and he grew and matured and found favor both with the Lord and with men" (1 Kings/1 Samuel 2:26).
While this good young boy was sleeping in the Tabernacle, where the Ark of God was, he heard a voice three and four times calling him by name and saying, "Samuel, Samuel!" The voice was the voice of God, which announced to Samuel God's decision about the future destruction of Eli. For Eli had two sons, called Hophni and Phinehas, very lawless young men who held God in contempt, and he did not concern himself in any way with correcting them. The divine decision was fulfilled in due course, and all of Eli's family was wiped out in one day - a terrible example of those who neglect the good upbringing of their own children and the appropriate chastisement of their wrongdoings.
Samuel was chosen after this to protect the people and he judged them in holiness and righteousness, setting them an example of good works, and considering it a great sin if he ever stopped praying for them and beseeching God for the remission of their transgressions. As he said in the presence of all: "Far be it from me to sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will serve the Lord and show you the good and right way" (1 Kings/1 Samuel 12:23). The justice and selflessness with which he directed the people and judged the cases of each one were acknowledged by all when he asked them, with God as witness, to say conscientiously whether he had ever wronged anyone, or taken property, money or a gift, even as much as a worthless sandal. They unanimously replied: "You have not wronged us or oppressed us or crushed us, nor taken anything from anyone's hand" (1 King/1 Samuel 12:2-4).
When he was growing old and the people asked for a king, he anointed Saul for them. Saul, however, before long disobeyed the divine commandment, and Samuel reprimanded him on the Lord's behalf. Leaving Saul, he anointed David at God's command.
Having lived for ninety-eight years beyond reproach in every respect, and being an example to all of a life well-pleasing to God, he died in about 1057 BC. The books of Judges and Ruth and the first twenty-four chapters of the First Book of Kingdom [First Book of Samuel] are ascribed by many scholars to him.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Born to a childless mother as the fruit of righteousness, you foreshowed the future benefit that would be ours, holy Samuel; thus you gave priestly service from childhood to the Lord, and as prophet you anointed kings with holy myrrh. O blessed one, remember now those who sing your praise.
Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
You were a precious gift to God before your conception; you served Him from infancy like an angel, and was granted to foretell future events, wherefore we cry to you: Rejoice, O Samuel, Prophet of God and great high priest.
May Samuel be praised in hymns, who was given before conception as a gift to God Most High by his greatly-honored mother, and who anointed kings as a Priest and Prophet.