Samuel I 1:1
So there’s this Israelite, Ephraim, who has two wives. The one he loves, Hannah, has had no children, because the Lord closed her womb. The other one, whose name is unimportant, Ephraim loves less, but she has many children. Hannah is beside herself because the other wife gives her constant grief over this fact. Yes, that old Bible trope is back. Hannah goes to the local temple and prays to God that He give her a son. The priest, Eli, sees Hannah praying, and thinks she is drunk. (Apparently, you should never move your mouth while praying. You pray with your heart only.) Hannah swears she is not drunk, and Eli tells her that he hoped she would get what she wanted.
And she did. The next time Ephraim lay with Hannah, God “remembered” her, and she became pregnant. Once she gave birth, she named the baby Samuel.
Let’s talk about that priest, Eli. He had evil sons, who were wicked in the eyes of the Lord. Instead of waiting for their portion of sacrificial meat until after it had been burnt and offered, they took meat (sometimes by force) from people before they could even offer it to God. They also banged the ladies who worked at the temple entrance. Eli tried to talk to his sons, to get them to cut their shit out. But it was God’s will to “put them to death,”so they continued to do evil.
God spoke to Eli. The hell dude? I picked your family as an honor, but you love your sons more than me and allow them to do evil. I’m gonna make you regret it. I’m gonna choose someone else to be my priest. Even though it was God’s doing that made Eli’s sons continue to be evil.
Samuel, who is a good little boy and prays constantly, is taken in and trained by Eli. One night, God spoke to Samuel telling him that soon He would ruin Eli’s family, just as He had promised. Samuel told Eli what God had said, and Eli wasn’t really surprised.
And then the Israelites decided it would be a good idea to attack the Philistines (the people who keep enslaving them). But they lose, badly. Then they decide that God is not with them, and that they need to bring out the Ark of the Covenant (that Indiana Jones thing) to convince God to fight on their side. God wasn’t having it. The Philistines not only slaughtered 30,000 Israelites (including Eli’s two sons), they also stole that Ark of the Covenant-Indiana Jones thing.
Eli was back at the tent awaiting news, which he soon got. An Israelite who had escaped the battle and run back home told Eli all that had happened. Eli, to put it lightly, didn’t take it well. He fell off of his chair and died. By breaking his neck. From falling off of a chair. Because “he was an old man and heavy.” Uh huh. That same day, one of Eli’s daughters-in-law died in child birth. The child survived and was named Ichabod. Ichabod Crane. Just kidding, just Ichabod.
The Philistines put the Indiana Jones thing in the temple for their own god, Dagon. God is not amused by the theft of his Indiana Jones thing. Remember that part of the movie where the Germans open it, and it kills everyone who looks at it? That, as it turns out, isn’t entirely off the mark. First, God killed that other god, Dagon. Not just killed, the Philistines found him with his head and hands separated from his body, lying front-down on the ground. Their GOD, guys. Then God put tumors upon the Philistines. So the rulers of Philistine sent (let’s just call the Ark thing Indy from now on, ok, it will make me happy) Indy to another city, and the people there got tumors. They kind of pass it around like a hot potato for a while, throwing their cities into an uproar and leaving tumors all over the place, until they finally decided to send the damn thing back to Israel.
The Philistines decide to fill the Indy with, wait for it… models of tumors and rats made out of gold as a guilt offering, hoping to buy God off, so he would quit cursing them. Then they hitched Indy to a cart with two cows, and watched to make sure it got safely back to Israel. It did. Indy ended up in an Israelite village, and the people were overjoyed to see it. They looked inside to see what the Philistines had put in it, and God killed them for it. The remaining villagers sent Indy on its way back home before it could kill/curse anyone else.
By this time, Samuel had grown up and started speech-making. He told the Israelites that they needed to put away their other gods, and serve only the Lord, and the Lord would deliver them from the Philistines. So they listened. Soon after, the Philistines came and attacked, but God was with them, and the Philistines were routed. And slaughtered. It isn’t a fight without a slaughter. In doing this, Samuel became the judge (leader) of Israel.
Once Samuel got older, he appointed his sons as judges. But they sucked, and the Israelites demanded that Samuel give them a king to lead them. Samuel spoke to God about this. God was unhappy that the people would not accept Him as their king, but told Samuel to do as the people asked. Samuel warned the Israelites that a king would take their sons and send them to war, take the best parts of their land and harvests as his own, and do other king stuff that history has pretty much proven to be true. The people would not listen and demanded a king.
There is a Benjamite (the Benjamites are the ones who almost got wiped off the map after that concubine was raped to death) who was better than all the other Israelites. What makes him so great you ask? He was tall. The end. His name was Saul. Saul’s dad lost his donkey and sent Saul and a servant to go find them. As the two men were wondering around aimlessly, the servant suggested that they go to the local prophet and ask him where to look. So they went. The local prophet turned out to be none other than Samuel. And guess what else? Just the day before Saul came to Samuel’s city seeking help, God told Samuel that a Benjamite would come to him for help, and that Benjamite was to be anointed as king.
Saul was a bit perplexed by this turn of events, but he gave in and decided to be king. Then Samuel told Saul to go on a really weird, seemingly pointless journey to a Philistine outpost. Once he got there, Saul met with his uncle, so that his father would know that he was safe. A short time later Samuel showed up at the outpost as well. Samuel brought together all the tribes of Israel, reminded them that God had saved them from Egypt (they get reminded like every other verse, but let’s face it, they need it), and chastised them for throwing God aside in favor of a king. Still, they got their king in Saul. They quite liked him. Why? He was tall. The end.
Still, Saul had doubters. Before long, someone came along to attack and try to subdue the Israelites. The attackers surrounded an Israelite city and demanded that the city give in and allowed their eyes to be gouged out (one eye per Israelite, that is.) The city refused and sent off messengers to the rest of Israel. Once Saul got the message, he was pretty upset. He cut his two oxen into pieces and sent the pieces out to the other tribes with a message that was pretty much Fight with me, or I’ll cut you into pieces too. So the Israelites fought and massacred the would-be attackers.
That was the end of any Saul-doubting. The Israelites had a great feast and sacrificed a bunch of animals. Except for Samuel. Samuel is right little party crasher. He recounted all of the things God had done for his people (bringing them out of slavery and stuff), and told them that they had messed up yet again by asking for a king. Samuel called to God to bring down thunder and lightning to prove that God was paying attention to their actions. If they didn’t get right, Samuel said, God would surely punish them. Again.
After the Israelites had all gone home after their victory celebration, some idiot (Saul’s son, Jonathan) attacked a Philistine outpost, which really pissed off the Philistines. The Philistines gathered to attack the Israelites. Saul sent out word to the other tribes to come and fight with him. (No butchered ox parts this time, as far as I know.) Many came, but Samuel did not. Saul got worried and decided to make sacrifices to God without Samuel. But that’s naughty, remember? You don’t sacrifice without the priest. When Samuel did show up, he pointed this out. And because of this little slip up, Samuel said, Saul’s kingship was pretty much over.
Because of this, a lot of Israelites deserted, and Saul was left with 600 men. Not only that, but there were no blacksmiths in Israel. Apparently, the Philistines didn’t want them making sharp, pointy things like spears, so they just didn’t allow blacksmiths in Israel. Because of this, only Saul and Jonathan, out of the 600 fighters had weapons. Jonathan is an idiot. Without his father knowing, he goes into the Philistine camp with his armor bearer, and together, they kill a bunch of Philistines. (Stupid, but quite a good fighter.) This put the Philistines into quite an uproar (a God-sent uproar), and the men started killing each other. Then Saul and his guys went into finish up the survivors. You thought God was gonna let them die because Saul messed up, huh? Me too.
Once the battle had been won, Saul told his men not to eat anything until he was able to kill all of his enemies. As you might imagine, that took a long time, and the men were hungry and tired. But none of them ate anything. Except Saul’s idiot son, Jonathan. Jonathan ate some honey. Eventually, Saul found out and was going to kill Jonathan, but the army saved him, because they saw Jonathan as the one who had saved the army that day. So Saul didn’t get to kill his idiot son. Sad.
Throughout Saul’s reign (yes, he somehow got a long reign after Samuel told him his kingship was over–no I can’t explain it), he was constantly at war with the enemies of the Israelites. Though they fought him from all sides, he always won and protected his people. After he had been king for a while, Samuel went to visit Saul and told him that God wanted him to go wipe out a foreign people, the Amalekites. Saul is told to kill every one of them and everything they have. Saul does as he is asked and gets his slaughter on, but he keeps the best of the Amalekite livestock to take back with them. Samuel finds out and informs Saul that his kingship is over (for serious this time). Saul begs Samuel to give him another chance, but Samuel refuses, walks away, and never goes back to see Saul until his dying day.
Worry not, because next time the Israelites get a new king, a better king, a cooler king! They get David!