Introducing the PROPHETS
Ancient times the term “seer” was used before ever using word “prophet”. People went to a seer looking for wisdom or insight into the future. I Samuel 9:9
The prophets and kings of Israel and Judah spanned from 1050-432 BC. The kings only ruled until the exile to Babylon 586 BC. The prophets would continue to 432.
After the Israelites came into the land of Canaan, they were a group of lose knit tribes trying to coexist with one another. Unfortunately, they also tried to coexist with their neighbors which they had been told to stay away from by God. This mingling of culture and belief led to the loss of any spiritual qualities that identified them as separate and unique. They not only took on the evil practices of pagan gods they also became enticed with being like them and eventually wanted a king. God had foreseen this and provided rules for the king in Deuteronomy 17:14-20.
Samuel was a transition for the Jews from their isolated individual tribes to the point of their unification under a king. God had intended for them to serve Him as the only king but this did not happen. Samuel had been born and dedicated to serve God (1 Samuel 1-3). In Chapter 3 of the book of 1 Samuel we see his appointment as prophet.
In verse 19-20: And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.
Samuel “did let none of his words fall to the ground”. He only spoke what God told him to say. Giving only advice that was God driven and inspired. He became known as a man in tune with the will of God and not man.
Turning to earthly kings
In 1 Samuel 8, the people rejected God for an earthly king and the history of the nation is changed yet again. The nation would spend most of the next 500 years going down the path of rule by wisdom of man and not God.
Jewish Historian Josephus in his writings in “Book Ten - chapter 8”, after the death of Zedekiah the last king at time of Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem states this:
“…after this manner have the kings of David’s race ended their lives, being in number twenty-one, until the last king, who altogether reigned five hundred and fourteen years, and six months, and ten days: of whom Saul, who was their first king, retained the government twenty years, though he was not of the same tribe with the rest.”
The United nation of Israel saw the kingship removed from Saul and given to David. Eventually rule went to his son Solomon under which it flourished. With the death of Solomon the nation was divided in two.
Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel. It was then that the troubles really ramped up. There were a few kings that chose to follow God, however, the number that chose to turn their back on God greatly outnumbered the Godly. Each time God would speak to them through men of God called Prophets who were called to remind the king and the people of their need to return to the God of their fathers.
The books of Kings and Chronicles record the history of these kings. As mentioned, the role of the Prophet would long outlast that of the king that the people so desired. The Prophet was a divine philosopher or instructor. They were a guide to the people in righteous living, however, there were also kings that lived life in opposition to this and led people in other paths.
The prophet would tend to live a life set apart but yet not in the manner we think of monks today. It was more of a retired lifestyle only being seen when they had a message from God. If they were seen then people could expect that there was a message being sent. Many prophets were called to speak to a specific king or group of people.