the 15th and Last of the Judges of Israel
Wednesday September 2, 2020 / August 20, 2020
13th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Prophet Samuel (6th c. B.C.). New Hieromartyrs Alexander, Leo, and Vladimir priests (1918). New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1919). Uncovering of the relics of Hieromartyr Hermogenes (Germogen), bishop of Tobolsk (2005). Hieromartyr Philip, bishop of Heraclea, and with him Martyrs Severus, Memnon, and 37 soldiers at Plovdiv in Thrace (304).
The Scripture Readings
The Prophet Samuel
Commemorated on August 20
The Prophet Samuel was the 15th and last of the Judges of Israel, living more than 1146 years before the Birth of Christ. He was descended from the Tribe of Levi, and was the son of Elkanah from Ramathaim-Zophima of Mount Ephraim. He was born, having been besought of the Lord through the prayers of his mother Anna (wherefore he received the name Samuel, which means “besought”), and even before birth he was dedicated to God. When the boy reached age 3, his mother went with him to Shiloh and in accord with her vow gave him over to the tabernacle in care of the high-priest Eli, who at this time was a judge over the Israelite nation. The prophet grew in the fear of God, and already at 12 years of age he had the revelation, that God would punish all the house of the high-priest Eli, because he did not restrain the impiety of his sons.
The prophecy was fulfilled when the Philistines, having slain in battle 30,000 Israelites (among them were also the sons of the high-priest, Hophni and Phinees), gaining victory and capturing the Ark of the Covenant with God. Hearing of this, the high-priest Eli fell from his seat backwards at the gate, and breaking his back, he died. The wife of Phinees, upon hearing what had happened in this very hour, gave birth to a son (Ichabod) and died with the words: “The glory is gone out from Israel, for the Ark of God is taken away” (1 Sam. [1 Kings] 4: 22).
Upon the death of Eli, Samuel became the judge of the nation of Israel. The Ark of God was returned by the Philistines on their own initiative, and after their returning to God, the Israelites returned to all the cities, which the Philistines had taken. Having gotten up in years, the Prophet Samuel made his sons – Joel and Abiah – judges over Israel, but they followed not in the integrity and righteous judgement of their father, since they were motivated by greed. Then the elders of Israel, wanting that the nation of God should be “like other nations” (1 Sam. [1 Kings] 8: 20), demanded of the Prophet Samuel that a king be established for them. The Prophet Samuel saw in this a deep downfall of the people, which until this time God Himself had governed, announcing His will through His chosen saints. Resigning the position of judge, the Prophet Samuel asked the people, whether they consent in his continued governance, but no one stepped forward for him. After denunciation of the first king, Saul, for his disobedience to God, the Prophet Samuel anointed as king Saint David, to whom he had offered asylum, saving him from the pursuit of king Saul. The Prophet Samuel died in extreme old age. His life is recorded in the Bible (1 Sam. [1 Kings]; Sirach 46: 13-20). In the year 406 A.D. the relics of the Prophet Samuel were transferred from Judea to Constantinople.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY PROPHET SAMUEL
Samuel the Righteous, servant of the Living God,
Of his people, beloved judge:
He revered God–God above all!
The will of God, for him, was a commandment.
By the will of God, the will of the people he corrected,
And, for the people’s sins, before Him repented.
Priest and prophet and righteous judge:
In three ways, Samuel glorified God.
With his every word, with his every deed,
In labor and prayer and sacrifice and food,
With his entire being, God he served.
To the rulers of the world, an example he offered:
“For his people, no one can do good,
Who, from the law of God, departs,
Who, to himself and the people listens, but not to God.
To the depth of the bottomless abyss, such a man will lead them,
Just as Saul fell, and others with him–
All fellow partakers of the sin of the people.
A slave to God alone should a ruler be
To benefit his people eternally.”
This Samuel taught in deeds and in words,
And throughout the ages, this truth resounds.
Repent before death closes the door of your life and opens the door of judgement. Repent before death, and, because you do not know the hour of death, repent today, even now, and cease to repeat your sin. Thus, St. Ephraim the Syrian prays:
Before the wheel of time stops in my life, have mercy on me;
Before the wind of death blows–and diseases, the heralds of death, appear in my body–have mercy on me;
Before the majestic sun in the heights becomes darkened for me, have mercy on me; and may Your light shine for me from on high, and disperse the dreadful darkness of my mind;
Before the earth returns to earth and decays, and before the destruction of all the features of its beauty, have mercy;
Before my sins deceive me at the Judgment, and shame me before the Judge, have mercy, O Lord, full of gentleness;
Before the hosts come forth, preceding the Son of the King–to assemble our miserable race before the throne of the Judge–have mercy;
Before the voice of the trumpet sounds before Your coming–spare Your servants and have mercy, O our Lord Jesus;
Before You lock Your door before me, O Son of God, and before I become food for the unquenchable fires of Gehenna, have mercy on me.
To contemplate the wondrous victory of David over Goliath (1 Samuel 17 [also known as 1 Kings 17]):
1. How Goliath, fearsome in body, armor and weapons, defied the entire army of Israel;
2. How David, with hope in God, came with a slingshot and stones, and slew Goliath;
3. How David was victorious–for he believed that the battle is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47 [1 Kings 17:47]), a battle of believers against unbelievers.
About Egypt’s conversion to the Lord
“And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yes, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord and perform it” (Isaiah 19:21).
Oh, how changeable is the heart of man! But of all of his changes, one is the most shameful–and that is when a believer becomes an unbeliever. Then again, of all his changes, one is the most glorious–and that is when the unbeliever converts and becomes a believer. For example, the former occurred with the Israelites who killed Christ; and the latter occurred with the Egyptians who believed in Christ. Egypt was once the greatest persecutor of those who believed in the One Living God, for the Egyptians of that time had many lifeless gods, idols and strange things that they worshipped; and fables and soothsayers by which they were deceived. But behold what the prophet fortells! What a wonderful vision! The Egyptians would recognize the One Living Lord at the time of the Lord’s Incarnation among mankind! Idols would be destroyed, the temples of demons and animals would be overthrown, and the altar of oblation to the One Living God would be established and raised up. The Bloodless Sacrifice would be offered in place of the bloody sacrifice, and the rational in place of the irrational. Hundreds and thousands of monks would take upon themselves the vows of poverty, obedience, fasting and prayer out of love for the Lord. The greatest ascetics would appear in this once-darkened Egypt, as would the bravest martyrs for Christ the Lord, and the most enlightened minds, the most clairvoyant miracle-workers. Oh, what a wonderful vision! And how wonderful is the realization of that vision! St. John Chrysostom writes: “The sun, with its multitude of stars, is not as brilliant as the wilderness of Egypt with all of its monks.” In truth, all that was foreseen and foretold by Isaiah, the son of Amos, the discerning and true prophet, has been realized.
O compassionate Lord, Who showed mercy on Egypt–the one-time persecutor of Your faithful–and illumined it with the light of truth; illumine us also, and strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit, and by the example of the great Christians of Egypt.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.