Time went by until 20 years had passed since the ark had been taken to Kiriath-jearim. Then the whole house of Israel began to seek the Lord.
Samuel told them, "If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, get rid of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths that are among you, dedicate yourselves to the Lord, and worship only Him. Then He will rescue you from the hand of the Philistines."
So the Israelites removed the Baals and the Ashtoreths and only worshiped the Lord.
Samuel said, "Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord on your behalf."
When they gathered at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out in the Lord's presence. They fasted that day, and there they confessed, "We have sinned against the Lord." And Samuel [began to lead] the Israelites at Mizpah as [their] judge.
When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah, their rulers marched up toward Israel. When the Israelites heard [about it], they were afraid because of the Philistines.
The Israelites said to Samuel, "Don't stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, so that He will save us from the hand of the Philistines."
Then Samuel took a young lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on behalf of Israel, and the Lord answered him.
Samuel was offering the burnt offering as the Philistines drew near to fight against Israel. The Lord thundered loudly against the Philistines that day and threw them into such confusion that they fled before Israel.
Then the men of Israel charged out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines striking them down all the way to a place below Beth-car.
Afterwards, Samuel took a stone and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, explaining, "The Lord has helped us to this point."
So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israel's territory again. The Lord's hand was against the Philistines all of Samuel's life.
The cities from Ekron to Gath, which they had taken from Israel, were restored; Israel even rescued their surrounding territories from Philistine control. There was also peace between Israel and the Amorites.
Samuel judged Israel throughout his life.
Every year he would go on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah and would judge Israel at all these locations.
Then he would return to Ramah because his home was there, he judged Israel there, and he had built an altar to the Lord there.
When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges over Israel.
His firstborn son's name was Joel and his second was Abijah. They were judges in Beer-sheba.
However, his sons did not walk in his ways-they turned toward dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and went to Samuel at Ramah.
They said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not follow your example. Therefore, appoint a king to judge us the same as all the other nations have."
When they said, "Give us a king to judge us," Samuel considered their demand sinful, so he prayed to the Lord.
But the Lord told him, "Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have not rejected you; they have rejected Me as their king.
They are doing the same thing to you that they have done to Me, since the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, abandoning Me and worshiping other gods.
Listen to them, but you must solemnly warn them and tell them about the rights of the king who will rule over them."
Samuel told all the Lord's words to the people who were asking him for a king.
He said, "These are the rights of the king who will rule over you: He can take your sons and put them to his use in his chariots, on his horses, or running in front of his chariots.
He can appoint them for his use as commanders of thousands or commanders of fifties, to plow his ground or reap his harvest, or to make his weapons of war or the equipment for his chariots.
He can take your daughters to become perfumers, cooks, and bakers.
He can take your best fields, vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his servants.
He can take a tenth of your grain and your vineyards and give them to his officials and servants.
He can take your male servants, your female servants, your best young men, and your donkeys and use them for his work.
He can take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves can become his servants.
When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you've chosen for yourselves, but the Lord won't answer you on that day."
The people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We must have a king over us.
Then we'll be like all the other nations: our king will judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles."
Samuel listened to all the people's words and then repeated them to the Lord.
"Listen to them," the Lord told Samuel. "Appoint a king for them." Then Samuel told the men of Israel, "Each of you, go back to your city."
There was an influential man of Benjamin named Kish son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, son of a Benjaminite.
He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man. There was no one more impressive among the Israelites than he. He stood a head taller than anyone else.
One day the donkeys of Saul's father Kish wandered off. Kish said to his son Saul, "Take one of the attendants with you and go look for the donkeys."
Saul and his attendant went through the hill country of Ephraim and then through the region of Shalishah, but they didn't find them. They went through the region of Shaalim-nothing. Then they went through the Benjaminite region but still didn't find them.
When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to the attendant who was with him, "Come on, let's go back, or my father will stop [worrying] about the donkeys and start worrying about us."
"Look," the attendant said, "there's a man of God in this city who is highly respected; everything he says is sure to come true. Let's go there now. Maybe he'll tell us which way we should go."
"Suppose we do go," Saul said to his attendant, "what do we take the man? The food from our packs is gone, and there's no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?"
The attendant answered Saul: "Here, I have a piece of silver. I'll give it to the man of God, and he will tell us our way."
Formerly in Israel, a man who was going to inquire of God would say, "Come, let's go to the seer," for the prophet of today was formerly called the seer.
"Good," Saul replied to his attendant. "Come on, let's go." So they went to the city where the man of God was.
As they were climbing the hill to the city, they found some young women coming out to draw water and asked, "Is the seer here?"
The women answered, "Yes, he is ahead of you. Hurry, he just now came to the city, because there's a sacrifice for the people at the high place today.
If you go quickly, you can catch up with him before he goes to the high place to eat. The people won't eat until he comes because he must bless the sacrifice; after that, the guests can eat. Go up immediately-you can find him now."
So they went up toward the city. Saul and his attendant were entering the city when they saw Samuel coming toward them on his way to the high place.
Now the day before Saul's arrival, the Lord had informed Samuel,
"At this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over My people Israel. He will save them from the hand of the Philistines because I have seen [the affliction of] My people, for their cry has come to Me."
When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, "Here is the man I told you about; he will rule over My people."
Saul approached Samuel in the gate area and asked, "Would you please tell me where the seer's house is?"
"I am the seer," Samuel answered. "Go up ahead of me to the high place and eat with me today. When I send you off in the morning, I'll tell you everything that's in your heart.
As for the donkeys that wandered away from you three days ago, don't worry about them because they've been found. And who does all Israel desire but you and all your father's family?"
Saul responded, "Am I not a Benjaminite from the smallest of Israel's tribes and isn't my clan the least important of all the clans of the Benjaminite tribe? So why have you said something like this to me?"
Samuel took Saul and his attendant, brought them to the banquet hall, and gave them a place at the head of the 30 or so men who had been invited.
Then Samuel said to the cook, "Get the portion of meat that I gave you and told you to set aside."
The cook picked up the thigh and what was attached to it and set it before Saul. Then Samuel said, "Notice that the reserved piece is set before you. Eat it because it was saved for you for this solemn event at the time I said, 'I've invited the people.' " So Saul ate with Samuel that day.
Afterwards, they went down from the high place to the city, and Samuel spoke with Saul on the roof.
They got up early, and just before dawn, Samuel called to Saul on the roof, "Get up, and I'll send you on your way!" Saul got up, and both he and Samuel went outside.
As they were going down to the edge of the city, Samuel said to Saul, "Tell the attendant to go on ahead of us, but you stay for awhile, and I'll reveal the word of God to you." So the attendant went on.
While He was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?"
They answered, "John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back."
"But you," He asked them, "who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "God's Messiah!"
But He strictly warned and instructed them to tell this to no one,
saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day."
Then He said to [them] all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it.
What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself?
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels.
I tell you the truth: there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."
About eight days after these words, He took along Peter, John, and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became dazzling white.
Suddenly, two men were talking with Him-Moses and Elijah.
They appeared in glory and were speaking of His death, which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and those with him were in a deep sleep, and when they became fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who were standing with Him.
As the two men were departing from Him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it's good for us to be here! Let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"-not knowing what he said.
While he was saying this, a cloud appeared and overshadowed them. They became afraid as they entered the cloud.
Then a voice came from the cloud, saying: This is My Son, the Chosen One; listen to Him!
After the voice had spoken, only Jesus was found. They kept silent, and in those days told no one what they had seen.