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By Jim Vasquez
From Dan to Beersheba I trek,
I'm heard by one and all,
My words direct our restless tribes,
Nor to the ground do fall.
My name throughout the land is known,
For God has honored me,
A prophet over Israel,
I was ordained to be.
But first it seems appropriate,
A word or two I say,
About events now long since past, -
My childhood, if I may.
My father had another wife,
Who bore him children while,
My mother waited patiently,
And tried her best to smile.
And then one day she promised God,
If he a son would give,
She'd offer him to God again,
As long as he did live.
With trembling lips she spoke to God,
Who heard her earnest prayer,
Though she was thought to be quite drunk,
By Eli standing there.
My mother, then, was much relieved,
As everyone could tell,
And when, in time, she had the child,
She named me Samuel.
For three years, then, I was at home,
And happy years they were,
As I was coddled, loved and spoiled,
I meant so much to her!
But then when finally I was weaned,
One unsuspecting day,
She took me to the house of God,
And there I was to stay.
She then reminded Eli who,
Had been that nasty priest,
Who thought her drunk and who of all,
The chief priests was the least,
That she had made a promise and,
To make it good was there,
I'd serve the Lord from that time on,
While serving 'neath his care.
And then a lovely song she wrote,
Extolling God above,
For all he'd been to her in trials,
His kindness and his love.
Each year she brought a robe to me,
As I was growing up,
With father we enjoyed ourselves,
We'd talk a lot and sup.
There isn't much to say about,
The things I did each day,
I grew in favor with all men,
And with the Lord, they say.
But then it happened, late one night,
As on my bed I lay,
Within the darkened house of God,
Whose lamp still sent its ray,
A voice I heard, so clear, so sure!
To Eli did I run,
Convinced he was in need somehow,
And other help had none.
But he denied he'd called and said,
That I should to my bed,
Return and get some sleep because,
A new day was ahead.
And then again I heard that voice,
Quite firm and just as clear,
I ran to Ely and I said,
"You called and I am here."
And when a third time I implored,
Just why he called me so,
He was convinced it was the Lord,
Whom I was yet to know.
And when God spoke a final time,
And my name did I hear,
I said, "Speak, Lord, your servant now,
Attends with open ear."
And did he speak! For he was through,
With all the wicked ways,
Of Eli and his sons who soon,
Would see their final days.
Well, in the morn old Eli called,
He ordered me to say,
All that the Lord had told me or,
I'd live to rue the day.
I told him, though it pained me for,
The Lord was quite displeased,
In fact, so great was Eli's sin,
God ne'er would be appeased.
But Eli knew all he had done,
And how his sons had sinned,
And seldom had he censured them,
And never disciplined.
There wasn't much that he could say,
This priest of failing sight,
"He is the Lord," he sighed, and then,
"He'll do what he thinks right."
Now from that time it seemed that God,
Expected more of me,
My fame as prophet in the land,
Increasing by degree.
Our wars increased as well those days,
We lost more oft than won,
Until I took command and then,
Our foes were on the run.
So all my days with God's great help,
The Philistines were tamed,
And Israel got her cities back,
And peace once more proclaimed.
Now as my years began to fade,
In shame I'm bound to say,
My sons were found to stray a bit,
From God's most righteous way.
They walked not in my chosen path,
But sought dishonest gain,
They gave no thought to pleasing God,
Nor did they even feign.
Our people then cried out and said,
"A king you must anoint,
Like other nations we would be,
Who do such men appoint."
I sought a place of solitude,
And looked to God in prayer,
And all these mindless, base complaints,
I laid before him there.
He answered and to my surprise,
Their plea he would concede,
And then these words of warning spoke,
That they might hear and heed.
"They've not rebelled against your word,
It's I they have refused,
Anoint a king but let them know,
Just how they'll be abused.
"He'll take their sons and make them fight,
He'll teach them how to kill,
They'll keep his vines and plow his fields, -
Whatever is his will.
"Their daughters he'll assign as well,
To all his household chores,
And pleasures he'll exact from them,
When home from distant wars.
"Their fields, their grain, their vineyards, too,
Whatever thing he lacks,
Will be considered royal goods,
And subject to his tax.
"And they, themselves, will find one day,
His slaves they've come to be,
And then they'll lift their voice as one,
In anguished pleas to me.
"But I'll not listen on that day,
They have this warning now,
So let them carefully give thought:
Before whom will they bow?"
And they preferred to bow before,
The nations all around,
Insisting that I seek and then,
A king for them be crowned.
So not much after this one day,
The Lord appeared and said,
"Tomorrow will a man come by,
Whom to your door I've led.
"He's looking for some donkeys but,
Much greater wealth he'll find,
Anoint him king o'er Israel,
Since they are so inclined.
"In kindness have I heard their plea,
He'll free them from their foe,
And then my people will I watch,
To see which way they go."
And when I met young Saul he was,
Of most impressive mien,
Quite tall and handsome, in a word,
His equal I'd not seen.
He thought himself unworthy of,
The honor he'd receive,
But God would soon bring change of heart,
And he would then believe.
"Is Saul among the prophets, now?"
The people wondered then,
For he began to prophesy,
With other holy men.
He soon displayed some weaknesses,
(He hid himself one day),
But still I did anoint him king,
Thus, Israel had its way.
"Long live the king!" they roundly cheered,
As I with holy oil,
His golden locks caressed until,
The drops spilled on the soil.
But hardly had the ground absorbed,
Those slippery olive beads,
When quite unworthy of the throne,
He proved by his misdeeds.
And in the end he showed he feared,
The people above all,
And for rejecting God's good word,
He would in battle fall.
In Ramah I awaited then,
To hear the end of Saul,
I mourned sincerely for this man,
How great had been his fall!
But God was not lamenting nor,
Would he allow me to,
"The son of Jesse now anoint,
I've found his heart is true."
And there in Jesse's house no less,
Than seven sons I saw,
Before the youngest one appeared,
And, to his brothers' awe,
I rose and then anointed him,
This ruddy, shepherd son,
For God had chosen David and,
Had said, "He is the one."
>From that time, then, the mantle passed,
To David, Spirit-filled,
As king he led the people forth,
In all that God had willed.
My voice is quiet now and I,
An old and frail man,
Will shortly have my eyelids closed,
To join with all my clan.
But memories so rich and full,
I take now to my grave,
And how midst temple walls my life,
I fully to him gave.
from the July 2001 Edition of the Jewish Magazine