BEHOLD the greatness of worship. Israel was redeemed from Egypt because of his worship (Exod. 4.). The Torah was given to the Israelites on account of worship (Exod. 24.). The Temple was built owing to worship (Ps. 99.). The dead will be quickened in consequence of worship (Ps.). The final redemption will be brought about through worship (Isa. 27.).--Mid. Samuel 3.
In naming your children try to perpetuate a good name. You know it is not the custom of the world to name their children after Pharaoh, Sisera, or Sennacherib; rather call them after the Patriarchs or other good men.--Mid. Samuel 1.
Prayer is, or should be, the service of the heart.--Mid. Samuel 2.
In the time of Elkanah and Hannah there was a tradition that a wonderful child would be born who would receive the name of Samuel. Many mothers 'called their newly-born boys by the name of Samuel; but when the Samuel came it was universally acknowledged that this was the one looked forward to.--Mid. Samuel 3.
Faith is a very good thing indeed, but no man has a right to neglect his duty and cast himself on God and say he has faith in Him to do what he himself ought to do. The rabbis taught this practical lesson by their lives. Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Akiba were walking through some streets in Jerusalem when a sick man came up to them complaining about his ailment and soliciting their
advice. When they told him of a remedy, another man came up to them reproaching them with irreligion. 'If,' argued the man, 'it is God's will that this man should have a certain disease, are you going to counteract God's decision by removing the disease which has been decreed for him?' 'What is your occupation?' demanded the Rabbis in reply to this piece of philosophy. 'I am a gardener, as you may see by the tools which I carry in my hands.' 'But why do you interfere with the earth which God has created?' continued the wise men. 'If I were not to manure, prune, and water the trees,' retorted the man, 'how could I expect them to produce their fruit?' 'And man is even like the tree of the field,' said the Rabbis; 'he requires tender treatment and attention to his body to make it flourish and keep in good trim.'--Mid. Samuel 4.
No wizard or astrologer can produce a human soul.--Mid. Samuel 5.
A religious teacher who in his old age is found not to be what he had always led men to believe that he was, pious and pure, is not to be held up to public derision, but should be made to retire from his duties in a manner which will not detract from his dignity.--Mid. Samuel 7.
Great as is God's mercy, and open as his gates are to admit the prayer of the penitent, a man must not carry his evil deeds too far and rely upon the reception of himself and his prayers, and reckon upon the greatness of God's mercy. The following Scripture quotations tend to confirm our assertion on this point: they would stand in open contradiction to one another were it not that one can detect in them the differences between man's timely repentance and his repenting when the measure of his evil deeds is overfull. Take the following passages and see whether they can possibly be reconciled without adopting the hypothesis which we advance:--'Have I pleasure that the wicked should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his way and live?'
(Ezkl. 18. 23). Against these comforting words we have these: 'If a man sin against God, who shall entreat for him?' (1 Saml. 2. 25). The Psalmist says: 'O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come' (Ps. 65), but in Lamentations (3. 44) we have it, 'Thou hast covered Thyself with a cloud, that our prayers should not pass through.' Again we are assured: 'Out of the mouth of the Most High proceeded not evil' (Lament. 3), and on the other hand, 'Therefore hath the Lord watched evil and brought it upon us' (Deut. 9.).
Jerusalem is called upon as follows: 'Wash thine heart from wickedness that thou mayest be saved' (Jer. 4.); but the same prophet tells her, 'Though thou dost wash thee with nitre and take much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord' (Jer. 2.). Again, in Psalms (145.) it is declared 'The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon Him'; whilst in another Psalm (10.) the complaint is uttered 'Why standest Thou afar off, O Lord?' Isaiah's advice is (55.) 'Seek ye the Lord while He may be found'; but Ezekiel is charged with the message (20.) 'As I live, saith the Lord, I will not be inquired of by you.' Malachi brings the tidings (1) 'Return unto Me and I will return unto you saith the Lord of hosts'; but Jeremiah says (8.) 'Therefore shall they fall, they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.'
By the adoption of our interpretation these passages no longer contradict each other.--Mid. Samuel 7.
The following are dignified with the name 'Precious': Torah, prophecy, understanding, knowledge, simplicity, the righteous, the death of the righteous, kindness, riches, and Israel.--Mid. Samuel 8.
He that slights his parents may be compared to a knife which one acquires for the purpose of cutting food, but which fails to do this and cuts the owner's hand,--or to a light which one carries in order to help him in the darkness, instead of which it burns his clothes.--Mid. Samuel 7.
Let no man boast of his exalted position. Even so great a man as Samuel received a rebuke for his want of modesty. His answer to Saul's inquiry was, 'I am the seer' (1 Saml. 9.), and when he was sent to anoint one of Jesse's sons and saw Eliab, who was a fine youth, he decided to anoint him. Then he receives the rebuke for having said 'I am the seer,' when God told him that man seeth with his eyes, but the Lord seeth into the heart, which means--Thus much for thy seeing; thou hast seen Eliab's exterior, not his heart.--Mid. Samuel 12.
Immediately a man is born he proceeds into death; when he dies he proceeds into life.--Mid. Samuel 23.
Well has King Solomon said, A good name is better than good oil. Good oil is poured downwards, a good name tends upwards. Oil, however good, gets exhausted; not so a good name. Good oil can only be possessed by the rich; the poor as well as the rich can rejoice in a good name. Good oil we can only put from one vessel into another; whilst a good name circulates everywhere. The best oil if put on a dead body becomes offensive; the good name of a dead man is a glory to his memory. Oil put on the fire will burn; a good name stands proof against fire.--Mid. Samuel 23.