True Education


Chapter 6—The Schools of the Prophets

Wherever in Israel God’s plan of education was carried into effect, the results testified of its Author. But in many households the training appointed by Heaven, and the characters thus developed, were rare. God’s plan was but partially and imperfectly fulfilled. TEd 31.1

By unbelief and by disregard of the Lord’s directions, the Israelites surrounded themselves with temptations that few had power to resist. At their settlement in Canaan “they did not destroy the peoples, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them, but they mingled with the Gentiles and learned their works; they served their idols, which became a snare to them.” Their heart was not right with God, “nor were they faithful in His covenant. But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away. ... For He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again.” Psalm 106:34-36; 78:37-39. TEd 31.2

Fathers and mothers in Israel became indifferent to their obligation to God, indifferent to their obligation to their children. Through unfaithfulness in the home and idolatrous influences around them, many of the Hebrew youth received an education differing widely from that which God had planned for them. They learned the ways of the heathen. TEd 31.3

To meet this growing evil, God provided other agencies to aid parents in the work of education. From the earliest times, prophets had been recognized as teachers divinely appointed. In the highest sense the prophet was one who spoke by direct inspiration, communicating to the people the messages received from God. But the name “prophet” was given also to those who, though not so directly inspired, were divinely called to instruct the people in the works and ways of God. For the training of such a class of teachers, Samuel, by the Lord’s direction, established the schools of the prophets. TEd 32.1

These schools were intended to serve as a barrier against the widespreading corruption, to provide for the mental and spiritual welfare of the youth, and to promote the prosperity of the nation by furnishing it with men qualified to act in the fear of God as leaders and counselors. To this end, Samuel gathered companies of young men who were pious, intelligent, and studious. These were called the sons of the prophets. As they studied the Word and works of God, His life-giving power quickened the energies of mind and soul, and the students received wisdom from above. TEd 32.2

The instructors were not only versed in divine truth, they had themselves enjoyed communion with God, and had received the special endowment of His Spirit. They had the respect and confidence of the people, both for learning and for piety. In Samuel’s day there were two of these schools—one at Ramah, the home of the prophet, the other at Kirjath-jearim. Later others were established. TEd 32.3

The pupils of these schools sustained themselves by their own labor in tilling the soil or in some mechanical employment. Many, also, of the teachers supported themselves by manual labor. In Israel it was regarded as a sin to allow children to grow up in ignorance of useful labor. TEd 32.4

In both the school and the home much of the teaching was oral, but the youth also learned to read the Hebrew writings, and the parchment rolls of the Old Testament Scriptures were open to their study. The chief subjects of study in these schools were the law of God, with the instruction given to Moses, sacred history, sacred music, and poetry. In the records of sacred history were traced the footsteps of Jehovah. The great truths set forth by the types in the service of the sanctuary were brought to view, and faith grasped the central object of all that system—the Lamb of God, who was to take away the sin of the world. A spirit of devotion was cherished. Not only were the students taught the duty of prayer, they were taught how to pray, how to approach their Creator, how to exercise faith in Him, and how to understand and obey the teachings of His Spirit. TEd 32.5

These schools proved to be one of the most effective means in promoting that righteousness which “exalts a nation.” Proverbs 14:34. In no small degree they aided in laying the foundation of that marvelous prosperity which distinguished the reigns of David and Solomon. TEd 33.1