(Transition From Judges to Kingship)
Precisely who wrote 1 and 2 Samuel is not certain. The Jewish talmudic tradition says that it was written by Samuel. However, though 1 and 2 Samuel take their name from the prophet Samuel, the key figure of the early chapters, the prophet could not possibly have written more than part of 1 Samuel, since his death is recorded in chapter 25. But 1 Samuel 10:25 does attest to the fact that Samuel did write a book. Further, 1 Chronicles 29:29 indicates that Nathan and Gad also wrote about the events recorded in Samuel.
930 B.C. and later.
Title of the Book:
Originally, the books of 1 and 2 Samuel were placed together as one book in the Hebrew Bible. These two books give the history of the monarchs of Israel in the early period of the monarchy. Fundamentally, 1 Samuel is about king Saul and 2 Samuel is about king David. Both 1 and 2 Samuel get their names from the prophet Samuel whom God used in the transition from using judges to the establishment of the monarchy. Though originally one book, 1 and 2 Samuel were divided into two books by the translators of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT). This division was later followed by Jerome (the Latin Vulgate) and by modern versions. The title of the book has varied from time to time, having been designated “The First and Second Books of Kingdoms” (Septuagint), “First and Second Kings” (Vulgate) and “First
and Second Samuel” (Hebrew tradition and most modern versions).
Theme and Purpose:
Beginning with the birth of Samuel and his training in the temple, 1 Samuel describes how this great man of God led Israel as prophet, priest, and the last judge. During Samuel’s leadership, the people of Israel, wanting to be like the nations, demanded a king. Under God’s direction, Samuel then anointed Saul to be the first king. But Saul was rejected by God because of his disobedience. To replace Saul, again under God’s directions, Samuel anointed David, a man after God’s own heart to become the king of Israel. The rest of the book describes the struggles between jealous and demented Saul and godly David. First Samuel picks up the history of Israel where Judges left off with Samuel following Samson (cf. Judges 16:31). This book traces the transition of leadership in the nation from judges to kings, from a
theocracy to a monarchy. Because the people of Israel would not allow Yahweh to rule their lives, with every man doing that which was right in his own eyes, the monarchy brought stability because the people were more willing to follow an earthly king. “And the LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them” (8:7). The clamor for an earthly king in First Samuel was a natural outcome of this practical rejection (8:7). God had intended to give Israel a king (see Gen. 49:10; Deut. 17:14-20), but the people insisted on the king of their choice instead of waiting for God’s king. … Saul was rejected by the Lord because he failed to learn the truth that “to obey is better than sacrifice” (15:22). He became characterized by mental imbalance, raging jealousy, foolishness, and immorality. David illustrated the principle that, “the Lord does not see as man sees” (16:7). The Lord established the Davidic dynasty because of David’s obedience, wisdom, and dependence on God. 8 Historically, one of the key purposes of 1 Samuel is to record the divine origin of the Davidic dynasty.
In thought, the key word is transition, but in use, anoint (7 times) and rejected (7 times) are two key terms to this period of transition.
8:6-7 But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a
king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.”
13:14 But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.
15:22-23 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to
heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination
is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also
rejected you from being king.”
Chapter 8, particularly verses 19-22, record the sad complaint of the nation in their desire for a king over them like that of the nations to judge them and fight their battles. Here, in answer to their request, Samuel is told by the Lord to appoint them a king and the prophet assumes his role of becoming a king-maker.
Chapter 15 is another key chapter in that it records the transition of kingdom authority from Saul to David because of Saul’s disobedience and self-willed character (cf. 15:23).
Chapter 16 forms another key chapter in that it records the choice and anointing of David.
Samuel the prophet, Saul the disobedient king, and David the shepherd.
Christ as Seen in 1 Samuel:
Samuel forms an interesting portrait of Christ in that he was a prophet, a priest, and though he was not a king, he was a judge who was used of God to inaugurate a new age.
Messiah is literally “the anointed one” and Samuel is the first biblical book to use the word anointed (2:10). Furthermore, the primary portrait and anticipation of Messiah is found in the life of David. He was born in Bethlehem, worked as a shepherd, was ruler over Israel, and became the forerunner of Messiah King through the Davidic dynasty. In the New Testament, Christ is described as a “descendant of David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3).
I. Samuel, the Last Judge (1:1-8:22)
A. The Call of Samuel (1:1-3:21)
B. The Commission of Samuel (4:1-7:17)
C. The Concern of Samuel (8:1-22)
II. Saul, the First King (9:1-15:35)
A. The Selection of Saul (9:1-12:25)
B. The Rejection of Saul (13:1-15:35)
III. David, the Next King (16:1-31:13)
A. David, the Shepherd, Chosen and Anointed (16:1-23)
B. David, the Giant Killer, Acclaimed by the Court of Saul (17:1-58)
C. David, the Friend of Jonathan, but Rejected by Saul (18:1-19:24)
D. David, the Fugitive, Pursued by Saul (20:1-26:25)
1. David protected by Jonathan (20:1-42)
2. David protected by Ahimelech (21:1-9)
3. David protected by Achish (21:10-15)
4. David and his band of men (22:1-26:25)
E. The Refuge of David in Philistine Territory (27:1-31:13)
1. David becomes a Philistine servant (27:1-28:2)
2. Saul consults the medium at En-dor (28:3-25)
3. David dismissed by the Philistines (29:1-11)
4. David destroys the Amalekites (30:1-31)
5. The Philistines and the death of Saul (31:1-13)