I Samuel

Author: Samuel, Nathan, Gad

The two books of Samuel contain valuable historical material concerning the moral and religious conditions of the period. Samuel is the prophet-judge who helped unite the scattered tribes under the one king, Saul. The history of the reigns of Saul as well as David are also covered here.

Some important passages from the book of I Samuel

I Samuel 13:14 – “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

I Samuel 15:22 – So Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings as sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.”

Chapter 15 of I Samuel records the tragic transition of kingship from Saul to David. As with all three changes recorded in I Samuel, God removes His blessing from one and gives it to another because of sin.

I Samuel 15:22 – “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”


Observations from I Samuel

1. Samuel was the last of Israels judges and the first of its prophets. He anointed Israels first two kings, Saul and David.

2. I Samuel covers a period of 94 years from Samuel’s birth to Saul’s death and is a book of great beginnings and tragic endings.

3. I Samuel describes the transition of leadership in Israel from the Judges to the kings, which occurs in three stages in the book:

From Eli to Samuel (Theocracy to monarchy)

From Samuel to Saul

From Saul to David


The book of I Samuel centers around three key men

Samuel (1-7)

Samuel’s story begins late in the turbulent time of the judges when Eli is the judge-priest of Israel. Chapters 1-3 describe the birth of Samuel and his early call by Yahweh. Because of his responsiveness to God (3:19), he is confirmed as a prophet (3:20-21) at a time when the “Word of the LORD was rare…There was no widespread revelation” (3:1).

Corruption at Shiloh by Eli’s notoriously wicked sons leads to Israel’s defeat in the crucial battle with the Philistines (4:1-11). The Ark of the covenant, God’s “throne” among the people, is lost to the Philistines. the priesthood is disrupted by the death of Eli and his sons and the glory of God departs from the tabernacle.

Samuel begins to function as the last of the judges and the first in the order of the prophets. His prophetic ministry leads to a revival in Israel, the return of the Ark of the covenant, and the defeat of the Philistines. When Samuel is old and his sons prove to be unjust judges, the people cry out for a king. They want a visible military and judicial ruler like the surrounding nations (8:5-20).

Saul (8-15)

In their impatient demand for a king, Israel chooses less than God’s best. Their motive is wrong (8:5) and their criteria is wrong (9:2). Saul begins well but his good characteristics soon deteriorate. In spite of Samuel’s solemn prophetic warning, Saul and the people begin to act wickedly. Saul presumptuously assumes the role of a priest (II Chronicles 26:18) and offers up sacrifices. He makes a foolish vow and disobeys God’s command to destroy the Amalekites.

David (16-31)

God rejects Saul and commissions Samuel to anoint David as Israel’s next king. David serves in Saul’s court and defeats the Philistine giant, Goliath, with a stone (I Samuel 17:50). Jonathan’s devotion to David leads him to sacrifice the throne in acknowledgement of David’s divine right to it. David becomes a growing threat to the insanely jealous Saul and the new king must seek protection from Jonathan, Michal, and Samuel.

Saul’s open rebellion against God is manifested in his refusal to give up what God has said cannot be his. Jonathan protects David from another murderous plight of Saul, causing Saul to become more active in his pursuit of David.

David continues to escape the hand of Saul and even spares Saul’s life on two occasions. David once again seeks refuge among the Phillistines, but is not allowed to fight on their side against Israel. Saul, afraid of impending battle against the Philistines, foolishly consults a medium at En Dor to hear the deceased Samuel’s advice. The Lord rebukes Saul and pronounces his doom. He and his sons are killed by the Philistines on Mount Gilboa.

I Samuel 31:4
“Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.”


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