1 & 2 SAMUEL
GENERAL FACTS ABOUT THE BOOKS OF SAMUEL
In our English Bibles the book called Samuel is divided into two parts: 1 Samuel, with 31 chapters, and 2 Samuel, with 24 chapters. Originally there was only one book of Samuel. The division into two books began with the Septuagint translation. As was the case with the books of Judges, we do not know the author of the books of Samuel. Again, Jewish tradition says that Samuel wrote them; but that seems very unlikely since his death is recorded in the books as well as events which took place long after his death. It seems that the books were not completed until sometime after the division of the kingdom into Israel and Judah, that is, after the time of David. We may say that the books of Samuel were written by divine inspiration most likely by a prophet from Judah shortly after the beginning of the Divided Kingdom. The books of Samuel cover a period of Israel’s history of roughly 100 years, that is, the period from the end of the judges to the last years of David. The purpose of the books is to relate the establishment of the monarchy in Israel and to tell of Samuel’s part in this. These books are named after Samuel, not because he is the author, but because he is the chief character in the early chapters and the one that God directed to anoint the first two kings. In the books Samuel is called both a judge (1 Sam. 7:15) and a prophet (1 Sam. 3:20). He therefore serves as a logical man to connect the period of the judges with the period of the kings and prophets.
Though we are covering 55 chapters and many events in the two books of Samuel, we will adopt a brief and simplified outline:
- Samuel as Judge (1 Sam. 1-12)
- The Reign of King Saul (1 Sam. 13-31)
- The Reign of King David (2 Sam. 1-24)
A BRIEF COMMENTARY ON THE CONTENT
1 Samuel begins with the distress of the childless woman, Hannah, her prayer to the Lord, and His answer in the form of a son, Samuel. Samuel’s childhood was spent at Shiloh where he ministered before the Lord at the tabernacle under the care of Eli the priest. At Shiloh God called Samuel and chose him as his prophet and judge for his people. When the people requested a king, God directed Samuel to give them their request. A man by the name of Saul was brought to Samuel, and Samuel anointed Saul as Israel’s first king. The first part of Saul’s reign was impressive; but when he did not fully obey God’s command, God rejected him from the kingship. A young shepherd boy from Bethlehem was designated by God as Saul’s successor and was secretly anointed by Samuel to be the next king. Young David served Saul as his court musician and later served the whole country by single-handedly defeating the giant Goliath. David became a close friend of Saul’s son Jonathan, but Saul became jealous of David and even attempted to kill David. David was forced to flee from Saul. David was not safe from Saul’s anger until the Philistines overcame Saul and his sons on Mt. Gilboa. Saul died by intentionally falling on his own sword after he had been seriously wounded in battle. In the beginning of 2 Samuel, David mourns for the slain King Saul and his dear friend Jonathan. David first ruled as king of Judah in Hebron for 7 1/2 years. Then with his capital at Jerusalem, he became king over all the tribes. Under God’s blessing, David continued to build a strong kingdom. He had risen from a shepherd boy in a pasture to a mighty monarch in a palace by God’s hand. 2 Samuel 5:12 says: “And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.” God also made a special Messianic promise to David. Read 2 Samuel 7:12-13. The Savior would come from David’s family; Jesus would be called “the son of David..” In his “dark hour” David was overcome by temptation. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband secretly killed. This affair led to great heartache. By God’s grace David was led to repentance through the prophet Nathan. Troubles again came to David through the rebellion of his son Absalom. The killing of Absalom ended the revolt but again filled David’s life with sorrow. 2 Samuel ends with a summary of David’s battles with the Philistines, David’s praise of the Lord, and the listing of his fighting men.
THE CHAPTER NUMBERS FOR THESE WELL-KNOWN EVENTS:
In 1 Samuel
- The Lord Calls 1 Samuel 3
- Samuel anoints Saul 1 Samuel 9
- Samuel anoints David 1 Samuel 16
- David and Goliath 1 Samuel 17
- Saul Takes His Own Life 1 Samuel 31
In 2 Samuel
- David Conquers Jerusalem 2 Samuel 5
- David and Bathsheba 2 Samuel 11
- Nathan Rebukes David 2 Samuel 12
- Absalom’s Conspiracy 2 Samuel 15
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