The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Samuel

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31


Author: Possibly Samuel, Nathan and Gad (see 1Ch 29:29).

Period: c 1100 BC (the birth of Samuel) to c 970 (the close of David's reign).

Title: In the original Heb text, 1 and 2 Samuel are counted as one book called "Samuel." In the LXX, the book was divided into two due to the length of the scrolls then in use. In the Greek OT, the Books of Samuel are referred to as the First and Second Books of Kingdoms. The Latin Vulgate entitles the same books the First and Second Books of Kings.

Summary: 1 Samuel is the first of two historical books that illustrate Israel's transition from a loose confederation of tribes to a strong and united nation. It portrays the anointing of the first king of Israel, Saul, by the prophet Samuel. It then recounts the degenerating reign of Saul and his loss of the throne to David, a man after God's own heart. 2 Samuel begins with the death of Saul and the ascension of David to the throne. The rest of the book records military conquests and political intrigues during David's reign. It concludes with the blessing of Solomon by David.

Key verses:

"We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles" (1Sa 8:19–20).

"When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever" (2Sa 7:12–13).


"Samuel-Kings was written just after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. The author, whether it was Jeremiah or someone else from the 'school of the prophets,' had access to the royal records of both the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah, as well as records that antedated the Divided Kingdom period. It is truly a story about the history of the kings of Israel, beginning with the desire to have a king because of the wickedness of first Eli's sons and then Samuel's, down to the wickedness of the last kings of Judah before it became time to 'overturn, overturn, overturn... until he come whose right it is' (Ezek 21:27). Samuel-Kings then documents much of the reasons for judgment.

"Chronicles, on the other hand, was written more to encourage the returning exiles. From the opening words citing Cyrus' decree, down through the selection of material showing God's continuing grace even during times of judgment, the writer of Chronicles (Ezra?) concentrates on God's plan to return the exiles back to the land, living righteously under God's rulership. The Chronicles record differs from that of Samuel-Kings with regard to Abijah's reign and also Manasseh's... the differing treatments of David's reign are also instructive. If one only reads Chronicles, one would never know about the seven-and-a-half years of Ishbosheth's reign, about David's sin regarding Bathsheba and Uriah, or about any of the fallout from that sin -- namely what happened with Amnon and Tamar, and about all that involved Absalom's rebellion.

"In short, Samuel-Kings serves to document why God was right to judge both Israel and Judah, while Chronicles was focusing more on God's mercy" (DB).


1. Childhood of Samuel (1Sa 1-3)

  1. Samuel's birth and dedication (1Sa 1:1-28)
  2. Hannah's prayer (1Sa 2:1-10)
  3. Eli's wicked sons (1Sa 2:11-17)
  4. The child Samuel at Shiloh (1Sa 2:18-21)
  5. Prophecy against Eli's household (1Sa 2:22-36)
  6. Samuel's calling and prophetic activity (1Sa 3:1-21)

2. Capture and return of the ark (1Sa 4:1--7:2)

3. Monarchy (1Sa 7:3--12:25)

  1. Samuel as judge (1Sa 7:3-17)
  2. Israel demands a king (1Sa 8:1-18)
  3. Israel's request for a king is granted (1Sa 8:19-22)
  4. Saul is chosen to be king (1Sa 9:1-26)
  5. Samuel anoints Saul (1Sa 10:1-8)
  6. Saul prophesies (1Sa 10:9-16)
  7. Saul is proclaimed king (1Sa 10:17-27)
  8. Saul defeats the Ammonites (1Sa 11:1-15)
  9. Samuel's farewell address (1Sa 12:1-25)

4. War (1Sa 13-15)

  1. Saul's unlawful sacrifice (1Sa 13:1-15)
  2. Preparations for battle (1Sa 13:16-22)
  3. Jonathan surprises and routs the Philistines (1Sa 14:1-23)
  4. Saul's rash oath (1Sa 14:24-35)
  5. Jonathan in danger of death (1Sa 14:36-46)
  6. Saul's continuing wars (1Sa 14:47-52)
  7. Saul defeats the Amalekites but spares their king (1Sa 15:1-9)
  8. Saul is rejected as king (1Sa 15:10-35)
5. The rise of David

  1. David is anointed as king (1Sa 16:1-13)
  2. David plays the lyre for Saul (1Sa 16:14-23)
  3. David and Goliath (1Sa 17:1-58)
  4. Jonathan's covenant with David (1Sa 18:1-9)
  5. Saul tries to kill David (1Sa 18:10-16)
  6. David marries Michal (1Sa 18:17-30)
6. Rivalry between Saul and David (1Sa 19; 20)

  1. Jonathan intercedes for David (1Sa 19:1-7)
  2. Michal helps David escape from Saul (1Sa 19:8-17)
  3. David joins Samuel in Ramah (1Sa 19:18-24)
  4. The friendship of David and Jonathan (1Sa 20:1-42)
7. Civil War (1Sa 21-26)

  1. David and the holy bread (1Sa 21:1-9)
  2. David flees to Gath (1Sa 21:10-15)
  3. David and his followers at Adullam (1Sa 22:1-5)
  4. Saul slaughters the priests at Nob (1Sa 22:6-23)
  5. David saves the city of Keilah (1Sa 23:1-14)
  6. David eludes Saul in the wilderness (1Sa 23:15-29)
  7. David spares Saul's life (1Sa 24:1-22)
  8. Death of Samuel (1Sa 25:1)
  9. David and Abigail (1Sa 25:2-44)
  10. David spares Saul's life a second time (1Sa 26:1-25)
8. War with Philistines (1Sa 27-31)

  1. David serves King Achish of Gath (1Sa 27:1-28:2)
  2. Saul consults a medium (1Sa 28:3-25)
  3. The Philistines reject David (1Sa 29:1-11)
  4. David avenges the destruction of Ziklag (1Sa 30:1-31)
  5. The death of Saul and his sons (1Sa 31:1-13)

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