1 Samuel overview (part 1)


Tonight we are going to continue in our OT series as we do an overview of the book of 1 Samuel. Now I want to point out that 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel used to be just 1 book just like first and second kings used to be one book. In fact in the Hebrew Bible they are one book. So why were these book divided? The simple answer is this, when the Hebrew is translated into Greek it takes up more space and their simply wasn’t enough room on the scrolls that they used to put the entire book of Samuel so they divided it. So the Greek Septuagint translators receive the credit for dividing Samuel into 1 and 2 Samuel. These books have also been called the books of kingdoms. They would call 1 Samuel through 2 Kings the first, second, third and fourth kingdoms.


Now the book of 1 Samuel is a transition book from God ruling through Judges to God ruling through Kings even though God is the only true king and king of kings.


Key Chapters 15 - 16

This shows the transition from Saul being King to David being anointed King. This book records 3 basic stages from Eli to Samuel, Samuel to Saul and Saul to David. However the 3 major Characters of this book are Samuel, Saul and David.


Key words: Prayed or prayer 


Key Verses:


1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  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."


1 Samuel 15:22  Then Samuel said: "Has the LORD as great 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.


In these verses you see  that obedience to God’s will is very important and that God will not be pleased if you try and it do it your way instead of his way. How I wish that people in the religious world would take these words to heart and stop doing things there way and get back to Bible and do things God’s way.


Author and Date:


Sometimes we cannot know for sure who penned some of these books but one thing we can know that whoever wrote them did so by the inspiration of God.


2 Peter 1:21  for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.


2 Timothy 3:16  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God …


So we can see that God is true author behind these books. With that being said I will now show the most logical choice of who wrote this book. Now we know that the book is called Samuel but this doesn’t mean that he wrote it because it could simply bare his name because his the major focus in the first part of this  book. However it is logical that he did pen at least the first 24 chapters of this book. We can see that he did write some things in:


1 Samuel 10:25 Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the LORD.


He was also the head of group prophets.


1 Samuel 19:20 Then Saul sent messengers to take David. And when they saw the group of prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as leader over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.


So he certainly could have wrote part of this book. However he could not have wrote Chapters 25 and beyond because these things happened after his death. Now the next logical choices that helped write 1 Samuel come from:


1 Chronicles 29:29 Now the acts of King David, first and last, indeed they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer,


So it certainly possible that these 3 men Samuel, Nathan, and Gad wrote the book of Samuel but this is just and educated guess.


Another difficult thing is in dating this book. Now there are certain things  we do know. We know that this book is continuation of history after the book of Judges as we can see that both Eli and Samuel were Judges and then we transition to a King. We can also know that 1 Samuel covers about 100 years from the birth of Samuel to the death of King Saul. However assigning an exact date cannot be done but I can give you a range time that most scholars date it. 900 BC to 1200 BC.


I believe there is a two fold message of this book.


1. To obey God and enjoy the blessing of victory over sin and evil.

2. To recognize the power and the need  for prayer in all aspects of our life.




Main Theme:


The main theme of the book is to show both the goodness and the severity of God. Many people today only want to think about the goodness of God and they stay far away from the thought of him taking vengeance on those who oppose him. We can see this concept taught in the NT as well.


Romans 2:5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,  6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds":  7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;  8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness -- indignation and wrath,  9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;  10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  11 For there is no partiality with God.


God has given us choice to be for him or against him. Those who live righteous life will experience eternal life in heaven but those who try to do things there way instead of following God’s will face his wrath because he is a just judge. We can also see that God doesn’t care what you look like on the outside he cares what you look like on the inside. We can see this in Saul.


1 Samuel 9:2 And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.


Of course Saul was the first King of the children of Israel and he looked good on the outside. He was handsome and the tallest man among them with broad shoulders. This is what man looks at but God doesn’t show partiality and so latter on when Saul inner man did not match his outer man God was not pleased with him and he left him.


1 Samuel 16:14  But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him. 


You see his good looks and body build did not keep God from leaving him. We also see that Samuel himself had a hard time not judging a person by their outer appearance as we see in:


1 Samuel 16:6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, "Surely the LORD's anointed is before Him."  7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."


Just as God doesn’t show partiality as Christians we should strive not to show partiality nor should we judge someone by the outer appearance. James also talks about this in:


James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.  2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,  3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool,"  4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?  5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?  6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?  7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?  8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well;  9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.


Let us always strive to be careful not to judge a book by its cover.


Now lets take a brief look as some the people in the book of 1 Samuel.


Hannah – whose name means “grace” She was a Godly women who really wanted to have a male child. With her eye full of tears she prayed to God for this blessing a promised to dedicate her son to the Lord. Her prayers were answered and she kept her promise and gave her son Samuel over to the Lord after he was weaned. Because of her faithfulness we see that God blesses even more.


1 Samuel 2:21 And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. 


Hannah show us the power of prayer and blessing that come from remain faithful to God.


Eli – whose name mean “ascension” was both priest and a judge. However he apparently had not done much in the way of training his sons in the way of God because it says that:


1 Samuel 2:12 Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD.


Eli was also training Samuel at this time and he was teaching him the way of the Lord. But man of God speaks to Eli and tells him that his priesthood is going to be taken from him and given to another and that his sons were going to die. This prophecy was further confirmed by Samuel who received word from God.


1 Samuel 3:11 Then the LORD said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.  12 "In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.  13 "For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.  14 "And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."


This comes to past and now Samuel is the new priest.


Samuel – whose name means “the name of God” or “asked of God” was a priest, judge and the first prophet since Moses. Samuel was born from his mother Hannah and he was to be raised as Nasserite and no razor was to touch his head. He raised up by the Eli and then he took his place. Samuel is unique that he was the last Judge and he was beginning of this new era of prophets. Notice how the NT paints this picture.


Acts 3:24 "Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.


Acts 13:20 "After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.


 Samuel didn’t have any more success with his sons than Eli had with his as we find out in 1Samuel 8 that his sons also turned out to be corrupt and it was because of this the children of Israel want a king to rule over them and God allows this to happen. Samuel informs the people what will happen under a human king but they don’t care they want a king anyway so Saul is anointed King. Samuel also anoints David as king latter as well. As I mentioned earlier Samuel was the leader of group of prophets.


Saul – whose  name means “desired” was a very hansom man and became the first human king of the children of Israel. Now Saul started out a good man and as you read his story you can see that he was brave and full of Gods spirit and did some good things in the name of God. However there were many things that  he did wrong. First of all he  offered up a burnt offering himself instead of waiting for Samuel to show up which was against God’s command. Notice Samuel response to what he did:


1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  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."


You see Saul thought it would be ok this one time to do this offering himself because Samuel wasn’t there yet but  we can see this was not acceptable to God. Again I cant help but point out that God wants his people to take his commands seriously and not say them to themselves, Oh God wont mind if we use mechanical instruments in our worship or he wont mind if allow our women to be our Elders or preachers. Those in the religious  world are doing exactly what Saul was doing here and trying to justify going against God’s commands by the situation at hand. Let us be careful not to follow in Saul’s footsteps. We can also see the Saul did not obey Gods command in 1 Sam. 15 because he ends up sparing King Agag and the best of flocks the belonged to the Amalekites even though God told him to spare this king or these flocks. Saul also had spirit of envy against David and tried to kill him in 1Sameul 19. We also learn that Saul loses the spirit of God and it is replaced with an evil spirit in 1Saumel 16:14. Saul went against God’s law and asked advice from the witch of Endor in 1Samuel 28 and in the end this Saul takes his own life by falling on his own sword 1Samuel 31:4.


David – whose name means “beloved” is described very well in:


Acts 13:22  He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'  23 "From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior -- Jesus –


David was man after God’s own heart and he trusted in God as we see him take on Goliath and many other enemies that he defeated in the name of God. David had several chances to kill Saul but he did not because he could not kill a person that was anointed by God. Of course David certainly wasn’t perfect as he fell short of God glory or more than one occasion yet he knew how to ask for forgiveness and he received it. This is great example for us to follow because when we see that we have sin in our life we need to be like David and bow before God and ask for forgiveness and realize that God will forgive us.


There are many important lessons we can learn from this book that we can apply to our own lives as you will see in the following weeks when we take closer look into the wonderful book.