1st & 2nd SAMUEL

 The Rise of Kings


The book of Judges is a book of Heroes.  The characters of 1st and 2nd Samuel are no less heroic.  But while the spotlight of the Judges often shown on very ordinary men, that of 1st and 2nd Samuel focuses upon those who are prophet, priest and king.  These three offices are those which are held by Christ.  He is the supreme prophet and priest and king.  This means that as we read through the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel, we will find ourselves continually reflecting upon how these books foreshadow the person of Jesus.





The book which we know as First and Second Samuel were originally written as a single book.  There is no break between these two in the Masoretic Text.


How did it become divided?  The scroll of Samuel was probably too large and too cumbersome to be handled as a single scroll, so it was divided into two parts.


1.         The Hebrew Title:   Samuel.


The Hebrew Title is named after the first major character to appear in the book.  This is misleading, since Samuel dies in the middle of 1st Samuel and is not mentioned at all in 2nd Samuel.  On the other hand, Samuel served as the King-maker for both of the kings whose careers are presented in this book.


2.         The Greek Title.


The Septuagint groups the books of Samuel with those of Kings and refers to them collectively as “the Books of Kingdoms.”  Thus, the Septuagint has 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Kingdoms.


3.         The Latin Title.


Jerome’s Latin Vulgate borrowed the title from the Septuagint and modified it to read Libri Regum - “Books of Kings.”




Samuel is one of the Historical Books.



Historical Books


Prophetical Books

From Creation to Moses

From entrance into the Promised Land to the return from Captivity

Poetry & Wisdom Literature

Major & Minor Prophets (spanning both sides of Exile).


The books of Samuel introduce us to the Kings of Israel.  This also marks the unification of the Kingdom of Israel following the period of disunity under the Judges.


Israel United

Israel Divided

Judah Alone






40 Years

40 Years

40 Years

210 Years

135 Years



Assyrian Captivity

721 B.C.

Babylonian Captivity

586 B.C.


1 & 2 Samuel

1 & 2 Kings; 1 & 2 Chronicles









The books of Samuel take up where Judges leaves off.  The tribes of Israel are living in the land, but are beginning to lose their national unity.  There is no king in Israel.  Each man is doing what is right in his own eyes.


The books of 1st & 2nd Samuel take us through the Establishment of the Monarchy of Israel via the careers of three men.




David established the Royal line.


Saul was the first King of Israel.

Samuel was the last of the Judges and the first of the Prophets (of whom Moses was a forerunner).


We are reminded that these two books were first written as a single unit when we note that they begin and end with a song.


The Song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-11)

Note: Promise of anointed king in verse 10.


The Song of David

(2 Samuel 22)

Note: Eternal promise to descendants of David in verse 51.



The first looks forward to a future king.  The second looks to God’s promise of an eternal kingship - ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.


The Book which we know as First Samuel can be divided into three parts, coinciding with the careers of its three principle characters.



First Samuel  - Rise & Fall of Saul





Main Character


Prophet, Priest, Judge


Man after man’s heart


Man after God’s heart





Birth & Call


Later Ministry










Decline & Death














We are not told either who is the writer or when this book is written.  As a part of Second Samuel, it seems evident that it was written after the death of David.

It is noteworthy to see how often we ready of something taking place “until this day,” indicating that some considerable time has passed between the event and its written presentation.


1 Samuel 5:5

Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor all who enter Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.”

1 Samuel 6:18

“...the large stone on which they set the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite.”

1 Samuel 27:6

“...therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day.”


1 Samuel 30:25

“And so it has been from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.”

2 Samuel 4:3

“...the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and have been aliens there until this day


The mention of “kings of Judah in 1 Samuel 27:6 might imply that the division between Judah and Israel had already taken place at the time of this writing.


It is also noteworthy that these instances seem to lessen during the reign of King David, possibly indicating that the events described therein were that much closer to the writing of this book.


The Babylonian Talmud states that “Samuel wrote the book that bears his name” (Baba Bathra 14b), later clarifying this to refer to those chapter which take place before Samuel’s death (Samuel dies in 1 Samuel 25:1).


If this is the case, then a later writer would have used the account penned by Samuel as he penned the books.


1.         As the books of 1 & 2 Samuel were written as a complete unit, they had to have been written after the reign of King David.


2.         After the Division of Israel.


1 Samuel 27:6 describes the city of Ziklag as belonging “to the kings of JUDAH to this day.”  This seems to indicate that the account is written after the division of the Kingdom.


In the same way, 1 Samuel 18:16 speaks of how “all Israel and Judah loved David.”


3.         The fact that the books of 1 &2 Samuel contain less Aramaisms than are found in the books of Kings might indicate that it was written at an earlier period.


4.         Written Prior to the Babylonian Captivity.


The quote from 1 Samuel 27:6 (mentioned above) indicates that these books were written at a time when the Kings of Judah were still reigning.





Israel Divided

Judah Alone



Assyrian Captivity

721 B.C.

Babylonian Captivity

586 B.C.

Period of Narrative


Written during this period






The two institutions of the Monarchy and the Prophetic Order come to light within the books of Samuel.  Indeed, the man Samuel gives rise to both of these.  He will be the last Judge of Israel.  As well as an acting priest, following in the stead of Eli’ wicked sons.  As well as king-maker of Israel’s first two kings.


1.         To Define the Monarchy of Israel as it related to the Rule of God over the nation.


These books show the need of a king and both the wrong motives as well as the right motives in desiring a king.


It has been said that Saul was a king after the heart of the people while David was a king after God’s own heart.


2.         To Legitimize the Reign of King David.


It has been suggested that the two books of Samuel set forth an apologetic for the Kingship of the House and Lineage of David.


a.         The failure of the nation under Eli shows the need of a king.

b.         The sin of Saul and the later actions of his descendants show that the Lord has rejected Saul as king and set the House of David in his place.


This does not mean that David is presented through rose-colored glasses.  His sin with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah are presented in open view and with no justification of his sin.


However, the death of David is not described in this book (it is not seen until 1 Kings).  We have noted that 1&2 Samuel gives internal evidence of being written well after David’s reign, yet his death is not considered to be germane to the message of the book.


This is because this is not primarily a biography of either Saul or David but rather a history of the Kingdom of God and its development during the reigns of these first two kings.


3.         To Emphasize the Importance of Following the Lord and Obeying His Statutes.


The books of Samuel relate both the triumphs and the tragedies of Saul and David as they were obedient to the Lord and as they were disobedient.


Saul’s obedience leads to victory.  His disobedience leads to defeat and the loss of the nation.  David’s obedience leads to victory and a throne.  His disobedience leads to murder and revolt within his own family.


In both cases, we learn that it is not enough to begin well.  The race goes to the one who runs and who keeps on running well.  Both Saul and David had good beginnings.  But sin entered in and brought tragic consequences.


Here is the point.  The Kingdom of God grows and develops in spite of our sins.  The question is not whether the Kingdom is going to grow.  The question rather is whether we are going to be a part of that Kingdom or whether we are going to be cut off and cast aside.


4.         To Teach the Grace of God.


Especially in the case of David, we are admitted to a wonderful picture of the mercy of God.

Though he suffers greatly from the consequences of his sin, David is forgiven his sin and continues to trust in the Lord.  From his experiences, we learn that failure can be overcome through repentance and faith.


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