First Samuel – Book of Great Beginnings

first samuel

Last Updated on May 7, 2023 by David H Mercer

First Samuel is a book of great beginnings… and tragic endings. It begins with Eli as high priest during the time of the Judges. As a religious leader, Eli certainly must have begun his life with a close relationship with God. In his communication with Hannah, and in his training of her son Samuel, he demonstrated a clear understanding of God’s purposes and call. But his life ended in ignominy as his sacrilegious sons were judged by God and the sacred ark of the covenant fell into enemy hands. Eli’s death marked the decline of the influence of the priesthood and the rise of the prophets in Israel.

We see a vivid contrast between young Samuel and Eli’s sons.  Eli’s sons were selfish, but Samuel was helpful, Eli’s sons defrauded people, but Samuel grew in wisdom and gave the people messages from God.  As an adult, Samuel became a prophet, priest, and judge over Israel.  A person’s actions reflect his character.  This was true of Samuel and Eli’s sons.  It is also true of us.  Strive, like Samuel, to keep your heart pure before God.

Saul showed great promise.  He was strong, tall, and modest.  God’s Spirit came upon him, and Samuel was his counselor.  But Saul deliberately disobeyed God and became an evil king.  We must not base our hopes or future on our potential.  Instead, we must consistently obey God in all areas of life.  God evaluates obedience, not potential.

David quickly killed Goliath but waited patiently for God to deal with Saul.  Although David was anointed to be Israel’s king, he had to wait years to realize his promise.  The difficult circumstances in life and the times of waiting often refine, teach, and prepare us for the future responsibilities God has for us.

As you read First Samuel, not the transition from theocracy to monarchy, exult in the classic stories of David and Goliath, David and Jonathan, David and Abigail, and watch the rise of the influence of the prophets. But in the midst of reading all the history and adventure, determine to run your race as God’s person from start to finish.

Writer

Possibly Samuel, but also includes writings from prophets Nathan and Gad (1 Chronicles 29:29). Since the name of the great prophet is associated with these books, it is logical to assume that he wrote both 1 and 2 Samuel. The Book of First Chronicles refers to “the book of Samuel the seer” (1 Chronicles 29:29). However, a major portion of First Samuel deals with events that happened after Samuel’s death. Many scholars believe that Abiathar the priest, who may have had access to royal records, wrote those parts of these two books that deal with the court life of David.

Purpose

To record the life of Samuel, Israel’s last judge; the reign and decline of Saul, the first king; and the choice and preparation of David, Israel’s greatest king.

Historical Setting

The books describe a turning point in Israel’s history when the people insisted on a united kingdom under the ruling authority if a king. Saul was anointed by Samuel about 1050 B.B. and rule for 40 years; David also ruled 40 years from 1010 to 971 B.C.

Theological Contribution

The major contributions of the books is the negative and positive views of the kingship which they present. In calling for a king the people were rejecting God’s rule, but the throne that God established with David would be established forever on the person of Jesus Christ the Messiah.

 



 


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