1 and 2 Samuel Bible Study Lessons
The Book of First Samuel describes the transition of leadership in Israel from judges to kings. Three characters take prominent roles in the book: Samuel, the last judge and first prophet; Saul, the first king; and David, who had been anointed but not yet recognized as Saul’s successor.
God had chosen the nation of Israel to greatly bless the world, and His plan to do that involved putting David (His choice) and not Saul (the people’s choice) on the throne as king. While David many times faced what appeared to be certain death, God kept him from permanent harm, allowing him to take a storied place in Israel’s history and gain a vital place in bringing to pass God’s ultimate plan for the salvation of all humankind.
The books of 1 and 2 Samuel—named for the prophet who anointed both Saul and David as king—originally formed one book in the Hebrew Bible, known as the “Book of Samuel.” This name has been variously translated “The Name of God,” “His Name Is God,” “Heard of God,” and “Asked of God.” The Septuagint divided Samuel into two books, even though this division artificially breaks up the history of David. The Greek title for Samuel is “Books of the kingdoms” and refers to the later kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The Latin Vulgate originally called the books of Samuel and Kings, “Books of the Kings.” Later, it combined the Hebrew and Greek titles for the first of these books, calling it the “First Book of Samuel.”
Themes: God is faithful and sovereign in keeping His promises to His people, even in the face of human mistakes, sin, and rebellion. First Samuel demonstrates that God protects and empowers those He has chosen and called for a specific purpose.
Time: First Samuel covers a period of about ninety-four years, beginning at the time of Samuel (around 1100 B.C.), Israel’s final judge; moving through the ascension of Saul to the throne as the first king of Israel (1050 B.C.); continuing through David’s anointing as king and the persecution by Saul that followed; and ending with the final years of Saul’s reign and his suicide (around 1015 B.C.).
Structure: First Samuel gives a history of Israel, centered around three key characters: Samuel, the last of the Judges; Saul, Israel’s first king and one who rebelled against God; and David, whom God had appointed to become Israel’s greatest king.
Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles, 2005), 1 Sa.