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Series Theme: Why Read the Bible: 1 Samuel





Why Read 1 Samuel: There is a sense, we believe, that when you move into 1 Samuel, you move into a completely different genre or style of history that more resembles the later two thirds of Genesis with its changing events based on specific people. In Genesis it was the Patriarchs, here is Samuel, Saul and David with a background throughout that, although similar to Judges with discipline coming from the Lord in respect of hostile neighbours, here in this book it is just one hostile neighbour, the Philistines in the south.


It is a significant book of the Old Testament on four accounts:

1. It provides the continuation directly on from Judges,

2. It shows a transition from judges to prophet to king,

3. It reveals in great clarity, the nature of the king God wants, as distinct from the king the people want,

4. It shows the development of David, paving the way for him to become the most famous king of Israel, and the ongoing rule of kings until the Exile when priests take over again.


The three divisions, we note, make clear the general structure:

A. Samuel's Story: Ch.1-15
B. Saul's Story: Ch.9-15
C. David's Story: Ch.16-31


The first division, and Part 1, [see the Contents below] opens with a poor quality priesthood leadership that leads a spiritually weak nation which comes under the judgment of God. Into this context Samuel is born, with divine help, and gradually becomes a somewhat low-key although at times clearly spoken prophet.

In Part 2 below we see the spiritually low state of the nation and an almost entertaining and amusing episode with the Philistines when they capture the ark of God and suffer the consequences of that, followed by a restoration of Israel under Samuel.

Part 3 sees the people asking for a king because Samuel's sons who follow him into leadership are not up to the job. Even the first prophet-leader had his failings. Part 3 is the transition to having a king.


We have suggested the second division starts in what we have called Part 3 because it is there we are introduced to Saul although he doesn't take up his reign properly until the end of chapter 11.

Part 4 reveals just how far short the people's choice of a king falls, with Saul being a mix of a modest, low self-esteem individual with a brash and hasty-acting insecure leadership style with low spiritual awareness, and thus probable low knowledge of Israel's history, which results in him crossing the boundaries between spiritual and administrative leadership, which in turn results in him being rejected by God by the end of chapter 15.


In the third division, we have made David the focus, because although Saul is still a key player, the significance is all in respect of David. This is especially so in Part 5 where David is serving under Saul until Saul's jealousy, which amounts to a paranoia that seeks David's death again and again, means David flees from Saul.

Thus Part 6 is all about the trials and tribulations of David being on the run from Saul until eventually Saul dies in battle with the Philistines. You could split what we have called Part 6, into 6.1 where David is simply on the run from Saul and then 6.2 from chapter 27 when David, bizarrely as the future king of Israel, makes himself part of the Philistines and becomes an under-cover guerilla leader until Saul's death at the very end of the book. It is both an entertaining and challenging book with lots of significant lessons. To go from here directly to any chapter, simply click on the chapter number below.




Part 1: Ch.1-3: Establishing Samuel as a Prophet

Ch.1 -  The Birth of Samuel

Ch.2 - Against the House of Eli

Ch.3 - The Lord Calls Samuel


Part 2: Ch.4-7: The Ark taken and returned & Israel Restored

Ch.4 - The Philistines Capture the Ark & Eli Dies

Ch.5 - Fun & Games with the Philistines

Ch.6 - The Ark Returned to Israel

Ch.7 - Restoration of Israel & Removal of Philistines


Part 3: Ch.8-11: The Establishing of a King (Saul)

Ch.8 - Israel Asks for a King

Ch.9 - Samuel meets Saul

Ch.10 - Saul is Chosen as King

Ch.11 - Saul Rescues Jabesh & is confirmed as King


Part 4: Ch.12-15: The Fall of a King (Saul)

Ch.12 -  Samuel's Farewell Speech 

Ch.13 - Saul provoked to disobedience

Ch.14 - Battles, Disagreements & Triumphs

Ch.15 - The Lord Rejects Saul as King


Part 5: Ch.16-20: David's Life Under Threat serving Saul

Ch.16 - David Anointed but Joins Saul

Ch.17 - David and Goliath

Ch.18 - Saul's Growing Fear of David

Ch.19 - More Attempts on David's Life by Saul

Ch.20 - David & Jonathan David leaves


Part 6: Ch.21-31: David on the Run

Ch.21 - David goes on the run to Nob & Gath

Ch.22 - David escapes & Saul kills the priests

Ch.23 - David moves on and is pursued by Saul

Ch.24 - David Spares Saul's Life

Ch.25 - David, Nabal and Abigail

Ch.26 - David Again Spares Saul's Life

Ch.27 - Ch.1 -David Among the Philistines

Ch.28 - Saul & the Witch of Endor

Ch.29 - David excused from fighting his own people 

Ch.30 - David Destroys the Amalekites

Ch.31 - Israel's defeat & Saul's death



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