1 Samuel

Theme: God’s King; Key Verse: 1 Samuel 13:14


The events took place from the final days of the Judges (1120 BC) to the death of King Saul (1010 BC).
God had selected Judah to be the tribe of kings (Genesis 49.8-12). Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin (1 Samuel 9.1-2); David was from Judah (1 Samuel 16.1-13; Matthew 1.3-6).
The empires of the ancient Middle East had lost their overwhelming power and influence.

  • Hittites lost their significance.
  • Assyria was declining.
  • Egypt, through internal fighting, had lost its power
  • The Philistines became Israel’s greatest enemy.


  • Samuel, though not said to be the author, likely wrote much of the book or supplied the notes for the book. The book took its final form soon after the division into the northern and southern kingdoms (1 Samuel 27.6 and 18.16).
  • Jewish tradition says that Samuel wrote 1-24, and that Nathan and Gad finished 1 Samuel and added 2 Samuel.
  • Possibly, a later editor finalized the book under God’s inspiration.

History—The Book

  • Originally, 1 and 2 Samuel were one book. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek around 150 BC, the editors combined Samuel and Kings and it became the complete history of the Israelite monarchy—1, 2, 3, 4 Kingdoms.
  • Sometime later, editors followed the Greek pattern and separated Samuel and Kings into 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings.

Trace the Theme in 1 Samuel

  • First Samuel records the transition from the Judges period of history to the beginning of the monarchy and highlights the failures of the king and the nation because they reject God’s word to them.
  • The prophet, Samuel, is born to Hannah and Elkanah during the time of the judges (1.20). In Samuel’s old age the people of Israel demanded a king so they might be like other nations (8.4-9). Samuel told Saul (10.1) and the people (12.12-16) that Saul was to be the Lord’s king. But Saul soon acted foolishly before the Lord, so the Lord rejected him (13.13-14; 16.14) and chose David, a man after his own heart, to be the king in waiting (13.14; 16.11-14).
  • Saul became jealous of David (18.7-9). He spent the rest of his life, hyphenated with brief periods of remorse (24.16-20; 26.21-25), trying to kill David. David, though given opportunities, refused to strike the Lord’s anointed (24.1-7; 26.7-12). He spent this time trying to elude capture and death by Saul. Eventually, at Mt Gilboa, the Philistines killed Saul and his sons—they wounded Saul, so he killed himself (31.1-4).

Key Verse, 1 Samuel 13.14

  • 1 Samuel 13:14 “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

1 Samuel Theme: God’s King

  • Despite the fact that God allows Israel, by her free will and rejection of Him and his prophets, to prematurely chose a king, He, in His grace, accomplishes his plan to seat His chosen king over Israel.

1 Samuel Overview Outline

  • Samuel’s ministry, 1-8
  • Saul, Israel’s first king, 9-15
  • David, God’s king in waiting, 16-20
  • Saul pursues David, 21-31

1 Samuel Chapter Titles

Samuel’s Ministry, 1-8

  • Chapter 1: Hannah dedicates Samuel
  • Chapter 2: God will judge Eli’s family
  • Chapter 3: Lord established Samuel a prophet
  • Chapter 4: Philistines capture God’s ark
  • Chapter 5: God judges Ashdod, Gath, Ekron
  • Chapter 6: Philistines send the ark back
  • Chapter 7: Lord routs and subdues Philistines
  • Chapter 8: Appoint a king for us

Saul, Israel’s First King, 9-15

  • Chapter 9: Donkey chase leads Saul to Samuel
  • Chapter 10: Samuel anoints Saul at Mizpah
  • Chapter 11: Saul’s victory over Jabesh and Coronation
  • Chapter 12: Samuel introduces Saul and challenges Israel
  • Chapter 13: Saul acted foolishly
  • Chapter 14: Saul’s foolish oath; Jonathan’s honey
  • Chapter 15: Lord rejects Saul. “To obey is better than sacrifice.”

David, God’s King in Waiting, 16-20

  • Chapter 16: Lord chooses David
  • Chapter 17: David kills Goliath
  • Chapter 18: Jealous Saul fears David
  • Chapter 19: Jonathan, Michal, and Samuel protect David
  • Chapter 20: Jonathan warns David by arrows

Saul Pursues David, 21-31

  • Chapter 21: David to Priest Ahimelech, then to King Achish of Gath
  • Chapter 22: Saul kills priests of Nob. Abiathar escapes
  • Chapter 23: Saul chases David at Keilah, Ziph, Maon
  • Chapter 24: Saul’s robe in the Engedi cave
  • Chapter 25: Samuel dies. Nabal, Abigail, and David
  • Chapter 26: Mt Hachilah, Saul’s spear and bottle

Saul Pursues David, 21-31

  • Chapter 27: David at Philistine Ziklag
  • Chapter 28: The Medium at Endor
  • Chapter 29: Philistine commanders reject David
  • Chapter 30: Ziklag, David, and Amalekites
  • Chapter 31: Philistines victory. Saul dies

Main People


  • Hannah was the mother of Samuel. God graciously answered her prayer for a son, and in response to God’s blessing she presented her son to the Lord so that he might serve Him (1 Samuel 1-2).
  • Principle: Mother’s faithfulness to the Lord, prayer for her children, and willingness for them to be in Christian service.


  • Eli was the priest at Shiloh (1 Samuel 1.3, 7, 9) at the time of Samuel’s birth (1.17, 24-28) and a judge (4.18). He was to serve as priest for Israel and to care for the ark (4.3). He was instrumental in the early training of Samuel (2.11, 18-21; 3). His sons, priests under him (1.3) were worthless rebels whom he failed to discipline and train (2.12; 3.11-14). The Lord, through the Philistines, struck his sons down (4.10-11). The news that the Philistines had captured God’s Ark caused Eli to collapse. He broke his neck in the fall and died (4.15-18).
  • Principle: Failure protect the priesthood by not disciplining and training his priest sons.
  • Principle: God graciously uses his people to bless others even though they have areas of failure.


  • Samuel was the son of Hannah and Elkanah (1). He was a Levite (1 Samuel 6.33-38), a prophet (3.20; 19.20; Acts 3.24), a priest (7.8-10), and the last judge (7.15-17; Acts 13.20). He was called to his ministry while a young boy, and he served Eli well during a time of national apostasy (2.11, 18-21). He anointed Saul (9.16; 10.1; 15.1) and David to be kings (16.3, 12-13). He was classed with Moses as a great believer and spiritual leader of Israel (1 Samuel 7.3-6; Jeremiah 15.1).
  • Principle: Faithful ministry during a time of national apathy, rebellion, and apostasy.
  • Principle: Strong spiritual leadership in the face of powerful opposition.


  • Saul was a Benjamite (1 Samuel 9.1, 21), who because of the rebellious demands of Israel (8.4-8), was chosen by God to become king of Israel (10.1). He had few successes (11.6-15; 14.47-48), and in negative volition he rejected God’s word and will (13.8-14; 14.24, 43-46; 15.16-26; 28.3-20). Due to his rejection of God’s word and desire for power and fame combined with great jealousy of David, he tried to kill David (20.33) eventually destroyed himself (15.27-28, 35; 18.5-12; 19.1; 31.1-5).
  • Principle: Great opportunity for service to Lord and Israel, but because he was preoccupied with with himself and details of life, and because he would not humble himself before the Lord, the Lord removed him from service and potential blessing.
  • Principle: Emotional repentance and spiritual inconsistency do not please the Lord. He wants consistent spiritual living.


  • Goliath, a nine and one-half foot champion fighter for the Philistines, challenged Saul’s army to send someone to fight him in personal combat. The outcome of this challenge would determine the winner of the battle (1 Samuel 17). David believed that God would defeat Goliath through him. David knew that the battle was the Lord’s. David killed Goliath. Israel then chased the fleeing Philistines, killing them and plundering the camps.
  • Principle: No enemy can withstand the Lord and the believer trusting the Lord and doing God’s will.


  • Jonathan was Saul’s son and heir to the throne (1 Samuel 13.16). He unknowingly disobeyed Saul’s vow by eating some honey, after which the Israelites would not allow Saul to execute Jonathan (14.24-45). He and David were very good friends (1 Samuel 18.1). He recognized God’s decision to make David king when he turned his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt (1 Samuel 18.4; 23.16-17). Jonathan fell in battle against the Philistines at Mt Gilboa along with his brothers and his father, Saul (31.1-2).
  • Though Jonathan was Saul’s son and a soldier in Saul’s army, but did the right thing by protecting David from Saul (19.1-10; 20). Jonathan fell with Saul fell in battle with the Philistines (31.2-3).
  • Principle: First loyalty is to Lord.
  • Principle: Loyal friendship.


  • David, was the son of Jesse, a distant son of Judah. He was a shepherd whom God trained to be king over Israel. Samuel anointed him king of Israel. Discussion in the 2 Samuel study.

Key Words Used

  • King 92x. 2.10; 8.5, 6; 8.20; 10.19; 16.1.
  • Anoint. (verb and noun) 2.10, 35; 9.16; 10.1; 12.3, 5; 15.1, 17; 16.3, 6, 12, 13; 24.6, 10; 26.9, 11, 16, 23.
    • Cleansing, blessing, coronation, endowment, or the title of the one selected. Psalm 2.2
    • Noun jyvm mashiyach. Strong #4899, Anointed, Messiah. 39x in OT.
    • Verb jvm mashach. Strong #4886, To smear, anoint, spread a liquid. 69x in OT.
  • War, 8.12; 14.52; 17.20; 18.5; 19.8; 23.8; 28.1, 15. Strong # 4421 îÄìÀçÈîÈä milchamah. War was necessary because Israel’s enemies sought to destroy her.
  • Rejected, 8.7; 10.19; 15.23, 26; 16.1, 7. Israel rejected the Lord as king; the Lord rejected Saul from continuing as king.
  • Ichabod (no glory) 4.21. The glory left Israel because the Philistines took the Ark of God from Israel.

Key Doctrines

  • King of Israel. The monarchy became the political form for rule in God’s theocratic kingdom program (1 Samuel 2.10; 16.1; Psalm 78.70-72; Psalm 2). Jesus is the final and ultimate King of Israel and King of God’s entire creation (Matthew 2.2; Revelation 17.14; 19.16; Zechariah 14.9; 1 Corinthians 15.24-28).
  • God rules over all creation. The fall of Satan and man did not reduce God’s sovereign rule, nor did the unbelief and rebellion of Saul or any other Israeli king limit his authority. He will reestablish His rightful rule over creation and thereby demonstrate His unsurpassed authority, glory, and honor (Exodus 16.7; 24.16; Numbers 14.21; Psalm 19.1; Psalm 29; Ezekiel 3.12; Luke 2.9; Romans 9.23; 11.36; Ephesians 1.6, 12, 14; Revelation 4.11; and others).
  • God’s Plan to reestablish final rule. God pronounced judgment upon Satan after his rebellion (Matthew 25.41) and announced the means to defeat Satan and demonstrate his authority and honor through His redemptive program (Genesis 3.15). He worked through Abraham and his progeny (Genesis 12.1-3). The monarch form began with Saul (1 Samuel 10.1) and especially David (1 Samuel 16). This will find its ultimate form in King Messiah Jesus, the savior, priest, and ruling king in the Millennium (Zechariah 14.9; Matthew 1; Revelation 19.16; 1 Corinthians 15.24-28).
  • The battle is the Lord’s. The Lord fought for David and Israel against Goliath and the Philistines (1 Samuel 17, especially verses 26, 37, 45-47).
  • Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. God sent His Holy Spirit only to certain people in the time before the church age. The Holy Spirit’s job was to guide and give ability to the individual so that he could know and do God’s will (Saul, 1 Samuel 10.6, 10; 11.6; 16.14; 19.23-24; David, 16.13; Saul’s messengers, 19.20).
  • Obedience to God is more important than going through right religious activities (1 Samuel 15.22-23). Put another way, substance is more important than symbolism in one’s relationship with God. Reality is more important ritual.

Lessons For Us Today

  • God’s plan for Israel will be accomplished. Israel has a promised wonderful future.
  • The church does not replace Israel. The church has its own unique position and purpose in God’s plan. We in the church are part of God’s universal kingdom. He is our king by right of creation and union with Christ.
  • The day to day Christian life battle is the Lord’s battle. He works in us and through us.
  • In distinction from OT Israel, the Holy Spirit lives in every church age believer. Furthermore, God commands us to be filled with and to walk by means of the Holy Spirit.
  • God wants consistent Christian living based upon His word, His Spirit, and faith, not emotional highs and lows. He desires reality over ritual, substance over symbolism.

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10.12