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1 Samuel


Judges 21:25
In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.



Introduction, Background, and History


In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Judges 21:25


Israel, God’s chosen people, a special people –

Introduction and Background

The Nation had been led forth from the bondage of Egypt by the miraculous hand of God Almighty. By the actions and disobedience of the people, this short journey to the Promised Land lasted forty long, difficult years. The leaders and the rebellious generation died in the wilderness.

Finally, Joshua and Caleb, the two over-forty-year-old survivors, lead the Nation into the land flowing with milk and honey. The Jordan River dries up as did the Red Sea and God’s Chosen walk on a dry river bed into the land which would become Israel. Jericho’s walls come tumbling down and the enemies flee in the face of God’s powerful hand.

Yet, as in the wilderness, the Nation fails to carry out God’s commands. Not all of the inhabitants of the land are driven away. These Canaanites become a thorn in the side of the Nation, just as God foretold through Joshua (Joshua 23:11-13)

The Gentile nations became a test and a trial to the Israelites. The influence of foreign gods and strange women proved more than the feeble Nation could handle. Paul writes “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor 15:33). This could well be the theme of the time period following the death of Joshua and the elders of the Nation who walked into the Promised Land.

Sin – Salvation – Sin

Because of the condensed nature of its stories the Book of Judges presents the clearest Old Testament picture of the terrible cycle we all are prone to adopt as our path of life. Time and again, the Nation of Israel followed the wrong road, the road of destruction. God allowed them to lean away from Him and follow after the strawberry lips of heathenism. When the people fell far enough into bondage, they would awake from their predicament and cry out to their only hope of salvation, the LORD God.

God is faithful – so faithful that each time the Israelites cried out for help, God responded. The Lord would raise up a judge – an Othniel, an Ehud, a Deborah, a Gideon, a Samson – to drive away the invaders, to relieve the bondage of the people.

The Judges were local, not national, rulers. Their tasks were the same, but over different areas of the Promised Land. They are not called rulers, but rather their reigns are referred to as periods of peace. A period of rest and contentment followed each victory. And as the people became content, the bad morals of the neighbors would once again seduce the Nation across the tracks to the wrong side of town.



Seduction leading to sin leading to suppression by the enemy leading to supplication to the Lord who produces salvation. This is the time of the Judges.

book13.gif As an aside, Ruth falls somewhere within the period of the Judges. Just as the Judges themselves produced results for God, so too, did some of the “ordinary” people, like Ruth.

First Samuel

This, then is the setting of First Samuel. God’s voice has not been heard for a long period of time. The writer of Judges (Samuel?) seems to imply that the people thought this to be the result of having no king. People who view themselves without a ruler or without laws become lawless themselves. If man does not view God as his sovereign ruler, man will pay little attention to what God has to say.

In historical terms, First Samuel is a book of transition. Samuel himself is a prophet, a priest, and a judge. He is the first great prophet since Moses. He is the last great biblical figure to hold three offices – until Jesus. The judges give way to kings. The priests fail to lead the Nation as God intended and lose their claim to the prophetic office. The prophets become God’s voice to men. Only in the Person of Jesus Christ will the three offices be reunited.

Author, Content

In the Jewish Scriptures, First and Second Samuel are a single book (as are also of First and Second Kings and First and Second Chronicles). While the book carries the name of Samuel as a title, nowhere is any author named. Samuel may have written parts of First Samuel, but his death is recorded in 1 Samuel 25:1, so he could not have finished this book, nor could he have written Second Samuel. Other prophets, Nathan and Gad for example, are traditionally viewed as possible authors but it is impossible to determine who actually wrote these books of Scripture.

The contents of the book places the writing of First Samuel sometime during the divided monarchy but before the fall of the northern kingdom. First, Israel and Judah are distinguished (11:8; 17:52; 18:16) suggesting a divided kingdom. Second, Ziklag, the city of Philistia where David is sent by Achish, is described as belonging "unto the kings of Judah unto this day" (27:6). This suggests not only a time after the divided monarchy, but a time when there had been "kings" in Judah. Third, there does not seem to be any indication in the text that the northern kingdom had fallen. This suggests, therefore, it is best to place the writing of Samuel sometime after the divided monarchy (931 B.C. – this is approximately the time of Solomon’s death) but before the fall of Samaria (722/21 B.C.).

book13.gif The divided monarchy or kingdom: Following Solomon’s death his son, Rehoboam, became king (1 Kings 11:43). Jeroboam, Solomon’s captain of the slave labor, had attempted a rebellion against Solomon and, as a result, fled to Egypt (1 Kings 11:29-40). At Solomon’s death, Jeroboam returned from his exile in Egypt and laid claim to the throne as well. Because of Rehoboam’s stiff-necked attitude towards the people, most of the Nation rebelled against Rehoboam and followed Jeroboam as king. The two tribes of Judah and Benjamin followed Rehoboam and are known in Scripture as the Southern Kingdom or Judah. The other ten tribes followed Jeroboam and are known in Scripture as the Northern Kingdom or Israel. See 1 Kings 12.

Prophetic View Point

Although not part of this current study, one should also understand why the Chronicles exist. As may be seen from the discussion on authorship, Samuel is written by the prophets. It therefore reflects what may be called a prophetic view point. This does not mean that the works are filled with foretelling, but rather their emphasis lies in the exhortation of the prophets to “get right” with God. The works reflect the need of the people to do things “God’s way.” This prophetic view point is carried on through Second Samuel and First and Second Kings. One example of the purpose is that Samuel was written to historically instruct the kings of Israel and Judah to stop relying upon themselves (the natural strength of their military, possessions, and even alliances), but to trust in the God who had brought them forth out of Egypt and had placed them in the Promised Land.

The Chronicles basically parallel Second Samuel and the Kings. The Chronicles, however, are the works of the priests. The Chronicles view history from the perspective of the Temple and are worship focused. While worship is an important element of the Samuels and Kings, the prophetic history absorbs a broader view of life beyond the Temple. God must just not be worshiped properly, God should go with you when you leave His house.


Where is Jesus?

It has been said that Jesus may be found in every book of the Bible, for He is the scarlet thread which holds Scripture together. One place of Christ has already been seen. Samuel as the prophet, priest, and judge is a picture or “type” of Christ, a pattern of Deity to come. Further, First Samuel introduces the great king David. As we know from other studies, David is not perfect, but he is the picture of Christ to come for David is a man “after God’s own heart.”

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).

As God looks into David’s heart He finds one willing to be obedient and compliant to the will of God. Paul writes “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). Why the mind of Christ? Because it is a mind which always places the will of God first! Jesus was “obedient unto death.”

Paul further writes that we are to be separated from the world. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor 6:17). This sounds a lot like the problems of the Israelites. They were in the world but were not to be part of the world. This is Christ’s prayer for us (John 17:15)!

First Samuel is this story – the clash of man’s way, first in the Nation and then more particularly in Saul, versus God’s way as displayed in the faith of David. It is the story of the condition of the heart. In First Samuel, the condition of the heart of Samuel and Eli and Saul and David are compared and contrasted. The condition of the heart is for the Word of God, for the God of the Word, and for the People of God. It is the story of God’s Will and Desire for His people to come to Him first, last, and always.



Are you morally bankrupt?

Or have you found the fountain of God’s will?





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