Index/Table of Contents
Old Testament and New Testament  
Credits and Copyright




Students will be able to

1. identify the major characters found in these books ­­ Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, and David.

2. discuss the Davidic Covenant and its role in Israel's history.

3. explain the theological purposes of these books.



"The books of Samuel recount the story of Israel's development under the leadership of Samuel, Saul, and David. During this period Israel's government was transformed from a loose tribal confederation under Samuel into a robust Oriental monarchy in the later years of David's reign." (Philbeck l) The events recorded occur in the late 11th and 10th centuries B.C. (TN#1) It is, however difficult to determine when Samuel was written. (TN#ii)


The purpose of Samuel is not to be limited to that of a historical record. "The ancient Hebrews studied history not just to satisfy their intellectual curiosity but to gain an insight into the nature of God's relationship to his people." (Philbeck, The Broadman Bible Commentary, 1­2) The major purpose of the work is theological in nature. "The emphasis . . . is the development of divine authority." (Hill and Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 188)

Major Themes:

1. The Ark of the Covenant ­­ God's presence endowed the ark in a special, even unique, way. It, like God himself, was autonomous and could not be manipulated by humans.

2. Kingship ­­ God was always to be "king" of Israel no matter the form of government.

3. Davidic Covenant ­­ God establishes a new covenant with Israel based in the house of David.


I. The Shiloh traditions (TN#1) (I Samuel 1:1­4:1a)

A. Samuel's birth and dedication (1:1­2:10)

1. The birth of Samuel (1:1­20)

His birth and its special circumstances are recorded because of his importance in Israel's transition from a loose tribal confederation to a monarchy. Samuel was to be Israel's last major judge and one of her first prophets.

2. The dedication of Samuel (1:21­2:10)

B. The House of Eli (2:12 ­ 4:1a) (TN & DQ#2 )

1. The sins of Eli's sons (2:12­17)

2. Hannah's annual visit to Shiloh (2:18­21)

3. Eli's rebuke of his sinful sons (2:22­25)

4. House of Eli denounced (2:27­36)

5. Yahweh's appearance to Samuel (3:14:1a)

Samuel's openness to God's message is the beginning of new prophetic era for Israel. Samuel was a precursor of the eighth century B.C. prophets.

II. The ark narratives (I Samuel 4:1b­7:1)

A. The capture of the ark (4:1b­11) (TN & DQ#3)

1. The Israelites lose the first battle at Aphek/Ebenezer.

2. The Israelites bring the ark to the battle front. (TN & DQ#4)

3. The second battle is lost, the ark captured, and Eli's sons are killed.

B. The death of Eli (4:12­18)

C. The birth of Ichabod (4:19­22) Ichabod means "there is no glory". (TN & DQ#5)

D. The ark brings terror to the Philistines (5:1­12)

1. The Philistine god Dagon is destroyed.

2. Three Philistine cities where the ark is kept are devastated by tumors. (TN & DQ#6)

E. The return of the ark (6:1­7:2)

1. Philistines pay reparations.

2. The ark back in Israel.

3. Death strikes Beth Shemesh. (TN & DQ#7)

4. The ark is moved to Kiriathjearim.

III. The institution of the monarchy (I Samuel 7:2 ­12:25)

A. Samuel as leader of all Israel (7:3­8:22)

1. Samuel the last judge (7:3-17) (TN & DQ#8)

The people return to Yahweh and prosper.

2. Samuel's influence fades (8:1­22)

a. Samuel's sons pervert justice (8:1­3)

b. Israel asks for a king (8:4­9) (TN & DQ#9)

c. Ways of a king described (8:10­18)

d. Israel remains resolute (8:19­22)

3. God selects Israel's king (9:1­10:27)

a. Saul qualifies for office (TN & DQ#10) (9:1­2)

b. Saul seeks lost donkeys (9:3­14)

c. Saul meets Samuel (9:15­27)

d. Samuel anoints Saul (10:1­16)

e. Saul publicly designated king (10:17­27) 

4. Saul wins public support (11:1­15) (TN & DQ#11)

a. Ammonites attack Jabesh (11:1-4)

b. Saul defeats the Ammonites (11:5­11)

c. People proclaim Saul king (11:12­15)

5. Samuel counsels the monarchy (12:1­25) (TN & DQ#l2 )

a Samuel defends his record (12:1­5)

b. Israel's rebellion recorded (12:6­18)

c. Samuel pledges prayers (12:19­25)

IV. The reign of Saul (I Samuel 13­15)

A. War of liberation begun (13:1­15a) (TN#13)

B. Conditions of war described (13:15b­23) (TN #14)

C. Israel wins victory (14: 1­23) (TN#15)

D. Victory sweep halted (14:24-46) (TN#16)

E. Saul's reign summarized (14:47­ 52) (TN#17)

F. Saul rejected as king (15:1­35)

1. Saul violates the ban (15:1­9) (TN#18)

2. Samuel pronounces God's rejection of Saul (15:10­23)

3. Samuel leaves Saul (15:24­35) (TN#19)

V. David's rise to power (1 Samuel 16:1-­2 Samuel 5:10)

A. David anointed as future king (16:1­13) (TN & DQ#20)

With Samuel's anointment the "Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power."

B. David joins Saul's court (16:14­18:5) (TN & DQ#21)

1. David becomes Saul's armor­bearer (16:14­23)

2 David defeats Goliath (17:58) (TN & DQ#22)

3. David and Jonathan become friends (18:1­5)

C. Saul seeks David's life (18:6­20:42) (TN & DQ#23)

1. Saul attempts murder (18:6­16)

2. Saul wants to use the Philistines (18:17­30)

3. Saul seeks Assassins (19:1­7)

4. Saul renews the violence (19:8­17)

5. Samuel offers refuge (19:18­24)

6. David and Jonathan part (20:1-42)

a. Friends renew covenant (20:1­23)

b.. David flees Saul's Court (20:24-42) (TN & DQ#24)

D. David becomes a fugitive (21:1­26:25)

1. Priests at Nob aid David (21:1­9)

2. David feigns madness (21:10­15)

3. David gathers an army (22:1­5)

4. Saul loses priestly support (22:6­23)

5. David rescues Keilah (23:1­14)

6. Jonathan and David extend covenant (23:15­18)

7. Ziphites betray David (23:19­29)

8. Saul delivered to David (24:1­22)

a. David spares Saul's life (24:1­15)

b. Saul admits injustice (24:16­22)

9. David marries Abigail (25:1-44)

10. Ziphites repeat treachery (26:1­25)

a. David penetrates Saul's camp (26:1­12)

b. David confronts Saul (26:13­25)

E. David's service to the Philistines (27:1­28:2)

F. The final baffle of Saul (I Samuel 28:3 ­ II Samuel 1:27)

1. The witch of Endor (28:3­25)

2. David excluded from war (29:1­11)

3. An Amalekite raid on Ziklag (30:1­6a)

4. David's rescue of the captives (30:6b­31)

5. The death of Saul (31:1­13) (TN#25)

6. David hears of Saul's death (II Samuel 1:1­16)

7. David mourns Israel's loss (II Samuel 1:17-27 (TN#26)



1. Read II Samuel 1­20.

2. Discuss the following in a brief essay: How can a monarchical government function also as a theocracy? What might the resulting theology of kingship look like? (Hill and Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 200).

3. Discuss the following in a brief essay: Can a person serve God well from his own strength? Use what you know about Saul's life to support your answer.


Teacher's Notes and Discussion Questions:

#2 A pattern that will be repeated throughout Samuel is introduced here. The rise to power of an obedient servant of God occurs as the decline of another begins. The positives and negatives of each are set forth and contrasted. What value do you think such a pattern would serve for the reader?

#3 The story of the ark becomes obscure shortly after the renewal of the covenant at Mount Ebal (Joshua 8:30 ff.). In Judges 20:26­27, the ark is said to be in Bethel. There is no reference to how it ended up in Shiloh.

#4 Why do the Israelites bring the ark to the battle front? What is wrong with their thinking? (see Resources, Coleman, 364) (The Israelites fail to see their unfaithfulness to Yahweh as the reason for their defeat. They try to use the ark as a "good luck charm.") "One reason why idols were prohibited in Israelite religious practice is that they were commonly used in rituals to obligate or force the deity to act in the way desired by the worshipers. Unfortunately, the ark was at times subject to the same abuse.... The theory was that a deity would not allow himself to be captured. But the Lord was not going to allow such manipulation" (Hill and Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 195).

#5 "Yahweh was Israel's glory and the loss of the ark symbolized to the Israelite, Yahweh's departure from Israel. ((Wevers, "The First Book of Samuel ," 158).

#6 This may well have been the bubonic plague since mice are carriers of the disease, cf. 6:4­5 (Wevers, "The First Book of Samuel," 158).

#7 Why were the people of Beth Shemesh punished? What attitude was shown by their audacity of looking in the ark? ("They presumed that because they were Israelites, the Lord must be on their side. . . . They felt that as God's chosen people, they were free of the rules of conduct which "guide ordinary men. They were swiftly taught that regardless of religious, biological, or national background, all men must subject themselves to divine control.") (Philbeck, "I and II Samuel " 27)

#8 Here is a good example of the Israelite belief in Divine Retribution: "Religious purity will result in national prosperity. Under the influence of Samuel's distinguished career, Israel increasingly turned away from the Canaanite fertility cults and returned to a faith in God, thus gaining a temporary respite from Philistine aggression." (Philbeck, "I and II Samuel", 28)

#9 What was wrong with Israel asking for a king? Was God opposed to this form of government? Israel's mistake lay in not realizing that her failures were due to spiritual weakness and not the form of government. They were seeking an external solution to internal problems. It does not seem that the form of government was what God was opposed to (after all Deut. 17:14 ff. describes the selection and behavior of the king of Israel), but the attitude was that the king would rule Israel and not God.

#10 Saul was a Benjaminite from Gibeah and was from a fairly well­to­do family.

#11 "Even with public (10:17­27) and private (9:1­10:16) manifestations of divine guidance in the establishment of the monarchy, Saul encountered stiff resistance (10:27). He chose to move slowly, therefore, and to await an opportunity to demonstrate the Lord's support of his cause (10:7). Saul's role in the decisive victory over Nahash won the support of the majority of the population. Soon the people were calling for the blood of those who still opposed the new government" (Philbeck I and II Samuel, 39)

#12 Samuel defends not only his record, but the political system of the judge's period. He reminds the people that the fault was not with the system, but with the obedience of the people. The rules still apply with a king in place -­ listen and obey the Lord's commands, and He will be with you. If not, He will be against you. Some see this as Samuel's farewell speech, similar to that of Moses and Joshua, but Samuel is not really leaving the scene yet.

#20 David was a Judean from the Bethlehemite family of Jesse. Jesse was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth. (Ruth 4:18-22)

#21 The fact that these chapters introduce two different ways that David came into Saul's court cannot be ignored. The first account has David joining the court because of his musical skills. His music soothes Saul's sufferings from the spirit that afflicted him. The second account has David coming to assist his brothers and ends with the defeat of Goliath. These conflicting accounts are best attributed to the editors working with several sources. Both stories can be viewed as historical occurrences, but the order and details were lost over the years.

#22 Read I Samuel 17:45­50. What do we learn here about David's spirituality? How does it compare with Saul's? (See I Samuel 17:11).

#23 An important point the author seems to want to make is that David was not a usurper of Saul's throne. Saul had disqualified himself from the kingship. The author makes three points to support this fact. First, it was Saul who had great animosity toward David, not David toward Saul. Second, David was a non-aggressor toward Saul. Third, statements are made by Samuel, Jonathan, and even Saul himself about David's innocence or destiny. "There can be no doubt that the narrator was presenting evidence by which he intended to legitimize David's claim to the throne." ((Hill and Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament. 193). For further details see "The Vindication of David 1920­193.

#24 Why do you think David's legitimate right to the throne is such an important point to the author?


Teacher's Notes

#1 "Samuel appears to have been a young man when Shiloh was destroyed about 1050 B.C." (Philbeck "1 and 2 Samuel". 1).

#ii If the work is part of the Deuteronomistic works, the editor would have worked late in the period of the divided monarchy. (Hill 187) 1 & 2 Samuel seem to have been one work along with I & 2 Kings, but they were divided early in their history. They were further divided into the four books of the Kingdoms in the LXX (Sizikszai 203).

#1 These are called the Shiloh traditions because the stories center around the worship center at Shiloh. There were several other worship centers in Israel at the time, each having its own traditions and stories about Samuel and Saul. In truth, these stories sometimes conflicted. This may explain why several instances in the lives of these characters are repeated, sometimes with conflicting in details as they are recorded in I & 11 Samuel. Extensive work has been and is being done in trying to identify the ancient sources behind this work.

#13 A. Israel was in dire straits at the beginning of Saul's reign. The Philistine occupied much of their territory and had much better weapons.

#14 The offense of Saul in offering the sacrifice in chapter 13 is not perfectly clear. It is suggested by Hill and Walton that by offering the sacrifice himself, instead of waiting on the priest, he followed a Canaanite model of kingship which allowed the king some priestly prerogatives (Hill and Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 192). Philbeck suggests that Saul may have violated Lev. 14:20 (although others had done so without punishment) or maybe some agreements made with Samuel at an earlier date. Possibly Samuel feared that religious practices would become just another affair of government (Philbeck I and 2 Samuel 42-43).

#15 It should be noted that Saul's son Jonathan, not Saul, won the first two victories in this war of liberation.

#16 The reasons recorded for the end of Israel's success are many. None of the main characters are without guilt. Saul entered the battle of Michmash without divine direction and then invoked a curse which deprived his men of strength. The people in general improperly disposed of the blood of animals, and Jonathan broke his father's oath by eating honey ((Philbeck 46).

#17 Saul's whole reign is evaluated on the basis of his military accomplishments. His formation of a standing army is also noted.

#18 Under the "ban" or "total destruction" concept of holy war, all people and animals were to be killed, and all property of value was to be burned as consecrated to the Lord. This is a difficult concept for modern Bible students. (See lecture notes in Joshua lecture for more material on this concept.) Once again we see how Saul's poor judgment in the area of spiritual matters contributes to the Spirit of the Lord departing from him.

#19 I Samuel 15:35 -­ This probably just means that Samuel withdrew from the official life in Saul's court. 19:24 shows the Saul visited him in Naioth ((Philbeck, "1 and 2 Samuel 50).

#25 An assessment of Saul should be considered at this point in the lecture. Hill and Walton have an excellent assessment on page 199 of their A Survey of the Old Testament. Their main point is that Saul's failure as king was fueled by his lack of spiritual sensibility. "He was sincere but superficial . . . He never quite understood some of the basic tenants of orthodox Israelite theology. . . . He did not worship other god's, but it is likely he failed to see how Yahweh was different from them . . . . Saul neither had nor acquired the theological sophistication to see and perform his role [as king] in proper perspective or to function in it successfully.

#26 The Book of Jashar. "Jashar" means righteous. The book is also mentioned in Joshua 10:13. It seems to have been an "ancient anthology of poems on themes of national interest" (Philbeck "I and 11 Samuel ," 89).



Works Cited (See list at the end of the II Samuel lecture.)


Credits and Copyright This online text book is provided by the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, 333 N. Washington Dallas, Texas 75246-1798 214.828.5100 Use the text to meet your academic needs. If you copy any part of this online text, please give credit to the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Any donations which you give will be used in the Division of Student Ministry Summer Missions Programs.

Credits and Copyright This online text book is provided by the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, 333 N. Washington Dallas, Texas 75246-1798 214.828.5100 Use the text to meet your academic needs. If you copy any part of this online text, please give credit to the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Any donations which you give will be used in the Division of Student Ministry Summer Missions Programs.