1, 2 Samuel

1 and 2 Samuel Observation


A. It was named after its first chief character, Samuel. His name means:

1. "His Name is El," going back to Shem

2. "Asked of El," (cf. I Samuel 1:20)

B. He was:

1. a judge – I Sam. 7:6, 15-17

2. a prophet – I Sam. 3:20 (prophets were originally called "seers," I Sam. 9:9; I Chr. 29:29

3. a priest – I Sam. 10:8; 16:5


A. This is part of the second division of the Hebrew canon called the Prophets. The section is divided into two parts:

1. the former prophets, which includes Joshua – Kings (except Ruth)

2. the latter prophets which includes Isaiah – Malachi (except Daniel and Lamentations)

B. Originally I & II Samuel were one book in the Hebrew canon:

1. Baba Bathra 14b (the MT's closing note only occurs at the end of II Samuel)

2. Eusebius Ecclesiastical History, VII:25:2

C. The Septuagint (LXX) divided the book into two parts, probably because of length. It also named the historical books as follows:

1. I Samuel – I Book of Kingdoms (in the Vulgate, I Kings)

2. II Samuel – II Book of Kingdoms (in the Vulgate, II Kings)

3. I Kings – III Book of Kingdoms (in the Vulgate, III Kings)

4. II Kings – IV Book of Kingdoms (in the Vulgate, IV Kings)


A. This is primarily biographically focused, historical narrative.

B. This means it records historical customs and events that are not necessarily advocated to all believers (i.e., because the Bible records it, does not mean God advocates it)!

C. This is not a modern western history but an ancient near eastern history. It focuses on selected events to communicate theological truths. Therefore, it is similar to the Gospels and Acts of the NT. It must be interpreted in light of: (1) selection; (2) adaption; (3) arrangement; and (4) under inspiration.

However, it must also be stated that the Hebrews and the Hittites were the most accurate Ancient Near Eastern historians. Other ancient peoples tended to exaggerate victories and leave out defeats.

D. The wealth of Near Eastern Literature now available to scholars through modern archaeology has provided a possible insight into the genre of Samuel, particularly I Samuel 15 - II Samuel 8. In particular the 1200's b.c. Hittite document called "Apology of Hallusitis" has many similarities with Samuel. It is basically a defense of a new dynasty, so that the new ruler will not be charged with usurping the legitimate rule of another, (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, vol. 5 p. 259-260):

1. stresses events that led up to the new king

2. often contains summaries of events instead of strict chronologies

3. clearly shows the disqualification of earlier rulers

4. shows the military victories of the new ruler

5. reveals the growing popularity of the new ruler

6. documents important political marriages of the new ruler

7. stresses the religious fervor and national consciousness of the new ruler

8. summary of the reign of the new king with its divine blessings and administrative successes


A. Jewish tradition has always affirmed that Samuel was the author:

1. Baba Bathra 14b says that Samuel wrote the book which bears his name and also Judges and Ruth.

2. The book itself states that Samuel wrote it (cf. I Sam. 10:25 [this is usually thought of as the first 12 through 15 chapters]).

3. Later Jewish scholars also recognized that, like Deuteronomy and Joshua, this book records the death of its chief character, I Sam. 25:1; 28:3, and also records events long after his death. Therefore, they suggest that:

a. possibly Seraiah the scribe, II Sam. 8:17, finished the book

b. possibly Abiathar the priest finished the book

c. possibly Zabud, son of Nathan the prophet (NIV), compiled it (cf. I Kings 4:5)

B. Modern Scholarship:

1. It is recognized that the contents of the books are from eyewitnesses to the events (Bright).

2. It is also recognized that sources were used:

a. "the book of Jashar," II Sam. 1:18

b. the chronicles of Samuel, I Sam. 10:25; I Chr. 29:29

c. the chronicles of the prophets Nathan and Gad, I Chr. 29:29

d. other chronicles of the time, I Chr. 27:24

e. many modern scholars like to suppose that Samuel, Nathan, and Gad (I Chr. 29:29) were the authors of three narratives that were combined by Zabud, Nathan's son (I Kings 4:5), who also had access to court documents.

3. There is also the evidence of later editors after Samuel's day exemplified in the phrase "until this day," (cf. I Sam. 5:5; 6:18; 27:6; 30:25; II Sam. 4:3; 6:8; 18:18).

4. There is evidence that this editor or editors lived and worked after the United Monarchy divided in 922 b.c. (Bright) or 930 b.c. (Harrison & NIV) or 933 b.c. (Young) into the northern ten tribes called Israel, Ephraim or Samaria and the southern three called Judah (cf. I Sam. 11:8; 17:52; 18:16; 27:6; II Sam. 5:5; 24:1).

5. Samuel is a good example of what modern critical scholars see as signs of composite literature (i.e., doublets):

a. end of Eli's family as priests:

(1) I Samuel 2:31ff

(2) I Samuel 3:1ff

b. the anointing of Saul:

(1) secret, I Samuel 9:26-10:1

(2) public (twice), I Samuel 13:14; 15:23

c. introduction of David to Saul:

(1) I Samuel 16:21

(2) I Samuel 17:58

d. David escapes from Saul's court:

(1) I Samuel 24:3

(2) I Samuel 26:5

e. David and Jonathan's covenants:

(1) I Samuel 18:3

(2) I Samuel 20:16, 42

(3) I Samuel 23:18

f. David to Gath:

(1) I Samuel 21:10

(2) I Samuel 27:1

g. slayer of Goliath:

(1) David – I Samuel 17:51

(2) Elhanan – II Samuel 21:19

(3) I Chr. 20:5 seems to show that Goliath and his brother (Lahmi) were being referred to simultaneously

h. the sparing of Saul:

(1) I Samuel 24:3ff

(2) I Samuel 26:5ff

i. As to the supposed parallels and/or doublets R.K. Harrison says, "It must be remarked again that many of the alleged discrepancies in the biblical narratives are the direct result of careless reading or sometimes of deliberate misrepresentation of the Hebrew text. . .which in fact only exists in the critical imagination,"Introduction to the Old Testament, p.703.

6. We must admit that the authorship is unknown (E. J. Young) and also the process of compilation of these OT books is unknown. However, we still assert that:

a. the process was led by God

b. the events are truly historical and not fictional

c. the events have a theological thrust


A. When the events occurred

1. I Samuel covers the period of time from the birth of Samuel, 1105 b.c. (NIV) to the death of Saul about (1011/10 Harrison & NIV; 1013 Young; 1000 Bright).

2. II Samuel covers the period of time from the death of Saul about 1011 b.c. to the end of David's reign (971/70 Harrison; 973 Young; 961 Bright). Solomon began to reign about 969b.c.

B. When the book was written

1. I Samuel 11:8; 27:6 show that at least some of the book was written in its present form after the United Monarchy split in 922 b.c. or 930 b.c.

2. The repeated phrase, "until this day," shows that:

a. some of the book was written a long time after the events: I Sam. 5:5; 6:18; 27:6; 30:25; II Sam. 4:3; 6:8; 18:18.

b. the sources that were used already included this phrase.

3. One of the dating problems for this period is the text of I Sam. 13:1, which gives the dates of Saul's reign but it has been damaged in transmission. A number is obviously missing.


A. I Samuel continues the history of the anarchy and moral depravity of the period of the Judges:

1. sin, invasion, prayer for forgiveness, and God's deliverer characterize Judges 1-17

2. three examples of moral depravity are listed in Judges 18-21

B. It was a time when the major empires of Mesopotamia and Egypt were not expansionistic:

1. Egypt:

a. last ethnic Egyptian king of the XX Dynasty (1180-1065 b.c., Bright) was Rameses XI

b. the XXI Dynasty (non-Egyptian) called "Tanite" was about 1065 - 935 b.c. (Bright)

2. Assyria was in decline after Tiglath-Pileser I (1118-1078 b.c., Bright)

C. The Philistines, in large numbers (Aegean Sea Peoples), attempted to invade Egypt about 1300 b.c. but were defeated. They settled in the southwest corner of Palestine about 1250 b.c.They had developed iron age technology from the Hittites and were able to establish themselves in a circle of five cities: Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath and Gaza. They were organized like Greek city-states, each with its own king. They became the major enemy of the Israelites in early kingdom times.


A. Brief Outline by Main Characters:

1. Eli and Samuel, I Samuel 1-7

2. Samuel and (young) Saul, I Samuel 8-15

3. Saul (old) and David, I Samuel 16 - II Samuel 1

4. (young vs. old) David's reign, II Samuel 2-12

5. David and Succession, II Samuel 13-20

6. Miscellaneous items about David and his reign, II Samuel 21-24

B. I & II Samuel seem to be outlined by the author/editor by including summary statements:

1. I Samuel 7:15-17 3. II Samuel 8:15-18

2. I Samuel 14:49-51 4. II Samuel 20:23-26

C. Detailed Outline:

1. see R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 695-696

2. see E. J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 180-187

3. see NIV Study Bible, p. 373 and 422


A. Samuel sets the stage for the forming of the monarchy as Moses set the stage for the forming of a nation:

1. Moses predicted Israel would have a king in Deut. 17:14-20, where he describes what a righteous king should and should not do.

2. There is a tension in I Samuel about the king:

a. negative aspects:

(1) they rejected YHWH as King, I Sam. 8:7; 10:19

(2) they asked for a king "like the surrounding nations," I Sam. 8:5; 12:19-20

(3) it displeased Samuel; he felt personally rejected, I Sam. 8:6

b. positive aspects:

(1) YHWH fulfilled His prophecy in Deuteronomy by giving them a king, I Sam. 8:7,9,22, "listen to the voice of the people"

(2) tell the new king the godly guidelines, I Sam. 8:9 (Deut. 17:14-20)

(3) the king will deliver the people, I Sam. 9:16 (like the judges in response to the peoples' prayer, cf. I Sam. 12:13)

B. Samuel documents the transition of spiritual power from the High Priest and Tabernacle to the emerging prophetic spokesman. This may be in response to:

1. God's judgement on Eli and his family, I Sam. 2:22-3:18

2. the need for a balance between the form and ritual of the priests and the heartfelt personal faith focus of the prophets

3. both priests and prophets are covenant mediators to the people as a whole

4. Saul looked to Samuel while David looked to Nathan and Gad to ascertain God's will

C. II Samuel documents:

1. the goodness of God to David

2. David's strengths and weaknesses

3. God's judgement on David because of his sin and its effects on:

a. the nation

b. the family of Uriah

c. the child of Bathsheba

d. the children of David

D. I & II Samuel continue the history of God's people which began in Genesis.


A. Terms and Phrases:

1. I Samuel:

a. linen ephod, 2:18,28 (NASB & NIV)

b. "my horn is exalted," 2:1, 10 (NASB & NIV)

c. "from Dan to Beersheba," 3:20 (NASB & NIV)

d. "the Lord of hosts who sits above the cherubim," 4:4, (NIV, "The Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim")

e. "every man to his tent," 4:10 (NASB & NIV)

f. golden hemorrhoids, 6:4 (NIV, "gold tumors")

g. Ebenezer, 7:12 (NASB & NIV)

h. "a man after His own heart," 13:14 (NASB & NIV)

i. "no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel," 13:19 (NASB & NIV)

j. "obey is better than sacrifice," 15:22 (NASB & NIV)

k. "the Lord regretted. . ." 15:35 (NIV, ". . .grieved")

l. "an evil Spirit from the Lord terrorized him," 16:14 (NIV, "tormented")

m. "let his saliva run down into his beard," 21:13 (NASB & NIV)

2. II Samuel:

a. the book of Jashar, 1:18 (NASB & NIV)

b. Millo, 5:9 (NIV, "from the supporting terraces")

c. hamstrung, 8:4 (NASB & NIV)

B. Persons to Briefly Identify:

1. I Samuel:

a. Hannah, 1:1 h. Goliath, 17:4

b. Hophni & Phinehas, 1:3 i. Doeg, 21:7

c. Ichabod, 4:21 j. Abiathar, 22:20

d. Kish, 9:1 k. witch of En-dor, 28:7

e. Jonathan, 14:1; 19:1 (NIV, "medium. . .in Endor")

f. Michal, 14:49 l. Abigail, 30:5

g. Abner, 14:50

2. II Samuel:

a. Ish-bosheth, 2:8 g. Uzzah, 6:3

b. Joab, 2:13 h. Uriah, 11:3

c. Amnon, 3:2 i. Tamar, 13:5

d. Absalom, 3:3 j. Zadok, 15:24

e. Adonijah, 3:4 k. Shimei, 16:5

f. Mephibosheth, 4:4

X. MAP LOCATIONS (by numbers)

A. I Samuel:

1. Kiriath-jearim, 6:21 6. Nob, 21:1

2. Ramah, 7:17 7. Engedi, 23:29

3. Beersheba, 8:2 8. Ziklag, 30:1

4. Jabesh-gilead, 11:1 9. Mt. Gilboa, 31:8

5. Cave of Adullam, 22:1

B. II Samuel:

1. Ashkelon, 1:20 6. Rabbah, 12:27

2. Hebron, 2:3 7. Tekoa, 14:2

3. Jezreel, 2:9 8. threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite,

4. Gezer, 5:25 24:15 (Jerusalem)

5. Damascus, 8:5



1. Why is the birth of Samuel recorded and not that of Saul or David?

2. Why did God reject Eli and his family?

3. Why did Phinehas and Hophni take the Ark into battle?

4. Why was Samuel angry that the people asked for a king?

5. Why was Saul rejected as king?

6. Explain "an evil spirit from the Lord."

7. Why did Saul try to kill David?

8. Why did Saul visit the witch of En-Dor?

9. How did Saul die?


1. Why was David angry about the death of Ish-bosheth?

2. Why was David angry about the death of Abner?

3. Why did David help Mephibosheth?

4. Why did God kill Uzzah?

5. Why are God's promises to David in chapter 7 so important?

6. How did David's sin with Bathsheba affect his family?

7. Explain the difference between Zadok and Abiathar.

8. Why was God angry at David for numbering the people?