How to Study 1 Samuel
As you study this book, never forget that these are actual people, frail but with access to God and His precepts and statutes of life. Observe the text prayerfully and carefully, and as you study, note in the margin God's lessons for life.
Chapters 1-7 : Samuel, the last Judge
As you observe these first seven chapters, mark the following words in a distinctive way and then record in the margin key insights that you want to remember.
Ark (of the Lord, of God, of the covenant), ephod, judge (judged), king, Ichabod, and Ebenezer. The last three words are used only one time in these chapters but are significant. Ephod is used only twice in this segment but will have greater significance in the last segment of 1 Samuel. List these key words on Structure of 1 Samuel and on an index card you can use as a bookmark for this segment.
Double-underline in green every geographical location. Then locate these places on a map.
Since 1 Samuel is a historical account, note the focus of each chapter. Who and/or what event does the chapter center on?
You might want to list your insights about the main characters and what they do in the margin of each chapter.
Read the insights on Nazirites and the ephod.
Using an easily recognizable symbol such as ∆, note in the margin your insights about God and His ways. For instance, in chapter 1 God closes the womb and opens the womb.
Record the theme of each chapter next to each chapter number in your Bible and on the Structure of 1 Samuel.
Chapters 8-15: Samuel to Saul, from Judge to King
As you observe this segment of 1 Samuel:
Mark the following key words: judge (judges), king ( don't include the foreign kinds), sin (sins, sinned), evil, Spirit of God (of the Lord), ark of God, and ephod. Put them on Structure of 1 Samuel and on an index card to use as a bookmark.
List what you learn about Samuel, Saul, King Agag, and the Amalekites.
Note all you learn about God and His ways.
Mark the references to time (when Saul begins his reign, etc.) and geographical locations.
There are not references to the ark in 1 Samuel after this segment. Review what you learned about the ark in this book and note in the margin where it is last mentioned and its location.
Carefully observe all you learn from marking the word king. Watch for the following and record your insights in the margin:
Why the people wanted a king, how they perceived the kingship, and what kind of king they wanted.
How God responded to the people's request, what God desired in a kingship, and how the success or failure of a king was determined. Compare this with Deuteronomy 17:14-20.
Examine each chapter as you did in the previous segment, watching for and recording the man event of each chapter and any pertinent subpoints. Don't forget to record the chapter theme on Structure of 1 Samuel and in the text.
Chapters 16-31: The Preparation of Another King
In this segment:
Make a new bookmark and mark the following key words: king (not foreign kings), evil, evil spirit, sin (sinned), judge, covenant, inquire (inquired), and ephod. Don't forget to record what you are learning from marking king and ephod.
Mark all reference to time and to geographical locations as before.
Observe and record in the margin of each chapter the major points you learn about Samuel, Saul, and David. Observe all that happens to David and how he responds to God and to man. Watch for and note in the margin the "LFL" (Lessons of Life)
In the margin write "Covenant" and list what you have observe from the text. Ask the "5 W's and an H": Who makes the covenant? How is it made? What is done? What is promised? What are the conditions? When is it made? Where is it made? Why? Remember that you are in covenant with God if you are a child of God )Matthew 26:26-29); watch for any principles which might apply to you.
As you read each chapter, watch for insights about God, note the events of each chapter and the subpoints of the chapter, and record the chapter themes.
Complete Structure of 1 Samuel. Watch for any additional segment divisions in 1 Samuel. Look at the chapter themes and see if there is any other way 1 Samuel might be segmented: Can any chapters be grouped in respect to David's relationship to Saul, to Jonathan, to the Philistines, or to others? Or is there any geographical segmentation, such as where Samuel , Saul, and David spend their time?
Record the theme of 1 Samuel on Structure of 1 Samuel.
Insight on Nazirite and Ephod
A Nazirite ("which means "consecration devotion, and separation") was someone who was bound by a vow of consecration to God's service for either a specific period of time or for life. A Nazirite's devotion to God was evidenced outwardly by not cutting the hair abstaining from wine and alcoholic drinks, and avoiding contact with the dead. Violation of those brought defilement and need of purification.
In 1 Samuel 1:11 when Hannah made her vow, she was making a Nazirite vow.
The ephod was used to seek guidance from God. Described in Exodus 28, it was a linen garment worn by the priest and also by David when he was king (2 Samuel 6:14). The ephod was fastened on each shoulder by onyx clasps which had the names of six tribes engraved on one clasp and six tribes engraved on the other.
The breastpiece, which was fastened to the ephod, had a linen pouch which help the Urim and Thummim, which may have been used as sacred lots to reveal God's will (1 Samuel 28:6)
Key Words in the NIV and KJV
Key doctrines in 1 Samuel
Davidic covenant—God’s promise to David to extend his throne and kingdom forever (2:10; Gen. 49:8–12; Num. 24:7–9, 17–19; 2 Kin. 8:19; 2 Chr. 13:5; 21:7; Ps. 89:20–37; Is. 16:5; Acts 15:16–18; Rev. 22:16)
Work of the Holy Spirit—empowers men for divinely appointed tasks (10:6, 10; 16:13; Num. 11:25, 29; Jud. 14:6; 27:18; Matt. 4:1; 28:19, 20; Mark 13:11; Luke 1:35; John 14:16, 17; Acts 1:8; 2:4; Rom. 8:5, 6; Gal. 5:16–18; James 4:5, 6)
Sin—Israel’s sin created personal and national consequences (3:10–14; 4:17, 18; 6:19; 13:9, 13, 14; 15:8, 9, 20–23; Gen. 3; Num. 4:15; 15:30, 31; 1 Kin. 11:38; 13:34; 2 Kin. 21:12; Ps. 106:43; Is. 22:14; Jer. 19:3; Ezek. 7:3; 18:30; John 8:34; Rom. 2:5; Heb. 10:4, 26–31)