This article on the books of Samuel summary looked at the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel. These books record accounts of the reign of Kings Saul and King David. The books of 1st and 2nd Samuel were considered as one book in the Hebrew bible. Beginning with Samuel as the last judge it tells the story of the rise of kingship in Israel.
The book of Samuel began with the life of Samuel and told more stories of David’s life. Furthermore, it told of Saul’s life and David’s anointing and early years. It went further to tell of the kingship. The book of Samuel tells of David and his great accomplishments as well as his sin and other family and political trouble that resulted from their sin.
The Alexandrian Jews combined both books of Samuel and Kings with the title book of the kingdom and subdivided each of them to form four books of the kingdom. Over time he dropped the term books of the kingdom and adopted the Hebrew division that now put them the way they are today i.e., 1st and 2nd Samuel and 1st and 2nd Kings.
Books of Samuel Summary
The books of Samuel are mainly based on the recorded account of the founding of the Hebrew monarch or kingship. In other words, the historical account of Samuel’s birth and ministry as prophet and the beginning of kingship is the central theme. it also records the separate anointing of king Saul and king David by Samuel.
Furthermore, historical events surrounding the kingship of David and his portrayal as a great king are also highlighted. Some striking events recorded include; that under the leadership of David, Israel recaptured Jerusalem and brought the ark of covenant home. Under David’s leadership, many of their enemies from Egypt to the Euphrates were conquered.
The writing of 1st and 2nd Samuel was evidently about 930BC after the death of King Solomon when the kingdom of Israel became divided.
1st and 2nd kings as recorded in the bible were written between 562 and 538BC
The author of 1st and 2nd Samuel was not known. However, some people suggested that the author was Zabud who was a personal adviser to King Solomon and the son of Nathan the prophet. This cannot however be verified.
The author of 1st and 2nd kings is also unknown. Even though some hold that Jeremiah was the author. This view is also baseless. The assumption is that whoever is the author must have been acquainted with the book of Deuteronomy and the book of the history of Kings of Israel (1kings 11:41 and 1kings 14:19)
Outline of 1st Book of Samuel
Kingship is the theme of the book of 1samuel. The king was “the anointed one”. The Hebrew term messiah means “anointed one”, and the idea of a messiah as a king like David flows out by the book of Samuel.
Samuel, the last judge of Israel (1sam 1:1-7:17). The book of Samuel opens with Eli as Judge in Shiloh. But, things are not well. He is not competent, and his sons are evil. God decides to remove him from being a priest and judge and raise someone who will obey him. This person is Samuel. He is a gift to his mother, Hannah, from God because she has been barren up to his point. Hannah knows that he is a special gift from God and set him apart for service as a Nazirite (Numbers 6:1-21). The first seven chapters tell us about the growth of Samuel, the downfall of Eli’s household, and the early victories under Samuel.
Samuel and Saul:
From Judges to kings (8:1-25). The people approach Samuel and ask for a king; up to this God was the only King of Israel: so the request was an insult to God himself. But God felt that it was right for Israel to have a king rather than a judge to lead them. Saul is chosen by God, and then Samuel leads Israel in a renewal of their agreement (see “agreement” in the dictionary/concordance) with God to remind them that though they now have a human king, their real leader is still God.
Saul, Rejected King (13:1-15:35)
The kingship gets off to a bad start with Saul. God uses him to win great victories over many of Israel’s enemies, especially the feared Philistines. But Saul is not careful to obey God’s law. As a result, Samuel tells him that God is going to remove the Kingship from his family.
Saul and David: Love turns to Hate
The focus of attention switches from Saul to David. Samuel anoints David as the next King of Israel. Saul grows jealous of David and wants him killed, but God allows David to escape to the deserted areas of Israel, where he lives until the death of Saul.
The Rise Of King Saul (8:1-15:35)
- Israel’s petition for a king (8:1-22)
- Saul was anointed by Samuel and vindicated by victories (9:1-11:15)
- Samuel’s final address (12:1-25)
- Victories of Saul and Jonathan over the philistines (13:1-14:52)
- The Amalekites campaign and Saul’s disobedience (15:1-35)
The Decline Of Saul And The Rise Of David (16:1-13)
- David was anointed by Samuel and introduced to the court (16:1-13)
- David’s deliverance of Israel by slaying Goliath (17:1-58)
- David’s flight from Saul’s jealousy (918: 1-20)
- David’s wanderings as an outlaw (21:30:31)
- Saul’s final battle and death on Mount Gilboa (31:1-13)
The end of Saul
The last chapter of Samuel gives the account of the death of Saul. A new era was about to begin in Israel. Therefore, historical setting for the establishment of kingship in Israel (1:1-7/17).
- Samuel’s Birth, youth and calling, Judgment on the house of Eli (1-3)
- Israel’s defeat by the Philistines, the Ark of God taken and the Ark restored (4:1-7:17)
Outline of 2nd Book of Samuel
The rise of David (1:1-10:19)
The first part of 2 Samuel recounts the rise of David to the Kingship. This happened in two stages. After the death of Saul, the Southern tribe of Judah immediately recognized David as King, but in the North, Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, was made king.
After seven and a half years, Ish-bosheth was assassinated and David became king of the North, too. David then captured Jerusalem, made it his capital, and brought the Ark to it. God then agreed with David, assuring him that his sons would follow him on the throne. Everything was looking up for David.
David’s failure (11:1-20:26)
God has blessed David, but now he was going to stumble in a way that would affect the rest of his life. He took another man’s wife, Bathsheba. From this episode in his family life began to unravel in ways that led to political trouble.
More stories about David (21:1-24:25)
The book of 2 Samuel ends with additional stories about David, they are not in chronological order but are stories and speeches of David during his life.
David’s Career As King Over Judah And All Israel (1:1-14:33)
- David laments over the death of Saul and Jonathan (1:1-27)
- The crowning of David at Hebron; the war with Abner (2:1-32)
- Abner’s deflection and murder of Joab (3:1-39)
- The assassination of Ishbosheth (4:1-2)
- Establishment of National and Religious unity (5:1-29)
- Extension of David’s rule to the limits of the promised land (8:1-10:19)
- David’s sin with Bathsheba and His Repentance (11:1-12:3)
- The crime of Ammon and Absalom’s Revenge (13:1-14:33)
Final Reflections On David’s Rule (21-24)
- The famine and the Gibeonites’ revers upon Saul’s descendants (21:1-14)
- Later wars with the philistines (21:15-22)
- David’s psalm of praise and final testimony (22:1-23:7)
- The list of David’s mighty men (23:8-39)
- David’s sin in numbering the people; the plague stopped at the site of the temple (24:1-25)
Contents And Analysis
1st Book of Samuel summary
The book of 1Samuel begins with the birth and growing up of Samuel as well as his calling to the service of God. Chapter 1:21-28:2&3. It goes further to show the inauguration of the Israel monarch. The events that took place before it was so remarkable. For instance, the Israelites asked for a king to enable them to be like others. In their quest for a king, they forgot that the kingship of God over them has an overwhelming influence on their life.
They forgot that God’s rulership over them was more paramount than human ruler (Chapter 8). The other remarkable but sad event was the capture of the ark of the covenant by the philistines, that defeated Israel (Chapter 4). Israel’s expectation for a human king was predicted by Moses (Deut 17:18-20) but their kind of kingship would be in harmony with the continued kingship of Jehovah over his people.
However, God allowed Samuel to anoint Saul as king for the Israelites (9:1-10:16). The issue that still needed to be resolved was not so much whether Israel should have a king, rather how they would maintain their covenant with God, by preserving the theocracy now they had a human king.
The problem was resolved when Samuel summoned the people to repentance and renewal of their loyalty to the lord on the very event of the inauguration of Saul as king (11:14-12:25). The king in Israel should not be autonomous in his authority and power; rather, he was to be subject to the lord and the word of the prophet (10:25-12:23).
This principle ought to be true not only for Saul but also for all the kings who would occupy the throne in the future. Thus, the king should be an instrument to the Lord’s rule over his people, and the people, as well as the thing, were to continue to acknowledge the Lord as their ultimate ruler (12:14-15).
But Saul quickly failed to submit to the requirements of his theocratic office (13-15). This began when in preparation for battle against the Philistines (13:13), and when he refused to destroy the Amalekites as they had been commanded to do by the word of the Lord through Samuel (15). Thus, he ceased to be an instrument of the Lord’s view over his people. These violations of the requirements of his theocratic office led to his rejection as king (15:23).
The attack of the Philistines on Israel became prolonged to the extent that they continuously intimidated Israel as a nation. This condition remained for long until through Divine arrangement the boy-David challenged and killed the Philistine war champion, Goliath which spelled momentary defeat and end to the Philistine intimidation.
The defeat did not go down well with King Saul who vowed to kill boy-David because much honor was shifted to David’s conquest of the Philistines (17-19). The narration continued to cover David’s war with the Amalekites and fierce battle with Philistines through which King Saul’s life was terminated. (30-31).
2nd Book of Samuel summary
The book of 2 Samuel started with reports on how King Saul died and the rise of David as a king.
The rise of David (1:1-10:19). The first part of 2 Samuel recounts the rise of David to the Kingship. This happened in two stages. After the death of Saul, the southern tribe of Judah immediately recognized David as King, but in the north, Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, was made king. After seven and a half years, Ish-bosheth was assassinated and David became king of the North, too. David then captured Jerusalem, made it his capital, and brought the ark to it. God then agreed with David, assuring him that his sons would follow him on the throne. Everything was too king up for David.
David’s failures (11:1-20:26). God had blessed David, but now he was going to stumble in a way that would affect the rest of his life. He took another man’s wife, Bethsheba from this episode in his life, his family life began to unravel in ways that led to political trouble.
More stories about David (21:1-24:25). The book of 2 Samuel ends with additional stories about David. They are not in chronological order. But are stories and speeches of David during his life.
II Samuel portrays David as a true, (through with some imperfection) representative of the ideal theocratic king. In the beginning, David was made King at Hebron by the Tribe of Judah (1-4) and subsequently was received by the other 11 tribes after the murder of Ish-bosheth, one of Saul’s surviving sons (5:1-5).
David’s leadership was decisive and effective. He captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it his royal city and residence (5:6-14). Son after that he brought the ark of the Lord from the house of Abinadab to Jerusalem. He publicly acknowledged the Lord’s kingship and rule over himself and the nation (6).
Under David’s rule, the Lord caused the nation to prosper, to defeat its enemies, and to extend its borders from Egypt for the Lord for his royal house, as a place for his throne (the ark), and as a place for Israel to worship him. But the prophet Nathan did not permit him. In chapter 7, the Lord promises David that is his dynasty would last forever.
Sheba a trouble maker rose to make trouble with Israel, the timely intervention of Joab the senior army Chief of Israel and Abishai helped to track down Sheba the son of Bicri. The Killing of Sheba of a wise woman helped to end the trouble which would have escalated among them.
In all that has been stated here, it is important to note that books of 1st and 2nd Samuel started with the cradle of Israel’s monarch and explained further other events of the war as God dealt with the Israelites.
Prominent Kings like Saul the first King of Israel David and his son Solomon played their role to shape Israel’s history as they continued to live as God’s people.
Israel at one time or the other manufactured being disobedient to God which consequences they suffered. This was so until the decision of the kingdom to Israel and Judah. These kingdoms try to be each other’s rivals but God in his mercy ordained to care for them. Finally, the effect of their rebellion resulted in taking them captive as was prophesied earlier in their life.
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Scofield, C.I (2014), Scofield Study Bible III, New International Version. New York: Oxford University Press.
Onwuhara, J. (2014), An Introductory Survey of the Old Testament. Owerri: Peace Publishers Ltd.