Bible Reading

Bible Study: 1 Samuel – Summary of the Book

Summary of the Book of 1 Samuel

The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book. The translators of the Septuagint separated the books and they have remained two separate books since that time.

The book of 1 Samuel is a historical book, as is 2 Samuel. It covers a time period of approximately 100 years. This was from the birth of Samuel to the death of King Saul. While it is general history it has a very strong focus on the selection of the first king in Israel as well as how the kingdom progressed under Saul.


While tradition holds that Samuel wrote the book, it is unlikely. He may have written part of the book, but someone else would have had to finish a good portion of the book. Remember that the two books of Samuel were originally a single book. The events continue long after the death of Samuel (1 Samuel 25:1). However, it is known that Samuel wrote at least one book (1 Chronicles 29:29). This verse probably refers to one of the previous books attributed to him.

Other possible authors are Nathan the prophet or Gad (1 Chronicles 29:29). Since the death of David is not recorded in either book, it is suspected that the books would have been finished while David was still alive. Both Gad and Nathan could have written the book from a chronological perspective.

Date Written

The book was written after the death of Saul (1007 B.C.), but before the death of David (971 B.C.). Saul’s death is recorded by the end of the book, but David’s was not. Nor is David’s death recorded by the end of 2 Samuel.

The period of history covered follows immediately after the end of the book of Judges. It may actually overlap with Judges by a few years. It includes the birth of Samuel until the death of Saul. This is approximately 1100 B.C. to 1007 B.C.

Purpose of 1 Samuel

The book of 1 Samuel gives a history of Israel after the time of the judges. There is an emphasis on the kingdom of Israel. Though the prophet Samuel is not included in the book of Judges, his role is that of a judge. He is used to anoint the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David.

Key Verses

1 Samuel 8:6, 7 “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”

1 Samuel 8:19-22 “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.”

1 Samuel 13:13, 14 “And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.”

1 Samuel 15:22, 23 “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Key Words

Anoint – Used 7 times.

Rejected – Used 7 times.

Main Characters

Samuel, Saul and David.

Outline of 1 Samuel

Though all three main character’s lives are intertwined throughout the book, one can easily divide the book into the lives of the three men.

  1. Samuel the Prophet (1 Samuel 1-7)
  2. Saul the King (1 Samuel 8-15)
  3. David the Anointed One (1 Samuel 16-31)

Summary of 1 Samuel

The book opens with the birth of Samuel. He was a child born to a family who loved God. Samuel’s mother, Hannah, begged God for a son. Apparently, as many faithful Jewish mother’s did, she asked that her son could be the Savior promised throughout Old Testament history. (Chapters 1-3)

As part of her promise to return the child Samuel to the Lord, Hannah took him to live with Eli the priest. Samuel grew up in the service of the God learning the Law from Eli. Though Eli seemed to teach Samuel well, his own sons brought grief to the family. The believed they knew a better way to serve the Lord and went against the requirements of God. Judgment followed in the house of Eli and upon the nation of Israel. (Chapters 4-6)

Samuel rose to be a prophet in Israel and judged the nation (Chapter 7). However the nation begged for a king. Samuel was hurt by the fact that the nation would rather have a king than be led by a prophet of God. God consoled him in that Israel was not rejecting Samuel as a prophet, but God as a ruler. (Chapter 8)

God consented to give them a king and Samuel anointed Saul (Chapters 9, 10). While Saul passed his first year as king in apparent obedience to the leadership of Samuel and God, he quickly began to do things in the way he saw fit. God rejected Saul from being king because he took on the role of the priests as well (Chapter 13). Later the kingdom was stripped from his family because of disobedience to the Lord (Chapter 15).

David was anointed king and then fought Goliath (Chapters 16, 17).

The rest of the book is the struggle between Saul and the Lord. David was a pawn in the battle. Saul knew that David would be the new king, but David chose to allow God to fight His own battles instead of taking the many opportunities he had to eliminate Saul and therefore take the throne that was already given to him by God.

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