Introduction To 1 Samuel
Today we begin a new study in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel.
The book of 1 Samuel tells the story of Samuel from this birth through his death and how he lead Israel from the time of the judges until Israel had a king.
In the ancient Hebrew manuscripts, the books of 1 and 2 Samuel form one book. They were not divided into two books until the Old Testament was translated into Greek, which we call the Septuagint (written around the second century B.C.).
The author of 1 Samuel is not known, but certainly Samuel himself either wrote part of it (he couldn’t have written all of it since he dies in 1 Samuel 25:1) or contributed much of the historical information that was recorded by someone else. The Talmud ascribes the first twenty-four chapters to Samuel with the remaining chapters (and 2 Samuel) being written by Nathan or Gad.
The book is named for Samuel because it recounts the legacy of his great ministry in Israel at a time when Israel was at a low point. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the book of Samuel is placed immediately after Judges. The last line of the book of Judges tells us everything we need to know about Israel at this time: “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” [Judges 21:25].
Israel was in spiritual decay at this time. They were no longer following God and had no internal leadership. They had once been a strong nation, but had become weakened as a result of their distancing themselves from God and following the false gods of their neighbors. As a result they were harassed and oppressed by surrounding nations.
Sadly, this sounds just like the United States today. We were once a spiritually strong nation, walking with and being guided by God and his principles. But in recent decades we have jettisoned our relationship with Him in order to run our lives as we see fit. Such an approach did not go well for Israel, and it isn’t going well for us today.
The book of 1 Samuel was written as historical narrative detailing the events leading up to the era of the kings of Israel. The timeframe covered is about 100 years.
In this book we are introduced to Samuel’s parents (notably his very loving and godly mother, Hannah), to Samuel himself, and to the first two kings of Israel: Saul and David. We will also read of some of the events which led David to write some of the Psalms.
Throughout the book we see the hand of God guiding events to bring about His plans for Israel, and by extension, to the entire world. These plans would culminate hundreds of years later in the birth of Jesus the Christ.
But these events were not simply recorded to teach us history. As God tells us through Paul, the historical narratives of the Old Testament were recorded and preserved not only to teach but to warn future generations (i.e. those of us living today) [1 Corinthians 10:11]. Therefore we’d do best to read them, study them, and learn from them.
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