1 and 2 Samuel present the transition of leadership from the judges to the kings and was written during a period that spanned 931–722 B.C. At the beginning of 1 Samuel, the Philistines are ruling. They had been afflicting the people of God for 40 years according to the book of Judges. At the end of 2 Samuel, King David is on his throne. The nation has passed from being harried and harassed by the pagans to a nation with a God-fearing king on the throne. The contrast is further seen in the change of priests who are leading the worship of God. Eli is the priest at the beginning of 1 Samuel but, by the end, there are faithful priests ordering the house of God. The message throughout is that heartfelt obedience is better than heartless sacrifice.
In 1 and 2 Samuel, God is glorifying Himself through kingdoms, so that He might demonstrate His superior goodness in the salvation sinners, the damnation of the wicked, and for the preservation of His people for His eternal glory, and their eternal joy.
The Scriptures are silent on the authorship of 1 & 2 Samuel. According to Jewish tradition, the book was started by Samuel and finished by Gad the Seer and Nathan the Prophet (both of whom served as prophets during the time of David). However, this theory seems unlikely, since the author appears to be writing sometime after the reign of Solomon (see Time of Events).
The author implies that he is writing after the division of Judah and Israel into separate kingdoms, which took place after Solomon’s death in 931 B.C. The book was probably completed before the destruction of the northern kingdom in 723 B.C., since this event is never mentioned or alluded to in the text.
“But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
1 Samuel 13:14
“Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, ‘Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.’ ”
1 Samuel 14:6
“Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”
2 Samuel 7:22
True satisfaction is found in God alone. Sometimes God teaches us a lesson by granting us what we wrongfully desire. Who you worship and how you worship matters. God will defeat His enemies, even if they are giants. Obedience is better than sacrifice. We should honor the civil authorities that God has placed over us. God is sovereign over history.
Samuel is a type of Christ. We read that Samuel “grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men” (1 Sam. 2:26), and the same is said of Christ (Luke 2:52). Like Samuel, Jesus prophesied against the corrupt religious leaders of His day. Like Samuel—who served as a righteous judge over the nation of Israel—Jesus will righteously judge the world, separating the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:31–46).
What were the names of Elkanah’s wives?
Hannah and Peninnah (1 Sam. 1:2).
Which city did Elkanah travel to in order to worship and offer sacrifices to the Lord?
Shiloh (1 Sam. 1:3).
What did Peninnah do to Hannah, since Hannah could not have children?
She provoked her severely (1 Sam. 1:5–7).
What did Elkanah say to Hannah when she would weep and not eat?
“Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1 Sam. 1:8).
Why did Eli think Hannah was drunk when he saw her praying?
Because she was praying silently, with only her lips moving (1 Sam. 1:12–14).
What did Hannah do with Samuel once he was weaned?
She brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh, and lent him to the Lord (1 Sam. 1:24–28).
What was the spiritual condition of Eli’s sons?
They were corrupt, and did not know the Lord (1 Sam. 2:12).
What were the sins that Eli’s sons committed when the people offered sacrifices?
They stole from the sacrifices that belonged to God (1 Sam. 2:13–16).
What did God think about the sin of Eli’s sons?
He saw their sin as very great (1 Sam. 2:17).
Why did God judge Eli and his house?
Because he did not restrain his sons, but honored them more than God
(1 Sam. 2:29–30; 3:12–13).
How often did the Word of the Lord come in the days of Eli?
Rarely (1 Sam. 3:1).
When Samuel answered the Lord’s call, what did he say?
“Speak, for Your servant hears” (1 Sam. 3:10).
Why did Phineas’ wife name her son Ichabod (Literally: Inglorious)?
Because the ark of God had been captured, and because her father-in-law and husband had died (1 Sam. 4:21–22).
What did Samuel’s sons do when he made them judges over Israel?
They did not walk in his ways. Instead, they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. (1 Sam. 8:3).
What did Samuel say would happen if a king were to rule over Israel?
He would take a significant portion of Israel’s resources for himself
(1 Sam. 8:10–18).
How did Saul disobey when he attacked the Amalekites?
Though he was commanded to utterly destroy everything (1 Sam. 15:3), Saul spared King Agag and the best of the Amalekites’ animals (1 Sam. 15:8–9).
Why didn’t Saul obey the Lord and destroy everything?
Because he feared the people (1 Sam. 15:24).
What did God say about Eliab when he was brought forward as a candidate for king of Israel?
He rejected him, despite his impressive appearance and physical stature
(1 Sam. 16:6–7).
Who was David’s father?
Jesse (1 Sam. 16:19).
Why did Samuel anoint David as king?
Because the Lord commanded him to do so (1 Sam. 16:12).
What town was David from?
Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16:18).
What would happen to Saul whenever David played the harp for him?
He would become refreshed and well and the distressing spirit would depart from him (1 Sam. 16:23).
What was the promised reward for killing Goliath?
Great riches, marriage to the king’s daughter, and exemption from taxes
(1 Sam. 17:25).
Why was David confident that he could defeat Goliath?
Because the Lord had delivered him before (1 Sam. 17:37).
What was the friendship of David and Jonathan like?
The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul (1 Sam. 18:1).
Why did Saul want David to marry his daughter?
So she would be a snare to him (1 Sam. 18:20–21).
What did Ahimelech the priest give David to eat while he was in Nob?
The showbread (1 Sam. 21:1–6).
How many men gathered to David when he was at the cave of Adullam?
About 400 (1 Sam. 22:1–2).
What did Jonathan do for David in the Wilderness of Ziph?
He strengthened David’s hand in God, told him not to fear, and made a covenant with him (1 Sam. 23:15–18).
What did David do when Saul entered his hiding place?
He secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe (1 Sam. 24:4).
Why did David prevent his men from killing Saul?
Because he was the Lord’s anointed (1 Sam. 24:6–7).
What two things did David take from Saul when he was in the Wilderness of Ziph?
His spear and his jug of water (1 Sam. 26:12).
How were David and Abishai able to get so close to Saul?
Because the Lord had caused a deep sleep to fall on Saul’s men (1 Sam. 26:12).
What was Saul’s response when David offered reconciliation?
He promised to harm David no more (1 Sam. 26:21).
Why did Achish give the city of Ziklag to David?
Because David had asked him for a place to dwell (1 Sam. 27:5–6).
Why did Saul consult with the witch of Endor?
Because the Lord would not answer his prayers (1 Sam. 28:6–8).
Whom did Saul request that the witch bring up?
Samuel (1 Sam. 28:11).
How did Saul die?
He was wounded by Philistine archers and then killed himself with his own sword (1 Sam. 31:3–4).
What was David’s response to the death of Saul and Jonathan?
He tore his clothes, mourned, and fasted (2 Sam. 1:11–12).
Who was the commander of Saul’s army?
Abner the son of Ner (2 Sam. 2:8).
Which one of Saul’s sons reigned over Israel for two years?
Ishbosheth (2 Sam. 2:10).
How was Ishbosheth murdered?
As Ishbosheth was lying on his bed, Rechab and Baanah stabbed him in the stomach, beheaded him, and made their escape (2 Sam. 4:5–8).
What was David’s response to the murder of Ishbosheth?
He had Ishbosheth’s murderers executed (2 Sam. 4:9–12).
How old was David when he became king, and how long was his reign?
He was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years
(2 Sam. 5:4).
What did David do when the Philistines came searching for him?
He went down to the stronghold and inquired of the Lord (2 Sam. 5:17–19).
What happened to Uzzahh when he touched the ark?
God struck him dead (2 Sam. 6:6–7).
Where was the ark taken after Uzzahh’s death?
The house of Obed-Edom the Gittite (2 Sam. 6:9–10).
What was Michal’s response to David’s dancing?
She despised him in her heart (2 Sam. 6:16).
What was Michal’s punishment?
She had no children to the day of her death (2 Sam. 6:23).
Who was the general of David’s army?
Joab the son of Zeruiah (2 Sam. 8:16).
What person in Saul’s household was lame in his feet?
Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan (2 Sam. 4:4).
How did Mephibosheth become lame?
His nurse dropped him while she was fleeing from the Philistines (2 Sam. 4:4).
How did David show kindness to Mephibosheth?
He restored all of Saul’s land to him and offered him a place at the king’s table (2 Sam. 9:7).
How did David kill Uriah?
At David’s command, Joab put Uriah on the front lines and then retreated from him. Uriah was killed in the battle, just as David had planned (2 Sam. 11:14–17).
What was the parable that Nathan told David?
Nathan spoke of a rich man with many flocks and herds, who took a poor man’s only possession—one little ewe lamb (2 Sam. 12:1–4).
What was the name of the second son that Bathsheba bore to David?
Solomon (2 Sam. 12:24).
What did David do at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite?
He built an altar there, and a sacrificed to the Lord (2 Sam. 24:18–25).