First Samuel tells of the establishment of a monarchy in Israel, especially the rise of David from shepherd to king. It is named for the prophet Samuel, a principal person in the book.
Samuel was the son of Elkanah and Hannah. Hannah was one of Elkanah’s two wives. Elkanah loved Hannah and doted on her, but she had no children, which grieved her and made her feel inferior to Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah. She prayed that she would have a son and promised to dedicate him to the Lord. That is what happened.
Samuel helped the priests from the time he was a boy. As a child he heard God’s voice. God told the boy He would do things in Israel so astounding that hearing it would make your ears tingle.
It started with the overthrow of wicked priests. The Ark of the Covenant fell into the hands of the Philistines and would not return to Israel in Samuel’s lifetimes.
As a prophet, Samuel led Israel in the manner that the judges before him did. The people began to clamber for a king so they could be a nation like the others around them. Samuel was understandably hurt by the rejection. God told the prophet they were really rejecting Him. He saw fit to give them a king anyway.
Saul was the first king of Israel. Like many modern leaders, he was tall and handsome.
Unfortunately, he was week. He craved approval from the people and was jealous of his position and power. Eventually, his disobedience was too much and God sought out another king.
David did not immediately become king. He was still youth when he was anointed by Samuel. God led him through a series of events to prove David, the most famous being the battle with the giant Goliath. David became a great general in Saul’s army, a fast friend of Saul’s son Jonathan, and popular with the people.
Saul’s jealousy of David was severe. David had to get of the country. He lived in foreign lands where he was permitted, along with many fighting men who were loyal to him and their families.
Israel had enemies all around and it was the king’s job to lead the defense, through diplomacy or war. Saul faced capture during a battle and fell on his sword rather than face humiliation in the hands of his enemies. Most of Saul’s family was wiped out, including Jonathan.
David became king of the portion of Israel called Judah and later the whole nation. Samuel was a witness and participant in these events. His death is described at the end of the book.
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