Exposit The Word 1 Samuel Biblical Teaching Expository Teaching Verse by Verse William Varner

1 Samuel Overview

First and Second Samuel were considered as one book in the earliest Hebrew manuscript, and were later divided into the two books by the translators of the Greek version, the Septuagint (LXX), a division followed by the Latin Vulgate (Vg.), English translations, and modern Hebrew Bibles. The earliest Hebrew manuscripts entitled the one book “Samuel” after the man God used to establish the kingship in Israel. 

Later Hebrew texts and the English versions call the divided book “1 and 2 Samuel.” The LXX designated them “The First and Second Books of Kingdoms” and the Vg., “First and Second Kings,” with our 1 and 2 Kings being “Third and Fourth Kings.”

As 1 Samuel begins, Israel was at a low point spiritually. The priesthood was corrupt (1 Sam. 2:12–17, 22–26), the ark of the covenant was not at the tabernacle (1 Sam. 4:3–7:2), idolatry was practiced (1 Sam. 7:3, 4), and the judges were dishonest (1 Sam. 8:2, 3). Through the influence of godly Samuel (1 Sam. 12:23) and David (1 Sam. 13:14), these conditions were reversed. Second Samuel concludes with the anger of the Lord being withdrawn from Israel (2 Sam. 24:25).

During the years narrated in 1 and 2 Samuel, the great empires of the ancient world were in a state of weakness. Neither Egypt nor the Mesopotamian powers, Babylon and Assyria, were threats to Israel at that time. The two nations most hostile to the Israelites were the Philistines (1 Sam. 4; 7; 13, 14; 17; 23; 31; 2 Sam. 5) to the W and the Ammonites (1 Sam. 11; 2 Sam. 10–12) to the E. The major contingent of the Philistines had migrated from the Aegean Islands and Asia Minor in the 12th century B.C. After being denied access to Egypt, they settled among other preexisting Philistines along the Mediterranean coast of Palestine. The Philistines controlled the use of iron, which gave them a decided military and economic advantage over Israel (1 Sam. 13:19–22). The Ammonites were descendants of Lot (Gen. 19:38) who lived on the Transjordan Plateau. David conquered the Philistines (2 Sam. 8:1) and mi. mile/miles the Ammonites (2 Sam. 12:29–31), along with other nations that surrounded Israel (2 Sam. 8:2–14).

There are four predominant theological themes in 1 and 2 Samuel. The first is the Davidic Covenant. The books are literarily framed by two references to the “anointed” king in the prayer of Hannah (1 Sam. 2:10) and the song of David (2 Sam. 22:51). This is a reference to the Messiah, the King who will triumph over the nations who are opposed to God (see Gen. 49:8–12; Num. 24:7–9, 17–19). According to the Lord’s promise, this Messiah will come through the line of David and establish David’s throne forever (2 Sam. 7:12–16). The events of David’s life recorded in Samuel foreshadow the actions of David’s greater Son (i.e., Christ) in the future.

A second theme is the sovereignty of God, clearly seen in these books. One example is the birth of Samuel in response to Hannah’s prayer (1 Sam. 9:17; 16:12, 13). Also, in relation to David, it is particularly evident that nothing can frustrate God’s plan to have him rule over Israel (1 Sam. 24:20).

Third, the work of the Holy Spirit in empowering men for divinely appointed tasks is evident. The Spirit of the Lord came upon both Saul and David after their anointing as king (1 Sam. 10:10; 16:13). The power of the Holy Spirit brought forth prophecy (1 Sam. 10:6) and victory in battle (1 Sam. 11:6).

Fourth, the books of Samuel demonstrate the personal and national effects of sin. The sins of Eli and his sons resulted in their deaths (1 Sam. 2:12–17, 22–25; 3:10–14; 4:17, 18). The lack of reverence for the ark of the covenant led to the death of a number of Israelites (1 Sam. 6:19; 2 Sam. 6:6, 7). Saul’s disobedience resulted in the Lord’s judgment, and he was rejected as king over Israel. 13:9, 13, 14; 15:8, 9, 20–23). Although David was forgiven for his sin of adultery and murder after his confession (2 Sam. 12:13), he still suffered the inevitable and devastating consequences of his sin (2 Sam. 12:14)

Text used with permission from GTY.org

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”  2 Timothy 3:16

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