1&2 Samuel

This history, origins, and contents of 1 and 2 Samuel are examined.


Samuel was originally just one book (containing both 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel). The first division occurred in the Septuagint simply for convenience. Since then, every version has continued to divide the books.[1] Like Joshua, the books of Samuel act as a bridge from one era to the next. Samuel marks the last of the judges and ushered in the era of kings and prophets. Though the book focuses on Samuel, Saul, and David, the book is named for Samuel who was Israel's final judge and instrumental in appointing Israel's first king.

Date & Authorship

Like most books of the Bible, Samuel is anonymously written; there are a few possible authors. Many of the events occur after Samuel's death, which suggests he could not have recorded everything. One theory is that Samuel is a collaborative effort from Samuel and his successors.[1] Using 1 Chronicles 29:29, it is inferred that Nathan and Gad were the other two authors.[2] Other candidates include unknown prophets studying under Samuel or Abiathar, a priest who spent time in exile with David.

Since we aren't sure who wrote the book, it's also difficult to pinpoint when the book was written. Within the book, no reference is made to Israel's captivity, which leads us to assume it was written before 722bc when Israel went into captivity. The use of the phrases "Israel" and "Judah" seems to indicate that the book was written after the division of the monarchy, but it is also possible that these terms may have been used before the split that occurred in 931bc.

Message and Purpose

The book of Samuel focuses on God's sovereignty, the consequences of sin and covenants. God is the King of Israel, but due to Israel's desire (and need, possibly) for a physical leader, He appoints a kind. Through this king and subsequent kings, we see the consequences of their sins. With this, we also see the gifts of forgiveness and repentance, along with lasting consequences. Lastly, we witness the covenant established between God and David.

As mentioned earlier, Samuel establishes the transition of Israel's theocracy, which was God's original government plan, to a monarchy. Israel's desire to be like the nations around them jump-started this change, which is an indicator that it was a step in the wrong direction spiritually. Overall, God desires to be our king; placing someone else between God and us as a ruler gives us the need to choose whom we will follow at times. A modern example is when the Supreme Court of America declared same-sex marriage to be legal. Now Christians in occupations that support marriage have to chose whether they will risk fines, job-loss, and lawsuits to follow God, or follow the U.S. and displease God. God told Israel that they were to be a peculiar people set apart from the world when He made the covenant with them; Jesus reminds us of that again in the New Testament. The book of Samuel is an example of why.


  1. MacDonald, William. Believer's Bible Commentary. pg. 295-297. 1995
  2. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 467-470. 2014

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