Throughout the 31 chapters of the Book of 1 Samuel, leadership is a prevailing theme. First Samuel leaves behind a record of the transition in leadership in Israel from judges to kings. The naming of the book is significant because it pays homage to the last judge and first prophet of Israel. An account of the monarchy of Saul and the preparation of David is offered in this book, who had been anointed but was not fully recognized as the successor of Saul.
No one seems to know who wrote the Book of First Samuel. It is known that Samuel penned a book and there is the possibility that he wrote part of this book, but it is not clear. Some believe that other contributors to the writings could have been Nathan and Gad, who were prophets and historians of the past. At first, the books of 1 and 2 Samuel were one, but translators of the Septuagint decided to separate the texts , an act that has continued on throughout history. The events of 1 Samuel highlight about 100 years of events , from around 1100 BC to about 1000 BC. In 2 Samuel, events stretch across 40 years with the writing dating back to sometime after 960 BC.
The aim of First Samuel is to present a record of Israel’s history in the land of Canaan as a transition from the rule of judges to a unified nation led by kings take place. Samuel is the last judge, who is responsible for anointing the first two kings, Saul and David.
The Book of First Samuel is divided into two different sections. From chapters 1 to 12, the life of Samuel is presented, where chapters 13 to 31 describes the life of Saul. At the start of the book, we learn of the birth of Samuel, which was a miracle itself. He was the answer to his mother’s prayers. When Samuel was a child, he lived and served in the temple. According to 3:19-21, God singled Samuel out as a prophet. As a child, his first prophecy was a judgment on the corrupt priests.
The book reveals a war between the Israelites and their enemies, the Philistines, who manage to capture the Ark of the Covenant. They temporarily hold onto the prized possession until the Lord sends judgment and the Philistines return the ark. In 7:3-6, Samuel calls Israel to repent, and then to victory over the Philistines. With a desire to be like other nations, the people of Israel want a king. Samuel is not happy with their demands, but the Lord tells him that they are not turning their backs on the leadership of Samuel, but they are rejecting His own. Samuel warns the people about what having a king will bring, and then anoints a Benjamite named Saul, who is crowned in Mizpah.