Book of the Week 9: I Samuel

Hebrew Name: Shmuel Aleph

Human Author: Unknown (Possibly Nathan and Gad)      

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 31

Basic Facts

  1. I Samuel is the ninth book of the Bible.
  2. I Samuel is classified as a book of history.
  3. I Samuel and II Samuel were originally one book.
  4. The Hebrew name for I Samuel is Shmuel Aleph, which means “heard by God – one.”
  5. I Samuel is named after Samuel the judge. His name means “heard by God.”

Story of the Book

The story of I Samuel begins with Samuel’s mother, Hannah. Hannah was barren, and she cried out to God, promising that if God gave her a son, she would dedicate the child to the Lord. God heard Hannah’s prayer, and she gave birth to Samuel. Samuel was given to Eli the priest, who helped to raise him. The nation of Israel went to war with the Philistines at this time, and the people grumbled against God. God raised up Samuel as a judge. At the pleading of the Israelites, God allowed Samuel to anoint Saul as the first king of Israel. Saul initially obeyed God but later sinned and was rejected by God as king. God then called Samuel to anoint David as king over Israel. The rest of the story of I Samuel includes the stories of David and Goliath, David and Jonathan, Saul pursuing David, and Saul’s defeat and death in battle. The book ends with the burial of king Saul.

Jesus Foreshadowed in I Samuel

When Samuel is old, the people of Israel ask him to give them a king like the nations around them. Samuel is displeased by this, but God tells Samuel in I Samuel 8:7, “it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” In the beginning of the nation, God was the king over Israel. Even though Deuteronomy 17:14-15 states that the Israelites were allowed to appoint a king, in I Samuel 8 they did not ask for a king according to the rules set out by God in Deuteronomy 17:16-20. Through the disobedience of the Israelites in asking for this kind of king, they effectively rejected God as their king. God would later appoint David as king over Israel, describing him as “a man after God’s own heart” (I Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).

Even though God gave in to Israel's demand for a king, God would still establish Himself as king over Israel in this way: God would appoint a king over Israel who is both God and a king descended from the royal line of king David. This king would rule for eternity (Psalm 45:6-7; Isaiah 9:6-7) and would be both human in David’s line and divinely conceived by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:7). This divine God and king is Jesus Christ (Acts 2:36). In the one person of Jesus Christ, God fulfilled his promise to establish the royal throne of David forever and to establish Himself as king over Israel, for Jesus is both LORD (meaning he is God) and Christ (a term meaning “anointed one”—a title reserved for the king of Israel).