Books Of Samuel

From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

The two books of Samuel were originally one. They are part of the collection that the Hebrews referred to as the Former Prophets, that is, the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. (Concerning the significance of the name ‘Former Prophets’ see Prophecy .)


Though the author of 1 and 2 Samuel is not named, it seems that he took much of his material from the records kept by such people as Samuel, Nathan, Gad, David and the writer of the book of Jasher ( 1 Samuel 10:25;  2 Samuel 1:18;  1 Chronicles 27:24;  1 Chronicles 29:29). The books of Samuel are named after the man who is the chief character at the beginning of the story and who anointed the two kings whose reigns occupy the remainder of the story. Together the two books cover about one hundred years, from the end of the period of the judges to the end of the reign of David.

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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

Samuel, Books Of

1. Title . The two Books of Samuel are really parts of what was originally one book. This is shown not only by the fact that the narrative of Book I. is continued without the slightest interruption in Book II., and that the style, tone, point of view, and purpose are the same throughput, but also by their appearance as one book bearing the simple title ‘Samuel’ in the oldest known Hebrew MSS. The division of the Hebrew text into two books was first made in print by Daniel Bomberg in his Hebrew Bible (2nd ed. 1517). In doing so he was in part following the text of the Septuagint and the Vulgate, in which the Books of Samuel and Kings are described as the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Books of Kingdoms (LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ), or Kings (Vulgate). The title ‘Samuel,’ less accurately descriptive of the contents than that of ‘Kingdoms’ or ‘Kings,’ owes its origin to the prominent place held by Samuel in   1 Samuel 1:1-28;   1 Samuel 2:1-36;   1 Samuel 3:1-21; 1Sa 4:1-22;   1 Samuel 5:1-12;   1 Samuel 6:1-21;   1 Samuel 7:1-17; 1Sa 8:1-22;   1 Samuel 9:1-27;   1 Samuel 10:1-27;   1 Samuel 11:1-15;   1 Samuel 12:1-25;   1 Samuel 13:1-23;   1 Samuel 14:1-52;   1 Samuel 15:1-35;   1 Samuel 16:1-23 . A late Jewish interpretation regarded it as declaring Samuel’s authorship of the narrative; but this is impossible, in view of the fact that the history extends through the reign of David, long after the death of Samuel (  1 Samuel 25:1 ).

2. Contents . The period covered by the Books of Samuel extends from the birth of Samuel to the close of David’s reign, i.e. approximately from b.c. 1070 to b.c. 970. The narrative falls into three main divisions: I.: Samuel and Saul,   1 Samuel 1:1-28;   1 Samuel 2:1-36;   1 Samuel 3:1-21; 1Sa 4:1-22;   1 Samuel 5:1-12;   1 Samuel 6:1-21;   1 Samuel 7:1-17; 1Sa 8:1-22;   1 Samuel 9:1-27;   1 Samuel 10:1-27;   1 Samuel 11:1-15;   1 Samuel 12:1-25;   1 Samuel 13:1-23;   1 Samuel 14:1-52;   1 Samuel 15:1-35; II.: The Rise of David,   1 Samuel 16:1-23 -  2 Samuel 5:3; III.: David as king of United Israel,   2 Samuel 5:4-24 . Division I. is made up of three sections: (1) The childhood and youth of Samuel, to the downfall of Eli’s house and the captivity of the Ark (  1 Samuel 1:1 to   1 Samuel 7:1 ); (2) Samuel’s career as Judge, including his defeat of the Philistines, his anointing of Saul, and his farewell address (  1 Samuel 7:2-12 ); (3) Saul’s reign till his rejection (  1 Samuel 13:1-23;   1 Samuel 14:1-52;   1 Samuel 15:1-35 ). Division II. likewise includes three sections: (1) David at Saul’s Court (  1 Samuel 16:1 to   1 Samuel 21:1 ); (2) David as a fugitive outlaw (  1 Samuel 21:2 -  2 Samuel 1:1-27 ); (3) David as king in Hebron (  2 Samuel 2:1 to   2 Samuel 5:3 ). Division III. forms three more sections: (1) establishment of Jerusalem as the religious and national capital, and a brief summary of David’s reign (  2 Samuel 5:4-8 ); (2) supplementary narratives, setting forth particularly David’s great sin and subsequent troubles (  2 Samuel 9:1-13; 2Sa 10:1-19;   2 Samuel 11:1-27;   2 Samuel 12:1-31;   2 Samuel 13:1-39;   2 Samuel 14:1-33;   2 Samuel 15:1-37;   2 Samuel 16:1-23;   2 Samuel 17:1-29;   2 Samuel 18:1-33;   2 Samuel 19:1-43;   2 Samuel 20:1-26 ); (3) a series of appendixes (  2 Samuel 21:1-22;   2 Samuel 22:1-51;   2 Samuel 23:1-39;   2 Samuel 24:1-25 ).   1 Kings 1:1 to   1 Kings 2:11 really belongs to 2Sam., since it relates the circumstances attending the death of David, and thus brings the narrative to its natural close.

3. Text and Versions . The text of Samuel is the worst in the OT; only Ezekiel and Hosea can approach it in this respect. Many passages are unintelligible on the basis of the Massoretic text. The large amount of corruption may be due in part to the relatively great antiquity of the text, much of the narrative being among the oldest writings in the Hebrew Bible; and, in part, to the fact that these books were not used in the ordinary synagogue services, and so were not so carefully transmitted as they otherwise would have been. Unfortunately, the oldest existing Hebrew manuscript of Samuel dates its origin no farther back than the tenth century of our era. With each copying and recopying during the many preceding centuries fresh opportunity for error was afforded; and the wonder is not that there are so many errors, but that there are not more. In any effort to recover the original text large use must be made of the Septuagint, which is based upon a Hebrew text at least as old as the 3rd cent. b.c., and has preserved the original reading in many cases, while showing traces of it in others. The Syriac and Vulgate versions are also useful, but to a far less extent.

4. Sources and Date . The Books of Samuel, like almost every other OT writing, are a compilation from various sources, rather than the result of a careful study of earlier sources presented in the form of a unified, logical, and philosophical statement of facts and conclusions. We are here given the sources themselves, and are in large part left to draw our own conclusions. The composite character of the books is evidenced (1) by the existence of differing literary styles within them; (2) by the presence of varying and conflicting theological standpoints; (3) by the fact that they exhibit radically different attitudes towards the founding of the monarchy (cf. e.g . 1Sa 8:1-22;   1 Samuel 9:1-10;   1 Samuel 9:16 ); and (4) by the appearance of two or more narratives of one and the same event. In illustration of this last point we may cite ( a ) the three accounts of Saul’s choice as king given in   1 Samuel 9:1-27; 1Sa 10:1-27;   1 Samuel 11:1-15; ( b ) the two accounts of David’s introduction to Saul in   1 Samuel 16:17 ff;   1 Samuel 17:55 ff.; ( c ) the twofold announcement of the fate of Eli’s house in   1 Samuel 2:27-36;   1 Samuel 3:11 ff.; ( d ) the double rejection of Saul in   1 Samuel 13:7-15;   1 Samuel 15:1-35; ( e ) the two accounts of David’s flight to Achish in   1 Samuel 21:10 ff;   1 Samuel 27:1 ff.; ( f ) the two narratives of David sparing Saul’s life in   1 Samuel 23:19 ff;   1 Samuel 26:1 ff. one of the most marked examples of a doublet; ( g ) the differing descriptions of the death of Saul given in   1 Samuel 31:1-13 and   2 Samuel 1:1-27; ( h ) the varying traditions of Absalom’s family found in   2 Samuel 14:25 ff;   2 Samuel 18:18; ( i ) the inconsistency of   1 Samuel 7:13 f. with 13 14; and ( j ) the story that Goliath was slain by David in   1 Samuel 17:1-58 , but by Elhanan in   2 Samuel 21:19 . Phenomena of this kind are much more easily accounted for on the supposition that we are dealing here with the works of different hands, than on the hypothesis of a single author upon whom alone all the responsibility for the contents of the books must be placed.

This fact of composite origin is granted by all students of the Books of Samuel. In the attempt, however, to resolve the narrative into its original elements, two different schools of analysts have been formed. To the one belong such scholars as Budde, Cornill, H. P. Smith, Driver, Nowack, Stenning, and Kent; to the other, Wellhausen, Kuenen, Löhr, Kittel, Stade, and Kennedy. Budde and his followers find two main sources running through the books and covering practically the same ground, though from differing points of view. These sources, which Budde himself assigns to the same school of prophetic writers that produced the J [Note: Jahwist.] and E [Note: Elohist.] narratives of the Hexateuch, are supposed to have originated from the 9th to the 8th cents. b.c.; the J [Note: Jahwist.] source being the older of the two. These two sources were then supplemented and united by editors somewhere in the early part of the 7th cent. b.c.; and finally the books were given their present form by a Deuteronomic editor who revised the existing materials and added materials of his own some time in the Exile. Budde’s distribution of the materials among the sources is as follows [figures within parentheses in J [Note: Jahwist.] indicate later elements; in E [Note: Elohist.] they designate the older portions of the document]:

J [Note: Jahwist.] =  1 Samuel 9:1 to   1 Samuel 10:7 , (  1 Samuel 10:8 ), 1Sa 10:9-16 a,   1 Samuel 13:2-7 a, (  1 Samuel 13:7-15 a.)   1 Samuel 13:15-18 , (  1 Samuel 13:18-21 )   1 Samuel 13:22 ,   1 Samuel 14:1-46 ,   1 Samuel 14:52 ,   1 Samuel 16:14-23 ,   1 Samuel 18:5-11 , 1Sa 18:20-30 ,   1 Samuel 19:1;   1 Samuel 19:4-18 a,   1 Samuel 20:1-3;   1 Samuel 20:18-39 ,   1 Samuel 22:1-4;   1 Samuel 22:6-10 a,   1 Samuel 22:11-18 ,   1 Samuel 22:20 to   1 Samuel 23:14 a,   1 Samuel 23:19 a,   1 Samuel 23:20 to   1 Samuel 24:20 ,   1 Samuel 25:2 ff.,   1 Samuel 27:1 to   1 Samuel 28:15 ,   1 Samuel 28:19 to   1 Samuel 31:13; 2Sa 1:1-4;   2 Samuel 1:11-12;   2 Samuel 1:17-23;   2 Samuel 2:1 to   2 Samuel 6:23;   2 Samuel 8:8-14 a,   2 Samuel 8:16-18 ,   2 Samuel 9:1 to   2 Samuel 21:22 ,   2 Samuel 23:7 bff.,   2 Samuel 24:1-22 .

E [Note: Elohist.] =  1 Samuel 1:1-5;   1 Samuel 1:7-28;   1 Samuel 2:11-26; 1Sa 3:1-10;   1 Samuel 3:15-21 , (  1 Samuel 4:1-18;   1 Samuel 5:1 to   1 Samuel 7:1 ),   1 Samuel 7:2 to 1Sa 8:22 a,   1 Samuel 12:1-25;   1 Samuel 15:1 , (  1 Samuel 15:2-23 ),   1 Samuel 15:24-31 , (  1 Samuel 15:32 f.),   1 Samuel 15:34 f.; (  2 Samuel 1:6-10;   2 Samuel 1:13-16 ),   2 Samuel 7:1-29 .

Pre-exilic Editors =  1 Samuel 1:6;   1 Samuel 2:22 b, 1Sa 4:15;   1 Samuel 4:22;   1 Samuel 6:11; 1Sa 6:15;   1 Samuel 6:17-19;   1 Samuel 8:22; 1Sa 9:2;   1 Samuel 9:9;   1 Samuel 10:9;   1 Samuel 17:12  1 Samuel 17:12 f.,   1 Samuel 18:21;   1 Samuel 19:2 f.,   1 Samuel 19:7 a, 1Sa 19:18-24;   1 Samuel 20:4-17;   1 Samuel 20:40-42;   1 Samuel 21:11-15;   1 Samuel 22:4;   1 Samuel 22:10 b,   1 Samuel 23:19;   1 Samuel 24:21-22;   1 Samuel 25:1;   1 Samuel 28:3; 1Sa 28:16-18;   1 Samuel 30:5;   1 Samuel 30:18 b; 2Sa 1:5;   2 Samuel 2:23;   2 Samuel 3:6; 2Sa 3:30;   2 Samuel 8:6;   2 Samuel 8:11-12;   2 Samuel 11:21;   2 Samuel 13:18;   2 Samuel 13:38;   2 Samuel 14:25-27;   2 Samuel 20:23-26;   2 Samuel 21:2-3; 2Sa 21:7;   2 Samuel 23:14;   2 Samuel 23:23 a.

Exilic Editor = Exilic Editor =  1 Samuel 2:27-36;   1 Samuel 3:11-14;   1 Samuel 13:1;   1 Samuel 14:47-51; 2Sa 2:10-11;   2 Samuel 5:4 f.,   2 Samuel 7:13; 2Sa 18:1-6;   2 Samuel 18:14;   2 Samuel 18:16;   2 Samuel 12:7-8; 2Sa 12:10-12;   2 Samuel 24:1 a.

Of uncertain Orioin = 1Sa 2:1-10;  2 Samuel 22:1 ff;   2 Samuel 23:1 ff.

This, which we may call the two-source theory because of the predominant place of the two main sources, is in its general features the prevailing view at the present time. In the assignment of certain passages, however, there is considerable variety of opinion, and in the identification of the two main sources with J [Note: Jahwist.] and E [Note: Elohist.] , Budde and Cornill are not followed by several adherents of the two-source view.

The analysis presented by the opposing school (Well-hausen, Stade, Kennedy, et al .) differs from the foregoing chiefly ( a ) in denying the unity of the two sources, J [Note: Jahwist.] and E [Note: Elohist.] respectively; ( b ) in refusing to recognize any relationship of these sources to J [Note: Jahwist.] and E [Note: Elohist.]; and ( c ) in proposing another chronological assignment of the sources. Kennedy, e.g ., the latest representative of this school, resolves Budde’s J [Note: Jahwist.] into three main elements, and dates these three documents from the middle of the 10th cent. b.c. Budde’s E [Note: Elohist.] likewise falls into three fragments under Kennedy’s examination; one of these is a life of Samuel dating from about b.c. 630; another and larger portion is from a Deuteronomic writer; and a small remainder consists of pre-exillc duplicates of some narratives appearing in Budde’s J [Note: Jahwist.] .

The precise delimitation of the various sources and the exact way in which the Books of Samuel assumed their present form must remain for the future to determine. The unmistakable fact is that these books in their present form are due to the labours of late exilic editors who wrought them out of existing documents, some of which show Deuteronomic colouring, while others come from early pre-exilic times, somewhere about b.c. 900. As compared with the Books of Kings and Chronicles, or even the Book of Judges, Samuel shows far less evidence of editorial additions and modifications. The various sources are for the most part allowed to tell their stories in their own way. There is a total absence of any such theological strait-jacket as is found in the editorial framework of the Books of Kings. We thus have in the Books of Samuel some of the finest examples of the historical writings of the Hebrews in the various stages of their development.

5. Historical value . In estimating the historical value of the Books of Samuel, care must be taken to discriminate sharply between the books themselves and the sources which constitute them. The books themselves are the product of a long literary history, the work of various men living in widely scattered periods. They thus form a source-book, rather than a history in the modern sense. It is for this reason that they are so extremely valuable to the modern historian of Israel. For a correct picture of the times of Samuel, Saul, and David, it goes without saying that the oldest sources are the most trustworthy. Failure to paint original scenes and characters with a proper perspective increases in direct proportion to the distance of the narrator from the things he describes. Hence the later elements in these books are primarily of value not as sources of information concerning the times of the early monarchy, but as reflecting the point of view and the background of their writers. The older sources, however, coming from a period within a century or two of the events they narrate, furnish us with accurate information and are among the best historical records in the OT. They are especially rich in biographical materials. They help us to see Saul and David and their contemporaries as they really were. They give us glimpses of Samuel as the local seer, known only within the narrow limits of his own immediate district; of David as the fugitive, the freebooter, the outlaw, the idol of his men, the devoted servant of Jehovah, and yet capable of the most dastardly deeds; of Saul as the brave warrior, the patriot, the religious enthusiast, the moody chieftain of his clan. These men, with Joab, Absalom, and others, live and move before our eyes.

A still further service of the Books of Samuel is in the light they throw upon the development of religious practices and ideas in Israel. Kennedy rightly says: ‘The study of this book has contributed more than anything else to the more accurate views of the historical development of religious thought in OT times, which are characteristic of the present day.’ The books represent from first to last a period of about five hundred years, during which time the religion of Israel was advancing by leaps and bounds under the leadership of the prophets. They contain, therefore, the record of this progress. Instances of this may be seen in the wide difference between the attitude towards foreign gods ascribed to David in  1 Samuel 26:19 (an early source), and that appearing in   1 Samuel 12:21 (a late source); in the primitive conception of revelation presented in the story of Samuel’s call (  1 Samuel 3:1 ff.); in the narratives dealing with the origin of prophecy (  1 Samuel 9:7 ff.), and the sons of the prophets ( e.g .   1 Samuel 10:5 ff.); in the use of the teraphim (  1 Samuel 19:13 ff.) and the ephod (  1 Samuel 23:6-12 ); and in the advanced conception of God appearing in such passages as   2 Samuel 7:22 . The Books of Samuel are thus invaluable to the historian of Israel’s religious, social, and political life.

6. Purpose . But the purpose of these books is not to serve as a bare, cold record of events and their causes; such matters are of only secondary importance; they are but means to an end. Their great purpose is to teach religion; they give sermons, not annals; they are prophecy, not history. In the Hebrew canon they occupy a place alongside of the prophetic books, and the entire division to which they belong is entitled ‘the Prophets.’ Just as Amos and Isaiah deal with the facts of the present, interpreting them as expressions of Jehovah’s will and using them to drive home moral and spiritual truth to the hearts and consciences of their hearers, so these writers have dealt with the facts of the past. What they have given us, then, is history seen through the eyes of prophets. The horizon of the prophets, however, was filled with religion; they themselves were nothing if not religious; their whole being throbbed with the energy of religion. Consequently it is not surprising that everything in the narratives is presented from the point of view of religion, and in such a way as to count most for the furtherance of religious ideals. This is not saying that these writers consciously and deliberately changed the course of events, or shifted the emphasis from one point to another in order to accomplish their purpose; but rather that they wrote things as they themselves conceived of them, and that, being prophets, they could conceive of Israel’s history in no other way than as through and through religious, as the embodiment of Jehovah’s revelation of Himself and His will to His people. This is the prophets’ philosophy of history, and as such must commend itself to the mind and conscience of the Christian Church.

J. M. P. Smith.

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

The Bible does not say who wrote these books. Many Bible students think Samuel along with Nathan and Gad had major input, pointing to  1 Chronicles 29:29 as evidence. See   1 Samuel 1-3 ), the Ark ( 1 Samuel 4:1-7:1 ), the Rise of Kingship ( 1 Samuel 9:1-11:15 ), Battles of Saul ( 1 Samuel 13-15 ), the History of David's Rise to Power (1Samuel 16:14– 2 Samuel 5:25 ), and the Succession to the Throne of David ( 2 Samuel 9-20;  1 Kings 1-2 ).

The Books of Samuel arose as a reflection upon the nature of human kingship in light of Israel's tradition that Yahweh was their king. See  1 Samuel 8:1 ) and the hope for kingship ( 2 Samuel 7:1 ) form the narrative tension for the Books. The final chapter ( 2 Samuel 24:1 ) does not solve the tension. It points further ahead to the building of the Temple, where God's presence and Israel's worship can be at the center of life leading the king to be God's humble, forgiven servant.

The Books of Samuel thus point to several theological themes that can guide God's people through the generations.

Leadership is the guiding theme. Can God's people continue with a loosely knit organization as in the days of the judges, or must they have “a king to judge us like all the nations” ( 1 Samuel 8:5 )? Samuel does not explicitly answer the question. God does not wholeheartedly accept kingship as the only alternative. Kingship means the people have rejected God ( 1 Samuel 8:7;  1 Samuel 10:19 ). Still, kingship can flourish if the people and the king follow God ( 1 Samuel 12:14-15 ,  1 Samuel 12:20-25 ). Saul showed God's threats could be soon realized ( 1 Samuel 13:13-14 ). A new family from a new tribe would rule. This did not mean eternal war among tribes and families. A covenant could bind the two families together ( 1 Samuel 20:1;  1 Samuel 23:16-18 ). Anger on one side does not require anger from the other as David's reactions to Saul continually show, summarized in  1 Samuel 24:17 : “Thou art more righteous than I: for thou has rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.” David neither planned the demise of Saul and his family nor rewarded those who did ( 2 Samuel 4:9-12 ). David established his kingdom and sought to establish a house for God ( 2 Samuel 7:2 ). The king, however, gave in to God's plan to establish David's house and let his son build the house for God ( 2 Samuel 7:13 ). The king's response shows the nature of true leadership. He expresses praise for God not pride in personal achievement ( 2 Samuel 7:18-29 ).

Working through His promise to David, God then worked to establish His own kingdom among His people. He could work through an imperfect king who committed the outlandish sin with Bathsheba ( 2 Samuel 11:1 ) because the king was willing to confess his sin ( 2 Samuel 12:13 ). The rule of God's king does not promise perfect peace. Even David's own household revolted against him. Human pride and ego did not determine history. God's promise to David could not be overthrown.

Other themes are subordinate to that of leadership for Israel. The call for covenant commitment and obedience, the forgiveness and mercy of God, the sovereignty of God in human history, the significance of prayer and praise, the faithfulness of God to fulfill prophecy, the need for faithfulness to human leaders, the holy presence of God among His people, the nature of human friendship, and the importance of family relationships all echo forth from these books.

1Samuel Outline

I. God Gives His People an Example of Dedicated Leadership ( 1 Samuel 1:1-7:17 ).

A. A dedicated leader is the answer to parental prayers ( 1 Samuel 1:1-28 ).

B. A dedicated leader comes from grateful, sacrificial parents who worship the incomparable God ( 1 Samuel 2:1-10 ).

C. A dedicated leader is a priest who faithfully serves God rather than seeking selfish interests ( 1 Samuel 2:11-36 ).

D. A dedicated leader is a prophet who is called by the Word of God and who faithfully delivers the Word of God ( 1 Samuel 3:1-4:15 ).

E. Superstitious use of religious relics is not a substitute for dedicated leadership ( 1 Samuel 4:16-22 ).

F. Only a dedicated priest, not foreign gods nor disobedient persons, can stand before God ( 1 Samuel 5:1-7:2 ).

G. A dedicated political leader is a man of prayer ( 1 Samuel 7:3-17 ).

II. Human Kingship Represents a Compromise with God by a People Who Have Rejected the Kingship of God ( 1 Samuel 8:1-15:35 ).

A. Hereditary kingship is a rejection of God which hurts His people and separates them from God ( 1 Samuel 8:1-22; compare  Judges 8:22-9:57 ).

B. A dedicated king is a humble person from a humble family who knows he owes his position to God's choice ( 1 Samuel 9:1-10:27 ).

C. The dedicated king is a Spirit-filled deliverer ( 1 Samuel 11:1-15 ).

D. The dedicated leader is morally pure and uses the history of God's people to call them to obedience ( 1 Samuel 12:1-25 ).

E. Kingship depends on obedience to God, not human wisdom ( 1 Samuel 13:1-23 ).

F. A dedicated leader is used by God to unify and deliver His people ( 1 Samuel 14:1-23 ).

G. God delivers His dedicated leader from inadvertent sins ( 1 Samuel 14:24-46 ).

H. The king is responsible to defeat the enemies of the people of God ( 1 Samuel 14:47-52 ).

I. A disobedient king is rejected by God ( 1 Samuel 15:1-35 ).

III. God Raises Up New Leadership for His People ( 1 Samuel 16:1-31:13 ).

A. God gives His Spirit to the chosen person meeting His leadership qualifications ( 1 Samuel 16:1-13 ).

B. God provides unexpected opportunities of service for His chosen king ( 1 Samuel 16:14-23 ).

C. God uses the skills and faith of His leader to defeat those who would defy God ( 1 Samuel 17:1-58 ).

D. God provides His presence and the loyalty of friends to protect His chosen one from the jealous plots of an evil leader ( 1 Samuel 18:1-20:42 ).

E. God's priests affirm the special position of God's chosen leader ( 1 Samuel 21:1-9 ).

F. God protects His benevolent and faithful leader from the vengeance of evil enemies ( 1 Samuel 21:10-22:23 ).

G. God heeds the prayer of His chosen and delivers him from treacherous enemies ( 1 Samuel 23:1-29 ).

H. God honors the righteousness of His chosen leader ( 1 Samuel 24:1-22 ).

I. God avenges His chosen against the insults of foolish enemies ( 1 Samuel 25:1-39 ).

J. God provides family for His chosen ( 1 Samuel 25:39-44 ).

K. God rewards the righteousness and faithfulness of His chosen leader ( 1 Samuel 26:1-25 ).

L. The chosen leader cunningly begins building his kingdom even under adverse circumstances ( 1 Samuel 27:1-12 ).

M. God fulfills His prophecy and destroys disobedient leaders ( 1 Samuel 28:1-25 ).

N. God protects His chosen leader from compromising situations ( 1 Samuel 29:1-11 ).

O. God restores the property taken from His chosen leader ( 1 Samuel 30:1-20 ).

P. God's chosen leader shares His goods with the needy and with colleagues ( 1 Samuel 30:21-31 ).

Q. God destroys disobedient leaders ( 1 Samuel 31:1-7 ).

R. God honors people who express loyalty to their chosen leaders ( 1 Samuel 31:8-13 ).

2Samuel Outline

I. To Achieve His Purposes, God Honors Obedience Not Treachery ( 2 Samuel 1:1-6:23 ).

A. Those who dishonor God's chosen leaders are punished ( 2 Samuel 1:1-16 ).

B. God's leader honors the memory of his predecessors ( 2 Samuel 1:17-27 ).

C. God leads people to honor His obedient leader ( 2 Samuel 2:1-4 ).

D. God honors loyal, obedient people ( 2 Samuel 2:4-7 ).

E. God blesses efforts for peace ( 2 Samuel 2:8-28 ).

F. God strengthens His obedient leader ( 2 Samuel 2:29-3:19 ).

G. God's leader refuses to honor treachery and revenge ( 2 Samuel 3:20-4:12 ).

H. God fulfills His promises to His patient servant ( 2 Samuel 5:1-16 ).

I. God provides victory for His people ( 2 Samuel 5:17-25 ).

J. God's people must honor His holy presence ( 2 Samuel 6:1-23 ).

II. God Establishes His Purposes Through His Faithful Yet Fallible Servant ( 2 Samuel 7:1-12:31 ).

A. God promises to bless the house of David forever ( 2 Samuel 7:1-17 ).

B. God's servant praises the incomparable God ( 2 Samuel 7:18-29 ).

C. God gives victory to His faithful servant ( 2 Samuel 8:1-18 ).

D. God's servant shows kindness in memory of his departed friends ( 2 Samuel 9:1-13 ).

E. Enemy coalitions cannot prevent God from taking vengeance ( 2 Samuel 10:1-19 ).

F. Disobedience from God's leader displeases the Lord and brings judgment but also mercy ( 2 Samuel 11:1-12:14 ).

G. God brings honor to His penitent servant ( 2 Samuel 12:14-31 ).

III. Lack of Attention to Family Relations Leads to National Problems for God's Leader ( 2 Samuel 13:1-20:26 ).

A. The inattention of a godly father can lead to family feuds, shame, and vengeance ( 2 Samuel 13:1-39 ).

B. Reconciliation, not anger and judgments, should mark the family life of God's servants ( 2 Samuel 14:1-33 ).

C. Unhealed family wounds lead to revolt ( 2 Samuel 15:1-37 ).

D. Leaders need advisors whom God can use to accomplish His purposes ( 2 Samuel 16:1-17:29 ).

E. The time of sorrow is too late to set family relationships right ( 2 Samuel 18:1-33 ).

F. God's victorious servant deals kindly with those who helped and those who opposed him ( 2 Samuel 19:1-40 ).

G. Victory cannot remove rivalries among God's people ( 2 Samuel 19:41-20:26 ).

IV. God's People Learn from the Experience and Example of God's Leader ( 2 Samuel 21:1-24:25 ).

A. God blesses the leader who is faithful to the tradition of His people ( 2 Samuel 21:1-22 ).

B. God's leader praises God for His deliverance ( 2 Samuel 22:1-51; compare  Psalm 18:1 ).

C. God's leader teaches what he has learned—his experiences with God ( 2 Samuel 23:1-7 ).

D. God's leader depends on brave, faithful associates ( 2 Samuel 23:8-39 ).

E. The leader's foolish decisions bring punishment even on a repentant leader ( 2 Samuel 24:1-17 ).

F. Proper worship brings God's mercy for His people ( 2 Samuel 24:18-25 ).

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

The authors of the books of Samuel were probably Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. Samuel penned the first twenty-four chapters of the first book. Gad, the companion of David ( 1 Samuel 22:5 ), continued the history thus commenced; and Nathan completed it, probably arranging the whole in the form in which we now have it ( 1 Chronicles 29:29 ).

The contents of the books. The first book comprises a period of about a hundred years, and nearly coincides with the life of Samuel. It contains (1) the history of Eli (1-4); (2) the history of Samuel (5-12); (3) the history of Saul, and of David in exile (13-31). The second book, comprising a period of perhaps fifty years, contains a history of the reign of David (1) over Judah (1-4), and (2) over all Israel (5-24), mainly in its political aspects. The last four chapters of Second Samuel may be regarded as a sort of appendix recording various events, but not chronologically. These books do not contain complete histories. Frequent gaps are met with in the record, because their object is to present a history of the kingdom of God in its gradual development, and not of the events of the reigns of the successive rulers. It is noticeable that the section ( 2 Samuel 11:2-12 :  29 ) containing an account of David's sin in the matter of Bathsheba is omitted in the corresponding passage in  1 Chronicles 20 .

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [5]

I. Place Of The Books Of Samuel In The Hebr EW Canon

II. Contents Of The Books And Period Of Time COVERED By The History

III. Summary And Analysis

1. Life of Samuel ( 1 Samuel 1 through 15)

2. Reign and Death of Saul ( 1 Samuel 16 through   2 Samuel 1 )

3. Reign of David ( 2 Samuel 2 through 20)

4. Appendix ( 2 Samuel 21 through 24)

IV. Sources Of The History

Two Main and Independent Sources

V. Character And Date Of The Sources

VI. Greek Versions Of The Books Of Samuel

VII. Ethical And Religious Teaching


I. Place of the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Canon.

In the Hebrew Canon and enumeration of the sacred books of the Old Testament, the two Books of Samuel were reckoned as one, and formed the third division of the Earlier Prophets ( נביאים ראשׁנים , nebhı̄'ı̄m rı̄'shōnı̄m ). The one book bore the title "Samuel" ( שׁמוּאל , shemū'ēl ), not because Samuel was believed to be the author, but because his life and acts formed the main theme of the book, or at least of its earlier part. Nor was the Book of Samuel separated by any real division in subject-matter or continuity of style from the Book of Kings, which in the original formed a single book, not two as in the English and other modern versions. The history was carried forward without interruption; and the record of the life of David, begun in Samuel, was completed in Kings. This continuity in the narrative of Israelite history was made more prominent in the Septuagint, where the four books were comprised under one title and were known as the four "Books of the Kingdoms" ( βίβλοι βασιλειῶν , bı́bloi basileiṓn ). This name was probably due to the translators or scholars of Alexandria. The division into four books, but not the Greek title, was then adopted in the Latin translation, where, however, the influence of Jerome secured the restoration of the Hebrew names, 1,2 Samuel, and 1,2 Kings ( Regum ). Jerome's example was universally followed, and the fourfold division with the Hebrew titles found a place in all subsequent versions of the Old Testament Scriptures. Ultimately, the distinction of Samuel and Kings each into two books was received also into printed editions of the Hebrew Bible. This was done for the first time in the editio princeps of the Rabbinic Bible, printed at Venice in 1516-17 AD.

II. Contents of the Books and Period of Time Covered by the History.

The narrative of the two Books of Samuel covers a period of about a hundred years, from the close of the unsettled era of the Judges to the establishment and consolidation of the kingdom under David. It is therefore a record of the changes, national and constitutional, which accompanied this growth and development of the national life, at the close of which the Israelites found themselves a united people under the rule of a king to whom all owed allegiance, controlled and guided by more or less definitely established institutions and laws. This may be described as the general purpose and main theme of the books, to trace the advance of the people under divine guidance to a state of settled prosperity and union in the promised land, and to give prominence to theocratic rule which was the essential condition of Israel's life as the people of God under all the changing forms of early government. The narrative therefore centers itself around the lives of the three men, Samuel, Saul and David, who were chiefly instrumental in the establishment of the monarchy, and to whom it was due more than to any others that Israel emerged from the depressed and disunited state in which the tribes had remained during the period of the rule of the Judges, and came into possession of a combined and effective national life. If the formal separation therefore into two books be disregarded, the history of Israel as it is narrated in "Samuel" is most naturally divided into three parts, which are followed by an appendix recording words and incidents which for some reason had not found a place in the general narrative:

A. The life and rule of Samuel ( 1 Samuel 1 through 15) (death   1 Samuel 25:1 ).

B. The life, reign and death of Saul ( 1 Samuel 16 through   2 Samuel 1 ).

C. The reign and acts of David to the suppression of the two rebellions of Absalom and Sheba ( 2 Samuel 2 through 20).

D. Appendix; other incidents in the reign of David, the names of his chief warriors and his Song or Psalm of Praise ( 2 Samuel 21-24 ).

III. Summary and Analysis.

To present a brief and clear analysis of these Books of Samuel is not altogether easy. For as in the Pentateuch and the earlier historical Books of Joshua and Judges, repetitions and apparently duplicate accounts of the same event are found, which interfere with the chronological development of the narrative. Even the main divisions, as stated above, to a certain extent overlap.

1. Life of Samuel ( 1 Samuel 1 Through 15):

(1) Visit of Hannah to Shiloh, and promise of the birth of a son ( 1 Samuel 1:1-19 ); birth and weaning of Samuel, and presentation to Eli at Shiloh ( 1 Samuel 1:19-28 ).

(2) Hannah's song or prayer ( 1 Samuel 2:1-10 ); ministry of Samuel to Eli the priest ( 1 Samuel 2:11 ,  1 Samuel 2:18-21 ,  1 Samuel 2:26 ); the evil practices of the sons of Eli and warning to Eli of the consequences to his house ( 1 Samuel 2:12-17 ,  1 Samuel 2:22-25 ,  1 Samuel 2:27-36 ).

(3) Samuel's vision at the sanctuary and his induction to the prophetic office ( 1 Samuel 3:1 through 4:1).

(4) Defeat of the Israelites by the Philistines, capture of the ark of God, death of the two sons of Eli and of Eli himself ( 1 Samuel 4 ).

(5) Discomfiture of Dagon before the ark of God at Ashdod; return of the ark to Beth-shemesh, with expiatory offerings of golden tumors and golden mice; its twenty years' sojourn at Kiriath-jearim ( 1 Samuel 5:1 through 7:4).

(6) Assembly of Israel under Samuel at Mizpah, and victory over the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 7:5-14 ); Samuel established as judge over all Israel ( 1 Samuel 7:15-17 ).

(7) Samuel's sons appointed to be judges and the consequent demand of the people for a king; Samuel's warning concerning the character of the king for whom they asked ( 1 Samuel 8 ).

(8) Saul's search for, the lost asses of his father and meeting with Samuel ( 1 Samuel 9 ).

(9) Saul is anointed by Samuel to be ruler over the people of Israel, and receives the gift of prophecy ( 1 Samuel 10:1-16 ); second assembly of the people under Samuel at Mizpah, and election of Saul to be king ( 1 Samuel 10:17-27 ).

(10) Victory of Saul over the Ammonites and deliverance of Jabesh-gilead ( 1 Samuel 11:1-13 ); Saul made king in Gilgal ( 1 Samuel 11:14 ,  1 Samuel 11:15 ).

(11) Samuel's address to the people in Gilgal, defending his own life and action, and exhorting them to fear and serve the Lord ( 1 Samuel 12 ).

(12) Saul at Gilgal offers the burnt offering in Samuel's absence; gathering of the Philistines to battie at Michmash; the Israelites' lack of weapons of iron ( 1 Samuel 13 ).

(13) Jonathan's surprise of the Philistine army, and their sudden panic ( 1 Samuel 14:1-23 ); Saul's vow, unwittingly broken by Jonathan, whom the people deliver from the fatal consequences ( 1 Samuel 14:24-45 ); victories of Saul over his enemies on every side ( 1 Samuel 14:46-52 ).

(14) War against Amalek, and Saul's disobedience to the divine command to exterminate the Amaleldtes ( 1 Samuel 15 ).

2. Reign and Death of Saul ( 1 Samuel 16 Through   2 Samuel 1 ):

(1) Anointing of David as Saul's successor ( 1 Samuel 16:1-13 ); his summons to the court of Saul to act as minstrel before the king ( 1 Samuel 16:14-23 ).

(2) David and Goliath ( 1 Samuel 17 ).

(3) The love of David and Jonathan ( 1 Samuel 18:1-4 ); the former's advancement and fame, the jealousy of Saul, and his attempt to kill David ( 1 Samuel 18:5-16 ,  1 Samuel 18:29 ,  1 Samuel 18:30 ); David's marriage to the daughter of Saul ( 1 Samuel 18:17-28 ).

(4) Saul's renewed jealousy of David and second attempt to kill him ( 1 Samuel 19:1-17 ); David's escape to Ramah, whither the king followed ( 1 Samuel 19:18-24 ).

(5) Jonathan's warning to David of his father's resolve and their parting ( 1 Samuel 20 ).

(6) David at Nob ( 1 Samuel 21:1-9 ); and with Achish of Gath ( 1 Samuel 21:10-15 ).

(7) David's band of outlaws at Adullam ( 1 Samuel 22:1 ,  1 Samuel 22:2 ); his provision for the safety of his father and mother in Moab ( 1 Samuel 22:3-5 ); vengeance of Saul on those who had helped David (1 Sam 22:6-23).

(8) Repeated attempts of Saul to take David ( 1 Samuel 23;  24 ).

(9) Death of Samuel ( 1 Samuel 25:1 ); Abigail becomes David's wife, after the death of her husband Nabal (1 Sam 25:2-44).

(10) Saul's further pursuit of David ( 1 Samuel 26 ).

(11) David's sojourn with Achish of Gath ( 1 Samuel 27:1 through 28:2,29); Saul and the witch of Endor (  1 Samuel 28:3-25 ).

(12) David's pursuit of the Amalekites who had raided Ziklag, and victory ( 1 Samuel 30 ).

(13) Battle between the Philistines and Israel in Mt. Gilboa and death of Saul ( 1 Samuel 31:1-13 ).

(14) News of Saul's death brought to David at Ziklag ( 2 Samuel 1:1-16 ); David's lamentation over Saul and Jonathan ( 2 Samuel 1:17-27 ).

3. Reign of David ( 2 Samuel 2 Through 20):

(1) David's Seven and a Half Years' Reign over Judah in Hebron ( 2 Samuel 2:1 through 5:3).

( a ) Consecration of David as king in Hebron (  2 Samuel 2:1-4 ); message to the men of Jabesh-gilead ( 2 Samuel 2:4-7 ); Ish-bosheth made king over Northern Israel ( 2 Samuel 2:8-11 ); defeat of Abner and death of Asahel (2 Sam 2:12-32).

( b ) Increase of the fame and prosperity of David, and the names of his sons (  2 Samuel 3:1-5 ); Abner's submission to David, and treacherous murder of the former by Joab (2 Sam 3:6-39).

( 100 ) Murder of Ish-bosheth and David's vengeance upon his murderers (  2 Samuel 4:1-3 ,  2 Samuel 4:5-12 ); notice of the escape of Mephibosheth, when Saul and Jonathan were slain at Jezreel ( 2 Samuel 4:4 ).

( d ) David accepted as king over all Israel (  2 Samuel 5:1-3 ).

(2) Reign of David in Jerusalem over United Israel ( 2 Samuel 5:4 through 20:26).

( a ) Taking of Jerusalem and victories over the Philistines (  2 Samuel 5:4-25 ).

( b ) Return of the ark to the city of David (  2 Samuel 6 ).

( 100 ) David's purpose to build a temple for the Lord (  2 Samuel 7:1-3 ); the divine answer by the prophet Nathan, and the king's prayer (2 Sam 7:4-29).

( d ) Victories over the Philistines, Syrians, and other peoples (  2 Samuel 8 ).

( e ) David's reception of Mephibosheth (  2 Samuel 9:1-13 ).

( f ) Defeat of the Ammonites and Syrians by the men of Israel under the command of Joab (  2 Samuel 10:1 through 11:1).

( g ) David and Uriah, the latter's death in battle, and David's marriage with Bath-sheba (  2 Samuel 11:2-27 ).

( h ) Nathan's parable and David's conviction of sin (  2 Samuel 12:1-15 ); the king's grief and intercession for his sick son ( 2 Samuel 12:15-25 ); siege and capture of Rabbah, the Ammonite capital ( 2 Samuel 12:26-31 ).

( i ) Amnon and Tamar (  2 Samuel 13:1-22 ); Absalom's revenge and murder of Amnon ( 2 Samuel 13:23-36 ); flight of Absalom ( 2 Samuel 13:37-39 ).

( j ) Return of Absalom to Jerusalem (  2 Samuel 14:1-24 ); his beauty, and reconciliation with the king ( 2 Samuel 14:25-33 ).

( k ) Absalom's method of ingratiating himself with the people (  2 Samuel 15:1-6 ); his revolt and the flight of the king from Jerusalem (2 Sam 15:7-31); meeting with Hushai ( 2 Samuel 15:32-37 ); Absalom in Jerusalem ( 2 Samuel 15:37 ).

( 50 ) David's' meeting with Ziba (  2 Samuel 16:1-4 ), and Shimei ( 2 Samuel 16:5-14 ); counsel of Ahitophel and Hushai (2 Sam 16:15 through 17:14); the news carried to David ( 2 Samuel 17:15-22 ); death of Ahitophel ( 2 Samuel 17:23 ).

( m ) David at Mahanaim (  2 Samuel 17:24-29 ).

( n ) The revolt subdued, death of Absalom, and reception by David of the tidings (  2 Samuel 18:1 through 19:8a).

( o ) Return of the king to Jerusalem, and meetings with Shimei, Mephibosheth, and Barzillai the Gileadite (  2 Samuel 19:8b-43 ).

( p ) Revolt of Sheba the Benjamite, and its suppression by Joab with the death of Amasa (  2 Samuel 20:1 ,  2 Samuel 20:2 , 4-22); the king's treatment of the concubines left at Jerusalem ( 2 Samuel 20:3 ); the names of his officers ( 2 Samuel 20:23-26 ).

4. Appendix ( 2 Samuel 21 Through 24):

(1) Seven male descendants of Saul put to death at the instance of the Gibeonites ( 2 Samuel 21:1-14 ); incidents of wars with the Philistines ( 2 Samuel 21:15-22 ).

(2) David's song of thanksgiving and praise ( 2 Samuel 22 ).

(3) The "last words" of David ( 2 Samuel 23:1-7 ); names and exploits of David's "mighty men" (2 Sam 23:8-39).

(4) The king's numbering of the people, the resulting plague, and the dedication of the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite ( 2 Samuel 24 ).

IV. Sources of the History.

The natural inference from the character and contents of the Books of Samuel, as thus reviewed, is that the writer has made use of authorities, "sources" or "documents," from which he has compiled a narrative of the events which it was his desire to place on record. The same characteristics are noticeable here which are found in parts of the Pentateuch and of the Books of Joshua and Judges, that in some instances duplicate or parallel accounts are given of one and the same event, which seems to be regarded from different points of view and is narrated in a style which is more or less divergent from that of the companion record. Examples of this so-called duplication are more frequent in the earlier parts of the books than in the later. There are presented, for instance, two accounts of Saul's election as king, and an act of disobedience is twice followed, apparently quite independently, by the sentence of rejection. Independent also and hardly consistent narratives are given of David's introduction to Saul ( 1 Samuel 16:14-23;  1 Samuel 17:31 ff, 55 ff); and the two accounts of the manner of the king's death can be imperfectly reconciled only on the hypothesis that the young Amalekite told a false tale to David in order to magnify his own part in the matter. In these and other instances little or no attempt seems to be made to harmonize conflicting accounts, or to reconcile apparent discrepancies. In good faith the writer set down the records as he found them, making extracts or quotations from his authorities on the several events as they occurred, and thus building up his own history on the basis of the freest possible use of the materials and language of those who had preceded him.

However alien such a method of composition may appear to modern thought and usage in the West, it is characteristic of all early oriental writing. It would be almost impossible to find in any eastern literature a work of any length or importance which was not thus silently indebted to its predecessors, had incorporated their utterances, and had itself in turn suffered interpolation at the hands of later editors and transcribers. Accordingly, early Hebrew historical literature also, while unique in its spirit, conformed in its methods to the practice of the age and country in which it was composed. It would have been strange if it had been otherwise.

Two Main and Independent Sources:

Apart from the appendix and minor additions, of which Hannah's song or psalm in  1 Samuel 2 is one, the main portion of the book is derived from two independent sources, which themselves in all probability formed part of a larger whole, a more or less consecutive history or histories of Israel. These sources may, however, have been, as others think, rather of a biographical nature, presenting and enforcing the teaching of the acts and experience of the great leaders and rulers of the nation. The parallelism and duplication of the narrative is perhaps most evident in the history of Saul. The broad lines of distinction between the two may be defined without much difficulty or uncertainty. The greater part of the first eight chapters of 1 Samuel is in all probability derived from the later of these two sources, to which is to be assigned more or less completely   1 Samuel 10 through 12:15; 17 through 19; 21 through 25; 28,  2 Samuel 1 through 7. The earlier source has contributed   1 Samuel 9 with parts of   1 Samuel 10;  1 Samuel 11:1-15; 13; 14; 16; 20 and considerable portions of 1 Samuel 22; 23; 26 through 27; 29 through 31; 2 Sam 1 (in part); 2 through 6; 9 through 20. Some details have probably been derived from other sources, and additions made by the editor or editors. This general determination of sources rests upon a difference of standpoint and religious conception, and upon slighter varieties of style which are neither so pronounced nor so readily distinguished as in the books of the Pentateuch. It is reasonable also to bear in mind that a close and exact division or line of demarcation in every detail is not to be expected.

V. Character and Date of the Sources.

Attempts which have been made to determine the date of these two sources, or to identify them with one or other of the principal authorities from which the historical narratives of the Pentateuch are derived, have not been convincing. In the judgment of some, however, the later of the two sources should be regarded as a continuation of the narrative or document known as E, and the earlier be assigned to J. The style of the latter has much in common with the style of J, and is clear, vigorous and poetical; the religious conceptions also that are embodied and taught are of a simple and early type. The later writing has been supposed to give indications of the influence of the prophetic teaching of the 8th century. The indications, however, are not sufficiently decisive to enable a final judgment to be formed. If it is borne in mind that J and E represent rather schools of teaching and thought than individual writers, the characteristics of the two sources of the Books of Sam would not be out of harmony with the view that from these two schools respectively were derived the materials out of which the history was compiled. The "sources" would then, according to the usual view, belong to the 9th and 8th centuries before the Christian era; and to a period not more than a century or a century and a half later should be assigned the final compilation and completion of the book as it is contained in the Hebrew Canon of Scripture.

VI. Greek Versions of the Books of Samuel.

For an exact estimate and understanding of the history and text of the Books of Samuel count must further be taken of the Greek version or versions. In the Septuagint there is great divergence from the Hebrew Massoretic text, and it is probable that in the course of transmission the Greek has been exposed to corruption to a very considerable extent. At least two recensions of the Greek text are in existence, represented by the Vatican and Alexandrian manuscripts respectively, of which the latter is nearer to the Hebrew original, and has apparently been conformed to it at a later period with a view to removing discrepancies; and this process has naturally impaired its value as a witness to the primary shape of the Greek text itself. There are therefore three existing types of the text of Samuel; the Massoretic Hebrew and Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus in the Greek. The original form of the Septuagint, if it could be recovered, would represent a text anterior to the Massoretic recension, differing from, but not necessarily superior to, the latter. For the restoration of the Greek text, the Old Latin, where it is available, affords valuable help. It is evident then that in any given instance the agreement of these three types or recensions of the text is the strongest possible witness to the originality and authenticity of a reading; but that the weight attaching to the testimony of A will not in general, on account of the history of its text, be equivalent to that of either of the other two.

VII. Ethical and Religious Teaching.

The religious teaching and thought of the two Books of Samuel it is not difficult to summarize. The books are in form a historical record of events; but they are at the same time and more particularly a history conceived with a definite purpose, and made to subserve a definite moral and religious aim. It is not a narrative of events solely, or the preservation of historical detail, that the writer has in view, but rather to elucidate and enforce from Israel's experience the significance of the divine and moral government of the nation. The duty of king and people alike is to obey Yahweh, to render strict and willing deference to His commands, and on this path of obedience alone will national independence and prosperity be secured. With the strongest emphasis, and with uncompromising severity, sin even in the highest places is condemned; and an ideal of righteousness is set forth in language and with an earnestness which recalls the exhortations of Deuteronomy. Thus the same is true of the Books of Samuel as is manifest in the preceding books of the canonical Old Testament: they are composed with a didactic aim. The experience of the past is made to afford lessons of warning and encouragement for the present. To the writer or writers - the history of the development and upbuilding of the Israelite kingdom is pregnant with a deeper meaning than lies on the surface, and this meaning he endeavors to make plain to his readers through the record. The issues of the events and the events themselves are under the guidance and control of Yahweh, who always condemns and punishes wrong, but approves and rewards righteousness. Thus the narrative is history utilized to convey moral truth. And its value is to be estimated, not primarily as recording the great deeds of the past, but as conveying ethical teaching; that by means of the history with all its glamor and interest the people may be recalled to a sense of their high duty toward God, and be warned of the inevitable consequences of disobedience to Him.


Upon all points of introduction, criticism and interpretation, the commentaries afford abundant and satisfactory guidance. The principal English commentaries. are by H. P. Smith in Icc , Edinburgh, 1899, and S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel , 2nd edition, Oxford, 1913; A. R. S. Kennedy, "Samuel," New Century Bible , New York, Frowde, 1905; in German by R. Budde, 1902, W. Nowack, 1902, A. Klostermann, 1887. See also the articles "Samuel" in Hdb , Encyclopedia Biblica and Jewish Encyclopedia .

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [6]

Two books of the Old Testament, originally one, and divided in the Septuagint into two, entitled respectively the First and Second Books of Kings; the narrative embraces a period of 125 years, and extends from the time of the Judges to the close of the reign of David, including the intermediate judgeship of Samuel and the reign of Saul, with the view of exalting the prophetic office on the one hand and the kingly office on the other.