AUTHOR: of both books is unknown although Jewish tradition
suggests Samuel in chapters in which his history is recorded, with Nathan
and Gad completing the book (1 Sam. 10:25; 1 Chron. 29:29). It is possible
an unnamed prophet compiled the books of Samuel from the writings of
Samuel, Gad, Nathan and other sources. It is likely these two books bear
his name because of Samuel’s dominate role in transition from the judges
to a monarchy. The same person who wrote 1 Samuel also wrote 2 Samuel as
TIME: covers about 120 years from 1090 to 970 B.C. The focus is
on the last of the judges to the establishment of the kingdom. First
Chronicles runs parallel in time. First Samuel opens with the birth of
Samuel and 2 Samuel closes with the last days of David. The time covers
three important characters in the transition to a monarchy: Saul
(1050-1010 B.C.), David (1010-970 B.C.), Solomon (970-931 B.C.) and the
division of the kingdom about 931 B.C. Second Samuel begins with David at
the peak of his career and focuses on the events in David’s forty year
reign as the king who united Judah and Israel.
Clyde Francisco describes the culture in Samuel as filled with
“religious short comings. . . enemies were tortured, polygamy was common
in the upper class.” The centralized government “exerted a strong unifying
influence on religious thought and practices. The poor had a right to
justice, adultery was recognized as a great crime, and more emphasis was
placed on the rights of the individuals” (p. 56).
Israel’s biggest enemy was the Philistines whom David subdued. They
lived along the Mediterranean coast and their strength lay in their
possession of iron weapons. We get the name “Palestine” from these
inhabitants of the land who migrated from Greece and Crete. The
Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant which symbolized God’s
presence with His people. The Israelites foolishly thought the ark would
protect them if they took it with them into battle. The false gods Israel
contended with ere Canaanite gods.
PURPOSE: is to record the establishment of the kingdom and the
Davidic covenant by Yahweh. The people chose Saul, a Benjaminite, but God
chose the dynasty of David from the tribe of Judah. It documents the
transition from a group of tribes into a monarchy. God’s idea was for
Israel to be a theocracy in which King David is the type of a Greater
David, the Messiah.
First Samuel begins where the judges left off, “In those days Israel
had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (Jud. 21:25). Samuel gives us the
transition from the last judge to the people’s choice of a king and later
God’s choice (8:5; 15:23). Second Samuel gives us the highlights of the
reign of king David and the relationship of Israel to her sovereign God.
It stresses the spiritual relationship of “a man after God’s own heart”
with its ensuing blessings and resulting failures and punishment when God
is not his desire. 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12 are the critical turning
point in the life of David and his reign.
THEME: of the books is the covenant with David. Yahweh is
faithful to His promises and will help His people to accomplish His
eternal purposes. God is sovereign in the affairs of His nation.
Everything moves toward and is centered on the Davidic covenant. Human sin
and bad judgment jeopardized the Davidic covenant, but God overrules it to
accomplish His purposes.
The theme is developed around three characters Samuel, Saul and David.
Samuel is the last of the judges of Israel (7:6, 15-17). Saul was the
first king and the people’s choice; David is God’s choice. His reign as
king is described in Second Samuel. How ironic that His people wanted a
king, but not the King!
The author gives us an interpretation of Israel’s history from the
prophetic point of view. He interprets the relation of these three key men
in the establishment of the kingdom. It is shown that Samuel prepared the
foundations of the kingdom; Saul tried to establish it but failed; and
David succeeded in establishing it. The God of Israel continues to be the
true king of Israel. The earthly king is Yahweh’s representative on earth
and responsible to Him. The success or failure of the earthly king
depended upon his relationship with Yahweh.
J. W. Watts said, “The theme of 1 and 2 Samuel is the establishment of
the kingdom and the theme of 1 and 2 Kings is the taking away of the
The principle of obedience to Yahweh beings blessings and disobedience
brings judgment is illustrated in the life of David in 2 Samuel. However,
God will pursue His eternal purpose and overrule man’s disobedience. Even though David commits adultery
and murder for Bathsheba, she is the wife who gives birth to Solomon the
successor to the kingdom. The intrigue and murder in David’s family is
overruled so that God’s chosen reigns on the throne after David’s death.
Samuel, meaning, “El is His name,” or “name of God,” is the
chosen man God used to usher in a new period in the history of Israel. He
was Israel’s kingmaker and was the greatest Old Testament character since
Moses. He was a Levite, a Nazarite, prophet and judge at a critical time
in Biblical history. God used him to shape the future of the kingdom.
Israel clamored for a king under Samuel’s rule as a judge.
“The truly successful pattern of government for Israel was a delicate
balance—not a theocracy or monarchy but theocracy through monarchy.
God must always be the true ruler if Israel was to be His people” (La Sor,
Hubbard, Bush, Old Testament Survey, p. 235). Even when
Israel had a human king, he was to be only the representative of the
divine King. The people did not understand this when they chose Saul a
Benjaminite. If Yahweh were not King, any human king would not meet the
demands for a righteous king. The king was to be viewed as the earthly
head of God’s theocratic kingdom.
Saul is described as daring, brash, lack of spiritual
sensibilities, sincere but artificial, dangerously unpredictable with an
explosive disposition, rash and flagrantly disobedient to God. He
deliberately disobeyed Yahweh by saving Agag, the king of the Amalekites
and their best sheep and oxen. An evil spirit came upon Saul (1 Sam.
16:14-23), and when David became the military hero Saul turned bitter with
envy (17:1-28:2). His tragic end was inquiring spiritual help from the
witch at Endor (28:3-25).
R. B. Jones says, “The king whom the people selected in preference to
the Lord proved to be unworthy and weak. But the children of Israel
refused to learn their lesson. In deed, it seems hard for the nation to
learn that only the Lord can be a worthy King” (p. 122).
David is the king the LORD God placed on the throne. He was
anointed when he was about fifteen years old and was king in waiting for
another fifteen years (1 Sam. 16:1-30:31). For almost 400 years the kings
in Jerusalem would be sons of David.
David as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22) was a successful and
prosperous king until his sin of adultery and murder. After his sin with
Bathsheba his life and kingdom were chastised. Rulers of the ancient world
generally exercised absolute power so it is a wonder that the prophet
Nathan was not killed (2 Sam. 12:1-14). God’s mercy was David’s only hope
(Ps. 32; 51). No attempt is made by the author to excuse his glaring sins.
The Old Testament is remarkably honest in dealing with its heroic
The great importance of David is seen in God’s covenant with him.
“God’s promise of a Redeemer becomes still more specific in the covenant
He made with David that his seed would sit upon his throne forever. The
Seed of the Woman is to be the Seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob from the
tribe of Judah and of the line of David. David was a type of the Greater
King, the Messiah to come. The Kingdom of Israel was a type of the
Messianic Kingdom to come” (Jones, p. 126). The apostle Peter declared the
fulfillment of this great prophecy (1 Sam. 7:12-16; 1 Chron. 17:11-14) in
his sermon at Pentecost (Acts. 2:30-36; cf. Rom. 1:3; Rev. 22:16). As
Jesus came into Jerusalem the people shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of
David!” (Matt. 21:9, 15). David is referred to 58 times in the New
God promised David that the throne of his kingdom would be established
forever which was fulfilled in the eternal reign of David's Greater Son,
Jesus Christ. Cf. 2 Sam. 7:16; 1 Kings 2:4; 1 Chron. 22:8-10; 2 Chron.
7:17-18; Ps. 89:3-4, 27-29, 34-37; 132:11; Amos 9:11-12; Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1,
10; Micah 5:2, 4; Jer. 22:29; 23:5-6; 33:20-21; Zech. 3:8, 9; 6:12, 13;
9:10; 12:8; 13:1; Lk. 1:30-33; Matt. 1:1-18.
The foundation for the messianic theology is seen in the hope that one
day a Davidic king would meet the conditions and bring the restoration of
the full Davidic covenant (Jer. 33:14-22). The covenant would be renewed
through the ideal Davidic king, Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment of the
Davidic covenant with a truly eternal kingdom.
IMPORTANCE OF THE KINGDOM: J. W. Watts explains: “the kingdom in
Israel meant the kingdom of God; the success of the human king depended
upon obedience to God; failure to obey led to rejection of Saul as king.”
It is also to be noted the “submission to the will of Yahweh, even after
his great sin, led to establishment of the line of David forever.”
Samuel’s focus is clear: Yahweh your God is your King (1 Sam. 12:12). The
king was appointed by Yahweh and if he served Yahweh it would be well for
him, but if not Yahweh would be against him (12:13-15). We see the
principle clearly in the lives of Saul and David. It is of note that the
expression “the servant of Yahweh” is never used of Saul, or by Saul.
However, this is the emphasis in the case of king David. The “anointed of
Yahweh” is a divine ordination to an office symbolized with anointing oil.
The “servant of Yahweh” was appointed by Yahweh and was successful because
he learned obedience (2 Sam. 3:18; 7:5, 8, 19-29).
Samuel is a powerful message that nothing is out of God’s jurisdiction.
No event, no location, no person is beyond His control. G. Campbell Morgan
said, “The ultimate victory of God is independent of the attitudes of
individuals and people towards Him.”
The people cried, “Make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
And God said, “They have rejected me, that I should not be King over