“We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 1 Samuel 8:19-20
What’s Going On?
As the period of the Judges comes to an end, the people of Israel decide they want to be like the nations around them and have a king to give them some national security and leadership. They seem to have forgotten that God is the only leader they really need. This is the beginning of the era I call United Israel, when they move from a Theocracy (God-led nation) to a Monarchy (man-led nation). Samuel, a prophet who hears from the Lord from a very young age, will serve both as the final Judge and the High Priest of Israel.
It is Samuel who will anoint the first two kings of the United Kingdom of Israel – first Saul and later, David. While it’s easy to see the importance of these two men as they finally bring all Israel together into one Kingdom, don’t overlook the importance of Samuel as God’s instrument to bring about many changes in the way Israel has functioned for the last four hundred years. Once the Kingdom is established, it is Samuel who will truly be the leader in many ways. Samuel will be the one to call Israel to repentance and turn their hearts back to God.
Saul is chosen by lot and all Israel accepts him to rule over them. Saul’s son Jonathan will lead Israel in an attack against the Philistines, but instead of waiting for the priest Samuel to offer a sacrifice before the battle, Saul will offer it himself and in so doing he will lose God’s favor. David, a young shepherd boy, is then chosen to be the future king over Israel. Even though David is chosen to be Saul’s successor, it will be many years before he actually becomes king.
Saul, who is being tormented by evil spirits, has young David come and play the harp to soothe him. When David bravely stands up against Goliath, he catches the attention of Israel and Saul’s jealousy begins to take root. David soon advances in Saul’s army and becomes close friends with Jonathan, Saul’s son. When Saul tries to kill him, Jonathan helps David escape and he flees Israel. He spends the next few years running from Saul and twice has the opportunity to kill him but spares his life because he respects that Saul is the God-appointed ruler of Israel. The book of 1 Samuel ends when Jonathan is killed in battle and Saul takes his own life before allowing the Philistines to kill him. While we know that God has already appointed David to be the next king and Samuel has already anointed him, the book comes to an end here with no king ruling over Israel.
When and Where Are We?
It is about 1000 BC and the twelve tribes are combined to form the Nation of Israel.
- Hannah – Samuel’s mother
- Eli – the High Priest in Israel at the beginning of the book.
- Samuel – raised by Eli and follows him to become the next High Priest; anoints Saul, and later David, to be king over Israel
- Saul – first king over the united nation of Israel
- Jonathan – Saul’s son
- David – shepherd boy who plays the harp for Saul, kills Goliath, serves in the army of Israel, and will eventually become the second king of Israel after Saul dies.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth” Psalm 46:10
Weekly Reading Assignment:
- Monday: 1 Samuel 1-5
- Tuesday: 1 Samuel 6-10
- Wednesday: 1 Samuel 11-15
- Thursday: 1 Samuel 16-20
- Friday: 1 Samuel 21-25
- Saturday: 1 Samuel 26-31