THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
The First Book of Samuel is really only the first part of a larger history, which was later divided into two parts. When the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible was made, the translators divided both the Book of Samuel and the Book of Kings into two, and each of the four parts was called a book of the Kings, for which reason the subtitle in the Authorized Version is retained, “The First Book of the Kings.” Books of Samuel the historical account is called, not because Samuel was the author, although he may have left some written notes, but because he is the prominent figure in the earlier history and because he exerted a very pronounced influence in Israel even when the form of government had been changed to a monarchy. “The influence of Samuel, who had called and anointed both Saul and David, was felt in Israel throughout the reign of Saul, and must have been a decisive factor in the training of David for his future task. Beginning with a biographical sketch of Samuel’s life before he became the last Judge of Israel, the author takes up the thread of history at the point where the Book of Judges drops it after relating the end of Samson, and carries it forward to the close of David’s reign.” Samuel, the last Judge of Israel, Saul, the first king of Israel, and David, the greatest king of Israel, are the three leading characters. But the book was not merely written “to be a record of the lives of three great men whom God gave to His people, although their story is full of human interest. The Christian reader will retain the proper point of view, that this story sets forth the providential control which God exercised over the affairs of His people, achieving His purposes without fail.”
The author of the book does not mention his name, and it is impossible from the contents to make a definite statement regarding the authorship except this, that it was not composite. Samuel himself could not have written the entire history, since his death is related, 1 Sam. 25, 1; 28, 3; also the division of the people into two separate kingdoms is referred to, which took place long after Samuel’s death, 1 Sam. 11, 8; 15, 4; cp. 27, 6. It is probable that some prophet living not long after the time of Solomon is the author. The First Book of Samuel is easily divisible into two parts, the restoration of the theocratic government in Israel under Samuel, the last Judge, who also was a prophet of the Lord; the history of Saul’s reign, namely, his first campaigns,” disobedience, and rejection, his persecution of David, his war against the Philistines, and his death. 1) The lessons of this history are readily applied.