This is part one of a series where we will take a look at several of the themes found throughout the book of 1 Samuel. But, before we tackle a verse-by-verse run though of the text, we’ll take a look at the background context and other issues that can help us understand some of the larger themes of the Old Testament.
In the Hebrew Bible, First and Second Samuel are combined into one book (Our Christian forefathers separated them due to the original book’s length). Along with that, Samuel is part of a group of books known as the “Former Prophets”, which consists of Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel and 1& 2 Kings.
Now, we find a unified theme starting back in Deuteronomy and maintained through 2 Kings, and especially in an important passage in Deuteronomy 17, where we find Moses giving the Israelites rules for living in the Promised Land. God knew that they would eventually have a king, and they would need these rules to guide the people and their king.
You see, contrary to what many people assume, the Israelites were always supposed to have a king. It wasn’t innately bad for them to have a king. In fact, it was a good thing. But it was supposed to only be the type of king that God wanted to them to have, not the type of king that the surrounding nations had at the time.Therefore, LEADERSHIP is a common thread running through Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. And what we see is the Jewish people not knowing quite what to do without a single leader as Moses and Joshua had been. And in the Book of Judges, we see that they don’t do very well at all. All throughout Judges, we see them continually doing things their own way and going off in their own direction.
And by the time we get to Judges 17, we see a phrase repeated four times in the book: “In those days, there was no king in Israel. Everyman did what was right in his own eyes.” These words prepare us for the rise of a coming king later on, showing us that the people of Israel were leaderless. Everybody did as they each wanted to do without any accountability. So, by the time we get to the end of Judges, we see some real moral and spiritual chaos, where they make decisions without God’s direction, there is rape, murder and all sorts of evilness going on among them.
And then comes the book of 1 Samuel.
This book is a celebration of the rise of kingship in Israel. The main character is going to be David, but the first character the book spotlights is Samuel, therefore it is named after him. In the next several podcasts, we will look at the lives of God’s people, the decisions they and their leaders make and examine why this rise of kingship is celebrated as it is through the book of 1 Samuel.