Reading the Bible together
Read on your own or with others, whichever
This leaflet is just a brief overview of the ‘big picture’ of 1 Samuel.
If you have been reading the Bible for some time, you will be aware there is much more to this book.
If you are new to reading the Bible, don’t worry too much if there are details you do not quite get at the moment – focus on the ‘big picture’.
1 Samuel – Introduction
1 & 2 Samuel tell us about a major change in the way that God ruled and governed
in Israel. Up until this point, God had led His people through the judges. From
this point on, He will appoint kings with a responsibility to lead His people in the
way they should go.
Each of the books deals with a particular part of this history. 2 Samuel shows us
the reign of King David, Israel’s greatest king in the Old Testament. It paints
David honestly as a godly, but imperfect king, and we are left realising that he is
not the ultimate hope for God’s people. We are left waiting for David’s greater
son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Samuel deals with the transition from the last judge, Samuel, to the failed king,
Saul and the king to be, David. It shows us the type of king that God chooses for
His people and the preparation that he is given.
1 Samuel – Outline
1. One last judge: 1 Samuel 1-7
1 Samuel begins by introducing us to the family of Elkanah, and specifically his
wife Hannah. She is unable to have children and brings this to the Lord. He
performs a miracle and Samuel is born. Like other miraculous births in the Bible,
this child is going to grow up to be somebody special in God’s plan.
The priesthood is failing. Eli loves God, but has failed to train his children in
God’s ways. Israel is in decline and eventually loses a battle with the Philistines
who capture the ‘Ark of the Covenant’, which is the symbol of God’s presence
with His people. Notice how we are shown that it is Israel that has failed, not God.
This section ends with God rescuing His people through Samuel.
2. The peoples’ king: 1 Samuel 8-15
Like Eli’s family, Samuel’s sons do not walk in God’s ways. The Israelites decide
to take matters into their own hand, and rather than look to God to provide the next
leader, they demand a king like the other nations have (1 Samuel 8:5).
Israel’s first king is a man named Saul. He is everything that the people are after.
Strong, handsome and a rallying point for the people. It all starts off well, but it
soon becomes evident that his love for God is not what it should be.
This section ends with Saul being rejected by God because of his disobedience.
3. A king after God’s own heart: 1 Samuel 16-20
In chapter 16 it is time to choose another king. This time, though, it will not be
the peoples’ king, but God’s king that is chosen. Samuel is sent to Bethlehem to
anoint a boy named David, the great grandson of Ruth and Boaz, to be the next
In the following chapters we see how God prepares him for the role by giving
him a position in the palace and a friendship with Jonathan. However, the most
important thing we see is his heart. He is a young man who knows God, loves
God and is concerned for the honour of God and for His people.
This section ends with David fleeing for his life from a jealous Saul.
4. David on the run: 1 Samuel 21-31
The last section of the book deals with the time when David was on the run from
Saul. There are various key themes:
- David is not perfect. He doesn’t always do the right thing and at times needs the intervention of others to prevent him doing wrong things.
- God is faithful. At every turn, God has David’s back and safely brings him through some very dangerous situations.
- God is in charge. In the end, despite Saul’s protests God’s king will sit on
A number of the Psalms of David were written during this time of exile. See Psalm 18, 34 and 52 as some examples.
The book ends with the death of Saul, and the rest of the story is picked up in 2 Samuel.
Asking the questions the Bible wants you to ask
What does this book teach us about Jesus? (Luke 24:45-47)
What does this book teach us about yourself? (James 1:23 & 2 Tim 3:16-17)
How were you encouraged? (Romans 15:4)
How were you corrected? (2 Tim 3:16-17)
What did you learn that helps you to build up the church (Eph 4:11-6)
What did you learn that helps you love the Lord your God? (Matt 22:37-40)
What has helped you love your neighbour as yourself? (Matt 22:37-40)