Jared Smith's Bible Reading

25 Bible Reading – Book Of 1 Samuel

A Transcript Of The Video Study

In our previous study, I pointed out the remaining thirty books of the Old Testament fit into one of three sections of history—the United Kingdom of Israel, the Divided Kingdom of Israel and the Exile/Return of Judah. The book of 1 Samuel belongs to the first of these time periods, and is the tenth book to appear on the timeline.

The time period covered by the book of 1 Samuel is around 115 years. There are 31 chapters, and it takes approximately 2 hours and 5 minutes to read in a single sitting.

We believe there are three authors of the book—Samuel, who wrote chapters 1-24; Nathan and Gad, who wrote chapters 25-31. We read in 1 Samuel 10:25, ”Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD.” The death of Samuel is recorded in the twenty-fifth chapter, which means the last seven chapters must have been written by someone else. According to 1 Chronicles 29:29,30, these last seven chapters were most likely written by Nathan and Gad. We read, “Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer…”. Henceforth, we have good reason to conclude the book of 1 Samuel was written by these three men—Samuel, Nathan and Gad.

Now, as interesting as the human authorship may be, I must hasten to point out that 1 Samuel is a divinely inspired book, meaning God breathed out His words through Samuel, Nathan and Gad. The words of this book, therefore, are the words of God. They are able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. They are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that we might be matured in the faith, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim 3:15-17)

The name given to the book, 1 Samuel, is borrowed from the man who stands between the time of the Judges and that of the Kings and the Prophets. The time of the Judges extends between the death of Joshua and that of Samuel, a period of around 350 years. The time of the Kings and the Prophets extends between the reign of Saul and that of Zedekiah, a period of around 450 years. Between these two periods is Samuel, the man who served as a bridge linking these two time periods together. On the one hand, Samuel was appointed by God to serve as the last Judge of Israel, and on the other hand, God appointed him to serve as the first Prophet of Israel. “But wait a minute,” you say, “There were other prophets before Samuel!” That is true, but those who served as prophets before the time of Samuel did so in an unofficial capacity. What I mean is this, the office of Prophet as an institution did not exist until the time of Samuel, and it is in that sense Samuel became the first prophet of Israel, within the context of an institution. In addition to serving as a Judge and Prophet, God also appointed Samuel to anoint the first two kings of Israel—Saul and David. We therefore have, in this man Samuel, the link between the first nine books of the Old Testament and the last thirty books of the Old Testament.

Now, I would like to provide an overview of 1 Samuel, which I hope will serve as a guide for your reading of the book.

There are four men, each with sons, whose stories make up the content of the book. In (1:1-4:22), we have Eli, the Priest-Judge; in (1:1-4:22), we have Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas; in (1:1-25:1), we have Samuel, the Prophet-Judge; in (8:1-22), we have Samuel’s two sons, Joel and Abiah; in (9:1-10:16), we have Kish, the owner of asses; in (9:1-31:13), we have Kish’s son, Saul, the first king of Israel; in (16:1-22:5), we have Jesse, the owner of sheep; and in (16:1-31:13), we have Jesse’s son, David, the second king of Israel. In my judgement, these are the major divisions of 1 Samuel.

Now, allow me to fill in the gaps with a little more information. Let’s begin by looking at the four fathers:

In (1:1-4:22), we have Eli, the Priest-Judge. This man became the mentor of Samuel, but eventually proved himself a weak leader, tolerant of sin and unwilling to rock the boat with his wayward children. Although his sons were wicked priests, he did little to stop their exploitation of the people and sacrilege of the ordinances of the Lord. In the end, his wicked sons were killed in battle, and when news of their deaths was given to Eli, in horror he fell back in his chair and broke his neck.

In (1:1-25:1), we have Samuel, the Prophet-Jude. This man became mentor to Saul and David, proving himself time and again a strong and courageous leader, contending for righteousness and remaining faithful to the Lord. However, after appointing his two sons to serve as Judges, they proved themselves to be wicked men, so much so that the people of Israel rejected their leadership and demanded Samuel give them a king to rule over the nation. Samuel died an old man of natural causes.

In (9:1-10:16), we have Kish, the owner of asses. This man belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, is identified as one with great wealth and influence, and was the father of Saul. Having lost some of his livestock, he sent Saul to recover the asses. It was on that occasion Samuel and Saul met each other, and Kish’s son was anointed the first king of Israel. We know nothing more about Kish than that he was the owner of a house and farm. The last we read of him, he is worried about the welfare of his son, having not returned in a timely manner with the lost asses.

In (16:1-22:5), we have Jesse, the owner of sheep. This man lived in Bethlehem, is identified as the grandson of Boaz and Ruth, and was the father of David. Having been summoned by Samuel, Jesse sent for David who at the time was watching over the sheep. It was on that occasion Samuel and David met each other, and Jesse’s son was anointed the second king of Israel. We know Jesse was the owner of a house and farm, and on various occasions assembled with David while his son was on the run as a fugitive. The last we read of him, he is given refuge with his wife in Mizpeh, by the king of Moab.

And so, these are the four fathers whose stories make up four of the eight main sections of the book. Let’s now consider their sons:

In (1:1-4:22), we have Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. They followed in their father’s shoes serving as priests, but unlike their father, they were wicked men. We are told they were the sons of Belial, meaning they were idolators, and therefore they knew not the Lord. As priests, they exploited the people, something which many pastors and gospel preachers are doing today. These brothers joined the army of Israel when they went to battle against the Philistines, at which time they were killed. In fact, the Philistines not only conquered the army at that time, but they took as a prize the ark of the covenant. Now, as I mentioned a few minutes ago, when the news was brought back to Eli that his two sons had been killed in battle, and the ark of the covenant taken by the Philistines, in horror he fell back in his chair and broke his neck. At that same time, the wife of Phinehas, one of Eli’s dead sons, was pregnant. When she heard the report that her father-in-law was dead, along with her husband, and that the ark of the covenant had been taken by the Philistines, she went into labor, and when her son was born, called his name Ichabod, saying, “The glory is departed from Israel.” And so is always the case, my dear friends, when God removes His gospel preachers and hides His presence from a people or nation—Ichabod is the name—it may be truly said, “The glory of the Lord is departed from this place!”

In (8:1-22), we have Samuel’s two sons, Joel and Abiah. They also followed in their father’s shoes, having been appointed by him to serve as Judges of the people. However, unlike their father, they were wicked men. They were in the habit of taking bribes from the people, and therefore perverting judgment and oppressing the righteous. Very similar to the wicked sons of Eli who abused their office as Priests, so the wicked sons of Samuel abused their office as Judges. As we’re told in Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” And such was the case in this instance—the sins of Samuel’s sons was a reproach upon the nation of Israel, resulting in the people rejecting the tyrants, and demanding a king be given to them. Now, we are not told how Joel and Abiah died, but their influence appears to have come to a sudden end in chapter 8, for we read nothing more of them in the book.

In (9:1-31:13), we have Kish’s son, Saul, the first king of Israel. We are told he was a tall, goodly and choice young man. He started out as a herdsman, keeping watch over his father’s asses. Now, there is uncertainty whether Saul had been truly born again, for there are parts of his life and testimony which point towards the behavior of a reprobate sinner. Having said that, I believe the record bears witness that Saul was indeed numbered among God’s elect people. One of the evidences of Saul’s new birth came quickly after he had been anointed by Samuel—he received the gift of prophecy, resulting in his ability to share prophetic revelations in the name of Jehovah. However, he was quite carnal in his behavior, eventually proving himself to be a weak and selfish leader, choosing to follow his own understanding on matters, rather than obeying the commandments of the Lord. Now, this didn’t make him an unbeliever, but it did demonstrate that he was an immature and backslidden believer. Saul served as king for 40 years, the last part of his reign obsessed with killing David. Again, before we judge Saul an unbeliever for such behavior, let us remember that David, a man we know without a shadow of doubt belongs to God’s elect people, was himself an adulterer and murderer. These dark marks in the testimonies of Saul and David are not designed to condone sin in the believer, rather, they are recorded for our learning that we might not forget that each and every one of us are sinners by nature, and that sinful nature continues with us after our new birth. My dear friends, please listen to me, the grounds of our acceptance with God is not the works of righteousness that we have done, or the works of righteousness that we think we do as believers in Christ, but rather, it is always and only the works of righteousness Christ has done for us, and the Father has imputed to us. Forgiveness of sins is based on the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and unless we come to the Father through Him, we are not accepted in His sight. One of the hallmarks as believers in Christ is that we are given to know the depravity of our hearts; and that is what the testimonies of Saul and David teach us—in our natural condition, according to our sinful natures, we are monsters of iniquity and despisers of God. But, another hallmark as believers in Christ is that the grace of God unto salvation is greater than our sin, and though we deserve not His love, or His mercy or saving power, yet that is the glory and riches of His grace bestowed upon us, sinners! It was bestowed upon Saul and David, and it is bestowed upon us, His elect people!

Alight, well, this brings us to the last section of the book. In (16:1-31:13), we have Jesse’s son, David, the second king of Israel. We are told he was a ruddy, handsome and godly young man. He started out as a shepherd, keeping watch over his father’s sheep. He was most definitely a regenerate sinner, as the testimony of his life makes quite clear throughout the record of 1 Samuel. We do not know exactly when he was born again, or made a public profession of his faith, but, based on some of his statements in the book of Psalms, there is reason to believe he was regenerated early in life, even while he was shepherding his father’s sheep. After David had been anointed by Samuel, he received the gift of prophecy, enabled by the Lord to share prophetic revelations in the name of Jehovah. Unlike Saul, however, David exhibited much piety and godliness in his character and conduct. He proved himself to be a strong leader. You will read, for instance, of a couple of opportunities David was given to kill Saul, but he laid not his hands against the Lord’s anointed, choosing rather to suffer the reproach and obey the commandments of the Lord. That, my friends, is the type of integrity and faithfulness that characterizes all good leadership. In fact, that is the type of integrity and faithfulness that characterizes the new nature imparted to the soul by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. You know, around a thousand years after David lived, the Apostle Paul wrote of these qualities in Romans 12:17-21: ”Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” And that, my dear brethren, should be the gospel precept that guides us when we are face to face with an enemy. If at all possible, exercise longsuffering, bear the reproach, entrust yourself to a good and faithful Creator, assured that all things are working together for your good, as He Who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for you, how shall He not with Him also freely give you all things? You have more reason to rest in the Lord, than attempting to do unto others what they have done unto you. As the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:5-7: ”Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Well, as you will discover in the record of 1 Samuel, although David is anointed by Samuel in the sixteenth chapter, yet he doesn’t actually ascend to the throne until after the death of Saul, which occurs in the last chapter of the book. This means that the story of David in 1 Samuel is a record of his life before he became the second king of Israel. During these years, he lived as a fugitive in the wilderness and mountains, fleeing for his life from Saul and those who were seeking his destruction.

Now, in my view, these are the major sections to the book of 1 Samuel—four fathers and their sons. However, that isn’t to say these are the only characters recorded in the book. There are many men and women whose lives and testimonies are worth your careful consideration—women such as Hannah, Samuel’s mother, full of piety and faith; and Abigail, David’s second wife, full of wisdom and integrity; or men such as Jonathan, the son of Saul and best friend of David, a discerning spirit and very courageous.

Well, the best I can do with the time we have left is to align all the characters recorded in the book of 1 Samuel with the framework of sovereign grace.

According to my count, there are 50,685 individuals, plus a wide range of groups without numbers.

There are 13 individuals which belong to God’s elect people, among which are men and women such as Elkanah, Hannah, Eli, Samuel, an unnamed prophet, Saul, Moses, Aaron, Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, David and the prophet Gad. In addition to these individuals, there is a group of unnumbered men belonging to Saul’s company.

There are 17 individuals which belong to God’s non-elect people, among which are men and women such as Hophni, Phinehas, five lords, Joel, Abiah, Sisera, the king of Moab, Goliath, Doeg, Nabal, the witch of Endor and two of Saul’s companions. In addition to these individuals, there are eight groups of unnumbered men and women—the Ashdod inhabitants, the Dagon priests, the Philistine lords, priests and diviners, a company of prophets and the children of Belial.

There are 50,655 individuals for which we do not have sufficient information to know which group they belong. Among the names would be Peninnah, Peninnah’s wife, Peninnah’s sons and daughters, Hannah’s further three sons and two daughters, Ichabod, Ahinoam (Saul’s wife), Ahimaaz (Saul’s father-in-law), Jonathan (Saul’s son), David’s 400 men and 85 priests at Nob. In addition to these individuals, there are eleven groups of unnumbered men and women—some midwives, the men of Kirjathjearim, some young maidens, some messengers, the Bethlehem elders, Saul’s servants, messengers and footmen, Achish servants, the inhabitants at Nob and Nabal’s young men.

And of course, this overview of 1 Samuel, aligned with the framework of sovereign grace, reminds us of the masterplan of God for the ages—He administers His grace to every man and woman of the human race. If they be numbered among the non-elect, then they are the recipients of the common grace of God unto creation; but, if they be numbered among the elect, then not only are they the recipients of the common grace of God unto creation, they are also the recipients of the special grace of God unto salvation. My dear friends, let us keep this central message in the forefront our thoughts, as we read the book of 1 Samuel this week. Ask yourself, as you read the book, is there anything in the testimonies of the men and women recorded in the book, to which you can personally and experientially relate? You too, are a recipient of God’s grace. You mustn’t forget that! How is it that God is administering His grace to you?

Well, until we meet again next week, I would like to wish upon you every blessing in the Lord!