The books of Samuel were originally one book in the Hebrew Canon. The single volume was later divided into two by the translators of the Greek Old Testament. The author of the two books is unknown, but according to Jewish tradition, Samuel had written the earlier portions of 1 Samuel. It is also widely believed, that prophets Nathan and Gad also contributed.
1 Samuel is a book of great beginnings...... and tragic endings. It begins with Eli as High Priest during the time of the Judges, but his life ended in failure as his sacrilegious sons were judged by God, and the sacred Ark of the Covenant fell into enemy hands. Eli’s death marked the decline of the influence of the priesthood and the rise of the prophets in Israel.
1 Samuel records the life of Samuel, the reign and decline of King Saul (Israel’s first king), the choice and preparation of David (Israel’s great king). This book describes Israel’s transition from a theocracy (led by God) to a monarchy (led by a human king).
Samuel was Israel’s last judge, first priest and prophet to serve during the time of a King. He was the best example of what a good judge should be, governing the people by God’s Word and not by his own impulses.
The book of Samuel has more than a biographical interest. The central theme traces God’s gracious and ruling sovereignty in the sad state of affairs in Israel, at the end of the period of Judges by His providential selection of righteous men (Samuel and David), who would eventually establish the nation of Israel into an instrument of His will and a people for Himself.
Despite Israel’s rejection of God as their king, He would prove faithful and eventually see to the appointment of a godly earthly king, David. With King David, God entered into an everlasting covenant that would affect the destiny of both Israel and the entire human race. Israel’s king of excellence would come through David’s lineage. He would be Israel’s Messiah and the Saviour of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat or rams.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” (1 Samuel 15 v 22-23)
Consider the difference between Samuel and Saul. King Saul was characterized by inconsistency, disobedience and self-will. He did not have a heart for God. Samuel was characterized by consistency, obedience and a deep desire for God’s will. He had a genuine desire for God. No government or set of laws can substitute for the rule of God in your heart and life.
Heroic spiritual lives are built by obedience. Like a brick, each obedient act is small in itself. But over a period of time, the acts will pile up and a huge wall of strong character will be built. Believers should strive for consistent obedience each day. God wants us to obey, serve and follow him with our heart, rather than to maintain a superficial commitment based on tradition or ceremonial systems.