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Date Edit

            The exact date of the authorship of I and II Samuel is unknown; however, based on the contents of the books, one can tentatively place the writing after the reign of Solomon. “In 1 Samuel 27:6 we infer that the divided monarchy had already begun because of the words, ‘Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah until this day’.”[1] This meant that whoever wrote I and II Samuel lived in the divided kingdom. David’s last words are recorded; this implies that the author lived after the time of David’s death. However, the author makes no mention of the conquering of Samaria, so it is most likely that this book was written before the fall of the northern ten tribes.[2]

Author Edit

            The author of the first part of I Samuel is most likely Samuel himself. However, since his death is recorded in I Samuel 25:1, the rest of the book could not have been penned by his hand.

On the basis of the statement in 1 Chronicles 29:29, it has been suggested by some that Samuel composed the early narratives of the book and that his work was later supplemented by the writings of the prophets Nathan and Gad. Others have suggested one of David’s contemporaries, such as Ahima-az (2 Sm 15:27, 36; 17:17), Hushai (15:32; 16:16), or Zabud (1 Kgs 4:5). Presumably these men would have had access to the writings of Samuel, Nathan, and Gad as well as to other sources (see, e.g., 2 Sm 1:18, the Book of Jashar) pertaining to the life and reigns of Saul and David. Who the real author was, however, cannot be determined from available evidence. Whoever it was, it seems to be clear that he lived after the death of Solomon and the division of the kingdom in 930 b.c.[3]

The Talmud claims that Samuel was the human author of Judges, Ruth, and the first part of Samuel. Another possible author would be a prophet of the northern kingdom, who wrote the books from a collection of books, namely, the “Book of Jasher” (II Samuel 1:18) and the “Acts of David.” (I Chronicles 29:29)[4]

To Whom They were Written Edit

The books of I and II Samuel were written to the Jews so that they would have an account of Samuel’s ministry and the beginning of the reigns of Saul and David. However, because there are many important principles in these books, Christians today benefit greatly from reading them.

Why They were Written Edit

The books of I and II Samuel were written mostly as a history book. It was during the era covered by these books that the kingship was established.

Although the author himself never specifically formulates his purpose for writing the book, reflection on its content suggests that the author intends to describe this period of Israel’s history in a way which demonstrates that kingship as requested by the people was a denial of the covenant; kingship as instituted by Samuel was compatible with the covenant; kingship as practiced by Saul failed to correspond to the covenantal ideal; and kingship as practiced by David was an imperfect but true representation of the ideal of the covenantal king.[5]

Another purpose for the writing of II and II Samuel was to “provide an official account of the ministry of Samuel along with the rise and development of the monarchy through the days of King David.”[6] The author intended for the children of Israel to read these books so that they could remember the mistakes they made while during Samuel’s time as judge and Saul and David as kings.  They would remember that during Samuel’s time the sons of Eli were unfit priests, the defeat before the Philistines came because they acted as though God resided in the Ark of the Covenant, and they were premature in asking for a king that they might be like other nations.  They would read and remember that Saul started out humble and in pride disregarded God’s prescribed method of worship and offered a sacrifice rather than waiting for Samuel and disobeyed God in sparing the life of Agag.  They would, in reading the books, be reminded of David’s noble beginning and his lapse into sin and unbelief from time to time and God’s judgments.  Many lessons were recorded to remind the Israelites of God’s dealings with people who obey and disobey His commands.

Historic Background Edit

The book of I Samuel begins with the birth of Samuel, who grew up in the tabernacle. He was made a prophet by God, and was the last judge of Israel. During his time in the tabernacle, the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines and the Ark of the Covenant taken captive; however, the Ark was returned after God punished the Philistines. It stayed in the house of Abinadab for almost one-hundred years. The people of Israel came to Samuel when he was older and asked that he anoint a king to rule over them. They wanted this so that they could be like the nations surrounding them. Samuel, with God’s approval, appointed Saul to be king over Israel. Saul disobeyed God, however, and God choose David the son of Jesse as the next Israelite king. David proved to be an extremely successful military commander, which led to Saul becoming

jealous of David and trying to kill him. David, along with a band of men, fled from Saul and traveled from place to place until Saul was killed in battle with the Philistines. David was then crowned king of Judah, then Israel. After a power struggle with Saul’s military commander, Abner, David finally established his position on the throne. He finally rid the land of the Philistines and recovered the Ark of the Covenant. Because God forbid him to build a temple due to his being a man of war, David instead prepared the plan and materials so that his son might build it.

Most of II Samuel is a record of the results of David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba. His first son died, and his son Ammon raped David’s daughter. Absalom, another one of David’s sons, got revenge by murdering Ammon. Absalom then tried to usurp the throne, but was finally killed by Joab, David’s military leader.

II Samuel ends with David taking a census of Israel. This displeased God, and He asked David which judgment would be carried out: three years of famine, three months of enemy pursuit, or three days of pestilence. David choose three days of pestilence, and 70,000 people died as a result. David, in order to properly atone for his sin, requested Araunah if he might sell David his threshing floor that he might build an altar on it. God then healed Israel of the plague. This same spot became the building site of Solomon’s temple.[7]

Conclusion Edit

The books of I and II Samuel describe the establishment of the kingship in Israel. It also records the life of David, who was called “a man after God’s own heart.” These books show also that even somebody as close to God as David can still sin; however, he can find forgiveness as David did.


[1] Archer, Gleason L. A Survey of Old Testament: Introduction. Chicago, IL, Moody Publishers, 2007, pg. 260.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1891–1892.

[4] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1891.

[5] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1892.

[6] Davis, J. John. Whitcomb, C. John. Israel: From Conquest to Exile: A Commentary on Joshua-2 Kings. Grand Rapids, MI. Baker Book House, 1970. Pg. 23.

[7] Eugene H. Merrill, “2 Samuel,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 482.

For further studies, see also:Edit

Genesis Outline

Exodus Outline

Leviticus Outline

Numbers Outline

Deuteronomy Outline

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