Establishing and Anticipating God's Kingdom and King
The Book of Samuel was written anonymously, though Jewish tradition and the best scriptural indications clearly point to the prophet Samuel as the most prominent penman, joined by the prophets Nathan and Gad (see 1 Chronicles 29:29).
There is no explicit textual indication of the date of the Book of Samuel. However, we do know that Saul's kingship began in 1050 B.C. Furthermore, we know that Samuel anointed Saul king when "Samuel became old" (1 Sam 8:1)—a reference that most scholars agree suggests an age somewhere near 50 to 60 years. If this is accurate, that would place Samuel's birth around 1110 B.C. This means that the Book of Samuel (including our 1 and 2 Samuel) covers approximately 140 years of history.
To present an historical narrative of Israel’s transition from a theocratic confederacy to a theocratic monarchy; God’s kingship to God’s king.
To reveal that God is the only true King, obedience the only wise course, and God’s Kingdom will come with God’s King. To call God’s people in the present to live with increasing anticipation for God’s Kingdom and King. To demonstrate that God alone is man’s true King and God’s Kingdom man’s heaven.
A Book about God's Kingdom and King
Continuing the historical narrative from the book of Judges, the book of Samuel records the transition in Israel's history from the period of judges to a theocratic monarchy. As with all of Scripture, this historical narrative illustrates and puts on display the sovereignty of Yahweh. This major theme is clearly seen in the words of chapter two, which is replete with references to Yahweh's sovereignty. Repeatedly Hannah sings out in prayer, it is the Lord who "kills and makes alive … brings down to Sheol and raises up … makes poor and rich … brings low [and] exalts … raises the poor from the dust … keeps the feet of His godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness" (1 Sam 2:6-9). This interwoven theme of God's sovereignty is first manifested in the birth of Samuel. Hannah's barrenness was an illustration of the Lord's sovereign control, both in His ability to open her womb to bear a child and in His pre-ordained arrangement of the situation to bring about the birth and dedication of a mighty instrument. The text reveals that it is not Eli's righteousness that makes Samuel faithful, but rather it was the Lord Himself (1 Sam 2:26-35, 19-20). When the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant in chapter four, it was the Sovereign Lord who directed and secured its return. When Israel demands a king, it was Yahweh who chose and directed Samuel to Saul to be anointed king over Israel (1 Sam 9:1-20; 10:1, 9). Furthermore, the book of Samuel presents the "Spirit of God" to affect His sovereign power and will through the instruments of His choosing (1 Sam 11:6). When Saul disobeys the Lord and repeatedly falters, Yahweh sovereignly elects David to be anointed as king and directs Samuel in the identification of David for that purpose. David gives the glory to "the living God" and declares to Goliath that "the LORD will deliver you up into my hands" (1 Sam 17:36, 46). David's defeat of Goliath, his repeated escapes from Saul and multiple opportunities to slay him, and David's many military victories, all testify to the sovereignty of Yahweh.
Closely related to the theme of Yahweh's sovereignty, which is abundant in this book, is the means by which the Lord executes much of His control. The book opens with a focus on Samuel, and indeed Samuel is a key character. It is Yahweh who raises Samuel and then uses Samuel as His mouth-piece (prophet) and judge of Israel "all the days of his life" (1 Sam 7:15; cf. 3:20). The Lord also chose and used Saul and David as instruments of His sovereignty, to execute judgment upon the enemies of God and to foster unity among the tribes of Israel (1 Sam 11:6, 12-15; 11:7). The idea that the Lord had chosen and raised up the kings of Israel is repeatedly implied by the reference to their being "anointed" of Yahweh (1 Sam 2:10; 10:1; 12:3, 5; 15:17; 16:6, 13; 24:6, 10; 26:9, 11, 16, 23). King David is clearly a major theme predominating the second division of the book, wherein his heart, both his sense of compassion and justice, are put on display. David is seen mourning with compassion several times (2 Sam 1:17-27; 3:31-36; 9:7-13; 12:16-17; 13:37; 15:30; 18:33; 19:1-4). The theme of justice, especially as it is executed by David, also recurs in several places (2 Sam 1:14-16; 4:9-12) and is exemplified in 2 Sam 8:15, "David administered justice and righteousness for all his people."
Finally, the book of Samuel thematically incorporates more regarding the priests and the Ark of the Covenant than either Joshua or Judges. The first few chapters (1-4) feature a fairly significant discussion and interplay with Eli the high priest and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. As for the Ark of the Covenant, it is leveraged as a weapon of war (1 Sam 4:3-4; 6:1) and is moved several times (cf. 1 Sam 5-6; 2 Sam 6). The Ark of the Covenant is mentioned approximately 40 times in the first book of Samuel alone.
In conclusion, it appears evident that one of the major purposes of the second division of the book of Samuel is to record how Yahweh established the human monarchy over the nation of Israel, with a particular emphasis on David and Yahweh's covenant with David and his house through which God's kingship through a Son of David will be forever (2 Sam 7:12-16).
Chapter 1: Elkanah and His Two Wives, Hannah's Barrenness & Supplication, & Samuel's Dedication Chapter 2: Hannah's Thanksgiving Song, Eli & the Sin of His Sons, Samuel Grew, & Eli's Sons Rebuked Chapter 3: The Lord Reveals Himself to Samuel by the Word of the Lord & Samuel Responds Faithfully Chapter 4: Philistines Defeat Israel, Israel Brings the Ark to the Battlefield, & Philistines Seize the Ark Chapter 5: The Hand of the Lord is Heavy Upon the Philistines Who Host the Ark of the Lord Chapter 6: The Ark of the Lord is Returned to Israel & the Lord Struck Down a Multitude Chapter 7: Israel Consecrates the Ark and the Lord Delivers them from the Philistines & Samuel Judges Chapter 8: Israel Demands a King to Rule Over Them & Samuel Warns Them About Their Choice Chapter 9: Saul's Search for His Father's Donkeys & God's Choice of Saul Revealed to Samuel Chapter 10: Samuel Anoints Saul as King, God Changed Saul's Heart, & Saul Inducted as Israel's King Chapter 11: The Ammonites Come to Attack Israel & Saul Leads Israel to Defeat the Ammonites Chapter 12: Samuel Witnesses to Israel and Exhorts them to Fear the Lord and Heartily Serve Him Chapter 13: Philistines Assemble to Fight Israel, Saul Anxiously Offers a Sacrifice, Samuel Rebukes Saul Chapter 14: Jonathan's Valor, Saul's Foolish Oath Over His Army, Israel's Warfare Under Saul Chapter 15: Saul Disobeys the Command of the Lord, Samuel Rebukes Saul & the Lord Rejects Saul Chapter 16: Samuel is Directed by the Lord to Anoint David as King & an Evil Spirit Afflicts Saul Chapter 17: Goliath Taunts Israel, David Responds to His Challenge, & David Defeats the Champion Chapter 18: Jonathan and David Bond, Saul Turns Against David & Gives His Daughter to Him Chapter 19: Jonathan Defends David Before Saul, Saul Vacillates and Attempts to Kill David Again Chapter 20: Jonathan Made a Covenant with the House of David & Saul Expresses His Hatred of David Chapter 21: David Request Bread, Receives Consecrated Bread, Takes Goliaths Sword, & Goes to Gath Chapter 22: David Flees from Saul, Doeg Opposes David & Saul Slays the City of Nob & Their Priests Chapter 23: David Delivers Keilah from the Philistines & Saul Avidly Pursues David Chapter 24: Saul Pursues David Yet David Chooses to Spare His Life & Then Cries Out to Saul Chapter 25: Samuel Dies, Nabal Rejects David's Request, David Pursues Nabal, & Abigail Intercedes Chapter 26: Saul Again Pursues David, David Sneaks Into Saul's Camp & Again Spare Saul's Life Chapter 27: David Goes to Achish in Gath, Receives Ziklag as a Residence, & Raided Other Canaanites Chapter 28: Philistines Encamp Against Israel Again, Saul Turns to a Spiritist, & is Terrified by Samuel Chapter 29: While Proceeding to Battle the Philistines Demand that David Not Fight With Them Chapter 30: David Returns to Ziklag, Overtakes & Defeats the Amalekites Who Plundered Ziklag Chapter 31: Philistines Defeat Israel at Gilboa, Saul's Sons are Killed, & Saul Dies
Chapter 1: An Amalekite Reports Saul and His Son's Deaths to David, David Laments with a Chant Chapter 2: David Anointed King Over Judah, Ish-bosheth Made King Over Israel, & Civil War Chapter 3: David's House Grows Strong, Abner Aligns with David, Joab Murders Abner, David Mourns Chapter 4: Ish-bosheth is Murdered, His Murderers Brought His Head to David, & David Kills Them Chapter 5: David is Acknowledged as King by All of Israel, Takes Over Jerusalem, & Defeats Philistines Chapter 6: The Ark is Moved to Jerusalem, Uzzah Dies for Irrverence, & David Dances Before the Ark Chapter 7: David Plans to Build a House for the Ark & God Establishes His Covenant with David Chapter 8: David Conquers More of the Land for Israel & Reigns Over All Israel & Administers Justice Chapter 9: King David Shows Kindness Toward Jonathan's Son Mephibosheth Chapter 10: King of Ammon Dies, Hanun Takes the Throne, & Israel Defeat Both Aram and Ammon Chapter 11: David Commits Adultery with Bathseba & Arranges for Uriah Her Husband to be Killed Chapter 12: Nathan Rebukes David for His Sin, the Child Dies, Solomon is Born, & Rabah is Defeated Chapter 13: Amnon Rapes Tamar, Absalom Manages to Kill Amnon, Absalom Flees, & David Mourns Chapter 14: Joab Sends a Women from Tekoa to Persuade King David to Send for Absalom & He Does Chapter 15: Absalom Makes Himself King in Hebron, His Conspiracy and Strength Grows, David Flees Chapter 16: David Meets Ziba on His Escape, David is Cursed by Shimei, & Absalom Enters Jerusalem Chapter 17: Hushai Counters Ahithophel's Counsel to Absalom, Sends Warning to David, & David Flees Chapter 18: David Sends Out His Army Against Israel, Absalom is Killed, & David Mourns Chapter 19: Joab Reproves David for Lamenting Over Absalom, David is Restored as King & Returns Chapter 20: Sheba of Bichri Stirs a Revolt Against David & Judah, Amasa Slain, & the Revolt Stopped Chapter 21: Gibeonites Revenge Saul's House, David Moves Saul & Jonathan's Bones, Philistine Wars Chapter 22: The Record of a Psalm that David Spoke in the Day That the Lord Delivered Him Chapter 23: David's Last Words & a List of 37 Mighty Men Whom David Had Chapter 24: David Sins By Taking a Census, Pestilence Plagues Israel, & David Builds an Altar