First and Second Samuel


The three hundred years of the Judges was a time of spiritual, moral and political decay. Samuel was a a judge, prophet and priest who brought strong leadership back to Israel. However, Samuel’s sons were not fit to carry on as leaders, and the people of Israel asked for a king like other nations. Yahweh selected Saul. God had planned for Israel to have a king (Gen 17.6, 16; 35.11; Deut 17.14-20).

David became Israel’s second king around 1,000 B.C. God promised that his kingship would bring forth the Messiah (Gen 49.10; Num 24.17). Jesus was David’s greater Son. His life, death and resurrection provided the basis for all people to be in His kingdom and be saved from sin (2 Samuel 7.12-16; Psalm 89:36-37; Isaiah 9.7).

There are many great spiritual lessons in the books of Samuel. Three of the most important are:

1. God is the king of kings. Earthly kings are not above His word (1 Samuel 12.14 and 2 Samuel 12.9).

2. Another important theme is the guiding providence of God. 1 Samuel 15:29 says, that God will not be false nor have regret because He is not a man. While there are changes going on at this time (from Eli to Samuel, from Samuel to Saul, from Saul to David), God is guiding everything for His purposes.

3. Listening to God’s word is an important theme. The boy Samuel listened to the word of God (1 Samuel 3). Saul rejected God’s commandment (1 Samuel 13.15). David fought Goliath for the honor of Yahweh’s name (1 Samuel 17) but then fails to obey the sixth commandments (2 Samuel 11). Then David listens to the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12) and later to the prophet Gad (2 Samuel 24).


Chapter Notes

01 The Birth of Samuel

Elkanah was a Levite (1 Chronicles 6.33-38) who served as a priest. Hannah was probably his first wife, but because she was barren he married Penninah. Bigamy was never sanctioned by God and was a sign of the spiritual decline of Israel at that time. Hannah prayed fervently for a son and vowed to dedicate him to the Lord. Hannah conceived Samuel and raised him until he was weaned. Then she fulfilled her vow by “lending” him to the Lord.

02 Hannah’s Prayer and the End of Eli’s House

Hannah rejoiced and praised God. The sons of Eli misused the sacrifices for their personal benefit. Samuel served the Lord even as a little boy. Hannah had five more children. Eli’s sons were committing sexual immorality, and Eli warned them of the wrong. Eli was rebuked for honoring his sons more that God. “Those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” 2.30. He promised the two sons would die in one day, and that a new priest would be appointed.

03) Samuel Becomes a Prophet

The Lord revealed to Samuel that He would bring him and his sons to an end because Eli did not restrain them. Samuel grew and became a prophet, and the Lord “let none of his words fall to the ground.”

04) The Ark Captured

Israel was losing to the Philistines, so they brought the Ark of the Covenant to the battle. The Israelites lost, and the ark was captured. The sons of Eli also died. When a messenger told Eli the ark was captured, he fell off his chair, broke his neck and died. Phineas’ wife gave birth to a son. She named him Icabod, which means “no glory,” for the glory had departed from Israel.

05) The Philistines Suffered Tumors

The Philistines took the Ark to Ashdod. Twice their idol Dagon fell over before the ark. The people were struck with tumors. They took the Ark to Gath, and they were struck with tumors. They took it to Ekron, and they were struck with tumors. They wanted to send it back to Israel.

06) The Ark Returned to Beth Shemesh

The Philistines return the ark along with an offering of five golden tumors and five golden rats. They sent the ark on a cart with two cows whose calves were recently weaned, and they took it to Beth Shemesh. The LORD struck 50K+ men from Beth Shemesh who looked into the ark.

07) Samuel Judged Israel

The men of Kirjath Jearim took the ark, and it remained their twenty years. Samuel called for Israel to put away foreign gods. He gathered them to Mizpah and gave a burnt offering. The Philistines came to attack, but the LORD confused them with loud thunder. Samuel took a stone near Mizpah and called it Ebenezer “stone of help.” The Philistines stopped attacking all the time of Samuel. Samuel judged Israel.

08) The People Want a King

Samuel’s sons were wicked, and the people asked for a king. Samuel warned them that a king would tax them and draft people into his army. Samuel prayed to the LORD, who said he should listen to the people.

09) Saul Meets Samuel

Saul was tall and handsome. His father sent him to look for lost donkeys. The LORD told Samuel to anoint Saul as king of Israel. Samuel invited Saul to a sacrifice/feast.

10) Saul Anointed

Samuel gives Saul directions for his anointing as king. Saul prophesies. Saul is anointed.

11) Saul’s First Battle

The Ammonites came against Jabesh Gilead. Saul recruited 330,000 men to fight and defeat them. The people went to Gilgal and renewed the kingdom by proclaiming Saul king.

12) Samuel’s Message

After their first victory, Samuel reminded them that in the past it was the LORD who had delivered Israel from her enemies. He told them that choosing a king to be like the other nations was evil. But God would not forsake them. He urged them to fear the LORD and serve Him.

13) Saul Disobeys the Lord

The Philistines prepared to attack Israel. Saul gathered his men and waited for Samuel to come to make a sacrifice. When he was delayed, Saul took it upon himself to make the sacrifice. For this, Samuel told him the kingdom would be passed on to another. The Israelites were lacking swords because only they had no blacksmiths.

14) Saul’s Oath and Jonathan’s Victory

Saul made an oath that no one could eat until the Philistines were defeated. Jonathan did not hear the oath, so he ate some honey. He also successfully ambushed the Philistines. Saul called for Jonathan’s execution, but the people intervened for Jonathan. Saul fought many battles with Philistines.

15) Saul Rejected as King

The LORD told Saul to destroy the Amalekites because they had attacked Israel during the exodus. Saul held back the king and the best animals. Samuel rebuked Saul and told him he would be replaced by another king who obeys the LORD. Saul repented, but it appears that his repentance was more about saving face than it was about changing his ways.

Note: The Amalekites were nomadic plunderers who attacked Israel on several occasions. They lived south of Judah.

Note: In some special cases the LORD “devoted” certain peoples to complete destruction. It is hard for us to see the justice in destroying children along with the adults. However, we have to be careful about judging God in this case. We don’t know all the practices of the Amalekites. This command was only given to certain peoples who practices were abominable, and God wanted to erase them even from human history.

16) David Anointed King

The LORD told Samuel to go to Jesse of Bethlehem to choose his youngest son to be king. He anointed David, who also received the Spirit of the LORD. Saul, on the other hand, lost the Spirit of the LORD and instead received a distressing spirit. David became Saul’s armor bearer, and he also played his harp to soothe Saul when he was distressed.

17) David Killed Goliath

Israel and the Philistines lined up for battle. Goliath taunted Israel morning and evening asking for an Israelite to fight him. All were afraid. David came to him with his sling, stones and his faith in God and killed him. The Israelites routed the Philistines.

18) Saul Becomes Jealous of David

David and Saul’s son Jonathan became friends. Saul enlisted David to serve in the army. He became jealous because the people sang that David killed ten thousands but Saul thousands. Saul tried to kill David. Saul gave David his daughter Michal if he would bring him the foreskins of one hundred Philistines. Saul had hoped they would kill him. David brought two hundred.

19) Saul Persecutes David

Again Saul tried to kill David while he was playing music. He also tried to have him killed at his house, but Michal helped him escape. David went to Samuel at Ramah. Saul pursued him there. The Spirit of God came upon Saul’s messengers and upon Saul and they prophesied.

Note: “Is Saul among the prophets?” This saying was used in 10.11-12 when Saul was anointed king. At that time the Spirit of the LORD came upon him and he was “turned into another man” (10.6). This time it appears that God thwarted Saul’s evil plan by bringing the Spirit of the LORD back to him temporarily.

20) Jonathan’s Loyalty to David

David asked Jonathan to find out Saul’s intentions. Saul wanted to kill David and tried to kill Jonathan because of their friendship. Jonathan reported this to David so he could flee from Saul.

21) David Becomes a Fugitive

David fled to the priest Ahimelech, who gave him holy bread from the Tabernacle to eat. Only priests were supposed to eat this bread. David then fled to Achish, the king of Gath, and pretended to be mad.

22) Saul Destroys the House of Ahimelech

David gathered four hundred men. Doeg, the Edomite, told Saul David went to Ahimelech, who helped him. Saul destroyed the family of Ahimelech and all the people of Nob.

23) David Flees from Saul

David attacked the Philistines and delivered Keilah. He fled from Saul going to the Wilderness of Ziph. He takes refuge in the strongholds of En Gedi.

24) David Spared Saul

Saul pursued David and went into a cave to relieve himself. David was hiding there, and he cut off a portion of his robe. David promises not to hurt Saul, and Saul wept. He knew David would be king, and He asked that David not cut off his descendants.

25) David Marries Abigail and Ahinoam

David had protected the shepherds of Nabal, and he asked for food. Nabal spurned him. Abigail, Nabal’s wife brought food to David and his men. Abigail told this to Nabal, and he had a heart attack and died. David then married Abigail and a woman named Ahinoam. Michal was given to another man.

26) David Spares Saul a Second Time

Saul pursued David in the Wilderness of Ziph. During the night David went into Saul’s camp and took his spear. He refused to kill the LORD’s anointed. David asked Saul to stop trying to kill him. But he especially asked the the LoRD would deliver him.

27) David Takes Refuge with the Philistines

To avoid Saul David went to the Philistines and to Achish, king of Gath. While he was there he raided the enemies of Israel telling Achish he was raiding Judah. He killed every man and woman to prevent any reports getting to Achish.

28) Saul Consults a Medium

As the Philistine prepared to attack Israel, Saul went to a medium. To her surprise she brings ups Samuel. This shows it was not by her power but by God’s that this vision of Samuel occurred. Samuel tells Saul that he and Israel would be defeated by the Philistines.

29) David Rejected by the Philistines

As the Philistine leaders prepared for battle, they rejected David and his men. David and his men returned to the Philistines while the Philistines went to Jezreel.

30) David Fights the Amalekites

While they were gone, the Amalekites came and plundered David’s people in Ziklag, burning it and taking everyone captive. The men get angry with David, but he turns to the LORD. David attacked the Amalekites and recovered everything.

31) The End of Saul and His Sons

The Philistines attacked Israel at Mt. Gilboa. Saul’s sons were killed, and Saul, wounded, fell on his own sword and died. The Philistines cut off Saul’s head and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan. They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths. The men of Jabesh took the bodies, burned them, and buried them at Jabesh.


2 Samuel

01) An Amalekite reported Saul’s death to David. He claimed that he had killed Saul. David ordered him killed. 

David composed the Song of the Bow as he lamented for Saul, Jonathan, and the Israelites who were killed.

02) David Anointed King of Judah

David was anointed king of Judah at Hebron. He commended the men of Jabesh for burying Saul. But Abner, the commander of the army anointed Ishboshet, son of Saul as King. Abner and his men were beaten by Joab. Asahel, Joab’s son pursued Abner. Abner struck with the blunt end of the spear and impaled him. Joab continued to fight Abner, but then allowed him to escape.

03) Abner Delivers Israel to David

Abner, the uncle and army commander of Saul, got upset with Ishboshet, Saul’s son and King. He delivered Israel, which had been ruled by Ishboshet, to David. Joab killed Abner out of revenge for killing of Joab’s brother, Asahel. David mourned for Abner.

04) Ishbosheth Murdered

Two of Sauls’ captains, Baana and Rechab, came to Ishbosheth and killed him. David was upset and executed them. Jonathan had a son named Miphibosheth who was lame because he was dropped as a baby.

05) David Anointed King

David was anointed king over all Israel. He reigned for forty years. David defeated the Jebusites and captured Jerusalem. David took more wives and bore children. David continued to defeat the Philistines.

06) David Brings The Ark to Jerusalem

As they were moving the ark, Uzzah touched it to keep it from falling. He was killed. This frightened David, and he left it at the home of Obed-Edom. As he was blessed to have the ark, so David them moved it on up to Jerusalem. He danced so much that Michal, his wife and daughter of Saul despised him.

07) God Promises David a “House”

David wanted to build a temple to replace the tabernacle. God told David that He would rather build him a house - that is, raise up a ruler who would be God’s Son. David acknowledged this blessing and gave thanks.

08) David’s Conquests

David subdued the Philistines, the Moabites, and the Syrians. Joab led the army. Zadok and Abiathar were priests.

09) David’s Kindness to Mephibosheth

David found Mephiboshet, the lame son of Jonathan, and gave him the land that belonged to Saul and invited him to eat at his table. He did this for Jonathan’s sake.

10) David Defeats Ammon and Syria

David wanted to show kindness to Hanun, leader of the Ammonites, for some unspecified kindness that his father Nahash had shown to David. Saul had defeated the Ammonites in one of his first battles. But Hanun’s advisors thought it was a ploy, and they humiliated David’s messengers. Ammon got help from the Syrians to fight Israel. Joab defeated them both.

11) David’s Adultery and Murder

David committed adultery with Bathsheba. He tried to cover it up by letting her husband come home from the siege of Rabbah. Uriah refused to sleep with his wife. David arranged with Job for Uriah to be killed in battle.

12) Nathan Confronts David

Nathan told David the parable of a rich man who stole a poor man’s lamb and exposed David’s sins. David repented and was forgiven, but he still suffered three consequences for his sins: Adversity in his house, violation of his wives, and the death of his son. David fasted and prayed for his son, but accepted his fate. Bathsheba bore Solomon. Israel conquered Rabbah of the Amonites.

13) Amnon and Tamar

Amnon lusted for his half-sister Tamar and lured her to him by pretending to be sick. He raped her and hated her afterwards. Absalom, Tamar’s brother, killed Amnon. David mourned for Amnon but also wanted to be reconciled to Absalom.

14) Absolom Returns to Jerusalem

Job arranged for a woman to appeal to David to save her son who had killed her other son. She didn’t want to loose them both. This, she said, was what David was doing. David did bring Absalom back to Jerusalem.

15) Absalom’s Rebellion

Absalom stole the hearts of the people by trash talking his father. He forced David to leave Jerusalem. Ahithophel, David’s counselor, joined the rebellion. But Hushai surreptitiously joined with Absalom, and thwarted Ahithophel’s counsel.

16) Rebel Problems

Ziba, the servant of Saul’s son, Mephibosheth, gives David supplies and says the Mephibosheth as become disloyal to him. This was not true. Shimei of the household of Saul, cursed David and threw rocks at him. Ahithophel advised Absolom to go into his father’s concubines.

17) Espionage Gives David Time

Ahithophel advised Absolom to attack David soon while he was weary. Hushai, David’s friend, advised him to first gather the people of Israel and then attack, thus creating a delay. Hushai warned David to escape. Ahithophel committed suicide when he saw his advice was not followed. Help came to David, and his men ate.

18) Absalom Killed

Israel fought against David and lost. David commanded his men to deal gently with Absalom. When Absalom fled on a mule, he got caught in branches. Joab killed him. David mourned for Absalom.

19) The Aftermath of the Rebellion

David mourned for Absalom. Joab scolded David for not being grateful for the victory. David promised to make his nephew Amasa commander of the army instead of Joab. Shimei repented, and David forgave him. David ran out of patience with the sons of Zeruiah (Abishai and Joab) because of their blood lust. Mephiboshet explains that he was not disloyal. David offered to help aged Barzillai, but he returned to his home. The men of Judah and Israel quarreled over who had more right to the king.

20) Sheba’s Rebellion

Sheba started another rebellion to draw away the men of Israel. Joab stabbed Amasa and left him to die in the road. Joab set up a siege to get Sheba, but a woman persuaded the people to give him the head of Sheba instead of destroying the city.

21) David Avenges the Gibeonites

David reconciled with the Gibeonites who Saul had attacked. (Israel had made a covenant with them in Joshua 9.) The Gibeonites asked for seven descendants of Saul. David gave them seven grandsons of Saul, and the Gibeonites hanged them. (The Mephibosheth mentioned here is different from the Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan.) David buried the bones of Saul, Jonathan and the seven grandsons. David’s servants killed four giants, descendants of Goliath.

22) David’s Song of Praise

David sang a song of praise for God, who provided the victory of his enemies. The song is almost identical to Psalm 18.

23) David’s Last Words

David emphasizes two things: In his psalms he spoke the word of God. God gave a covenant of salvation through Him. Not all in his house accepted this covenant, some rebelled. David lists his mighty men, without whom he never would have achieved the successes that he enjoyed.

24) David’s Census

David commanded Joab to number the people of Israel. There were 800K soldiers in Israel and 500K soldiers in Judah. All of this was done by temptation that God allowed. David realized he had done it in pride and confessed his sin. The prophet Gad gave David three potential consequences to be endured. David chose three days of plague. David reconciled with God by offering a sacrifice at the spot where the temple would eventually be built.