1 Samuel Week Long Study
Fast Facts about I Samuel
Monday – Read I Samuel 1-7
The Story of I Samuel
The book of I Samuel begins where the book of Judges ends: with God’s people doing as each thought was right and with no consistent leadership. But God was about to change all that. Our story begins with Hanna the wife of a godly man, but who is also barren and desperate for a child. She pleads and bargains with God to intervene. The Lord hears her cries and Samuel is conceived. Shortly after he is weaned, and in keeping with her promise, Hannah takes the boy to Shiloh to be raised by Eli the priest. Samuel would become the last and perhaps greatest judge of ancient Israel. As Samuel grows older he appoints his sons as judges, but they are no better than Eli’s sons.
The people clamor for a king. Though angered at their rejection of Him as King, God consents and gives them Saul from a small clan in the tribe of Benjamin. Physically Saul looks the part, and he does become a great warrior, but he has no experience, no training, little faith, and a terribly hard heart. Saul’s poor traits surface almost immediately, causing God to reject and even torment him in favor of David; a man after God’s own heart (13:4). After David defeats Goliath Saul became increasingly jealous of our hero. David fought when Saul should have. The musicians elevated David over Saul in song. His eldest son was David’s best friend. All of Israel praised the shepherd turned commander. But Saul hated him. The rest of the book depicts David’s rise from obscure shepherd to leader of God’s chosen people, and details his victories and struggles with Israel’s enemies and the still enthroned Saul. I Samuel contains wickedness and righteousness; love and hate. Within its ages you will find courage and fear; rising and falling. It is both a glorious and sad tale, but one of the greatest in all of Scripture.
Tuesday – Read Chapters 8-17
Important Themes of I Samuel
Do Not Trust Your Eyesight: When faced with obstacles in life, we can ill afford to look at them or perceive them as obstacles. Perhaps Jonathon put it best when discussing the odds of success with his armor bearer when he said, “…the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained by many or few (14:6).” The New Testament puts it this way, “Therefore we do not lose heart…For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things that are seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (II Corinthians 4:16-18).” This thought runs throughout I Samuel. Year after year Hannah went barren. Year after year she sacrificed and prayed, but still no son. What were the odds of her conceiving now? Had she not continued to look beyond her affliction to a future time of pregnancy, she could not have continued to pray. Jonathon attacked the Philistines from low ground He refused to look at the cliff and could not see that there were at least 20 soldiers on the high ground. Yet he and just his armor-bearer slew them all. Forget his size for a moment; Goliath had armor, greaves, helmet; a javelin, a spear, and a sword. What were the odds that David, armed only with a sling and five stones could defeat the giant? But David knew, “the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s… (17:47).” This theme continues when David is forced to run from Saul, hide in caves and in the desert. He was treated like a dead dog. He was forced to live among his greatest enemies, and forced to act insane that he might gain their protection. All David could see with the temporal eye was bleak, but he did not trust his eyesight. Neither can we when faced with obstacles in life.
Concerning other people’s appearance, God told Samuel in the presence of an impressive looking Eliab, “Do not look at the appearance or the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (16:7).” In the New Testament, Paul with obvious regret states, “Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh, even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer (II Corinthians 5: 16).” Hannah looked drunk, but she wasn’t. Saul looked the part, but he wasn’t. Samuel and David looked too young but they weren’t. Everyone looked at Goliath as a giant, but David saw him as a dead lion or a dead bear. A fixation on appearance will most often lead you astray.
Trust in God Alone: When meal time came a priest would plunge his fork into a pot of meat and take whatever piece came up, trusting in the Lord for his provision. Hophni and Phineas did otherwise and it cost them. When Saul’s army began to flee before the Philistines, he lost trust in God and made an unlawful sacrifice which led him down an even darker path. The end result was placing his faith in a witch, which brought only a sickening prophecy of death for Saul and his sons (Ch.28). David however trusted in God explicitly. He trusted the Lord as a shepherd, as a warrior, and as a fugitive. He did not fear when faced with incredible odds. He found strength in the Lord when Ziklag was burned, their possession and families carried off, and many of his men too weak to fight (Ch.30). Israel’s clamoring for a king, showed extreme lack of trust in God, even so far as to be perceived by God as evil rejection (Ch.8). Their children paid the price of their lack of faith, as Saul’s army rose from a few thousand troops to over 200,000 (Ch.15). Jonathon, remembered in song in II Samuel, is a great example of a man who trusted in God and God alone. This theme runs throughout the book.
Wait Upon The Lord: Hannah had to wait upon the Lord and did. She was rewarded with a pretty good son! The ark was holed up in Kiriath Jearim; the Israelites had to wait 20 years and mourned its absence. But once it came home they repented like never before and saw God perform a miracle. Saul couldn’t wait upon the Lord, drawing the wrath of Samuel and of God. Twice David had opportunity to kill Saul but refused, waiting upon God instead. David always inquired of the Lord FIRST. Our failure to do the same can bring about horrible consequences, or at least embarrassment and loss.
Wednesday – Read Chapters 18-23
The Message of I Samuel
The stories written down for us in I Samuel were spoken of around water wells, dinner tables and campfires by the people of Samuel’s time. The conclusion drawn by those who lived it and we who read about it can only be: God blesses faith and obedience and curses disbelief and disobedience. God is not neutral with human behavior. Sin brings death. Faith brings life. “For the Lord is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed (2:3).” “He keeps the feet of his godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness (2:9).” American Christianity has been so focused on attaining God’s blessings that we have neglected God’s equally consistent response of curses. Yes we do live in a covenant of grace, and thank God for it. But the New Testament writers still portray God as God. He is still not mocked! Many Wedgies have responded this past year in tithing. This is a good thing. Blessings are promised. Thank God for His work in all of us. But for those who don’t give God is not neutral; their money is under a curse (Malachi 3). This is just an example of the aforementioned. So let us see I Samuel as a story of blessings and curses that occurred long ago, but was included in the Bible to both encourage and warn us today.
Be encouraged, Hannah’s faith and obedience was known by God, and He eventually rewarded her. Be warned, Hophni and Phineas’ disbelief and disobedience was known by God, and He eventually cursed them for it. “… for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed (2:30).” Be encouraged, David was full of faith and obedience throughout I Samuel. God took notice giving him victory everywhere he went and saving him from the clutches of Saul. Be warned, for Saul was a man of disbelief and disobedience. God not only saw his heart and behavior, but actually sent an evil spirit to torment him. Jonathon and Nabal are even more examples of ones who are blessed and cursed. “To obey is better than sacrifice (15:22).” “Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 12:6).”
Thursday – Read Chapters 24-28
Where is Jesus in I Samuel?
- Samuel: He was miraculously born of a mother who could not have child (1:2, 5, 17-20), who later had many ( 2:21). Christ’s mother Mary was a virgin who miraculously conceived (Matt. 2:18-23), who later had many children (Matt.13:55,56).Samuel was a boy priest who marveled adults at a young age (2:18-19: 3:1, 19-20). Jesus marveled the priests at the age of twelve (Luke 2:41-47). Both grew in stature and favor with God and man ( 2:26) (Luke 2:52).
- Jonathon: He was the obedient son whose father wanted to crush him (13:24-45; 20:33), yet remained obedient to death (31:1-2).His body was hung by pagans, but rescued and buried by his friends from Jabesh Gilead ( 31: 11-13). It was God the Father’s will to crush His Son Jesus (Isaiah 53:10), and He remained obedient to death (Phil. 2). Christ was crucified. He was hung on a tree by the pagan Romans, but Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea retrieved his body and buried him (John 19:38-42).
David: There are so many pictures of Christ in the life and stories of David. Finding Jesus in the Old Testament can be as easy as reading quotes in the New Testament. Other times Christ is found in prophecy from the Old Testament that is fulfilled in the New. And other times still, Jesus is found within the story line like Samuel and Jonathon. This is particularly true with David. If you look, Jesus is there. Like Jesus, David was from the town of Bethlehem. Like Christ, his courage caused false accusations from his brothers. Both were hated for no reason. Both continually pleaded their innocence, asking what wrong had they done. Both were thought insane. Like Jesus, David is the Good Shepherd who fends off the wild animals. He never leaves the flock except to pursue and rescue the one taken. Both are the slayers of giants. David - Goliath and Jesus - Satan and sin. David accomplished his mission with five stones. Christ accomplished His with five scars. David’s reward was a royal bride and freedom for his family from the debt of taxes. Christ Jesus has been given a royal bride, the church as His reward, and forever set free His family from the debt of sin. Like Jesus, David was a man after God’s own heart. Both grew in favor with both God and man. David had to hide, and had no place for his head. Jesus often had to hide, be secret and claimed no place for his head. The discontent, distressed debtors gathered around both. Jesus is the promised King from the Line of David!
Friday – Read Chapters 29-31
How Does I Samuel Make a Difference in My Life?
I grew up in a Bible believing family. We practiced sword drills in our home, received Bibles as presents at birth, baptism, Easter and Christmas. I saw the Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston and even named my dog Moses! David however was my superhero. Like many other boys, I had a slingshot and every oak tree was Goliath or a dirty Philistine. Being a country boy with charge over our livestock, I felt even more of a kinship with David. Now I identify more with his perseverance, but David is still the man. And David is still God’s man.
There is so much of God in I Samuel, that no person or portion of scripture found therein can do anything but make a difference in your life. If you are without child, keep the faith for Hannah is your example. If you are young let no one look down on you because of your age. Samuel and David did not. If you are well along in years, finish strong like Samuel. Do not fear any giant except jealousy. When confronted by the giant, don’t run away but run to. Pray to be a servant after God’s own heart. If you feel hemmed in on all sides, consider David’s plight. If you find yourself with the odds stacked against you remember Jonathon and his armor bearer. If you tire of the menial tasks, think of what God taught David while tending the sheep. When tempted to payback another or seek vengeance, recall David’s trust in God’s timing. The benefits of reading and knowing this book are endless, because God is everywhere in I Samuel. But it takes faith to see Him and obedience to be blessed by Him. So don’t trust your eyesight. Trust in God alone and wait for Him.