1st Samuel – intro & overview, Israel & Judah – From Judges to Kingdom

1 Samuel 1:1-11
We are embarking now, as a congregation, on a great journey into a time of transition and tremendous change in the history of Israel & Judah. We will be undertaking the study of the book of 1st Samuel. This book, written in part by the prophet Samuel, and completed and compiled later (he dies in chapter 25) possibly by the prophets Nathan and Gad. (See 1 Chron. 29:29)

It is a tremendous, action-filled and spiritually and morally revelatory book! It reveals much about the character of God and of people, and about the work of the Holy Spirit in and through prophets. It also reveals that being used as a prophet did not necessarily equate with spiritual maturity, as is shown in Saul. Giftedness is not the same as spiritual growth and moral stature.

The book bridges from the period after the exodus from Egypt (around 1,500BC) and after the conquests of the Promised Land in the book of Joshua, and it picks up and records the end of the period when Jehovah was Israel’s king and he mediated His rulership through judges. So 1 Samuel is the bridge between the time of the judges into the time when kings ruled: Saul, then David, then his son Solomon. So it is a very political book! By the way, a rough outline is that the Exodus was just after 1,500BC and king David ruled about 1,000BC. More precisely, Saul was born in 1080, became king in 1050. David was born in 1040, became king of Judah in 1010 (when Saul died), and king also of Israel in 1003.

The period after conquest, when judges under God ruled began in 1375BC and then as chronicled in 1 Samuel it ended when Saul became king in 1050, a period of about 325 years. 1 Samuel ends with the death of king Saul, and the rise of David as king. Our history and the biography of Samuel the prophet begins a few months before 1085, just before Samuel is conceived by his mother, Hannah, wife of Elkanah, of the tribe of Ephriam. And it begins with a family squabble and the desperation of a young Israelite woman, yearning for a child. The child is Samuel, and he grows into manhood to call Israel out of an extremely spiritually dark and depraved time into true spiritual revival. He was, in God’s good providence, born for such a time of radical transition.