The First Book of Samuel records the transition in Israel from the period of the judges to the monarchy. This change in Israel's national life revolved mainly around three men: Samuel, the last of the great judges; Saul, Israel's first king; and David, whose early adventures before coming to power are interwoven with the accounts of Samuel and Saul.
The theme of this book, like that of other historical writings in the Old Testament, is that faithfulness to God brings success, while disobedience brings disaster. This is stated clearly in the Lord's message to the priest Eli: “I will honour those who honour me, and I will treat with contempt those who despise me.” (2.30)
The book records mixed feelings about the establishment of the monarchy. The Lord himself was regarded as the real king of Israel, but in response to the people's request, the Lord chose a king for them. The important fact was that both the king and the people of Israel lived under the sovereignty and judgement of God (2.7–10). Under God's laws the rights of all people, rich and poor alike, were to be maintained.
Outline of Contents
Samuel as judge of Israel 1.1—7.17
Saul becomes king 8.1—10.27
The first years of Saul's reign 11.1—15.35
David and Saul 16.1—30.31
The death of Saul and his sons 31.1–13