This is the introduction I wrote for my Ugandan friends . . .
A note about scrolls: The Old Testament books were written on parchments that were rolled into scrolls rather than folded into books. In ancient times three of these scrolls became too large for one scroll and were divided into two. The scrolls of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles are presented in subsequent translations and books according to their scroll designation. It is appropriate to consider them as one story (not two) and might be better understood as Samuel (parts 1 and 2), Kings (parts 1 and 2), and Chronicles (parts 1 and 2). It is widely understood that Samuel and Kings should be viewed as one extended work that is primarily concerned with the kingdoms of Judah and Israel.
1 Samuel takes its name from the prophet Samuel whose birth and ministry are featured early in the book. The author is unknown, but was likely an aide to the prophet who was a witness to the events reported. The author draws from a number of sources and narratives. 1 Samuel reports on events that occurred between 1050 and 1010 BC. The primary focus of Samuel (1 and 2) is the establishment of a king in Israel and the rise of King David. This is a religious history. The author’s primary concern is the story of God and the nation – in particular the nation’s leaders. The author is familiar with David’s poems and psalms, and quotes them several times in 2 Samuel.
1 Samuel begins with Samuel’s influence and ends with the death of the first King, Saul. It contains many significant stories, the best known being the Call of Samuel (chapter 3) and the story of David versus Goliath (chapter 17.)
1 Samuel can be outlined as follows:
· 1 Samuel 1-3 Samuel’s birth and early years
· 1 Samuel 4-7:1 The Philistines and the Ark of God
· 1 Samuel 7:2-17 National Revival: Samuel as Judge
· 1 Samuel 8-12 Saul becomes Israel’s first King.
· 1 Samuel 13-15 Saul disobeys and is rejected
· 1 Samuel 16-31 Saul and David