Israel’s First King
Introduction to 1 and 2 Samuel
A Bible text and commentary on the book of 1 Samuel. Written by Helen Pocock. August 2002.
The books of 1 and 2 Samuel used to be one book. The writer wrote the book in the *Hebrew language. Many years later, men translated the Bible into the Greek language (the language of the *New Testament). These men divided this book into two parts. The name of the book comes from the first important person in this book. He was Samuel the *prophet. But Samuel did not write the book. He died before the end of it.
We do not know who wrote the book. The author lived after King Solomon had died in about 930 BC (930 years Before Christ). After Solomon died, the country of *Israel divided into two countries, *Israel and *Judah. The country of *Judah included the *tribes of *Judah and Benjamin (see 1 Kings 12:1-24). In 1 and 2 Samuel the author often refers to *Judah as a country.
In those days, the kings and leaders employed writers. They wrote about the events in their country. The *prophets also wrote accounts of events. 2 Samuel 1:18; 1 Kings 11:41; 14:19, 29; 1 Chronicles 27:24; 29:29 all refer to these writers and their books. The writer of 1 and 2 Samuel probably got most of his information from these accounts.
The book of 1 Samuel records a major change from the time of the judges to *Israel’s first king. The judges had led the *Israelites for about 350 years after the death of Joshua. During this time the *Israelites called their leaders ‘judges’. Samuel was the last of the judges. He was also a *prophet and a priest. Samuel *anointed Saul, the first king of *Israel. But Saul did not obey God. So, God chose another king, David, who would obey him. 1 Samuel ends with the death of Saul. The book of 2 Samuel records the life of David as king.