Lesson 2 of5
In Progress

Outline of 1 Samuel

1. Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-7:17)

First Samuel begins with the rise of Samuel the prophet and the fall of the house of Eli the priest. Sandwiched between these narratives is a rollicking account of the journeys of the ark of the covenant as it is captured by the Philistines and eventually makes its way back to the Israelites.


A. The Rise of Samuel the Prophet (1:1-4:1a)

Several anecdotes of his birth and childhood illustrate Samuel’s importance. His mother is barren; he is dedicated as a Nazirite, raised by a priest and as a priest, and called as a prophet.

B. The Adventures of the Ark (4:1b-7:1)

Embedded in this story about the fate of the ark of the covenant in Philistine hands is the story of the death of Eli and his wicked sons (4:11-18).

C. Samuel the Judge (7:2-17)

Now an adult, Samuel appears as a “judge,” that is, as a military leader whom God raised up to battle the Philistines.

2. Samuel and Saul (8:1-12:25)

These five episodes alternate between negative and positive portrayals of kingship. The people want a king like all the other nations, but Samuel is theologically opposed.

A. Israel Demands a King (8:1-22)

This chapter presents the people’s demand for a king and Samuel’s theological opposition. In the end, God permits Israel to have a king without approving of their demand.

B. Saul Becomes King (9:1-10:16)

Saul and kingship are presented in a positive way as Saul, searching for his father’s stray asses, discovers a kingdom.

C. Saul Chosen by Lot (10:17-27a)

Saul’s secret anointing becomes known to all. Samuel again condemns the people’s demand for a king, seeing it as a rejection of God (v. 19).

D. Saul Defeats the Ammonites (10:27b-11:15)

Empowered by the spirit and acting more like a judge than a king, Saul defeats the Ammonites.

E. Samuel’s Farewell Address (12:1-25)

The Deuteronomistic editors bring the era of the Judges to a close with this speech that once again condemns the people’s demand for a king, even as it accedes to their request. They must still obey the Lord, as must the king.

3. Saul and David (13:1-31:13)

This long concluding division of 1 Samuel relates the gradual demise of Saul and the steady rise of David, his successor.

A. God Rejects Saul as King (13:1-15:35)

Saul is rejected as king for disobedience at the beginning and end of this segment. In between, Saul’s behavior is contrasted with that of Jonathan, his son.

B. Introduction to David (16:1-17:58)

David’s anointing by Samuel introduces his status as God’s chosen one. His first encounter with Saul at court and his defeat of Goliath in single combat foreshadow his success.

C. David and Jonathan (18:1-4)

David’s friendship with Jonathan results in Jonathan’s symbolically granting David the right of succession.

D. Saul Becomes Jealous of David (18:5-16)

Saul continues to decline while David succeeds. David’s successes make Saul jealous and he plots to kill his young rival.

E. David Marries Michal (18:17-30)

Saul continues in his attempts to kill David, this time by offering him each of his daughters in exchange for impossible acts of bravery. When David succeeds, Saul begins to fear that all is lost.

F. Saul Pursues David (19:1-28:2)

Throughout these ten chapters, David–thanks to the efforts of his wife Michal, Samuel, Jonathan, Ahimelech, a priest at Nob, and Nabal’s wife–repeatedly escapes from Saul’s frantic attempts to have him killed. David twice spares the life of Saul before joining forces with the Philistines.

G. Saul’s Last Days (28:3-31:13)

The end of Saul’s tragic life finds him devoid of God’s direction, seeking help through the medium at Endor. In the end, with his defeat by the Philistines at hand, Saul commits suicide, falling on his own sword.

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