First Samuel records the change from Israel’s government by judges to government by kings. The book is named for the key person that helps turn the nation away from idolatry and toward spiritual fidelity. Samuel lays the foundation for future prophets who direct and sustain the spiritual life of Israel. It is a book of transitions. Eli confers the spiritual leadership to Samuel (Ch. 1-7), Samuel confers it to Saul (Ch. 8-15), and it is later transferred to David (Ch. 15-31).
The primary purpose of the book is to describe the founding of the kingdom of Israel as a monarchy. Under their former loose federation of tribes, Israel was powerless to keep her enemies at bay. Under David, the nation becomes the most powerful kingdom in the eastern Mediterranean.
1. Do a character study on Eli. Describe the wickedness of his sons. What item was captured by the Philistines and how, when, and where was it recovered?
2. Describe the attitude of the people under Samuel’s leadership. What reforms did he establish and what was the result (Ch. 4-7)?
3. Create a portfolio of Saul. Summarize his anointing as king (Ch. 9-12). Describe his good and bad characteristics; his successes and failures.
When and why does his attitude change toward David?
Describe the inappropriate sacrifice he makes (Ch. 13) and the foolish vow he takes (Ch. 14).
What does he fail to do concerning the Amalekites (Ch. 15)?
Whom does he kill in chapter 22?
Why does Saul consult the witch at Endor and what’s the result? (Ch. 28).
Describe his demise (Ch. 31).
4. When David is appointed as the next king, does Samuel anoint him before or after he kills Goliath (Ch. 16-17)? Why is this significant?
5. On how many occasions does Saul seek to kill David and why (Ch. 18-20)?
6. Name the various persons who try to protect David from Saul’s wrath and briefly describe each situation in which David receives help.
7. Whose life does David spare in chapters 24 and 26? Describe both of these scenes and comment on their significance.