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1 Samuel study guide

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Preparation Participants should read chapter 3 (the call of Samuel), chapter 8 (Israelites call for an end to the judges and the establishment of a king), and chapter 17 (David and Goliath) prior to the study session.
Orientation 1 Samuel is book #9 of 39 in the Old Testament. It is considered a book of History. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis This book covers the transition of Israel from a loose association of 12 tribes into a unified country led by a king. Samuel is born to Hannah (1-2). A prophet, he also serves as the 13th and last judge (7:15) of the old system. The Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant (4-6) which they quickly regret, as it causes many problems for them. Then they find it difficult to get rid of! Saul becomes Israel's first king. He starts out well (9) , but gradually runs into trouble and disobedience. At the same time, David is a rising star and his slaying of Goliath (17) puts him on the fast track to become Saul's successor. Saul is jealous and attempts to kill David twice (18:10, 19:10). They play cat-and-mouse. David had several chances to kill Saul (24:4 and 26:11), but spares his life each time. Saul sets up his own death on the battlefield (31:4).
Major Characters Hannah, asks God for a son and bears Samuel
Samuel, prophet, and 13th and last judge of Israel
Saul, Israel's first king
David, Saul's successor
Major Events Hannah, infertile, asks God for a son (1: 5-20) and bears Samuel
Samuel called by God in the night (3:1-21)
Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant (4:1-10)
Saul becomes the first king (9:1 - 10:26)
David slays Goliath (17: 1-52)
David show himself a better ruler after much skirmishing (18 -26)
Saul, in disguise, consults the Witch of Endor (28:7-25)
Activities 1. Compare the birth story of Samuel (1:5-20) to Samson (Judges 13:1-6)
2. Compare Hannah's song (2:1-10) to Mary's song (Luke 1: 46-56)
Connections 1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book. They were separated during translation from Hebrew to Greek (~300 BC), likely due to the size limitations of scrolls. The story continues in 2 Samuel with David becoming king.

Revised Feb 25 2013

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