- Subpages: First Samuel
- Subpages: Second Samuel
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Relationship to Old Testament. The relationship of Samuel to the Old Testament as a whole is discussed at Old Testament: Organization.
Story. First and Second Samuel are a single continuous story of the judgeships of Eli and Samuel and the kingships of Saul and David. Samuel is treated here in five major sections:
- 1 Samuel 1-3 / 5-8: Judgeships of Eli and Samuel. The judge Eli fails to discipline his sons, for which he and his house are destroyed. When Samuel's sons take bribes, the people insist both that Samuel's sons not succeed him, and that the less formal role of judge be replaced with a formal king. At the conclusion of this section the Lord instructs Samuel to acquiesce in anointing a king.
- 1 Samuel 9-15: Saul's early kingship. This section begins with Samuel anointing Saul to become king. Saul proves to be an energetic king, and his kingship quickly gains popular support. But then he twice disobeys the Lord's instructions given through the prophet Samuel. At the conclusion of this section the prophet Samuel abandons king Saul, never to see him again.
- 1 Samuel 16-30: Saul's late kingship. This section begins with Samuel anointing David to succeed Saul as king, and David then entering the service of king Saul. Saul is cut off from the word of the Lord through the prophet, and he is jealous of David who he realizes will succeed him as king. Saul spirals downward into murder and witchcraft until, at the end of this section, his heir Jonathan is killed in battle and Saul himself commits suicide.
- 2 Samuel 1-10: David's early kingship. Upon the death of Saul, David's kingship is accepted immediately in the south of Israel and eventually in the north. David defeats numerous external threats and captures Jerusalem.
- 2 Samuel 11-24: David's late kingship. This section begins with David not going out to battle with his troops, committing adultery with Bathsheba, and arranging the intentional death of Uriah. Unlike Saul, however, David acknowledges his sin without excuse, is not cut off from the word of the Lord through the prophet, and does not go into a self-destructive spiral. But throughout the remainder of his reign, tragedy is played out in the lives of David's children as he fails to discipline his sons when they commit crimes and rebel. The book of Samuel concludes with David installing Solomon as his successor.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Samuel include:
- Comparisons and contrasts between the four main characters of Eli, Samuel, Saul, and David.
This heading should be brief and explain facts about the historical setting that will help a reader to understand the book. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
A broader treatment of the history of ancient Israel, including Samuel, is found at Old Testament: Historical Overview.
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Four main characters: Eli, Samuel, Saul, David
- The four main characters in Samuel are the judges Eli and Samuel, and the kings Saul and David. This grid is a useful way to think of the relationships:
- Samuel does not draw explicit comparisons and contrasts between these four people. But Samuel provides enough information to make doing so easy.
Three sons of Zeruiah: Abishai, Joab, Asahel
- David's sister Zeruiah had three sons who figure prominently in the story of Samuel. Understanding the relationship between the three brothers, and between them and David, will make it easier to understand some of the action in the story.
Outline and page map
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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Translations and Lexicons.
Related passages that interpret or shed light on Genesis
- The Joseph Smith Translation made changes to the following verses in Samuel. This list is complete:
- 1 Samuel 15:11, 35
- 1 Samuel 16:16, 23
- 1 Samuel 18:10
- 1 Samuel 19:9
- 1 Samuel 28:9-15
- 2 Samuel 12:13
- 2 Samuel 24:16-17
References cited on this page.
- Wayment, Thomas A., ed. The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, p. 132-35. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2009. (ISBN 1606411314) BX8630.A2 2009
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.
- Wayment, The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, p. 132-35.