This and the Second Book of Samuel, also known as the Second Book of Kings, provide a history of Israel from the end of Judges to the last years of King David, the nations second and greatest king.

1075  BC

1. In the Old Testament, when God has a special purpose for a man there is often something special about his birth. Anna’s conception is proceeded by a long period of barrenness and prayer. She bears a son and calls him Samuel (which means ‘asked of God’). 1 Samuel 1:1-28, & 2:1-11.
2. Wickedness of the sons of Heli the Priest. The sons take the best for themselves before the offering to God. Also Heli’s sons are involved in prosititution. The Priest warns his sons. (This warning is to be fulfilled. See 1 Samuel 4:11) 1 Samuel 2:12-36.
3. Samuel is sleeping in the Temple with Heli close by. The Lord calls to Samuel who thinks it is Heli. After the third time of calling Heli realises it is the Lord who is calling and tells Samuel to answer "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening". God speaks to Samuel telling him of his judgement on the sons of Heli. From this time on Samuel is God’s messenger and the whole of Israel knows this. 1 Samuel 3:1:21.
4. The Israelites are defeated by the Philistines at Aphek.To counter this The Israelites bring the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh to Aphek. The Philistines were afraid as they knew about the plagues in Egypt how God had brought the Israelites across the Red Sea. Nevertheless when they came to do battle the Philistines were successful, killing thirty thousand Israelites including Heli’s sons and capturing the Ark of the Covenant. On being told of the capture of the Ark, Heli dies. 1 Samuel 4:1-22. B.C.
5. The Philistines take the Ark of the Covenant to Ashod and put it into their Temple next to their pagan god Dagon. The next day the people find their God fallen on its face on the ground before the Ark. The Dagon idol was put back in place but the next day the same thing happened. Then the people found that they were inflicted with tumours and knew it was ‘the hand of God’ on them. They moved the Ark to Gath where the same things happened. So it was moved again to Ekron but the people were frightened. 1 Samuel 5:1-12.
6. The people ask their priests what to do with the Ark. They are told to put the Ark on a cart along with a peace offering of gold. Then they must hitch two cows to the cart. If the cows do not take the Ark back towards the Israelites then the Philistine’s troubles have been coincidence. The cows take the Ark to the Israelites in Beth Shemesh. The Levites take down the Ark, chop up the cart to make fire and sacrifice the two cows. The Philistines saw all this and returned to Ekron. 1 Samuel 6:1-18.
7. God struck down seventy of the men of Beth Shemesh who had looked into the Ark. So they send the Ark to Kiriath Jearim where it stayed for twenty years. 1 Samuel 6:19-21 & 7:1-2.
8. The Israelites mourn and seek the Lord. Samuel tells them to stop worshiping idols and serve the Lord only. They gather at Mizpah and the Philistines attack them but as Samuel makes a sacrificial offering they are routed by the Israelites who take back all the land which the Philistines had won from them. 1 Samuel 7:3-17.
9. Israel asks for a King. Samuel’s sons turn out no better than Heli’s which give the people an excuse to ask for a king. (Otherwise on Samuel’s death his sons would inherit their father’s position). Samuel prays to God who tells him to warn the people that a king would mean conscription, forced labour, taxation and loss of personal liberty. All these things could be seen in neighbouring countries who had kings. But the people insist that they want a king "Then we shall be like all the other nations with a king to lead us and fight our battles." Samuel tells the Lord of the People’s demands and the Lord says "Listen to them and give them their King." 1 Samuel 8:1-22.

Saul is made King. 1050 BC

1. A Benjamite man had a son called Saul. He was an impressive young man a head taller than any of the others. He was sent with a servant to search for some lost donkeys. On their journey they came to a district of Zuph where Samuel was sacrificing to God. As soon as Samuel saw Saul he knew that this was the man, chosen by God, to be the Israelites King. Samuel tells Saul to go to Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah (Bethlehem) where he will find the lost donkeys. Samuel anoints Saul. All the tribes are brought together and Samuel presents Saul to them. They shout "Long live the King." Some troublemakers despised Saul. 1 Samuel 9 & 10. B.C.
2. The city of Jabesh Gilead is beseiged by the Ammonites who threaten to gouge out the people’s right eyes. Saul learns of this plot. The elders tell him to wait seven days so that they can send messengers throughout Israel. Saul musters an army which routes the Ammonites. The people suggest that the troublemakers who didn’t accept Saul should be put to death. Saul rejects this saying "No-one shall be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel." Samuel tells the people to gather at Gilgal so that Saul can be confirmed as king. 1 Samuel 11:1-15.
3. Samuel is coming to the end of his life. He warns the people of their obedience to the Lord as well as their duty to their king. To show them a sign he calls upon the Lord to send thunder and rain though it is the harvest season. The people stand in awe. 1 Samuel 12:1-25.
4. The Philistines assemble to fight. Saul gathers his army but, in disobedience, offers sacrifice before the end of the seventh day. Samuel rebukes Saul. 1 Samuel 13:1-15.
5. Israel without weapons. The Philistines ensured that no blacksmiths were available to make swords for the Israelites. Only Saul and his son Jonathan had a sword or spear. 1 Samuel 13:16-22.
6. Saul’s son Jonathan with his armourbearer attack the Philistines. Earth tremors add to the confusion so much so that Philistine deserters change sides and help Saul to victory. 1 Samuel 14:1-23.
7. Jonathan has unknowingly broken a oath made by his father. Saul is for putting his son to death but the men question this decision as Jonathan has, that day, brought them a great victory. Jonathan is spared. 1 Samuel 14:24-45.
8. Details of Saul’s battles. 1 Samuel 14:46-48.
9. Saul’s family. 1 Samuel 14:49-52.
10. Saul receives orders to destroy the Amalek Tribe including their king and every living thing but Saul disobeys and keeps the sheep, cattle, fat calves and lambs. The Lord tells Samuel of Saul’s disobedience. Samuel comes to Saul and questions him about his disobedience. Saul tries to make excuses but eventually admits and asks for forgiveness. Samuel agrees to pray with Saul but after that event they did not meet again. "And the Lord was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel." 1 Samuel 15:1-35

David is chosen as king designate. 1025 BC

1. The Lord speaks to Samuel telling him to go to Bethlehem to anoint another king. Samuel is fearful in case Saul gets to know. The Lord tells him to take a heifer and when he gets to Bethelehem he must invite Jesse to a sacrifice. Then he will be told what to do. Seven of Jesse’s sons are presented to Samuel but none is the one chosen by the Lord. Samuel asks Jesse whether he has any more sons and is told "yes, there is the youngest son who is attending the sheep". When the youngest arrives Saul knows that this is the one chosen by God and he is duly anointed. Thus 1025 David is chosen to become the second King of Israel. 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
2. Saul is troubled in his mind. To soothe him his attendants suggest a harp player and tell him of Jesse’s son David who plays the harp. He is sent for and enters the service of Saul. Whenever the evil spirit came upon Saul, David would play the harp, and the evil spirit would depart. (‘evil spirit’? Perhaps a mental illness.) 1 Samuel 16:14-23.
3. Once again the Philistines wage war against Israel. Their champion is Goliath who is over nine feet tall. Goliath challenges the Israleites to send someone to fight him saying that if the Israelites win then the Philistines will be their subjects. David explains to Saul that he has often fought lions and bears in defending his father’s sheep. He accepts Goliath’s challenge and Saul agrees. David chooses five smooth stones from a stream and with these and his sling he approaches Goliath who taunts him. David takes a stone and slings it at Goliath striking him on his forehead and killing him. Goliath falls to the ground. David runs forward and taking Goliath’s sword cuts off his head. 1 Samuel 17:1-58.
4. Saul becomes jealous of David though Saul’s son Jonathan makes a covenant with David and becomes one in spirit with him. In the hope that David would be killed Saul offers his daughter Michal in marriage but asks David to bring him the foreskins of a hundred Philistines. David brings him two hundred foreskins. Saul’s jealousy increases. 1 Samuel 18:1-30.
5. Saul seeks to kill David and, even after making an oath to his son Jonathan that he will not do so, he throws a spear at David who manages to escape. There follows a further episode when Saul’s anger raged against David and it was Jonathan whose devotion saves him. 1 Samuel 19:1-24 & 20:1-42.
6. There follow several chapters in the Book of Samuel given to telling how David fled from Saul who continued in his attempt to kill the young king designate. During these times Saul had a Priest and his family put to death as the Priest had helped David to escape. Eventually Saul is told that David is hiding at En Gedi. He takes three thousand men and sets out to look for David. Along the way they came to some sheep pens where there was a cave in which, unbeknown to them, David was hiding. Saul went in to relieve himself and David crept up and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe without him
knowing. Saul left the cave and David came out and showed him the corner off his cloak. Saul realises that David could have killed him. 1 Samuel 21; 22; 23; 24. B.C.
7. Samuel dies without seeing David become king. David is dwelling in the desert with his followers. David requests food from a rich man who has previously benefited from his protection. The man is as surly as he is wealthy and refuses aid. David and his men go to the home of the man and his wife, Abigail, pleads for her husband. Later she tells her husband how she saved his life and the man dies of heart failure. On hearing of the man’s death David sent word to Abigail asking her to become his wife and she agrees. David had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel. 1 Samuel 25:1-44.
8. Once again Saul attempts to find David to kill him. David hears that Saul was camped close by and went with two colleagues to Saul’s camp.There they found him sleeping. But once again David does not take advantage of the situation but instead says "Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?". So they took Saul’s spear and a water jug and left the camp. David went to a nearby hillside and called to Saul. He showed Saul the spear and once again Saul realises that David had spared him and he and his men returned home. 1 Samuel 26:1-25.
9. With the permission of Achish son of Maoch King of Gath, David with six hundred men and their wives, went to Zilag to live among the Philistines. From there they carried out many attacks killing everyone so that no-one would be able to tell Saul where David was living. Achish trusted David but thought that he had become odious to his own people. 1 Samuel 27:1-12.
10. The Philistines gather to attack Saul’s army. Achish told David that he would expect him to fight alongside the Philistines. Saul consults a medium who brings back Samuel. However he found Samuel no more helpful in death than in life. 1 Samuel 28:1-25.
11. Achish’s commanders are concerned that David and his men are to fight alongside them. They suggest that David will turn against them in battle. So they are sent back to Zilag. As they approach they see that their dwellings have been raided and their women carried off. David prays to the Lord and is told to pursue the raiders. With the help of an Egyptian, who has been abandoned by the raiders, he catches up and destroys the raiders. The wives taken from Zilag are all safe, also there is much plunder to take from the raider’s camp. David shares the plunder with some who were not strong enough to get to the place of the battle and with other towns near Zilag. 1 Samuel 29 & 30.
12. The Philistines continue to fight Saul. Eventually they kill Saul’s son Jonathan and their archers critically wounded Saul who asked his armour- bearer to draw his sword and run him through. But the armour-bearer is 1012 frightened and will not do it. Saul then took his own sword and fell on it. When the armour-bearer saw that Saul was dead he also fell on his sword and died with him. Later valiant men of Jabesh Gilead came in the night and took the bodies of Saul and the others and burned them and buried their bones at Jabesh. 1 Samuel 31:1-13.