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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
1 Samuel

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12
Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16
Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24
Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28
Chapter 29 Chapter 30 Chapter 31

Book Overview - 1 Samuel

by Albert Barnes

Introduction to Samuel

The double name of these Books, the first and second book of samuel, as they are called in the printed Hebrew Bible, and the first and second book of kings, as they are called in the Vulgate, well marks the two principal features which characterize them. They contain the record of the life and ministry of samuel, the great prophet and judge of Israel, and they also contain the record of the rise of the kingdom of Israel. If again the Books of Samuel are taken as forming one history with the Books of Kings (the present line of division between 2Samuel and 1Kings being an arbitrary one), then the division into four Books of Kings is a natural one. But if these books are looked upon rather as an isolated history, then the name of Samuel is properly affixed to them, not only because he stands out as the great figure of that age, but because his administration of the affairs of Israel was the connecting link, the transitional passage, from the rule of the judges to the reign of the kings, distinct from each, but binding the two together.

The important place to be filled by Samuel in the ensuing history is seen at once in the opening chapters of the book which bears his name. Further, the fact that Samuel‘s birth of her that had been barren is represented in Hannah‘s song as typical of the triumphs of the Church and of the Kingdom of Christ, is another indication of the very distinguished place assigned to Samuel in the economy of the Old Testament, borne out by the mention of him in such passages as Psalm 99:6; Jeremiah 15:1; Acts 3:24. Though however, Samuel‘s personal greatness is thus apparent, it is no less clearly marked that his place is one not of absolute but of relative importance. When we view the history as a whole, the eye does not rest upon Samuel, and stop there, but is led on to the throne and person of David as typical of the Kingdom and Person of Christ. An incidental mark of this subordination may be seen in the fact that the Books of Samuel are really a continuation of the Book of Ruth; a Book which derived its significance from its containing a history of David‘s ancestors and genealogy. Clearly, therefore, in the mind of the sacred historian, the personal history of Samuel was only a link to connect DAVID with the Patriarchs, just as the subsequent history connects David himself with our Lord JESUS CHRIST.

But a still more remarkable and conclusive proof of the same subordination may be found in the circumstance, that it is only the closing years of Saul‘s reign of which any account whatever is given in this Book. For after having related a few facts connected with the beginning of Saul‘s reign, the historian passes over some 20 or 30 years Acts 13:21 to relate an occurrence in the last quarter of Saul‘s reign, God‘s rejection of Saul from the kingdom, and His choice of “a man after His own heart” to be king in Saul‘s room 1 Samuel 13:13-14.

The contents of the Books of Samuel consist mainly of three portions,

(1) the history of Samuel‘s life and judgeship from 1 Samuel 16:1 to the end of the second Book; this latter portion not being completed until 1 Kings 2:11.

The sources from which the narrative is derived, were probably:

(1) the Book of Jasher 2 Samuel 1:18;

(2) David‘s Psalms 1 Chronicles 27:24;

(4) the Book of Samuel the Seer;

(5) the Book of Nathan the Prophet;

(6) the Book of Gad the Seer 1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29;

(7) the national collection of genealogies.

Those sections which give full details of the sayings and doings of Samuel, are conjectured to be extracted from “the Book of Samuel the seer” (e. g. i - xii). Those sections which contain narratives in which Nathan bears a part 2 Samuel 22:5; 24; etc., are pretty certainly from the Book of Gad the Seer. We seem to see extracts from the Chronicles of the kingdom in such passages as 1 Samuel 13:1; 1 Samuel 11:1-11, 1 Samuel 11:15; 1 Samuel 14:47-52; 2 Samuel 2:8-11; 2 Samuel 3:1-5; 2 Samuel 5:4-16; 8; 2 Samuel 20:23-26; 2 Samuel 21:15-22; 23:8-39; while the song of Hannah 1 Samuel 2:1-10, the elegy on the death of Abner 2 Samuel 3:33-34, and the two Psalms 2 Samuel 23:1-7, may as well as the elegy on Saul and Jonathan, be taken from the Book of Jasher.

It is difficult to decide when the final arrangement of the Books of Samuel, in their present shape, was made. The series of historical books from Judges to the end of 2Kings is formed on one plan, so that each book is a part of a connected whole. This would point to the time of Jeremiah the prophet, as that when the whole historical series from judges to kings inclusive was woven into one work. In his use of the work of contemporary writers, the final compiler left out large portions of the materials before him.

The chief quotations and resemblances from the Books of Samuel in the New Testament are found in the writings of Luke and Paul. The title THE CHRIST (“the anointed”), given to the Lord Jesus Matthew 1:16; Matthew 2:4; Matthew 16:16; Luke 2:26; John 1:20, John 1:41; John 20:31; Acts 2:30, is first found in 1 Samuel 2:10; and the other designation of the Saviour as the SON OF DAVID Matthew 9:27; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 21:9, Matthew 21:15; Matthew 22:42, is derived from 2 Samuel 7:12-16. In these books are passages which occur in duplicate elsewhere, chiefly in the Books of Chronicles and Psalms; and a careful comparison of these duplicate passages throws great light upon the manner in which the sacred historians used existing materials, incorporating them word for word, or slightly altering them for the sake of explanation, as seemed most expedient to them. It illustrates also the errors and fluctuations of scribes in transcribing manuscripts, especially in regard to proper names.

For these duplicate passages, and also on the chief quotations from other books in the Old Testament, consult the marginal references. The style of the Books of Samuel is clear, simple, and forcible, and the Hebrew remarkably pure and free from Chaldaisms. The chief difficulties are the geographical statements of 2 Samuel 23:1-7; and the account of the mighty men which follows it, 1 Samuel 8:1, 1 Samuel 8:5Acts 13:212 Samuel 5:440

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Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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