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Pett's Commentary on the Bible Pett's Commentary
- 1 Samuel
by Peter Pett
Commentary on SAMUEL (or 1 & 2 Samuel)
By Dr. Peter Pett BA BD (Hons-London) DD
Introduction (to be read).
The book of Samuel (which in the original Hebrew text was one book, but was divided into 1 & 2 Samuel by the translators of the Septuagint so as to fit onto scrolls) is a compilation from a number of contemporary prophetic sources, which have been brought together to form a continuous whole. They form a complete history from the birth of Samuel to the closing years of the reign of David. We may summarise the book as follows:
1). The Birth, Rise, Prophetic Ministry And Judgeship of Samuel (1-12).
2). The Reign of Saul As King Until His Rejection. His Successes And The Reasons For His Rejection By YHWH (13-15).
3). The Anointing Of David: His Rise, His Successes And His Preservation by YHWH In The Face Of All Saul’s Attempts To Destroy Him (16-31).
4) The Reign Of David Over Israel (2 Samuel).
It is thus the story of three men and what happened as a result of God’s activity in their lives. It is finally a reminder that it is not enough for a man to be outwardly suitable. The real test lies in the heart that believes and obeys.
But we may see the book from another angle, and that is as a portrayal of how history continually goes forward, with sinful man equally continually marring the work of God, and of how God constantly intervenes in that history through men of the Spirit so that the spiritual decay is counteracted for those who are truly His. Thus we may also summarise the book as follows:
· The birth of Samuel in readiness for the work that lies before him (1 Samuel 1:1 to 1 Samuel 2:10).
· A period describing the wickedness of the unbelieving priests who ran the Tabernacle, and how they brought judgment on sinful Israel, interspersed with the growth and development of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:11 to 1 Samuel 4:1 a).
· The adventures of the Ark due to the sinfulness of Israel and the way that through it YHWH reveals His Kingship (1 Samuel 4:1 to 1 Samuel 7:1).
· The life and judgeship of Samuel and his deliverance of Israel from the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:2-17).
· The disobedience of Israel in seeking for a king, and that king’s subsequent disobedience resulting in his rejection by God (1 Samuel 8:1 to 1 Samuel 15:35).
· God’s raising of David to remedy the failures of Saul (1 Samuel 16:1 to 1 Samuel 18:30).
· The continuing attempts of Saul to destroy David and prevent his succession which go on until Saul’s death (1 Samuel 19:1 to 1 Samuel 31:13).
· The final triumph of David and his reign, including both its victories and its failures (2 Samuel).
In this analysis we see the ups and downs of history and a description of times which seemed to suggest inevitable failure, followed by times when God intervened through chosen servants in order to take history forward in accordance with His will. Thus there are many black spots and periods of failure in the book, but always God finally brings His people through to ultimate success. It is thus a book that we can turn to when life seems bleak, because from it we can gain the confidence that God will triumph in the end.
The Sources of The Book.
Some idea of the kind of sources that may have been used in writing ‘Samuel’ is indicated in the book of Chronicles which refers to ‘the words of Samuel the seer (roeh - ‘one who sees’), the chronicle of Nathan the prophet, and the chronicle of Gad the seer (chozeh - ‘one who gazes’)’ (1 Chronicles 29:29). ‘Roeh’ was the earlier title as found in the first part of Samuel, but as not then found again until cited in the book of Chronicles, chozeh was the later title. This verse thus provides evidence which suggests that Samuel himself certainly wrote a history of some kind, a history which was presumably preserved in the School of the Prophets, and then in the Tabernacle and the Temple, and there can really be little doubt therefore that this was one valuable source from which the first part of this book was compiled. Samuel also wrote ‘the charter of the kingdom’ and similarly ‘laid it up before YHWH’ (1 Samuel 10:25). There may, however, have been other prophetic writings which were written at the same time, say by ‘the sons of the prophets’, although these are conjectural. They may have included, for example, a record of the activities of the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH in its goings. The Ark had led the people through the wilderness in triumph (Numbers 10:35-36) and it may well have been carried into battle more than once, although the impression gained from Samuel is that such an action was unusual (1 Samuel 4:13).
The other two sources mentioned in Chronicles, ‘the chronicle of Nathan the prophet, and the chronicle of Gad the seer (chozeh)’, would also appear to have been contemporary with some of the events described, for Nathan and Gad were both official members of David’s court and advised him at different times (2 Samuel 7:2 ff; 2 Samuel 12:2 ff, 2 Samuel 12:25; 2 Samuel 24:11 ff; 1 Kings 1:8 ff). Nor must we forget that David had lived with Samuel and the sons of the prophets at Naioth where he had specifically recounted to them his experiences (1 Samuel 19:18), and that during his days when he was in hiding Gad had kept in constant touch with him (1 Samuel 22:5). Note how Gad knew exactly where to find him. Thus the prophets had full knowledge of what was going on.
It would appear from all this that the prophets considered it to be one of their responsibilities to ensure that the divine histories were recorded (compare also 2 Chronicles 12:15; 2 Chronicles 13:22; 2 Chronicles 20:34; 2 Chronicles 26:22; 2 Chronicles 32:32; 2 Chronicles 33:18-19). Additionally to this, it is clear that by the time of David’s reign official court records were being maintained (2 Samuel 8:16). These would include the details of important events that occurred during his reign, and information concerning his officials and mighty men, in line with a general tendency in the Ancient Near East. Supplementing these would be the records preserved from the earliest times, which included information about the wars in which Israel engaged, preserved, for example, in the continually maintained Book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18) and the Book of the Wars of YHWH (Numbers 21:14). Compare also Exodus 17:14. .
The combined name given to the books (‘Samuel’) reflects the fact of the importance of Samuel in the sacred history. That is why his name is given to the whole book. They commence with details of the birth, growth and judgeship of Samuel, and then they describe the lives of the two kings whom he anointed as ‘YHWH’s Anointed’ to be king over Israel. They thus reflect his life and what resulted from it in his proteges, Saul and David. Samuel is seen as the king-maker supreme, the instrument of YHWH whose actions would finally lead to full deliverance for Israel from its enemies.
Which of the prophets actually brought the parts together in one whole we will probably never know, but it was clearly in line with what was expected of the prophetic function that it be done. That is why, to Israel, these ‘historical books’ were known as ‘the former prophets’.
The Date Of The Final Compilation.
The Hebrew text suggests an early date for its compilation, for it is written in pure Hebrew free from Aramaisms and late forms. There are certain indications that might suggest that its final completion took place during the reign of Rehoboam, although it must be pointed out that some of these indications may have been due to an updating of an original earlier compilation. Thus:
1). An archaic term is explained in 1 Samuel 9:9 and reference is possibly made to what was by then an obsolete custom (2 Samuel 13:18 - although this could equally be simply an explanation to those unfamiliar with the court). However either of these might merely indicate an updating of the original.
2). The common occurrence of ‘unto this day’ (1 Samuel 5:5; 1 Samuel 6:18; 1 Samuel 27:6; 1 Samuel 30:25; 2 Samuel 4:3; 2 Samuel 6:8; 2 Samuel 18:18). How far this is significant depends on what we see such a phrase as indicating. In common parlance it can indicate a fairly short period of time. (We might say of someone, ‘he promised to do it and has not done it to this day’, indicating a period of say six months or even less).
3). The length of time necessary before a proper historical perspective can be taken of successive events and their relationship with each other. But this would only require a few years in a discerning person, and Solomon’s reign was one in which many rejoiced in the accomplishments of David.
4). It must clearly have taken place after the death of David for it includes almost his whole reign (see 2 Samuel 5:5).
5). The LXX version of Samuel reads in 2 Samuel 8:7, ‘And Shishak king of Egypt took them when he came up against Jerusalem in the days of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon’, and in 2 Samuel 14:27, ‘And she (Tamar) became the wife of Rehoboam the son of Solomon and bore him Abia’. However, these do not reflect the Hebrew text that we have (the subject of their relationship is complex) and may be later additions resulting from a time when a longer version was written.
6). The mention of ‘the kings of Judah’ in 1 Samuel 27:6 might be seen as reflecting the division of the kingdoms into Israel and Judah. On the other hand the treaty under which the city of Ziklag was signed over may have mentioned ‘David of Judah’ in which case ‘kings of Judah’ could simply be seen as reflecting David and Solomon, as those who ruled over Judah and to whom thus the treaty right belonged. Judah’s partial separation from the remainder of Israel, even before the division of the kingdoms, is in fact made clear throughout Samuel (11:8; 17:52; 18:16).
Depending on how we see the above we may consider that the compilation was made during either the reign of Solomon or Rehoboam. There is nothing in the narrative that requires a later date.
The Relationship Of Samuel To The History Of Israel.
After the deliverance of Egypt from Israel by Moses, (recorded in Exodus to Deuteronomy), we have seen how Joshua entered Canaan and swept through it triumphantly, enabling Israel to settle in the land (a situation recorded in Joshua). However, his victories did not remove the enemy completely, nor did he conquer all the major cities, or permanently occupy all that he did conquer, even though he defeated their forces in battle, and once he had moved on to other conquests the defeated armies would make their way back to their cities and re-establish themselves. What Joshua did accomplish, however, was to prevent them from interfering with Israel’s occupation of available land. Canaan was heavily forested all over, apart from the coastal plain, and the mountain region (hill country) was relatively free from occupation (see Joshua 17:15; Joshua 17:17-18), so while an influx of peoples at this level was not welcome, it was more difficult to prevent, and it was due to the victories of Joshua that it could not be prevented.
Then, once they had settled in, Israel in their enclaves grew stronger and stronger and it was at this point that they failed to obey God, remain united, and drive the Canaanites out of the land (Judges 1:0). Israel thus found themselves continually intermingling with the inhabitants of Canaan and learning from them their seemingly more sophisticated ways, as described in the first chapter of the Book of Judges. Meanwhile the Philistines had arrived from overseas as one of the Sea peoples, had attempted to invade Egypt, but had been repulsed, and the result was that many of them had settled in the Coastal Plain (this was around 1200 BC), being ruled by five ‘Tyrants’ (seren - a word reserved for the leaders of the Philistines).
The result of all this was that Israel, having settled in the land and having been divided up into sections, separated to some extent from each other by the terrain and by the inhabitants of the land, became vulnerable to outside enemies, a situation described throughout the Book of Judges, which enables us to see how fragmented they had become. It does, however, also reveal that some of the tribes (Judges 5:0), and sometimes all (Judges 20-21), did still come together when called on in an emergency, in accordance with the requirements of the tribal treaty. The Amphictyony (the tribal league) was still at least partly operative, and it was this that enabled their survival as a nation.
We do not know how long this period lasted, for while twelve judges are mentioned in the book of Judges (thirteen if we include Abimelech) it is unlikely that we are to see them as succeeding each other. Rather we are probably to see that some of them operated in different parts of Israel at the same time as others. These Judges, and their diverging authority, may be listed as follows:
Judge Oppression Peace Area Enemy Othniel 8 years 40 years Judah Mesopotamia Ehud 18 years 80 years Benjamin Moab, Ammon, Amalek Shamgar not stated not stated Judah? Philistines Deborah after Ehud’s death 20 years 40 years Zebulun and Naphtali Hazor Gideon 7 years 40 years half tribe of Manasseh Arabs Abimelech after Gideon 3 years Shechem Tola after Abimelech 23 years Issachar (Ephraim hill country) Jair After Tola 22 years Gileadite Jephthah 18 years 6 years Gileadite Moab, Ammon Ibzan 7 years Bethlehem Elon 10 years Zebulun Abdon 8 years Ephraim Samson 40 years 20 years Dan and Judah Philistines In looking at this list it appears that:
1). No judge appears to have ruled the whole of Israel. So while they were able to call on other tribes for help in accordance with the requirements of the amphictyony (the treaty combining the twelve tribes), their actual jurisdiction appears to have been limited to their own particular area. Consider how after Ehud’s victory the land had rest for eighty years. And yet he appears to have been a mature man at the time of his victory. As it is not likely that he lived to be 120, this suggests that the unrest which followed his death (Judges 4:1) which occurred in a totally different part of Palestine, was within the eighty year period of rest in Ehud’s part of the land. Ehud’s part of the land was in fact not disturbed again until the time of Gideon.
2). Where judges were appointed in different areas ‘after --’ need only mean ‘at a time after the appointment previously mentioned’ (even where the previous judges death is mentioned) except in the cases where ‘after his death’ or similar is specifically stated (Judges 4:1; Judges 8:32 ff).
3). The number 40 occurs so regularly that it must probably be seen as a round number, possibly signifying a generation (which would be closer to 25 years). This was how numbers were used in ancient times. People did not tend on the whole to be numerate or use numbers exactly beyond, say, ten or twenty. They were used to give an impression (as we would say ‘I have a thousand and one things to do today’).
4). If we see Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali as indicating the north (affected by the northern Canaanites), Manasseh and Ephraim as indicating the centre (affected mainly by enemies coming across the Jordan through the Jericho pass, or by the Philistines), Judah/Dan as indicating the South (affected more by the Philistines, but also by those coming round the bottom of the Dead Sea), and Gilead as indicating Transjordan (affected largely by Moab, Ammon, and by Arab tribes), it will be clear that the judgeships had jurisdiction in different areas and that some could have overlapped, in each case at times having to deal with different enemies.
This being so it would be quite arbitrary to add up all the periods mentioned above in order to obtain an indication of how long the period of the judges was. Discernment needs rather to be used taking into account the above factors. The whole period may have been no longer than say 120 years and upwards.
For in considering the matter we do need to recognise the fact that in ancient times historians did not seek to synchronise lists as we would today. We can compare, for example, how the Egyptians simply listed each series of rulers and reigns separately one after the other, regardless of the fact that some were contemporary with each other (see the Turin Papyrus for an example). The same phenomenon occurs in Sumerian and Old Babylonian lists. They were not interested in synchronisation.
The Book of Samuel appears at first sight to take up where Judges leaves off. However it is more than probable that there is actually an overlap and that one or two of the later judges, Samson for example, were in operation during the time of Eli and Samuel (see below). There is no suggestion of either Eli or Samuel having specific jurisdiction in Transjordan, nor among the northern tribal areas, nor indeed in Judah who saw themselves as very much an independent group even though in loose affiliation with the remainder of the tribes. Note that Samuel’s circuit consisted of Bethel, Mizpah and Gilgal (1 Samuel 7:16), that is, it is restricted to only the central region of Palestine. Of course his influence as a Prophet was wider, and when the necessity arose he was able to call on all of Israel to respond to the call to arms in an emergency. But the latter was true for all the tribal leaders and not unique to Samuel. Each tribe could call on assistance when required.
As a result of this the date at which the early chapters of Samuel commence is not easy to determine. If we seek to do it by dating downwards from the Exodus, the date of which is also uncertain, there is far too much uncertainty due to what has been said above.
But dating back presents similar difficulties, although not quite so complex. Much depends on how we interpret the round number ‘forty years’. If we take the date of Rehoboam’s accession as around 930 BC, based on the invasion by Pharaoh Shishak of Egypt (1 Kings 14:25) in around 925 BC, and add back around eighty years for the reigns of David and Solomon (although in each case ‘forty years’ is probably a round number) and a further forty for Saul (although this may be slightly high), we get back to a date for Saul’s accession of around 1050 BC. This may be slightly incorrect for the reasons mentioned, so that 1040-1035 BC is probably nearer the mark. This would then suggest that Samuel and his sons operated roughly around 1070-1030 BC and Eli roughly 1110-1070 BC, in each case give or take a few years. And as we have seen one or two of the other judges may well have been operating during the periods of Eli and Samuel. Thus the ‘forty years’ in Judges 13:1 may well have ended at the battle of Ebenezer (1 Samuel 7:12-13), in which case Samson lived (although in captivity for the last part) during the lifetime of Eli and even during the early years of Samuel. It must be recognised that most of these dates are tentative, but they do give a general idea of when all this happened. At this time the generally weak twentieth and twenty first dynasties were reigning in Egypt and apart from occasional forays could largely be ignored.
The Message of the Book of Samuel.
The initial chapter of the book is of great importance theologically. The birth of a child as the result of a ‘miraculous’ activity of God, especially as connected with prophecy, had always been heralded among God’s people as indicating the birth of someone of great importance in God’s ongoing purposes. Thus we have the birth of Isaac, the birth of Jacob, the birth of Samson and now the birth of Samuel, in all of which cases the birth occurred ‘beyond due time’. (Consider also the miraculous birth of the coming Anointed King (Isaiah 7:14), that of John the Baptist (Luke 1:0), and, of course, that of Jesus). This chapter therefore indicates that a new important stage in God’s purposes had taken place.
It was a very necessary stage. Israel were disunited and in disarray, the priesthood was failing, the Philistines were growing ever stronger and stronger and were seeking to establish an empire, and all was beginning to seem hopeless. And it was at this point that the young Samuel was born. He would be the one to whom Israel would look, and who would re-establish them after they had been humiliated by the Philistines. Yet interestingly enough both he and Eli would demonstrate the uselessness of depending on a permanent dynasty, for none of their sons proved suitable to take over from their fathers. No wonder Samuel was so dead set against the idea of kingship. He could hardly have been otherwise. For while he himself was the prime evidence that God could provide the leadership that was required when it was needed, and when the people were obedient to YHWH, his family also provided the evidence that dynasties could not be relied on.
It is doubtful, however, if most of Israel saw it in that way at the time. They saw rather the provision of kingship as leading up to the glorious reign of David who would be the pattern of all future kingship, followed by the glorious opening decades of Solomon’s reign. Saul, it is true, was a warning of what should be avoided, but David was seen as very much the image of the ideal king. That is why, whenever in the future they looked forward to an ideal king, they thought of him in terms of David.
But the author of Samuel was determined that amidst all that happened sight should not be lost of the Kingship of YHWH, and in 1 Samuel 4-7 of 1 Samuel there is a vivid portrayal of that Kingship in terms of the Ark of YHWH, which, bearing the Name of YHWH (2 Samuel 6:2), and having been despised by Israel and treated as a kind of talisman, proves itself powerful over the gods of Philistia, and is subsequently restored to Israel with all due honour, where it also brings judgment on disrespectful priests, until it is finally established in honour in the house of Abinadab, where it will remain in honour until the rising of YHWH’s true king. Meanwhile Samuel’s call to Israel to repent and turn from their idolatry is textually closely linked with the Ark’s presence (1 Samuel 7:2-3), thus indicating that YHWH was no longer reigning in Israel through the Tabernacle and its priesthood, but through the prophet Samuel.
Saul also draws attention to its presence, an indication that it is not forgotten (1 Samuel 14:18), and that does raise the question as to why, when the Tabernacle was re-established (1 Samuel 21:0), the Ark was not restored to the Tabernacle by Saul (a fact commented on in 1 Chronicles 13:3). It may well have been because, once there was again a High Priest, he saw himself as rejected by YHWH and did not want the power of the priesthood fully restored. Thus the Ark was not to be restored for use in public worship (although even then not to the Tabernacle) until the rightful king, the king after God’s own heart, was on the throne (2 Samuel 6:0). Only then was YHWH again truly acknowledged as King over Israel.
It has been argued by those who are interested in seeking to divide up the text which has been so carefully brought together, that Samuel is presented as having two incompatible faces, that of a local seer and that of a great prophet, whilst it is often also claimed that at the same time the appointment of Saul to kingship is outlined in such divergent ways that each contradicts the other. Both these suggestions, however, arise from a failure to appreciate that change on the scale depicted here required a process that gave the outward appearance of being confused and longwinded, simply because it was a mirror of life. Progress was never going to be easy. The fact is, of course, that Samuel was both a local seer and a great prophet. He was a man deeply concerned in the petty, local affairs of his people in situations where people often needed a ‘seer’ to guide them. He saw nothing as too low for him, even to the point of finding their asses. That was why the people loved him. But at the same time he proved himself fully capable of rising to the occasion when greater things were required.
Furthermore he was fully aware that the path to acceptability for a suitable war leader and ruler from among the people was never going to be easy. It was one thing for him to be asked to appoint a king. It was quite another to find a candidate who would be continually acceptable to all parties. We need to consider the difficulties. Each tribe was jealous for its own reputation, while he knew that in order to be successful whoever was appointed would, in the end, have to finish up with full authority among a people who were used to their own kind of democracy in terms of the ‘congregation of Israel’, and who were each jealous for the precedence of their tribe. That was why the appointment had inevitably to be carried out in the stages that we find in the text, stages in which the new leader was shown firstly to be acceptable to God, and then to be an effective military leader, and finally someone appointed by popular acclamation. Only then could he be crowned. Whoever was appointed had to be proved from every possible angle.
Such a pattern was to some extent, in fact, also often followed in the establishment of kingships elsewhere. When a new king was being put forward there would first of all be selection by influential backers, then the calling on the gods for omens, then the gaining of support, then, if necessary, the proof of his ability by success in warfare (often in defeating the other candidates), and finally public acclamation. The pattern is not so dissimilar.
As we look at the kingship it is true in one sense that God was ‘grieved’ because they no longer felt able to look to Him as their king and trust Him to supply their necessary leaders. Indeed this should not surprise us, for our own constant lack of trust in Him even now constantly grieves Him. And it was probably in order that they might learn this lesson that He commenced by providing a king who while outwardly adequate, and with the necessary potential, proved to be unsatisfactory. He wanted them to learn a lesson the hard way. But in the end He did provide them with a king who was a pattern for the great King Who was to come Who would do all His will. Thus He faced them with both chastening and blessing, that in the end they might continue to look to Him in all things.
It is perhaps salutary to realise that this book which begins with such hope in the birth of a babe (1 Samuel 1:0), ends with the tragedy of a plague that has to be stayed, simply because of the sinful actions of the one truly chosen to be the king (2 Samuel 24:0). It was not the best advertisement for kingship. But at least it was an honest one. The writer clearly did not see David as the culmination of Israel’s hopes.
Are Elements of Anti-Kingship Revealed in Samuel?
At first sight the answer to this question may seem obvious. Some may say, ‘Is it not clear, for example, that Samuel himself was anti-Kingship?’ But perhaps the problem here lies rather in what is meant by anti-Kingship. Certainly Samuel was against the idea of ‘a king like all the nations’ (in its worst sense), in other words one who would rule in supreme power who could act as king-priest, and who could usurp the authority of YHWH. But anti-Kingship is not how the writer sees him, for he makes clear from the start that Samuel’s family was one that was looking forward to one who would come as the true King, as YHWH’s anointed, one who would be in full submission to YHWH and appointed as His king while He ‘judged’ the earth (1 Samuel 2:10).
It is rather true therefore to say that what Samuel was against was men stepping in and on their own terms appointing a king over against YHWH before the time that YHWH had appointed (Genesis 49:10), rather than continuing to look to a ‘judge’ like himself. And that is surely why he sought to ensure that Saul and the people recognise from the start how Saul was to be seen. He was to be seen as YHWH’s ‘nagid’ - ‘war-leader’ (1 Samuel 9:16), whose enabling came from Him (1 Samuel 10:5-6) and whose responsibility it was to ensure the keeping of YHWH’s commandments (1 Samuel 12:21-25). He was to be YHWH’s representative, the maintainer of the covenant (in line with Deuteronomy 17:14-20), and not His replacement. But the people took it further, and indeed it was precisely because Saul was unwilling to remain in this role that he was finally rejected. For twice he seized to himself the prerogatives of YHWH, firstly when he offered sacrifices on his own volition before the time appointed by YHWH (1 Samuel 13:8-14), and secondly when he sought to retain for himself what had been ‘devoted’ to YHWH (1 Samuel 15:10-30). And in the end he revealed it nowhere more clearly than in his treatment of the priests of YHWH at Nob (1 Samuel 22:9-19). From then on Saul was unable to receive any response from YHWH (1 Samuel 28:6).
Thus Samuel had no problem with anointing the man of YHWH’s choice, David, and in supporting him on his way to the kingship, because he knew that through David was coming YHWH’s genuine ‘anointed one’. And the writer later makes clear that it was in fact David who was to be the founder of the ‘everlasting kingdom’ (2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:16).
So it is apparent that Samuel’s anti-kingship was more the result of the way in which Israel wanted to go about it, than because kingship itself, under YHWH, was questionable.
The Importance of Samuel.
It is difficult to ever-estimate the importance of Samuel. He grew up in an Israel which was at its lowest ebb, constantly in fear of the encroaching Philistines and in danger of being overwhelmed, with a corrupted priesthood and a failing sanctuary, and an Israel that was disunited and traumatised, and he established a school of prophecy which would lift it to new religious heights, maintained it throughout a period when there was no Ark or Tabernacle in public use, finally re-established the central sanctuary after it had initially collapsed, and anointed the two kings who would first hold back the Philistines, and would then finally destroy their power so that they would never be a real threat to Israel again. He was an undoubted major turning point in Israel’s history.
Note on the use of clothes as a symbolic gesture in 1 Samuel.
A man’s outer garments were generally seen as indicating both his position and status and also something of himself. Thus at Ugarit when an heir apparent to the throne was given the choice of remaining with his father and thus continuing as crown prince, or going with his divorced mother and losing that privilege, he was to demonstrate his decision by either retaining his clothes denoting his status, or by leaving them on the throne when he departed. There are a number of references in 1 Samuel to a similar use of clothes as a symbolic gesture.
1). Saul clothed David in his own armour in order to demonstrate that he went out to meet Goliath as Saul’s champion (1 Samuel 17:38). This act was intended to confirm all that David was Saul’s representative.
2). Here Jonathan stripped himself of his war apparel and gave it to David. This was seemingly his way of indicating that they were bound together in a covenant (1 Samuel 18:3-4). From then on they would look out for each other as though they were closer than twins, and from then on they would share each other’s honour and each other’s problems.
3). When Saul later approaches Samuel with a view to arresting David, Saul, unable to help himself, strips himself of his outer clothing and prophesies before Samuel and lays down, ‘undressed’ as he is, all day and all night (1 Samuel 19:22-24). This would seem to be suggesting that in spite of himself he had no choice but to divest himself of his authority before YHWH’ prophet and His Spirit. YHWH was seen to be still his Overlord.
Analysis of 1 Samuel 1:0 - 2 Samuel 20:22 .
SECTION 1. The Birth, Rise, Prophetic Ministry And Judgeship of Samuel (chapters 1-12).
This section divides up into three parts, each following a chiastic arrangement:
A). The Birth, Call and Establishment of Samuel the Prophet (1:1-4:1a).
a The birth of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-28).
b The prophecy of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10).
c Samuel ministers to YHWH (1 Samuel 2:11).
d The failure of Eli’s sons (1 Samuel 2:12-17).
e The blessing of God on Samuel and on the house of Elkanah (1 Samuel 2:18-21).
d The failure of Eli’s sons (1 Samuel 2:22-25).
c Samuel grows in favour with YHWH and men (1 Samuel 2:26).
b The prophecy of the man of God (1 Samuel 2:27-36).
a The call and establishment of Samuel as a prophet (1 Samuel 3:1 to 1 Samuel 4:1 a).
B). The Ark As The Focal Point Of The Kingship Of YHWH (4:1b-7:14).
a The Philistines defeat Israel and capture the Ark of God (1 Samuel 4:1-22).
b The Ark of God is taken to Ashdod and the idol Dagon falls before YHWH and is smashed in pieces (1 Samuel 5:1-5).
c The Ark of God brings misery and plague on the Philistines who disrespect it (1 Samuel 5:6-12).
d The Ark of God is returned to Israel with due tributes and reparations (1 Samuel 6:1-16).
c The Ark of God brings misery on the Israelites who disrespect it (1 Samuel 6:17 to 1 Samuel 7:2).
b The Ark of God being suitably re-established in Israel, they are promised that if they return to YHWH and put away their idolatry they will be delivered from the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:2-4).
a The Ark having been restored, Israel defeat the Philistines through the prayers of Samuel (1 Samuel 7:5-14).
C). The Judgeship of Samuel At The End Of Which The People Seek And Are Granted A Human King (7:15-12:25).
a Samuel judges Israel faithfully and well (1 Samuel 7:15-17).
b Samuel’s sons prove unworthy and the people call for a King (1 Samuel 8:1-6).
c The manner of the King that they will receive (1 Samuel 8:7-22).
d Saul is brought to Samuel by God and is revealed and greeted by him as the new king (1 Samuel 9:1-21).
e Saul is feasted and then secretly anointed, and learns that the asses have been found (1 Samuel 9:22 to 1 Samuel 10:2).
f The signs of Saul’s acceptance and his coming enduing with the Spirit of YHWH (1 Samuel 10:3-7).
g Saul is to go to Gilgal and wait seven days for Samuel to come in order to offer offerings and sacrifices and to show him what he is to do (1 Samuel 10:8).
f The promised signs are fulfilled and the Spirit of YHWH comes on Saul (1 Samuel 10:9-13).
e Saul returns to his uncle and informs him that Samuel had told him that the asses had been found, but maintains the secret of the kingship (1 Samuel 10:14-16).
d Saul is brought before the people, revealed as their king by lot and greeted by them as the king (1 Samuel 10:17-24).
c Samuel records ‘the manner of the kingship’ and writes it in a book (1 Samuel 10:25-27).
b YHWH delivers His people from the Ammonites through Saul and the kingship is finally confirmed at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:1-15).
a Samuel hands back the judgeship to the people and charges the people to be faithful to YHWH (1 Samuel 12:1-25).
SECTION 2 (13:1-15:35). The Rise and Fall of Saul.
a Saul disobeys YHWH and does not wait for His advice through Samuel. His dynasty are rejected from the kingship (1 Samuel 13:1-18).
b Jonathan and YHWH deliver Israel (1 Samuel 13:19 to 1 Samuel 14:23 a).
c Saul makes a rash oath and Jonathan unknowingly breaks it and becomes liable to sentence (1 Samuel 14:23-31 a).
d As a result of Saul’s rash oath his men eat animals with their blood resulting in Saul building his ‘first altar’ (1 Samuel 14:31-35).
c Saul consult the oracle over his rash oath and Jonathan is sentenced to death, but the people will not allow it (1 Samuel 14:36-46).
b Saul and Abner deliver Israel (1 Samuel 14:47-52).
a Saul disobeys YHWH and preserves for himself and the people what is ‘devoted’ to YHWH. He is rejected from the kingship (1 Samuel 15:1-35).
SECTION 3 (16:1-20:42). The Rise And Preservation of David.
A). The Rise Of David (16:1-18:4).
a Samuel Anoints David As The Prospective King And The Spirit Of YHWH Comes Mightily On Him (1 Samuel 16:1-13).
b Saul’s Psychiatric Problems Result In The Introduction Of David To Saul’s Court As The Son Of Jesse.
c Goliath And The Philistines Challenge Israel (1 Samuel 17:1-19).
d David Is Appalled That An Uncircumcised Philistine Dares To Defy The Armies Of The Living God (1 Samuel 17:20-30).
e David Offers To Fight Goliath And Is Accepted As Saul’s Champion (1 Samuel 17:31-39).
d David Challenges Goliath For Daring To Defy The Armies Of The Living God (1 Samuel 17:40-50).
c The Philistines Are Routed (1 Samuel 17:51-54).
b Saul Enquires Into David’s Antecedents (1 Samuel 17:53-58).
a Jonathan, The Heir Apparent, Gives To David His Own Armour Out Of His Love For Him (1 Samuel 18:1-4).
B). Saul’s Aim To Destroy David At Court (18:5-19:24).
a David’s Military Success And Saul’s Growing Suspicion - Saul Prophesies And Tries To Spear David (1 Samuel 18:5-14).
b Saul Seeks To Use Marriage To His Daughters As A Means Of Arranging For The Philistines To Kill David. David Marries Michal (1 Samuel 18:15-30).
c David Must Die! Jonathan Successfully Intercedes For David (1 Samuel 19:1-7).
b Further Attempts on David’s Life By Spearing And Arrest. David Is Saved By Saul’s Daughter Michal (1 Samuel 19:8-17).
a David Flees To Samuel. Saul Follows, Is Rendered Helpless And Prophesies (1 Samuel 19:18-24).
C). Jonathan Acts On David’s Behalf In Order To Protect Him From Saul But They Finally Have To Say Farewell (20:1-42).
a David Tells Jonathan That Saul Intends To Kill Him (David). Jonathan Does Not Believe It But Excuses David From Attendance At The New Moon Festival (1 Samuel 20:1-9).
b Jonathan Renews Covenant With David And Declares That He Will Discover His Father’s Intentions (1 Samuel 20:10-24 a).
b Jonathan Discovers Saul’s Intentions At The Moon Festival And Fasts Out Of Grief (1 Samuel 20:24-34).
a Jonathan Confirms To David That He Was Right And They Say Farewell (1 Samuel 20:35-42).
SECTION 4. The Years Of Preparation In The Wilderness (21:1-26:25).
A). David Becomes An Outlaw And Forms A Private Army (21:1-22:23).
a The Refugee David Visits Ahimelech The Priest And Obtains Provisions (1 Samuel 21:1-7).
b David Obtains The Sword Of Goliath And Goes To Gath, Only To Have To Feign Madness And Return To Judah (1 Samuel 21:8-15).
c David Goes To The Cave Of Adullam And Gathers A Private Army (1 Samuel 22:1-2).
b David Goes To Moab And Seeks Refuge For His Parents, Remaining In A ‘Stronghold’ There Until He Is Told To Return To Judah (1 Samuel 22:3-4).
a Ahimelech Is Called To Account By Saul For Provisioning David And As A Result He And The Priests Of Nob Are Slaughtered (1 Samuel 22:5-19).
B). David Delivers Keilah From An Invasion By The Philistines, Is Visited by Jonathan, And Avoids Capture By Saul (23:1-28)
a David Delivers Keilah From An Invasion By The Philistines (1 Samuel 23:1-5).
b Saul Calls In The Levy Of The Tribes In Order To Trap David In Keilah, David Learns That Keilah Will Hand Him Over To Saul (1 Samuel 23:6-13).
c Jonathan Visits David In Order To Assure Him That He Need Not Be Afraid Of Saul’s Searches Because YHWH Is With Him (1 Samuel 23:14-18).
b The Ziphites Try To Hand David Over To Saul And Saul Calls On His Men To Pursue David (1 Samuel 23:19-24).
a David Is Delivered From Saul By An Invasion Of The Philistines (1 Samuel 23:25-28).
C). David Twice Spares The Life Of Saul And Spares The Life Of Nabal (23:29-26:25).
a David Is Pursued In The Wilderness Of Engedi And Spares Saul’s Life Because He Is YHWH’s Anointed (1 Samuel 24:1-22).
b The Death Of Samuel, David’s Mentor, And Introduction To Nabal The Fool And Abigail The Wise And Beautiful (1 Samuel 25:1-3).
c David Is Rebuffed By Nabal And Sets Out To Take Vengeance (1 Samuel 25:4-19).
d Abigail The Wise Turns David From His Vengeance (1 Samuel 25:20-36).
c When Nabal Is Stricken David Rejoices That He Had Been Kept From Vengeance (1 Samuel 25:26-39 b).
b The Loss Of Michal, David’s Royal Wife, And His Receiving Instead Of Abigail The Wise And Ahinoam of Jezreel (1 Samuel 25:39-44).
a David Is Pursued In The Wilderness Of Ziph, And Spares Saul’s Life Because He Is YHWH’s Anointed (1 Samuel 26:1-25).
SECTION 5. David’s Rise To Petty Kingship At Ziklag, The Final Fall And Death Of Saul (1 Samuel 27:1 - 2 Samuel 1:27 ).
A). David’s Rise To Petty Kingship And Subsequent Triumph While Saul Stumbles On In The Darkness (27:1-30:31).
a David leaves his haunts in Judah and goes over Achish of Gath to escape from Saul (1 Samuel 27:1-4).
b David becomes a petty king under Achish and attacks and defeats the Amalekites, slaughtering them and obtaining great booty (1 Samuel 27:5-12).
c David swears loyalty to Achish in view of the invasion of Israel (1 Samuel 28:1-2).
d Saul seeks to consult Samuel through a necromancer who is an enemy of God and is reminded that he is rejected by YHWH (1 Samuel 28:3-20).
e Saul shares hospitality with a woman condemned by YHWH and goes out into the night (1 Samuel 28:21-25).
d David is accompanying the Philistines who are enemies of God and is rejected by them (1 Samuel 29:1-7).
c David swears loyalty to Achish in view of the invasion of Israel (1 Samuel 29:8-11).
b David finds his kingdom despoiled and attacks and defeats the Amalekites, slaughtering them and obtaining great booty (1 Samuel 30:1-25).
a David shows his gratitude to those who had assisted him among the people of Judah when he was escaping from Saul (1 Samuel 30:26-31).
B). The Death Of Saul And Jonathan (1 Samuel 31:1 - 2 Samuel 1:27 ).
a The Death Of Saul And Jonathan On Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:1-7).
b The Tidings Concerning Saul’s Death And Defeat Are Spread Among The Philistines (1 Samuel 31:8-10).
c The Men Of Jabesh Gilead Arrange For A Decent Burial For Saul (1 Samuel 31:11-13).
b The Tiding Concerning The Death Of Saul Are Brought To David (2 Samuel 1:1-16).
a David Commemorates The Death Of Saul And Jonathan In Song (2 Samuel 1:17-27).
SECTION 6. David Becomes King Over Judah And Then Over All Israel (2:1-5:5).
a David is anointed as King over Judah and Ish-bosheth is set over Israel (2 Samuel 2:1-11).
b Abner and Israel seek to win the whole kingdom for Ish-bosheth by defeating Judah, but are soundly beaten. Abner slays Asahel, something which will finally result in his own death (2 Samuel 2:12-28).
c The aftermath of the invasion, the number of the slain, Judah mourn over Asahel (2 Samuel 2:29-32).
d David grows stronger in Hebron while Abner makes himself strong in the house of Saul in the midst of a weakening Israel (2 Samuel 3:1-6).
e Abner quarrels with Ish-bosheth and determines to betray him to David by advancing David’s claims in Israel (2 Samuel 3:7-16).
e Abner negotiates to advance David’s claims in Israel (2 Samuel 3:17-21).
d Joab makes himself strong by slaying Abner and obtaining both blood revenge for Asahel and the death of a rival (2 Samuel 3:27-30).
c The aftermath of Joab’s vengeance, description of the slain, Judah mourn over Abner (2 Samuel 3:31-39).
b The kingdom is taken from Ish-bosheth as a result of his assassination by two of his commanders, something which will finally result in their own death (2 Samuel 4:1-11).
a David becomes king over all Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-5).
David’s Greatness Is Established By YHWH And He Is Promised That His House Will Result In Everlasting Kingship (5:6-10:19).
a David Reacts To Taunts And Captures Jerusalem Thus Purifying And Uniting The Land (2 Samuel 5:6-10).
b Hiram Builds David A House Of Cedar Which Demonstrates the Establishment Of His House And Kingship On Behalf Of God’s People (2 Samuel 5:11-12).
c David Bears Many Sons (2 Samuel 5:13-16).
d David Utterly Defeats The Philistines Releasing Their Grip For Ever On Israel (2 Samuel 5:17-25).
e David Brings The Ark Of God Containing the Covenant Into Jerusalem With Rejoicing Expressing His Love For And Dedication To YHWH (2 Samuel 6:1-19).
f Michal Expresses Her Disgust At David’s Behaviour Resulting In The Barrenness Of The House Of Saul (2 Samuel 6:20-21).
g David Wishes To Build A House Of Cedar For YHWH And Learns That YHWH Is Above Houses Of Cedar (2 Samuel 7:1-7).
f The House Of David Is To Be Fruitful Result In An Everlasting Kingship (2 Samuel 7:8-17).
e David’s Prayer Expresses His Gratitude To YHWH For All His Goodness (2 Samuel 7:18-19).
d David Utterly Defeats All His Enemies Round About Freeing Israel From The Threat Of Invasion (2 Samuel 8:1-15).
c David’s Sons Become ‘Priests’ (2 Samuel 8:16-18).
b David Establishes The House Of Saul By Receiving Jonathan’s Son At Court and Giving Him Back His Ancestral Lands (2 Samuel 9:1-13).
a David Reacts To Taunts And Defeats The Greater Powers Who Threaten His Borders Thus Establishing The Land (2 Samuel 10:1-19).
SECTION 7. In The Midst Of A Period Of Warfare And Victory Over The Ammonites David Sins Greatly (11:1-12:31).
a David sends Joab to besiege Rabbah (2 Samuel 11:1).
b David lies with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, with the result that she becomes pregnant (2 Samuel 11:2-5).
c David arranges for the death of Uriah the Hittite so as to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11:6-15).
d Joab sends David a message to let him know that Uriah is dead (2 Samuel 11:18-27 a).
e E. YHWH is displeased with David (2 Samuel 11:27 b).
d YHWH sends a message to David through Nathan the prophet in order to let him know that YHWH knows why Uriah is dead (2 Samuel 12:1-14).
c David's infant son dies as a consequence of David’s sin (2 Samuel 12:15-23).
b David lies with Bathsheba, who is now his wife, with the result that she becomes pregnant (2 Samuel 12:24-25).
a Joab sends for David to come and besiege Rabbah (2 Samuel 12:26-31).
SECTION 8. The Causes Of Absalom’s Rebellion Resulting In His Final Breach With David (13:1-15:9).
a The sexual misbehaviour of David’s heir apparent, Amnon, because of his royal arrogance, under the pretence of seeking comfort, resulting in his father’s great anger (2 Samuel 13:1-22).
b Absalom invites the king’s sons to the sheepshearing celebrations under false pretences (2 Samuel 13:23).
c Amnon’s subsequent death at the hands of Absalom, David’s third son, an act of treason against David which results in Absalom’s flight from Jerusalem to Geshur (2 Samuel 13:28-39).
d Joab arranges for Absalom’s restoration to Jerusalem through a wise woman (2 Samuel 14:1-21).
c Joab restores Absalom to Jerusalem but not into the king’s favour (2 Samuel 14:22-33).
b Absalom wins the favour of the people under false pretences (2 Samuel 15:1-6).
a The political misbehaviour of David’s heir apparent, Absalom, because of his royal arrogance, under the pretence of worshipping YHWH (2 Samuel 15:7-12).
SECTION 9. The Course Of The Civil Wars Resulting From Absalom’s Rebellion (15:13-20:22).
a Absalom raises rebellion against David and enlists the services of the wise Ahithophel (2 Samuel 15:13-31).
b The ancient Hushai the Archite comes to David and is called on to counter the wisdom of Ahithopel (2 Samuel 15:32-35).
c Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, meets David with provisions and traduces Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 16:1-4).
d David is cursed by Shimei as a man of blood and Abishai wishes to execute him (2 Samuel 16:5-14).
e Conflicting advice on how to ensure that David’s power will be broken among the people (2 Samuel 16:15 to 2 Samuel 17:14).
f Hushai warns David that he must flee over the Jordan (2 Samuel 17:15-23).
g The opposing armies prepare for battle and David pleads for mercy for his son (2 Samuel 17:24 to 2 Samuel 18:5).
h The final battle (2 Samuel 18:6-17).
g David receives tidings of the course of the battle and mourns for Absalom (2 Samuel 18:18-30).
f Joab warns David of the consequences of his behaviour with regard to his people (2 Samuel 19:1-8 a).
e David calls for the restoration of his power among the people (2 Samuel 19:8-15).
d Shimei meets David and pleads for forgiveness while Abishai wishes to execute him (2 Samuel 19:16-23).
c Mephibosheth meets David and David learns of Ziba’s treachery (2 Samuel 19:24).
b The ancient Barzillai conducts David back over the Jordan (2 Samuel 19:31-40).
a Sheba raises a rebellion against David and is betrayed by the wise woman of Abel (2 Samuel 20:1-22).