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You will find an introduction and outline to 1 Samuel here.

A prayer to use before reading from the liturgy of John Chrysostom, 4th century:

Incomprehensible Creator, the true Fountain of light and only Author of all knowledge: deign, we beseech Thee, to enlighten our understanding, and to remove from us all darkness of sin and ignorance. Thou, who makest eloquent the tongues of those who lack utterance, direct our tongues, and pour on our lips the grace of thy blessing. Give us a diligent and obedient spirit, quickness of apprehension, capacity of retaining, and the powerful assistance of Thy holy grace; that what we hear or learn we may apply to Thy honor and the eternal salvation of our own souls. Amen

An Outline of First Samuel ( from Birch)

A. 1 Samuel 1:1-7:17 Samuel and the Crisis of Israel

B. 1 Samuel 8:1-15:35 The Kingship of Saul

C. 1 Samuel 16:1-31:13 The Rise of David and the Decline of Saul

16:1-13 The Anointing of David

16:14-23 David Is Introduced to Saul’s Court

17:1-58 David Defeats Goliath

18:1-20:42 David and the Household of Saul

21:1-26:25 David as Fugitive:

23:1-29 Narrow Escapes from Saul: Saul continues to pursue David and David continues to elude Saul. David goes to the rescue of Keilah, apparently at risk to himself. David is portrayed as a man of prayer and a man of action. Notice in verse 6 that the remnants of the priesthood are with David. In verse 16 Jonathan re enters the story. Again the strength and depth of their relationship is apparent. Saul continues to pursue David and by verses 24-29 Saul is hunting David on one side of a mountain and David is escaping on the other. The Philistines cause Saul to stop his pursuit of David.

24:1-. 22 David Spares Saul’s Life: Saul again is after David with a large contingent of men. In earlier chapters Saul was powerful and David was at risk. Now David has power and Saul is vulnerable. The royal robe is a symbol of authority.  Recall that robes functioned to symbolize where power and authority are in 15:28 and 18:4. What do you think about David’s speech? He does not take the kingship for himself but rather strives to repair the break between Saul and David. Did you expect Saul’s response? By the end of the chapter, Saul has acknowledged David’s future kingship.

25:1-44: Abigail Saves David from Bloodguilt:  The death of Samuel is given brief treatment. Nevertheless, Samuel is the final link to the judges of the past. In chapter 24 David shows restraint and self control against Saul. In this chapter, he is willing and planning on violence and is stopped by Abigail. The word “Nabal” means “fool” and often alludes to a person who is stupid in a mean and vicious way. Notice how Nabal and Abigail are described and how they each act. David appears to have acted properly toward Nabal’s shepherds and is therefore not out of line requesting food from Nabal. But David’s request is dismissed rudely. Abigail realizes the dangerous and foolish thing Nabal has done. She acts with wisdom and courage to defuse the situation. Abigail speaks prophetically to David. Notice the reference to a sling in verse 29, are we to remember Goliath here? This story tells us something important about David and his own violent tendencies. In verse 36 Nabal’s feast is described as “like the feast of a king”. Of course Nabal has actually refused hospitality to his king. God, again, protects David and Nabal dies. The text tells us of several influential marriages but in verse 44 we learn that Saul takes Michal from David.

26:1-25 David Spares Saul’s Life Again: Saul continues to pursue David. This time David boldly ventures into Saul’s camp, rather than accidentally encountering Saul. Once again David refuses to harm Saul. He does not take the kingship but waits for God to do God’s will. David taunts Abner. Saul calls David “my son’. Why do you think he does that? David refers to Saul as lord and king. Saul wants to be reconciled to David. David returns Saul’s spear and water jar but keeps his distance from Saul. Saul again acknowledges David’s future kingship. What do these chapters tell us about David and his character? What do the tell us about Saul?

Read More About It:

Here are several good sources to aid your reading of 1 Samuel

Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.

Birch, Bruce C., “The First and Second Books of Samuel, in  The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 2 Keck, Leander E., ed. (Nashville”Abingdon Press) 1994.

Cohn, Robert L. “1 Samuel” in  HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.

McKenzie, Steven L, “1 Samuel”  in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Aporcryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, Fully Revised 4 th Edition,  Michael Cougan, ed. (New York:Oxford University Press) 2010.

Stinespring, William F. and Burke O. Long “1 Samuel” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books Metzger, Bruce M., Roland E. Murphy, eds.(New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.

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