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

27:1-28:2 David in the Service of the Philistines: David thinks he will be safe in Philistine territory. Do you think this is an odd move for the future king of Israel? The text suggests that David was not really disloyal but fooled the Philistines. He seems to have built up his power in Judah by making raids against enemies of the Israelites. Here David is a warrior, looking out for himself and his men and doing whatever he thinks is necessary to survive. David’s ruse now is a problem as Achish gets ready to wage war against Israel and expects David to help.

28:3-25 Saul and the Ghost of Samuel: Samuel faces battle with the Philistines and in desperation consults a medium. The woman in the story is often called a witch but she is a necromancer. How is she portrayed in the story? Especially in contrast to Saul.The spirit of Samuel appears (notice that the text is unclear if the woman actually summoned Samuel or if he just appeared) and has bad news for Saul.

29:1-11 David Dismissed from the Battle with Saul: While Saul is receiving bad news, David avoids having to fight against his own people. Achish continues to  think well of David but the military commanders have their doubts.

30:1-31 David and the Amalekite Raid on Ziklag: When David returns home, he discovers the Amalekites have burned and looted it. David and his army are devastated and the men consider stoning David.  Notice how David responds. He inquires of God what to do. Recall that Abiathar is the only survivor of the priests at Nob (23:6). David finds an exhausted man in the desert and offers hospitality to him. The man in turn helps David find the Amalekites. David recovers everything and everyone that was lost.Those who participated in battle do not want to share the spoils with the 200 left behind. That those who fought keep the plunder seems to have been the normal course of events. But David decides all should share equally because it is the Lord who gives the victory. David even shares some of the spoils with “friends”. Why do you think David does these two things? Is he truly generous? Or politically savvy? Or both?

31:1- 13 The Battle of Gilboa and the Death of Saul: Saul and his sons are dead.The account is brief and to the point. The Philistines occupy Israel (v7). When word of Saul’s death and post mortem humiliation reaches Jabesh-gilead they retrieve the bodes and burn and bury them. And 1 Samuel ends with this story.

What has 1 Samuel told us about Samuel, Saul and David? Are the stories different or the same as your memory of them?

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.