In the books 1st & 2nd Samuel, the reader comes to the conclusion of the period of the judges. Over a span of nearly 400 years, many different judges ruled the nation of Israel. These judges were deliverers for the nation after they had been enslaved by the Canaanites. Israel would cry out to God for deliverance and God would be gracious to them, saving them through the leadership of the judges. The time of the judges was a tumultuous period in Israel’s history. They did not have a king of their own and every man did what was right in his own sight.
The book of 1st Samuel transitions from the days of the judges to the establishment of the monarchy in Israel. Samuel was the last judge to rule in Israel and is considered to be the first prophet. The Israelites desired a king to rule over them so they might be like the other nations. They had denied the rule of God and selfishly desired to be like the Canaanite nations surrounding them.
God allowed Israel to have a king. Samuel anointed Saul to be the first king. Saul started out well, being a humble man (1 Samuel 9:21). However, pride, fear, and disobedience destroyed Saul. He acted without authority from God in offering a sacrifice (1 Samuel 13:13-14). Saul blatantly disobeyed God, not utterly destroying the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). He became corrupt in his thinking and pride destroyed him (1 Samuel 15:17).
Since Saul acted wickedly, God chose another king to serve after him. This king would not be a descendant of Saul’s. The kingdom was removed from Saul’s family and would be given to a man after God’s own heart. This later caused Saul to act out of fear and cowardice towards Israel’s next king— David.
The latter half of 1st Samuel gives record of Saul chasing David, seeking to kill him. David found safe harbor in several different places, but was constantly on the move. He had a couple of opportunities to kill Saul, but David acted honorably and would not strike God’s anointed king. First Samuel ends with the Philistines fighting against Israel and killing King Saul. Second Samuel focuses on the life and rule of King David. He united Israel, conquered the foreign territories surrounding Israel and established the kingdom. God promised David one of his descendants would rule forever, establishing the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:16). This promise made to David was concerning the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.
We also read in 2nd Samuel of David’s shortcomings and failures which plagued him throughout the rest of his life. He committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11) and his own household became utter chaos. He dealt with rebellion from his own sons. However, David demonstrated his godliness and sincere desire to do what was right by repenting and being a strong leader by turning people to follow the Lord.
by Sean P. Cavender