The Inspiration of the Scriptures: 1 Samuel

1SA  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Divine Design § 9. 1 Samuel
The wisdom of God is no less apparent in these four books, which are parts of the same design. They open with the failure of the priesthood, as distinctly as the people had failed both in the wilderness and in the land. “By strength shall no man prevail.” Since sin entered, and death through it, grace alone avails, as in Hannah (1, 2), and expressed in her prayer-song, and by the man of God prophetically to Eli in the marked change of even the faithful priest walking before Jehovah's Anointed forever. Thus was the King foreshadowed in sovereign grace, before the evil heart of unbelief wearied of Jehovah, and would have “a king like all the nations.” Hitherto the high priest was “the anointed.” Soon was there to be the anointed King before whom the priest would walk, which finds its complete realization only in the Lord Jesus.
The word of Jehovah meanwhile calls Samuel, to whom He revealed Himself for all Israel (3); and the ark abused by selfishness passes to the Philistines (4). But if this was Ichabod for people and priests, the enemy and their idol were forced to bow before the vindicating judgments of Jehovah, only too glad to send the ark away with their guilt-offering (5, 6). If the men of Bethshemesh indulged in profane curiosity, a yet more severe blow befell those who ought to have known better. To Kirjath-jearim is the ark brought, and abides there twenty years. It never returns to the old order, and only enters its due place when David's son set up in peace the picture of glory, which still awaits the people under Messiah and the new covenant. When Israel lamented, Samuel calls them to repentance and gathers them to Mizpah where his prayer rises because of a counter gathering of the Philistines, who were driven out into their border (7). But if Samuel judged in faith, he could not make his sons judges beyond the name, when Israel, revolting from them, revolted also from Jehovah (8); and He putting aside Samuel's indignation, gave them a king in His anger and took him away in His wrath, as says Hosea. This episode occupies to the end of the book; but within it is the tale of him who was made the type of the true Beloved, His king, to sit on His holy hill of Zion. Saul was the chosen, higher than any of the people, according to the heart of Israel (9), saluted as king, by all save some base fellows (chap. 10), and achieving a crushing victory over the Ammonites (11). Samuel, acknowledged to have been faithful, warns them of their responsibility, but assures them of his continued intercession (12); whereas Saul after two years is heard summoning “the Hebrews,” as a heathen might say who believed not that they were Jehovah's people (13), and offered the burnt-offering in his disobedience. Jonathan wrought with God, his father Saul only spoiling the victory and only kept by the people from making Jonathan the victim of his superstition (14). Samuel let him know, on his fresh disobedience as to Amalek, that Jehovah rejected him from the throne of Israel (15).
Jehovah in chap. 16 takes the initiative, and has Jesse's youngest son anointed by the prophet. Meanwhile he is sought to soothe with the harp the king troubled by an evil spirit. Then follows his victory over Goliath in chap. 17, with Jonathan's love, and Saul's jealous hatred, Merab given to another, Michal to him as a snare, but only proving Jehovah to be with David who escaped the king's murderous hand (18, 19). In 20 Jonathan, slow to believe his father's renews his covenant with David, who becomes now an exile, and receives the show-bread from the priest with Goliath's sword. This brings death on the sons of Aaron at Doeg's hand (21, 22) and gives occasion to many a psalm of plaint and praise, as David hides in Keilah, Ziph, and Engedi (23, 24). Nabal's folly is as plain as Abigail's faith in chap. 25. But if David's generosity puts Saul to shame at Hachilah (26), his faith breaks down in 27, and an interval in no way to his praise follows in Ziklag. Saul seeks the witch of Endor, when Samuel's soul appeared, not her familiar spirit, and tells him the approaching doom (28). David is refused as an ally by the Philistine lords, and returns to find Ziklag burnt, and the families of him and his men captive (29, 30), but defeats the Amalekite spoilers, as the Philistines smite Israel, Saul, and his sons on Gilboa (31).