New Defender's Study Bible Notes
Introduction to I Samuel
The two books of Samuel were originally one book in the ancient Hebrew Canon, but became two in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. Samuel may be considered the last of the judges (I Samuel 7:15). When he attempted to appoint his two sons as judges to succeed himself (I Samuel 8:3), they proved unworthy, and the people demanded a king. The book of I Samuel is thus especially significant in describing Israel’s transition from a theocracy to a monarchy.
In addition to being a judge, Samuel was also a priest (I Samuel 7:9; 13:11-14) and prophet (I Samuel 3:20). He was probably the founder of the so-called “school of the prophets,” which proved so important in Judah and Israel for centuries to come (I Samuel 19:20). He was never king of Israel, but did have the privilege of being used by God to anoint as king first Saul, then David.
Samuel possibly wrote the first twenty-four chapters of the book himself, but he could not have written more than this, as the events of I Samuel 25–31 occurred after his death (I Samuel 25:1). It is possible that the prophets Nathan and Gad, who were probably trained by Samuel, wrote these later chapters, as well as all of II Samuel (note I Chronicles 29:29). The final author or editor is unknown, however, and it may be that whoever it was simply used the earlier records of Samuel, Nathan and Gad in compiling his own account under divine inspiration. Even I Samuel could not have been put in its final form until at least the days of Rehoboam, for the kingdom had already been divided by the time this was done (note I Samuel 27:6).
Just as Moses had placed his books of the law in the Ark of the Covenant to be preserved there (Deuteronomy 31:24-26, so probably did Joshua (Joshua 24:26) and also Samuel (I Samuel 10:25). Accounts were kept of the events in the life of David (I Chronicles 27:24), and it is at least possible that these were kept by Nathan and/or Gad, both of whom outlived David.
In any case, there is every reason to believe that we have actual eye-witness accounts of the events described in both I Samuel and II Samuel. This was an extremely important period in the economy of Israel, marking both the great revival under Samuel after the dark period of the later judges, especially Eli. The period also contains the transition of the united kingdom under David and Solomon, the time of Israel’s pinnacle of greatness in all its history to date.
1:1 name was Elkanah. Elkanah (his name meaning “God created”) was an Ephraimite geographically but also a Levite genetically (I Chronicles 6:27,28). See note on I Chronicles 6:28.
1:3 LORD of hosts. This the first of almost 240 references in the Bible to God as the “LORD of hosts” (Hebrew Jehovah Sabaoth). He is also called “the God of hosts” (e.g., Psalm 80:7, for example) about ten times, and “LORD God of hosts” some twenty-five times (e.g., II Samuel 5:10, for example). This unique name, used most often in the prophetical books, stresses the “innumerable” (Hebrews 12:22) company of angels under the command of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the “captain of the host of the LORD” (Joshua 5:14) and could easily have called on “twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53) to save Himself from the cross, had He been so minded. The name “Lord of Sabaoth” is used only once in the New Testament (James 5:4).
1:11 no razor. This commitment indicates that she would dedicate her son to be a Nazarite (Numbers 6:5). The commitment on her part was not for a distinct period as was usually the case, but lifelong.
1:20 his name Samuel. The name Samuel is believed to mean “name of God.”
1:28 lent to the LORD. The connotation of “lent,” as used by Hannah, implies a life-long and unconditional loan.