Here’s the disclaimer part: I “teach” our adult Sunday school class at church. I use the term very loosely because basically I study and then tell everybody what I learned. I am in no way an authority on anything. I haven’t been to seminary, I don’t know how to read Hebrew. I read my Bible and then study. I draw a lot from Matthew Henry. My prayer every Sunday is that I don’t say anything that isn’t correct and for God to put the words in my mouth He wants me to say. So far I’ve been doing this for over two years and they haven’t asked me to stop (yet!). Disclaimer over. Continue reading at your own risk. You’ve been warned.
Right now we are working our way through the Bible because God told me to. When I first started teaching, I skipped around, pulling various verses and trying to make a sermon out of them. The only problem is, I’m not a preacher and every week got harder and harder. My desire was to teach the Word, not write sermon after sermon. (Does that make sense? In my head it does!) I prayed and prayed, desperately wanting to keep teaching but really freaking out about how to continue. Then one night, God woke me up and told me to “Start from the beginning.” I know it was Him because I sleep like a log and don’t normally awaken from a dead sleep for no reason. It took me a minute to get my wits about me, but again, He said “Start from the beginning.” The light bulb went off and I realized what He wanted me to do. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. We started with Genesis and now we’re in 1 Samuel.
Now that I’m in the teaching groove, I really feel the need/desire to publish my notes from each Sunday. I say “I” have the desire, but who am I kidding? I never would have thought of that on my own, just as I never would’ve thought it would be a good idea to teach an adult Sunday school class, teach teenage girls at summer camp, homeschool my own kids, or any number of hair-brained ideas He’s planted in my noggin. That God has a way of making me stretch way beyond my comfort zone.
Anyway, let’s get to it, shall we?
Samuel was the author up until the 25th chapter. (Spoiler- he died.) After that, we’re not 100% sure who finished it but it was probably the prophets that followed him, Nathan and/or Gad. 1 Samuel was written in approximately 1100 BC and spanned about 100 years until 1000 BC. We have an account of Samuel’s prebirth, birth, childhood, and service, but after that, both 1 & 2 Samuel are devoted to kings Saul and David. In fact, Vulgar Latin calls these books, I, II, III, and IV Kings. The Septuagint calls them the I & II Book of the Kingdoms. (The Septuagint is a Greek version of the Hebrew Bible [or Old Testament], made for Greek-speaking Jews in Egypt in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC and adopted by the early Christian Churches. From the Oxford Dictionary.) The Catholic church renamed them I & II Samuel in the early 1500’s because he’s the principal character in the beginning and the priest that started the kingdom of Israel.
1 Samuel contains the history of the last two judges of Israel, Eli and Samuel. The judges of Israel were judges in the sense they settled disputes but they were also typically military leaders. Israel was caught in a vicious cycle. They would serve God for a while but then fall away. They would worship Baal and erect Ashtoreth poles (trees or poles that were erected to worship Ashtoreth, the female version of Baal and goddess of fertility). God would get mad and let Israel’s enemies take them over. The Israelites would stay in bondage for years until they would finally call out to God for help. Being that they were His chosen people, He always came to the rescue. He would raise up a judge to lead Israel and deliver them from their enemies. Things would be good for a while but once that judge passed on to their eternal reward, the Israelites would slip back into their same habits. Again and again throughout the book of Judges we saw this played out.
Eli and Samuel were different judges, not men of war, but priests who served in the temple. Until now, the tabernacle (which contained the Ark of the Covenant and other ceremonial supplies used for worship) was mobile and traveled with the Israelites. It is now a fixed structure in the town of Shiloh. This is where the Israelites came every year to offer sacrifices and participate in the festivals God commanded of them.
Now that we have some back story on 1 Samuel, let’s get into the nitty gritty. Watch for another post soon.