The book of Samuel marks the end of the period of the Judges, a time when “Israel had no king, and everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). Samuel is presented as the last of the Judges (1 Samuel 7:15) and the first of the prophets (1 Samuel 3:20). His leadership of the nation will only be temporary, as the people, again failing to see their call as a nation holy to the Lord, demand a king, that they may be like other nations (1 Samuel 8:5-9).
As the book of Samuel begins, we find that, as so often was the case in Israel’s history, the nation had wandered from God. The opening chapters of 1 Samuel recount how the priesthood, which was supposed to regulate the relationship of the nation with God, had become corrupt. The perilous spiritual state of the nation is noted in these opening chapters, when the author states that, “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions” (1 Samuel 3:1). Samuel’s rise to leadership of the nation occurs because God appears to Samuel, speaks to Samuel, and Samuel brings the Word of God to the nation (1 Samuel 4:1).
While the picture of corruption of the nation and the priesthood is discouraging, the key to the story, as ever in Scripture, is the activity of God. To a nation who has forgotten God, who have stopped calling on his name, God speaks again. To a corrupt priesthood, which had become a barrier rather than a gateway to God, God brings reform. These are stories that remind us that in the midst of individual human failure and national neglect of God, God is always at work, to draw people back to him.
This Bible study resource is one of many that utilise the Talk the Word method, a fun and interactive way of getting into the passage and allowing it to sink in so you remember it! For the guide to how it works, see below along with the 1 Samuel study materials!