1 Samuel is the first book of the Prophetic Books
group in the Bible
. According to The Oxford
Companion to the Bible, "its final shaping must belong at the earliest in the sixth century BCE
," (Oxford, 675). The book was most likely drawn from several sources, so it must have been compiled over time.
The First Book of Samuel is dominated frequently by its namesake. Subsequently, Samuel is traditionally seen as its author (Oxford 674). The book serves to narrate the lives of three important characters; Samuel, Saul, and David. It also provides the historical background for the story of the establishment of David's court in the books that follow it. The book focuses on the relationships between Samuel, Saul, and David. Though God appears in the book several times, He is not the true focus of the book and does not play a major role.
I was pleasantly surprised by The First Book of Samuel. The story it told was a very entertaining myth (in the original sense of the word) that carried realistic moral lessons. I usually find stories in the Hebrew Scriptures to be rather poor: their characters are dull, their style is atrocious, and the moral lessons seem arbitrary and contradictory. Samuel presented a coherent picture of the consequences associated with envy and power. It also made a subtle comment on the problems of monarchy rule. Of course, the most famous story from this book is that of David and Goliath. I was more interested, however, in the relationship between Saul and David. Their thread of the story seemed to be a very realistic and wonderfully crafted representation of humanity.