Intro to I Samuel: The King

I Samuel isn’t a story about Samuel.  It isn’t even about the other two main characters, Saul nor David.  But, it is a story about the king.

Why Study I Samuel:

  • Key insight into who Christ is.
  • Foundation for understanding the gospel.
  • Better understand the church.
  • Understand what God is doing in the world.
  • Deepen your worldview.

If you don’t get what’s going on in I Samuel, you will never really understand what’s going on in the gospels.  But, to understand I Samuel, you must step back a minute, and look at what happened right before that in the book of Judges.


It’s a wild, crazy world.  It’s not a G-rated story.  It’s a story where
  • men cut off the thumbs and toes of their rivals (Judges 1:7)
  • a man assassinates a king so fat the dagger just won’t come out of his belly (Judges 3:27).
  • a woman kills a king by driving a tent peg into his temple (Judges 4:21).

Basically what happened is that God told the people to take the land, but they were unfaithful in various stages.  So, there were various people that fought against them and oppressed them.

Here is an infographic of the general situation:


The book of Judges has some of my favorite stories.  Great movie material here.

The Original 300

This is a time when God showed up and showed out!  He took a man lacking in faith and called him to lead God’s armies.  And, when this man, Gideon, this mighty man of valor, showed up with army of 22,000, God said NO!  He made him get the number down to a ridiculously small band of 300.  Yes, this is the original 300.  And, they took thousands.  Why?  Because God was in it.

My Favorite Childhood Story

Then, we come to my favorite Bible story as a child.  It’s a story of a man so strong he could literally carry the city gates off on his shoulders!  But, it’s a man so weak for pretty women, that he let one talk him out of his strength.  It’s a story of a super-hero who falls, but in the end regains his faith, and kills more in his death than in his life.
Gustave Doré [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Gustave Doré [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


To put it bluntly, the situation in Israel was a mess.  They wanted to have the full conquest promised, but they didn’t seem to be faithful long enough to really follow through on what God promised to give them.  Yes, Joshua led them into the promised land.  Yes, God was true to his promises.  But, there were wars.

Sometimes the map of Israel during the Judges is presented like this:

Courtesy of


While this map gives us some insight into the general locations of the judges, the actual territory of each tribe was in a state of flux depending on the current fights with the surrounding people (you know, all the “stines” and “ites”).

The actual territory may have looked more like this map.

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

No King

God delivered mightily through Samson, Gideon, and Deborah, but the people forsook him.  It hurts to tell you, but they turned their back on God.  Can you imagine that?  God delivered them, then they forgot.  And, the phrase that is used to describe their situation is that “there was no king in the land.”
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” Judges 21:25.
 You see, they didn’t have a human king, but that wasn’t really the problem.  They had rejected their true King.  They had rejected God.


But God is not surprised.  He has a plan.  I Samuel tells us about that plan.  And, it starts with a dejected woman and her prayerful cry at what we might would call the annual BBQ.  Very Southern.  Very real.  God answers her prayer, and sets in motion a plan that is being fulfilled even now.
Join me as we see the seeds of the kingdom. and the true king in Israel.  You see, there’s this story in I Samuel about a bad judge, then a good judge, and then a bad king, then a good king.  But, the good good king is just a shadow of the real King.
He’s the King of kings.

 Discussion Questions:

1.  What do you think about theocracy?  Is it a crazy, outdated form of radicalism?  Should we be interested in helping establish a theocracy?
2. Why do we “sanitize” the Old Testament stories?  I mean, why do we somehow not see the gore, the grit, and the very “real” side of these stories?
3.  What does it mean that the there was “no king in Israel”?  How does that apply to modern day USA?
4.   Why does God do things like insist on an army of 300 (versus 22,000, a much more seemingly fitting number)?
5.  What kind of a king do you think God is going to bring about in I Samuel, and how does that tie into the story of the 300?
6.  What was the difference between a Judge and a King?
7.  Read these passages: Exodus 15:18, Numbers 23:21, Deuteronomy 33:5.  Was God king of Israel?
8.  When God was king of Israel, how did that contrast to surrounding nations?
9.  Do we put our faith in our nation?  In our leader?  What if our nation was God’s kingdom, and our King was the King of Kings?
10. How does this tie in to our national discussion of the presidential election?
11.  What do we see about the character of God in Judges and I Samuel?
12.  What about the place of women at this time?
13.  Why does God keep using such flawed people?
14.  God is depicted in certain ways in Judges and I Samuel.  What does this tell us about Jesus?
 15.  What does Jesus tell us about the God of Judges and I Samuel?
Further Study:

One thought on “Intro to I Samuel: The King”

  1. I love this! Great lesson. I’ve taught 4th -6th grade boys for years and recently had one to say the Bible was “boring”! This is the book I directed him to. Thank you, Justin!

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