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Interpretive Essay
I Samuel
OBST 515_B01
Old Testament Orientation I
Anne Rector
September 24, 2023
The first book of Samuel opens as the book of Judges closed, with the nation
of Israel having descended into a civic and spiritual chaos: "In those days Israel
had no king; everyone did as he saw fit" (Judges 21:25 HCB). For Israel to live as
prosperously and effectively as God had intended in his covenant, the necessity of
appointing a king was imperative. This king was to be God's under-shepherd and
serve in proper human leadership.
First Samuel begins with a barren nation, Israel, that consistently had been
disobedient to God's covenant with them. It also begins with a barren woman,
Hannah, who for decades had beseeched the Lord for son (I Samuel 1).
God had not removed Israel from the land, but He and his Spirit had
departed from it and them. The ark of God had been removed to the Philistines
(I Samuel 5-6) and that nation was anxious to send it back. God answered the
prayer of Hannah and she gave birth to a son, Samuel, who was the last to serve
Israel as a "judge" (I Samuel 7:15). He was both judge and priest and is also
honored as a prophet due to the reliability of his messages (3:19-20), and his
devotion to God (12:3).
Samuel's own sons turned out to be unworthy of the role of priest, and the
people recognized this. The leaders of the tribes went to Samuel and requested a
Victor P. Hamilton,?Handbook on the Historical Books (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 212