Sunday School Bible Survey:      I SAMUEL

Theme: Samuel was the last of the judges, and the first prominent prophet. Acts 13:20 says, "And after that He gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet."

Key verses: I Samuel 12:23-25

From the Scofield Bible:
This book represents the personal history of Samuel, last of the Judges. It records the moral failure of the priesthood under Eli, and of the Judges in Samuel's attempt to make the office hereditary (I Samuel 8:1). In his prophetic office Samuel was faithful, and in him begins the line of writing prophets. Henceforth the prophet, not the priest, is conspicuous in Israel. In this book the theocracy, as exercised through judges, ends (8:7), and the line of kings begins with Saul.

The book is in four parts:

  1. The story of Samuel to the death of Eli (1:1—4:22).
  2. From the taking of the ark to the demand for a king (5:1—8:22).
  3. The reign of Saul to the call of David (9:1—15:35).
  4. From the call of David to the death of Saul (16:1—31:13).

The events recorded in First Samuel cover a period of 115 years (Ussher).


  1. I & II Samuel were originally a single book, and were divided later on. The King James Version says, "The First Book of Samuel, Otherwise Called The First Book of The Kings."
  2. Jewish tradition has it that Samuel wrote the book. He is the principal character in the first part of the book, and he anointed the other two principal characters — Saul and David.
  3. The moral failure of the priesthood and judgeship is recorded.
  4. Samuel's failed attempt to make the office of judge hereditary is mentioned in I Samuel 8:1.
  5. This situation led to the people demanding a king (8:2-22).
  6. Samuel established the school of the prophets (19:20; cf. II Kings 2:3-5; 4:38).
  7. Samuel anointed both Saul and David, but died before David came to the throne (25:1).

I. ELI THE PRIEST AND JUDGE (1:9; 4:15-18)

  1. Eli was so lacking in spiritual discernment that when he saw Hannah praying fervently for a son, he thought she was drunk (1:12-17).
  2. Eli's two sons were wicked rascals.
  3. "Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD" (2:12).
  4. Their immoral behavior was a public scandal (3:11-14).


  1. Samuel is sometimes referred to as a "seer" (I Sam. 9:18, 19; I Chron. 9:22; 26:28; 29:29), another word for "prophet."
  2. There were prophets before Samuel. For example, Jude 14 says that Enoch prophesied.
  3. Moses is referred to as a prophet. Deuteronomy 34:10 says, "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face."
  4. However, in a special way, Samuel is considered the first of the prophets.
  5. "Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days" (Acts 3:24).
  6. "And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet" (Acts 13:20).
  7. "And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets" (Heb. 11:32).
  8. In addition to being a judge and a prophet, Samuel was also a priest (cf. I Sam. 7:17).


  1. David's name is mentioned in the New Testament 58 times, but King Saul is not even mentioned one time in the New Testament.
  2. It was never God's intention to give Israel a king. God was to be their king (I Sam. 8:4-10, 19-22; cf. Hosea 13:9-11).
  3. But the people asked for a king and so God gave them one. Saul's name means, "Asked."
  4. In the beginning Saul started out with much promise (I Sam. 9:1, 2). We are told that "God gave him another heart" and that "the Spirit of God came upon him" (I Sam. 10:9, 10).
  5. But the Bible says God rejected Saul and took his kingdom from him (I Sam. 13:13, 14; 15:26).
  6. It was all downhill from this point on. And eventually Saul died. And he died a terrible death (I Sam. 28:3-25; 31:1-13).
  7. Saul was insanely jealous of David and tried to kill him on several occasions.
  8. Saul's two great sins were intruding in the priest's office and his incomplete obedience, which is actually disobedience (13:5-14; 15:1-30).
  9. Sometimes Saul was vexed and controlled by an evil spirit (16:14-23; 18:10; 19:9).
  10. Saul had a son named Jonathan, who was a good and loyal friend to David (18:1).


  1. David was generous, brave, and thoughtful. He was a shepherd, a poet, a musician, a soldier, a king, and born leader of men.
  2. David wrote most of the Psalms, and in II Samuel 23:1, he is called, "the sweet psalmist of Israel."
  3. Many great kings were descended from King David, including the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.
  4. David is the prominent figure in the book of II Samuel.
  5. David's name is mentioned 1,100 times in the Bible, including 58 times in the New Testament.
  6. "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1). David's name is mentioned six times in Matthew chapter 1, which records the birth of Christ.


  1. Samuel's birth and childhood (1:1—2:10).
  2. Eli's rejection and Samuel's call (2:11—3:21).
  3. The ark of the covenant taken by the Philistines (4:1—7:1).
  4. Samuel's ministry as a judge (7:2-17).
  5. Israel's demand for a king (8).
  6. The choice of Saul (9-11).
  7. Samuel's farewell address (12).
  8. Saul's war against the Philistines (13, 15).
  9. Saul's disobedience and rejection (15).
  10. David's anointing and call to Saul's court (16).
  11. David defeats Goliath (17).
  12. David flees from King Saul (18-20).
  13. David's wanderings (21-30).
  14. King Saul's death (31).

These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —