Reflections on First Samuel

I had really thought the book of Samuel would have a lot more to do with Samuel than it did. It begins with his mother and even this first part ends after his death, but his death isn’t the last time he’s seen or heard from, as his ghost is summoned later on. There’s a whole lot more craziness in this particular book than I really saw coming, though I did know that it had the infamous “David and Goliath” story, which I also thought would be a bigger deal in the book itself than it was. It’s always told as if it was the climax of a story and not so much the inciting event that begins a story, which is what it really turned out to be.

Notable Women

  • Hannah, Samuel’s mother, is the first person we meet in this book.
  • Eli’s daughter who feels the presence of God leaving Israel even while in labor when the ark was taken by the Philistines
  • Michal, the daughter that Saul “gives” to David and who had, fortunately, already fallen in love with David but is later given to someone else after she helps him escape her father and he’s gone for what seems like ever.
  • Abigail also becomes one David’s wives, but she’s notable because of the actions that brought this on her. Her first husband erroneously sent David’s men away when he asked for the protection money that was due him and her quick actions to correct the slight saved the whole household.
  • the unnamed medium that summons Samuel from the dead to talk to Saul about his inevitable demise.

Major Themes

This book really centered around sticking to God and the kings, Saul and David, but it does include how Samuel relates to them along the way. There was also doing what God tells you to and in the time that He tells you to do it. Saul gets into trouble by both disobeying at times and jumping the gun at other times.

Strictly Feminist

The only real problem that I had with this one was the “giving” of the daughters. It’s been addressed but that doesn’t make it any easier each time I see it. There is a problem with the way women are treated in the Old Testament, I make no apologies for that. To me, it’s history, not practice. God’s people evolve throughout the book and so do His laws and the treatment of women. I may have peaked ahead. It may not hold up as improvement by today’s standards, but remember how bad it gets before it gets better and the scale on which retribution for becoming an entire society with ill intentions. I mean, I know what it says in Deuteronomy about the penalty and way to determine rape vs consented sex and the problems associated, but we’ve seen whole towns and civilizations eradicated for rape or gang rape in these books too (see Genesis and Judges). Let me stop before I put this rant on the wrong place.

People also seem to want to talk about great or notable women in the Bible as if there are only a few, but I keep running into women who had done just as much as the men for both good and bad and they are women I’ve never heard of. There are some great women who show real moxie in this book. They don’t sit around and wait to be rescued and they certainly don’t appear to take it lightly when they have been transgressed against. They also seem to protect the men around them more often than the men protect them, at least in this book. Yet I had never heard the stories of Michal or Abigail.

Chapter links go to the ESV translations at but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App.

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