We come now to the books of history - Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, which describe the emergence of the monarchy after the period of the Judges. All history is necessarily written from the standpoint of the writers, and in the case of Israel's history is written from a religious or theological viewpoint, i.e. God is in control of history : He is Sovereign Lord and King : weal and woe depend on the response of the nation to God. We see this "Deuteronomie" insight worked out in the narrative.
Samuel was the last and greatest of the Judges. His birth and
dedication are described in a charming manner dear to Jew and
I Samuel 1.vv.1-28
The call of Samuel is another charming and popular account.
I Samuel 3.vv.1-21
During the period when Samuel 'judged' Israel, there was continual
harassment from their Philistine neighbours; but in general they
managed to hold them in check.
I Samuel 7.vv.11-17
It is perfectly understandable that a loose confederation of tribes
relying on the rise of 'Judges' or champions in times of stress
should foresee the need of a king to unite and lead them in their
struggles with aggressive and marauding neighbours. Samuel, however,
gave them a solemn warning in their demand for a king.
I Samuel 8.vv.1-22
Samuel agreed to the demand for a king and sought God's guidance
in choosing and anointing Saul to be Israel's first king.
I Samuel 9.vv.1-21, and 10.v.1
The career of Saul as king began with great promise in successful
campaigns against Israel's enemies round about; but the figure
of Samuel continually haunted him for alleged acts of disobedience
to the Lord. Finally Samuel is convinced that Saul is no longer
fit to be king, and with God's guidance seeks out and anoints
David, son of Jesse, in his place.
I Samuel 16.vv.1-13
The career of David abounds in colourful exploits, beginning with the account of the slaying of Goliath, a story which is very popular. One of David's followers Elhanan is reported in 2 Samuel 21.v.19 to have killed Goliath. Sometimes the deeds of his followers are ascribed to the king to enhance his reputation for gallantry; but despite that and the failings of David, he was, and still is, held in great honour as the 'Ideal King', faithful to his God.
David's popularity and his friendship with Jonathan, Saul's son,
no doubt contributed to Saul's jealousy of David.
I Samuel 18.vv.12-16
Jonathan's friendship with, and loyalty to, David are proverbial,
and illustrated in the account of Jonathan rescuing his friend
from Saul's anger.
I Samuel 20.vv.30-42
David's respect for Saul as the 'Lord's Anointed' is illustrated
in two stories:
I Samuel 24.vv.1-22 and 26.vv.1-25.
Throughout the troubled period of Saul's kingship, the Philistines
remained a threat to Israel, and it was in battle against them
that Saul and Jonathan his son died.
I Samuel 31.vv.1-3, and vv.7-13