5. Three parts are enumerated. I. The matters conducted under Eli, High Priest and Judge of the people (1 Samuel 1-4). II. The matters conducted under Samuel, Prophet and Judge of God (1 Samuel 4-12). III. The matters conducted under Saul, recently chosen and anointed (1 Samuel 13-31). A Synoptic Table, and the Interpreters of the book, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Hebrew.
The order of the book is this, that he first describes the matters conducted under Eli, then under Samuel, and finally under Saul, the former two being Judges, the latter being King. Whence the whole book is commodiously divided into three parts. Namely, in the first, the matters conducted under Eli (1 Samuel 1-4); in the second, the matters conducted under Samuel (1 Samuel 5-12); in the third, the matters conducted under Saul; are related.
I. The matters conducted under Eli, High Priest and Judge of the people, Chapters 1-4. See:
1. The birth of Samuel, the future successor of Eli, of Elkanah and Hannah (verses 1-8), who, jealous of Peninnah, requesting a child from God at Shiloh, and vowing to consecrate him to the Lord, if it be a boy (verses 9-19), obtains Samuel, and consecrates him to the Lord at Shiloh through Eli (verses 20-28): chapter 1.
2. The prophetic song of Hannah, in which she honors God on account of the child granted (verses 1-11), where also is narrated the wicked life of the sons of Eli, who turned the priesthood of their father into gain (verses 12-21), with Eli, by an overly gentle rebuke, not satisfactorily disciplining (verses 22-26), and ultimately provoking the anger of God, made known by a grievous threat, against himself (verses 27-35): chapter 2.
3. The ruin of Eli denounced through Samuel, Divinely called while he was yet young (verses 1-18), and the authority of Samuel Divinely commended (verses 19-21): chapter 3.
4. The unhappy battle of the Israelites with the Philistines (verses 1, 2), and the sad loss of the ark of God, which, after the battle line was restored, they were carrying with them into battle, and the renewed slaughter of the people and the sons of Eli (verses 3-11); Eli, overpowered by the news conveyed to him, gives up the ghost, and his daughter-in-law, giving birth, dies (verses 12-22).
II. The matters conducted under Samuel, the Prophet and Judge of God, Chapters 5-12. See:
1. The judgment of God upon the Philistines because of the taking of the ark in the preceding war, in the fall of the Dagon of Azotus before the ark (verses 1-5), and in the grievous plague afflicting them, so that they might be compelled to enter into counsel concerning the restoration of the ark to the Israelites (verses 6-12): chapter 5.
2. The ark sent back by the Philistines with gifts (verses 1-9), which, coming to the borders of Beth-shemesh, the inhabitants, gazing upon with great irreverence, are Divinely chastened (verses 10-20), who, for this reason, surrender it to be carried away to the inhabitants of Kiriath-Jearim (verse 21): chapter 6.
3. The reformation and repentance of the people of Israel, with Samuel’s support (verses 1-6), with which preceding, the Philistines are grievously smitten, the Israelites recover lost cities (verses 7-11), and the tranquility is restored to the people by Samuel (verses 12-17): chapter 7.
4. The inauguration of Saul to Royal dignity: chapters 8-12. See:
a. The occasion of the change of government, the sons of Samuel, whom he himself, being old, put in charge of the administration of affairs, degenerating into avarice, moved by which matter, the common people, to whom things present are repugnant, and things unfamiliar are desirable, prefer to exchange their liberty for servitude, and desire a royal name (verses 1-9), with Samuel’s attempts to dissuade notwithstanding (verses 10-22): chapter 8.
b. The determination of Saul for Kingship (verses 1, 2), when he had sought the asses of his father (verses 3-13), and because of this matter had turned aside before Samuel, now Divinely instructed concerning the anointing of him (verses 14-27): chapter 9.
c. The private anointing of Saul, who, then anointed by Saul, and confirmed by a prediction of signs, is set up for the people in an assembly at Mizpeh, and is received by the same with joyful acclamation (verses 1-26), yet with judgments about him soon varying (verse 27): chapter 10.
d. An example of Saul’s martial valor in delivering the inhabitants of Jabesh from the tyranny of Nahash the Ammonite, bargaining for their surrender upon the most disgraceful condition of the plucking out of their eyes (verses 1-15): chapter 11.
e. The resignation of Samuel in the Assembly called at Gilgal, where, having solemnly testified concerning his own innocence (verses 1-6), and the ingratitude of the people in asking for a King, with a sign also displayed (verses 7-19), he confirms the penitent people in the worship of God, and exhorts them to constancy (verses 20-25): chapter 12.
III. The matters conducted under Saul, recently chosen and anointed as King, Chapters 13-31. See:
1. The matters prosperously conducted by Saul: chapters 13, 14.
a. The war against the Philistines; when Jonathan routed their garrison at Geba, they camp in a great army at Michmash over against Gibeah, but Saul rouses the Israelites to arms (verses 1-5); and, with Samuel delaying, since the people were dispersing, in unlawful presumption Saul sacrifices at Gilgal for the commencement of a successful war (verses 6-9), and, having been sharply rebuked by Samuel, and admonished concerning the instability of the his Kingdom (verses 10-14), he departs for Gibeah with a few unarmed men (for the army was laboring under a great lack of iron implements) (verses 15-23): chapter 13.
b. Victory over the Philistines, by the might of Jonathan, who by daring counsel, with his armor-bearer as his only companion, having entered the camp of the enemy, excites panicky terror (verses 1-23), with Saul soon pursuing, and getting the victory, yet not complete, on account of an ill-conceived interdict, that no one should take food until the enemy was completely destroyed, with which being violated by Jonathan, tasting a little honey, and hardly obtaining pardon for his offense, the remaining Philistines escape the hands of their pursuers (verses 24-46): The remaining wars of Saul, successfully waged, are also enumerated (verses 47-52): chapter 14.
2. The rejection of Saul, because, with the Amalekites, who formerly were hindering the Hebrews, coming out of Egypt, from passing through, successfully attacked, with their King, Agag, captured, and their nation conquered (verses 1-7), against the interdict of the Lord, he was overly lenient, and from the spoils of the conquered permitted a part to the people under the pretext of sacrifice (verses 8-31), with Samuel then smiting Agag (verses (32-35): chapter 15.
3. The inauguration of David in the place of rejected Saul, and the matters conducted before the death of Saul, both favorable and adverse: chapters 16-31. See:
a. His calling, whom, even while yet a youth, acting under his father, a shepherd of sheep (verses 1-13), accustomed frequently to play the harp, on account of which afterwards, having been conscripted by Saul, agitated by an evil spirit, he was considered among the Royal ministers; Samuel anoints at Bethlehem with the Royal ointment (verses 14-23): chapter 16.
b. His heroic deed, whereby in single combat Goliath, a man of extraordinary size and strength, hurling insults in arrogant expressions against the people of God (verses 1-11), he, enticed with Royal promises, prostrates with a stone sent from his sling (verses 12-51); whence the Philistines, having been turned to flight, suffer a frightful slaughter by Saul’s pursuing army (verses 52-58): chapter 17.
c. Matters adverse, with the favor of the people towards him kindling the jealousy of the King: chapters 18-31. See:
α. His sorrowful exile: chapters 18-22: of which see:
א. The cause, the envy and treachery of the King, because his administration is preferred to the administration of Saul by the young women in the public song (verses 1-7); whence Saul aims as his death, first openly, then by insidious counsels (verses 8-30): chapter 18.
ב. The variety, both in his native country: chapters 19, 20: and outside of his country: chapters 21, 22. See:
אא. Saul’s plan to kill David revealed to him by Jonathan (verses 1-11): a new plot designed against him and subverted by Michal (verses 12-17), whence he departs to Naioth to Samuel and the exiled college of the Prophets, by which he is protected (verses 18-24): chapter 19.
בב. David’s flight to Jonathan at Ramah, where he, complaining to Jonathan of unjust treatment, is raised up by him, being devoted to him, in all the loyalty and duty of a sincere friend, with an oath intervening (verses 1-23), and actually fulfilled (verses 24-42): chapter 20.
גג. David’s flight to Nob to Ahimelech, from whom he obtains the consecrated loaves and the sword of Goliath, with Doeg looking on (verses 1-9); thence fleeing to Gath, he is recognized by the Philistines; and, being brought to King Achish, he escaptes by feigning madness (verses 10-15): chapter 21.
דד. His flight to the cave of Adullam (verses 1, 2), whence, with four hundred men assembled, he proceeds to Moab: but, having been advised by a Prophet, he returns to Judah (verses 3-5); with which heard, Saul, fearing treason, scolds his own men, and accuses his absent son (verses 6-8), and sees to it that accused Ahimelech with eighty-four priests are killed by Doeg, and that Nob is laid waste (verses 9-19), with Abiathar alone escaping to David (verses 20-23): chapter 22.
β. David’s intensifying persecution. See:
א. After the liberation of the men of Keilah from the siege of the Philistines (verses 1-6), David’s flight in the wilderness of Ziph (verses 7-15), where he, with his covenant renewed with Jonathan, having been betrayed by the Ziphites, and beset by Saul, is Divinely set free, with a report brought concerning an invasion of the Philistines (verses 16-28): chapter 23.
ב. David’s clemency, sparing Saul in the wilderness of Engedi, for the sake of purging whose bowels he had stopped in a cave, when he had an opportunity of killing him; and removing only the hem of his robe, as a sign that he had been in his power (verses 1-7); whence he proves his innocence to Saul, and convicts Saul of injustice (verses 8-22): chapter 24.
ג. David’s flight, after the death of Samuel, into the desert of Paran, where he finds Nabal, from whom he was soliciting a gift, to be arrogant, and is about to take vengeance on his arrogance (verses 1-17) until he is restrained by the plea, reasonings, and gift of Abigail (verses 18-35). Nabal, then smitten with fear, dies (verse 36-38), and David takes Abigail to wife (verses 39-44): chapter 25.
ד. The treachery of the Ziphites against David, betraying him to Saul, who sets up a camp on the hill Hachilah over against him (verses 1-3); but David, with one companion, Abishai, approaches Saul sleeping there, and, when he had taken his spear and cruse, having returned to the mountain, rouses Saul (verses 4-17), and expostulates with him concerning his own innocence, but Saul’s iniquity (verses 18-25): chapter 26.
ה. David’s flight to Achich, King of Gath, from whom he obtains Ziklag (verses 1-6); whence often sallying against the Philistines, he takes from them rich spoils, with many killed, feigning before the King that he was driven from Judea (verses 7-12): chapter 27
4. Saul’s last things and sad end: chapters 28-31. See:
a. The occasion of his ruin, war waged against Saul by the Philistines, in which Achish places David as the keeper of his head (verses 1, 2), with Saul trembling upon the sight of the camp of the Philistines (verses 3-6), and consulting Samuel at Endor, called forth by a Witch, whose belly the spirit of error had filled (verses 7-14); being cast down and terrified by this dubious response, he returns to camp (verses 15-25): chapter 28.
b. The pitching of the Philistines at Aphek (verse 1), where they compel their King, Achish, to dismiss, even reluctantly, David, whom they had little trusted, from their camp (verses 2-11): chapter 29.
c. The vengeance of David, returning from Achish and finding Ziklag spoiled and burned (verses 1-6), against the Amalekites, whom he routs, with the spoils taken, and divided between the soldiers and the courtiers in the coasts of Israel (verses 7-31): chapter 30.
d. The tragic death of Sau in the ward against the Philistines, in which, with the battle joined, the routed Israelites, the sons of the King, and Jonathan himself, fall, but Saul, lest he come into the hands of the enemy alive, fell upon his own sword (verses 1-7), with the Philistines indeed fixing the bodys of Saul and his sons on the fortifications, but with the Jebusites burning the same, having been recovered, and burying the bones (verse 8-13): chapter 31.