The Book of Samuel, which was written about 960 B.C., was later separated into Book 1 and Book 2, and continues thus to this day. It may be that the writings of the prophets Gad, Samuel, and Nathan were compiled in this book or that Samuel wrote the first twenty-five chapters and the other prophets completed the book. The Hebrew Bible considers I and 2 Samuel to be a single book with two volumes detailing Samuel's life and career, the rule and decline of King Saul, and the rule of David.
First Samuel tells the stories of the struggles of Samuel, Saul, and David and the development of Israel from tribes to a nation led by a king.
- Samuel's birth and call to the ministry are told in chapters 1 through 3.
- In chapters 4 through 7, the story of how the ark of the covenant is taken by the Philistines is told.
- The people's cry for a king to lead them is told in chapter 8
- Samuel and Saul's relationship is described in chapters 9 through 15
- The struggle for power between Saul and David recounted in chapters 16 through 31.
- Second Samuel is a description of David's rein over Judah and Israel, including his military career and his joining together of his kingdom, to his failures in his roles as king and father.
In his discussion of First and Second Samuel, Throntveit cautions that readings should be considered theological rather than historical, noting differences in each book concerning some information, but providing a view on the humanity of those in the Bible and how they reflect today's humanity.