In the first place, the birth of Samuel is related and described in this book, and how his mother dedicated him to the ministry of God; likewise the hymn or song of praise made by his mother; as also the obstinate and willful wickedness of the sons of Eli, who is reproved for it by a man of God, and foretold of the ruin of his house, which is also declared unto him by Samuel, who is ordained of God to be a prophet, and acknowledged and taken for such by the people. Thereafter is declared in this book, how Israel is afflicted by the Philistines, and how the ark of God is taken, and carried away by the Philistines. When Eli hears of this, he falls down backwards, and breaks his neck. The Philistines bring the ark of the Lord into the temple of their idol Dagon, which falls down and is broken to pieces, and the Philistines are grievously vexed of God in their privates. Wherefore they send back the ark of the covenant with presents. It comes to Beth-shemesh in the land of Judah. It is carried from this place unto Kirjath-Jearim, where Samuel sets up a reformation of worship, and service of God. And he assembles the people together at Mizpeh, where the Philistines intended to fall upon them, but God affrighted them by a great and mighty thunder, and they were beaten of the Israelites. Samuel’s sons, being made judges by him in his old age, follow not the footsteps of their father. Therefore the Israelites desire a king, which displeases the Lord, Who proposes to them by Samuel how they would be treated by the king. However, when the people persevered nevertheless in this request, God, and Samuel, has consented to this. Samuel tells Saul, who was come unto him at Mizpeh, that he was the man who would be made king over Israel. He anoints him as king, who in the beginning of his reign smites the Ammonites. Samuel leaves his office as judge, and having declared how sincerely and incorruptly he had behaved himself therein, is dismissed and thanked with a glorious testimony. Saul and Jonathan make war against the Philistines and others, and smite them. Samuel tells Saul that the Lord would take away the kingdom from him, and he anoints David king over Israel, who encounters the giant Goliath, and conquers him. Saul,waxing jealous against David because of the honor and reverence shown to him, seeks his life. He thereupon flees from the court, and comes unto Samuel at Naioth, and he makes a covenant of friendship with Jonathan, the son of Saul. He flees and resorts to Achish, king of the Philistines, where he behaves himself as if he was not wise. He goes to Adullam, where his friends and others are gathered to him. Yet he strays from the one to the other; and Saul causes Ahimelech the high priest and all his father’s house to be put to death, as also 85 priests, and the citizens of Nob, because they had entertained and nourished David and his men. David flees into the wilderness of Ziph, from there into the wilderness of Maon, where Saul pursues close after him, until news was brought him that the Philistines had invaded the land; whom having quelled, he proceeds in his pursuit after David. Yet at length, acknowledging his offence unto him, he entreats David to favor his posterity, when he would come to the crown. Afterwards is related the death of Samuel, and David’s dealing with Nabal, and with Abigail. Likewise how Saul persisted in pursuing after David, insomuch that he at length fled unto Achish, king of Gath, who gave him the city Ziklag, from which marching forth with his men of war, he plunders and slays certain of the neighboring people in the area. When the Philistines went forth with great strength to battle against Israel, Saul asks counsel of the Lord, but when He did not answer him, Saul seeks counsel at a witch. David, being willing and ready to go forth with king Achish to battle against Saul, is sent back. In his absence, Ziklag is plundered by the Amalekites, but he pursues after them and recovers the prey. Lastly, in this book is described the death and ruin of Saul, and his sons.
In this first book of Samuel are described the histories of 80 years; namely, 40 years under the leadership of Eli the priest, chap. 4:18; and then still 40 years under the reign of Samuel and Saul, Acts 13:21.
This book (as also the next following) is called the book of Samuel, because in it are described and mentioned, the parents, birth, and education, also adolescence, life, and reign of Samuel, as judge over Israel. Likewise the life of two kings, who, by the command of God, were anointed by him kings over Israel. The Greek and ancient Latin translators have joined the two books of Samuel and the two next following books together, and have called all four the Books of the Kings, because in these four books are recorded the life, and the most principal acts of all the kings, who have reigned over the people of God, from the first to the last, until, by the just judgment of God, the kingly government has taken an end under it.