Though it would seem the author of 1 Samuel is the eponymous prophet, the book's authorship is anonymous. The book was written in the late 10th century, believed approximately between 931 and 722 B.C. There are several key people mentioned in the book including the prophet, Saul, and David. The theme of the book is theocracy and kingship as it is in this book that Israel chooses to turn away from God's sovereign leadership and to have a human king. The book begins with the story of Hannah and her quest for a son and the birth of Samuel. Samuel grows to be a prophet and important leader of Israel.
1 Samuel documents the shift from Israel's rule by judges to rule by a king. Samuel was a judge and prophet and was a righteous leader. He was also the last judge of Israel. Though Samuel was not the first of Israel's prophets (Moses was a prophet), Samuel was the first to be established in the office of a prophet. Samuel had instilled godly rule in the land, yet the people wanted a human king. In 1 Samuel 8:5,20, we read that the children of Israel wanted a king because the other nations had a king. Though the children of Israel wanted Saul to be king, it quickly became apparent that Saul was morally and spiritually unfit to lead God's chosen people. God then chose David to be King of Israel.
As God's favor became increasingly apparent on David's life, Saul became increasingly vexed and sought to kill David. There are 31 chapters in 1 Samuel and the book concludes with Saul's death.
1 Samuel teaches us many lessons. One of the most important lessons to be learned from the life of Saul, is that God is not concerned with outward appearances, such as man sees. Rather, God looks at the heart. Though the children of Israel wanted Saul for a king, God saw the situation differently.
Just as the people of Israel rejected God's leadership and chose a man to be king, the priest Eli favored his sons more than he did God. This resulted in his children behaving in wicked, rebellious ways that caused numerous problems and pain for Eli. We can lean from 1 Samuel that we must open our hearts and be willing to hear and receive God's word. Saul is an example of what not to do, while David reveals the heart of a true worshipper and friend of God.