For the past few months I have been reading backwards through the book of Psalms (for some crazy reason I’ve had more success reading through the Psalms backwards rather than forwards!). During the month of December I began reading through the book of 1 Samuel as well as the Psalms. Once January rolled around, I read and studied my way through 2 Samuel and … Wow! What an exciting couple of books. I must admit, there were times while reading through these two books that I thought to myself… “that’s gross!” or “I totally forgot about that story!” and “woah, I didn’t know this story was in the Bible!”🙂
Personally, I find most Old Testament books a little bit intimidating (some more than others!). 1 and 2 Samuel were no exception. However, instead of finding some “boring historical accounts” during the lives and royal reigns of King Saul and King David, I found myself reading fascinating stories instead!
After reading and studying these two books, I want to share a few tips for those of you who may be interested in studying them as well. They truly are fascinating!
Sometimes, God’s Word can be a little hard to understand. Other times, if we aren’t careful, we may look at God’s Word as a boring and outdated book – but nothing could be further from the truth!
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of 1 and 2 Samuel (or any book you may be reading/studying right now!).
How to Study 1 and 2 Samuel
1. Gather Background Information
To get the most out of these two books, you ought to know some background information before diving right in! Here are some starter facts you should know about these two books:
- The Writer: Unknown (Possibly: Nathan the Prophet, or David)
- The Order: 1 and 2 Samuel are the 9th and 10th books of the Old Testament
- What You Will Read: Mainly, the history of the reigns of King Saul and King David over the Nation of Israel. Also scattered throughout these two books are accounts of many battles (and other fascinating stories – which I cannot stress enough!).
That’s just some very basic information about these two books to get you started!
→ Need a helpful book for gathering basic, background information? I love this book by Jim George!
2. Note the Key Characters
Both of these books contain a large cast of characters. Some of the key characters are in both books, while others pop up in a story here and there, and some only show up once or twice. As you read, make a mental note of the characters you see. It might also be helpful to begin a list to help you keep track of everyone! Here’s an example (and a sneak peek at the characters you will find!). 🙂
- Samuel – Prophet and Judge over Israel during the reign of King Saul
- Saul – The first King of Israel
- Abner – King Saul’s “right-hand man” and military strategist
- Jonathan – First-born son of King Saul and friend of David’s
- Michal – Saul’s daughter and one of David’s many wives
- David – God’s elected King who replaced Saul, becoming the 2nd King of Israel
- Mephibosheth – King Saul’s crippled son
- Ish-bosheth – The son of King Saul who was “temporarily” crowned King over Israel after his Father and brother Jonathan died in battle
- Joab – The captain of David’s army
- Nabal – An evil man who refused to provide David and his army with food
- Abigail – The wife of Nabal, who became one of David’s wives after her husband died
- Bathsheba – The woman with whom David committed adultery
- Nathan – The Prophet and Judge over Israel during the reign of King David
- Absalom – David’s rebellious son
There are so many more characters in these two books – but the list above includes some of the most “famous”. I didn’t forget about Goliath, I just didn’t include him in the list! 😉
3. Use a Study Bible
I read a lot of 1 and 2 Samuel without my study Bible – but looking back, I should have reached for my study Bible a lot sooner! It would have made things a lot more clear and easier to understand. A study Bible can help explain a lot of things such as unfamiliar words, cultural differences, and common practices of the day. For instance, at the very end of 2 Samuel, David sins by taking a census of the people. I had no idea why that would be considered a sin… until I looked up the passage in my study Bible. It was then that I learned that Kings were only supposed to take a census if they were going into battle – but not for the prideful reason of knowing how grand and vast the nation had become (which was really David’s reason!).
All that to say – a study Bible can really help answer your questions and explain away confusing passages. My study Bible also helped me understand who all the characters were and what role they played in these two books.
→ I use (and love!) The King James Life Application Study Bible. I highly recommend it!
4. Revel in the Stories
I’ve already mentioned that 1 and 2 Samuel contain some fascinating stories. As you read, you will discover many different stories that are exciting, violent, sad, and even sinful. These two books contain a lot of fighting and lot of grotesque accounts. These were the days in which King Saul and King David lived. They were both men of war and you will see that as you read these two books. So, be forewarned, some of the stories may make you gasp. But remember: their times were much different than ours. Enjoy the stories… note the brave and courageous acts… don’t overlook the sins and faults of the characters… and cheer them on when they choose to do what’s right!
5. Learn More About the Key Characters
I’ve already mentioned about making a list of the key characters, but it’s very enlightening when you study their lives even more. This is also one of the most fun things about a Bible study! The characters we read about in the Bible, were real people just like you and me! When learning more about these characters you will learn that they…
- Struggled with sin too
- Faced many challenges
- Expressed very real feelings and emotions
- Displayed many strength and weaknesses
- and so much more!
I love learning about the characters in the Bible, because it always seems I learn something new every time – or discover a character I never knew. When I go to study a particular person in the Bible, I usually reach for a few books on my shelves. The two I reference the most often are…
Most study Bibles and commentaries also contain loads of information on the characters in the Bible. Have fun!
There you go, my friends. Just five simple tips for studying the books of 1 and 2 Samuel. These tips can also be applied to practically any book of the Bible that you may choose to study! Reading and studying the Bible does not need to be boring or feel like a chore. when you have and use the right resources, it is such a fascinating joy!
If you use a journal during your quiet times, you will also find that to be a very helpful tool during any Bible study as well. If you don’t know how to use a journal during your quiet time, read this post here for some helpful photos and tips!
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
Before You Go…
- Do you have any Bible study tips to share?
- Have you ever studied 1 and 2 Samuel?
Please share your thoughts and answers in the comments – I love hearing from you!