"The event that effectively ended the time of the judges was THE BIRTH OF THE PROPHET SAMUEL (who was the last of the Judges as well as being a prophet). Samuel was the connecting link between Judges and the Kingdom. The story here begins about 1100 BC. In 1 Samuel we will learn of the beginning of the Israeli Monarchy, first headed by King Saul. It was not God's "Plan A" to allow this. His desire was a theocracy (God rule) but the people demanded a king so they could "be like everyone else.
The book of 1 Samuel begins with the birth of the remarkable Samuel. The place was Shiloh--some 25 miles north of Jerusalem. The father was Elkannah (not an especially outstanding man) but the mother was Hannah (a woman of incredible spirituality). She wanted a son but it seemed her childbearing possibility was zero (1 Samuel 1:9-20). When Samuel was born, Hannah DEDICATED him to the Lord. Our custom of dedicating children is derived from her act--as well as that of Joseph and Mary dedicating Jesus.
Another highlight of I Samuel was the call of Saul as the first king of Israel and Saul's abdication of spiritual leadership, which resulted in David's being anointed King. I have often expressed my admiration for Saul as a man and as a father. In both of those categories, I believe he eclipses David. Yet David was "the man after God's own heart." Why? Because Saul stood on his faith in himself; David relied on God. When Saul disobeyed God, he lost his divine prerogative to be king.
Yet another highlight of the book is the well-known story in 1 Samuel 17 of David and Goliath. David didn't become the king until Saul's death (which we read of in the final chapter of this book) at the hands of the Philistines. Until his death, Saul tried to kill David. David hid in the canyons of En Gedi, one of my favorite spots on the planet. We always hike that canyon on our trips to Israel. 1 Samuel ends on such a sad note with the death of Saul and his sons..."
- Rev. Dan Betzer