Chapter-by-Chapter Summary of 1 Samuel

The book of 1 Samuel concerns the exploits of the righteous leader Samuel and the two men he anoints as king, Saul and David. Saul is challenged by David’s popularity and is eventually killed in a battle with the Philistines. David is a valiant warrior who must flee to the Philistines despite proving his loyalty to Saul.

Summary 1 Samuel 1: After many years of barrenness, Hannah’s prayers are answered. She gives birth to Samuel and gives him to Eli the priest so that he may serve Yahweh all the days of his life.

Summary 1 Samuel 2: Hannah thanks Yahweh by reciting a thanksgiving hymn. Eli’s sons corrupt the priesthood by stealing meat and sleeping with women who visit the temple. An angel appears to Eli and tells him his family will be punished accordingly.

Summary 1 Samuel 3: Yahweh appears to Samuel and portends the fall of Eli’s house. Although he is apprehensive, Samuel relates the bad news to Eli who accepts the prophecy as the will of Yahweh.

Summary 1 Samuel 4: After losing to the Philistines, the Israelites bring the ark with them into battle. They are routed and the Philistines capture the ark. Eli and his daughter-in-law die when they hear the disturbing news.

Summary 1 Samuel 5: The Philistines, who have the ark in their possession, are afflicted with hemorrhoids. The Philistine people beg their leaders to return the ark to the Israelites.

Summary 1 Samuel 6: The Philistines return the ark to the people of Beth Shemesh. After being punished by Yahweh for looking inside the ark, the people of Beth Shemesh ask the inhabitants of Kiriath Jearim to remove the ark from their midst.

Summary 1 Samuel 7: Samuel exhorts the Israelites to abandon their idols. They listen, and Yahweh grants them military success against the Philistines. Samuel travels throughout the land and serves as a pious leader in Israel.

Summary 1 Samuel 8: Samuel’s sons turn out to be corrupt leaders. The people tell Samuel they want a king and he is unable to convince them otherwise. Yahweh tells Samuel to heed the inimical request.

Summary 1 Samuel 9: Saul searches for his father’s missing donkeys and happens to meet Samuel. Samuel prepares a feast and tells Saul that he is destined for greatness.

Summary 1 Samuel 10: Samuel anoints Saul as king. He predicts many events that subsequently take place. When Saul returns home, Samuel assembles the people at Mizpah and publicly declares him as the first king of Israel.

Summary 1 Samuel 11: The Ammonites threaten to torture the people of Jabesh Gilead. Saul musters 330,000 troops and defeats the enemy with ease. The people celebrate Saul’s kingship at Gilgal.

Summary 1 Samuel 12: Samuel delivers a harsh speech in his old age. He criticizes the people for requesting a king, brings a miraculous rainstorm to scare them, and warns them to follow the will of Yahweh.

Summary 1 Samuel 13: In response to Saul’s offensive, the Philistines prepare to attack Israel. Saul assembles an army and offers a sacrifice before Samuel arrives. Samuel tells him he is doomed to lose the monarchy.

Summary 1 Samuel 14: Jonathan leaves the camp and kills twenty Philistine soldiers. The Philistines panic and are defeated by the Israelites. Saul, who forbade eating on the day of battle, almost kills his son for eating honey.

Summary 1 Samuel 15: Samuel instructs Saul to slaughter the Amalekites. Saul kills the Amalekite men, women, and children but spares the king and a few choice animals. Samuel informs Saul that he has been rejected by Yahweh. Samuel then kills the king of Amalek.

Summary 1 Samuel 16: Yahweh sends Samuel on a mission to anoint David as the future king. Saul is plagued by an evil spirit that is alleviated by David’s music.

Summary 1 Samuel 17: A mighty Philistine soldier named Goliath ridicules the Israelites. David travels to the battlefield and kills him with his sling. The Israelites attack and force the Philistines to retreat.

Summary 1 Samuel 18: Saul becomes jealous of David’s military victories. After failing to kill David with his own spear, Saul relegates David to the army’s front line. David succeeds in battle, marries Saul’s daughter Michal, and becomes more popular than the king.

Summary 1 Samuel 19: Saul fails to kill David. Michal helps David flee to Ramah where he stays with Samuel.

Summary 1 Samuel 20: David angers Saul when he skips the meal for the new moon. Jonathan betrays his father by helping David flee for his life.

Summary 1 Samuel 21: David convinces the priest Ahimelech to provide him with bread and a sword. David flees to the Philistine city of Achish where he feigns madness.

Summary 1 Samuel 22: David escapes from the Philistines and safekeeps his parents with the king of Moab. With the exception of one son named Abiathar, Saul has Ahimelech’s priestly family killed.

Summary 1 Samuel 23: The Philistines attack Keilah and are driven away by David. Saul chases David into the mountains but fails to capture him.

Summary 1 Samuel 24: Saul inadvertently enters David’s hiding place. Instead of killing him, David cuts off a corner of Saul’s garment as proof of his loyalty. Saul acknowledges David’s innocence and accepts his role as future king.

Summary 1 Samuel 25: David asks Nabal for provisions. Nabal spurns the request and is almost killed by David. Nabal’s wife Abigail appeases David by secretly giving him food and drink. Nabal dies and David takes Abigail as his wife.

Summary 1 Samuel 26: Saul chases after David. David sneaks into the Saul’s chambers, steals his personal items, and secretly returns to his own camp. Saul is contrite when he learns that David had the opportunity to kill him but chose not to.

Summary 1 Samuel 27: David flees to Philistia. He plunders the neighboring cities but manages to trick the Philistines by telling them he has raided Judah itself.

Summary 1 Samuel 28: The Philistines prepare to attack the Israelite army. Saul travels to En Dor, conjures up Samuel’s ghost, and is told he is doomed to fail. Although Saul is distraught, he and his men manage to travel back to the camp.

Summary 1 Samuel 29: The Philistines, with David in their ranks, prepare to attack the Israelites. David’s loyalty is questioned and he is sent home.

Summary 1 Samuel 30: David and his men return to Ziklag to find their homes burned, their possessions stolen, and their families kidnapped. The men pursue the guilty Amalekites and exact their revenge.

Summary 1 Samuel 31: Saul’s army is routed by the Philistines. His sons are killed and he commits suicide. The Philistines desecrate Saul’s body and the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead eventually bury his remains.