The authors of the books of Samuel were probably Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. Samuel penned the first twenty-four chapters of the first book. Gad, the companion of David (1 Samuel 22:5 ), continued the history thus commenced; and Nathan completed it, probably arranging the whole in the form in which we now have it (1 Chronicles 29:29 ).
The contents of the books. The first book comprises a period of about a hundred years, and nearly coincides with the life of Samuel. It contains (1) the history of Eli (1-4); (2) the history of Samuel (5-12); (3) the history of Saul, and of David in exile (13-31). The second book, comprising a period of perhaps fifty years, contains a history of the reign of David (1) over Judah (1-4), and (2) over all Israel (5-24), mainly in its political aspects. The last four chapters of Second Samuel may be regarded as a sort of appendix recording various events, but not chronologically. These books do not contain complete histories. Frequent gaps are met with in the record, because their object is to present a history of the kingdom of God in its gradual development, and not of the events of the reigns of the successive rulers. It is noticeable that the section (2 Samuel 11:2-12 : 29 ) containing an account of David's sin in the matter of Bathsheba is omitted in the corresponding passage in 1 Chronicles 20 .
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Samuel, Books of
The two books of Samuel were originally one. They are part of the collection that the Hebrews referred to as the Former Prophets, that is, the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. (Concerning the significance of the name ‘Former Prophets’ see PROPHECY.)
Though the author of 1 and 2 Samuel is not named, it seems that he took much of his material from the records kept by such people as Samuel, Nathan, Gad, David and the writer of the book of Jasher (1 Samuel 10:25; 2 Samuel 1:18; 1 Chronicles 27:24; 1 Chronicles 29:29). The books of Samuel are named after the man who is the chief character at the beginning of the story and who anointed the two kings whose reigns occupy the remainder of the story. Together the two books cover about one hundred years, from the end of the period of the judges to the end of the reign of David.
Samuel, Books of,
are not separated from each other in the Hebrew MSS., and, from a critical point of view, must be regarded as one book. The present, division was first made in the Septuagint translation, and was adopted in the Vulgate from the Septuagint. The book was called by the Hebrews: "Samuel," probably because the birth and life of Samuel were the subjects treated of in the beginning of the work. The books of Samuel commence with the history of Eli and Samuel, and contain all account of the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy and of the reigns of Saul and David, with the exception of the last days of the latter monarch which are related in the beginning of the books of Kings, of which those of Samuel form the previous portion.  Authorship and date of the book ,--
As to the authorship. In common with all the historical books of the Old Testament, except the beginning of Nehemiah, the book of Samuel contains no mention in the text of the name of its author. It is indisputable that the title "Samuel" does not imply that the prophet was the author of the book of Samuel as a whole; for the death of Samuel is recorded in the beginning of the 25th chapter. In our own time the most prevalent idea in the Anglican Church seems to have been that the first twenty-four chapters of the book of Samuel were written by the prophet himself, and the rest of the chapters by the prophets Nathan and Gad. This, however, is doubtful.
But although the authorship cannot be ascertained with certainty, it appears clear that, in its present form it must have been composed subsequent to the secession of the ten tribes, B.C. 975. This results from the passage in (1 Samuel 27:6 ) wherein it is said of David, "Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah to this day:" for neither Saul, David nor Solomon is in a single instance called king of Judah simply. On the other hand, it could hardly have been written later than the reformation of Josiah, since it seems to have been composed at a time when the Pentateuch was not acted on as the rule of religious observances, which received a special impetus at the finding of the Book of the Law at the reformation of Josiah. All, therefore, that can be asserted with any certainty is that the book, as a whole, can scarcely have been composed later than the reformation of Josiah, and that it could not have existed in its present form earlier than the reign of Rehoboam. The book of Samuel is one of the best specimens of Hebrew prose in the golden age of Hebrew literature. In prose it holds the same place which Joel and the undisputed prophecies of Isaiah hold in poetical or prophetical language.
Holman Bible Dictionary - Samuel, Books of
Ninth and tenth books of English Bible following the order of the earliest Greek translation but combined as the eighth book of the Hebrew canon named for the major figure of its opening section. Along with Joshua, Judges, and Kings, the Books of Samuel form the “former prophets” in the Hebrew Bible. Many modern scholars refer to these four books as the Deuteronomistic History, since they show how the teaching of Deuteronomy worked itself out in the history of God's people.
The Bible does not say who wrote these books. Many Bible students think Samuel along with Nathan and Gad had major input, pointing to 1 Chronicles 29:29 as evidence. See 1 Samuel 1-3 ), the Ark (1 Samuel 4:1-7:1 ), the Rise of Kingship (1 Samuel 9:1-11:15 ), Battles of Saul (1 Samuel 13-15 ), the History of David's Rise to Power (1Samuel 16:14–2 Samuel 5:25 ), and the Succession to the Throne of David (2 Samuel 9-20 ; 1 Kings 1-2 ).
The Books of Samuel arose as a reflection upon the nature of human kingship in light of Israel's tradition that Yahweh was their king. See 1 Samuel 8:1 ) and the hope for kingship (2 Samuel 7:1 ) form the narrative tension for the Books. The final chapter (2 Samuel 24:1 ) does not solve the tension. It points further ahead to the building of the Temple, where God's presence and Israel's worship can be at the center of life leading the king to be God's humble, forgiven servant.
The Books of Samuel thus point to several theological themes that can guide God's people through the generations.
Leadership is the guiding theme. Can God's people continue with a loosely knit organization as in the days of the judges, or must they have “a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5 )? Samuel does not explicitly answer the question. God does not wholeheartedly accept kingship as the only alternative. Kingship means the people have rejected God (1 Samuel 8:7 ; 1 Samuel 10:19 ). Still, kingship can flourish if the people and the king follow God (1 Samuel 12:14-15 , 1 Samuel 12:20-25 ). Saul showed God's threats could be soon realized (1 Samuel 13:13-14 ). A new family from a new tribe would rule. This did not mean eternal war among tribes and families. A covenant could bind the two families together (1 Samuel 20:1 ; 1 Samuel 23:16-18 ). Anger on one side does not require anger from the other as David's reactions to Saul continually show, summarized in 1 Samuel 24:17 : “Thou art more righteous than I: for thou has rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.” David neither planned the demise of Saul and his family nor rewarded those who did (2 Samuel 4:9-12 ). David established his kingdom and sought to establish a house for God (2 Samuel 7:2 ). The king, however, gave in to God's plan to establish David's house and let his son build the house for God (2 Samuel 7:13 ). The king's response shows the nature of true leadership. He expresses praise for God not pride in personal achievement (2 Samuel 7:18-29 ).
Working through His promise to David, God then worked to establish His own kingdom among His people. He could work through an imperfect king who committed the outlandish sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1 ) because the king was willing to confess his sin (2 Samuel 12:13 ). The rule of God's king does not promise perfect peace. Even David's own household revolted against him. Human pride and ego did not determine history. God's promise to David could not be overthrown.
Other themes are subordinate to that of leadership for Israel. The call for covenant commitment and obedience, the forgiveness and mercy of God, the sovereignty of God in human history, the significance of prayer and praise, the faithfulness of God to fulfill prophecy, the need for faithfulness to human leaders, the holy presence of God among His people, the nature of human friendship, and the importance of family relationships all echo forth from these books.
I. God Gives His People an Example of Dedicated Leadership (1 Samuel 1:1-7:17 ).
A. A dedicated leader is the answer to parental prayers (1 Samuel 1:1-28 ).
B. A dedicated leader comes from grateful, sacrificial parents who worship the incomparable God (1 Samuel 2:1-10 ).
C. A dedicated leader is a priest who faithfully serves God rather than seeking selfish interests (1 Samuel 2:11-36 ).
D. A dedicated leader is a prophet who is called by the Word of God and who faithfully delivers the Word of God (1 Samuel 3:1-4:15 ).
E. Superstitious use of religious relics is not a substitute for dedicated leadership (1 Samuel 4:16-22 ).
F. Only a dedicated priest, not foreign gods nor disobedient persons, can stand before God (1 Samuel 5:1-7:2 ).
G. A dedicated political leader is a man of prayer (1 Samuel 7:3-17 ).
II. Human Kingship Represents a Compromise with God by a People Who Have Rejected the Kingship of God (1 Samuel 8:1-15:35 ).
A. Hereditary kingship is a rejection of God which hurts His people and separates them from God (1 Samuel 8:1-22 ; compare Judges 8:22-9:57 ).
B. A dedicated king is a humble person from a humble family who knows he owes his position to God's choice (1 Samuel 9:1-10:27 ).
C. The dedicated king is a Spirit-filled deliverer (1 Samuel 11:1-15 ).
D. The dedicated leader is morally pure and uses the history of God's people to call them to obedience (1 Samuel 12:1-25 ).
E. Kingship depends on obedience to God, not human wisdom (1 Samuel 13:1-23 ).
F. A dedicated leader is used by God to unify and deliver His people (1 Samuel 14:1-23 ).
G. God delivers His dedicated leader from inadvertent sins (1 Samuel 14:24-46 ).
H. The king is responsible to defeat the enemies of the people of God (1 Samuel 14:47-52 ).
I. A disobedient king is rejected by God (1 Samuel 15:1-35 ).
III. God Raises Up New Leadership for His People (1 Samuel 16:1-31:13 ).
A. God gives His Spirit to the chosen person meeting His leadership qualifications (1 Samuel 16:1-13 ).
B. God provides unexpected opportunities of service for His chosen king (1 Samuel 16:14-23 ).
C. God uses the skills and faith of His leader to defeat those who would defy God (1 Samuel 17:1-58 ).
D. God provides His presence and the loyalty of friends to protect His chosen one from the jealous plots of an evil leader (1 Samuel 18:1-20:42 ).
E. God's priests affirm the special position of God's chosen leader (1 Samuel 21:1-9 ).
F. God protects His benevolent and faithful leader from the vengeance of evil enemies (1 Samuel 21:10-22:23 ).
G. God heeds the prayer of His chosen and delivers him from treacherous enemies (1 Samuel 23:1-29 ).
H. God honors the righteousness of His chosen leader (1 Samuel 24:1-22 ).
I. God avenges His chosen against the insults of foolish enemies (1 Samuel 25:1-39 ).
J. God provides family for His chosen (1 Samuel 25:39-44 ).
K. God rewards the righteousness and faithfulness of His chosen leader (1 Samuel 26:1-25 ).
L. The chosen leader cunningly begins building his kingdom even under adverse circumstances (1 Samuel 27:1-12 ).
M. God fulfills His prophecy and destroys disobedient leaders (1 Samuel 28:1-25 ).
N. God protects His chosen leader from compromising situations (1 Samuel 29:1-11 ).
O. God restores the property taken from His chosen leader (1 Samuel 30:1-20 ).
P. God's chosen leader shares His goods with the needy and with colleagues (1 Samuel 30:21-31 ).
Q. God destroys disobedient leaders (1 Samuel 31:1-7 ).
R. God honors people who express loyalty to their chosen leaders (1 Samuel 31:8-13 ).
I. To Achieve His Purposes, God Honors Obedience Not Treachery (2 Samuel 1:1-6:23 ).
A. Those who dishonor God's chosen leaders are punished (2 Samuel 1:1-16 ).
B. God's leader honors the memory of his predecessors (2 Samuel 1:17-27 ).
C. God leads people to honor His obedient leader (2 Samuel 2:1-4 ).
D. God honors loyal, obedient people (2 Samuel 2:4-7 ).
E. God blesses efforts for peace (2 Samuel 2:8-28 ).
F. God strengthens His obedient leader (2 Samuel 2:29-3:19 ).
G. God's leader refuses to honor treachery and revenge (2 Samuel 3:20-4:12 ).
H. God fulfills His promises to His patient servant (2 Samuel 5:1-16 ).
I. God provides victory for His people (2 Samuel 5:17-25 ).
J. God's people must honor His holy presence (2 Samuel 6:1-23 ).
II. God Establishes His Purposes Through His Faithful Yet Fallible Servant (2 Samuel 7:1-12:31 ).
A. God promises to bless the house of David forever (2 Samuel 7:1-17 ).
B. God's servant praises the incomparable God (2 Samuel 7:18-29 ).
C. God gives victory to His faithful servant (2 Samuel 8:1-18 ).
D. God's servant shows kindness in memory of his departed friends (2 Samuel 9:1-13 ).