I. Textual Design of First Samuel:
1. There are many theories about the authorship of First Samuel including the Deuteronomic history held by many scholars today
2. It must be admitted that with the current evidence one cannot affirm without reservation who wrote the book.
3. The Talmud names Samuel as the author, but this is hardly probable since he dies in chapter 25
The naming probably relates to the role he played in the first 25 chapters of this history
4. The Hebrew cannon places the work under the former prophets giving a possible clue to at least the role of its author, if not also its sources
a. It is possible that Samuel was compiled from the writings of the prophets Samuel, Gad, and Nathan whose works were preserved within the nation (1 Chron. 29:29; cf. 1 Sam 10:25; see also the “book of Jasher” 2 Sam 1:18)
b. It is also possible that Samuel wrote chapters 1–25 and then Gad and/or Nathan completed the remainder of the book
c. Nevertheless, there is also evidence that the books of Samuel were written after the death of Solomon (cf. 1 Sam. 27:6)
d. Johnson writes, “The books of Samuel were composed after the death of David from court records, eyewitness accounts, and the writings of the prophets Samuel, Nathan and Gad. The actual author or prophetic historian is unknown. But it bears the marks of a prophetic revelation.”
e. In any case, there is certainly a tone of warning to the kings from the point of view of the prophet who proclaimed the word of God to the king.
The textual clues seem to place the writing of the book sometime during the divided monarchy and yet before the fall of the northern kingdom.
1. Israel and Judah are distinguished (11:8; 17:52; 18:16)
2. Ziklag, the city of Philistia where David is sent by Achish, is described as belonging “to the kings of Judah to this day” (27:6)
This not only speaks of a time after the divided monarchy, but of a time when there had been “kings” in Judah.
3. However, there does not seem to be any indication in the text that the northern kingdom had fallen
4. Therefore, it seems best to place the writing of Samuel sometime after the divided monarchy (931 B.C.) but before the fall of Samaria (722/21 B.C.).
C. Design of 1 Samuel:
1. In view of the prophetic tone and the time period of the divided monarchy, it seems very possible that Samuel was written to historically instruct the kings of Israel and Judah to cease placing their confidence in the natural strength of their military, possessions, and even alliances (as the prophets so often proclaimed), and to trust in YHWH who has raised up over the nation all of those before them and disposed of those who continued to trust in their own strength
2. Through the selected, vivid examples of history, the writer was predicting a similar path for the nation in his day.
To trust in natural strength would lead to a fall while trust in YHWH would lead to victory over the enemies which surrounded them