Samuel served as a prophet with integrity and taught the people that the Lord sees our hearts, not our outward appearance. King Saul followed the Lord’s will at first, but then he trusted in his own might. David and Jonathan both exhibited selfless love by focusing on unity of purpose and sacrificing for the other. Each of these men teach us to trust in the Lord.
“Kingship, Democracy, and the Message of the Book of Mormon,” Gregory Steven Dundas, BYU Studies Quarterly 56, no. 2
This article discusses kingship in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon. Tradition sees kings in both a positive light because they bring stability to society and a negative light because they can cause great damage when they are sinful. We can understand people’s desire for a king who would be a protector of his people. Samuel resisted people’s demands at first, but the Lord instructed Samuel to grant the people’s wish for a king (1 Samuel 8).
“The Tragic Dimensions of Saul,” Richard G. Ellsworth, Ensign, June 1990
“Saul’s tragic flaw was pride, often manifested as a fear of criticism and a love of popular approval. This flaw resulted in a tendency to make significant errors in judgment that consistently resulted in complication and misfortune. But Saul also had great strength and courage. Faced with God’s condemnation, Saul did not duck or hide but turned toward his future with violent and almost foolhardy bravery, yet without repentance, and determined to fight the Lord’s condemnation.”
“Meeting Your Goliath,” Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, January 1987
“There was one, however, who did not quake with fear nor run in alarm. Rather, he stiffened the spine of Israel’s soldiers by his piercing question of rebuke toward them: ‘Is there not a cause? … Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine’ (1 Sam. 17:19, 32.) David, the shepherd boy, had spoken. But he did not speak just as a shepherd boy. For the hands of the prophet Samuel had rested upon his head and anointed him; and the Spirit of the Lord had come upon him.”
“Lessons from the Old Testament,” Lynn A. Mickelsen, Ensign, June 2006
“Saul was unwilling to befriend David as Jonathan did because his own disobedience had caused him to fall out of favor with God, and he knew it. In contrast, Jonathan did not feel threatened by David, for he did not worry about his own place in the kingdom.”
“Friend or Foe,” Charles Didier, General Conference, October 1983
“We can learn a great lesson from the friendship of David and Jonathan, which was based on a covenant to be faithful to the Lord,” to love and to speak well of others.
“1 Samuel 1–15: The Prophet Samuel and Saul, King of Israel,” Old Testament Student Manual Genesis-2 Samuel, Church Educational System
This chapter gives an overview of all these chapters with commentary, for example: “At this critical time [when some Israelites were under attack in 1 Samuel 11] Saul was at his finest. He slew his oxen and sent the pieces thereof to every tribe to dramatize that this crisis called for a united Israel (see v. 7). He joined his authority with that of Samuel in the message. Under this leadership, the armies of Israel dealt a stunning defeat to the Ammonites, and Saul gave all credit to the Lord (see v. 13). The victory provided the catalyst for uniting the tribes into one nation for the first time.”
“1 Samuel 16–31: King David’s Call to Lead Israel,” Old Testament Student Manual Genesis-2 Samuel, Church Educational System
An overview of chapters with commentary, such as: “The story of David and Goliath is so well known that some readers take David’s courage for granted. But his courage was not born of self–confidence alone, although he did believe in his own skills in battle. As a young shepherd, he had much practice at slinging stones. It was an effective way both to keep wolves and other vicious animals away from the sheep and to attract the attention of straying sheep and drive them back to pasture. As a result of his experience, David had confidence in his skills, but the true source of his courage was faith in the power of the living God.”
“Fasting in the Book of Mormon and the Bible,” Stephen D. Ricks, The Book of Mormon: The Keystone Scripture
A look at scriptural fasting with mentions of specific situations in David’s life, when Jonathan fasted in grief because Saul threw a javelin at Jonathan for defending David and when David fasted for the life of his son by Bathsheba.
“Biblical Style and Western Literature,” Herbert N. Schneidau, Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experience, BYU Religious Studies Center
On God’s opposition to kings leading his people: “In accord with a tradition of Yahweh as warrior, Israel maintained itself in the Judges’ period as a theocracy with no human king. Thus, the proposal to establish one presented them with what I have called an identity crisis. … The tradition is clear that would indicate powerful religious opposition to dynastic kingship. That is the major reason why the acts of Samuel, Saul, and David must be so scrupulously recorded and interpreted. Parts of this story were undoubtedly written down in the belief that in allowing David to succeed where Saul failed, Yahweh was validating and endorsing the monarchy. But other parts, such as 1 Samuel 8, were written to show that in allowing a king Yahweh was simply giving the people enough rope to hang themselves.”