Who was the author? The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the book of 1 Samuel, perhaps through Zabud, a son of the prophet Nathan (and thus a priest) and a friend of Solomon and member of his court (1 Kings 4:5). Whoever the human author was, he at least in part seems to have drawn from other written sources that existed at the time.
What is the book? The book of 1 Samuel is the first part of one book that originally also included what we know as 2 Samuel. The two parts in one book give the account of salvation history from the time of the judges through David's reign. The book of 1 Samuel goes from the time of the judges to the time of David's reign.
Where was it written? If, as is thought, a member of Solomon's court was the instrument of the Holy Spirit's recording these events, the book was likely written in Jerusalem.
When was it written? The book is thought to have been written near the end of, perhaps right after, Solomon's reign, which would put the writing around 930 B.C.
Why? At least in a very general sense, the book was written to show God's faithfulness and true kingship despite the failures and foibles of human kings. By beginning with the prophetic work of Samuel, the book subordinates human flesh and blood to the word and Spirit in establishing kingship.
How? The author concentrates on the relationship of God's covenant and the kingship by telling, in 1 Samuel, of the birth, youth, and calling of Samuel; of the Ark's being captured and returned to Israel; of Samuel's serving as a faithful judge and deliverer; of the people's demanding a king; of God's giving them such a king, Saul, who soon showed himself to be unfaithful; and of Samuel's anointing David to succeed Saul. David, too, would prove less than the ideal human king, David's greatest Son, Jesus Christ.
For further reading on the book of 1 Samuel:
- Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume II: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (The section dealing with 1 Samuel runs 269 pages. After my study Bible, this is the first commentary I turn to, but it is a somewhat dated and harder to use, more-scholarly commentary.)
- Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume I, The Historical Books of the Old Testament: Genesis to Esther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1923. (Like our Grace library, I have this volume on my shelf, and, although I didn't pull it down at all while blogging on 1 Samuel this time through, I would think you would find its 57 pages on 1 Samuel somewhat helpful and generally accessible. The format runs the text in bold with the comments immediately following the relevant text, so you can in effect read the whole text and his conveniently-placed comments, if you like that format.)