Friday, November 26, 2004

Introduction to the books of Samuel

1 Samuel and 2 Samuel follow Judges, a book illustrating the faithlessness of the Israelites and how that faithlessness led them into bondage. Perhaps most well-known in Judges is the story of Samson, whose miscegenation with Philistines leads to his blinding and death. Also notable in Judges is the story of Deborah, which illustrates the potential of women to achieve high status before the establishment of the kingdom. Under the Old Testament kings, no similar stories are told of women. The only women of exalted status are the Queen of Sheba and Jezebel, the latter being evil.

1 Samuel and 2 Samuel are some of the richest books in the Bible. Built around the elevation of first Saul and then David to the kingship of Israel, they speak to many themes central to human life.
Among those themes are:

  • The means by which temporal power corrupts the spiritual life
  • How to pray
  • The vulnerability of leaders to the headstrong actions of their supporters
  • The vital role of genuine humility in the success of a leader
  • The danger of being too find of one's children

There is also the very important foreshadowing of Paul's persecution of Jesus in Saul's persecution of David, as well as the foreshadowing of the aassumption of sin by Jesus in David's assumption of sin.

And yet 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel are perplexing. Did God make a mistake in making Saul king? Once God discovered the mistake, why did He allow Saul to persecute David? Why does David allow his generals, and Joab in particular, to push him around? Why was taking a census of the troops a sin against the Lord meriting a cost of thousands of innocent lives?

These topics and others will be the questions we explore in subsequent study.


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