Week Thirteen Reading Assignment:
2 Samuel 10 - 1 Kings 8
"We believe the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true centre of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinion should be tried."
(The New Hampshire Confession, 1833)
(The New Hampshire Confession, 1833)
This Week's Video:
This Week's Video:
This week we will finish reading the two books of Samuel, the ninth and tenth books of the Bible. The chart below illustrates where we will stand in our reading of the Old Testament and in our reading of the entire Bible upon completion of these two books. Keep up the good work!
Good Book Review: Who's On the Throne
When the Book of First Samuel opens, there is no king in Israel. It remains the era of the Judges, and Israel is in a state of spiritual malaise.
The young priests are wicked men, and their old father seems unwilling or unable to correct them. The bullying Philistines loom always on the horizon, and no one, it seems, has heard from the Lord for a very long time. Perhaps because no one is listening.
When the Book of Second Samuel closes, meanwhile, there is a firmly established throne in Jerusalem, which is the new capital of the twelve tribes and the celebrated new (and perm-anent) home to the Ark of the Covenant. A dynastic line has been established and promised by God— David will forever have a descendant on the throne. The nation is prosperous, its leadership is godly, and it is the dominant power in the entire region.
What occurs in between is a pivotal century in the history of Israel. It marks the beginning of Israel’s monarchy, as well as the first part of its Golden Age.
The key players during the period are three men: Samuel, Saul, and David. Samuel is priest, prophet, and king-maker. Saul and David are kings of Israel, consecutively.
But we discover, from beginning to end of the books, and in each man’s story, that the real issue in Israel is always the degree to which God is on the throne.
"To be a student of the Bible you need to read it. Even if you can't understand all of it, you will do well to read all of it. Get to know these books. Memorize a few pages. Become familiar with Holy Scripture. Onc eyou know what is between the covers of the Bible, you can begin to study it more intelligently. Important teachings regarding faith and living are clear first lessons. This light will eventually help illuminate the more difficult parts. The things you are sure about will help you with the things that seem uncertain."
League of Nations: Called To Be Different
Earlier in this year's reading, we began to highlight the theme of "the nations." Because the Old Testament people of God are a nation, that term and that category carry theological significance. In the Old Testament world, you see, the people of Israel understood that there were many nations, but just one of them had been specifically chosen by God.
As the year continues to unfold, we will return to this important theme again again. In the present context, though, the particular element of this larger theme that merits our consideration is the nature of the relationship between Israel and those other nations. What was their calling? What was God's design?
When the people were coming out of Egypt, crossing the wilderness, and preparing to enter the Promised Land, there was a high awareness of the fact that other nations already occupied that land. The people themselves were a bit preoccupied with the practical matter of the size and strength of those nations. The Lord, however, was more concern-ed with the spiritual issue: namely, the wickedness of those nations.
It was because of the wickedness of those nations that the Lord had commanded Israel to wipe them out completely. The logic was two-fold. First, Israel served as the agent of God's righteous judgment. And, second, the people of Israel would thus be free of the proximate, and potentially fatal, influence of their wickedness.
Throughout the eras of the judges and kings, we see the same bifurcated emphasis. The people of Israel are most concerned about the military strength of the neighboring nations. That is rather incidental to God, how-ever, since he strength of nations is nothing to Him. But He knows that the spiritual influence of the neighboring nations is the truly deadly threat.
We see that influence played out in many ways. Joshua recognized the danger, and famously challenged the people, "Choose today whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15). We see that the people of Gideon's day had imported from their neighbors the worship of Baal and Asherah (Judges 6:25ff). In the days of Samuel, they insisted, "There shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations" (1 Samuel 8:19-20). Toward the end of Solomon's reign, the influence of his foreign wives prompted him to build temples and altars for their foreign gods (1 Kings 11:1-8). And Elijah exhorted the Israel-ites of Ahab's kingdom to choose once and for all which God they would serve (1 Kings 18:20ff).
Being different from the other nations -- free from their influence and fiercely independent of them in both belief and practice -- was not the final purpose of God. As we shall see, He had still bigger plans with respect to Israel and "the nations." But this was a necessary first step: to be separate, and to be different.
"What the Bible tells us about the Jews or about the apostles or about the church is secondary; but what God shows us of ourselves through its pages is the real shock."