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What you have read in the last two days from 1 Samuel sets the tone for the reading in week 4. Israel rejects God as king by asking for a king like the other nations have (1 Sam. 8).
But because God is always faithful to His promises, He will not forget Israel completely. He first gives the people a king according to their own desires – Saul, a tall and handsome man – but an ungodly king. In time, God replaces Saul with David, a man after God’s own heart. 1 & 2 Samuel could be called, “A Tale of Two Kings.” We see the stark contrast between the first type of king, Saul, esteemed in the eyes of men, and the second, David, the anointed of the Lord.
1 Samuel (Conclusion) Even though the Lord had commanded Israel not to associate with those who summon spirits (Deuteronomy 18:11), Saul seeks the words of Samuel’s dead spirit. God mysteriously allows this and Samuel predicts that Saul and his sons will join him in death the very next day.
As anticipated, the Philistines overwhelm Saul and the first king of Israel meets his end.
2 Samuel The first six chapters of 2 Samuel describe the transition between the houses of Saul and David. These crescendo in a series of victories for David and God’s promise in 2 Samuel 7 that David’s “throne will be established forever,” a messianic promise anticipating the King of Kings to come from David’s line.
1 Kings In 1 & 2 Kings David becomes the measuring rod for what it means to be a faithful king. As Solomon begins his reign the Lord says, “If you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Sadly, this is an enormous if. In the end, keeping the decrees of the Lord would prove too difficult for Israel’s kings.
Their wickedness increases generation after generation to the point that even a prophet like Elijah is run off by King Ahab. In this story, Elijah cries out to the Lord in anguish because he believes he is the last worshiper of the true God left in Israel.
And yet, God always keeps a small group of faithful followers for Himself. The Apostle Paul calls them “a remnant chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5).
2 Kings As the decline of Israel continues, the moment of judgment finally comes as the now-divided northern and southern kingdoms are sent into exile.
The indictment of God’s people is somber: because they worshiped worthless gods they themselves became worthless (2 Kings 17:15).
Although it had its glory days with David and Solomon, even the great city of Jerusalem (of the southern kingdom of Judah), is eventually besieged and captured by Babylon in 2 Kings 25.
As we finish this book, our hearts should be longing for Jesus: the promised coming Messiah and the only truly faithful King.
Encouraging Comments from a B90 Reader
What does it mean when the Bible calls David a man after God’s own heart? This time through the Bible I thought about it again. I think that it means he understood how God works; how God thinks. What gives it away are the unusual ways he reacts in situations where people expect him to do something totally different.
He spared the life of his enemy Saul twice, he challenged Goliath and didn’t take any armor, he mourned when his child was sick and stopped when his child died, he accepted the cursing from Shimei as from God, and he was absolutely stricken with grief when the usurper to his throne was killed. Each of these incidents shows a deep understanding of what God would think in those situations.
It is through the darkest moments in Israel’s history – days of exile, disappointment and death – we are reminded of the one true King of the world – Jesus Himself. The Isaelites may not have realized it then, but He is the King they had always looked forward to!
Faithful and selfless, Jesus surrendered His life to be lifted high on the cross so that sinners who have made themselves like the worthless gods they served can draw near to God. He rose with authority over death and ascended to the right hand of the Father sending out disciples to preach Good News to the world.