Last November I taught the Book of Samuel. It was my first three day teaching (gulp) but I was encouraged to really enjoy the book. This blog post will aim to persuade you about how interesting and relevant Samuel is for your own life, and give links to download the lectures. If you're here for those - scroll to the bottom.
The Book of Samuel is a page-turner. You want drama? Look no more. We've got battles and chases and feuds and plots and lies and familial conflict. Some of the Bible's most well-remembered characters and stories are in Samuel. There's David and Goliath and Saul and, you guessed it... Samuel (he was actually a priest and prophet of the time). In fact, I'm convinced that you can't tell the story of the Bible/the Israelites (eventually leading to Jesus) without referring to the events which happen in this book. The history covered is huge. You see, Israel grew from being a bunch of tribes with sporadic leadership (a 'theocracy'), into being a monarchy with a reigning dynasty and human king over them. Would they continue to depend on God and acknowledge that He was still there ultimate ruler? Or would they conform to the example of their pagan neighbours and begin placing their hope in their army and king? In Saul and David we have two kings who represent very different reigns. Saul ruled exactly like a pagan king would - he was tyrannical and saw himself as the ultimate judge. David on the other hand, although he sinned, understood that he shared his authority with the priests and prophets, all of whom were submitted under God.
One of my favourite things about the Book of Samuel is its repeated theme of heart. The author not only writes stories but he narrates what was also going on in the hearts of the characters whilst these stories are happening. That's actually quite a unique way to get to know ancient figures. When Saul saw the Philistine army, his 'heart trembled greatly’. When David cut off a corner of Saul’s robe, he was ‘stricken to the heart’. When Michel saw David dancing, she 'despised him in her heart'. Thirty-eight times the author speaks of the heart in the narrative. Why? A huge theme in Samuel was that God sought for Israel's king to be one after His own heart. Saul failed; David passed, but both weren't the leaders Israel needed to fix their sin problems. God's people needed to look forward to a future King for that (ahem, Jesus - see 2 Samuel 7 for its beautiful Messianic promises). In the book of Samuel we readers can be challenged to notice our own heart postures too. Do we as Christians internally behave like we serve in a kingdom which has a King?
Like I said, in Samuel we have this huge arrow pointing to Jesus through God's covenant with David. David wanted to build a temple for God, but God responded that He had a different plan: to build an ongoing dynasty for David. Whilst David wanted God's presence to have a permanent home amongst His people, God's ambitions spanned way greater. God wanted for One to come who would reign on David's throne forever. God's presence would no longer be contained to the temple but God Himself would come and dwell with His people. This was all fulfilled in Jesus, the eternal King, and these promises to David were huge. They taught the Israelites to hope for and anticipate a future king. And so, in a story marked by God's search for a king after His heart we are introduced to Jesus, the Son of David, the true King of Israel.
Introduction to Samuel and historical background
1 Samuel 1-18
1 Samuel 21 to 2 Samuel 24