As Christians we tend to focus our study of God’s Word in the New Testament. Many times when we read the Old Testament we tend to think of it as a set of stories from an ancient time that have little bearing on our lives today. Yet, the entire Old Testament points forward to the life and work of Jesus Christ. This is exactly what Tim Chester discusses in his new book 1 Samuel for You published by the Good Book Company.
1 Samuel is considered a “preached history,” recording the rise of Israel’s kings. Until this point in Israel’s history judges or “leaders” had governed the people under the direct leadership of God. Now the people of Israel want “a king like the nations.” So that is what the Lord gives them in king Saul. Yet, he is not exactly the leader that the people bargain for. As the Lord had warned them, Saul takes from the people and almost destroys the kingdom while trying to protect his throne. For this reason the Lord raises up his choice of king for Israel, David.
The writer of Samuel draws a stark contrast between Saul, the people’s choice, and David, God’s choice. David has been promised to inherit the kingdom from Saul, but he doesn’t want to take it by force from God’s anointed. Saul grows ever jealous of David and becomes determined to kill David insuring that the kingdom will not be taken away. David runs for his life spending years in the wilderness. At the end of 1 Samuel, Saul kills himself after being mortally wounded in battle. David then can rightfully ascend to the throne of Israel.
Three lessons learned from 1 Samuel for You. First, the Lord has a plan for redeeming his people. 1 Samuel opens with the story of Hannah praying for a child because she was barren. This story seems insignificant because she was not the only barren woman in Israel. Hannah’s story is mentioned because it is part of the bigger story of redemption. Her son, Samuel, would serve as the last judge of Israel and anoint the first two kings of Israel. From the line of the second king, David, would come Jesus the Messiah. We too are a part of God’s plan of redemption as recipients of His grace. Our story may seem insignificant, but it is part of the greater story.
Second, we are not the heroes of the story. When we read Old Testament stories like David and Goliath we tend to put ourselves in the place of David. We like to think that we are the giant slayer. Yet, in reality we are not David. We are not the point of the story. David, the anointed, points us to greater anointed one, Jesus. We must see ourselves as the Israelite army shaking in our boots at the site of a Philistine giant. We are the one who are in desperate need of a rescue. We need our greater David to step in and save the day. Subsequently we, like the Israelite army, fight from victory not for victory. We only have the power to defeat sin in our lives because Jesus has won the victory through his death and resurrection!
Third, we need to be patient in waiting on God’s promises. The Lord promised to David that he would one day be king of Israel. Yet, for a season of his life David ran from Saul in the wilderness. He had plenty of opportunities to take the kingdom by killing Saul. David did not, however, want to take the life of God’s anointed. He would not take a short cut to get what he was already promised. David waited on God’s timing. This is a lesson that all believers must learn. Throughout the Bible the Lord gives multiple promises, but they are given in the Lord’s own time. As believers we must run from the temptation to usurp the Lord’s timing.
In 1 Samuel for You, Tim Chester hits another one out of the park! 1 Samuel for You and the entire God’s Word for You series is an amazing resource for preaching, small groups, or personal study of God’s Word. 1 Samuel For You helps people to read, feed, and lead in their own ministry context. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking deeper study in 1 Samuel. What a treasure!
Zach is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He blogs at zachkendrick.wordpress.com, and is a contributor for Servants of Grace. He has written book reviews for Cross-Focused Reviews, Crossway, New Growth Press, Tyndale House Publishers and Fortress Press. He resides in Birmingham with his wife, Courtney.