As the book of Judges continually echoed the need for a king our attention must now turn to the book of Samuel and king David to whom the book of Ruth directs our attention. Is he the great king prophesied in Genesis 49:8-12 or will fulfillment await a future generation? How will Israel respond to her kings? Will they be characterized by apostasy as in the time of the Judges or will they submit themselves to the LORD and His king?
I. I and II Samuel
A. I and II Samuel in Context
I and II Samuel were originally one volume and it was not until the translation of the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, that a division was made. Unlike several of the books that we have studied thus far neither the author nor the time of writing for the book of Samuel is clear. However, the frequent mention of Israel and Judah as separate entities point to a date that is sometime after the division of the kingdom. The book of Samuel is framed by Hannah’s prayer (I Samuel 2:1-10) and David’s Psalms (II Samuel 22:1-23:7). These two sections set forth the work’s major themes.
- Yahweh as the Rock of Israel
- Yahweh’s victory over Israel’s enemies
- Yahweh’s blessing upon Israel
- The establishment of Yahweh’s kingdom through His anointed king, or Messiah
Yahweh’s action to accomplish these events represents a source of tremendous hope to a generation who witnessed the failure of Israel’s monarchy.
B. Samuel ― One who Speaks for God
“The books of 1 and 2 Samuel start with the story of a barren woman and a barren nation. . . . Like Israelites, who at this time are being oppressed by their enemies, Hannah cries out to the LORD to take away the stigma of her infertility (1 Samuel 1).” The birth of Hannah’s son, Samuel, represents both the end of her infertility and that of Israel as comes as a prophet (I Samuel 3:19-20) whose ministry represented the return of the Word of the Lord to Israel after a long period of near silence (I Samuel 3:1).
C. Saul ― A King like the Nations
Would someone read I Samuel 8:1-9? We have already noted that a king was prophesied from the line of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) so the idea of kingship is not what the LORD takes issue with. How has Israel erred in their request?
They desire a king that will rule them like the nations and such a desire represents the rejection of Yahweh as their king. In accordance with their request the LORD gives them their desire and Saul becomes king (I Samuel 9-10). Saul defeats many of Israel’s enemies; however, he soon begins to ignore the Word of the LORD and God rejects Saul as king (I Samuel 15:10-35). Saul’s life ends tragically when facing immanent defeat, against the Philistines, he takes his own life (I Samuel 31:1-7).
D. David ― A King after God’s Heart
With the rejection of Saul the Yahweh declared “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you” (I Samuel 13:14). This man was David who was anointed by Samuel, for the Lord, and upon whom the LORD’s spirit came (I Samuel 16:1-13). David rose in prominence and after the death of Saul he was anointed as king over Judah (II Samuel 2:1-4) and finally as king over all of Israel (II Samuel 5:1-5). Despite his many failures David “typified theocratic kingship” and became the standard by which future kings were judged.
E. The Davidic Covenant
During this study two types of covenants have been discussed; what are they?
The two types of covenants are conditional and unconditional covenants. The Davidic Covenant is and unconditional covenant (II Samuel 23:5; Psalm 89:34-37) which was defined as “an arrangement imposed by a superior on subordinates . . . It usually designates an agreement made to or for, not with, the subordinate, depicting a legally binding promise which one party makes toward another.” A unilateral covenant depends solely upon God’s covenant-keeping faithfulness for fulfillment.
Will someone read II Samuel 7:8-16? I have included it below as to aid our study.
“8Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever'”II Samuel 7:8-16).
What promises does Yahweh make? The first four expand upon themes from the Abrahamic covenant from chapter 7.
- Offspring/Seed: “I will raise up your offspring after you (v.12)”
- Personal Blessing: “I will make for you a great name (v.9)”
- Blessing to the Nations:
- Land: “I will appoint a place for my people (v.10)”
- National Blessing: “I will give you rest from all your enemies (v.11)”
- A Dwelling place for Yahweh: “He [David’s offspring] shall build a house for my name (v.13)”
- An Eternal Kingdom: “I will establish the throne of his [David’s offspring] kingdom forever (v.13)”
- Fatherhood and Sonship: “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son (v.14)”
II. I and II Kings
A. I and II Kings in Context
As with I and II Samuel the book of Kings was originally one volume that was later divided. Also the author of Kings is unknown but the literature suggests that it was written during the Babylonian exile. It serves an exhortatory function, like the book of Judges, as it reminds Israel of its failure to heed the word of the Lord and the subsequent judgment that resulted in their exile. However, also like Judges, it points to Yahweh’s patience and longsuffering as He delays His judgment upon Israel’s apostasy.
B. Solomon ― A King whose Heart Turned from the LORD
Upon David’s death his son Solomon succeeds him as king (I Kings 2:10-12). Solomon is noted for his wisdom and under him Israel experiences prosperity and prophetic fulfillment. God raised up a seed after David, his name became great, Israel experienced peace with the nations and the nations benefited from Solomon’s wisdom, Solomon built the temple for Yahweh’s name, and David’s throne and dynasty was being established. However, “when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (I Kings 11:4). After the death of Solomon (11:43) the kingdom of Israel was divided in two with Israel in the north and Judah in the south (12:16-24).
III. The Monarchy and Davidic Covenant as Eschatology
“From this point onward the faithful remnant looked for a messiah of David with whom God would be present and by whom he would extend his peace, justice, righteousness, and wisdom to his people.” While Israel experienced fulfillment of the Mosaic and Davidic covenants under Solomon the fulfillment was temporary and Israel was left anticipating the coming of one from David’s line who would establish God’s kingdom, build His house, and secure blessing for both Israel and the nations. Solomon’s reign serves to point Israel forward to an age of prosperity yet to come.
What themes do you see developing over Israel’s history and in what way do you find them to be helpful in your walk with God?
VanGemeren, The Progress of Redemption, 206 and 215-216.
Bartholomew and Goheen, The Drama of Scripture, 88.
VanGemeren, The Progress of Redemption, 222.
Busenitz, “Introduction to the Biblical Covenants,” 176.