1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles.
Topic: Bible Overview – 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles
In this session, we look at the Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.
Speaker: Dave Horsefall
Dave is the Associate Director of Leeds School of Theology and is on the Leadership team at Mosaic Church Leeds.
1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings and 1&2 Chronicles
Timeline Overview of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles
- This is the time of the kings in Israel’s History.
- The timeline runs from roughly 1100BC (beginning of later bronze age) to 539BC (with the capture of Jerusalem)
- The geopolitical backdrop is powerful nations –Egypt, Mitanni, Hittites, Babylon and Assyria, Persia
- 934-610BC -rise of Assyrian power –Northern Kingdoms of Israel one of many places they destroyed
- 616-539BC –Babylonians rise up, destroy Assyrians
- 597BC – deportations from Judah, 586BC -Jerusalem destroyed (2 Kings 2425)
- 550BC – rise of the Persians, 539BC – Persians defeat Babylon and a remnant returns to Israel.
Samuel, Key Themes
- Rise of the Monarchy –Israel asks for a King and gets one, but the question is: is Kingship truly a blessing for Israel?
- Beginning of the Prophets –they proclaim YHWH’s will. Samuel and Nathan are two Key prophets. They warn about impending danger (1 Sam, 22:5), promise blessing (2 Sam 7) and insist upon obedience to God and denounce disobedience (e.g. 1 Sam 2:27-36, 2 Sam 12:1-15)
- God and Humanity’s Interactions –the importance of human choices feature prominently in Samuel and they truly affect the future of Israel.
1&2 Samuel, Overview
- 1 Sam 1-7 –Samuel’s Rise and Eli’s Decline and the Journey of the Ark (Part 1)
- 1 Sam 8-15 –Saul becomes King and Saul’s Reign
- 1 Sam 16-31 –David’s Rise and Saul’s demise
- 2 Sam 1-7: David becomes King and the Journey of the Ark (Part 2)
- 2 Sam 8-20 –David as King –the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
- 2 Sam 21-24 -Conclusion
1&2 Samuel in Depth
- The cycle of Judges continues – Israel falls into sin represented by Eli’s sons 2:12-17 and they come under judgement in Chap 4.
- Israel repents and seeks YHWH (7:2-6), a leader emerges and leads them to victory over the Philistines (7:7-17).
- But a new tone is struck – Elkanah’s piety and Hannah’s prayer (Chap 1 and 2) show a deeper yearning for YHWH to move.
- The ark is captured, however, as the Israelites think this and not YHWH would bring them victory in battle
- YHWH displays his power by ‘executing’ Dagon and bringing a plague on the Philistines where the ark goes (5:1-12). YHWH wins the victory without human aid.
- The ark returns to Israel but stays on the boarders –the relationship between YHWH and Israel is not fully repaired.
- Major theme –the contrast between faithful and unfaithful leaders and the different fortunes under their leadership.
- Samuel is old and his sons are disobedient, the problem that a judge has no lasting influence continues (judges 2:19). Desire for a king surfaces in Chap 8.
- YHWH sees this request as rebellion vv7-8, Samuel says a king will cruelly oppress v18
- Saul is chosen as King but his immediate response is not to follow Samuel’s instruction 10:9-12 and ends up hiding from the people 10.22-24.
- Ch 11-12 a couple of victories and Saul is more confident, Samuel attributes glory to God and the people are approving. Samuel conducts his leaving speech in chap 12 to show Saul is now the leader. Even so Samuel says the request is a sign of mistrust against God and rebellion and it is foolish.
- They want a king because they see other nations having a king and winning battles, they do not trust YHWH will win the battles for them so they want a king to secure this. (12.6-15).
- Saul fails to keep the command to wait for Samuel to make the sacrifice – he does it anyway Chap 13 – Samuel says the kingdom will be given to one after YHWH’s own heart.
- Chap 14 –Jonathan and his armour bearer, in contrast, trust YHWH and rout a Philistine outpost by themselves.
- Rest of 14 is Saul trying to reassert his authority but failing to do, he ends up putting his people in danger and in the place of breaking oaths.
- 15:1-9 Saul has one more chance to obey and fails, Saul is more argumentative 14-26 and the kingdom is said to be torn from him v28
- Chap 16 – The rise of David – he is selected, anointed but not coronated yet.
- The early signs are good, he is successful in first battle against Goliath.
- Chaps 18-31 lie before Israel as a story of disobedience that leads to failure (Saul) and obedience leading to blessing (David).
The Tale of Two Kings
- Tries to attack David with a spear twice but can’t kill him. He can’t harm the anointed one
- Sends David on military campaign hoping he gets killed, but David succeeds, adds to his glory and gets Saul’s daughter as a bride
- Tries to turn his children against David but Jonathan and Michal take David’s side
- Saul drives away from him his most skilful warriors and he dies in battle
Saul shows how not to be king and how not to follow YWHW. 1 Samuel 24 and 26 show that Saul is not for repenting. David spares his life, but Saul goes after him again.
- Wins Jonathan and Michal to himself
- Always successful in battle and glory grows
- Jonathan predicts David’s future kingship and covenants himself to David
- Receives YWHW’s guidance through Gad the prophet, the ephod and an Egyptian runaway
- Twice David refuses to kill Saul, Saul acknowledges David’s rightness and that he will be king. David swears he will not kill God’s anointed one or his descendants
David shows how to be a king and to be the one after God’s own heart
1&2 Samuel in Depth
- Into 2 Samuel. David becomes king and seeks to widen his remit/control but another ‘king’ Ishbosheth has also been anointed by Abner and thus a civil war ensues with pointless loss of life –a hang over from Saul’s kingship.
- David distances himself from Joab killing Abner and the killing of Ishbosheth –his message ‘I don’t want revenge over my former enemies’.
- David captures Jerusalem and takes land. The ark comes to Jerusalem and is met with rejoicing and David sacrifices and blesses the people chaps 6-7.
- This suggest the relationship between YHWH and his people is healed. YHWH dwells with his people! In the city at the centre of a newly established kingdom of Israel.
- YHWH is king even a David is.
- But the presence of God is a danger to an unholy people as the incident with Uzzah shows. The ark also contains the 10 commandments –if the people want YHWH to stay and bless they, their obedience matters.
- Chapter 7 –Davidic covenant picks up themes from Abraham and takes them a step further.
- A dynasty forever –but this is in the context of conditionality.
- David’s reign starts successfully but this does not last. In Chaps 10-11 David stays home when the kings go to war.
- He rapes Bathsheba, she gets pregnant and so David has her husband killed to clear up the mess. Nathan confronts David and despite David’s repentance his sin will affect his family, his kingship and his future.
- David’s son are a messing, raping and killing. There is not a clean succession but Israel is shown to be fragile one more, liable to splintering.
- The conclusion of Samuel is a collection of good and bad stories about David which sums up his kingship. Israel will have to keep waiting for an obedient King to come along.
Prophetic Speeches and Poetic Passages in Samuel
- Against Eli’s house 1 Sam 2:27-36
- Samuel’s farewell 1 Sam 12
- Samuel’s rejection of Saul 1 Sam 15:17-31, 28:15-19
- YHWH’s promise to David 2 Sam 7:4-16
- Nathans condemnation of David 2 Sam 12:7-14
- Underscore major themes e.g. human and divine kingship
- Hannah’s prayer 1 Sam 2:1-10
- David’s lament 2 Sam 1:19-27
- David song 2 Sam 22
- David’s last words 2 Sam 23:1-7
1&2 Kings, Overview
- 1 Kings 1-11 –Solomon’s Reign
- 1 Kings 12-16 –Rebellion and the division of the Kingdoms + the early history of Israel and Judah
- 1 Kings 17 –2 Kings 10 –The two kingdoms and the roles of Elijah and Elisha
- 2 Kings 11-17 –The last years of Israel
- 2 Kings 18-25 –The last years of Judah
1&2 Kings, Key Themes
- YHWH’s Uniqueness and Sovereignty – he alone is glorious, the great king, allegiance is due to him alone – he is not to be worshipped as one of many but as the only God.
- Failure of the Monarchy – the desire for a king ultimately proves to have been a disastrous choice for God’s people, they end up in exile. More than this, the kings fail to keep the people faithful to YHWH, the nations turn to idolatry and evil, they fall deeply into sin.
- The Prophetic Word – this voice is amplified in Kings
1 Kings 3:1-3
1Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the LORD, and the wall around Jerusalem. 2The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places,because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the LORD. 3Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.
1&2 Kings in Depth
- Chaps 5-9 see the building of the temple, a permanent home for the presence of God amongst his people, surely the high point of Israel’s history so far!
- The glory of YHWH fills the temple in 1 Kings 8 –God coming to be with his people!
- Chap 9 sees YHWH command Solomon to obey him, if he does there will be blessing, if not there will be curses.
- 1 Kings 9:6-7:6“But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 7then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a by word and an object of ridicule among all peoples”
- Chap 9 – Solomon uses slave labour to build towns and cities using the people whom the Israelites had not driven from the land.
- The Queen of Sheba comes and is amazed at Solomon’s wisdom and praises God but also at Solomon’s wealth! Should he have amassed so much wealth?
- He has amassed chariots for war, explicitly forbidden in Deut 17
- And he has married foreign women, plural! • He has fallen prey to money, sex and power.
- YHWH’s judgement? The kingdom will be torn from Solomon and the kingdom will be torn in two.
- Chap 12-16 tell of the division of the kingdom. Solomon dies and Rehoboam takes over.
- Now we have two story lines –that of the ten Northern Tribes known as Israel centred increasingly around Samaria, and the Two Southern tribes known as Judah, centred in Jerusalem with kings from the line of David.
- Two kingdoms and two kings. • Each kingdom has about 20 kings – the North has 0 good kings, the south only has 8.
- The narrator is weaving together the story of the two kingdoms, somehow their fate is tied together, they are not completely divorced from one another.
- The next section in kings is from 1 Kings 17 –2 Kings 10 and it is the period of Elijah and Elisha – two prophets from YHWH to the Northern kingdoms
- In 2 Kings 17 the Assyrians march on Samaria, lay siege to it for three years, deport the Israelite’s to Assyria and the Northern Kingdom is destroyed. • This downfall is said to be because of their sin:
- They worshipped other gods
- Followed the practices of the nations the lord had driven out before them
- They followed the idolatrous practice the kings of Israel introduced
- They rejected God’s decrees and the covenant he had made with them
- 2 Kings 18-25 – the story of the lone kingdom of Judah and it’s a mixed bag
- Chap 18-20 tells us of Hezekiah –is a good and faithful king who trusts God when Assyria comes and YHWH wins an unassailable battle for Judah.
- After this moment of hope, Manasseh becomes king and he is the worst king by far even instituting child sacrifice. In chap 21:10-15 we see that YHWH passes judgement, Judah will go the way of Israel and Ahab and be destroyed.
- Even the reign of good king Josiah cannot halt this decline -Josiah discovered lost role of scroll and is cut to the heart and seeks reform
- Judah is too far gone, however. The prophets say Israel has reached the point of no return
- The last king of Judah, Zedekiah, did evil in the eyes of the LORD.
- He watches as Babylon come, besieges Jerusalem, the sons of Zedekiah are killed –the lineage of the king is done and the people are deported. The temple is burnt down and Jerusalem is sacked.
Glimmer of Hope
2 Kings 25:27-29:
27In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He did this on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. 28He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 29So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. 30Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.
1&2 Chronicles, Overview
- 1 Chron 1:1 –9:44 – this documents Israel from Adam to the restoration from Babylon – the story of the people of God from Genesis 2 right through to the end of the histories in Esther.
- 1 Chron 10:1 –2 Chron 9:31 –the reigns of David and Solomon
- 2 Chron 10:1 –36:23 –the reigns of the other kings from Rehoboam to the restoration from Babylon are told.
- There are two major hopes –the coming Messianic king, and the temple functioning as it was meant to.
1&2 Chronicles in Depth
- The first 9 chaps of Chronicles are genealogies.
- The main function here appears to be showing the continuity of the people of Israel from early times through to the period after exile.
- The point? ‘Remnant, we are still YHWH’s people even if circumstances suggest otherwise’. YHWH is still our God.
- The genealogies also give legitimacy to the Levitical priests who are serving in the second temple after exile.
- The point? ‘We are YHWH’s people and we will worship him obediently and accurately’
- 1 Chron 10:1-2 Chron 9:31 is the story of David and Solomon.
- The narration of David’s story is selective –the writer wants to paint a picture for his readers. Most of the negative stories of David are gone. There is no mention of David’s adultery or the killing of Uriah.
- The writer selects parts of Samuel and places them in different order to create a picture of a more united Israel and an Israel in strong relationship with YHWH.
- Why does he do this?
- The author is wanting to paint a picture for the people of the Davidic king they are still hoping for. The king David wasn’t but the one he should have been.
- 1 Chron chaps 23-27 detail the Levites operating in the temple system, but the details are quite different from Samuel and 1 Kings. The purpose again is to help this remnant community return to how things were supposed to be not how they actually ended up being.
- ‘The major difference from the Samuel-Kings account of the transition from David to Solomon is its strong focus on the temple. Everything else is subordinated to this. We hear nothing of the tussle between David’s sons over the succession, nor of the moral weakness of David, nor of Solomon’s own brutal suppression of his enemies.’
- Why not? That would not help the remnant community to rebuild.
- The end of Chronicles differs to the end of Kings.
- Instead of focussing on Jehoiachin the author takes us further through the exile and focuses on the King of Persia, Cyrus, who is moved by the LORD to release the people back to their land, to build a temple, and for YHWH to be with his people.
- 23“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, …
- The ending in the NIV has been added on, but the Hebrew ends here. Why? The author is pointing forward, forward to a time of true temple worship to a time of the messianic king, to a time when God would truly restore his people. To the time of Jesus