A single, congruent narrative runs through the Torah and historical books of the Old Testament.
We’ve seen how:
- To restore the relationship between heaven and earth, the Lord launched a project to rescue the nations (Genesis). Notes, podcast, and podcast.
- God rescued Jacob’s descendants from domination by evil and established them as his nation through the Sinai covenant, living among and leading his people (Exodus). Notes, podcast, and podcast.
- God called his nation to live as a holy people in his presence (Leviticus), but they didn’t trust his leadership (Numbers), so God called the next generation to affirm the covenant (Deuteronomy), leading them into the Land (Joshua). Notes and podcast.
Now, we learn how and why God provided his Anointed for the nation under his reign:
- They weren’t coping without a human leader, constantly wandering off and becoming enslaved. Judges tracks how God’s nation spiralled down into violence, just as the other peoples of the earth had done in early Genesis. Judges concludes that they could not cope without consistent human leaders.
- Israel compromised their uniqueness when they asked for a king, but God acceded. Even though Saul wasn’t seeking power, he couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t let go when God sacked him. He died as a pitiful character, consuming the nation’s resources to fight for his own power (1 Samuel).
- David was now God’s anointed. He served admirably while Saul had the throne, but once he came to power David used it for himself: taking Uriah’s wife and life. It decimated David’s family. Ironically, this self-destructing family is the one to whom God had promised the kingship (2 Samuel).
The full notes (PDF) for this fourth part of our OT survey are here: A king anointed (Judges – 2 Samuel), along with the podcasts for Judges and 1-2 Samuel.
The rest of the OT story goes on to show that human leaders were not able to save God’s people. God’s goal at creation was a community living under God, caring for his world as his agents. That’s what God is aiming for in the end. But along the way, we do need God’s Anointed to lead us there.
Notes for next time: Disintegrating kingdom (Kings – Chronicles).
- Formed in God’s story (resources for all weeks)
- Formed in God’s story: Genesis
- Formed in God’s story: Exodus
- Formed in God’s story: Leviticus – Joshua
Artwork: The Gideon Torch, by Steve Browne, Perth Western Australia.
2 thoughts on “Formed in God’s story: Judges – 2 Samuel”
The actual trigger for the demand for a king is given in the opening verses of 1Samuel ch 8. Samuel’s heirs-apparent were corrupt and the leaders of the people would not accept them as the nation’s leaders. Did Samuel learn his parenting skills from Eli, whose own sons were corrupt too?
Throughout the Old Testament and even up to the current day, we see men who have been great men of God and yet have failed, to a greater or lesser degree, as parents. Are we overlooking the instruction given in Deuteronomy 4 v9 and 6 v7?
How do we reconcile this with Luke 18 v29-30?
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Thanks for sharing. Interesting take. Parenting is important, though the text doesn’t blame Samuel for being a bad parent and I think we should be cautious about imputing guilt to struggling parents too.
You’re right that Samuel’s approaching death is the immediate trigger for the request for a king. But the text has already set up that every generation was struggling to follow the Lord once the leader died (the pattern of Judges 2:19). Without someone leading them, people did what was right for themselves rather than what was right for the community (Judges 21:25, echoing 18:1).
They imagined that having a king would solve this problem of enduring leadership, as well as leading them in battle so they could keep serving the Lord instead of serving other powers. The fact that Samuel is the best judge they ever had and yet his sons are unacceptable leaders cues us in to the reality that this plan probably won’t work (in addition to insulting God’s leadership and costing them dearly).
Dt 4:9 and 6:7 are good parenting instruction. I’m not sure how the promise Jesus gave his disciples who had left their (extended) families to travel with Jesus relates to Samuel.