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Hosea 13:9–11

“I will be your King; where is any other, that he may save you in all your cities?” (v. 10a)

After spending 2002 studying through the apostle Paul’s great letter to the Romans, we return to the Old Testament this year to pick up the unfolding history of God’s redemptive plan in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel.

The selection of these historical books for this year’s studies was not arbitrary. In 1998, Tabletalk focused on Exodus, and in 2001 we studied through the books of Joshua and Judges. Each of these Old Testament books records key events in redemptive history. Exodus tells the story of the deliverance of Abraham’s descendants from their bondage in Egypt and of their constitution as a nation in covenant with God. Joshua focuses on the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s heirs, while Judges relates the sad history of the Israelites’ slow but steady drift away from covenant faithfulness to Him. But there is more to the story of God’s unfolding redemptive work, for God did not abandon His people when they abandoned Him. And that is where 1 and 2 Samuel come in. These books relate the important story of Israel’s transition from a loose tribal confederation led by “judges” to a nation ruled by a human king—but still in covenant with God.

Some may wonder what these accounts of the beginnings of the troubled Israelite monarchy have to say to twenty-first century Christians. Actually, the themes of these books are quite relevant to today’s church. Overriding all concerns in 1 and 2 Samuel is the sovereignty of God over His people, His kingship. When the Israelites demand a human king that they might be like other nations, God first gives them a king such as they desire (Saul). When his reign inevitably fails, God gives a king such as He desires (David). The contrast is stark: Saul relies on his own strength and wisdom to lead the people, while David cleaves to God and shepherds the Israelites as His regent. As Scripture makes clear, God ordained these tumultuous events to prepare His people for the coming of the everlasting King, the Messiah. But this history was written for God’s people of all ages, including present-day Christians. We can read these books with great profit, deriving from them a better understanding of what it means to be the people of God who live under the Kingship of the reigning Christ.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Stories such as those of Samuel serving in the tabernacle as a boy or of David defeating Goliath are staples of Sunday school lessons. But Christians need to know the overriding message of this history, not just vignettes. As we begin this yearlong study, pray today that God’s spirit would help you grasp the meaning of this portion of Scripture.


For Further Study
  • Ps. 10:16
  • Jer. 10:10
  • Zech. 14:9
  • John 19:14

Matthew Henry’s Commentary

Writer and Commentator

Keep Reading "I Have Provided Myself a King:" The Books of Samuel

From the January 2003 Issue
Jan 2003 Issue