Standing between Judges & Ruth and 1 & 2 Kings in our bibles, 1 & 2 Samuel focus on the transition from judges to kingship in the nation of Israel.
1 & 2 Samuel provide the solution to the problem raised in Judges. Leaders.
First, there’s Samuel (1 Samuel 1-7) – the leader God provides.
- He is the first ray of light in the spiritual darkness Israel has wandered into. A judge to deliver the people; a prophet to instruct the people; a priest to mediate for the people. And yet for all his efforts, it’s a bleak backdrop in Israel.
→ These early chapters vividly illustrate how people defy God and how foolish it is to do so. There are lots of bad responses in 1 Samuel to learn from.
Second, there’s Saul (1 Samuel 8-15) – the King the people chose.
Panicking at the first sign of danger, God’s people trade him in for a king like the nations, who’ll fight their battles and lead them to victory. But whilst this substitute king is what they’d asked for (that’s what Saul means) – he’s not what they’d hoped for – because he’s their choice, not God’s choice.
→ that’s another thing to look out for: the way that God works, the people he uses… they’re not often the way that we might choose, or the people that we might expect. But the story of Saul only goes to show what happens when we take things into our own hands instead of entrusting ourselves to God’s hands.
Third, there’s David (1 Samuel 16-31) – the King God chooses.
God plucks David from obscurity and anoints him as King. Yet for the rest of 1 Samuel, he remains largely in obscurity and danger, not yet revealed as King, let alone reigning as King.
→ the experiences of David, then, the anointed King, the Christ, drive us to Jesus Christ, the son of David.
- In his circumstances – often hidden, hated, hunted by his enemies.
- In his successes – steadfast faith in trial, and stunning victoies in battle.
- But even in his failure (not least with Bathsheba), we’re left looking for one who would share the suffering and success of David, but not his sins. And only Jesus fits the bill.
Finally, we continue with David (2 Samuel) – the King God establishes.
Despite rebellion within his own household and threats from outside the kingdom, “David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.” (2 Samuel 5:12). God provided a leader because he loved his people.
The books of 1&2 Samuel are all about leaders. They show Israel looking for a leader, any leader. But they should leave us looking not just for any leader, but God’s leader, Jesus, the king that God has chosen.