This week, you will read about how Israel transitioned from a loosely organized group of tribes to a unified kingdom under King Saul and then King David.
After settling in the Promised Land, Israel failed to drive out all of the Canaanites. When the Canaanites oppressed Israel, God raised up judges to deliver them, but Israel demanded that God give them a king like the other nations. Israel’s final judge, Samuel, anointed Saul as the first king. Because of Saul’s wickedness, his throne was given to David, who is known as the greatest king in Israel’s history. Although it was not God’s will for Israel to have a king, God made a covenant with David because of David’s faithfulness. God promised that the Messiah, the King of Kings, would come from David’s lineage and establish David’s throne forever.
The Story Moving Forward (Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles): The history that is covered in 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings is retold in 1 & 2 Chronicles from a slightly different perspective. Moving forward, you will primarily read from 1 & 2 Chronicles with an occasional supplement from the more lengthy and detailed account in the books of Samuel and Kings. The book of Ruth tells the story of the great-grandmother of King David—King David being the major character in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Ruth was a Moabite (non-Jew) who married into the lineage of David and, more importantly, Jesus (see the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5-6), demonstrating that God’s redemptive plan was always intended for all people.
Reading & Summaries
READ: JUDGES 1-2; 1 SAMUEL 7
Failure to Complete the Conquest of the Land, God Raises Up Judges to Deliver from Oppressors
Judges tells how Israel strayed far from God after settling in Canaan.God had commanded Israel to drive out the sinful Canaanites because of their wicked practices (e.g. sacrificing children to their idol gods), but Israel failed to complete the conquest of the land. The Israelites were influenced by the Canaanites and sinned against God. To discipline and purify his people, God allowed the Canaanites to defeat and oppress them before raising up a series of judges (e.g. Gideon, Samson) to deliver them.
The book of Judges ends by setting the stage for Israel’s first king: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25).
1 Samuel 7: God raises up Samuel as the final judge of Israel. Samuel leads Israel in repentance and God gives Israel the victory over the Philistines.
FAQ — What’s a Judge? Today, a judge is a public official who decides court cases. While the Biblical judges helped to oversee political and judicial affairs, the title also meant “deliverer” or “savior.” The judges that God raised up were military leaders who delivered Israel from their enemies. These “saviors,” however, were often as corrupt as the Israelites themselves, pointing to the need for the great Savior, Jesus.
Recommended video: Read Scripture: Judges by The Bible Project.
READ: 1 SAMUEL 8, 10:17-27; 1 CHRONICLES 10
Israel Demands a King, Saul Rises and Falls
Israel demands a king against God’s will and despite Samuel’s warning. God gives them what they want. Saul is appointed as the first king, but rebels against God. “Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse” (1 Chr. 10:14).
READ: 1 CHRONICLES 11:1-9; 15:1-16:43
David is Appointed King, Conquers Jerusalem
David is anointed as king in place of Saul. David conquers Jerusalem and brings the Ark of the Covenant there. The people worship God.
Key City — Jerusalem: Jerusalem (also called “the city of David” and “Zion”) became the political and religious center of Israel after the building of the palace and temple. In Psalm 2:6, God declares that his King (the Messiah, Jesus) will be installed in Zion. Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem and it was the center from which the gospel spread. Many prophecies center on Jerusalem, “the holy city,” and Christians wait for the day when the New Jerusalem will come out of heaven as the center of the new earth from which Jesus will reign forever (Rev. 21:2).
READ: 1 CHRONICLES 17-18
God Makes a Covenant with David
David sets out to build a house (place of worship) for God, but God says that instead God will build a “house” (royal dynasty) for David. God promises that David’s offspring will establish his throne forever. God gives David victory over his enemies.
Key Concept — The Davidic Covenant: God’s covenant with David in 1 Chronicles 17 (see also 2 Samuel 7) looks forward to the kingdom of his son Solomon, but most of all to his son (descendent) Jesus, the Messiah who will reign forever as King of Kings. This covenant promise is perhaps the greatest promise since the Abrahamic covenant, when God told Abraham that through his seed (Jesus) all nations would be blessed.
READ: 1 CHRONICLES 22:6-19; 28:1-29:30
David Prepares for His Son Solomon to Build a Temple for the Lord
David charges his son Solomon to build the temple, since God would not allow David to do so. David charges Israel and Solomon to seek God, and gives Solomon the plans for the temple. A freewill offering is collected to help fund the building project. David praises God and prays for Solomon, then leads the assembly in worship. Solomon is anointed as king and sits on the throne in place of David. David dies with honor.
When exercises require a written response, record your answers in a journal or email them to a pastor or class leader who will provide you with feedback.
- What questions do you have about this week’s reading?
- The book of Judges summarizes the people’s sins by saying that “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” How does this compare to the day in which we live?
- Saul started well but ended his life in ruin. What assurance does 1 Corinthians 1:8 and Philippians 1:6 give to those who will persevere in the faith?
- The books of Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings contain some of the most popular stories in the Bible; for example, Samson and Delilah (Judges 16), David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), and Elijah and the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40). Read one of these stories and write down what you found most interesting or exciting.
- How does God judge people according to 1 Samuel 16:7? How does Jesus tell us to judge others in John 7:24?
- The books of Samuel record that Saul was jealous of David and tried to kill him. Although David was forced to flee for his life, his experiences inspired several beautiful Psalms expressing deep trust in God. What do you find most encouraging about Psalm 18?
- Although David was Israel’s greatest king, he sinned greatly by committing adultery with Bathsheba and arranging for her husband to be killed to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11:1-12:16). David repented after God sent the prophet Nathan to confront him. His prayer or repentance is recorded in Psalm 51. What can we learn from David’s prayer?