Bible Through the Year: Episode 16

Week 16 Devotion

You might remember from last week that the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel were originally written as one book but it was broken into two because of the length and these two books tell the stories of 3 men: Samuel, Saul, and David. These books show us the beginning of Israel as a Kingdom and right off the bat, we realize that Israel having a king is not going to solve all of their problems.

The prophet Samuel even told the people of Israel that if they want a king then they need to prepare themselves for all that goes along with having a king. Samuel told them that having a king means that there will be a man reigning over the people. This king would take the sons of Israel and make them his servants and his soldiers. This king would take their daughters as well and put them to work. The king would take their land, their goods, their taxes and in the end the people would feel like slaves to this king…but they wanted one anyway.

So the first man up was Saul and he was a bit of a disaster. He became king because he was taller and more handsome than anyone else, not the best criteria for choosing a king. He rose to power quickly and almost as quickly he disqualifies himself from the office. In short, he keeps disobeying God and so, God takes His anointing away from Saul and places it on a young shepherd by named David.

But the transition from Saul to David didn’t go very smoothly. The old king gets jealous and tries on numerous occasions to kill David. David on the other hand, is fighting battles and winning, he is earning the respect and praise of his fellow Israelites, and through it all, he remains faithful to God. David builds a close friendship with Saul’s son Jonathon who helps David escape from his father’s plot to murder David.

The drama of Saul and David is threatening to tear the nation apart and just when you think things couldn’t get worse, we read chapter 25 and learn that Samuel has died.

Here is something to discuss…

As a prophet of God, Samuel holds the unique position of being the one to anoint the first two kings of Israel. He was reluctant to do so at first because as a judge for the nation the people were rejecting his own family from ruling over them. But there was an even greater reason and it had to do with what the people actually wanted.

Here is what they said to Samuel,

“Behold you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

Israel did not want a righteous king to come in and lead them in covenant faithfulness, they wanted a champion king, a despot lord to rule the land and strike fear into their enemies. Once again they did not want to be faithful to God’s covenant; they wanted to be like the other pagan nations around them. In response, God tells Samuel to go ahead and appoint a king adding, “They have not rejected you, they have once again rejected me.”

Like Joshua and Moses, Samuel was allowed to see the promises of God become a reality but he also saw the sinfulness of Israel bring about their rejection of God. And yet, Samuel died in the hope that David, the anointed king of Israel, would be a better king than the one that came before him.

This is our hope as well. The failure of the judges and the kings is a sign of something. It is a sign that the king we need and the king we want is better than what has come before.

Our Redeemer will be a man of faith, like Abraham, but better. He will be a prophet of just commands and mighty deeds, like Moses, but better. He will be a king to rule us and defend us, like David, but better. There is a lot to Jesus, and the OT paints his portrait with one brush stroke after another as the story continues. (Ray Ortlund)

Do you remember the theme of this book that we talked about last week? “God humbles the proud but gives grace to the humble.” The drama unfolding between Saul and David is one where God is bringing down the proud but exalting the humble. But in our Genesis 3 world even humble men are broken by sin. David is not perfect and he will prove his imperfection on more than one occasion.

But Jesus is not like the leaders who came before Him. He lives in the Genesis 3 world but His heart isn’t corrupted by the world. He experienced the pain of this world, the brokenness of this world, the hatred that this world has for God, but through it all Jesus’ heart remained pure and His devotion to the Father did not waiver or fail. Jesus is the true and better King who remained faithful to God and led His people out of their sin.

Perhaps it would be a good exercise to discuss how Jesus is better than the men we see in 1 Samuel. Discuss how we see the theme playing out that “God humbles the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Discuss how ungodly power proves to be weakness and how godly weakness proves to be powerful.

Here is something to meditate upon…

Once again we will be reading from the Psalms this week and these psalms coincide with what is going on in David’s life. Now David’s life can be broken up into four sections: First, his early days as the unknown but anointed future king, Second, his being in and out of favor with king Saul, Third, His reign as King with the favor of God upon him, and finally, he faces the trouble that his sins have caused.

David’s story is fascinating to read from the historical narrative, but it is made even richer when you put the Psalms of David in their proper place. This week I want us to meditate upon Psalm 63 as we read the story of David. Psalm 63 was written while David was in the Wilderness of Judah and like much of David’s life this point was filled with trouble.

As a man of war, David was always surrounded by enemies. As a king he was always looking over his shoulder. His life was filled with trouble but the one constant was his love for God and we see that coming out in this Psalm.

David is in trouble but he is still seeking God, he is thirsty for God, fainting even. But he takes comfort by thinking on the Lord in His temple. He is reminding himself that God is still on His throne. Whatever trouble he may be going through, God is still with him and His steadfast love is still upon David.

Take some time to meditate on this Psalm and try to put yourself in David’s story. What are the troubles you’re facing? What are the trials of your life? What are the big decisions that you have in front of you? What are the worries that keep you up at night?

Think on these things and let David’s confidence in God’s steadfast love comfort you. Let the reality of God’s covenant-keeping love bring you peace in the midst of life’s trouble

Here is something to pray about…

As we continue to read the book of Samuel we enter into the 2nd part. Saul and Jonathon have died. David is anointed as king over the tribe of Judah and the story continues. But before it does, David teaches a song of lament to his people. In 2 Samuel 1 we read the song that David wrote to honor and remember King Saul and his son Jonathon.

In the song, there is this refrain, “How the mighty have fallen…” In our post-Genesis 3 world all men die but the sting is felt by an entire nation when one of their leaders falls. Death is the great enemy of us all. It is the unwelcome visitor who comes to take away our loved ones before we are ready to see them go. Unless the Lord returns in our lifetime we will all fall victim to its tyranny.

But, death will not have the final say. There was no one mightier than Jesus and He was taken by death, but death couldn’t hold Him. Death is a form of God’s judgment on our sin but Jesus didn’t die under judgment for His own crimes, He was sinless. Jesus died under the judgment of our crimes, for the sinful crimes against God of all those who believe.

By the sovereign plan of God, Jesus death was credited to our account, as was His righteousness. And the glorious result of this divine transaction is that Jesus was not required to remain under death’s dominion. God raised Him from death and He lives today. By grace, we too will one day live forever. We may pass through death but it will not have the final word. Christ’s victory will be our own.

Take some time to pray to God and thank Him for the cross and the empty tomb. Pray that you will be able to face death, whenever it comes, with the confidence that Christ will have the final word.



Justin Wheeler

Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Wylie, TX.