3 Reasons You Should Preach through 1 & 2 Samuel
The books of 1-2 Samuel—or at least parts of them—are well-known to Christians and non-Christians alike. Inspiring movies, books, and sports analogies have been drawn from these ancient pages. And yet, very few people have ever heard a sermon series on these wonderful books.
First and 2 Samuel were written to help readers understand why Israel transitioned to a monarchy, how that monarchy succeeded and failed, and how that monarchy ultimately points to Jesus, who will rule with love and justice forever.
You should consider starting an expository series through 1 and 2 Samuel in the near future for at least these three reasons:
- They provide context for understanding the rest of Scripture
- They paint a nuanced picture of “heroes” and “villains”
- They teach us to hope in God rather than human government
1. 1 and 2 Samuel provide context for understanding the rest of Scripture.
Many Christians will confess that while they read their Bibles regularly, they don’t have a good grasp on the origins of Israel’s monarchy. They couldn’t tell you when, how, or why Israel became a monarchy, or what the Israelite monarchy has to do with Jesus and his kingdom.
As you preach through these books, you get clear answers to these questions. The reason Israel became a monarchy, according to God himself, is because “they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Sam. 8:7). The rest of the books—and really, the rest of the Old Testament—serves as a warning to us: “This is what happens when you reject God from being your king.”
When the kings and the people of Israel received God as their rightful king, worshiping and obeying him, they experienced great blessing. But when they rejected him, worshiping idols and rebelling against God, they experienced great judgment.
Our first parents, Adam and Eve, rejected God from being king over them. As a result, every one of their descendants is born with a sinful nature that leads us to do the same thing. Our people need to know this: their rejection of God as king doesn’t lead to blessing, but to judgment.
The books of 1 and 2 Samuel provide ample opportunities for us to teach this truth and to point to Jesus, David’s descendant. Unlike Adam, Eve, and everyone else in the history of the world , Jesus would obey God perfectly. Furthermore, he came to die for the sins of his people, the same ones who refused to receive God as their rightful king. And that’s not all: Jesus is coming again to inaugurate his perfect, eternal rule, where he will sit on the throne of David forever as a permanent blessing to his people.
2. 1 and 2 Samuel paint a nuanced picture of “heroes” and “villains.”
Memorable stories contain memorable characters, and two of the most memorable characters in all the Bible are Saul and David, the first two kings of Israel.
Saul is considered a villain, and in many respects, the title is well-deserved. He rejected God and disobeyed his commands. He was more concerned with saving face than walking in faith and repentance. Power went to his head and corrupted him to the point that even after God rejected him from being king, he tried to kill the man God chose to succeed him. But Saul wasn’t entirely evil. He demonstrated mercy toward those who initially didn’t want him to lead, he led Israel to defeat her enemies, and he gave God full credit for his earliest victories.
David is considered a hero, and in many respects, the title is well-deserved. He loved God with his whole being, and sought to obey him wholeheartedly. He demonstrated great faith in God and great loyalty to Saul, even as Saul sought to kill him. But David also sinned greatly against God, Bathsheba, and Uriah by committing adultery and murder; he brought discipline on Israel when his pride led him to number the people.
When you preach through 1–2 Samuel, it becomes clear that no human being is perfectly good or completely evil. Instead, every person’s intentions and actions are some mixture of good and evil. This provides ample opportunity to show that Jesus—the only perfect man—is the Savior that Saul needs, that David needs, and that we need.
3. 1 and 2 Samuel teach us to hope in God rather than human government.
Given our current political climate, perhaps there’s no greater reason to preach through 1 & 2 Samuel. Any student of history knows that people have always fallen into the temptation to trust in human government rather than God. And in America, at least, we still haven’t learned our lesson.
Every election cycle, members of both major political parties (along with members of the media) work to convince voters that our problems will be solved if we elect the right candidate. But if we elect the wrong candidate, a doomsday situation will unfold, and our worst fears will be realized. And we believe them. Why else would people celebrate like they do when their candidate is elected, or yell in frustration when their candidate isn’t?
In 1 Samuel, the people of Israel are convinced that all of their problems stem from the fact that they don’t have a king—just like all the other nations. Like so many people today, they believed if they just had the right person in the right office, their problems would disappear.
Through Samuel, God warned them what would happen if they appointed a king to rule over them. He would abuse his position of power, tax them heavily, and lead them to cry out to God for deliverance. But they appointed one anyway, convinced that they knew better.
Even King David, who was the best picture of Jesus Christ among all the kings of Israel, still sinned in many ways. These books are so useful because they help us realize that no human being—except Jesus Christ—is ever going to fully solve all of our problems. Through 1 and 2 Samuel, it becomes clear that Jesus is the king we need.
Most preachers desire to proclaim the full counsel of God. This includes the Old Testament books of history. But it can be intimidating to preach about people and places that seem so remote in history, let alone salvation history.
If you’d like to preach through 1 and 2 Samuel—and I hope you would—I highly recommend two resources. The first is Mark Dever’s The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made. This book features a wonderful overview of both 1 and 2 Samuel, and will help you to keep the big picture in mind as you preach from week to week.
The second is Peter J. Leithart’s commentary, A Son to Me: An Exposition of 1 & 2 Samuel. Leithart is a thorough exegete who helps preachers understand the literary structure of the books, along with their types and antitypes. It will be a great help as you seek to rightly interpret and apply the Scriptures for your church week after week.
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- “4 Reasons You Should Preach through Genesis,” by Erik Raymond
- “4 Reasons You Should Preach through Exodus,” by Bobby Jamieson
- “5 Reasons You Should Preach through Leviticus,” by Juan Sanchez
- “6 Reasons You Should Preach through Numbers,” by CW Faulkner
- “3 Reasons You Should Preach through Deuteronomy,” by Jeff Mooney
- “3 Reasons You Should Preach through Joshua,” by Clift Barnes
- “4 Reasons You Should Preach through Judges,” by Josh Vincent
- “4 Reasons You Should Preach through Ruth,” by Jonathan Rourke