April 27, 20170 comments
It is one of the more powerful passages in Scripture. The apostle John has been exiled to a remote island in the Mediterranean, but he is not alone. God the Holy Spirit is present, and he gives John a vision of what is to come. In one of the high points of the vision, John sees One who has the authority to rule and reign over God’s people:
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:1-5)
The One whom John sees is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, yet in this exalted moment, the Lord Jesus is presented with distinctly Old Testament language. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Root of David. It’s somewhat surprising. Why do these Old Testament terms show up at the end of the New Testament? Because the roots of Christ’s kingship are found far back in Israel’s history. It is the history of Israel’s monarchy that leads us on to the kingship of Jesus Christ. In other words, the victory we see celebrated in Revelation 5 has its beginning in the lives of people like Hannah, Samuel, and ultimately David.
On Sunday, we begin our sermon series in 1-2 Samuel. These books were originally written as one volume, so we’ll treat them as such in our series. The books recount the rise and development of Israel’s monarchy. Some of the most well known stories of Scripture are found in these books. What’s more, 1-2 Samuel also gives us a rich picture of the Lord our God. Many of God’s attributes are vividly illustrated in the events of these books. Overall, then, it promises to be a rewarding season in God’s Word!
1-2 Samuel is a large book. There are 1,505 verses comprising 55 chapters! The sheer size can make reading 1-2 Samuel somewhat intimidating. What’s most important? How is the book structured? How should we read it? Those are good questions. Here are a few points that I hope will help us as we study the book together.
First of all, we read 1-2 Samuel as Christians. The history of 1-2 Samuel is fascinating and important, but we are more than historians. The chronology is significant, but we are more than chroniclers. We are Christians – the New Covenant people of God who have been purchased by Christ’s blood and adopted as God’s sons and daughters. That means one of our primary concerns in reading 1-2 Samuel is to see how it leads us to Christ. If the gospel is the fruit of God’s redemptive work, then there are seeds of that work here in Israel’s history. So, we read these books as Christians.
Along with that, we also read 1-2 Samuel as part of the one, unified people of God. There is certainly a difference between the Old Covenant and New. And that means there are aspects of Israel’s life and history that are unique to Israel. We need to be mindful of that uniqueness. That being said, the people of God in 1-2 Samuel are our ancestors in the faith. They knew God by faith just as we do. To be sure, their faith was forward-looking, anticipating the coming of God’s Messiah, but it was faith nonetheless. And that means we can learn from their lives. So, whenever we see the people of God acting in faith on God’s word, we should learn from their example. We must certainly beware of making these stories into moralistic lessons, but recognizing examples from the lives of God’s people does not equal moralism. In fact, this is part of wisdom – to learn from those who have gone before us. So, we read these books as part of the one, unified people of God.
And finally, we read 1-2 Samuel as the Holy Spirit’s inspired testimony to the church. Technically, the author of 1-2 Samuel is unknown. We know Samuel left written records (see 1 Chronicles 29:29-30), so he (or his followers) could have helped with the composition. Ultimately, however, we see the Holy Spirit himself as the divine author who inspired the human authors to write as they did. That means we should expect to see connections between 1-2 Samuel and other parts of Scripture, including even the New Testament. This is part of the self-authenticating nature of the Bible – it holds together, with the individual parts coming together in unified whole.
Practically speaking, there is one thing you can do that will help during the series. You can read the sermon text before our worship gathering. Most of the time, we’ll be covering large portions of Scripture, sometimes multiple chapters in one sermon! By reading the passage ahead of time, you’ll have a head start on our study for that morning. I include a sermon schedule in the weekly email, and I also post Sunday’s order of service on the church’s website each Wednesday. I hope that will serve you as you prepare for each Lord’s Day.
As you can see, there is much to be gained from studying this portion of God’s Word! I pray it would be a fruitful time for our congregation. Would you join me in praying for that as well?