2 Samuel Intro

2 Samuel marks the end of the Saul era and the beginning of the Davidic era.

2 Samuel will focus completely on the life of David. Written at around 930BC, it is right in the center between the life of Abraham and the life of Jesus.

Chapters 1-10 outline David’s reign as king over Judah. Israel has not yet accepted David as their king. In essence, the kingdom is divided. Part of this contention is described in the battles between Abner and Joab.

Chapters 11-24 detail David’s reign over Israel, along with his shortcomings as king.



Intro to Luke

The gospel according to Luke was one of only two New Testament letters written by a gentile man by the name of Luke. Probably written around A.D. 60-70

Luke was a physician and most likely a contemporary of Paul. Paul mentions him in his letter to the Colossians is the “beloved physician”. It is quite possible that Luke was one of Paul’s converts during Paul’s first missionary trip to Antioch at around 46 A.D., however there is no evidence to state this as fact.

Luke was a native of Antioch, a well-respected Greek community of that day with all major roadways to other cultures passing through it (e.g. The Silk Road and the Persian Royal Road). Antioch would have had a population of roughly 500,000 people at that time. Luke noted in ACTS that in Antioch they were first called Christians. In later history, Antioch would be known as “the cradle of Christianity”.

Being a gentile, Luke’s gospel was written mostly from a gentile perspective, including the genealogy of Christ as it traces through the lineage of Mary (unlike Matthew’s account). More than half of Luke’s gospel has content not found in any of the other three gospel accounts. This could possibly be due to the fact most of his writings would have been based on eyewitness accounts from the disciples, Paul, and possibly even Mary herself. Luke was a meticulous historian in his writing accounts (see Luke 3:1-2).

Luke’s letters are addressed to “Theophilus”, or “lover of God”. This could have been an individual or it could have been a title for the church. It is believed that Luke was killed by Nero, the same Emperor who killed Paul.



Intro to Mark

The book bears the name of the Disciple who wrote it, John-Mark. John-Mark was a cousin of Barnabas (close friend and companion of Paul). Most likely Mark wrote this Gospel from the first-hand account of Peter (this is attested to in Papias’ writing in 140 A.D.). Even Justin Martyr referred to the Gospel of Mark as the “memoirs of Peter”.
 
Probably written around 50-70 A.D., Mark was to Peter what Barnabas was to Paul. He would have had extensive first-hand knowledge on the life of Jesus through the eyes of Peter. Mark, unlike Matthew and John wrote primarily to a Gentile audience. He even took time to explain in his Gospel Jewish customs and makes far fewer references to the Old Testament. 
 
Mark’s primary focus was on Jesus as the suffering servant. He pays much closer attention to Jesus’ works, service, and ministry more than His teaching. Omitting the ancestrial lines of Jesus (which would have been more important to the Jewish reader) he clearly focuses on Jesus’ humanity and starts his Gospel with the baptism of Jesus and quickly moves into His temptation, and His calling of the 12. 
 
Although short, Mark covers almost as many miracles and works as does Luke. The perspective of Jesus that Mark’s Gospel brings is a wonderful comfort to the Christian believer that Jesus does know exactly what each of us goes through in our own humanities on a daily basis.
 
Mark spent much of his time building churches in Egypt, Libya, and other parts of the northern African region. He was martyred in Alexandria where he did most of his preaching. 


Intro to Esther

The title takes its name  from the main character in the book, Queen Esther. Esther was a Jewish woman who was selected to marry king Ahasuerus. His name is the Hebrew translation of the Persian name, Khshayarsh, otherwise known by the greater as king Xerxes the great (his Greek name). King Xerxes is best known for his great victory over the Greeks in 480 B.C. in the battle of Thermopylae.
 
King Xerxes was the fourth king to rule over the Persian Empire. He succeeded Darius. Xerxes reigned between 486 B.C. and 465 B.C. His reign would have been 100 years after Judah was deported to Babylon, 53 years after the Medo-Persian Empire conquered Babylon, and roughly 12 years before Ezra returned to Judah with the second round of exiles to return to Judah.
 
The book of Esther covers the time period of 483-473 B.C., roughly 8 years before King Ahasuerus was assassinated.
 
Although the book of Esther has nearly no mention of God at all, it is clearly a perfectly placed book in the canon of scripture as one that shows the works of God through the eyes of man; whereas the book of Job (the very next book) shows the works of God through the eyes of God.


Intro to Nehemiah

Originally named “Second Ezra” in the Septuagint, it has been separated in the English and titled after the person whom the book is mostly focused on, Nehemiah. Although written from the first person perspective, it is traditionally accepted that Ezra was the author of this book.
 
Probably written sometime some 20 years after the events of Nehemiah, this book was more than likely written between 424 B.C. and 415 B.C.
 
Nehemiah means “Jehovah Comforts”. Although much of the book is about strengthening, encouragement, and much stress and difficulties with keeping things inline for Nehemiah, the comfort I believe came from God through Nehemiah to the returned remnant of Israel. Comfort sometimes comes through strong leaders that don’t always make us feel good through correction.
 
Wayward people only make the work of leaders more difficult and challenging. But there is comfort in knowing that leaders are ultimately trying to do what is best for all. Nehemiah’s final words were a plea to God to remember him in all his efforts.
 
Nehemiah is a great book to challenge both the Christian to be obedient and the leader to be strong and faithful to the Word no matter what confronts them. Hebrews 13 is a great New Testament chapter that supports Nehemiah.


Intro to Ezra

 

Ezra is a historical book. Written by the scribe of whom the book is titled, Ezra more than likely penned this letter around 450 B.C.
 
Ezra is fascinating on several levels simply because it depicts the fulfillment of prophecy from God to Jeremiah some 150 years earlier (Jer.25) and again roughly 200 years earlier through Isaiah in chapters 44 & 45. God warned his people of impending captivity if they would not repent and turn from their wicked ways yet, Israel and Judah turned a deaf ear to the warnings.
 
True to His word, God took both Israel and Judah away for the determined 70 years that he warned them of (until the land had it’s rests) from approximately 605 B.C. to 537 B.C.. Learning from that lesson, both Daniel and Ezra were familiar with God’s promise to return His people to the land He promised to Abraham and eagerly anticipated their return.
 
Upon return, they faced harsh opposition in the building of the temple and the city yet, in his zeal for the Lord (most likely due to witnessing the fulfillment of prophecy), Ezra encourages the people to press on in their task and sparks a renewed revival for their commitment and faith in the God of Israel.
 
Ezra marks another pivotal point in Israel’s prophetic history, the beginning of the 70 weeks prophesied by Daniel in      chapter 9 when Cyrus made the decree to return the Jews to Israel to build the temple.


Intro to Chronicles

The Hebrew word for Chronicles is Hayyamim, which translated means The Events, or The Annuls. The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) referred to the book as The Things Omitted. This indicated that Chronicles was a supplement to the book of Kings (see intro to Kings).

According to Jewish tradition, Ezra the scribe wrote the books of Chronicles. This would date the writings after Israel’s captivity in Babylon and return to the Holy land at around 450B.C or slightly after. Ezra was part of the second wave of deportations from Babylon to Israel. This makes sense considering both the Christian Bible and the Jewish Torah place both letters next to one another in order of writings. Although the Torah cites Chronicles as one book, the Bible separates them into two books as with Samuel and Kings.

The theme of Chronicles is very similar to Kings. Much of the historical information closely resembles that of Kings, and even some of Samuel.  Some have even compared the similarities and differences of these books to the 4 Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life on this earth. All tell the same story, just from different perspectives.

Chronicles covers a much greater span of history than does Kings. Where Kings only covers the detailed history of the kings of Israel and Judah, Chronicles goes all the way back to the beginnings of Jewish genealogy.

1 Chronicles seems to parallel 2 Samuel in that it details the life of David, while 2 Chronicles focuses primarily on the southern kingdoms of Judah. Over half of the information in Chronicles is unique to Chronicles and not found in Samuel or Kings.



Intro to Kings

 

Like the books of Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings were originally one book in the Hebrew texts. The Septuagint was the first translation to separate them into two individual books. It is understood that, like Samuel, the purpose for dividing the books into two was for ease of copying such lengthy books.

The author(s) of Kings is unknown. What is known is that the book of Kings was most likely written during Babylonian captivity, between 561-538 BC

The theme of Kings is evident in its title. It is a history of the kings of Israel from the end of David, through Solomon, then on into a divided kingdom. It introduces Israel’s rise to physical prosperity which, eventually led to their fall from God. It also introduces a recurring theme throughout Kings, Chronicles, and the Prophets – God’s messengers sent to call Israel to repentance and a heart that turned away from the idolatry of this world back to the God they once served.
 
In all, both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah each had 20 kings from the time it divided under Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) until both kingdoms were taken into captivity, first Israel in the north in 722 BC by the Syrians, then Judah in the south in 586 BC by the Babylonians.


Intro to 2 Samuel

Although the title is ascribed to Samuel, it is highly unlikely he wrote 2 Samuel being his death is recorded in 1 Samuel 25. It is probable that either Nathan or Gad, the other prophets continued his writings into the reign of David.

It is probable that 2 Samuel was written some time after 930B.C., after the reign of Solomon, simply because of the reference in 1 Samuel 27:6; “Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day.” The events of 2 Samuel however occurred between 1000B.C. and 970B.C. and covers the entire reign of king David.

2 Samuel is not just a book to be read, it is a book that should be meditated on and studied by Christians. It is chocked full of examples of both the sovereignty and grace of God through David’s life. And for good reason, David is a pivotal reference point in man’s history which foretells of and establishes the ultimate rule and reign of our sovereign Lord and king, Jesus Christ. As far as men go, David is the most spoken of man in the Bible aside from Jesus Christ. He is mentioned 53 times in the New Testament alone. With that being said, a Christian can have a much better understanding of the New Testament references to Christ’s rule and reign when they understand it through the life and reign of David.



1 Samuel Intro

The books of Samuel are divided into two parts, however, the earliest Hebrew manuscripts ascribe them both as just Samuel. The books were later separated by the kings Saul and David and originally called 1 and 2 Kings. A fitting title being they were Israel’s first and second kings. Those earlier writings called what we now know as 1 and 2 Kings, 3 and 4 Kings. Later, Hebrew writers changed these titles to what we now know these books by. Another possible reason for the separation of the two books of Samuel is because of authorship. It is believed that 1 Samuel was written mostly by Samuel himself, while 2 Samuel was written by the prophets Nathan and Gad. They would have been the prophets during David’s time. The true authorship is unknown, as well as the exact date.

There are two themes covered in 1 Samuel:

(1) The end of the age of Judges in Israel, Samuel being the last of the Judges in Israel’s history. And it is the last of the Theocratic form of government, where God was the supreme authority and His law the governing rule.

(2) The beginning of monarchy in Israel, where kings ruled and were the supreme authorities, with Saul being their first.

1 Samuel covers also the rise and fall of Israel’s first king, Saul. It also covers the introduction to Saul’s replacement, David.