Welcome to the Covenant and the Cross Podcast. This is episode #124. I am your host, Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International. This podcast is designed to help you better understand the Word of God — both the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is the story of the Covenant which God made with His chosen people Israel. And the New Testament is the story of the Cross which signifies the fulfillment of the Old Covenant with Israel and the formation of a New Covenant with redeemed people from many nations.
We always like to start out with the Word of God, and today’s passage of Scripture is from Joshua 8:15-17 which reads: “And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city. And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.”
Regarding this passage, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown wrote in their commentary: “The pretended flight in the direction of the wilderness; that is, southeast, into the Ghor, the desert valley of the Jordan, decoyed all the inhabitants of Ai out of the city, while the people of Beth-el hastened to participate in the expected victory. It is supposed by some, from “the city,” and not “cities,” being spoken of, that the effective force of Beth-el had been concentrated in Ai, as the two places were closely contiguous, and Ai the larger of the two. It may be remarked, however, that the words, “or Beth-el,” are not in the Septuagint, and are rejected by some eminent scholars, as an interpolation not found in the most ancient manuscripts.”
Today’s quote about the Bible is from A.W. Tozer who said: “The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”
Our topic for today is titled “Give Us a King Like the Rest of the Nations, Part 1” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.
After a prolonged period of foreign oppression, the Israelites concluded that they needed a king to resolve their national security problems. Samuel, the last judge, anointed Saul as the first king. Because of Saul’s disobedience, God had Samuel anoint David, who remained loyal to Saul despite the latter’s attempts to kill him. As this chapter of the story ends, Israel’s king lies dead from suicide on the battlefield, and the nation is ready to turn to David.
We have now arrived at a crucial point of transition for the nation. From our perspective, the transition seems sudden, but a closer look shows that it was lengthy. In fact, we could say that it took a couple of generations. In the process, the nation went from a divided people who focused on their tribal and local identities to the semblance of a unified state. The two books of Samuel were written at the end of this transition process. Their purpose was to show future generations the reason for having a king and how the people had rejected God in the process. As we will see over the next several chapters, however, the transition to a national unity was never completed because the nation was not unified in its worship of God.
Up to this point, the nation had been led by judges and priests. Theologians call the type of government exercised during this period a theocracy, that is, one in which God was the ruler. The priests were God’s intermediaries in internal affairs. As we saw earlier, their responsibilities included worship and sacrifice but also should have included socioeconomic issues. Politically, each town or village ran its own affairs. When national issues arose, God raised up the judges— and less obviously, prophets—who gave guidance and leadership for specific issues.
Because the nation was never united spiritually, it was not really united politically either. From the time of Othniel on, the only time there was any semblance of unity was when outsiders oppressed various regions. Even then, the usual response was regional.
We have also seen that the priesthood, the spiritual leadership, left much to be desired. As we begin the book of Samuel, we find that the priestly system was actually corrupt (or had corrupt elements). It was into this situation that God intervened.
WHO WROTE 1 AND 2 SAMUEL?
Our English Bibles, following the Hebrew, name these books after Samuel, who likely began the work of writing the narrative. Samuel’s death, however, is recorded in 1 Samuel 25, while the narrative continues on to cover the reign of David. Therefore, the final author must have lived at the time of Solomon or later, and the prophet Nathan is a likely candidate. The Septuagint calls these two books 1 and 2 Kingdoms (or Reigns), making the next two 3 and 4 Kingdoms.
Let’s Pray —
Before we close, dear friend, I want to remind you that the most important thing you should know about the Bible is that it is the story of God working to save humanity from sin and the consequences of sin. He did this by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins and take the punishment that we deserve on Himself. Romans 5:8 says, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, and you want to get to know Him today, here’s how.
All you have to do is believe “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” and you will be saved. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will.
Until next time, remember the word of God is the foundation to a successful life. God bless.