Category Archives: 1st and 2nd Samuel

Government Is Not What It Is Supposed to Be

Government is not what it is supposed to be.

You are probably not shocked by that statement. Corruption, self-serving agendas, and widespread narcissism are so common that we barely notice when they arise. In Alabama, we are finding that some Sheriffs are pocketing money supposedly given them to feed inmates in the local lockup. At the state level, we’ve seen corruption scandals affecting our state representatives and senators. Nationally…we’ll not even go there.

Government is not what it is supposed to be.

Government is not what God wants it to be either.

It is not that laws, rules, or regulations are bad. They are needed. The Law of Moses provided both civic and spiritual laws so that the new nation, Israel, could survive, function and thrive. The problem comes from the people who make and enforce the laws.

The original plan – God’s plan – was simple. He, alone, would be their King. They would live in harmony with each other and would turn to faithful Judges to resolve disputes. One of those Judges was Deborah. She held court under a palm tree in central Israel (Judges 4:5).

This system probably had its origins in the days of Moses when, at the advice of his father-in-law, he appointed respected men from among the community to adjudicated cases brought by the people. A system of appeals was created with Moses at the top to hear only the most complicated cases (Exodus 18:17-27).

Things worked well for a long time. But then something changed.

The people decided that God’s plan was not right for them. They wanted a King to lead them. Samuel tells the sad story in 1 Samuel 8. Part of the problem was that Eli’s sons and now Samuel son’s were not faithful to God.

When Samuel laid the people’s request before God he received an unexpected reply:

“Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them”

(1 Samuel 8:7 – emphasis mine).

Wow! Their rejection of God’s plan of governance was a rejection of God himself! The Lord continues to charge them with forsaking him and serving idols.  He warns them of what will happen:

  • Involuntary conscription into the King’s service (vss. 11, 13, 16, 17)
  • Swelling government bureaucracy (vs. 12)
  • Growing taxation (vss. 14, 15, 17)
  • Regret over their chosen governance (vs. 18)

Nevertheless, despite the warnings, the people wanted a king. Guess what? Every one of the warnings came true.

When God is no longer the king, trouble comes.

Today, God is no longer king. Today, God is even being pushed out of the public square. The result is corruption and evil at every turn.

So, what is a faithful Christian to do? Paul was clear:

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1)

I will be the first to say that I do not always like the laws and rules we live under. But, as a Christian, I am bound to follow those laws so long as they do not interfere with my faith. It gets a little sticky here because so many of things big government does are anathema to me. I look to the example of the original Christians who lived, worked, worshiped, and evangelized under the heavy hand of Rome.

If the church could grow and prosper under rampant persecution from a pagan government, we can grow today too.

Government is not what it is supposed to be. Pray the church will be.

Books of Samuel (1 Samuel & 2 Samuel) – Know the Book

The books of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel follow Ruth in the Old Testament canon. Understanding Ruth as a break in the flow of the Israelite chronology, we see the Books of Samuel continuing the sad story of Israel’s movement away from God. However, 1 Samuel opens with a hopeful story of change. Unfortunately, that change doesn’t bring the needed change of heart. Judges closes with the comment, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). 1 Samuel opens with the coming birth of the priest, prophet and judge, Samuel.

Samuel soon replaces the weak priest, Eli, and his corrupt sons. For a moment it seems as though Israel is back on track. But Samuel stumbles in much the same way as Eli. He is a weak father and raises rebellious sons. The people ostensibly are fearful of accepting his sons as their future judges so, as Samuel ages, they demand a king “like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5). terribly displeased by the demand Samuel is told by God to allow  them a king. In a foreboding comment God tells Samuel, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Samuel 8:7). In my judgment, this is the key verse of 1 Samuel. The implications of their rejection of God would lead to immediate consequences but to problems humanity faces today.

What follows next is the story of King Saul, the first monarch over a united Israel. 1 Samuel traces his humble beginnings, his rise to royal superiority, his two major sins which cost him and his family the kingdom, and finally his death in the final chapter. It is in 1 Samuel that we meet David, son of Jesse. Herein, David is anointed by Samuel to be king after Saul. But David is forced to flee when Saul directs his rage at David and seeks to kill him. As the book of 1 Samuel comes to a close, David is still an exile and living among the Philistines. Saul and his son Jonathan are killed in battle and their bodies disgraced by the Philistines. 1 Samuel is an unhappy picture of Israel’s first experience with a monarch.

2 Samuel

2 Samuel Bible2 Samuel could have been named “David.” The book is a continuation of the history of the monarchs begun in 1 Samuel. This book deals almost exclusively with David, his rise to power and the consolidation of his rule. We also are shown the dysfunctional nature of David’s own family.

As the book opens, David learns of the death of Saul. Although Saul pursued David and sought to kill him, David always showed humility towards God’s anointed (1 Samuel 24:6; 2 Samuel 1:11, 12). David is next make King of Judah, not the entire nation. A son of Saul would serve as the puppet King of Israel. Son, the puppet king was killed and David was made King over all 12 tribes (c.f. 2 Samuel 5:1-5).

After an abortive attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, David succeeds. Israel has peace all around (2 Samuel 7:1). The peace is short-lived and Israel again battles the Philistines and the Ammonites.  This later war is the background for a tragic milestone in the life of David. While the battle rages, David consorts with Bathsheba and to this adulterous union a child is born. To cover his sin David resorts to scheming which eventually leads to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband. David thinks his sin his covered but is soon confronted by the courageous Nathan, a prophet of God. The consequences of the sin cause the death of the child and a never-ending conflict within David’s own family.

Soon comes the incestuous rape of David’s daughter by his son Amnon (half-brother to the victim Tamar).  Another son, Absalom (brother to Tamar and half-brother to Amnon) avenges the rape by killing Amnon two years later. Absalom flees but later returns to Jerusalem. In time, he will lead a civil war to dethrone his father David. David briefly flees Jerusalem but soon Absalom is killed and the kingdom restored to David. We note that despite his sins, David was still a man after God’s own heart. His penitent heart, although imperfect, pleased God. As 2 Samuel ends, David is found worshiping God and being blessed by Him.

Technical Details

1 Samuel and 2 Samuel were often included with 1 Kings and 2 Kings. In fact, the similarity between the four books produced a division once labeled as 1, 2, 3, and 4 Kingdoms. ((Archer, Gleason, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 1994))

1 Samuel and 2 Samuel were written somewhere between the 8th and 10th century BC. The books offer no direct claim of authorship. However conservative scholars generally hold that Samuel, perhaps along with prophets Nathan and Gad worked together to author the books. Jews assert the authority of the books from ancient times. Whomever the physical author(s), the Holy Spirit is behind the authorship. Some non-canonical sources may have been used at the direction of the Holy Spirit. 2 Samuel 1:18 references the book of Jashar. ((Bergen, Robert D. 1, 2 Samuel. Vol. 7. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996. Print. The New American Commentary)) Use of existing sources is not troublesome and his common across both the Old Testament and the New.  Scholars with a low view of Scripture frequently assert that Bible books are little more than collections of various community writings and oral traditions. We do not deny the use of sources but, again, any material used would have the approval of the Holy Spirit.

These two books offer strong historical reporting of the earlier days of the monarchy. But they also show Jehovah working carefully in human history to bring about his will and his plans. The pattern of blessing and cursing is instructive to Christians today.

Your comments are welcomed and desired.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.





The UnFather

Paris_psaulter_gr139_fol136vTruly good fathers are uncommon. Most men desire to be exemplary fathers but few succeed. Despite their best attempts all fathers stumble and none are perfect. Failure happens. Hopefully our failures are not catastrophic and we find ways to recover. But failures can discourage. Sometimes a man may be tempted to throw his hands up in despair and surrender. He reasons that there is no sense in trying because he falls so often.

To give up is the greatest failure of all.

“Jehovah hath sought him a man after his own heart” – 1 Samuel 13:14

David was surely one of the great men of Scripture. Samuel speaks of him as a man after God’s own heart. He is appointed king over God’s people. He is an ancestor of Jesus and figures prominently in Peter’s sermon on Pentecost. David is even mentioned in the Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews 11. Surely, if anyone was going to be a great man and a perfect father it would David. You might think so but you would be mistaken.

David was the patriarch over one of the most dysfunctional families in the Bible.

Here is what we know about David:

  • He took and committed adultery with the wife of a soldier who was fighting for the nation (2 Samuel 11:3-5).
  • When he heard she was pregnant he tried to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11:6-18).
  • When his plan failed, he arranged to have the man killed and then took his wife for his own (2 Samuel 11:26-27).
  • David had children by different wives. One of them raped his half-sister, David’s daughter (2 Samuel 13:1 ff).
  • Although David knew of the rape and was angry he did nothing (2 Samuel 13:14, 21, 23).
  • Another son sought vengeance for his sister by murdering the rapist half-brother (2 Samuel 13:23 ff).
  • David did nothing about the rape or the murder. The son fled and David did not seek after him (2 Samuel 13:37-39).
  • The murdering son eventually returns and almost seizes the kingdom from his father. He dies on the process (2 Samuel 15:1 ff, 2 Samuel 18:15).
  • As he lay dying, one of his sons conspired to gain control of the throne (1 Kings 1:5-8).

Every family has its problems but David had a mess. Wickedness ran rampant in the family and much of it can be traced directly to David’s lax fathering. Nevertheless, this is the man called a man after God’s own heart. It was also this man who fathered Solomon, the wisest man ever and the author of Proverbs. David penned the immortal Psalms as he poured his heart out to God.

Our point is simple: Fathering is not about perfection. It is about seeking God with all of your heart, acknowledging failures and moving onward. When David’s sin with Bathsheba was known, he did not try to hide his responsibility nor did he wallow in self-loathing and pity. He accepted responsibility and moved ahead (2 Samuel 12:1-25).

Fathers, you will stumble and you will fail. Each time, your reaction will determine your legacy. Do not give up. Your children need you. They need your example of dedication. The only way you fail is when you give up on them and on God.


 Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

Where the Battle Rages

While preparing for this Sunday’s lesson from  the story of David and Goliath, I noticed a verse that had escaped me  in the past. Since time will prevent me from discussing this little nugget I thought I would post it  here.

“The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them.” (1 Samuel 17:3)

When studying a Bible passage it’s useful to ask why a given sentence  or verse is in the Bible. Why would the Holy Spirit put it there? I asked that question and struggled with the answer. It didn’t seem to be just a nice, pretty description of the geography. It seemed to cry out for a deeper meaning or purpose.

Perhaps the Spirit is reminding us that the valley is where the battle rages, both for David but also for you and me. To the Philistines and the Israelites the mountains were places of safety. They could assemble in the peaks and crags without fear of assault. But the valley was wide open and full of danger. So long as they remained in the mountains they were safe. But they were also stagnant and unmoving. If they remained ensconced among the rocks they would be safe but they would never gain the victory over their godless enemy.

Only the maligned man of the sheep, David, was brave enough to venture into battle in the valley. When he did, empowered by God, he was victorious!

The real battles in our lives are fought in the valley. As long as we remain hidden and quiet we will never gain the kind of victories for which God has prepared us. It takes a depth of spiritual courage to confront our enemies, our habits, our thoughts and our sins. Yet it is when we face them in the valley that victory is gained.

Where would Israel have been had David not run quickly to face the enemy of God’s people (1 Samuel 17:48)? Where can we be when God’s people today show the same courage in the face of their spiritual enemy.

Rise up! Face your fears and claim the strength of God to defeat those that oppose him and you! Get to the valley now!

Comments are encouraged.