4 Min Read

The books of 1 and 2 Samuel narrate the events in the hundred-year period that marks the end of the time of the judges and the establishment of the Davidic monarchy. There is much to learn from the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, and we will look at three of these truths below.

1. God always intended for Israel to have a king.

The last section of the book of Judges ends with this refrain: “There was no king in Israel” (Judg. 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). This condition would continue until the time of the last judge, Samuel (1 Sam. 7:15–17). Near the end of his tenure, the elders of the people came and demanded that he give them a king. The request was not evil in itself. Rather, the desire behind it was the culprit. They wanted a king to rule over them who was like the kings of the nations (1 Sam. 8:4–5, 19–20; 10:19). The request was a tacit rejection not only of Samuel, but of God and His rule (1 Sam. 8:7–8).

The idea of human kingship is not foreign to the soil of Israelite religion. The patriarch Jacob prophesied that Judah would be a royal tribe (Gen. 49:8–12). Deuteronomy 17:14–20 specifies what would characterize Israel’s king in the land. The question is not whether an earthly king was desirable, but what kind of king he would be. Would he be a king like the kings of the nations (the kind of king for which the elders asked), or would he be a man after God’s own heart?

Saul was anointed as the first king over Israel, but he rebelled against the commands of God (1 Sam. 10:8; 1 Sam. 13:6–10; 15:1–9). He was not a man after God’s own heart. God rejected Saul as king (1 Sam. 13:13–14; 15:10–11) and would establish another in his stead.

2. God selected David to be king and promised him an eternal dynasty.

God chose David, a young shepherd boy from the tribe of Judah, to replace Saul. Samuel anointed him king while Saul still reigned (1 Sam. 16:6–13). After many hard years, David finally came to the throne (2 Sam. 5:1–5). He conquered Jerusalem and quickly established it as his capitol city (2 Sam. 5:6–10).

David desired to build a house for God (2 Sam. 7:1–3). The ark of the covenant had returned to Israel from the house of Obed-edom (2 Sam. 6:12–15). Rather than allowing David to build a house for Him, God said He would establish a house for David. He would make of David a royal dynasty (2 Sam. 7:8–16). In language reminiscent of the Abrahamic covenant, God would make of David a great name (2 Sam. 7:9; Gen. 12:2) and the people would find rest in the land (2 Sam. 7:10–11; Gen. 15:12–21; Ex. 3:8).

The promised dynasty finds its fulfillment in a royal son whom the Lord will raise up (2 Sam. 7:12). God said, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son” (2 Sam. 7:14). The language of sonship reminds us of Exodus 4:22–23, in which Israel is called the son of God, but here the image is applied to one person, David’s son. David’s son will rule not only over the people of Israel, but also over the nations (Gen. 3:15; Gen. 12:1–3; Pss. 2; 110). This special relation between God and the son of David thus explains why it would be David’s son, and not David himself, who would build God’s house (2 Sam. 7:13).

3. God selected Jerusalem to be the place where He would provide a substitute for His people.

Near the end of David’s reign, he took a census of the people (2 Sam. 24:1–9). This aroused the Lord’s anger. David knew that this was sin and confessed it (v. 10). Nevertheless, the consequence of his sin was a pestilence that killed seventy thousand men over three days.

As an angel was about to strike Jerusalem, God relented and stopped the angel (v. 16). The angel stopped “by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” God instructed David to build an altar there (v. 18). David went, bought the property, built an altar, and offered sacrifices (vv. 19–25). The final line of this episode draws these books to a close: “So the Lordresponded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel” (2 Sam. 24:25). Atonement had been made, but this was not the last time that atonement would be made here.

Araunah’s threshing floor has a storied history. It has another name: Mount Moriah. Mount Moriah was the place where God tested Abraham’s faith (Gen. 22:1–14; Heb. 11:17–19). Abraham prepared to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, but God stopped him. He supplied a ram as a substitute. Mount Moriah is also the place where Solomon would build the temple (2 Chron. 3:1). Here Israel would bring her offerings and sacrifices; here a substitute would die in the place of another.

The last and final substitute offered by a king would occur hundreds of years after Solomon’s temple. There in Jerusalem, a King would stand before God pleading with Him on behalf of His people. He would have no other sacrifice to offer but Himself, but He would be heard. He is the son of David and the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:1–16; Rom. 1:1–4).

This article is part of the Every Book of the Bible: 3 Things to Know collection.