I Samuel for You by Tim Chester
This new commentary and guide to 1 Samuel written by Tim Chester is an accessible and pastoral volume devoted to the message and theology of 1 Samuel. Tim Chester is very familiar with the good book company as he provided the volume on Titus in the For You Series. What can at times be a daunting task to comment on such a large book in the Old Testament, Tim gives the reader an in-depth look at the issues that are most important in the book such as kingship. With insight, application, and a trenchant analysis toward the major themes of the book, Tim does an excellent job at acquainting the reader with the terrain of 1 Samuel.
In the opening few pages of the book, Tim alerts our attention to the theme of kingship in 1 Samuel. After looking at 1 Samuel 1.1-2.11, Tim writes, “It is worth it, because God’s King is coming, and when he comes he will turn the world upside down…Hannah sings: “He humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust…and makes them inherit a throne of honor” (1 Samuel 2:7-8) (25).” There are two sides of history to choose from; the kingdom of God’s King or the kingdom of this world (24). Israel as a nation didn’t know what exactly to expect from a king because many times they wanted a king they could choose from their own devices and likings. Yet, as 1 Samuel indicates, God is King over all the earth and does as he pleases yet has our best interests in mind, from the beginning to end. At the end of the chapter Tim points us to Jesus’ Kingship as one who was humbled to the point of death but was then exalted to the highest place. He ends the chapter, “In the ascension of Jesus, God has taken the first step in turning the world upside down (26).”
Another section that is very illuminating is 1 Samuel 16.1-23. We find the shepherd David in this text tending his sheep. We find the connection between Jesus clear here between him and David as Tim writes, “David proved he was a good shepherd because he was willing to risk his life for the sheep. Jesus proves he is the Ultimate Shepherd because he gives his life for the sheep: (110).” A humble king is what the nation needed and not one who was controlled by Israel’s whims. David was willing to go the extra mile and risk his life for the people. Jesus didn’t risk his life for sheep but gave his life willingly on the cross for his sheep. Also, although David did risk his life for his sheep, his life wasn’t completely devoted to serving Yahweh, for he stumbled many times. Whereas Jesus, being in full submission to the Father, carried out his role as Shepherd King without fault.
I really enjoyed reading this book. The gray sections on the side of the pages provide a good encapsulation of some of the major points Tim is trying to make.
Thanks to the good book company and Cross Focused Reviews for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.