Old Testament Survey
The six books of First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, and First and Second Chronicles record the history of Gods people from Samuel, the last judge, to the end of the Babylonian Captivity. This is a period of about 600 years. This period can be divided into three sections (1) The end of the rule of the judges; Eli and Samuels leadership; (2) The United Kingdom with Saul, David, and Solomon each ruling for 40 years; (3) The Divided Kingdom.
The history of the Divided Kingdom tells of the ten northern tribes who were known as Israel. They were ruled from their capital city of Samaria by nineteen different kings. All of these kings were evil and turned the people away from God. Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.
The tribes of Judah and Benjamin made up the Southern Kingdom which was known as Judah. Their capital was at Jerusalem. They were ruled by nineteen kings and one queen. Eight of the twenty rulers were good and served God faithfully. The rest were evil and led the people away from God. Judah was taken into captivity in Babylon in three stages. In 606 B.C. many of the young people from the royal family were carried to Babylon. Among these were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. In 596 B.C. some of the priests and skilled craftsmen were taken to Babylon. Ezekiel was among them. In 586 B.C. the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, including the temple built by Solomon, and took the rest of the people into captivity in Babylon.
The book of First Samuel tells of the judgeship of Samuel and the kingdom of Saul. It is believed that Samuel wrote the first twenty-four chapters and the prophets Nathan and Gad completed the book (1 Chronicles 29:29,30). The book begins with the birth of Samuel and closes with David as king of Judah.
Samuel was raised up by God to be the judge of Israel because the sons of Eli were corrupt. The people of Israel were not satisfied with Gods rule through the judges. They wanted to have a king so they would be like the nations around them. God gave the people what they wanted. Saul was anointed by Samuel to be king. He began his reign very well, but soon pride and jealousy caused him to depart from God. He committed suicide and the kingdom was given to David.
The book of Second Samuel tells mainly of the rule of David, Israels greatest king. David was an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ (Genesis 49:10; 2 Samuel 7:12,13; Luke 1:32,33; Acts 2: 25-36; Romans 1: 2-4). He also was a poet and musician. He wrote many of the psalms in the book of Psalms. He is known as the sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1). He is also called the man after Gods own heart (Acts 13:22). Much of the history recorded in First Samuel is also found in First Chronicles. We do not know who the human author of this history is, but it was probably written either by Nathan or Gad (1 Chronicles 29:29,30).
The book of First Kings continues the history of the United Kingdom. It covers a time period of 120 years. The book begins with the death of David and the selection of Solomon to be king. It ends with the death of Ahab, ruler of the Northern Kingdom.
Solomons glorious reign is known as the Golden Age of Israel. God blessed Solomon with great wealth, wisdom, peace, and prosperity. The temple was built during his rule. Sadly, in his old age, Solomons heart was turned away from serving God. The foreign women he married led him to worship idols.
After the death of Solomon, the kingdom divided because of the foolish decision of Rehoboam, Solomons son. The ten northern tribes were ruled by Jeroboam, the son of Nebat. Rehoboam was left with only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The great prophet Elijah lived during this time. He was the head of a long line of great prophets who called the people back to God.
The book of Second Kings continues the history of the kings. It covers a period of more than two hundred years. It begins with the death of Ahab and ends with the beginning of the Babylonian Captivity. The Jews commonly believed Jeremiah wrote Second Kings. The first half of the book tells the story of Elisha, Gods spokesman who followed Elijah. Elisha prophesied for about fifty years. Sixteen miracles which he performed are recorded in Second Kings.
The book of First Chronicles covers the same period of history as Second Samuel. The Jews commonly believed that Ezra wrote First Chronicles. It is clear from reading First Chronicles that the author had two purposes in mind for writing: (1) To provide a history of Gods people showing they had gone into captivity; (2) To give the family records so that families returning from Babylon could claim their land.
The book of Second Chronicles gives additional information about the kings of Israel and Judah. It covers a period of about four hundred years. This is the same time that is covered by the books of First and Second Kings. Second Chronicles begins with the glory of Solomons rule and ends with the decree of Cyrus which permitted the Jews to return from captivity.
Even though all of the kings of Israel were wicked, and most of the kings of Judah were the same, there were some very outstanding men who ruled. In Second Chronicles, chapter 15, we learn of Asa, a good king. He listened to the words of Obed, the prophet. He called his nation back to God. He destroyed all the idols in the land and rebuilt the altar of the Lord. Then he led his people in making a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul (2 Chronicles 15:12).
Jehoshaphat was another good king (2 Chronicles 19, 20). He led the people back to God. He also set up judges throughout the land. He warned them to take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment (2 Chronicles 19: 6).
Hezekiah was one of the very best of all the kings of Judah (2 Chronicles 29 -32). The Bible says: He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done (2 Chronicles 29:2). He restored the temple worship, opposed idol worship, and called Judah back to keeping the Passover. During Hezekiahs day, the Assyrian army attacked Jerusalem. Hezekiah prayed to God and God sent His angel who killed one hundred and eighty-five thousand of the Assyrians (Isaiah 36-38).
One of the very best of all the kings of Judah was Josiah (2 Chronicles 34, 35). He came to the throne of Judah when he was only eight years old. Both his father and his grandfather had been very wicked kings. Josiah commanded that the temple of the Lord be repaired. The book of Gods Law had been lost. It was found in the temple. When it was read to the king, he became greatly afraid. He restored the true worship of the true God. He had all idols torn down. The Bible says that Josiah did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left (2 Chronicles 34:2).
In the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles we learn that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34). We also see the line of Christ come from the person to the nation to the tribe to the family: Adam, Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Jesse, and David.
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