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- 2 Samuel
by Joseph Parker
Almighty God, thou art always consecrating men to thy service. Thine is a call to every man to come up higher. Thou dost daily enlarge our capacity, and enlarge our opportunity, and bring to bear upon us the inspiration of new experience of grace and new consciousness of power. Thou dost make the priest. We are a royal priesthood. Thou hast made us kings and priests unto others. Thou didst turn the dust into man, and man into the priest; and thou wilt fill all heaven with thy chosen ones, clothing them with the white linen of the saints and setting upon their heads crowns of gold. Whatever we see of thy providence enlarges our conception of thy goodness. We cannot measure thy purpose, any more than we can measure thy firmament. It is full of grace, it burns with glory, it is like thyself in every quality. May we fall into its march, be taken up into the music of its progress and be enabled to understand that we are not atoms without a centre, children without a home, worlds without a central fire. We are grouped around God, related to the one throne, shepherded by the one Pastor, and regarded with infinite vigilance by the one Overseer. Let this comforting truth come into our hearts as long-expected rain softens the hardened earth. Thus shall we become comforted, fertilised, wondrously refreshed, and like slaves who have slipped off their chains and left them behind never more to be resumed, we shall pass upward into the light and enjoy the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Let thy word speak to us now. May every man feel himself at the altar receiving tokens and pledges of consecration so that when we leave the house we may take with us the robe of thy righteousness, garments of ineffable beauty, being clothed upon with the Lord Jesus, who is our one Priest and only Saviour. Amen.
The Books of Samuel. These two books were anciently reckoned as one, the present division being derived from the Septuagint and Vulgate. In those versions they are called the first and second Books of Kings, as they form part of the history of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
The question of the authorship of the books is not free from difficulty; but the decided preponderance of evidence is in favour of the ancient view, that Samuel wrote 1 Samuel 1-24 and that the rest was written by Nathan and Gad ( 1Ch 29:29 ). The authenticity of the history found in the Books of Samuel rests on sufficient grounds. Portions of them are quoted in the New Testament ( 2Sa 7:14 in Hebrews 1:5 ; 1Sa 13:14 in Act 13:22 ). References to them occur in other sections of Scripture, especially in the Psalms, to which they often afford historic illustrations.
The contents of the Books of Samuel belong to an interesting period of Jewish history. The preceding Book of Judges refers to the affairs of the republic as they were administered after the conquest, when the nation was all but a congeries of independent cantons, sometimes partially united for a season under an extraordinary dictator. As, however, the form of government was changed, and remained monarchical till the overthrow of the kingdom, it was of national importance to note the time, method, and means of the alteration. This change happening under the regency of the wisest and best of their sages, his life became a topic of interest. The first Book of Samuel gives an account of his birth and early call to the duties of a seer under Eli's pontificate; describes the low and degraded condition of the people, oppressed by foreign enemies; proceeds to narrate the inauguration of Samuel as judge; his prosperous regency; the degeneracy of his sons; the clamour for a change in the civil constitution; the installation of Saul; his rash and reckless character; and his neglect of, or opposition to, the theocratic elements of the government. The historian goes on to relate God's choice of David as king; his aberrations from the path of duty; the unnatural rebellion of his son Absalom and its suppression; his carrying into effect a military census of his dominions, and the divine punishment which this act incurred. The second Book of Samuel, while it relates the last words of David, yet stops short of his death. As David was the real founder of the monarchy and reorganiser of the religious worship; the great hero, legislator, and poet of his country; as his dynasty maintained itself on the throne of Judah till the Babylonian captivity it is not a matter of wonder that the description of his life and government occupies so large a portion of early Jewish history. The Books of Samuel thus consist of three interlaced biographies those of Samuel, Saul, and David.
The design of these books is not very different from that of the other historical treatises of the Old Testament. The Books of Kings are a history of the nation as a theocracy; those of Chronicles have special reference to the form and ministry of the religious worship, as bearing upon its re-establishment after the return from Babylon. Samuel is more biographical, yet the theocratic element of the government is not overlooked. It is distinctly brought to view in the early chapters concerning Eli and his house, and the fortunes of the ark; in the passages which describe the change of the constitution; in the blessing which rested on the house of Obed-Edom; in the curse which fell on the Bethshemites, and Uzzah and Saul, for intrusive interference with holy things. The book shows clearly that God was a jealous God; that obedience to him secured felicity; that the nation sinned in seeking another king; that Saul's special iniquity was his impious oblivion of his station as Jehovah's vicegerent, for he contemned the prophets and slew the priesthood; and that David owed his prosperity to his careful culture of the central principle of the Hebrew Government.
the First Week of Advent