Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Proverbs Introduction

This is the introduction I wrote for my Ugandan friends:

Proverbs is a collection of wisdom sayings intended to be a text book that would be used to train young men in wise and right living. (Girls would have been trained in the domestic arts and would not have been given formal academic training in Solomon’s time.) This wisdom is drilled through short, sharp phrases, dramatic contrasts, and unforgettable scenes from life. It sets out what is right and what is wrong because Wisdom is based on reverence for God and obedience to God’s laws. The Book of Proverbs was written by Solomon and many others. Some additions date from the time of King Hezekiah, who reigned 250 years after Solomon, and other material which may be as late as 200 BC. In reading the Proverbs, it is important to remember that by nature a proverb is a “generalization” and is not intended to show what is invariably true. The writers of the Proverbs do not deny that there are exceptions to the general rules laid out here. The book of Proverbs is unique in the Bible in that it employs non-Israelite wisdom traditions in its text. However, all insight is deemed a gift from God, and thus, the proverbs are seen as revealed wisdom no matter where they originated.

Proverbs can be outlined as follows:

·         Proverbs 1:1-7             Introduction
·         Proverbs 1:8-9:18        Lessons on Wisdom
·         Proverbs 10-22:17       Proverbs of Solomon
·         Proverbs 22:17-24:34 Two collections of sayings of wise men
·         Proverbs 25-29            More of Solomon’s proverbs (Hezekiah’s collection)
·         Proverbs 30                 Sayings of Agur
·         Proverbs 31:1-9           Sayings of King Lemuel
·         Proverbs 31:10-31       The perfect wife

Key Lesson: God is interested in the practical application of spiritual truths. The Proverbs show us how Wisdom and faithfulness to God are lived out in the real world of ancient Israel. The specific applications may shift from culture to culture, but the underlying truth and principles are eternal and unchanging.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

2 Kings Introduction

2 Kings is not a second book but the continuation of 1 Kings. In the same style and focus the author reports on the various kings of Samaria and Judah. A King is good if he follows the Lord’s commandments and takes care of the poor. A King is bad if he does not. A King is evil if he follows after foreign gods and practices.
2 Kings can be outlined as follows:

·         2 Kings 2 – 8:15          Stories of Elisha
·         2 Kings 8:16 – 17:41  Kings of Israel and Judah to the fall of Samaria
·         2 Kings 18 – 25  Kings of Judah to the fall of Jerusalem

            Vital lessons from Kings are the definition of a good and bad king (see above) and the ongoing realization that faithfulness to God leads to national security and safety but unfaithfulness leads to destruction.

2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles continues the religious history of the elect people and focuses primarily on the kingdom of Judah. The history extends from Solomon up to the Babylonian exile. The most distinctive feature of 2 Chronicles is the speeches of faithful kings and prophets.

2 Chronicles can be outlined as follows:

·         2 Chronicles 1-9          The reign of Solomon
·         2 Chronicles 10-36      The Kings of Judah
·         2 Chronicles                Concludes with an account of the destruction of Jerusalem                                      by the army of Babylon. The final word, however, is a                                      word of hope (2 Chronicles 36:22-23) that is repeated in the                                 beginning of Ezra.

            The Chronicles are “holy history” and are more interested in the spiritual state of the nation than the interplay of politics and power. The vital lesson to be learned in reading Chronicles is that God is at work in history.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

1 Kings Introduction

Here is the introduction to 1 Kings I wrote for my Ugandan friends: 

1 Kings follows the death of King David and the rise of Solomon. The nation has prospered under David and Solomon, but that prosperity has conditions. The Lord’s commandments must be followed carefully. The books of Kings tell how disaster finally came upon the Israelite kingdoms because they failed to keep the Lord’s commandments. The book follows the division of the kingdom, the eventual fall of the Northern Kingdom (Samaria/Israel) in 722 BC to the Assyrians, and ultimately the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem by the Babylonians and exile to Babylon in 587 BC. 1 and 2 Kings tell over 400 years of History. The author is unknown. Much of the material is repeated in the books of Chronicles.

            The books of 1 and 2 Kings contain the stories of two of the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, Elijah and his successor Elisha.
1 Kings can be outlined as follows:

·         1 Kings 1 – 2               David’s last days and Solomon’s accession
·         1 Kings 3 – 11             The Reign of Solomon
·         1 Kings 12 – 14           The Kingdom splits in two
·         1 Kings 15 – 16:28      Kings of Israel and Judah
·         1 Kings 16:29 – 2 Kings 1  King Ahab and the prophet Elijah