The Book of Joshua contains the accounts of Israel’s military conquests to rout out the seven mightier yet most abominable nations who inhabited the land of Canaan.
The Book of Judges contains the accounts of the series of Judges or deliverers that God brought to power when Israel was afflicted and eventually cried out to God for deliverance. This period of Israel’s history lasted for approximately 450 years, and it was a “roller-coaster” ride of apostasy, affliction, repentance, and deliverance, which was repeated over and over through several judges. Each wave of this ride carried Israel just a little deeper into apostasy and disobedience. Each of the tribes disobeyed God’s direct commandment to “utterly destroy” the inhabitants of the land, and just as God had prophesied, Israel was led further and further into idolatry. Just how serious this apostasy and disobedience had become is manifested in the closing chapters of the book with the story of the Levite and his concubine traveling through the land of the tribe of Benjamin; what happened to them and how the Levite reacted.
The Book of 1 Samuel opens with the account of the birth of the judge and prophet, Samuel, as well as the abominations of the priesthood of Eli and his family. In fulfillment of prophecy the children of Israel, tired of the roller-coaster ride they endured during the period of the Judges, murmur for a king of their own. Reluctantly, after God explains to Samuel that it is not he that the Israelites have rejected, but God Himself, Samuel anoints Saul, son of Kish, king of Israel. Saul quickly proves his unworthiness to be king in his disobedience to God as well as Samuel’s exhortations and God prophesies that He will rend the kingdom from Saul and give it to one more deserving. Samuel is secretly sent to seek out God’s choice for king to the house of Jesse, the Bethlehemite, and eventually anoints David as king. However, David does not ascend to the throne for some time, as God must remove Saul from the throne. Saul’s wrath escalates; knowing that his disobedience has cost not only him but his descendants the throne of Israel, coupled with his suspicion that God has chosen David, who had been brought to Saul’s court as a harpist, Saul attempts several times to murder David right in the palace. Eventually God orchestrates the demise of not only Saul but his older sons at the hands of the Philistines, and David ascends to the throne, but some of the tribes refuse to accept David as king so for six years David reigned as king of Judah only. Israel made Ishbosheth the younger son of Saul king.
The Book of 2 Samuel. War ensued between the houses of Saul and David for a while, until the treachery of two, Rechab and Baanah, resulted in the murder of Ishbosheth. Israel then chose to accept David as their king, and the kingdom was reunited. David reigned for forty years total, and during those years much of David’s troubles came from within his own family; for example, the incestuous relationship of Amnon and Tamar; and Absalom’s attempt to usurp the throne of his father. David himself was guilty of some serious sins: adultery with a married woman, Bathsheba, and the murder of her husband, Uriah, the Hittite, just to mention two. David had been a man of war, and his conquests greatly expanded the kingdom of Israel.
The covenant that God had made with Abram was not only reiterated with King David, but was expanded in some ways. David was promised that one of His descendants would ascend to his throne and reign forever.
The Book of 1 Kings. Upon King David’s death his son, Solomon, ascended to the throne, and reigned forty years. Solomon was reported to be the wisest man that ever lived. During his reign he built the first temple to Almighty God, but late in life, after years of marrying foreign women, Solomon’s wives led his heart astray. His abuses of regal power, even though primarily done to complete the building of the temple, eventually returned to haunt his dynasty, for his son, Rehoboam, when faced with the murmurings of the people, chose to ignore the advice of the older members of the royal court, and instead, hearken unto the advice of the younger members of the royal court, which resulted in the rebellion of ten of the tribes of Israel under Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and the kingdom split; all as a result of prophecies.
In our next segment we will consider the Divided Kingdom, the Books of 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.