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Bible 104 Worldview Essay

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The book of Judges introduces us to the long years of Israel’s struggle to maintain control of the Promised Land and serves as the transition from the conquest to the kingdom. It deals with events following Joshua’s death (c. 1380 BC)
The main body of the story revolves around six cycles of apostasy, repentance, and deliverance. God intervenes time and again to rescue the struggling Israelites from military oppression, spiritual depression, and ethnic annihilation.
The book of Judges derives its title from the Latin Liber Judicum, but the Hebrew title is shophetim. The verbal form (“to judge”) describes the activity of the various deliverers whom God used despite their personal challenges, oddities, or inadequacies
Most of the biblical judges were heroes or deliverers more than legal arbiters. They were raised up by God and empowered to execute the judgment of God upon Israel’s enemies. The sovereignty of God over His people is seen in these accounts as God, the ultimate Judge (11:27), judges Israel for her sins, brings oppressors against her, and raises up human judges to deliver her from oppression when she repents.
I. Reason for the Judges (Judges 1:1–2:23)
The period of the judges followed the death of Joshua (1:1) when Israel was left with no central ruler. While the book of Joshua represents the apex of victory for the Israelite tribes, the book of Judges tells the story of their heartache and struggle to maintain control of the land. While the conquest of the land was relatively quick and decisive, the settlement of the tribal territories was slow and cumbersome. Many pockets of resistance remained (1:27–36), and the Israelites eventually settled on a policy of coexistence rather than conquest.
The author concludes this section noting the cycles of apostasy, oppression, repentance, and deliverance that would follow because they would continue to sin and God would continue to “raise up judges” to deliver them (2:11–16).
II. Rule of the Judges (Judges 3:1–16:31)
The six cycles of the judges include years of oppression, deliverance, and rest, punctuated by interludes that discuss minor judges and the usurper Abimelech (9:1–57). Each cycle portrays a downward spiral that includes Barak’s reluctance, Deborah’s insistence, Gideon’s cowardice, Jephthah’s foolish vow, and Samson’s immoral relationship with foreign women. The recurring theme in these chapters is Israel’s apostasy, displayed in her covenant violations of idolatry and immortality. This resulted in the moral and spiritual weakness so lying, stealing, adultery, and murder were often condoned.
A. First Cycle: Othniel Versus Cushan (Judges 3:1–11)
The author introduces this section by listing those nations that continued to harass Israel, culminating by the invasion of Cushan-rishathaim (“Cushan the doubly wicked”) from Aram-naharaim (“Mesopotamia” KJV), the area of northeastern Syria. After an eight-year oppression the Lord raised up Othniel of the tribe of Judah to defeat him because the “Spirit of the L ord” came upon him. The description of the Spirit-empowered judges is repeated seven times emphasizing the real source of their power (3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14). Othniel’s victory was followed by forty years of peaceful rest (3:11).
B. Second Cycle: Ehud Versus Eglon (Judges 3:12–31)
The second recorded invasion was led by Eglon the king of Moab and a confederacy of Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites (3:13). They recaptured a rebuilt Jericho, the “City of Palms,” and used it as a base against Israel for eighteen years (3:14). Eventually, God “raised up” Ehud, a left-handed Benjamite, who assassinated Eglon with a dagger hidden on his right hip, and this led to an attack that drove the Moabites back across the Jordan River (3:26–30). The chapter ends with a brief reference to Shamgar, son of Anath, who slew 600 Philistines (probably a lifetime total) with an ox goad (3:31).
C. Third Cycle: Deborah and Barak Versus the Canaanites (Judges 4:1–5:31)

Kings and Prophets
The books of 1 and 2 Samuel form the transition from the era of the judges to that of the kings. They introduce a series of contrasts between good and evil judges, plus faithful and unfaithful kings. As 1 Samuel opens, the era of the judges is still in the forefront, but it is fading fast. The leadership of Israel rests on the undisciplined and elderly Eli, the high priest of the tabernacle at Shiloh and one of the last of the minor judges (1 Sam 4:18). Throughout the early chapters of 1 Samuel, the author draws a sharp contrast between Eli and his ungodly sons and the godly prophet Samuel. By the middle of the book (1 Samuel 15–16), the same kind of contrast is drawn between Saul and David.
In 2 Samuel the narrative shifts to the reign of David as he rises above Saul’s son Ish-bosheth to become the king, first of Judah and then of all the tribes of Israel (5:1–4). The book records David’s wars of conquest including the capture of Jerusalem and the relocation of the ark of the covenant to the City of David (6:1–19). But the author also records David’s failures: his adultery with Bathsheba (11:1–26), Absalom’s rebellion (15:1–18:30), Sheba’s revolt (20:1–26), and the disastrous census (24:1–25). Like all the prophetic writers, the author presents a portrait of his historical figures from the perspective of their faithfulness to God’s covenant.
Key Facts Author: | Anonymous (Nathan or Gad?) | Date: | Circa 960 BC | Recipients: | United Kingdom of Israel | Key Word: | Anointed (Hb. mashiach) | Key Verse: | “So Samuel took the horn of oil, anointed him . . . and the Spirit of the Lord took control of David from that day forward. Then Samuel set out and went to Ramah” (1 Sam 16:13). |
The name Samuel means “the name of God,” “his name is God,” or “asked of God.” The Masoretes originally considered both 1 and 2 Samuel as one book. The Greek Septuagint calls 1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings “First, Second, Third, and Fourth Kingdoms.” The content of each of the books is generally the same as 1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings. Each of these books was included in the section of the “Former Prophets” in the Hebrew Bible because it was believed that they were written by prophets, whereas 1–2 Chronicles was placed in the “writings” ( kethuvim) because they were written by priests.
The books of 1–2 Samuel are anonymous but named in honor of Samuel who authored other works (1 Sam 10:25; 1 Chr 29:29) and was the head of a group of prophets (1 Sam 10:5; 19:20). However, Samuel could not be the author of all of the books’ contents since they record his death (1 Sam 25:1) and events after his death (2 Sam 1–24). Baba Bathra 15a asserts that the prophets Nathan and Gad wrote the rest of the material (cf. 1 Chr 29:29). These books were probably written circa 960 BC after the death of David in 971 BC and during the reign of Solomon (cf. 2 Chr 9:29). 1
Outline
First and 2 Samuel follow a fourfold structure. In the first section the house of Samuel is exalted while the house of priest-judge Eli is abased (1 Samuel 1–7). The second part is about conflicts between Samuel and Saul (1 Samuel 8–15) while the third records the struggles between David and Saul (1 Samuel 16–31). The concluding section (2 Samuel) is about the reign of David.
Outline
I. Transition from Eli to Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1–7:17)
II. Reign of Saul (1 Samuel 8:1–31:13)
A. Saul’s Selection (1 Samuel 8:1–11:15)
B. Samuel’s Warning (1 Samuel 12:1–25)
C. Saul’s Rejection (1 Samuel 13:1–17:58)
D. Saul’s Failures (1 Samuel 18:1–31:13)
III. Reign of David (2 Samuel 1:1–24:25)
A. David’s Faith (2 Samuel 1:1–10:19)
B. David’s Faults (2 Samuel 11:1–12:31)
C. David’s Foes (2 Samuel 13:1–20:26)
D. David’s Fame (2 Samuel 21:1–24:25)
Message
By showing the deficiencies of the final phase of the judges’ era (chaps. 1–7), 1 Samuel is an apologetic for the new monarchy, which God graciously establishes for His people in spite of their sin. The book also highlights the inferiority of Saul in comparison to David (chaps. 13–31) whose rule was yet to be inaugurated. The promises to David anticipate the coming of David’s greater son who will rule in perfect obedience to God’s covenant (Gen 49:10; Deut 17:14–20; 2 Sam 7:12–16; Ps 89:36–37; 132:11–17; Isa 7:14; 9:6–7). Therefore, 1 Samuel is the first biblical book in the English Bible to use the term “anointed one” or messiah (2:10).
The message of 1–2 Samuel also highlights the role of the prophets in relation to the kings. Samuel and Nathan confront the sins of Saul and David and call them to repentance (1 Samuel 13; 15; 2 Samuel 12). Whereas Saul makes excuses for his mistakes, David genuinely repents saying, “I have sinned.” These stories set the stage for future accounts of prophets (e.g., Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah) confronting the errant kings of Israel and Judah.
I. Transition from Eli to Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1–7:17)
God used Samuel to anoint Israel’s first two kings, thereby transitioning the nation away from the judges’ era and into the monarchy. Thus, the writer shows the preeminence of Samuel over the existing regime as represented by the household of judge-priest Eli at Shiloh. The spirituality of Samuel’s lineage is seen in Hannah’s prayer for a child and her vow to dedicate her child to the Lord (1:9–18). Chapter 2 focuses on the wickedness of Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, emphasizing the spiritual failure of this judge and his sons. The third chapter begins by mentioning the rarity of visions in those days (3:1) presumably due to the wickedness of Eli’s household.

Excavated area of Tel Shiloh in Israel. The tabernacle was set up here by Joshua after the conquest of Canaan, and it remained here for 400 years.
Consequently, God discloses His plans to the boy Samuel. The tender picture of God standing at the foot of his bed and calling the child by name shows the compassion of God for one person and His rejection of another. The message to Samuel is that God will bypass a disobedient generation and call a new generation to follow Him. God reveals that He will destroy Eli’s household (3:12–14) and confirms Samuel as His divine spokesperson (3:17–21).
Under Eli’s weak leadership Israel lost the ark in a war with the Philistines (4:1–22), but before long the ark was returned (6:1–18). Samuel challenged the nation to repent so God helped Israel defeat the Philistines (7:2–17).
II. Reign of Saul (1 Samuel 8:1–31:13)
The failure of the judges demonstrates the need for the coming monarchy. The failures of Samuel’s sons show the inadequacy of divine rule through this family (8:1–5). However, 1 Samuel is not simply an apology for the monarchy. It is more specifically an apology for the kingship of David and his dynastic successors by showing that God will only rule through an elect, obedient king.
A. Saul’s Selection (1 Samuel 8:1–11:15)
As Samuel aged, the people of Israel insisted that they should select a king “like all the other nations” (8:5, author’s translation). The events surrounding the selection of Saul for king (9:1–10:16) demonstrate that he was the people’s choice. The people seemed to focus on Saul’s outward appearance (9:2) rather than his heart (16:7). Even the events of Saul’s coronation (10:17–27) reveal God’s displeasure. Samuel indicated that the people had rejected God (10:19) in requesting such a king.
B. Samuel’s Warning (1 Samuel 12:1–25)
Samuel’s subsequent warning against national covenant unfaithfulness (12:13–25) demonstrated that God’s vision for Israel’s king was vastly different from the vision the people espoused. Samuel’s warning accompanied by thunder and rain caused great fear so the people cried out: “We have added to all our sins the evil of requesting a king for ourselves” (12:19). Thus, the author skillfully shows that Israel’s request for a king was ill motivated and ill timed. Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin, not Judah, the promised messianic tribe (Gen 49:10). God’s timing was also awaiting a descendant from the tenth generation of Judah’s son Perez (cf. Ruth 4:18–22), but the people did not yet understand this.
C. Saul’s Rejection (1 Samuel 13:1–17:58)
Saul’s poor choices caused his kingdom to deteriorate rapidly (1 Samuel 13) because he usurped the priestly functions while waiting for Samuel to offer the sacrifices at Gilgal. This caused God to vow that he would remove the kingdom from Saul (13:14; 16:7). Saul’s disobedience (15:1–29) of the divine command to exterminate the Amalekites (Exod 17:8–16) caused Yahweh to reject him as king (15:23). Samuel’s confrontation with Saul over his sin in chapters 13 and 15 emphasizes the ministry of the prophet as a covenant enforcer. Samuel’s anointing of David (chap. 16) and David’s resounding victory over Goliath in the valley of Elah (chap. 17) clearly introduce David as God’s choice to lead the nation of Israel (chap. 17). David won a dramatic victory over the Philistines because he separated himself from Saul’s ways, depended on God alone, and believed that “the battle is the L ord’s” (17:47).

View looking eastward from Brook Elah, where David killed Goliath.
D. Saul’s Failures (1 Samuel 18:1–31:13)

En Gedi Waterfall. Along the western coast of the Dead Sea is the oasis called En Gedi. This was one of the places settled by the tribe of Judah.
Saul’s final years were filled with constant acts of jealousy and animosity toward David. Saul failed to kill David and wasted several years of time and energy pursuing David in the Judean wilderness. The theme of preservation is evident as David continues to escape Saul’s pursuit in the wilderness of Judah near the Dead Sea caves (22:1–2; 24:1–3). David’s character is also highlighted as he refuses to kill Saul, showing his respect for the office of king and the significance of God’s anointing. This is especially seen in the incident at the cave of En Gedi when David humiliates Saul but refuses to kill him. As a consequence Saul acknowledges that one day David will be king (24:20). Saul’s life ends in a tragic battle with the Philistines on Mount Gilboa when Saul commits suicide (31:1–13).
III. Reign of David (2 Samuel 1:1–24:25)
The book of 2 Samuel follows a fourfold division. The first section exemplifies David’s triumphs (chaps. 1–10) while the second emphasizes David’s transgression (chaps. 11–12). The third section highlights David’s troubles (chaps. 13–20), and the fourth represents six nonchronological appendices dealing with the greatness of the Davidic covenant and kingdom (chaps. 21–24).
A. David’s Faith (2 Samuel 1:1–10:19)
These chapters describe how David, the elect king, consolidates and unifies the entire nation under his authority. The high point for David is the reception of the Davidic covenant (7:11–16). The covenant’s unconditional nature and conditional blessing (7:14) sets the tone for the remainder of the book. Further evidences of David’s political ascent include his capture of Jerusalem from the Jebusites (5:7–10; cf. Judg 1:8, 21), his alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre (5:11–12), his many children which were a sign of covenant blessing (5:13–16), his defeat of the Philistines (5:17–25), and his decision to move the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem (6:1–19). In faith David won many military victories over his enemies because the Lord helped him by defeating his foes (8:6,14). Thus, David extended Israel’s borders from Egypt to the Euphrates in partial fulfillment of what God originally promised Abraham (Gen 15:18).
B. David’s Faults (2 Samuel 11:1–12:31)
David’s covenant violations take place in the book’s pivotal eleventh chapter. They involve adultery (11:1–3) and murder (11:14–27) as well as a host of deceptive acts committed in an attempt to cover up these sins. Having been attracted by Bathsheba’s beauty, David sent for her, slept with her, and she became pregnant. Attempting to cover this up, David made arrangements for her husband’s death and then married her. However, God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David’s sin with the judicial parable about the rich man who stole a poor man’s sheep (12:1–4). Infuriated by the story, David pronounced judgment upon himself and his household. God forgave David, but David suffered severe consequences: the death of the baby (12:15–22) plus the ruin of his family in the following chapters.
C. David’s Foes (2 Samuel 13:1–20:26)
The outworking of the curses that Nathan predicted would come upon David impacted both David’s immediate family (chaps. 13–18) and the nation (chaps. 19–20). Tamar’s rape by her half brother Amnon and his execution by her brother Absalom eventually led to Absalom’s ill-fated rebellion and death. David’s restoration to power finally came after the failed revolts of Absalom (chaps. 16–18) and Sheba (chap. 20).
D. David’s Fame (2 Samuel 21:1–24:25)
The author concludes with six nonchronological appendixes extolling the preeminence of the Davidic covenant. Each appendix brings out a different facet of David’s covenant obedience. He vindicated the Gibeonites against whom Saul had sinned (21:1–9), properly buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan (21:10–14), defeated the Philistines (21:19–22), sang a song of thanksgiving (22:1–51), and gave his farewell words expressing his confidence in the “everlasting covenant” (23:1–7). The author concludes with a list of David’s warriors (23:8–39) and an account of the military census and resulting plague, which stopped at the threshing floor of Araunah in Jerusalem (24:1–17). David obeyed God in purchasing the threshing floor to build “an altar to the L ord,” and on this site Solomon would later build the temple (24:18–25). Thus, the book ends with Israel strategically positioned to build the temple during Solomon’s reign.
Practical Application
The books of 1 and 2 Samuel explain the offices of both the prophet and the king and their interconnection with each other. The prophet rises above judges, priests, and kings as the spokesman for God. The “seer” ( roeh) becomes the “prophet” ( nabi’) who sees what is in the mind of God (1 Sam 9:9) and announces it to the people of God, calling them to repentance and faith. These books give us a model of the proper relationship between religion and politics. God’s plan is for the spiritual sphere to inform the political leaders by calling them to administer righteousness and justice based on the truth of God’s Word

Mount Tabor from which Barak attacked Sisera.
By the third cycle of the judges, Israel lost control of the northern region to the Canaanites at Hazor. Sisera was the commander of a Canaanite army that included 900 iron chariots, and he used them to oppress the Israelites in that area for twenty years. 2 God spoke to Deborah, who was serving as a judge at that time, to summon Barak to challenge the northern tribes to confront the Canaanites at Wadi Kishon in the Jezreel Valley. When Barak refused to go unless Deborah accompanied him, she told him the credit for the victory would go to a woman (4:9).
Barak’s troops took the high ground at Mount Tabor and attacked the Canaanites in the valley below. Deborah and Barak’s victory song indicates the “river Kishon swept them away” (5:21), implying a flash flood that bogged the chariots in the swampy ground and caused Sisera to abandon his chariot and flee to the tent of a woman named Jael. She killed the unsuspecting commander with a tent peg and a mallet (4:21), thus fulfilling Deborah’s earlier prediction. The entire account emphasizes the lack of male leadership in Israel at that time.
D. Fourth Cycle: Gideon Versus the Midianites (Judges 6:1–10:5)

The Harod Spring at Ainharaod at the foot of the Gilboa mountain range. This is where Gideon gathered his men before fighting the Midianites.
The story of Israel’s leadership crisis continued with the raiding attack of the Midianites and their Arab Bedouin allies. Things were so bad the Israelites hid in the mountain clefts while swarms of armed desert bandits pillaged the land for seven years. At that time the angel of the Lord called Gideon from the tribe of Manasseh to lead a resistance. Fearful and reluctant, Gideon went from hiding in a winepress to making excuses and putting out fleeces. The spiritual weakness of Israel was indicated by the fact that Gideon’s own father had a Baal altar on the family farm, which Gideon finally tore down. After this the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, so he blew a trumpet (shofar) and rallied 32,000 men to go against the Midianite and Amalekite raiders.
Fearful himself, Gideon was told to let all those who were afraid to go home, and two-thirds of his “army” of volunteers left. When God thinned his numbers down to only 300 men at the spring of Harod (“trembling”), Gideon had to be reassured of success by overhearing the dream of the barley cake (7:9–15). During the night he equipped his men with trumpets, pitchers, and torches and surprised the unsuspecting raiders. The enemy was thrown into confusion so the Israelites won an incredible victory by daybreak (7:16–23). 3
E. Fifth Cycle: Jephthah Versus the Ammonites (Judges 10:6–12:15)

The hills of Gilead.
When the Ammonites in Transjordan attacked the Israelites in Gilead, the elders in desperation called the outcast Jephthah from the land of Tob (11:3) to lead Israel in battle. When Jephthah’s negotiations with the Ammonites failed, he made a vow to the Lord Yahweh that “whatever” came out of his house to greet him upon his return from battle “will belong to the L ord, and I will offer it as a burnt offering” (11:31). When his daughter, not an animal, came out first, he was devastated. Scholars have long debated whether he actually sacrificed his own daughter or dedicated her to a lifetime of virginity, never to marry and carry on his family line (11:34–40). 4 Either way she bewailed her “virginity,” and he grieved that he would have no descendants.
F. Sixth Cycle Samson Versus the Philistines (Judges 13:1–16:31)

Philistine coffin displayed at the Hecht Museum, Israel.
The final cycle involved Samson from the tribe of Dan. By this time the tribe of Dan had already abandoned their God-given territory in the land of the Philistines, leaving Samson’s family and a few others in a displaced persons “camp” (13:25). The uniqueness of Samson was the Nazirite vow that was imposed on him from birth (13:5; cf. Num 6:2–12). Tragically, Samson ultimately violated all three stipulations of the vow, touching the “unclean” dead lion (14:8–9), participating in a “drinking feast” (Hb. mishteh, 14:10), and finally having his head shaved (16:19). Even his initial victory over 1,000 Philistines was accomplished with an “unclean” jawbone of a dead animal (15:15).
Samson’s life story revolved around three women, presumably all Philistines: (1) the woman of Timnah, whom he attempted to marry (14:1–15:6); (2) the prostitute at Gaza (16:1–3); and (3) Delilah of the Valley of Sorek (16:4–20). Despite his gift of physical strength given by the power of the Spirit, Samson’s inability to conquer his own passions ultimately led to his demise. Thus, the final cycle of the judges ends with Samson crushed beneath the rubble of a destroyed Philistine temple and Israel still without a leader. 5
III. Ruin of the Judges (Judges 17:1–21:25)
The final chapters of Judges emphasize just how bad things really were in Israel at that time. Religious compromise led to moral corruption that ultimately resulted in a civil war. These closing chapters reveal that morality was “upside down” during the era of the judges. Throughout this section the author emphasizes “there was no king in Israel,” and chaos reigned because “everyone did whatever he wanted” (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).
A. Idolatry (Judges 17:1–18:31)
Micah was an Israelite from Ephraim who maintained a shrine of various “household idols” (17:5) so he bribed a Levite from Bethlehem to be his own personal priest (17:13). In the meantime as the tribe of Dan was migrating north, they happened upon Micah’s house, stole his idols, and talked the Levite into going with them. The apostate tribe of Dan not only abandoned its God-given inheritance but forsook the Lord as well. 6 The Danites attacked the city of Laish and renamed it Dan (18:28–31), making it Israel’s most northern city but also a place infamous for its pagan practices (1 Kgs 11:29).
B. Immorality (Judges 19:1–21:25)
The closing chapters of Judges tell the sad story of immorality, moral confusion, and a civil war between the tribes of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. The end result was a brutal civil war that annihilated all but 600 men of Benjamin. Had the tribe of Benjamin been exterminated, there never would have been a King Saul, an Esther, a Mordecai, or the apostle Paul. The book of Judges ends leaving the reader realizing again that “there was no king in Israel” (21:25). Thus, the stage of divine revelation was set for the books that follow. Despite the dark days of the judges, a ray of hope was about to shine.
RUTH
Ray of Hope
The book of Ruth is one of the great love stories of all time. It is a romantic drama of a destitute young Moabite widow who marries a wealthy and compassionate Israelite named Boaz. Like the book of Esther, it is named for the woman who is the main character. Historically, Ruth is the “lynchpin of the covenant” and provides an essential key to the transition from the judges to the kings of Israel. 7 Theologically, the story of Ruth and Boaz illustrates the biblical concept of redemption.
In spite of her humble origin, Ruth plays an important role in the history of the Old Testament as the great grandmother of King David (Ruth 4:18) and an ancestress in the line of Jesus of Nazareth. Set in the dark days of the judges (1:1), Ruth is a ray of light and hope for Israel’s future. As a Gentile who marries a Hebrew from Bethlehem, she pictures the love of God for both Hebrews and Gentiles. God’s promise to Abraham that He would bless all nations begins to come to fruition through Boaz and Ruth, and it will eventually result in the birth of the Messiah. Indeed, the Christmas story has its beginning in Ruth’s journey to Bethlehem where her personal and spiritual destiny was fulfilled.
Key Facts Author: | Anonymous (possibly Nathan) | Recipients: | Israelites | Date: | 1020–1000 BC | Key Word: | Redeemer (Hb. goʾel) | Key Verse: | “May you be powerful in Ephrathah and famous in Bethlehem” (4:11b). |
Background
The reader must grasp at least four elements in order to understand fully the message of the book of Ruth. First, the Moabites were the descendants of Lot (Gen 19:30–38) and engaged in numerous battles with Israel throughout biblical history (Judg 3:12–30; 1 Sam 14:47; 2 Sam 8:11–12; 2 Kgs 3:4–27) so the relationship was not friendly. Second, the right of redemption (Lev 25:25–28) gave the next of kin (Hb. go’el) the responsibility of buying back foreclosed property that was taken because of poverty. Third, under the principle of Levirate marriage (Deut 25:5–10), the next of kin of a deceased man was to marry his widow and produce an offspring in order to prevent the deceased man’s lineage and name from dying out. 8 Fourth, according to Deut 23:3, a Moabite male, or any of his descendants up to the tenth generation, could not gain entrance into Israel’s public assembly. What is evident in the ten-generation genealogy is the affirmation of David’s right to rule as king as a descendant of the illegitimate birth of Perez ten generations earlier (cf. Deut 23:2; Gen 38:1–30), which explains the list of names at the end of the book.
Outline 9
I. Love’s Resolve: Ruth’s Determination (1:1–22)
II. Love’s Response: Ruth’s Devotion (2:1–23)
III. Love’s Request: Boaz’s Decision (3:1–18)
IV. Love’s Reward: Family’s Destiny (4:1–22)
Message
In times of national infidelity, God sovereignly used the faithfulness of an unlikely woman named Ruth to change the course of history. Although Ruth was a female, Gentile, pagan, poverty stricken, widowed, and a Moabitess, Ruth broke with her own pagan background (Gen 19:30–38; Deut 23:3–6) to embrace the people of Israel and their God. But in spite of her background, God used her to perpetuate the Davidic and messianic lineage. As a result of God’s covenant promise to bless obedience (Deut 28:1–14) as well as bless all who bless Israel (Gen 12:3), God blessed Ruth by giving her a new husband, a son, and a privileged genealogical position.
I. Love’s Resolve: Ruth’s Determination (Ruth 1:1–22)
As the curtain rises on the drama, the first chapter describes the journey of Elimelech’s family to Moab. It explains how Naomi became an impoverished widow and how Ruth attached herself to Naomi. However, against this negative backdrop of covenant infidelity (1:1–5) and Naomi’s dire circumstances (1:6–14), the writer inserts a note of optimism and hope. He records Ruth’s positive example of not wanting to leave Naomi’s side (1:15–18) and her profession of commitment to the people of Israel and their God.

Fields of Boaz near Bethlehem.
II. Love’s Response: Ruth’s Devotion (Ruth 2:1–23)
The second chapter records how Ruth providentially met her future husband and kinsman redeemer Boaz (“in him is strength”). Ruth’s commitment to Naomi is seen in her desire to glean from among the grain (Lev 19:9–10) on behalf of her mother-in-law (2:1–7). “Gleaning” meant picking up the scraps as one followed the “reapers” in the harvest. The sovereign guidance of God directed Ruth to the field of Boaz though from her point of view “she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz” (2:3 nasb). There Ruth met her redeemer (Hb. go’el), Boaz, the wealthy Israelite from Bethlehem.
III. Love’s Request: Boaz’s Decision (Ruth 3:1–18)
Chapter 3 records the steps leading to the eventual marital union between Boaz and Ruth. Naomi recognized that while she was too poor to buy back her Bethlehem property and too old to have children to perpetuate her family’s name, Boaz as the kinsman redeemer could rectify both of these situations by marrying her daughter-in-law Ruth. Because Boaz took no further steps in this regard, Naomi hatched a plan whereby Ruth would propose marriage.
IV. Love’s Reward: Family’s Destiny (Ruth 4:1–22)
The marriage between Boaz and Ruth is finalized in the book’s fourth chapter as Boaz fulfills the position of the redeemer. Obed’s birth reversed Naomi’s prior emptiness and bitterness. Through Ruth and Boaz Elimelech’s lineage was perpetuated. According to 4:17, Obed’s birth also preserved the line that led to David. Since Boaz was not only the kinsman redeemer but also the one carrying the Davidic lineage, Ruth’s marriage to Boaz permanently enshrined her in both David’s and the Messiah’s genealogy (Matt 1:5). God’s grace was extended to a Gentile woman, indicating his desire to bring the blessing of Abraham to all people—Hebrews and Gentiles alike.
Practical Application
The books of Judges and Ruth paint a contrast between God’s justice and His grace. Israel’s constant disobedience resulted in God’s temporary judgments that were meant to bring His people to repentance. Each cycle of judgment-repentance-redemption saw Israel fall farther from God until all hope seemed lost. Thus, the story of Ruth stands in stark contrast as a ray of hope in the dark days of the judges. When everything appeared to be going wrong, God was going right—fulfilling His promises, even through the most unlikely candidates. Judges–Ruth teaches us that we too can be used of God to shine His light in the darkness of our times because we too are objects of His love and grace.
The Rise and Fall of Israel and Judah
1–2 KINGS
Kings of Israel and Judah
The books of 1 and 2 Kings tell the story of the kings of Israel (northern kingdom) and Judah (southern kingdom) from the death of David until the Babylonian captivity almost 400 years later. Written from the perspective of the prophets, the book of Kings (Hb. melakim) was undoubtedly one book in its original form. Patterson and Austel observe:
Thematically the continuity of the Elijah narrative (1 Kings 17–2 Kings 2), itself part of the prophetic section dominating 1 Kings 16:29–2 Kings 9:37, and the recurring phrase “to this day” (1 Kings 8:8; 9:13; 10:12; 2 Kings 2:22; 10:27; 14:7; 16:6; 17:23, 34, 41; 21:15) clearly indicate that the two books of Kings form a single literary unit. 1
Key Facts Author: | Anonymous (Jeremiah?) | Date: | 560 BC | Recipients: | Jews of the captivity and dispersion | Key Word: | King (Hb. melek) | Key Verse: | “My lord, you swore to your servant by the Lord your God, ‘Your son Solomon is to become king after me’” (1 Kgs 1:17). |
Author
Although 1–2 Kings is an anonymous work, several pieces of evidence point to Jeremiah as a possible author. First, Jewish tradition (Baba Bathra 15a) cites Jeremiah as the author. Second, similarities of style can be detected between the books of Jeremiah and Kings (Jeremiah 40–44; 52; 2 Kgs 24:18–25:30). Third, both describe God’s righteous judgment on apostasy, idolatry, and immorality. Fourth, because the phrase “to this day” is used repeatedly throughout the book (1 Kgs 8:8; 9:13; 10:12; 12:19; 2 Kgs 2:22; 10:27; 14:7; 16:6; 17:23, 34, 41; 21:15), most of 1–2 Kings was written prior to the Babylonian exile and therefore would fit the general time period of Jeremiah’s ministry. The only evidence of a later date is the reference to the release of Jehoiachin (2 Kgs 25:27–30) which was probably added in 560 BC after Jeremiah’s death.
Background
If Jeremiah wrote his book throughout his ministry, then the intended recipients would be the people of Judah before the exile in 586 BC and afterwards. Since the final form was completed after 560 BC, Jeremiah’s prophecy (see Dan 9:1–3) and 1–2 Kings were written for the benefit of the Jews of the Babylonian captivity and the dispersion. The books begin with the end of David’s reign and the beginning of Solomon’s reign (971 BC) and end with the three deportations to Babylon (605, 597, 586 BC) and the release of Jehoiachin (560 BC). Kings of Israel 2 | King | Lineage | Scripture | Years of reign | Dates of reign (Thiele) 3 | Prophet | Jeroboam I | Son of Nebat | 1 Kgs 11:26–14:20 | 22 | 931–910 | Ahijah, man of God from Judah, old prophet at Bethel, Iddo | Nadab | Son of Jeroboam I | 1 Kgs 15:25–28 | 2 | 910–909 | | Baasha | Son of Ahijah | 1 Kgs 15:27–16:7 | 24 | 909–886 | Jehu | Elah | Son of Baasha | 1 Kgs 16:6–14 | 2 | 886–885 | | Zimri | Chariot commander under Elah | 1 Kgs 6:9–20 | 7 days | 885 | | Omri | Army commander under Elah | 1 Kgs 6:15–28 | 12 | 885–874 | | Ahab | Son of Omri | 1 Kgs 16:28–22:40 | 22 | 874–853 | Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah, unnamed prophets | Ahaziah | Son of Ahab | 1 Kgs 22:40–2 Kgs 1:18 | 2 | 853–852 | Elijah, Elisha | Joram | Son of Ahab | 2 Kgs 1:17–9:26 | 12 | 852–841 | Elisha | Jehu | Son of Nimishi, army commander under Ahab | 2 Kgs 9:1–10:36 | 28 | 841–814 | Elisha | Jehoahaz | Son of Jehu | 2 Kgs 13:1–9 | 17 | 814–798 | Elisha | Jehoash | Son of Jehoahaz | 2 Kgs 13:10–14:16 | 16 | 798–782 | Elisha | Jeroboam II | Son of Jehoahash | 2 Kgs 14:23–29 | 41 | 793–753 | Jonah, Amos, Hosea | Zechariah | Son of Jeroboam II | 2 Kgs 14:29–15:12 | 6 months | 753–752 | Hosea | Shallum | Son of Jabesh | 2 Kgs 15:10–15 | 1 month | 752 | Hosea | Menahem | Son of Gadi | 2 Kgs 15:14–22 | 10 | 752–742 | Hosea | Pekahiah | Son of Menahem | 2 Kgs 15:22–26 | 2 | 742–740 | Hosea | Pekah | Son of Remaliah | 2 Kgs 15:25–31 | 20 | 752–732 | Hosea, Obed | Hoshea | Son of Elah | 2 Kgs 15:30–17:6 | 9 | 732–722 | Hosea | Adapted from a chart by Andrew Woods. Used by permission. |
The kings, as the nation’s representatives, are evaluated from a covenant perspective by the prophetic author. Thus, the books trace the glory of the United Kingdom under Solomon, its eventual division, and how the kings of the divided kingdoms led the people into increasing apostasy and idolatry culminating in the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities.
The books of 1 and 2 Kings represent the outworking of both covenant discipline and God’s unconditional covenant promises to Judah. The books mention several prophets thereby explaining how the ministry of the prophets began to develop in the era of the kings. The books also show how the kings functioned as the people’s representatives. Thus, their covenant rebellion negatively impacted the entire nation and was consistently confronted by God’s true prophets.
Each king is identified with a consistent formula that includes an introduction (name, age at accession, and patriarchal or matriarchal reference), accession, covenant evaluation, historical record, capital city (Jerusalem or Samaria), and concluding reference (death, burial, duration of reign, and successor). By contrast, the prophets generally appear on the scene without formal introduction in times of national crises.

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