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Psalms

PSALMS

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT THE BOOK OF PSALMS

The Book of Psalms was the Old Testament hymnbook, prayer book, and liturgy book. It was continually used by worshippers at the temple and even as they were going up to the temple to worship. Today also the Psalms are a part of our hymn life, prayer life, and our liturgy. Many of the Psalms are the basis for our hymns; we can use the Psalms as our personal prayers; and part of our liturgy is taken from the Psalms. (Cf. the words that the congregation speaks or sings after the sermon, and Psalm 51:10-12.) The Hebrew name for the Book of Psalms is “Sepher Tehillim,” or “The Book of Praises.” Our word “Psalm” comes from the Greek and means “a song sung to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument.” Within the 150 Psalms in our Bible, there are actually five smaller books of Psalms. The five books are as follows:

  1.  Psalms 1-41
  2. Psalms 42-72
  3. Psalms 73-89
  4. Psalms 90-106
  5. Psalms 107-150

Each one of these sections ends with a doxology or statement of praise, such as “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.” All of Psalm 150 is a doxology to close the whole Book of Psalms. An ancient Jewish tradition says that the Psalms are divided into five sections or books in order to correspond to the Five Books of Moses. The idea is that the five books of God through Moses are balanced by man’s five-fold response in the Psalms.

SUPERSCRIPTIONS OR TITLES OF THE PSALMS

116 of the Psalms have titles or superscriptions at the beginning. (The 34 Psalms that do not have titles are sometimes called “orphan” Psalms.) The titles give us such information as: 1) who the author is, 2) the circumstances when they were written, 3) to whom they were addressed, or 4) musical directions. Some information in the titles we simply do not understand because the Hebrew words are mysterious to us. Look at the titles for Psalms 3-6 to see some information the titles give us. The authorship of over 100 Psalms is given in the titles. David’s name is listed in the titles of 73 Psalms; this may mean that he is the actual author of all of those 73 Psalms, or in some cases it may mean that the Psalm was dedicated to him. The titles tell us also that the following men wrote Psalms: Moses (one), Solomon (two), Asaph and the Asaphites (twelve), the Sons of Korah (twelve), Heman (one), and Ethan (one).

THE PSALMS ARE A COLLECTION

It is obvious from the many human authors of the Psalms that they were not written at the same time. They were written over a span of time stretching from Moses until after the Babylonian Captivity. (Psalm 90 was written by Moses; Psalm 137 tells of the Captivity.) That means they were written over a period of about 1,000 years. The Holy Spirit saw to it that each human author was carried along by Him so that each of them wrote God’s intended words. Jewish tradition says that it was Ezra the Scribe who finally collected all of the 150 Psalms and gathered them into one book.

VARIOUS KINDS OF PSALMS

There have been many attempts to classify the Psalms according to their various kinds or types. As we read the Psalms, we can notice common themes that run through them. It is those themes that allow us to classify the Psalms into kinds or types. We will list some of the kinds of Psalms that are commonly noted:

  • HALLELUJAH PSALMS
    Praise to the Lord is the main theme in this kind of Psalm. “Hallelujah” is Hebrew for “Praise the Lord.” The word is found many times in these psalms.  (Psalms 106, 111, 112, 113, 117, 135, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150)
  • PENITENTIAL PSALMS
    These psalms give expression to the sinner’s repentance over his sins. Confession and a plea for forgiveness is the theme that runs through these psalms. Psalm 51 is an excellent example of a Penitential Psalm. Be sure to note the title of the Psalm before reading it.  (Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143)
  • DIDACTIC PSALMS
    The word “didactic” means “teaching.” These psalms seek to teach lessons for godly living. Psalm 1 is an example. (Psalms 1, 5, 7, 15, 50, 73, 94, 101)
  • IMPRECATORY PSALMS
    In this kind of psalms, God is called upon to bring punishment on unbelieving enemies so that evil may be stopped and God may be honored. The word “imprecatory” means a “calling upon.” Note Psalm 35 as an example of an Imprecatory Psalm.  (Psalms 35, 58, 59, 69, 83, 109, 137)
  • MESSIANIC PSALMS
    Psalms of this kind tell about the coming Messiah. It is the New Testament that tells us that many of the psalms spoke clearly of Jesus, the Messiah. For example, Psalm 22 vividly describes Christ’s suffering as he hung on the cross. It even prophesies his very words from the cross. (Psalms 2, 8, 16, 22, 23, 24, 31, 40, 41, 45, 68, 69, 102, 110, 118)

A BOOK FOR ALL NEEDS

Believers over the centuries have known that the Book of Psalms has divine words that fit virtually every human need. Therefore the Psalms have been among the most read and most loved portions of Scripture. Do you need words for repentance? Turn to a Penitential Psalm. Do you feel the need to praise God for some special blessing? Read a Hallelujah Psalm. Do you have some great fear and need God’s comforting

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Job

JOB

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT THE BOOK OF JOB

No one knows who wrote the Book of Job. Some guesses have been Moses, Job himself, or Solomon. Neither do we know for sure when the events recorded in Job took place. Descriptions within the book may indicate that the events took place sometime during the time of the Patriarchs. The place of the story of Job is the land of Uz, sometimes regarded to be a part of modern Saudi Arabia. The introduction to Job in chapters 1 and 2 is written in prose. But the rest of the book is recorded in poetry.(See section on “Hebrew Poetry”) Even by those who do not accept the inspiration of the Bible, the Book of Job is commonly judged to be one of the world’s great masterpieces of poetry. The fact that most of the book is poetry does not mean that it speaks of imaginary things. It is clear from the book itself and from other books of the Bible that events recorded in Job are real historical events. The fact that it is written in poetry only adds to its appeal and beauty. Those who work at translating the Book of Job from the original Hebrew quickly learn that it is one of the most difficult books of the Bible to translate. We can only guess at the meaning of some words and expression. However, the main thoughts that the Holy Spirit has recorded for us come through clearly.

THE MAIN SUBJECT

The subject of the Book of Job is an ancient one but will be of constant interest as long as the earth stands. Stated in a question, the subject is: “If God is just and good, why does he let his people suffer?” That was Job’s question when great suffering came to him. Likewise that is our question when a faithful Christian from one of our churches experiences suffering or when disaster comes to us. The answer to the problem of suffering is not completely answered in Job. Job’s three friends often gave wrong answers to the question of why Job was suffering. Too easily they assumed that his suffering was God’s punishment on him for his sin. The fact is that there is no easy human answer to the problem of believers’ suffering. All things are finally in God’s hands, and that included the control over the suffering of a believer and the answer to the question, “Why this suffering?” From the New Testament we have this comforting assurance whenever suffering comes to Christians; “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

THEME AND OUTLINE

“THE PROBLEM OF BELIEVERS’ SUFFERING”

1. Disaster Strikes Job (1-2)
2. Job’s Three Friends Debate with him about his Suffering (3-31)
3. Elihu Speaks (32-37)
4. God Speaks to Job and At Last Restores Him (38-42)

A SUMMARY OF THE CONTENTS OF JOB

Job is a blameless and upright believer whom God blessed with great wealth, health, and a good family. God allows Satan to take all of this from him. He loses his wealth, his children are killed, and he is afflicted with painful sores from head to foot. Still Job is able to say in faith: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (1:21). Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar come to debate with him about his suffering. They offer their various arguments about why he is suffering and what he should do; Job responds to them. Next Elihu comes to offer his opinions. Job’s faith sometimes seems to weaken in his suffering, but he does not give up his faith. God will not let him suffer more than his faith is able to carry. In chapter 19:25-27 Job makes a beautiful confession of faith in his coming Redeemer: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Finally God himself speaks to Job. He asks Job a series of questions that show Job his own smallness. Job finds satisfaction when he repents of ever questioning God’s ways and throws himself on God’s mercy. At last God prospers Job once again and gives him twice as much as he had before.

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Esther

ESTHER

The three books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther close the section of the Old Testament that we have called the History Books. These three books cover the last 100 years of Old Testament Jewish history. They tell of events between the years 539-433 B.C. You will remember that 2 Chronicles ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C and the Exile in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell about the three-stage return of the Jews from Babylon: 1) in 538 B.C. the main group of Jews returned with Zerubbabel; 2) in 458 B.C. a second group returned with Ezra; 3) and in 445 B.C. a third group returned with Nehemiah. The story of Esther takes place in the land of Persia between the return under Zerubbabel and the return under Ezra. A little history will help us understand better the times and events recorded in these three books. The Jews were exiled in three stages by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar: 605 B.C., 597 B.C. and 587 B.C. when the final destruction of Jerusalem took place. The Jews were settled in colonies in Babylonia and were not mistreated as long as they were quiet subjects to the King of Babylon. Many of them prospered in Babylonia and chose to live there permanently, even after they were granted permission to return to their homeland. The great Babylonian Empire came to an end in 539 B.C. when Cyrus, King of Persia, defeated the Babylonians. As we learn in the opening verses of Ezra, Cyrus gave the Jews permission to return to Judah. The return from exile did not mean that the Jews were completely politically free. They remained a part of the Persian Empire, but were generally treated well. The events of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther all take place during the Persian Empire, which ruled from 539 B.C. until it was defeated by the Greeks in 331 B.C.

THE BOOK’S NAME

The Book of Esther gets its name from the central character of the book. Esther was a young Jewish girl living in Persia who became the queen of King Xerxes (485-465 B.C.) Esther used her God-given position to save her fellow Jews from a plot to exterminate them. “Esther” is the Persian word for “star.” Her Hebrew name is Hadassah, which means “myrtle.”

WHO IS THE AUTHOR?

We do not know who wrote the book. Some say the author may have been Mordecai, one of the heroes of the book. The author probably lived in Persia, since he shows great knowledge of Persian life and customs.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK?

We could say that the book has a three-fold purpose:

  1. Serves to show God’s providence in all things. He watches over his people even when they are in a distant land like Persia, far from the land of the promise.
  2. Shows that believers are to make use of the opportunities to serve which God provides. That is clear from Esther 4:14, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
  3. Serves to explain the origin of the Jewish Feast of Purim.

SOMETHING STRANGE ABOUT THE BOOK

Strangely, the name “God” does not appear anywhere in the whole book. That does not mean, however, that it is not an inspired book. God’s providence is one of the great themes of the book even though his name is not directly mentioned. Some have suggested that God’s name is not present so that the book could be freely circulated among the Jews in Persia. It is thought that a book about the Jewish God might be banned in Persia. Another guess is that if the name of God appeared in the book, the Persians might substitute the names of their heathen gods and in that way corrupt the book. We do not know the real reason for the omission of the name “God.”

A GENERAL OUTLINE FOR ESTHER

  1. Esther is Made Queen (1-2)
  2. Haman Plots to Destroy the Jews (3-5)
  3. The Jews are Delivered (6-10)

A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE CONTENTS

King Xerxes (also called Ahasuerus) of Persia gives a great banquet in Susa. His queen, Vashti, refused to appear at the king’s request. Xerxes becomes so angry that he deposes Queen Vashti. Then it is decided that there will be a kingdom-wide beauty contest in order to choose a new queen. A young Jewish girl named Esther (Hadassah, in Hebrew) becomes the new queen, but she does not reveal that she is a Jew. About this same time a cousin of Esther named Mordecai saves the king’s life by revealing a plot to assassinate him (1-2). Mordecai refuses to kneel down before Haman, one of the nobles who had obtained a high government position. Haman becomes so angry with Mordecai that he decides to have all of the Jews destroyed. Mordecai then persuades Esther to use her position as queen to help save the Jews from destruction (see 4:14). Esther thinks of a plan to prevent the Jew’s destruction (3-5). King Xerxes learns that Mordecai never received a reward for once saving his life. He then sends Haman to greatly honor Mordecai, the man that Haman hates with a passion. Esther then pleads before the king for the lives of the Jews. Wicked Haman is hanged on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. The king sends out a decree permitting the Jews to defend themselves against anyone who would attack them. The Jews are spared, and the Feast of Purim is celebrated to mark their deliverance. Mordecai is made second in rank to King Xerxes (6-10).

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WORSHIP

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Nehemiah

NEHEMIAH

The three books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther close the section of the Old Testament that we have called the History Books. These three books cover the last 100 years of Old Testament Jewish history. They tell of events between the years 539-433 B.C. You will remember that 2 Chronicles ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C and the Exile in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell about the three-stage return of the Jews from Babylon: 1) in 538 B.C. the main group of Jews returned with Zerubbabel; 2) in 458 B.C. a second group returned with Ezra; 3) and in 445 B.C. a third group returned with Nehemiah. The story of Esther takes place in the land of Persia between the return under Zerubbabel and the return under Ezra. A little history will help us understand better the times and events recorded in these three books. The Jews were exiled in three stages by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar: 605 B.C., 597 B.C. and 587 B.C. when the final destruction of Jerusalem took place. The Jews were settled in colonies in Babylonia and were not mistreated as long as they were quiet subjects to the King of Babylon. Many of them prospered in Babylonia and chose to live there permanently, even after they were granted permission to return to their homeland. The great Babylonian Empire came to an end in 539 B.C. when Cyrus, King of Persia, defeated the Babylonians. As we learn in the opening verses of Ezra, Cyrus gave the Jews permission to return to Judah. The return from exile did not mean that the Jews were completely politically free. They remained a part of the Persian Empire, but were generally treated well. The events of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther all take place during the Persian Empire, which ruled from 539 B.C. until it was defeated by the Greeks in 331 B.C.

AUTHOR

The human writer of the Book of Nehemiah was Nehemiah himself. This is clear from the use of the first person pronoun. (“I was in the citadel of Susa … When I heard these things, I sat down and wept,” etc.) Unlike Ezra, Nehemiah was a layman. Yet God used him in a big way in the work of reestablishing the Jewish nation after the exile.

IMPORTANCE OF THE BOOK

The Book of Nehemiah is important for us since it is the last of the inspired books to tell us of Old Testament Jewish history. Though some of the books of the Apocrypha continue the story of the Old Testament Jews, they cannot be completely trusted even for history since they are not God-inspired. In our Bibles, the Book of Esther follows the Book of Nehemiah, but it tells of events which took place before Nehemiah.

GENERAL OUTLINE OF NEHEMIAH

  1. Nehemiah Restores the City Walls of Jerusalem (1-7)
  2. The Reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah (8-13)

A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE CONTENTS

Word reaches Nehemiah in the city of Susa in Persia that the Jews in Palestine are in great trouble. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, he is told. Nehemiah weeps when he hears this sad news; then he fasts and prays to God. After his prayer, he introduces himself as the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes of Persia. By God’s mercy, Nehemiah’s prayer for the Jews is answered, and King Artaxerxes allows Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem to repair the city. Three days after arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah makes an inspection tour of the city walls (1-2). The work on the city walls and gates begins. Chapter 3 gives a list of the various people who had a hand in the repairs. Soon enemies of the Jews oppose the wall building project. Sanballat mocks the Jews in their work. Tobiah the Ammonite makes fun of the builders and says that even if a fox were to climb on the wall, it would break down. Nevertheless, Nehemiah pleads to God for help and encourages the builders in their work. Some build while some serve as guards. Finally the wall is completed after 52 days of hard work (3-6). Nehemiah now puts two men in charge of Jerusalem and instructs them on when to open and close the city gates for safety. The rest of chapter 7 gives a list of the exiles who returned to Jerusalem and Judah (7). Ezra reads the Law of Moses to all the assembled people at the Water Gate in Jerusalem. The people confess their sins before God and confirm the covenant. Chapter 11 contains a list of the residents of Jerusalem. In chapter 12 a list of the priests and Levites is given together with an account of the happy dedication of the wall of Jerusalem. In chapter 13 we are told of a second visit of Nehemiah to Jerusalem after he had returned to King Artaxerxes (8-13).

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WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Ezra

EZRA

AUTHOR

The Book of Ezra is named after the main character of the book. Ezra was a priest and scribe who was born in captivity in Babylon and later returned to Judah. Tradition says that Ezra is also the author of the whole book. He is certainly the author of chapters 7-10.

PURPOSE OF THE BOOK

The Book of Ezra was written in order to give the account of the restoration of the Jews to the land of the promise. The stress of the book is on the restoration of their spiritual life in their own land. In Jer. 29:10-12 God had promised: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place … Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” The Book of Ezra is proof that God fulfilled His promise to His people from whom the Messiah would come.

GENERAL OUTLINE OF EZRA

  1. The First Return of the Exiles (1-2)
  2. The Restoration of the Worship of Jehovah (3-6)
  3. The Return Under Ezra (7-10)

A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE CONTENTS OF EZRA

King Cyrus of Persia makes a proclamation that the Jews may return to Judah to build a temple to the Lord at Jerusalem. They are allowed to take the articles for the temple that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away. With Zerubbabel and other leaders, 42,360 Jews return and arrive at Jerusalem (chaps. 1-2). The Jews first rebuild the altar at Jerusalem and again offer sacrifices and celebrate the festivals commanded by God. Then they begin rebuilding the temple. The temple foundation is laid, but enemies keep them from continuing to build. Finally, at the urging of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the work is started again and completed. The temple is dedicated in 516 B.C., about 58 years after the work had started (chaps. 3-6). King Artaxerxes of Persia gives Ezra permission to go to Jerusalem together with many other Jews and gifts for the temple. This would be about 458 B.C. Because many of the Jews in Judah had taken heathen wives, Ezra exhorts them to turn away from their sin (chaps. 7-10).

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WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

1 & 2 Chronicles

1 & 2 CHRONICLES

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT THE BOOKS OF CHRONICLES

Like Kings, Chronicles was originally only one book but was divided into two in the Septuagint translation. The word “chronicle” means “a historical record” or “annal.” The books of Chronicles are a historical record from Adam to the end of the Babylonian Captivity. One half of the pages of Chronicles are devoted to the reigns of David and Solomon and most of the remaining pages are devoted to the kings of Judah. We do not know the author of Chronicles. Jewish tradition says that the prophet Ezra was the author. Whoever the author was, he perhaps wrote the books about 400 B.C. after the time of the Captivity.

PURPOSE AND THEME

The people after the Captivity needed to know their history so that they could learn lessons from the past. If they were to build new God-pleasing lives, they would have to know the tragedies that their fathers’ idolatry brought and the blessings of faithfulness to the Lord. The history lesson of Chronicles dare not be lost on us either. The Holy Spirit has preserved the inspired book for us so that we may be preserved from setting our hearts on evil things and test our faithful Lord. (See 1 Corinthians 10:66ff.) The theme of Chronicles can be taken from its own words in 2 Chronicles 15:21b: “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.”

COMPARING KINGS AND CHRONICLES

The writer of Chronicles repeats many of the same records that are found in Kings and 2 Samuel. But there are also differences between Kings and Chronicles. First, at the time of the Divided Kingdom the author of Chronicles follows only the line of the kings of Judah and ignores the kings of the Northern Kingdom. Kings presents both lines of kings. Secondly,Chronicles gives us many details that are not recorded in Kings.

GENERAL OUTLINE OF THE BOOKS OF CHRONICLES

1. A Genealogy From Adam to after the Exile (1 Chron. 1-9)
2. The Reign of David (1 Chron. 10-29)
3. The Reign of Solomon (2 Chron. 1-9)
4. The History of Judah to its Fall (2 Chron. 10-36)
Note that 1 Chronicles has 29 chapters, and 2 Chronicles has 36 chapters.

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WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

1 & 2 Kings

1 & 2 KINGS

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT THE BOOKS OF KINGS

Originally there were not two books of Kings but only one. It was the Septuagint translation that gave us our two-fold division. The two books of Kings deal with the history of Israel from the beginning of Solomon’s reign until shortly after the Captivity in Babylon. Solomon’s reign began about 972 B.C. and the Babylonian Captivity began about 587 B.C. That means that the two books of Kings cover a period of the Jews’ history of about 400 years. As the name of the books of Kings shows, the two books tell mostly about the various kings that ruled in Israel and Judah. We are told which kings were good and which ones were evil in God’s eyes. Events in the lives of the great prophets Elijah and Elisha are also related.

GENERAL OUTLINE

The 400 years covered by Kings can be divided into three parts. These three parts give us our general outline for the books.

  1. The Reign of Solomon: 972-933 B.C. (I Kings 1-11)
  2. The Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah: 933-722 B.C. (1 Kings 12-22 thru
    2 Kings 1-17)
  3. The History of Judah from Hezekiah to the Captivity: 726-587 B.C. (2 Kings 18-25) 1 Kings has 22 chapters. 2 Kings has 25 chapters.

AUTHOR

We do not know the author of the books of Kings. Jewish tradition says that the Prophet Jeremiah wrote them.

PURPOSE OF THE BOOKS

The books of Kings are recorded by the Holy Spirit to show that the fall of Israel and Judah was caused by their own unfaithfulness and to show that God was still faithful to his promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:16 “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” God would preserve David’s line so that the everlasting Messiah would come from him.

A BRIEF SURVEY OF THE CONTENTS OF KINGS

The Reign of Solomon (I Kings 1-11)

Solomon, David’s son by Bathsheba, is made king. He has great wisdom, power and wealth. These were “golden years” in the history of Israel. Solomon builds a magnificent temple to the Lord at Jerusalem. Even after God’s great blessings on Solomon and even after God’s solemn warnings to him to remain faithful to Him, Solomon fell into polygamy and idolatry.
After a 40 year reign that started well and ended with Solomon still in his sin, Solomon died.

The Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (1 Kings 12 – 2 Kings 17)

After the death of Solomon, 10 of the tribes revolt against the rule of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. Now the land is no longer united under one king but becomes a divided kingdom. In the north is the Kingdom of Israel or Northern Kingdom. In the south is the Kingdom of Judah. The 10 tribes of the Kingdom of Israel are ruled by Jeroboam and a succession of wicked kings. The tribe of Judah and part of Benjamin are ruled by Rehoboam and a succession of kings, some good and some bad.
The Kingdom of Israel exists from 933 B.C. to 722 B.C. The king of Assyria in 722 B.C. utterly defeats the Kingdom of Israel and carries the people away into his land of Assyria. Those 10 northern tribes are lost to history from that point on. Their destruction by Assyria is a clear reminder that God is in full control of history and that wickedness does not go unpunished. 2 Kings 17:7 makes this clear. It says: “All this took place because the Israelites sinned against the Lord their God … They worshipped other gods.” The king of Assyria brought in other people to repopulate the area that the 10 tribes had left. This area is often called Samaria.

The History of Judah from Hezekiah to the Captivity (2 Kings 18-25)

The Kingdom of Judah is allowed to last for another 130 years. During the reign of good king Hezehiah, the king of Assyria threatens to destroy Judah. But God destroys the Assyrian army and Judah is saved. But in 587 B.C. the king of Babylon destroys Jerusalem, the capital of the Kingdom of Judah, and carries away the people of Judah into captivity in Babylon. Solomon’s magnificent temple is destroyed and 70 years of foreign captivity begin.

A LIST OF THE KINGS OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH WITH THEIR APPROXIMATE DATES

All dates are B.C.

A. United Kingdom

Saul 1050-1013
David 1013-972
Solomon 972-933 (931)

B. Kingdom of Israel

Jeroboam I 931-910
Nadab 910-909
Baasha 909-886
Elah 886-885
Zimri 885
Tibni 885-880
Omri 885-874
Ahab874-853
Ahaziah 853-852
Joram 852-841
Jehu 841-814
Jehoahaz 814-798
Jehoash 798-782
Jeroboam II 793-753
Manasseh 696-642
Zachariah 753-752
Shallum 752
Menahem 751-742
Pekahiah742-740
Pekah 740-732
Hoshea 732-723

C. Kingdom of Judah

Rehoboam 931-913
Abijam 913-911
Asa 911-870
Jehoshaphat 873-848
Jehoram 853-841
Ahaziah 841
Athaliah 841-835
Joash 835-796
Amaziah 796-767
Azariah 791-740
Jotham 750-732
Ahaz 735-715
Hezekiah 715-686
Manasseh 696-642
Amon 642-640
Josiah 640-608
Jehoahaz 608
Jehoiakim 608-597
Jehoiachin 597
Zedekiah 597-586

KEY DATES TO MEMORIZE

Be sure to remember the date 722 B.C. as the date when the Kingdom of Israel and its capital city of Samaria were defeated by Assyria and its people carried away and lost forever. Remember the date 587 B.C. as the date when the Kingdom of Judah and its capital city of Jerusalem were defeated by the Babylonians and carried into 70 years of captivity.

KEY CHAPTER NUMBERS FOR IMPORTANT EVENTS

1 Kings

Solomon asks for Wisdom 3
Solomon Builds the Temple 6
Israel Rebels and Divided Kingdom Begins 12
Elijah Fed by Ravens17

2 Kings

Assyrians Defeat Kingdom of Israel 17
The Fall of Jerusalem by Hands of Babylon 25

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1 & 2 Samuel

1 & 2 SAMUEL

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT THE BOOKS OF SAMUEL

In our English Bibles the book called Samuel is divided into two parts: 1 Samuel, with 31 chapters, and 2 Samuel, with 24 chapters. Originally there was only one book of Samuel. The division into two books began with the Septuagint translation. As was the case with the books of Judges, we do not know the author of the books of Samuel. Again, Jewish tradition says that Samuel wrote them; but that seems very unlikely since his death is recorded in the books as well as events which took place long after his death. It seems that the books were not completed until sometime after the division of the kingdom into Israel and Judah, that is, after the time of David. We may say that the books of Samuel were written by divine inspiration most likely by a prophet from Judah shortly after the beginning of the Divided Kingdom. The books of Samuel cover a period of Israel’s history of roughly 100 years, that is, the period from the end of the judges to the last years of David. The purpose of the books is to relate the establishment of the monarchy in Israel and to tell of Samuel’s part in this. These books are named after Samuel, not because he is the author, but because he is the chief character in the early chapters and the one that God directed to anoint the first two kings. In the books Samuel is called both a judge (1 Sam. 7:15) and a prophet (1 Sam. 3:20). He therefore serves as a logical man to connect the period of the judges with the period of the kings and prophets.

GENERAL OUTLINE

Though we are covering 55 chapters and many events in the two books of Samuel, we will adopt a brief and simplified outline:

  1. Samuel as Judge (1 Sam. 1-12)
  2. The Reign of King Saul (1 Sam. 13-31)
  3. The Reign of King David (2 Sam. 1-24)

A BRIEF COMMENTARY ON THE CONTENT

1 Samuel begins with the distress of the childless woman, Hannah, her prayer to the Lord, and His answer in the form of a son, Samuel. Samuel’s childhood was spent at Shiloh where he ministered before the Lord at the tabernacle under the care of Eli the priest. At Shiloh God called Samuel and chose him as his prophet and judge for his people. When the people requested a king, God directed Samuel to give them their request. A man by the name of Saul was brought to Samuel, and Samuel anointed Saul as Israel’s first king. The first part of Saul’s reign was impressive; but when he did not fully obey God’s command, God rejected him from the kingship. A young shepherd boy from Bethlehem was designated by God as Saul’s successor and was secretly anointed by Samuel to be the next king. Young David served Saul as his court musician and later served the whole country by single-handedly defeating the giant Goliath. David became a close friend of Saul’s son Jonathan, but Saul became jealous of David and even attempted to kill David. David was forced to flee from Saul. David was not safe from Saul’s anger until the Philistines overcame Saul and his sons on Mt. Gilboa. Saul died by intentionally falling on his own sword after he had been seriously wounded in battle. In the beginning of 2 Samuel, David mourns for the slain King Saul and his dear friend Jonathan. David first ruled as king of Judah in Hebron for 7 1/2 years. Then with his capital at Jerusalem, he became king over all the tribes. Under God’s blessing, David continued to build a strong kingdom. He had risen from a shepherd boy in a pasture to a mighty monarch in a palace by God’s hand. 2 Samuel 5:12 says: “And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.” God also made a special Messianic promise to David. Read 2 Samuel 7:12-13. The Savior would come from David’s family; Jesus would be called “the son of David..” In his “dark hour” David was overcome by temptation. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband secretly killed. This affair led to great heartache. By God’s grace David was led to repentance through the prophet Nathan. Troubles again came to David through the rebellion of his son Absalom. The killing of Absalom ended the revolt but again filled David’s life with sorrow. 2 Samuel ends with a summary of David’s battles with the Philistines, David’s praise of the Lord, and the listing of his fighting men.

THE CHAPTER NUMBERS FOR THESE WELL-KNOWN EVENTS:

In 1 Samuel

In 2 Samuel

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Ruth

RUTH

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT THE BOOK OF RUTH

Ruth is a short book of only 4 chapters. The book gets its name from the main character of the book, Ruth from Moab. We do not know who wrote the book. In contrast to the moral decay and constant war recorded in Judges, the Book of Ruth is a beautiful story of love and faith. The story of Ruth takes place at the time when the judges ruled in Israel.

THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK

We could say that the Book of Ruth has at least three purposes: 1) The first purpose is to trace the ancestry of David to the Moabitess, Ruth. (Ruth was the great-grandmother of King David.) 2) The second purpose is to give us an example of unselfishness and devotion in the person of Ruth. 3) A third purpose is to show that the true religion belongs to the people of all nations. (As a Moabitess, Ruth was a non-Jewish believer.)

AN OUTLINE FOR THE BOOK OF RUTH:

  1. Ruth Comes To Bethlehem (1)
  2. Ruth Meets Boaz (2)
  3. Ruth’s Appeal To Boaz (3)
  4. The Marriage of Ruth and Boaz (4)

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WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Judges

JUDGES

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT THE BOOK OF JUDGES

The Book of Judges gets its name from the military leaders that God raised up to deliver Israel from its enemies. They were called “judges”. They were not judges in the same sense that we use the word today. Though they did some work of advising in legal matters, they were primarily men of action who delivered their tribe or nation from enemy nations. They became local or national leaders during the time between Joshua and the first kings of Israel. We do not know for sure who the author of the Book of Judges is. The book itself says nothing about its authorship. A Jewish tradition says the Prophet Samuel wrote it. But the fact is, we do not know for sure.

THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK OF JUDGES

We could say the Book of Judges has a three-fold purpose:
1. First, to fill in the history of Israel between Joshua and the time of the monarchy (ruling by kings).
2. Secondly, to show the people’s need for leadership under a strong government headed by a king.
3. Thirdly, to show how low the morals of God’s chosen people had fallen, and at the same time, to show God’s grace. The third point above expresses the chief purpose of the book. Consider this quotation from a Bible handbook: “The human scene in Judges is a depressing one. The nation’s fortunes follow a monotonous, repetitive cycle. Israel deserts God for the heathen gods. In consequence God allows them to suffer at the hands of the Canaanites. Israel cries to God for help. God sends a deliverer (judge). All is well until his death: then the old pattern of infidelity reasserts itself… The wonder is God’s constant love and concern in the face of all this. Despite their past unfaithfulness, and what he knows will happen again, as soon as Israel turns to him he answers” (from “Erdmans’ Handbook to the Bible”).

GENERAL OUTLINE

Theme: “ISRAEL UNDER THE JUDGES”

  1. The Need For The Judges (1-2)
  2. The Work Of The Judges (3-16)
  3. Two Additional Episodes (17-21)

THE 12 JUDGES OF ISRAEL

  1. Othniel (3:7-11): He was from the tribe of Judah. He defeated King Cushan-Rishathaim.
  2. Ehud (3:12-31): He was from the tribe of Benjamin and defeated Eglon, the fat king of Moab.
  3. Shamgar (3:31): He fought against the Philistines.
  4. Deborah and Barak (4-5): Deborah, from the tribe of Epharaim, was a woman judge in the judicial sense. Her song is recorded in chapter 5. Barak, from the tribe of Naphtali, was the military leader. They defeated King Jaban and his general, Sisera.
  5. Gideon (6-8): Gideon of Manasseh defeated the Midianites and the Amelikites. (Abimelech, told of in chapter 9, is considered an outlaw and not a judge.)
  6. Tola (10:1-2): This judge was from the tribe of Issachar.
  7. Jair (10:3-5): Jair was from Gilead.
  8. Jephthah (10:6 – 12:7): Jephthah of Gilead defeated the Ammonites.
  9. Ibzan (12:8-10): He was from Bethlehem.
  10. Elon (12:11-12): This judge was from Zebulun.
  11. Abdon (12:13-15): He was from Ephraim.
  12. Samson (13-16): This famous judge from Dan fought against the Philistines. Survey the chapters on the judges. You will notice that we know very little about some of them. But about some, such as Gideon and Samson, we have several chapters.

Old Testament


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New Testament


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About the Bible


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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.