Tag Archives | David

First and Second Samuel | Walter Brueggemann

The cover of Brueggemann's First and Second SamuelThe books of Samuel describe a critical shift in the life of Israel.

When the book begins, Israel had suffered through a series of increasingly impotent judges. The loose confederation of tribes increasingly wandered from God and did what seemed right in their own eyes. Into this world Hannah struggled and conceived a child—Samuel. When the book ends, Israel is a monarchy under the rule of King David, the second of two Kings Samuel anointed.

Here is the critical shift: Israel has gone from being a nation under YHWH to a nation under human kings.

Brueggemann’s commentary is excellent. He presents a close reading of the story of Samuel, Saul, and David with an eye for detail. All the political nuances which might escape the casual reader of scripture are brought to the forefront for consideration.

In Brueggemann’s reading, the heroes and villains of scripture are no one-sided caricatures. They are complicated, as human beings always are. David is no mere Sunday School hero—he is at the same time politically shrewd and spiritually attuned. He is human, warts and all.

The Interpretation commentary series is not overly technical. I would encourage any thoughtful Christian with a love for scripture to pick up this gem and read it alongside the text.


Brueggemann, Walter.  First and Second Samuel. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1990.

A Path to Humility | Shane Claiborne

Scripture is full of God using folks like a lying brothel owner named Rahab and an adulterous king named David. At one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves.

—Shane Claiborne, Red Letter Revolution: What if Jesus Really Meant What He Said?, 58.

The First Book of Samuel | David Toshio Tsumura

Tsumura’s entry in Eerdman’s NICOT commentary series is strong. Here is where it’s most useful:

  1. Ancient Hebrew: The core of this commentary is Tsumura’s ability to bring out the meaning of the original language. Interconnections within the text and play-on-words come to life in English under Tsumura’s hand.
  2. Geography: There are many military exploits in 1 Samuel where the geography is taken for granted. Tsumura describes the relationship between towns and how the landscape would either benefit or imperil a military assault.
  3. Modern Translation Discrepancies: If you read 1 Samuel in a variety of English translations, you discover a number of different interpretive options. This is especially noticeable in a small group setting, where each participant has their own favored translation at hand. More than most Old Testament books, there are a number of differences between the MT and the LXX, which in turn leads to a plethora of English interpretations. Tsumura’s an expert guide at navigating the MT and LXX options.

My only real issue with Tsumura’s book was his lack of narrative perspective. The significance and theological implications of many events were passed over quite quickly. If you’re looking to wrestle with the implications of the narrative, read Brueggemann’s First and Second Samuel from the Interpretation commentary series alongside the NICOT offering. (Conversely, Brueggemann passes over a lot of the technical information that Tsumura has mastered.)

David Tsumura’s commentary is an excellent resource for any pastor or serious parishioner who wants to dive deeply into the Samuel, Saul, and David stories.

Ezekiel 34:23-31: King David

If we’re going to get the most out of the Jesus story,
we’ll want first to soak our imaginations in the David story.
— Eugene H. Peterson (Leap Over A Wall)

David’s dead.

The archetypal, illustrious, glorious, [insert superlative here] King David has been off the political scene for centuries. Even so, v. 23 opens with, “I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David” (NRSV).

Why would Ezekiel write such a thing?

In some of the Arthur legends, it is rumored that Merlin never died—that he is just biding his time in anonymity. Could it be that King David is biding his time, waiting to return? Never mind the anachronism—Israel did not believe those sort of fairytales.

At this stage in Israel’s development, some believed that there would be a massive resurrection of the dead.  Could Ezekiel be talking about a time when Yahweh would resurrect his favourite king? The text does not point that way.

Israel was raised with stories of the “good old days”. They knew that there has never been a king like David—a king that ruled over both the Northern and Southern kingdoms. A king that despite his sins always repented and was labeled a man after God’s own heart.

Yahweh would restore Israel by indicting and banishing false shepherds, taking the shepherd responsibility on himself, and then appoint a king who would be a veritable David figure.The days to come would outshine the “good old days”.

. . .

There are three great promises to Israel in this passage:

  1. Creation itself would be restored to its Edenic potential. Wild animals will be vanquished, rain will fall perfectly, and the earth will yield fruit—there will be no more hunger.
  2. Israel will be fully protected from her political enemies.  They will no longer have to face insults, wars, and sieges. In fact, “no one shall make them afraid” (v. 28, NRSV).
  3. Here is the most important promise: Yahweh himself will be their God. The time of Yahweh abandoning his people in judgment to the crushing fist of Babylon is over.  In the words of Isaiah:

For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:7-8, NRSV

When we read these words from a New Testament perspective, the truth is clear: Jesus is the Davidic Shepherd who came for his flock. The Jewish people were looking for a Messiah who would be as good as David. We see Jesus, and realize that David was only a pale reflection of the glory that would come.

. . .

Lord Jesus, thank you for shepherding us. Birth in our hearts an anticipation for the day when all of creation will be restored, and we will be free from sin. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

< Ezekiel 34:11-22 | Revoked Responsibility

Ezekiel 35:1-15 | Tables Turned >

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