Studying the Historical Books

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After completing our 3 1/2-year cycle of readings in the Torah, we’ve decided to continue with the historical books that follow, beginning with Joshua. We’ll read first about the conquest of the Canaanite tribes, then examine the disappointing time of the Judges – punctuated by the exploits of Gideon and Samson – and the turmoil that led up to the anointing of Saul as King.

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August 14, 2022 – 2 Samuel 2 – David anointed in Judah, but Ishbosheth rules in Israel

David is anointed king of Judah, while Saul’s son Ishbosheth is made king of Israel. Their conflicting reigns illustrate the internal spiritual struggle that takes place when we hear the gospel but “self” tries to maintain control.

Notes on 2 Samuel 2:1-32

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August 7, 2022 – Observe the Fast of Ab

The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple – first by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. and later by the Romans in 70 A.D. – are marked by Jews each year at the Fast of Ab. It is a time of mourning and deep reflection on the sins that brought God’s judgment on them, and points us all toward the path of repentance.

For Christians, the fast can be a time of thanksgiving for the forgiveness provided by Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross.

In fact, the medieval Jewish commentator Maimonides said that all these fasts would cease in the times of the Messiah:

Zechariah 8:19“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.”

Notes on the Fast of Ab

The Fast of Ab and ‘Baseless Hatred’

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July 31, 2022 – 2 Samuel 1 – David Learns of Saul’s Death

This begins the new book of 2 Samuel. When an Amalekite turns up in David’s camp, he brings news of the Israelite defeat and the death of Saul and Jonathan. He also gives David Saul’s crown and bracelet in an attempt to ingratiate himself. And he reveals that he killed Saul at his request before the Philistines could torture or further desecrate his body. But David executes him instead, and writes a lament for the fallen leaders.

Notes on 2 Samuel 1:1-27

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July 24, 2022 – 1 Samuel 31 – The Last Days of Saul

King Saul’s reign ends in tragedy as Israel’s army is routed by the Philistines, and Saul takes his own life under confusing circumstances. The body of Saul and his sons are desecrated and hung up in a Philistine city. The men of Jabesh-gilead, remembering Saul’s saving them in the early stage of his kingship, take down the bodies, burn them and bury the bones.

Notes on 1 Samuel 31:1-13

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July 17, 2022 – The Fast of Tammuz

Zechariah 8:19 – “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.”

The Fast of Tammuz begins a three-week season of mourning and repentance. The first fast reminded Jews of the day when the wall of Jerusalem was breached by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. (and later by the Romans in 70 A.D.) The Fast of Ab three weeks later designates the complete destruction of the Temple and Israel carried off into captivity. The focus of this season is on the idolatry that brought God’s judgment upon them, and a search to rid ourselves of any idolatry within ourselves.

The medieval Jewish commentator Maimonides said that all these fasts would cease in the times of the Messiah. So Zechariah’s prophesy points to God’s final victory, which as believers we celebrate from our position as “seated with him in the heavenlies.”

Notes on the Fast of Tammuz

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July 10, 2022 – 1 Samuel 29 & 30 – David Remembers Who He Is

The Philistine leaders don’t trust David to join their invasion of Israel, so he and his men are sent back to Ziklag. They find a disaster – the Amalekites have burned their homes and captured their wives and children. In his greatest moment of despair, David “encourages himself in the Lord.” God assures him he will prevail, and David and his men defeat the Amalekites, recover everyone alive and distribute the extra spoils to those who had aided him in Israel.

Notes on 1 Samuel 29:1-11 and 30:1-31

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June 26, 2022 – 1 Samuel 28 – Saul and the Witch of Endor

When the Philistine army invades, Saul needs a word from God on what to do. But God is silent. So instead, Saul seeks out a medium, someone who can conjure up the dead. He asks her to summon the dead prophet Samuel. But Samuel’s message is devastating for Saul, and predicts defeat and death.

Notes on 1 Samuel 28:1-25

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