Tim Chester. 1 Samuel for You. The Good Book Company, 2014. 221 pp. $22.99.
The God’s Word for You series from The Good Book Company has quickly become my favorite source of devotional reading. In addition to being used in conjunction with personal devotions, the books are designed to also be read straight through or used as an aid in preparing to teach. These books are not commentaries, but they are expositional and reveal much more about the background and meaning of the biblical texts than typical devotionals. They’re accessible to one unfamiliar with the Bible, but at the same time enjoyable as a devotional read for those more seasoned in Bible study and familiar with the particular texts.
The latest volume, 1 Samuel for You by Tim Chester, is the first I’ve read from the series on an Old Testament book. Because lay Christians tend to struggle with reading the Old Testament (whether just struggling to actually read it and/or struggling to interpret and apply it), I’m always on the lookout for helpful resources on Old Testament books. 1 Samuel for You hit the proverbial ball out of the park.
1 Samuel is more familiar to most Christians than many other books of the Old Testament; it’s here that we find many of the beloved stories of David that are ingrained in our minds since childhood Sunday School. Yet often the actual point of the texts are missed as we stay on the surface and merely draw moralistic applications. Perhaps the greatest strength of 1 Samuel for You is that it draws out how the biblical texts and certain characters and events point toward Christ. One prime example of this concerns the very familiar story of David and Goliath. Chester shows how Goliath is presented as a snake and David defeats him with a head wound, harking back to the prophecy in Genesis 3:15.
[D]avid is the Christ – the prototype of and pointer to Jesus Christ…in Luke 3:21-22, Jesus is anointed by the Spirit as the king-designate. This is David and Goliath revisited. This is Israel in the wilderness revisited. This is Adam in the garden revisited. Jesus is the true son of David, the true son of Abraham and the true son of Adam (3:31, 34, 38).
So often when the stories of David are taught, we are immediately told to emulate David’s qualities while the typology is completely missed; but over and over again Chester helps us see that the ultimate point is “not that we are called to be like David. It’s good news that we have a David” (127). Of course we shouldn’t ignore practical application, and Chester doesn’t; this book is also richly devotional and immensely practical.
The combination of accessible Christ-centered exposition and devotional/practical application makes 1 Samuel for You an ideal devotional and guide to the book of 1 Samuel for laymen. Again, this is not a commentary so additional works should be sought by those pursuing more in-depth study.
Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews for the review copy!