Yesterday I laid out the Bible reading plan that I use to get truly Christian edification out of my Bible study. Today I want to go through a case study of using my proposed plan.
Profitable Bible Reading Case Study:
I have been reading through 1 Samuel following the plan as previously discussed. For the most part, the beginning of the book was loaded with chapters that practically screamed with Christian encouragement. Types of Christ were easy to find, and the drama was not resistant to personal application. Recently however, that changed when we came upon . So I thought it would make a good case study — precisely because it is not the most obvious, and lets face it, when Bible study guides pick out the easy well tread passages it feels a bit like cheating!
Reading aloud already gave me a sense this was not going to be an easy study. Saul begins his reign (presumably following Samuel’s admonition in the previous chapter) and things already look pretty bleak. Hmm? Oh well, on with the reading. Jonathan shows strength that his father takes credit for, but the Philistines decide to put a kibosh on any hopes by mustering a massive army (), the trembling Israelites are no match for them, especially since they have no weapons!(v.22) The center of the drama however, is not in the tension between Israel and Philistia, rather it exist in the center of the chapter between Saul and Samuel (and God by extension). Saul fails to obey and wait for Samuel to offer sacrifices and because of this loses his kingdom.
After asking the initial question, “what is this about” we should probably focus on Saul’s losing the kingdom. So a first shot at a complete idea could be: ‘Saul loses the kingdom through religious disobedience.’
Now, we are ready to dive back in, looking for any and all details.
- the duration of Saul’s reign is unsure
- verse three is most certainly not the beginning of Saul’s reign (c.f. v.19)
- Saul’s superior force is (presumably) not successful while Jonathan is.
- The Philistines response is formidable.
- Fear is so bad people are willing to hide in graves (dead with fear yet alive, )
- 3,000 men are dwindled down to 600
- *Saul waits for Samuel 7 days (c.f. 10:8), but not very long on the 7th day.
- *Saul reacts to the peoples fear.
- *Samuel does not argue with Saul- he only pronounces judgment.
- *Saul’s kingship is established by obedience.
- *Saul could have obeyed! (v.13f)
- *David already in God’s purpose (note the pass tense v.14)
Well that wrapped up stage 1 for me – though a few more details could have been brought out – this was a good start.
This was intimidating. Was there anything that jumped out in relation to the person and work of Christ? Not really. After a while, attention was given to the harshness of Samuel’s response to Saul’s first (noted) disobedience. I began to think about Moses’ sin which prohibited him from entering the promise land. Then it was suggested that Saul could have obeyed, and I could not help but thinking of the four-fold state of man. That got me thinking about Adam and Christ the 2nd Adam. Adam in the garden was the head of the Human race (prophet, priest and king?) and was given a covenant of life upon the condition of perfect obedience. So too, Saul was the head of God’s people – upon condition of obedience?? What about Christ? Isn’t Christ the truly obedient King? Christ is the head of God’s elect – but unlike Adam and Saul, he perfectly obeys in all things. What he gains he attributes to His people, unlike Saul who attributed to himself the gain of his people (v.3f). This connection to the covenant of works is perhaps further underlined in when God covenants with David in clearly gracious terms and in contrast to Saul (). It also bares remarking on the result of Adam’s disobedience being naked and subject to sin and death crouching at the door. Saul is left with nothing but 600 disarmed men against an innumerable enemy. In spite of the death-dark picture disobedience has brought on the landscape, “The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, … to be prince over His people” – the second Adam, the true King.
Ok, there is some real meat here after all! But what does it mean for our life now? At least this:
- We must not fear Saul’s rejection of kingship. Christ being our King and forerunner has already established the kingdom in righteousness and perfect obedience
- Like Saul, we have the opportunity to obey (c.f. , and remember the 4-fold state of man!)
- I would be remiss if I did not bring up, ‘obedience is better than sacrifice’!
I shortened some of the thought process I went through for the sake of readability, but I think you can get the idea of what my Bible reading plan looks like in action. At first, connections to Christ can be difficult, and if we try to make connections too quickly it can lead to all sorts of strange ideas. However, I noticed that when the Pactum Salutis starts staring me in the face – it almost seems too obvious. I would love to hear in the comments below if you think I missed anything, or if you think I was way off in my reading. Reading your Bible is not only a duty, its a means of grace, and it doesn’t have to be painful to find it profitable.
5 And the Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude. They came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. (ESV)
By Grace Through Faith
2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (ESV)
God’s Covenant with David
7:1 Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2 the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” 3 And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”
4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ 8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
David’s Prayer of Gratitude
18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! 20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. 22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? 24 And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O Lord, became their God. 25 And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. 26 And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you. 27 For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. 29 Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.” (ESV)
15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. (ESV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (ESV)