How do you place the suffering of the people of God into its proper historical context? Well, you begin by giving them the history behind their suffering. God had called a people to Himself out of Egypt.
They had covenanted together. Yahweh would be their God, and they would be His people. But it didn’t take long before the people had broken faith and turned their backs on God. They followed after pagan gods, even to the point of offering their children as sacrifices. As a result, God chastised them, sending first Israel, and then Judah into exile. When those broken and hurting people asked why they were in the situation they were in, the book of Kings became part of the answer.
First and Second Kings give the history of Israel, mainly during the time of the divided monarchies. In 1 & 2 Kings, David Schreiner is attempting to take the content of the biblical books and give interpretation along with help in preaching the material found in these books. In this task, Schreiner gets mixed marks.
The layout of the book is excellent. It begins with simple sermon concepts from each text in first and second Kings. This is followed by introductory material to the books, then the largest section, which is the unpacking of each text. The sermon outlines are a mixed bag, with some being very helpful and tied to the text, while others are abstracted a little too much for my liking. There also are some questionable theological concepts (Schreiner brings out in one text that a lesson the Israelites needed to learn was the lesson that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” I fail to see the biblical basis or backing for this). Overall though, the outlines push the reader to wrestle through how they draw preaching blocks from the material.
The background material has some high points as well. The author’s emphasis on the original
audience of the book of Kings is important, as many sermon series through the Old Testament often skip
the original audience. Schreiner’s insights are marred however by some high-text critical assumptions. He
does not see Moses as the author of Deuteronomy and pulls Deuteronomy and Samuel into the same
family of texts. This confusion can serve also to confuse the issue of the original audience and even the
purpose of the book, which muddies the positive mentioned above. Fortunately, any high text criticism seems to disappear in the actual unpacking of the text, and the author simply works within the biblical narrative to give his thoughts on the interpretation and application of what is happening throughout the reigns of the various kings of Israel and Judah. There is much to learn and enjoy in this section of the book, and Schreiner’s theological and exegetical insights are thoughtful and helpful.
The strength of this book is its contribution to the body of resources available to the pastor who is
preaching through the text. If combined with other resources, it can be a helpful tool, with the weaknesses
mentioned above brought into consideration. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel in exchange
for an honest review.