Survey of the Old Testament

1st Samuel – The book of First Samuel tells us about the change in Government from Judges to Kings. The prophet Samuel was the connecting link between the Judges and the organization of the Kingdom of Israel under the Kings Saul and David. First Samuel tells us about the selection of Saul by God to be Israel’s first King, his subsequent disobedience to God and fall from grace, and the selection and appointment of David as King. It is thought that both First and Second Samuel were written by the prophet Samuel.

2nd Samuel– In the Hebrew Bible First and Second Samuel are one book. Second Samuel tells us about the life of Israel’s greatest King, King David. Second Samuel tells us about David’s great victories in war, the story of David and Bathsheba, about his troubles and triumphs.

1st Kings– Like 1st & 2nd Samuel, in the Hebrew Bible First and Second Kings are one book. First Kings tells us about the wisdom and reign of Solomon, about the Temple, the splendor of Solomon’s court, the historical record of Northern Kingdom, the division and decay of the Kingdom, the Apostasy of the Ten Tribes, and the story of Elijah the prophet. Author unknown.

2nd Kings– Continues where 1st Kings leaves off telling the story of the Divided Kingdom, the story of the prophet Elisha, the last 130 years of the Northern Kingdom, the Last 250 years of the Southern Kingdom, the Captivity of Israel by Assyria, and the Captivity of Judah by Babylon. Both 1st & 2nd Kings were intended to teach great moral lessons rather than reveal history

1st Chronicles – Like Deuteronomy First and Second Chronicles is the retelling of events in the History of Israel to another generation. First Chronicles is similar in content to Second Samuel. It is the story of David retold for the purpose of emphasis and to educate another generation. Tradition assigns the authorship of 1st & 2nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah & Ester to Ezra.

2 Chronicles– Second Chronicles covers the same historical background and moral lessons as 1st & 2nd Kings including the reign of Solomon and the history of Judah after the destruction of the ten Northern tribes.

Ezra– After the destruction of the Ten Northern Tribes, Judah was carried into Babylonian captivity. Ezra tells the story of the 1st & 2nd return to Palestine from captivity and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah– Nehemiah tells the story of the 3rd return from Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem.

Esther– Tells the story of Esther, a beautiful Jewish woman held in captivity who becomes the wife of the King. Some have suggested that this story be read between the sixth and seventh chapters of Ezra.

Job– Address the problem of human suffering. It is likely the oldest book in the Bible, likely written by Job himself telling of events which occurred during the Patriarchal age, around 2000 years B.C.

Psalms– Devotional thoughts, songs, poems, sermons In the English bible, the book of Psalms is generally at the very center of the printed text. I checked several Bibles in my library; without a single exception, opening to the middle page put me in the Psalms. This coincidental fact points to a more important spiritual truth.

The Psalms of the O.T. are at the heart of the spiritual experiences of Jew and Gentile believer alike.

  • a. The book of Psalms was a manual and guide for the devotional life of Jewish believer.
  • b. It came to be used as a hymnal at the temple and synagogue.
  • c. The early church used it both in public and in private meetings
  • d. It still serves the people of God today by providing devotional, reflection, comfort, encouragement, praise to God, prayers of penitence, etc.
  • e. At least 73 are attributed to David, 2 – Solomon (Ps 72, 127); 1-Herman (88); 1-Ethan (89) (Cf. 1 Kings 4:31); 1- Moses (90); 23-Levitical singing groups of Asaph (50,73-83) and Korah (42-49, 84,85,87). The remainder are anonymous.
  • f. They cover a range of history going as far into O.T. events as the exile in Babylon (137) and possibly even the return from captivity (126) and the rebuilding of the temple (147).

Proverbs– Book of wisdom – Judaism’s guidebook to successful living. Proverb means “likeness, comparison, symbolic statement, or parable.”

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