Review: 1 Samuel for You

Chances are if you know anything in the book of 1 Samuel it is the story of David and Goliath. Those unfamiliar with most of the Bible at least know this story. Whether the metaphor be used in sports or something else, we want to cheer for David. We see ourselves as ‘the David’ in the story. We all have giants and we need to defeat them. However, having this particular framework is not fruitful. One, to speak of the story of David and Goliath in this way risks turning the narrative into nothing more than allegory. Two, it removes the story from the larger context. 1 Samuel 17 is a part of the whole book and is set in a context of the grand narrative of the Bible. We are not meant to take the place of David (Chester 126-127). The imagery in 1 Samuel 17 reminds us of Genesis 3 and points us to Jesus Christ. See, rather than us playing the role of David, David is meant to point us to Christ. This is just one takeaway from Tim Chester’s 1 Samuel For You in the God’s Word For You series.

The series’ goal is for the learner to read, to feed, and to lead. It excels in all three. Chester does a tremendous job explaining the text as well as phrases and words some people may not know, thus, making the book readable. He aids us in understanding what a well-known verse really does mean (Chester 90-91), clarifying what is meant by the removal of God’s Spirit from Saul (Chester 113), and how we need to see the issue of mediums and spiritists (Chester 185-186).

The book’s approach is not nearly as much concerned with commentary as it is forimage devotional use. The questions for reflection at the end of each section prove this to be the case. They encourage the reader to apply what they have learned to their own lives without burdening them with a long list of questions (each section has three questions for reflection). Its opening paragraphs relate the text to a contemporary setting, showing how what happened back then can, in some manner, be applied to what God is doing in our lives now. In the tenth study which includes 1 Samuel 21:1-23:25 (Chester 163-164), I was especially struck with the reminder that as David went through the wilderness and faced suffering before glory (which also points us to Christ), so we live the Christian life knowing that we will face hardship and suffering before we go to be with God in glory one day.

While this book is probably best used as a devotional resource, it can be a tool for leaders in their equipping so that they may be able to clearly teach the Bible to others. One form I saw this in was the use of illustrations. One particular illustration sticks out: in discussing the matter that we, as mere humans, cannot use and manipulate God, Tim Chester compares it with treating God as a waiter in a restaurant. God is not a God who serves us when we want to be served while we sit, eat, and get fat. No, God is a God who is sovereign and who works things out in His ways and His timing.

In conclusion, the God’s Word For You series seeks to provide Bible-centered, Christ-glorifying, relevantly applied, and easily readable resources for the study of God’s Word (Chester 5). I believe they have accomplished this in their 1 Samuel For You volume. I heartily recommend this resource for anyone who desires to know the Word of God deeper, to grow in applying the Word to life, and to see how it all points to Jesus Christ.

I received this book for free from The Good Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

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