Biblical Theology: History Books | Race in the Bible

by | May 7, 2024


Biblical Theology: History Books | Race in the Bible

Is the idea of race in the Bible? In the last episode of this series, Adrianna Anderson joined Austin to study the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. This week, we’re looking at the history books of the Old Testament: Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. God’s desire for His people was to be a light to the Nations. In these books, we see Israel relating to the surrounding peoples and sadly being influenced by them instead of the other way around. Despite their unfaithfulness, God remains faithful to His covenant and committed to blessing the nations through His chosen people, Israel. While it would be incorrect to apply modern conceptions of race to Scripture, the idea that God calls people of every tribe, tongue, and nation to follow Him is clear from the earliest pages of Scripture.

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Episode Transcript

Grace and Peace, friends. Welcome back to United We Pray. Austin Souter joined once again by Adriana Anderson. How are you, sister? I’m doing great, how are you? I’m doing well. I’m really looking forward to this episode. And I apologize listeners if we go a little bit long, but today we are going to be looking at 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, and 1st and 2nd Chronicles. So these are the history books following the time of the judges. And there’s a lot in here and a lot about the nations and peoples and God’s work throughout them all. So I’m really excited for today. same. For context, Judges mentions a problem. And there’s, I mean, Judges has a host of problems for the people of God, but there’s one central thing that the author of Judges keeps coming back to. What is that? Adrianna Anderson (00:48.898) So the author of Judges lets us know pretty immediately that there was no king in Israel. Because as you remember, I think it was Joshua 21, 25 says, there was no king in Israel because everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes. And so that definitely gives some prelude to what was happening with the nation of Israel and just the sadness of what. things they were doing that weren’t right in God’s eyes for sure. And even in the law that we saw several episodes ago, there’s provision made for a king. But before we get to the king, we meet these sort of transitional figures who are called prophets. Who was Samuel? So Samuel, for those of you that are not aware, was born to a man by the name of Elkanah, and Elkanah had two wives, unfortunately. But in particular, Hannah is one of Samuel’s wife, and Hannah was barren and… she was not able to have children and so she prays fervently to God for a child and the Lord eventually opens her womb and answers her prayer and then Samuel is born. And I love the story of Hannah because when he’s born she dedicates him to God and then God Adrianna Anderson (02:16.514) assigns him or calls him to be a prophet to the nation of Israel. I just love him and his story and how the Lord brought him to be. It’s a remarkable story and it’s a sweet narrative. It’s just, it’s a joy to read both Hannah and even Samuel at a young age, their fidelity to the Lord and their desire to follow him. And so Samuel grows up, he becomes a prophet and as he’s serving as prophet, the people demand a king and Samuel’s not thrilled about that. Why not? That’s right. Adrianna Anderson (02:50.242) So for those of you that have your Bibles, I’d love to just quickly read 1 Samuel chapter 8. And I just want to read two verses because I think it helps set context. And this is what it says. And the Lord said to Samuel, obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day forsaking me and serving other gods so they also are doing to you and so wow Talk about a slap in the face, you know, just very very sad but You know, again, and I know we have said this throughout these recordings, but it’s worth noting again, Israel is sadly known for and I hate to use such a strong term, but scripture uses it, whoring after false gods and forsaking the one true God. And Israel has at this point. in their lives decided that they want their own king. They want to be like the other nations. And so God says, okay, you got it. Here you go. And that’s honestly, that’s a scary dynamic. I mean, you see that same thing in Romans one where worse than the discipline of God is God giving us over to our wrong desires. If that’s what you want, here you go. See how that works out for you. And that happens. And from here, we get this short -lived run as King from a man named Saul. Who is he? What’s he like? And what goes wrong? Adrianna Anderson (04:26.562) Yeah. Here you go. Yeah. Adrianna Anderson (04:41.634) So Saul was the son of a man named Kish and Kish was a wealthy benjamite benjamite and Saul it’s very interesting because the scripture describes describes him as more handsome and taller than anyone in Israel and I just find that very interesting but basically the Lord sent Samuel to anoint Saul as king over Israel because okay Israel you want a king here you go and then over the of time we just see some key things about Saul that I think are interesting and noteworthy. So he ends up defeating the Ammonites, the kingdom gets renewed, Samuel now makes his departure and says basically goodbye to all of the people. Saul continues to fight, he fights the Philistines, but then he makes an unlawful sacrifice and a rash vow and at this point… we see the Lord rejecting Saul. Some words, or some translations use words like the Lord repented that he appointed Saul or he regretted that he appointed Saul. And so, you know, this is kind of one of those points in scripture where your heart drops. It’s like, oh my gosh, he appointed him, but now it’s grieving him that he has made them or made him. And it’s just tragic that Israel is meant to be set apart in a light to the nations. The people want a king so that they can be like the nations. God appoints this strapping young man who really looks like a king, but he ends up behaving like the nations. And it’s just bad all around. So then the Lord anoints another king. How is David different even at first meeting than Saul? So David, you know, the Lord basically tells Samuel, you know, he’s like, stop it. Stop grieving over Saul. Like, how long are you going to grieve over him? I’ve rejected him from being king over Israel. And so he tells him, like, fill your horn with oil. I’m going to send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, who we learn is King David’s father. And so, you know, Samuel. Austin Suter (06:54.122) Son of Obed, right? Son of Obed, that’s right. Right. So there we see that lineage again. And we looked at that in the Book of Ruth for those that have listened to that episode. And so, you know, God gives Samuel these instructions. He tells him to take a heifer with him. He’s going to come sacrifice. He invites Jesse to the sacrifice. And the Lord tells him, I’m going to show you whom I am appointing to be king. So then you have this scene where Jesse calls his sons and there’s seven of them minus the one we’re about to talk about. You know, they all walk in front of Samuel kind of like, you know, this parade, if you will. You know, the Lord says, no, it’s not any of these. So then Samuel’s like, OK, Jesse, do you have any other sons? Oh, I happen to have one more and ends up being the youngest son who was the keeper of the sheep. And then. Samuel calls for him to be bought in front of him and lo and behold, he was the one and this is David the youngest. And I also think it’s very interesting that David was noted as being a handsome and ready young man and so the Lord tells Samuel to anoint him as king. And you know, I think one of the most profound differences we see some similarities in how David and Saul are described, but the biggest difference that we will see as we walk through the Old Testament and specifically in these books is that there was a big difference in the hearts of Saul and David. Austin Suter (08:31.178) Yes, and we’ll see that moving forward. So Samuel anoints David as king, and then he goes home, and David goes home, and Saul’s still king. How in the world is that gonna work? So, you know, it’s a very interesting dynamic. Obviously, you have two kings, if you will. Saul does not yet know that he’s no longer king in God’s eyes. But I think it’s interesting because scripture notes that Saul loves David and then David ends up becoming his armor bearer, which is a whole other dynamic. You see… these different feats of David, like he kills Goliath. He ends up becoming close friends with Jonathan, which is Saul’s son. David ends up marrying Saul’s daughter, Michael. And then you see a shift. So then Saul now is trying to repeatedly kill David because he’s jealous of him. You know, and then David has many different opportunities to kill Saul. But because. David fears God, he doesn’t take those opportunities to kill him and he could have. And so, you know, the important thing to remember is that David didn’t take those opportunities to eliminate this king because he feared God more than taking his rightful place, if you will. And that’s something we’ll see in these books and in the next episode on the exile is that the people who are trusting God trust God with the outcome. They don’t take matters into their own hands. They don’t try to reverse engineer their desired outcome. They trust God and obey the commands they’ve been given. And sometimes that works out really well for them. Sometimes it doesn’t. But the important thing is fidelity to God, not how it goes worse. OK. Adrianna Anderson (10:10.946) That’s right. Adrianna Anderson (10:28.29) That’s right. So when Saul eventually does die, there’s sort of a brief skirmish for succession, there’s different people vying for the throne, but then David takes the throne. What is his reign like, especially early on? So you have Saul dies in battle, then his son Jonathan also dies in battle, the same battle. David’s informed and you see that he mourns both of them. So then, you know, there’s another kind of inclination or door into David’s heart because you have Saul who’s obviously has hotly pursued him and he could have killed him. But because he was so respectful of the anointing, God on Saul’s life. He didn’t and so Then you have this other person that appears on the scene Who’s a son of Saul and his name is Ish -b’shef? So they make him king over Gilead and then David was made king over Hebron So you have now these two different areas and territories a battle breaks out between the house of Saul and the house of David that continues and David’s reign is tumultuous to say the least. There’s bloodshed. But in spite of all those things, David ends up taking the throne. He defeats the Philistines, ends up bringing the ark back to Jerusalem. And then the Lord makes a covenant with David in which he promises to establish his throne forever. And I love this insertion of this truth into scripture because… Adrianna Anderson (12:07.138) this same covenant is very reminiscent of the promise of the coming King Jesus and that through his covenant, his throne would never end as well. And so it’s just a beautiful picture of Christ. And you see the continuity too of scripture in how they build on each other. And in Jesus fulfilling this Davidic covenant, he also fulfills the Abrahamic covenant. And in his reign, all nations will be blessed. So, I mean, God is just calling his shot very early. And in the chapters that follow what you just talked about, the Lord gives David success against the nations that have been opposing and oppressing Israel, but then David lets his guard down. What happens then? Oh David, yes, he did let his guard down. So, you know, the Lord had obviously given him great victories that he enjoyed, but he committed a grave and deep sin against the Lord. And so scripture reminds us that at the time when kings were supposed to be off at war, David decides to stay in Jerusalem. So he’s walking on the house on the house rooftop or of his home. He sees Bathsheba bathing. He sends for her, ends up sleeping with her, and she gets pregnant. But the other part of the story is that she has a husband who’s in his military and at the top of his command, and he ends up having him killed. And some of you may have heard the story of Uriah. So he ends up putting him on the front lines. He has him killed. And then he takes Bathsheba to be his own wife, like… Adrianna Anderson (13:49.73) This is no big deal. But you know from this time on David’s life is filled with turmoil and strife and it’s just devastating that this man who is known as a man after God’s own heart would do something like this and it grieved the Lord. It grieved him. It’s so tragic. And what you see afterwards is something different, which is the dynamic of the prophets in the time of the kings. So prior to the time of the kings, the prophets were sort of intermediary figures like Moses and Joshua, who were sort of leading the people at times. You see that in the life of Eli, the predecessor to Samuel. But in the time of the kings, the prophets serve as kind of an accountability measure for the kings. So we see that in the life of David when Nathan comes to him. The prophet Nathan is the one who shows up to call David to account for his sin. And you see that famous confrontation where he tells David a story, David gets all riled up, and then there’s that climactic, thou art the man, and David repents. But 2 Samuel ends with a different sin of David and something, a dynamic we haven’t seen yet. David sins and the people suffer as a result of David’s sin. Right. Mm -hmm. Austin Suter (15:10.474) What’s going on with that dynamic? Oh wow, yeah, so you know as we know Israel wanted a king to rule over them and God granted their request. They are now reaping the results of their request for a king and it’s woven throughout their lifetime and so David actually committed a sin by numbering the nation of Israel and I think that account is in 2 Samuel 24. But we’re given kind of some insight into what that means in 1st Chronicles 20 -21, I believe it is, where it says that Satan incited David to do this. And so, God ends up giving David three options as a consequence, and he has to choose one. So the first consequence is you can have three years of famine. The second one is you can have three years of fleeing from your foes or your enemies while they’re pursuing you. And then the final one was he could have three days of pestilence. And so, David, you know, scripture just says that he chose to fall into the hands of God’s mercy. And so the Lord ends up deciding what the penalty is going to be. And he ends up sending the pestilence. And this is devastating because you have seventy thousand men die. And then scripture gives us further insight and it tells us that the angel, You’re seeing the angel stretch out his hand next toward Jerusalem to destroy it. But this is the miracle. God relents from the calamity of destroying Jerusalem because of his great mercy. We constantly see this woven throughout this book and throughout the entirety of scripture. God relented from the calamity that he was going to destroy them with. And then David ends up building an altar. Adrianna Anderson (17:04.482) God responds to his cry and plea for the land because he’s crying out to them and he averts the plague. And so sad but true, this same pattern continues to be woven throughout scripture and unfortunately this does set the stage for the decline of Israel because they were continually relying on the arm of the flesh. I think you mentioned that a little while ago. They were looking to themselves and that’s what David was doing. Like, I’m going to build up this army and you know, we’re going to take care of all of this. And God says, no, you need to look to me for kingship, not to your own selves. And I appreciate you bringing in the account from Chronicles because as we go through these books, 1st and 2nd Samuel and then 1st and 2nd Kings are pretty much chronological in narrative about the time of the kings. And then in the books of Chronicles, we sort of go back and get commentary on what was going on and we get more detail that’s left out of these first accounts. For example, with the temple, what happens with the building of the temple? Yes, that’s right. Adrianna Anderson (18:11.49) So you have a very interesting dynamic here because David has in his heart, you know, I have this beautiful home, this place to live and the Lord, there’s no place to put the Ark. And so, you know, so he’s now fabricating or designing and dreaming up, you know, I’m going to build this amazing, you know, place for the Lord to dwell. And the Lord says, David, no, you’re not going to. be the one to build the temple, even though it’s in your heart to do so. And this is the reason he tells him. And I don’t know if listeners are aware of this, but because David is a man of war and great bloodshed, the Lord tells him, you’re not going to be the one to build this for me. It’s going to be your son, Solomon. And so it’s an amazing conversation. I admonish you to go back and read it. because it’s just filled with lots of information and just a deep message to really all of us about how our sin can really prohibit us from doing some of the things that God calls us to do or even doing some of the things that are in our heart to do for the Lord. Yeah, yeah, that accountability is definitely there. At the beginning of the book of first kings, David dies and Solomon is appointed king. Oh, I’m sorry. I’m at the wrong page of my notes. We’ll cut that. That’s okay. That’s okay. Austin Suter (19:47.754) So Solomon is going to build this temple. What’s the difference between the temple and the tabernacle? So the temple is what Solomon built for the Lord. But the tabernacle is actually where David worshiped. And so that would be the difference between the two of those. And God’s permanent residence in the land was significant because the temple was not only built for Israel to worship the Lord, but it was also built so that all the nations could… pray to God and worship him as well. And Solomon kind of paints this picture in this amazing prayer that he prays in 2 Chronicles chapter 6. Yeah, and he talks about how the nations will be blessed as a result of this. And we just see that continuation that God’s plan is not just for Israel, but it’s to use his people to bless the nations. And the temple is a manifestation of that. Even in its design, there’s a special court for the nations to come in and be included in worship of Yahweh. So that intent and that hope makes the coming exile even more tragic because… That’s right. That’s right. Austin Suter (21:06.058) the people will have thought that the destruction of the temple and the loss of the temple might even signify the loss of their relationship with the Lord. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves back to First Kings at the completion of the temple. The Lord gives Solomon a charge. What is that? So, first Kings, I think it’s chapter 9, the Lord says to Solomon some very specific things that he really needs to pay attention to. He basically tells him, you know, if you turn aside from following me, you and your children and don’t keep my commandments, and I think he says statutes, that he has already instructed to do, but that… if they decide to go and serve after other gods and worship them, then he’s going to cut off Israel from the land that he’s given to them. And then the house that he’s consecrated, he’s going to basically reject it. And then Israel just will become a byproduct or, you know, I think it says a proverb and just kind of like this myth amongst all the peoples and their, you know, kind of their reputation. And he also goes on to say that, that house that was built would become basically ruins and people that just passed by would be astonished. You know, and like, what happened to this? You know, why has the Lord done this? And so, you know, I think it’s also very important to remember also that, you know, when you think about the kings and the positions and the titles that they held, you know, they were always meant to be… and serve as one who pointed people to God. And so that’s why it’s so sad when you see all of these different dynamics happen. And as you read throughout these books and you see the number of evil kings that reigned were so much more vast than the good kings. And it’s just sad. Austin Suter (23:04.33) It is sad and we see that sort of covenant representative role that the kings play really setting the stage for the perfect king. These kings aren’t doing it for us. We need a better king and we will we will meet him soon. So Solomon’s reigning and all looks good at first. I mean the nations hear about the work of the Lord in Israel and the nations even come to see. We’re seeing exactly the intent of Solomon’s prayer for the temple realized in the in God’s blessings being shown to the nations. But then it starts to go bad. We see that first in the life of Solomon. How does it go bad? So this account is really detailed in 1 Kings chapter 11 and we see just something that’s just devastating but sadly it’s not surprising. Solomon ends up turning his heart away from the Lord and scripture tells us why. Because he loved many foreign wives. Now again we know that it had nothing to do with race but he loved women that did not love Yahweh and so as a consequence God raises up adversaries against Solomon and then God ends up tearing the kingdom away from him He does leave him one tribe And he tells them why for the sake of David but Israel continues to repeat its perpetual pattern of turning away from the Lord and failing to be the light that he called him to be to the nations and it’s just sad because Solomon just takes a completely different path and you know, you don’t really see in scripture where he repents and so Yeah, just a sad way to end his his his reign really Austin Suter (24:58.698) It is sad and just as God warned when things start to go bad there are consequences. So Solomon experiences consequences but then Solomon’s son is just a fool. And as a result of his reign the kingdom is divided and the north has a line of kings and the south has a line of kings and they keep getting worse. Like there’s as you say there’s some good kings interspersed but the bad ones keep getting worse and worse sort of like the pattern in Judges. And just like in judges, the nations influence the people of God, not the other way around. And so there’s this familiar cycle that God’s people have been experiencing of sin and judgment. But there are a few bright spots. Can you tell us about those? Yeah, so, you know, as I was saying that, you know, sadly there were more evil kings than there were good, but, you know, the level of depravity and evil in the secession of kings after the kingdom divides is frightening. But in spite of all this division and chaos, there were a few good kings who came to power like Asa and Jehoshaphat and there were several others, but those two just really stick out to me. But what I love about them, that they tore down the high places like that was one of their first priorities. They rid the temple of evil and scripture gives some great detail about what was happening in the temple and so they destroyed and got rid of all of those. But not only did they do that they really did seek to direct Israel to follow after the ways of the Lord like come home. It’s time to come back to God. It’s time to do what he’s commanded us to do and so I specifically love those two kings for that reason. Austin Suter (26:44.394) And as we continue to read about these kings, as we mentioned with David and Nathan, we’re also introduced to new prophets. And it’s ironic that in the book of Kings, despite the name, most of the bright spots center around the work of the prophets and their ministry. So we get the figures of Elisha and his successor Elijah. And they’re working not only amongst the people of God, but among the nations as well. Can you tell us about that? Yeah, so I think most of our listeners are probably familiar with Elijah. So he was a prophet, was succeeded by Elisha. God used both of them in the lives of many people, but in particular, God used Elisha to heal a leper. And so this particular leper was of Syrian descent and he was also the commander of a Syrian army. And so… I think you’ll find that account in 2 Kings chapters 4 -5, but you really see how God used both of their voices to call his people back to himself. But not only the nation of Israel, he also included other nations and people and we see that with this Syrian name. Yes, I mean you point that out from the ministry of Elisha, but back in First Kings we saw the same thing in the ministry of Elijah, and that was something that Lord Jesus pointed out in his earthly ministry and his retelling of the story really, really made people mad. Can you explain that account? Yeah. Yeah. So I believe in Luke chapter four, Jesus is actually recounting the accounts of this particular widow of Zarephath. And then he also references Naaman the Syrian and talks about the fact that they were the only one that was provided for this particular widow. And there were lots of widows during that time. And then, you know, Naaman was healed. But. Adrianna Anderson (28:47.906) God always has sought to reach the nations and not just the nation of Israel. But I love how the Lord confirms the accounts of history in the New Testament and he supports that by sharing those things that happened in the Old Testament because they really happened. Austin Suter (29:12.362) So we’re going to land the plane kind of quickly here because Second Kings and then the Chronicles show just how the people of Israel continue to sin and because the sin keeps getting worse, the judgment keeps getting worse. And ultimately they risk losing Jerusalem. Now why would that be such a big deal, especially to like a faithful Israelite? You know, it’s it is a sad picture, but sadly, it’s you know, this is very familiar. The temple was where the ark that held God’s presence was and the risk of losing it would be devastating. You know, when you think about the loss of the temple would have meant mockery of God to the heathen nations and idolaters and a loss for Israel and other nations, you know, in their ability to worship God in the temple. And so that would have been. devastating if that would have been what was allowed to happen. And ultimately we see that is what the Lord allows. So Sennacherib besieges Israel and it looks like all is lost. And then Hezekiah prays and the Lord miraculously delivers Jerusalem. But then after more sin and more rejection of God, the Lord raises up the Chaldeans who come in, they sack Jerusalem, they burn the temple and they take people captive. I mean, this is just devastation. But even within that, there’s glimpses of mercy. Can you explain how… book of Chronicles ends? Adrianna Anderson (30:39.458) Yeah, so you have this decree of Cyrus and so Cyrus was the king of Persia. He issued a decree or an order as a proclamation and he also put it in writing and this was the direction that the Lord gave him and so he says that the Lord God of heaven so now he’s establishing that God is God. He says that God has given him all the kingdoms of the earth. He’s charged me to build a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. And then whoever is among you of all his people. So he’s speaking to the people and it’s almost like a blessing. May the Lord his God be with him. And then he gives them his charge. Let them go up or let him go up. And literally that’s how the book ends. Yeah, so the book ends with both the pronouncement of exile and narrating how the exile happened and then teases the end of the exile. So that queues us up for our next episode, but it’s just so moving how even the people sin and their rejection of God doesn’t nullify God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David. And even though it looks like all is lost, the Lord is still working. So despite… That’s right, he is. The discouragement that we can see in these books, I mean, it really ends on an encouraging note. Adrianna Anderson (32:05.698) It does, it certainly does. And it’s a reminder to all of us, keep going up or keep looking up. That’s right. Well, friends, I hope you are reading along with us. I know we’re covering things at a pretty speedy pace here weekly, but there’s just so much in God’s Word, and it’s so encouraging to see God’s heart for His people and for the nations and how He keeps working despite their sin and even for us, despite our sin. So, Adriaan, would you join me in praying I can open a new close just in the themes we’ve been learning from these books? Austin Suter (32:41.13) Father, thank you so much for your word and thank you for your faithful saints in history and what they teach us about faithfulness to you despite circumstances and despite our desired outcomes. Lord, help us to be faithful to trust you not only with our lives and circumstances, but with the outcomes. Keep us from sin, keep us from trying to manipulate and reverse engineer our desired outcomes. Help us trust you that you are good and that you desire good for us and that you are working even. the things intended for evil you will work them for good. Pray this in Jesus name. Amen. Father, thank you so much for this time and Lord for your word. Father, especially today, I’m just so thankful for the amazing reminders in these books of good kings and evil kings and Lord how you care about the ways that people lead your people, especially. And so Lord, help us to remember that you do see our hearts and Your desire is that we walk in your truth and in your ways and that we treat all people with love and compassion as we continue to share and make your name famous. We ask these things in Jesus name. Amen. Amen. Well Adriana, thank you for that. I’m really impressed with how much ground you covered here in such a short amount of time, but great work as always. Thank you for your work. Thank you for just your knowledge of the text and sharing it with us. And friends, thank you so much for listening. Grace and peace.

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    United? We Pray is a ministry to help Christians pray and think about racial strife. We want to encourage Christians amid the strife to rely upon God in prayer. So our prayers can be informed, we strive to learn and write about race, racism and its effects, and theology. We aim to be biblical, beneficial, and clear in all our efforts. While we’re burdened for all racial strife, we focus on racial strife between Christians because of the unique privilege and stewardship God has given his people: to bear witness to Him and to love all people, especially one another (Gal. 6:10).

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