Book Review: 1 Samuel For You by Tim Chester
Author: Tim Chester
Publisher: The Good Book Company
Reading Level: Leisure
“This is a preached history. In other words, it is real history…but it is more than a record of events.” (9)
1 Samuel For You is the latest installment in the God’s Word For You series. Authored by Tim Chester, 1 Samuel For You (henceforth 1 Samuel) is not intended to be a commentary but a source for studying the Bible “to read,” “to feed” and “to lead” (5). 1 Samuel certainly accomplishes this but it also seems to go much further towards being a commentary than previous volumes while remaining practical and devotional. Chester does an amazing job of bringing the replete typology of 1 Samuel to life in a manner perhaps new for evangelical Bible students. Without feeling scholarly 1 Samuel illuminates the typology and puns within the original Hebrew that this “preached history” (9) to life.
Addressing the content of 1 Samuel, Chester acknowledges, “the writer of Samuel is doing more than creating a historical record. He is writing with a purpose” (9). With a hermeneutic that highlights the symbolism and typology of both Israel’s history and the future Messiah, Jesus, Chester provides insights to many common passages and stories. It is hard to highlight portions of 1 Samuel without feeling as if something valuable is being left out. The chapter covering the story of Hannah reflects deep typological pointers to Saul, David and Jesus Christ (11-26). Other great typology is brought out concerning the tribe of Benjamin and Judah (74-76), Jonathan’s attack on the Philistines as a resurrection (92-93), the “parody rise” of Saul as he fails to be a faithful king (139) and the three wilderness testing of David (176-177). Chester also reveals valuable play on words with the original Hebrew, including the rise of Samuel (31-32), the glory of God and weight of Eli (46-48), and puns on Nabal’s name (173).
In spite of these technical insights, Chester is able to keep 1 Samuel on course as devotional and applicable study material. His analysis of David as the “a man after [God’s] own heart” (90-91), the church’s role in the story of David and Goliath (hint not David) (126-132) and Saul and Jonathan’s response to God’s messiah (144-147) are just the tip of the iceberg. In keeping with previous volumes, each chapter of 1 Samuel has two sections of discussion questions to facilitate thoughtful reflection.
In conclusion, 1 Samuel For You is outstanding. Laymen and pastors alike should own this small, easy to address resource while studying 1 Samuel. Despite sundry insights, it remains a glossary on passages and is not a complete commentary. Thus, it is best suited for Bible students who are looking for a devotional introduction to the typology within 1 Samuel. Though more extensive works are to be favored, 1 Samuel For You is an excellent devotional and study book. Tim Chester is to be lauded for his effort in this great work.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”