The Holy Scriptures

Joshua 1‑24; Judges 1‑21; Ruth 1‑4; 1 Samuel 1‑31; 2 Samuel 1‑24  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The book of Joshua begins where Deuteronomy ends. Moses having died on mount Pisgah, it is now Joshua who will, by divine appointment (Num. 27:18-2318And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; 19And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. 20And thou shalt put some of thine honor upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. 21And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. 22And Moses did as the Lord commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: 23And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses. (Numbers 27:18‑23); Deut. 1:38; 3:2838But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. (Deuteronomy 1:38)
28But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see. (Deuteronomy 3:28)
), lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land—“unto the land which I do give to them” (Josh. 1:22Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. (Joshua 1:2)). It was not for the lawgiver Moses to bring them into the land of Canaan. They would not claim the land on the ground of their righteousness, but according to the promises made to their fathers (Josh. 1:66Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. (Joshua 1:6)).
Born in Egypt, Joshua pictures to us Christ as the leader or captain of His saints. In Hebrew, Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation” and is translated in the Greek as Jesus (Acts 7:4545Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; (Acts 7:45)). While the passage through the Red Sea typifies Christ’s death for the believer, the passage through the Jordan typifies the believer’s death with Christ and being raised with Him.
Before conflict begins, they eat of the old corn of the land (Josh. 5:1111And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day. (Joshua 5:11))—a picture to us of a heavenly Christ, upon whom those who have spiritually passed through Jordan feed. The manna—heavenly grace for wilderness circumstances—ceased on the next day, and from that day forward they ate of the fruit of the land (Josh. 5:1212And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. (Joshua 5:12)).
Joshua is a book of victorious power; Judges, a book of failure and weakness. Gilgal—circumcision (death to the flesh)—is exchanged for Bochim, a place of weeping (Judg. 2). But the angel of the Lord is there (Judg. 2:11And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. (Judges 2:1)). The children of Israel had been told, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you” (Josh. 1:33Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. (Joshua 1:3)). Nevertheless the energy of faith quickly gave way to complacency and unbelief.
Upon the death of Joshua we find no successor. Rather, God in mercy raises up judges with authority over a limited portion of the country. Thirteen judges are recorded by name. During these times of revival, the children of Israel repent and are delivered, only to return to their evil ways upon the death of that judge—corrupting themselves worse than their fathers (Judg. 2:13-1913And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. 14And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. 15Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed. 16Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 17And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so. 18And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. 19And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way. (Judges 2:13‑19)).
It was a time in which every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judg. 21:2525In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)). It is helpful to note that chapters 17-21 are not chronological, but rather follow a moral order.
The opening verse of the book of Ruth gives us the time and setting of this brief narrative, historically and morally. “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land” (Ruth 1:11Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. (Ruth 1:1)). Ruin and failure characterize the book of Judges, while grace and life are characteristic of Ruth, as well as faith that lays hold of that grace and appropriates it.
The meanings of names have great importance in this book which takes up the family of Elimelech (“my God is King”), his wife Naomi (“my pleasantness”), and their two sons Mahlon (“sickness”) and Chilion (“consumption”).
Living in Bethlehem (“house of bread”), a famine sends them to the country of Moab for refuge. There the sons marry, and Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chilion all die, leaving three widows. Ruth returns with her mother-in-law to Bethlehem, and by faith and through Boaz (“in him is strength”) is brought into blessing.
Naomi, who had requested that she be called Mara (“bitterness”) when returning, now receives Boaz and Ruth’s child into her own bosom: “There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed” (Ruth 4:1717And the women her neighbors gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. (Ruth 4:17)). Obed is the grandfather of David (Ruth 4:1717And the women her neighbors gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. (Ruth 4:17)).
Prophetically, Ruth represents the future Jewish remnant. Portrayed as a Gentile destitute of right or title, she identifies herself with the desolate and afflicted people (Mara). Boaz, a figure of Christ, undertakes the cause of Ruth, marries her, redeems the inheritance (the land of Palestine), and raises up the lost memorial of Israel.
1 Samuel
First Samuel is a continuation of the historic account of Judges, with the book of Ruth forming an important link between the two, for it introduces the royal linage descending from Judah. The two books of Samuel (which originally formed a single volume) take us to the establishment of the kingdom in David.
Before David, we have a transitional period. In Eli and his sons the priesthood fails (1 Sam. 2:12-3612Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord. 13And the priests' custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; 14And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. 15Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. 16And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. 17Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord. 18But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. 19Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The Lord give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the Lord. And they went unto their own home. 21And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord. 22Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 23And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. 24Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord's people to transgress. 25If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them. 26And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favor both with the Lord, and also with men. 27And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? 28And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? 29Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honorest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? 30Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. 32And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. 33And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. 34And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. 35And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. 36And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests' offices, that I may eat a piece of bread. (1 Samuel 2:12‑36)). The priesthood had been the immediate link between the people and God. With the ark taken by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4), there is a total breach.
God comes in His own sovereign way, introducing the prophet (1 Sam. 3:1921). Samuel becomes the first in a long list of prophets continuing until John the Baptist. The people cry, “Make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:55And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. (1 Samuel 8:5)), and are given Saul (1 Sam. 12:1313Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you. (1 Samuel 12:13)). However, God’s kingdom cannot be established on the ground of the flesh, and Saul is unable to stand before the enemy. This brings in David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:1414But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee. (1 Samuel 13:14)), who is rejected by Saul and the people.
2 Samuel
David’s kingdom is finally established in power, first in Hebron over Judah for seven and a half years (2 Sam. 14) and then over all Israel (2 Sam. 5).
David, who was not man’s choice but the sovereign election of God, reigned forty years. His life and reign present, in type, Christ and the establishment of His kingdom.
Sacrifice is offered on Moriah (where Abraham offered up Isaac) and atonement is made. This presents a vivid, prophetic picture of God’s dealings with Israel and of their restoration in a coming day.
N. Simon