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The United Kingdom

Introduction: Samuel-Kings

  • Originally one book divided in the fifteenth century CE to each fit on scrolls.
  • 1, 2, 3, 4 Kingdoms in the Septuagint. 1 and 2 Samuel was named after the last judge before the monarchy (1 Samuel 1-7).
  • Content: the rise of Saul (1 Samuel 8-31), David (2 Samuel 1-24), and Solomon (1 Kings 1-11) to the division of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Southern Kingdom of Judah. 1 and 2 Kings alternates between kings in the North or South.
  • Historicity: the United Kingdom is set in the first part of the Iron Age II (1000-933 BCE). The Tel Dan Inscription is a fragment of a monumental inscription discovered in an excavation of the ancient city of Dan (ca. 9th cent BCE) and the first external reference to the “House of David.”

Views of the Monarchy

  • 1 Samuel 1-2:10 is like a royal birth; the king is subservient to the prophet.
  • Pro-monarchy: Saul’s anointing (9:1-10:16) and victories (11:1-15).
  • Anti-monarchy: rejecting Yahweh as ruler and warnings about the institution of a monarchy (8:1-22; 10:17-27; 12:12-25)
  • “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations.“… the LORD said to Samuel, “Hearken to 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. (1 Samuel 8:5, 7)


  • Anointed for the office of “prince” and then king before all of the tribes and had an initial victory over the Ammonites (9:1-12:25)
  • Cultic disobedience: rushed into battle after waiting seven days for Samuel to perform the sacrifice (13:8-9) and kept plunder from the Amalekites rather than putting it under the ban (15:3, 9, 24). He was disobedient to the prophet and his repentance not accepted (15:24-25).
  • David is anointed with the Spirit (16), defeats the Philistines champion Goliath (17; but cf. 2 Samuel 21:20-22), and evokes Saul’s jealousy due to his military victories and the love that Saul’s daughter Michal and son Jonathan have for him (18-22).
  • David refuses to kill Saul as the anointed king, but Saul and Jonathan die tragically in battle (1 Samuel 27-31; 2 Samuel 1).


  • Installed as king over Judah in Hebron (2 Samuel 2:1-7) and has a seven year civil war with the north (2:8-4:12). There is a pun on the name of the northern king Ishbaal as “Ishboseth” (man of shame).
  • David is installed as king over a united Israel, captures Jerusalem as his capital, and attempts to bring the Ark to Jerusalem (5-6).
  • Rapes Bathsheba and causes her husband Uriah to be slain in war (2 Samuel 11-12; cf. Psalm 51). After Nathan the prophet confronts him, David faces four times the consequences including the death of Bathsheba’s firstborn, the rape of his daughter Tamar and murder of his son Amnon, the failed coup of his son Absolom, and the death of his fourth son Adonijah.

The Davidic Covenant

  • David’s desire to build a “house” for Yahweh is not permitted as he is a person of war, but Yahweh builds a house or perpetual dynasty for him.
  • Hittite and Assyrian Royal Grants that gifted land in exchange for service.
  • The Davidic ruler and divine sonship (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:7). Most of David’s heirs failed to live up to expectations, creating the seed of the messianic idea of an ideal future ruler to restore the Davidic kingdom.


  • Despite his violent coup against Adonijah and execution of political rivals (1 Kings 1-2), Solomon asks for wisdom to rule (3-4).
  • Solomon builds the temple (5-8), but builds a grander palace, amasses excessive wealth, and conscripts forced labour (9-11).
  • Solomon’s idolatry precipitates the end of the united kingdom (12).
  • Read Deuteronomy 17:14-20 and evaluate whether Solomon was a model ruler according to the Deuteronomistic historian.



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