In June we are reading Ruth, I & II Samuel, and I Chronicles. We will finish Judges and continue our journey into Pslams.
Judges tells the story of the judges of Israel. In the Jewish canon Judges is the second book in the section known as “former prophets” and in the majority of Christian canons is the second historical book. The modern use of the word judges is associated with interpretations of the law, but in Judges the judges didn’t only deal with legal matters.
The judges were also military leaders, religious leaders, and warriors. I know we are reading the Bible in chronological order, but please note that Judges isn’t written in chronological order. You’ll want to pay attention to what is going on in the narrative as you read.
Ruth is the story of a Moabite widow who through either chance and luck or God’s providence (you decide) would become King David’s great-grandmother.
Biblical scholars don’t know who wrote this text during the Second Temple Period. As we read Ruth we should look for the theme of redemption and pay attention to how the women are treated, not only by the men but also by other women.
I & II Samuel
I & II Samuel were originally one book named after the prophet Samuel. The text was divided in half when the Septuagint was created. The Septuagint is an early translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek.
It wasn’t divided for theological purposes, but rather to make the book shorter. It’s often abbreviated LXX because it contains seventy books. For our discussion here, we will discuss them as one unit. Scholars are divided on when this text was written; It’s likely that it was edited over a period from the pre-exilic period through the post-exilic period. The storytelling in Samuel is extraordinary. As we read we should pay attention to the ways in which the stories are told. You’ll learn about Samuel and King David in these texts.
I & II Chronicles
Just like Samuel, I & II Samuel were one book. When Jerome created the Vulgate (Latin translation of the scriptures) he divided the text into two.
Because we are only delving into I Chronicles this month this discussion focus on I Chronicles. I Chronicles begins with a very long list of chronology (don’t let it bog you down). Once we work our way through the complicated chronology we get to read about the reigns of David and Solomon (this narrative carries into II Chronicles).
A note for reading about King David in Samuel and Chronicles, “As king, as husband, and as father, David has the potential for great success and for horrible failure. He fulfills these potentials. He is the faithful servant of God whose sin leads to rebellion and plague; the loving father who does nothing to avenge his daughter’s rape; and the strong king whose own son rebels against him. As the most well rounded person in the OT, David shows all the glory and tragedy of which people are capable.” (II Samuel Introduction by Carol Grizzard in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible, pg 440)
Psalms is a collection of poetry that expresses the human condition in all of its holy messiness. There are Psalms of praise and lament. Some Psalms are written from a communal perspective, while others are written from an individual perspective. Some Psalms are peaceful and others contain violent images of God’s wrath.
Psalms is unique in the canon because it is the only book we have that is composed solely of poetry/hymns. As we read through Psalms you’ll notice the word Selah. Scholars do not know how to translate this word and we don’t know what it means, but scholars posit that it is evidence that Psalms was used as a sort of hymnal. We will also come across the word shehol. Don’t confuse shehol with a Christian hell; Shehol was where all of the dead went. The authorship and dating of Psalms is tricky. Modern scholars are confident that David wrote few if any of the Psalms and that the order our canon has for Psalms was likely not put together until sometime in the first century CE.
Below are a few questions to help guide you as you read. There are no right answers to any of these, they are here to help us reflect.
Questions to Guide Us Throughout This Practice
- What stood out to you in the readings?
- What did you notice about God?
- Did anything in the readings make you feel uncomfortable?
- How does what you read impact your life and your faith?
Questions to Guide us Through Psalms
- What is the role of community in Psalms?
- How do we use the Psalms in our community?
- As we read through Psalms, think about which themes you resonate with. Why do you think you resonate with that theme?
Questions to Guide Us Through Joshua
- Did anything in Joshua make you feel uncomfortable? If so, why?
- What parallels do you see between Moses and Joshua?
- If you wrote an Exodus story when we read Exodus, did you add events that are in Joshua? If so, what did you include? Go back and revise your retelling if necessary.
Questions to Guide Us Through Ruth
- Do you relate to any of the characters in this text?
- If you were Ruth would you have stayed with Naomi?
- Do you think the women in this text are treated fairly? Why or why not?
Questions to Guides Us Through Samuel
- What is the role of government in Samuel?
- What can we learn about our relationship with God from Samuel?
- What can we learn about the human condition in Samuel?
- Did you have a favorite story in Samuel? If you have a reading partner take some time to talk about your favorite stories.
Questions to Guide Us Through I Chronicles
- Compare the narrative of I Chronicles with that of Samuel?
- What theological themes are present in this text?
- What is the relationship between God and Israel in this text? How does the relationship between God and Israel develop throughout the text?
Daily Reading and Podcast Links
The hyperlink for the reading will take you to Bible Gateway*. The hyperlink “podcast” will take you to the podcast that matches the reading.**
June 1|Reading | Podcast
June 2|Reading | Podcast
June 3|Reading | Podcast
June 4 |Reading |Podcast
June 5 |Reading | Podcast
June 6 |Reading | Podcast
June 7 |Reading | Podcast
June 8 |Reading | Podcast
June 9 |Reading | Podcast
June 10|Reading | Podcast
June 11|Reading | Podcast
June 12|First Reading |Second Reading |Podcast
June 13 |Reading | Podcast
June 14|Reading |Podcast
June 15 |Reading | Podcast
June 16 |Reading | Podcast
June 17 |Reading | Podcast
June 18 |First Reading |Second Reading| Podcast
June 19 |Reading | Podcast
June 20 |Reading | Podcast
June 21 |Reading | Podcast
June 22 |Reading | Podcast
June 23 |Reading | Podcast
June 24 |Reading | Podcast
June 25 |Reading | Podcast
June 26 |Reading | Podcast
June 27 |Reading | Podcast
June 28 |Reading | Podcast
June 29 |Reading | Podcast
June 30 |First Reading |Second Reading|Podcast
*Bible Gateway has updated to the Updated Edition of the NRSV. If you would like to use the old NRSV you can find it online at oremus.
**The sign language videos have not been updated to include this month’s readings.