Over the next couple of months we’ll be working through the whole book of 1 Samuel. In order to get through all of it we’ll be looking at big chunks each week. We won’t have time to read the whole passage during our meeting (unless you’re all happy to hang around until about 9pm each Sunday?)
So, why not read ahead and get familiar with the story? Here are four tips to remember to help you read it without getting stuck.
1. Remember to read it like a story
So, read it quickly. Read big chunks in one go. Enjoy the ups and downs, the tension, and the comedy moments (yes, there are several in 1 Samuel! Let me know what you think they are. One of them involves a pile of suitcases.). Don’t worry if you don’t understand exactly what’s going on all the time – just keep going! The aim is to get to know the story – so enjoy it!
2. Remember who the main character is
There are a lot of crazy names in a book like 1 Samuel. Try saying ‘Elkanah the son of Jeroham’ 20 times in a row. There are also a lot of big guns in a book like this; Samuel, Saul, Jesse, David. Who is the main character? Well, it’s none of them. The main character is God. As you read remember that the main thing the writer is trying to do is teach us about God: his character, his plan, the way he acts, etc.
3. Remember that you’re not the hero
King David is a big hitter in the Old Testament. He’s involved in some of the most famous stories – look out for the time when he kills Goliath with a stone and a sling, and the time that Saul throws a spear at David. He’s also “ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome.” (1 Samuel 16:12). What a hero! When we read about someone like this in the Bible it’s easy to read ourselves into the story as the hero. (e.g. I am David – who is my Goliath?) The problem is that we’re not the hero – we’re more like the Israelites who peg it at the first sign of danger (e.g. 1 Samuel 17:24). The point of the book is to point us forward to the hero that we all need – to Jesus the King.
4. Remember to look for clues
A big book like 1 Samuel can feel like a daunting prospect, especially if it’s unfamiliar. But don’t worry! The Bible writers were clever guys who drop in clues along the way to help us understand what it’s all about. Look for moments when the author makes a comment about a person, or gives a little explanation of an event. Look for unexpected things. Look for repeated ideas and themes. We may not understand every detail the first time we read it, but it’s easier than you might think to grasp the main ideas.