Joshua is the account of God fulfilling the promise of giving Israel a national homeland. They are to drive out the nations which do not fear God and then divide the land between the tribes. Joshua is Hebrew for Yahweh saves, and Jesus is the Greek form of this name. Joshua’s faith, covenant loyalty, and leadership are signs of what leaders in the same vein as Moses are to be. He sets up as a literary prototype against which the majority of the next leaders of Israel’s recorded history fail to live up to.
Judges is the flipped side of the coin to Joshua’s account of conquering the land. Joshua shows the God is faithful and keeps his promises. Judges shows the negative consequences to God’s nation when their leaders lack faith, are not loyal, and are cowardly. This book leaves the reader wondering if Israel will ever become a whole and holy nation. The book ends with idolatry, desecration, and almost the demolition of an entire tribe.
But Ruth stands in stark contrast to the shaky hope offered in Judges. God providentially cares for the weak widow and her Moabite daughter-in-law. He provides a protector and husband in Boaz, and then through that union of the off-spring’s lineage is traced up to the man named David. This awe inspiring provision of a kinsman redeemer foreshadows the warrior hero of Israel through whom God covenants and promises the covenant redeemer of all humanity.
Samuel traces the rise of this king David and the covenant dealings of God. Israel is casting off the chains of God’s theocratic rule which was being arbitrated by the prophet/ priests Eli then Samuel. A king like those of the other nations is given: Saul, who begins with much promise but quickly forsakes the covenant God and his regulations. David succeeds him and has a heart after God’s own heart. David is by no means perfect, a man with much blood on his hands, but in contrast to Saul he is a man of repentance, desiring to praise God, and faithful.
Kings traces the tragic fall of Israel, first in the breaking of one nation into two, and then recounting how nineteen kings reign in the northern kingdom who do not follow the ways of David, and twelve kings of the south likewise follow in a path of wickedness. There are glimmers of hope, for the book starts with the glory of Solomon, David’s Son, and how extravagant and wealthy his reign is. But just as his heart quickly turned to foreign women and their gods, so did the kings of the north and the south. There are eight kings in Judah that are faithful, and these kings recount God’s goodness and his covenant to the people. But the book ends with the kingdoms being led off into exile and the question of God’s faithfulness lingering in the mind of the reader.