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July Lectionary Background

The seasonal canticle for July is from the song Moses sang to the people of Israel after his final sermon. He sang it from beginning to end, but we read only the first four verses! Notice God's righteousness and how His doctrine is referred to as rain.

Through the 25th of July, we continue reading "The Former Prophets", picking up the historical narrative at Saul's demise. As we finish 1 Samuel, and read all of 2 Samuel, we cover David's kingship. Reading through 1 and 2 Kings covers all the kings after David until the people went into exile.

King David is one of the most important "types" of Jesus in the Old Testament. He rules with justice, wisdom, integrity, courage, and compassion. Though he was not perfect, he is a living prophecy of Jesus. God promised David that a king from his line would rule righteously forever. God fulfilled that promise in Jesus, the Son of David, who sits on the throne of David, and surpasses His ancestor.

After David, Solomon ruled. This wise king also foreshadows Jesus, but, again, Jesus is greater than Solomon. Solomon built the Temple David wanted to build, and his dedication tells us a lot about our coming to worship where God's Name is today. The kingdom expanded then, even as God's kingdom expands today.

From such happy thoughts about the expansion of the kingdom, we next read of the division of the kingdom and the more than less-faithful "Kings" who followed in each of its two parts. Israel, the northern kingdom, turned away from God faster and further than did Judah, the southern kingdom. (At times this narrative can be hard to follow, as it dates kings in one kingdom by referring to the other.) Ultimately, despite work of prophets such as Elijah, the leaders and people of both kingdoms were exiled for their unfaithfulness, similar to the exile we deserve from God's presence on account of our sin. Their prophesied deliverance and return points to our salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

The books we read this month have unknown authors and have multiplied since their origin. The title of 1 and 2 Samuel has virtually nothing to do with Samuel as a potential author and virtually everything to do with Samuel's role in the books, and the books were originally one book with a various titles. Similarly, 1 and 2 Kings were one book and do not identify its human author, who remains unknown, though tradition says it was Jeremiah.

On the 26th of July, we begin the first of two books that were also one book in the Hebrew Old Testament canon and came at its end: Chronicles, one of the Old Testament "Writings". The anonymous author, known as the Chronicler, drew on a number of sources, some in the canon and others that no longer survive. 1 Chronicles begins with a summary of the genealogies from creation to David's reign, and, beginning with chapter 10, the book details David's reign through to Solomon's succession. We again see God's grace in the promise to David and the leading up to Jesus, Whose family line goes back to the tribe of Judah. We also see God's grace in the election of the Levites to serve God as priests, even as He today gives His forgiveness through pastors.


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