This ten-week Bible study leads participants through the Old Testament from Joshua to Esther, highlighting how the historical books point to the person and work of Jesus as the true Son of David.
About the Author
Nancy Guthrie teaches the Bible at her church, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and at conferences worldwide. She and her husband, David, are the cohosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 10,000 churches nationwide and also host Respite Retreats for couples who have experienced the death of a child. Guthrie is also the host of Help Me Teach the Bible, a podcast of the Gospel Coalition.
Read an Excerpt
The Kingdom of God
Your Kingdom Come
I smiled at a recent tweet sent by our friend Gabe deGarmeaux. It was a picture of his wife and daughter preparing to board their flight to Orlando, and it said, "Watch out Disney, I'm on my way with two more princesses."
Now, I did not grow up immersed in as much Disney-princess culture as today's children. In my day The Magical World of Disney, the only way you could see Disney movies outside of the theater, aired on Sunday nights at 6:00. And of course, we were always heading out to Sunday night church when it came on. Heaven to me at that point in my life was a Sunday night when, for some reason, we got to stay home from church and indulge ourselves in Disney magic.
But everything has changed since my childhood. First came VHS and then DVD and now digital downloads. Today, even in the car, on our way to school or soccer practice, we can inundate our sons and daughters with handsome princes and beautiful princesses. And what do our daughters want to be on dress-up day? Disney princesses, of course. In fact, I've noticed that some little girls insist on wearing their princess gowns and tiaras pretty much every day of the year.
And, really, who wouldn't want to be a princess with perfect hair, an 18-inch waist, a closet full of ball gowns, and living in a kingdom with a handsome prince and a cadre of servants? I think we can all agree we'd be up for that. But most of us, at one point or another, realize all of our wishing upon a star has proven to have no power to make it so.
Perhaps the reason that stories of kings and kingdoms capture our interest is that they reflect the childlike longings we've trained ourselves to deny. Perhaps there is something deep inside us that knows there really is a kingdom in which we could be cherished by the prince and protected by the king — a kingdom in which no one has to be afraid or go hungry but everyone enjoys peace and safety and perfect love.
Friends, this is not just the fodder of fairy tales or simply escapist denial. It is the hope the Bible holds out to us. The story of the Bible is really the story of a kingdom that you and I are invited to enter into and experience in part now and in fullness forever. It's the story of the true king who rules over his people with perfect love and justice.
The Kingdom as It Once Was
The story of the true king and his kingdom begins this way:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen. 1:1)
The Bible begins by telling us that God is the majestic king over the world. His kingdom is the heaven and the earth he created from nothing. Adam and Eve lived in the perfect garden paradise called Eden as the Creator-King's loyal subjects, enjoying his provision and his presence right there with them. Here is the kingdom of God as it once was: God's people, Adam and Eve, living in God's place, the garden of Eden, under God's rule, his clear instruction to be fruitful, increase in number, fill the earth, and subdue it, and to eat freely of every tree in the garden except for one. In fact, the kingdom of God throughout the Bible and throughout history is always this: "God's people in God's place under God's rule."
God's people, Adam and Eve, lived in God's place, the garden of Eden, and everything about it was good — perfectly good — until they rebelled against God's rule. A rival kingdom invaded God's kingdom in the form of a serpent who tempted Adam and Eve to reject God as their king. He told them they could be kings in their own kingdom, that their king was withholding something good from them. But it was a lie. And when Adam and Eve rebelled against the loving rule of their king, everything that was once so beautiful became broken. They were forced out of God's kingdom of Eden because, you see, no one who refuses to live in obedience to the King has a place in his kingdom.
But God, the good king, was not content to make peace with this ongoing alienation. So he began working out his plan to restore his people to his kingdom. He did this by declaring war — not on those who had rebelled against him but against sin and death. And ever since then, two opposing forces have been at war in the world: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, the seed of the woman and the seed of the Serpent. The Bible makes clear that God is accomplishing this restoration of his kingdom, not through an instantaneous edict but through a lengthy historical process. God began working out his plan to bring his people back to his place to live under his rule by calling one man, Abraham, to himself, making incredible, undeserved promises to him. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great people and that he would give this people a place, the land of Canaan, where they would live under his loving rule. When this family grew and was enslaved outside of the place God intended for them, he brought them out and gave them his law so that they would know how to live under his rule in his land. This was to be a land flowing with milk and honey, reminiscent of the garden paradise God's people had once enjoyed. And if they obeyed him there, they would live there enjoying its abundance forever.
This is the part of God's story we're going to focus in on in this study. The kingdom established in the Promised Land of Canaan has much to reveal to us in shadow form about the larger kingdom that God is bringing and the greater king who sits on its throne.
* In Joshua, as we witness Moses's successor lead the people of God into rest in the land that God gave to them, we'll see how the greater Joshua, Jesus, leads his people into rest.
* In Judges we'll see how God used a series of flawed deliverers to save his people when they cried out to him, all of whom point to a more perfect deliverer who was yet to come. We'll see that Jesus saves people who are bent on doing what is right in their own eyes and transforms us into people who are right in God's eyes.
* In the book of Ruth we'll meet Boaz, who shows, in shadow form, how our kinsman-redeemer, Jesus, will cover us with his protection, fill us with his provision, and pay the required cost to secure our stake in God's kingdom land.
* In 1 Samuel we'll witness a boy from Bethlehem, David, go out alone against the great enemy who taunts God's people with threats of enslavement, Goliath. With one smooth stone, David will crush Goliath's head. And we will see that he foreshadows another boy born in Bethlehem who will go out alone against the great enemy of sin and death who taunts God's people with threats of eternal enslavement. We'll see that on the cross, and by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus crushed the head of our great enemy.
* In 2 Samuel we'll look at David, the king God set on the earthly throne over his people. We'll see in him shadows of his greater son who is even now seated on David's royal throne in heaven and will one day descend to reign in the New Jerusalem forever and ever.
* In 1 Kings we'll take a tour of the golden era of Israel during King Solomon's reign — when everything was as it should be and the whole world marveled at Israel's abundance and the wisdom of her king. We'll see glimpses of the way the kingdom of God will one day be when we have peace on every side and the whole world streams to the throne of our king to give him tribute.
* In 2 Kings we'll trace the kings who sat on David's throne after him, most of whom had no heart for God as David had. It will become clear that a greater king was needed — a king who would rule in righteousness, not rebellion; a king who would be faithful, not idolatrous; a king who would love God's Word rather than ignore it. In stark contrast to all of the kings who sat on Israel's throne, we'll see the King of kings and Lord of lords who sits on David's throne, before whom the whole world will one day bow.
* In Ezra, who taught the Scriptures to God's people, we'll see shadows of the one who was the fulfillment of all that the Scriptures teach. In Nehemiah, who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem using ruined stones, we'll see shadows of the one who is building his church with living stones — the lives of those who have been reclaimed from the rubble of sin.
* And finally, in Esther, we'll see echoes of the one who, not at the risk of his life but at the cost of his life, interceded to accomplish the deliverance of God's people.
As we work our way through this history of Israel, we'll witness the people of God repeatedly proving to be rebellious to God's rule and ultimately being exiled from the place that God had given to them. Remember: no one who refuses to live in obedience to the King has a place in his kingdom. Still, God's commitment remained to have a people for himself, living in his place under his loving rule. In exile, a faithful remnant hung onto God's promise sent through his prophets that he would not only bring the people back but would also come and reign as their king. Through his prophet Isaiah, God told them what the coming king's government would be like:
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. (Isa. 9:7)
The prophet Micah told them where this king would come from:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days. (Mic. 5:2)
And the prophet Zechariah spoke of his entrance into his royal city:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech. 9:9)
When the faithful remnant of God's people was able to return to the land, they waited there for the greater king and the greater kingdom to come.
The Kingdom at Hand
And then the King came, saying:
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:14–15)
When Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, the kingdom of heaven broke into the realm of earth. Have you ever been outside while it is raining and yet you can see the sun breaking through the clouds somewhere in the sky? That is a picture of this reality. The incarnation of Christ was the glory of heaven breaking through the veil that separates heaven and earth. All that the kingdom of Israel had been pointing toward for centuries was becoming a reality with the coming of the true King.
Yet Jesus didn't really seem like a king, at least not like the kind of king the Israelites were expecting. Kings are born in palaces, not in cattle stalls. Kings expect to be served, not to serve. Kings robe themselves in royal garments, not with a towel so that they can wash everyone's feet. Kings are crowned with gold, not with thorns.
Clearly Jesus was not going to be a king, and his was not going to be a kingdom like the kings and kingdoms they were used to. This became evident when Jesus stood up and began to teach. The paradoxical wisdom of the kingdom of God he spoke of was quite different from the accepted wisdom in the kingdoms of the world. He said that the greatest people in God's kingdom are those who serve. He said that we should love our enemies and that it is more blessed to give than to receive. He said that the only way to save your life is to lose it.
Jesus taught people to pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:9–10). How do you think his will is done in heaven? In his heavenly throne room all creatures serve him with a glad yes, yes, yes. There is no pause to determine whether his command suits their preferences or will fit in their busy schedules. Of course, this is not at all what it's like here on earth. Jesus taught us to pray that this disparity of obedience between heaven and earth will be eradicated. And one day it will be.
Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus was constantly pulling back the curtain to reveal what the kingdom of God will be like when his kingdom comes in all of its glorious fullness. He healed those with diseases, showing that sickness and disease have no place in his kingdom. He commanded the demons to depart, because nothing evil will have its way forever in his kingdom. He stilled the sea, showing that all nature submits to his command in his kingdom. He fed multitudes, revealing the abundant satisfaction to be found in his kingdom. He raised Lazarus to life, previewing the day when the bodies of all his kingdom subjects will be raised to resurrection life.
In the obedience of his life, Jesus revealed the perfect righteousness that permeates his kingdom. By his sin-atoning death, Jesus proved that sin and death no longer get the last word in his kingdom. In his resurrection he previewed the future hope of those who will populate his kingdom. And in his ascension he entered into the current realm of his kingdom.
Jesus came telling us exactly how we should respond to his kingdom at hand. He did not say, "Follow my example; try real hard to live like me." Instead, he said, "Repent and believe in the gospel." What does that mean? To repent is much more than shedding tears over your past. It is to identify your sin and sinfulness and turn your back on it so that you can pursue Christ. It is to turn away from greed and toward gospel-empowered generosity. It is to turn from always giving in to lust without a thought and toward battling against it through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is to turn from your determination to run your own life the way you please to saying "Jesus is Lord" and to really mean it. That's repentance.
To believe is, first, to know the content of the gospel, that anyone can be right with God — acquitted, forgiven, restored, adopted — through trusting faith in Jesus's atoning death and victorious resurrection. But to believe is more than just knowing this. It is to come under it, to rest in it, to take it into the very center of your life.
Jesus comes to us as our true King, saying to each of us: "Repent and believe the gospel." So I have to ask you, as we get started in this study, have you ever come to repentance? Life in the kingdom is not about self-improvement, trying to become a better person or a more spiritual person. To be in the kingdom of God is to recognize that your sin is an offense to the king and to choose to abandon it so that you might pursue and please the king. Have you believed — going beyond just knowledge about Christ to putting your whole confidence in him? If you walk away from this study having learned everything there is to know about the history books of the Old Testament, yet you never turn toward the King in repentance and belief, all the time you spent increasing your knowledge will serve only to make you even more responsible for your defiant rebellion or your informed apathy toward the King.
The Kingdom as It Is Now
While the kingdom was "at hand" at the King's first coming, it did not come in power but rather in weakness. On Pentecost God poured out his Spirit on his people, empowering his people to take the gospel of his kingdom to the ends of the earth. Today, the kingdom of God is spreading across the world as the gospel goes out and is embraced by those who repent and believe.
The kingdom of God is no longer bound up with one nation in one country. That was a picture of things to come. God's kingdom comes now as people bow to Jesus as king. At its simplest, the kingdom is where the King is; it's where he rules and reigns. As he rules and reigns in your life, that is the kingdom. As he rules and reigns amongst his people, the church, that is the kingdom. Everywhere his will is done — everywhere his justice is accomplished, his righteousness is lived out, his gospel is loved — is the kingdom. Everywhere his subjects are saved by his hand, everywhere his enemies are vanquished by his power, everywhere his commandments are obeyed, that is the kingdom.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Son of David"
Copyright © 2013 Nancy Guthrie.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Before We Get Started: A Note from Nancy 11
Week 1 The Kingdom of God
Teaching Chapter: Your Kingdom Come 17
Discussion Guide 29
Week 2 Joshua
Personal Bible Study 33
Teaching Chapter: There's No Place like Home 41
Looking Forward 54
Discussion Guide 56
Week 3 Judges
Personal Bible Study 61
Teaching Chapter: Holding Out for a Hero 68
Looking Forward 82
Discussion Guide 84
Week 4 Ruth
Personal Bible Study 89
Teaching Chapter: Fields of Grace 95
Looking Forward 108
Discussion Guide 110
Week 5 1 Samuel
Personal Bible Study 115
Teaching Chapter: We Won 121
Looking Forward 134
Discussion Guide 137
Week 6 2 Samuel
Personal Bible Study 141
Teaching Chapter: Forever 149
Looking Forward 163
Discussion Guide 165
Week 7 1 Kings
Personal Bible Study 168
Teaching Chapter: Something Greater 173
Looking Forward 186
Discussion Guide 188
Week 8 2 Kings
Personal Bible Study 193
Teaching Chapter: You Were Warned 200
Looking Forward 214
Discussion Guide 216
Week 9 Ezra and Nehemiah
Personal Bible Study 221
Teaching Chapter: So Far Away from God 227
Looking Forward 241
Discussion Guide 243
Week 10 Esther
Personal Bible Study 247
Teaching Chapter: Tale of Two Kingdoms 251
Looking Forward 264
Discussion Guide 266
What People are Saying About This
“The Son of David is a book about Jesus. Nancy takes the reader through the plotline of redemption revealed in the historical narratives. All of the heroic figures in the Old Testament were mere pointers to the greater Savior, Redeemer, Shepherd, and King who was to come, namely, Jesus. This book argues very convincingly that all of the wonderful promises presented in shadow form have found their ultimate completion in the one who reigns perfectly over his kingdom. Thank you, Nancy, for your humble heart and prayer that desires to see more and more people give their affections to this amazing paradoxical kingliness that leads us to serve others with humility and courage.”
—Kathleen Um, Director of Family and Women’s Ministries, Citylife Presbyterian Church, Boston, Massachusetts
“Nancy Guthrie’s Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series brings a depth to women’s ministries that we desperately need. When you complete The Son of David, you will have a wonderful grasp of the historical books, but also your heart will melt as you see Jesus unveiled in every book. John Piper has said, ‘Beholding is becoming,’ and this is the kind of study that helps us behold our God and, in so doing, becoming the godly women we long to be.”
—Dee Brestin, author, Idol Lies and The God of all Comfort
“As Christian growth leaders, we are constantly searching for Bible study material that is scripturally sound and grounded on biblical truths. Nancy Guthrie has a wonderful gift of keeping her studies interesting and challenging. The Son of David, perhaps her most inspiring work in the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series thus far, is no exception. No matter where students are in their spiritual walk or in their realm of biblical knowledge, they will be inspired as they discover Jesus in the books of the Old Testament.”
—Kitty Kosman, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Memphis, Tennessee