Every great work of art conveys an element of tension. The sculptures of Michelangelo present creatures frozen in motion, creating a unique statuesque tension. This artistic tension is also an integral part of narrative literature. Stories are satuated with romantic, ethical, and spiritual tensions. These tense themes have found themeselves embodied in the fictitious lives of Othello and Desdemona, Rhett and Scarlett, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Long before the patrons of art, books, and box office were entertained by the exploiting the tragic and comedic tensions of their culture, the writer of 1 and 2 Samuel exposed the existence of these tensions in human life. The prophetic history of Hebrew Scripture does not dreamily begin with "Once upon a time," nor does it sentimentally end with "and they lived happily ever after." First and Second Samuel begin, end, and are filled with the political, theological, relationl, and spiritual tensions that saturate and invigorate our existence. These four "life" tensions (political, theological, relational, and spiritual) will provide the framework for the study of 1 and 2 Samuel. This Study Guide for the Smyth & Helwys Annual Bible Study on the books or 1 and 2 Samuel serves three purposes: to educate the learner on major issues of appropriate interpretation, to offer an overview of theological themes, and to build the learner's Bible study skills by reviewing significant interpretations.
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