The Message of Kings
John W. Olley
378 pages, £12.99
Star rating: 3 stars
The stated aim of The Bible Speaks Today series is to expound books of the Old and New Testaments so that Christians may: ‘hear what the Spirit is saying to them through his ancient, yet ever modern Word.’
John Olley in his preface makes a plea for believers to read Old Testament books like Kings in large chunks, noting that readings in church services, and sermon texts, are comparatively short. To this end he divides the forty seven chapters of 1 and 2 Kings into twenty two blocks; at the rate of one per day, Kings and Olley’s exposition can be read in three weeks, given a reasonable expenditure of time and effort.
It is a challenge, initially, to get to grips with the ancient world of Kings, but one is rewarded as the author digs below the surface of the historical account and analyses the political manoeuvring, power plays, and bloody coup d’etats, and explores the underlying themes of injustice, violence and oppression.
The world of Kings, says Olley, is ‘perhaps closer to the world we know today than any other book of Scripture,’ and he frequently demonstrates this in the book.
Although the book is said to be an exposition rather than a commentary, the text is often carefully and helpfully elucidated, to help the reader grasp exactly what the author is Kings is wishing to convey.
Throughout is the theme of God calling His people to follow and trust Him fully, rather than trusting in worldly alliances; and the theme of God’s compassion and grace towards imperfect people struggling to cope with powerful enemies bent on their destruction.
This book is thoroughly to be recommended; buy it and take up the three week challenge; you will soon find it a pleasure to march through the world of Kings, and feel a real sense of achievement at the end.