Biblical History Study
When studying any of the history books or passages (1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Chronicles, 1 & 2 Kings, for example), we need to remember that we are not studying history books in the traditional sense of the words. All history books contain details that the editors deem important. For example, for years history books depicted Columbus as an explorer who discovered America and opened up the new world. Yet, the history books told us little about the man or about his motivations.
The history in the Bible follows the same format, except that God is the Editor. The history passages contain a history that helps us understand God and how He relates to us. Therefore, they will not always be in chronological order, nor will they contain all details. Many historians have tried to prove the validity of the Bible by comparing the Bible to other historical accounts, and they have found discrepancies. God focuses on the nation of Israel, while other historians focus on what is important to them. For example, Oklahoma history books never mentioned the race riots in Tulsa. If one studied these books, one might assume that this event never happened and was a result of a small community trying to focus attention on themselves. However, the event did happen.
Also, we must be careful of “revisionist” history. These are accounts that try to rewrite history to conform to modern day thinking. These people attempt to filter the past through today’s understanding. Yet, to truly understand history, we need to see those events from history’s perspective.
Therefore, the histories found in the Bible are true but do not contain full accounts. We must take some events on faith, but this does not negate the need for study or reason. We study history so that we will learn what God does not want us to do and what God wants us to do. Some history we definitely do not want to repeat; some history we do.
1. Select a section or book containing an historical account. Read the selection making note of key characters, places, events, and dates. Look for parallel passages that may add other details. Make a list of questions that you would like answered.
2. Now, use your resources to look up background information. We need to understand the times of these events. We need to look at these events from the eyes of those experiencing the events. Use encyclopedias or commentaries to learn more about the characters, places, and events.
3. Often, when studying history, I like to use a timeline and maps. I make a timeline of important dates and briefly record what happened on each date. Thus, I have a visual depiction of events. I also like to use maps to see where the places were and are. This helps me better picture events.
4. If you feel led, read other historical accounts of this time period. One of the best sources is the history written by Josephus. The unabridged history covers many volumes; however, there are abridged versions available.
5. Using your notes and insights, see if you can find answers to your questions. Identify the characters and events. This will give you a “bigger” picture that can help you better understand the Biblical account. Remember, we are not trying to prove the Bible; we are looking for greater understanding.
6. Read the account again. Make a list of what you have learned about the people and the culture. How did God interact with them? How did events affect them? What can we learn from this account? How do these events relate to us as a country?
We are currently doing a series of messages on I Chronicles 13 and 2 Samuel 6 on David and the ark. This is an historical passage. We have looked at the background surrounding Israel, David as king, and the Ark of the Covenant. All these details can help us understand these chapters.