So many commentaries today can be overwhelming and can lose the reader in discussing a myriad of interpretations on various passages. The layout of this commentary series is very user friendly. “Each passage begins with a concise summary of the central message, or ‘Big Idea,’ of the passage and a list of its main themes. This is followed by a more detailed interpretation of the text, including the literary context of the passage, historical background material, and interpretive insights. While drawing on the best of biblical scholarship, this material is clear, concise, and to the point. Technical material is kept to a minimum, with endnotes pointing the reader to more detailed discussion and additional resources.” (From the General Editors)
Let’s take one example. From 1 Samuel 2:12-36 we read the Big Idea is “The Lord opposes those who treat him with contempt and withholds his promised blessings from those who despise him.” Here are a couple of notes from the “Interpretive Insights” section:
2:22 how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Here we read of another sin committed by Eli’s sons. This particular statement is not mentioned, however, in the Qumran text of this passage, or in the Greek manuscript Codex Vaticanus. Some regard it as a later addition. The narrator does not mention such a sin in his earlier account (2:13-17), nor does the prophet who confronts Eli mention it (2:27-29)
2:25 God may mediate for the offender. Eli’s point is that a mediator is available to resolve a purely human conflict, but when someone sins against the Lord, there is no one who can successfully challenge his accusation against the wrongdoer. In short, Eli’s sons have placed themselves in the unenviable and unviable position of being the opponents of God.”
Under the “Teaching the Text” section Chisholm offers two main points. 1) The Lord does not tolerate those who value their own selfish desires above honoring the Lord and thereby disrespect his royal authority. 2) The Lord may withdraw his promised blessing from those who reject his authority. I especially liked his comments at the end of this section. He writes,
“This is not a text about parenting. One could use Eli’s example to illustrate poor parenting if one were preaching from another passage that deals directly with the subject of parenting, such as a proverb. (The NT frequently uses OT characters and events for illustrative purposes, even when the OT text is not directly addressing the theme of the NT passage.) But if 1 Samuel 2:12-36 is one’s base text for a sermon or lesson, then the themes outlined above, not parenting, should be the focus of the exposition.” (19)
This is an excellent commentary for use by lay audiences especially small group leaders. Pastors will also benefit from this commentary. Each section not only includes teaching points but also helpful illustrations.
Finally, each volume is beautifully bound and is rich with illustrations, side bars, photos and maps. There is also a handy index at the back. 1 & 2 Samuel is from Baker Books. It is a hardcover with 337 pages and sells for $39.99.