Book Review – The Message of Samuel (Mary Evans)

Brief Summary

A 284 page commentary / exposition of the 55 chapters of the books of 1 and 2 Samuel. As with other volumes in the BST Series it seeks to find contemporary relevance and application while remaining mindful of the original intent and audience of the text. Each chapter ends with a few brief questions for further reflection.

The Introduction

Mary Evans reminds us that these books are narrative – and so we should be asking why the story was told. The writers (she believes there was probably more than one writer involved in the composition of the books as we now have them) are interested in David the person, as opposed to the Chronicler whose focus is more on David as King. She picks out the abuse and misuse of power as a recurring theme in the books.

The Commentary

The commentary itself is I think just about the right length for most people who will be studying this book. It doesn’t get bogged down in translation issues or complex historical details, but does provide background information where it is helpful.

Each sub-section has a one sentence heading, which often gives a “moral” of the story in question in the form of a proverb. For example “the cost of failure is not borne solely by the one who fails”, “results that satisfy us do not necessarily satisfy God”, and “celebrity status is not all there is to leadership”. She does though avoid simply turning the book into a collection of “timeless principles”, and does remain concerned with the flow of the narrative.

She is appreciative of the way that women are written about by the authors, and often points out the way that the perspective and value of women has been highlighted.

There are a number of “problem” passages in Samuel, where God seems to command or at least approve of certain actions that do not seem to fit with the rest of Scripture. Evans maintains an evangelical commitment to all of Scripture as God’s word, and provides some careful observations that may help us understand what is and what is not being taught in these difficult passages.


Probably the greatest strength of this commentary is the immensely practical lessons that are drawn out from it. A tale of Kings, betrayals and wars can seem very far removed from our own world, but Evans turns these into lessons of friendship, loyalty, controlling your temper, hospitality, valuing others and so on. Many of the lessons relate to leadership, but there is a good breadth of applications to a variety of situations.


There’s not much to criticise here – this is a helpful commentary. Perhaps some will be disappointed that there was not more exploration of how the gospel is foreshadowed in these books, despite a brief section identifying Jesus as the fulfiller of the roles of faithful priest and anointed one.

Why Buy It?

As with most volumes in the Bible Speaks Today series, this would suit anyone studying the book for personal edification, or preparing Bible studies or sermons on 1 or 2 Samuel. Those who want to study a passage in detail will probably also wish to consult a more comprehensive commentary. I found it just right for reading a bit each morning after I had read the relevant passage from the Bible.

3 thoughts on “Book Review – The Message of Samuel (Mary Evans)

  1. Hi BK,
    I don’t think I’ve read DRD on Samuel yet, but I really like his style. Evans isn’t quite as interesting a writer as him, but she still makes some good points. I would definitely recommend Ralph Davies to anyone looking for an accessible exposition of any of the OT historical books.

  2. Pingback: wordandspirit » Commentary Series Review – Bible Speaks Today

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