I recently just finished reading through T.D. Alexander’s popular level book called, “The Servant King.” Its the best handling of the entire biblical story in under 200 pages at a popular level that I’ve seen. I was first introduced to Desi Alexander in my Old Testament courses with Doug Green at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. It was Alexander’s more technical yet still at some level still popular survey on the Pentateuch (“From Paradise to the Promise Land“) that got me interested in reading more of his material.
I came across this book when I was searching for a good, approachable book for a youth leader’s assistant in a local youth ministry that was helping team teach the senior high schoolers on a class that summed up the biblical story. I needed something that would bring up insightful enough material on the biblical story like tracing the theme of seed and kingship from the garden, to nationhood, through the exile, and finally to Christ with the hope of the new creation. Someone who would demonstrate how latter books in the Hebrew Bible used earlier ones, and how that use informed the New Testament’s use of the Hebrew Bible. I was also looking for a book that would offer large reading section suggestions for small groups, and would close each arc in the biblical story with questions to provoke further thought in students lives, nd a book that would raise up several practical implications of the biblical story for how they should live out their Christian life. A tall order to fill but I think Alexander’s book came very close on all of those things.
If you’ve read his technical articles in scholarly journals then you’ll notice almost immediately how those well argued points in his journal pieces are lightly summarized and marshaled to help him as he lays out the biblical story-line in an approachable form for a popular audience. I was even surprised to find myself learning things about the biblical story and how certain large sections of scripture connected to each other that I had never seen before. Small and short in size, but this book bears the marks of a great deal of discretion in what was retained throughout it.
I’m not going to give you a chapter by chapter review here, instead I’m simply going to offer you a few large quotes to help you see how he develops the biblical story, and what you’ll find as you read this book;
“What have we learned so far from our study of the narrative that runs from Genesis to 2 Kings? We have seen that central to the story is the line of ‘seed’ that descends from Abraham through his great-grandson Judah and that gives rise to the Davidic dynasty. In Genesis, God promised that his lineage would be involved in reversing the terrible consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedience and expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, the expectation was introduced that, through a future king, God’s blessing would be imparted to all the nations of the earth. A picture of this king emerged. Exalted from humble origins, empowered by the Spirit of the Lord and endowed with supreme wisdom, the divinely anointed king would bring peace, security and prosperity to those who acknowledged his authority, but would also overthrow his enemies – God’s enemies. Moreover, through fully obeying the law of the Lord, this king would enjoy an especially close relationship with God; the Lord would be with him in all that he would do. ” (pg. 98)
“The public ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, together with the coming of the Holy Spirit upon both Jewish and Gentile believers, mark the inauguration of the kingdom of God. With this the divine promise that the nations of the earth would be blessed through the ‘seed’ of Abraham begins to be fulfilled. An important distinction is drawn, however, between the present age and the age to come.” (pg. 158)
“In Revelation the arrival of the new Jerusalem is the staggering climax toward which the whole of history, and Scripture, move. With it everything is made new…” (pg. 164)
I heartily recommend this book for use in small group discussions with people of all ages, as well as a supplemental reading suggestion for those in a “Starting Point” style class of new believers and/or those interested in hearing what the biblical story is all about. You can get “The Servant King” at Amazon.com among several other places.