Short Review: Commentary on 1 & 2 Kings by David Schreiner & Lee Compson

Review of David B. Schreiner & Lee Compson, 1 & 2 Kings: A Commentary for Biblical Preaching and Teaching, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2022, hdbk, 315 pages.

This commentary on the books of First and Second Kings combines exposition with homiletics. This way of doing things was popular in the 19th century (think Lange or the Pulpit Commentaries). As with many of these commentaries, the homiletic portions are often of little use (ironically, one of the best of the bunch is Bahr’s exposition of 1 & 2 Kings in Lange’s Commentary).

I’m going to say something about the homiletic portions here and then concentrate on the exposition. After the usual orienting pages, the volume begins with roughly twenty pages of overview of preaching passages from 1 & 2 Kings (13-31). These have enough content to be helpful for a preacher to consider without being too lengthy. Mercifully, no preaching outlines are supplied here, although they are given under the “Preaching and Teaching Strategies” throughout the book.

Skimming through the preaching portions in the book I couldn’t find very much of value. Whether reading the “Exegetical & Theological Synthesis,” the one sentence “Preaching Idea,” the “Contemporary Connections,” or the “Creativity” sections I’m afraid I find them uninspiring. This could be just me of course, but I don’t think so. In any case, I couldn’t recommend the work for this feature; although, to be fair there are one or two good suggestions (e.g. 213), plus some thought-provoking one-liners such as “Details determine if our worship flourishes or fails.” (114).

What of the exposition? Well, I think overall it is well done. David Schreiner thinks the books of Kings were likely the work of multiple authors (41). His introduction is well done. Perhaps the space given to Kings as part of the Deuteronomistic History is more than what most preachers need, but may have something to do with Schreiner’s quite critical stance (e.g., 42-48, 55, 64). Most of his authorities are critical scholars.

Reading through Schreiner’s contribution I must say that he is a fluent writer who doesn’t waste his readers time. He packs a lot of information and relevant data into his writing. His exegetical studies are good, as are his background insets. He does a good job of reading the texts within their historical settings, and he does not explain away the miraculous elements.

Theologically he is also helpful. As an example, I agree with Schreiner that 1 Kings 11 “is arguably one of the most important chapters in the Old Testament.” (152). He has a keen eye for theological development. I have to say that I benefitted from Schreiner’s commentary and that this book, which comes with a fairly thrifty price tag, is worth the money. The book contains many helpful panels which provide information on places, charts, scholarly conclusions, names, archaeological evidence etc.

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