Last week, we looked at my commentary recommendations on the Pentateuch. Today, we’ll move on in the Former Prophets, which is basically the historical books minus Ruth, Chronicles, Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah. So, actually maybe it’s better to think it’s Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. Just to reiterate, these are my preferences and what make up my library. There are definitely some great resources I’ve overlooked. What I’m trying to do here is give you what I typically look for, and in the case of individual books, what I think is the best 2 commentaries for a pastor to have on each (because I think you should have at least 2) and what is the best single commentary for the interested reader to pick up (who is maybe not a pastor). What I’m listing here is a) what commentaries I currently have and b) what commentaries I’m still tracking down (gradually and systematically).
The commentaries in bold are the ones I think are your best bet if you’re just going to get one.
Here’s our overview again:
- Old Testament Backgrounds
- The Pentateuch
- The Former Prophets (what you’re now reading)
- The Latter Prophets
- The Writings
- Special Studies/Miscellaneous Resources
- Joshua: An Introduction and Commentary (TOTC) by Richard Hess
- The Book of Joshua (NICOT) by Marten Woudstra
- Joshua (Focus on The Bible) by Dale Ralph Davis
- The Book of Judges (NICOT) by Barry Webb
- Judges-Ruth (NAC) by Daniel I. Block
- Judges (Focus on The Bible) by Dale Ralph Davis
The Books of Samuel
- 1 & 2 Samuel (NAC) by Robert Bergen
- A Son to Me: An Exposition of 1 & 2 Samuel by Peter Leithart
- 1 & 2 Samuel: An Introduction and Commentary (TOTC) by Joyce G. Baldwin
- 1 Samuel (Focus on The Bible) by Dale Ralph Davis
- 2 Samuel (Focus on The Bible) by Dale Ralph Davis
The Books of Kings
- 1 & 2 Kings (NAC) by Paul R. House
- 1 & 2 Kings: An Introduction and Commentary (TOTC) by Donald J. Wiseman
- 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter Leithart
- 1 Kings (Focus on The Bible) by Dale Ralph Davis
- 2 Kings (Focus on The Bible) by Dale Ralph Davis
If you’re not necessarily looking for in-depth exegetical work, but would prefer engaging, devotional exposition, I would highly recommend getting the set of Focus on The Bible commentaries. I was able to pick them up before teaching through the historical books to high school freshman and found Davis’ exposition very useful. For the average Christian reader, they would make a great addition to your bookshelf.
Also, the two commentaries by Peter Leithart are exceptional. Not so much in terms of deep exegetical rigor, but more in terms of thematic and Christological reading of Samuel and Kings. I actually pulled on some of his summary charts for in class homework in my 9th grade Bible class, and students were able to better see how characters in Samuel connect to other characters throughout the OT and into the NT.