Who is the greatest King over the people of God? If you, or any of your children, do not say, “Jesus,” then you would be helped by Deepak Reju’s children’s book, Great Kings of the Bible: How Jesus is Greater than Saul, David and Solomon. Too often, the narrative of the kings of Israel in the Old Testament is applied solely by way of example. This is especially true for children’s literature and curricula, where the punchline is often “Do not be like Saul” or “Do be like David.”
But not only are the Old Testament narratives not that simple – Saul did do some faithful things and David did do some really horrendous things! – that is not their point! What we are to cultivate in the lives of the great kings of Israel is not merely moral exemplars, but the expectation and longing for the greatest king to come.
Reju’s work accomplishes this in a straightforward for children. He summarizes the lives of Saul, David, and Solomon in a clear fashion that is age-appropriate for children, while avoiding any glib generalities – Saul’s death is explained, along with David’s murderous infidelity. At the end of each king’s story, the life of the sinful and imperfect king is contrasted with that of the king to come. This refrain punctuates the book: “… but Jesus rose again and became the greatest of all kings.”
Near the end of David’s story, Reju explains:
Unlike David, Jesus never killed anyone. He used his power to raise the dead to life. Jesus was never selfish, unjust, arrogant or proud. He served the sick, the poor, and the needy. He loved those who were despised and welcomed the outcasts. he showed mercy to even the ‘worst’ of sinners and many whom no one else would love. He humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross! Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, God made Jesus the greatest of all kings.
With Great Kings of the Bible, Reju offers help to the parent, Sunday School teacher, or reading-age child. Not only is it an understandable and accurate summary of a vital part of Israel’s history from Saul through Solomon, it is a biblicaly faithful guide to our promised and eternal King, the Lord Jesus. With engaging illustrations, easy prose, and well-divided sections, this will be a welcome resource for family worship, preparation for Sunday School teachers, and… even those adults who’re still trying to understand what 1 Samuel – 2 Kings has to do with them.