(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review. I am not obligated to present a positive review.)
Great Kings of the Bible: How Jesus is greater than Saul, David and Solomon is written by Deepak Reju, pastor of Biblical Counseling and Families at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. As many may know, Mark Dever is pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Dever is a prolific writer on theology of the church. Therefore, a reader would expect a fellow pastor at that church to share a deep concern for theology. Deepak Reju meets that expectation.
Features and Summary
Great Kings of the Bible is a children’s book with full page illustrations by Fred Apps. From its appearance, it would appear to be a book designed to be read to or read by children in the early elementary grades of school and perhaps older considering the rise of graphic literature.
The book has three broad sections regarding Saul, David, and Solomon; the three most recognized kings of ancient Israel. Each section concludes with a section that explains why Jesus is greater. In general these sections emphasize the He was sinless, that He died on the cross, and that He was raised from the dead.
Each section is divided into smaller sections based upon stories from each king’s life. This allows parents to divide the book as they read it to their children. Parents could stop and discuss each section with their child. Parents may want to use the book as part of family devotions or family worship.
The major strength of the book is its fidelity to the stories as told in the Bible. There is not embellishment of the stories. Clearly, Reju wants to be biblically faithful and present good, evangelical theology to children. He is successful. Parents who have the same concern will want to read this book with their children.
The major concern that I have about the book is age appropriateness. Parents will want to consider how they handle certain sections of the book. For example, the Ammonites threatened to gouge out the right eye of the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. David slept with Bathsheba, and she became pregnant. Reju should be commended for presenting the stories faithfully, but depending on the child, parents should consider the questions that may arise.
A related concern is reading level. The reading level is around fourth grade. A bright second or third grader can handle it, but some words will have to be defined. A child with a background in church will have a much easier time than a child without that background.
The Child Test
The best way to review a children’s book is to read it with your child. My 8-year-old daughter read the book with me. She liked the illustrations, which all held her attention. She had to ask the meaning of a few words. She enjoyed it. The book held her attention. The book passes the child test.
I recommend this book to parents who want to introduce their children at a younger age to deeper theology. Many people in the broader evangelical Reformed tradition have tried to create theology for children. Reju does a better job of being age appropriate than most others that I have read. For that, he should get a lot of credit, and I hope that he will write more children’s books. If your child does not have a background in church and the Bible, I would recommend introducing him or her to the Bible’s stories with a more basic book.