But there are different ways of doing it. One of the more popular ways of reading the historical books is to go into them assuming that the historical books are as prescriptive as they are descriptive. Now it is true that the Chronicler will tell us that so and so did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord and proceed to tell us exactly what was evil. It is also true that in, say, Ezra or Nehemiah we'll get first person accounts of the failures of enemies ... but it's not impious to note that Ezra/Nehemiah paints a much more morally simplified view of conflict than the other historical books, even Chronicles. Even Nehemiah finds himself guilty of doing wrong by the people of Israel. A person could look at the book of Ruth and suppose that what happened was what "should" have happened.
The problem with this approach is that in a book like Samuel (1 & 2) things are not nearly so clear cut as that. The people of Israel sinned in asking for a king yet the Torah provided provisions for what was and wasn't to be expected or permitted in the conduct of the king so it wasn't sinful to request a king so much as how the request was made and why.
Which gets to another point in which historical books can be misappropriated. You can go into the book supposing that there are clear cut good guys and bad guys and miss nuances in the biblical narrative. Nehemiah and Ezra paint themselves in rather uniformly positive light and are providing a summary of a lengthy process of re-establishing Israelite society and the holy city. Sometimes the biblical narratives make it clear who to root for but we can often mistake the actions of one of the heroes for being the right thing to do at the right time.
This is particularly problematic when applied to the book of Samuel. Solomon comes to the throne with a lot of bloodletting and while Solomon was wise his wisdom was not the same as the heart for the Lord his father David had. In other words just because Solomon killed a bunch of people following his father's dying advice does NOT mean Solomon SHOULD have done those things. In fact if Solomon really thought he was doing that good a job or that his wisdom up to that point was godly or productive why did he ask of the Lord for a discerning mind to know how to justly rule unless he had looked back on his first acts as king and had begun to doubt the wisdom of his actions.
And some things in 1 Kings, for instance, are puzzling on their face. If David was cold and had trouble sleeping at night why not just throw some more heavy blankets on him to keep him warm? Why find the hottest virgin in the land to rest in his arms at night whom we are told he nevertheless had no sexual relations with her and that she would help him keep warm at night? What would the body of a beautiful young virgin do for the king that a bunch of heavy quilts wouldn't do? Answer. As Old Testament scholar V Phillips Long once put it the trouble heating up David might have experienced may not have been a literal heating up if you get the meaning.
Now even if we were to simply explain that Abishag was just a maid who helped David by tending to him and helping him keep warm at night it's a baffling point. David Plotz in his blogging through the Bible series on Slate reasoned that this was a sign of how far David's health had declined, he made no moves on the girl. David, after all, had multiple wives and ten concubines. Yet we are not really told that we should be troubled by this peculiar advice and action regarding David's trouble keeping warm.
When David tells Solomon that he has wisdom and to act on it Solomon certainly does ... but we aren't told clearly that what Solomon did was really right or wise in God's eyes. We also notice that the first time Solomon. There was quite a bit of plotting between Nathan and Bathsheba to get Solomon installed. We are told that through David's action Solomon's kingdom was firmly established in 2 Samuel 2 and that at the end that the kingdom was established in the hands of Solomon. This apparently redundant statement may be a subtle hint that Solomon's kingdom was firmly established at the start and that by chapter's end it was firmly established in his hands. Contrast this to another phrase in which we are told that David recognized that the Lord had established him as king in Israel.
The first indication we have that Solomon marries bodes ill for his future, his first mentioned wife is the daughter of Pharoah, making an alliance with Egypt. While the Mosaic law forbade despising an Egyptian it was arguable that the king of Israel had better things to do than, say, marrying Pharoah's daughter so as to establish an alliance with Egypt. This is an alliance that Israel would mistakenly rely upon in generations to come. It can be easy to surmise that Solomon began well when the truth may be that he had an inauspicious and less-than-exemplary beginning.
Now perhaps the simplest but most troublesome temptation we can have in reading a historical book is to try to find a way to read ourselves into it both in terms of application and in terms of discerning the meaning of a biblical narrative. A church could exemplify this tendency by turning to some narrative book of the Bible as grist for backing up a church building campaign without any consideration of the actual context or long-term meaning a narrative has within a biblical book.
Probably the most egregious example of this in the last ten years might be misappropriating the story of Jabez. But in principle if you were to take a biblical narrative book and say "This is just like my life." or "This is just what is going on at our church." it begs the question of how that could really be true. If a pastor were to invoke Jehoash's renovation of the house of the Lord as though he were Jehoash does that mean the pastor plans to order the assasination of the head deacon or some local prophet? Probably not. If a pastor were to preach through, say, Ezra and use that as a way to explain that some people in the church who didn't like a new building project were like the Gentiles who opposed the restoration of Jerusalem that would be spinning things into the realm of eisegesis, to put it mildly.
We can learn things about God from the narrative books and how He sovereignly works through circumstances. We can also learn that God can providentially punish His people by giving them exactly what they ask for, like having a king like all the other nations. They get that and they get a man who descends into madness and murder. Ezra and Nehemiah find that they are attempting to bring things back into order in the holy city and they find that the city is not that holy. A lot had been lost during the decades and centuries of exile.
The lessosn we can learn about God can be troubling because we can learn so much about our own faithlessness as people. Even the best in Samuel and Kings are often terrible. Solomon appears to begin well but with his marriage to Egypt and his bloodletting to secure his throne we see signs of the Solomon who is to come. It is not so much surprising as it is inexorably tragic that the flaws he displays early on remain flaws that cause him to be rebuked by God. Even though Solomon was visited by God TWICE he turns down a terrible path and ends up sacrificing children to foreign gods, gathering wealth to himself and chariots and wives in contradiction to those things required by Mosaic law regarding kings of Israel.
Yet God lets the house of David stand! It is fascinating that David, who did not seek to be king, was appointed king. Saul did not seek it either and perhaps even attempted at every turn to evade the responsibilities of being king while basking in the privileges of the office. He attempted to hold on to what he did not seek but was given. Solomon attempted to establish for himself what had been given him. We cannot be entirely sure that how Solomon ascended to the throne was right. After all, we cannot infer that simply because Israel got a king that it was something God was happy with. Time and again we may think that success in the things we seek is a sign of God's blessing. Time and again we may be tempted to see in historical books the stories we want to see when if we look at the stories for what they tell us about God and about human sin we may see ourselves in the places we don't want to see ourselves and may find that Scripture does not speak about "us" where we might wish it to.