For anybody who is looking to start with the Spring Framework I definitely recommend the “Spring in Action” book. While you find loads of resources on the Web (aka lots of time to be invested) the book has indeed the approach you need if you are a beginner.
The reader is accompanied through the different chapters where the concepts are introduced incrementally and supported by good code samples. Also to be appreciated is the occasional use of UML diagrams to explain the interaction between classes.
It is available on Manning, and definitely worth the 30 bucks.
Part1 Core Spring is by far the most interesting as it covers IoC, bean wiring and AOP. Other chapters present the Enterprise features of Spring, from database access (JDBC and Hibernate) to security, messaging and Web Services. The book has also an introduction to Spring MVC and some words about the integration with other frameworks.
Key features: Easy to read, step-by-step approach, clear code samples.
Make sure it is the 2nd edition (Aug 2007) which is based on Spring 2.