Through the Bible in a Year – June 14

The scheme for May – June can be found here

1 Ch 18-20; Rev 19-20; Psalm 56-57

Our readings in the Old Testament are ‘chronologically’ arranged. That is that the texts are read in a way that is arranged with the flow of time, the story of God’s people. Thus we shall soon be reading the prophets who denounced the kings of Israel and Judah, as we also read of the downfall of those same kings.

Of course, as we are all aware, the Old Testament contains many different types (genres) of writing. There is poetry and prayer (Psalms and Song of Songs), there are sayings (proverbs), there are theological tales (Jonah and Job for example), and then there is ‘historical narrative’.

And therein lies a difficulty for us – for there is history and there is history. Who writes the history influences what is included, and in the case of our reading today, what is left out.

We read the words ‘In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle . . .’ and immediately we are in familiar territory, having just read exactly the same words in 2 Samuel 11 . . . but the story does not continues the same.

The Chronicler is not interested in David’s personal history – he is telling the story of the great King of Israel with no interest in his personal character, unlike the author of Samuel. Here the story goes on without missing a step and were it not for Samuel, we would never have known of David’s theft of Bathsheba

Does it matter?

Through the Bible in a Year – June 3rd

The scheme for May – June can be found here

2 Sa 11-12; 2&3 Jn; Psalm 42

This passage from 2 Samuel is as we know the hinge on which the David narrative turns. In a sense as some have suggested, David now begins to live out the second half of his life, beginning with the theft of Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah.

Women and wives were seen as chattels in David’s time – indeed perhaps in his remark about his love for Jonathan [2 Sam 1:27], there is a disdain of women implicit – but they still did belong to their husband, not to another. So Adultery was then more than a sexual misdemeanour, it was also theft as Uriah so describes it. David is a sheep stealer. And then of course he murders Uriah to complete the theft. Like it or not, in the story of David, there are deep resonances with the story of the most wicked of all the kings, Ahab.

But whatever is going on, David now finds himself in  set of circumstances where the tenor of his faith changes. Previously he bestrides the landscape – we are told the LORD granted him victory – but from hereon in he will find that as under Saul, he is a fugitive once more. His faith now takes on a most different hue. He is now a sinner, hunted in the wilderness. It is perhaps now that David begins the most important lesson of all, that Truly he is dependent upon God and not the might of his own arm.

He is in this regard a perfect mirror for Israel – who are chosen and saved by the Lord, just as he chose and preserved David. Who then entered the promised land of his inheritance, but acted as if everything he had was his – as King it was all his to do with as he would. So too Israel in their pride and conceit acted as if they were Lords. NO man is a Lord, not in his own home, not anywhere, only Christ. David’s story reminds us of this powerfully. From hereon, the David story continues down and down.



Through the Bible in a Year – May 24th

The scheme for May – June can be found here

1 Sa 17-18; Jas 4-5; Psalm 33

The story of David, as we were thinking yesterday, looms large over the Old Testament narrative. Indeed we know more of David than of any other figure in Scripture, Christ included if we deal merely in biographical details.

This distinction though is a significant one. For the life of David is a thing of myth – and the myth is set up in this most famous of stories concerning David, his confrontation with Goliath. Here the plucky young lad, armed with only five stones and faith in God, slays the giant. All sorts of powerful themes captivate our imagination herein. He is being set up as the Hero. Of course we read the narrative knowing the end from the beginning. Here is a Great and Powerful beginning, but the end of the David story finds him reduced to small minded politics upon his death bed. What is the narrator trying to get us to see here? Are we merely dealing with the archetype of the flawed hero – or indeed is the myth of the Heroic, the Strong, The Powerful, the Faithful Man being dealt a fatal blow in this story.

Is the story of David and Goliath and what ensues in the first part of his story not an exemplary story, but rather a setup, carefully written to disabuse us of such simplistic but powerful suggestions?

Certainly, when we consider Christ, it is hard to read him as the Son of David . . .

Through the Bible in a Year – May 23rd

The scheme for May – June can be found here

1 Sa 15-16; Jas 2-3; Psalm 32

‘Do not look on his appearance . . . the LORD does not see as mortals see, the LORD looks on the heart’

Certainly here is one of the pivotal incidents in the Old Testament narrative, the anointing of David as King over Israel.

The story of David in many regards dwarfs the Old Testament and of course its ripples comfortably traverse the 400 year ‘silence’ of the inter testamental period. So that Jesus is proclaimed by some as ‘Son of David’. The hopes for the restoration of the Davidic line, the Messianic fervour runs all the way through to the Gospel announcements.

However it is full of what to our tidy minds are ambiguities and challenges to us.

First of course there is the story of David himself. We may well be left asking, if the LORD looks on the heart, does he not see David’s fall from grace? Of course this story is more than echoed in Jesus’ call of the disciples, especially Peter and Judas . . .

And then the stunning challenge to us, the the LORD does not see as we do. How often we look on the externals of a person, their education, their knowledge, their family life in order to judge who might well lead the flock of God. But can we really see into the heart? Of course we like to think that we can. We readily reduce people to what we think is their essence, for judging them is surely this. But can we see the heart?

I think not

This story should give us much pause. If the family of David cannot perceive his heart, how can such judgement be made? If the LORD sees the heart of David and yet still calls him to kingship, what does that say of such calling?