1 Introducing Old Testament Narrative

Stories pack a punch

What’s your favourite Bible story and why?

Mine is Esther: – so many co-incidences show the Sovereignty of God over individuals and the world

Imogen and Ryan with Adam: – Imogen: Jesus calms the storm, – Ryan: the lost sheep

Stories are powerful.

Nathan used a story to convict David of his sin. He didn’t preach a sermon on the evils of adultery, he told a story him the story of a rich man who robbed a poor man of his pet lamb, in order to provide a feast for his guests. David was outraged and wanted to kill the man. Nathan had made his point, and simply needed to say, “You are that man!”

God uses the same method as Nathan. He doesn’t just speak words to us, but “shows” us his truth, in everyday life. God doesn’t just tell us things to teach us, he teaches us by doing things, and then gives us his Word to explain his actions. God’s works illustrate God’s word and God’s Word explains God’s works.


1. Narrative is the story of history from a divine perspective

Narrative is story (but a true story), events, history from a divine perspective. It’s very important that we see narrative as truth. Let’s say that the events of Gen 2+3 were not true; we would have to say that God is not good, because we would have to conclude that God brings our suffering on us, rather than us bringing it on ourselves through our own sinful rebellion. There would also be no such thing as us being guilty before God, which means that there is no need for atonement. We would also have to say that there are no absolute moral standards by which we should live, or expect anyone else to live by. Morality will just become a relative thing.

Stories contain: a story teller, narrator characters; with God as the main character places most importantly: stories contain a plot, they aren’t just random

2. Narrative is God’s Word to us God’s Word to us, see: Rom 15:4 1 Cor 10:6, 11

WHERE NARRATIVE IS FOUND in 40% of OT. Added with NT narrative, it’s the most common genre in the Bible.

The whole Bible is a story / narrative (redemptive history)


The Bible’s narrative/s operate on 3 different narrative levels:

top level overarching story: creation, fall, redemption promised and fulfilled, new creation

middle level focuses on Israel: Abraham, slavery in Egypt, Exodus, law, conquest of land, Israel’s idolatry, destruction of Israel and Judah in captivity, restoration through exile

bottom level individual stories: by the hundred: Moses at the burning bush, David and Goliath, Jonah in the whale etc there may even be stories within stories at this level: e.g. Joseph’s interpreting of dreams is part of the wider Joseph narrative. this level must be considered in the light of the other two, as well as is the light of the NT

At all levels – these narratives are our stories – Galatians 3:29 OT Narrative can be summarised into 2 major time frames: Creation David and Jesus and Fall Solomon “A” starts with creation and ends with the building of the Temple: narrative is largely positive as God brings salvation (by dealing graciously with people even when they are rebellious {Noah, Babel, wilderness, idolatry}) and establishes the kingdom (through the reign of David and Solomon culminating in the building of the temple). central to this section are God’s covenants with Abraham and David. “B” starts with the post-Solomon decline of the Kingdom and continues until the coming of Jesus: narrative is largely negative as human sin results in exile (loss of land, temple and kingship) narrative shows that the David/Solomon kingdom was not the pinnacle yet narrative reveals God’s faithfulness to his promises (Daniel, Esther) narrative here must be considered in terms of the prophet’s ministry also Always keep in mind, where you are in the overall story. WHAT NARRATIVE IS NOT 1. not just stories from long ago a. are about God’s actions at a micro level to bring about the macro b. God is therefore the hero 2. not stories filled with hidden meanings a. must not read into stories that which isn’t there, like David and Goliath. b. The story is the message. 3. not direct teaching a. it does not act like a doctrinal passage, so we shouldn’t read or teach it that way b. narrative teaches through illustration – rather than telling you that God is merciful, narrative shows you that God is merciful. The teaching is implicit rather than explicit. c. we should learn by living in the story d. narrative is learning by experiencing, rather than learning by reading 4. not unrelated to what surrounds it a. small individual parts of the story must be considered as part of the whole, otherwise false interpretations could be made, like Jabez. 5. not just moral lessons or examples a. characters are not just there for us to learn from, either positively or negatively b. the moral is not always positive. “Be like David” cannot be consistent teaching. OT characters are far from perfect. c. stories aren’t just there as ‘lessons for leaders’ from Nehemiah 6. not an answer to all our questions a. they have a limited purpose, so we must not look for what is not there b. nor are all narratives ‘complete’, they don’t give us all the details. Work with what is there. 2 Read in CONTEXT Recap what we did last week. HOW NARRATIVE MUST NOT BE TAUGHT 1. Narrative is not just a source for good illustrations. I shouldn’t only think about Joseph when I’m teaching James 2:1 and favouritism is mentioned (Jacob showed favouritism) or 3:16 which talks about jealousy (Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him). 2. Narrative is not just there to provide examples of the consequences of obedience and disobedience. Look how godly Joseph was! God exalted him. Look how Jacob the deceiver is himself deceived. What goes around comes around. Jacob deceived Isaac, now his sons deceive him. 3. Narrative is not just there to teach good morals. Joseph was a good man. Joseph fled from his seducer. Joseph did not seek revenge. The danger of treating narrative this way is twofold: Licence to sin. If we treat OT characters as those who provide moral direction to us, what do we do when they go off course? Abraham lying about Sarah? Jacob deceiving Isaac? We might try and use the OT to justify our own immoral practices. Burdened with law. Why do so many children leave Sunday School, never to return again? Perhaps because they’ve been taught to be good, rather than to trust Christ who makes them good. So they learn from Joseph that he was sexually pure, non violent, a hard worker, devoted to his family; and when they can’t do that themselves (which they can’t) they throw in the towel, rather than turn to Christ, which must surely be the goal of all passages. Any examples of this (from the class)? EXERCISE What problems might arise from the following sermon, based on Genesis 37–50? Integrity under fire 1. Flee immorality: Potiphar’s wife enticed Joseph 2. Work hard: Pharaoh assigned work to Joseph 3. Forgive others: The brothers mistreated Joseph Nothing about God or Jesus; nothing about what God was doing through Joseph; nothing about the central truths of the story. Just random scattered thoughts. Provides an appraisal that is not useful for the Christian life: perfection. The meta-narrative is not considered at all. Application without explanation. HOW NARRATIVE SHOULD BE TAUGHT Genesis 37-50 1. Summarise the events in the narrative. 2. Are these events explained anywhere? 45:5, 7 You sold, God sent 50:20 You intended evil, God intended good: the saving of many lives. 3. How does the narrative begin and end? How does this help us understand the message of the narrative? Dreamed they bowed down to him, 37:5-11 They bow to him, 50:18 having done so previously, 42:6, 43:26, 28 Clearly God has brought about their bowing down! 4. Apply the principles of top, middle and bottom narrative levels to the story of Joseph. How might this help you to determine the message of the narrative? Top: creation, fall, salvation, new creation Middle: Abraham, exodus, land, exile, return Bottom: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph Without the Joseph narratives/events, the top layer could never be fulfilled. God was sovereignly caring for and saving his people – a bit like Esther. 5. What does this teach you about God? Sovereign Able to control the micro to achieve the macro. 6. How does this point to Christ? Primarily: Acts 4:25-28 – Jesus was opposed by others, controlled by God. The process of salvation is similar: rejected, sold/betrayed, mocked, suffers, rules, saves. But he dies and they’re still in Egypt – incomplete rescuer. They need someone better, someone to whom ALL must bow, Phil 2 – someone from Judah’s who will be even greater than Joseph, 49:8. POINTS OF SUMMARY: 1. Set the passage in its context. 2. Know the events of the story well. 3. Look for explanations of the events. 4. Understand that EVENT + EXPLANATION = REVELATION 5. Determine therefore, what is being revealed about God. 6. Consider the natural links to Christ. 3 OBSERVE Carefully Summarise what we’ve done so far. Read in CONTEXT. Seen an example of applying all the necessary principles to one OT narrative. Today we’ll consider the second step in doing good exposition of OT narrative: Read the Narrative Carefully – Observation Joshua 2 (Before reading the chapter – tell the story to each other – we often presume we know the story!) 1. Read the chapter. Start asking yourself questions: Why were spies sent to Jericho, in v.1? See chapter 1. God is giving them the land. Joshua is Moses successor, who has to lead the Israelites courageously by the law of Moses 1:7-8. They are to possess the land. Back in chapter 1, what were the Israelites expected “to do according to all the law of Moses?” verse 7. See Deuteronomy 7:1-6, 12:29-31. They were to devote the inhabitants of the land to destruction, so that they would not follow their idolatrous practices. Does this happen to Rahab? How does this make you feel, as you remember Numbers 13 and 14? Does her survival indicate rebellion? Rahab survives. Have they been disobedient? In Numbers when they sent spies in, and did not obey by entering, they were punished. Not sure if this is rebellion or not. List the details of the story that surprise you or which leave you asking questions. She is a prostitute. She puts the spies on her roof, with the flax. She expresses faith in God, according to what she has heard. Her family is mentioned twice in v.13 and 18. Why is an individual mentioned and singled out during a national invasion? Why is she an exception to the annihilation? 2. Explore the surrounding chapters. Where does Rahab appear again? 6:17, 23, 25 What has happened in between? Israelites have been making preparations for the attack on Jericho. Jericho is miraculously defeated. What phrases from ch 2 are repeated in ch 6? Her family were spared. Even her possessions were spared: (v.25 in NASB “Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared”) This is in contrast to the rest of Jericho, in v.21. 3. Keep reading. After the success of Jericho, what is the surprise of Ai in ch 7? What is the reason for this? 7:1 and 7:10-15 tell us. What similarities / contrasts do you notice between Achan and Rahab? Primarily notice that he is executed with his family and his animals, 7:24. He is treated like the people of Jericho. Are there other similarities? Woman / Man Canaanite / Hebrew Prostitute / From the tribe of Judah Should have died, but lived and prospered / Should have prospered, but died Her family and all she owned survived / His family and all she owned perished Nation perished / Nation prospers Hides the spies from the king / Hides the loot from God and Joshua Hides the spies on the roof / Hides the loot under his tent Fears the God of Israel / Does not fear the God of Israel\ Has only heard, yet believes / Has seen the acts of God, but disobeys Her house survives while Jericho is burned / His tent is burned Animals of Jericho perish / Animals of Achan perish She becomes an Israelite and lives / He becomes like a Canaanite and dies They are opposites to each other, based on their response to God. What message is the writer bringing across? Issues of individual faith are of utmost importance. Faith is not about nationality or respectability. This would be a great sermon, based on the CONTRAST between Rahab and Achan. Another example: Observing contrasts Saul and David How is Saul introduced in 1 Samuel 9? Taller than everyone. How is David introduced in 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-13 Smaller than everyone. How is Saul introduced to us in 9:3-21? Looking for the donkeys he lost. Suggests to servant they go home. Doesn’t recognise Samuel when he sees him. He is a bit of a clown: bumbling, not bright or bold. How is David introduced in ch 16 and 17? Keeps his father’s sheep, fearlessly. In the Goliath narrative of ch 17, who should fight Goliath? Why? Saul is taller and he is King, yet was afraid 17:11. Who fights him instead? Diminutive David isn’t afraid. He once again kills the lion who is attacking his father’s sheep. David is switching flocks – becoming king over God’s sheep. 4 Don’t lose the PLOT: why, what, how? Summarise what we’ve done so far. Read in CONTEXT, OBSERVE carefully. Today: find the PLOT of the story: i.e. Why was the story told? What is it about? and How does it unfold? The Three Little Pigs Find the point of the story. Why was the story told? Read the 3 little pigs…… What’s the point in “The Three Little Pigs”? Hard work pays off. What helped you to get the point? interpretative comments about work which are repeated contrast between pigs exciting story filled with anticipation Look out for the following features within narratives, which will help you get the point of the story: PLOT, SETTING, CHARACTERS, and the NARRATORS VIEWPOINT. PLOT This asks the questions: ‘what is the story about?’ and ‘how does the story develop?’. Stories are told for a reason. There is a punch line. Look for: an introduction – this is where the story is set up, the setting described and where the main series of events begin a problem – this is often in the form of conflict, either within a character, between characters, between God and people or a challenge to a promise the resolution – where the problem is solved the outcome – tells you why it all mattered and how things could carry on Can see this in 3 little pigs: Introduction: they went to build their homes and seek their fortunes. Problem: 2 pigs did not like to work hard and there was a dangerous wolf lurking about Resolution: 2 pigs could find shelter at the 3rd pigs brick house Outcome: they were happy and gay What is the plot in the book of Jonah? Introduction 1:1-2 God’s commission of Jonah Problem 1:3-16 Jonah ran away (v.2-3), and God sends a violent storm (v.4), Sailors throw Jonah overboard (v.15) Resolution 1:17-2:10 God sends a big fish (v.17), Jonah repents (2:1-9) The fish vomits Jonah out (2:10) Outcome 3:1-10 Jonah finally obeys God (3:1-4) The Ninevites repent (3:5-9) God had compassion (3:10) [Remember Exodus 34:6-7] What is the story therefore about? God’s determination to show compassion on Gentile sinners, through the preaching of his Word. What is the plot in Genesis 22? Introduction 22:1 God tested Abraham 12:1-3 God promised Abraham descendants Problem 22:1-10 Abraham has to kill Isaac Resolution 22:11-14 God provided a ram instead of Isaac Outcome 22:15-18 The promises are restated What is the story therefore about? God will remain faithful to his promises and calls people to trust him faithfully. What is the plot in 1 Samuel 8? Introduction 8:1-2 Samuel appointed his sons as judges Problem 8:3-8 and The sons were ungodly (v.3) 8:19-22 The elders want a king like the other nations, thus rejecting God (v.4-8), despite the consequences (v.19-22) Resolution 8:9-17 Samuel is to give them what they want, but warn them also of the consequences Outcome 8:18 God will judge his people because of their rebellion. What is the story therefore about? God will not tolerate being rejected as King, and will teach that to his people, by allowing them to follow another king. But remember… Remember that this only provides the framework and the structure for a passage or section. There is much more to be thought through, like the smaller details of Jonah 1. Don’t become enslaved by looking for a plot according to these same headings. Realise it may not always be as neat and tidy as this. There could be sub plots, and plots within plots. Let the narrator tell you what the narrative is all about and why it’s there. THE NARRATOR’S VIEWPOINT The narrator teaches us the meaning of the story. Look out for summary statements. In Genesis 22:1 the narrator tells us what the story is about. In 2 Samuel 11 the narrator gives a summary statement. Its the first time that God is mentioned. What is the narrator’s viewpoint in 1 Kings 10:26-11:3? See 6:38, 7:1 and 7:8 also? Keep Deuteronomy 17:14-17 in mind. The narrator assumes we know Deuteronomy 17. See a further summary in 11:6, 9. Solomon failed as king. The narrator can sometimes say things ‘between the lines’. How do you see this in Judges 19? Background: The Israelites had not removed the Canaanites. Other nations had moved in. They were killing each other instead of the inhabitants of the land. They have turned to other gods. A Levitical priest leads the tribe of Dan into pagan worship. An Israelite town attempts to molest a priest, raping his concubine instead. What judgment does the narrator make on this situation? v.22 should remind us of Sodom of Genesis 19. The narrator is comparing the Israelites to the people of Sodom. The Sodomites were judged. Shouldn’t Israel also be judged? The Canaanites were driven from the land because of their sin, shouldn’t the Israelites also now be driven from the land? 5 When? Where? Who? Summarise what we’ve done so far. Read in CONTEXT, OBSERVE carefully, and determine the PLOT. Plot answers the ‘why’ and ‘what’ question: Why is this story here, what is it wanting to convey? To help us further come to the point of the story, we also have to ask ‘when, where, who?’ questions. ‘When?’ and ‘where?’ are all about the setting; and ‘who?’ is about the characters. These will often show you how to divide the passage, especially if there is a change of setting or person. SETTING ‘When is the story taking place?’ and ‘Where is the story taking place?’ The details are not unimportant – they might provide significant clues to understanding the story and how we should interpret it. Find out where you are. Determine when the events are taking place. Not in years, but in terms of the covenants and major events. Look out for any changes to the time setting or place setting, that take place within the story. Pay particular attention to the promised land – entering and leaving it. What do you notice about the setting described in: Ruth 1:1? (Do this with class) When? Time setting: Judges is the setting. Reminds us of the cycle in judges: sin in the form of idolatry, judgment in form of raiders, cry for help, rescue through a judge, rest, sin etc. Dreadful time in Israel’s history. Dangerous time. Everyone did as he saw fit – therefore Boaz was a big surprise. Where? Place setting: Famine in the land – reminds you of Deut 28:24. Bethlehem means ‘house of bread’. There is a famine in ‘the house of bread’. Elimelech left the land – unusual, not recommended, lack of trust, the result being the troubles that follow them. Ch 1:21 suggests that her ‘emptiness’ is because she ‘went away’. When she returns, life gets better. Nehemiah 2:1-3? When? During reign of Arta-xerses; after the exile has happened; but before the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls; but after the rebuilding of the Temple by Ezra. Thedrefore it is a time of judgment and the promised end of the exile has yet to happen. Where? Babylon; Nehemiah is in the palace, working for the king; but his concern is for Jerusalem. Esther 4:12-17? When? “At this time” and “for such a time as this”, v.14. What time? Jews from around the world are under threat from Haman, 3:5-11. This is after the exile has ended, see 1:1 and 2:5-7 (the words ‘who had been carried into exile’ may not be a reference to Mordecai himself, but perhaps to his father or grand father. Where? Susa, Persia; in the palace, where Esther has become queen, through remarkable means. 1 Kings 19:9-18? When? After Moses, the entry, the judges and the split into 2 kingdoms. Where? At the mountain of God, v.8. Elijah is discouraged, v.4 and 10. v.11 sounds like what God said to Moses at Sinai. But God has nothing (new) to say, the covenant is still in place, God’s (Sinai) character is unchanged and Elijah must get on with it. Might miss that, if you don’t realise where Elijah is. CHARACTERS This answers the question: ‘who is carrying out the action and moving the plot forward?’ Characters are very complex – (think of movies and soap operas) and we found ourselves being teased with many unknowns which keep us reading the story, waiting to discover what drives and motivates them. Characters are a real mixture of good and bad. We mustn’t make the mistake of thinking that they are purely there to be lessons for us. They are simply part of the development of the plot. We must remember that God is the hero of all OT stories. Characters aren’t there to be followed. Who are the main characters in 2 Samuel 11? What is the climax of the story? v.11 David did what Uriah said he wouldn’t do. v.13 Why won’t Uriah go home to his wife? Does he know about the affair? Has it been leaked to him, and he doesn’t want to be part of the cover-up? Or is he just being honest? Whatever the reason, his answer is an indictment of David. The narrator may well be keeping us in the dark, to show us how David felt. He was in the dark, and unsure of why Uriah didn’t go home. We feel the tension in the king. Notice: God is absent from the whole narrative, until v.27, which is the climax. What are we to make of: Gideon in Judges 6-8? Could seem as if Gideon is a hero as he defeats the Midianites with only 300 men. But Gideon needs constant signs to be kept on track: 6:17, 21, 6:38, 6:40, 7:13. Gideon is afraid: 6:27, 7:10-11. Gideon ends poorly 8:27. Gideon names his one son Abimelech in 8:31, meaning ‘son of a king’. His victories had gone to his head. So what do we make of him? He is a mixture of good and bad. He obeys God but is reluctant to do so. Clearly God is the one who has delivered the Israelites. God chose someone weak to do his will. God is the hero – Gideon is not someone on whom we should model ourselves. Haman in Esther 3:1, 6, 7:10, 9:14-15? (work in groups) Exodus 17:8-15 The Amalakites attacked the Israelites and God promised to wipe them out. 1 Samuel 15 Saul should’ve wiped out the Amalakites and Agag their King, but doesn’t. Solomon in 1 Kings 6:38, 7:1 and ch 10 and 11? really a mixed bag – some good, some bad – not the king of Deut 17:14-17. 6 Discover Christ in the narrative Summarise so far: CONTEXT, OBSERVATION, PLOT, SETTING, CHARACTERS. The first few steps help us to determine what God was saying then. But what is he saying to US, through this particular story? From them then, to us today But how do we do this? Literally? Should we take what was said to them then, and transfer it directly to us? Eg: Test God with a fleece. But what do you do with the Joshua stories of conquest? Spiritualise? Should we find a spiritual interpretation? Some people claim territory in prayer, businesses or homes, perhaps like in the Jericho story. Moralise? Learn lessons from the characters? Be like friendly like Jonathan. Don’t be deceiver like Jacob. But this introduces legalism and failure. No, we want to read the Bible like Jesus called on us to read the Bible: with Jesus at the centre, Luke 24:27, 44. Jesus must be the focus of our interpretation of the Bible narratives. David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) Possible options for teaching David and Goliath: No one would do it literally! “When attacked, use a slingshot.” Spiritualise it? When you face giants in your life, relational problems, illness, bereavement, unemployment, death, God will be with you, as you fight them with his weapons: prayer, Bible reading, faith, fellowship, hope, love, patience. This is the most common interpretation. Moralise it? Good will always triumph over evil. A better way: David was an unlikely hero But he had been anointed as king God proved faithful, he was victorious There were tremendous celebrations Yet we must remember that another King was promised Jesus seemed quite unlikely But God was faithful and Jesus was victorious over his greatest enemies We too should celebrate Read 1 Samuel 7:1-13 we will work on this as an example text. But first a devotion based on the same chapter. “For 20 years the ark stayed with Eleazar, and during this time, the people of Israel had a revival! They put away their idols and began serving Jehovah only. They had a big meeting at Mizpah to confess their sins of ido1-worship and receive God’s forgiveness. This time was appropriately observed with fasting. They wanted to take the matter to God when they heard of an impending Philistine attack. Wow, this is exciting and encouraging! Oh God, would You let this happen in my nation? I think a major factor in this revival was that Israel had godly leaders. Careless Eli, Hophni, and Phineas were now replaced by godly Abinidab and Eleazar, and the prophet Samuel was a major leader, whereas there had been no prophet earlier. Oh God, how wonderful it would be if truly godly men could fill the seats of my nation’s government! I’m kinda surprised that those superstitious Philistines decided to attack Israel again after the ark incident. But the Israelites were all in one place and, since they had come for a religious ceremony, they probably were not armed for battle. The Philistines had them now, and the Israelites remembered how they’d been slaughtered the last time by the Philistines. But they cried out to God. Their strength had not won last time. Their carrying the ark with them didn’t win last time either. They cried out to God and asked their godly leader to cry out to God for them too. They were right before God this time – they had ditched their idols and confessed their sin, and they were worshipping and praying to God wholeheartedly. And God answered by frightening those superstitious Philistines, this time with thunder. The men of Israel (notice, just the men were in the army) pursued the fleeing Philistines and “whupped up on ’em!” The setting up of monuments commemorating God‘s Work is a good thing to do. This was a big deal – the subduing of the Philistines, and Samuel wanted this to be remembered throughout the generations; that GOD did it when the people were right before Him. Lord, let me be a godly leader like Samuel! Let me always confess my sins to You and keep You on the throne of my life, not displacing you with anything! Let me always cry out to You in trouble. And let me always remember to thank You for Your deliverance and somehow record it for the generations to come, what You do for me.” Problems? Jesus isn’t mentioned at all. Straight from them to us. 1. Are the characteristics of a plot, evident in this narrative? What is the narrative about? How is the narrative developed? Divide the passage into: introduction, problem, resolution and outcome. Hint: there may be more than one problem and resolution! v.1-2 intro – the Ark is in Israel (has been for 20 years) but Israel is unhappy v.3 problem 1 – Israel is serving foreign gods and Philistines are opposing them v.4-6 resolution 1 – Israel turns from her gods and confesses her sin v.7 problem 2 – the Philistines gather and Israel is afraid v.8-11 resolution 2 – Samuel intercedes for Israel and God won the battle for Israel v.12 outcome 2 – Ebenezer reminds Israel of her victory v.13 outcome 1 – God was continually against the Philistines There are 2 stories here, like concentric circles: a. The absence of God’s ark from Shiloh, is met by repentance and the outcome is the long-term deliverance from the Philistines. b. The Philistine attack at Mizpah, is met by sacrifice and prayer, and the outcome is the Ebenezer stone. 2. What do we need to notice concerning the setting of this narrative? When and where are the events taking place? i.e. summarise ch 4-6, 8 = a very gloomy part of Israel’s history treating the ark mystically – taking it from Shiloh, see 1:3, 9, 24, 2:14, 3:21, 4:4 Ichabod 4:21 because they lost the ark to the Philistines ch 5-6 ark caused the Philistines trouble ch 8 requesting a king in rejection of God – even though he is so obviously King Timing: between the judges and the monarchy 3. Who are the main characters in the story, and what do we need to notice about them? Israel as the covenant community – really repentant Samuel the mediator – v.9b important Is he the 2:35 priest? But he is also a prophet, 3:1, 20-21, 4:1 God the warrior – see 2:9-10 “thunder” The Philistine enemies – opportunists 4. What is the narrator’s viewpoint, concerning these events? God is the one who brings victory. 7:9-10 Establish the significance of the story for a contemporary Christian congregation a. What is the significance of the story in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel? What did the story mean for the original readers? It comes between Judges and the establishment of the monarchy with Saul and David. Immediately before 1 Sam 8 (see v.7) and after ch 4. Remember cycle in Judges. This chapter is a shaft of sunlight in a very gloomy picture. This is how covenant people should react to difficulties, sin and enemies. But what does it mean for us? b. Start with God. What is God teaching us about God in the story? Look at his actions and words. This will give insight into God’s big picture of salvation-history and a rock-solid line of application from God then, to God now. God judges sin in his people God saves the repentant by a mediator and a sacrifice God destroys his enemies God doesn’t tolerate rival gods c. Explore God’s relationship with Israel. The line runs from old Israel to the new Israel, the church. The parallels are not exact, but the principles remain the same. But remember the coming of Christ! We are not under law, but grace. We live by grace, even when we sin. Should not take licence. How should we respond to what has been revealed about God? Is this narrative mentioned in the NT? No, but Acts 5, 1 Cor 11, James 5, Hebrews 11 talk about how God disciplines his people when they sin. Sin → repentance → grace → repentance d. Look at God’s relationship to the major character(s) e.g. Samuel. The line does not run directly to us; we are not Samuel. He has a unique role as prophet and judge, the man of the Word and the man of intercession – a faithful covenant minister. Clearly this line runs to Christ, perfectly fulfilling what Samuel foreshadowed. Summary OT 21st Century God to God Israel to Church Samuel not to Me Samuel to Jesus, then to me Theme sentence: God delivered his people with a long-lasting victory when they turned wholeheartedly to him from idolatry and trusted in his help alone, but judges his enemies. Aim sentence: Turn from idolatry, trust in Christ’s sacrificial work for you and always remember the help that God has given you. 7 Apply the narrative Summarise: CONTEXT, OBSERVATION, PLOT, SETTING, CHARACTERS and CHRIST. General thoughts on application Application actually enters the next level: See it All: Context; Get it Right: Content; Application is about Putting it Across: Connecting with people. A sermon without application, is not a sermon. It’s a lecture or a lesson or just interesting. So we don’t just teach the passage – we teach for change. “This is what it says – this is what its saying to you.” Application is about using what you’ve heard. “A sermon that is strong on information but weak on application is like shouting to a drowning person, “Swim! Swim!” The message is true, but not very helpful.” The Application Grid and 1 Samuel 7:1-13 Humanity’s need / problem God’s action / solution Humanity’s response / obedience Then 1. Israel is rebuked for its idolatry. What idols were they? Ashtoreth and Baal. What were the problems as a result? The Philistines. 2. What was God’s solution? He called for them to rid themselves of the idols and commit themselves to him, ie obey the covenant. 3. They did what the Lord wanted them to do. Now 4. What idols do people face today that are similar? They were dependant on them. What are our gods of dependence? 5. The cross is the ultimate solution. See the emptiness of false gods and the glory of Christ. 6. All are called to ongoing repentance and faith. Me / Us 7. What are our specific idols here and now? Pleasure, job, career. Things that are replacing Christ. 8. God calls on Christians to confess their specific sins and to trust Christ as their mediator, not any man. 9. Christians should recognise their false gods and turn from them specifically and practically refocus on Christ. The Application Grid and Genesis 22:1-18 (class exercise in groups) Humanity’s need / problem God’s action / solution Humanity’s response / obedience Then 1. Faith in the promises of God of Genesis 12. 2. A demonstration of his faithfulness to his promises despite tremendous odds. As well as a renewal of the covenant. 3. Abraham shows tremendous faith: faith in action and dependence on the substitute ram. Now 4. People are to know and to believe the promises of God, and not be faithless. 5. God has fulfilled all his promises in Christ, despite the odds. Show how he has done that. 6. God will grow our faith in him and calls us to put our faith into action. Me / Us 7. When everything seems stacked against, there will be a way out. God will be faithful. Trust him. 8. God will continue to test your faith – expect it, and don’t despise it. James 1:2-3 9. Keep putting your faith into action: think of practical things. James 2:20-24 8 Teach the narrative Summarising the procedure for expounding OT narrative 1. Read in Context Book Bible 2. Observe carefully ask questions be surprised notice contrasts and similarities 3. Don’t miss the Plot introduction problem resolution outcome narrator’s viewpoint setting characters 4. See Christ as central What difference does it make that Christ has come? 5. Write a theme sentence to sum up the essential teaching content of the narrative and the heart of the sermon. 6. Write an aim sentence, indicating what you are praying God will do in the lives of the hearers, through its message. 7. Apply the narrative Recognise humanity’s problem, God’s action and humanity’s response then and relate that, through Christ, to today and to individuals. What is the timeless truth at the heart of the story? What is God teaching us about God here? What do we learn about God in relationship to his covenant people, Israel?How does this relate to the church? What do we learn about God in relationship to individuals in the story? Are there parallels today? Tips for teaching narrative Your teaching style, should match the narrative. Don’t preach as if it is an epistle. Teach narrative in a story form – make it real and lively – people must be able to ‘see’ the characters. Ask yourself if your retelling and explaining of the story is less riveting and gripping than what was written. Don’t just state the facts, tell the story. You may need to explain geographical details, marriage rituals, Canaanite religious beliefs, or warfare practices, but do so using a narrative format. For Joshua 6 (Jericho) you might need to explain how battles usually took place. You could say: “Based on archaeological data, Bible scholars can describe with accuracy how the ancients conducted siege warfare. Cities had high walls and strong gates, and those who wanted to get in, had a big job on their hands.” But that’s boring! Could rather say: “The city of Jericho is tightly shut. That’s what you expect, but it’s not what you want to hear. It’s tough to attack a fortified city once the gates have been closed and the are holed up inside. Perched high upon the walls are guard towers or stations with guards, ready to shoot arrows, pour hot oil, and dump rocks on you if you get close to the wall. Guards watch the entrance from their towers. Since the gate system is potentially the weakest part of the wall, the entrance consists of a series of two or three gates. Punch through one, and you still have one or two left. So you have to get some battering rams close enough to start whacking at the wall. But punching a hole through can take weeks, even months. Scaling the wall is horribly difficult too. So what will you chose to do, to attack Jericho?” Think yourself into the circumstances of the story. Use your imagination and live out the drama in your own mind. Imagine how all the different characters felt during the events. Ask yourself why the characters said and did what they did. Allow the suspence to be felt. What can you discover about the attitudes, motives, thoughts and reactions of each person? Make sure any surprises are felt. “David and a few of his man are hidden in a cave cut in the cliffs above the Dead Sea. The day is hot and the cave is cool. They are deep in the cave, resting. Suddenly there’s a shadow across the mouth of the cave; they’re astonished to see that it’s King Saul. They didn’t know that he was that close in his pursuit. Saul enters the cave but doesn’t see them: fresh from the hard glare of desert sun, his eyes aren’t adjusted to the darkness and don’t pick out the shadowy figures in the recesses of the cave. Besides, he isn’t looking for them at that moment; he has entered the cave to respond to the call of nature. He turns his back to them. Not going too far. Not conjecture or speculation. You are placing yourself in the story and describing what is there. Develop your story telling talent, by telling stories to children. Do children’s work. Listen to good narrative preachers

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