For its Bible study, my church is going through The Unbreakable Promise: God’s Covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David, With Michael Rydelnik. Last night, we did the first lesson about David.
What I appreciated most was the spiritual lessons that Rydelnik was
mentioning on the DVD. First, Rydelnik was saying that David was more
qualified than Saul to be king because David in challenging the
Philistine Goliath was putting his regard for God’s reputation and honor
above his own personal safety. The king of Israel was to be Israel’s
champion, fighting her enemies, and Saul was not doing that when Goliath
was taunting Israel. Saul was afraid, but David put his regard for
God’s honor above his fear.
I like this lesson because it is about honoring someone greater than
myself. Someone in the group, whom I call “Joe,” said that he did a
search of “forty days” in the Bible, for forty days was the amount of
time that Goliath was challenging Israel. Joe concluded that forty days
often relate to testing: Jesus was tested in the wilderness for forty
days, the spies in Numbers who brought back the report were gone for
forty days, and Jonah predicted that Nineveh would be overthrown after
forty days. According to Joe, God during this time was testing people
or giving them an opportunity to look inward. In I Samuel 17, God was
watching to see what Israel would do: would Saul step forward as
Israel’s champion? If not, God would demonstrate that David would be
the more suitable candidate for kingship.
A professor of mine once said that we should not look for deep
meaning in biblical numbers, for they are probably tropes. Granted, I
am not sure if forty days always means testing. When God
flooded the earth for forty days and forty nights, what did that have to
do with testing? But I do not want to take off the table the idea that
numbers in the Bible may have some theological significance. I want to
go more deeply into the Bible to get more profound concepts, not fewer.
Second, Rydelnik was saying on the DVD that David’s flight from Saul
was an opportunity for David to learn lessons that he would need as
king: lessons of leadership, of compassion, etc. David led men while he
was on the run from Saul, and he had opportunities to show mercy to
Saul. I like this lesson because it says that times of apparent exile
can serve as opportunities for us to learn lessons, or to become
prepared for the task ahead.
I was thinking about a sermon that Tim Keller gave about the David
and Goliath story while I was listening to Rydelnik’s points. Rydelnik
seemed to be mentioning spiritual lessons that we should apply,
whereas Tim Keller made another point: that we should identify, not
with David, but with the Israelites whose champion David was. Because
David defeated Goliath as Israel’s representative, Israel could reap the
blessings of security from Philistine rule. Similarly, Christ as our
representative defeated sin and death on our behalf. I like this
passive way of looking at spirituality, as leery as I am of
Christological interpretations of the Hebrew Bible, and yet it does not
have to be passive, necessarily (as Tim Keller would probably
acknowledge). If God indeed brought us blessings, could that not
motivate us to have an active faith: to be grateful rather than
grumbling, to see people as beloved of God, etc.?
After the study, we were briefly discussing creationism. A couple of
people in the group were talking about a radio segment that they
enjoyed about God’s creation. It was about God’s animals and some of
their strange, unique features that helped them to cope and to survive.
They thought these features demonstrated divine design. The thing is,
after watching the Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate on creation yesterday, I
wonder if Ken Ham himself would attribute these animals to evolution, in
some manner. Ham does not believe that millions of species were on the
ark, but rather that millions of species descended from a mere
thousands of kinds. In this scenario, even some of these strange
animals that my friends were talking about came about through evolution,
rather than as a result of God performing a special creation of each
new specie that would come along. At least that is my impression: Ken
Ham seemed to acknowledge microevolution.
I’ll stop here.