When I read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, I try to read with an eye toward a couple of things…
- What does this reveal about God?
- Do I see Jesus in this? (yes, even in the Old Testament, Jesus is there!)
- How can I apply what I’ve learned in this passage?
By reading and looking at the Word of God through these lenses, I avoid the pitfall of simply reading to check the box on my daily to-do list. I read with purpose. I read for greater understanding. I read to learn and apply it to my life.
An article on the Focus on the Family website, ‘7 Things to Look For when Reading through the Bible’, summarizes the central narrative of the Bible as…
‘a drama in four acts: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration. From a human perspective, it began in the Garden, reached its climax at the Cross, and will conclude in the New Jerusalem, in the New Heavens and New Earth. From a divine perspective, it was written in the mind of God before he made the cosmos, and will resonate into eternity, to his glory.’
Let’s zoom in. Recently, I read 1 Samuel. There’s a great story in chapter 25 about David of ‘David and Goliath’ fame. At the age of 15, David was anointed to be the next king of Israel by the prophet Samuel. However, the current king, Saul, had other ideas about that. So, for 15 years, David is a warrior, fighting battles for Israel and simultaneously avoiding crazy King Saul who wants him dead.
In 1 Samuel 25, David is with his ragtag army of 600 in the wilderness. He asked a wealthy man, Nabal, if they could have food since they were in his area on a feast day. They had previously met Nabal’s shepherds and provided protection for them. Nabal, described as harsh and badly behaved, rudely denied them. David responded to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” and committed to wipe out all of the men of Nabal.
Nabal’s wife, Abigail, described as discerning and beautiful, heard and hastily gathered 200 loaves of bread, 2 skins of wine, five prepared sheep, 9 gallons of grain, 100 clusters of raisins and 200 cakes of figs. She laid these provisions on donkeys and sent them ahead to David. When she encountered David, she fell on her face before him and accepted responsibility. She asked David to ignore her foolish husband and spare her people. David accepted her provisions and said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”
Abigail returned home but didn’t immediately tell Nabal what occurred because he was hosting a party and was drunk. The next day she told him what had happened with David. Nabal had a heart attack and died 10 days later.
When David heard of this, he thanked the Lord for avenging him and keeping him from violence. He returned and took Abigail as his wife.
Doesn’t this read like an adventure movie with a brave heroine who saves her people? But, what’s in it for me? As I reflected, I saw God. He used a smart woman to save numerous lives and prevent a future king from taking vengeance into his own hands rather than letting God be the judge.
My takeaway was this — in times of crisis or opportunity, I can use Abigail as an example to:
- Seek the Lord
- Act quickly
- Be bold
- Be humble
The Bible recalls so many stories of excitement and intrigue. Shame on us for making the Holy Bible seem boring. It is full of so much beauty, goodness, drama and intrigue. However, that is not the point behind reading it.
The Bible is God’s story. A beautiful, overarching story of His desire to be in relationship with us. He knew we would turn from, and sin against, Him. From the very beginning, Jesus was there beside the Father, agreeing to offer Himself as a sacrifice to restore us back to God. It’s a true never-ending story and I’m glad I am a part of it.
Sylvia Gaston is Connections Pastor at Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559-582-1528.