I don’t struggle to read the histories. They’re interesting. You’ve got some pretty intense drama happening. I do, however, struggle with how to apply them. How to respond to them.
I get why they’re important. I totally understand why it would be important for us to see the history of God working in the nation of Israel, to build it up, to hold it together, to break it apart again when they rebel. I get what we learn about humanity and divinity through the example of this people, through it’s heroes, villains, and fools.
It’s important. But I don’t always know how to apply it directly to daily life. I’m not always sure how to reflect upon in it in a relevant manner.
Mostly, as you’ve seen by now, I try to remember the real people we see so briefly described in fairly broad strokes, culturally biased strokes at that. This is entertainment as well as history. These stories communicate valor, honor, nobility, shame, villainy, foolishness. They are a record, but they are also a morality play. So I try to look past the broad strokes and find the people, imagine what their lives must have actually been like. I want to see the people, not caricatures.
And yes, I could look at each story and break it down to the morality of it. Maybe Ish-bosheth should have been a little less paranoid and not accused the man who supported his claim to the throne of, essentially, attempting a coup by assuming Saul’s place. Ish-bosheth is going to accuse him of disloyaly? Okay. He’ll be disloyal. David is a just man. Of course Abner has done some pretty offensive things in his effort to preserve Saul’s lineage, but he came in peace to discuss peace, to recognize David’s claim to the throne. Joab was rash, angry, and selfish. He did not seek justice; he sought vengeance.
These lessons are here. They’re good lessons.
Maybe I’m just tired tonight. We all have those days, when we sit down to study and just aren’t feeling it. The important thing is to read anyway. To pray anyway. To be open to the Spirit’s work within you. Perhaps those words will sit with you a few days and something will occur to you later, a new understanding or a new perspective. Or maybe it just banks into the cache of familiarity that informs your future study and daily life. If nothing else, it supports the daily habit, and that has value worth supporting.
I do find the line about Michel’s husband following after her in tears to be heartbreaking. This is her second mention, and I’m paying attention, because her story has always troubled me.