Malcom Gladwell, author of multiple best-selling books on the nature of success, marketing, and culture, released a new sure-thing bestseller that reframes the story of David and Goliath from the typical “Sunday school” understanding.
He gave a TED talk explaining his premise (16 min video)
The basic premise is that we misconstrue David as the underdog and Goliath as the impossible-to-defeat foe, as David miraculously defied logic and nature (and the giant), defeating him with a simple sling and stone.
This is a misconstruation, according to Gladwell, because essentially the sling is the military equivalent of a .45 handgun, and Goliath is something of a “paper tiger”: a blind(ish), deformed, human with “giantism”, who is slow to move and short-sighted.
The point of the story for Gladwell: giants aren’t always what they seem, David was not the underdog, and never underestimate the power of superior tech, nimbleness, and heart.
I didn’t like it one bit. Not at all. Sucks the story dry of God, for example. But I’ve done a 180. Well, maybe a 160.
Nancy and I keep a weekly date night. This has been a habit ever since the latter part of our dating (the first part was the inextricable puppy love where honestly, we spent too much time together and got in a lot of trouble). It is a weekly time to refocus, catch up, reconnect, and protect ourselves from becoming simply roommates and business partners in the task of raising a family.
I vowed to love, comfort, honor, and cherish her until Christ returns or death parts us. This requires active engagement on my part. With this habit and by God’s grace, it has been a good 10.5 years.
The following is a quick brainstorm I had the other day on essential elements of a good date night. Of course, not every week goes like this, and of course we miss a week here and there (though I think we’ve missed only a dozen or two date nights in that 10.5 years). Finding a baby sitter is usually difficult, but it’s worth every ounce of effort and every penny of money. If you are having trouble finding one, considering paying slightly more than the going rate. This simple economic principle will attract someone. (Think: how much do you spend on internet, cable, Netflix, coffee, and vehicle maintenance? A weekly date is a higher priority than these things.)
Last week I mentioned that we ought not seek an allegorical or “moral of the story” from Old Testament passages that we can seek to apply to our life today. (“Dare to be a Daniel!”, “Find your ‘five smooth stones’ to face your ‘Goliath’”, etc). I mentioned that most of us evangelicals have been taught to do just this by good-hearted Sunday-school teachers (and some well-meaning preachers), but that this is simply an incorrect application of scripture. However, even if we do realize this error, I believe there is yet another, larger, hurdle that must be overcome to grasp the purpose of the Old Testament.
We are resistant to the idea of our need for God’s grace. We would prefer to be the hero, and to be able to muster up courage like Joshua, to stand firm in the face of impossible odds like David. The problem is that we can’t. Continue reading →
When we are reading a passage from the Old Testament, how should we seek to apply it to our lives? How should we seek to encourage others to live? If “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), what is the right way to use it?
When you read a passage of the Old Testament, look for how it foreshadows, illustrates, or points forward to The Gospel. Consider how it fits into the historic narrative of God’s unfolding plan for His people.
Do not make the mistake of allegorizing and moralizing:
Dare to be like Daniel!
Face your Goliaths with courage and “five smooth stones!” like David!
“March” around your “enemy city” seven times while “blowing trumpets” like Joshua!
Pare your “army” down to “300 men” like Gideon!
This sort of application is a mistake. We are not to put ourselves in the hero’s place in the story to try and discover how this passage applies to us personally. The personal application of the Old Testament passage is to realize that it is telling your family history.
These things were written for our instruction (Romans 15:4), that is, to teach us who we are and what we are like as a people. To teach us that we are great sinners in need of a great savior (Galatians 3:23-24), and most of all, they point forward to the promised Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 24:27).
I have been surprised recently by a fair amount of pushback to this idea. I believe the primary reason for the pushback is because of how we evangelical kids were taught in Sunday school. Good-hearted, untrained teachers, not knowing how to handle the passages and following curriculum created by people looking for patterns to apply and behaviors to teach, taught us to moralize, allegorize, and ultimately to mishandle the Scriptures.
But I believe there is something deeper at play as well. This is not simply a theological or hermeneutical problem. More on this later.
This might be TMI, but I’d like to set the stage for this thought, so bear with me. This morning I woke up and rolled over and looked at my wife, who was also just stirring for the morning, and for whatever reason, this morning, she looked especially beautiful. I thought to myself (as I have thought thousands of times over the last ten years), “What a blessed man am I.” I have a wonderful wife, a beautiful family, and a happy life. I truly am blessed. This is the case every day, even when I take it for granted and do not appreciate it.
Then my thoughts turned to some of my brothers. Other men I know in the church (and out of it) who do not feel this happy. In fact they feel unhappy. If I had to dig, they probably feel rather trapped in their marriage. Miserable in a marriage that they perceive to be (and we might agree actually was) the result of a series of bad choices. What about these brothers? Have they gotten themselves into a position where they are stuck outside of God’s will? Are they doomed to a life of unhappiness? Wouldn’t it be better if they owned up to the mistake, admitted it, and divorced?
Emphatically, wholeheartedly, no.
Brother, your marriage (in whatever state it is currently) is no mistake, no matter how you got there. Continue reading →