Joe Linares makes a bold statement with which I agree: “If a pastor cannot competently preach narrative, he cannot competently preach the Bible.” There are two reasons for his belief: “It is not only the quantity of Scriptural revelation communicated through historical narrative that is significant but the content of that revelation” (Joe Linares. Proclaiming God’s Stories: How to Preach Old Testament Historical Narrative. Greenville: Bob Jones University Press, 2009, 29). The design of these posts on narrative preaching is to assist the pastor in preaching the most prominent of genres in God’s Word.
So far we have observed that not only is interpreting narratives historically important because the authors were theologians who theologically forged their stories, but because they were also prophets who prophetically molded their historical writings. This has huge benefits to the preacher of narratives who seeks to persuade his audience to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.
The Sovereign who acts in history and rules over his subjects demands a response of faith, submission, and worship from his subjects. The writers of Scriptures wrote to persuade their original audiences. Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings illustrate the authors’ intent to persuade. These books present a “theology of monarchy.” The monarchy was predicted in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 with the qualifications, prohibitions, and the Biblical education necessary for the king. The future king of Israel was to be a spiritual leader who led God’s people to obey God’s law in order to enjoy God’s blessing.
In Deuteronomy 27, God promised cursings for disobedience to the law and in Deuteronomy 28, God promised blessings for obedience to the law. Did God keep his promises? The answer to that question is found Joshua and Judges. In Joshua and Judges, there was no king and, eventually, this summary in Judges characterized God’s people: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). The 300 years of Judges has been described as the “sewer of Scripture” (Gary Inrig, Hearts of Iron, Feet of Clay. Chicago: Moody Press,1979, 282) because of the moral and religious degradation expressed in murder, idolatry, and gang rape that marked this abysmally low period in Israel’s history. God cursed their disobedience. However, in 1 and 2 Samuel there were kings and under David and Solomon, Israel moved forward both politically and spiritually to be powerful and worshipful. Because they were led to obey God’s Word, God blessed just as he had promised.
It was the prophet’s ministry to watchdog the king and guarantee he obeyed God’s law and led the people to obey the law. It is significant that the first reference to the prophetic guild is in 1 Samuel 10, the chapter in which Samuel anointed Israel’s first king. On three occasions, the prophet had to rebuke the king for his disobedience to God’s law (1 Samuel 13:13; 15:22-33; 2 Samuel 12:7-14). The nation of Israel divided because king Solomon disobeyed God’s law: “Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant”(1 Kings 11:11).
Because of the reference “to the kings of Judah” in 1 Samuel 27:6, the final composition of 1 and 2 Samuel must be dated after the division of Israel. The prophets who wrote 1 and 2 Samuel, Samuel, Nathan ,and Gad (1 Chronicles 29:29) wrote to persuade their original audience to obey God’s law in order to enjoy God’s blessings and not his cursing as had Solomon, whose disobedience to the Law precipitated God’s cursing.
Greidanus notes the prophetic nature of Scripture. “The form of the Bible as a whole is proclamation, preaching. As such, biblical literature reveals both its origin, which was mainly preaching, and its goal, which is preaching. One way to become aware of the significance of the kerygmatic form of the Bible is to contrast this form with other possible forms: the Bible was not written in the form of a theological tome or of a scientific treatise; the Bible was not written in the form of a handbook of world history or of a newspaper report; the Bible comes in the form of proclamation, that is, direct address, personal appeal” (Sidney Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient and Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988, 20). Because the writers of narrative wrote to persuade their original audiences half the work is done for the modern preacher in his preparation to preach and persuade his contemporary audience.
Because the writers of Scripture were theologians and prophets, as well as literary artist, the new literarily emphasis will be considered next.