David did not leave a man or a woman alive: A Narratology to Preaching Ethically Complex Texts.

As an expositor of the scriptures, there are certain chapters in the bible that are more difficult to reconcile than others. It is one thing to wrestle with these texts in the privacy of one’s study. It is quite another to preach these texts to a congregation that is looking for spiritual truth.

1 Samuel 27 is one of these passages. David who is known as a man after God’s own heart and anointed by Samuel as Israel’s soon to be king has defected from Judah and is serving Achish the king of Gath in Philistine territory. He has married two women other than Michel (Saul’s daughter). He has committed genocide of the Amalekites and he has lied about where the spoils had come from. In fact, he insinuated that he raided the allies of Israel. Yet, Achish, the Philistine king, has whole heartedly believed in, trusted in, and provided for David while being deceived by him.

The author will use 1 Samuel 27 as an example of how to address the following questions while preaching such a text:

How does one preach the narrative text in such a way that the listeners are mentally and emotionally engaged in the story?

How does the expositor help the listener reconcile David’s behavior and choices, with him being a man after God’s own heart?

Has the author written the story in such a way for the original reader to discover the wiliness of the protagonist (David) or the permissive will of God? What is the main emphasis for the author?

Are the basic principles of homiletical theory violated if the contemporary audience views the foil (Achish) of the chapter as more righteous than the protagonist (David)? In other words, should the hero always be the hero?

What are the key insights that the expositor should help his/her listeners grasp in light of such a disturbing narrative to our contemporary sensibilities?

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