Preaching the Davidic/Solomonic Kingship: Preaching Through 1 Chronicles

I admit: the title of this blog post is not sermon-friendly.

My own title for 1 Chronicles 17:1-15 was: “Direct our hearts toward you, Lord”: Living Life In God’s Eternal Kingdom.

1 Chronicles 17 is one of the more significant chapters in the OT. That’s because it contains information about the promises God made to David concerning his dynasty.

The most important aspect of preaching the Davidic/Solomonic Covenant is showing how everything God promised us in Christ, the Son of David, is guaranteed because of what God promised to do for David and his son, Solomon. David’s dynasty would be eternal which means it’s still active every Sunday morning.

This is a case where biblical theology is as important, if not more important, than exegesis.


So, here’s a way to approach this chapter:

  1. Our need for God’s kingdom (vv. 1-10a). Verses 8-9 describe the fact of God’s powerful presence to defeat Israel’s enemies (especially, “violent men”). The warfare which began in Genesis 3:1ff. and the promised victories of Gen. 3:15 and 1 Corinthians 15:24ff. provide the context for the Church’s current situation and ultimate hope.
  2. Our need for a King in God’s kingdom (vv. 10b-12). It is very difficult to preach this point in a democratic society like the U.S. I spent some minutes reviewing why Israel wanted a king in the first place (cf. 1 Sam. 8:20, “…fight our battles”). Most important is the fact that God’s chosen king rules in a “kingship within God’s kingly rule” (Bock & Blaising). The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology speaks of the significant “role of a royal covenant mediator in the person of the king.” We don’t access God’s kingdom and all the benefits of God’s rule apart from a Mediator.
  3. Our life as citizens in God’s kingdom (vv. 13-15). Here is the place to show that the special adoption language describing God’s relationship to the king applies to us (“…I will not take my steadfast love from him…”).

Finally, you may want to move from the son of David (Solomon) to the Son of David (Christ in Matt. 1:1, 17, 20) who is declared the Son of God (Matt. 3:17) who makes living in God’s kingdom possible.

I hope this provides the kind of framework that can help the Church make sense of the Davidic Covenant so God receives glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).


Four Ways To Exegete Your Text: Following Jonathan Edwards’ Practices


A couple of weeks ago I finished reading Douglas A. Sweeney’s, Edwards the Exegete: Biblical Interpretation and Anglo-Protestant Culture on the Edge of the Enlightenment (Oxford).

One of the take aways from this book for those of us who preach or teach the Bible is the four different ways Edwards regularly approached studying the Bible. The four ways are Canonical, Christological, Redemptive-Historical, and Pedagogical exegesis. Think of them as supplements you take to boost your daily nutrient intake. Do you take any or any combination of them each week during sermon preparation?

These four approaches supplement what we normally think of as exegesis: historical-grammatical-literary. Edwards helps us remember why we need to move beyond the realms of word, historical, and literary studies. Here’s what we gain and how our congregation profits from the results of the following four exegetical practices:

Canonical Exegesis: This shows how your preaching portion fits with other Scriptures. Look for times when other Scripture provide vital additional information for the interpretation of your preaching portion.  Your congregants will appreciate seeing how God’s revelation works together to create meaning.I don’t recommend the common practice of showing listeners other Scripture that say the same thing as your preaching portion.

Christological Exegesis: This shows how your preaching portion functions for the Church because of Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension, and dispatching His Spirit on those who believe. Your listeners will appreciate learning how all Scripture points to the grace of God in Christ. This will keep all sanctification efforts faith-based and help avoid the dreaded moralistic, self-help sermon application. And remember that when you remind the saints about the Gospel, any non-Christians in attendance get to hear the Good News too.

Redemptive-Historical Exegesis: This shows how your preaching portion is part of the meta-narrative flowing throughout Scripture. Your parishioners will profit from the times when you locate your passage in the Story of Redemption (creation, un-creation, recreation, new creation). They will begin to appreciate that salvation is something much larger than the personal, saved-to-go-to-heaven variety.
Pedagogical Exegesis: showing how Scripture guides faith and the Christian life; here we gain precepts for living life as a Christian. One of the great quotes from the book came from this section. It reminded me of my primary responsibility as a soul-watcher. Sweeney writes of Edwards:
“At the end of the day, however, he was a clergyman and teacher paid to unpack the text in a pedagogical way, with the formation of disciples at the forefront of his mind.” (p. 188)

Before Sunday I hope you will supplement your normal exegesis with one or more of these four approaches, all for God’s glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).


How Does God Speak To Us About Us From Judges?


I am currently preaching through Judges and have entered the final section (the last 5 bizarre chapters). I also just completed reading Joel Green’s, Practicing Theological Interpretation (geared more towards the scholar than practitioner, but still helpful).

I was looking for insight into how to read Scripture in a way that it functions for the Church (building faith). What follows adds to our recent discussion about whether you preach to your congregants about the Bible or about them from the Bible.

Green writes, “The question, then, is how to hear in the words of Scripture the word of God speaking in the present tense” (p. 5).

That’s not always easy in OT narrative sections like Judges 1:27–2:5. Seven times we read, “…did not drive out…” as in, “Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages…” (1:27).

God speaks to us through what happen to them, in this case, what God’s people repeatedly didn’t do. The key is to figure out how the repeated failure to drive out the inhabitants addresses us.

Green states, “…if this letter is to serve as Scripture for us, then we will allow it to tell us who we are” (p. 18).

This is a helpful angle when thinking about sermon application. So, what does it look like to allow Judges to tell us who we are? In this section of Judges it looks like a “go and do otherwise” lesson. God’s people didn’t drive out the deadly sinful influences. This is who we are apart from faith and obedience.

So, we say to ourselves and our folks: there is a wrong way to deal with temptation (vv. 1:27-36), God is not happy with that way (vv. 2:1-3), and we must change our ways (vv. 2:4-5).

And, if you’re wondering about a Christo-centric angle on this text, one is found in the Lord’s statement: “I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land…” (vv. 2:1-2). God’s people broke their end of the deal; God did not. However, He did break His covenant with His Son on the cross. That’s why He never breaks His covenant with us.

So, let Judges tell us who we are and allow Christ-crucified to change us into His faithful people.

Preach well so God receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).


Talk to Them About Them from the Bible


I recently had the privilege of hearing 12 student sermons for the final grade in two sections of Advanced Homiletics at Lancaster Bible College/Capital Seminary and Graduate School.

Haddon Robinson once said that he heard so many bad sermons it’s a wonder he was still a Christian. Yikes!

One preaching deficiency I see each year and experience myself many weekends if I’m preaching any other genre other than NT epistles is getting caught in lecture mode. Preaching through Judges has been especially challenging in this respect.

Lecture mode is when I am talking to congregants about the Bible. I am not talking to them about them; I’m talking to them about the Bible. I’m giving them all kinds of good information about the particular preaching portion. But I’m not talking to them.

A huge part of expository preaching is relaying God’s message to the Church. Theological exegesis involves discovering how God’s Word in a particular preaching portion functions for the Church. So, preaching is not primarily me talking to my parishioners about the Bible. It’s about me talking to them about them from the Bible. God’s Word is addressing us.

I’m currently reading Green’s, Practicing Theological Interpretation.

Using the epistle of James as an example, Green asks, “Who is the ‘you’ to whom James addresses his letter? Are we willing to be that ‘you’?” (p. 15).

Are you willing to address your congregants the way that your preaching portion is addressing them? If you are, that means minute-by-minute you will be talking to them about them from the Bible.

Before Sunday, look at your notes. Do you read yourself talking to them about the Bible or about them from the Bible? Are you preaching or lecturing?

Preach well so God receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).


How Narratives Describe the Christian Life We Preach


One of the ways to practice theological interpretation–to show how Scripture functions for the Church–is to look for ways in which narratives describe the Christian life.

For instance, in Judges 1:1 the Christian life is described in terms of God’s people fighting against their enemies. The book of Judges opens with, “After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel inquired of the Lord, ‘Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?'”

Now, the difficult, critical part is for us to determine how this description works. In other words, how does God’s people fighting against the Canaanites describe the Christian life?

Part of the answer is found in the reason God gave His people for engaging in this battle. Earlier in the narrative, God made it clear that His people needed to rid the land of these enemies because of the danger of idolatry. God’s people could not withstand the temptation to worship the idols of the inhabitants of the land. Idolatry would threaten to ruin the nation of Israel as they continue to break the first of the Ten Commandments.

So, we might say that fighting against the Canaanites functions as an analogy of our fight against assimilating to the culture, especially to the worship of our culture. We don’t fight against resident pagans; we fight hard to keep our distance from the worship of their gods all the while we work hard in the Spirit to close the gap to love them and share Christ.

Let Judges frame the way you preach about the Christian life. You’ll find yourself talking about the “Canaanization” of the church (I believe that’s Dale Davis’ term) and remaining relevant throughout your series through Judges.

Preach well so God receives glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21),


P.S. If you’re thinking about a Christ-centered approach to the opening plot of Judges, consider that Moses, Joshua (mentioned in v. 1), and every judge in Judges all point to our need for a Champion to fight a battle we cannot win.


If you’re afternoon is free, there are still 5 seats available for tomorrow afternoon’s preaching workshop at Lancaster Bible College (Lancaster, PA campus). The title is: Preach the Text or Preach Christ? Yes! We’ll discuss this topic while working through the infamous narrative of Jephthah’s vow in Judges 11.

Date: April 26, 2016
Time: 01:00-04:00 p.m.
Event: Spring Preaching Workshop
Topic: Preach the Text or Preach Christ? Yes!
Sponsor: Lancaster Bible College/Capital Seminary and Graduate School
Venue: Charles Frey Academic Center
Public: Public

Two Things to Remember When Preaching on Money

Photo of a Collection Plate

If you preach through books of the Old or New Testament, eventually you will preach about money and giving to God. For instance, in the Old Testament, there are approximately 1400 occurrences of the word, “offering,” in about 800 verses.

While preaching on Luke 21:1-4, the narrative of Jesus commenting on the poor widow who put “two small copper coins” in the offering box (v. 2), I learned two things that should make their way in any stewardship sermon.

First, take a moment to remind everyone why Christians give money to God. In the narrative, both “the rich” and “a poor widow” gave their offering to the Lord. Luke doesn’t tell us why. But, it is important when preaching about giving to tell everyone that giving an offering is a way of acknowledging God’s authority. It’s a way of showing that God is greater and I am infinitely lesser.

When faced with this perspective, it is virtually impossible for any professing Christian to refuse to give and still claim to worship God.

Second, when we got to the place in the narrative where Jesus said, “she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on,” I asked, “What must she have believed about God in order to give everything, even what she needed to live on?!” Again, the Scripture doesn’t say. What’s left unsaid is crucial for the faith-family. She was trusting completely in God to take care of her.

The poor widow’s example is an excellent opportunity for us all to evaluate how our giving habits reflect our faith in God to provide. Over the years I’ve heard many parishioners say, “I can’t afford to give more to God.” My reply has been, “You can’t afford not to.”

Before Sunday, if your sermon contains some aspect of giving to God, remind everyone why Christians give and show them how their giving reflects their faith.

Preach well for God’s glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).



Why the Question, Why?, Adds Theological Depth to Your Sermon



In Luke 18:9 we read: “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.”

The “what” part of analysis might define self-righteousness as the feeling that we’re basically good and, therefore, acceptable to God. That’s certainly an important part of preaching Jesus’ parable.

We add theological depth to the sermon by asking why we feel that we’re basically good and, therefore, acceptable to God. During this segment of the sermon we delve into our depravity–how the human heart works.

That alone would be a good reason to move from “what” to “why.” For instance, I’ve met some non-Christians and some Christians who feel they are good because they compare themselves to others. I’ll never forget one person telling me they felt they were okay with God because they were better than Michael Jackson. I didn’t expect this from an elderly gentleman.

But there’s another reason to spend time talking about why we feel self-righteous. When we explore “why,” we create new angles from which to explain the Gospel to Christians. The bad news of the Gospel isn’t that only the “worst” people are condemned. The bad news of the Gospel tells us that “there is none righteous” period.

So, at some point in the sermon I might ask congregants: “How does faith in the Gospel move us from being self-righteous to being “one who humbles himself” (Luke 18:14)? I want them to see a connection between their faith in Christ and their ability to not be like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable. I want them to see a connection between their faith in Christ and their ability to be like the tax collector who said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Before Sunday, see if your preaching portion highlights sin. If so, along with explaining what the sin is, spend some time exploring why we commit that sin. You can do the same with righteousness too. What kind of attitude or action is being held up for us to emulate? Why do Christians do that? How does the Gospel create that righteousness?

Preach well for God’s glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).