Saturday, October 5, 2013

Living Lesons from Dead Kings - Lesson 05 - “Asa’s Ups and Downs” - 2 Chronicles 14-16

Lesson 05 – Asa’s Ups and Downs
When you “assign” this lesson the week before, remind the men that this is a longer section of narrative and that there is a small memorization assignment.
There is a dating issue in 2 Chronicles 16.1.  I have a few comments on it on my blog.
2. This questioned is designed to get the men thinking about the big picture of these narrative passages we are studying.  Listing the characters also helps us notice some of the details of the story.  The are ones I found are: Asa, Zerah #6, Azariah #8, Oded, Maachah, Ashtoreth (This FaceBook page reminds us that some these ancient religions are not as irrelevant as we might hope), Baasha, Ben-Hadad, Hanani #2. 
Sometimes it is interesting to note the irony or relationship between the meaning of a name and the part that character plays in the narrative (i.e. Asa meaning “healer” compared with 2 Chr. 16.12)
3. The Hebrew word for seek, darash, has a range of meanings.  Rather than just go to a word study tool, this question encourages the men to use the context of this passage to establish the shade of meaning that fits here.
4. This is a good question to launch a discussion of how we handle ungodly relatives (and their influence on our kids).
3. This is a chance to highlight and encourage a substantive and encouraging ministry we can have edifying each other.  I have included a comparison to Hanani’s message in chapter 16 to 1) further highlight the prophetic ministry and 2) give an example of a positive rebuke.
This lesson has the second part of the summary of How to read the Bible for All its Worth chapter on interpreting narration.  As a leader, you will want to take note of the eight ways we tend to misinterpret narrative passages.

Lesson 05 - “Asa’s Ups and Downs” - 2 Chronicles 14-16
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context: Asa’s life is recorded in both 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles.  This lesson will primarily focus on the 2 Chronicles 14-16 account.  2 Chronicles 14:1-6 should probably be viewed as a summary of his rule with the specific events following.
1.    ID/CR:  (14:2-7; 15.8-18)  What did Asa do that was good (1 Kings 15:8-24)? 
2.    ID: (chapters 14-16)  Who are the main characters in these chapters?  What is/are the main climax(es) in this account of Asa’s life?
3.    ID/WS:  (2 Chr. 14:4; 15:9-15)  Asa commanded Judah to "seek the LORD God..."  Use and focus on how the events in this context shed light what it means to "seek the LORD" (15:2, 4, 12, 13; 16:12).  ( I.e. In 15:2 Azariah said, "If you seek the LORD" and contrasted it with, "forsake Him”.).  Can you really command someone to seek the LORD (14:4)?
4.    ID:  (15:12-16)  What problems did Asa have with family?  How did he handle it?  What difficulties did he probably have doing that?
5.    ID: (CR:  (16:9)  Memorize and meditate on 16:9a.  What Hebrew word is used for “loyal”?  How should this perspective of God affect our thinking and conduct?
6.    ID: (16:7-12)  What shortcoming(s) characterized the later part of Asa’s life?  What do you think might have contributed to this spiritual decline at the end of his life?  How do you square 15:17 with verse 16:7-10 and 17a-18:12?    Are there lessons for us today?
The WALK: What should I do?
1.    What applications can be made from 2 Chronicles 14:2-4 for us today?
2.    The lack of what three things in 2 Chronicles 15:3 contributed to Israel turning from the LORD?  Do they have NT equivalents?
3.    What was the effect of Azariah's ministry to Asa (2 Chron. 15:2-8)?  Has anybody had that affect on you?  How does this compare to Hanani’s exhortation in 16:7-9)
4.    Is there a church growth principle in 2 Chronicles 15:9?
5.    What caution is there for us in 16:12?  What does it mean to seek physicians instead of God?
Going Beyond:  Extra – I Kings 15:11-15 give highlights of Asa’s life.  Of all the events in his life, which ones were highlighted in I Kings?  Is there any special significance to this choice?
Going Beyond:  Who were the kings of Israel during Asa's reign? (1Kings 15.9-16.30) 

“THE OLD TESTAMENT NARRATIVES: THEIR PROPER USE” is a chapter in How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.  The book is an exceptional resource for learning how to read and interpret the Bible.  This blog article by Rob Berreth provides a helpful summary of the chapter on Old Testament narratives
Part 2
Principles for Interpreting Narratives:
The following ten principles should help you avoid obvious errors in interpreting whenever you seek to exegete these and other stories.
1.    An Old Testament narrative usually does not directly teach a doctrine.
2.    An Old Testament narrative usually illustrates a doctrine or doctrines taught propositionally elsewhere.
3.    Narratives record what happened—not necessarily what should have happened or what ought to happen every time. Therefore, not every narrative has an individual identifiable moral of the story.
4.    What people do in narratives is not necessarily a good example for us. In fact it is usually the opposite.
5.    Most of the characters in the Old Testament are far from perfect and their actions are too.
6.    We are not always told at the end of a narrative whether what happened was good or bad. We should be able to judge this from what God has taught us elsewhere categorically in the Scriptures.
7.    All narratives are incomplete. Not all the relevant details are always given. What appears is what inspired the author to think important to let us know.
8.    Narratives are not written to answer all of our theological questions. They have particular, specific issues in which they deal with, leaving others to be dealt with elsewhere and in other ways.
9.    Narratives may teach explicitly (by clearly stating something) or implicitly (by clearly implying something without actually saying it).
10.    In the final analysis, God is always the hero of all biblical narratives, and all narratives ultimately find their full purpose and meaning in Jesus.
Some Final Cautions:
Why is it that people often find things in narratives that isn’t really there? First, it is because they are desperate for information that will help them, that will be of personal value that will apply to their own situation. Second, they are impatient; they want their answers now, from this book, from this chapter. Third, they wrongly expect that everything in the Bible directly is instruction for their own individual lives. Here is a list of eight of the most common errors people make when interpreting the bible. These all apply to narratives but are not limited to them.
1.    Allegorizing. Trying to think of meanings beyond the clear intended message.
2.    Decontextualizing. Ignoring the full historical and literary contexts, and often the individual narrative, people concentrate on small units only and thus miss interpretational clues.
3.    Selectivity. Involves picking and choosing specific words and phrases to concentrate on, ignoring the others, and ignoring the overall sweep of the passage being studied.
4.    False Combination. This approach combines elements from here and there in a passage and makes a point out of their combination, even though the elements themselves are not directly connected in the passage itself.
5.    Redefinition. When the plain meaning leaves people cold, they often redefine it to mean something else.
6.    Extracanonical authority. Using external keys to Scripture that claim to unlock the mysteries of truths not otherwise known from Scripture itself.
7.    Moralizing. This assumes that a moral can be drawn from every passage. The fallacy of this approach is that it ignores the fact that the narratives were written to show the progress of God’s history of redemption, not to illustrate principles.
8.    Personalizing. This assumes that every passage applies to you specifically in a way that it may not to others. Do not forget that all parts of the bible are for everyone and ultimately for the Glory of God in displaying Him as the Hero.
No Bible narrative was written specifically about you. You can never assume that God expects you to do exactly the same thing that the Bible characters did, or to have the same things happen to you that happened to them. Narratives are precious to us because they so vividly demonstrate God’s involvement in the world and illustrate his principles and calling. But remember they do not systematically include personal ethics.
(This post is a summary and partial abridgement of Fee and Stuart’s book “How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth.” It is based solely on Fee and Stuart’s work and any help that this content gives should be credited to God’s grace through their effort. In other words, give God glory, thank Fee and Stuart and buy the book.)
You might also appreciate “Interpreting the Narratives Portions of Scripture” by Michael Vlach - This is an outline of principles for interpreting narrative portions of Scripture by a professor at Master’s Seminary.

The Speech of Fools versus the Speech of the Wise (Proverbs 18.1-21)

The Speech of Fools versus the Speech of the Wise (18.1-21)
Mostly synthetic parallels the new unit contrasts in its almost equal sub-units the antisocial speech of fools (18.1-11) and the reconciling speech o the wise (18:12-21). 
 (a) The Fools Antisocial Speech versus the Defense of the Wise (1-11)
1) The Fool’s Antisocial Nature, Speech, and destiny  (1-9)
The first partial unit continues the topic of the fool, who by c0referenntial terms is mentioned explicitly in vv.1, 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8 and inferentially in vv. 5 and 9.  –Waltke in NICOT
(a.) Intro: The Fool’s Alienation from Society  (1-3)
A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He rages against all wise judgment.
isolates…  He is not merely anti-social; he is a problem for society since he will defy sound judgment. The Mishnah uses the verse to teach the necessity of being part of a community because people have social responsibilities and need each other (m. Avot 2:4).  --NET Bible translation notes
A fool has no delight in understanding,
But in expressing his own heart.
When the wicked comes, contempt comes also;
And with dishonor comes reproach.
the wicked… Wickedness (rsv) seems a preferable reading of the Heb. Consonants to the wicked (av, rv).  The three terms for shame give triple emphasis to theis corollary of sin (the antithesis of the glory which is the corollary of holiness: Is. 6.3; Rom. 8.30); and the Bile elsewhere shows it to be one of sin’s first (Gen. 3.7) and final (Dn. 12:2) fruits.  –Kidner in TOTC
The MT has “a wicked [person].” Many commentators emend the text to רֶשַׁע (resha’, “wickedness”) which makes better parallelism with “shame” (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 521; R. B. Y. Scott, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes [AB], 112; C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 355; cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV). However, there is no external evidence for this emendation. --NET Bible textual criticism

(b) The Fool’s Perverse Speech  (4-8)
The introduction’s abstract descriptions of the wicked are now narrowed down to specific instances of his misanthropic speech, framed by the inclusion “the words of” (vv. 4a, 8a)…  –Waltke in NICOT
The words                      The wellspring
of a man's mouth         of wisdom
are deep waters;         is a flowing brook.
There is debate about the nature of the parallelism between lines 4a and 4b. The major options are: (1) synonymous parallelism, (2) antithetical parallelism (e.g., NAB, NIV, NCV) or (3) formal parallelism. Normally a vav (ו) would begin an antithetical clause; the structure and the ideas suggest that the second colon continues the idea of the first half, but in a parallel way rather than as additional predicates. The metaphors used in the proverb elsewhere describe the wise.   --NET Bible translation notes
Comparison with 20:5 suggests that the deep waters stand for concealment,
‘For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.’
If this is so, the proverb is contrasting our human reluctance, or inability, to give ourselves away, with the refreshing candour and clarity of the true wisdom.  –Kidner in TOTC
It is not good               Or
to show partiality       to overthrow
to the wicked,              the righteous in judgment.
wicked…  Or “the guilty,” since in the second colon “righteous” can also be understood in contrast as “innocent” (cf. NRSV, TEV, NLT).  --NET Bible translation notes
6                         And
A fool's              his
lips                    mouth
enter into         calls for
contention,     blows.
contention  “Strife” is a metonymy of cause, it is the cause of the beating or flogging that follows; “flogging” in the second colon is a metonymy of effect, the flogging is the effect of the strife. The two together give the whole picture.  --NET Bible study notes
7                               And
A fool's                     his
mouth is                  lips are
his destruction,     the snare of his soul.
The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles,
And they go down into the inmost body.
tasty trifles  The word כְּמִתְלַהֲמִים (kÿmitlahamim) occurs only here. It is related to a cognate verb meaning “to swallow greedily.” Earlier English versions took it from a Hebrew root הָלַם (halam, see the word לְמַהֲלֻמוֹת [lÿmahalumot] in v. 6) meaning “wounds” (so KJV). But the translation of “choice morsels” fits the idea of gossip better.  --NET Bible translations notes

(c) The Fool Plunders the community  (9)
He who is slothful in his work
Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.
Heb “Also, the one who.” Many commentators and a number of English versions omit the word “also.”  --NET Bible translations notes   
Waster (av) means one who lays waste, not who wastes time.  ‘The sage teaches that he who leaves a work undone is next of kin to him who destroys it’ (Oesterley). Cf. 28.24.    –Kidner in TOTC
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.

2) Defence of the Righteous in the Lord (11-12)
The rich man's wealth is his strong city,
And like a high wall in his own esteem.
in his own esteem … The MT reads בְּמַשְׂכִּיתוֹ (bÿmaskito, “in his imaginations”). The LXX, Tg. Prov 18:11, and the Latin reflect בִּמְשֻׂכָּתוֹ (bimsukato, “like a fence [or, high wall]”) that is, wealth provides protection. The MT reading, on the other hand, suggests that this security is only in the mind.  --NET Bible textual criticism notes   
(b) Janus (12)
Note the conceptual sequence form “destroyer” (v.0b), to true and false protection (vv. 10-11), to the contrasting destinies of the haughty’s destruction and the humble’s honor (v. 12).  –Waltke in NICOT
12                                      And
Before destruction        before honor
the heart of a man        
is haughty,                      is humility.

(c) The Educated Person's Behavior in Conflict and His Speech (13-21)
The unit consists of an introduction, laying the foundation in being teachable (vv. 13-15), and then moving on to a courtroom to deal with settling disputes (v. 16-19) and to the power of speech (vv. 20-21).  –Waltke in NICOT
1) The Incorrigable Fool versus the Teachable Wise (13-15)
A  …a person’s heart  v. 12
B  …The non-listening fool  v. 13
A’  …a person’s spirit   v. 14
B’  …The listening  v.15        –Waltke in NICOT
He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him.
The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,
But who can bear a broken spirit?
15                            And
The heart              the ear
of the prudent     of the wise
acquires               seeks
knowledge,          knowledge.
knowledge…  The repetition, knowledge . . . knowledge is for emphasis, and the emphasis is on no platitude, but on the paradox that those who know most know best how little they know.  See 1 Corinthians 8:2; Philippians 3:1 off.  Cf. 15:14  –Kidner in TOTC
seeks …  This line features a mixed metaphor: The “ear” is pictured “seeking.” The “ear of the wise” actually means the wise person’s capacity to hear, and so the wise are seeking as they hear.   --NET Bible translation notes   

2) Teachings about Justice and Conflicts  (16-19)
The setting of vv. 16-19 is the courtroom…
vv. 16-17  …need for an impartial judicial system…
vv. 18-19 present resolutions in light of the limitations of the best of courts…    –Waltke in NICOT
A man's gift makes room for him,
And brings him before great men.
gift… The Hebrew term translated “gift” is a more general term than “bribe” (שֹׁחַד, shokhad), used in 17:8, 23. But it also has danger (e.g., 15:27; 21:14), for by giving gifts one might learn how influential they are and use them for bribes. The proverb simply states that a gift can expedite matters.  --NET Bible translation notes   
The first one to plead his cause seems right,
Until his neighbor comes and examines him.
18                                                      And
Casting lots
causes contentions to cease,       keeps the mighty apart.
Casting lots…  The Christian equivalent of the implied advice of this proverb is to seek God’s leading, when interests or opinions clash, and to accept it with a good grace.    –Kidner in TOTC
Cf. 16:33  comments:  The Old Testament use of the word lot shows that 16:33 is not about God’s control of all random occurrences, but about His settling of matters properly referred to Him.  Land was ‘aloted’ (Jos. 14:1, 2), likewise temple service (1 Ch. 25:8)’ problably the Urim and Thummim were lots.  But God’s last use of this method was, significantly, the last event before Pentecost (Acts 1:26); thereafter He has not longer guided His church as a ‘servant who knoweth not what his lord doeth’:  cf. Acts 13.2; 15.25, 28.  –Kidner in TOTC
A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

3) Teachings about he Power of Speech  (20-21)
… the catchword “fruit,” the first word of v. 20a and the last of v. 21b in the outer frame and by the organs of speaking in the inner core…   –Waltke in NICOT
The second of this pair of proverbs, with its warning to the toalkative, throws a sobering light on the first.  Both of them urge caution, for satisfied (20) can mean ‘sated’: the meaning, good or bad, will depend on the care taken.  Moffatt paraphrases 20 well, but one-sidedly;
A man must answer for his utterances,
And take the consequences of his words.’
Oesterley, quotes the witty saying of Ahikar: My son, sweeten thy tongue, and make savoury the opening of thy mouth; for the tail of a dog gives him bread, and his mouth gets him blows.’    –Kidner in TOTC
A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth,
From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.
stomach…  Heb “his midst.” This is rendered “his stomach” because of the use of שָׂבַע (sava’, “to be satisfied; to be sated; to be filled”), which is usually used with food (cf. KJV, ASV “belly”).  --NET Bible translation notes   
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
its  The referent of “it” must be the tongue, i.e., what the tongue says (= “its use”). So those who enjoy talking, indulging in it, must “eat” its fruit, whether good or bad. The expression “eating the fruit” is an implied comparison; it means accept the consequences of loving to talk (cf. TEV).  --NET Bible translation notes   

Living Lessons from Dead Kings / Lesson 07 - Jehoshaphat pt 2 - 2 Chronicles 19-20

Lesson 7 – Jehoshaphat
#1-2  can be used to talk about the justice system in our country or our personal decision making process when we have to judge between children or people who work for us. 
2.  This might be a good time to point out this fruit of Jehoshaphat’s following Deuteronomy 17.18-19.
4.  I stumbled across a Christian “rapper” named Jahaziel on the web.  I smiled at the comparisons and contrasts between him and the Jahaziel in this passage.
#6 revisits the topic of alliances with the ungodly.
4. My understanding of “directing” your heart toward God is making changes in your circumstances, schedule, and priorities that make it easier to pursue you relationship with God and more difficult to stray from the Lord.  It also speaks to how far you are willing to go in following the Lord.  Some of the men might have tips for how they have successfully done this.
5. Your men may not feel comfortable sharing these, but you should encourage them to think about it.
This is the second of seven parts of the article, “Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming Old Testament Narratives.”  This section emphasizes how observing the plot of an account helps to uncover the meaning the author is seeking to communicate.  Most of us barely remember talking about this stuff in our high school or college literature classes, so a quick review should be helpful.
Lesson 07 - Jehoshaphat pt 2 - 2 Chronicles 19-20
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context: The primary focus of this lesson will be on Jehoshaphat’s judicial reforms, war with Moab and Ammon, and his regnal résumé in 2 Chronicles 19-20.
1.    ID:  (19:4-5, 8)  What judicial structure did Jehoshaphat set up for the courts in Judah?
2.    CR:  (19:6-7, 9-10)  What instructions did Jehoshaphat give to the judges and priests for settling controversies?  Can you think of any parts of the Pentateuch that they might have been taken from?
3.    ID:  ( 20:6-12 )  Outline Jehoshaphat’s prayer.  Notice how he appeals to God’s character and then to the injustice of his attackers before he makes his request.
4.    ID:  (20:14-17) What did Jahaziel tell Jehoshaphat to do?  What did he say God would do?
5.    ID/CR:  (20:21-29) – What song did they sing in the battle? Can you think of a song or other Scriptures (like Psalm 136) that include those same or similar words?  How did the LORD fight for them??
6.    ID:  (20:35-37)  Think through the highlights of Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Israel.  In light of Eliezar’s short, blunt rebuke why do you think God opposed those alliances?  What seems to have motivated Jehoshaphat to ally with Ahab? with Ahaziah?
The WALK: What should I do?
1.    What applications do Jehoshaphat’s instructions to his judges have for us in our personal lives?  Are they still good guidelines for judges today?  (“You shall warn them” may not be something we usually associate as a judicial function.)
2.    What are some insights or tips you have learned about praying from the example of Jehoshaphat’s prayer in 20:5-12? 
3.    Singing in difficult times is also a Christian tradition (Acts 16:25).  Do you remember a trying time when you sang praises to the Lord? Do we “praise the beauty of holiness” in our worship?  How? 
4.    How do you direct (or aim) your heart toward God?
5.    Have you identified any “nevertheless” areas (20:33) in your life?  What do you still need to do to finish well?

Hermeneutical Guidelines
The following hermeneutical guidelines can help exegetes recapture the "mode of perception that was second nature to the original audiences."9
1.    Follow the Plot Development and Shape
According to Bar-Efrat a narrative's plot consists of "a meaningful chain of interconnected events." 19 Gunn and Fewell comment, "Plot is the organizing force or principle through which narrative meaning is communicated.  There must be events for there to be story; not random events but events that are connected, events that have design, that form a pattern—events that are ‘plotted.'"20
Tracking the plot is important because "the plot serves to organize events in such a way as to arouse the reader's interest and emotional involvement, while at the same time imbuing the events with meaning."21  Plots in Old Testament narrative assume the same basic shape.  These plots build on a conflict or a collision between two forces.22  "No ignorance and no conflict, no plot."23  Generally interpreters should look for the plot to unfold in this pattern:
    1. Background (exposition)
    2. Crisis (complication)
    3. Resolution
    4. Conclusion (denouement) such as to inspire or inform.24
At the beginning of a story, the background or exposition supplies the details needed for understanding the story.  It introduces the characters, giving their names, traits, physical appearance, position in life, and relationships among them.25  It may also describe the geographical or historical setting.  "In general no information is included in the exposition which does not have a definite function in the development of action." 26  For example in the Judah-Tamar story of Genesis 38, verses 1–6 function as background or exposition, introducing the geographical setting ("went down…Adullam") and the characters who play a part in the plot (Judah, his sons, and Tamar).  This information, which shows Judah making a break with his brothers and establishing relationships with the Canaanites, tips off the reader that Judah is not walking in fellowship with Yahweh.27  In the Book of Esther, chapters 1–2 serve as background.  To understand the story of Esther, a reader must grasp King Xerxes' anger and compulsive behavior, Esther's secret nationality, and Mordecai's uncovering of an assassination plot.  According to Esther 2:23, Mordecai's heroic deed was recorded in official court records.  This information becomes crucial in the events recorded in Esther 6.
After the background the plot moves into the crisis or complication. Bar-Efrat recognizes that this is the climax of a story.28  In Genesis 38, verses 7–24 present the crisis. Actually two crises are present. First, in verses 7–11 Yahweh put two of Judah's sons, Er and Onan, to death.  Tamar, Er's wife, was left as a childless widow when Judah refused to give his third son, Shelah, to her in keeping with the custom of levirate marriage.  Rather than moving quickly to a resolution, verses 12–24 build toward another crisis that flares up in verse 24 .29  There Judah discovered Tamar's pregnancy and sentenced her to burning.  In the Book of Esther the crisis occurs in chapters 3–4 , which record Haman's plot to destroy the Jews.30
From the climax of conflict, the plot descends rapidly to the resolution of the tension. In Genesis 38 the resolution occurs in verses 25–26 when Tamar produced the objects that indict Judah as the man who impregnated her. Judah then pronounced her more righteous than himself. In the Book of Esther the resolution occurs in 5:1–9:19 as (a) Mordecai received the honor Haman intended for himself, (b) Haman received the hanging he intended for Mordecai, and (c) the Jews triumphed over their enemies.
Stories end in a conclusion or denouement. Some scholars lump this together with the resolution. But some stories' conclusions develop the consequences of this resolution for the principal characters. Esther 9:20–10:3 certainly illustrates this point.   Less certain is whether Genesis 38:27–30 functions as a separate conclusion or is part of the resolution.
According to Bar-Efrat the conclusion in many biblical narratives is clearly marked, often by someone who returns home or leaves for another destination. 31
Ryken also notes that the movement of a plot may take either a comic or a tragic direction. A comedy is a "U-shaped story that begins in prosperity, descends into tragedy, and rises again to end happily."32  Old Testament narratives with comic structure include the Book of Esther, the Book of Ruth, and Genesis 38. A tragedy, on the other hand, is "the story of exceptional calamity. It portrays a movement from prosperity to catastrophe."33  Tragedies in the Old Testament include the stories of Esau in Genesis 25–27, Samson in Judges 13–16 , and Saul in 1 Samuel 8–31. 
(Continue reading this article in the next lesson or read it all at

[9] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 62.
[19] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 93.
[20] David M. Gunn and Danna Nolan Fewell, Narrative in the Hebrew Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 100.
[21] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 93.
[22] Ibid., 94.
[23] Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, 173.
[24] Tremper Longman III provides a helpful diagram of plot structure in biblical narrative (Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987], 92). His diagram follows the same pattern suggested above, but he provides more details in the flow of the plot structure.
[25] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 111.
[26] Ibid., 114.
[27] For an analysis of Genesis 38 see Steven D. Mathewson, "An Exegetical Study of Genesis 38," Bibliotheca Sacra 146 (October-December 1989): 373-92. Interpreters should be aware of the fluid changes between the elements of a plot. Sometimes it is difficult to determine the precise point at which one element stops and the next begins. For example does the background section of Genesis 38 end with verse 5 , 6 , or 10 ?
[28] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 121. Also see Longman, Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation, 92.
[29] Bar-Efrat calls this structure an "illusory conclusion". He writes, "In contrast to examples, where the story line gradually rises to a climax and then descends rapidly to the serene conclusion, here the narrative does not end after the gradual ascent and the rapid decline, but rises once more to another pinnacle, only then descending to the genuine conclusion" (Narrative Art in the Bible, 124).
[30] Once again the fluid changes between plot elements make it difficult to determine if the crisis section ends with chapter 4 or extends into chapter 5, where two more "mini-crises" transpire: Esther had to approach the king, and Haman built gallows on which to hang Mordecai.
[31] Bar-Efrat, Narrative Art in the Bible, 130-31. Also see Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 65.
[32] Leland Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 82. Ryken lists the following elements in literary comedy: disguise, mistaken identity, character transformation from bad to good, surprise, miracle, providential assistance to good characters, sudden reversal of misfortune, rescue from disaster, poetic justice, the motif of lost and found, reversal of conventional expectations, such as the preference of the younger child over the older, and sudden release.
[33] Ibid., 83.

Living Lessons from Dead Kings / Lesson 06 - Jehoshaphat Part 1 - 2 Chronicles 17-18

Lesson 06 – Jehoshaphat
We are going to spend two lessons on Jehoshaphat.
I found a timeline for the kings that is easy to read and navigate it is available online as a PDF and PNG format.
•    1-3 focus on the character of Jehoshaphat and Judah under his rule.
•    4. This is a longer question. You will want to briefly comment on each character’s contribution to the events.  The second part is an platform to talk about the point the Chronicler is trying to make with this story.  Jehu’s admonition should help clarify what it is.
•    5.  I personally found it interesting to see a father and son deliver a similar message to their respective kings.  “The more things change, the more they …”
1.    This is designed to promote some introspection about the defining characteristics of our lives and legacy.
2.    Encourage dads (and granddads) to think about their responsibility to see that their children are taught the Word.
3.    This topic could probably take up the entire discussion.  I have referred the men to two balancing passages on the questions (There may be others you would want to include).  You might also want to refer back to the affect Solomon’s compromises had on his heart to help define some underlying principles for decisions in this area.  You don’t have to settle the whole question this week because it is going to come up again and again in the lives of the coming kings.
This is the first of seven parts of the article, “Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming Old Testament Narratives.”  This section emphasizes the importance seeing how the literary artistry of the writer contributes to the meaning. 
If you refer to this article, emphasize that the events really happened and the accounts (in the original autographs) are correct.  The literary artistry the writer uses to tell that true history and choice of which parts to emphasize are designed to make a point.
Lesson 06 - Jehoshaphat Part 1 - 2 Chronicles 17-18
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context:  1 Kings 15.24 record’s Asa’s death and announces Jehoshaphat’s ascension to the throne.  1 Kings 22 includes Jehoshaphat in the account of Ahab’s ill fated conquest of Ramath in Gilead and gives some summary statements about his reign.  The references to him in 2 Kings are primarily as a reference point for the discussion of other people. 
The primary focus of this lesson will be on Jehoshaphat’s character and alliance with Ahab in 2 Chronicles 17:1-19:3.  To get some context read 16:7-19:4.  Pay special attention to the prophetic voices of Jehu and Micaiah.
1.    ID: (17:2-6)  What reasons are given for Jehoshaphat’s success as king of Judah?
2.    WS:  (17:6)  What does it mean that Jehoshaphat “delighted in (NKJV), rejoiced in (HCSB) was devoted to (NIV), took great pride in (NASB), was courageous in (RSV, ESV)” (gabahh) the ways of the Lord?  What are examples in his life that illustrate that?
3.    ID:  (17:14-19)  What observations are made about the men of war who were in Jerusalem?  What insight do these hints give about the social and spiritual climate of Judah under Jehoshaphat?
4.    ID:  (ch.18:1-19:3)  Identify the characters in this chapter.  What do you think was the main climax? 
5.    CR:  (18:34-19:3)  What differences are there between the events emphasized at the end of this account in 2 Chronicles and those in 1 Kings 22:35-40.  Why do you think that 2 Chronicles, with its emphasis on the kings of Judah, includes this story about Ahab? 
6.    CR:  (19:1)  What message from God did Jehu (son of Hanani) deliver to Jehoshaphat after the battle?  How does it compare with his father’s message to Asa in 16:7-9?  How did Jehoshaphat respond?
The WALK: What should I do?
1.    2 Chronicles 17:3-4, 6 record three sets of contrasting “He did, but he did not” items for Jehoshaphat?  What do you think (or hope) someone would write about you?
2.    Are there people that you have a responsibility to teach “the law” to?  Have you developed a plan to do so?  Who have you enlisted to assist you?
3.    The events of 18:1 are going to have huge ramifications for the next three kings of Judah.  What are some NT principles for who we should not ally ourselves with (1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:11-17)?
Going beyond:  Many have been pondered the statement, “The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets of yours…”  How do you reconcile that with His truthfulness and righteousness?  Apologetics Press,, Probe Ministries, and the Master’s Seminary Journal have articles that deal with the question about this verse.

Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming Old Testament Narratives
An article in Bibliotheca Sacra  by Steven D. Mathewson
Hermeneutical Guidelines
The following hermeneutical guidelines can help exegetes recapture the "mode of perception that was second nature to the original audiences."9             
1.    Interact with a Story's Literary Art to Determine Its Meaning
The quest for a narrative's meaning thrusts the interpreter into the world of literary analysis.10 Alter states:
The biblical authors are of course constantly, urgently conscious of telling a story in order to reveal the imperative truth of God's works in history and of Israel's hopes and failings. Close attention to the literary strategies through which that truth was expressed may actually help us to understand it better, enable us to see the minute elements of complicating design in the Bible's sacred history.11
As Osborne points out, "There is no reason why history and literary artistry cannot exist side-by-side."12
The literary art of a story deserves an interpreter's notice because literary artistry is not an end in itself, but a means to understanding the theological point of a narrative.13 Stek writes, "The test is not whether literary analysis contributes to aesthetic appreciation (though that may be a significant by-product) but whether it advances understanding. Does it sharpen the ear and eye to the author's intentions?"14  Long observes that the "artistic tendencies" of the narrators "were not given free rein, however, but were disciplined by the larger theological purposes which governed the writers' work."15 Berlin, who uses the expression "poetics" to describe literary artistry, writes, "Poetics makes us aware of how texts achieve their meaning. Poetics aids interpretation. If we know how texts mean, we are in a better position to discover what a particular text means."16
However, Old Testament narratives do more than make theological points. They attempt to persuade.17 Patrick and Scult argue that "the Bible's main form of exposition, the narrative, is most appropriately characterized as primary rhetoric, its primary objective being to persuade its audience."18
Bible expositors, then, must prepare to interact with the literary features of the text in order to discover a story's theological point. The following guidelines focus on the main literary features an exegete must pursue.    (Continue reading this article in the next lesson or read it all at

[9] Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 62.
[10] Alter defines literary analysis as "discriminating attention to the artful use of language, to the shifting play of ideas, conventions, tone, sound, imagery, syntax, narrative viewpoint, compositional units, and much else" (ibid., 12).
[11] Ibid., 46.
[12] Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1991), 162.
[13] "Narrative is not as direct as didactic material, but it does have a theological point and expects the reader to interact with that message" (ibid., 172).
[14] John H. Stek, "The Bee and the Mountain Goat: A Literary Reading of Judges 4," in A Tribute to Gleason Archer, ed. Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Ronald F. Youngblood (Chicago: Moody, 1986), 54.
[15] Long, Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible, 67.
[16] Berlin, Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative, 17. Berlin defines poetics as "an inductive science that seeks to abstract the general principles of literature from many different manifestations of those principles as they occur in actual literary texts" (ibid., 15).
[17] Erich Auerbach, Mimesis, trans. Willard Trask (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1953), 12.
[18] Dale Patrick and Allen Scult, Rhetoric and Biblical Interpretation (Sheffield: Almond, 1990), 29. "Primary rhetoric" refers to discourses that use stylistic resources to persuade, whereas "secondary rhetoric" refers to texts that use stylistic resources to create an effect on an audience such as to inspire or inform.

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Collection of Proverbs on Fools (17.7-28)

4. A Collection of Proverbs on Fools (17.7-28)
The unit of fools picks up where the inclusio of 17:6 with 16:31 left off.  It elaborates and expands the catalogue of malevolent communicators (vv. 4-5), mentioning the liar (v.7), the briber (v.8), and the gossip (v.9).  --Waltke in NICOT
(a) Janus: Catalogue of Fools expanded (17.7-9)
The proverbs following, Proverbs 17:7-10, appear to be united acrostically by the succession of the letters ש (שׂ, שׁ) and ת.  --Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
                                     Much less
Excellent speech           lying lips
is not becoming 
to a fool,                         to a prince.  
a prince...  This “ruler” (KJV, NASB “prince”; NAB “noble”) is a gentleman with a code of honor, to whom truthfulness is second nature (W. McKane, Proverbs [OTL], 507). The word describes one as “inclined, generous, noble” (BDB 622 s.v. נָדִיב). It is cognate to the word for the “free will offering.” So for such a noble person lies are not suited. The argument is from the lesser to the greater – if fools shouldn’t speak lofty things, then honorable people should not lie (or, lofty people should not speak base things).  --NET Bible study notes
A present is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor; 
Wherever he turns, he prospers.  
precious stone... Heb “a stone of favors”; NAB, NRSV “a magic stone.” The term שֹׁחַד (shokhad, “bribe”) could be simply translated as “a gift”; but the second half of the verse says that the one who offers it is successful. At best it could be a gift that opens doors; at worst it is a bribe. The word שֹׁחַד is never used of a disinterested gift, so there is always something of the bribe in it (e.g., Ps 15:5; Isa 1:23). Here it is “a stone that brings favor,” the genitive being the effect or the result of the gift. In other words, it has magical properties and “works like a charm.”  --NET Bible translation notes
9                                  But
He who                      he who
covers                        repeats
a transgression       a matter
seeks love,                separates friends.
covers... Heb “covers” (so NASB); NIV “covers over.” How people respond to the faults of others reveals whether or not they have love. The contrast is between one who “covers” (forgives, cf. NCV, NRSV) the fault of a friend and one who repeats news about it. The former promotes love because he cares about the person; the latter divides friends.  --NET Bible translation notes
repeats…  For the second line, cf. 16:28b.  Repeateth may indicate either tale-telling or (as rv) harping on a matter.  –Kidner in TOTC
chief friends…  (rv) is a single word, denoting a bosom companion.  –Kidner in TOTC

b) Fools and Their Punishment (17.10-15)
Verse 10 functions as a janus: it both qualifies covering over transgression by calling for verbal rebuke and corporal flogging, and, as an educational proverb, introduces the subunit on how to respond to fools in light of their certain judgment (17:10-15).  The first pair qualifies the admonition to cover over transgression…  The second warns against encountering a raging fool (13:12)…  The third pair escalates not encountering the raging fool to not provoking his anger in the first place…  --Waltke in NICOT
10                               Than
is more effective       a hundred blows
for a wise man          on a fool.  
is more effective..Heb “goes in deeper” (cf. NASB, NRSV). The verb נָחֵת (nakhet) “to go down; to descend” with the preposition בְּ (bet) means “to descend into; to make an impression on” someone.  --NET Bible translation notes
An evil man seeks only rebellion; 
Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him.  
<> Subject and object should be reversed here, as the Heb. Suggests. So Maffatt , succinctly : ‘Rebels are out for mischief.’  That is to say, since rebellion scorns moderation, the rebel need expect none, for what we seek, we find.  See also verse 13.  –Kidner in TOTC
<> The proverb is set up in a cause and effect relationship. The cause is that evil people seek rebellion. The term מְרִי (mÿri) means “rebellion.” It is related to the verb מָרָה (marah, “to be contentious; to be rebellious; to be refractory”). BDB 598 s.v. מְרִי translates the line “a rebellious man seeketh only evil” (so NASB).  --NET Bible study notes
Let a man meet          Rather than
a bear                           a fool  
robbed of her cubs,    in his folly.  
Let a man meet...  Heb “Let a man meet” (so NASB); NLT “It is safer to meet.” The infinitive absolute פָּגוֹשׁ (pagosh, “to meet”) functions as a jussive of advice. The bear meeting a man is less dangerous than a fool in his folly. It could be worded as a “better” saying, but that formula is not found here.  --NET Bible translation notes
in his folly...  For a slightly different nuance cf. TEV “some fool busy with a stupid project.”  --NET Bible study notes
Whoever rewards evil for good, 
Evil will not depart from his house.  
The beginning of strife is like releasing water; 
Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.  
like releasing water... The verse simply begins with “letting out water.” This phrase is a metaphor, but most English versions have made it a simile (supplying “like” or “as”). R. N. Whybray takes it literally and makes it the subject of the clause: “stealing water starts a quarrel” (Proverbs [CBC], 100). However, the verb more likely means “to let out, set free” and not “to steal,” for which there are clearer words.  --NET Bible translation notes
<> The image involves a small leak in a container or cistern that starts to spurt out water. The problem will get worse if it is not stopped. Strife is like that.  --NET Bible study notes
Before it be meddled with… (av): rather, … breaks out (rsv).  The verb recurs only in 18:1; 20:3.  Opening such a luice lits loose more than one can predict, control or revive.  –Kidner in TOTC
He who justifies the wicked, 
and he who condemns the just, 
Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord

 (c) The Fool versus the Friend (17.16-20)
The catchword “fool” (kesîl) in its introductory educational proverb links this subunit with the preceding and following introductions (vv. 10, 16, 21).  This subunit is held together and divided by the catchword “one who loves” (vv. 17,19), contrasting the loving friend with the misanthropic fool who loves strife.  Each of these is a part of a proverbial pair in which the second saying qualifies the first.  –Waltke in NICOT
We take Proverbs 17:16-21 together. This group beings with a proverb of the heartless, and ends with one of the perverse-hearted; and between these there are not wanting noticeable points of contact between the proverbs that follow one another.  --Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, 
Since he has no heart for it?  
W. McKane envisions a situation where the fool comes to a sage with a fee in hand, supposing that he can acquire a career as a sage, and this gives rise to the biting comment here: Why does the fool have money in his hands? To buy wisdom when he has no brains? (Proverbs [OTL], 505). --NET Bible study notes
heart…  can mean ‘will’ (cf. av) or mind (rsv see also rv), probably both here.  Maffattt neatly retains the double-entendre with ‘wen he has no mind to learn’.  –Kidner in TOTC
A friend loves at all times, 
And a brother is born for adversity.  
friend...  The verse uses synonymous parallelism, so “friend” and “relative” are equated. Others, however, will take the verse with antithetical parallelism: W. G. Plaut argues that friendship is a spiritual relationship whereas a brother’s ties are based on a blood relationship – often adversity is the only thing that brings brothers together (Proverbs, 189).  --NET Bible study notes
for adversity... Heb “is born for adversity.” This is not referring to sibling rivalry but to the loyalty a brother shows during times of calamity. This is not to say that a brother only shows loyalty when there is trouble, nor that he always does in these times (e.g., 18:19, 24; 19:7; 27:10). The true friend is the same as a brotherly relation – in times of greatest need the loyal love is displayed.  --NET Bible translation notes
A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, 
And becomes surety for his friend.  
in a pledge...  The phrase “in pledge” is supplied for the sake of clarification.  --NET Bible translation notes
He who loves transgression loves strife, 
And he who exalts his gate seeks destruction.  
exalts his gate...  Some have taken this second line literally and interpreted it to mean he has built a pretentious house. Probably it is meant to be figurative: The gate is the mouth (the figure would be hypocatastasis) and so to make it high is to say lofty things – he brags too much (e.g., 1 Sam 2:3; Prov 18:12; 29:23); cf. NCV, TEV, NLT. C. H. Toy (Proverbs [ICC], 348) wishes to emend פִּתְחוֹ (pitkho, “his gate”) to פִּיו (piv, “his mouth”), but that is unnecessary since the idea can be obtained by interpretation.  --NET Bible translation notes
20                                     And
He who                            he who
has a deceitful heart     has a perverse tongue
finds no good,                 falls into evil

d) The Fool, Injustice, and the Reserved Speech of the Wise (17.21-28)
This section is divided into two subunits.  The frame is formed by the catchwords "fool" (kesil), and in its chiastic structure, participles of the verb "bear" (yld, the first word in v. 21a and the last in v. 25b), and "father" ('ab, vv. 21b, 25a).  The ver   --Waltke in NICOT
21                                          And
He who begets                  the father of
a scoffer                               a  fool
does so to his sorrow,       has no joy.  
Joy…  Strong's H8056 – sameach: joyful, merry, glad
22                                              But
A merry heart                         a broken spirit
does good, like medicine,     dries the bones.  
merry…  Strong's H8056 – sameach: joyful, merry, glad
A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back  
To pervert the ways of justice.  
Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding, 
But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.  
Wisdom is in the sight of him… Wisdom is ‘straight in front of’ the discerning man, in two senses: (a) he sets his face toward it (rsv), unlike the fool; and (b) he cannot miss it.  Both senses are in James 1:5-8.  –Kidner in TOTC
in the sight...  The verse begins with אֶת־פְּנֵי מֵבִין (’et-pÿni mevin), “before the discerning” or “the face of the discerning.” The particle אֶת here is simply drawing emphasis to the predicate (IBHS 182-83 §10.3.2b). Cf. NIV “A discerning man keeps wisdom in view.”  --NET Bible translation notes
ends of the earth...  To say that “the eyes of the fool run to the ends of the earth” means that he has no power to concentrate and cannot focus his attention on anything. The language is hyperbolic. Cf. NCV “the mind of a fool wanders everywhere.”  --NET Bible study notes
A foolish son 
is a grief                    bitterness
to his father,           to her who bore him.  
grief...  The Hebrew noun means “vexation, anger, grief.”
Also,                        Nor
to punish                to strike
the righteous         princes
is not good,            for their uprightness.  
The tyrant in view is a very high magistrate because he is in a position to flog subordinate nobles in the government’s hierarchical structure (cf. Eccl. 5:8).  Its synonymous parallels pair two forms of legal punishment, “to fine” and “to flog,” for two kinds of virtuous citizens, “an innocent person” and “nobles,” and two negative evaluations, “is not good” and “is against what is upright.”  --Waltke in NICOT
<>  The ruler is the servant of God, who has to preserve rectitude, εἰς ὀργὴν τῷ τὸ κακὸν πράσσοντι [who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.] (Romans 13:4). It is not good when he makes his power to punish to be felt by the innocent as well as by the guilty.  --Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
<>  If the power of punishment is abused to the punishing of the righteous, yea, even to the corporeal chastisement of the noble, and their straight, i.e., conscientious, firm, open conduct, is made a crime against them, that is not good - it is perversion of the idea of justice, and an iniquity which challenges the penal rectitude of the Most High (Ecclesiastes 5:7).     --Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
punish...  The verb עָנַשׁ, here a Qal infinitive construct, properly means “to fine” (cf. NAB, NRSV, NLT) but is taken here to mean “to punish” in general. The infinitive functions as the subject of the clause.  --NET Bible translation notes
for their uprightness... Heb “[is] against uprightness.” The expression may be rendered “contrary to what is right.”     --NET Bible translation notes
The two lines could be synonymous parallelism; but the second part is being used to show how wrong the first act would be – punishing the righteous makes about as much sense as beating an official of the court for doing what is just.  --NET Bible study notes
Princes…  Though nobles could be fools and not merit their honorific title (Isa. 32:5), the parallel with “innocent” and the assertion that the flogging is against what is upright show that the nobles in view will not compromise their honor and be corrupted by the system.  –Waltke in NICOT
27                                              And
He who has knowledge         a man of understanding
spares his words,                    is of a calm spirit.  
spares...  The participle חוֹשֵׂךְ (khosekh) means “withholds; restrains; refrains; spares; holds in check,” etc. One who has knowledge speaks carefully.  --NET Bible translation notes
calm spirit... Heb “cool of spirit.” This genitive of specification describes one who is “calm” (so NCV, TEV, CEV) or “even-tempered” (so NIV, NLT); he is composed.  --NET Bible translation notes
Even a fool                              (2) he
is counted wise                       (3) is considered perceptive.
when he holds his peace;      (1) When he shuts his lips