Category Archives: Insights from Family Portraits

My Musings About Going to Church

My Musings About Going to Church When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, a popular slogan was coined which said, “Jesus ‘Yes,’ the Church, ‘No.’” This statement spoke of what some saw as the irrelevancy of the church. Some people were relating to what they learned of Jesus, but they were turned off by what was referred to as the “institutional church.” For some, the church conjured up images of monotonous rituals with no relevancy to daily life, cold, unfeeling, and hypocrital…

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Saul and Eli: Similarities of Rejected Leaders

Saul and Eli: Similarities of Rejected Leaders Looking Like a Leader The impressive introduction of Eli in 1 Samuel 1:9b often goes unnoticed by English readers. The reason is that many of the Hebrew words are capable of more than one translation. The NKJV represents a typical translation: “Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord.” Eli’s name means “exalted” and the “seat” he is sitting on is the usual word for “throne.” The fact…

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David and Bathsheba: Sending, Taking, Laying

David and Bathsheba: Sending, Taking, Laying David and Bathsheba: The Sin When David commits adultery with Bathsheba the reader looks in vain for any psychological insight into what David and Bathsheba are thinking or what motivates their actions. Unlike the following story describing Amnon’s rape of his sister Tamar (2 Sam. 13), words of emotion (lust, desire, love, anger, hate) are totally absent from the description of the deed committed by David and Bathsheba. Three words–all words of action–control the description of David’s sin. We…

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Sovereignty and Free Will in 1&2 Samuel

Sovereignty and Free Will The debate between sovereignty and freewill will probably continue until the Lord returns. This is part of the classic controversy between what is known as Calvinism and Arminianism (for a comparison of these two belief systems click here). Simply put, the issue is, does God’s sovereignty overrule people’s ultimate freedom to choose, or can there be freedom of choice while maintaining that God is sovereign? The traditional Calvinistic position maintains that complete freedom to choose negates God’s sovereignty. Therefore within reformed…

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2 Samuel 2–Asahel:Running into Trouble

2 Samuel 2–Asahel:Running into Trouble Many people are unfamiliar with Asahel. He was the youngest brother of the more famous Joab, David’s army commander. Asahel only appears in one narrative, found in 2 Samuel 2. The story is about his vain pursuit of Abner, commander of Saul’s army, during the civil war between David and the house of Saul, resulting in his premature death. Asahel’s death is told in gruesome detail in 2 Samuel 2 and often leaves readers wondering why this story was related…

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Peninnah: The Other Woman

The following article is an excerpt from my book Family Portraits: Character Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel. It is taken from chapter 2 which is a character study on Peninnah, one of the wives of Elkanah, the father of Samuel. I chose this excerpt because the study on Peninnah is the shortest in the book. The article is essentially the same as the book with a few editorial comments added to help the reader who doesn’t have access to the book (the photos are…

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Important or Impotent: How Many Sons Did Absalom Have?

Important or Impotent: How Many Sons Did Absalom Have? Did you know that 2 Samuel 14:27 states that Absalom had 3 sons, but in 2 Samuel 18:18 Absalom says that he has no son? In the previous article on Absalom’s hair I pointed out this apparent contradiction and promised to offer an explanation. The easiest way of explaining away the contradiction (frequently suggested by commentators) is that Absalom’s sons must have died prematurely. I believe this whitewashes the problem (the text gives no hint that…

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Absalom’s Hair, or, Give Me a Head With Hair!

Absalom’s Hair, or, Give Me a Head With Hair! Did you know that in the ancient Near East long hair was frequently a picture of a warrior’s prowess and strength? The most obvious example from the Bible is Samson whose long hair is explicitly connected with his strength (Judges 16:17). Samson’s long hair symbolized his separation to God (the true source of his strength––Judges 13:5) and when his hair disappeared, so did the Lord’s presence (Judges 16:20). But Samson is not the only long-haired warrior…

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Family Portraits: Character Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel an Interview

Family Portraits: Character Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel The following interview was conducted by my friend and colleague Lindsay Kennedy who is a teacher at Calvary Chapel Bible College York, and an active blogger of all things biblical. You can find his blogs and book reviews, as well as other information, at http://www.mydigitalseminary.com 1. You (almost) exclusively teach OT history (Genesis, Josh-Kings) at CCBCY (Calvary Chapel Bible College York). What first sparked your interest in the Old Testament? When I was doing my undergraduate…

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Anger: The Bible says, “The Nose Knows”

Anger: The Bible says, “The Nose Knows” Did you know that the word “nose” is a common way of expressing anger in the Old Testament?  The psalmist speaks of the Lord’s anger by saying, “Smoke went up from His nostrils (Ps. 18:8–NKJV).  In Ezekiel 38:18 when Gog comes against the land of Israel, the Lord says, “my anger will rise up in my nose” (translation by E. Johnson, TDOT, vol.1, p. 351). In Hebrew thought, there is a connection between the nose and anger. Elkanah’s…

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