Category Archives: Character Studies

What King Saul’s Story Can Teach America

What King Saul’s Story Can Teach America It’s been a difficult few years for America. The lines of division have been drawn sharply and the recent Presidential campaign has accentuated that division. Sadly, hateful rhetoric from a bitterly fought campaign, has now spilled out into the streets of America in the form of protests and violence. We are all aware, however, that this violence is not new. The riots sparked by the shootings of black men and the deadly assault on police officers provide the…

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Jephthah’s Daughter (Part 2): Was She Sacrificed?

  Jephthah’s Daughter (Part 2): Was She Sacrificed? In my last post entitled “Jephthah’s Vow: What Did Jephthah Do to His Daughter?,” I noted that there are two views regarding the fate of Jephthah’s daughter: 1) He offered her as a burnt offering; or, 2) She became a lifelong virgin. In that post, I argued that he really did offer his daughter as a burnt sacrifice, and I sought to show the weaknesses of the arguments for the other interpretation. In this post, I will…

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Jephthah’s Vow (Part 1): What Did Jephthah Do to His Daughter?

Jephthah’s Vow (Part 1): What Did Jephthah Do to His Daughter? The Book of Judges frequently gets a lot of negative press. Stories like the gang rape of a concubine (Judg. 19:25-30), and graphic descriptions of an overweight king having a dagger plunged into his belly (Judg. 3:21-25), or an enemy general having a tent peg driven through his skull (Judg. 4:21; 5:26-27), make many people, understandably, uneasy. Jephthah’s vow concerning his only daughter seems to be another example of the barbarity described in this…

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Amasa and His “Blood Brothers” in 2 Samuel

Amasa and His “Blood Brothers” in 2 Samuel One of the interesting, but admittedly gruesome, features of 2 Samuel concerns the stabbing of 4 different men in the stomach. The stories are tied together by this (un)common theme. The first two killings occur between rival houses for the throne–i.e. members of Saul’s and David’s house killing one another. The first incident involves Abner of the house of Saul killing Asahel, the nephew of David (2 Sam. 2:18-23). For a more indepth treatment of this incident…

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Samson and the Gaza Prostitute: Did He or Didn’t He?

Samson and the Gaza Prostitute: Did He or Didn’t He? Samson’s visit to the prostitute in Gaza has usually been considered as one example, among many, of his misadventures. Recently, several scholars have questioned this interpretation, suggesting that Samson has been misunderstood. How should the brief episode between Samson and the Gaza Prostitute be read? Is Samson a “good guy” whose intentions at the prostitute’s house have been misrepresented, or is this story just another example of his “bad boy” behavior? Before beginning, I want…

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Jeremiah, descendant of Eli Prophesies Hope for the Future

Jeremiah, descendant of Eli Prophesies Hope for the Future Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” is one of the most popular Bible verses among evangelicals. In its original context, God, through Jeremiah, is speaking hope to the wayward citizens of Judah who had been taken captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 29:1). This word of hope which resonates with so many…

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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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Goliath’s Death Part 2

A Closer Look at Goliath’s Death In a previous post I looked at a possible way in which David may have slain Goliath (How David Killed Goliath: Are You Sure?). In this post I would like to explore more carefully some of the theology behind Goliath’s death, especially as it is related in 1 Samuel 17:41-51. Although the entire chapter of 1 Samuel 17 builds toward the contest between David and Goliath, these verses focus on the confrontation between the two of them. As Goliath…

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Joseph’s Significance in Matthew’s Nativity Narrative

Joseph’s Significance in Matthew’s Nativity Narrative Choosing a title for this post has proven to be a challenge. If I say it is about Joseph, many would assume I was writing about the famous figure from the Book of Genesis who was sold into slavery by his brothers, and who later delivered Egypt, as well as his family, from a severe famine. The Joseph I am talking about, however, needs a further tag placed on his name. If I speak about Joseph and Mary, then…

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