As I have stated before, I became a Christian in college. My faith has always been very much a New Testament faith. Though people mistake me for a theologian because I study religion and politics, I am far from seminary-qualified. The Old Testament has often been a stumbling block for me. I delved into it on occasion and walked away shaken. My attitude became that I can accept all the wildness of the Old Testament because I have Jesus, who brings it along in his wake.
For the past several months, I have returned to the Old Testament. This time something seems to have changed. I have been able to stay with it night after night and reading straight through. I have just finished the long, sad story of Israel’s kings. It is fascinating to see how God warned the people about kings, but acceded to their request. At one point, I calculated the number of kings of Israel or Judah whom God judged righteous. The percentage was low.
Though David was the best, even he failed significantly and spectacularly. Most of the good things that happened in David’s life occurred before he became king. My conclusion upon reading all of Kings and Chronicles is that God gave Israel its kings, but the whole sad history was only a prelude to an unexpected fulfillment. Israel’s kings failed. But God would give them a true king who could and would bear the real cost of ruling. The true king is Jesus. I’m not a theologian, but this story arc helps me understand what the Reformers meant when they insisted on reading the Old Testament with Jesus in mind.