My friends think I love the Old Testament because of the juicy stories. But here’s a secret: I think I like the Old Testament because fundamentally it is a book about rule-breakers. And the Biggest Rule-Breaker is God!
Time and time again in Scripture we see this. Humanity chooses one way; God chooses another. Take the stories of Jacob and Esau, or how God chooses Joseph over the other, older brothers. Whether it is human constructs (see those stories where it’s “the oldest male always wins stuff”), or whether it is God breaking his own rules, instead defaulting on the side of grace (see Zechariah 3, or see Jesus), here again in today’s passage we see God deciding to break rules.
Samuel is sent by God to anoint another king, having rejected Saul. So he goes to Jesse and his many sons. “Certainly this one before me is the chosen one, Eliab, the eldest.” But the Lord says to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have not chosen him.” On and on we go, until we come to the runt of the litter – the smelly shepherd: David. He is the youngest, and certainly by the rules of primogeniture, he is the LAST choice.
Well he is God’s choice. The chosen, anointed with oil on his head, and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David.
Why is God such a rule-breaker? Isn’t he the one who set up these rules? Yes and No. One could get technical and say that these are human rules set up for us. But time and time again we see this – the complexity of the Bible kick in – God stretching us and pushing us to understand that God’s choices are not simple and clear-cut.
If the Bible were simply a rule-book, folks would have stopped reading two-thousand years ago. We must keep reading. Much like the Da Vinci Code, the Bible is full of twists and turns. The Old Testament is a page turner! Often I sit there thinking, “I wonder what God will be up to next?” as I flip to the next page. It is strange and unpredictable.
And then I turned the page to the New Testament, and I couldn’t believe what I was reading! “God is up to what now? God came to earth? Came for me??” This is all too good to be true!
It almost is.