Spiritual Lessons from the Life of David. By Zane C. Hodges. Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2017. 88 pp. Paper, $10.00.
There are very few books written by Free Grace writers that deal with the OT. Spiritual Lessons from the Life of David is a welcomed exception.
The book deals with 1 Samuel 16–19. Hodges says that in order to understand the book, we must know the theme of 1 Samuel. The theme is that when Israel insisted on a human king, they made a tragic mistake because they rejected the kingship of God. But the book is Christ-centered, because it shows how much Israel needed the coming of the Messiah and the restoration of the kingship they rejected (p. 10). The lessons from the life of David are related to this theme.
These four chapters in 1 Samuel concentrate on the relationship between Saul, David, and Jonathan, and not the whole life of David. These were difficult times for David.
Hodges’s book is divided into fifteen chapters that cover 1 Samuel 16-19. It starts with a lesson from the predecessor of David, King Saul. Of course, Saul disobeyed and rebelled against the Lord. Hodges says that the lesson we learn here is that a leader among God’s people can drift far from the Lord. The NT parallel is the evil servant in the parable in Matt 24:48-49. He is a leader in the church but falls because he does not remember what the Lord told him (p. 12).
David is the one that replaces Saul, and Hodges points out that what set David apart from others, such as his brothers, was the “inner qualities of heart.” Those things were lacking in Saul. Saul outwardly had all the attributes one would look for in a king, but God looks at the heart (p. 16).
But Saul gives us other lessons as they relate to the life of David. As is well known, Saul opposed David as his replacement and tried to kill him. Saul knew that God had chosen David, and Saul was faced with a choice. He could accept the discipline of God in his life and help David assume the role God had chosen for him, or he could resist the plan of God. Two lessons flow from Saul’s decision to choose the latter. As Christians, we can learn from Saul the importance of the discipline of God in our lives. The other lesson is that if we don’t do so and continue to rebel against God we, like Saul, will continue to spiral downward (p. 23).
In the life of David, Hodges suggests many lessons. In his encounter with Goliath, we see that faith involves seeing God as bigger than any giant we might face (p. 28). In the example of David’s friend Jonathan, and how Jonathan treated him, we have an illustration of how we ought to love others (pp. 50-52). As Saul tries to kill David, we see that even the relationships within his family are negatively impacted. Such is part of the price the child of God pays when he is not willing to submit to God and repent (pp. 77-81). Saul was tortured from both within and without. We see in the book of 1 Samuel that Saul was tortured from within because of the mental and spiritual madness he endured.
This book is not an exegetical commentary. Instead, it looks at events in a troubling time of David’s life and applies them to Christians. It is written for the layperson. It is easy to read. The only problem with the book is that it is too short. After reading it, I was wishing for more. However, it was very valuable because after reading it, I found myself looking for ways to do what Hodges does in this book to other passages of the OT and to ask how they apply to my own life. I highly recommend this book.