Why did we end up talking about grief in our Sunday sermon?

Last Sunday morning, I was preaching on 2 Samuel 1. One of the key themes that came through during the sermon was “grief and mourning.” How and why did we end up talking about grief?  For me, this highlights the beauty of sequential, expository preaching. Would I have chosen to preach this passage if I was just choosing my own passage each week or selecting a series of topics to look at? Probably not, and we would have missed so much. However, we were constrained by an expository approach to look at a passage together and that’s how the application came out.  So, here are three things we might have missed if we didn’t have expository preaching.

1.       We might not have talked about grief at all. How many of us would have seen this as immediately relevant? Yet, the application is pertinent for several reasons. First of all, whilst many of us may not be grieving now, we will one day and so teaching that touches on it enables us to store up Gospel wisdom for a later day. When you face grief, you will have deep wells of scriptural help to draw upon. Secondly, because as we saw, there is a corporate nature to grief. We are meant to bear one another’s burdens. There were lessons for what it means to be part of God’s family. Someone else is grieving, someone else is suffering. Thirdly because we saw that grief is not just about death. We mourn for those who have slipped and fallen away, we mourn at the mess, hurt and pain that our own sin causes. “Blessed are those who mourn.”

2.       We might have missed out on some of the richness of Biblical teaching about grief and mourning.  We were struck about how Scripture gives space for expressing all emotions. Would we have caught the power of lament -the range of musical response that Scripture provides to the changing scenes of life.

3.       We might have missed out on some of the complexities of mourning. It is one thing to mourn a loved, faithful believer. Would we have stopped to think about how we mourn one cut down in their prime? Would we have seen the challenges and implications of mourning flawed, failed Christians?

4.       We might have missed out on a particularly helpful picture that points us way from our own idolatry and towards Christ. Through this sermon we learnt not to put our trust in human heroes but in Christ alone as the anointed King of all God’s people. Of course I could have just said “Don’t have idols, trust Christ alone” but would that have cut so deep into our hearts as this incredibly moving story?

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