So we’ve all seen those films where a character is walking round with one half of a locket on a chain. Eventually they meet the person with the other half. One of the challenges of preaching is that you have to choose where to put the breaks each week. This means that sometimes you will find yourself looking at a passage and thinking ” but that’s only one half of the story.”
For example, this week our preacher will be looking at 2 Samuel 16 – 17. That feels like quite a large section to look at but in fact we could have given him a longer reading. You see chapters 16 – 19 take us through a chiasm. A chiasm is a literary device where a series of events or statements are then mirrored or reversed in the next section. Here for example the pattern is:
A David meets a representative of Mephibosheth’s household
B David meets Shimei who curses him
C Absalom receives advice telling him to sleep with David’s concubine
C Absalom receives conflicting advice about pursuing David.
B David meets Shimei on the return journey who begs forgiveness
A David meets Mephibosheth.
The pattern draws out the theme we mentioned in a previous article of exile and return, a type of death and resurrection.
It also focuses our attention to what happens in the middle of the pattern. It’s there in chapter 17- 18 that We see Absalom receive advice. The first part of the advice leads to the shaming of David’s household with Absalom taking his father’s harem. The second set of advice is conflicting and leads to David having the upper hand so that Absalom is defeated. This pattern uses the structure of the text to support the theme we have identified that David on the one hand experiences discipline because of his sin with Bathsheba but also experiences protection and deliverance as God uses the advisors to confuse Absalom’s plans. God disciplines David but he is not defeated or destroyed. His enemies think that they have been give the upperhand for this purpose but they are wrong.
To fully see this we need to put both parts of the story together. It is when we have the completed locket that we can see this clearly.
The other way in which we need to see both halves put together is by looking at the passage Christologically. As we also saw earlier, we need to see how 2 Samuel 16 – 19 point us to Christ. He is the other side of the puzzle, we need the anti- type that fits with the type. It is when we realise that Christ is the one who has stood, cursed , condemned, exiled, facing death in our place and has risen triumphant from the grave that we can really understand 2 Samuel.