Resource for Preaching OT Narrative

Ralph Davis’s The Word Became Fresh is an outstanding resource for those eager to preach from the largest chunk of their Bibles—the Old Testament narratives. In a mere 150 pages, Davis walks through all the basics that are so obvious they take brilliance to see. His style is a wonderful blend of humor and seriousness, substance and simplicity (even if a bit too punchy at points).

In this book, Davis discusses everything from getting a macro sense of whole books to how to apply individual stories to our lives today, all the while keeping the focus on God. Along with covering how to approach narrative, he discusses more specifically certain difficult OT texts and ends the book by using his methods to work through Exodus 1 and 2.

Davis manifestly loves and is unashamed of the biblical text with all its contours and textures. He encourages the preacher to stick to the text and go deep, trusting the God of the text that he knew what he was doing in inspiring it.

Maybe the most beneficial things Davis’s book provides are constant examples of how he approaches and preaches OT narratives. He brims with invaluable illustration after illustration of the techniques he’s teaching. (But sadly, there’s no index!)

Davis nearly (though not quite) broke my heart in the end of chapter 8 when he seems to play theocentricity off against christocentricity. He says, “I do not honor Christ by forcing him into texts where he is not” (138). I agree, but I want to respond with Spurgeon, “I’d rather find Jesus where he’s not than miss him where he is.”

All in all this is a great resource for preachers as they preach the Bible and try to treat even the more difficult passages as inspired by God and profitable for teaching.

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.