I’m trying to continue my routine of alternating between reading a currently-published book — the ones publishers send to me — and a previously published title. Two weeks ago I was encouraged to look at Leap Over a Wall by Eugene Peterson, an author who I am increasingly drawn to read more of.
The book would fit in well to what is described as an “application commentary,” though I suspect one publisher may have a copyright on that phrase. He looks at the life of David in the Old Testament books that are named after Samuel and provides insights for the modern reader from the Bible’s most-covered character.
But Peterson also provides insights from his own career as a pastor. He knows people, what motivates them, what frustrates them; and he knows church life intimately. The subtitle, Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians is most appropriate.
There are 20 chapters each going several directions at once.
First we see each part of the narrative involving David’s interaction with another person (Doeg, Abagail, Mephibosheth, plus the expected ones) or place (Brook Besor, En-Gedi, Ziklag, Jerusalem) and having a theme (Imagination, Sanctuary, Wilderness, Suffering, etc.)
Second, each begins with a quotation from the New Testament. Although this is a First Testament story, it has links to the Second Testament gospel, with a number of parallels to the life of Christ.
Third, I believe each chapter has a link to one of the Davidic Psalms that was written around the same time as the narrative, poetry which gives us a great window into David’s heart. So the book can be seen as a limited commentary on the Psalms as well as on I Samuel or II Samuel.
Fourth, each chapter very much relates to the human condition; to the state we find ourselves occupying in the 21st Century. There is a lot of David in each of us, we are perhaps most acquainted with our failures, our brokenness; but there is also the resident potential for much achievement as we allow God to be reflected in and through us.
This book can be read in one or two sittings, or as I did, you can read a chapter-a-day devotionally. This is a book I would also want to return to a second time.
Also, I want to especially recommend this to people who are familiar with Peterson’s work with The Message translation but like me a few years back, hadn’t checked out his other writing.
David is proof that God can use us in our weakness, in our broken condition perhaps we are more attuned to him than at times we would think we had it all together.
Note: A study guide for the book is published separately.
- Read two short excerpts from the book at Christianity 201.