Monday, August 2, 2010


A quick perusal of my reading list will show that over the past several years, I have read a number of fairly broad topic self-help books on Christianity. Several authors have a style and approach that just resonates with me and I tend to seek out their works. They include Mark Batterson, Rob Bell, C.S. Lewis, and Max Lucado. However, I have a particular fondness for Charles Swindoll, having now read a dozen of his books. For some time now I have had my eye on tackling one of his in-depth character studies. However, I had not gotten around to this given other books that I had on my list to read. So, finally, the time came to start in on Charles Swindoll's "Great Lives from God's Word" series. The first book in this series, published in 1997, is entitled David.

I think most folks have heard the story of David and Goliath, and how smallish stature David took on the 9-ft tall giant and killed him with a smooth stone from this slingshot. However, there is much more to the story of David. This book takes an in-depth look at the life of David from start to finish by stepping through the two Old Testament books, 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, that chronicle his life (with forays into his book of songs in Psalms and 1,2 Chronicles). The subtitle of the book David is "A Man of Passion and Destiny", and tells how a simple shepherd boy went from tending his flock to becoming God's chosen king over the nation of Israel. David is described in scripture as "a man after God's own heart". This means that his passions and approach were (mostly) forward-focussed on God.

You may have noticed that I slipped a parenthetical "mostly" in the previous sentence. While David was a remarkable man in many ways, there were several long periods in his life where his sexual passions ruled his life and where he started to believe in his own hype. During these periods he focussed more on himself and turned from God. As a result of his sins, he paid a very steep price that nearly cost him and his nation everything. However, he acknowledged his sins and came back to God. An important lesson from David's life (which included a long list of sexual liaisons, adultery, deceit, murder, the loss of many lives) is that forgiveness does not preclude us from having to suffer a penalty for those sins.

This work on David was very enjoyable and written in a very clear style. The only issue that I had is that Swindoll has a way of embellishing the scripture beyond what is actually written, basically reading between the lines in his own interpretive voice, to make the story fit his romanticized, sympathetic narrative. It allows him to paint David in a light that another author might have seen differently. Regardless, he is very faithful to the word of scripture and allowed me to understand King David and his legacy in glorious fullness.

Now, onto Volume 2, Esther, A Woman of Strength and Dignity.