The Bible maintains a bit of a reputation for being a dry read. If you start in Numbers, I might agree. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a group of people who read it like the directions that come with your Ikea closet system. To me, that’s just as dry as reading Numbers without a historical narrative accompaniment.
Instead, I prefer to see the story involved with the Book. Yes, yes, it’s not “just a collection of stories” as it’s much deeper than that. But nonetheless, these are the stories of the Faithful Ones, and sometimes how the story is told gives as much insight to what was happening as the actual narrative arc. This is another reason I love reading it in The Message.
This morning I read about David’s Mighty Men (who doesn’t think of Robin’s Merry Men, especially the Men in Tights version?). These were men. Manly men. Grunt. The stories are of them slaying an entire army with a single spear… defending a field of lentils when the rest of the army retreated…. leaving a battle to run to Bethlehem for a glass of water to make David happy.
Personally, I read these stories to the tune of the old Bill Brasky skit from SNL, inserting the names of the Mighty Men:
I love that the tales of these men is a legacy of strength and honor so big that it’s almost unbelievable. These guys were a big deal. As the stories were passed among generations, their legacy (and victories, I would venture to say) grew bigger.
But what I also caught was the story of Abishai. I’d read about him a few chapters earlier when David gave him a special mission and his brother ganked the glory by murdering someone and covering up the body. In the description of these mighty men, it says, “He once got credit for killing three hundred with his spear, but he was never named in the same breath as The Three.”
Wow. Harsh. And who of us hasn’t been there? The fifth wheel. The JV team. B league.
I only read one more chapter (a listing of the Thirty, with it’s own surprise ending), so I’m waiting to see if there’s a moral at the end of the story by listing Abishai. If nothing else, the stories of lore tell us that we’re not alone.