How do I read the Old Testament historical books devotionally? Dr. Peter Lee shares three practical strategies for reading the Old Testament historical books as a devotion.
The Old Testament historical books are very meaningful, and something that can be very devotionally enriching for God’s people. And there are ways to do this, to read through it in a way that is very meaningful and very helpful to, really, to all of God’s people.
Read the Old Testament Amply
One way that I would encourage us to read the Old Testament devotional, is to read lots of it. I mean, it’s the word of God. It is filled with great stories. And that’s something that we ought to be familiar with, to be able to read these stories and to remember them. So much of important theological truth, redemptive truth, is fundamentally built on just basic Sunday school stories that are found in the Old Testament. And for us to be more familiar with that is so important for us to understand the greater reality of God’s redemptive work. So, just read and understand these stories. [Being] familiar with these great stories, even at a children’s level, is going to be very devotionally helpful and enriching.
Apply the Old Testament to Yourself
A second way that we can read the Old Testament historical books devotionally, is to read it, not just about ancient Israel or ancient Israelites and ancient Israelite kings, but to read it, really, about ourselves. We have to remember that the sins of Israel, as we find in the Old—and there’s a lot of sins that we find of the ancient Israelites committing there and the ancient kings—we tend to read it and think, “Boy, you know, if that was us, if that were me, I would be a lot better. I would never do what the ancient Israelites did, or never commit the sins of these ancient kings,” when the reality is that we really are not that different.The sinful nature of humanity is a common denominator across the history of salvation. The grace of God that he demonstrated to His people in the Old Testament, to some of these ancient kings, is the same grace that we receive today in the person of Jesus Christ. We really are not that different. We are just as fallen. We are just as prone to idolatry. We are just as prone to immoralism. The sinful nature of humanity is a common denominator across the history of salvation. They needed Jesus just as much as we need Jesus today. So to read the Old Testament text – historical text, that is – devotionally, read it as if it’s about you, not just the Old Testament Israelites and the ancient kings.
See the Old Testament’s Revelation of Christ
And then finally, one other way to read the Old Testament historical books in a devotional way, is to see the revelation of Christ. In 2 Samuel 7, the Lord promised to David that one of his sons would always sit as king over all of Israel. These ancient sons of David didn’t do that great. They fell and they ultimately led the Israelites into exile. But the promise is good. There is going to come a son of David. He’s going to be perfect, and he’s going to lead God’s people to the eternal kingdom where we will be able to rejoice with God for all eternity. We see that promise sort of constantly there in the Old Testament historical books. The Israelites failed. Their kings failed. But there is going to come a great Son of David and he is not going to fail. We know that is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. And we know that Christ is that true son of David. If we read the Old Testament texts and see that the earthly failure of these earthly kings is pointing to that great God-man, the great Son of David, and he came to give his life on the cross for you and me, that’s another great way to be able to appreciate the depth of the Old Testament historical books.