Working Over or Sitting Under the Word

Rick Phillips
Derek, I too am preaching through 1 Samuel.  In fact, I was up late last night reading probably the very same commentaries you are reading.  I also find that if you want doctrinal insights and applications, you need to look at older commentaries.  More current commentaries are far more likely to note literary connections, and often to real profit.  I am preaching next on the choosing of Samuel (1 Sam. 10:17-27) and a number of recent commentaries pick up on the connection between Saul's choice by lot and the selection of Achan by lot -- the point being that Saul as king is God's judgment on the apostasy of Israel.  This is a very good point found in none of the older commentaries, and respresents the strength of more recent biblical theological and literary approaches.  Yet, while the technical exegesis is in some respects improved of late, the sense of the message of the text has regressed.  If our commentaries reveal anything, we are becoming more technically acute but also less receptive of the prophetic message of the text for us.  Does this indicate a professionalization of the exegetical calling, so that we are more skilled in working over the Word and less atuned to sitting under the Word?  Yes, I think it does.