A Tale of Three Kings

June 8, 2011 at 9:13 am | Posted in Books and Movies, Devotional thoughts | Leave a comment

I haven’t done anything with my blog for a long time primarily because I’ve been on vacation (and not because I was raptured away!).  I did read a couple of books while out that are worthy of mention here.  The first was Gene Edwards, A Tale of Three Kings.  I found this little gem well worth the time to read and ponder.  The book is the story of Saul, David and Absalom, and it causes the reader to ponder his own motives in leadership and submission.

On the negative side, I didn’t particularly like the style.  Edwards is indirect, telling the story without really telling the story; it was assumed the reader knew the biblical account, at least in outline form.  This method is great for effect on occasion, but an entire book of it, short though it is, can get old.  I was also disappointed that Edwards puts in some things that simply are not biblical.  I am not opposed to writers putting in extra material, which is not a part of the biblical narrative, to fill out the story.  Movie writers in particular have to do this to make a movie, and Edwards has to do it to make his story work too.  However, I am opposed to putting in material that contradicts or changes the biblical narrative, and, unfortunately, Edwards makes this error occasionally in A Tale of Three Kings.  For example, he says God took a house-to-house survey to find a man worthy of the kingdom, as though David made himself qualified and God found him.  That paragraph bothered me, since God had David in mind from the beginning, and raised him up to be the king.  From way back in Genesis, the kingly line was to come through the tribe of Judah.  These unbiblical parts are not significant enough to change the points that are made in the book, but any such deviations from the biblical narrative tend to make me leery of Edwards’ other writings, though I haven’t read any of them.

Overall the book was very positive.  I had to stop and ponder my own self-sufficiency and pride on numerous occasions while reading.  The story is presented in a way that shows the inward workings Saul’s and David’s hearts, revealing their rebellion and submission.  David was anointed as king by Samuel, and Edwards ends that part of the story with these insightful comments:  “Quite a day for a young man, wouldn’t you say?  Then do you find it strange that this remarkable event lead the young man not to the throne but to a decade of hellish agony and suffering?  On that day, David was enrolled, not into the lineage of royalty but into the school of brokenness.”  There the young man learned many “indispensable lessons.” (p. 9)  God has many indispensable lessons for all of us to learn in the school of brokenness.  I’m afraid I haven’t learned them well enough.

The best part of the book is chapter 15, which begins “What kind of man was Saul?”  Edwards emphasizes all Saul’s gifts and accomplishments because he was anointed of God, calling Saul, “one of the greatest figures of human history.”   “He was everything people today are seeking to be … empowered with the Holy Spirit … able to do the impossible … for God.  A leader, chosen by God with power from God.”  (The gaps are not my selective quoting but Edward’s own style.)  Later he adds, “Many pray for the power of God.  More every year.  Those prayers sound powerful, sincere, godly, and without ulterior motive.  Hidden under such prayer and fervor, however, are ambition, a craving for fame, the desire to be considered a spiritual giant.  The person who prayers such a prayer may not even know it, but dark motives and desires are in his heart … in your heart.” (pp. 40-41)  Touché!  I stand convicted.  Edwards concludes “There is a vast difference between the outward clothing of the Spirit’s power and the inward filling of the Spirit’s life.” (p. 41)  May we all pray for inward transformation to Christ likeness rather than outward displays of God’s power!  Reading this little book will inspire that prayer.

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