Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Picking the "right" interpretation

7But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."
The first interpretation is the straight forward traditional reading. That God sees the heart of David and so chooses him as King.
The alternative interpretation is that God's heart chooses David.
Although, the second interpretation appears a stretch in the English translation, apparently the original Hebrew is quite ambiguous.

My point here is not to advocate on interpretation over the other but to make a general point on such issues.
First, I think we need to be careful about ever assuming that any passage has only one correct interpretation. One beauty and power of Scripture is that often it operates on many levels and can challenge us in many different ways. Hence, being open to a range of interpretations can bring out the richness of a passage. For example, the second interpretation highlights God's merciful heart for his people. He chooses a new King who will rescue his people, even though God did not want them to have a king in the first place, the first king was disobedient, and the new king will turn out to be far from perfect!

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