Preaching from no one’s favorite Bible book

January 20, 2012

So I’m preaching this Sunday about no one’s favorite Bible hero, Gideon, from no one’s favorite book of the Bible, Judges. J. Clinton McCann Jr. was a master of understatement when he wrote the following in his introduction to the book in The Life with God Bible: “The book of Judges is not a source to which the People of God have readily turned for guidance in spiritual formation or instruction in the Spiritual Disciplines.”

Christians, in general, don’t like the book of Judges. It is at times disturbingly violent. (Judges 19:22-30 would earn any movie version an NC-17. Some of you are like, “I need to read that!”) Years ago, I stumbled upon something at a Christian bookstore called the Precious Moments Bible, whose stories were illustrated with depictions of those sappy, waif-ish figurines that used to be popular nicknacks. I thought, “What are they going to do with Judges?” Nothing about the book says “Precious Moments.”

We’re so squeamish about Judges that it rates exactly one appearance in the Revised Common Lectionary (concerning the prophetess Deborah), giving the lie to the oft-repeated claim that if we preachers follow the Lectionary we’ll somehow preach or at least hear the “whole Bible” in three years. Please! Not even close. The Lectionary, Protestant or Catholic, omits many of the most troublesome passages of scripture.

Preachers, in my opinion, have an obligation to preach these neglected passages from Judges, including Jael and Sisera, Samson, and, indeed, what I’m preaching this Sunday, the call of Gideon in Judges 6.

Not that I’ve ever done it before, lest you think I’m sitting too high in the saddle of my high horse! 😉

J. Clinton McCann Jr., “Judges” in The Life with God Bible, NRSV, ed. Richard J. Foster (New York: HarperOne, 2005), 341.

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