Let me begin with some general starting points . . . .
- There are two basic categories of Scripture: Narrative and Grammatical.
- The Old Testament is primarily narrative.
- The New Testament is primarily grammatical.
- Narrative: The argument of the passage is found within the story.
- Grammatical: The argument of the passage is found within the grammatical structure.
- The Old Testament does contain grammatical portions: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Psalms.
- The New Testament does contain narrative: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and perhaps Revelation.
There is a beneficial “formula” that aids both the study and the preaching of narrative portions of Scripture: “This is a story of . . . . . ”
For instance, if one were preaching I Samuel 18-19, involving Saul, David, and Jonathan . . . .
“This is a story of family & friendship.” — This is a story of Jonathan, the son of Saul, and Jonathan, the friend of David.
“This is a story of legacy and loyalty.” — This is a story of Jonathan, heir to the throne of Israel, and Jonathan, an heir to the throne who understands David is to be the next king over Israel.
. . . .
. . . .
If one were preaching II Samuel 9, involving David, Ziba, and Mephibosheth . . . .
“This is a complicated story of a King, a dishonest servant, and a descendant of a loyal friend.” — This is the story of David, his love for Jonathan, and a descendent of Saul who tries to manage the king’s request.
When you frame out the story this way, it provides a focus to both the audience, as well as to the sermon development and preaching. This framing of a narrative could be two or three, or even four elements. Once you get past four, you may be losing the passage’s focus.
- This is a complex story of . . . .
- This is a simple story of . . . .
- This is a lengthy story of . . . . which begins in chapter . . . . and ends in the death of Saul.
- This is a confusing story of . . . .
- This is a hard story of God’s justice and God’s grace . . . .
“This is a story of . . . .” is one of many useful mental tools in sermon construction.