Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 9:58 AM

Misplacing Ruth

One of the premises that we're working off of in my Old Testament Pentateuch class is that the traditional order of the Bible according to the Protestants is actually not the order that the books were intended to be read. That the Bible was not intended to be chronologically ordered, but rather theologically ordered. (The corollary is that the Jewish order is actually correct, with Chronicles at the end, instead of right after Kings)

As I've been reading more and more, I find myself swayed by that argument. One example -

One big change is that Ruth, instead of being after Judges, now is lumped together with the Writings (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiasties, Job)

When you finish Judges and transition to Samuel, you actually find that to really be the case.

Judges ends with 4 chapters of complete depravity. We have a idol being made, a priest conscripted to serve this idol, a concubine being raped and cut up, Israel waging war on Benjamin, a weird kidnapping scene. And the reader sits there and wonders, "what in the world is going on here? What is wrong with all these people!?"

And through it all, the answer was given, "There was no king in Israel..."

Judges 17:6,
Judges 18:1,
Judges 19:1,
Judges 21:25

The reader is led to say, "oh man! We need a king! We need order and peace that a king provides! Where is our king?!"

Now, if you finish that book and begin Ruth, you're confused, "what happened to our king? What happened to the depravity?" The book just doesn't fit.

But instead, if you begin with 1 Samuel, then you feel it fit - the people are depraved here, and there is no vision of the Lord, but there's Samuel! But then the people ask for a king! And you get the, "ah ha, Judges is preparing us for this moment!" But then of course, you feel the incredible failures of repeated kings - Saul, David, Solomon, and then the divided kingdom - and you realize, "We need the true king of Israel!" And that sets the stage for the rest of the Bible.

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