Chapters 10, 11 and 12 of The Story all come from a two-volume set of books in the Old Testament called First and Second Samuel. The two books have 4 primary characters: Hanna, Samuel, Saul and David. Their stories are set around 1000 B.C., and serve as the midpoint between the time God called Abram and the coming of Jesus, the Christ.
These four people are important to us because they help us understand what it means to believe in God and and follow the ways in which he leads. These lives are large lives, not because of anything they do, but because they “live in the largeness of God” (Peterson). God has invaded the space of their lives and that is what makes them important players in the story.
It’s a good reminder for each of us that they are not admirable because their lives are perfect and belong in some sort of museum, but because they are rooted in the reality of life – this is what it really means to be human. They show us what it means to be a man, to be a woman and not how we should live, but rather how we do live. It’s this reality that God chooses to use to work out his purpose in us and in the world.
These stories tell us a lot about God without talking about God. It’s a bit surprising to see how little specific God references there are in these books. As the stories unfold, we see that God is the source of their lives. Through them we see that if we want our lives to count, we must deal with God.
One of the great things about these characters is that in them we see that we do not have to fit into some moral box before we are admitted into the company of God. God takes us seriously right where we are, in all our imperfection. We have a place in his story and “none of us is the leading character in the story of our life” (Peterson).
The Story, the Bible, is not a moral code telling us to “Live up to this.” It is not a system of beliefs that tell us to “Think like this and you’ll live well.” The Story invites us in and says, “Live into this. This is what it’s like to be human; this is what is involved in entering and maturing as human beings.” To approach the Bible to see what we can get out of it results in a sort of “boutique spirituality,” where God is some sort of decoration or enhancement. These next few chapters will simply not allow that. God’s Upper Story is the larger context in which we find our stories dwelling.
These chapters require prayerful reading – God-listening, God-answering reading. The stories are bookended by prayers – first by Hannah and finally by David.