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Bible Interpretation III:

David's Anointing, Stephen vs., Triplets, This People, and more

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Question #1: 

Chaire, Dr. Luginbill!

I've been reading through 1 Samuel and came up with a question for you. Do you think that David knew he was being anointed to be the king? I ask because it's not recorded that Samuel told him what his anointing was for; after all, he told Jesse that he was there to sacrifice, not to find Saul's replacement.

I think it changes the interpretation of a lot of Samuel if you assume that David did not know he was the future king. It could be why David had such confidence that God would deliver Goliath into his hand (because he would have known that God had appointed him for some great task but without the knowledge of exactly what the task was.) It also explains why David spared Saul's life because he wouldn't "put out his hand against the Lord's anointed (even though David was himself the Lord's anointed).

I guess it comes down to the definition of anointing. What is the history and context of anointing? Would David know that being anointed meant his future kingship without having been told?


Response #1:  

On your question, I'm not at all sure that an average person would have had the confidence to face the impossible "Goliath test" just because they had received a special blessing from God. They should, mind you, but I'm not at all sure that most of us actually would. That is what makes David such an amazing person, namely, his incredible faith in the Lord. After all, it was his faith that pleased the Lord and led to his anointing as king, not the other way around. I think that David would have been just as courageous without the anointing, and I think that most of us would have failed that test even with such an anointing. The issue is one of faith, and if we don't believe enough in the deliverance of the Lord to face impossible situations, then no sign or wonder, however unique, will be enough for us when push comes to shove. In my observation and experience, there is usually a real "disconnect" between the truth and our response to it. The entire human race is brought to the point of realizing there is a God, that they will die and have to stand before Him though they are sinful and will have nothing to say in response, yet the vast majority puts this truth "to death" and goes on about the business of life as if these fundamental truths were not the truth at all. Most people choose to live life as if it would never end. We believers too ought never to worry or take any of the troubles and tribulations of this life seriously. We have an inheritance in heaven in Jesus Christ our Lord that puts all this nonsense in the world so far in the shade that it ought not even be considered by comparison, and we will live forever to enjoy it, no matter what the world may do to us in this blink of an eye called life. But actually maintaining that perspective and actually living as if this truth we say we believe is really true is not so easy for most of us. David actually did, and that is what makes him so special.

The same goes for David not killing Saul. From the human point of view, if I think "I am the legitimate king", then I am probably going to be much more inclined to kill the illegitimate king, especially if it borders on something that might be construed as a sort of "self-defense". As I look to the history of the kings of Israel and Judah, that certainly seems to be the pattern there as well. David's response was unique. If he actually did know that he was to be the king (as I believe he certainly did), then refraining from killing Saul who was trying to kill him is even more amazing. It takes quite a respect for the Lord to see His will and desire instead of the person in front of you who has been dedicating all the resources of the kingdom to snuffing out your life. And it takes an overwhelming faith in the Lord to trust Him to remove this obstacle to your peace and advancement rather than taking matters into your own hands especially when everyone around you is telling you that killing him is God's will because God has just placed him in your power. Such was David's walk with the Lord! Would that we all walked that close with Jesus!

Anointing is always a sign of God's empowerment for special service, and in the days before the universal anointing of the Holy Spirit whereby all Christians are empowered to serve Jesus Christ through the proper function of their unique individual spiritual gifts, anointing by the prophet of the day was no small thing. As I recall, the only other person Samuel ever anointed was Saul. Therefore I think it very unlikely that Jesse and David's brothers were unaware of the significance of the act. However, Jesse and the boys were not David. They no doubt "reserved judgment" about David becoming king. I'll wager that they had a "wait and see" attitude at the time, and that as time went by the significance of the act diminished in their thinking (they may have even forgotten about it entirely). Saul was the king. David, well, he was just an unloved son and an annoying sibling. Who knew what "crazy old Samuel" really had in mind back then?

I think it speaks volumes about David's humility and love for the Lord over himself that we can even ask the question "did David really know that he was anointed to be king?" That is so because in everything he does afterward there is really no clue that this information affected his thinking or behavior one iota. He remains the simple person of faith he has always been, loving and trusting the Lord, waiting on the Lord's timing and deliverance, without a swelled-head or inflated sense of self-importance. Which of us if promised such great things would react the same?

And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. "Don't be afraid," he said. "My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this."
1st Samuel 23:16-17 NIV

David knew. The fact that the knowledge did not corrupt his character or blunt his faith shows much about why the Lord chose him in the first place.

After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'
Acts 13:22 NIV

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Dr. Luginbill,

I believe these numbers you have in part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series are off:

- The Age of the Gentiles (4065 - 2065 B.C.) -

6. to 2164 B.C. (Abraham's birth): retrogressing 99 years from 2065 to the birth of Abraham based upon Genesis 17:24.

7. to 2456 B.C. (the flood): retrogressing 292 years from 2164 to the great flood by adding the intervals between generations from Abraham to Shem, based upon Genesis 11:10-26.

8. to 3056 B.C. (Noah's birth): retrogressing 600 years to the birth of Noah by adding the intervals between generations from Shem to Noah, based upon Genesis 7:6 and 7:11 - 8:14.(80)

Abraham's birth in this part of Genesis appears to show he was born when his father was 70, but based on verses about his fathers death, Abraham was not the firstborn and was born much later in his father's life. If my memory serves me correctly, Abraham leaves Haran after his father's death, at the age of 75. His father lived to 205 which makes Abraham born when his father was 130? not 70. This adds 60 years to these numbers. I don't think it affects your overall point, other than putting Adam in the garden longer.

I enjoy your work, may the grace, peace, and love of Jesus abound in you. Thanks,

Response #2: 

Good to make your acquaintance. Thank you so much for your encouraging words and for your insightful email.

I fear that the "problem" is larger than this. For if we take the phraseology to which you are referring in Stephen's speech, "After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living" (Act 7:4b NIV), to mean, as this and many other translations imply, that Abraham did not leave Haran until after Terah's death, then we have what in my view is an irreconcilable contradiction between Acts and Genesis. For if Abraham waited upon Terah's death even to leave Haran, then he will have been not 75 when he left but 135 (since Genesis 11:26 puts Terah at 70 when Abraham was born) but Genesis 12:4 says he was 75. This is a noted "crux" and many have attempted to solve it by either 1) considering the language of Genesis chapter eleven not to mean what it plainly says (for one inadequate reason or another), or 2) explaining Stephen's understanding of these matters as based upon [inaccurate] later tradition. I certainly do agree with the proposition that while Stephen's speech consists of words accurately recorded by the Spirit, that does not mean everything he says is necessarily 100% accurate (after all, Acts is a historical book and the Spirit records what actually happened and what was actually said, including all manner of statements from a variety of parties, not all of which are doctrinally correct; this is a distinction many have failed to appreciate in the past).

We do not, however, have to resort to this device. We are within our exegetical rights to take Genesis at face value and to understand Stephen's phraseology in a somewhat more general sense. That is to say, I do not think that it is proper to force the [apparent] meaning here in Acts to say that Terah died before Abraham left. The Greek actually says that "later (i.e., "after his departure"), after the death of his father, [God] established him in this land ". For me, the collocation of adverbial ideas places the death at some unspecified time after the departure.

I think most interpreters assume (wrongly, in my view) that the Greek verb form metoikisen must refer to the initial move to Canaan as a singular point in time in strict sequence with "after the death of his father". While that is not impossible, it is not necessary and overlooks several other factors, notably the use of the compound conjunction/adverb k'akeithen. "And afterwards, after the death of his father" (which is a bit more faithful to the Greek) is a bit tautological if one understands a mere point of time sequence. However, it makes perfect sense if Stephen's purpose is to portray the idea of a sequence of episodes: "As time rolled on [following his departure from Haran and then] following his father's death, [God] moved him to and established him in this land". In this understanding of the passage, Stephen is heaping up the main events of Abraham's life in advancing his narrative of everything that follows. After all, there are no further specific events mentioned after metoikisen, so that in reflecting on this passage after the treatment of Abraham concludes, I believe it is much more natural to take metoikisen as summing up the entire move to Canaan after which Terah dies years later and Abraham's wandering, settling, and establishment there (i.e., his entire life there after leaving Haran). The verb metoikisen will then mean not a single point of time but a process of many years (100 years, to be precise).

The second factor to consider is that Stephen may have added the "death of his father" phrase not for chronological sequence' sake, but for another purpose. Assuming the Genesis chronology to be correct, Abraham lived exactly 40 years after Terah's death, so that in Stephen's interpretation of these events Abraham's period of [final] establishment in the land was a 40 year period. That is significant because Stephen uses the 40-year period throughout this speech (vv. 23; 30; 35; 39) to express the time of rebellion against God in the wilderness by the children of Israel: "Abraham's time of security and blessing in the land was 40 years; contrast that to the 40 years of wandering outside of the land because your ancestor's unwillingness to obey God in faith as Abraham did". No doubt actually mentioning the 40 years would have made the contrast too obvious and insulting, but the shoe was there for any who wanted to pick it up and put it on.

Thanks again for your careful eye and good words!

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob Luginbill

Question #3: 

Thank you for the quick response. I appreciated the insight and the note on the 40 years. In Gen. 11:26, it has 3 names after Terah became the father, Abraham, Nahor, and Haran. Is this intended as birth order, order of importance as I believe several other verses in Genesis switch birth order, or what? I made the assumption they are not triplets just because. I ask, because I think the same teacher who used Acts to portray Abraham's birth 60 years later said that Abraham was not the first born. I do not remember any scriptural evidence used in the teaching other than Acts and Genesis, but figured you would have an answer. Since I emailed you, I grabbed my Bible and looked the passages back up and saw in Ryrie's notes that he has Abraham born in 2165, obviously calculating Abraham's birth using the 70 years in Gen 11:26. Thank you again for the gracious response.

Response #3:  

You make another very good point. Genesis 5:32 (cf. Gen.7:13; 9:18; 10:1) lists the sons of Noah as "Shem, Ham, and Japheth"; some see this as a non-birth-order list based upon Gen.10:21, but my reading of the verse makes Shem the oldest, not Japheth (i.e., the phrase hagadhol, "the oldest", could equally apply to either one, the way the Hebrew is phrased). If I am not mistaken, Genesis 5:32 is the only other place in the Bible besides our key passage, Genesis 11:26, where a specific time is tied to the birth of more than one individual (i.e., "when Noah turned 500 he had 1/2/3"; when Terah turned 70, he had 1/2/3). Shem and Noah can be the "firstborn" even in a triplets scenario (cf. Esau and Jacob, for example). I am inclined to think that your supposition is correct and that in both cases what we have is a case of triplets being born to Noah and to Terah respectively. This is the most natural way to read the Hebrew without exegetical gymnastics. It would certainly be fitting for both the first in the Semitic line (Shem) and the first in the Jewish line (Abraham) to have been the "oldest" of triplets in similar way that the birth of twins to Rebecca has great theological significance. In all these cases, God's separating out of the line of faith will be in view.

Thanks again for your very careful eye!

In our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:  

Thanks in advance for the help: Exodus 17.4, when Moses in some bible version says these people, this people, those people. I want to know the clearest definition of the word or words before ( people). In earlier verses he would says MY PEOPLE. Why the change?

Response #4: 

On your question, the phrase in the Hebrew is in the singular: "for/to this people" (la'am hazeh; (לָעָם הַזֶּה).

As to why the versions do what they do, that is a question about the "art of translation". On the first variation, my guess would be (although you would have to ask the individual translators in each case) that "this people" is now considered archaic usage to our 21st century English ear. The word "people" in English is a collective noun. That is to say, it is a singular noun but refers to more than one person even so. For that reason we are now reluctant to say things like "this people is great!" While that is grammatically correct, most English speakers without a background in Latin or the like will think the speaker "just got off the boat". So we say instead "these people are great!" That is also grammatically correct, because in English the rule is that verbs and pronouns modifying collective nouns may agree with either the grammatical number (singular in this case) or the semantic sense (plural in this case).

I have not been able to find one, but I think a translation which rendered the Hebrew phrase "those people" instead of "this people" would be trying to bring out the exasperation Moses is feeling. "This/these" belongs to me; "that/those" belongs to someone else. Therefore by using the "far demonstrative" (i.e., "that/those") instead of the "near demonstrative" (i.e., "this/these") the translator is picking up on Moses' tone more than he/she is giving a literal rendering of the phrase. I consider it a legitimate and actually a pretty inventive translation, but I would hope the version would provide some sort of explanatory footnote of their preference here.

As to "my people", I would be very surprised to read that in any version in this verse. I have checked about a dozen of the most prominent, and cannot find it for this passage. Please let me know the version on that one, and I will do my best to try and figure out and explain what the translator is doing. If you are referring to earlier verses in Exodus, God does call them "My people" (e.g., "Let My people go"), then I would imagine it is a little like an exasperated parent talking to his/her spouse: "Do you see what your son is doing?" Similarly, Moses seems to be desirous of a little "distance" from Israel at this point.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #5: 

Dear Professor,

I'm aware I keep sending you very long and inquisitive letters and I appreciate you're a very busy person, probably guiding many. As I have already said, please not only do not feel any time pressure when responding, but feel free to put my letters on the bottom of your pile. I've been sending plenty and it doesn't look likely that no more questions will arise as a result of reading. Having finished the Peter's epistles I've got a few questions that came as result of this reading, and some related to other issues:

1. I cannot understand 2 Timothy 2:11-13, the last part, to be exact.

If we died with him,
we will also live with him; (meaning is obvious)
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him. (meaning is obvious)
If we disown him,
he will also disown us; (meaning is obvious)
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

(that's the part I cannot comprehend - so far if we did something wrong, the result would be negative - 'If we disown him...', now it seems the opposite).

Could you please clarify the 13th verse?

Response #5:  

Always good to hear from you. I am happy for your questions and especially for your spiritual growth in Jesus Christ! Thank you too for your understanding on response time --your kindness and respectful consideration are most appreciated.

1. On 2nd Timothy 2:13, Paul's words indicate that our (potential) faithlessness does not change God or God's truth. If we choose to turn away from Jesus ("if we are faithless"), that is, to apostatize, He remains the same ("he remains faithful") despite our change of heart (cf. Heb.13:8). Though He died for us, He will not and cannot "follow after us" to the point of being untrue to the truth (for He is faithful to the truth). That is because in doing so He would be "denying Himself". For it is only through faith in Jesus Christ that a person can be saved. The only sin for which He could not die was the sin of denying (or failing to receive) Himself, because He, His perfect person and His perfect work, is the Substitute for our sins. The point of this last stanza in this ancient hymn quoted by Paul is to demonstrate that while Jesus loves and loved us so much He died for us, we must nevertheless maintain our faith in Him and faithfulness to Him in order to make it safe to heaven-home. A total loss of faith and subsequent falling away on our part does not change Jesus and does not change the truth; He died so that we might live through faith in Him. To suggest or think or believe otherwise would be to assume that Jesus can essentially repudiate this truth and all He suffered to fulfill it. This verse is a stern warning to all believers not to flirt with apostasy on the deceptive grounds that since we are now saved nothing could ever happen to change that situation. Indeed, nothing can . . . unless a person casts aside the faith through which they were saved in the first place.

Question #6:  

2. I'm also unsure about how Matt 5:39 relates to the teaching that a Christian can defend himself (I read it somewhere on your website, but cannot remember where it was exactly). When can such defense (for example killing someone who's about to murder my family) be justified and why doesn't it contradict the passage from Matthew?

Response #6: 

2. The distinction has to do with mere humiliation in personal matters versus a truly life-threatening situation or where law enforcement or national defense are involved.  You can find my view of "love your neighbor" and how that relates to self-defense, law enforcement, and military action at the following links:

A biblical view of self-defense (in Christian Love etc., all of which is to some extent applicable)

Turning the Other Cheek: Christian Freedom and Responsibility

The Golden Rule

Question #7: 

3. In one of the lessons you refer to Is. 53, which describes what happened to our Lord Jesus. I cannot understand why past tense is used when prophesying about the future, though.

Response #7:  

3. The Hebrew "prophetic perfect" tense is ubiquitous in the prophets. The idea seems to be that when God prophesies it, it is as good as if it had already happened (i.e., it is an emphatic idiom). You can find examples of this and my further comments by searching for that phrase in the following files:

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations II

Antichrist and his Kingdom

Is My Son in Hosea 11:1 Israel or Jesus?

Grammar Questions.

Chronological order of the books of the Bible II

Question #8:  

4. 1st Thessalonians 4:15 ('we who are still alive') may sound as if Paul was expecting Jesus Second Coming to occur during his lifetime. I know that probably isn't, but could you explain why did Paul use such an expression?

Response #8: 

4. From a prophetic point of view, the Second Advent was "imminent" immediately upon the reception of the Holy Spirit at the first Pentecost (as Peter's quotation of Joel on that occasion indicates; see the link in CT 1: "Because the Time is Near"). In terms of prophecy, we find ourselves in the "last days", the last two days to be precise (i.e., the two millennial days of the Church Age, the last two days of human history before Christ's return and millennial reign, and the end of history itself thereafter). On the one hand, we do have scriptural means of establishing with a fair degree of accuracy, I would say, when the Tribulation and the end times will commence; on the other hand, scripture is replete with warnings and other such stipulations that encourage Christian alertness and the perspective that we are on the cusp of Jesus' return. For it is that return, that "blessed hope", for which we all so breathlessly wait (Tit.2:13). And, after all, we know that with God, "a thousand years is like a single day" (Ps.90:4; 2Pet.3:7-13). See also the following link: Biblical Chronology of the End Times

Question #9: 

5. A substantial part of the last lesson of Peter's series deals with the issue of pre-tribulation rapture. I understand that such a view among some Christians became a problem you found important do address, but I honestly cannot work out how could somebody come up with a conclusion that rapture is to occur before the Great Tribulation using 1st Thessalonians 4:15 as evidence? I know it's a strange question, asking about the origins of a false doctrine, but I just wanted to become more familiar with this problem, which is new to me. Could it have originated because of the interpretation of Paul's words according to which the coming of Jesus would occur during apostle's life, which wouldn't be the 2nd Advent yet (that's the only thing that comes to my mind, but it ignores the content of the 2nd Thessalonians, where 2nd chapter quite clearly talks about Tribulation coming before 2nd Advent)?

Response #9:  

5. The best link on this are "No Rapture", and "The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory". There it is explained that most serious scholars trace the origin of the theory to the 19th century. That was a time when evangelicals were at last waking up to the importance of prophecy and eschatology in scripture (something that has yet to happen for most of the traditional denominations). Many new ideas were advanced as serious Christians began finally taking seriously the literal meaning of prophetic scriptures and doctrines which had been largely ignored by the Church since the days of Irenaeus. The pre-trib rapture theory, as you rightly point out, is one which I often suggest would never be postulated by an average Christian reading his or her Bible today. For some reason, however, when Darby did proffer it, it gained great momentum early on and eventually won its way into "mainline" evangelical doctrine. As I say, it is more than a minor problem, especially since we are now getting so close to the end.

Question #10:  

6. I had a look at Part 4: Satan's World System and I wanted to ask whether your perception of technology and economy is that there are tools that don't hold any moral value by themselves, but may become a problem, as people tend overestimate their meaning and replace God with them, attributing His omnipotence to human or would you say there is any evil inherent in the technology itself? I have always been an advocate of the former view, and not only with regard to technology, but all material world, but in your writings you seem to recommend so much caution when dealing with these concepts, that I just wanted to know whether you perceive them as a threat no matter what use they are put to.

Response #10: 

6. Technological means are merely tools; what is important, however, is our attitude towards them. For example, if there were no rational way to heal a particular ailment, we who believe would probably have no trouble trusting to God alone for deliverance. Since there is most likely going to be some modern medical therapy for almost any disease or condition we contract nowadays, it is certainly not in any way against God to avail ourselves of rational means. However, if, on the other hand, the possibility of a human solution causes us to put our trust in that means rather than in God, we have made a very bad bargain indeed. And that is certainly the tendency and the temptation when it comes to any sort of external agency. If David had trusted in his slingshot and his skill in using it, he may have slain Goliath anyway, but he would not really have won such a great spiritual victory. I would say that as long as making use of material means is done without sin, without compromise of personal principles, and in complete faith in God as the ultimate Provider of whatever we are using, then such use is likely to be legitimate. Many things like the internet can be used for evil as well as for good. That fact alone should not deter us from using what God has provided to accomplish the mission He has given us here on earth. What we want to do is avoid becoming virtual slaves to the means we use to such a degree that we are willing to abandon our principles and compromise our faith in making use of them.

Question #11: 

7. As I mentioned at the start of this letter, I'm going though a stage of reestablishing the foundations of my faith. I again want to express my gratitude for your work, as your resources have added so much dynamism to my spiritual life, and hopefully progression. Your knowledge has been truly inspirational and I pray that the Holy Spirit keeps guiding you. The more I read, the more I want to read and the more I understand the more things I see which I need to understand. This has resulted in me ceasing to identify myself with RC church, but resulted in the problem of interpreting Luke 22:19. Eucharist has so far been the domain of the church I attended and the masses and now that I recently stopped attending them, I don't know what to do with it. Since leaving RC church I have not found any other group or church and I must say it doesn't seems likely that will happen any time soon, so how should a person like myself celebrate Eucharist?

In Christ,

Response #11:  

7. The operative phrase in Luke 22:19 is "in remembrance of Me". The purpose of communion is not to bestow some sort of "magic grace" but to remind us and to proclaim to the world that Jesus gave up everything for us, and that we are saved through faith in Him. Eating and drinking are pictures of non-meritorious, simple faith. We eat the bread (we simply believe in His Person, His true humanity and deity, His "body"), we drink the wine or whatever we are drinking (we simply believe in His perfect work, His "blood" shed for us, that is, His spiritual death on our behalf). Remembering Jesus is the goal and the point of the exercise, not conforming to traditional notions of how we are to do so (failing to "get" this point is certainly not something limited to the R.C. church). Please see the links for where this is developed in more detail:

The Communion Ceremony outside of the Local Church

The Meaning of the Communion Ceremony

Communion and the Blood of Christ

I hope I have at least given you a place to start on these things. As always, please feel free to write me back about any of this. That goes for new questions too!

Your partner in the truth of Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

Hello, Dr. Luginbill,

I found your chronological listing of Bible books online, and was impressed with your scholarship. I have mentioned to my students that recent studies in dating the Scriptures is becoming more sensitive to the absence of any mention of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 - certainly in light of the author of Hebrews' description of the contemporary practice of the priests at the temple.

Looking a little more personally into your identity as "Author" of this site, and then at your Vita, I noted your name.

May I ask if you are from Illinois?

I have a cousin who was married to a Bob Luginbill from Illinois.

I certainly hope you don't mind this 'intrusion'; I am curious as to your background as well as impressed with your scholarly work.


Response #12: 

Good to make your acquaintance. I did grow up in Chicago, but genealogically speaking that is an anomaly. In the parts of Switzerland around the town of Bern, the name Luginbill (and its many alternative spellings) is about as common as Smith and Jones in this country. There are two main branches of U.S. Luginbills, one from the New Bern, Indiana colony, and one from the Pandora, Ohio colony. The Indiana branch is much bigger, and most U.S. Luginbills come from that stock. There is a very large group of Luginbills in California who originated from the Indiana colony. The Ohio group has tended to stay put to a greater degree (this is the branch my family comes from).

Thanks for your good words about the website, and for your very helpful observation about the book of Hebrews demonstrating that the New Testament pre-dates the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.

Yours in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob Luginbill


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