What is Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics?

August 25, 2023

How do we interpret the account of David and Goliath? Is it only information about the history of Israel? Is it just a picture of how God was gracious to David? Is it merely meant to stir up bravery for the underdog in us all? No. It is first and foremost a historical demonstration of a shepherd-king who delivers a deathblow to a worldly champion threatening the people of God, a mortal wound promised in Genesis 3:15 and now blossoming in this picture of David. This story points to Christ—the true shepherd-king—who delivers the final deathblow to the prince of this world. It is Christ who disarms the rulers and authorities of this age (Col 2). It is Christ to whom David looked forward (Acts 2:31). And it is only by faith in Christ that David did these things (Heb 11:33). The account of David and Goliath bears witness to Jesus Christ.

The Bible does not gradually become a Christian document from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The Bible is not two different plans for two different peoples of God (i.e., Jews and Christians). The Bible is not a reimagined myth dreamed up around the life of Christ. Redemptive-historical hermeneutics recognizes that the Bible throughout is Christian Scripture. All of Scripture, whether it is in the Old or New Testament, not only points to but also reveals and applies Jesus Christ. Just as the full tree is present in the acorn, so also is the gospel present in the Old Testament in embryonic form. Without this assumption, our understanding of any text in any part of the canon will be, at root, a misunderstanding (2 Cor 2:14).

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