Rightly Dividing - Lesson 4

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Rightly Dividing the Old Testament Narratives

by Don Treadway, February 2000


1. What are they? Stories.

2. There are three levels.
    A. the top level. - redemption story
        1) Universal plan- creation, fall, sin, redemption, incarnation
    B. The middle level. - Israel
        1) call of Abraham, Egypt, Canaan, Sin, Judges, captivities, restoration
    C. The lower level. - individual narratives that make up the other levels

3. Implications
    A. John 5:27-29 not every short narrative
    B. Gen. 37-50 many short narratives
    C. We must see each narrative within the larger picture

4. What narratives are not.
    A. they are not just stories about people, they about what God did to and through these
    people. God is always the hero.
    B. They are not allegories filled with mysteries. We are not always told how or why.
    C. They do not always teach directly. They give us a hands on look at God work in the
    world. They are our spiritual history. II Sam 11 Bathsheba - Ex 20:14
    D. Each lower level narrative does not always have a moral all it's own.


1. An Old Testament narrative usually does not directly teach a doctrine.

2. An Old Testament narrative usually illustrates a doctrine.

3. Narratives record what happen not necessarily what should happened or what ought not have

4. What people did or did not do is not always a good example for us.

5. Most characters in the narratives are far from perfect.

6. We are not always told whether what we read is good or bad

7. All narratives are selective and incomplete.

8. Narratives may teach implicitly or explicitly.


Genesis chapter 37, 39-50

1. Who is the main character? God Gen. 39:2-5, 23, 29

2. Why does he succeed? 50:19-20

3. What did he do that we should do to receive a blessing? What moral is there for us to get
from this narrative? Nothing God can accomplishes what He wills even with a unlikely
character like Joseph


1. Ruth converted to Judaism 1:16-17

2. Boaz righteous man 2:3-13, 22, 3:10-12, 4:9-10, Lev 19:9-10

3. David 4:17-21

4. Bethlehem 2:4, 4:11-12, 4:14

5. Lord 1:6; 4:13


1. Allegorizing 

2. Decontextualizing

3. False combinations - Psa 23

4. Redefinition - Luke 6:24, 26

5. Moralizing what can we learn about handling adversity.

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