For context, the sermon is located here: https://whiteplains.church/messages/godliness-with-contentment
In the sermon on November 12, 2023, the story of David and Goliath was used to illustrate the different ways pastors will preach a text and how Christians interpret a text from the Bible. There were three terms that were used to describe how we do this. When we read or study the Bible, we either exegete, eisegete, or narcigete the text. In reality, we probably do more than one of these at the same time.
We should attempt in our Bible study to exegete the text, to find or pull out the Bible’s intended original meaning. We often use other passages to help interpret the Bible. That is what Paul is telling Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:2b-4a, “Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.” When we approach the Bible, we come to it to learn from it and apply it to our lives.
Many times, we come to the Bible with what we have been told it says without verifying the truthfulness of what was said, or we bring our own understanding of how we think the Bible should be interpreted. Phrases like, “to me” or “I think” are often used when we eisegete the text. This is a normal way of reading the Bible. We should know we do this, so that when we come to a passage, we don’t miss its original intended meaning because we have already given it a meaning. It is possible to come to a text and discover its original intended meaning is the meaning we have already understood it to be. In reality, this is good and proof of excellent Bible study in the past.
This sets us up for the question about how to read the Bible for application and not insert ourselves into the story as the hero. The act of narcigeting a text is putting yourself in the story of the Bible as the hero. In the sermon, the Biblical story of David and Goliath was used to give an example of how to exegete a text instead of narcigeting the text. The story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) is about God saving His people. God is the main character, and He is working through David (pointing us to Jesus) to defeat the enemies of God (the Philistines, and Goliath), delivering the people of God (Israel).
Look at what David says to Philistine, “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” (1 Samuel 17:45-46, ESV.) David is saying that the LORD will deliver. God is the One at work against the people who have defied God. God is using David (pointing us to Jesus) to deliver or save the people of Israel. Here are the rest of David’s words to the Philistine, “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Samuel 17:46-47, ESV.) What happens with David’s defeat over Goliath will be evangelistic (The earth may know that there is a God in Israel), and it will build up and encourage the people of God (this assembly may know that the LORD saves). This is exegeting the text. This is what Paul is telling Timothy to do when he teaches according to 1 Timothy 6:2b-4.
A popular way some preachers teach this text is to call their hearers to insert themselves into the story as David and sling their “stones of faith” at the “giants” in their life. These “giants” take the form of debt, bad relationships, no money, and so on. The call of this type of preacher is to increase your work, to have more faith, to do something that other than what Christ has already done. At its core, it is a call to work instead of trust or rest in Jesus. You sling the stone at your giant. This teaching doesn’t have Jesus at the center. It places the hearer at the center. The object of faith can dangerously become the hearers’ ability to increase their faith and defeat those giants without the work of Jesus. This type of preaching is highly motivational because it is attempting to give the hearer power instead of resting in the power of Christ.
If we have the wrong meaning, we can get the wrong application. The right meaning comes when we exegete the text. We can apply the text of David and Goliath to our lives by resting in Christ for our salvation. Trust Christ to continue to be with us as we grow in Christ. Trust that God is faithful to His promise to us, that He will be with us, even as we face difficult circumstances or impossible odds. God is able; trust Him. Your ability, no matter how great, will always be less than God’s ability. You don’t need to pick up a stone, because Christ has already won.
Our response to difficult situations is faith expressed through prayer. I will close with this passage from Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7, ESV.)