God's purposeful redundancy

Faith & Inspiration

Sometimes I have wondered why the Scriptures repeat themselves. I mean, when you think of all the incidents in history that are left out of this relatively thin volume we call the Bible, why do we find so many places where the book tells us the same thing it has already told us?

Over time, I have come to appreciate some of these repetitions I had once thought unnecessary. And because of these random instances in which I have belatedly come to “agree” with a choice of Scripture editing I formerly questioned, it makes me think that I should trust God’s wisdom in every other case of repetitiousness that I do not yet understand the purpose of.

Esther Meek, in Longing to Know,makes the profound point that we gradually come to trust God more regarding the remaining “gaps” in our understanding of Him when we increasingly see our perplexing questions answered one by one. The “hiddenness” of God is no longer a threat to us intellectually when we begin to discern patterns in His working, and choose to trust Him with the part of the pattern that we do not yet see.

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Or as Mark Twain said:

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

So this morning as I read in 1 Samuel 17 that David, the slayer of the giant Goliath, was from “Bethlehem” (verse 12), and then read the same point made again in verse 58, I did not fault the Bible for redundancy—even though we already know this information from chapter 16:1, 4. I decided that God had a purpose for hammering it home. I believe He was keen to have us see that the young man who slew the enemy of his people—who made that bold declaration of faith in 17:26, 37—is the ancestor of the greater David who would be born of the line of Judah, of the town of Bethlehem.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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