Dale Ralph Davis has written a number of helpful Old Testament commentaries. Recently I came across a review of his book The Word Became Fresh: How To Preach From Old Testament Narrative Texts. There’s a lot of helpful stuff there too. Chapter 3 deals with how to draw theology out of OT narratives. He comes to the “biblical soap opera” in Genesis 29:31-30:24, you know, the one involving Leah, Jacob, Rachel, mandrakes, etc. Here’s how Davis concludes:
Who would’ve ever guessed that a bizarre soap opera would proclaim the faithfulness of God? But that is clearly the case when you see Genesis 29-30 backed up against the people-promise of Genesis 12; that is, as you are meant to see it. And instead of moaning about family breakdown you will proclaim the faithfulness of God from this text. The chemistry of divine providence takes the sludge and crud and confusion of our doings and makes it the soil that produces the fruit of his faithfulness. Don’t ever be shocked at the human slop God will throw into his compost to serve his faithfulness. Aren’t there some of us who look back on a slice of life full of our own rage and stupidity and lusts and yet see now that God was there in all that gunk in quiet faithfulness? Which brings us to the place where all proper hermeneutics should leave us: the adoration of God. (41)
Read your review of Janssen with much appreciation in the most recent issue of WTJ.