Last night, HISTORY's The Bible miniseries, the No. 1 show of 2013, aired its third and fourth episodes, "Homeland" and "Kingdom". After a record-breaking first week, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's TV drama dove into the stories of some of the most iconic biblical figures of all time.
In "Homeland", Joshua and his army walks around the fortified city of Jericho, watching it crumble as the Lord gives them the last obstacle to securing their Promised Land. But, as the Bible says, the enemies of Israel surround them. A 'judge' by the name of Samson is sent to drive these forces out of the land, to protect God's people. But, he is distracted by Philistine women, one of whom is named Delilah. She is the one the Bible says betrays him (Judges 16).
15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.
17 So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. (NIV)
In Samson's story, we see that even in weakness, God can make us strong again. Samson's calling to destroy his people's oppressors is still accomplished with faith and trust in the Lord.
The story continues with the aging prophet Samuel arguing with the people. They want a king to unify them so they can defeat their enemies. They want an earthly king instead of relying on their Heavenly king, so God, through Samuel, anoints Saul as the first king of Israel.
When King Saul and his armies are confronted by the Philistine warrior Goliath, they quake in fear. It is a young shepherd boy named David, the one anointed by Samuel to become the next king, who slays the giant (1 Samuel 17).
This episode of The Bible changes how Samuel came upon David, one assumes for time sake. But, the timing of Psalm 23 (as seen in the following clip) is dramatically perfect. Young David wrote many beautiful psalms, praising God. Perhaps this is not when these lines were written, but it shows a young boy's incredible faith and trust in God in the face of a great enemy.
A major theme in the second episode, "Kingdom", is that God is interested in our hearts. King Saul claims to be God's servant, but he disobeys the Lord's commands. In an argument with King Saul, Samuel chides him for his pride.
"A king is never above his God!" - Samuel, The Bible
King Saul's lust for power rules his heart. Paranoid, he becomes obsessed with killing David, whom he thinks is out to take his throne. After Saul and his son Jonathan die, David does become king. And though his heart is also sinful, clearly seen in the sins he commits during his affair with Bathsheba, David seeks to please God.
This miniseries, in some instances, does take dramatic license. But at the end of the day, it is a television show. What's encouraging is that it's one that is showing a nationwide audience God's Word. It's making these stories about real people from our history relevant again. Burnett and Downey haven't watered down the message. And though last night's episodes were violent, this show is presenting a sometimes gruesome story in a way that older children and adults can handle it.
Thankfully, The Bible miniseries isn't a TV version of the felt, flannel board stories some of us remember from Sunday School. As we saw last night, David was a real man. He was flawed. Because of his lust, he killed a good friend. But, in repentance, David was forgiven and blessed by God. That is a life-changing story. One I'm glad to see on television.