Fantastic jump into a pool of muddy water Peter! It seems as though many preaching practitioners prefer the easy way out when it comes to communicating the Old Testament through homily. Short-cuts of allegorizing, spiritualizing, exhortation to imitate characters, moralizing or, with OT texts, jumping to Jesus is common and simultaneously disastrous. Your tips are a wonderful beginning point. They are helpful in assisting the preacher to think bigger and better!
Here is another tip that relates to preaching OT narrative and other biblical genres as well. Sidney Greidanus gives voice to this tip in his book, The Modern Preacher and The Ancient Text. In it, he introduces a theocentric versus anthropocentric hermeneutic for homiletics. Though this is nothing new, and has certainly been addressed in homiletic/literary circles before by Ryken, Von Rad and the like, the central idea is fundamental to consider when preaching OT narrative.
According to Greidanus, God is the central character and not any other – Saul, David, Elijah, Nehemiah are all secondary. More than this, Greidanus argues that narrative (to be clear, all of Scripture) is making a theocentric point not an anthropocentric point. Now, I am not convinced that this is the case all of the time, in every pericope of Scripture. However, it is fodder for thought.
When considering the point of narrative, it is not enough to simply consider the characters. It is not enough to consider plot – background, inciting incident, rising action, climax and denouement. All of these aspects of narrative are necessary to interpretation, however, without consideration of God, his role, interaction, characterization, etc. narrative becomes nothing more than human-driven moralizing. Certainly, we hold Scripture to a higher standard than this. It is why we refer to Scripture as Revelation, not Humanities 101.
So, enough pontificating in my first post! Here is a summary:
– When working at preaching an OT narrative, do not forget to consider God.
– Ask, what is being said about God?
– Think about how the narrative and its characters depict God.
– Wrestle with how the points being made about God within the narrative contour and give shape to what the secondary characters value and how they live.
– Finally, being that we are all characters similar to Saul, David, Elijah and Nehemiah – a part of the same biblical story, how do we relate to this God?