Ancient newspaper headlines

When I recently heard of a friend’s close encounter with a wild pig while out walking, I thought of how much his seven-year-old son would enjoy retelling the experience to his friends. I can imagine that with the retelling the pig will seem bigger and more scary and he will feel braver than during the actual incident.

This got me considering how the bible deals with similar stories. In a word, briefly, see passages such as 2 Kings 2:23-24, or 1 Chronicles 11:22:

He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. (2 Kings 2:23-24 ESV)

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two heroes of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. (1 Chronicles 11:22 ESV)

David’s retelling of his encounters with lions and bears in 1 Samuel 17:33-37 gets a bit more detail because he was trying to make a point to Saul about God’s deliverance (which, by the way, Saul didn’t really take onboard, 1 Samuel 13:8-14).

I have to wonder if these biblical accounts of what would have been very significant experiences to the people involved are kept brief partly to omit the natural inflation of the emotive aspects in the retelling of the stories? We are left to imagine the details, all that is recorded are the facts and how the event impacted God’s people. It’s a bit like reading ancient newspaper headlines.