So is that it? Just one long sorry tale? Well not quite. Because there’s another Old Testament story – which surfaces through the history books and bubbles up through the crowning of kings and taking of land but isn’t really the subject of them.
It’s the story of faith kindled and sustained in the lives of individual people. It’s the story of moments and responses. It’s the cry of Hagar the outsider. It’s the bravery of life-saving midwives named Shiprah and Puah. It’s the steadiness of an unimportant woman called Ruth.
It’s the perseverance of Samuel in searching for the right person to anoint as king. It’s the wisdom of a humble leader called Abigail. It’s the courage of Nathan to confront David. It’s the repentance of David and the prayer of Solomon, even though these were just moments in time, long forgotten, it seems, just a few years later. It’s the spirit of Elijah, the passion of Amos, the tenderness of Hosea, the tears of Jeremiah, the insight of Isaiah, the vision of Nehemiah.
This is the thin line running through the Hebrew Bible – the story of faith. And this is the line of which we are inheritors – we who continue to live by faith today. Numerous as grains of sand on the seashore.