Preacher, Use Your Imagination
The chapter heading in my Bible tells me Psalm 18 was written after God delivered David from his enemy, Saul (2 Samuel 21). It was a dramatic deliverance, to be sure. It had been a long time coming. A jealous rage came over Saul due to the whole Goliath ordeal and never stopped (you have to go all the way back to 1 Samuel 17). David, as anyone would be, was grateful and full of praise to the Father for it all to finally be over.
If you read Psalm 18, however (along with its very similar counterpart in 2 Samuel 22), you will note David obviously took some liberties. David lets us know how he imagined God rescuing him:
“I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice. . .” (v.6)
“The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because He was angry. Smoke rose from His nostrils; consuming fire came from His mouth, burning coals blazed out of it.” (vs. 7-8)
“He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under His feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; He soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness His covering, HIs canopy around Him – the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of HIs presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning.” (vs. 9-12)
“He shot His arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning He routed them. . . The foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, LORD, at the blast of breath from Your nostrils.” (vs. 14-15)
Did YOU read that in 2 Samuel? I didn’t. I read a dramatic story, but not THAT dramatic! David’s imagination is Disney-like in how he pictured God delivering him from Saul. David obviously allowed his mind to run free, imagining how God worked on his behalf.
Preacher, when was the last time you helped your congregation imagine with you how God acts? When was the last time you helped them be struck with the greatness of God with word pictures?
I realize we have to be careful here. I get it. What David wrote is Scripture, after all. His words were divinely inspired by the very Spirit of God. Our imaginations are flawed. Again, I get it.
However. . .
I wonder if sometimes we preachers get TOO conservative for fear of misrepresenting God (a good fear) and end up boring our people to death?
I wonder if we don’t let our imaginations run free and dream and think and wonder how God does do things?
It’s not gonna hurt to preface something with, “Now I know this is just my imagination, but I wonder if God was like . . . .” before we help them dream with us, is it? In other words, I am not suggesting we add to Scripture – not in the least. But I am suggesting that I think it is okay if we let our biblically informed imaginations run free to help bring God, and His Word, to life for our people.
Preacher, be like David. Use your imagination. You aren’t rewriting or adding to Scripture. But you are using the Spirit-given presence that abides in you to help God’s people understand the Scriptures. Help your people to imagine. Help your people to wonder. Take some biblically informed liberties with the text. Tell them it is your imagination. Encourage them to let the unfiltered Word be what speaks. But help them in their wonder. Help them in their awe. Help them imagine with you what an absolutely fascinating, “take-your-breath-away” God we have.