Character Studies


Another year is behind us, along with the ups and downs that we have experienced. May the year 2015 be a year of rich time in the Scriptures as we live our lives in a broken world.

Recently I was reminded by a friend about a type of Bible study we had in our ministry in Lebanon before we left for Egypt in 1975. We did character studies on most of the major figures in the Bible. She reminded me of those days and that doing the character studies gave her a lifelong love for the Old Testament.  

The questions we tried to address included: 

1. What were her strengths?

2. What were his weaknesses?

3. What choices and decisions did she make and what were the consequences?

4. What was his view of God?

5. How would you describe her relationship with God?  

6. What do I learn about God as I study this Bible character? 

7. What were his convictions?

8. What applications can I draw from this study to my life?

Because of the abundance of Biblical texts on David's life and because of the many Psalms he wrote, we know a great deal about him. When I studied his life, it was edifying to identify his strengths and his weaknesses. But I was surprised when I realized that the most damaging consequences of his choices were not the result of his adultery with Bathsheba, the cover-up that followed, nor the murder of Bathsheba's husband…which is what most everyone thinks of when they think of David’s greatest sin(s). It was something else that occurred as a result of his sins of pride and abuse of power. In 2 Samuel 24, David's sins resulted in the deaths of 70,000 people.

Now as I think of these eight questions, I realize one huge question is missing. 

9. How is the redemption story woven through this person's story? How is this character's life a reflection or a contrast to Christ's life? 

Applying question #9 to the study of the life of David, we only scratch the surface as we learn: 

  • David started out as a shepherd and reflected Christ the Shepherd.

  • Jesus is referred to as the son of David seventeen times in the New Testament. What is the significance of that?

  • David was a type of Christ and a pale reflection of the King Jesus.

  • David committed huge sins, but Christ lived a sinless life – day in and day out – every day of his life on earth.

  • David died in his old age as his body wasted away while Christ was crucified at age 33, rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Along with God the Father, Jesus is in full control of the universe and of our globe. 

  • Unlike David, King Jesus will return and judge the world. 

Although this is an oversimplification and yet there is a great deal of truth in it: “The Old Testament is Jesus predicted; the Gospels are Jesus revealed; Acts is Jesus preached; the Epistles, Jesus explained; and the Revelation, Jesus expected. He is the climax as well as the substance and center of the whole. In him all God's promises are yes and amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20) (Motyer, Alec. Look to the Rock. page 22).

A friend who read this blog before it got posted has decided to start the year with a character study. As you start a new year, perhaps doing a character study in the Scriptures might be an enjoyable and refreshing venture.

Dr. Nabeel Jabbour