What an Obscure Old Testament Figure Reveals about Us Gentiles

There's more to the story of Obed-Edom.
What an Obscure Old Testament Figure Reveals about Us Gentiles
Image: James Steidl / Shutterstock

The Old Testament features stories of diverse characters whose lives represent God’s people: Rahab, the pagan prostitute who trusted the Lord and was saved. Ruth, the immigrant with no inheritance who was redeemed by a distant relative and became part of the royal family. Mephibosheth, the “dead dog” from the wrong clan, crippled in both feet, shameful, yet loved on account of someone else and invited to eat at the king’s table forever. Gomer, the serial adulteress whose husband bought her back from slavery. Joshua, the high priest whose filthy garments were replaced with fresh, clean ones.

With this list of characters, it’s no wonder we overlook Obed-Edom. His obscure name is a compound of two other names—Obed, David’s grandfather, and Edom, Esau’s nickname. No doubt, many of us would have to Google him to figure out who he was. Yet he beautifully illustrates what has happened to us—especially us Gentiles—through Jesus.

We first come across him in 2 Samuel 6, after one of the strangest stories in the Bible. Uzzah, a Levite, has just been struck dead for touching the ark of the covenant (which was forbidden) and carrying it on a cart (also forbidden). David is terrified. Like a man who has recently discovered he has acquired nuclear waste, he decides that he cannot keep the ark around. So he leaves it in the care of Obed-Edom. It stays there for three months, during which time “the Lord blessed him and his entire household” (v. 11).

So far, the story is remarkable. Obed-Edom is a Gittite. He’s from Gath, not Israel. He’s a Philistine, belonging to the nation that has, for generations, been a thorn in the side of God’s people. Yet because ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Spirited Life
Spirited Life is a collision between biblical reflection and charismatic practice, aiming to make people happier in God.
Andrew Wilson
Andrew Wilson is teaching pastor at King's Church London and author most recently of The Life We Never Expected (Crossway). Follow him on Twitter @AJWTheology.
Previous Spirited Life Columns:
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Christianity Today
What an Obscure Old Testament Figure Reveals about Us Gentiles
hide this
April April

Member-Only Access

This article is from the April 2016 print issue. Subscribe to continue reading.