"Often does hatred hurt itself!" page 243
Does that mean anything to anybody? Well, it sounds like it maybe could have come from Proverbs, or it's just a truism.
What if I were to tell you that it was said in the middle of a story where a good character and a bad character had been in conflict, and the bad character made some choices that would have painful ramifications in the long run?
What if I were to tell you that this was Gandalf's account of Saruman's fall in the 2nd of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings trilogy. When Gandalf says, "Often does hatred hurt itself," he's telling his comrades of the way that Saruman refused to return to the good side; even though he saw that his own future was dismal, he clung to his hopes of "glory" in the evil empire he had worked to build.
Oh, that makes more sense.
But it doesn't make sense entirely until you know who Gandalf is, who Saruman is, who Bilbo Baggins is - the funny little hobbit who found the ring that started the whole chain of events that go through four books. And you're never quite comfortable with the story until the last page of the last book.
I want to use this illustration in a few weeks when I teach kids why it is so important to read Scripture covenantally. That means that we read Scripture in light of our relationship to God (as he has defined it), but it also means that we read every part of Scripture in light of the whole story. Yeah, a verse here or there can sort of make sense as a stand alone. And the more of the story we know, the more meaningful it is. But we don't understand what it's really about (whether we're looking at Proverbs, Psalms, the laws, or stories like David & Goliath) until we consider that story in light of the whole, just like we didn't really understand the quote at the beginning of this post until we saw how it figures into the victorious ending of The Return of the King.
I don't know -- what do you think? I think the illustration is good, if I can just phrase it right.