Learning from History
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him. Romans 4:23
suggested further reading: Hebrews 4
This passage reminds us of our duty to seek to profit from the examples recorded in Scripture. Heathens have said that history is the teacher of what life ought to be, but since that history has been handed down by them, no one can derive sound instruction from it. Scripture alone justly makes this claim. For in the first place, it prescribes general rules by which we may test all other history so as to render it serviceable to us. Second, it clearly points out what things we are to follow and what we are to avoid. But as to the special truth that it teaches, it possesses the peculiarity of clearly revealing the providence of God, his justice and goodness toward his own people, and his judgments on the wicked.
If we would make the right and proper use of sacred histories, we must remember to use them by drawing sound doctrine from them. In some parts they instruct us how to form our life; in others, how to strengthen faith; and in still others, how we are to be stirred up to serve the Lord. In forming our life, the example of the saints may be useful, for we may learn from them sobriety, chastity, love, patience, moderation, contempt of the world, and other virtues. What may serve to confirm faith is the help that God gave these saints, the protection that brought them comfort in adversity, and the paternal care that God always exercised over them.
The judgments of God and the punishments inflicted on the wicked will also help us, provided they fill us with the fear that imbues our hearts with reverence and devotion.
for meditation: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The biblical narratives are not there simply for our information; they are meant for our instruction. That is, let us not simply learn about the heroes of faith, but also learn from them.