The role of a preacher: afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted


1 Samuel

1 Samuel 3 is a great passage to teach the role of a preacher in delivering God’s word. For many there is an excitement in delivering words of judgment, condemnation, etc., while for others they bask exclusively in the love and comfort of God. Good, engaging, biblically accurate preaching exudes the same tension that is found in the Scriptures: afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicting. Dale Ralph Davis has a quote I found most helpful in describing the tension in delivering God’s word that I wanted to pass on.

There is always this tension in the word of God, and any authentic messenger of that word knows and lives in it. If a preacher, for example, never places you under the criticism of God’s word, never tells you your sin but only smothers you with comfort, you must wonder if he is phony. If his preaching contains only the judgment note and seldom offers comfort and encouragement, one must ask if actually cares for God’s people. If one has a high regard both for the truth of God (even if it’s judgment) and for the troubles of the church, he will retain the proper tension in the biblical word; he will both afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted (47).

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