One of my favorite movies is “Shall We Dance” with Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and Jennifer Lopez. Susan Sarandon’s character, Beverly Clark, is concerned about her husband. She thinks he might be having an affair and hires a private investigator. The private investigator is skeptical and is not a big believer in marriage. When he sits with Beverly to discuss his findings, she asks him why he thinks people get married. He immediately responds, “Passion.” Beverly shakes her head and replies,
“Because we need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.”
When reading 1 Chronicles this week, there is a lot that can easily be skimmed over. “Judah’s family: Er, Onan, and Shelah…. Perez’s family: Hezron and Hamuel,” etc. Why are they in scripture? Is it necessary to list the generations of Judah’s line?
I think it is especially important.
Just like Beverly Clark said that we need witnesses to our lives, hundreds of years ago, people felt the same way. They wanted to be remembered. I look at these lists of names and in 1 Chronicles chapter two we even see side notes such as, “Carmi’s family: Achar, who made trouble for Israel by disobeying the law dedicating war spoils to God.” There are specific comments in scripture that give us specifics about the family. “The family of Jada, Shammai’s brother: Jether and Jonathan, but Jether died without children…. These were Caleb’s descendants.” All these examples are recorded because the people wanted the world to know they were here and that they mattered, even if there was something questionable in their life.
Next time you read a passage that is comprised of name after name, take a moment to read each name with purpose. We can still be a witness to the lives of those who are gone. Every time their names are read, we give thanks for their lives.