Monday, March 28, 2011

New Year: 1 Sam 13-15 for Mar 23

What we had forebodings about back at 1 Samuel 8:7 about Israel's rejection of God as king over them, turns out one way (15:26) rather than another (13:13) for Saul.

Saul was responsible, not for the Israelite choice of having a kingship, but for other specific choices as king: in 13:9, his impatience toward Samuel was not just about disregard of Samuel's priestly role in matters of the guidance of a theocratic state during war (13:9; cf. 10:8), but about God Himself's guiding role. Kingship -- being at "top" -- still has the obligation attached to it, concerning God: to be a "man after His own heart" (13:14).

The theme of God appointing things way before they actually transpire continues, in 13:14. Indeed, these chapters vindicate that idea, in showing how Saul's character shows itself. If we castigate Samuel for over-reacting in 13:13, we see Saul's autocracy playing itself so large in 14:43-44 that the whole nation rejects it.

The portrayal of Saul is a complex portrayal: what is his attempt to use the ark in 14:18-19? What is his attempt to counsel the people in 14:34? The altar in 14:35? His following the priest's advice in 14:36? We already are pre-informed by Samuel that Saul's kingship will not continue. But Saul's story is not over yet, for many chapters. Here, these choices on Saul's part are contributory.

The narrative is giving us the events in which his choices work themselves out. They seem strangely worked out, almost star-crossed: Saul is trying to found out a sin (14:38), because God doesn't answer him (14:37). So he uses a lot to determine it, and Saul vows to kill the sinner, whoever it is, and when the lot (correctly) finds a sin in Jonathan -- unknowing (14:27) disobedience to a battle order -- Saul is stuck by the requirement of his vow, the people rescue Jonathan, by a ransom.

Yet all is not bleak for Saul (14:48). It is a complex portrayal.

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