Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Year: 1 Sam 31; 2 Sam 1-2 for Mar 29

These chapters proceed in the bleakness of echoing bleak events, across the lines of the book and chapter division (1 Sam 31 - 2 Sam 2). Narrative history doesn't always tidy up with "the moral of this story is," even when it speaks teleologically throughout, as does 1 Samuel.

Recalling 1 Sam 28:19, "tomorrow you and your sons will be with me," and so it happened. But how? The armor-bearer, who "saw that Saul was dead" (31:5), fell on his own sword, and then Saul, wounded but not dead, encountered the Amalekite who killed him, and took his crown and bracelet (2 Sam 1:10). Then, the Philistines came and did what they did to a dead body and did not get his crown or bracelet, but only his weapons. Finally, the valiant men of Jabesh-gilead got Saul's body out from Beth-shan (1 Sam 31:9-10).

The rejection of implication from 1 Sam 28 is purposeful. The medium herself is abhorred at being misled, and her only concern is for the life of Saul. The book concludes and goes on in the next to the reaction of proper grief and justice, on David's part.

It is interesting that there is no moral summary based on Saul's failures. The only summary we get is David's lament (2 Sam 1:17-27). David calls Saul (not only Jonathan, but also Saul) "beloved and pleasant in their life" (1:23). The story makes us ask how that could have been, but David is consistent with his earlier description of his relationship to Saul, always having called him "my lord" and "my father" (1 Sam 24:10-11). What David said and did in 1 Sam 24:8-22, as well as what Saul said then, is now completely worked out.

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