God Rejects Saul: Two Versions   Leave a comment

Above: Saul Rejected as King

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XII

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1 Samuel 13:1-15a

1 Samuel 15:1-35

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[Samuel said,] “After that, you are to go down to Gilgal ahead of me, and I will come down to you to present burnt offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being.  Wait seven days until I come to you and instruct you what you are to do next.

–1 Samuel 10:8, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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The editing of different sources into a composite narrative created doublets–two versions of the same story–throughout parts of the Old Testament.  Therefore, in the composite narrative, God rejected Saul in Chapters 13 and 15–in chapter 15 as if the account from Chapter 13 had not occurred.

I will write about each version in turn.

1 Samuel 13:1-15a

Samuel the prophet was under the impression that Saul, as the King of Israel, was his subordinate.  Saul initially tried to obey the prophet’s instructions from 10:8, but Samuel was late.  The monarch cited military necessity to act in Samuel’s stead.  Samuel was not happy.

Saul was in this difficult, wartime situation because his son, Jonathan, had killed the Philistine prefect in Geba.  The crown prince apparently thought that God would grant great victory.  Saul, however, feared the superior Philistine forces.  The king may have been correct to fear them.  Anyway, he received credit for Jonathan’s deed and proceeded to lead the military campaign.

What else was Saul supposed to do at Gilgal?  He faced a superior force that had more men and better technology.  His army was about to desert.  So, he made the sacrifice.  Samuel deemed the monarch acting in the stead of the prophet improper.  Yet the army not only continued to exist but grew.

1 Samuel 13:8-15a offers the improper sacrifice version of God’s rejection of Saul.  The implication in the text is that Saul, perhaps still a reluctant monarch, lacked faith in God.

1 Samuel 15:1-35

The Amalekites were archenemies of the Jews.  They had attacked the Hebrews in Exodus 17:8-16 and Deuteronomy 25:17-18.   Saul, according to 1 Samuel 15, under a divine directive to

kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings, oxen and sheep, camels and asses,

to spare nobody, led an assault against the Amalekites.  The Israelite army did not, however, follow orders.  They spared the life of the Amalekite king (Agag), much livestock, and

all else that was of value.

Saul, complicit in this disobedience, blamed his soldiers.  The monarch refused to accept personal responsibility for his decision.  The spoils of war were supposed to be God alone.

I cannot reconcile that attitude with Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

 

Neither can I reconcile the two stories from different sources either.

There is a common theme, though.  Disobedience to God leads to dire consequences.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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