Archive for the ‘1 Samuel 20’ Category

Judah’s History of Sin: The Not-Safe-For-Work Version   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Ezekiel

Image in the Public Domain

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READING EZEKIEL, PART IX

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Ezekiel 16:1-63

Ezekiel 20:1-44

Ezekiel 23:1-49

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This project of reading the Book of Ezekiel is part of a larger project of reading the Hebrew prophetic books, roughly in chronological order.  I know already, based on this larger project alone, that the Hebrew prophetic books are repetitive.  For example, idolatry is, metaphorically, sexual–prostitution and/or adultery.  This metaphorical prostitution is, functionally, pagan temple prostitution, common in the ancient Near East into New Testament times (from Genesis 38:15 to 1 Corinthians 6:15f).  Also, much of the language of this sexual metaphor is Not Safe for Work (NSFW) and replete with shaming.

The Bible is not G-rated.

Ezekiel 16 is not G-rated.  It uses the marital metaphor, also present in Isaiah 8:5-8; Isaiah 49-54; Isaiah 66:7-14; Jeremiah 2-3; Hosea 1-3; Zephaniah 3:14-20.

Robert Alter provides perhaps the most memorable synopsis of Ezekiel 16:

Among the themes of Ezekiel’s prophecies, the most striking expression of neurosis is his troubled relation to the female body.  Real and symbolic bodies become entangled with each other.  In biblical poetry, a nation, and Israel in particular, is quite often represented as a woman.  God’s covenant with Israel–see Jeremiah 1–is imagined as a marriage, and so the bride Israel’s dalliance with pagan gods is figured as adultery or whoring.  This is a common trope in biblical literature, but the way Ezekiel articulates it is both startling and unsettling.

The most vivid instance of this psychological twist in Ezekiel is the extended allegory of whoring Israel in chapter 16.  The allegory here follows the birth of the nation in Canaan–represented with stark physicality in the image of the infant girl naked and wallowing in the blood of afterbirth, then looked after by a solicitous God–to her sexual maturity and her betrayal of God through idolatry.  The focus throughout is on Israel as a female sexual body.  Thus, the prophet notes (as does no other biblical writer) the ripening of the breasts and the sprouting of pubic hair.  The mature personification of the nation is a beautiful woman, her beauty enhanced by the splendid attire God gives her (this is probably a reference to national grandeur and to the Temple).  Yet, insatiably lascivious, she uses her charms to entice strangers to her bed:  “you spilled out your whoring” (given the verb used and the unusual form of the noun, this could be a reference to vaginal secretions) “upon every passerby.”  Israel as a woman is even accused of harboring a special fondness for large phalluses:  “you played the whore with the Egyptians, your big-membered neighbors.”  She is, the prophet says, a whore who asks for no payment for her services.  “You befouled your beauty,” he inveighs, “and spread your legs for every passerby.”  All this concern with female promiscuity is correlative with Ezekiel’s general preoccupation with purity and impurity.

It is of course possible to link each of these sexual details with the allegory of an idolatrous nation betraying its faith.  But such explicitness and such vehemence about sex are unique in the Bible.  The compelling inference is that this was a prophet morbidly fixated on the female body and seething with fervid misogyny.  What happens in the prophecy in chapter 16 is that the metaphor of the lubricious woman takes over the foreground, virtually displacing the allegorical referent.  Ezekiel clearly was not a stable person.

The Hebrew Bible:  A Translation with Commentary, Volume 2, Prophets (2019), 1051

Corinne L. Carvalho comments:

In Israel, spouses were not equal partners; women were legally and socially subservient to their husbands.  Betrothal and marriage were contractual arrangements by which a woman became the exclusive “property” of her husband, even before the actual marriage.  In practical terms, this meant that her husband was her sole sexual partner from the moment of betrothal.  Since men could have more than one wife, adultery occurred only when it involved a married woman; it was a crime, punishable by death, against the sole property rights of a wronged husband (Lev 18:20; 20:10; Deut 22:22).

Ezekiel 16 plays on these elements of marriage.  God is the one who owns Jerusalem, and Jerusalem owes him her exclusive allegiance and fidelity.  Anything less gives him the legal right to punish her.  Ezekiel 16 uses hyperbole and inflammatory rhetoric to achieve a shocking literary effect.  Here, the author utilizes a common metaphor, the city as God’s wife, in ways that border on pornography.  (Modern translations tone down the sexually explicit language of the Hebrew texts.)  It is an image to provoke a response.

–in Daniel Durken, ed., The New Collegeville Bible Commentary:  Old Testament (2015), 1431

Ezekiel 16 concludes on a sexually graphic metaphor of future restoration (verses 59-63).  After all, to “know” is frequently a euphemism for sexual intimacy.

And I Myself will establish the covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD.

–Ezekiel 16:62, Robert Alter, 2019

Consider the following verse, O reader:

Thus you shall remember and feel shame, and you shall be too abashed to open your mouth again, when I have forgiven you, for all that you did–declares the Lord GOD.

–Ezekiel 16:63, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

I feel too abashed after reading Ezekiel 16.

My library contains a variety of editions and versions of the Bible.  The Children’s Living Bible (1972) is one of these.  The artwork depicts a smiling Jesus holding lost-and-found sheep, smiling at children wearing attire from 1972, and generally smiling.  The volume also includes Ezekiel 16.  I imagine a child reading Ezekiel 16 and asking a horrified parent about the contents of that chapter.  I also imagine that parent’s horror that the tyke was reading a volume that included the term, “son of a bitch” (1 Samuel 20:30).  Just wait for Ezekiel 23!

Ezekiel 20 continues the themes of idolatry and apostasy.  The text dwells on the sabbath.  This suggests that the sabbath had become important, as a substitute for the Temple, during the Babylonian Exile.  The sabbath is foundational in the covenant.  The sabbath is also a sign of a free person in the context of liberation from slavery in Egypt.  And to keep the sabbath is to emulate God, the creator and original keeper of the sabbath.

God, as depicted in Ezekiel 20, is not worthy of emulation, respect, love, and awe:

  1. God, according to 20:9, 14, 22, and 44, acts selfishly, to preserve the divine reputation.
  2. God gave the people “laws that were not good and rules by which they could not live (20:25) then promised to destroy the people as punishment for obeying the bad laws and disobeying the impossible rules (20:26).

Chapter 20 exists in the shadow of Ezekiel 18–about individual moral accountability to God.  The verdict on the people of Judah, in the yet-future context of the Fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.E.) is damning.

Ezekiel 20 concludes on a note of future restoration, but not for the sake of the covenant people:

Then, O House of Israel, you shall know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for My name’s sake–not in accordance with your evil ways and corrupt acts–declares the Lord GOD.

–Ezekiel 20:44, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

I wonder how many agnostics and atheists grew up devout, with this understanding of God, or one close to it.  That theology may explain their current spiritual status as they properly reject that understanding of God yet go too far and remain out of balance.

Ezekiel 23 returns to the imagery of idolatry as harlotry.  It also returns to the category of Not Safe for Work.  (What was it with Ezekiel and sex?)  Break out the plain brown wrappers again, O reader!  The text speaks of the Babylonian Exile as punishment for persistent, collective, and unrepentant idolatry.

Some G-rated details (There are some.) require explanation:

  1. Samaria, the capital of the (northern) Kingdom of Israel, is, metaphorically, Oholeh, “her tent.”  One may recall that, in the theology of the Hebrew Bible, the Presence of God dwelt in a text then in the Temple.  We read of the fall of the Kingdom of Israel and of the causes of that collapse.
  2. Jerusalem, the capital of the (southern) Kingdom of Judah, is, metaphorically, Oholibah, “my tent is in her.”
  3. Ezekiel 23 condemns the kingdoms’ foreign alliances.  This is an old Hebrew prophetic theme, albeit one other prophets presented in less graphic terms.

I try to maintain a spiritual and theological equilibrium.  The God of Ezekiel 16, 20, and 23 is a self-absorbed, abusive, and misogynistic monster.  This is not my God-concept.  Neither is the God of my faith anything like a cosmic teddy bear or a warm fuzzy.  No, the God of my faith holds judgment and mercy in balance.  I do not pretend to know where that balance is or where it should be.  The God of my faith also loves all people and models selflessness.  Neither is the God of my faith a misogynist or any kind of -phobe or bad -ist.  The model for the God of my faith is Jesus of Nazareth, God Incarnate.  I read stories of Jesus having harsh words for those who deserved them and compassion for the desperate.  I understand Jesus as being stable, unlike Ezekiel, apparently.

Ezekiel clearly was not a stable person.

–Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible:  A Translation with Commentary (2019), 1051

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 27, 2021 COMMON ERA

PROPER 8:  THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF CORNELIUS HILL, ONEIDA CHIEF AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ARIALDUS OF MILAN, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC DEACON AND MARTYR, 1066

THE FEAST OF HUGH THOMSON KERR, SR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST; AND HIS SON, HUGH THOMSON KERR, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JAMES MOFFATT, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND BIBLE TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE GEORGIAN, ABBOT; AND SAINTS EUTHYMIUS OF ATHOS AND GEORGE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN, ABBOTS AND TRANSLATORS

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Divine Judgment Against Philistia   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Jeremiah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING JEREMIAH, PART XXVII

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Jeremiah 47:1-7

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The Philistines were descendants of the Sea Peoples.

Interpretations of the Sea Peoples have changed in recent decades.  The older version of them was that, starting in the fourteenth century B.C.E., the Sea Peoples moved from Greece to Asia Minor then to the eastern Mediterranean region.  They destroyed the Hittite Empire (in Asia Minor).  The Sea Peoples attacked Egypt during the twelfth century B.C.E., but the Egyptian forces defeated them.  Afterward, the Sea Peoples settled on the coast of Canaan, assimilated with the local population, and became the Philistines.

The Sea Peoples’ defeat at Egyptian hands is a matter of the historical record.

However, the former historical consensus regarding the Sea Peoples may have been wrong.  The Bronze Age Collapse (circa 1177 B.C.E.) affected the Mediterranean region.  The powers were interdependent.  Then a combination of climate change and natural disasters, followed by social and economic collapse, may have driven a diverse group of refugees from one land to another, then to another.  Some of the ancient empires may have collapsed from within, not due to the Sea Peoples.  Nevertheless, the Sea Peoples may still have proven disruptive.  Certainly, they were not welcome.

The Philistines were one of the oldest enemies of the Hebrews.  The Philistines oppressed the tribes of Israel for an undefined period of time (Judges 3:31) and again for about 40 years (Judges 13-16).  Hostilities between the Philistines and the Israelites continued into the twilight of the age of the judges and into the time of the Israelite monarchy (1 Samuel 4-31; 2 Samuel 1-5, 8).  In fact, the Philistine military threat was the main justification for creating the Israelite monarchy.

I have already read prophetic oracles against Philistia during this project of reading the Hebrew prophetic books, roughly in historical order.  I have read the oracles in Amos 1:6-8 and Isaiah 14:28-32.

The oracle in Ezekiel 25:15-17 awaits my attention, in due time.

Jeremiah 47:1 establishes a temporal setting for the oracle against Philistia:

before Pharaoh attacked Gaza.

The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

Pharaoh Neco II (r. 610-595 B.C.E.) attacked Gaza in 609 B.C.E.

The Septuagint copy of the Book of Jeremiah lacks 47:1.  The rest of the germane text of Chapter 47 refers to the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian conquest of Philistia circa 604 B.C.E., followed by mass deportations.  The juxtaposition of these facts indicates editing subsequent to the time of Jeremiah the prophet.

Jeremiah 47 depicts God as destroying Philistia.  The prophet pleads:

Ah! Sword of the LORD!

When will you find rest?

Return to your scabbard;

stop, be still!

–Verse 6, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

The answer in verse 7 is that the sword of the LORD cannot rest until God commands it to do so.

Walter Brueggemann writes:

Yahweh is not dominated by any of our conventionalities, but acts in sheer freedom, owing no one anything.  Listeners to this poem are invited to face this undomesticated God who may violate our sensitivities, this God who maybe the only hope for the Philistines as for Israel.

A Commentary on Jeremiah:  Exile and Homecoming (1998), 441-442

God refuses to fit into human categories and metaphorical theological boxes.  God does not issue trigger warnings.  God remains undomesticated, despite human discomfort.  So be it.  If we object, we have the problem; God does not.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND THE “SWEET-VOICED NIGHTINGALE OF THE CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF DAVID LOW DODGE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BUSINESSMAN AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS J. UPLEGGER, GERMAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND MISSIONARY; “OLD MAN MISSIONARY”

THE FEAST OF FRANK LAUBACH, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF MARK HOPKINS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, EDUCATOR, AND PHYSICIAN

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God’s Case Against Israel, Part I: Bad Habits   Leave a comment

Above:  Cattle (Hosea 4:16)

Image in the Public Domain

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READING HOSEA, PART IV

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Hosea 4:1-5:7

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The heading for Hosea 4:1-9:17 in The Oxford Study Bible, Revised English Bible with the Apocrypha (1992) is,

God’s case against Israel.

This is a legal case, given the language of accusation and reproof, which carries the connotation of hauling someone into court.  This language carries over from Hosea 2:2/2:4 (depending on versification),:

“To court, take your mother to court!….”

The Revised New Jerusalem Bible (2019)

Then we got theological whiplash by changing the tone in Chapter 3 and switching back to judgment in Chapter 4.

Chapter 4 begins:

Hear the word of the LORD,

O people of Israel!

For the LORD has a case

Against the inhabitants of this land,

Because there is no honesty and no goodness

And no obedience to God in the land.

–Hosea 4:1-2, TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures (1985)

As I survey translations, I notice a variety of word choices in lieu of honesty, goodness, and obedience to God.

  1. The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011) offers, in order, fidelity, loyalty, and knowledge of God.
  2. The Revised English Bible (1989) offers, in order, good faith, loyalty, and acknowledgment of God.
  3. The New Revised Standard Version (1989) offers, in order, faithfulness, loyalty, and knowledge of God.
  4. Robert Alter’s The Hebrew Bible (2019) offers, in order, truth, trust, and knowledge of the LORD.

I will unpack the three terms, in order.

  1. Truth/faithfulness/good faith/honesty refers to the trustworthiness expected of a judge, as in Exodus 18:21.
  2. Trust/loyalty/goodness refers to fidelity in human relationships, as in 1 Samuel 20:15.
  3. Knowledge of God/obedience to God/acknowledgment of God refers to marital intimacy.  The metaphors of marriage, sexual fidelity, and divorce are prominent in the Book of Hosea.

In other words, the covenantal relationship between God and Isaiah was broken.  Israel had broken it.

The priesthood was corrupt, too.  Some priests were devout and honest, of course, but corruption was rife.

Exegetes whose writings I have consulted disagree with each other about the alien or bastard children in 5:7.

  1. These offspring may be alien because of Israelite intermarriage with foreigners.
  2. But, O reader, do not forget the pervasive metaphors of marriage and divorce in the Book of Hosea.  We read that God has “cast off” Israel for sustained, collective infidelity to the divine covenant.
  3. The most likely explanation is that both answers apply.

The heart of 4:1-5:7 may reside in 5:4a:

Their habits do not let them

Turn back to their God;….

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Alternative translations of the Hebrew word translated as “habits” include:

  1. Deeds (The New Revised Standard Version, 1989),
  2. Misdeeds (The Revised English Bible, 1989), and
  3. Acts (Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible, 2019).

Each of these translations has something to recommend it.  Yet I prefer “habits.”

Habitual behavior of the population had broken the covenant.

Human beings are creatures of habits.  May we, therefore, learn and nurture good habits, both individually and collectively.

I write this post at a particular moment, therefore certain issues occupy my mind.  The COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives needlessly around the world.  Whether to get vaccinated with a proven vaccine is, in the minds of many people with the option to get vaccinated, a politically partisan issue.  Public health policy, which should be just a matter of following science and saving lives, has become a matter of cynical politics for certain elected officials.  Varieties of hatred, often wrapped in Christian rhetoric, are on the rise.  Authoritarianism and objectively-inaccurate conspiracy theories are increasingly popular with most of those who identify with one of the two major political parties in the United States of America.  And speaking the objective truth about reality, as some members of that party do, is risky, if one hops to retain one’s leadership position within that party.

Bad habits separate individuals from each other.  Bad habits separate individuals, cultures, and societies from God.  Bad habits harm the whole.  Whatever I do, for example, affects others.  This is a statement of mutuality.  We all stand before God, completely dependent on grace.  In that context, each person is responsible to and for all other people.

Society is people.  Society shapes its members.  Those members also influence society.  When enough people change their minds, societal consensus shifts.

Their habits do not let them

Turn back to their God;….

This need not apply to any group, although it does.  Members of any such group can change their habits, therefore, their fates.  They can.  Will they?  Will we?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 15, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JUNIA AND ANDRONICUS, COWORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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David Spares King Saul’s Life: Two Versions   Leave a comment

Above:  Saul and David in the Cave of En-Gedi, by Willem de Poorter

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 XXII

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1 Samuel 23:15-24:22

1 Samuel 26:1-25

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If the LORD had not come to my help,

I should have dwelt in the land of silence.

–Psalm 94:17, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The editing of different sources into a composite narrative created a unified story with chronological inconsistencies.  I have written of some of these contradictions in other posts in this series.  That cutting and pasting (to use an anachronism) also gave us doublets–two versions of the same story.  Careful reading of much of the Hebrew Bible has identified doublets, starting in Genesis.

The doublet on which I focus in this post pertains to David saving King Saul’s life, not taking it, while the monarch was trying to kill David.  The doublets wrap around 1 Samuel 25 in the composite narrative.

In 1 Samuel 23:15-24:22, King Saul and his forces were pursuing David and his forces.  Saul was eager to kill David.  The inhabitants of Ziph were ready to facilitate David’s death, as those of Keilah had been earlier in Chapter 23.  David spared Saul’s life and issued an order that nobody kill the monarch.  In this familiar story, David cut off a piece of Saul’s cloak, made his presence known, and spoke to Saul.  The king acknowledged that David would succeed him.

The editing of 1 Samuel 23, 24, and 26 is odd.  It seems that 26:1-25, with its reference to the Ziphites, originally flowed from the end of Chapter 23.

In 1 Samuel 26:1-25, David spared Saul’s life and forbade violence against the monarch.  However, David claimed Saul’s spear, the kingdom of his kingship.  (See 1 Samuel 13:22; 18:10; 19:9; 20:33; and 22:6.  Also see 2 Samuel 1:6.)  David also took the water jar at Saul’s head.  Saul and David also spoke, and the king admitted that David would win.

In both versions, Saul admitted to being in the wrong.  Yet he persisted in the wrong.  Saul did not repent.

I know what it is to be a wronged person.  I know the names of those who have wronged me, actively or passively.  I know their characters, objectively.  I also affirm that they are responsible before God for their characters and deeds, just as I am responsible before God for my character and deeds.  What kind of person am I?  The answer to that question is more important than the issue of what kind of people others are.  One cannot prevail against perfidy by falling into it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRUNO ZEMBOL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CAMERIUS, CISELLUS, AND LUXORIUS OF SARDINIA, MARTYRS, 303

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF EDESSA, CIRCA 304

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH; MARTYR, CIRCA 353; AND SAINTS BONOSUS AND MAXIMIANUS THE SOLDIER, MARTYRS, 362

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David and Jonathan   Leave a comment

Above:  David and Jonathan

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 XIX

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1 Samuel 20:1-42

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Hear my voice, O God, when I complain;

protect my life from the fear of the enemy.

–Psalm 64:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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1 Samuel 20 does not flow from 1 Samuel 19, except for an addition in the first verse.  If one has been paying close attention to the composite narrative, one may recall 1 Samuel 19.  One may remember that King Saul, aware of David’s absence from the royal court, had started to pursue the former shepherd.  One may also recall that King Saul had instructed Jonathan to kill David and that Jonathan had spoken up for David.  I mention all this because, at the beginning of 1 Samuel 20, we read of Jonathan being unaware of the monarch’s plans and efforts to kill David.  If I were a Biblical literalist, this would bother me, and I would seek to reconcile the different sources and resolve the contradictions.  I prefer, however, to acknowledge the factual inconsistencies and write about the friendship of David and Jonathan.

Jonathan, heir to the throne, sided with David, whom he acknowledged as a future king.  Jonathan did this to the disadvantage of this position.  He was at peace with his decision.  King Saul, who was not at peace with Jonathan’s decision, cursed out the crown prince (verse 30).  (The Living Bible came closest to getting the English translation correct.  It had King Saul call Jonathan, “You son of a bitch!”)  King Saul even threw a spear at Jonathan, as the monarch had done to David (19:8-10).

Friendship is a form of love.  Focusing not on selfish gain but on what is best for a friend constitutes expressing this form of love.  Doing the right thing may be dangerous and/or costly.  It remains the only morally feasible option, though.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRUNO ZEMBOL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1942

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CAMERIUS, CISELLUS, AND LUXORIUS OF SARDINIA, MARTYRS, 303

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF EDESSA, CIRCA 304

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH; MARTYR, CIRCA 353; AND SAINTS BONOSUS AND MAXIMIANUS THE SOLDIER, MARTYRS, 362

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Posted August 21, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Samuel 19, 1 Samuel 20, Psalm 64

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King David’s Jealousy of David   Leave a comment

Above:  Princess Michelle Benjamin with David Shepherd, in Kings (2009)

A Screen Capture

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

PART XVII

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1 Samuel 18:6-30

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Rescue me from my enemies, O God;

protect me from those who rise up against me.

Rescue me from evildoers

and save me from those who thirst for my blood.

See how they lie in wait for my life,

how the mighty gather together against me;

not for any offense or fault of mine, O LORD.

–Psalm 59:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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David had become a political threat to King Saul.  Usually, a monarch received credit for his warriors’ successes.  Yet David, not Saul, received credit for David’s successes.  The author understood divine favor to account for David’s successes.  Saul, already unhinged, became jealous.  He tried to arrange David’s death while luring the great warrior into false sense of comfort.  Saul’s plan to kill David by placing him at the head of the troops (verse 13) was like David’s plan (in 2 Samuel 11) to kill Uriah the Hittite.  Saul established a seemingly high bride price for his daughter Michal.  David paid double.

Michal loved David (verses 20 and 28).  In the Hebrew Bible, she was the only woman whom the text described as loving her man.

David, by marrying Michal, received the right of succession, behind Saul’s sons.  Again the promise passed through the younger child–in this case, Michal.

Saul’s strategy in this chapter reminds me of Don Vito Corleone’s advice in The Godfather (1972):

Keep you friends close and your enemies closer.

Even that plan failed, for, as the author wanted the audience to know, God favored David.  Saul, however, was not finished trying to kill David.  The unhinged monarch continued to attempt to terminate David with extreme prejudice in 1 Samuel 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 26,

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Loyalty and Self-Sacrifice   1 comment

Above:  David and Jonathan, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 20:12-23, 35-42

Psalm 18:46-50

Acts 4:13-22

John 21:20-25

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The Living Bible (1971) renders 1 Samuel 20:30-31 as follows:

Saul boiled over with rage.  “You son of a bitch!” he yelled at him.  “Do you think I don’t know that you want that son of a nobody to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother?  As long as this fellow is alive, you’ll never be king.  Now go and get him so I can kill him!

Later printings of The Living Bible changed “You son of a bitch!’ to “You fool!”  The original rendering captured the flavor of the Hebrew text well, for King Saul was cursing.  In verse 30, in fact, he referred to genitals, although many English-language translations have not reflected that subtlety.

A more common translation is one such as in TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985):

You son of a perverse, rebellious woman!

Yet scholars agree that Jonathan, not his mother, was the object of the swearing, hence the Everett Fox version:

[You] son of a twisted rebellion!

The Early Prophets (2014), page 378

Via that “twisted rebellion” Jonathan stood by his friend (David) while ensuring that he (Jonathan), the heir apparent to the throne, would not become King of Israel.  Jonathan exemplified loyalty and self-sacrifice.

So did St. Simon Peter (eventually crucified upside-down) and St. John the Evangelist (who spent time in exile).  They performed great deeds, to the glory of God and the benefits of others, and found themselves in legal jeopardy.  But they persisted.

May we be loyal to God and willing to pay the price that might demand of us.  May we glorify God, regardless of circumstances.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 13, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID JAESCHKE, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER; AND HIS GRANDSON, HENRI MARC HERMANN VOLDEMAR VOULLAIRE, MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF MILTON SMITH LITTLEFIELD, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN AND CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT, U.S. POET, JOURNALIST, AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/devotion-for-the-third-sunday-of-easter-ackerman/

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Friendship III   1 comment

St. Barnabas

Above:  St. Barnabas

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O Lord God, you teach us that without love, our actions gain nothing.

Pour into our hearts your most excellent gift of love, that,

made alive by your Spirit, we may know goodness and peace,

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 34

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 20:1-23, 35-42 (Monday)

2 Samuel 1:4-27 (Tuesday)

Psalm 133 (Both Days)

Acts 11:19-26 (Monday)

Acts 11:27-30 (Tuesday)

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Oh, how good and pleasant it is

when brethren live together in unity!

It is like fine oil upon the head

that runs down upon the beard,

Upon the beard of Aaron,

and runs down upon the collar of his robe.

It is like the dew of Hermon

that falls upon the hills of Zion.

For there the LORD has ordained the blessing,

life for evermore.

–Psalm 133, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Friendship is a form of such unity.

Jonathan remained David’s friend, even to the detriment of his (Jonathan’s) relationship with his father, King Saul.  In 1 Samuel 20:30 the monarch cursed out his son, although few versions in English have rendered the verse accordingly.  Saul’s reminder that Jonathan was also endangering his own potential kingship were rational yet ultimately unnecessary, for father and son died at about the same time.

St. Barnabas was a major ally of St. Paul the Apostle.  He assisted the former Saul of Tarsus, violent foe of nascent Christianity, who had become a convert to the faith recently.  St. Barnabas escorted St. Paul to meet with the understandably frightened remaining Apostles (Acts 9:26-28).  St. Barnabas, working among the Christians of Antioch, left to retrieve St. Paul from Tarsus and took him to Antioch (Acts 11:19-26).  Sts. Barnabas and Paul carried alms to Jerusalem (11:27-30).  The two men traveled together on evangelistic journeys (Acts 13:2).  St. Barnabas addressed the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:12), and he and St. Paul delivered the decree thereof to churches (Acts 15:22-31).  The two men parted company because they disagreed strongly over taking John Mark (St. Mark the Evangelist) with them, so Sts. Barnabas and Mark traveled together afterward (Acts 15:36-39).  Although St. Paul respected St. Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:6 and Galatians 2:1, 9), he criticized his former traveling companion for, like St. Simon Peter, refusing table fellowship with Gentiles (Galatians 2:13).  Nevertheless, St. Barnabas had helped to make the former Saul of Tarsus the figure who became St. Paul the Apostle, vouching for him at a crucial juncture.  What if St. Barnabas had been wrong about St. Paul?  He took that risk.

Friends are people who stand by us at the most difficult times.  Such people are natural agents of divine grace.  May each of us have such friends and be such a friend to others, for the glory of God and for the common good.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 2, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN KONRAD WILHELM LOEHE, BAVARIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND COORDINATOR OF DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN MISSIONS

THE FEAST OF SABINE BARING-GOULD, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-fifth-sunday-of-easter-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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1 Samuel and 1 Corinthians, Part I: Words   1 comment

07406v

Above:  Ancient Corinth

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/mpc2004000668/PP/)

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 20:24-42

Psalm 96 (Morning)

Psalms 132 and 134 (Evening)

1 Corinthians 1:1-25

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Some Related Posts:

1 Corinthians 1:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirty-sixth-day-of-lent-tuesday-in-holy-week/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/third-sunday-in-lent-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/week-of-proper-16-thursday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/week-of-proper-16-friday-year-2/

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Saul flew into a rage against Jonathan.  ”You son of a perverse, rebellious woman!” he shouted.

–1 Samuel 20:30a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Saul boiled with rage.  ”You son of a bitch!” he yelled at him.

–1 Samuel 20:30a, The Living Bible

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Sing a new song to Yahweh!

Sing to Yahweh, all the earth!

Sing to Yahweh, bless his name!

Proclaim his salvation day after day,

declare his glory among the nations,

his marvels to every people!

–Psalm 96:1-3, The New Jerusalem Bible

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After all, Christ me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel, and not by means of wisdom of language, wise words which would make the cross of Christ pointless.  The message of the cross is folly for those who are on the way to ruin, but for those of us who are on the road to salvation it is the power of God.

–1 Corinthians 1;17-18, The New Jerusalem Bible

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Words matter.  Psalm 96 exhorts people to use words to proclaim divine glory and the message of salvation.  And we read of King Saul cursing out his son Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20:30.  The Living Bible, usually a substandard version, gets Saul’s tone right and places it in a familiar, modern idiom.  (Aside:  Later printings of The Living Bible replaced “son of a bitch” with “fool,” which has less of an impact.)  So words can humiliate or encourage, tear down or build up.

And sometimes words prove to be irrelevant.  The message of the cross contradicts conventional wisdom regarding who died that way and why, so of course one cannot cite conventional wisdom on the topic to explain the crucifixion, much less the subsequent resurrection, properly.  But words did play a vital part in Paul’s message; witness his epistles, O reader.  And he had to use words to preach the good news of Jesus.

Words have power.  According to myth, God spoke and thereby transformed chaos into order in Genesis 1.  Much of the time, however, we mere mortals speak and thereby convert order into chaos.  We speak and thereby either build up or tear down.  May we use our words for positive purposes, glorifying God and building up others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

PROPER 23:  THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/devotion-for-august-7-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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1 Samuel and Acts, Part IX: If God is For Us…..   1 comment

malta_ast_2001210_lrg

Above:  Malta, July 29, 2001

Image Source = Jet Propulsion Laboratory

(http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=4933)

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Samuel 18:10-30 (August 4)

1 Samuel 19:1-24 (August 5)

1 Samuel 20:1-23 (August 6)

Psalm 110 (Morning–August 4)

Psalm 62 (Morning–August 5)

Psalm 13 (Morning–August 6)

Psalms 66 and 23 (Evening–August 4)

Psalms 73 and 8 (Evening–August 5)

Psalms 36 and 5 (Evening–August 6)

Acts 27:27-44 (August 4)

Acts 28:1-15 (August 5)

Acts 28:16-31 (August 6)

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Some Related Posts:

1 Samuel 19-20:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/week-of-2-epiphany-thursday-year-2/

Acts 27-28:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/forty-ninth-day-of-easter/

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The readings from 1 Samuel and the Acts of the Apostles emphasize the positive.  Yes, Saul tries to kill David, but the younger man escapes.  David falls in love; surely that is positive.  And Paul and his fellow prisoners survive a shipwreck.  The story of Luke-Acts ends  before Paul’s beheading; he is in Rome, teaching.

The unifying element in each narrative is that God was with the heroic figure.  Yet bad things do happen to faithful people.  Accounts of Christian martyrs confirm this fact.  And August 6 is the Feast of the Transfiguration.  After the Transfiguration our Lord and Savior traveled to Jerusalem for the fateful, final Passover week of his earthly life.  But he emerged victorious on the other side, did he not?

I will not resolve the problem of why bad things happen to good people in this blog post.  But I can make one definitive statement:  It is better to suffer while on God’s side than to do so while not on God’s side.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

PROPER 23:  THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/devotion-for-august-4-5-and-6-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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