Archive for the ‘Jesse’ Tag

David in the Court of King Saul   Leave a comment

Above: Saul and David, by Rembrandt Van Rijn

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 XV

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1 Samuel 16:14-23

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My hands made a harp;

my fingers fashioned a lyre.

–Psalm 151:2, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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This story flows directly from 16:1-13.  Remember this detail, O reader, when we get to Chapter 17 (the familiar story of David Goliath), in which Saul supposedly met David for the first time.  The explanation for such inconsistencies in 1 Samuel is the editing of different sources into a composite narrative.  I have no idea what really happened, which version is accurate or closer to objective reality when these inconsistencies (plain when comparing texts) present themselves.  I focus, however, on spiritual lessons I can derive from the story.

Another matter I notice on this re-reading of 1 Samuel is the question of the passage of time.  In-universe, how long had Saul been the King of Israel by the time of 1 Samuel 16:14-23?  And how long had he reigned whenever (depending on the version of the rejection by God in which one chooses to place more trust–Chapter 13 or Chapter 15) God rejected him?  And how long did Saul reign after that?  Saul reigned for about two decades, study Bibles and other reference works tell me.  The Jewish Study Bible defines the reign of Saul as 1025-1005 B.C.E.  The New Interpreter’s Study Bible prefers 1020-c. 1000 B.C.E.

1 Samuel 16:14-23 flows directly from 16:1-13, which flows directly from the end of Chapter 15.  1 Samuel 16:14-23, therefore, comes from the same source as the second rejection story, the one in Chapter 15.  The Spirit of God gripped David in 16:13.  The Spirit departed from Saul in 16:14.  Saul seemed never to be comfortable as the King of Israel.  He became unhinged after 16:14.  Saul, aware of who David and Jesse were, made David a royal arms-bearer.  David’s main reason for being in the court was to make Saul feel better with music.  Saul, unaware of Samuel’s secret anointing of David, welcomed the former shepherd’s presence.

I wonder how we, using modern psychiatric and psychological categories, would define King Saul’s mental state after 16:14.  We have categories of which ancients knew nothing, after all.  The description in the text depends upon the traditional, spirit-based belief.  (Spirits are real, I affirm, but so are organic, genetic, and psychological causes.)  Keep in mind, O reader, that, according to the Bible, demonic possession causes epilepsy and mental illnesses.  Also consider that future generations may have different categories than we do.  I believe that Saul suffered from excessive stress, at least.  I also accept that he may have had some form of mental illness.  I suppose that, if Saul were alive today, a doctor would prescribe medication and a long vacation.  I also guess that Saul, if alive today, would undergo therapy.  These are only guesses.  I, as a student of history, know that reading the minds of dead people is difficult and frequently impossible.

Speculation about modern labels and the applicability to the mental state of the first King of Israel in interesting.  It is not, however, the territory into which the author of 1 Samuel 16:14-23 went.  No, the author’s point was that God had rejected Saul (who was suffering the consequences) and chosen David instead.  David was ascendant.  Saul was on the decline.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Posted August 15, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Samuel 13, 1 Samuel 15, 1 Samuel 16, 1 Samuel 17, Psalm 151

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The Anointing of David   2 comments

Above: Samuel Anointing David

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 XIV

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1 Samuel 16:1-13

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I was small among my brothers,

and the youngest in my father’s house;

I tended my father’s sheep.

My brothers were handsome and tall,

but the Lord was not pleased with them.

–Psalm 151:1, 5, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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This story flows directly from 1 Samuel 15:1-35, the second version of God’s rejection of Saul in the composite narrative.

  1. 1 Samuel 16:1-13 contains various elements.  I will write about some of them.
  2. Samuel was on a subversive mission from God.  He was going out to anoint the next King of Israel in secret.  Israel already had a monarch.
  3. The arrival of a prophet created fear in some people.
  4. Saul was a head taller than most other Israelites (1 Samuel 9:2).  He was also handsome.  Good looks counted as a qualification for being a monarch.  David was also handsome (1 Samuel 16:12).  He was also shorter than Saul.
  5. God told Samuel to pay no attention to the conventional standards of appearance and height.
  6. David, the youngest of eight sons of Jesse, was God’s choice.  Seven was the number of completion; eight was one better.  Also, the Biblical motif of the youngest or a younger son being the chosen one recurred.
  7. As after the anointing of Saul (1 Samuel 10:9-13), the Spirit of God gripped the newly anointed (1 Samuel 16:13).
  8. David was a shepherd.  Moses had been a shepherd, too (Exodus 3:1).  Kings in the ancient Near East were often shepherds, figuratively.  Elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, texts referred to Israelite monarchs as shepherds.

What standards do we look for in rulers?  I, as a student of United States history, think immediately of two very different Presidents of the United States who perpetually occupy the lower rungs of historians’ rankings of Presidents.  I think of Franklin Pierce (in office 1853-1857), who signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) into law, made Kansas “Bleeding Kansas,” and hastened the coming of the Civil War.  I also know that, according to tradition, he may have been the most handsome President.  I also think of the distinguished-looking Warren G. Harding (in office 1921-1923), the President from central casting.  I know, however, that he pursued nativistic policies and, even immediately after a briefing on an issue, admitted that he did not understand that issue.  Furthermore, I remember reading a candid admission Harding made in private:

I am not fit for this office and should never have been here.

Leadership involves matters more substantial than stature and good looks.  These matters are readily evident.  Some are intangible.  Being a leader also requires having followers.  One who has no followers merely takes a walk, so to speak.

Ezekiel 34 refers to Israelite kings as shepherds–bad ones.  All people have the right to live under good rulers–attentive shepherds who build up the common good.  The price of having bad shepherds is high, often measured in death tolls and economic carnage, and in other forms of injustice.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

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Regarding King Saul   1 comment

Above:  Saul and David, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

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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 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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1 Samuel 17:57-18:16 or Jeremiah 32:36-41

Psalm 111

Romans 12:1-8

Luke 17:1-19

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The Books of Samuel, in the final form (probably edited by Ezra; this is an ancient theory with contemporary academic champions), consist of various sources.  If one knows this, one can notice many of the seams.  Inconsistencies become obvious.  For example, one may notice that King Saul knew that David was a son of Jesse in 1 Samuel 16:20 and that David played the lyre for the monarch in 16:23.  One may also notice that Saul did not recognize David in 17:33 or whose son he was in 17:56.  One may notice, furthermore, that David had to identify himself to Saul in 17:58.

I know too much to affirm spiritual inerrancy or infallibility.

I also know that King Saul was similar to many potentates in many lands and at many times.  I read in the composite text that Saul was a terrible public servant.  (So were almost all of his successors in Israel and Judah.)  Truth and justice should prosper under a good ruler.  A good ruler should try, at least.  A good ruler knows that he or she is a servant holding a temporary job.  A good ruler seeks to make responsible decisions and does not mistake events as being about himself or herself.  A good ruler thinks about the long-term common good.  Consequences of short-sighted leaders are frequently disastrous, as in Jeremiah 32:36-41.

What passes for a psychiatric or psychological diagnosis of King Saul comes from 1 Samuel 16:23–an evil spirit.  Cultural anthropology tells us that they, in modern times, can mean anything from severe stress to a mental illness.  Either way, the description of Saul is that of a man unfit to rule.  After all, those who govern are still servants.  God is really the king.

Despite all the bad press about King Saul, I feel somewhat sympathetic for him.  I read about him and remember that he never sought the job (1 Samuel 12).  I recall that Saul seems not so bad, compared to Solomon.  I think of Saul, doing his best yet failing.  I know the feeling of working hard yet failing.  I ask myself how Saul may have succeeded in life.  He seems to have needed counseling, at least.

Tragedy, in the Greek sense, has a particular definition.  A good person tries to make good decisions (most of the time, anyway) and fails spectacularly, dooming himself or herself.  The accounts of King Saul do not fit that definition exactly, but Greek tragedy does help me understand the first Israelite monarch.  I read stories while making a combination of good and bad decisions and often trying to decide wisely.  I read of a man with defective judgment.  I read of a man whose demise was not inevitable when he became the first King of Israel.

I, like David, mourn for Saul (2 Samuel 1).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC AND RELIGIOUS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BOSA OF YORK, JOHN OF BEVERLEY, WILFRID THE YOUNGER, AND ACCA OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF JAMES EDWARD WALSH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY BISHOP AND POLITICAL PRISONER IN CHINA

THE FEAST OF SIMON B. PARKER, UNITED METHODIST BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY REES, WELSH ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND BISHOP OF LLANDAFF

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2020/04/29/devotion-for-proper-25-year-c-humes/

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