Archive for the ‘Samuel’ Tag

King Saul and the Witch of Endor   Leave a comment

Above:  Saul and the Witch of Endor, by Edward Henry Corbould

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART XXVII

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 28:3-25

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My spirit faints within me;

my heart within me is desolate.

–Psalm 143:4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Consistent chronology is not the organizing principle of 1 Samuel.  Chronologically, the correct order at the end of the book is:

  1. 27:1-28:2
  2. 29:1-11
  3. 30:1-11
  4. 28:3-25
  5. 31:1-13

Just in case we had forgotten that Samuel had died (1 Samuel 25:1a), 1 Samuel 28:3 reminds us.

The Philistine war mentioned in 28:1-2 had started.  King Saul, greatly concerned, inquired of God, who was silent.  The monarch, who had outlawed necromancy, disguised himself to consult a necromancer.  The disguise did not work for long.

Samuel, in popular belief, was in Sheol, an early notion of the afterlife in the Bible.  Sheol was the underworld, without reward or punishment.  Sheol was “the Pit,” slimy and mucky.  Sheol was a mire.

Samuel was irritated, Saul was in a terrible spiritual and emotional state, and the necromancer was concerned for the monarch’s well-being.

The focus in this reading is the depth to which Saul, rejected by God, had fallen.  One should contrast Saul with David, on the ascendancy and favored by God, the germane texts tell us.

I wish that those (especially despots) not on God’s side would meet with more frustrations.  Yet I know the past too well to believe that they do not succeed, at least for a time.  Genocidal dictators are not strictly figures of the past.  Those who transform republics into dictatorships are also figures of current events.  Such people explain much of the appeal of belief in reward and punishment in the afterlife.  Sheol proves unsatisfactory.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 16:  THE TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARTIN DE PORRES AND JUAN MACIAS, HUMANITARIANS AND DOMINICAN LAY BROTHERS; SAINT ROSE OF LIMA, HUMANITARIAN AND DOMINICAN SISTER; AND SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

THE FEAST OF THEODORE O. WEDEL, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND CYNTHIA CLARK WEDEL, U.S. PSYCHOLOGIST AND EPISCOPAL ECUMENIST

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Death and Legacy of Samuel   Leave a comment

Above:  Samuel

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART XXIII

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 25:1

Sirach/Eccelesiasticus 46:13-20

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I am your servant; grant me understanding,

that I may know your decrees.

–Psalm 119:125, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The notice of Samuel’s death, tucked away, so to speak , in 1 Samuel 25:1a, seems like an example of,

O, by the way….

Samuel, a prophet, was the last of the judges.  He, set aside for a mission from God, performed it well.  Samuel taught the Law of Moses and anointed two kings–Saul and David.  Eli had raised sons who were unworthy heirs.  So did Samuel.  Both Eli and Samuel were holy men.  They were also mere mortals, complete with virtues and vices.

No mere mortal is perfect.  I assure you, O reader, that I know many of my flaws, some of which no other mere mortal knows.  You, O reader, may also have flaws of which you know yet no other mere mortal does.  Given that perfection is an impossible and unrealistic standard, doing as well as one can, by grace, is the ultimate goal.  It is realistic and difficult.

Samuel strove for that standard.

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

David Forced to Flee from King David   Leave a comment

Above:  Saul Attacking David, by Guercino

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART XVIII

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 19:1-24

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Not because of any guilt of mine

they run and prepare themselves for battle.

Rouse yourself, come to my side, and see;

for you, LORD God of hosts, are Israel’s God.

–Psalm 59:4-5, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Samuel never saw David again to the day of his death.

–1 Samuel 15:35a, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Not unless one counts 1 Samuel 19:22-24, from a different source.  This is just one example of a contradiction that resulted from the cutting and pasting of sources into a composite narrative.

Back in 1 Samuel 10:9-12, after his anointing as the King of Israel, the Spirit of God gripped Saul.  He, amid a band of prophets, spoke in ecstasy with them.

Is Saul too among the prophets?

–1 Samuel 10:11, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Yes.

Is Saul too among the prophets?

–1 Samuel 19:24, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

No.  Saul had become an oath-breaking monarch who openly attempted murder and will willing to kill his son-in-law in bed.  Saul had lost the support of Michal (his daughter and David’s wife) and Jonathan (his son and David’s friend and son-in-law).  Saul had lost his dignity and honor.  Saul had lost God’s blessing.  David, in the company of Samuel, had gained it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH, MOTHER OF GOD

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted August 15, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Samuel 10, 1 Samuel 15, 1 Samuel 19, Psalm 59

Tagged with , , , ,

David in the Court of King Saul   Leave a comment

Above: Saul and David, by Rembrandt Van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART XV

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 16:14-23

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My hands made a harp;

my fingers fashioned a lyre.

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

Tagged with , , ,

The Anointing of David   2 comments

Above: Samuel Anointing David

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART XIV

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 16:1-13

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

God Rejects Saul: Two Versions   Leave a comment

Above: Saul Rejected as King

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART XII

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 13:1-15a

1 Samuel 15:1-35

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

[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)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Anointing and Electing Saul as the King of Israel   Leave a comment

Above: Stamp of King Saul

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART IX

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 9:1-10:27

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Give to the King your justice, O God,

and your righteousness to the King’s Son;

That he may rule your people righteously and the poor with justice;

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,

and the little hills bring righteousness.

–Psalm 72:1-3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A careful reader of 1 Samuel 9:1-10:27 may get theological whiplash.  The reason for that whiplash is that an editor (perhaps Ezra) cut and pasted different sources after the Babylonian Exile.  The attitude toward the monarchy shifts in Chapter 10.  One reads of Samuel seemingly gladly anointing Saul (God’s choice, apparently) in Chapter 9 then publicly accusing monarchists of having committed idolatry and rejecting God in Chapter 10.  This anti-monarchist message echoes Chapter 8.

Saul did not seek to become the first King of Israel.  No, he sought his father’s runaway donkeys.  In the story, God worked through what seemed to be accidents to get Saul and Samuel in the same place just in time for the anointing.  That rite changed Saul, depicted as having sterling character, into a prophetic figure.  Saul was off to a good start as the King-elect of Israel.

“Saul” means “asked, requested.”  Possibly, then, Saul was not his name.  People requested a king; they got “asked, requested.”  Saul may the name tradition assigned to him postmortem.  I have heard this hypothesis in connection with his real name being Lebayu.  That issue is historically interesting, but not theologically important.

Accidents and coincidences are real.  Logically, coincidence is not causation.  Mistaking coincidence for causation leads to erroneous conclusions.  However, conclusions can be deceptive; seeming accidents and coincidences may indicate God at work, behind the scenes.  I recognize that truth in my life.  You, O reader, may also recognize it in your life.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Request for a King   Leave a comment

Above: The Statue of Samuel, Salisbury Cathedral

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART VIII

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 8:1-22

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Not to us, O LORD, not to us,

but to your Name give glory;

because of your love and because of your faithfulness.

Psalm 115:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This reading reflects skepticism of the monarchy.  The source (probably E) differs from the Chronicler (see 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah), who liked monarchy, especially David and his dynasty, although not most of the monarchs thereof.

Eli’s sons were not suitable successors (1 Samuel 2-4).  Neither were Samuel’s sons (1 Samuel 8:1-3).  Who would rule after Samuel?

Unlike as in Chapter 12 (where the desire for strong military leadership was the primary reason for wanting a king), the main reason for supporting the establishment of a monarchy in Chapter 8 was the desire to be like the neighboring peoples.  The desire to be like the Smiths and Joneses, so to speak, was a national failing of the Israelites.  It contributed to recurring idolatry.  This desire led to rejecting God as the proper King of Israel.  Despite Samuel’s warning, the desire to be like the neighbors remained.  The people got what they wanted.

One may think of divine judgment as giving us what we do not want.  It is that much of the time.  However, sometimes divine judgment takes the form of giving us what we desire.  We should be careful what we wish for; we may get it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Samuel as Judge   Leave a comment

Above: Samuel

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART VII

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 7:2-17

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Keep me as the apple of your eye;

hide me under the shadow of your wings,

From the wicked who assault me,

from my deadly enemies who surround me.

–Psalm 17:8-9, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Unlike as in Chapter 4, the link between fidelity to God and military victory is explicit in Chapter 7.

The problem with idolatry in Israel in the Old Testament was NOT that people were NOT worshiping YHWH.  They were.  No, the problem was that they were NOT worshiping only YHWH.  Polytheism was a difficult habit to unlearn.  Astarte (the Canaanite goddess of fertility and love) was allegedly YHWH’s consort.  Some Biblical authors likened idolatry to sexual infidelity, in fact.

Unfortunately, successive generations of Hebrews were serial idolaters.  This was a theme of which authors, their works later cut and pasted during the post-exilic period, wrote.

Idols are easy to find.  An idol can be anything–an object, an activity, an idea, a person, a pet, or an action.  The test is function.  Whatever or whoever functions as an idol, is an idol.  One can affirm the existence of just one deity and still commit idolatry.  Idols distract one from God.  They receive love one should give to God.  In Augustinian theology, sin is disordered love.  Many people, objects, etc., are worthy of love, but not as much as God.  To love x more than one should and God less than one should is to sin and to commit idolatry.

Loving God as one should does not prevent misfortune, of course.  It does not guarantee wealth and good health, either.  The rain falls on the just and the unjust.  Jesus and the plethora of Christian martyrs prove that suffering may result from proper piety.  However, worshiping only God is the best policy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Philistines Return the Ark of the Covenant   Leave a comment

Above: The Ark of the Covenant in the Temple of Dagon

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

PART VI

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Samuel 5:1-7:1

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered;

let those who hate him flee before him.

–Psalm 68:1, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

After the Philistine army captured the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 4)…

A pseudo-documentary on the so-called History Channel argued (without evidence, of course) that the Ark of the Covenant contained a nuclear reactor.  (Who knew?)  That explanation was absurd.  The Ark, however, was dangerous, according to Biblical texts.  Although young Samuel slept near to it (1 Samuel 3), touching the object (even by accident or to prevent it from falling) and looking into it was lethal.  The holiness of God was dangerous to mere mortals; people who acted wisely dared not get too close.

Another prominent theme in this story is the sovereignty of God.  Even a statue of Dagon, a fish-god associated with corn and grain, fell face-down before the Ark then lost its head and hands (5:3-4).

The affliction later in Chapter 5 varies according to translations.  TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985) renders the germane Hebrew word as “hemorrhoids.”  The New Revised Standard Version (1989), however, renders that Hebrew word as “tumors,” however.  The best academic guess seems to be Bubonic Plague.  Yet, based on archaeological evidence of phallic imagery at the site, venereal disease is another surmise.

A close reading of the Hebrew Bible reveals shifts in theology.  One may recall that, in Genesis 18, Abraham walked (literally) and haggled with God face-to-face.  One may also remember that, by the time of Exodus 19:23, Israelites were not supposed to get too close to Mount Sinai when Moses and God were on the mountain together.  God did not change; theology did.

I, as a Christian, affirm the accessibility of God.  I point to the Incarnation.

To return to the main point, the story emphasizes the sovereignty of God.  No human power or concept can contain God.  God disrupts that which God should disrupt.  People cannot tame God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++