Friday, April 1, 2011

1 Samuel 12-14

1 Samuel 12-14

Samuel and God impress the Israelites with thunder and lightning.  They're back in the god business.

Samuel deems Saul unworthy of being king after he made a burnt offering to the LORD instead of rushing into battle.  This bit confuses me a little.  Why is Samuel so displeased?  Saul has not turned from God.

Still, Saul and his son Jonathan raise up an army to smite some more Philistines but seem to be the only ones with weapons.  The Israelites are rightly reluctant to follow and we know that Samuel doesn't seem to like Saul's skills as a commander.

Jonathan isn't to impressed either and goes off on his own.  He immediately shows skill with a sword (I would totally have him in my WOW guild!), and his servant is bad either.

The Israelites drive the Philistines back but God seems to get the credit.  Why is this?  Must be like football where the coach gets the credit for a victory and the player points to the sky and thanks God when HE just scored.

Anyway, Saul commands his people not to eat for the rest of the day after victory (Why?)  Jonathan doesn't here this order and eats honey and is therefore condemned.  The people recognize that Jonathan is a hero and shouldn't be blamed for his tasting of the honey and they save him.  I'm putting my money on God killing him somewhere down the road.

We end chapter 14 with Saul victorious over the Philistines.
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  1. @Bruce,

    Why is Samuel so displeased?

    So can i say separation of church and state here? The burnt offering job was for the priest not the king. By Saul doing this he violated Gods commandment. That is why Samuel was so upset.

    The Israelites drive the Philistines back but God seems to get the credit. Why is this?

    Because they (Israelites) didn't do anything. They come to the camp and the Phillies are fighting against themselves 14:20. And the Hebrews that were with them defected back to their brothers, 14:21.

    Anyway, Saul commands his people not to eat for the rest of the day after victory (Why?)
    I. Saul forbade the people, under the penalty of a curse, to taste any food that day, 24. Here we will suppose, 1. That as king he had power to put his soldiers under this interdict, and to bind it on with a curse; and therefore they submitted to it, and God so far owned it as to discover, by the lot, that Jonathan was the delinquent that had meddled with the accursed thing (though ignorantly), on which account God would not be at that time enquired of by them. 2. That he did it with a good intention, lest the people, who perhaps had been kept for some time at short allowance, when they found plenty of victuals in the deserted camp of the Philistines, should fall greedily upon that, and so lose time in pursing the enemy, and some of them, it may be, glut themselves to such a degree as not to be fit for any more service that day. To prevent this, he forbade them to taste any food, and laid himself, it is likely, under the same restraint. And yet his making this severe order was, (1.) Impolitic and very unwise; for, if it gained time, it lost strength, for the pursuit. (2.) It was imperious, and disobliging to the people, and worse than muzzling the mouth of the ox when he treads out the corn. To forbid them to feast would have been commendable, but to forbid them so much as to taste, though ever so hungry, was barbarous. (3.) It was impious to enforce the prohibition with a curse and an oath. Had he no penalty less than an anathema wherewith to support his military discipline? Death for such a crime would have been too much, but especially death with a curse. Though superiors may chide and correct, they may not curse their inferiors; our rule is, Bless, and curse not. When David speaks of an enemy he had that loved cursing perhaps he meant Saul, Psalm. 109:17,18.

  2. Did the eating of the forbidden honey which brought knowledge seem like a weird genesis parallel to anyone else?

  3. @Leah,

    The honey was not forbidden, all food was forbidden because of the oath and curse Saul had placed on them for that time. It did not bring knowledge, but help renew his strength. Jonathan was hungry and weak because of not eating that day and the fighting. So the little bit of honey, with the comb help renew his strength a little. I don't think the phrase and his eyes were enlightened meant knowledge in this passage, but his eyes were growing dim through hunger and faintness.
    This honey that he ate mad his countenance look pleasant and cheerful, for it was such as a stander-by might discern(v 29): See, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened.
    (Previous paragraph borrowed heavily from MHC)

    What specifically are you referring to in Genesis? The tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? (Genesis 2:17)? If so i don't see a parallel.

  4. @Edward,
    Thanks for clearing up the burnt offering question. You'd think I be able to figure that out by the 9th book!

  5. Just to point out one thing, since I'm so late... in 14:41, Saul draws lots... in the KJV this isn't explained, but the Septuagint (surely preserving the original text) has reference here to Urim and Thummim, the sacred lots. Yep, God DOES play dice.

    KJV: Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect [lot]. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.

    RSV: Therefore Saul said, "O LORD God of Israel, why hast thou not answered thy servant this day? If this guilt is in me or in Jonathan my son, O LORD, God of Israel, give Urim; but if this guilt is in thy people Israel, give Thummim." And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped.

  6. @Bruce,
    "Anyway, Saul commands his people not to eat for the rest of the day after victory (Why?)"
    Stopping to eat would mean that the Philistine army would escape back to their strongholds (which they did anyway - 14:46). In the context, it's evident that Saul was more concerned about this in terms of losing glory instead of gaining a safety-ensuring victory for the Israelites.

    P.S. Nice WoW reference!

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  8. Abbie - It seems to me that the RSV translation you quoted makes the Urim/Thummim look like two sides of a single coin. I mean, a single die has to have at least four sides, right?

  9. I personally favour the theory that they are small flat stones which are drawn blindly from a pouch, such as perhaps a pouch in a sacred breastplate worm over an ephod. Hence the binary nature of the selection process, which looks like a series of Bernoulli trials.