bible blog 1089

This is my first blog composed in my new address to which I moved yesterday. I now live in the coastal village of Monifieth, near Dundee

1 Samuel 16:1-13

This is the first blog composed in my new house in the coastal village of Monifieth near Dundee, to which I moved with my wife Janet, yesterday. As usual the blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings, along with a headline from world news.

CAMBODIA LOSES OUT TO LAND GRAB BY SUGAR INDUSTRY A worker loads sugarcanes onto an ox-cart at a farm in Kandal province Cambodia.

New English Translation (NET)

Samuel Anoints David as King

16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long do you intend to mourn for Saul? I have rejected him as king over Israel. Fill your horn with olive oil and go! I am sending you to Jesse in Bethlehem, for I have selected a king for myself from among his sons.”

Samuel replied, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me!” But the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you should do. You will anoint for me the one I point out to you.”

Samuel did what the Lord told him. When he arrived in Bethlehem, the elders of the city were afraid to meet him. They said, “Do you come in peace?” He replied, “Yes, in peace. I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” So he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they arrived, Samuel noticed Eliab and said to himself, “Surely, here before the Lord stands his chosen king!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The Lord looks on the heart

The Lord looks on the heart

Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him to Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one, either.” Then Jesse presented Shammah. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 10 Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Is that all of the young men?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest one, but he’s taking care of the flock.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we cannot turn our attention to other things until he comes here.”

12 So Jesse had him brought in. Now he was ruddy, with attractive eyes and a handsome appearance. The Lord said, “Go and anoint him. This is the one!” 13 So Samuel took the horn full of olive oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers. The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day onward. Then Samuel got up and went to Ramah.

Saul remains King of Israel but the Lord has rejected him. We have here a hint that Samuel is not just an instrument in the Lord’s hand but a flesh and blood prophet who has his own views which do not always coincide with the Lord’s. He has anointed Saul and sympathises with him. The author has been using two sources, one favourable to Saul and one not favourable, and has welded them into a compelling story about the first king of Israel who comes to a tragic end, abandoned by God, who has fallen in love with David who is surely a more frequent and comprehensive sinner than Saul. Truly the Lord can see in the heart things that human beings cannot. His wisdom goes beyond not only physical appearance but also outward actions. 

David is a towering figure in the Bible, a man of giant appetites, capacities and affections, capable of great goodness and appalling evil, but for the biblical author (s) his openness to the Lord’s Spirit which “rushes upon him” is his true distinction. Through the character of David the author provides insights into the character of God. God, he tells us, is beyond human understanding but he reveals himself in the unedifying hurly-burly of human interaction. Now, as then.

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