bible blog 1091

This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news

Visisting Lampedusa, the Pope speaks against the “globalization of indifference”

African migrants at Lampedusa

African migrants at Lampedusa

1 Samuel 17:17-30

New English Translation (NET)

17 Jesse said to his son David, “Take your brothers this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread; go quickly to the camp to your brothers. 18 Also take these ten portions of cheese to their commanding officer. Find out how your brothers are doing and bring back their pledge that they received the goods. 19 They are with Saul and the whole Israelite army in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.”

20 So David got up early in the morning and entrusted the flock to someone else who would watch over it. After loading up, he went just as Jesse had instructed him. He arrived at the camp as the army was going out to the battle lines shouting its battle cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines drew up their battle lines opposite one another. 22 After David had entrusted his cargo to the care of the supply officer, he ran to the battlefront. When he arrived, he asked his brothers how they were doing. 23 As he was speaking with them, the champion named Goliath, the Philistine from Gath, was coming up from the battle lines of the Philistines. He spoke the way he usually did, and David heard it. 24 When all the men of Israel saw this man, they retreated from his presence and were very afraid.

25 The men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? He does so to defy Israel. But the king will make the man who can strike him down very wealthy! He will give him his daughter in marriage, and he will make his father’s house exempt from tax obligations in Israel.”

26 David asked the men who were standing near him, “What will be done for the man who strikes down this Philistine and frees Israel from this humiliation? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he defies the armies of the living God?” 27 The soldiers told him what had been promised, saying, “This is what will be done for the man who can strike him down.”

28 When David’s oldest brother Eliab heard him speaking to the men, he became angry with David and said, “Why have you come down here? To whom did you entrust those few sheep in the desert? I am familiar with your pride and deceit! You have come down here to watch the battle!”

29 David replied, “What have I done now? Can’t I say anything?” 30 Then he turned from those who were nearby to someone else and asked the same question, but they gave him the same answer as before.

Donatello's David-his expression a bit like Michael Caine

Donatello’s David-his expression a bit like Michael Caine

The reader may feel a little bewildered. Only verses earlier he has read of David, a “handsome warrior” who plays harp for Saul and becomes his armour – bearer, whereas now in this passage David is again a lad, given the duty of taking supplies to his warrior brothers. This is a result of how the author manages his sources.

Be that as it may, here from the outset we are given the distinctive character of David, courageous, cocksure, a man among men (see how he abuses Goliath as “uncircumcised”), a Jack -the -Lad. The author is preparing the ground for the catastrophe that will come upon Saul and for the irresistible rise of David who will be his successor as king. Notice how the author depicts the action of God. There is nothing grossly supernatural. God achieves his ends by:

1. working through the insights of the prophet Samuel, who anoints the boy David, son of Jesse;

2. working through the continued war between Israel and Philistia

3. working through the character and decisions  of Saul and David.

The author asserts the action of God but all the actions he reports have a purely human explanation. This is a profound and sophisticated faith which needs no breaches of natural causation to display the action of God. From one point of view, all is human; from another, all is divine. This mode of God’s presence is most fully revealed for Christian believers in Jesus of Nazareth.

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