Week 20, May 16-20
1 Samuel 16-28
Saul knows that his time as king is short because of his disobedience. God sends Samuel out to anoint Saul’s replacement. As a priest, he would offer sacrifices regularly, so having a sacrifice as his cover to avoid Saul’s reaction is legitimate. He is sent to a man named Jesse, knowing that one of his sons will be anointed. Eliab is the oldest son, but he will not be king. God sees beneath the exterior, unlike man. Seven sons pass by Samuel, and God rejects them all. He has chosen the youngest, David.
The Holy Spirit did in fact reside in Old Testament Israelites. There is debate whether the Spirit indwelled all believers as he does in the church. Psalm 51:11 asks God to not take his Holy Spirit away from him. Granted, the author is David, but it is put on the lips of every Israelite during his day. And yet, there is an Old Testament promise that the Spirit would fall in a special way upon all believers. I think it is sufficient to say that the Spirit is always the agent of redemption, even if the indwelling nature was different under different covenants. All that to say, the Spirit is removed from Saul, which is something that does not happen under the new covenant. In fact, an evil spirit fills him at various times. But David’s worship of God soothes Saul’s condition.
Goliath is not a metaphor for the standard-fare troubles of this world, or trials and temptations. The Philistines were in Israel because of Israel’s sin. God did not send David to teach the Israelites how to defeat their own little Goliaths. He sent David to do what the Israelites could not do for themselves—saves themselves from the judgment of God.
After David defeats Goliath, he becomes friends with Saul’s son, Jonathan. There have been attempts to make their relationship out to be homosexual in nature, which is complete garbage. Perhaps we need more friendships in this world like David and Jonathan. There should have been great jealousy on Jonathan’s part, because he’ll never be king. But it’s Saul who becomes jealous of David. Saul decides to keep his enemies close and tries to marry one of his daughters off to David.
Instead, David marries another of Saul’s daughters, Michal. Saul hopes David’s interests will be divided and the Philistines will overtake him. The only dowry Saul required was, well, the circumcision of 100 Philistines. David went above and beyond and brought 200…trophies…from the Philistines to Saul. David’s willingness to do great things and the love he had from the people made Saul furious. He only saw David as his enemy.
Up until now, Saul had tried to have David’s death look like a consequence of battle. David will try the same tactic to do away with Uriah later in life. But now, knowing that David will always succeed in battle, Saul knows he must be more direct in taking down David. To protect her husband, Michal pulled the ol’ “make a pillow statue of the person and pull the blanket over them and use a tape recorder to make snoring sounds” tactic to trick the messengers that Saul sends to kill David. It gave David time enough to escape.
David land in Naioth for a short time. Eventually he finds his way back to Gibeah and meets Jonathan. Jonathan will find out exactly what Saul intends to do and will get a secret message to David. The plan includes shooting three arrows, something quite normal, much like Samuel and his sacrificing a heifer to go meet Jesse. If the arrows land beyond the servant who will pick up the arrows for Jonathan, David will know that he must flee. Saul intends to harm him again. Jonathan and David part ways.
David is now a fugitive until he becomes the king of Israel. He comes across Ahimelech the priest and asks for food. He lies to Ahimelech and says he’s on official business of the king, and his comrades are on their way. So Ahimelech gives David the show bread, which was reserved for the priests. But in an act of mercy, he gives David the bread. In Mark 2, Jesus commends Ahimelech for giving David the bread. David even tricks Ahimelech into giving him a sword for self-protection through deceit.
David heads off to Adullam and builds himself an army of misfits (his brothers, the anxious, the indebted, and the bitter). Saul catches wind of where David has been, so he heads out to find him. Saul is so enraged that he can’t find David that he has Doeg, his compatriot, kill 85 priests. Ahimelech’s son, Abiathar, is the lone survivor. David promises to protect him.
Saul continues to pursue David, and David proves himself to be a man of higher character than Saul. After fighting some Philistines in battle, Saul finds a cave in order to relieve himself. Lo and behold, David and his men are also hiding out in that cave. This is the perfect chance for David to end Saul’s outrageous behavior. David’s men even think it’s a good idea. However, David still understands that Saul is the man God has appointed a king. To remove him from the throne before God’s time would be a sin against God, not just Saul. David cuts off a corner of Saul’s robe to show how close he was but also how trustworthy he is.
When Saul leaves the cave, David gets his attention. David shows Saul the piece of the robe he has cut off and proved how he had spared Saul’s life. Knowing that this interaction could have gone either way, David is a courageous man. It seems to have its intended effect; Saul recognizes his sinful behavior and repents. He promises not to seeks David’s life anymore, because David is more righteous than him. Saul’s promise is about as good as a bottomless watering can.
In a passing note, we’re told that Samuel has died. David’s men are currently living in the wilderness with and offering protection for the shepherd/servants of a man named Nabal. David sends a small group to Nabal to mention how they have been a big help to his shepherds and how Nabal should feed them. Not losing any sheep is a really big deal in the wilderness when wild animals are all around.
Nabal refuses, which even infuriates his own servants. The servants complain to Nabal’s wife, Abigail, so she sends them food, anyway. This serves to feed David’s men and to assuage David’s anger against Nabal. Ten days later, Nabal dies because of his guilt. David takes Abigail as his wife. David did in fact have multiple wives. Scripture makes no excuse for his sin.
Saul’s promise to no longer pursue David does not last long. Much like when David cut off a corner of Saul’s robe to prove his unwillingness to harm Saul, David now takes Saul’s spear while he sleeps. Once Saul realizes that it was David who has spared him, he again promises to spare David. David knows better, so he flies to the Philistines so Saul stops looking for him.
Since the Philistines are providing cover for David, they expect him to fight with them against Israel. David of course does not expect to actually fight against his own people, but he will see to that later. Saul fears a great military loss, so he wants spiritual guidance. The urim and thummim were the appointed means by which God made know his will. He seeks the Lord, but he receives no answer. He has long since removed all of the mediums from Israel, for which he should be commended. But in this instance, he thinks he needs to contact one of them to get the answer he needs.
What do we make of Saul going to a medium and seemingly hearing from a dead prophet, Samuel? The woman does in fact see Samuel, and once she sees him, she is told who Saul is. The words of the supposed-Samuel do in fact come true. There’s no note from the narrator that this isn’t actually Samuel but a demon instead. It could very well be that God permitted this to happen in order to condemn Saul. God hardened the heart of Pharoah. He gave Judas over to Satan. God does at times act in extraordinary ways. Of course, it would not be impossible to say that this was in fact a demon since it was necromancy to begin with. And, it could be that the demon was planting the seeds of failure in Saul’s mind. And Saul never seems to see Samuel, just hear from him. But context must determine what’s going on.
Jesus himself had a baptism ministry. John 4:2 tells us that Jesus is having his disciples do the baptism while he oversees. John the Baptist is also in the wilderness near Jesus. When John’s disciples start to get jealous about Jesus’s disciples baptizing people, which must surely take away some of John’s glory (thereby taking away their glory, as well). John is content to do the work set before him. He even aligns himself with the return of Elijah as the other gospels do. What’s interesting here is that John is completely aware that he is fulfilling this role. John is happy to the friend of the bridegroom and to let the bridegroom have his day.
Jesus avoids unnecessary confrontation by leaving town once the Pharisees catch wind of his disciple roster increasing. Jesus is never one to turn and run from a fight, but he’s also not going to fight unnecessary battles. He knows the Pharisees are largely out to trip him up and sully his reputation. If you have to get in the mud, don’t get in the fight.
He leaves for Galilee, stops for a break in Samaria, and finds a women getting water at a well. He asks her for a drink, which breaks a long history of hostility between Jews and Samaritans. If the woman knew that it was the Messiah who asked for water, she would have asked him for water that leads to enteral life (he was humble, but Jesus knew how to introduce himself). Earthly water satisfies for a short time, but spiritual water satisfies for eternity.
The Samaritans had built their own temple in the area so they would not have to go to Jerusalem. They even had their own revised Books of Moses, permitting them to do so. However, that temple had been destroyed a little over 100 years before this time. This makes sense of why Jesus tells the woman that there will come a time when people don’t worship on this mountain nor the mountain in Jerusalem. Between Jesus saying that there will be no temple worship one day and him saying that he will be the rebuilt temple in John 2, I see no good reason to believe there will be a rebuilt physical-structure temple in the future. True worship is worship in spirit and truth. God is omnipresent, so a temple is unnecessary unless he commands it. And by this time in the gospel of John, Jesus has said multiple times that he is that temple.
When the disciples return with food, the catch him in 4K having a conversation with a Samaritan woman. But because of her willingness to hear and believe, many come to believe through her testimony about him. Sharing your testimony is good, but if your testimony is more about yourself than the one who saved you, reconsider how you tell it.
Jesus often used the current situation to teach about himself and his work. While they are eating, he says that his real food is to do what the Father has sent him to do. But there is much to be done. Jesus has inaugurated the age to come, and in the meantime, people are being brought into the kingdom. There are those who are sowing and those who are reaping, and they are rejoicing together. We benefit from the work of the prophets and all those who prepared for the way of the Lord. And now that the Lord has come, we rejoice with them.
As they arrive in Galilee, he meets an official with an ill son. It’s unclear if the official is a Jew or Gentile, a religious official or a Roman official. The point remains the same. However, I lean toward the official being Jewish since Jesus says he asks for a sign, which is a common problem for the Jews. The argument for the official being a Roman is that Jesus has already spoken with Nicodemus, a Jewish official (Pharisee and teacher). Then he met with a Samaritan woman, and if the official is a Roman, then it seems Jesus’s impact is growing. Regardless, healing the official’s son is called his second sign.
The Sabbath is always a bone of contention between Jesus and the religious leaders. The feast mentioned in chapter 5 is unclear, but many feasts take place between chapters 5 and 10. At the pool of Bethesda, a man has been sick for 38 years, among many other sick and paralyzed people. In an unusual event, Jesus approaches the sick man and asks if he wants to be healed. Usually, the sick person approaches Jesus. The man gives excuses for why he can’t get in to the pool, but Jesus just tells him to get up because he has already been healed.
The stealthy reader might have noticed that your Bible may or may not have had a verse 4 in chapter 5. The Bibles that include John 5:4 say that an angel swirled the waters of the pool of Bethesda, which healed anyone in there at that time. That note does not show up until later manuscripts. The earliest copies of the gospel of John do not include it. Most likely, this means that a scribe made a note in the margins or within the text itself. When these things happened, the note was clearly a note and not meant to be intended as equally inspired. However, over time, this note was included as part of a tradition in some Bibles.
Jesus heals this man on the Sabbath, attracting the ire of many religious leaders. He even has the nerve to call God his own Father, which the religious leaders clearly understood to mean he was identifying himself as God (5:18). Jesus does not correct the Jews because they’re correct! He simply goes on to explain that the Father and the Son work in tandem. The end result of their work will be the resurrection. Many sources have prepared the Jews for Jesus, including John the Baptist and Moses. If they believed what Moses and John had said, they would see that Jesus is truly God.
Some time later, Jesus is teaching a crowd around the time of the Passover. Here Jesus will feed the 5000; it’s just a matter of how. Jesus takes five loaves and two fish, gives thanks to God, and he gave the people all they could stand to eat. In gathering the leftover, they had 12 full baskets. This was the sign that convinced many that Jesus was the prophet promised by Moses.
That night, as they went toward Capernaum in a boat, a storm starts. They’re in the middle of the lake and horrified. Jesus, as lord of creation, walks out to them on the water to calm them down. Jesus isn’t said to calm the storm, but he does ensure they land at their destination.
As the Jew (religious leaders) approach Jesus about a sign that he is not speaking blasphemy, he again goes into a lesson on his relationship to the Father. Since Moses gave the Israelites bread in the wilderness, if Jesus is a prophet, surely he can do something just as miraculous. He tells them that the bread of eternal life not rye, pumpernickel, or multi-grain wheat, but a man. In fact, he is the bread of life. He has come from heaven to do his Father’s will.
Christology is so important to understanding the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit do not do the same things, but they all do their part in effecting redemption. What distinguishes the persons of the Trinity is not where they come from or who they answer to but what they do. When Jesus says that he comes not to do his own will, he is saying that he does not have a will of his own but that he shares a will with the Father, and by extension, the Spirit.
Even in Jesus’s own day, when he said that the bread he has come to give is his flesh confused many. This whole time, the metaphor of bread carries through. What do you do with bread? You eat it! So when Jesus says that you must eat his flesh and drink his blood, he is carrying the metaphor through. To eat and drink is to receive into yourself and be satisfied. “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has enteral life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (6:54) is the language of being satisfied by what Christ has done. We will not be put to shame if we believe in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins in anticipation of the resurrection.
Psalm 96: God is king over every inch of creation.
Psalm 97: God’s reign lead to rejoicing from his people.
Psalm 98: The noise of creation is praise to God’s glory.
Psalm 99: God is holier than we can imagine.
Psalm 100: Be thankful for God’s goodness.
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