Monday in Week 2

I Samuel 15.16-23; Psalm 49; Mark 2.18-22

The two sequential books of Samuel record the history of Israel through the focus of the first named prophet, Samuel.  Samuel’s own death is recorded in I Samuel 25.1 (he makes a spectral re-appearance in I Samuel 28) but the narrative continues without him.  Samuel was the transitional figure between the judges and the monarchy [I Samuel 8.1-5], and again the transitional figure between the reigns of King Saul and King David.

Samuel had an at best ambiguous attitude towards the monarchy as a form of government for Israel.  (The book of Judges, in which Samuel plays no part, is punctuated by the repeated refrain ‘In those days there was no king in Israel, and every man did as he pleased’. [e.g. Judges 21.25]) The book of Samuel in our Bibles, though, is an editorial construction, contrasting the points of view of an anti-royalist [I Samuel 8; 10.17-24; and chapter 12] with that of a royalist [I Samuel 9—10.16 and chapter 11].  Samuel himself is made into a kind of bridge between the two positions.  Saul is depicted as an unworthy monarch [I Samuel 13.13-15] so Samuel breaks with him in order to advance the royalist position.  Samuel declares the judgement of the lord himself to Saul: ‘He has rejected you as king.’ [I Samuel 16.23]

David is portrayed as ‘a man after [the lord’s] own heart’ [I Samuel 13.14] but his descendants are mostly decried as unworthy.  The monarchy is brought to an end by the Babylonian invasion.  Yet even in exile the nation hoped that a King ‘like David’ would arise again.

Posted in Daily Reflection.