10/12 Reading (1 Samuel 16-18; 1 Corinthians 15)

NOTE: I had a lot to say on this reading.

It has become pretty much a daily occurrence for our President to attack the media. This is typically done on twitter. However, in my opinion, what’s transpired these last few days is the worst he’s ever said. His desire to pretty much end any negative coverage of his administration is definitely getting out of hand. But these statements along with other statements where he’s challenged the judicial and legislative branches of our government bother me. He’s acting more like a King or Dictator than a President. Reading about Saul reminds me a little of what we are currently experiencing. Saul’s lust for power was ultimately his downfall. I wonder if that will happen with Trump. Only time will tell.

1 Samuel 16: The introduction of David. The first part is about the anointing of David. I had never read or heard this story about how David was chosen as the next King after Saul. It’s a really interesting story. Samuel is told to fill his horn with oil and go to see Jesse of Bethlehem. Jesse presents his sons to Samuel. Samuel sees the first one, Eliab, and naturally assumed he was the one chosen by God because of his appearance. God responds with a really interesting statement: “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Have no regard for his appearance or stature, because I haven’t selected him. God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart’” (CEB Study Bible; 1 Sam. 16:7). Fascinating distinction. Jesse continues to present his sons, but all are rejected by God. Finally, Jesse explains that his youngest son, David, is taking care of the sheep. They summon him and we learn that David is who God chose as the next King. Samuel anoints him and God’s spirit came over David.

The chapter ends with explanation of how David first meets Saul. Saul is tormented by God’s spirit leaving him, so he sends for David who knows how to play the lyre. The people believed that music would calm the evil spirit that tormented Saul. Saul didn’t realize that God had chosen David as his successor. Saul liked David and kept him as his armor bearer. This is fascinating!

1 Samuel 17: Before I get into this chapter, I wanted to share the notes from the NRSV version:

An initial version of this story in vv. 1–11,32–49,51–54 has been extensively supplemented in the Hebrew text by vv. 12–31,50,55–58; 18.1–5. The supplementary material is absent from the Greek translation (the Septuagint, or LXX). Its addition has caused inconsistencies relating to David’s presence in Saul’s army, the way in which the Philistine died, and Saul’s acquaintance with David. (NRSV Study Bible, p. 425).

So…that’s pretty cool. Actually, that’s really cool.

Now that I know that little tidbit, the reading makes more sense to me. This is the chapter about David and Goliath. Goliath (a Philistine) challenges the Israelites to send out their best warrior for single combat. They all fear him and flee each time he challenges them (apparently he did this for 40 days). Finally, David is sent by his father to see how his three oldest brothers are doing. David hears Goliath’s challenge and volunteers to go out and fight him. At first Saul says no, but then he agrees. Initially Saul gives David his personal armor, but David is unable to move with it. So he removes the armor and takes his staff as well as stones and his sling and go out to meet Goliath. After some back and forth taunting, David kills Goliath by hitting him in the forehead with a stone that penetrated his skull. This is the story I’m familiar with.

Now, this reading would be really confusing if it weren’t for the notes. First, the text introduces David in a way that makes it seem like this is the first time we learn of David (v. 12). Second, David kills Goliath by hitting him with a stone in his head (v. 49). The very next verse (v. 50) emphasizes this feat directly saying David killed him. Yet, he then finishes Goliath off with his own sword (v. 51). Finally, verses 55-58 are really strange. In this part Saul questions who David is, clearly indicating that he didn’t know David. However, David became Saul’s armor-bearer in the previous chapter.

I spent a considerable amount of space focusing on the discrepancies within this chapter. I just find it really interesting and really want to know more about why this was done this way, especially since according to the NRSV notes these additional verses weren’t in the original Greek translation.

1 Samuel 18: This chapter introduces the tension that emerged between Saul and David, although David seems oblivious to it. Saul began to be very jealous and angry of David, personally trying to kill him on a few occasions and hoping he would die in war. Yet, David continued to win his battles because God was with him. Eventually David married Saul’s youngest daughter. This was done with the hope of David dying trying to fulfill his obligation to Saul for the marriage: 100 Philistine foreskins. Alas, David is successful and Saul became “David’s enemy for the rest of his life” (CEB Study Bible; 1 Sam. 18.29).

1 Corinthians 15: Paul addresses those who proclaim that they don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, but they accept that Jesus was resurrected. He pretty much calls them out, saying the following:

12 So if the message that is preached says that Christ has been raised from the dead, then how can some of you say, “There’s no resurrection of the dead”? 13 If there’s no resurrection of the dead, then Christ hasn’t been raised either. 14 If Christ hasn’t been raised, then our preaching is useless and your faith is useless. 15 We are found to be false witnesses about God, because we testified against God that he raised Christ, when he didn’t raise him if it’s the case that the dead aren’t raised. 16 If the dead aren’t raised, then Christ hasn’t been raised either. 17 If Christ hasn’t been raised, then your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins, 18 and what’s more, those who have died in Christ are gone forever. 19 If we have a hope in Christ only in this life, then we deserve to be pitied more than anyone else. (CEB Study Bible; 1 Cor. 15.12-19)

I have to admit, as an analytical thinker, I have a hard time with this one too. As far as I know, there is no scientific argument to support the notion that the resurrection of the dead is possible. However, as I’ve discussed before, science can’t answer all questions. There are many questions that science can’t and shouldn’t answer. So, scientifically, I can’t say this is possible. But, I can still believe this is possible. This makes me think about the Holy Communion in the Book of Common Prayer. Specifically, Eucharistic Prayer A. There is a really interesting phrase that I want to learn more about on page 363. It comes after Jesus talking about the bread and wine:

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

That first sentence, “therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith,” has always resonated with me. To me, this is exactly what religion is and that’s what makes it so unique. Religion is based on belief whereas science is based on evidence. That’s what makes both of them so powerful and important to society. And it’s also partly what makes me love the work I do. Cool stuff!!!

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