Friday, 1 August 2008

Saul the King

Picking up the story where we left off, Samuel promised that Saul would be the King of Israel. Hooray for Saul, right? Well, Samuel tells Saul that he will go to Gilgal and then wait 7 days for Samuel's arrival at which time Samuel will tell him what god wants Saul to do. Easy right?

In the meantime, Nahash makes a move against Jabeshgilead. The people of Jabesh basically surrender and Nahash says that he wants to take out all their right eyes. The people of Jabesh ask to send out messengers to find a savior, and miraculously Nahash allows it. What kind of moron would allow this to happen? Anyway, Saul uses the opportunity to slay the Ammonites (Nahash's people) all throughout the day. This gives him leverage and he goes to Gilgal to become the king. As so often happens in this book, the man who can cause the most bloodshed gets to become king! Anyway, Samuel comes and officially makes Saul king, although there is no mention of how long it took.

Two years later, the Philistines and the Israelis start warring. Saul goes once again to Gilgal and somehow remembers that he's supposed to wait 7 days for Samuel, even though he's been there before and Samuel didn't specify when this would happen. This is all very strange of course, but let's move on. After 7 days, there's no sign of Samuel. Saul's army is leaving him, he's about to be beaten by the Philistines, so he orders a sacrifice to god. At this point Samuel finally shows up and rebukes Saul for not following god's orders and claims that god will now choose a new king.

But, what was Saul to do? If he were smart, he might have invoked the Jewish law that said a prophet that is mistaken does not come from the lord and must be put to death, but he didn't do that. Instead, he found himself in a bad spot because god's messenger didn't do what god said he would. IOW, god lied, and Saul ended up paying the price for it. Not only that, but Saul was seeking to please god and was rebuked for doing so. Is there any way one can look at god's actions here and not see a capricious, mean deity? Didn't god know this would happen? So, why make Saul king at all if Saul would disappoint? Once again, we find a god that is very much less than perfect.

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