Journey through the Bible during the 40 days of Lent
Click here to download the readings for all 40 days. See below for study notes.
Tuesday - 1 Samuel 12 and 13 verse 1 Samuel makes Saul king
So having decided that they will have a king, it comes to pass that Saul, a tall, handsome man we are told, is identified as the one who will be king. He is anointed by Samuel and in chapter 10 reminded of his duties to serve the people. He quickly shows his strength as a leader in battle and so here in chapter 12 when he is confirmed as king we see the passing of authority from Samuel to Saul.
Samuel reminds the people that he has never been corrupt in their service, taking things for himself. But Samuel cannot resist a final attack on Saul, the new king, and in calling down a great storm to devastate their crops, he reminds the people of God’s displeasure at their choice of a king.
So yet again, we see how critical the Hebrew scriptures so often are, of their own rulers and indeed the people themselves. In these days, when we are so critical of our rulers, it is perhaps good to remember that people have often felt this way. We should pray for our leaders, we should hope for wisdom and compassion in them, we should encourage them and one another always to see the common good. But we should idolise people who are powerful. They are human like us.
Wednesday - 1 Samuel 16 God rejects Saul and calls David to be king
So the predictions prove correct. Saul is a man violence who leads his people in war. He takes the best of the men into battle and the land does not know peace. It seems that he is a melancholy and hot-tempered individual. And in time, God comes to reject him as king. It is quite hard to know what this might mean and how it might be manifest, but in our day it becomes clear when a leader is out of touch and has lost confidence even in themselves.
And so the search begins for a new king. Samuel who is still exercising his high priestly duties undertakes this task and goes to view the sons of Jesse who one by one pass by in front of him. Seven sons pass by in front of Samuel but he is clear that none of these has been chosen by God. Jesse admits that he does have one further son, really just a lad who is keeping the sheep. So David is called and makes his entrance into the bible and history. He is anointed by Samuel and God’s favours rests on him. But the time has not yet come for him to become king and he is taken into Saul’s service. We get a glimpse perhaps of the stress and anxiety that Saul suffers for we are told that whenever an evil spirit comes upon Saul, David plays upon the lyre and is able to give him peace.
It is hard not to feel some compassion for Saul who is probably suffering from some mental illness. At least David’s music gives him some relief.
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