Samuel – Saul, and the Signs

Background

Saul’s anointing in 1 Samuel 10 follows a pattern that can be seen in lives of other leaders.  There is a calling followed by a physical anointing/visitation, that is confirmed by “signs” with the person doing the job they have been called to do.  The reason I say “a pattern” is that every step may not be recorded in Biblical text, or at least a matter of discussion between friends.  God also can individualize the pattern to fit the person and situation.  I can see this pattern in the lives of Moses, David, Samuel, and others.

Like an onion this story has several layers that can be viewed, but all of them are presented as one solid story.  Josephus and Matthew Henry were used in this study and they exposed layers in this story that I had not noticed.

I have said before the anointing of Saul was a “faith building situation” for the old prophet Samuel.  Samuel’s “building” part started the day before Saul arrived in his town.  (NOTE: Many of the places in chapter 9 and 10 are unknown.  It would be fun to be able to follow Saul’s exact footsteps but that is not a reality.)  If this was Samuel’s hometown, this took place in Ramah.  Most maps put this in southern Benjamin near Jerusalem.  So for the Lord to say, “I am sending you a Benjamite” could be viewed as vague.  Samuel took this information and reserved a “royal” portion of the meat; he also knew about the donkeys.

I think these “words” were also given to build faith in Saul, in order to prepare for the anointing the next day. How specific the “words” were is a reflection of God trying to build up Saul, who may have been a little weak in his understanding of God.  I say this because of his need to “reward” the prophet for his time, the timing of when he calls for a fast, and his need to do the work of Samuel with respect to the offerings.

After the physical oil was poured on Saul, he was told that three very specific things would happen: at Rachel’s tomb he would get news of the donkeys, he was required to take bread, and that he would join in the activities of a group of prophets.  I wonder if 10:8 was not a fourth thing that needed to be done.  Verse 7 and 9 talk about his heart being changed before the trip to Gilgal could take place, and some resources put this reference to another time.  Gilgal was where Joshua circumcised the men before the conquest of the land could begin.  The “seven days” may represent the work/rest cycle (Genesis and the Law) before the new time in Israel’s history was to begin.

First Sign – verse 2  This sign has several interesting layers.  Saul being a Benjamite and starting at Rachel’s tomb begins the symbolism.  Benjamin was the thirteenth child of Jacob/Israel and the second child of Rachel.  The only child of Jacob born in Canaan, and this tomb was the starting place of the Tribe of Benjamin.  Zelzah may mean “a cover for his bright spot”, and its exact location is unknown, the text is also rendered “south border.”   There is a traditional Rachel’s tomb near Jerusalem.  This was Saul’s “pull back” to “present problems.”  The men confirm Samuel’s word that the donkeys were found, but that Kish was worried about him.  Saul and the servant may have been gone for a while because it would seem they went north, came in a large arc to the south covering a lot of territory.  Family is the theme that unifies the first sign. This includes past and present.

Second Sign – verse 3 and 4  Saul and his servant were moving toward home.  The next place they were going was the “great tree of Tabor.”  Tabor means brokenness; this shadows Jesus on the cross. Here he would meet three men going to the House (Bethel) of God.  What they are carrying (young goats, bread, and wine) indicates these would be and offering.  Saul was to accept part of their offering; this is stated in such a way as to suggest he might have refused it.  Again there could be several things here that God is working on.  First, it was immediate provisions for them to finish their journey.  Second, pride could have been a factor; in taking the offering it was doing a work in him.  Also it would seem that God was willing to share His offering with them.  The theme here is a personal work done in Saul.   

Third Sign – 5 to 7 The two wanders move now to Gibeah of God.  Gibeah and several variations refer to “hill.”  Here at Gibeah Saul is to meet prophets and join in the prophesying. Samuel tells him that he will be changed as he prophesies because of the Spirit of the Lord.  He is now ready (supposedly) to act as king.  There is still some narrative before he is introduced to the people in verse 24.  The sign’s theme is spiritual change.

Observations – 1.  The Philistine outpost on or near the Hill of God should disturb us.  They let God’s people worship and did not try to stop them, but they were still in charge, and keeping an eye on them.

  1. People noticed the change. Saul’s uncle was curious.  Both Josephus and Matthew Henry comment on this and Saul’s incomplete answer; they feel that if he had told what happened, jealous and ill feelings would have started in the family.
  2. Saul did continue to prophesy. 1 Samuel 18: 10

4. His hiding in the baggage could be seen as him going back to the “old Saul.”

The Bible and Science – Just a Cloud

I saw this driving home today (I did pull over to take the pic).  The two vertical columns are raincell 2developing rain cells.  Even though we see this frequently in south Texas, the science behind this common scene never ceases to amaze me.

H2O

Water molecules get heat from the ground by convection and start to rise.  They bind to dust particle to form droplets.  The heat keeps them going up until the air becomes cool (loss of conventional heating).  The clouds do absorb some radiant energy but the majority of the heat comes from the ground.  Those clouds contain hundreds/thousands/millions of gallons of water and will have more mass than the car I am sitting in; yet they are floating and I am stuck on the ground.  There is a lot of chemistry/physics here: bond angles within the molecule, positive and negative charges that form ions with other chemicals in the air, and the movement of electrons that cause lightning.

HEAT

The force behind all of this is radiant energy from our sun.  The photons or bundles of energy made an eight to nine minute trip from the sun to get here.  Talk about speeding that is 670,616,629 mph.  This heat affects us at the local, continental, and global level.  These clouds/moisture are being pulled into a weather center thousands of miles from the Texas Gulf Coast.  Heat and rotation of the earth build and move these fronts with the help of jet streams (wind bands) around the earth.

COLOR – Black and White

The white part of the clouds maybe easier to understand, but it is still awesome.  Light is reflecting off of all those drops.  They jumble the different colors of light together so we can see the clouds as white.  The black part of the cloud is where the light is being reflected so that it does not make is to your eye.  Someone at a different angle will not see what you see.  We can say it is thicker or really heavy with water, but it still comes down to the light reaching our eyes.

COLOR – Blue

I tend to take the physics of a blue sky for granted.  The angle of the earth and sun, air particle size, moisture, and pollutant level all contribute to our blue skies.

EYES

The very fact that we see it at all is another miracle.  Our eyes are very complex chemical, muscular, and nerve-based organs that are protected inside our skull.  They are attached to a marvelous creation that not only allows us to see the cloud, but to feel emotions and make hypothesis about what is happening, our brain.  I am stopping and not talking about the camera that allowed me to take this picture

JUST A CLOUD, I DON’T THINK SO.

∞Father thanks for Your creation, and help us to remember that there are miracles all around us.

Samuel – Food, Feast, and Fast

Food and Meals

An unusual link that twist the stories in 1 and 2 Samuel together is food and meals.  Eating or abstaining from it are key ingredients in many of the stories in the lives of Samuel, Saul, and David.  The anointing of Saul and David are both served at sacrifices and their accompanying feast (probably New Moon Celebrations).  Fasting stirs the drama of stories with Jonathan and Saul.  The main course at several feasts was treachery, often served with someone dying.Challah_Bread_Six_Braid_1

1 Samuel starts with Elkanah giving Hannah a double portion at the sacrifice and ends with Saul breaking his fast with the fattened calf.  David also feeds a slave to find where the Amalekite raiding party that is feasting on their plunder.  2 Samuel opens with David feasting his enemy who is seeking peace, only to have his general kill him, and additional courses of treachery are added with Amnon and Absalom in chapter 13.  The feasting continues in 1 Kings with Adonijah giving a party to proclaim himself king.  Meals are included in many of the stories, and show the importance of these times in the lives of the people.  It adds the touch of humanity to what could be just a history lesson.

Fasting

Several fast are also talked about in 1 Samuel; too show this use and possible abuse of a way to seek YHWH.  In chapter 7 Israel is fasting at Mizpah repenting before the LORD.  The Philistines attack and God responds with thunder and a rout of the enemy.  A rout and fasting are also in chapter 14, but this seems to be a very “religious thing” and almost cost Jonathan his life.  Saul may have been making amends for his foolishness in chapter 13.  Chapter 20 has Jonathan not eating at a New Moon Festival because he was grieved that his father was determined to kill David.  Saul is again fasting in chapter 18 because he hopes it will find favor with God or Samuel as he consults a witch.  Even though fasting is important it seems Saul did not understand his God and this method of seeking Him.

New Moon Festivals

Personally, the importance of this festival was lost to me until this post, it may become a post of its own in the future.  This was an important time each thirty days for the people of Israel.  The moon was the main time keeping device Israel.  Special sacrifices (1 Samuel 20:29) and celebrations were planned at this time by the people.  The new moon is reminder of “rebirth” and fresh starts with God.  The lunar calendar is important in the Bible and it is something to be aware of as we read Scripture.  I did a brief study of the full moon with a post on Passover.

Food, feast, or fast all find their way into the lives of Samuel, Saul, and David.  They are just as important to us today.  It maybe time with friends and family, fellowship dinners, or cropped-dscf0348.jpgthe Lord’s Supper but all of us have strong memories preserved in the act of eating.

These sites were used for reference on feast and New Moon celebrations.

http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Rosh_Chodesh/rosh_chodesh.html

http://www.jewfaq.org/chodesh.htm , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosh_Chodesh

http://www.beingjewish.com/yomtov/chodesh/newmoon.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challah

Samuel and His Accomplishments

The Prophet Samuel who was raised by Eli, the priest of God, is a foundational person in the spiritual life of Israel.  He is the key spiritual figure between Moses and the prophets Elijah and Elisha.  His story is found in 1 Samuel chapters 1 through 25. Most people have heard at least one sermon about him and the references probably came from 1 Samuel: 1 -3; they are used a lot in meetings where young people are the target audience.  While studying his role in the anointing of the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David, it became apparent just how important he really was to Israel.

We are not told how old he was in chapter 4 when Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas all die on the same day.  Nothing is mentioned of him until 1 Samuel 7: 3 when he is calling Israel to repent.  Verse two gives us a time stamp of twenty years that the ark was in Kiriath Jearim.  Why had it not been returned to Shiloh?

A possible reason is that there was no priest who was of age to carry on the proper worship at the Tabernacle or “Temple.”  Phinehas had sons (4:20 and 14:3) but who trained them in their duties as priest?  I will guess that Samuel either did the training or at least had a hand in doing it; after all he studied under Eli.  There needed to be Aaronic priest to serve before the Ark, Samuel was from Ephraim. (Side note – If I was writing this as a novel the Benjamite in 4:12 would have King Saul’s father, Kish.)

While at Mizaph, where Samuel was leading Israel in their return to God, the Philistines attacked trying to keep them in slavery.  Samuel’s leadership was being put to the test and his response is a true act of faith.  He orders the people to continue in their “crying out to God” and he offers a sacrifice.  God responds to this “faith action” with thunder, “loud thunder” that caused the defeat of the enemy.  (I will assume there was a storm with lightning, but what if God just spoke at the enemy and they heard it as thunder.)

The next time reference is Chapter 8:1 and all it says is that Samuel is “old.”  This and the fact that Nahash the Ammonite king was threatening Israel (12:12) made the people think a “king” would be better.  The remaining years of Samuel’s life was spent in hearing about Saul chasing around after David trying to kill him.

The final reference to Samuel in the Book of Samuel is in chapter 28 after he is dead.  Saul breakers his own decree and the Law of God and consults a witch/medium.  Samuel comes “back” and rebukes Saul once more.

The other mentions of Samuel’s life and deeds are found in 1 and 2 Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 9:22 he and David assigned gatekeepers.  I could think that David just added or continued to what Samuel did since Samuel would have been dead when David got around to doing this.

In 1 Chronicles 26: 28 the things that Samuel had dedicated for the “Temple” were brought in when Solomon had finished the building.  So it seems that Samuel was honoring God with offerings even when the Ark was still in the Tent.

1 Chronicles 29: 29 states that Samuel was a writer/historian.  Other people probably took his work and that of other historians and wrote the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.  I have done parallel studies of these books and combined them into one manuscript.   

2 Chronicles 35: 18 mentions that Samuel was the last leader to celebrate Passover correctly.  He did his best to get Israel to honor God as described in the Law of Moses.

There are still more post to come from the study of the anointing of the first two kings, but I have developed a new appreciation for Samuel and his place in the Bible and the spiritual history of Israel.

Samuel and the Anointing of Saul

Samuel, the last Judge of Israel, got to anoint the first two kings of Israel.  The anointing of Saul, son of Kish, is told in 1 Samuel 9 & 10, while the anointing of David is in Chapter 16.  Samuel had lead Israel since his youth and had been a prophet (seer) as well as the judge/leader of the nation.  God revealed Himself to Samuel by visitation and His written Word, and had used him in mighty ways.

Even with these credentials the anointing of Saul and David was a faith act for Samuel.  He got the “word of knowledge” about the tribe of Saul and his mission; he was even given the knowledge about the donkeys, but no name.  Samuel had even made dinner plans (9:23) especially for Saul.

In 1 Samuel 10 the actual applying of the oil occurs with a very intriguing set of “signs” that had to be fulfilled.  These were Saul’s faith builders; I will have more on them in another post.

There are some differences and similarities in the anointings that Samuel preformed. Both Saul and David were anointed a second time in front of the nation.  Saul’s first anointing was a very private affair; while David’s first one was done in front of his family and the other guest (possibly) at the sacrifice.  Saul received the list of signs that were to be done and it seems that he took his office fairly soon.  David on the other hand waited many years for the second anointing and him receiving his kingdom.  It seems to me that Samuel spent quality time with Saul after the meal (9:25, 26) and again when they met in Gilgal (10: 8), but David only had the time when they were hiding from King Saul (19:18).