1 Samuel 16-18
1 Samuel 16-18
Samuel is ordered by God to go anoint a new king because Saul has been rejected for his repeated disobedience. He’s told to go to Bethlehem and anoint one of the sons of a man called Jesse. When he arrives he goes through the sons one at a time, and none are the one. He asks if there’s any other sons, and Jesse says there is, but it’s the smallest and youngest and so he didn’t bother to call him in.
This scene leads us to the theological truth that the condition of the heart, and it’s orientation towards the things of God, are far more important than any exterior characteristic. God didn’t choose the tallest, or the most handsome, or the one that was the best orator, or even the most learned. God chose David because of David’s heart.
After his anointing we hear about Saul suffering from what’s called an evil spirit sent by God. Not exactly clear what is specifically meant by this, but we do know that David’s music was about to sooth and comfort Saul during his affliction.
Now we get to another extremely famous story from the Old Testament, David and Goliath. Saul and his armies are encamped in a valley across from the Philistine army, and their giant comes forward with a proposal to settle the war via single combat. Sounds like a good idea, that would save lots of lives, but the man that proposed it was literally a giant. If the Israelites took him up on his offer they’d surely loose.
This went on for 40 days and not one man took up the challenge, not Saul or any of his warriors, and they allowed this giant to blaspheme God with no repercussions. The number 40 is often used in a time of testing, and they failed the test. But David comes along and hears what Goliath is saying about God and Israel, and he volunteers to go fight him.
This chapter ends with Saul asking who David is, because he’s apparently unfamiliar with him. This may be caused by the writer of Samuel placing this story here to show David’s bravery and desire to defend the honor of God. We’ve already been introduced to him and he’s been anointed king, and he’s also played the harp in Saul’s court, but now he doesn’t know him? So the chapter being out of order chronologically reconciles these parts. Also a possibility is that Saul has been so tormented that he’s forgetting who people are. Either option is possible.
David returns to Saul’s court and his fame becomes too much for Saul. He’s unaware that he’s already been anointed by Samuel, but he is suspicious. He starts sending David on dangerous missions against the Philistines but he always comes back. Then he offers his daughter Michal as a bride to David, but requests a very strange payment. His thoughts being they’ll get David killed, but for all he tried he failed, and David paid the bridal price and became his son-in-law.
Saul, who was just an accessory to murder of the first martyr Stephen, goes on a rampage to smother this movement before it takes hold. The irony here is that Saul is a disciple of Gamaliel, who spoke during the Sanhedrin trial of Peter and the apostles, that they should leave these Christians alone and let them fizzle out on their own, or if they are for real then they wouldn’t be able to stop them anyway. He also warned that if they were unable to stop them due to God being on their side, then they wouldn’t want to be trying or they’d be going up against God. When Saint Paul looks back on this period with shame, I wonder if he remembered the words of his teacher and regrets not listening to them.
Philip goes to Samaria and continues the ministry of Jesus. He told them the good news, healed the sick and cast out demons. The magician simon was also baptized, but it seems like he wasn’t interested in the preaching aspect of Philip’s ministry as much as the miracles. Because when Peter and John come to lay hands on the people to confer the sacrament of confirmation on them, Simon asks to buy this power to confirm people. But Peter curses him out, and this is where we get the sin of simony from. That is the buying or selling of blessings or spiritual goods.
While this is happening, Philip gets a calling from God to go speak to an Ethiopian eunuch who’s in a chariot heading home from Jerusalem. Samaria is north of Jerusalem, but Philip meets this eunuch on the road by Gaza, that’s a distance of at least 50 miles, and he runs up beside a moving chariot. Luke gives us all these details with any fanfare, but I believe they’re miraculous in nature.
The eunuch is reading Isaiah, and the portion called the song of the suffering servant. It tracks so closely with what happened to Jesus during his passion that it’s mind blowing. And the eunuch asks Philip who is this passage about, so he segues into the gospel fro there seamlessly and ends up baptizing him along the road.
1 Samuel 19-20