Today we launched into Saul’s battles with the Philistines. It is an interesting story. In chapter 10 verse 7, Samuel says Saul should go forth and prepare for battle, but to wait for Samuel to give the burnt offering in order to have God’s guidance. But after the initial battle, and while waiting for Samuel, Saul became impatient when Samuel didn’t arrive when he was supposed to, and Saul thought he would lose his people, so he offered the burn offering. When Samuel arrived, he was extremely angry and said that because Saul had not followed his orders, Saul would not serve his whole life as king. Then Saul went into battle, but the other big story is his son Jonathon. Saul told his troops that they should not eat until they had defeated the philistines. Jonathon had not heard this and he saw some honey on the ground and ate it and then he got a great idea to go up to make battle with the Philistines. He made a deal with his armor bearer that depending on what the Philistines said they would either charge or hold back. The word came and they charged and killed 20 men just like that. This led to a rout of the Philistines. When Saul found out that Jonathon had disobeyed, he said Jonathon would have to stand for the punishment which was death. But the troops rose up and said this was a foolish oath because they had been too hungry to fight. Saul can’t win even when he tries to do the right thing. But as Mark kept pointing out, this is Samuel’s book and his writers are going to show him in the best light. There was also the issue of the Hebrews fighting with the Philistines at first against the Israelites. Then when they saw things going against them, they left the Philistines and fought with the Israelites. I guess they were sort of mercenaries. I think this is a story about the fight between two powerful men who wanted to show their power. However, Saul needed a better publicist to get his version across. But in the whole set of events, Saul was always at the edge of God’s will. He hurried the priest in his blessing, and he made rash judgments.
Mark talked about the source document theory. Namely that the J source is full of factual details about the event such as is seen in Genesis 1, while the P source is more poetic and flowing like Genesis 2. Here is a link to a reference about the source theory: JEDP Source Theory
Bill’s question in all this is whether this is to be treated as an interesting story as Rabbi Portman suggested, or does this provide some lessons for life and how we should live our lives in God. If so this suggests a sort of unbalanced view of the necessity of obedience to God in our lives.