July 14, 2015 Samuel 15 (17)

Here again, God required total obedience and Saul disobeyed by saving the prime sheep and goats in his battle with the Amalekites. He also saved King Agag. Despite the fact that Saul made a burnt offering to God with the prime sheep and goats he took, God did not see that as a good thing. Here it seems that Saul has tried to appease God by giving him a burnt offering which God has not accepted. In this case, it appears that God didn’t accept it because it was the result of Saul’s disobedience. When Samuel found out he called for King Agag to be br0ght to him and he hacked him to pieces. There are several different translations of how the king felt about meeting Samuel. The Message says that Agag went by dragging his feet and muttering that he would be better off dead. He didn’t know that Samuel thought that as well.┬áIn the ASV it says that Agag came cheerfully and thought everything would be ok. KJV has Agag coming delicately and thought the bitterness of death is past. The Lutheran study Bible says the same as ASV, and adds a note that it may also be translated as he came trembling or in fetters and also expresses false confidence about his fate. It seems very strange to see such different translations. After Samuel had hacked the king to death, he told Saul that God would not let him remain king of Israel because of his disobedience. Is this sour grapes on Samuel’s part? He never wanted a king for Israel in the first place. Mark says this is a story that is intended to be told in order to suggest the important role of God in the lives of this small group of people who are trying to accomplish the promise of God and establish themselves in this land. It is interesting that they say they could mount a force of 200,000 men from Israel and 10,000 men of Judah. Steve says that God is being used as an excuse by Israel to suggest a higher being was directing and guiding all their actions. Mark suggested that this book was written about a century after it happened and that maybe verses 34-35 were added to finish out the chapter and the story by putting Samuel in place as the person who heard from God and carried out his command. Mark talked about living your life by rules. He gave as an example dealing with his discretionary fund where he has a rule of not giving more than $250 per year to non-members. But if he hears a good story of a really troubling problem he breaks his rule. Would the God of this story understand or would he insist that Mark follow the rule no matter what? This is a story that deals with the establishment of a nation, namely Israel who had prophets and judges and then finally a king. They had a vision from God about the nation they would create and they built stories that showed how their nationhood was achieved. All of these stories were built around God’s promises, guidance, and commands.

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