First Samuel

1:6 – if bigamy is such a hot system, why did the Semitic languages have a unique word to describe one wife from the point of view of the other –“carah” – Rival – root: to vex!

1:9 – on leaving the dinner table when upset – turned for help from the Lord and returned refreshed to finish supper. Just how much hassle (year after year) can a person take? – relief at a church social! Interesting that the old priest assumes she's drunk! Must've happened a lot at church socials! (Very common later).

2:2 – "holy" = transcendence

  1.  but means "otherness" not "remoteness" to Hebrews
  2. active quality in showing his Holiness or sanctifying his name, therefore rely on him when the arm of the flesh fails and therefore no equivalent "rock of stability anywhere else"
  3. "hallowed be thy name" is invoking that kind of active otherness and aligning oneself with the effect of its thrust.

2:9 – "faithful ones" (and ones to whom God is faithful) has a dominant element of loyalty not religious emotion!

2:1-10 – power and responsibility on God's part – he's "integrated at a high moral level" as Fosdick would say.

2:11 – clerical and moral – pushed into a situation. Why did one set the sons not mature morally and Samuel did? To what extent are "more Christians made on the mission field as missionaries than anywhere else? Home and church – what does context have to do with Christian growth?

2:12-17 – clerical special privilege – security and extras – theologically sugar-coated so often – how blind we are to our own sin and quick on the sins of others! And our privilege is of a different sort... as with all "professionals".

2:14 – valued their own portion higher than that of Lord – that's the ritual problem here.

2:36 – like now – to be a minister when there's a job shortage!

3:1f – those were spiritually lean times – like ours

3:10 – "speak, Lord, for thy servant hears". God speaks even in lean times and yet not knowing the Lord, we mistake it for other voices – it seems we need at times, the help of others to realize the nature of his contact with us.

3:18 – on recognizing God's hand in the bad things that befall us – spiritual discernment.


– "the Lord let none of his words fall to the ground". Interesting phrase and assumption of who sustains God's word through people... and we huff and puff and make so much effort to do his part of the job.

3:20 – the established prophet – and everyone knew it. With a vision channel for God to speak through.

4:18 – the loss of the ark was more a blow than the loss of his sons – but the combined blow was more than old (and pregnant) people of the family could stand. A poignant tragedy in this family.

5:5 – note that the toppling of the Dagon statue didn't stop its worship – people just learned not to stand too close! Actually, because it was now taboo ground.

6 and 7 – an early account of the Bubonic plague perhaps.

8:3 – it just does not run in the bloodstream!

8:7 – rejection of the bad sons and God at the same time – "enough of this religious stuff, give us a king"

9:2/10:22-23; 15:17 – was he tall and handsome, or tall and awkward with a low sense of self-esteem. I hunch the latter and this is a tragic story of one who was "Little in his own eyes" and crossed a heavy dude like Samuel – I feel for this guy.

9:1ff – Samuel a seer here not a judge who beat the Philistines

9:2 – "Saul"= "asked for" – was Samuel's birth story once shifted to Saul?

9:9 – seer = prophet, a change in terms – what they are called is secondary to what they are. So today. But a shift from visionary emphasis to "to utter" God's Word. The two philosophies of prophecy are reflected in the positive and negative views of kingship. (Hosea was anti-king also)

9:27ff – "stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God" – an action and notice of confirming words and instructions to respond to opportunity at the end of the signs and the coming of spirit and God will look after the rest. (The opportune action was key, as it brought Saul to public attention... "for God is with you". Then wait seven days and I'll come show you what you are to do.

10:5-7 – did Saul "find to do" the overthrow of this garrison, or perhaps appealing for, and getting help from, Jebbish Gilliad – and did the people make him king after this "Declaration of Independence" – i.e. "the Boston tea party"?

10:9 – "when Saul turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him a new heart". Isn't that just like Ivan said – God gets through to each of us in a way that we are absolutely sure it is him, not other people, events, things etc. – because he wants us.

10:22 – was Saul an awkward shy tall kid chosen by an arbitrary system "hidden among the baggage" – i.e. a tragic character out beyond his depth, run by the generals? Even schizophrenic – or is this two accounts, two people, legend after the fact?

11:3 –Nahash was overconfident of his own position of strength – Israel was so low under Philistines that his Ammonites expected no assistance from Israel, so what was seven days – a cheap victory!

11:6 – "and the Spirit of God came mightily upon Saul"... here's Saul this seen as being moved by the Holy Spirit to respond to a community crisis – a far cry from our limp version of inspiration by the spirit out of this world!

11:15 – there seems to be at least two pro-monarchy traditions – where was he made King, or was this reaffirmed several times as a community grew into "owning" the idea. Like baptism – it is "once" when we buy into it, regardless of how many times it's repeated outwardly for whatever reasons – and these repetitions are not without their graces.

12:7 – a part of Israelite genius is that "righteousness" as part of God's character always ties in the concept of that trait as seen in righteous actions to God's people! A far cry from our self-righteousness! (Therefore put on his righteousness as a breastplate – Ephesians) "the saving deeds of the Lord"

12:20 having made a goof as a nation, Samuel counsels them to still follow God and he'll still pray for them. In Samuel's estimation even a major goof up doesn't thwart God's plans and activities.

13:4 – who was Saul and what did he really do? Jonathan fought the battle (Saul very young in the story so far) and Saul sounded the national alarm – in response to the events? Was this what he put his hand to do?

13:19 – an early protective monopoly! And early account of the transition to the Iron Age.

13:12 – Saul just didn't seem to have what it takes and was impatient. We all get edgy and want to pick up the reins when it looks hopeless and we are faced with God asking, "do you trust me? Do you trust me?" And when things get worse and worse "do you still trust me?" I find it's not so much we trust him (experientially) as we admit our lack of trust (experientially) on/in anything else – our lack of any more tricks is really what we say when we admit "faith" in him!

14:12 – signs in events – a common approach.

14:19f – Saul seeks an Oracle (or starts to, then drops it for quick action) there is a time when God says "go for it, don't hang around here!"
–  "Withdraw your hand, priest" – the word has come through the "activity channel" not the prayer or Scripture channels.

– Jonathan entices (word?) his father but goes along with authority as binding. His approach to refreshment is more practical – does it indicate a shift in battle psychology from internal to external resources (who wins battles?). I doubt it due to his own reliance on "signs" earlier and with  Urim and Thumin.

14:45 – likely another person was selected by the soldiers as a stand-in for Jonathan and was executed in his stead. Nice bunch of guys these guys!

15:14f – "then what is this bleating in my ears... then "stop! I will tell you..."  Ah! – storytelling and excuses!

15:17 – "though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel?" Who was this Saul, what of these two traditions about him?

15:22f – prophetic utterance – obedience essential basis of sacrifice.

15:27 – an intense personal struggle of the soul for Saul. Once the robe tore, Samuel could go with Saul because the point was evident now to all (torn robe in public).

15:29 – a Jewish contribution to religion – difference between men's and God's moral integrity – God doesn't deviate, man does.

15:35 – complete estrangement but broken hearts.

16:1f – Judah was always a tribe apart from the rest – here they shift to a king from Judah results in a split of Judah from the others – North and South kingdoms eventually. Cf. perhaps they enter the promised land from the South separately.

16:7 – selection – look inside not outside, use God's approach not man's approach in selection for leadership.

16:13 and 14 – God's spirit was seen to come with power on kings and prophets only at this stage (and depart from them). Leadership "under the influence" (and not "under the influence")!

16:14 – a limited understanding of mental illness – just that unusual effects come from unusual causes – it must be from God!

16:16 – music therapy!

17:25 – did David do in Goliath for the chick?! He sounds somewhat swashbuckling like _________ (withheld).

17:47 – for the battle is the Lord's and he will give it into our hand.

17:51 – psychological warfare – "a sign" to them they were of less strength
17:25 – tax-free! (Reward)

18:8 – paranoid schizophrenic? Or just envy. David was moving in on Saul's turf.

18:25 – a series of plots to get rid of David indirectly only backfire in his face.

18:28-29 – what fantastic observation of interpersonal dynamics: saw: – the Lord is with David (not with himself); all Israel loved David (not himself) – fear of David arose; David was his enemy continually.

– jealousy, loss of status, guilt, insecurity, out over his head in a job he had not wanted anyway – I feel for Saul in all this too – just like the clergy today caught in a period of social change and crushed under the turning of wheels. I wouldn't want to be contesting any "David" in terms of popular whim!

19:1f – even his kids know he's nuts now.

20:13-20 – Jonathan – a conflict in loyalties and an insight into the perception of Jonathan about his father that God had been with him too (20:13) Jonathan changes "houses" at this point, to David's (20:16).

20:30-34 – nice family meal!

20:30f – note David's attracting the intangibles of royal position through this time – for example Jonathan's public friendship and deference. Looks like Jonathan (as his father) didn't want the job.

22:1f – a motley band of brigands.

22:3f – the Moabite connection – David's great-grandmother was Moabite (see Ruth)

23:6f – getting God's word through the Ephod – yes/no questions and answers.

23:26 – a close call for David – God in the events of our larger life?

24:20 – royal blessing flows after a display of mercy – God like? Or was David afraid God would get him? Or does it make any difference?

25:18f – a fascinating tale of Abigail and her churlish husband. His stroke on hearing of her actions was seen as God's punishment. She really got his balls – enough to kill any man, churlish or not.

28:3f – the last lonely end of Saul – what a tragedy. Samuel even haunts him! Abandoned by God to necromancy!

30:6 – even David had his time of being at odds with his community (____? him) and gets help from God... like in Psalm 139.

30:23f – a law in the making

31:6 – a favourite tree?