Thoughts for Tuesday 19th January 2021

Psalm 86; 1 Samuel 15:10-31; Acts 5:1-11

I would defy anyone to read our passage from 1 Samuel today, and not think at this time of Donald Trump. Saul is someone who, anointed by Samuel, stands a foot taller than anyone else in Israel. He’s more handsome. He hasn’t had the job very long (just since 1 Samuel 10), and already he’s lost it – not once, but twice. The first time was at 1 Samuel 13:13-14, and here at 1 Samuel 15:23 it happens all over again. Saul is once again rejected as King.

It’s not clear why. In 1 Samuel 15:23, rebellion and arrogance are cited. But in chapter 13, the fault seems to lie more, I would suggest, with Samuel’s lack of punctuality, or his petulance, than Saul’s impatience. If Samuel had arrived on time, then everything would have been fine. Here in chapter 15, Saul does tell a bit of a fib when he explains that the livestock his men have taken are destined to be sacrificed. Is Saul’s crime an inability to stand up to his men? Or is it maybe his reticence to fully prosecute the Amalekite genocide?

As a military man, Saul must have known that an army marches on its stomach (Napoleon? Frederick the Great?), and that to deny his men food in the previous battle as part of the Israelite campaign against the Philistines was foolish. But being prepared to kill his son, Jonathan, afterwards, for unwittingly eating some wild honey during the battle, turns Saul into a monster. It’s good that ‘the people’ (1 Samuel 14:45) do manage to intervene, and save Jonathan’s life.

So what was it really that made Saul unfit to lead the Israelites? Up until this moment in his reign he seems to have been doing quite a good job by the standards of the previous prophets. Is it the monument he has built to himself at Carmel (see 1 Samuel 15:12). This does seem a bit Trump Tower-ish! Or maybe he was too quick to rush to grab the loot (1 Samuel 15:19)?

The inauguration of Joe Biden as President of the United States of America takes place in Washington D.C. tomorrow. With an impeachment-count of two behind him (one for abuse of power, and the other for incitement of insurrection), we might assume that, just as Saul, Donald Trump has now well and truly been rejected too.

If I can, though, sound just a wee word of warning, and it’s this: that although Saul is rejected at 1 Samuel 15, and Samuel then anoints a brand new king (David) at the start of the very next chapter, it’s actually not until fully 15 chapters later (and that’s almost half the book!) that we do eventually see the last of Saul.

And now, for reflection, a song lyric by Woody Guthrie:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.

I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me.

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn't say nothing;
This land was made for you and me. 

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.

In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I'd seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

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Page last updated: 19th January 2021 10:47 AM