Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Quickly The Mighty Can Fall

I Samuel 13 represents a shift in the story of Saul, first king of Israel.  The tip off is the first verse, which is actually an incomplete verse, lost to time.  It tells us how old Saul was when he became king and how long he reigned, or at least it would if the numbers weren't missing from the manuscripts.  Either way, beginning in chapter 13, the story of Saul is no longer the story of Saul, it's the story of Saul falling from power.

In two chapters Saul loses the support of the most respected man in Israel, Samuel, loses the support of his army as he begins losing battles, and loses the support of his son.  By the end of chapter 14, his people have no regard for him what-so-ever.

Chapter 14 concludes a campaign against the Philistines.  Saul, after losing a battle already, has withdrawn to higher ground while much of his army has fled and is hiding in the hills.  His son, Jonathan, decides to take his armor bearer and head to the Philistine camp by himself.  Long story short, his son attacks the camp, throws the Philistines into a panic, and brings a victory out of what should have been a clear defeat.  The problem is Saul makes a bad call as the supreme general.  He refuses to allow his troops to eat.  Jonathan doesn't know about this order, however, and eats anyway.  Later, Saul orders for his son to be killed for disobeying orders.  The troops' response is telling.

"Shall Jonathan die,who has accomplished this great victory in Israel?"

When I read that verse, what I hear is, "You want to kill Jonathan...who do you think accomplished this great victory, anyway?  Are you nuts?"  The answer being...yes.  From this point forward Saul continues to make poor decisions, eventually losing his mind to jealousy and paranoia.  Israel wanted a king, and they got one, but I'm guessing they realized after the fact that having a king wasn't everything it was cracked up to be.

Stopping point: I Samuel 14

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