Thursday, May 07, 2009

1 Samuel 13-14, Acts 17:16-34

1 Samuel 13-14

This is a difficult section, for a number of reasons. First, the age of Saul when he became king and the length of his reign are both missing from the Hebrew text of ch 13:1 (also missing in the Septuagint). It reads, "A son of a year (the Hebrew idiom for saying that someone is a year old) was Saul when he became king, and he was king in Israel two years." It is possible that Saul reigned for only two years, but he was certainly not a year old when he became king. The TNIV reads, "Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-two years." The number forty for the length of Saul's reign is found in Acts 13:21, but the age of thirty is pure guess-work. Josephus (Jewish Antiquities: 6.14.9 and 10.8.4) gives twenty years, though some manuscripts of the former passage give a total of forty. We can safely rely on the total of forty from Acts, though perhaps as a round number.

This passage also shows the difficulties that the Philistines caused for Israel, both because of their chariots and their iron-works. Chapter 14 shows the ungodliness of Saul, in his inability to wait for Samuel to make his appearance, and his folly, in regard to the vow that he made. Jonathan's violation of the oath from ignorance certainly caused the inquiry of God to be snubbed (14:37), probably not for the purpose of putting Jonathan to death, but the show make evident the foolishness of Saul;s vow.

Acts 17:16-34

This is a well-known passage: Paul debating the Greek philosophers in Athens. His message may be summarized as follows: The God who made us all (united in one blood, vs. 26) is a spirit, the creator of all things. he is also the righteous judge of all deeds, calling all to repentance, and appointing a day of judgment, to be presided over by the man appointed, whom God has raised from the dead as proof that he will judge all.

This raises two questions for us. First, do we proclaim a God who calls to repentance, who will judge, and who has raised a mediator from the dead? Second, are we deeply distressed by the idolatry surrounding us as Paul was?

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