Friday, May 08, 2009

1 Samuel 15-16; Acts 18

1 Samuel 15-16

This is perhaps the most tragic story in the story of the young kingdom. Saul, who earlier was not ready to put himself forward has now become the interpreter of the word of God, and the decider of right and wrong. Note that he attempts first to claim that he has been obedient (15:20), and then places the blame upon the people (15:21, 24). Thus he intends to have Samuel compare the situation to what was recounted in the preceding chapter, where the army, be hungry because of Saul's foolish vow, began to slaughter the sheep and eat them with the blood still in them (14:32). Saul was then forced to come in and correct the people's behavior. However, the text tells us (15:9) that Saul had the lead in the action of sparing Agag, and the people went along.

Therefore God repented of making Saul king (15:11, 35). But in Samuel's rebuke of Saul, he says, "the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man that he should repent (15:29)." Many translations try to hide the fact that the same verb (repent) is used in vss 11 and 35 as is used in vs 29. Clearly it is being used in a different sense in vss 11 and 35 than it is in vs 29. But the writer wants us to struggle with the fact that while the Lord's rejection of Saul seems to present a change in God's mind, it is an action that is not contrary to his character as Truth itself. Saul himself has caused the rejection.

In chapter 16, we have the account of the selection David as Saul's replacement. Here the emphasis is on David's heart (vs 7), whereas with Saul, all the emphasis had been on his appearance. Saul looked like a king. David was of kingly character and mindset. It should be noted here that "a man after God's own heart" is often taken to mean that David had a great love and affection for God. There is no doubt that he did, as the Psalms demonstrate, but that is not what the phrase means. The "heart" in the Old Testament is primarily the seat of intellect and will. Thus a man after God's own heart was a man who saw things from God's perspective, and willed himself to act accordingly. This will become clear in subsequent chapters.

Acts 18

In the wake of continued Jewish opposition to the gospel, Paul shook the dust off his cloak (vs 6) and declared his determination to focus on the Gentiles. The chapter also gives the account of Paul's return through Asia, and of the appearance of Apollos

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