Thursday, May 14, 2009
1 Samuel 26-28; Luke 2:36-3:6
1 Samuel 26-28
This is the second opportunity David has to take the life of Saul. Once again, Saul responds with the words of repentance and acknowledgement of sin (see vs 21). But David clearly does not believe him. It is the case likewise with many of us. We know people who are frequently professing repentance, but there is never any change of life to accord with it. That seems to be David's analysis of Saul's statement, because immediately afterwards, based on the sense that he will die at the hand of Saul, he moves to among the Philistines. He still does not attack Israel, but misleads Achish into thinking he has.
The continuing decompensation (look it up--it essentially means that he was falling apart) of Saul has begun the slide down the steep slope. There is no stopping Saul from unraveling at this point. He demands a word from God that is not forthcoming. You readers take note. If you persist in rebellion against God, or more simply in disobedience to his commands, do not expect that God will answer your prayers. He shuts his ear to the wicked. This is another indication that Saul's repentance is only skin deep. That, plus the fact that Saul was ready, out of his own desperation, to undo a righteous law that he himself had imposed (see 28:3).
As for the appearance of Samuel, I do think it was Samuel appearing, by special dispensation of God, in order to pronounce judgment on Saul. Note how the medium is terrified. This appearance was something entirely unexpected for her, hence it was out of the ordinary, and not brought about by her machinations in the "spiritual realm."
Anna's appearance parallels that of Simeon, but she is given no specific statement, except the reporting of her own testimony to all who would listen regarding the appearance of God's anointed. Note also the comparison of Jesus with John (2:40, 52; cf. 1:80), and thus with the Old Testament prophets, especially Samuel. Luke is continuing to draw the lines of the Jesus' portrait as the fulfillment of the great prophet. This is further illustrated by the one episode we have from Jesus' boyhood, his discussion with the teachers in the temple. Here we also learn that Jesus has a clear sense of his calling and purpose. There appears to be no uncertainty on the part of Jesus about who he is or what he is about. This is in contrast with a portrait often painted by scholars, who seem to think that Jesus really didn't know much about who he was and what he was supposed to do until well on into his ministry.
The preparation for the ministry of Jesus begins with the ministry of John the Baptist. This is one of the few things that is set forth clearly in all four gospels.