Summary: God’s selection process - Understanging the Psalms starts by knowing the story and compairing to the poetry.
In the beginning – David 1 Samuel 16
I am not really an American idol fan. I have watched enough to catch on to the concept. I find the whole process to be just a little too much for me. You have 1000’s of people trying out all over the country wanting to become winners and amazingly famous. Over a period of months the cull the 1000’s down to 100 or so. Then the talented people are pretty much all that is in the running. The decisions get harder and I don’t know how many start the TV show portion of the process. But there is a transmission of power…that leaves the professional producers and the famous judges. The people that believe that they know what the people want can suddenly over ruled by the number of people that call in to some phone number and vote….
The choosing, the evaluation of the contestants talent happens however, their expertise is devalued by a bunch of teenagers that know how to use redial and have no better use of their time. The selection of a winner moves from a serious evaluation of appearance, talent and marketability to pure popularity.
Our scripture today describes a selection process which is completely different.
Last week we talked about an overview of the psalms. Last week I pointed out that the psalms are not a story and they aren’t history… they are poetry. Special poetry that uses word repetition and patterns to make a point. The authors also used visual images, emotional pleas and symbolic language to speak to the reader. I also mentioned that between the author and you the storey come alive. The author work and your personal experience make the psalms speak more clearly today that any other kind of literature that has been translated through one or more languages.
In the next couple of weeks we will connect David and some to the psalms in a very direct way. However, this week we are starting with some history reading from 1st Samuel 16.
I decided that we had better start at the beginning where the boy David suddenly becomes noticed. Without going into detail, Saul has been rejected by God for various reasons. And God speaks to his prophet Samuel.
1 Samuel 16:1-5 The LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king."
But Samuel said, "How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me."
The LORD said, "Take a heifer with you and say, ’I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate."
Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, "Do you come in peace?"
Samuel replied, "Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me."
Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
Samuel has a bit of a soft spot for Saul, he has tried to help him and protect him and in verse 1, God is clearly telling Saul to move on. Pick up your ram’s horn filled with anointing oil and head out to Bethlehem.
I have chosen the next king.
Just a couple of points here: Samuel is afraid of what Saul might do if he finds out what God has asked him to do. He is afraid because Saul already has a history of protecting his throne and doing things his own way. He has a tendency not to wait on or even consult God in his decision process.
A second point, Samuel does trust and depend on God and he obeys.
The next observation, the people of Bethlehem tremble at the arrival of God’s prophet.
There is no mention of an entourage or guards traveling with Samuel, so what makes these country folks tremble at the arrival of the prophet?
Could it be that the people feared being guilty in God’s eyes and that the Prophet might be coming to pronounce a judgment on them?
….Guilt Causes Fear. Sometimes worry of guild causes fear too.
I imagine that the news about God’s rejection of Saul has preceded him even to this small town. Perhaps Samuel is trying to hide from Saul and the king might send troops to find him and kill him…because of his pronouncement. What would the king do to the them, the town, if the king thought that they were helping him.