Sunday School Lesson #21

May 25, 2006 | 31 comments
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Lesson 21: 1 Samuel 2-3, 8

One can reasonably argue that the book of Judges shows us the decline of Israel to a situation in which they have to have a king to lead them, and that the treatment of women that we see in Judges is a sign of that decline. One can also argue that Ruth is a response to that theme in Judges. How does the story of Hannah fit into that theme?

Chapter 2

Verses 1-10: Note the parts of this song: thanksgiving (1-2), a warning to the arrogant (3), the reversal of fortune (the high are brought down, the low are exalted—4-8), and an expression of confidence (9-10). (The song is, roughly, chiastic.) What is the overall theme of the poem? How does this song fit Hannah’s situation? How might it also be important to us? Are there parts that seem not to be relevant to Hannah’s situation? If so, what do you make of that?

Verse 1: Most commentators suggest that the metaphor, “mine horn is exalted in the Lord,” is that of a proud animal carrying its head high? (Compare Psalm 92:10 and 89:18.) Does that make sense to you? Do you have an alternative interpretation?

Verse 3: Against what does the Lord warn here? How does the poem explain that warning?

Verses 4-5: In verse 4 and the first half of 5, we have examples of God knowing how to weigh actions and respond. In both cases, the strong become weak and the weak become strong. However at the end of verse 5, the order is reversed: the weak become strong and the strong become weak. Can you see any reason for that change?

Verse 5: This verse clearly applies to Hannah’s situation, but why does her song also include so many things that do not apply to it?

Verse 6: Some doubt that this verse refers to actual death and resurrection. Why might they doubt? What alternative understanding is possible?

Verse 10: How do you explain the reference to a king at the end of this verse when Israel didn’t have a king at this time?

Verse 11: Notice the simplicity with which the narrator tells how Hannah kept her promise. Notice, too, the contrast of this verse, with the song that came immediately before it. What is the effect of that difference?

Verses 12-17: Why do we have so much detail about the sins of Eli’s sons? Compare verses 13-15 to Leviticus 7:23-36 and 17:6, and Deuteronomy 18:3. What specific sin do we see here? At the end of verse 14 we read, “So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither,” after a description of how the priest in Shiloh chose meat for the priests. What is the point of that clause?

Verse 18: Once again, we have one short verse describing Samuel’s service, in contrast to the many verses that describe the “service” of Hophni and Phinehas. Once again, that contrast lends emphasis to this verse. The literary structure here is interesting and, I think, informative: Verses 1-10 are parallel to verses 12-17, and verse 11 is parallel to verse 18. It’s as if the writer is saying: Hannah praised—and Samuel served; Eli’s sons blasphemed—and Samuel served. What is the effect of that parallel? What does it say to us?

Verse 23: What sin do Eli’s sons commit? Why is it such a serious sin. (Most traditional Jewish commentators have found the sin so repugnant that, rather than believing that the verse means what it says, they have assumed that it means something else, such as that, somehow, the sons delayed the women who worked in the temple.)

Verse 27: Who is this “man of God”? Is he a prophet? If he is, why do we not know his name? If he is not, how do we explain what he says to Eli? What is the status and place of the prophets during the time of the Judges?

Verse 29: How has Eli honored his sons more than the Lord? How might we do that?

Verse 30: Does this verse show us the Lord changing his mind? If so, how do you explain that. If not, why not?

Chapter 3

Verse 1: The word translated “precious” could also be translated “rare.” What are the different meanings that “rare” might have in this context? Why might the word of the Lord have been rare in those days? Why is important to the story we are reading for us to know that the word of the Lord was rare then?

Verses 2-4: Why might Samuel have been sleeping near the ark? In addition to the practical reasons for doing so, is there any symbolic significance to the fact that he was? (Where was the ark kept?)

Samuel’s answer to the Lord means “Behold, here I am,” or even, “See me here.” In Arabic, one answers a call even today with something similar—”Ready”—and that is part of the import of this response. In scriptures we find this phrase commonly used when prophets respond to a call. For other examples of the phrase, see verse eleven of this chapter, Genesis 22:1; 27:1 and 18; 31:11; and 46:2; Exodus 3:4; Isaiah 6:8; and 2 Nephi 16:8. We also see it in Moses 4:1 and Abraham 3:27, in the calling of the Savior and in Satan’s rebellion. Compare what happens here to what happens in Genesis 22, where we see the same kind of language in another case, and Genesis 3:9-10 and Exodus 20:18-21, where we see cases in which people don’t respond to a call from the Lord in this way. What might it tell us that Samuel and other prophets respond this way? In other words, what kinds of things are implied by the answer, “Here I am” or “Behold me here”? Do our covenants imply that this should be our response to the Lord’s call? Is everything we are asked to do by someone with Church authority a call from the Lord? If not, how do we decide what is and what isn’t? Might a person reasonable accept every call extended even if she doesn’t believe that every call is a call from the Lord? Why?

Why does the Lord call Samuel over and over? Why not just tell him who it is that calls?

Verse 11: What is the “thing” that the Lord is going to do? Is he referring to the capture of the ark, or to that and all of the events surrounding that capture, the defeat of Israel, the death of Eli and his sons, etc?

Verse 13: The Lord says that Eli didn’t restrain (literally “rebuke”) his sons, but we saw him doing so in 1 Samuel 2:23-25. How do you explain this seeming contradiction?

Verse 14: Does this verse mean that there could be no way of expiating Eli and his family? What way might there be?

Chapter 8

Samuel was judge of the people. Was he also a prophet? How would you justify the answer you give?

Compare chapters 7 and 8. What does chapter 7 show Israel doing? What are they asking for? What is Israel doing in eight? What are they asking for? What is the narrator trying to show with this contrast? Compare Israel’s attitudes in these two chapters with Hannah’s attitude in her song. What are the parallels? The differences?

Verse 1: Does Samuel step down as judge or appoint his sons as assistants?

Verses 3-5: Is the elders’ request reasonable? What reasons do they give for their need of a king? (See also verse 20.)

Verse 6: Why is Samuel displeased?

Verse 7: How is the request for a king a rejection of God? Is there anything parallel in our own lives or circumstances?

Verses 10-18: What are the problems with having a king?

Verse 20: Is this an afterthought or is it one of the people’s sincere reasons for wanting a king? If the latter, what is wrong with the request?

31 Responses to Sunday School Lesson #21

  1. Ben S. on May 26, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    The interesting thing about Samuel is that he is neither Aaronid nor Levite. Chronicles has to rewrite his geneaology to make him one.

  2. Jim F. on May 27, 2006 at 12:26 pm

    Ben S., that’s a good point. And it seems to me that he is both judge and prophet, but if he is one or the other, he’s more judge than prophet. What do we make of these odd cases, especially when the odd case is someone as important as Samuel? Samuel helps us see that we cannot simply “translate” ancient Israel into the modern Church.

  3. Mike Parker on May 30, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    With regard to 1 Samuel 8, here are some notes I took on a presentation on “the Samuel Principle” given by Larry Dahl:

    Download PDF file.

  4. Jim F. on June 1, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    Mike Parker: Thanks for that link. I am sure many readers will find it helpful.

  5. BrianJ on June 3, 2006 at 9:43 am

    1 Sam 2:1-10, known as the Song of Hannah, are read by Jews on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). These verses are followed on the second day of Rosh Hashanah by Jer 31:1-19.

    Mike Parker: thanks for the notes on the Samuel Principle. I am wary that what I want to say will cause a thread-jack, so I will just say that your notes were very helpful in understanding some strong feelings I was having while studying 1 Sam 8:7-9, 18-20.

  6. Jim F. on June 3, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    BrianJ: As far as I’m concerned, threadjacks are welcome. I don’t see any reason to insist that people talk about what I want to talk about as long as I’m allowed to keep talking about what I want to talk about.

  7. Jim F. on June 3, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    Also, BrianJ: Do you have any ideas about why those are read for Rosh Hoshanah? Thinking about that might provide interesting material for understanding the verses.

  8. BrianJ on June 3, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    Jim F: Reading a passage of scripture on holy days is common practice (these passages are known as haftarot), so there is nothing particularly special about reading Hannah’s prayer. It is said that the Lord heard her plea for a son on New Year’s Day, hence the reason for reading her prayer on that day. (I haven”t looked for anything in the text that indicates the time of year; maybe this date comes from rabbinic commentary?) The reason for choosing her rather than someone else: hers is viewed as the ideal form of prayer. Sorry, but I do not know more.

  9. Jim F. on June 4, 2006 at 11:18 am

    BrianJ: I know that scriptural passages are assigned for holy days, but it is difficult to believe that the choice of scriptures for those days is random. The historical explanation is that the haftorah was read when reading the assigned weekly passages from the Torah was banned. The idea was to get around the ban by choosing a scripture with a similar theme, but from outside the Torah, and to read that instead. After the ban was lifted, the haftorah continued to be used.

    It would be surprising if there were no connection between the religiouis feast days and the scriptures assigned to be read on those days. So, I think we could look to the prayer to see if there are reasons that it, rather than some other passage of scripture, is particularly appropriate for the beginning of the New Year. It isn’t uncommon for Jews studying either the haftorah or the Torah readings to do that.

  10. BrianJ on June 4, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    Jim F: sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that the choice of haftarot was random. I was hoping to make it clear that reading a pre-selected passage of scripture on a certain day every year is done throughout the year. In other words, Hannah’s prayer is one of many haftarah.

    (I also assumed that you knew much more than I about the history of haftarot, so my answer was meant for someone new to the idea. For example, I wasn’t aware that haftarot are “substitutes” for passages in the Torah–thanks for the information.)

    I did some more searching and found this explanation for selecting Hannah’s prayer for New Year’s Day. It also relates to a comment by Jenny on your Lesson #20 post comparing Hannah to Sarah. Thanks for pushing me to search some more.

  11. BrianJ on June 4, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    Re Ch 8: When I taught this lesson today, I noticed something worrisome in the way Israel responds to Samuel’s “solemn protest.” In verse 5, they ask for a king: “Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” Samuel protests by telling them all the terrible things that a king will bring (one of which is that he will steal away the people’s sons to be his soldiers). To which the people respond: (vs 19-20): “Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us…” The people respond almost as though they didn’t even hear Samuel. I say “almost” because they do add one thing in their response: “…and go out before us, and fight our battles.” That little addition makes me think that they heard Samuel’s words, but didn’t listen to him. If they had listened to Samuel then they would have realized how incorrect was this addition: the king would not fight their battles, their sons would!

  12. Jim F. on June 4, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    BrianJ: Thanks for the link. That is interesting. I like the connection between Hannah’s plea and our pleas/hopes for our future, symbolized by the new year.

    Did anyone in your class have helpful things to say about how this teaching about a king is relevant to us today? I’m curious about how people who live in a democracy with no threat of being taken over by a king apply these teachings to themselves.

  13. BrianJ on June 4, 2006 at 11:27 pm

    Jim F: In post 5, I say that “I am wary that what I want to say will cause a thread-jack.” In post 6, you respond with “threadjacks are welcome…as long as I’m allowed to keep talking about what I want to talk about.” Then in post 12, you ask, “Did anyone in your class have helpful things to say about how this teaching about a king is relevant to us today?”

    The answer to your question is “yes.” I was reluctant to bring up my interpretation of 1 Sam 8 because it involves a topic that has already led to a firestorm of comments around the bloggernacle, including here at T&S. I didn’t think that was where you wanted your Sunday School Lesson post to go, so I refrained from explicating my view in post 5. And even if you weren’t concerned about where your post went, I was reluctant to throw scripture into a debate that most often turns into pointless argument.

    My bishop was out of town last week so the First Presidency letter regarding the Marriage Protection Amendment was read today. As I taught 1 Sam 8 today, three class members commented on how they think it relates to them. The first said it reminded her of the need to follow the prophet. The second said that it warns him not to try to be like the world. The third said that it seemed very relevant to the letter from the First Presidency, in that they have expounded their views in the past and have left us to decide what to write to our senators. This last comment echoed my interpretation of 1 Sam 8.

    (I write about my interpretation of 1 Sam 8 and how it changed my personal views of the Marriage Protection Amendment on my own blog.)

  14. Jim F. on June 4, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    BrianJ: Thanks for that. I would rather not turn the Sunday School discussion into an additional thread on the Marriage Protection Amendment. Heck, I’ve never had a post with a 100 responses, not even near that. I wouldn’t know what to do. Seriously, though, I appreciate you warning me about the possibility of a firestorm. I would rather that the firestorms stay confined to their own threads.

    However, I do think that the connections between these stories and our own lives can be very interesting. Perhaps those who would like to take part in a discussion of how they can should go to the T&S thread that BrianJ points to. And perhaps, Brian, you could post a link from here to your discussion on your blog.

  15. BrianJ on June 5, 2006 at 1:11 am

    Jim F: “However, I do think that the connections between these stories and our own lives can be very interesting.”

    I agree, and I think this is what makes the Old Testament my favorite book of scripture. We are seldom told by the writers how to view the people in the story–we just get the “facts” and can make our own judgments. I thought about this today as I was teaching my lesson: When we read about a person in the scriptures (such as Ruth’s nearest kinsman), we almost always make judgments. This can be beneficial, I think, if we then thread our life through that person’s, applying the same judgments to ourselves. I think Judah was selfish–how have I behaved similarly? I think Israel was stubborn and ignorant in the wilderness–haven’t I acted the same? I think Ruth epitomizes valiant covenant-keeping–have I gone the extra mile?

    Here is the link to my personal application of 1 Sam 8.

  16. annegb on June 5, 2006 at 9:37 am

    I pretty much read from the plot level, even the Bible and the Book of Mormon, which is sort of lacking in the plot department.

    Starting at the end, I was impressed with Samuel’s warnings of what would happen if they had a king. I’ve read this before, but this time I noticed it more. It seemed timely. I’m not sure if I can answer your question with respect to kings in our day, but I would take it back to the issue of class. We set up kings, even if we do not serve them openly, in America specifically. And we give up a lot in the process. Perhaps it’s a natural human urge to have someone to command and someone to be commanded.

    I also noticed this time Hannah’s prayer of thanks or whatever it is, in Chapter 2, verse 6 & 7. I didn’t think about the resurrection, but about God’s ultimate will being done. God decides. Sometimes He decides to let us have our way. Sometimes not. And it made me think of the fleeting nature of life’s conditions. The rich do become poor, the mighty are brought down, and vice versa. The older I get, the more I see constant change in life. Only God could keep up with it.

  17. Dessertfirst on June 5, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    3- Thank you so much for your notes on the “Samuel Principle.” I have been thinking about the Benson quote ever since I read it a few days ago, I know there have been many times the Lord has let me live the lesser law and then learn from my mistakes.

    My favorite verse of the reading isn’t one that was emphasized in the lesson, but it touched my heart nonetheless. It is 1 Samuel 2:19. I wrote a small poem about it in my blog at http://whisperingsinmyear.blogspot.com/2006/06/little-coat.html. Sometimes it is the most insignificant verses that catch my attention.

  18. Robert C. on June 5, 2006 at 3:52 pm

    Regarding verse 3, I think this is the first OT occurrence of the terms haughty or proud (at least the Hebrew roots don’t seem to occur in this sense earlier). I find this a bit surprising. Why aren’t humility and pride discussed explicitly in the Torah (or are they and I’m missing it)? Where did Hannah get this notion of pride and arrogance? Seems to me loyalty and faithfulness to God (and only God) are the focus more than humility in the earlier OT books, although I do think it’s an implicit theme in Judges and Ruth….

  19. Robert C. on June 5, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    Hmmm, there does seem to be a notion of God caring for the poor (v. 8 ) and God’s commandments advocating care for the poor in Deutoronomy.

    With Samuel’s transitional position between judges and monarchic rule, I find this interesting. Were there generally more socioeconomic class divisions under the monarchy than during the pre-monarchic period? Perhaps there is a connection between what seems to be a rise in pride-humility themes in OT writings and the political circumstances of monarchic rule….

  20. BrianJ on June 5, 2006 at 10:52 pm

    Dessertfirst: That is a beautiful way of looking at the “human element” of this story. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Jim F. on June 5, 2006 at 11:55 pm

    Robert C: RE # 18 — It is interesting how seldom the root (atq) appears at all: with the meaning of “arrogancy,” it appears only here, and in Psalms (31:18, 75:5, and 94:4). The same root appears with other meanings (according to the Theological Wordbook of the OT, the basic meaning is “forward movement” or “growing older”) in Genesis (12:8, 26:22), Job (9:5, 18:4, 21:7, 32:15), Psalms (6:7), and Proverbs (25:1).

    There doesn’t seem to be any one word root that is most often translated by “pride” and related terms. gaa is common (H1342 in Strong’s; 299 in TWOT) as also is zd (Strong’s H2086; TWOT 547). However, several other terms are also used.

    Thanks also for raising the question about the class divisions in Israel at the time of Samuel. Those divisions and the refusal to care for the poor have so much to do with pride and apostasy in the Book of Mormon that it would be interesting to compare the two.

    Dessertfirst: Nice sentiment; thank you.

  22. Robert C. on June 12, 2006 at 12:10 am

    Regarding the horn in 1 Sam 2:1, I found some interesting comments in the Anchor Bible and Word Biblical Commentary which I posted here and here. The AB suggests an emphasis on the visibleness of the horn as a symbol. Although I think this emphasis forms some tension with the humility theme in verses 3-4, 7-8, I do think it’s interesting to think about the importance of reputation in the OT (particularly God establishing his reputation which causes fear in Israel’s enemies, esp. in Numbers, Joshua, and Judges). And it raises the question of reputation in the NT—are we supposed to do good works in secret or let our light shine? (See Christian Cardall’s thread and the Feast wiki’s discussion of Matt 5:16 for a possible way to resolve this tension.)

  23. Clinton on June 12, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    We had this lesson in our class today and the most interesting comments came when we talked about Samuel’s not wanting a King. A man getting his PhD in socioeconomics talked for a few minutes and talked about the socioeconmic dangers in having a King and that King’s are usually chosen by the econmic elite who want to maintain their hold on money and power. I couldn’t help but laugh inside because the same argument could be used against Samuel.

    The diatribe in Chapter 8 is usually attributed to E who were disenfranchised priests of the Northern Kingdom. Solomon of course dispropotionately favored Judah while laying much of the tax and temple building burden on the Northen tribes. When Isreal seperated from Judah after Solomon’s death the priest of Shiloh (E) are kicked out on the ear eventhough they supported the Northern King’s succesion. It is NO suprise that this speech comes out of the Northern Kingdom’s prophet Samuel and Samuel is against the Kingship. On the other hand whenever the southern prophets speak they have nothing but praise for Kings. Eventually of course the Shiloh priests get a King under their thumb in the form of Josiah with all of his reforms. At this point they don’t seem to have ANY problems however with a King and make him the fullfillment of Mosaic prophesy as they wrote it in Deuteronomy.

    All this just help remind me that their has always been many different views within the church and many different leaders within the church with drastically different agendas.

  24. Robert C. on June 13, 2006 at 1:21 am

    Interesting thoughts Clinton. What evidence is there that the economic elite were favored under monarchic rule for the ancient Israelites? I was wondering about this when reading the pride-humility theme in Hannah’s song and would be interested to see how well this theme/thesis of socioeconomic inequality could be supported….

    Also on regarding monarchic rule, I found this quote from the Word Biblical Commentary very interesting in explaining how chapters 5-7 set up Israel’s request for a king in chapter 8:

    “Through it all, the person who arranged the book of Samuel was creating a context for evaluating the people’s request for a king in chap. 8. The ark itself (chap. 5) and the judgeship of Samuel (chap. 7) had been effective channels for Yahweh to defeat the Philistines. Did Israel need any other kind of helper, such as an earthly king, to bring deliverance? The clear answer to these questions in 1 Samuel is no, though the book eventually reports a compromise by which earthly kingship is, nevertheless, a God-blessed institution—at least potentially.”

    I think these chapters are very important for understanding some of the later writings on Messianic prophecies using monarchic terminology. In the discussion of Achan in Joshua 7, I outlined an argument that Avraham Gileadi makes contrasting the Davidic Covenant with Sinai Covenant where the former is based on an individual vassal’s righteousness and the latter is based on communal guilt. I’m actually becoming fairly skeptical of some of the points Gileadi makes, but I think the narrative of the ark and the fall of the Elides in 1 Sam 4-6 is interesting in this light. The Israelites’ defeat in 1 Sam 4 seems to be portrayed as a result of the Elides’ unrighteousness paralleling the communal guilt theme in the story of Achan in Joshua 7. But I think it’s interesting that the Philistine defeat is retold in the middle of the story about Samuel who seems to become an individual savior to the people in 1 Sam 7….

    (Also, for anyone interested, I’ve finally posted the bulk of my notes for lesson 21 which include several lengthy quotes from the Word Biblical Commentary which I think is very good on 1 Samuel—I’ve found the Anchor Bible a bit less interesting and helpful for these chapters….)

  25. Jim F. on June 13, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    Robert C: I hope you’ll continue to provide links to your notes. They are very helpful and interesting.

  26. Clinton on June 13, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    -Robert C. –
    What evidence is there that the economic elite were favored under monarchic rule?
    Your question here was exactly the problem I had with the discussion in Sunday School. I don’t think there was much more favoring of the economic elite under the monarchic rule than under the previous situation. What however is clear is that the Northern Kingdoms got the economic short-end of the economic stick under Solomon’s reign. If I remeber correctly there were three specific instances of this. (1) Solomon jurimandered the discricts when he raised taxes by changing the 12 districts from tribal boundries to boundries the heavily favored Judah and the Southern Kingdom. (2) When Solomon set up the system of requiring workers for the temple, the Northern Kingdoms were required to provide more than its fair share of workers. (3) In payment for materials Solomon gave several dozen cities to Hyrum King of Tyre which were ALL from the Northern Kingdom . This is what casuses the split after Solomon’s death. So in answer to your question, it was more that the party in power took advantage of the minority party than the economic elite taking advantage of the poor IMHO.

    -Robert C.-
    Did Israel need any other kind of helper, such as an earthly king, to bring deliverance?
    Contrary to many others in the class I attended, I would have to say that Samuel was probably wrong on the issue of Isreal needing a King. The militia forces MAY have been able to stand up to the weak and fairly unorganized Phillistines but there is NO way it could have withstood the onslaught of the Assyrians, Egytians, and Babylonians. Remember that this is the belief of the Elohist and particularly the view of the Deuteronimist but under both of their systems, no professional army would have exised. They couldn’t have stood up to an attack by professional armies w/o the centralized power of a King. Secondly a king allowed Isreal to broker deals and create peace treaties through marriage. Note that the Deuteronimist denied the a king from doing this. The Elohist particularly distrusted kings because they had favored baddly under both Solomon and the Northern kings which stripped them of power.

    -Rober C.-
    Davidic Covenant with Sinai Covenant…
    Are you familiar with the documentary hypthesis’s take on these two covenants? I am not familiar with her (Gileadi’s) take on this. What I am familiar with is that the Deuteronimist is the one that plays up the Davidic covenant when he finally gets a King that will give him power (Josiah) and has to backpeddle when the Davidic line is kicked off the throne 4 generations after Josiah’s death. The David Covenant then proves problematic and he resorts to the Sinai Covenant (I may be wrong here) and just claims that the Davidic Covenant is still right; however because the people have forsaken the Sinai covenant there is no people for the David’s line to rule. In other words he is suprised when this prophesy fails and has to search the scriptures for some other explanation.

    I find this fascinating for myself and the Mormon community. We have done some of the same things when modern day prophesy fails to be fullfilled as we expected it to. Don’t mistake my comments here for derision of their [ancient or modern prophets] actions – it is not. I take great comfort and pride in their actions. Both understanding and bringing God’s promises to fruition are not a simple, obvious, and straight-forward paths. The Elohist and the Deuteronomist show this drive to understand and bring to pass their dreams and it is not an easy road. I admire them and find many parellels for the experiences of mordern-day LDS and myself.

  27. Jim F. on June 13, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    Clinton, just a note on gender in passing: Avraham Gileadi is a man.

  28. Clinton on June 13, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    My bad …

  29. Robert C. on June 19, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    Clinton (#26): Sorry for not responding sooner, I hope you see this.

    First, thank you for the three examples of economic exploitation by the majority party, I’ll pay close attention to these passages when I get to them in my reading.

    Next, thank you for the very interesting thoughts on whether Israel needed a king. To my mind, it is a very open question as to whether a king for Israel was desirable (i.e. whether a king was a concession for Israel, or was part of God’s original designs for Israel b/c it was in their best interest). I provide several scriptures here that seem to prophecy/promise a king for Israel and discuss the possible implications on this issue (again, I’m presupposing a “KJV canonical approach” where the text is taken at face value as is—even though I agree many of these “prophecies” were very likely later additions). Also, I’m curious what class(es?) you attended. I understand if your hesitant to divulge personal info here, but I’m curious (my email is r-c-o-u-c-h at b-y-u-.-e-d-u, without the hyphens).

    Thank you also for mini-explanation of the DH take on the Sinai and Davidic Covenants. I’ve been reading a bit about this but still have many many questions. I think I’ll spend a lot of time looking at Psalm 89 when I get to the Psalms lesson since this seems related to many of the issues you raise.

  30. Robert C. on July 23, 2006 at 7:34 pm

    I have to return some Robert Alter books to the library and, as I was trying to cram some more reading of him in, I came across this interesting comment regarding the seemingly insignificant detail about the Cows lowing in 1 Sam 6:12 which he ties to an over-arching parent-child theme in the books of Samuel. This is probably the kind of insight that may turn many off to Alter, but which illustrates what I like about Alters approach. (He discusses a fair amount that he isn’t contending this wasn’t necessarily all intended but the author, but made possible by the inclusion of real life literary details in scripture stories—the title of the chapter in fact is “Narrative Specification and the Power of the Literal”).

  31. Mark Butler on July 23, 2006 at 8:05 pm

    I understand that the most practical problem with a temporal monarchy is that it is contrary to the patriarchal (family) order, in that kings rule over those who are not their own descendants, and thus are much more inclined to exploit them for their own purposes.

    A righteous king really isn’t very much like a “king” (enlightened despot) at all, but rather more like a combination prophet-president, ruling by common consent.

    Same deal with an “everlasting dominion” – cf. D&C 121:46. The natural English semantics of the term have very little to do with what the Lord has in mind. I think of the Lord himself as much more a righteous monarch-prophet-president than an enlightened despot. Coercion should only come according to the rule of law, under terms of covenant or consent., or opposition to evil so obvious that a law is hardly required to oppose it.