Has anyone ever thought about just how weird it was that, in the book of 1 Samuel, Saul becomes king of Israel?
Here’s what I mean. Even those of us who’ve heard the story of how Saul became king–dude goes looking for his dad’s donkeys, Samuel, who’s been told by God to accede to the people’s wishes for a king, finds him, tells him where the donkeys are, then anoints him king. (For further reading, see 1 Samuel 9-10)–just kind of accept it.
Thing is, the incident is bizarre. Here’s why.
Flip back a bit in your Bibles to Judges 19-21. For those of you who either don’t have one or don’t feel like checking the ‘net or anything, here’s what happens. Long story short, a Levite is threatened with en masse gang rape by the men of one of the cities of Benjamin. He throws his concubine out the door of the house, and the men of the city rape her to death. The land of Israel then arises in wrath and demands that Benjamin turn the men of the city over to them. Benjamin refuses and is effectively wiped out, and is only saved because everyone in Israel freaks out over the notion that one of the tribes is gone.
So, let’s recap here. God himself tells Samuel the prophet to anoint as king a man of a tribe that is the least of Israel at the time because it was wiped out defending a city of gang rapists.
Does that seem weird to you? If you don’t quite get it, let me put it this way: It’s a little like John-Paul II anointing some schmuck from Bavaria Emperor of Europe some time in the ’90s.
There’s a few things to be learned from this:
1. There’s a weird kind of disconnect between books of the Bible, especially once you get past the Torah. We take the whole “book” thing way too literally–the things are more accurately described as chapters in a book.
2. Just because a group messed up once doesn’t mean it can’t be brought back into the fold–indeed, it doesn’t even mean that it can’t lead.
3. The world changes.
‘Til next time,
Lowell Van Ness