Friday, November 20, 2015

1 Samuel 12 - making a deal

Samuel is an honest broker, a rare politician, and his people are 'deal-makers'. Is deal-making faith? I was at the library yesterday with row upon row of commentaries in front of me, some large, some small, the full Anchor Bible, many sections of the Word Commentary, lots and lots of other commentaries from various series productions. A richness of resource. So I picked the odd one up on passages I had just done, and - you know, I didn't agree with everything I read, but sometimes there are useful insights within the techniques of Biblical Studies.

BS is a series of techniques, cultural, historical, linguistic, critical (source, redaction, rhetorical and so on), but what is a tool if there is no garden? The tool is interesting, but there is nothing to apply it to, so ultimately, though one would love all this knowledge for itself, the ultimate is somehow lost and I find the tool can become boring.

What kind of 'deal' do we have with the garden and the gardener? And what kind of a gardener and garden are we dealing with? Good or evil, caring or uncaring, impassive or passionate? Caring only for us?

Samuel is an honest broker, a rare politician. The message to his time is - Did you really want a human king? You got one. But will he be an honest broker? If not, if he turns out like any other warrior, lusting for power, and corrupted by it, like any modern king in an oil patch, of whatever tradition, and if you continue in evil, seeking the same power, the same self-aggrandizement, will having a king do you any good? Samuel threatens rumbling and rain on the harvest, (and the god delivers briefly) and the people 'fear'. Who sees into the heart? Is there any depth to such fear?

Is fear of God any better than fear of refugees? Why has our society no such depth at the surface - is it just the problem of the news? (Being alone this next few weeks, I find I no longer listen to the news as much.)

Samuel here defines what it means to follow. We can ask in our political landscape, what 'god' are we following? Are we following Yahweh, the God of Israel, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed, the Spirit of that same God, the Merciful and Compassionate, or are we followers of some other thing, like the market or the bottom line or the budget or the power of self-protection, or nationalism, or some other terror. Now, politically, we are not likely to ask in those words as if we lived in a theocracy. Nor do we any longer begin the meal with a toast 'to God and the Emperor', though a distant emperor might be a better foil than some local rulers and viceroys.

But the definition of what it means to 'follow' is this in vs 14: fear, hear, and don't be provocative with what is heard. It's not simple - what do we hear from the God(s) noted above? And equally important, who enforces, and who interprets the enforcement? What is let go and what is not?

Thinking about governance, what do you make of the fearful instruction of Jesus: Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

It seems to give humanity a terrifying social responsibility. History does not suggest to me that humanity always has done well here. There is hope, and I could multiply examples on both sides. From the artwork that is done with incarcerated juvenile offenders to the abusive treatment that has been seen in the police forces in North America more recently.

I do not think we can undertake such responsibility without faith and faithfulness both on our part and on the part of the Invisible, by whatever name. So Samuel ends this chapter with hope and encouragement. If indeed, the Almighty is with us, it is not for our benefit alone.

But fear Yahweh and serve him in truth with all your heart,
that you see what is the greatness that is with you.

So here is the whole chapter. And you know where the music is so you can fit the words to it. (Right! If you don't know then leave a comment.)

1 Samuel 12
וַיֹּ֤אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל֙ אֶל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל הִנֵּה֙ שָׁמַ֣עְתִּי בְקֹֽלְכֶ֔ם לְכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־אֲמַרְתֶּ֖ם לִ֑י
וָאַמְלִ֥יךְ עֲלֵיכֶ֖ם מֶֽלֶךְ
1 And said Samuel to all Israel, Behold I have heard with your voice of all that you have said to me
about making a king reign over you.
27
8
וְעַתָּ֞ה הִנֵּ֥ה הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ ׀ מִתְהַלֵּ֣ךְ לִפְנֵיכֶ֗ם וַאֲנִי֙ זָקַ֣נְתִּי וָשַׂ֔בְתִּי וּבָנַ֖י הִנָּ֣ם אִתְּכֶ֑ם
וַאֲנִי֙ הִתְהַלַּ֣כְתִּי לִפְנֵיכֶ֔ם מִנְּעֻרַ֖י עַד־הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה
2 And now behold the king walks in your presence, and I myself am old, and I am grey-haired, and my children now are with you,
and I myself walked in your presence from my youth until this day.
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18
הִנְנִ֣י עֲנ֣וּ בִי֩ נֶ֨גֶד יְהוָ֜ה וְנֶ֣גֶד מְשִׁיח֗וֹ אֶת־שׁוֹר֩ ׀ מִ֨י לָקַ֜חְתִּי וַחֲמ֧וֹר מִ֣י לָקַ֗חְתִּי וְאֶת־מִ֤י עָשַׁ֙קְתִּי֙ אֶת־מִ֣י רַצּ֔וֹתִי וּמִיַּד־מִי֙ לָקַ֣חְתִּי כֹ֔פֶר וְאַעְלִ֥ים עֵינַ֖י בּ֑וֹ
וְאָשִׁ֖יב לָכֶֽם
3 Here I am. Answer me in front of Yahweh and before his anointed. Whose bull have I taken, or whose ass have I taken, and whom have I oppressed? Whom have I damaged, and from whose hand have I taken a cover-price to obscure my sight in it?
And I will make restoration to you.
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5
וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ לֹ֥א עֲשַׁקְתָּ֖נוּ וְלֹ֣א רַצּוֹתָ֑נוּ
וְלֹֽא־לָקַ֥חְתָּ מִיַּד־אִ֖ישׁ מְאֽוּמָה
4 And they said, You have not oppressed us and you have not damaged us,
and you have not taken from the hand of anyone anything whatever.
15
11
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֜ם עֵ֧ד יְהוָ֣ה בָּכֶ֗ם וְעֵ֤ד מְשִׁיחוֹ֙ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה כִּ֣י לֹ֧א מְצָאתֶ֛ם בְּיָדִ֖י מְא֑וּמָה
וַיֹּ֖אמֶר עֵֽד
5 And he said to them, Witness is Yahweh among you and witness is his anointed this day, for you have not found in my hand anything whatever.
And they said, Witnessed.
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4
וַיֹּ֥אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵ֖ל אֶל־הָעָ֑ם
יְהוָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר עָשָׂה֙ אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאֶֽת־אַהֲרֹ֔ן וַאֲשֶׁ֧ר הֶעֱלָ֛ה אֶת־אֲבֹתֵיכֶ֖ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם
6 And said Samuel to the people,
Yahweh it is, who operated through Moses and through Aaron, and who brought up your ancestors from the land of Egypt.
9
31
וְעַתָּ֗ה הִֽתְיַצְּב֛וּ וְאִשָּׁפְטָ֥ה אִתְּכֶ֖ם לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה
אֵ֚ת כָּל־צִדְק֣וֹת יְהוָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה אִתְּכֶ֖ם וְאֶת־אֲבוֹתֵיכֶֽם
7 And now present yourselves, and I will give you my judgment in the presence of Yahweh,
concerning all the righteous acts of Yahweh that he did for you and your ancestors.
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כַּֽאֲשֶׁר־בָּ֥א יַעֲקֹ֖ב מִצְרָ֑יִם
וַיִּזְעֲק֤וּ אֲבֽוֹתֵיכֶם֙ אֶל־יְהוָ֔ה וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח יְהוָ֜ה אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאֶֽת־אַהֲרֹ֗ן וַיּוֹצִ֤יאוּ אֶת־אֲבֹֽתֵיכֶם֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם וַיֹּשִׁב֖וּם בַּמָּק֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה
8 When Jacob had come to Egypt,
and your ancestors appealed to Yahweh, then Yahweh sent Moses and Aaron, and they brought your ancestors out from Egypt and settled them in this place.
10
45
וַֽיִּשְׁכְּח֖וּ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵיהֶ֑ם
וַיִּמְכֹּ֣ר אֹתָ֡ם בְּיַ֣ד סִֽיסְרָא֩ שַׂר־צְבָ֨א חָצ֜וֹר וּבְיַד־פְּלִשְׁתִּ֗ים וּבְיַד֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ מוֹאָ֔ב וַיִּֽלָּחֲמ֖וּ בָּֽם
9 But they forgot Yahweh their God,
and he sold them into the hand of Sisera, a noble of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
11
31
וַיִּזְעֲק֤וּ אֶל־יְהוָה֙ וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ חָטָ֔אנוּ כִּ֤י עָזַ֙בְנוּ֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֔ה וַנַּעֲבֹ֥ד אֶת־הַבְּעָלִ֖ים וְאֶת־הָעַשְׁתָּר֑וֹת
וְעַתָּ֗ה הַצִּילֵ֛נוּ מִיַּ֥ד אֹיְבֵ֖ינוּ וְנַעַבְדֶֽךָּ
10 And they appealed to Yahweh and said, We have sinned for we have forsaken Yahweh and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth,
and now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve you.
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17
וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח יְהוָה֙ אֶת־יְרֻבַּ֣עַל וְאֶת־בְּדָ֔ן וְאֶת־יִפְתָּ֖ח וְאֶת־שְׁמוּאֵ֑ל
וַיַּצֵּ֨ל אֶתְכֶ֜ם מִיַּ֤ד אֹֽיְבֵיכֶם֙ מִסָּבִ֔יב וַתֵּשְׁב֖וּ בֶּֽטַח
11 And Yahweh sent Jerubbaal and Bedan and Jepthah and Samuel,
and each deliverered you from the hand of your surrounding enemies, and you settled confidently.
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18
וַתִּרְא֗וּ כִּֽי־נָחָ֞שׁ מֶ֣לֶךְ בְּנֵֽי־עַמּוֹן֮ בָּ֣א עֲלֵיכֶם֒ וַתֹּ֣אמְרוּ לִ֔י לֹ֕א כִּי־מֶ֖לֶךְ יִמְלֹ֣ךְ עָלֵ֑ינוּ
וַיהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֖ם מַלְכְּכֶֽם
12 And you saw that Nachas, king of the children of Amon, had come upon you so you said to me, No! for a king will reign over us.
But Yahweh your God is your sovereign.
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9
וְעַתָּ֗ה הִנֵּ֥ה הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּחַרְתֶּ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֣ר שְׁאֶלְתֶּ֑ם
וְהִנֵּ֨ה נָתַ֧ן יְהוָ֛ה עֲלֵיכֶ֖ם מֶֽלֶךְ
13 And now behold the king that you have chosen, that was your request,
and behold, Yahweh has given you a king.
18
12
אִם־תִּֽירְא֣וּ אֶת־יְהוָ֗ה וַעֲבַדְתֶּ֤ם אֹתוֹ֙ וּשְׁמַעְתֶּ֣ם בְּקֹל֔וֹ וְלֹ֥א תַמְר֖וּ אֶת־פִּ֣י יְהוָ֑ה
וִהְיִתֶ֣ם גַּם־אַתֶּ֗ם וְגַם־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר מָלַ֣ךְ עֲלֵיכֶ֔ם אַחַ֖ר יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם
14 If you will fear Yahweh and serve him, and you hear with his voice and not be provocative with the mandate of Yahweh,
then you will be, both you and the king that is king over you, following Yahweh your God.
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26
וְאִם־לֹ֤א תִשְׁמְעוּ֙ בְּק֣וֹל יְהוָ֔ה וּמְרִיתֶ֖ם אֶת־פִּ֣י יְהוָ֑ה
וְהָיְתָ֧ה יַד־יְהוָ֛ה בָּכֶ֖ם וּבַאֲבֹתֵיכֶֽם
15 And if you not hear with the voice of Yahweh and you are provocative with the mandate of Yahweh,
then the hand of Yahweh will be against you, and your ancestors.
17
14
גַּם־עַתָּה֙ הִתְיַצְּב֣וּ וּרְא֔וּ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֥ר הַגָּד֖וֹל הַזֶּ֑ה
אֲשֶׁ֣ר יְהוָ֔ה עֹשֶׂ֖ה לְעֵינֵיכֶֽם
16 Even now present yourselves and see this great thing
that Yahweh is doing in your eyes.
17
10
הֲל֤וֹא קְצִיר־חִטִּים֙ הַיּ֔וֹם אֶקְרָא֙ אֶל־יְהוָ֔ה וְיִתֵּ֥ן קֹל֖וֹת וּמָטָ֑ר
וּדְע֣וּ וּרְא֗וּ כִּֽי־רָעַתְכֶ֤ם רַבָּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר עֲשִׂיתֶם֙ בְּעֵינֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה לִשְׁא֥וֹל לָכֶ֖ם מֶֽלֶךְ
17 Not the wheat harvest today? I will call to Yahweh and he will give rumblings and rain.
Now set down this, and see that your evil is plenary, that you have done in the eyes of Yahweh, in asking for yourselves a king.
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25
וַיִּקְרָ֤א שְׁמוּאֵל֙ אֶל־יְהוָ֔ה וַיִּתֵּ֧ן יְהוָ֛ה קֹלֹ֥ת וּמָטָ֖ר בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֑וּא
וַיִּירָ֨א כָל־הָעָ֥ם מְאֹ֛ד אֶת־יְהוָ֖ה וְאֶת־שְׁמוּאֵֽל
18 And Samuel called to Yahweh and Yahweh gave rumblings and rain in that day,
and all the people feared very much Yahweh and Samuel.
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16
וַיֹּאמְר֨וּ כָל־הָעָ֜ם אֶל־שְׁמוּאֵ֗ל הִתְפַּלֵּ֧ל בְּעַד־עֲבָדֶ֛יךָ אֶל־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ וְאַל־נָמ֑וּת
כִּֽי־יָסַ֤פְנוּ עַל־כָּל־חַטֹּאתֵ֙ינוּ֙ רָעָ֔ה לִשְׁאֹ֥ל לָ֖נוּ מֶֽלֶךְ
19 And all the people said to Samuel, Pray for your servants to Yahweh your God that not we will die,
for we have added to all our sins evil by asking for ourselves a king.
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17
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵ֤ל אֶל־הָעָם֙ אַל־תִּירָ֔אוּ אַתֶּ֣ם עֲשִׂיתֶ֔ם אֵ֥ת כָּל־הָרָעָ֖ה הַזֹּ֑את
אַ֗ךְ אַל־תָּס֙וּרוּ֙ מֵאַחֲרֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה וַעֲבַדְתֶּ֥ם אֶת־יְהוָ֖ה בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶֽם
20 And Samuel said to the people, Do not fear. You yourselves have dealt with all this evil,
surely do not turn aside from following Yahweh, but serve Yahweh with all your heart.
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23
וְלֹ֖א תָּס֑וּרוּ
כִּ֣י ׀ אַחֲרֵ֣י הַתֹּ֗הוּ אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹֽא־יוֹעִ֛ילוּ וְלֹ֥א יַצִּ֖ילוּ כִּי־תֹ֥הוּ הֵֽמָּה
21 And do not turn aside,
for after this is the formless that is of no use and does not deliver, for they are formless.
5
22
כִּ֠י לֹֽא־יִטֹּ֤שׁ יְהוָה֙ אֶת־עַמּ֔וֹ בַּעֲב֖וּר שְׁמ֣וֹ הַגָּד֑וֹל
כִּ֚י הוֹאִ֣יל יְהוָ֔ה לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת אֶתְכֶ֛ם ל֖וֹ לְעָֽם
22 For Yahweh will not abandon his people, so that his name may be great,
for Yahweh is determined to make you into his people.
17
13
גַּ֣ם אָנֹכִ֗י חָלִ֤ילָה לִּי֙ מֵחֲטֹ֣א לַֽיהוָ֔ה מֵחֲדֹ֖ל לְהִתְפַּלֵּ֣ל בַּעַדְכֶ֑ם
וְהוֹרֵיתִ֣י אֶתְכֶ֔ם בְּדֶ֥רֶךְ הַטּוֹבָ֖ה וְהַיְשָׁרָֽה
23 Moreover for me, far be it from me that I should sin against Yahweh in setting aside praying for you,
but I will instruct you in the good and the upright way.
23
16
אַ֣ךְ ׀ יְר֣אוּ אֶת־יְהוָ֗ה וַעֲבַדְתֶּ֥ם אֹת֛וֹ בֶּאֱמֶ֖ת בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶ֑ם
כִּ֣י רְא֔וּ אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־הִגְדִּ֖ל עִמָּכֶֽם
24 But fear Yahweh and serve him in truth with all your heart,
that you see what is the greatness that is with you.
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11
וְאִם־הָרֵ֖עַ תָּרֵ֑עוּ
גַּם־אַתֶּ֥ם גַּֽם־מַלְכְּכֶ֖ם תִּסָּפֽוּ
25 But if to cause evil, you do evil,
even you, even your sovereign, will be snatched away.
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