by Cara Holmquist, M. Div.
A "How'd We Get Here" of 1 Samuel 16:1-13
I've always loved the warning about kingship in 1 Samuel 8. The people covet a a king (can there be a "thou shalt not covet they neighbor's king" commandment?)! All these troubles of empire come to pass, some very quickly - see 8:11 and 15:52.
I think God intended Saul to be merely another judge, not a king. The people's clamoring basically makes him a king by acclamation; until that point in the story, neither God nor Samuel say he's to be king. It's "lead" or "govern," not rule.
Chapter 16 can be read as God's frustrated resignation to the people's foolish political choice. "Alright, so we're doing this king bullshit? Well then at least let's do it with the least harmful candidate I can see." God is committed to creation and working with us, in and through our idiocy, but empire drives the human cost painfully high.
Some people say that they see God as a first-time parent; I'd add to that analogy that God's people are in childhood and adolescence, navigating power and its terrible and beautiful possibilities.
by Ray Gentry
1 Samuel 16:1-13
The story of David calls to mind a short lived TV show that was on a few years back called Kings. It was a modern day retelling of the kingdom Saul (Silas on the show) had built and the anointing of David to succeed him on the throne, so it's no surprise it's the first thing that came to my mind. Set as a modern day drama, the show married the biblical story to our modern understanding of an Empire.
I think the reason I enjoyed the show so much was that it was a great thought experiment about what a Biblical kingdom of Kings and prophets would look like in a modern nation setting. Would a modern ruler submit to the will of God as spoken through the prophets? Can the voice of a Prophet be heard over all the moving pieces of international relations, politics, and economics? Will the people hear the Prophet proclaiming God's word to the burdened and outcast when the empire of the King has provided safety and security?
The anointing of David confronts not just how leadership rises to the top in government, but also within the church itself. How often do we disregard the prophetic nudging towards truly humble leadership that concerns itself with the needs of the marginalized because the person doesn't look like we expect (or just want) a leader to look like? Too often our leadership is chosen because they look a certain way - they look strong, they're white, they're male, they're decisive. David didn't fit the bill for a leader, but Samuel saw he was the leader God had chosen for Israel.
Let us not be Saul. Let us not be blinded by power and security to the voice of the Prophets around us. Let us not be the people crying for a King that looks familiar. Let us open our ears to the Prophets speaking. Let us be led by those God has called to lead rather than giving the reigns to someone who fits the mold of what we've always done. Let us not perpetuate the system, neither in the church nor our nation.