Daily reading: 2 March
I have seen the suffering of my people.
Something to read
Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 'Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him ruler over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the land of the Philistines; for I have seen the suffering of my people, because their outcry has come to me.'’
Full reading - 1 Samuel 9:1-10, 15-16
Something to think about
Today's passage seems to be a direct contrast to yesterday's. Samuel's warning about a king is followed directly by a reading that seems to be filled with the promise of kingship.
In a story of rich detail that starts with a search for some lost donkeys, God reveals to Samuel that Saul will come to him, that God has chosen him to be king, and that Samuel is to anoint him.
Samuel is the one who will 'save my people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have seen the suffering of my people, because their outcry has come to me.' The language is reminiscent of that of the Exodus deliverance. The role assigned to Saul could hardly be more positive.
Scholars have commented on the tension between the anti-monarchical and pro-monarchical traditions in the Old Testament. The pro-monarchical tradition, or 'royal theology' is considered by some to reflect the vantage point of the elite, whereas the anti-monarchical tradition reflects a prophetic theology that posits the domination system as a betrayal of the will of God.
Whether we read these stories that sit side by side as coming from different traditions, or simply as reflecting the divided mind of Israel over kingship, it raises the question of whose point of view we read the story from and what implications to its meaning that has.
Something to do
Challenge yourself for a day, a week, or a month, to read the Bible as if through the eyes of poor southern communities. Would your interpretation change?
Something to pray
Merciful God, forgive us when we think we have a monopoly on truth; remind us that it is rarely those in positions of power and influence who tell us where you are. Rather it is in the company of children, the poor and the marginalised that we shall discover you.
Today's contributor is the Rev Kate Tuckett, former Church Resources Manager for Christian Aid, now Curate at Holy Trinity, South Wimbledon.