11 May 2010

May 11

Reference links:
Old Testament

Samuel anoints Saul and tells him that he has been chosen to rule over Israel. Samuel describes a number of signs Saul will see on the way home. They come to pass.

Saul arrives home and meets his uncle. He tells his uncle about meeting Samuel, but not about being anointed as king. Too modest? Too secretive? Too doubtful that it will happen? Who knows!

Samuel calls the people of Israel together to choose a king. The king is chosen by lot, and Saul, of course, is chosen. However...
And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”
And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.
Again, modesty? Fear? Just general weirdness? Who knows! But whatever the meaning, it is entertaining.

Saul's first act as king: fight some Ammonites who are abusing some Israelites. This story is kind of confusing. First we read, in a passage that apparently is in the Dead Sea Scrolls but not the Masoretic Text, that Nahash, the king of the Ammonites, had gouged out the right eye of all of the Israelites living east of the Jordan river. We then read how King Nahash threatened to gouge the eyes of the Israelites, and this motivated Saul to come save them.

The Spirit of God came upon Saul, and he motivated the Israelites to follow him. Interesting side note, Israel already seems to be at least somewhat divided into "Israel" and "Judah" at this point:
When Saul mobilized them at Bezek, he found that there were 300,000 men from Israel and 30,000 men from Judah.
Saul successfully defeated the Ammonites, and the people make Saul their king. Didn't Samuel already make Saul king? Perhaps the people did not actually accept Samuel's anointed king until he proved himself in battle. In any case, good for Saul for saving people from getting their eyes gouged out.

New Testament

Jesus continues to talk about the importance of believing in him. In the process, we get this process which, taken out of context, sounds rather terrible (really though, it does not sound much better in context):
I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.
Ewww. And yes, I know the basics of the standard explanations, but still, this particular passage, eww. Apparently, I am not the only one who has thought so. After making this declaration, some of Jesus' disciples  start to leave him.
At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.
Jesus' opinion on the situation implies that they left because believing the truth of Jesus' words was too hard. I think they left because believing the truth of Jesus' words seemed straight up repulsive.

Psalms and Proverbs

Rather long psalm today. 43 verses long, all in one day. But that's okay because it provides some variety of form, at least. The psalm lists a number of ways that people were separated from God and how they were eventually reconciled again. E.g.,
Some were fools; they rebelled
and suffered for their sins.
They couldn’t stand the thought of food,
and they were knocking on death’s door.
“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
The gist seems to be that people eventually turn to God in their times of trouble, and then he saves them.

One good proverb today!
A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare.
As someone with a fair bit of temper, I certainly know the truth of this one, from both the giving and the receiving side.