Chapter 15- God tells Samuel to tell Saul to attack the Amelekites, and kill every person and animal there. Under Saul’s leadership, the people kill everyone except king Agag, and keep the best animals for themselves. Samuel rebukes Saul for not following God’s command, kills Agag himself, and tells Saul that God has revoked his kingship. Saul begs forgiveness, but Samuel isn’t having it.
Verse 3 advises Saul and his people to “kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” Then verse 9 says, “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.” So, the men, women and children were all worthless? That’s distasteful.
Verse 35 says, “The Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.” Look, if you’re omniscient and you know how things are going to turn out, I have zero sympathy for you when you do something you regret. Zero. Get your act together, God.
Chapter 6- God has Samuel go to the sons of Jesse and anoint David. David was the youngest brother, but God had rejected all the older brothers. The spirit of God departed Saul and came upon David. A distressing spirit came to Saul instead, and so he hired David to play harp for him to soothe his spirit (presumably not knowing that David had been anointed in his stead.) He likes David so much that he gets Jesse’s permission to make David his very special armor bearer.
David and Saul by Ernst Josephson, 1878
I love the look on Saul’s face.
Verse 21, “So David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer.” I’m going to assume that this love was platonic (which is not where my mind first took things). Either way, I fear Saul is in for a big disappointment when he realizes what’s really up with David.
Again we see a younger/est brother being the favorite. David, Jacob, Joseph, Abel…there’s a message in there somewhere.
Chapter 17- The Israelites are about to go to battle with the Philistines. The Philistines send they very large and intimidating Goliath to be their champion, and ask the Israelites to send one as well. David at this time is home tending his father’s sheep, but his dad asks him to take some provisions to his older brothers who in Saul’s army. When David gets there, he learns of Goliath, and offers to be the champion. Using only a stone and a sling shot, he knocks out Goliath, then cuts his head off. The Philistines flee in fear, and the Israelites pursue and kill a bunch of them.
David isn’t a particularly good armor bearer if he’s at home with the sheep when Saul goes to battle, is he? I wonder what’s up with that.
Then verses 55 and 56 confuse things even more. “When Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, ‘Abner, whose son is this youth?’ And Abner said, ‘As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.’ So the king said, “Inquire whose son this young man is.'” But, but, but…David was supposedly well loved by Saul, who had asked Jesse’s permission to keep David as an armor bearer just 1 chapter ago. Shouldn’t he already know who David’s father is, seeing as how he’s already corresponded with him?! Bible editor, you let me down again.
As for how little ol’ David could have killed big ol’ Goliath, I heard an interesting theory recently that Goliath may have had acromegaly (think Andre the Giant), which often leads to poor vision and an enlarged skull. This article posits that the enlarging of the skull could lead to a thinning of the bone, making it more plausible that a well placed stone could actually kill Goliath.