|Samuel and Saul
First Samuel 1:1 to 15:19
1:1 There was a man who had two wives. One of them was Hannah.
1:5 Hannah was having problems becoming pregnant because the Lord had messed around with her lady parts. Hannah was majorly depressed about it. She cried a lot and refused to eat. She promised the Lord that if he would let her have a son she would make him a Nazerite and not cut his hair or let him touch dead bodies. The Lord likes that sort of thing.
1:13 Eli the priest saw Hannah coming to church to talk about it to the Lord. She prayed quietly but her lips moved and Eli assumed she was a drunk. He went over to her and said “Hey lady, you really need to lay off the day drinking.” She explained to him that she wasn’t drunk. Hannah told Eli her prayer and not long after that it came true. She had a son and named him Samuel.
1:24 As soon as little Sammy was old enough to be weaned off of breast milk, Hannah took the baby, a few cows, some flour, and a bottle of wine, and headed back to the church. Hannah handed her baby over to the church people, after the proper killing of an animal of course, so that he could be trained in the arts and skills of churchery by Eli. Then she just went on and on about how wonderful God is.
2:13 It was the priestly custom in those days to come around checking on people while they were making burnt sacrifices. When the meat was cooked just right, the priest would take a huge fork that they carried with them, and rip out a big chunk of the meat to eat. If the meat wasn't just right they could demand it be done right and were legally allowed to use physical force and smack the cook around a bit, just to let people know they meant business. Little Sammy tagged along and preformed these priestly tasks in a cute little apron and a coat his mommy had made and brought to him on one of her yearly visits.
3:1 Samuel grew older but so did Eli. One night Sam kept waking up over and over because the Lord would call out his name, but he thought it was Eli calling him and kept waking up the old man to see what he wanted. Eli quickly grew tired of that routine but he figured out what was really going on and told Sam to shut up and go lay down. The Lord met with Sam a couple times after that so everyone in Israel knew for sure Sam was destined to become a great prophet someday.
4:2 Israel got into a war with the Philistines again and this time they lost a major battle. The Israelite soldiers sent word that they needed their secret weapon, the Ark of the Covenant, which had helped them win so many battles in the olden days. The Lord's fancy magical golden box of invulnerability was kept in Shiloh where Eli the high priest was training young Sammy.
Eli's own two sons carried the box to the army camp where there was much rejoicing. The Philistines were very concerned about the advantage the Ark might give to their enemy but they stayed and fought like brave men. The Israelites were confident of victory so it came as a quite a shock when the Philistines beat their asses. This time they killed both of the sons of Eli and took the Lord’s famous box as a trophy. When Eli heard about the loss of the sacred Ark he fell off his chair and broke his neck and died. After all he was old, fat, blind, and probably rather gullible.
5:2 The Philistines took their special prize and set it before their big statue of Dagon. In the morning the statue had fallen on its face. They set Dagon back upright again but he just fell over again. After repeated bad luck wherever they took the Ark they finally put it at the very extreme boundary of their military control.
6:1 Much discussion ensued amongst the Philistines because having the Ark in their possession was causing them to have hemorrhoids. Nobody likes hemorrhoids. In the old days approaching the Ark would cause death instantly. Perhaps its power had faded a bit. Now it was just a pain in the ass.
6:11 The Philistines put the ark on a cart along with some lumps of gold that they had molded to look like hemorrhoids, which probably didn't require much craftsmanship when you think about it.
The ox team pulling the cart with the Ark was allowed to find its own way back to the Israelites along with the golden hemorrhoids and some miscellaneous jewelry the Philistines had thrown in. At first the Lord was just happy to have his box back but then he killed about 50,000 Philistines for having peeked inside of it.
7:3 Sam made a big speech and told the Israelites that if they would stop worshiping strange gods then the Lord would free them from Philistine rule. The people were jiggy with that and promised to get rid of the strange gods and to stop using played out slang like jiggy.
7:9 Sam took a brand spanking new baby lamb and slit its throat and burned it up on an altar. That's another sort of thing the Lord loves so he sent thunder and lightning which frightened the Philistines. Then the Israelites attacked the Philistines and smote them quite heavily. Samuel’s position as the most holy supreme court high ranking justice of Israel was secured for life.
8:1 Samuel got too old so his two sons took on most of the judging duties. That was bad because they were corrupt and accepted bribes and made bad judgments. The people had enough of judges running things anyway and now they started saying they wanted a king to rule them. Sam didn’t like the king idea at all. He warned the people of the disadvantages of an absolute monarchy. It might lead to tax increases and so forth, but the people insisted. After much whining and wringing of hands by Samuel, the Lord eventually said "Go ahead, make someone king."
9:2 There was a man named Kish who had a very tall son named Saul. Kish also had three donkeys that wandered off one day so he sent tall Saul and a servant out to look for them. How hard could it be to round up three donkeys on the lam? They didn’t find them anywhere nearby so they began to scour the whole damn country looking for them. They looked far and wide, hundreds of square miles, but the three donkeys were in no hurry to be found.
9:6 The servant said “Hey I believe we are pretty close to where that Samuel guy lives. I bet he can use his special powers to tell us where the donkeys are.” Saul said “But he’s a man of God. He’s going to expect some kind of payment, they always do.” The servant said “I’ve got a few bucks. That ought to cover it.”
9:11 They saw some young women fetching water and asked where they might find the holy guy. The women told them that as it turned out they were in luck. Samuel was nearby doing some holy stuff right now.
9:17 The Lord had been telling Samuel that a good kingly type man would be coming by eventually. As soon as Sam saw tall Saul approaching he knew this was the guy for the job.
10:1 After some small talk and snacks, Sam poured oil on Saul's head and told him where to find the donkeys. Then he told the people to come see their new king. The people shouted "God save the damn king" or something like that.
11:7 Initially much of the population rejected tall Saul as king. But then he sent them all pieces of cut up oxen and a threatening letter. They started getting on board.
12:18 After few more disagreements and a bit of discontentment, and some menacing weather conjured up by Sam, Saul was generally accepted by the tribes. Still the Israelite people were few and rather scattered and mostly unarmed.
13:1 In spite of the haphazard nature of the tribal confederacy, Saul was able to lead them to gain some victories against small groups of Philistines here and there over the course of a couple of years.
14:43 Saul's son Jonathan didn't get along too well with his father the king and there were internal power struggles within the new monarchy. Saul tried to have his son killed but Jonathan was a successful and popular military general so it wasn't that easy. The people rescued Jonathan saying "Don't harm a hair on his head!" Meanwhile in spite of the internal conflict the war against the Philistines continued to go mostly in Israel’s favor.
15:19 Both the Lord and Samuel got pretty upset with Saul for not utterly destroying this and that, or these people or those people, and for generally doing things differently than Sam had demanded. But then Saul brought an enemy king to Samuel and let the old priest take a knife and cut the captive king to royal pieces. That was pretty cool so Saul was allowed to remain king for now. But deep down the Lord was regretting ever making Saul the king.
Next: A Lucky Shot