Monday, August 28, 2006

1 Samuel 29

This is a short transitional chapter, but it still contains some meaning.

The Philistine commanders (Heb. "ceren," also called "rulers", Heb. "sar"; the latter term has more military overtones) are, fortunately, suspicious of David and force Achish to order him back to Ziklag. It would have been awkward had David fought against Saul, then stepped forward to claim the kingship of Israel.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, the Philistine prince, Achish, is clearly a believer in God, since he says that David is as pleasing to him as an angel of God.

The sense of Philistine strength is made plain not only by the size of their military units (the hundreds and the thousands), but though the name of where they gather, Aphek or "the citadel." Saul's armies gather by a fountain in Jezreel ("God sows"). Jezreel repeatedly appears as a site of disaster. The dogs ate the flesh of Jezebel in Jezreel (2 Kgs 9:37) and the heads of the 70 sons of Ahab were brought to Jezu in Jexreel (2 Kgs 10). Jezreel is where the northern Kingdom was destroyed (Hosea 1). Thus the doom of the Israelites is foreshadowed in many ways: the Philistines are strong, they are led by a man of God, while Saul is in disgrace, and the Philistines are in their citadel, while Saul's men are in a town of doom.


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