Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: 1 Samuel 13, Proverbs 10-11 and Augustine's Confessions 19

1 Samuel 13 – The text is corrupted so we don’t know how old Saul was when he became king, but it says he served only two years by this translation. Eerdman’s suggests it must be 32 years since he was young when anointed and now has a son old enough to lead men in battle.  Three thousand Israelis serve in Saul’s army—two thousand under him and one thousand under his son Jonathan.  When Jonathan defeats the Philistines at Geba, the enemy muster a huge army (30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen).  The Israelites are “in distress” when they saw them; they go and hide in “caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns” (13:6).

Saul is in Gilgal (to renew the ceremony making him king and apparently Samuel has told him to wait seven days—again, as he did in 10:8-- for him to get there. But Samuel does not show.  The people begin “to slip away from Saul” (13:8)—a worrisome thing in light of the already fragile acceptance he has gained in the latest victory.  So Saul offers the burnt offerings Samuel was supposed to have offered (13:9-10) and then Samuel arrives.  He is furious. He says, “You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you.  The Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever, but now your kingdom will not continue; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart; and the Lord has appointed him to be ruler over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (13:13-14).
The Philistines are at Michmash.  The Israelites have no smiths (iron-workers).  The Philistines have a lock on this technology.  What swords and spears the people have are in the possession of Saul and his son.

Proverbs 10 – Here begin the first major collection of proverbs, attributed to Solomon. They are two liners with no strong line of flow. These are the ones that stand out to me:

“A wise son is his father’s joy, a foolish son his mother’s grief (10:1)

You can gain “treasure” with wickedness, but not “delivery from death” (10:2).

“The mouth of the virtuous man is a life-giving  fountain, violence lurks in the mouth of the wicked” (10:11).

“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut” (10:19).

“When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation” (10:25).

“The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing” (10:28). This one seems shallow to me. Sometimes the godly are devastated. They do have the “lasting foundation” but it’s too much to say their hopes will always lead to happiness.

Proverbs 11 – Again, two liners, all pretty much the same. I have selected a few:

In the day of wrath riches will be of no advantage, but virtuous conduct delivers from death” (11:4).

“Their virtuous conduct sets honest men free, treacherous men are imprisoned by their own desires” (11:6).

“For want of guidance a people fails, safety lies in many advisers” (11:14).

“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (11:24-25).

“Those who bring trouble on their families inherit the wind” (11:29). 1960 movie called “Inherit the Wind.”

“The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life” (11:30).

Augustine (354-439)
19 - But in this my childhood (which was far less dreaded for me than youth) I had no love of learning, and hated to be forced to it, yet was I forced to it notwithstanding; and this was well done towards me, but I did not well, for I would not have learned had I not been compelled. For no man does well against his will, even if that which he does be well. Neither did they who forced me do well, but the good that was done to me came from you, my God. For they considered not in what way I should employ what they forced me to learn, unless to satisfy the inordinate desires of a rich beggary and a shameful glory. But you, by whom the very hairs of our heads are numbered [Matthew 10:30] used for my good the error of all who pressed me to learn; and my own error in willing not to learn, You made use of for my punishment— of which I, being so small a boy and so great a sinner, was not unworthy. Thus by the instrumentality of those who did not well did you do well for me; and by my own sin you justly punished me. For it is even as you have appointed, that every inordinate affection should bring its own punishment.

As I have probably said, I loved every day and year of school I ever had. There were teachers I did not care for but not many and mostly not until high school. I remember the kindergarten class I went to. You could see the window the class from the house I lived in up the hill behind. I remember my grandfather taking me the first day, the excitement of seeing my friends in a new context and kids I’d never seen before. It was a crowded classroom, and there were two teachers – Mrs. Bloxom and Miss Squarey (love those names – for kindergarteners!). The Ardsley School – today a place to buy a condo, but then the only school for kindergarteners through 12th. Throughout my childhood, the blossoming “Baby-Boomer” generation made schools very crowded, brought new schools to be constructed.

Numbers, letters, words, simple books about Dick and Jane. The first “substantive” content I remember was about history, in 5th grade in School #7 in Bronxville where I first heard about the discovery of spices in the Far East. We spent some time putting tiny cloves into oranges as an activity – made the lesson about the pull of the spices very palpable. Loved it.

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