Quite a few of the posts I’ve read on 1 Samuel pick up on listening:
- Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening – a #digidisciple reflection on the call of Samuel from @vahva
- Learning to listen (@crimperman)
- Can you be a digital Eli? @chirpybirdy007
- It’s all about listening (@soonguy)
I remember an RE lesson when I was in school. The teacher played us Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The sound of silence’ and ran the lesson on the idea of listening and not hearing. Or was it hearing and not listening? I’ve got the telly on while I’m writing this. I can hear it but I’m not listening to it. Like a lot of the Bible, I think I’d understand it better if I was listening rather than reading.
If I was sat there listening there would be clues as to whether Saul is meant to be a comic figure. There would be tone of voice, there would be facial expression.
The Bible is like a blog. Can I rely on my words to convey what I mean when I ask, ‘Did God give Saul as king to teach the people of Israel how foolish they were to want one? I mean, what kind of thirty year old son is sent to look for his father’s donkeys and spends three days not finding them? What kind of man is it that hides among the supplies when he knows that he should be in the assembly?
I feel sorry for tall, handsome Saul. He was swayed by public opinion. He was eager to please. He listened to his people. He listened too much – to the wrong people; to his soldiers at Gilgal (13:8) and in the slaughter of the Amalekites (15:24), to the women singing, ‘Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands’. And although he listened, he didn’t seem able to make sense of what he heard. He might have made a good poster boy but he was no leader and ended up driven by his inadequacies rather than the will of God.
He could in fact be a modern politician, soaking up the blogs and tweets and opinion polling newspapers and trying to get it all right to win the next election.
David was made of more than looks and the need to please, he had guile. In the political stakes he was clearly more of a winner than poor Saul. His father trusted him to guard the sheep – against lions and bears! He had the sense to reject his leader’s offer of armour and trust his skill with a slingshot. And more importantly he had the nous, while hearing Saul proclaim his lack of enmity, to stay well out of his way. And he listened to the will of God.
Can he keep it up? No doubt I’ll find out in 2 Samuel.