Friday, December 20, 2013

1 Samuel: God Turns Saul Against David

Welcome back! In our last installment of my Bible blog, we had just seen David defeat Goliath followed by king Saul’s son Jonathan falling deeply in bromantic love with him.

David is now full-time in service to the king, where he proves to be very successful at killing Philistines. Actually, too successful – Saul hears people praising David for killing more Philistines than Saul, and starts getting jealous.

1 Sam 18:10 The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. 11 And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought ‘I will pin David to the wall.’ But David evaded him twice.”

Apparently even with that jealousy Saul wasn’t quite the murderous dick God wanted him to be, so he sent a spirit to goad him further into just randomly attacking David. You see how free will is clearly of paramount importance to Yahweh.

Anyway, unable to kill David himself, Saul decided to put him in charge of a bunch of men and keep sending him out to battle in the hopes that the Philistines would kill him instead. But the only result was that David kept having more success in war, which only made him more popular. So then Saul came up with the brilliant scheme to take David down by… ummm… marrying him to his daughter? Because somehow this would make the Philistines more likely to kill him. Erm… I think I mentioned in an earlier post that Saul is pretty clearly losing his mind.

But then for no apparent reason, Saul married his daughter off to someone else. However, he had another daughter Michal who was all smitten with David and he decided he’d offer her to him instead. He set the bride price at the foreskins of a hundred dead Philistines in the hopes that the ensuing hunt for penile trophies would piss the Philistines off enough to finally kill David for him. No such luck; David the overachiever managed to secure double the requested number of foreskins without ending up on the tip of anyone’s spear. So Saul had no choice but to let him marry his daughter.

Then there’s more war with the Philistines, bringing more success and popularity to David. So Saul gathers Jonathan and all his servants up and orders them to kill David. Jonathan talks him out of it, though, and Saul swears to his son that he won’t put David to death. But God can’t have any of that “being reasonable” shit going on in his kingdom, so he once again sends that harmful spirit to goad Saul into trying to stab David with a spear.

David finally tips to the fact that maybe Saul doesn’t have his best interests at heart, and flees to his house. Saul sends servants to arrest him, but David’s wife Michal (Saul’s daughter) helps him sneak out of the house and does the “pillows under the blanket” trick to fool the servants into thinking David is sick in bed. When Saul discovers the deception and demands to know why Michal tricked him, she throws her husband under the bus by claiming he had threatened to kill her. But I guess if Saul was determined to kill him anyway, what’s a little extra slander?

David flees to live with Samuel for a bit, but Saul hears about it and sends people to arrest him. The men he sends come across Samuel presiding over a group of prophets, and are overcome by the Spirit of God and start prophesying instead of arresting David. So Saul sends another group, and they start prophesying as well. So Saul goes in person, and the Spirit of God comes over him so that he ends up stripping himself naked and prophesying as well.

Meanwhile, David goes to Jonathan to ask him why Saul wants him dead so badly. Jonathan refuses at first to believe that his dad wants to kill his boyfriend, but agrees to put the king to a test. For some odd reason (insanity?), despite Saul’s repeated attempts to murder David everyone still expects David to show up to dinner with him on the evening of the new moon. Jonathan agrees to tell Saul that he had given David permission to go home to Bethlehem instead for some religious ceremony (he’s actually hiding out nearby) to see if that provokes a reaction.

Well, Saul completely loses his shit. After screaming insults about Jonathan’s mother, he demands that Jonathan bring David to him to be killed. When Jonathan refuses, Saul chucks a spear at him (but missed).

So the next day Jonathan goes to meet David under the guise of doing some archery practice. When he’s done shooting, he sends his servant boy back home ahead of him with his bow so the boy wouldn’t see him meet with David.

1 Sam 20:41 And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most.”

Yeah… the “gay David” argument is gaining a little traction there.

Our two young maybe-not-lovers separate then, and David flees to Gath after making a quick stop at Nob to con the priests into giving him some food (that they would only give him if he promised he hadn’t touched any women recently, because it was holy bread and pretty much any point in a Biblical story is a good point to throw in some gratuitous sexism) and Goliath’s sword (which they happened to have lying around). He accomplishes the con by lying to them to say he was on his way to perform a secret mission for the king; eighty of the priests would later be executed on Saul’s orders for believing David’s lies and helping him.

When David arrives at Gath, he finds the king there has mistaken him for the king of Israel and isn’t happy about it, so David pretends to be a madman instead so that they’d just let him get about his business. That business consists of going to hide out in some caves, where he is later joined by his father’s family and a ragtag group of about four hundred malcontents.

For a bit, David plays peekaboo with Saul, who starts pursuing him all over the place. The Bible spends some time on the game of cat and mouse, but the details seem largely unimportant until one day when Saul is getting close to catching up. David is hiding out in a cave when Saul shows up with his army. But Saul doesn’t realize David is in that exact cave, and goes into it on his own for some privacy to take a dump. David’s men urge him to kill the king while he’s alone and, erm… caught with his pants down. But David just sneaks up on Saul in the dark and cuts off a corner of his robe while the man is in the middle of relieving himself. Saul doesn’t even notice, and when he’s done he leaves the cave.

At this point David follows him out and makes a show about how he totally could have killed Saul if he’d wanted to, showing off the corner of the robe he’d taken as proof that he’d had Saul unawares and had chosen to spare him. At this point Saul declares that David is the more righteous man, and that he’ll surely be the next king. Then they part ways in peace… for now.

Which seems as good a place as any to call it a day for now. Catch you next time, and until then be well!

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