ONE of two things can happen if you carefully study certain scriptures: you can align your life accordingly, or you can exclaim, “Oi!" and attempt to drink three bottles of beer at once.
Consider the story of Saul, the first king of a united Israel. The fact that I delved into this last week will probably surprise a few people. At least those who know I don't have a soul and that I'll remain dead after my passing.
In 1979, when I was 16, my mom was deeply perturbed when she heard this. She wanted to know how I could not have a soul. She even planned a family reunion for the afterlife.
The thing is, I was desperately seeking answers last week, and the Wi-Fi was down. Load-shedding. TikTok wasn't an option.
Moreover, I could identify with the little I remembered from King Saul in my Sunday school days.
Namely, he hurled a spear in David's direction when David strummed a harp in his presence.
By the way, that David was quite an interesting character himself. At one point, he declared that he loved Saul's son, Jonathan, more than he could ever love a woman. Only to marry Saul's daughter.
Saul was dissatisfied, even though David had slain 200 Philistines, circumcised them after death and presented their foreskins as a wedding gift. What Saul used the gift for, we don't know. Maybe he had a jacket made, accessorised with ties?
For context, I'd like to share a few highlights from Saul's story. I researched it on Wikipedia when the Wi-Fi came back.
Long story short, Saul's ancestors were chosen for some or other thing. The patriarch, Abraham, was at the head of a highly dysfunctional little family. Among his questionable deeds, he wanted to slit his son Isaac's throat and set him on fire. These days, that's against the law, but I'm getting ahead of the story.
His wife, Sarah (also his sister), couldn't have children at first, so she told Abraham to have relations with her slave, Hagar. Ismael was born from this. All well and good until Sarah miraculously became pregnant.
Eventually, she drove Hagar and Ismael into the wilderness to die of hunger and thirst. Abraham made no objection, but he at least packed them some sandwiches.
Hagar and Ismael unexpectedly survived, but I guess it's the thought that counts.
Following this, Saul's people endured one hardship after another, including slavery and child murder. They picked up a few tips before fleeing and embarking on a treacherous journey to the promised land of Canaan.
People lived there, but who cares? They could erase them when they arrived.
They clashed with the likes of Jericho (one survivor, Rahab, who sided with them), the Moabites (the virgins were spared, of course), and so on.
Children were a soft target, you see. If that's your cup of tea, go ahead and read the verses where babies' heads are crushed and pregnant women's bellies are ripped open.
Those were the pre-pro-life days.
The orders came from a higher authority with extensive experience in the field. It sounds awfully like America, but it didn't exist back then.
Back to Saul.
He was in charge of the final leg of the journey to the Promised Land. One of his tasks was to crush the Amalekites — men, women, children and animals. If I recall correctly, someone gave someone a wrong look.
So he was told, so he did. But he was a little too woke, it seems, and felt sorry for the king, sparing his life. That got him into deep trouble. David became king in his place.
That wasn't good news for Saul. The Gibeonites complained to David that Saul had been too generous with the sword in their case. The old man just couldn't win.
Saul was fortunate to have a few great-grandchildren he could spare, and handed them over to David for execution. He was a first-rate diplomat. I'm sure everyone was delighted.
Finally, Saul fell on his own sword after all his sons had met their end. He missed the Promised Land but he can console himself with this: It wasn't a dance party with complimentary refreshments, as Moses had promised.
With peace, Canaan was still rarely acquainted.
I conclude with answers to a bunch of questions I've had to listen to recently. FAQnhell apparently isn't an acceptable response.
Do you condone kidnapping and mass murder?
Are you out of your mind?
Bombing civilian areas?
Nuts. You're undoubtedly nuts.
Do you like beer?
Nothing to do with you.
♦ VWB ♦
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