Monday, 16 July 2007

1 Samuel (con't)

The setting is ready for Samuel to assume the mantle of leadership from old Eli. In chapter 4, Eli's 2 sons are killed in battle as they vainly carried the ark with the hope of victory which was not to be. The Philistines instead were victorious on that fateful day and the ark was lost for the first time. Eli's falls backward and dies of a broken neck on hearing the fateful news. His daughter-in-law dies in childbirth on hearing the death of her husband. On her deathbed as well as childbirth, she aptly named her son 'Ichabod' which means God's glory or kabod has departed and left Israel with the loss of the ark.

In chapters 5-6, the ark makes a miraculous turnaround of events. Placed to face its captor god, Dagon, the fish god of the Philistines, twice the ark demonstrated its power over its captor. In the second time, Dagon is found fallen face downward with its head and hands cut off by the threshhold. The ark also brought a resultant plague upon the Philistines. The solution was to return the ark to its rightful owners, the Israelites. Placed on a bullock-drawn cart, the animals miraculously took the ark back to israelite territory. With the ark restored to its rightful place, and with Eli and his 2 sons dead, Samuel takes over the prieslty and prophetic leadership.

Samuel is a unique character. He was trained as a priest under Eli, commissioned also as a prophet, worked also like the last judge and functioned as a king-maker (he anointed Saul and David as kings). He is a man who wear many hats (which unfortunately can prove to be a problem for those around him like Saul).