Bible and Western Culture
Mr. Sean Ross
Week 6, Class 1: The Monarchy – Saul and David
(1 & 2) Samuel
• Increasing stability: tribes transformed into nation
• Emergence of monarchical system
• 2 Kings: Saul and David
• Charts rise of David
Samuel introduces the ultimate breakdown of the system of Judges / Tribal war and the
establishment of the Kings system:
• Before Samuel: "In those days, there was no King in Israel"
o Now we see the emergence of monarchy
• Israel asks for a King:
o 1 Sam. 8:5 – “...Appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.”
o (1 Sam. 8:7) – “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they
have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.”
Other nations are associated with other gods.
Asking for a King is insulting to God.
• Saul – First king until he lost god's support
• David and his consolidation of power as the King of Israel
Ambiguity with which former prophets greet the idea of a King:
• Uncomfortable with the idea, but support the people.
• Judges: God is king of Israel
o Israel's desire for a king represents their rejection of God.
They worship a new king.
o God is (evidently) displeased but accepts to give Israel a King.
Samuel warns that a future king will exploit the people, abuse his privileges.
• His people will be his servants.
• God gave Moses laws governing how a king is supposed to behave:
o Uphold covenant
o Resist the idea that king has the right to exploit subjects.
o A King should not be a burden to his subjects
• Samuel says that the King will do what Deuteronomy says he shouldn’t do.
• Ominous signals against monarchy. Samuel –The last Judge of Israel.
• He lets his sons become judges, they're no good.
o GOD is supposed to choose the judge!
o Samuel breaks an important rule
o His sons cannot be considered “real” Judges.
• A priest and prophet.
o A new kind of prophet. He'll play a very important role
o Becomes the King’s advisor.
• Samuel, Nathan, Elijah, etc.
• Advise & critique the king
o Samuel advises Saul.
o Nathan advises David.
• Prophets play an important role in the biblical story.
The theme of barrenness returns!
• Hannah prays for relief and gets a son
o In Christian interpretation, used to foreshadow the birth of Christ.
• Comparison of Hannah's &Mary's prayers:
o God works as a hero on behalf of those who lack, acts against those who have.
Samuel is giving the job of selecting a king for Israel, He finds Saul.
• Multiple stories (different) which give an account of the same event.
o We see 3 diff. versions:
Saul chosen by Lot
Saul is a famous War Leader
Saul is pointed out by god.
o In each version, Saul is picked because he's taller than everyone else.
• Anointing used to designate a King.
o Linked to the notion that the King's person is made sacred.
o When you're anointed you become known as the anointed one/messiah/Christ
For a while, Saul is successful. However, it soon becomes clear he "can't cut it"
This begins with God’s Ban:
• You must kill all his opponents
• No enemy should be left alive
o Foreigners bring foreign Gods
Saul doesn’t do the killing he's supposed to.
• He is punished & loses God's favor.
• Samuel announces that Saul has lost God's blessing.
o Saul realizes David is meant to replace him
o Becomes more troubled, unstable, violent….
o Saul's madness is to be remembered.
Three dominant visual scenes portraying Saul in art take their power from Saul's growing madness.
• Saul is being comforted by his opponent David.
o God sends evil spirits to plague Saul.
o Only david's music can calm the mad king down
• A multitude of images portray a twisted, troubled, agonized Saul trying to be comforted by
• Light is usually cast on Saul's twisted/tortured expression/features, while David is portrayed
o Saul is shown under the grasp of grief and paranoia
Visit to witch/necromancer/medium of Endor:
• She consults the dead to predict the future.
o A macabre, sensationalistic theme
• Summons Samuel’s spirit at the demand of King Saul
o Samuel reveals that Saul is cursed
“And Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day, and has
given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you”
• Saul did not obey god.
• Samuel's robe torn in half symbolises the Kingdom being torn from his hands.
o Tearing of covenant from old, carnal Israel Judaism, to new Israel
Christianity, monarchy in Israel becomes strongly tied into dynasty.
“The Divine Right of kings”
• “IT IS GOD who establishes kings. He caused Saul and David to be anointed by Samuel; He
vested royalty in the House of David, and ordered him to cause Solomon, his son, to reign in
his place... Princes thus act as ministers of God and His lieutenants on earth. It is through
them that He rules.... This is why we have seen that the royal throne is not the throne of a
man, but the throne of God himself.” If the person of the king is sacred, then resisting king is sacriledge.
• Serving God and serving the King is the same thing.
• The Bible states the King must rule with god's law.
o He has responsibility.
o However, it is not the right of the populace to remove kings.
o Only god can do this through takeover/replacement by another king, for example.
The people cannot remove monarchy.
Royalists use religious interpretation:
• Would frequently site 2SAM 1:14‐16
o David confronts the soldier who said he killed Saul:
Were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?
Coronation of Elizabeth II:
• While most of the ceremony was broadcast, you don't see her anointment.
o Fun fact: It is said she complained the oil was “smelly”
o Anointing is done using a Royal Ampulla and Anointing Spoon
• Anointing is associated with forging a link between Israelite kings and European kings.
o European kings are chosen by God!
“God save the King” is taken from the Bible
• Handel’s Coronation Anthem in 1 Kings
o Revolution is “Ungodly!”
Some oppose the idea of divine right of kings.
• John Milton.: An apologist of those who overthrew/killed Charles the 2nd.
o Recalls imagery from judges, which warns the people of what the king is like.
o Uses the Bible to say monarchy is “bad”:
“… for God dislikes (kingship), discommends it, finds fault with it”
“He tells not the People what their kings ought to do, but what they would