Tuesday, December 8, 2009

94: The Ghost of Samuel & 1 Samuel: In Review

1 Samuel 28-31
The king said to her, "Don't be afraid. What do you see?"
The woman said, "I see a spirit coming up out of the ground."
"What does he look like?" he asked.
"An old man wearing a robe is coming up," she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel - 1 Samuel 28:13-14

The Philistines get their men ready to attack the Israelites. That's not too interesting by itself. What is interesting, though, is that David is still living with the Philistines, and he gets ready to fight with them. Let me get this straight, the rightful king of Israel is ready and more than happy to go kill his own subjects? In fact, Achish, the king of the Philistines, makes David his body guard for life. What happened to David slaughtering Philistines and chopping their foreskins off?

We shift focus back to Saul who is preparing his forces to fight the Philistines. He is terrified when he sees the Philistine army and tries to consult God. God decides not to answer him. Saul's last resort is to go to a witch in Endor. He asks her to summon Samuel for him. Well that's nonsense, the bible has told us that witches are false prophets, so there's no way she's going to be able to summon Samuel from the dead. Right?.... Right?!.... Wrong. Samuel springs fourth from the ground and proceeds to have a conversation with Saul.

Samuel, looking ghostly by William Blake ~ 1800

This witch has officially done more miraculous things in the book of 1 Samuel than God has. Samuel pretty much says that all of Saul's sons are going to die and that the Philistines are going to defeat him. I'm not sure what Saul thought he was going to say.

Ok, back to David.

The commanders of the Philistine army finally remember that David was the one slaughtering thousands of them. They say that they will not allow David to fight along side them. The king of the Philistines disagrees but tells him that he must go back home because it's the wish of his commanders.

David isn't going to miss out on killing people though. When he goes back to Ziklag (his Philistine home town) he finds it sacked by the Amalekites. All of the women and children have been stolen by the invaders. David chases them down, kills them off, and reclaims the women and children.

Back to the Philistines fighting in Israel (we seem to be jumping around a lot today).

The Israelites start fleeing almost as soon as the fighting begins. Saul's sons fight hard to keep the Philistines away from the king, but they all die in battle (this includes Jonathan, David's make out buddy). When Saul sees that all is lost he tells his armor bearer to kill him so the Philistines can't abuse him. The armor bearer refuses so Saul falls on his sword (intentionally). The armor bearer is so upset at seeing this that he too falls on his sword. The Philistines find Saul dead and send news to all of their cities. I get the feeling David isn't going to be too happy when he hears about the death of Jonathan.

And they all died happily ever after (except David).

1 Samuel: In Review

Well at least this book hasn't been boring. Reading stories is much better than reading a book of law.

God seems to have slowly gone away in the book of Judges. By the time we get to 1 Samuel, God is barely even an active character. He offers advice a couple of times, and pretends to be Eli to talk to Samuel. I don't remember anything terribly miraculous.

God is absent while there is a tyrant ruling his favorite people. He is silent while Saul chases after his chosen king David. He is silent while David goes to live with the Philistines, who worship false idols. He is silent while David is ready to go fight Israelis, the people he has been chosen to lead.

The big question I'm left with in 1 Samuel is, where is God?

Bible news was pretty slow today, luckily I have my own interesting story!

I was sitting in my data structures class (which is a class about computers, for you non Computer Science majors) which is usually a pretty boring hour and a half long lecture. My professor (who shall remain nameless) seems to think it's pretty boring too and ends up going on pointless rants a lot.

Here's a couple of examples of his rants so you know what I'm dealing with:

If you can't get your homework done, just sit down and "have a coke". This will apparently inspire you and you will immediately stop procrastinating and be productive.

Don't have a huge meal before an exam, because you will have to poop midway through the test.

Maybe good advice, but irrelevant for data structures.

Now we come to today, it's near the end of the hour and he runs out of things to talk about. He starts out by talking about the Prisoner's Dilemma, which is an interesting game theory problem that's at least somewhat relevant to Computer Science.

From this he got himself off on a tangent about teamwork, namely teamwork in the natural world (we're now officially not talk about data structures). He suddenly says, "I have a book I want to tell you about that's really influenced my life". At this point I'm thinking oh no, please not some religious book. The next thing he says is, "First, I want to tell you that I'm a religious man, you know, I believe in God". Oh no! I'm certain he's going to start preaching to us now. I start thinking of all sorts of things I'm going to say that will probably get me sent to the dean of students.

He finally gets ready to tell us what the book is. I get ready to retort with the sum of my biblical knowledge. And the book is... The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins. What?! He then talked for at least 10 minutes about how he puts the theory of evolution in the same category as the theories of Newton and Einstein. Why did he mention that he was so religious? So he could tell us that he thinks evolution and religion don't conflict at all.

Maybe there is hope in Indiana.

I was strangely reminded of the (false) story of the atheist professor at USC.

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