Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
[One of us] has proposed studying the Prophets for awhile. I want to continue with Luke meantime, but I hope we can combine both.
I wonder how Samuel felt? "...for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them." Does he need comfort?
It also helps to ponder "where am I in all this?"
We are all capable of being as abusive as Eli's sons. We are all capable of ignoring what is under our nose just as Eli did.
And we are capable of listening and, with God's help, being faithful just like Samuel.
The story from here is fun to read, though somewhat forked and muddled. Samuel anoints Saul as 'prince' in a couple of different ways, David comes to be his companion in two different ways, we get different versions of why Samuel concludes that Saul has forfeited God's favor. In any case, Samuel secretly anoints David to be king, while Saul decides that David's popularity makes him a threat to the dynasty Saul would like to found:
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite of Zeredah, a servant of Solomon, whose mother's name was Zeruah, a widow, also lifted up his hand against [Solomon] the King.
Just want to point out that the person who receives a prophecy doesn't necessarily perceive its full meaning.
Could this be what the prophecy about the Lord building David a house referred to?
Heb 3:6 but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
Could the church or body of believers be the house that the Lord told David he would build for his family that would last forever?
I'd normally agree about "not necessarily perceiving" what a prophecy means at the time.
Then again, the utility of a prophecy, and its timing, ought to be for the time it's delivered and received.
When one person hears a prophecy-- and another comes along centuries later, to say "This is what that was really about," it seems like an utterly illegitimate way to 1) overwrite the disconfirmation of the prophecy, as it was understood by its hearers, and 2) hijack the prophet as a prop for the more recent doctrine. Which should be able to stand on its own, or not.
Prophecies do not seem to be about 'putting an I-told-you-so in stone'... More like God saying: "This is what I will do, iff you go on behaving as you are now." Whether it's promise or warning, there's a strong conditional implication. So a prophecy may or may not be fulfilled; the divine intention behind it will be.
David as a king was not as attentive to God as he had been as a fugitive. If he could have continued in the same attitude, he might have behaved better, not lost a son, not ruined his other children. It could have been a kingdom that endured, if it could have continued to serve God's long-term purposes. It served, instead, as an illustration of 'what happens when a nation acts like typical wild humans.'
I think of prophecy more as the voice crying in the wilderness, warning and correcting, rather than predicting. At the same time, I think double entendre is well within God's repertoire -- so some echoing, or foreshadowing of what might unfold in the future is nice to consider as a real possibility here too. The early Christians certainly went back to Isaiah and read into his writings in a predictive sort of way.
I heard once that the ancient Hebrew idea of time is non-linear . .. rather, time is like a caravan marching along and the vantage point of the subjective viewer determines past, present and future perspectives. Yet in a sense, it is all happening at the same time -- i.e., the beginning and the end of the caravan are happening simultaneously yet are not seen simultaneously from a given point along the caravan. I like that!
What I find myself pondering in the passages quoted here is the meaning of "house." (and maybe also "home") . The ancient Israelites often referred to a concrete structure, the arc or the temple, as God's house. In the Torah, I think the reference is often to a physical house for God to dwell in. God "went along" with that to some degree (condoning or even blessing a "primitive" spirituality that needed to worship God in a physical space, couldn't yet imagine worshipping God in any other way). But at the same time, the word "house" as used in the anciet scriptures is nuanced enough to evolve many meanings, including the human body, the church, the body of Christ, and perhaps the entire created universe, maybe even also a metaphysical "place," or other/more/different concepts. We try to box God in with our mental constructs and our time/space limitations of perception. God is such a mystery, and surely resides in a dimension larger and other than our imaginations can conceive!
In Samuel, Kings, etc., "house" looks to be sometimes "temple"-- but more typically a person's "family" or "tribe".
Yes, no more "predictive" than "If you don't do your homework your Father will.." "Predictiveness" seems to be a consideration mainly for validating a prophet's credentials. If the prophecy was specifically disconfirmed, the prophet responsible was to be taken out and stoned.
But people's understanding of this does seem to have changed between the prophets of Samuel and Kings, and the later written traditions. As in modern fundamentalisms, a "prophecy" became 'a prediction written down in the ancient past, intended to elucidate events God [allegedly] has scheduled for later times.' Which seems a pointless exercise.
Why "pointless"? Okay, if a prophecy of that sort leads to a widespread public misinterpretation-- Guess what! God is under no obligation to comply. The existence of the prophecy is utterly worthless to anyone who takes it in that spirit. What is worthwhile, instead, is for people to maintain open communication/communion with God, so as to know/do what serves best at each time.
Jesus predicted a disaster to occur decades afterwards... but specifically denied that it was on a precise timetable. The "signs of the times" pointed to this disaster; the meaning of everything in his contemporaries' present lives needed to be seen in the light of that looming catastrophe, which only 'apocalyptic' language could do justice to.
And the outcome: the Roman devastation of Judea, the massacre and enslavement of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple-- apocalyptically shattered the conceptional world of the 'mainstream' Jewish traditions of the time, along with a great many lives.
But as you say, God can certainly use an old piece of scripture to speak to somebody or to some people in the present... as God can use any event or thing to speak to us. Or can also have said something in the past... to clarify an intention that people didn't quite comprehend at the time.
But Jesus also clarified God's long term intentions as much as anyone should need: to love and do good to all kinds of people, so far as we can receive that love and help.
The detail of Uriah the Hittite carrying the letter that seals his own doom is quite dramatic. I am reminded that Shakespeare used a variant literary element in the letters that Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern carried. Why does Nathan say the Lord put away David's sin that he shall not die and predestined the punishment of his son? I am over my head!