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You’ll have to forgive me. I am writing under the influence of some pain meds after having an emergency visit to the oral surgeon today. I had some pain Saturday afternoon which I finally got looked at on Monday afternoon in an emergency visit to the Dentist. He said I had Pericoronitis and gave me some antibiotics and told me to get my wisdom tooth pulled asap. I was in so much pain that I went to Urgent Care monday night to get some more effective pain medication and showed up at 930 this morning to the Oral Surgeon (Dr. Gary Schopfer…quite possibly the nicest man on the planet). Instead of just getting the infected tooth out, we decided we might as well swing for the fence and get them all out. So here I sit, all doped up after a major tooth extraction, trying to write some theology.
This should be fun.
So I’ve started this series on David – to look into how God used him even in spite of his sin (specifically the whole Bathesheba incident) to be a great leader and to be known as a man after God’s own heart. I want to be a man after God’s own heart – so why not start by looking at David, right?
I learned a lot from Chapter 16 about who David was and how he was seen in the eyes of others. That helped quite a bit. But then as I read through Chapter 17, and then ultimately into 18 I became very distracted by a glaring inconsistency in the whole story. Without getting too wordy, here’s what I discovered.
Chapter 16 ends with David in the service of Saul as his personal “harp player” and subsequently his “armor bearer.” Saul sends to David’s father Jesse and tells Jesse that it pleases him to have David there and he won’t be coming home. Chapter 17 starts then with the story of the Israelites being intimidated by Goliath. We are reintroduced to David again, but David is at home tending his sheep…
It gets more interesting: David comes and offers himself as the warrior to fight Goliath and talks to Saul. Saul gives him his own armor but David says he is not used to it (interesting thought, seeing as how David was Saul’s armor bearer in 16…of course that’s not to say that David would ever have worn Saul’s armor even as his armor bearer).
David goes out and kills Goliath. After killing Goliath it says in vs 54 that David brought the head of Goliath back to Jerusalem. 17:55 we see Saul ask the leader of his army: “Who’s son is this?” and Abner does not know.
David is brought before Saul and asked again, and David tells Saul his father is Jesse.
Verses 17:56 – 18:5 we see Saul being well pleased with David and again sending to Jesse and saying that he is pleased with David and David would not be returning home because he was going into the service with Saul. Saul then makes David the head of the soldiers and David goes out and wins a whole bunch of battles. Then in 18:6 the story picks back up and says that as David entered the capitol city AFTER killing THE PHILISTINE…with no mention of any other battles.
So essentially there was the glaring issue of David being in service to Saul in chapter 16, then in chapter 17 Saul doesnt know who David is again…and in fact sends a very similar message back to David’s father as he had in chapter 16 when he wants David to serve him again.
So my question is: what happened?
One bible commentary states that Saul didn’t actually forget who David was, but that in asking who is father was, Saul was getting a “background check” done on David before he made him into a leader of his army.
Another commentary (Matthew Henry) said that Saul was just very forgetful and forgot who David was.
Another commentary (Apologetics HCSB) stated that Saul asked who David’s father was so that the reward stated in vs 24 could be given to his father (the reward was that whoever killed Goliath would be given Saul’s daughter in marriage and that his fathers household would no longer have to pay taxes to the king).
Another study Bible stated that David had served the king for a time, but once Saul felt better David went home. That theory is negated because in verse 10 of chapter 18 Saul has another mental breakdown and it says that David played his harp for Saul, AS USUAL.
Lastly, a footnote (found in all Bibles) says that the LXX (or the Septuigent…aka the Greek version of the OT) omits the passage from 17:55-18:5
So in trying to figure out what I would do with this dilemma I talked to a few different people about it and asked what they thought. It seemed pretty ridiculous to think that some of the answers given were actually plausible. I mean, no offense to Matthew Henry or anything, but you really think Saul just up and forgot who David was? That seems like a good enough answer? I think not.
In my search and in my conversations, I could deal with some of those particular suggestions above. Most specifically that the passage isn’t found in the LXX is most convincing to me. I think the passage makes more sense without those 10 verses in there. If you don’t believe me go read it for yourself.
But of course this raises all kinds of theological issues. Suffice it to say that I believe the word of God is living and active. I believe the Bible is entirely inspired by the Holy Spirit and suitable for teaching, correcting, etc…
But for me that doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are passages in there that either got misplaced over time (so maybe those 10 verses belong in a different part of the passage rather than right there…) or that got placed in there when really they shouldnt be. Ultimately I find that the story is still the same – God still delivered David from the hands of Goliath. But I think it’s high time that we as a church begin to deal with these kinds of passages head on. That we not gloss over them or pretend they don’t exist…We need to be up front and honest with each other and with God about issues or doubts we might have regarding a passage.
I think God will honor our efforts if our ultimate aim is to bring him glory.
What do you think?