Teaching a course on First Samuel at our church. More like leading a discussion, actually. It starts tomorrow. More like leading a small group discussion. I am into it though. It gave me a chance to buy a new commentary on First Samuel. Even though I have a good one by Bruggeman, and one by Goldingay and one by Peterson (each one worth reading). This new one is by David Jenson in the Belief series published by WJK. I like reading it because it is a theological commentary. The author is a teaching theologian. If you want to know about matters of form, authorship, grammatical analysis, word study, and a whole lot of historical - cultural background, then this commentary is not for you. There are other places to go for this stuff. I admit to having read my share of these kinds of volumes and being bored. But, I did it as background for preaching so I could read what the Word said then. I was supposed to be able to say what the Word said now. Somehow, I learned it was cheating to jump from text to commentary without doing the exegetical work myself. I have preached many and I have heard many sermons preached that left the hearers back there in Bible days wondering why it was important or helpful for their lives now to know what a particular Biblical word meant in that context in which it was written. Relate the Biblical text to me now. Tell me what it means now. Why is this particular word of Jesus theologically important for me today. Let me hear the Living Word that speaks Life to our world that is up to it's eyeballs in skepticism, anger, consumerism, and materialism. We may have a brand new I-Phone 6, and the latest video game, and are worried about terrorists coming into our country via immigration so shut them out and rising health care costs and increasing our personal debt not to mention the national debt...but can we Live in the midst of Life. Is what we want to know.
So, as we gather to read First Samuel, we want to know how Samuel's call to be a leader of Israel can be like my call to be a mother or a student working on my GED, or a passion to help the homeless or any other thing I am doing because it seems God has got something to do with it. We want to know why God seemed to answer Israel's prayer for a King by giving them something God did not want them to have! Or maybe God did. Why does God give us things we want or don't want? And when we end up with the wrong thing or the wrong place how come God sticks with us?
And here is a good one: how come there is so much violence in First Samuel? What is God doing in the midst of it? Why does God keep getting mixed up in the messes of our lives? So we might Live?