Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Proper 9: Year 1
“As Samuel turned to go away, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 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.” (1st Samuel 15: 27 and 28)
There are three things for me to ponder in this 1st Samuel reading for today. The first two are in the verses above.
Is this where the tearing of clothing began? Saul grabbed the garment of Samuel as Samuel had turned to leave and Samuel used this action as an explanation of how God is tearing Saul from being king over Israel. This tearing of clothing will appear elsewhere in scripture whenever someone is upset or angry about something that has happened or was said. It’s just something to ponder.
The second thing to ponder is that sometimes people better qualified to do what I like doing will be chosen to do the work. Samuel tells Saul that, “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.” I don’t believe anyone is really “better” than me but they might be better at certain deeds than me, and the need of the community is what is most important. First comes the “what” that needs to be done, and then comes the “who” that is best gifted to do what needs doing. As part of my community I too benefit from the best possible person in the right position.
Lastly, I think Samuel is incorrect when he says that God will not have a change of mind. When Saul requests prayers in an effort to see if God will have a change of mind regarding his kingship, Samuel tells Saul, “Moreover, the Glory of Israel will not recant or change his mind; for he is not a mortal, that he should change his mind;” (1st Samuel 15:29). However, when Moses engaged with God about God’s plan to destroy the Israelites because of their worship of an idol that they made with their own hands, he got God to have a change of mind. “And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.” (Exodus 32:14 NRSV). There are other places as well where God has a change of mind about what was planned. If God can have a change of mind and we are created in God’s Image, can we not also have a change of mind? I think we should ponder this. We should especially consider having a change of mind if such a change results in a more loving response.
Let us live in order that we might love, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John