Sabbath Reflection for Friday, 16 of January 2015
As a reminder, here’s a common problem in today’s adamantly pro-homosexual and Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) culture when it comes to biblical interpretation:
In last week’s post, I made the claim that a simple analysis of the overarching plot of Samuel, especially in light of the problems of Joshua and Judges (“there was no king in Israel, so everyone did what was right in his own eyes”), proves there is no divine approval of a supposed homosexual love between Jonathan and David and, in fact, proves a truth of far more profundity. We made it through 1 Samuel 13. Today, we continue.
To get caught up on the context, click here for last week’s post. In the least, you need to remember where we’ve come from in chapters 8-13: Saul has lost all hope for a kingdom, all hope to be the king, and is clearly not the promised king of Deuteronomy 17.
Jonathan, his son, now steps prominently onto the stage in chapter 14, and does so in a way that makes his father look impotent in faith and kingship, and does so for reasons that explain what the “gay passages” are actually all about.
1 Samuel 14: Jonathan defeats the Philistines
(14:6), Jonathan shows remarkable faith in Yahweh, rather than in his father. The following directly contrasts the son with the father:
Jonathan said to the young man… “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that Yahweh will work for us, for nothing can hinder Yahweh from saving by many or by few” (14:6).
Compare Jonathan’s faith to Saul’s in the chapter before, at 13:11. Saul says,
When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of Yahweh.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering (13:11).
Saul treats Yahweh like a genie: rub him the right way, and get your wish. Jonathan treats Yahweh like the God he is, has faith in his power, and moves confidently. The son is greater than his father in every way that matters.
(14:7-15), Jonathan routes the Philistines.
(14:16-23), Saul and Israel rally to Jonathan, yet “Yahweh saved Israel that day” (not Saul!).
(14:24-42), Saul acts like a fool and makes an idiotic vow, which Jonathan intentionally disobeys because of its foolhardiness.
(14:43-46), Saul swears he will kill Jonathan, Israel rejects Saul’s decision, and the Philistines escape due to the delay.
(14:47-52), Historical summary given out of chronological sequence.
1 Samuel 15: Saul loses kingship
(15:26-28), Saul explicitly told the kingdom has been torn from his hand because he has rejected the Word of Yahweh, and that the kingdom has been given to Saul’s neighbor, “…who is better than you” (15:28).
As a reminder, Saul should have resigned earlier in 13. He doesn’t. As one of my youth put it, “His ego was too big.” You see that here, too:
“I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel…” (15:30).
Had Saul truly loved Yahweh and desired to obey his voice above all else, he would have immediately relinquished kingship.
This was his second chance to resign. He refuses.
1 Samuel 16: David anointed King and Saul loses his health
9:1-2 says of Saul:
Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.
Again, this is Saul’s exterior body emphasized. However, 16:7 says,
But Yahweh said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For Yahweh sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks on the heart.
David is chosen, apparently because his heart was what Yahweh wanted. This was Yahweh’s chosen king, and so he is anointed.
(16:14-23), David enters Saul’s service and brings relief to Saul, even while David knew he himself was already king and should be ruling. In these verses, Saul is tormented in his flesh by “an evil spirit”. He loses his health. Things went from bad to worse, and only Israel’s true king brings relief. Interesting, no?
1 Samuel 17: David and Goliath, and Saul loses some of Israel’s respect
There’s some irony here in 17:8 with Goliath shouting,
Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me…if he is able to fight me…we will be your servants.
That was Saul’s cue. Yet, he was hiding and was “greatly afraid” when he and all Israel “heard” (17:11).
David, however, when he “hears”, responds,
Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God (17:26)?
(17:38), Saul clothes David with kingly armor, which David rejects, for he has received his kingly clothing in Yahweh’s anointing.
(17:45-47), As king, David prophecies judgment against the enemies of Israel.
(17:50-54), Israel triumphs through David.
1 Samuel 18: Saul loses everything
Now we come to our main text—these are the crucial verses pro-gay interpreters and run-of-the-mill, every-day people believe promote homosexuality. Remember, however, my point about context: we must let the context of the story explain what these passages mean, why they are there, and what we are to believe because of them.
What is it Saul loses? It begins with our “gay” verses:
…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul (18:1).
This comes “as soon as he had finished speaking to Saul,” i.e., as soon as David and Saul concluded their talk about the dead Goliath and where David was from. This is in the throne room of Saul, and it is here Saul’s son moves away from his father and to this newcomer, the true king, David. Moreover,
Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul (18:3).
We’re not told explicitly what the covenant is, but it’s pretty clear from 18:4,
And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.
First, David and Jonathan are gay lovers.
Second, Jonathan is doing what his father never had the guts to do: Jonathan is giving up the throne which was rightfully his as the crown prince.
Considering the context of all I have put before you, which answer do you think correct? The kingdom has been stripped from Saul. Jonathan knew this, which is one reason he is willing to act so rashly towards his father at previous times, openly defying his commands. Here, Jonathan goes a step further: he recognizes David, the newcomer, is the chosen king, and dresses him in regalia.
Jonathan is crowning David.
If that perhaps goes too far, as one friend recently told me, we could say, Jonathan is “abdicating his eventual enthronement” and “recognizing David’s right to the throne” and transferring his own status upon David.¹ This isn’t unique in biblical history, either.
In 1 Samuel 24:4, David trims Saul’s robe, an obvious status of royalty David will use as proof that he spared the “king’s” life later in 24:11. Earlier in her history, Israel saw Aaron, the High Priest, stripped of his robe/status and the robe (and position) given to his son, Eleazar (Num 20:24-28). At a future time, Isaiah prophesied of a similar disrobing and transfer (Isa 22:21). This is all to say, it seems clear which path you must choose when considering the two options before us:
1. Jonathan and David were approved-of-God homosexual lovers, or
2. Jonathan was more righteous than his father, followed Yahweh, and gave up his right to the throne for his friend, Yahweh’s chosen King, David.
It is this second choice which best explains the biblical data.
Part 3 will be next week. We hope you return to read the concluding analysis of the text.
In the meantime, if you’ve found what you read here helpful or thought-provoking, please share the article.
¹Much thanks is due to Dr. Daniel Timmer for his insights into this scene.