2 Samuel: Tying Up Loose Ends

A few tidbits and a summary of what I thought after completing 2 Samuel.

Introduction

2 Samuel takes us through the rest of Samuel's life and the end of David's reign. When we casually read the Bible, we have a tendency to false-glorify people. In our minds, Biblical heroes like David become great examples and we forget that they were just men. God says that David was a man after His own heart, but David messes up, too. If you haven't read about David in a while, as you read 2 Samuel thoroughly, you will definitely think to yourself "this isn't how I think of David!" We often assume that because David was a man after God's heart, he must have been a great person, which is sort of true, but David wasn't perfect. David was favored by God because of His faith, not his works. Even back then, God it was faith over works. God does not change (Malachi 3:6), and people did not change so drastically between David's time and Jesus' time that God had to change how we come to Him. We are incapable of perfection, and so was David. The lesson we should carry from David is that strong faith and the desire to follow God will take us far, but when we fall, we should be quick to repent and get back up.
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Name Origins: Saul & Samuel

Some claim a contradict with Saul and Samuel based upon the meaning of their names.[1] Saul means "asked for or prayed for," while Samuel means "name of God" or "God has heard."[2][3] The complaint is that when Hannah names Samuel in 1 Samuel 20, she does so because "Because I have asked him of the Lord." This reasoning fits the meaning of the name Saul moreso than that of Samuel. Those who make this claim, argue that the narrative of Samuel's birth is actually Saul's but was changed to give credence to David and Samuel and downplay Saul's credibility.[1]

What doesn't make sense, however, is why not change Hannah's words too? It would be so easy to change the narrative to suggest Hannah said she named Samuel because "God has heard" her request. If they were editing the text, why not just change the whole thing? I'd wager Hannah's exact words were less memorable than who she gave birth to, and thus an even easier forgery opportunity than swapping characters all together. I think it is more reasonable to assume that the narrative always referred to Samuel, but we have misinterpreted Hannah's reason for naming her son.

In the case of Saul, the people asked and prayed for a king. God wasn't really fond of the idea, but He let it happen anyway. In the case of Samuel, however, when Hannah asked for a son, God heard her plea and chose to grant her request out of love. Hannah is naming her son because "God heard" that which she asked. She is declaring the "name of God" because with God, she would not have given birth. Samuel's name is given as praise to God. Most commentators do not give credence to this complaint because the names are so similar in meaning.[4][5]
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Eglah vs. Michal

Another issue that comes up when discussing the book of Samuel, is that of Michal. Michal was Saul's daughter and the first wife of Samuel. She doesn't have any children (2 Samuel 6:23), but she raised her sisters children (2 Samuel 21:8). Some believe that Eglah and Michal are actually the same person. This tradition came about to excuse David's excessive number of wives, but there is nothing in the Bible that suggests they were in fact the same person. People who believe they are have also concocted a story to explain Eglah's child, since Michal was said to have never given birth. It is an interesting thought, but it has no merit in the Bible text.
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References

  1. "Saul". Wikipedia; visited January 2017
  2. Mike Campbell. "Saul". Behind the Name; visited January 2017
  3. Mike Campbell. "Samuel". Behind the Name; visited January 2017
  4. Matthew Henry. "1 Samuel 1 Commentary", via BibleStudyTools.com; visited January 2017
  5. "1 Samuel 1:20 Commentary", via Bible Hub; visited January 2017
  6. Tamar Kadari. "Michal, Daughter of Saul: Midrash". Jewish Women's Archive. March 20, 2009

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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