Old Testament Books, Deuteronomy Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2776 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

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Both kings are shown to be exceptionally wise in their rule, but also human.

The role of God has changed to become the elector of kings. The kings, as anticipated, prove themselves very human and very flawed. Saul for example is unable to surrender his office once his tasks have been completed. The high status enjoyed by the king is thus hard to relinquish, especially for a human being. Saul's office has thus gone to his head somewhat and it is extremely difficult for him to accept that David is rising and finding favor in the eyes of God and people.

It is interesting to note that once the monarchy has been established, God has accepted this pattern and freely gave his approval or disapproval of the current king. Still, as foreseen by the critics, David as the king is portrayed as a sinful man. He is loved by God, like Israel, but as representative of the nation he is disobedient in the same way as they had been in the past.

The ambivalence inherent in the establishment of the monarchy as depicted in Samuel is interesting and could also be viewed as paradoxical. Several sections in the first book of Samuel are for example favorable to the monarchy

. The institution is seen as God's answer to a cry for help in terms of focused, earthly rulers. In this way God could be seen as not oblivious to the needs of Israel. On the other hand, the idea of a king is still viewed as rebellion against the supreme ruler.

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By allowing his people to establish a monarchy, then, God allows them to experience what they have been warned against. When a king is irresponsible and sinful, he is so as representative of all the Israelites, which complicates matters for the nation as a whole. When a king is just and faithful to God's commandments, he attracts the blessings of God for the entire nation.

Term Paper on Old Testament Books, Deuteronomy, Samuel Assignment

Obviously then there are both advantages and disadvantages to the establishment of the monarchy for Israel. On the one hand, it is easier to regulate the general behavior of the population, and on the other hand it is also easier to fall by the wayside as a result of the unjust actions of a single person. With the establishment of a monarchy then, the emphasis has moved away from the collective actions of Israel and Judah towards an individualistic judgement. God judges according to the actions of a single king instead of the collective actions of the group.

Wisdom is then a central requirement to being king. Saul is rejected not only as result of his lack of wisdom, but also as a result of his lack of morality. He, like the rest of the people, is subject to the moral laws depicted in Deuteronomy and the books preceding it.

The choice of kings, entrusted to Samuel, then relates tot he likelihood of obedience. Saul is judged according to his actions, and so is David when he murders Uriah in order to take his wife. Yet God's feelings regarding David appear as ambivalent as the general biblical paradigm of kingship. God has made a covenant with David to hold his household safe and numerous, and this covenant is kept despite the fact that David is frequently sinful.

Thus, whereas Deuteronomy focused on the nation of Israel as a whole and their relationship with God, the focus of the human relationship with God shifts to individual people when the monarchy is established. The problem here becomes that the burden of sin and disobedience is now on a single person instead of on the whole nation of Israel. The king represents the whole of Israel in this regard.

Kings -- The Persistence of the Monarchy

In the book of Kings David is established as the norm of kingship, despite his imperfections. This could be seen to represent God's love for Israel collectively, and his faithfulness to them, despite the nation's tendency to disobey.

In this book, the history of Israel becomes enmeshed in a number of sinful kings who insist upon disobeying God and instead to work on assimilating Israel with the nations of Canaan. Israel is thus divided into two groups: the group that follows the sinful king, and the one that wishes to keep the ways of the true God. Judah on the other hand experiences periodic cycles of religious renewal and decadence. God's and Samuel's misgivings about kingship are proven to be well grounded, as this book ends with the exile of Israel as a result of their sinfulness.

In the book of Kings then, political and theological struggle are enmeshed with each other. In terms of politics, the disobedience of the kings was not the only problem Israel had. They were also in a geographically vulnerable position, with Israel and Judah being two isolated states surrounded by powerful foreigners

. In these circumstances it was difficult for the Hebrews to maintain political independence, especially as the disobedience of the kings resulted in God not helping in this struggle. The kings of course, being unfaithful to God, found it politically easier to succumb to their neighbors. Theologically, the failure of this political struggle led to retribution from God, and Israel and Judah were taken captive. The sin of the individual kings thus became the sin of the entire nation, despite the group within the nation who attempted to maintain their faithfulness to God.

The kings are thus judged not for their political or economic prowess, but for their ability to maintain a pure relationship with God. Solomon for example began well. He rebuilt the temple and tried earnestly to seek the wisdom of God. But he too was tempted into falling away into the ways of the Canaanite gods.

David is then used as the ultimate measure of kingship, despite his shortcomings. He, like Israel during the earlier part of their history, kept returning to God after falling away in a way that kings after him did not do. Thus God remains loyal to him after his death, in establishing David as the ultimate legacy to be followed. Judah's captivity is then delayed because of the obedience of some of their kings, but they are also finally led astray and into captivity.

In this way Israel's demands for a king brings the exact trouble anticipated by God and Samuel. The kings use their positions of power to lead the nation of Israel away from God. Because God's loyalty to Israel is dependent on their obedience, the disobedience inspired by their kings deprives them of their relationship with God. In this way the kings become a barrier rather than a link between God and his people. This occurs to the extent that not event he faithful group in Israel can save them from retribution.

Bibliography

Howard, D.M. Jr. 1998 "The Case for Kingship in Deuteronomy and the Former Prophets," Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 476-78.

Sumner, Darren. 1999. "The Bible Shelf." http://www.thesumners.com/bible

There are three discourses, stretching over Chapter 1:6-4:40, Chapters. 5-28, and Chapters 29-30). The concluding addendum comprises Chapters 31-34. This is the final words of Moses to his people before they enter Canaan. Traditionally the discourses are attributed to Moses, although some scholars believe that some portions of the book come from a later time.

The first discourse: Deuteronomy 1:6-4:40

Deuteronomy 11:26-28, and 30:15-20

God sees this as rejection: 1 Samuel 8:7

For example Chapter 9:1-10

These include… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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