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From prophet's king to king's prophet; Samuel's legacy

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posted on Sep, 25 2015 @ 05:08 PM
The common image of the relation between prophets and kings is the loner in conflict with authority.
We think of Elijah challenging one king, and John the Baptist challenging another.
But it doesn’t have to be like that, and it wasn’t always like that.

In the early days of the kingship, there was a working relationship which gradually mutated from “prophet’s king” to “king’s prophet”.
In the “prophet’s king” relation, the king was guided by, and sometimes chosen by, a trusted prophet.
In the “king’s prophet” relation, the prophet announced exactly what the king wanted him to announce.
The classic examples are Samuel-and-Saul at one end of the time-scale, and Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah at the other.

Samuel marks the transition between the time of judges and the time of kings.
He spent most of his life “judging Israel”.
As he got older, the people began wanting a more permanent war leader to defend them against their enemies.
One version of the appointment of Saul is that he sought out Samuel’s help in finding some lost animals. Samuel was expecting him and anointed him as prince over Israel.
“You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I am coming to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait , until I come to you and show you what you shall do” (1 Samuel ch10 v8).
This looks like the instruction which Saul was supposed to be following in ch13. The current arrangement of the source material has obscured the connection.
Samuel did not arrive at the appointed time. Saul did not think he could afford to wait any longer, so he began making the offerings himself.
Samuel arrived in the middle of this exercise and rebuked him for his disobedience.
“For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel for ever.
But now your kingdom shall not continue” (ch13 vv13-14).

The next task which Samuel gave to Saul was the full destruction of the kingdom of the Amalekites, including all their animals.
The campaign was successful, and Saul reported that he had performed the commandment of the Lord. Samuel disagreed.
“What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”
The best of the sheep and the oxen had been preserved to sacrifice to the Lord, which was not what he had asked for.
There were obvious ulterior motives, because most of a sacrificed animal would be eaten by the people making the offering.
Saul had also kept alive Agag, the king of the Amalekites.
Samuel’s response established an important principle;
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king” (ch15 vv22-23).

Samuel’s last known act after this incident was to seek out David and anoint him to take the king’s place (ch16).

So the working relationship, as modelled by Samuel, has the prophet anointing the king, directing him in war, giving rebukes when required, and arranging the succession.
This would, in principle, be the Biblical ideal of government.
That is, rulers chosen by God and acting under his guidance.

In David’s time, the court prophet was Nathan.
David’s thought about building a house for the Lord was shared with Nathan, who gave an enthusiastic response from his own heart, and was obliged to modify it a little once he had heard from the Lord (2 Samuel ch7).
It was Nathan who passed on the Lord’s rebuke for the affair with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah the Hittite (ch12).
And Nathan was deeply involved in the succession crisis at the end of the reign.
As Adonijah was making his preparations, Nathan urged Bathsheba to go to the king’s chamber and remind him her own son’s claim. He then followed her in and confirmed that Adonijah was close to seizing the throne.
So David agreed to have Solomon proclaimed as king.
Nathan did not anoint the new king himself, but was present at the anointing (1 Kings ch1).
His role, then, was giving advice, giving rebukes, and helping to arrange the succession.

There seems to have been no room for a prophet at the court of Solomon, who dealt with God directly, and otherwise worked through the priests.
So the next time we see a prophet is when Ahijah the Shilonite reveals God’s plans for the succession.
Meeting Jeroboam on the road, he tore his garment into twelve pieces and handed over ten of them. He explained that God would give Jeroboam ten of the tribes, because of Solomon’s idolatry, but would hold back one tribe for the house of David. The twelfth piece probably represents Simeon, which had dwindled to the point of hardly counting as a tribe (ch11).

When the ten tribes rebelled, at the death of Solomon, Rehoboam was gathering his warriors to overcome them. However, Shemaiah the man of God warned his people, on the Lord’s behalf, that they should not fight against their kinsmen, so everybody went home again (ch12 vv21-24).

After the division of the kingdom, the prophets almost disappear from Judah’s history, for many generations.
The priests had taken over the anointing of kings, and the hereditary principle gave the prophets no place in managing the succession.
Nor do we see any prophets involved in the crisis of Athaliah’s time, which was resolved by the intervention of the priests.

Even in the northern kingdom, the function of the Lord’s prophets was rapidly being reduced to forcing changes in the succession.
We do hear of a man of God from Judah who travelled to Bethel to pronounce against Jeroboam’s altar there, arousing the new king’s wrath (ch13 vv1-10).
When Jeroboam and his wife consulted Ahijah the Shilonite, the prophet’s response was to rebuke Jeroboam for his idolatries.
But this criticism would have no effect, so the prophet could only threaten the destruction of the house of Jeroboam (ch14 vv1-16).
This was understood to have been fulfilled by the rebellion of Baasha in the reign of the next king (ch15 vv27-30).
Then Baasha himself received a similar warning from Jehu the son of Hanani, which was fulfilled in turn in the following reign (ch16 vv1-13).

The career of Elisha shows that a working relationship is still achievable, if the king is willing to listen to the Lord.
The career of Zedekiah son of Chenaanah shows what happens if a prophet is willing to lose his integrity.
But if the first option is not possible, and the second option is not acceptable, the only other alternative is defiant independence.
It is human resistance that forces prophets into that role, from Elijah and Amos onwards.
Those in power lose touch with God’s guidance, and we see the results.

posted on Sep, 25 2015 @ 05:09 PM
“After the division of the kingdom, the prophets almost disappear from Judah’s history, for many generations.”

There was not space to mention them in the OP, but we do find incidents in 2 Chronicles which are not mentioned in Kings.

As when Shemaiah made another appearance during the invasion of Shishak, and rebuked the leaders of the nation for abandoning the Lord.
“Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said ‘The Lord is righteous’” (ch12 vv1-8).
Azaraiah the son of Oded came forward and praised the conduct of the later king Asa (ch15 vv1-7).
On the other hand, Hanani the seer rebuked him for getting help from Syria instead of relying upon the Lord, and found himself put in the stocks (ch16 vv7-10).
Even Jehoshaphat was criticised by Jehu the son of Hanani (ch19 v2) and by Eliezer the son of Dodavahu (ch20 v37) for his policy of seeking good relations with Ahaz of Israel.

However, when Jehoshaphat was preparing to fight against a coalition of Ammonites and Moabites, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jehaziel the son of Zechariah”, the Levite, who encouraged Judah into battle in the old-fashioned way.
“Fear not, and be not dismayed at this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s…
Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you” (ch20 vv14-17).

Nevertheless, when the next king Jehoram was introducing Baal into the land, after the model of Israel, there were no home-grown prophets to rebuke him.
The Lord had to send him a letter through the northern prophet Elijah (ch21 cc12-15).

And as already mentioned, we see no prophets involved in the crisis of Athaliah’s time, which was resolved by the intervention of the priests.

posted on Sep, 25 2015 @ 05:12 PM
Drat; sorry, this was supposed to be in Religion and Theology. Went into the wrong thread to launch "New thread".
Anyone who can move it, please do.

posted on Sep, 25 2015 @ 06:24 PM
So your saying if the Prophet doesnt choose a King, s*** breaks loose since, everyone can go for the Crown, but the Prophet must be a levite, and a theologian with some degree of philosophy, i wonder where those Levites are

posted on Sep, 25 2015 @ 06:30 PM
a reply to: Hyperia
Nobody suggests that the prophet needs to be a Levite or an academic theologian.
Amos says that he had been a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees. What qualifies a prophet is having contact with God.
Also, to clarify, this was the ideal for God's people Israel rather than the world in general.
The equivalent for the New Testament period would be "The church should be led by people guided by the Holy Spirit".

posted on Sep, 25 2015 @ 06:30 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Arent the Levites suppose to be a hidden secret among men?

posted on Sep, 25 2015 @ 06:31 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

Ive read somewhere the highpriest of the tabernacle must be a decendent, is there a Israelite who is a decendent.

posted on Sep, 25 2015 @ 06:34 PM
a reply to: Hyperia
I'm a Christian. I accept the New Testament teaching that Christ is now our High Priest (see Epistle to Hebrews, passim).
Anyway, this thread is about the relation between Old Testament prophets and their kings.

posted on Sep, 25 2015 @ 06:38 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

I think the purpose of a prophet is to serve according to a strict set of rules

posted on Sep, 25 2015 @ 06:40 PM
a reply to: Hyperia
The purpose of a prophet is to be a channel of communication between God and men.
The Greek word behind the English word means "one who speaks out".

posted on Sep, 25 2015 @ 10:01 PM

originally posted by: DISRAELI

Anyway, this thread is about the relation between Old Testament prophets and their kings.

And, it's a very interesting thread too

Are there any instances in the bible (aside from Samuel's life) where we 'see' someone being called to become a prophet?

I'm not familiar enough with the Old Testament, I can't remember if there are any other 'stories' of a prophet's beginnings...

posted on Sep, 26 2015 @ 04:36 AM
a reply to: lostgirl
There are certain episodes which might be cases of "first contact".
There is Isaiah's vision of the Lord in Isaiah ch6, though the collection of prophecies actually begins with the message he was given.
There is the vision of Ezekiel ch1.
Jeremiah ch1 vv4-5 may well be the first words that God spoke to him;
"Before you were born I consecrated you.
I appointed you a prophet to the nations".

If you're interested, this mini-series will have two more threads carrying the story down to Elisha.

posted on Sep, 26 2015 @ 05:45 PM
That's a lot to read.

Instead of labels like "prophet, king" etc.. I like to see them as humans who are mighty full of #.

Humans have a way of exaggerating their kin, kind of like the god and Jesus characters.

Yes, I did.

posted on Sep, 26 2015 @ 06:18 PM
a reply to: Elementalist
This thread is about the relationship between them, and I can't talk about that without using the labels.

posted on Sep, 26 2015 @ 06:51 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

What label? using astronomy with the Bible?

posted on Sep, 26 2015 @ 07:06 PM
a reply to: Hyperia
The labels "prophet" and "king", which is what the previous poster was talking about.
Why drag astronomy into this? That is not part of the topic of this thread, so I'm not going to be discussing it.

posted on Sep, 26 2015 @ 07:27 PM
a reply to: lostgirl
P.S. I've just remembered Moses and the Burning Bush. How could I forget?

posted on Oct, 4 2015 @ 04:52 PM
The sequel to this thread, the second in the trilogy, deals with
Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah
edit on 4-10-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 11 2015 @ 03:20 PM
The other threads in this trilogy;

Zedekiah son of Chenaanah

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