djr-2019-10-04-rel-meditationp1

You may not believe it, but your Bible is jam-packed with philosophy. Crammed with thinking about why life works the way it does. A good example: Samuel and Kings (1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings in the Christian Bible) philosophize about the rise and fall of the kingdom of Israel.

“In those days, Israel had no king, and everyone did what they saw fit” (Judges 25:21). This last sentence before the start of Samuel’s story lays down a big, fat slab. Human depravity spawns human anarchy and demands a human king to set things right, the philosopher of Judges implies.

Samuel goes on to tell about a prophet (Samuel) who begins to set things right, a king (Saul) who starts off right, then goes dangerously wrong because of fear and arrogance, as well as the consequences of it all. God winds up replacing bipolar Saul. “God was deeply sorry that he had made Saul king” (1 Samuel 15:35). A philosopher’s application? “God doesn’t mess with free will” (thank you, “Bruce Almighty”).

The rest of Samuel (and part of Kings) tells about Saul’s replacement, David, who “had greater and greater success, because the Lord was with him” (1 Samuel 18:14). The philosophy here? Be careful what you take credit for. An adulterous and homicidal David later plunges into family and national chaos. “The sword will never depart from your house, because you despised God” (2 Samuel 12:10),” another prophet philosophizes this dire bottom line to the king himself.

From there, kings (and queens) come and kings (and queens) go, most into the rogues’ gallery because they “did not do what was right in the Lord’s eyes,” a few into the hall of champions because they did do the right thing.

The “right thing” politically? Religiously? Personally? This is where philosopher suddenly transmogrifies into preacher. “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

(P.S. Thoughts here taken directly from the lecture of a great biblical scholar, my father, Dr. Eugene Hunter Stockstill Sr.)

The Rev. Eugene Stockstill is pastor of Ebenezer United Methodist Church and Myrtle United Methodist Church in Union County.

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