June: After Pentecost

1 Jun 2024 by Rev. Dr John Squires in: Lectionary

2 June 2025 Pentecost 2: 1 Samuel 3:1–10 

With this story of the call of Samuel, we being reading a series of narratives from Samuel and Kings which will take us deep into the season “after Pentecost”. These stories provide insights into the leadership of the people of Israel in the crucial years when a key transition was taking place, moving from a group of invading tribes, consolidating into a coherent kingdom, and culminating in the reign of Solomon. In these narratives, both prophets and kings provided leadership in challenging times. Of course, these stories are not “history” as we know it today, but they are ancient tales told and retold, passed on by word of mouth and then written down, because of their enduring significance for the people of ancient Israel. This week, we hear about Samuel—a prophet whose wisdom guided the people in the early period of the monarchy. This story from the early years of Samuel’s life instructs us as we hear it in later times; like Samuel (v.10), we are to listen to God’s voice, and to respond with obedience. 

9 June 2024 Pentecost 3: 1 Samuel 8:4–20; 11:14–15 

Should Israel be ruled by a king? For centuries, judges had led the people, determining what was right and what was wrong. But other nations surrounding Israel were led by kings. The elders of Israel press for change; Samuel, attuned to God’s voice, rejects this request. But God pushes Samuel to accept this change; eventually, he anoints Saul as king (11:15). This is the first of a series of stories from ancient days which address a pressing contemporary issue: how to bring about effective change within the community of faith. It is something we all know about today, as society changes and the church occupies a different place in that society. How do we listen for God’s voice in this context? How do we advocate for effective change? 

16 June 2025 Pentecost 4: 1 Samuel 15: 34–16:13 

Saul had been the first king over Israel, but his rule was fraught with difficulties. Another change is on the cards; condemned by the words of the prophet Samuel, Saul relinquishes the role. Jesse steps onto the stage; one of his eight sons will sit on the throne. It has been a bitterly-fought transition, and Samuel was saddened by the course of events. But the voice of God pushes him on, to step up and carry out his role in the transition taking place; and so the prophet faithfully anoints Saul’s successor. But which son is it to be? Samuel had his own ideas, based on appearances; God reprimands him, telling him to focus on the heart—the very core of the being of the chosen one. Samuel exercises his prophetic discernment, selecting the youngest son, David, as king. God confirms this choice by gifting David with the spirit. Openness to new ways and new possibilities has led to this defining moment. 

23 June 2024 Pentecost 5: 1 Sam 17: 32–49 

The story of David and Goliath is legendary. It fits with a pattern, found throughout the mythic sagas of Israel (Genesis to Nehemiah), in which the underdog, the least expected person, plays a key role in leading God’s people. (Jesus later picked up on this motif very strongly!) As youngest child and one challenged in physical prowess, the diminutive David stands before the giant Goliath; it seems the match would be over before it began. Not so, however, as the story unfolds. Strategic cunning allows the shepherd boy to defeat the towering enemy. What model does this offer us? I am not advocating for the use of physical violence to bring about victory—but that was the way of things at that time in history (and sadly, it still is, for many, today). Why is this story told? Are there elements of this story that inform how we “live by faith” in today’s world? I wonder what you think they might be? 

30 June 2024 Pentecost 6: 2 Samuel 1: 1, 17–27 

The nature of the relationship between David and Jonathan has been the cause of renewed enquiry in recent decades. Was the love expressed by these two men for one another simply “bruvver love”, as best mates; or was it deeper and more controversial than this? Loving relationships between people of the same gender are increasingly accepted in today’s world, at least in Western societies. The “great delight” that Jonathan had for David (1 Sam 19:1) and his complete trust in him (1 Sam 20:4), leads them to form a covenant together on the basis that Jonathan loved David “as he loved his own life” (1 Sam 20:16–17). The poem in this week’s reading provides a beautiful acknowledgement of the depth and strength of this love. Even in ancient Israel, it would seem, such love was valued and accepted. It is this kind of deep love that we also can celebrate today. 

Rev. Dr John Squires is the Editor of With Love to the World.