Newsletter n. 3/22 – Saul and David
The Bible has hundreds of significant stories in itself and archetypes and metaphors of other stories of life lived in different and distant times and places. One of these and that somehow deeply involves me is that of Saul and David, told in the two books of Samuel (1 and 2) in a fairly detailed way. I summarize it. Saul was elected and anointed (consecrated) king of Israel against the will of Samuel but wanted by all the people, because he was a model of hero and warrior. For theological Israel it is the passage from Yahweh who guides and saves Israel through the Judges (Gideon, Deborah, Samson, etc.) to a human king – even if consecrated – politically centralizing and strong, who guides the people as all other peoples did. Politically it is the transition from tribal to state Israel. In the beginning, Saul goes from one victory to another, expands Israel’s borders, organizes it as a unitary state, guides it in the wars that break out annually. He is a charismatic and victorious leader. But then, feeling more and more strong and independent, he begins to no longer follow the commands that God gives him through the prophet Samuel. His disobedience is getting stronger. In the end, despite the victory against the idolaters Ammonites and against their king Agag, he seriously disobeys those commands by not passing them by arms. At that time this sin, in Israel, the people of the one God, was very serious: it enticed the Israelites to idolatry by abandoning the one God. Disobeying, Saul puts himself in God’s place, and this was absolutely not allowed. Samuel declares him fallen. He continues to reign, but by now he and his family have lost their earthly and messianic inheritance: the Messiah would not have come from his lineage. Samuel goes in search of a new king and finds him in the last son of Jesse, tawny and handsome, but very young: he is David. David makes himself known by Saul and all the people of Israel, killing Goliath with a single stone and a sling. He thus enters the court of King Saul and as he grows up he becomes a valiant soldier and then leader of armed groups. But in Saul jealousy is triggered, a terrible vice that also becomes disease, up to the attempt to kill David. David flees from court and goes into hiding with other soldiers loyal to him. Saul knows very well that as long as David is alive he risks losing his kingdom, so he goes after him. Twice David has the possibility of killing Saul, but, even against the advice of his men, he does not; only, he points it out to King Saul and all his army. David and his soldiers become a kind of mercenaries waiting for Saul to change his mind. Eventually Saul is more and more alone. Just before the last battle he secretly goes to the witch of Endor and makes her summon the spirit of Samuel to ask him what he should do: Samuel, after harsh complaints, can only predict his next end.
In the writings of Maria Valtorta there are no explicit comments on this story, however in the “Gospel”, talking with various people – apostles, disciples, friends and enemies – there are some words of explanation that are understandable to the Israelites of his time and to us. Jesus comments: “Samuel said, appearing: ‘Why did you disturb me by having me summoned? Why question me after the Lord has withdrawn from you? The Lord will treat you as I told you […] because you did not obey the voice of the Lord’. […] Son, do not reach out to the forbidden fruit. Even just approaching it is imprudent. Do not be curious to know the afterlife for fear that you do not learn the satanic poison. Flee the occult and what cannot be explained. Only one thing must be accepted with holy faith: God. But what God is not, and which cannot be explained with the forces of reason and can be created with the forces of man, flee from it, flee from it, so that the sources of malice do not open to you. and you don’t understand that you are “naked”. Nude: repellent in humanity mixed with Satanism. Why do you want to amaze with dark wonders? Amaze with your holiness, and let it be luminous as a thing that comes from God. Have no desire to tear the veils that separate the living from the departed. Do not disturb the deceased. Listen to them, if you are wise, while they are on Earth, venerate them by obeying them even after death. But don’t disturb their second life. Whoever does not obey the voice of the Lord loses the Lord. And the Lord has prohibited occultism, necromancy, Satanism in all its forms. What do you want to know more than the Word already tells you? What do you want to do more than your goodness and my power allow you to operate? Do not be hungry for sin, but for holiness, son” (Ev3, p. 219 – Italian edition).
The story of Saul and David continues. The next day there is a battle in Gelboe: Israel is defeated and Saul commits suicide by being shot to death by one of his soldiers. David learns about it three days later, but instead of chanting victory for the liberation from his persecutor, he weeps making a funeral lament and composing a song that has become legendary. It begins like this: “O mountains of Gelboe, no more dew or rain on you nor fields of first fruits, for here the shield of the heroes was degraded, the shield of Saul, anointed not with oil, but with the blood of the pierced, with the fat of the heroes” (2 Sam 1,21-22).
Jesus further comments: “Saul’s sin was but one of his sins. He was preceded and followed by many others. All serious. Double ingratitude towards Samuel who anoints him king and then disappears so as not to share the people’s admiration with the king. Ungrateful several times towards David who frees him from Goliath, who spares him in the cave of Engaddi and Achila. Guilty of multiple disobedience and scandal among the people. Guilty of having grieved Samuel for his benefactor by lacking in charity. Guilty of jealousy and attacks on David, another benefactor of him, and finally of the crime committed here [cave of the sorceress of Endor]” (Ev3 p. 217 – Italian edition). To all this we must then add the final act of suicide: Saul ends his life and his reign in a manner similar to that of Judas Iscariot. Both of them – Saul and Judas – do not even accept God’s forgiveness. They punish themselves, but they do not repent before the Lord.
The metaphor is not useless. It reminds us of the obvious but not trivial or superficial fact of never imitating Saul under any circumstances in life. Heaven, through Maria Valtorta, suggests us to follow David instead who, despite the sins committed, small and large – and in fact he has also committed great ones! – he never ceases to humbly ask the One Lord for forgiveness.