In these lessons monarchy represents absolute power, whether it is the power of God over all or, the power of some man over a place and a people until someone, likely another man, takes his place. Literarily, Saul is a negative foil for David. That leaves him as doomed to fail and unforgiven when repentant. One must question if David’s legend required a tarnished Saul to distract from his own corruption. It is easy to read with and as David, as the favorite of God, no matter how we transgress as long as we say words of repentance. But that is not the most common human experience. Many of us feel like Saul, trying to live up to and into the expectations for us and falling and failing and fearing abandonment and rejection.

The psalm and the epistle reiterate that power belongs to God. Yet the gospel demonstrates that there are those, whether royal or not like Herod and Herodias (the mother), who hold and hoard the power they claim and to which they feel entitled. Reading between the lines, it is easy to see that power held or power sought often leads to the creation of a god in one’s own image. Thus I understand the call to the eradication of Amalek and other calls for genocide; that is not simply the God I know. 

To those grasping for power, those grappling to hold onto power, those ground down by the powerful, the epistle offers another word, a word of redemption and liberation: Jesus who loves us and freed us from our sins. The majesty of God is securely enthroned, held secure by the power of God’s love and, will never fall or pass to someone unworthy.