"The very stumbling-block of the Bible is its utter simplicity: the mysteries of God are framed into the daily life of average men, and the whole story may seem to be all too human. Just as the Incarnate Lord himself appeared to be an ordinary man."
I am rereading the biblical history books (1,2 Samuel; 1,2, Kings [=1,2,3,4, Kings] and 1,2 Chronicles) in the Septuagint translation (Orthodox Study Bible). It's a bloody mess. When Florovsky says "the mysteries of God are framed into the daily life of average men," he is talking about average men who lived in a very bloody world. Or, more accurately, in a world where the bloodletting was close at hand, not kept at a distance by economically segregated communities, massive prison populations, and selective immigration policies.
It is easy for me to judge harshly the violence of the "average men" during the reign of Kings Saul and David. I've never been faced with an invading army that is willing to let everyone in my city live as their slaves only after they blind our right eyes (1 Samuel/ 1Kings 11:2). Whether or not I would have found the grace to turn the other cheek (the other eye?), I do not know. Whether or not I would have found the grace to watch my loved ones blinded, then sold to the highest bidder to be used however it pleased them, I do not know. I do know, however, that the Native American proverb holds true here: "Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins."
But even here, in this very bloody world of the biblical history, God is not absent. A man, Saul, is small in his own eyes--until he gets a taste of power. Once Saul is esteemed a hero, he takes to himself the priesthood too, presuming to offer sacrifice in the name of expediency instead of waiting (as told) for the Prophet Samuel to arrive. Instead of obeying Samuel in the specific command to "wipe out" the Amalekites (men, women, children and animals), Saul saves the king and the best sheep and cattle for sacrifice.
This last and greatest failure of Saul intrigues me. Again, Saul takes on himself the role of the priest and builds an altar in Carmel and offered sacrifices. Again, he explains to Samuel that it was a matter of expedience, "for the people."
How often have I let expedience drive me? Samuel says of Saul's excuse that listening to (hearing) God and obeying God is better than sacrifice; that this sin (of not listening to God) is the same as divination (witchcraft) and idolatry (12:22,23).
Not listening to God is the same as witchcraft and idolatry? Maybe I need to take it easy on the Wicca folks too. Maybe I'm not too far from them. How often do I let expediency hurry me into actions and words that I later realize are not appropriate, that are sinful? Much more often than I'd like to admit.
My tendency, sometimes, to avoid times of quiet listening may be the cause of many of my sins. I may, for the sake of expediency, hurry to do what seems popular, seems religious, seems urgent at the moment. When I don't wait quietly, when I don't listen, I become like King Saul. I may even commit sins that are as witchcraft and idolatry.
May God have mercy on me and teach me to listen.