1 Samuel 3:1-20
The Book of Samuel is part of the “Deuteronomic History” that includes the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. These books are a “didactic history” that covers the period from just before the entry into the Promised Land (c.1220 BCE, if the account is historical) to the beginning of Babylonian Captivity (586 BCE). The books were written in the period from 640 BCE to 550 BCE and continued to be revised even after that.
The Deuteronomists emphasized that YHWH controls history, and when the people (and their kings) worshiped YHWH properly, good things would happen to them. When they worshiped false gods, however, bad events would overtake them.
The Book of Samuel (to the extent it may be historical) covers from the end of the Time of the Judges (c.1030 BCE) to the last years of the Reign of David (c. 965 BCE).
Today’s reading describes the call by YHWH of young Samuel (whose name means “God [el] has heard’). Samuel is described as the last of the Judges and the first of the great prophets of Israel. He is a towering and admirable figure in the Hebrew Bible. His mother, Hannah, was barren until YHWH “remembered” her in response to her prayers. He was dedicated by Hannah to YHWH as a “nazirite” (1 Sam.1:9) — one who would never cut his hair and or touch wine or strong drink. Two other nazirites in Scripture were Samson (who did not fulfill his vows) and John the Baptizer.
Among his significant acts, Samuel (at YHWH’s direction) anointed the first two kings of Israel (Saul and David). The Book of Samuel is ambivalent about whether having a king was good for Israel (it united the tribes politically against their enemies) or bad because Israel ceased to be a theocracy (governed by YHWH through priests).
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Corinth, a large port city in Greece, was among the early Jesus Follower communities that Paul founded. Its culture was diverse and Hellenistic, and Corinthians emphasized reason and secular wisdom. In addition to Paul, other Jesus Followers also taught in Corinth, sometimes in ways inconsistent with Paul’s understandings of what it means to be a Jesus Follower. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was written in the 50’s (CE) (likely while Paul was in Ephesus) and presented his views on several issues.
Today’s reading appears to be in response to a letter received from Corinth, as shown by the Hellenistic (“enlightened”) statements in verses 12 and 13 that Paul quotes (and refutes) in today’s reading. Paul discusses the human body and rejects fornication, not on the basis of the Law, but on the bases that Jesus Followers are members of Christ (v.15) and united to the Lord (v.17) so that one’s body is a temple/sanctuary (v.19). Paul concludes that one should glorify God in one’s body (v.20).