VOL 15, NO 1 (2019) Saul’s Rejection and the Obscene Underside of the Law

Saul’s Rejection and the Obscene Underside of the Law

Rachelle Gilmour


This article uses aspects of Slavoj Žižek’s critique of ideology to investigate the paradox in the application of God’s judgement in Saul’s rejection, and Samuel and David’s acceptance in the book of Samuel. Using Žižek’s discussion on the obscene underside of the law, it is argued that Samuel’s and David’s disobedience do not lead to rejection in the same way as Saul’s because Saul has transgressed the unspoken supplement to the law: by having a son, Jonathan, who is not corrupt and is suitable to succeed him; by listening to the voice of the people; and by not taking from the people. Furthermore, this paradox reveals something of the ideology of kingship in the narrative of 1 and 2 Samuel, that the “ways of the king” in 1 Samuel 8 are precisely what God demands rather than prohibits in his king.


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