Lucia's Blog: I SAMUEL - SAUL AND DAVID - DAVID PART ONE
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I SAMUEL - SAUL AND DAVID - DAVID PART ONE

GIANTS OF THE FAITH: DAVID, PART ONE 
(I Samuel 16-31)


I Samuel 16: Samuel was grieved by the turn of events with Saul. When the LORD saw that Samuel was grieved over Saul, the LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”  Notice that Samuel himself is no longer in a position to lead Israel, and Saul has failed the LORD and Israel miserably as their king. But the LORD sends Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a new king from the house of Jesse. Samuel obeyed the LORD's instructions and came to Bethlehem.  He was met by the elders of the city.  So Samuel said to them that he came in peace to sacrifice to the LORD and urged them to consecrate themselves coming with him to the sacrifice. He consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

Jesse began to roll out his sons for Samuel's inspection.  Samuel was impressed with Eliab, Jesse's eldest son, but the LORD told Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.  For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."  Notice that this was not the first time that the LORD had rejected the firstborn in the past.  Jesse continued to bring his sons forward, one by one.  All of them were rejected one by one. The story takes an unexpected turn here. Since seven in the Bible represents completion, one would think that the seventh son should be the one chosen. Instead, the seventh son is also rejected leaving us with no more sons, except for the youngest, David. Samuel asked Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.”  And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in.  Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers.  And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

In contrast, the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul. As if that were not enough, God permitted a harmful spirit to torment him. When Saul's servants saw that this evil spirit was tormenting him, they advised him to find a man that was good in playing the lyre, so that when the evil spirit was upon him, he could play and ease Saul’s suffering. So Saul asked his servants to find such man. One of the young servants said he knew that one of Jesse's sons was skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.          I Samuel 16:18.

Saul immediately sends for David so he came and served Saul. Saul loved David greatly.  David also became Saul's armor-bearer. Saul asked Jesse, David's father, to allow him to remain and serve him since David had found favor in his eyes. "And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him."  
I Samuel 16:23.

There is another interesting contrast between David and Saul:  When Saul first appears in I Samuel 9, remember he had lost his donkeys.  Saul is portrayed as an incompetent herdsman.  On the other hand, David is portrayed as a very skillful shepherd who doesn't leave his sheep even when a man as important, a prophet, as Samuel comes to town. David is obviously the shepherd who cares, tends and protects his sheep, like a later shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ.

THE PHILISTINES


The Philistines were in constant conflict with the Israelites during this period of history. The Philistines lived in Southwest Canaan along the Mediterranean Sea as well as in the Shephelah. The Shephelah was the area between the coast and the mountains of Judea. Whoever controlled the Shephelah also controlled the region. Most of the Israelite/Philistine battles were fought in the Shephelah.

It is not clear exactly where the Philistines came from. Some speculate or suggest that they were the 'Sea Peoples' of Crete known in Egyptian lore, who attacked Egypt around 1293-1185 BC, during the 19th Dynasty. Remember the Sea People were repulsed by Ramesses III around 1182-1151 BC, during the 20th Dynasty. They then resettled in Canaan making it hard for the Israelites to get rid of them.

The Philistines had five major cities:  Gaza, Ashkelon and Ashdod on the Mediterranean coast.  Ekron and Gath in the Shephelah.  The Philistine cities were joined in some sort of confederacy in which all the city rulers had equal power.

Like all other Gentile nations, the Philistines also worshiped many gods. Some of them were adopted from Canaanite traditions. Their chief god was Dagon.  It is believed he had the body of a fish and the head of a man.

The Philistines were skilled in making pottery as well as master iron workers. The Israelite weapons were inferior by comparison since they were still using bronze. The Israelites suffered a great deal when they had to do battle with them.

In modern language a "philistine" is a low or despised person who knows nothing of refined culture or art.   He is also one who despises or destroys culture or art.  Interesting!

DAVID AND GOLIATH (I Samuel 17)

When David was still a very young man, the Philistines along with the Israelites were at war in the valley of Elah (in the Shephelah). The Philistines stood on one side of the mountain while the Israelites stood across the valley on the side of the other mountain. Then a champion warrior among the Philistines named Goliath whose height was about nine feet tall; clothed with scale armor which weighed about six hundred shekels of iron. His armor-bearer was also with him. Apparently this giant wore armor and was armed to the teeth. He was quite intimidating. Goliath then challenged the Israelites to choose a man among themselves to come to him and fight him. Goliath said, "Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me.  If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.”  Not one soldier in Israel, not even King Saul, was willing to fight against this Philistine "giant." The Israelites were dismayed and afraid when they hear Goliath's threat. In the eyes of all present, Goliath appeared to be unbeatable.

David Enters the Scene:  David was sent by his father, Jesse, to check up on his three older brothers and carry food to them on the battlefield.  His father Jesse had told him, " Take now for your brothers an ephah of this roasted grain and these ten loaves and run to the camp to your brothers.  Bring also these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of their thousand, and look into the welfare of your brothers, and bring back news of them.  For Saul and they and all the men of Israel are in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.”

The next morning David arose early and had someone tend his sheep while he went with supplies and did as his father had said.  David then went into the battle zone leaving his cargo with the other army provisions. He ran to his brothers to greet them when this "giant" Goliath spoke the same words of threat and challenge and David heard them. Again, when all the men of Israel heard these words, they fled and were all afraid. Apparently, these words of challenge were repeated daily. Goliath challenged them and wanted to know why no one had accepted the challenge.  David was amazed at their cowardice. Since it was evident that they had no faith that their Jehovah God could give them victory over such a giant, David asked the men of Israel, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”  I Samuel 17:26b.

When Eliab, his oldest brother, heard David, he got angry at David and rebuked him harshly. He accused David of having a wicked heart and being insolent. It is no wonder that such an attitude and behavior should have kept Jehovah God from choosing Eliab as king. Remember that Eliab was present when Samuel anointed his younger brother, David, in his place.  He was definitely jealous of David.

When Saul heard of David's words, he sent for him. David then said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”  But Saul replied, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth."  In return David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock,  I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.”  David reassured Saul saying again, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”   There was no doubt in Saul's heart that David could defeat and overcome this "giant."  So Saul clothed David with his, Saul's garment putting a helmet on his head. David was all clothed with armor. David tried to walk with his sword, but it was difficult so he took them off.  One thing to note is that among the Israelites, only Saul had armor like Goliath's; made of iron, I Samuel 13:22.  David refused the armor and chose five smooth stones from the brook, putting the stones in the shepherd's pouch which he had. With his sling in his hand he then approached this "giant" Goliath along with his armor-bearer.

When Goliath looked and saw that David was a young man with a handsome appearance, he began to mock him. Goliath cursed David by his gods and mocked him for his lack of weaponry.  He jeered at him.   In response to all this, David said, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.  This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”  I Samuel 17:46-47.  These words of David, his faith, his act of courage and trust in our Jehovah God penetrate the inner parts of my soul!!!

When Goliath drew near to meet David, David ran quickly to the battlefield to fight this "giant."  Then David put his hand in his bag where he had the five smooth stones, taking but one stone which he slung so hard and true that it struck Goliath in his forehead making him fall to the ground, either knocking him unconscious or killing him instantly.  If the stone did not kill him, what came next certainly did:  David used Goliath's own sword to cut off this giant's head and offered the head to king Saul. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. Israel's army chased them all the way back to Ekron and Gath. Then the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines plundering their camps. David then took Goliath's head to Jerusalem and put the sword in his tent. When Saul noticed that David was going against the Philistines, he said to his commander, "You inquire whose son the youth is." When David returned from killing the Philistines, Saul's commander, Abner took David along with Goliath's head in his hand to Saul. Then Saul said to David, "Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”  I Samuel 17:58.  It is a fact that David's courage and trust in God made him unique, different from ordinary men.


DAVID IN SAUL'S COURT (I Samuel 18-20)

Chapters 18-20 of I Samuel relate David's fall from grace with Saul.

I Samuel 18:  This chapter begins with Jonathan's pledge or covenant of friendship with David. Jonathan's soul was knit to the soul of David and Jonathan loved David as himself. What a beautiful friendship of loyalty and unconditional love!  David and Jonathan's relationship was more like father to son than brother to brother since Jonathan is apparently older than David. This is just how it seems to me.  Jonathan gave David his royal robe as a sign to indicate Jonathan's understanding that David was the one that God had chosen to be king and lead Israel. This is amazing since Jonathan was the heir apparent since he was King Saul's firstborn son. One would think that Jonathan himself would be contending for the throne of his father. When Jonathan yielded to David, it indicated an act of "true" friendship and self-denial.   I love Jonathan's loyalty to David, his beloved and true friend!

David continues playing the harp for King Saul. With David's victory over Goliath and the later victories over the Philistines, David began gaining favor in the eyes of his people. This honor and praise toward David sadly became a stumbling block for King Saul. Saul became jealous of David; of the love of the people of Israel toward David. So Saul turned bitterly against David.  It is outrageous what jealousy can do. It destroys!  In the midst of Saul's raves and fits against David, Saul tried to spear him twice, but David escaped from his presence both times.

When the LORD departed from Saul but remained with David, Saul began to be afraid of David. This made Saul remove David from his presence by appointing him as his commander. The LORD was prospering David and the LORD was with David. Unfortunately when Saul noticed that David was prospering greatly, Saul became apprehensive. Saul began to be obsessed with getting rid of David.  But all Israel and Judah loved David. One of Saul's strategies was to offer his daughter Merab to David.  Of course David would have to agree to fight valiantly many battles for the LORD.  With his strategy, Saul was hoping that David would die in battle. But David refused to marry Merab.

When Saul found out that his daughter Michal had fallen in love with David, Saul tried the same strategy again.  He offered David his daughter’s hand in marriage.  Not bad for a former shepherd boy!  Saul hoped to use this offer as a snare since he could now put the hand of the Philistines against David.  Saul compelled his servants to lie, saying that Saul and the servants loved him. Then David said to them, "Is it trivial in your sight to become the king’s son-in-law, since I am a poor man and lightly esteemed?" So the servants reported to Saul what David had said to them.  Saul told his servant to tell David that he did not expect a rich man’s dowry.  The king would accept a dowry of one hundred Philistine foreskins.  To get the foreskins, David would have to kill the Philistines.  Saul hoped that David would die trying to accomplish this terrible task.  But God was with David and David brought not just one hundred but two hundred Philistines foreskins. Finally, the arranged marriage took place.  Michal loved David and this made Saul more afraid of him. Saul became David’s enemy continually.  Most importantly, David behaved wisely, more than Saul's servants since the LORD was with him.  I Samuel 18:30b says, "David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul. So his name was highly esteemed."

MICHAL:  It is interesting that although Michal married David and received her father's blessing, Saul later took her away from David giving her to another man, probably because she loved David and helped him escape when Saul set an ambush to kill him. David demanded after Saul's death that Michal be returned to him. David may have done this out of love for her, although Michal's husband also loved her deeply, II Samuel 3:16. He may have demanded her return to right the first great wrong that Saul had committed against him.

I Samuel 19:   Saul demanded that Jonathan and his servants kill David. Jonathan who loved David and was loyal to him exposed his father's wicked plans to kill him.  Jonathan urged David to stay away and hide himself from his father's presence. Apparently, Jonathan was able to keep Saul off David for a while, but unfortunately this did not last.  Jonathan tried with his heart to persuade his father speaking well of David.  Jonathan said to Saul his father, "Do not let the king sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you, and since his deeds have been very beneficial to you."  For he took his life in his hand and struck the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great deliverance for all Israel; you saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by putting David to death without a cause?”  Jonathan convinced his father.  Saul then vows saying, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.”  Then Jonathan informed David of his father's words.  Jonathan brought David back to Saul as previously.

God was with David and every time he went to fight the Philistines, David defeated them bringing victory. One day as David was playing the harp for Saul, an evil spirit entered into Saul as he was holding his spear. Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but David slipped away from his presence, so Saul stuck his spear with the wall. David escaped fleeing one more time. Saul never gave up trying to hurt and kill David. He sent a messenger to David's house to watch him and put him to death the next morning. With Michal's help, David was able to escape through a window. When Saul's messengers came for David she lied saying he was sick. Saul again sent his messengers to capture David. When the messengers entered the room they saw a household idol that Michael had laid on the bed with goat's hair in his head covered with clothes in order to deceive them. Saul became very angry with Michal and began questioning her. In reply to the question, Michal responded, “He said to me, ‘Let me go! Why should I put you to death?’” She must have lied because she was afraid of her father.

When David fled, he went to Samuel the Prophet at Ramah.  David told Samuel everything that Saul had tried to do to him.  Both went to Naioth and stayed there. When Saul found out that David was hiding there, he sent a group of soldiers to capture David.  The group encountered Samuel with a group of prophets prophesying.  The Spirit of the LORD came upon the soldiers so they begin to prophesy also. When Saul found out, he sent messengers or soldiers a third time, but they also began to prophesy.  Finally, Saul himself went after David, and he also began to prophesy stripping off his clothes until he came to Naioth in Ramah before Samuel.  He remained naked all day and all night. So everyone began asking if Saul was among the Prophets.  I think this was God's way of calling Saul's attention to the wickedness of what he was doing to David.  It was a gentle and also humiliating way for God to expose the wickedness of what he, Saul, was doing.

I Samuel 20:   I definitely love this chapter!  Here, we can see a beautiful story of loyalty and unconditional love between two extraordinary friends "of like precious FAITH."  David fled and came to see Jonathan saying, "What have I done? What is my iniquity? And what is my sin before your father, that he is seeking my life?” Jonathan in return said, “Far from it, you shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. So why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!”  Then David vowed saying to Jonathan, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your sight, and he has said, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, or he will be grieved.’ But truly as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is hardly a step between me and death.” So Jonathan says to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.”  David asked Jonathan to let him go and hide himself until the third evening.  David asks Jonathan to deal with him kindly since he had made a covenant with him before the LORD.  Jonathan asks David to go into the field.

Jonathan then says to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if there is good feeling toward David, shall I not then send to you and make it known to you?  If it please my father to do you harm, may the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also, if I do not make it known to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. And may the Lord be with you as He has been with my father.  If I am still alive, will you not show me the lovingkindness of the Lord, that I may not die?  You shall not cut off your lovingkindness from my house forever, not even when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”  Jonathan sealed this with a covenant with the house of David saying, “May the Lord require it at the hands of David’s enemies.”  David's promise to Jonathan is fulfilled in II Samuel 9.  Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life.

David and Jonathan agreed on a signal that would alert David if it was not safe to return to Saul's table. This is what Jonathan said to David about the signal, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty. When you have stayed for three days, you shall go down quickly and come to the place where you hid yourself on that eventful day, and you shall remain by the stone Ezel.  I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target.  And behold, I will send the lad,saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I specifically say to the lad, ‘Behold, the arrows are on this side of you, get them,’ then come; for there is safety for you andno harm, as the Lord lives. But if I say to the youth, ‘Behold, the arrows are beyond you,’ go, for the Lord has sent you away.  As for the agreement of which you and I have spoken, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever.” 

David hid in the fields and when the new moon appeared, Saul sat down to eat.  David's place was empty. It was on the third day of the new moon with David's place empty that Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to the meal, either yesterday or today?”  Jonathan then replied, "David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem, for he said, ‘Please let me go, since our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to attend.  And now, if I have found favor in your sight, please let me get away that I may see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.”

Saul became very angry at Jonathan saying, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Therefore now, send and bring him to me, for he must surely die.”  But Jonathan refused saying to his father, "Why should he be put to death? What has he done?”  This loyalty to David provoked Saul to anger. He tried to kill Jonathan with his spear.  Jonathan was furious at his dad's wicked bloodlust to kill David.  He left the table and did not eat because he was grieved over David.

David and Jonathan met as they he had agreed.  Jonathan brought a child with him whom he asked to run and find the arrows he was about to shoot.  This is the signal that they agreed upon to alert David to the danger at the royal table.  As the child was running, Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. When the child had come close to where Joanathan had shot the arrow, he called and said to the boy,  "Is not the arrow beyond you?”  This was the signal that David could not return to the royal table.  Jonathan asked the child to hurry and go.  The child retrieved the arrow and gave it to Jonathan.  Notice that the child was not aware of anything.  Only David and Jonathan knew about it.  Jonathan gave the child his weapons and asked him to take them to the city.  When the child was gone, David showed up bowing his face to the ground three times. David and Jonathan wept and kissed each other, David weeping the most.  I cannot help but to tear!  This is touching!!  Afterwards, Jonathan tells David, "Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever."  David left while Jonathan went into the city.  This chapter is touching, beautiful and sad at the same time. Their farewell makes me cry big tears!!!

DAVID AS A FUGITIVE (I Samuel 21-31)

When David realized that it was no longer safe for him to remain anywhere near Saul, he fled for his life.  For years Saul stalked David, who had to flee the palace that had become his home. At times he had to go so far as to live in caves in order to preserve his life from the wickedness of Saul.  Some of the most beautiful Psalms were written during David's dark times in life when he was being hunted like an animal.  In one of those Psalms David wrote, "I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, 'You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living. 'Give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. 'Bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Your name; the righteous will surround me, for You will deal bountifully with me." Psalm 142:5-7. Also, we read of this in Psalm 57 when David fled from Saul to hide in the cave, "Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by .... My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth. They have prepared a net for my steps... My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!... For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens and Your truth to the clouds. Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth."  David knew well he was the right king for Israel, but he had to hide to save his own life in order to accomplish what God had planned for him to do.  More than once David had the opportunity to attack and kill Saul, but because he diligently wanted to do God's will, David chose to spare Saul's life. In summary, David had the following traits of greatness: 
  1. David walked by faith and not by sight.  
  2. David trusted in the LORD.
  3. David was a man of extraordinary COURAGE.
  4. David did not walk by his emotions.
  5. David was not enslaved to the desires of his flesh. 
  6. David was totally devoted to His Jehovah God .  
Saul was the opposite of David.  Consider Saul's failures:
  1. Saul lacked faith in God.
  2. Saul allowed his flesh to rule and have complete dominion over him. 
  3. Saul was carnal minded.  
  4. Saul did not trust in God.   
  5. Saul lacked wisdom.  His biggest failure was to rely on in his own poor, fleshly and foolish judgment rather than on God.
  6. Saul failed to stop and consider the Lordship of the LORD in wanting to do HIS WILL.
One thing that is evident and at the same time remarkable is that David's character was GREATLY developed and perfected throughout all this hardship!

I Samuel 21-22:  David fled and received help from Ahimelech the priest who gave him consecrated bread, the showbread, from the Tabernacle to eat. The priest also gave the sword of Goliath to David since he had no sword or weapon.  David then arose and fled from Saul.  David went to Achish king of Gath.  And the king's servants said to David, "Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?"  Now, when David heard these words he took them to heart and feared the king.  David pretended to be mad or insane before the king in order to escape.

In Chapter 22,   David fled and went to the cave of Adullam, but when all of his father's household heard they came to see him.  Everyone came to him and joined David.  There were about four hundred men who joined David.  David then left from there to Mizpah making a petition to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother come and stay with you until I know what God will do for me.” 

David then left the king of Moab commending his family to the king’s care.  Saul went mad when he heard that Ahimelec and all the priests helped David. Saul ordered that all the priest be killed for helping David. He also ordered his servants to kill David's entire family including  both men and women, children and infants; also oxen, donkeys, and sheep.  All were to be struck with the edge of the sword.  Such ATROCITY!  It is hard for me to read this part without being deeply disturbed!!  It is amazing what jealousy and hatred can do to a man's heart!  Only Abiathar, Ahimelec's son, was able to escape fleeing after David.  David reassured him that he would be safe with him.

I Samuel 23:  When David heard that the Philistines were attacking the city of Keilah, slaughtering everyone, David asked the LORD if he should go attack the Philistines and save the city. The LORD's reply was YES, He said,“Go and attack the Philistines and deliver Keilah.”  Now David's men tried to persuade him to not go,  but he went again and inquired of the LORD.  The LORD to David, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.”  Afterwards David and his men fought the Philistines and struck them.  David killed all including all their livestock. When Saul heard that David was in Keilah, he sent all his forces to kill him, but David fled into the wilderness and took refuge in the strongholds. Even though Saul sought David continually, God did not deliver David into Saul's hands.  Jonathan went to the wilderness of Ziph. When he found David he encouraged him in God. These are Jonathan's words of encouragement to David, “Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also.”  They again made a covenant before the LORD and then each went their own way. 

I Samuel 24:  When Saul heard that David was hiding in the wilderness of Engedi, he took three thousand men and went after David. On the way he saw a cave and went there to find rest. Saul did not know that David was in that cave. Notice that David and his men were in the innermost part of the cave. David's men said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’”  When Saul went to sleep, David had the chance of his life to make things right, to have his revenge putting an end to his horrible ordeal of exile. But David did not walk by his emotions.  He truly wanted to do God's will.  David never seriously considered killing Saul since David still considered Saul to be Israel's anointed king. Instead David cut off a piece of the royal robe to prove that he was in the cave and could have killed him. David had a tender conscience and even this small insult disturbed him. He said to his men, "Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.”  He persuaded his men with these words not allowing them to do anything against Saul. When Saul woke up he left the cave.

David went out of the cave and called Saul saying “My lord the king!”  Then David bowed with his face to the ground in reverence saying, "Why do you listen to the words of men, saying, ‘Behold, David seeks to harm you’?  Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’  Now, my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it.  May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you."  Such an amazing man of faith and devotion to the LORD, David is!  Surely David is a man who does justice, kindness and walks humbly with His LORD.  When David had finished speaking, Saul asked David, “Is this your voice, my son David?” When Saul realized the MERCY that David had shown to him, he lifted up his voice and wept. Saul said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you.  You have declared today that you have done good to me, that the Lord delivered me into your hand and yet you did not kill me. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safely? May the Lord therefore reward you with good in return for what you have done to me this day.  Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand.  So now swear to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s household.”  Afterwards David swears an oath, and Saul leaves.

I Samuel 25:  Samuel the prophet died and they all cried and mourned his death. He was buried in Ramah. David fled to the wilderness of Paran. He met a rich and  foolish man called Nabal. Nabal insulted David so his wife Abigail pleaded for restraint. The LORD struck Nabal dead and David married Abigail.

GIANTS OF THE FAITH: ABIGAIL (I Samuel 25)

This beautiful story is like a breath of spring air after so much conflict, war, death, rivalry, darkness, affliction and betrayal. David was hiding in the wilderness: this became the pattern of life for David. He met a wealthy business man named Nabal whose name means "fool," and his beautiful, intelligent and wise wife named Abigail.  By the way, she is one my favorite Bible characters.  Nabal was a Calebite and his business was in Carmel.  He was a harsh and evil man in the way he dealt with others.

When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, he sent a group of young men to Carmel to greet him on his behalf, to wish him well and give his blessings. When the young men spoke to Nabal, they spoke on David's behalf according to all that he had commanded them to say. When Nabal heard David's words, he said he did not know who David was and who his father was. You see David asked Nabal to provide his young men with bread, water and meat from his livestock. This is an honorable request:  David could have stolen what he wanted, but David did not intend to abuse his fellow Israelites, so instead he humbly and politely asked for provisions.

Nabal refused David's request for provisions. Nabal said, “Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master.  Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?”  With these words Nabal was insinuating that David was a runaway slave.  It is strange that Nabal would say that he had not heard of David's victory over Goliath since these news had to have been widely published in Israel.  Maybe Nabal felt that it was safe to insult David since David was out of favor with the king. Only a "fool" would not know about David's story and who he was. So David's young man returned to the encampment. When David heard what Nabal had to say regarding the matter and his insults, David rose up in anger and said to the men, “Each of you gird on his sword.” So David and his men strapped on their swords and gathered together to go and fight. David was apparently ready to slaughter Nabal and all his household.

When Abigail was told by one of the young men that David had sent messengers from the wilderness to greet her husband, Nabal, and that he had scorned them.  Nabal had made the biggest mistake of his life by insulting David, so Abagil decided to intervene for her foolish husband. Nabal was not an approachable man. He was a worthless man, a fool. Abigal hurriedly loaded all the requested provisions onto some donkeys and set out to meet David, I Samuel 25:18. When Abigal saw David she approached him bowing to the ground taking to herself all of her husband's blame. She pleaded with David that he not listen to the foolishness of her husband making it clear to David that she was not present when his messengers came to talk to her husband. Abigail advised David not to kill him. This is what Abigail said, "Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, since the Lord has restrained you from shedding blood, and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal.  Now let this gift which your maidservant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who accompany my lord.  Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil will not be found in you all your days.  Should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling.  And when the Lord does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and appoints you ruler over Israel, this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord, both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself. When the Lord deals well with my lord, then remember your maidservant."  I Samuel 25:26-31. Abigail acknowledged that David would be king some day and reminds him that it is David, her lord, who is fighting the battles for the LORD and that the LORD was going to protect him and avenge him. What a remarkable woman of FAITH, DISCERNMENT and WISDOM.  Her words of WISDOM and DISCERNMENT won David over!

After David heard Abigail's words of WISDOM and DISCERNMENT, he blessed her along with her WISDOM. When he set out against her husband Nabal, his motives were evil. Instead of David being offended by these admonitions from a mere woman, David praised God instead for His divine interventions, blessing Abigail and finally sending her home in peace. I Samuel 25:32-38.

Abigail ran home to tell her husband but apparently he was holding a feast like the feast of a king. Nabal had gotten drunk. So Abigail decided to wait until the next morning when he was sober.  The next morning Abigail told Nabal all that she had spoken to David.  Apparently Nabal had a stroke and died ten days later, I Samuel 25:36-38.

When David heard that Nabal had died, he said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal and has kept back His servant from evil. The Lord has also returned the evildoing of Nabal on his own head.”  He then sent a proposal of marriage to Abigail which she accepted.  David rescued her from widowhood by marrying her.  What a wonderful, provider and protector God we serve!

I Samuel 26:  This chapter reminds us of  I Samuel 24.  Saul came after David again. David encountered another chance to kill Saul.  David refused to stretch out his hand against the LORD's anointed king.  David came on Saul while he was sleeping.  David took only Saul's spear that was beside his head and the jug, but spared his life one more time. David left without anyone knowing it or seeing him.

When Saul realized that David had had a chance to kill him again but refrained, he said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will not harm you again because my life was precious in your sight this day. Behold, I have played the fool and have committed a serious error.”  David replied, "The Lord will repay each man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord delivered you into my hand today, but I refused to stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed.  Now behold, as your life was highly valued in my sight this day, so may my life be highly valued in the sight of the Lord, and may He deliver me from all distress."  Then Saul blessed David again.  They went their separate ways.  Saul was a man ruled by his own passions and desires of the flesh.  Sadly, this led him to his own destruction.  This is very sad!

I Samuel 27:  When it became evident to David that he was going to perish one day at the hands of Saul, he decided to flee to the land of the Philistines.  David thought that by doing this, Saul was not going to find him and will eventually give up on him.  I cannot fathom how desperate and insecure David must have felt in his own country, Israel.  Pure desperation!!  David and his six hundred men crossed over and went to the land of Achish the king of Gath.  When Saul found out that David had fled to Gath, the land of the Philistines, he stopped pursuing him.

David tries to assure the king that he is on their side. So the king gave David the city of Ziklag which belonged to the kings of Judah. David lived there for one year and four months.

While David was in Gath, he and his men quietly raided the Geshurites and the Girzites (Philistine towns) and the Amalekites. David attacked that whole region killing everyone, men and women, taking away all the livestock and clothing.  Afterwards when he returned, Achish said to David, “Where have you made a raid today?”  David would tell him that he had been raiding the southern regions of Judah or their allies. Achish believed him, thinking in his heart, “He has surely made himself odious among his people Israel; therefore he will become my servant forever.”

THE DEATH OF SAUL (I Samuel 28-31)

In this section we find another "chiasm" in which the first section matches the fifth section and the second section matches the fourth section. Notice that the center section stands alone as the climax of the story.

Chapters 28-31 cover the death of both Saul and Jonathan in battle. David remained respectful of Saul even in Saul's death. Remember all the afflictions that David had to endure at the hands of Saul. Although David should have been rejoicing finding relief and victory as the next king, he was determined not to rejoice over the calamity of Saul. David even wrote a special song in memory of Saul and his son Jonathan. He wrote:

"Your beauty, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How have the mighty fallen!   Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice, the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.  O mountains of Gilboa, let not dew or rain be on you, nor fields of offerings; for there the shield of the mighty was defiled, The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.   From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, and the sword of Saul did not return empty.  Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, and in their death they were not parted; they were stronger than lions.   O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.  How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places.  I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me.  Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women.  How have the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!"

With the loss of Jonathan, his beloved friend, David's grief and sorrow was more than doubled.  It was unbearable for him.  This moves me deeply!  It makes my eyes tear.  I know how painful it is to mourn the death of a loved one!

The Witch of Endor predicts Saul and his sons will die (I Samuel 28):

It happened in those days that the Philistines camped in Shunem and when Saul saw the camp of the Philistine he was overcome with fear.  He went and prayed to the LORD, but the LORD did not listen either by dreams, prophets or Urim, casting lots. So he decided to consult a woman who was a medium.  She was a witch, a medium, from the town of Endor.  Saul wanted to find out if he was going to defeat the Philistines who were gathering their forces against him.  He asked this witch to bring up Samuel for him.  When the witch saw Samuel she panicked and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul.”  Saul says to her not to be afraid and insisted that she tell him what she saw.  After she had finished describing Samuel to Saul, he knew it was Samuel, so Saul bowed his face to the ground in reverence of him.

Samuel was angry at Saul for disturbing him and bringing him back. Saul replied saying that he was very distressed over the Philistines waging war against him because God would not answer him. Samuel then told Saul that he and his sons would die on the battlefield the next day. Saul then fell on the floor trembling because of the words of Samuel. There was no strength in him since he had not eaten anything. The witch insisted that he eat but he refused. He and his men left that night.

David's family is taken by the Amalekites  (I Samuel 29-30:1-6):
Meanwhile, David was marching behind the Philistines toward the battlefield with Saul. He had convinced the Philistine king that he would fight beside the Philistines. However, the Philistine king sent David away when his men grew afraid that David might betray them. They were quite right!  Now when David and his men returned home to Zilag, he found out that the Amalekites had taken captive their wives and children and had burned their town.  David and his men wept bitterly that day!

David defeats the Amalekites: (I Samuel 30:7-17):
The Amalekites had attacked, killed and betrayed the Israelites for years since they first left Egypt.  Let us not forget that the LORD had promised that He would utterly destroy them, the Amalekites.  The fulfilment of that promise had long been delayed.  David and his men finally fulfill the LORD'S curse on the Amalekites.

David's family is rescued from the Amalekites:  (I Samuel 30:8-31):
David and his men rescued the women, the children and everything else the Amalekites had taken.  They divided the spoils.

Saul and his sons die (I Samuel 31):
The Philistines attacked Israel and the Israelites fled. In the battle of Mount Gilboa, the Philistines killed Saul's three sons, including David's beloved friend, Jonathan. Saul found himself badly wounded and refused to fall into the hands of the enemy.  He asked his armor-bearer to kill him but he refused .  Saul took his own sword and fell on it killing himself. When his armor-bearer saw that Saul had killed himself, he likewise fell on his sword that he might die with him.   That day Saul died, his three sons, his armor-bearer and all his men. When the Israelites heard that Saul had died along with his sons and so many others, they fled.  The Philistines then came and lived there. What a tragedy!!

INTERESTING FACT:  Timbrel (often translated Tambourine)

The Timbrel was an ancient percussion instrument used for worship. This instrument was like a simple tambourine in the form of a disc with bells or metal discs that were fastened around it. It was also decorated with ribbons. It could be shaken or tapped with the hand. The timbrel was used in the Old Testament for celebrations, worship and praise. We can read of this in Exodus 15:20; 2 Samuel 6:5; Psalm 81:2.  It was played most often by women.


CONCLUSION:   We have briefly considered the beginnings of the kingdom of Israel.  Although there have been dark chapters, the beauty of the FAITH of two men, Samuel and David, brings us the joy that could be appreciated only in the context of the things that they suffered.

Our next study will consider the golden age of David's reign in the Book of II Samuel.

Luci