Thursday, December 13, 2012

C - I Samuel 25-26 - David and Abigail

Chapter 25 begins with a sad note.  Samuel died.  Not much was written about his death other than all of Israel mourned and he was buried in Ramah, his home town.  This was all written in two-thirds of one verse.  Then the Scripture abruptly moves back to David.

The story of David and Abigail is one of the less known love stories of the Bible.  There is not a whole lot of detail about Abigail, but she shows her loyalty to David early, even against her own husband Nabal, who was quite an unsavory character.  God shows little patience for those who treat His children unkindly.

Vs 2 tells us that when David and his men had moved to the Desert of Paran, they met up with this very wealthy herdsman named Nabal.  Nabal was a descendent of Caleb, although he does not seem to possess many of the qualities of his ancestor.  But his wife Abigail was intelligent and beautiful.  David sent ten men to Nabal to ask for some badly needed provisions.  He had them to remind Nabal that David and his men had been charitable to Nabal and his people (vs 8).  Also, this was a festive time in Israel, being one of the Festivals, when all Israelites were expected to be charitable (I would guess this to be somewhat like Christmas time to us, when people are generally more charitable and gracious).  However, Nabal not only refused them any provender, but insulted David.  These ten men returned to David with their report and David seethed with anger.  So much so, that he had his entire army prepare to strike Nabal and his ranch.

Vss 14-->  Abigail received word that her husband had angered David and that David and his army were coming to take by force that which Nabal should have gladly given them.  Abigail was aware of the fact that David and his army had been somewhat of a wall of protection for Nabal for quite some time.  {Wherever David was, there would be no bandits or raiding parties that would dare enter the area, thus making Nabals men and herds safe.  Nabal didn't have the sense enough to value this, but Abigail did.}   Abigail did the only things she knew to do.  In vss 18-->, she gathered as large a peace offering as she could move with, took it to a ravine that she knew would be necessary for David to pass through where she could intercept him.  When David arrived in that area she threw herself face-down on the ground.  In vss 23-31. Abigail voiced a dramatic, logical, and effective appeal to David.  David must have been very impressed with this lady.  David honors Abigail's request for her sake, not Nabal's.  In the vss following, when Abigail returned home, she found her husband drunk and engaged in an extravagant feast.  She waited until morning when he had sobered up to tell him of the meeting she had with David, and what she did to save Nabal and his entire clan.  When she told him, Nabal was stricken by either a stroke or a heart attack (vs 37).  He died ten days later.  In the remaining verses of this chapter, David hears of Nabal's death and thanks God for dealing with Nabal.  David was also thankful that God spared him of acting in anger and pride.  {David realized that to kill all of Nabal's household would have been wrong, and would have carried with it some negative consequences as David later would establish his throne.}  After hearing of Nabals death, David decided to seek Abigail to be his wife, having spent just that litlle bit of time with her less than two weeks earlier.  Not only did Abigail accept David's proposal, but offered herself to be as one of the lowliest servants.  It says in the last verse that Saul had given his daughter Michal, David's wife, to another man.

Chapter 26 tells of David sparing the life of Saul yet again.  Saul has gone against his own word to David and began hunting him again.  David is still a fugitive.  Saul had three thousand men hunting David and his army of six hundred.  Saul had heard that David was in Ziph (desert area with those many crags and caves, which were excellent to hide in.  Even more so than the hills and caves of the present-day Afghanistan).  David and Abishai sneaked into Saul's camp at night.  Finding Saul among three thousand men was not difficult.  It was customary that the king and his generals would be in the middle of the camp so as to be surrounded by all the troops, providing protection for the king.  When David and Abishai reached Saul, Abishai urged David to kill him in his sleep, but David again refused to do harm to "the Lord's anointed".  However, he took Saul's spear and his jar of water.  {David insisted that killing Saul was up to God, since Saul was God's anointed.  David wanted Saul to die of natural causes or at the hands of an enemy other than David.}  Then next morning David stood on the opposite hill and spoke with Saul, and actually chided Abner for his weak protection of Saul and David had Saul's spear and water jar to prove it.  He then again appealed to Saul's reasoning, asking him why he wants to kill him and reminds Saul that he once again had spared his life.  Saul again vows to do David no further harm and they part ways once again.

To Adam and all other readers:  This is the 100th post of this blog, which I started less than 6 months ago.  There have been more than 3200 page views on this blog, from 23 different countries.  I have decided to take a short break during this holy season, and will publish the next post in early January.  This might give you a chance to "catch up" with your studying of God's Word, as we are about to conclude the Book of I Samuel.  I invite any feedback that might make this a more effective and meaningful study of the Holy Bible.  Please share with me your thoughts.  My email address is  (Note that in my email address, there is an underscore line between merle and yates.  It's easy to miss that.)  May God bless you and I sincerely wish each of you and Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

XCIX - Saul Hunts David - I Samuel 21-24

As we saw in the previous chapters, and will continue to see, Saul was a man descending into the depths of jealousy and rage.  Beyond reasoning, he had a consuming drive to eliminate David whom he saw as a hated rival who was bent on replacing him as king of Israel.  David had become well aware that Saul could - and would - kill him if he was given the opportunity.  Still, David ran rather than lift his hand against God's anointed.

We see that chapter 21 opens with David having become a fugitive, hiding in caves for fear of his life.  But David becoming a refugee was not enough for Saul.  {In somewhat of a defense of Saul, he was smart enough to know that as long as David was alive, Saul's kingship was destined to end.  But Saul's obsession with killing David placed Saul on a bad track.  Instead of spending all of his efforts on killing David, he should have been dealing with the Philistines and making Israel a safer place for his subjects.}  In the beginning verses of this chapter we see that wherever David went, people followed him.  In no time at all, he had gathered a following of about four hundred soldiers.  {Not only was David a great and natural-born leader, but Saul wasn't exactly "shoring up" his base and exuding confidence in his own ability to rule the nation.}  David fled to a town named Nob, where he approached Ahimelek the priest and asked him for food for his soldiers.  Ahimelek had only the sacremental bread, which he offered to David as long as his soldiers were ceremonially clean.  Ahimelek was not comfortable about giving this bread to David, but David was a very persuasive man.  Not only did David ask for food, but also any weapons that Ahimelek might have.  It turns out that the only weapon Ahimelek had was the sword of Goliath, which he gave to David.  The problem that would result from this transaction was that a man named Doeg witnessed this.  {Doeg, an Edomite, was Saul's herdsman.  What is an Edomite doing being selected as a close servant to Israel's king anyway?}  Well, needless to say (vss 6-->) that Doeg tells Saul about all of this.  Saul goes into another fit of rage.  He sends for Ahimelek and his entire family to inquire about David.  But Ahimelek defended David, which threw Saul into an even bigger fit of rage.  Saul orders Ahimelek and his entire family to be killed.  All of Saul's servants realized that killing a priest and his family was going too far, and none would obey Saul's order to kill them.  So Doeg the Edomite stepped forward and killed them all.  {We discussed earlier the the type of people the Edomites had become.  They were descendants of Esau and were mighty warriors.  But through the generations, they had become as the other Canaanite tribes.}  One of Ahimelek's sons, Ahitub, escaped and reported this to David.  This reminded David of just how determined Saul was to kill him.

Chapter 22 and 23 tell of David running as a fugitive and Saul's obsession to kill him.  But David, although a fugitive on the run, is still a man of God and a loyal Israelite.  He continues to defend Israel against the oppressive Philistines, as evidenced in 23:1-13 when he and his soldiers (about six hundred) saved the Israelite city of Keilah from a Philistine attack.  But even as David was protecting Israel from the Philistines, Saul heard of this and started off to Keilah to kill David.  {Saul should have been the one protecting Keilah.  Israel is a mess right now.  Imagine what the citizenry must be thinking.  The elders should have listened to Samuel in the first place.}  Having heard about Saul coming after him in Keilah, David was advised to escape to the wilderness area of Judah, in the area close to the Dead Sea.  Saul continued to act on his only objective as king:  Capture and kill David.  Saul did everything he could, but God provided David an escaped each time Saul got close.  {In this wilderness, the hillsides were a complex maze of caves, perfect for eluding someone.  This type of terrain was excellent for hiding from Saul, but a miserable place to have to spend your life.}  Note that in the middle of chapter 23 that Saul's son Jonathan caught up with his best friend David.  It says in vs 15-18 that Jonathan encouraged David and strengthened his faith in God.  Also, Jonathan told David that he knew that David would be king and Jonathan was offering his service to David's reign.  {Jonathan is one of the Biblical characters I always wanted to know more about.  This man showed widsom and Godliness beyond his years.  And bravery that few had matched.}

Continueing on the chapter 24,  Saul heard that David is in the Desert of En Gedi, which contains the "Crags of the Wild Goats".  This name gives a clue as to the type of terrain David has been relegated to.  These crags and caves were perfect for mountain gaots, but barely inhabitable for humans.  Saul heard that David was in this area, so he gathered three thousand soldiers and went there to capture David and his band of about six hundred.  While in pursuit, Saul had slipped into a cave by himself.  It was in that cave that David and some of his men were hiding.  David's soldiers saw this as a chance for David to kill Saul, but David would not lift his hand against "the Lord's anointed", but he did cut off the corner of Saul's robe and took it with him.  Then in vss 8-->, David approaches Saul and address him as "My lord the king".  When Saul looked back at David, "David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground".  David asked Saul why he continues to treat David as his enemy.  David tells Saul that he could have killed him and shows him the piece of his robe to prove it.  He tells Saul that his men wanted him to kill Saul, but David refused because David still considered Saul to be God's anointed king of Israel.  {This dialogue is good to read as David makes his appeal to Saul for peace.}  In vs 17 Saul confesses that "You are more righteous than I".  Saul is totaly repentant.  Note how interesting is vss 20-22:  Saul acknowledges that David will soon be king of Israel.  Saul asks David to swear to him that when he becomes king, that he will not kill off all of Saul's family, thus destroy his name from the earth.  David gave his oath to Saul that he would honor that request.  Saul departed.

Our next post:  David and Abigail  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

XCVIII - Saul's Love for David Turns to Jealousy, Then Hate

I Samuel - Chapter 18 - 20

After David's defeat of Goliath, everything changed.  The first verse of this chapter tells of David and Jonathan becoming best of friends "one in spirit".  Jonathan and David made many oaths to each other.  This would become a very important bond as we continue our study of David.

In verses 6 and 7, it tells how the women sang a song:

"Saul has slain his thousands,
   and David his tens of thousands."

As we've seen in earlier books, this was a common practice for women to write and sing songs as a way of celebrating.  Of course they wanted to give David tribute, but they made a big mistake when they mentioned Saul in the same song.  In vs 8 it says Saul was very angry about the song because he thought it belittled him.  This turned Saul's thoughts of David towards the negative, and it would only get worse.  Saul always did have a probem controling his emotions, but he got increasingly uncontrollable.  The Scripture tells us that one day when David was playing music for Saul that Saul grabbed a spear and tried to kill David with it.  All involved, including David, attributed this action to Saul's affliction.  But Saul knew exactly what he was doing.  He then decided to plot against David by actually promoting him to a high rank in the military.  Saul even commented to himself to "let the Philistines take care of him".  The Scripture tells of Saul offering his daughters in marriage to David, but David refused two of the daughters saying he was too poor to provide a dowry.  Saul solved that problem by pronouncing that he would give his second daughter Michal to David if he would bring evidence of killing a hundred Philistines.  This would take the place of a traditional dowry.  Saul did this to further the chances of David being killed by the Philistines, but David went out and killed two hundred.  Each time David had success, Saul would not only become more jealouse, but more frightened of David because these successes proved that God was with David in everything he did.  In verse 28 it tells us that Saul would consider David his enemy for the rest of his days.

Chapter 19 begins with Saul ordering Jonathan and all of his attendants to kill David.  But remember from the last chapter that Jonathan and David had become best of friends, having made a number of oaths to each other.  So Jonathan contacted David and told him what was happening.  Jonathan told David that he would reason with his father away from such an order.  Jonathan was able to do just that, and David returned to the king's service as before.

In verse 8 war with the Philistines had broken out again.  David was sent out against them and defeated their army as he had done before.  David's success made Saul all the more jealous of him.  He again tried to kill David with a spear, but David, being young and quick, eluded him.  So Saul sent a garrison of soldiers to David's residence to kill him.  But David's wife Michal heard of it and helped David escape before the soldiers arrived.  Saul was upset with Michal for helping David but he did not take any punitive action against her yet.  When David made his escape, he ran to Ramah to see Samuel.  Saul found out where David was hiding and sent soldiers there to kill him.  But when the soldiers saw David with Samuel, the Spitit of God came upon them and the soldies stopped their pursuit and prophesied with Samuel.  Saul sent more soldiers and the same thing happened.  So Saul decided to go himself.  But God was so powerfully with Samuel that even Saul was overtaken by the Spirit.

Chapter 20  -  David and Jonathan  -  This chapter picks up with David returning to king's city and of course he sought out Jonathan, his best friend.  Not only was Jonathan his best friend, but he was the best source of accurate infomratin concerning his father, the king.  Jonathan assured David that Saul meant no harm to him, but David was skeptical and fearful for his life.  So David devised a test of Sual's attitude toward him.  There was supposed to be a feast the next day.  David would not attend.  When Saul discovered David's seat was empty, he would inquire of David's whereabouts.  Jonathan was to tell his father that David chose to go to Bethlehem to participate in an annual sacrifice.  If Saul said OK, then everything was right with David.  But if Saul lost his temper when hearing of David going to Bethlehem, then David would know that Saul still wanted to kill him.  Jonathan agreed to this.  Then they made yet another covenant with each other.  This time Jonathan wanted David to promise that he would always show kindness to Jonathan's family, no matter what the circumstances.  {I think Jonathan knew that David would become king of Israel and would have the power to destroy Saul's entire family.  It was customary in that day to destroy all known enemies of a new king.}  In vss 18-->  is the familiar story of Jonathan shooting three arrows as a signal as to whether or not is will be safe for David to return into Saul's service.
The next day during the feast, Saul indeed noticed David being missing and asked Jonathan about it.  Jonathan told him about David going to his family in Bethlehem to participate in a worship ceremony.  Saul then turned very angry.  Jonathan tried to convince his father that David should not be harmed.  Then Saul revealed to all that he knew God's plan for David when he told all that Jonathan would never become king as long as David was alive.  So Saul had the sanity enough to realize this as obvious, based upon all that had happened.  So as to their agreement, Jonathan (vs 35) shot the three arrows and instructed his servant to go beyond the arrows.  This signaled David that he was never to return to Saul's service.  Vs 41 describes the mournful good-bye between Jonathan and David, knowing they would probably never get to spend time with one another ever again.  Then in vs 42 they separated for what they knew would be the last time.

This marks the time when David and Saul would become forever enemies.

Friday, December 7, 2012

XCVII - I Samuel 17 - David and Goliath

In the last chapter, David had been anointed by Samuel to replace Saul as the king of Israel.  God had rejected Saul as king, and David was God's chosen successor.  We also saw where David was brought into king Saul's service as a musician in hopes to soothe the tormented Saul in his times of uncontrollable rage.  David pleased Saul so much that Saul made David an armor-bearer and kept him as his servant full time.  Over time, David had proven himslf trustworthy and was granted freedom to "come and go" as he pleased, which gave him time to stay in close contact with his father Jesse and his seven brothers.

Chapter 17 abruptly returns focus to the Philistines.  I'm not certain how much time has passed since the events of chapter 16, but evidently there has been a battle brewing between Israel and the Philistines yet again.  As told in the first verse, the battle lines had been established between Saul's forces and the Philistines.  While Israel was sizing up the situation, a giant Philistine soldier named Goliath strolled into the valley which separated the armies.  He was 9 feet and 9 inches tall.  He was an experience warrior and had the finest armor and weapons.  His helmet and coat of scale armor were made of bronze and together weighed 125 pounds.  Vs 7 says his spear shaft was like a weaver's rod, and its iron point weighed 15 pounds.  {There were giants back then as mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy.  But this particular giant was the ultimate.  None were ever described as compared with Goliath in size or strength.}  In vss 8-->, Goliath presented himself in the valley between the two armies.  He shouted to the Israelites, challenging them to present their best warrior.  This Israelite soldier and Goliath would fight to the finish, and if Goliath won, Israel would become servants to the Philistines.  And if the Israelite soldier would have won, the Philistines would become Israel's servants.  This giant was so powerful that Saul and the Israelites trembled with fear each time he spoke.  {This deal offered by Goliath has not been unheard of.  Even Greek mythology, during the Trojan war, Hector fought Achilles.  I want to mention before I forget that it was customary for the king or his prince to represent the nation in this type of battle.  Although Saul was a mighty warrior, he knew he was no match for Goliath.}  Vss 12-->  David was the youngest son of Jesse.  The three oldest sons, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah were members of Saul's army.  {They were probably drafted into the army as the Philistines were marching toward Saul's kingdom.}  Jesse sent David to the front to take his brothers some food and to report back to Jesse the state of the battle.  When David got to the battle line, he seems to have "hung around" rather than going right back home.  While David was still at the line, Goliath came out again to make his challenge and further taunt the fearful Israelites.  We see two things that happened with David.  Firstly, he was made aware that the king (Saul) offered his daughter and great wealth to any man who faught and defeated Goliath.  It appears as though David was somewhat intrigued with such an offer by the king.  But more importantly to David's character, he was appauled by this "uncircumsized Philistine" speaking so disrespectfully to God's people.  {This is important:  David was offended for God's sake.  Think on this.  I think God's love and devotion to David started right here.  That's what God has been longing for.  God created man after He created the heavens, the earth and the universe, and everything therein.  Man was God's finest achievement in all that He created.  And He wants us to love Him and fellowship with him.  David's heart was right.  David's heart could not have ached for Someone he did not care deeply about.}  After David heard Goliath insult God's army, Goliath's size meant nothing to him.  David knew this godless heathen must be dealt with before he could humiliate God's people any further.  In verse 28, Eliab scolded David for still being at the front line and told him to go home.  David continued to voice disgust with what was going on with Goliath and wanted to fight the giant himself.  In verse 31 Saul heard about David making those comments and sent for him.  The reason Saul heard abut it was that there was nothing but complete silence in response to Saul's offer of his daughter and much wealth.  So, no wonder David's words reached Saul so quickly.

Saul was a bit disappointed to see that it was such a young boy who had stepped forward.  Saul wanted a mighty warrior who stood a good chance against the giant.  But David made his case in vss  34-->,  telling of his conquests of bears and lions.  Look at verse 37  "The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine".  Finally Saul said, "Go".  Saul had David dressed in the finest attire for battle, but David was not comfortable.  He was not accustomed to such armor weighing him down, so he took it all off.  Then he gathered five smooth stones from a stream, put them in his shepherd's bag, and with his sling in his hand he approached Goliath.  The stream from which David gathered those choice stones would of course be in the valley which separated the two armies.  So when David gathered these stones, he was in plain sight.  In vs 42 Goliath and his armor-bearer began approaching David.  As Goliath got close enough to see that David was just a boy, he taunted then cursed David.  (Big mistake)
David speaks in response:  Verse 45  David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  (46) This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head.  This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  (47) All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves: for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give all of you into our hands."

WOW!  What a speech!  I wonder what went through Goliath's mind, hearing this from a boy.  I would think he was both amazed and angry to hear a boy talk to him like that.  Goliath was accustomed to only fear in his enemies.

Vs 48 -->  David didn't wait for Goliath.  David ran toward him.  When he got close enough, he put a stone into the sling, whirled it around and let it go so that the stone hit Goliath in the forehead.  It actually sank into his forehead, killing him instantly.  David then ran over to the dead body, took Goliath's sword, and cut off his head.  Just like he said he was going to do.  When the Philistine army saw this, the were struck with terror.  They knew they were no match for the power of Israel's God, Who could make such a thing happen.  The Israelite soldiers chase after the Phlistines and killed many of them and plundered their camp.

Then (I'm a little confused) Saul asked his captain Abner who it was that did this and Abner said "I don't know".  I'm not confused that Saul didn't know because Saul had huge mental problems.  But I would surely have thought that Abner and other servants would have known David very well.  Anyway, in the last verse of this chapter David identifies himself.

Next post - Chapter 18  -  Saul gets jealous of David

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

XCVI - I Samuel 16 - David is Introduced

First Samuel chapter 15 contains the account of Saul's being rejected as king of Israel because of his disobedience to God.  The chapter ended abruptly as it said that Samuel did not go to see Saul ever again.  This brings us to chapter 16, verse 1.  We see somewhat into the mind of Samuel as to his relationshi[p with Saul as God asks Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul. since I have rejected him as king over Israel?"  This tells me that in the short time that Samuel knew Saul personally, he had become fond of him.  Also, it might have saddened Samuel that so much hope and so much work had gone into Saul's kingship, but now it was all for naught.   At any rate, God was telling Samuel that he had mourned long enough and it was time to tend to the next order of business, which was to anoint Saul's replacement, whom God had already chosen.  God was sending Samuel to Bethlehem.  Samuel was afraid and told God that if Saul hears about him going to anoint another king, that Saul would kill him.  {It's easy to understand Samuel's reluctance to become involved in rejecting Saul.  He knew Saul.  He must have reasoned that if Saul was cruel enough to condemn his own son to death, he easily could be provoked to condemn other people, particularly the prophet who had declared him unworthy to be king.}  God told Samuel in vs 3 to take a sacrificial animal with him as he went to Bethlehem for a worship service.  As mentioned earlier, Samuel was a revered leader in Israel, so when the elders of the city saw Samuel coming they feared that he was to pronounce judgement on them for something.  But Samuel assured them he had come in peace.  God had instructed him to hold a worship service and be sure to invite the house of Jesse, one of Bethelem's prominent citizens.  Jesse was the grandson of Ruth the Moabitess.  He lived in Bethlehem, in the territory of Judah, just a few miles south of Jerusalem.

When the house of Jesse presented themselves to Samuel, he looked upon the eldest son Eliab, whose height and countenance was impressive.  But a familiar verse 7 has God correcting Samuel's measuring standards.  He told Samuel that He does not look at what people look at, but rather He looks at the heart.  I could go on and on about this verse.  This is still true today.  Not only does God look at the heart of a person, but He has been trying to teach us this for centuries.  But we continue to be fooled by outward appearances.  After God had told Samuel this, Jesse presented his second son Abinadab, then Shammah, then the next and the next, totaling seven sons, all of whom God told Samuel to reject.  Frustrated, Samuel asked Jesse (vs 11) if he had any more sons.  "There is still the youngest," Jesse answered.  "He is tending the sheep."  Jesse sent for his youngest, David.  When David arrived, God told Samuel, "Rise and anoint him; this is the one."  Look at the 13th verse.  ....and from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.  {This is just the beginning of our study of this boy who would grow up to be one of the most beloved characters in the Bible.  Even to this day in Israel, David's name is held in equal esteem to even Moses, Abraham, and the other great patriarchs.}

Imediately after the Scripture says the Spirit of the Lord came upon David, it says in verse 14 that the Spirit of the Lord depared from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. {Let's take moment to address this language that seems strange to us.  The phrase "an evil spirit from the Lord" can be troubling.  Allow me to explain it as it has been explained to me:  At this juncture in Israel's History, the Israelites had no formalized theology of evil as reflected later in their development.  At this point, everything - good and evil - was attributed to the Lord, especially if it was something they could not understand.  In time, the nation came to undersand that there was indeed an adversary (the devil and his demons), distinct from God, that  affected people adversely and powerfully.  Nowhere in the Scripture addresses this up to this point.  But it will as we continue our study.}  Back to Saul:  Saul became so despondent that when something displeased him, he was thrown into an uncontrollable rage.  Saul's servants were desparate to help their king, who was so obviously tormented.  Evidently, they had seen individuals who were troubled like Saul become tranquil when they heard music, so they recommended that a musician be brought in Saul agreed to it.  {Saul was as desparate as his servants.  He was willing to try anything that might help with this affliction that neither he nor anyone else understood.}  In verse 18 one of the servants tells of the young son of Jesse.  He spoke highly of David in every way, even saying that "And the Lord is with him".  Vss 21--> tells how David entered the king's service (As far as God is concerned, David is actually the king now, but nobody besides Samuel is aware of this yet.)  The Scripture goes on to say that Saul became very fond of David, and actually made him an "armor-bearer", which was a very highly trusted position, especially for someone so young as David.  So much did Saul like David that he sent word to Jesse that David was to remain in the king's service, and was no longer to go home to help with the sheep.  {Remember what Samuel warned that a king would do with Israel's sons?}  This chapter 16 ends with telling how David's music did in fact help soothe Saul in his times of rage and torment.

Next post - Chapter 17  -  David and Goliath

Monday, December 3, 2012

XCV - I Samuel 14:24 - 15:35 - Saul's Hasty Decisions

Saul and Israel have just won a great victory against a huge Philistine army.  This should have been a time of celebration and thanksgiving.  But we're going to see Saul make some very costly mistakes in this post.
Chapter 14:24  -  Saul sensed an opportunity to perhaps wipe out the Philistine army once and for all.  But he became thoughtless toward his army of brave men.  Saul urged his army forward toward the fleeing Philistines.  So anxious was he that he commanded his soldiers to not even stop to eat.  {A leader who becomes so obsessed with an objective that he disregards the welfare of his followers is doomed to failure.}  He even went so far as to pronounce a curse on anyone who ate.  {Please note what was said in the last post about poor communication within an army in those days.}  Saul's son
Jonathan did not hear the command and ate some honey (vs 26).  Jonathan was immediately revived by the honey.  Then someone told Jonathan about his father's command and the curse that was carried with it.  Jonathan said it would have been better to let the soldiers eat to gain strength, making them more fit for a more decisive victory.  That same day, after furthering their victory over groups of Philistines, the Israelite soldiers were so hungry that they captured the livestock of the Philistines,
killed and ate the raw meat (vss 31-33).  When Saul heard of this he commanded them to bring the livestock to the camp and cook it properly.  (It was unlawful for an Israelite to eat meat with the blood still in it.)  {We see here an evolving Saul.  Saul was very knowledgable of the Law.  He had everthing it took to be a GREAT leader, but he begins to make a lot of mistakes.  He had already be rebuked by Samuel for taking liberties going ahead of the Lord.  Perhaps he was afflicted with the
proverbial "drunk with power" syndrome.}

Saul wanted to continue the battle into the night, but the priests could not get an immediate answer from the Lord as to the direction Saul was to take.  Saul was again anxious to continue his attack on the Philistines, and his men were in agreement.  Saul came to the conclusion that God was witholding His answer because someone had sinned.  So he called for an assembly of the leaders in order to find out who was at guilt.  He did it properly, using the Urim and Thummim.  So zealous was Saul that he vowed to punish the offender, even if it was his own son.  The casting of the lots pointed directly to
Jonathan as the one who disobeyed Saul's commandment not to eat.  When Saul saw this he was furious (maybe at himself), and asked Jonathan what he did.  Jonathan confessed to eating the honey, and offered himself to be put to death.  But the men of Israel (they considered Jonathan a brave and mighty warrior) insisted that Jonathan be spared.  Saul honored their intervention (vs 45).

Chapter 14 turns to a brief summary.  {In the writing of History among Israel and other nations, "updates" summarizing a king's life to date was a very common practice.}  It states clearly that after this incident with Jonathan that Saul and his army retreated to their homes.  But goes on to tell that Saul and Israel continued to fight against the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Edomites, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines.  It states that he defeated the Amalekites in particular, which probably
meant that he was able to wipe them out completely.

The following verses tell of Saul's family:  His wife Ahinoam.  His three sons, Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malki-Shua.  His two daughters, Merab and Michal.  It also names the commander of his army, Abner, who was a close cousin to Saul.

In the final verse of this chapter it says that although Saul defeated many of Israel's enemies, he was unable to defeat the Philistines totaly.  {I wonder what the world would be like today if he had defeated the Philistines as he did the Amalekites.}

Chapter 15 - God Rejects Saul

A few years after Saul's defeat of the Philistines, Samual appeared to Saul with some specific insructions from the Lord (vs 1).  Vss 2 and 3 says that it is time to avenge Israel against the Amalekites.  {Reminder:  When Moses wanted to go through the land of Amalek on his way from the Sinai Peninsula to the Promised Land, the Amalekites made Moses and the Israelites to go hundreds of miles out of their way southward, eastward, then finaly northward, having to enter the Promised Land from the east side of the Jordan River.  I mentioned many months ago that God was going to make them pay for this cruelty.  Now the time has come.}  Saul was to muster his forces and march on Amalek and utterly destroy them.  Samual specificly mentions all men, women, children, infants, cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys.  The term "utterly destroy" always meant that no spoils were to be taken, as in normal warfare.  {This of course seems harsh, but that was God's judgement on the people who had made themselves a stumbling block to Moses and God's people.}  Note that here again in verse 4 that Judah is mentioned separately from the rest of Israel.  One must read a few Books ahead to understand the significance of this.  Look at vss 7-9.  Saul spared Agag the king and allowed his men to take the "best" of the livestock as spoils of war.  This was direct disobedience to God.  Samuel heard of this and he was angry.  {Not only did Samuel realize that Saul was
disrespecting God, but was also disrespecting Samuel himself as God's messenger.  Samuel warned of this being a constant threat of having a king.  The king was never to assume authority over God or the Priesthood.}  Saul tried to defend himself to Samuel, but his reasoning was lame.  Look closely at verse 22:  "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king."  Saul knows that Samuel was correct in everything he ever says.  And Saul knew that God was powerful and absolute.  Saul tried to correct the situation by bringing Agag to Samuel's presense and slay him.  But Samuel did that himself.

The last two verses of this chapter 15 is very telling of the near future for Israel and Saul.  Samuel and Saul went their separate ways after this episode and they never met again, although Samuel mourned for Saul. And it says again that "the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel".

In the next post we are introduced to the man I always thought of as one of God's favorites:  David

Saturday, December 1, 2012

XCIV - Think on These Things

As I mentioned before, on the first of each month I will send a list of things for you to think on as a review of what we've covered thus far.  If you are unable to bring to mind significant thoughts concerning each of these, you might want to scan the pertinent blog posting.  This list will get lengthy as we proceed through our study.
The Creation
Adam and Eve
The Fall
Cain Kills Abel
Noah and the Ark
Noah's Son:  Shem, Ham, and Japheth
Tower of Babel
Sodom and Gomorrah
Isaac Is Born
Hagar and Ishmael
Abraham Tested
Isaac and Rebekah
Jacob and Esau
Stolen Birthright
Laban, Rachel, Leah
Jacob's Ladder
The twelve sons of Jacob = Israel
Joseph the Dreamer
Joseph and Potifer's Wife  =  Prison
Cupbearer and Baker
Joseph and Pharaoh
Jacob's Son's Reunite
Israel Goes to Egypt
400 Years of Slavery in Egypt
Moses is Born
Moses Kills Egyptian - Becomes Fugitive
God Commissions Moses
Ten Plagues of Egypt
The Exodus
Israel Through the Wilderness
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle
The Ark of the Covenant
The Golden Calf
Cloud by Day, Pillar of Fire by Night
Levitican Law
Forty Years in the Wilderness
Twelve Spies sent to Canaan
Moses Gives Final Sermons
Joshua Replaces Moses as Leader of Israel
Rahab the Canaanite Prostitute
Crossing the Jordan; 12 Stones
Battle of Jericho
Land Allotments for the 12 Tribes
Baal and Ashteroth
Gideon Lays Out the Fleece
Samson and Delilah
Ruth and Boaz
Hannah Dedicates Samuel
Saul - Israel's First King
Saul's Successes and Failures