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  

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