Thursday, January 31, 2013

CVIII - II Samuel Chapter 7 - David Desires to Build God a Temple

In the last chapter (6) we saw David successfully bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, to establish Jerusalem as Israel's religious center, as well as its center of government.  David and all Israel was at rest from enemies now.  David had taken this peaceful time to establish his government and rebuild and reuinite his war-torn nation.  Imagine how much work was involved in this.  Don't forget, we're dealing with twelve tribes of somewhat clanish people.  David's biggest advantage in
his attempts to reunite Israel was the fact that the nation no longer feared the dreaded Philistines as murderers and oppressors.

So David was busying himself with the day-to-day responsibilities of being the king of an entire nation.  He probably frequently enjoyed the sweet taste of success as he saw his plans coming together, and not having to be on the road with his army any more.  But David's thoughts never strayed far from God.

Note what David said to Nathan in verse 2 of the 7th chapter.  {Nathan was a prophet and evidently a close confidante to David.  Although the name Nathan appears in other places of the Bible, it was not the same Nathan.  There is not a lot of information about him.}  But in these first few verses I can just picture David standing on the balcony of his cedar-lined palace fit for a king, looking down at the "tent" which housed the Ark of the Covanent.  David voiced the unfairness of him having this elaborate palace in which to dwell while the Creator of the Heavens, the Earth, and the Universe lived in a tent.  {Just take a moment and ponder David's thoughts in his heart at this particular moment.  This gives us a clue as to the relationship David had with God.  He actually felt for God at this moment.  This takes me back to Genesis and the reason God created man in the first place.  David got it.  He understood God.  David loved God.  And God loved David.  We should all strive to have such an attitude toward God.  I can honestly say that it pains my heart when this society insists on placing God further and further in the back seat.  After all He has done for us.  And this is done in the name of Freedom of Religion.  We as a nation have no idea of the possible impact as to what we're doing.  I cannot help but think that this is so backwards.  At the risk of politicizing this too much, I always justify my thoughts when I consider what a great nation this has been.  I go back to its beginnings.  Our founding fathers wanted freedom from the oppression of King George of England.  As they formed the government of this new nation, they were careful to do two things:  1)  Use Judeo-Christian principles as the basis for our consitiution, the laws, and the judicial system, and 2)  Keep government as small and non-intrusive as possible.  The Ten Commandments and the phrase "In God We Trust" were all over this nation's early History.  So much for my taking space to opine.}

Vss 4,5  -  In a night of prayerful reflection, Nathan heard God's gentle reproof of David's plans to build Him a temple.  {Note: A Tabernacle is a mobile tent-like housing for the Ark and various worship utensils, which can be moved from place to place.  A Temple, on the other hand is a permanent structure such as a building that cannot be moved.}  God told Nathan to go back to David and tell him that he is not to build a temple for God.  God told Nathan to remind David that He accompanied His people from Sinai to Canaan and shared their kind of habitation.  The Israelites had no permanent homes, but rather dwelt in tents, so God chose to do likewise.  In the following verses God proceeds to tell David that he is His choice to shepherd His people at this time.  However, there will be a time soon when God will want a temple built for Him.  God even tells David who will build the temple.  It will be David's son.  {We know that it will be Soloman, but David (having many sons) does not know this at this time.  There has been much speculation about the reason God did not allow David to build the temple, but I have always accepted the fact that God just wanted Soloman to build it.  We'll soon see just how gifted Soloman was at such matters.}

In verses 18-28, David says a prayer.  Please take a moment to read this prayer, as it gives us even further insight to the heart and mind of this wonderful man.  In this prayer, David tries to put into words just how overwhelmed he is that God has chosen him to bless so richly.  David admits he is at a loss for words in his attempt to thank and praise God properly.  {Like I said before, David gets it.}  In his prayer David states that he has mustered the courage to say to God these words that God
has Himself said.  This is where David claims God's promise to him and his lineage.  Vss 25-->  David gratefully accepts God's promise and renewed covenant.  (NIV) "Do as You promised, so that Your Name will be great forever.  So that all Israel (and all nations) will say "The Lord God Almighty is God of All".

Next post - David's Continued Victories

Friday, January 18, 2013

CVII - The Ark of the Covenant Returns

It is important to mention at this time that II Samuel parrallels I Chronicles.  Therefore, there will be some repetition in the near future.  I choose not to expound on them simultaneously because I find it extremely difficult to do that without it being confusing.  I choose rather to maintain the order of the Bible as it is written.

Having established Jerusalem as the political capital of the new nation, David now sought to make it the religious capital and worship center as well.  To accomplish this, his first order of business was to bring the Ark of the Convenant to Jerusalem and place it in the Tabernacle where it belonged. 

To review briefly:  The Ark of the the Covenant was the holiest, most sacred object in the life of the Hebrew people.  It was made for the express purpose of containing the two tablets of stone on which were engraved God's moral Law for the children of Israel:  The Ten Commandments.  Additionally it contained the Mercy Seat, which was the place God resided when dealing directly with His people throught he High Priest.  As a symbol of God's presence among His people, the Ark was kept in the Holy of Holies, the most sacred spot in the movable tabernacle which the Israelites made and took with them on their forty-year journey from Sinai to the Promised Land.  It was carried in front of the whole nation as they moved from place to place.  This Ark was design by God Himself.  In Exodus 25, God gave specific instructions as to how this Ark was to be made.  {It would be a good idea to review Ex 25.}  The last time we studied the Scripture concerning the Ark was when it was captured by the Philistines.  It caused the Philistines so much trouble that they sent it back to the Israelites.  It ended up at Kirjath-Jearim, where it had remained all this time.  {It should have been Saul's first order of business to reposition the Ark in its proper place and status.  Ex 25 states in no uncertain terms as to how special God considers this Ark and the way it is to be dealt with.  I'm not picking on Saul for this.  The Philistines demanded so much attention from both Saul and David.  But David's eyes were much more centered on God.  The Bible speaks of noone having more love for God than David.}

{You've heard the term "In search of The Holy Grail".  The "Holy Grail" refers to an elusive piece of religious artifact, so valuable and holy that throughout the centuries, men have searched desparately for it.  It would be the "find" of all ages.  An archeologist that would uncover such an item would have his/her name go down in History.  On the secular side, if a man would find it, he would become instantly famous and rich.  Many consider the cup Jesus used in the Last Supper to be "The
Holy Grail", but just as many consider the Ark of the Convenant to be the Holy Grail.  I believe the Ark will be found some day.  Perhaps when Jesus returns, He will point out Its location.}

In the first verse of chapter 6, it tells how David amassed an army of thirty thousand men to get the Ark and bring it to Jerusalem.  David's heart was right in the sight of God for making this a priority.  However, his first attempt failed.  Vss 3--> They set the Ark on a new cart.  {The idea of a NEW cart was a good one, but they didn't do their homework on the specifics of moving the Ark from one place to the next.}  Abinadab, a Levite priest, had two sons, Uzzah and Ahio.  They would walk with the cart (pulled by oxen) to guide it.  David and his entire army plus many Israelites followed the Ark, singing songs and playing musical instruments.  The scene was one of a parade with music and crowds celebrating.  {A bit more specifics concerning the Ark:  The Ark was to be carried by four Levites.  Poles made of acacia wood with gold inlay were to be placed through four gold rings attached to the Ark.  The four Levites were to touch only the poles.  God was very specific about this and Moses wrote it down in the Law.  There was nothing in the procedure about a cart being pulled by oxen.}  Roads back then were not paved.  At best they had stone on them, which made them bumpy for a wheeled cart.  Consequently, the cart started to tip over.  Uzzah instinctively held his hand up to steady the Ark.  Verse 7 - God was angered by this disregard for His instructions concerning the movement of His Ark.  Uzzah touching it was the last straw.  God displayed
His anger by striking down Uzzah.  Uzzah died right there beside the Ark.

Verse 8 - David was distraught.  This celebratory occassion had suddenly turned disastrous.  David felt responsible.  David was not only frustrated, but he felt a renewed fear of the power of God.  So fearful did David become that he abandoned his plan to take the Ark to Jerusalem.  Instead, he took the Ark and left it at the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.  The Ark was there for three months, during which time the house of Obed-Edom had prospered and was blessed beyond measure or description.  David, keeping watch over the status of the Ark, was aware of what the Ark had done for the house of Obed-Edom.  {I think that during this 3-month period, David had researched why his attempt to bring trhe Ark to Jerusalem turned out so badly.  In his research into theLaw he discoverd what the problem had been.}

Vss 12-->  So David went after the Ark to once again try to bring it to Jerusalem.  But this time he did it properly, in accordance to the Law.  {Again, convyence of the Ark was to be carried by four Levites, using the two gold-covered poles wood poles placed through the gold rings attached to the Ark.  The Ark itself was not to be touched by human hands.}  This time the celebration was even greater.  As the Ark was carried into Jerusalem, David, being so happy and in the spirit of
celebration, that he wore a linen ephod and danced all the way into Jersusalem.  {An ephod is actually an outer garment, somewhat like a loose-fitting robe or apron.  Never would an ephod be worn by itself in public.}

Vss 16-->  {Remember Mical?  Saul's daughter and David's first wife.  Quite a History with her.}  Mical saw David dancing, scantly attired, and in her mind, looking nothing like the powerful king he was.  She was embarassed.  The celebration continued with sacrifices to God and placing the Ark in a tabernacle prepared to house it temporarily.  Verse 19 tells us that David gave food to every  household present.  (David was an excellent leader)  He wanted everyone to be as happy about
this event as he was.

In the remaining verses of chapter 6, Mical scolded David for "making a fool of himself in public".  Allow me to paraphrase David's response to Mical:  "This occassion was to glorify God and your thoughts are not worthy of my attention.  If this conduct embarrassed you, you will be even more humiliated the next time."  David let Mical know in no uncertain terms that her wishes meant nothing compared to those of God.  The last verse states that Mical had no children to the day of her death.  {This was considered to be the most severe punishment that God could place on a Hebrew woman.}

Next post:  Chapter 7 - David's desire to build a temple

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

CVI - II Samuel 4 and 5

In quick review:  Abner, the "Leader Behind the Scenes" of Saul's and Ishbosheth's loyalist, made a treaty of peace with David.  Joab, who hated Abner for killing his brother Asahel, was very upset about this treaty and killed Abner.  When David found out about this he was upset with Joab, and actually placed a curse on him and his family.  This brings us to chapter 4.

Chapter 4 - Ishbosheth Murdered

Saul had many children from a number of wives and concubines.  This chapter mentions two more sons, Baanah and Rekab.  These two were born to Rimmon of the house of Benjamin.  They had been busy leading small bands of Saul's loyalist soldiers that went about trying to secure Ishbosheth's and Abner's kingdom through the elimination of the opposition pockets throughout Israel.  (To interject, verse 4 at this time mentions Mephibosheth.  Mephibosheth is the son of Jonathan, Saul's son and David's life-long best friend.  Mephibosheth was lame due to an accident at a very young age.  Important to note at this time that Mephibosheth had king David's loyalty and protection because he was Jonathan's son.)  Rekab and Baanah sensed that all they had been working for was slipping away due to Abner's death and the fact that Ishbosheth was a weak leader.  Their solution to salvage something out of David's growth in strength was to establish themselves as loyal followers of David, and hopefully gain enough favor in David's eyes to be appointed authoritative positions in David's military.  They thought that the best way to accomplish this was to assassinate Ishbosheth, which they did.  Then they took the head of Ishbosheth to David, claiming they had eliminated David's enemy.  But David was not fooled.  Hed had both of these violent men killed in an attempt to unite Israel and try to eliminate violence of Israelite against Israelite.

Chapter 5  -  David becomes king of Israel

Up to this point, David had been anointed king of the tribe of Judah.  Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, had been the reigning king over the other eleven tribes of Israel.  Ishbosheth and Abner were both dead now.  This chapter begins with all of the tribes of Israel sending their leaders to David in Hebron to ask him to be king of all of Israel.  All the tribes were present, making it unanimous.  So David, after reigning in Hebron for seven and a half years, would now reign as king of all Israel for another
thirty three years.  Vss 6-13 tell of David marching on Jerusalem and conquering it from the Jebusites who had been occupying it for decades.  {God had promised this land to the Israelites, the descendents of Abraham.  Israel then, as now, is entitled by GOD Himself to live in this land and call it their home.  Noone can take for themselves what God has given to someone else.}  David conquered this city, built a king's palace and a headquarters, named it the "City of David", and moved
his entire family there.  Jerusalem was now the official capitol city of Israel.  {After the Israelites reclaimed the Promised Land in 1948, I do not understand why they established Tel-Aviv as their capitol instead of Jerusalem.  If anybody knows, please share.}

The remaining verses of this chapter deals again with the troublesome Philistines.  As mentioned earlier, the Philistines had established themselves militarily in this entire region east of the mediterranean.  They were not about to give up any of their land to the hated Israelites.  The Philistines had no trouble with Saul and his military interrupting their strength.  Saul's army was no match for the powerful Philistines.  But David was not Saul.  David's reputation had spread throughout the region.  He was a military leader to be feared, and getting stronger by the day.  So the early verses of this chapter tells us that the Philistines decided to act quickly against David, knowing that the longer they waited, the more time David had to grow in military strength.  David fought two major battles against the Philistines and won both of them.  Note that David didn't attacked until he got permission from God.  {This man was destined to be a great leader.  Joshua had been an extremely powerful military leader for Israel, but David will have become the "standard".}

Next post:  David brings home the Ark of the Covenent

Sunday, January 13, 2013

CV - II Samuel 3 - David solidifies his kingdom

David's seven and a half years in Hebron were good years in many ways.  Six sons were born to him there.  Three of whom were Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah.  These three (especially Absalom) would cause David much sorrow later.  The early years in Hebron were also troubled yers, marked by frequent warfare between David's forces and Ishbosheth's army, led by Abner.  During this time, the army of Ishbosheth and Abner suffered many defeats at the hands of David, thus dwindling their
forces in numbers.  Also, there were defections to David's side, which always caused morale problems, further weakening the organization.  We'll see, as we have before, that although Abner is basicly consumed with self-interest, he is a very smart and capable leader, much more
so than Ishbosheth, whom Abner made king following the death of Ishbosheth's father Saul.

Chapter 3 tells of the "transition" which shifted all authority to David.  It starts out telling of Abner and Ishbosheth coming to odds with each other.  It of course involved a woman.  And of course the stronger of the two personalities will prevail.  The woman was Rizpah, a concubine of Saul's.  The Scripture doesn't say whether or not Abner made advances toward Rizpah, but it says Ishbosheth accused him of it.  {I'm inclined to believe Abner did anything he wanted to with impunity.}  But Abner's response to Ishbosheth's accusation was one of outrage, rather than just a denial.  In vss 8-11 gives an account of Abner's response, wrapping up with verse 8 saying that Ishbosheth did not dare
say another word to Abner about anything of contention because he was afraid of Abner.

Vss 9--> Abner again does a very wise thing.  He sent a messanger to David wanting peace.  In that message he all but concedes that the kingdom belongs to David anyway.  Now David of course accepts this gesture, but on one condition.  He wanted Michal back.  {Review:  During Saul's first major encounter with the Philistine army, he offered his daughter Michal to any man who would take on and defeat Goliath.  David accomplished that and although Saul gave him Michal to be his wife,
he later gave her to someone else (Paltiel) after he got upset with David.  Michal had not been mentioned since then, but obviously David has not forgotten Michal as his first wife, and the reward for one of the most unforgettable experiences of his life.}  Abner did not hesitate to agree to this condition, (although Paltiel was not too enthused).  Paltiel continued to voice and act out objections until Abner simply ordered him to go back home (accompanied by a threat, I'm sure).  Abner was not about to allow anything to get in the way of his deal with the powerful king David.  Abner was aware that he would become subject to David very soon, and wanted to gain favor.  {I guess I can't blame him.}  Abner continues his quest for unity and favor with David by gathering the tribal leaders throughout Israel and endorsing David as king.  His arguement was very persuasive, especially the part about David being the one who could deliver them from the hands of the Philistines.  {Don't forget how cruel and frightening these Philistines were.  And they literally surrounded the southern tribes and threatened the north as well.}
Vss 20-21 -  Abner travelled to David himself to deliver this good news, and David received him with open arms and held a feast in his honor.  (David was a gifted leader.)  After the feast, David sent Abner away in peace.  This was no small matter.  David had been troubled for over seven years by Abner.  Peace meant David could go on to more important matters.
Vss 22->  Remember Joab, the leader of the small platoon that defeated Abner and his regiment?  Joab hated Abner because Abner killed Joab's brother Asahel.  About the time David sent Abner away with a peace treaty, Joab returned to Hebron.  Joab heard of David's pact with Abner and he was angry that peace was made with his bitter enemy.  Joab went behind David's back and set up a meeting with Abner and killed him in Sirah.  Of course David found out about it and placed a curse on Joab and his entire family.  {A peace treaty was sacred to David because it was a matter of him honoring his spoken word.  That was always important to good men, and still is.}  The remainder of the chapter describes the level of remorse David has for the killing of the man to whom David promised peace.  He was also grieved with the fact that he lost a loyal family in Joab due to the punishment David was obligated to place upon them.  {These were hard times.  David's life up
to this point was full of disappointment, fear, distrust, death, war; all things to make times miserable.  David earned his stripes in a multitude of ways.}

Next post:  Internal opposition eliminated

Friday, January 11, 2013

CIV - II Samuel - Chapter 2 - David's Reign In Judah Begins

In the first chapter of this book of II Samuel the Scripture tells of David having learned of the deaths of Saul and his sons (including the beloved Jonathan), and David's deep sorrow at their passing.  David, through his eulogy, successfully focused Israel on the greatness of Saul and Jonathan, rather than the sad latter years of Saul, when mental illness had dominated Saul's thoughts, words, and deeds.

Chapter 2 opens up with "in the course of time".  This refers to a reasonable time to mourn.  Often times our studies have shown that God calls time on mourning, and says it's now time to go forward.  David, on the other hand, has decided himself that he must go forward.  He inquired of God as to where he must take his men and their families.  God told him to go to Hebron in the tribal land of Judah.  {Remember that David was in Ziklag at this time, which is in the land of the Philistines. 
David inquired of the Lord as to where he was to go because he knew that he was currently misplaced if he was going to serve as king of Israel.  He also realized that with Saul's death, the political situation has completely changed.  Israel at this time has no organized army because it was defeated at the hands of the Philistines.  So Israel was left to flounder with no political or military leadership, and enemies still surrounded them.  This is a critical time for Israel and the world.  David's being directed to specifically Judah will have centuries-lasting impact on the world, as we'll see throughout our studies in the next 10 or 12 months.}

Verses 4-7 tells of the men of Judah anointing David as the king of Judah.  {Judah always showed a sense of independance from the other eleven tribes.  I have no immediate explanation for this, but it is clearly satisfactory to God.}  This next section, the remainder of chapter 2, tells of a bad situation, but nonetheless one that had to happen.  Remember Abner, Saul's captain of his army?  Abner somehow survived the defeat of the entire Israelite army at the hands of the Philistines.  Few escaped with their lives, and evidently Abner was one of them.  {I'm surprized the Philistines did not hunt down Abner
due to his lofty position in Israel's military.}  Upon Saul's death, Abner took it upon himself to establish a successor to Saul's throne.  This would of course be one of Saul's sons.  Abner chose Ishbosheth (probably oldest surviving son of Saul).  {I don't want to be too hard on Abner at this point.  Abner was not a "man of God", therefore he did as he thought was right according to his finite understanding.  From a purely secular standpoint, immediately establishing a successor made perfect
sense.  Also, Abner wanted to honor and continue a royal line.  If Abner would have been a purely selfish and evil-minded man, he would have set himself up as military-type dictator over all of Israel.}  The Scripture interjects in verse 11 that David reigned in Judah for seven an a half years.  I submit that he took this much time to establish and organize his kingship and rebuild a loyal army.  The events described in the next few chapters take place within this seven and a half year period.

Back to Abner: This took some time.  Abner, spreading the word that Ishbosheth was now king of Israel, built a military following, concentrating his efforts in the tribal territories of Benjamin, Ephraim, Ashur, and probably Mannaseh.  Verse 12 begins the telling of the first battle between the forces of David and the forces of Abner and Ishbosheth.  Bear in mind that David was not present during this first skirmish.  Joab, son of Zeruiah, served as the military leader of this particular platoon-size group of David's men at his time and location.  He served along with Zeruiah's two other sons, Abishai and Asahel.  But Joab seems to have been the self-appointed leader of this relatively small battalion of soldiers.  He led his men out to where Abner was camped.  {Seems to
me that Joab wanted a fight.  I also feel that David was not aware of Joab doing this, although the Scripture doesn't say.}  Joab and Abner (enemies) divised a plan to have 12 men from each side fight to the finish, establishing the winner with a minimum of bloodshed.  {These "deals" in battle were common.  Remember the "deal" the Philistines offered through Goliath?}  David's men prevailed.  Interesting that Joab's brother Asahel (whom the Scripture describes as "fleet of foot") chased Abner with intent to kill him, thus ending the serious threat to David's military rule.  But Abner warned Asahel to stop chasing him and ended up killing Asahel.  Although Asahel was young and fleet of foot, Abner was an experienced warrior.  Asahel was no match for him.  So Asahel's brothers Joab and Abishai chased after Abner in revenge for their slain brother.  They finaly caught up with him in Gibeah and found that the Benjamites had rallied around Abner and took a stand against Joab and Abishai.  Jaob and Abishai were terribly outnumbered by Abner's loyal followers.  But Abner did what seems to me to be a smart thing.  He told Joab there was no sense in further bloodshed and offered to part in peace.  And so they did.

The chapter wraps up by telling that only twenty of David's men died during the earlier battle, but three hundred and sixty Benjamites fell.

We've covered only one chapter in this post, as well as just one in the last one, but I don't know how to speed it up and still do justice to this very important part of the world's History.

Next post we'll study how David continues to grow in strength.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

CIII - II Samuel, Chapter 1

CIII  -  II Samuel

Author  -  Unknown
Main Subject - The Reign of David

The book of II Samuel can be divided into three sections:

1)  The early years of David's reign which tells of David establishing himself as a more than qualified leader, both military and Spiritual.  David's growth as a Godly man showed Israel how it should have been all along.

2)  The middle period which includes David's many military victories fo Israel and his fall to temptation.

3)  David's kingdom of Israel is complete and his leadersheip has been established and strengthened.  But now God must refocus David's heart.

II Samuel records the reign of tht man God chose, trained, equipped, and empowered to form and lead the nation Israel.  It is the descriptive account of his virtues and is triumphs, and also the unglossed account of his sins and the troubles they caused.  Consistently the pattern formed:  When David was led by God, his people were blessed by hes rule; when he ignored or was lured away from God's guidance, he and his people suffered.  And from this pattern emerges the truth that "Righteousness exalteth a nation:  but sin is a reproach to any people: (Prov. 14:34 KJV)  {I believe this great nation we live in now needs to learn this lesson, but more on that later.}

II Samuel, Chapter 1

This chapter begins where I Samuel left off.  David had returned to Ziklag after his defeat of the Amalekites.  David was surely concerned how the battle had gone between the huge Philistine army and Saul's much smaller and inferior army.  On the third day a messenger arrived from the battle.  He was an Amalekite who had been in the thick of the battle.  {This man's account of the facts is questionable, or at least highly embellished.  If he lied, he picked the wrong lie to tell.}  He reported to David that Saul and all three of his sons were killed in the battle.  He had Saul's crown with him to prove his story, and David was convinced.  David and all his men tore their clothes and mourned and wept and fasted the entire day for Saul, Jonathan, and all the Israelite soldiers.  {In those times, tearing ones clothes publicly was a sign of true mourning.  The Bible refers to it often.}  David then began to question the Amalekite further.  Turns out that he approached Saul as Saul was dieing, leaning on his spear.  Saul asked the Amalekite to kill him and he did.  That was how he ended up with Saul's crown.  This Amalekite seemed very boastful about taking the life of Saul, but after David had lamented so grievously, he gathered his thoughts and ordered the Amalekite be put to death for killing "the Lord's anointed".  {Although Saul was David's enemy, David still considered Saul as God's anointed.  He had always felt that no man, includeing himself, should ever lift a hand against the man that God chose to be king of Israel.  Also, let's not forget about Jonathan.  Jonathan was David's lifelong best friend and kindred spirit.  Losing a friend is no small thing for David or any of us.}

David, as shown also in the entire book of Psalms, was a gifted writer among his many other gifts.  In verses 17-27 of this chapter is the lament he wrote to eulogize Saul and Jonathan.  David goes so far as to order this eulogy to be distributed to all of Israel out of respect for these men.  {This is considered one of the most beautiful and moving eulogies ever written.  I believe one should read this eulogy as he would read one of the Psalms to get a flavor of David's heart and his sincerity. 
Please do that.  I hope you get as much out of it as I have.  It will give you further insight to this great man.}

Next post:  David is anointed King over Judah.  Israel is divided. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

CII - I Samuel 30, 31 - Saul Takes His Own Life

To quickly review, David and his army of 600 had followed the Philistines as they were going into battle against the Israelites, but the Philistine king Aschis ordered them to turn back.  The Philistine captains did not want "Hebrews fighting against Hebrews", for fear that David's army would side with the Israelites once the battle started.  {They would have been correct.}  So David and his army returned to Ziklag to be with their families and wait to see how the events would play out.

Chapter 30 tells us that while David and his army had left with the Philistines, the Amalekites raided their home in Ziklag, capturing all women and children of the entire camp.  When David and his men returned there was noone left at the camp.  Both of David's wives, Abigail and Ahinoam, were taken also.  David and his entire army grieved indescribably.  Verse 4 says they had wept until there were no tears left.  Although these verses are not very well known, David almost experienced a mutiny at this time, as his men were so distraught, they threatened to stone David.  {It's human nature to want to blame someone when there is such a tragedy.}  But David was able to pursuade them otherwise.  He then inquired of the Lord as to whether or not to go after the Amalekites in war.  God directed him to go after the Amalekites, and He also assured David victory.  As David and his army of six hundred chased after the Amalekites, only four hundred proved strong enough to continue the pursuit, leaving two hundred behind to rest and look after the supplies.  As David continued his chase, he came across an Egyptian who was a slave to one of the Amalekites.  He was almost dead from illness and starvation.  David and his men fed him and he ended up guiding them to the Amalekite army.  David fought the Amalekites for about a day and a half, defeating them handily, thus recovering all that was taken from their camp.  All the Israelites were reunited with their families plus many goods and livestock plundered from the Amalekites.  As mentioned earlier, two hundred of David's men were unable to continue chasing the Amalekites, and stayed behind as the other four hundred stronger soldiers went on.  So, on the way back from their victory against the Amalekites, many of the soldiers wanted to withhold the goods and livestock from those who stayed back.  Vss 23-25 tells how David halted that way of thinking, issueing the mandate that all spoils were to be divided evenly among the entire six hundred and their families.  In fact, David made a "statute and ordinance" that stood throughout Israel's existance as a nation, stating that this would be the practice of law in the nation of Israel.  In addition, he sent a portion to all of Israel's tribal elders.  {David was establishing himself as a qualified leader early.

In I Samuel's last chapter 31, we're taken back to Saul and the tremendous Philistine army's attack.  Remember the Philistines not only out-numbered Saul and the Israelites by thousands of soldiers, but were also equipped with far supperior weaponry.  Previously we saw how Saul knew he was doomed to not only lose the battle, but he and his sons would be killed.  Verse 2 tells us that all three of Saul's sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki-Shua were killed by the Philistines.  {Studying the Scripture, one would hope that David's best friend Jonathan would have been spared this fate and would have
ended up on David's court, but he followed his father loyaly into battle to die with his brothers.  I believe Jonathan to have been a fine man.}  Verse 3 tells us that the archers had hit Saul, and he knew he was fataly wounded.  He then turned to his armor-bearer and commanded him to kill him, not wanting to die at the hands of "these uncircumsized Philistines".  The young armor-bearer was just too frightened to do such a thing, so Saul fell on his own sword.  {This is one of very few
suicides documented in the Scriptures.}  Although the armor-bearer was too frightened to kill Saul, he had the courage to fall on his own sword after Saul killed himself.  {In those days this would have been expected of the loyal armor-bearer.  Being unable to protect his commander, he would have taken his own life as well.  The shame would have followed him for the rest of his life.  As I've said previously, these are brutal times.}  Verse 6 summarizes the magnitude of losses that day:  Saul, his
three sons, his armor-bearer.  As was normal in that day, when the rest of Saul's army had heard of this, they all fled and it was every man for himself.  Even if they had not been so over-powered, an army cannot function without leadership.

The following day (as was customary) the Philistines went throught the battlefield to collect weapons and valuables from the dead.  In doing so, they found Saul and his sons.  The Philistine soldiers cut off their heads, stripped them of their armor and took their remains to the temple of Ashtoreth.  What a humiliating end to the life of Israel's first king.  Anyone but the cruel and hated Philistines. The very last verses of this book tells that a few valient Israelite men risked their own lives to end the humiliation and take the remains of Saul and his sons from public display and give them a proper burial.

This concludes our study of the book of I Samuel.  Next post we'll begin the book of II Samuel. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

CI - I Samuel 27-29 - Philistines Rise Again

I had a WONDERFUL Christmas.  I hope you did as well.  We will continue our study of I Samuel where we left off in December with Chapter 27.

Chapter 27 opens with David realizing that Saul will never give up his efforts to kill David.  David decides that he must leave Israel for the good of the nation, and decides to locate himself and his army of six hundred men into the land of the Philistines.  {The families of these men moved with the army, which made the total number of people about 2500.}  This plan worked because it says Saul stopped searching for David when he heard David was no longer in Israel (vs 4).  David (again, a very persuasive and charismatic man) convinced Achish, a Philistine king (there were many so-called kings in those days among the Canaanites.  Each major city or territory had its own "king") that he would serve Achish if the king would allow Daivd and his men to live among them.  So David was able to hide himself among the Philistines in Gath.  But David was still a loyal Israelite, knowing that one day he would become king of all of Israel.   So, although David had the confidence of king Achish, David decieved Achish.  David would tell Achish that he and his army were going out to raid Israelites on the border, when in fact David would go out and raid a Philistine strong-hold.  One way he was able to get by with this was that he would kill every member of a particular strong-hold, leaving nobody to testify to Achish as to exactly what David was doing.  He was able to do this for for quite a while as David lived with the Philistines for a year and four months, and Achish considered David a loyal follower (vss 12-13).

Chapter 28 shifts attention back to Saul.  The beginning verses tell of the Philistines mounting another offensive against Israel, and their army was huge.  So huge in fact that Saul became fearful.  {Saul needed a word from God.  At least Saul still had sense enough to know that only God could guide him properly in such a situation.  But remember Samuel had died, so Saul knew of noone with whom he could consult to discern God's will.  Saul had driven out the "diviners" from all of Israel, and made it illegal for any women to practice divination in the land.  Diviners or Mediums were people (generally women) who claimed to bring forth the dead and communicate with them.}  Saul was desparate for help from God.  God had not responded through the Urim and Thummim, leaving Saul in an even more desparate state of mind.  Therefore, Saul ordered his servants to find a medium.  They responded that there were none because they were decreed unlawful, but Saul knew there were bound to be one somewhere in the land, and he was right.  There was one in Endor.  Saul disguised himself and went to meet with this medium.  He asked her to bring up Samuel from the dead.  Samuel actually appeared.  {I will not even attempt to explain how this happened other than God's intervention.}  Samuel's words were not what Saul needed to hear.  Samuel told him that he would lose the battle with the Philistines, and Saul and his sons would be killed the very next day.  This news cast Saul in a depression so deep that he could hardly be revived into full conciousness.  He refused to eat, but was finaly persuaded to do so.

Chapter 29 shifts back to David and the Philistines.  The Philistines had completed their gathering of a massive army to march against the Israelites.  Achish wanted David and his six hundred soldiers to enter the battle with them and David agreed.  But Achish's closest advisors were bitterly opposed, citing that they did not trust "Hebrews helping them fight Hebrews".  They convinced their king that this might be a bad idea, especially knowing that the Philistine army was more than powerful enough without David and his six hundred additional soldiers.  When Achish told David to return to the land of the Philistines, David argued and pleaded, but eventually honored the ruling, and returned as he was intructed.  {I believe David really wanted to go with this army to Israel.  In verse 2 it says David and his men were marching at the rear of the Philistine army.  I think this would have afforded David an opportunity to do the most damage to the Philistines once the battle began.  We know that David had no intentions of doing any harm to Saul and his Israelite soldiers.}

Next Post:  Saul Takes His Own Life