I Samuel 31 The Word Fulfilled.

I Samuel 31 The Word Fulfilled.

Saul’s sons, including Jonathan, are killed in battle. Saul is severely wounded (vv. 1-3). Saul would rather die by the hand of his armour bearer rather than by the Philistines who would likely abuse him before killing him. In the end, the armour bearer could not do it, so he followed Saul’s example and committed suicide (vv. 4-5). The knowledge of the death of all the above, led the Israelites to flee their cities, which became the possession now of their enemies (vv. 6-7). The Philistines decapitated Saul and pinned him and his sons to the wall of Beth Shan, while his armour was put in the temple of the Ashteroths (vv. 8-10). The men of Jabesh Gilead retrieved their bodies and burned them in Jabesh, and buried their bones there, and fasted 7 days. The men of Jabesh Gilead owed Saul for saving them from Nahash the Ammonite (Ch. 11).

I Samuel highlights the main difference between the godly and ungodly seed. The saints, like Hannah and Samuel, looked to the LORD for truth and guidance. They believed that the covenant LORD was the sovereign God over all who would accomplish his will and purposes in history. They trusted in his providential dealings with them, and in the revelatory knowledge he had given them. Saul, on the other hand, became king ultimately because the people of Israel wanted a king like all the other nations, someone who they thought would fight their battles. During his reign he closed his ears to the revelation that was already given, and that which came through the priests whom he massacred. In the end he resorted to a witch, only to have Samuel witness to him again of his end, lastly from the dead.

I Samuel 30 Victory For The Remnant.

I Samuel 30 Victory For The Remnant.

The Amelekites took the opportunity, with the Philistines being occupied with their battle with Israel, to attack a near Philistine territory, but one that just happened to be where David and those with him had dwelt. When David and his men return they find Ziklag burned and the population gone. Everyone lifted up their voices and wept, “but David strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (v. 6). David’s initial reaction is one of faith, seeing in these events the LORD’s providence, and an opportunity for him to make war against the LORD’s enemies. To confirm his faith he instructs Abiathar to bring the ephod with the Urim and Thummim that he might receive guidance from the LORD (v. 7 Cf. 28:6), and the LORD commanded him to pursue and defeat the Amelekites (v. 8).

David ventured out with 600 men, but at the threshold of taking the battle to the Amelekites, 200 of the men who were to weary to cross the Brook Besor (vv. 9-10). As David and his men drew near to the Amelekites, they take in a single Egyptian. Perhaps in the hopes of gaining some information, they give the man food and water. He was a servant to an Amelekite, but as an Egyptian he had no ethnic ties. All he asked, in exchange for what he knew, was that he might be spared (vv. 11-15). They commence their attack with 400 men, and they defeated the Amelekites. 400 men had fled, so clearly David and his men were outnumbered. They recovered everything that had been taken, plus the spoil (vv. 16-20).

However, even among the remnant with David there were “wicked and worthless men” who did not want to give anything to the men who remained on the other side of Brook Besor, but David would have none of it, because in David’s mind it was the LORD who gave them the victory, therefore he would not act as though it was in their own strength and therefore the possessions of the 200 and part of the spoil would be theirs also (vv. 21-23). It then became a statute that those who guarded the supplies would share in the victory of those who enter the battle (vv. 24-25). To this end David also sent some of the spoilt to the rest of Israel, with those with whom David and his men “were accustomed to rove” (v. 31). David kept the larger picture constantly in view.

I Samuel 29 A Remnant Is Saved.

I Samuel 29 A Remnant Is Saved.

As the Philistines gathered for war they finally come to David and his men, and Achish seeks to defend his decision to have David join them, as one who was without fault and had “defected” to him (vv. 1-3). David had not agreed to fight his own people, rather his answer to Achish was that he was certainly capable to fight (28:2a). However, the Philistine princes were angry with Achish and forbade the inclusion of David, fearing that he would turn against them (vv. 4-5.). Here we again see that the LORD is with David in his providence, delivering him from the difficult situation that lie ahead.

Achish had to inform David that he must follow the decision of the princes, that he needed to return to his home territory (vv. 6-7). David, in a bid to reinforce to Achish his perceived loyalty to him, protests that he was one who could be trusted (v. 8). Perhaps in David’s mind he should go that he might in fact turn on the Philistines at a moment of opportunity. Whatever the case may be, Achish’s estimate of David and his loyalty to him is reinforced, and once again David is told to return to his home. Thus David, and those with him, are as a remnant saved.

I Samuel 28 A Conflict Of Revelations.

I Samuel 28 A Conflict Of Revelations.

What would David do now that his Philistine neighbours were set upon attacking Israel? Notice that when king Achish says to David that he will fight for him against Israel, that David does not say ‘Yes’, rather he said, “Surely you know what your servant can do.” (v. 2a) No, Achish did not say, “Don’t call me Shirley.” Instead he accepted David’s answer as a ‘Yes’ (v. 2b). Meanwhile, in Israel, with the death of Samuel, and the fact that Saul had ordered the expulsion of all mediums and spiritists, that Saul was left without any counsel concerning the possible future that awaited him. There were three ways which God might have revealed the truth to Saul and others, other than the word already given, which were by “dreams or by Urim or by prophets” (v. 6).

David had the prophet Gad, as well as Abiathar the only priest to survive Saul’s massacre, who wore the ephod which contained the Urim and the Thummim (23:6). It is the same ephod which Samuel had with him (2:8), with which the latter was also used to determine the will of the LORD, according to the law, contained as it was in the breatplate (Ex. 28:4-30; Lev. 8:8). The Urim and Thummim was to remain with the one whom the LORD had set apart (Dt. 33:8). These words literally mean “Lights and the Perfections” (NGSB. 163). Only the lights of the LORD’s revelation could achieve perfect knowledge of the truth, and it would only be given to those set apart for this purpose. It was another means of guidance until a fuller canonical revelation was given.

Saul, bereft of any divine guidance, and this by his own designs, was desperate for insight as to the future that awaited him. However, as the king he should have known the canonical law-word of the covenant, and it is this very law which he decided to break in order to seek out a medium or spiritist. A medium, being one to act as a channel between the living and the dead, was the avenue which he chose, when his servants informed him of the existence of the witch in En Dor. This was a border town, and a place that Saul had to enter like a spy as he had to sneak past the Philistines to get to her. The irony is that if he had of been faithful to the word already given, he would have latched unto the promise given by the LORD to drive these enemies out of his land.

The witch, much to her own horror, was able to bring up Samuel, at Saul’s request, so that Samuel ends up further testifying against Saul, but with the exact same testimony he had given when he still walked the earth – the kingdom would be taken from Saul and given to David. Saul is sick, but only for himself. At the behest of his servants, he even agrees to break bread with the witch. However, he is told that he and his sons would go to the same place as Samuel, the place for the dead, and that the army of Israel would be delivered into the hand of the Philistines, minus David and his men, who were the remnant preserved. Saul rejected the revelation, and in his rebellion also the means thereof, which the LORD had given, and in the end he heeded the word of a witch.

I Samuel 27 The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Useful.

I Samuel 27 The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Useful.

It is ironic that David felt he had to flee to Gath, home of Goliath, in order to escape the wrath of the king of Israel whom he had defended along with the nation. Achish, the king of Gath, actually grants David some territory at Ziklag, thinking that David was on the outs with Saul so was looking for a friendly neighbour. David fooled Achish into thinking he was defending him, all the while he was fighting the LORD’s battles for his people. David got wise though, he would not be allowing any witnesses to return to Achish, so “David would save neither man nor woman alive, to bring news to Gath” (v. 11).

I Samuel 26 David, Saul, And Providence – Again.

I Samuel 26 David, Saul, And Providence – Again.

For whatever reason, David decided that he would spy out the camp of Saul. Abishai should be commended for volunteering to go with him, but David had to even keep him from killing Saul. David continued to respect the official office that Saul occupied, if not the occupant of it. David was convinced that the LORD would take care of Saul, either directly or indirectly through providence (v. 10). David was able to prove once again that he had the opportunity to kill Saul but he didn’t – Saul once again had to acknowledge this. David pinned the blame where it belonged – Abner was supposed to guard the king and he failed. David essentially said that if the LORD had raised up Saul to pursue David then David would acquiesce in the LORD’s mercy, but if it came strictly from human motivation then “may they be cursed before the LORD,” because contrary to David’s wish, and due to no fault of his own, he had been excommunicated from the covenant community (v. 19).

David referred to himself as a flee, a nobody. So why were they pursuing a nobody? Only with this confession of humility on David’s part does Saul confess that he has sinned. So only when David assures him that he had no intention of assassinating him does he repent. However, what Saul meant is best understood by what follows, not that he was guilty of breaking God’s law by seeking to murder an innocent man, but that David outplayed him. “Indeed I have played the fool and erred exceedingly.” (v. 21) David knew that his confession was just one of regret at being outplayed, so instead of going to Saul he instructs Saul to send a young man to come retrieve his spear (v. 22). Again we see David’s underlying conviction in the sovereign justice of Yahweh. “May the LORD repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness” (v. 23). The LORD had delivered Saul into David’s hand, but David committed himself to the LORD to deliver him out of tribulation, and Saul’s own words witness to his belief that David would ultimately prevail (vv. 24-25).

I Samuel 25:43-44 The Dawn Of David’s Polygamy.

I Samuel 25:43-44 The Dawn Of David’s Polygamy.

Couched in the history of Saul and David are some significant developments such as we find here. After a long passage extolling the virtues of Abigail, and David’s subsequent marriage to her after Nabal died, we find this comment, that “David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and so both of them were his wives.” (v. 43) Sadly, the first instance we have of someone breaking the creation covenant norm of one man and one woman was the wicked member of the ungodly seed – Lamech, the direct descendant of Cain who murdered his brother Abel – the godly seed (Gen. 4:19). It seems to come as some kind of rational that the reason David took a second then a third wife was because “Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was from Gallim.” (v. 44).

I Samuel 25:1-42 David, Nabal, And Abigail.

I Samuel 25:1-42 David, Nabal, And Abigail.

The people lamented for Samuel upon his death, the man they refused to heed when he was living. As David travelled he rightfully assumed to be treated well by Nabal, since his own servants testified to how David had protected them, and were basically model neighbours. Instead, Nabal was arrogant, a man who no doubt gained and maintained his wealth because he ingratiated himself to Saul. Abigail, his wife, had more sense than he did. She was a woman of faith who confessed the LORD’s selection of David as his true anointed.

Abigail sent to David and his men interim provisions, a small payment for how they treated and protected her husband’s servants. Furthermore, she followed after to also plead for mercy despite her husband, whose name means rightly meant ‘fool’. She, like David, left vengeance to the LORD. All she did was bear true witness to her husband, and this was enough for him to go into a coma and die. David ended up marrying Abigail, now a widow, and thanked God that through her he was prevented from dropping to his and Saul’s level.

I Samuel 23 Providence, Prayer, And The Word.

I Samuel 23 Providence, Prayer, And The Word.

Even while David was in exile, he was serving the LORD and King Saul in seeking the LORD in prayer as to whether he should take the battle to the Philistines who were fighting against Keilah. However, Saul presumed upon God’s providence in believing that David’s presence in Keilah was the LORD delivering him into his hand. Throughout this conflict between David and Saul we see to important truths converging. David and Saul both believed in God’s sovereign control of history, and that the LORD often in his good providence acts on behalf of his people. However, David still prayed. The mere occurrence of certain events and circumstances was not enough for David, he wanted the LORD’s interpretation of the events, whereas Saul presumed and read into these events what he wanted to see and ascribed this interpretation to God.

Not only did David pray, but he also sought out the minister of the word and sacrament in Abiathar the priest, the only one to survive the earlier massacre of Saul, and one who because he wore the linen ephod covenantally represented the entire nation before the LORD. David looked beyond himself. Sometimes we cannot even trust our own prayers. We often need godly counsel from those who know the word in order to have the wisdom we need to make tough decisions. Canada’s founding fathers sought such wisdom, but our history since is littered, like much of the western world, with humanistic narcissists who pride themselves on their own conception of our destiny. The people of Keilah are all too common in history – they rejected the LORD who had rescued them for the supposed long term security of statists like Saul.

I Samuel 24 Saul Caught With His Pants Down.

I Samuel 24 Saul Caught With His Pants Down.

Saul is in pursuit of David to murder him and he walks into the very cave where David and his men were hiding. While Saul was taking a crap David cuts off a corner of his robe to show that if he wanted to, he could have killed Saul. In the end David left vengeance up to the LORD. “Therefore may the LORD be judge between you and me” (v. 15). David respected the office that Saul occupied but not necessarily the person in it. He knew Saul for the reprobate that he was. Saul asks David to swear that he would not cut off his descendants, but David was already in covenant with Jonathan, so even this request was narcissistic.