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1 Thessalonians | RUTH | 1 SAMUEL | 2 Thessalonians | 2 SAMUEL

DateScripturesDaily devotional commentary
Apr 12: Ruth
Apr 13 1 Samuel 1-3Hannah Prayed, Samuel Listened
Apr 14 1 Samuel 4-7Guesswork and Misunderstandings
Apr 15 1 Samuel 8-11Different Perspectives: Samuel and Saul
Apr 16 1 Samuel 12-14What Must We Do To Be Saved?
Apr 17 1 Samuel 15-17:37Who Is This David of Bethlehem?
Apr 18 1 Samuel 17:38-20:17King Saul
Apr 19 1 Samuel 20:18-23:29David on the Run
Apr 20 1 Samuel 24-26Chasing David
Apr 21 1 Samuel 27-31The Philistines: Success or Failure?
Apr 22: 2 Thessalonians

What Must We Do To Be Saved?
April 16 reading
1 Samuel 12-14
1 Samuel Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* Jonathan's Fight and Saul's Oath (pdf)
PROMISE: "If you fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God - good! But if you do not obey the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your fathers." (12:14-15)
Thought for today: How would my life be different than it is if I were to serve the LORD with all my heart, and to realize that idols are not only useless, but a betrayal of the Lord?
Samuel was an old man when he spoke to everyone celebrating at Gilgal for the newly appointed king, Saul. The people didn't want to rely solely on the LORD to lead them. The Philistines were attacking more and more often, and they didn't want to wait for the LORD to raise up the next judge. The enemy threat was NOW. Was Samuel the only one who saw this impatience and change as a national sin?

First Samuel presented his credentials. When had he ever lied to, stolen from, or cheated the people of Israel? Never - with the LORD and his anointed one witnessing. Samuel led Israel through a reality check as he confronted them with all the evidence of the LORD's righteous acts in their history right up to their recent request for a king. And the LORD answered even that request, to show the difference between obedience and disobedience. Was Samuel speaking the truth? To prove it, he called for the LORD to send thunder and rain during harvest that day. When it rained and thundered, the people stood in awe of the LORD and of Samuel.

Realizing finally that it had been evil to ask for a human king, the people asked Samuel to pray for them so they wouldn't die for it. "Do not be afraid," Samuel replied. "You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the LORD and serve his faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away." (12:20-25)

Who Is This David of Bethlehem?
April 17 reading
1 Samuel 15-17:37
1 Samuel Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* Different views on David and Goliath:
Virtual Church and Jewish Heritage OnLine Magazine
INSIGHT: But Samuel replied, "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of 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." (15:22-23a)
Thought for today: To obey is better than sacrifice. Rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. (from 15:22-23)
The power of being a king - and finally a victorious commander - was so new to Saul that it went to his head. He immediately disobeyed his orders from the LORD through Samuel not to spare any Amalekite person or animal, convincing himself that it was all right to make some "improvements" to the LORD's orders. He set up a monument in his own honor. Samuel told Saul what the LORD had said about those "improvements" - that because Saul rejected the word of the LORD, the LORD had rejected him as king. Saul confessed he had disobeyed because he was afraid to stand up to the soldiers he was leading, and begged Samuel to stay with him. Samuel only stayed long enough for Saul to worship Samuel's LORD. Samuel put the Amalekite king Agag to death, then left for Ramah, his hometown. Saul went to his hometown, Gibeah. All the rest of Samuel's life he mourned for Saul and the price of his disobedience, but would never go to him again.

The LORD sent Samuel to the house of Jesse of Bethlehem. When Samuel said he feared for his life from Saul to go to Bethlehem, the LORD told Samuel to go there to sacrifice a heifer, invite Jesse and his sons as guests, and expect further instructions. When Samuel saw Jesse's eldest son, the LORD read his thoughts and chastised Samuel for thinking Eliab's appearance or height qualified him to be king. Hadn't Samuel learned not to trust appearance after Saul? The LORD taught Samuel another truth about Himself: "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (16:7b) When none of Jesse's sons got the OK from the LORD, Samuel had them send for the youngest son, shepherding the sheep. Yes, David was young, ruddy, and handsome and yes, the LORD had seen something unique in his heart. After Samuel annointed David with oil before his brothers, the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.

The Spirit of the LORD was no longer with Saul. In fact, he now had an evil spirit from the LORD that tormented him every now and then. His attendants thought music would help Saul, and they innocently recommended the harp music of David, son of Jesse. Saul liked David so much - his music, his bravery, his fighting skills, his speaking abilities, his appearance, his disposition - that Saul even got Jesse's permission to make David one of his armour-bearers when needed. And David's music made Saul feel better.

Of Jesse's 8 sons, the oldest three were full-time soldiers with Saul. The Philistines had been taunting Israel over a month with a giant of a man, Goliath of Gath, when Jesse sent David to take a care package to his older sons and their unit commander in Saul's army camp. They had no imbedded Fox News or CNN journalists, and Jesse wanted David to bring him an update on his sons and the fighting. He got more than he expected.

David reached camp just as the men of both sides were taking their morning battle line positions. David overheard Goliath shout his usual defiance to Israel. David overheard the news that if any Israelite would kill this Philistine warrior, Saul would give great wealth, his daughter in marriage, and exempt the Israelite's father's family from paying their taxes. David double checked what the exact reward would be with several people. His oldest brother, definitely not a fan of David's, was sure David was stirring up the topic of fighting Goliath just so he could watch the ensuing fight. David ignored him and kept talking about the uncircumcised Philistine defying the armies of the living God. When Saul heard what David was saying, he sent for David.

Not only was David a boy, Saul pointed out, but Goliath was a professional fighter and had been for years. Why was David undaunted? While he shephered his father's sheep, once a lion and once a bear had come to attack the sheep, but the LORD had given David strength and cunning for the situations. The LORD had delivered David from stronger animals. "Don't be afraid - I'll go and fight Goliath," David said. "Go, and the LORD be with you," said Saul.

King Saul
April 18 reading
1 Samuel 17:38-20:17
1 Samuel Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* King Saul: Crash Course in Jewish History
* King Saul Biography
PROMISE: David to the Philistines: "... the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 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." (17:46b-47)
Thought for today: The same LORD who has delivered me from problems and enemies in the past will deliver me from current threats. (from 17:37)
At first Saul liked David well enough for the reasons stated yesterday. Samuel had anointed them both on the LORD's instructions. But after David stood up to his older brother and to Goliath with the LORD's power and killed the Philistine taunter, Saul took David's success as a challenge to his own power. The people praised David more than Saul, and this made the king jealous. Hadn't he given in to the elders enough to be popular with the people? How fickle they were! Saul's jealousy soon changed to anger, then to fear - all focused on David. Did it make sense? Not rationally. Did Saul wonder about "if only"s? If only he had obeyed the LORD's battle instructions, would He have turned Saul's old lack of self-confidence into a benefit, like He did with Gideon? Who knows if Saul took time for introspection, especially when the God-sent evil spirit tormented him. Apparently, Saul didn't keep his promises for wealth, marriage, and tax exemption to the one who could kill Goliath. (18:23) How could Saul handle everything after his falling out with the LORD's prophet, Samuel? And why did it have to be David whose original praise lyrics and music soothed Saul? It made Saul want to get rid of David. If sending him off to fight the Philistines again and again didn't get him killed - and it didn't - maybe Saul would just spear David to death.

Until Goliath fell, no one had known much about David except for his music. With seven older brothers including Eliab who didn't like him much, no one had recognized David's battle and leadership skills. At their meeting, Saul's son Jonathan immediately liked David and made a covenant agreement with him. Saul's second daughter, Michal, loved David too, and Saul saw finally fulfilling his promise of marriage as another chance to send David to his death fighting Philistines for the set price to marry Michal. When Saul first ordered David's death, Jonathan talked him out of it and Saul made another oath not to put David to death. Jonathan had a history of not agreeing with his father (Chapter 14) and knew his father's history of breaking oaths, but trusted him enough to bring David back to the king for the value of David's music.

The truce didn't last. Michal heard her father was sending men to kill her husband so she helped David escape, then lied for protection. David fled to Samson for the LORD's protection. When Jonathan heard what had happened to David he didn't believe it at first. "My father doesn't do anything, great or small, without confiding in me," he said. But things had changed.

David Guzik's site explains why prophesying stopped Saul and his men from capturing David. When David fled to Samuel, the old judge took him to his school of prophets to praise the LORD. "When it says that they were all prophesying, it isnít that they were all predicting the future. The Hebrew word simply has the idea of speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They were probably all giving spontaneous and inspired praise to God." Saul's plans for David were changed as Saul found himself laying prone and prophesying all that day and night. David escaped and went to Jonathan. Would someone please tell him why Saul wanted him dead? Jonathan and David renewed their covenants out of love and respect for each other and made plans for Jonathan to learn Saul's intentions for David.

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