Today's Bible Commentary

  1 SAMUEL Daily Bible Readings
  Commentary, Cross Reference Bible, and Bible Dictionary
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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

Hannah Prayed, Samuel Listened
April 13 reading
1 Samuel 1-3
1 Samuel Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* The Son and the Psalm of Hannah, Bible.org
* Desire, TorahBytes.org * More on Samuel, Today's Bible
PROMISE: "He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness. It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the LORD will be shattered." (2:9-10b)
Thought for today: "Wicked" means having no regard for the LORD. (from 2:12)
Elkanah of Ramah (tribe of Ephraim) brought his sacrifices to Shiloh each year faithfully to worship the LORD Almighty, where Eli and his two sons were priests. Elkanah had many sons and daughters with one of his wives, Peninnah, but none with his favorite wife, Hannah. Probably Peninnah felt like Leah, slighted by her husband even though she gave him many children, and she took it out on Hannah. So Hannah was not only sad not to have any children with Elkanah, but provoked by the irratating Peninnah. "Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" her husband asked. Nobody understood her. Even Eli the priest thought she was drunk as she stood praying and weeping, pouring her heart out to the LORD, silently moving her lips in a vow that if He gave her a son she would give him back as a Nazarite. When Eli accused her of being drunk, Hannah had the courage to explain her actions. Was Eli touched by seeing faith? He sent Hannah off with a blessing: "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." Encouraged, she said, "May your servant find favor in your eyes." The three-way conversation had given her the hope and promise she needed, and Hannah's depression turned to joy.

The LORD remembered Hannah and gave her and Elkanah a son. Hannah named him Samuel (heard of God) and stayed home with him even from going to worship at Shiloh until he was weaned. Her husband knew about Hannah's vow and allowed her to nurture him until Samuel was old enough. When the time came, together they took Samuel to Eli with offerings, and gave Samuel to the LORD for the rest of his life. Hannah prayed aloud this time as she paid her vow by giving Samuel to Eli. She rejoiced in the LORD, boasted over her enemies, acknowledged the reverse working of the LORD's ways, and prophesied of His works and His anointed one. Samuel stayed and even though he was not a Levite, he ministered before the LORD under Eli's direction. Hannah and Elkanah came back to see Samuel once a year, bringing a new little linen ephod robe for him each time. Eli prayed that the LORD would give them more children for the one son she had given back to the LORD, and He gave her sons and daughters. Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men. (see Luke 2:52)

This assignment for Eli in his old age to raise Samuel is a bit strange. Eli had spoiled his own sons, and both as men and priests they were disappointing failures, having affairs with women at the Tent of Meeting and stealing choice meat from the sacrifices to the LORD. His sons paid no attention to their father's rebukes. Finally, the LORD sent a man of God to warn Eli that his family line would be cut off from the priesthood, with both sons dying the same day. But for the good of Israel, the LORD would raise up a faithful priest who would do things according to the LORD's heart and mind. He would always minister before the LORD's anointed one.

Samuel slept in the tabernacle near where the ark of God stayed, but he didn't know the LORD and hadn't been taught His word until the night when he heard someone call his name. It wasn't Eli calling. He had checked 3 times. Finally Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy and told Samuel how to answer if he heard his name called again. He did, and the LORD explained to the boy why things were going to go against Eli very soon. Eli knew what sin was for sure, but he never disciplined or stopped it in his sons. This couldn't be forgiven even by sacrifice or offering. Eli insisted Samuel tell him about the vision, and let the boy know he understood. The LORD continued teaching Samuel as he grew up and the boy heard, learned, and guarded the words of the LORD.

Guess Work and Misunderstandings
April 14 reading
1 Samuel 4-7
1 Samuel Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* Area map * History of the empire of Philistia
REMINDER: "And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, 'If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.'" (7:3)
Thought for today: Neither having a copy of the Bible in your house, nor bringing the ark of
the covenant from Shiloh into battle, guarentee automatic salvation from your troubles. (from 4:3-4)
There weren't many similarities between Samson and Samuel as one might guess, even though both were dedicated to the LORD as Nazarites before conception to longtime childless women. The LORD used each of them for His own purposes, each as judges of Israel, and each living under war with the Philistines. The Nazarite vow Samuel's mother made for him and the mark of his uncut hair did not give him unusual physical strength, nor was he promiscuous. Samuel was given the unusual ability to hear the LORD speak and became known as a man of God whose words and predictions came true. (3:19, 9:6)

The only way the Israel elders leading the army could explain losing to the Philistines was they hadn't brought the ark of the LORD with them. Neither the 98 year old Eli nor Samuel were leading the army. Long ago having misunderstood and rejected the real power of the priesthood, Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, brought the ark from Shiloh to the war camp. Not understanding their Source of power, Israel celebrated the ark's arrival. Not understanding Israel's source of power, Philistia thought Israel had gods who struck the Egyptians with plagues in the desert. But the arc didn't work the magic Israel hoped. They were soundly defeated and the ark of God was captured. Eli's two sons died. On hearing that the ark was lost, Eli fell off his chair and broke his neck. All this news of loss was too much for Eli's son Phinehas's wife who went into childbirth, named her son Ichabod (no glory), and died.

The Philistines brought the ark of God with them to Ashdod, into their god Dagon's temple. Dagon kept falling before the ark, and then a large number of local Philistines began dying from a plague of rats and strange tumors. During the 7 months the Philistines had the ark, the leaders moved the ark from Ashdod to Gath, then to Ekron. All the while, great numbers of Philistines sickened and many died. Survivors demanded their leaders save them and send the ark back to Israel. The leaders weren't convinced that the god of the ark, who didn't win the war for Israel, was actually causing the sickness and death to the Philistines. So they consulted their priests and diviners to learn how to return the ark successfully while also testing for truth. They advised to send an offering of 5 gold rats and 5 gold tumors for the 5 Philistine leaders and 5 walled cities. The test was to send the ark and gold on a cart drawn by two cows who naturally wouldn't want to leave their calves. But lowing for their calves, the cows uncharacteristically headed straight toward Beth Shemesh in Israel where they stopped. Levites were called to set the ark onto a large rock, and the people sacrificed the cows to the LORD. The 70 Israelites who peeked into the ark, died. From there men from Kiriath Jerim took the ark not back to Shiloh but to Abinadab's house, where his son Eleazar guarded the ark of the LORD for the next 20 years.

During these years, Israel mourned their losses, including the LORD. A man by now, Samuel began teaching Israel that returning to the LORD required more than mourning. They must get rid of all the foreign gods and Ashtoreths, and commit to serving only the one true LORD. Israel would not be delivered by anyone but the LORD. Samuel called Israel to gather at Mizpah, and he began to intercede with the LORD for them as their new leader. The Philistines objected to their gathering together and came to attack as Samuel was sacrificing a suckling lamb and interceding to the LORD for Israel. The LORD thundered, the Philistines panicked, and Israel pursued and slaughtered them. Ownership of towns between Ekron and Gath that the Philistines had captured was returned to Israel. Samuel traveled from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah all the rest of his life judging Israel, but after Eli's death his home base was Ramah.


Different Perspectives: Samuel and Saul
April 15 reading
1 Samuel 8-11
1 Samuel Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* Rejecting God, TorahBytes.org
* Jabesh-Gilead: AncientSandals - ChristianAnswers
PROMISE: Samuel said to Saul: "The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person." (10:6)
Thought for today: Do I govern myself by walking in the ways of the LORD with justice, or
by walking in ways that look like they will bring me personal profit, any way I can? (from 8:3)
Samuel appointed his sons, Joel and Abijah, as judges over part of southern Israel, but they weren't suited to judging. They chose to turn decisions for justice into opportunities for personal profit from bribery. While the Levite priests served the LORD on an hereditary basis, national judges were chosen to serve at the LORD's pleasure. The elders of Israel wanted Samuel to give them a king instead of waiting on the LORD's next choice for judge and army commander. Samuel objected to this idea, and discussed it with the LORD as was his habit. The LORD knew this change was a continuation of rejecting Him and His chosen way of leading Israel. They were not really rejecting Samuel - this was veiled criticism of the LORD's preferred way to lead Israel. But it was part of the plan to prove the LORD's leadership, letting Israel go other ways to prove their inability to come up with a better plan. So Samuel repeated all the demands a king would make on Israel with drastic changes in employment and taxation. The people held fast. They wanted a king like all the other nations had. They were willing to give up some freedoms and economics in exchange for diplomatic and military leadership.

Two characteristics stand out in the next few chapters. First, the LORD, Samuel, and Saul each had different perspectives on what is happening and why - leading to a meeting that wasn't obvious to either man. Samuel was on the LORD's mission to bless a sacrifice, and the LORD had shown him some of what was to happen beyond the scheduled offering. Saul was only aware of looking for his father's lost donkeys with his savvy servant. When Samuel and Saul meet, the judge gives the impressively tall Saul inside information as signs - things that were going to happen on his trip home. "The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. ... But you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do."

The second characteristic was that neither the LORD, Samuel, nor Saul tell all they know. Samuel tells Saul what the LORD tells him to say. He and Saul talked to each other in questions. (9:19-21) Saul kept his own counsel when his uncle asked what Samuel had told him. He was silent about the people who opposed him becoming king. He doesn't reveal all his plans for defeating Nahash the Ammonite in Jabesh Gilead. But from hiding among the baggage to his success in battle, Saul goes with Samuel and all the people of Israel to Gilgal where Saul is confirmed as king in the LORD's presence. With fellowship offerings before the LORD, the people rejoiced.


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
* Bible Dictionary: Saul
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.


David on the Run
April 19 reading
1 Samuel 20:18-23:29
1 Samuel Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* Brotherly Love
A Memory Verse: "Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands." (23:14b)
Thought for today: "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22b)
Jonathan made a plan with David to get a secret message to him whether Saul still intended to kill David or not. Once Saul realized that David was not coming to the New Moon festival he got angry with Jonathan, blaming his mother's side of the family for siding with David. Didn't Jonathan realize that David was a threat to Jonathan ever becoming king? Didn't Saul realize that David had not done anything deserving capital punishment? Jonathan's anger matched his father's, and they parted ways. The next day, Jonathan got word to David to flee for his life.

First, David went to Ahimelech the priest at Nob and lied to him about his status with Saul. Thinking David was on a secret mission for the king and that David was holy (had not slept with a woman), Ahimelech only had consecrated bread to give David. David also asked for a weapon, and the sword of Goliath was the only one the priest had to give. Meanwhile, Doeg the Edomite, Saul's head shepherd was also in Nob. David went to Achish, king of Gath, for asylum but when Achish thought David was king of Israel, David faked insanity to escape arrest. Next he hid in the cave at Adullam where his brothers, father's household came, along with some debtors, distressed, and discontent who joined with David. They moved on to the stronghold at Mizpah in Moab where David's parents were given asylum. But the prophet Gad told David to move on to the land of Judah, where he stayed in the forest of Hereth.

When Saul heard that David had left Israel, he bullied his court blaming them with conspiracy for not informing him when his son made a covenant with David. By now, Saul won't even mention David's name other than "the son of Jesse." Doeg the Edomite spoke up about seeing David with Ahimelech the priest. Saul sent for Ahimelech and his father's whole family. They all were still under the impression that David was one of Saul's trusted favorites. Saul ordered all these priests be killed, and only Doeg the Edomite dared do it. He killed all 85 priests plus all people and animals of the city, Nob, except for one son of Ahimelech, Abiathar. Escaping, he fled to join David, who took responsibility for causing the priests' deaths. According to Stamps' Full Life Study Bible, "In a fallen world, the innocent sometimes suffer unjustly. God's people should not be alarmed when they suffer at the hands of evil people. In this life we will experience hardships (Acts 14:22) but in the life to come abudant blessing that far exceeds our present suffering and agonies (Romans 8:18-39)"

The priest Abiathar had brought the ephod when he fled, and David inquired of the LORD through him. When the Philistines attacked Keilah, David volunteered to fight by asking the LORD if he should attack them. His men needed further reassurance that they could succeed in such an attack, and David inquired of the LORD for assurances. The LORD promised victory, and the men followed David into battle.

Both David and Saul had good human intelligence networks, but David also was able to inquire of the LORD. Saul heard about David fighting at Keilah and assumed God was providing him a way to kill David. On the other hand, when David heard Saul was planning to come to Keilah, he had his priest ask the LORD for details. Did Saul intend to come? Yes. Would the town surrender David and his men to Saul? Yes. So David and his men left town, and moved around in the desert. God did not direct Saul how to find David, but Jonathan came to him at Horesh. Jonathan helped David find strength in God, and agreed that when David became king of Israel, Jonathan would be second to him. After Jonathan left, Saul got news from his intelligence network at Ziph in Judah. Just as Saul was closing in on David and his men, a messenger rushed in to get Saul - the Philistines were raiding the land! So Saul returned without capturing David.


Chasing David
April 20 reading
1 Samuel 24-26
1 Samuel Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* More on Abigail at
Alabaster-jars.com and IdeaJoy Blog
* David biography
A Memory Verse: "Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my master will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the LORD your God. But the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling." (25:29) - Abigail, to David
Thought for today: Mistreatment that causes me to suffer can strengthen my faith when I trust the LORD and find ways to remain faithful, following His righteousness.
King Saul seemed to change his mind back and forth between planning to kill David of Bethlehem and agreeing to let him live. After dealing with the Philistine emergency, Saul returned to try to capture David in the south Judah deserts. Once again there were close calls. While Saul relieved himself in a cave (of Ein Gedi) where David and his men were hiding, David slipped up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul's robe. Immediately sorry for doing this, David knew Saul was still both his master and the LORD's anointed. David had surrounded himself with fighters, and some of his men advised killing the king since Saul wanted to kill David. But this was an opportunity AND a test from the LORD, and David passed it by doing what was just and right. Once Saul had gone some distance from the cave, David stepped out, called to Saul, and bowed prostrate toward him. Saul was amazed to hear that David did not harm him when given the chance, and acknowledged that David would definitely follow him as king. Saul asked for David's promise not to kill his descendants and not to wipe out Saul's name from his father's family line. David promised with his oath.

When news came of Samuel's death, all Israel mourned. David and his men moved further south around Maon, 10 miles south of Hebron (map). In the desert, David and his men had camped around a wealthy man's shepherds and flocks, basically not stealing any of the sheep or goats themselves, and voluntarily keeping other preditors away. When the man, Nabal of Carmel, was having his flocks sheared, David sent a few men to him, expecting a favorable response for these services - if not for his Goliath fame - and requested a share of Nabal's food in return. For some reason, David thought his request was reasonable, and didn't fear that Nabal might reveal his whereabouts to Saul.

Nabal turned out to be habitually surly and mean. He was especially contemptuous of David, alluding to him as a servant breaking away from his master. He would not be feeding David or his men any time soon! One of Nabal's servants overheard this exchange, and fearing for the safety of the whole household, reported everything to Nabal's wife, Abigail. As wicked and arrogant as Nabal was, Abigail was intelligent and beautiful. She quickly understood what had gone on and what needed to be done. After she gathered a feast to send to David's camp, she followed behind on a donkey and met David and his men as they approached Nabal's homebase. David was discouraged. What good had it done to treat this stranger justly? Encouraged by his hot-headed followers, David was ready to kill Nabal and all his men. Abigail was correct and differential - speaking to David, identifying Nabal as wicked and foolish, taking responsibility upon herself, offering the food, asking forgiveness. Abigail had certainly heard of David. She called him her master and she his servant. She knew he was fighting the LORD's battles. She knew he led a dangerous life, being hunted by the King and kept on the move. She knew his conscience would torment him if he ever took revenge by his own hands when bloodshed was unnecessary. She knew the LORD would bring David success, so she asked him to remember her. That night Nabal partied, drunk and totally oblivious to the averted slaughter. The next morning when Nabal had sobered up, Abigail told him everything. He became "like a stone" and within 10 days had died. When David heard the news, he praised the LORD for His intervention and His judgement upon Nabal. David sent for Abigail to become his wife. He also married Ahinoam of Jezreel (map). Saul had annuled his daughter Michal's marriage to David and married her to another man.

The men of Ziph called Saul back from Gibeah when they saw David in their area again. This time David and one of his men slipped into Saul's camp and took his spear and water jug to prove David would not harm Saul. David knew that the LORD would strike Saul down either by natural death or by death in battle, but not by David's hand. But his men often counseled David to kill Saul. And even David has no idea how his situation will ever be resolved. This was far from the life he had anticipated when he first went to sing for Saul. As for Saul, once again his antagonist has come close enough to "count coup", mocking his security before slipping away. David neither trusted Saul's invitation to come back nor the sincerity of his admission of being a fool (like Nabal). There is no resolution.


The Philistines - Success or Failure?
April 21 reading
1 Samuel 27-31
1 Samuel Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* Map: Gath area
on the trade routes
A Memory Verse: "David replied, 'No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the forces that came against us. Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.'" (30:23-24)
Thought for today: After David lost confidence that the LORD would rescue him from Saul and determined his own plans, disasters followed.
Now that David was married with two wives traveling with him and his men had their families, he was tired of moving and running to stay away from King Saul. Nothing seemed to turn out the way he expected, and now he wondered if he would survive Saul. Having recently asked Saul not to let his blood fall far from the LORD's presence, David decided to elude Saul by living among the Philistines. Apparently by now King Achish of Gath knew of the hostility between Saul and David, and no longer thought David was insane. (1 Sam 21:10-15) Saul didn't follow David to Gath.

Soon, David asked Achish for a town of their own, and was given Ziklag. Living with their wives in the Philistine territory a year and four months, David and his men became well known for their annihilating raids on other people in the area. They took animals and clothes, but killed all the people in the towns they raided. Achish was sure David was hated by the Israelites for his raids that the Philistine king came to trust David. To be sure, he ordered David and his men to fight with the Philistine army against Israel.

Saul gathered the Israelite army at Gilboa to face the Philistines at Shunem. Terrified at seeing the Philistine army again, Saul inquired of the LORD but got no answer by dreams, the Urim, or the prophets. Even though he had outlawed mediums and spiritists from Israel, Saul was desperate and found out about a woman who was a medium living at Endor. Even though Saul went to her in disguise, she feared a trap. He promised she would not be punished and asked her to bring up Samuel. When the woman saw Samuel, she realized the man asking was Saul the king. The spirit confirmed that the LORD would not answer Saul beyond what Samuel had told him while he was alive. The kingdom would go to David. Within a day Saul and his sons would be dead, and the army of Israel would fall to the Philistines. Saul's men forced him to eat a last meal. Meanwhile, the Philistine commanders called on Achish to forbid David and his men from fighting in the coming battle, and to send them back home to Ziklag. It took the men 3 days to get back to Ziklag where they discovered that the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag, burning the town and kidnapping the women and others. At first David and the men wept uncontrollably. Then the men talked of stoning David for the loss of their sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. Ahimelech's son Abiathar the priest brought the ephod and inquired about whether to pursue the raiders or not. The LORD assured David that they were to pursue, overtake, and succeed in rescuing their people.

Some of the men were too exhausted to go on. They stayed with the supplies while David and 400 men continued after the raiders. With the help of an Egyptian servant of one of the Amalekites, David's men overtook the raiders and killed all but 400 young men who fled. They were able to recover everyone and everything. When the whole party got back to where the exhausted men had stayed, the men who always tried to stir up trouble declared that no one who didn't go on to face the raiders would get any of the plunder - only their wives and children. But David made it a rule that the share of whoever stayed with the supplies would be the same share as whoever went on into battle. Then David sent some of the plunder as a present to the elders of Judah where he and his men had roamed over the years.

Back at Mount Gilboa, the Philistines chased and killed Saul's sons - Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki-Shua - in the battle. When Saul was critically wounded and feared what the uncircumcised enemy would do to him, he told his armor-bearer to stab him with the sword. He couldn't kill his king. So Saul took his sword and fell on it, killing himself. The armor-bearer did the same on his sword. When the Philistines found their bodies, they cut off Saul's head, stripped him and hung his armor in their temple, and hung his body to the wall of Beth Shan. The Israelite people of Jabesh Gilead heard what had happened to Saul - who had saved their town in his early years. They got the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall, burned ( cremated ) them at Jabesh, and buried their bones there.

Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1-3 and 2 Samuel 1-2

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