Archive for the ‘1 Samuel’ Category

1 Samuel 20

1 Samuel 20 has David concerned for his life.  David asks Jonathan “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?”  Saul is out to kill David.  It’s that simple.  But David doesn’t understand why.  He hasn’t done anything except become a favorite of the people.  And for that reason Saul is going to remove him from the planet.  David’s only hope is Jonathan.  He alone has the position and ability to keep David safe.

So David reminds him “deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you”.  David reminds Jonathan of the covenant friendship they have established.  They have promised to love and care for each other until death.  This is more than a surface friendship.  It runs deep and it is a two way commitment. “Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul”.

Jonathan reassures David that the “Lord is between you and me forever”.  Jonathan wants David to know that he can trust him.  David convinces Jonathan that Saul is still out to get him, so they devise a scheme where Jonathan will sit at the table and find out what Saul’s intention is.  Jonathan is struggling to believe his father would harm Saul.  But as he sits there on the second day of David’s absence, he discovers that Saul indeed does intend to harm David and wants him dead.

For Jonathan, his friendship with David was a costly choice.  Saul tells him “as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established”.  Jonathan is giving up the throne in order to be a true friend to David.   That is the reality of true friendship.  It often costs something and sometimes more than you expect.  But true friends stay committed through all circumstances.  True friends never leave.  True friends put the well being of others ahead of themselves.  Jonathan was a true friend!

1 Samuel 19

1 Samuel 19 is a bit of a strange chapter.  It begins with Saul trying to convince Jonathan and all his servants to “kill David”.  Saul wanted the guy who was getting more attention than he was as king dead.  But Jonathan loved David and tells him to hide and allow him to talk with his father and see what his intentions were.  Saul promised to leave David alone, so Jonathan tells David who returns to Saul’s service.  Jonathan told his dad “he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the Lord worked a great salvation for all Israel”.

But it was short lived.  As David played the lyre for Saul, which calmed him, an evil spirit came upon Saul and he once again tries to kill David.  He throws his spear at him and misses but David certainly understands the situation – his life is in danger yet again.  He escapes and heads home where his wife Michal tells him to get out of town or he’ll be killed.  She knows her father well.  So she helps him escape through a window and then tells Saul’s messengers that he is sick in bed.

She had created an “image and laid it on the bed and put a pillow of goats’ hair at its head and covered it with the clothes”.  Pretty good trick indeed.  “David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah”.  He goes back to the man who had told him earlier that he would be king.  Saul finds out where David had went and sends a group of messengers to bring him back.  As they approached Samuel, “the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied”.

So Saul sends another set of messengers and the same thing happens.  Then he sends a third group and they too prophesy.  So Saul decides to go himself and find David.  “And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied….he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night”.  A naked king prophesying and lying on the ground.  Seems like a strange way for God to deal with the attempt on David’s life, but God is definitely in control!

1 Samuel 18

1 Samuel 18 has David continuing to win favor with the people after defeating Goliath.  Jonathan, Saul’s son, has become very fond of David and “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul”.  Here is a picture of what true friendship should look like.  Saul too loves David and “Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house”.  David becomes part of the royal family.  “Jonathan made a covenant with David….stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt”.

“David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him”.  But there was trouble brewing in paradise.  When David returned from his victory over Goliath, the people were shouting Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands”.  This didn’t sit well with the guy at the top – to be second in favor with the people.  “Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him”.  He was now focused on getting rid of David.  And his changed heart leads to “the next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul”.

Saul isn’t just irritated with David.  He wants David dead.  “Saul hurled the spear….David evaded him twice”.  Quite a change from the beloved almost adopted son David had become.  But “Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. So Saul removed him”.  He stripped him of power and wants him gone.  But Saul is determined to get rid of him.  He decides to offer “my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you for a wife. Only be valiant for me and fight the Lord’s battles”.  Saul’s thought was that David may end up dying in battle.

He has an evil plan.  “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him”.  But it didn’t work.  David was effective in killing enough Philistines to win her hand and they are happily married and living together.  “When Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, Saul was even more afraid of David”.  Things are backfiring all over as Saul tries to manipulate the situation.

1 Samuel 17

1 Samuel 17 has a famous biblical story.  “The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them”.  There was a very large guy, “a champion named Goliath” who came out and taunted the Israelites.  He was “six cubits and a span….his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron”.  He was a giant of a man and “he stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel”.

Goliath challenges Saul to send someone out to fight him.  “If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us”.  It is a pretty confident challenge to say the least, but for good reason.  He was a big, big man.  “For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening”.  It had to be disheartening to the Israelites to have to listen to the taunting day after day.

Jesse tells David to “take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers”.  They were with Saul waiting to face the Philistine attack.  David sees what is happening and asks “who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God”?  David is offended that Saul and the army of Israel is letting this giant defame their God.  So he volunteers and says “Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine”.  That seems like a bad idea and an unlikely way to win.

But David is confident.  “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine”.  Saul tried to put armor on him, but it was too heavy so David took it all off and “he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch”.  He marches out and Goliath makes fun of him but David says “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied”.  David is not afraid.

1 Samuel 16

1 Samuel 16 has God changing horses when it comes to the king of His people.  Saul has lost that right, and God tells Samuel to make a change.  Samuel is fearful for his life.  But God tells him “I have provided for myself a king among his sons”. So Samuel is told to get over his fear and head to Bethlehem to offer a sacrifice and anoint the new king.  Samuel is tentative but God says “I will show you what you shall do”.  So Samuel obediently takes off to do what God tells him.

He arrives and asks Jesse to come to the sacrificial ceremony.  God tells him to take a look at who the new king will be, a son of Jesse.  But God also reminds him that “the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”.  God is not worried about what we might look like on the outside.  He cares for how we are on the inside.  One by one Jesse’s sons come before Samuel but he tells Jesse “The Lord has not chosen these”.

It appears that Jesse has run out of sons, but when Samuel asks if there are more, Jesse says one more young son out with the sheep.  So Samuel asks him to bring him in and God says David is the one. The Lord tells Samuel to “Arise, anoint him, for this is he”.  God has picked out the next king.  And when that happens and Samuel anointed him in the midst of his brothers, “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward”.  God is making a change in who will be king.

But not only did God anoint David with His Spirit, “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him”.  It seemed that music would calm Saul down, so he asks his guys to find someone who could help him.  They know of David who is skilled with the lyre, and Saul requests that he come.  “David came to Saul and entered his service….Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer”.  This is quite an irony as the man God has anointed to replace Saul is now caring for him as he battles evil spirits.

1 Samuel 15

1 Samuel 15 has Samuel giving Saul a word from the Lord to “go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them”.  Pretty clear direction – Saul is to lead his army and wipe out the Amalekites.  He has 200,000 men on foot and 10K from Judah and they head to the city of Amalek and prepare to destroy them.  They attack but “Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them”.

This is where Saul makes a bad choice.  He was told to wipe out the enemy, but decides to let their king live as well as taking the best of the spoils of the land.  God is not pleased with Saul’s disobedience. The Lord tells Saul “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments”.  Saul got close didn’t he?  He attacked and killed most of the enemy.  He only took the good spoils which the people of Israel could benefit from.

But Samuel is told to confront Saul who tells him “I have performed the commandment of the Lord”.  It was a lie, and Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear”.  Saul may have done what he thought was right, but it was not obedience to God’s direct command which makes it disobedience.  God is not interested in our interpretation of what obedience is.  He is only interested in having us do exactly what He directs.  No need for us to spin it our own way.  That doesn’t work for God.

So Samuel asks Saul “Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord”?  His way was not God’s way.  And then Samuel tells Saul “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry”.  There is only one option – complete obedience to God’s direction.  Saul missed it.  Samuel takes things into his own hands and “Samuel hacked Agag to pieces”.  Saul didn’t get the job done, but Samuel did.  And “Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel”.  Disobedience disqualifies us from being in God’s good graces.  We cannot live that way.

1 Samuel 14

1 Samuel 14 has Jonathan deciding to get adventurous and see if he can attack the Philistines and take some of them out.  He tells his armor bearer “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side”.  Just the two of them, climbing up the rocks on their own, to face the enemy head on.  Seems like a crazy plan but Jonathan had faith that God would direct their path.  They did it under the radar so that “the people did not know that Jonathan had gone”.  He and his armor bearer snuck off to face the Philistines.

Jonathan wasn’t just blindly going in though.  He asked God to make it clear what should happen. He wasn’t going to attack without clear direction from God.  “It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few”.  God made it clear that they were to proceed so they climbed up and faced the enemy. At “that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men”.  Doesn’t seem like that great a victory until you consider that they climbed up with the enemy knowing they were coming and it was two against a bunch.  It was God’s hand at work.

The victory over those Philistines was good, but it was the “panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people” that really changed things.  God caused “the garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic”.  Confusion reigned and Saul sees what is happening and rallies his troops to continue the fight that Jonathan had begun and they routed the enemy that day.  “So the Lord saved Israel that day”.  All because one man listened to God agains great odds and took a chance.

It almost ended in tragedy for Jonathan as Saul had ordered the people not to eat anything until the battle was over.  God provided honey in abundance and Jonathan ate some, not knowing the order Saul had made.  Saul is going to kill him for his disobedience but the people intervened and said “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel”?  So he is spared and life continues.  The Philistines are a continual pain in the neck to Saul as “There was hard fighting against the Philistines all the days of Saul”.

1 Samuel 13

1 Samuel 13 has Saul coming into a rough situation.  He was 30 years old when he took over as king of the land, and he reigned for 42 years.  But during that time the Philistines came calling and were threatening the Israelites.  Saul’s son Jonathan defeated them and Saul is sending the message across the land that they are victorious.  But the Philistines aren’t happy with that loss, and they put together “thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude.

That is quite an army to amass.  The people of Israel see they are in trouble, and cry out to God.  Saul is waiting for Samuel to show up and seek the Lord about the situation.  When he doesn’t come as quickly as Saul expects, Saul takes things into his own hands and offers a burnt offering to the Lord on his own.  Just about then, Samuel comes and sees what has happened.  “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue”.

Saul made a huge mistake in judgment taking things into his own hand and trying to do the job of a priest.  God is not amused either.  “The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you”.  Saul screwed up and violated God’s laws.  And it’s going to cost him dearly.  The Philistines set up three companies to attack the Israelites from.  And they took over the land.

Then they removed all the blacksmiths from the land so there was no way to create swords or spears in the land.  The Israelites had to go to the Philistines for anything related to metal work, so while they could get their plowshares and axes sharpened for a fee, the Philistines had control of things so that there was no way for the Israelites to prepare for war.  The sin of the leader has created a big change now that they are captive in their own land.  Sin always carries a big price!

1 Samuel 12

1 Samuel 12 has Samuel before the people of Israel a bit irritated with their attitude.  He challenges them to point out any areas where he has not been righteous with them:

  • Whose ox have I taken?
  • Or whose donkey have I taken?
  • Or whom have I defrauded?
  • Whom have I oppressed?
  • Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it?

Samuel says that he has been forthright and done no one any harm.

He goes on to remind them that “the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety”.  That didn’t happen because they deserved it, but because God loved them.  And Samuel reminds them that he himself is one of those sent to save God’s people.  They have asked for a king, and now they have one they had better obey and follow his leading.  As is always the case, it comes down to obedience.

If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well”.  The people are charged with obeying their king, and ultimately God.  They will pay a price for disobedience.  And if they obey, Samuel tells them to “stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes”.  God works through his chosen leaders.  But to drive home the point that God is in control, Samuel tells them he will do a miracle just to cinch the deal.  “Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord”.

Obedience is the way to receive God’s blessing, and he warns them “do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart….do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty”.  If we choose to turn away from God, it does not go well.  There was some fear that Samuel might also turn away from the people but he assures them “far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way”.  Samuel doesn’t act on his own feelings, he acts in obedience to God!

1 Samuel 11

1 Samuel 11 has the bad guys led by Nahash the Ammonite threatening the people at Jabesh-gilead.  Nahash offers to let them live if they allow him to “gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel”.  Quite a trade off to be left alive.  The elders of Jabesh asked for seven days to make a decision and sent messengers around the territory of Israel to see if anyone would help them.  “When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud”.

Saul was out working the fields and came in behind the oxen he was driving.  He sees the people all weeping and asks what the issue is.  They tell him the situation in Jabesh.  “And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled”.  Somehow I don’t think this is good news for the bad guys.  God moves in his heart and he is ready to take action.  He immediately decides how to send a message throughout the land of Israel so everyone got it loud and clear.

He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen”.  Pretty visual message – a bunch of oxen meat with the message that anyone who doesn’t join the fight will have their property end up the same way.  He got the attention of over 300,000 men who came to join the fight.

The next day “Saul put the people in three companies”.  He organizes the men and they attacked the Ammonites.  They were killed or scattered.  Saul has become recognized as the king and one who is the leader of the people.  There was a desire to kill those who had earlier resisted Saul, but he says “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel”.  Saul has proved himself as leader and king.  He is the person they have wanted to lead them.  “Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly”.

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