I Samuel 31–A Sad End To a Sad Story

The reign of King Saul ended very unceremoniously.  He was soundly defeated by the Philistines–the enemy that he defeated when he started his time as Israel’s king.  He took his own life–he knew there was no good way for the battle to end and killed himself.  He lost his sons–they were all killed in battle as well. So the kingdom now lay in ruins and the royal family decimated.  But, the good news was that this was not the end.  It was only the end of the beginning.  Now that Saul was gone, David could become the king of Israel and lead them back to becoming God’s people and kingdom.
 
We must live our lives trusting and following God. When we try to live independent of God, our lives become chaotic and hopeless.  It is difficult enough to do life when we trust and follow God, but apart from him–well, we can do nothing that is either substantial or that will last. Jesus said it best in Matthew 6, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33. If we will trust and follow God–we will have a meaningful life; apart from Him, however, we will have a sad end to a sad story.
 
God Bless You

Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.

Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcisedfellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”

But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them.

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.

11 When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.

I Samuel 24 Part 2– It’s not You, It’s Me

David did the only thing possible in his situation; step out in faith and speak the truth.  Saul had no real reason to hunt  David, David was loyal and great for the kingdom. Still, Saul had abandoned God and allowed his fear of losing everything to drive him crazy.  So there Saul stood, robe in view, knowing that if the tables were turned He would have killed God’s anointed in a minute.  At that moment Saul uncharacteristically admitted defeat and went home.
 
David made a great case for whom God would bless and curse–Saul simply grasped the obvious.  So on that day and at that time, Saul admitted David would be king and that his pursuit was entirely unwarranted. He also humbly asked the future king to spare his family once David ascended to the throne. If that was the end of the story, that would be an acceptable outcome–sadly, it was not the end of the story. For David and his men, for that day, it was the end of that chapter of the story–a day of reprieve. For Saul, it was a day of reckoning, where he had to come to terms with what he had become.
 
In our lives, things keep moving forward. There are times when God places us in a position to recognize where we are in our journey. We have days like the one David and Saul had at the cave. In those times we have to look hard and long at who we are and who we are serving.  If we are serving God–we cling to that and trust him to resolve our struggles and provide a reprieve. If we have abandoned him, then we face our lives, repent and start following the Lord again.  We must remain aware that even after such epiphanies, life still remains a struggle and trials, temptations and curveballs still pass our way. 
 
Like David we speak the truth, take the reprieve and enjoy the day. Then, we start a new day ready for battle and committed to following God closely.
 
God Bless You

Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.

14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea?15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”

16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today.20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”

22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

I Samuel 22 part 1–David on the Run

With nothing in hand and nowhere to go, David headed into the land of Israel’s enemies. 1st David escaped to the King of Gath–(Goliath the Giant from Gath).  He hid out in Gath for a period, knowing Saul would not hunt him there.  Next, he headed to Moab–the place where Saul first made his name by wiping out several people.  David tried his best to go where he would not be attacked and where spies would not chase back to Saul and get him captured.  One can imagine the humbling experience that David faced standing before the leaders of lands he helped to defeat.
 
The good news was that as he was on the run, he was beginning to gather a group of men to command. It was a ragtag crew, but they would be what he needed as he faced the days ahead.  One can be sure as David started this phase of the journey, it looked nothing like what he would have ever hoped or dreamed.
 
In our journey, so many of the choices we make and directions we are pulled seem nothing like we expected in our youth.  It drives us crazy, it tests our faith and it slowly refines us into the people God calls us to be.  There is no easy way to become your best. It requires discipline, it requires training and it requires adversity, spiritual warfare and a long term (eternal) vision of life.  David would never have signed up for the anointing as king if he had known what God was going to take him through to be the greatest king Israel ever knew. He did, however, face each day, each trial and each disappointment fully relying upon God. Like David, we must look beyond what is and reach for what God has planned. We must remain grateful, humble and faithful no matter how difficult the journey becomes.  Help me, Lord to remain faithful in trials, grateful in blessings and humble in submission to Your lead!   
 
God Bless You

That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:

“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”

12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

14 Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? 15 Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”…

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.

From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.

But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.

I Samuel 20 Part 2–Jonathan and David’s Covenant

David knew king Saul’s intentions.  He escaped death several times already. Jonathan was, however, David’s best friend and so David wanted to give him a chance to make things right.  Jonathan and David knew that they would care for each other and their families no matter how the situation turned out; so David and Jonathan made a covenant that day that would last the rest of both of their lives. A covenant to care for each other’s families if the other could not.
 
They made a plan to check Saul’s true intention and Jonathan promised to warn David should he find that Saul was out to kill David.  Jonathan was stuck in the middle of two folks he loved but knew he had to honor God 1st and foremost.  So Jonathan went back to make sure and David stayed hidden. While David knew the outcome in advance, he wanted for His friend to be right.
 
In the most difficult of times, it is those that we love that get us through.  They may not be able to make the tough circumstance go away, but they will be there to support us and pray.  We can never underestimate the power of a friend and we must always be that friend to those we have in our lives. Jonathan and David were friends for life and for generations to come. God, help me to be that kind of friend to others.
 
God Bless You

Then Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the Lord deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father. 14 But show me unfailing kindness like the Lord’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.”

16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.

18 Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon feast. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. 20 I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. 21 Then I will send a boy and say, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,’ then come, because, as surely as the Lord lives, you are safe; there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then you must go, because the Lord has sent you away. 23 And about the matter you and I discussed—remember, the Lord is witness between you and me forever.”

I Samuel 20 Part 1–Great Friends

In the midst of Saul’s mission to kill his son-in-law, David, Jonathan, Saul’s son and heir to his throne, still was David’s best friend. Jonathan had no idea of his father’s hatred of David.  David had been loyal to the kingdom and to his father.  So when David approached Jonathan to ask the reason for Saul’s wrath, Jonathan was truly surprised and skeptical.  Saul and Jonathan were close. They shared everything. Saul was preparing the kingdom for Jonathan and would never make a move like that without letting Jonathan know…would he?
 
Saul knew Jonathan and David were dear friends. Saul did not want to tell his son of the plan. Saul knew what he was doing was wrong, and he knew Jonathan would side with David rather than with Saul–and Saul did not want to face that. What Saul did not know was that God established the covenant between Jonathan and David. No matter what Saul had in mind, God would not allow Jonathan to be a part of it.  The consequence of Saul’s rejection of God would not harm the covenant between these great friends.
 
God kindly puts great friends in our lives.  We pour our hearts and lives into those friends. Those are the folks that see us at our best and worst but love us just the same.  It is those friends we look to and draw upon when we are seeking honest feedback, heartfelt prayer, and continued life support. It is those friends to whom we are available 24/7-365. We would never question their need, we would never give up on them.  I thank my dear friends for their years of loyalty. I would be long dead if not for you. I hope that I have been a Jonathan in your lives; as you certainly been so in mine.  Friendship is a precious treasure. David knew it and so do we.  Let us never take for granted those friends God has supplied.
 
God Bless You

Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?”

“Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without letting me know. Why would he hide this from me? It isn’t so!”

But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.”

Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”

So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon feast, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. If your father misses me at all, tell him, ‘David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem,his hometown, because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.’ If he says, ‘Very well,’ then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure that he is determined to harm me. As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the Lord. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?”

“Never!” Jonathan said. “If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn’t I tell you?”

10 David asked, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?”

I Samuel 17 Part 1–Facing the Giants

The people in Israel were in the midst of regaining their standing as a nation. Saul, their king had been making a name for himself by attacking the Philistine outposts. The battles had gone back and forth–but on this day, Israel had a big problem. His name was Goliath he was 9’6″ and armed to the teeth.  He stepped out to the battle lines and made a challenge. Send anyone from the Israelite army to face Goliath and winner takes all.  From Goliath’s standpoint, there was no one that was nearly close to a match of size or strength.  He neither feared God or men.
 
Across the valley, the mighty army of Israel sat in paralyzing fear.  Their King, Saul had rejected God’s leadership.  He no longer heard from God or trusted God to battle on Israel’s behalf.  So when a mighty warrior almost twice as large challenged them–rather than looking to God; they looked hopelessly at each other. What do we do now?  Israel had become a mighty nation by looking to God for direction and seeking His leadership in war and peace.  Now, since they no longer had God’s direction, they wandered aimlessly and fearfully through the battle.  Make no mistake, God still cared for His people, but the Lord was unwilling to bless a king who rejected Him and His leadership.
 
Israel’s problem was huge–but it was not the giant. Israel’s problem was chasing other gods.  Some had names like idols–Rah. Baal, Asherah. Other God’s were not named–power, riches, lust, and rage. Israel had simply lost sight of the God that freed them, protected them, provided for them and prepared them to take their place as a mighty nation. Never-the-less, God had a plan.  God would, as he always does, bring a warrior like none other.  When he was done, the warrior would make clear that it was God that would battle Israel’s enemies, and God would make Israel victorious.
 
In our lives, we, like Israel, get easily distracted by other gods.  Some have names–Hollywood, sports, politics. Others are unnamed like stress, finances, power, or lust. Still, when we lose sight of God, we begin to be overtaken by fear and confusion.  Our problems seem to be gigantic and armed to the teeth–but, as we learn, they are not the giants we think we see. Instead, it is our lack of submission to God as our Lord. When we humble ourselves, confess our sin and resubmit to God’s leadership; then the Lord himself will battle the giants we face. He will be victorious and He will get the credit. The beauty is that, when God takes the credit–everybody wins.
 
God Bless You

Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span.[a] He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels[b]on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels.[c] His shield bearer went ahead of him.

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

I Samuel 15 Part 1–Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve!

When God anointed Saul to be king of Israel, He did so with the understanding that Saul would follow God’s lead.  God knew that anointing a King would be difficult, but anointing a King that was self-absorbed, would doom Israel. Saul had not shown any desire to honor God in his leadership of Israel.  So, God sent Samuel to give Saul one last chance to obey God’s leadership and remain Israel’s anointed King. Here was the test–Wipe out the Amalekites–totally and completely.  Do not allow anyone or anything to live!  Not a hard test, really.  Easily measured and easily followed…at least, that is what one would think.
 
Saul gathered the troops, went to the Amalekites’ lands and began the annihilation.  Well, except, he did not kill their king, and he did not kill the good livestock–that would be such a waste after all.  In short, Saul did what Saul wanted to do–not what God commanded him to do.  There could be no misunderstanding–kill off everything.  Saul simply chose not to.  Needless to say–Saul chose His own way rather than God’s way.  God was not pleased.  
 
Sadly, in our lives, we spend a great deal of time doing most of what God tells us.  Still, there are various times when God asks us to trust and follow Him and we choose to either help God out or simply do our own plan. In those times, it is not that we do not understand God’s direction, we simply would rather not obey.  Our way seems so much better…Sorry, God does not rule by committee! We have to trust Him and follow His direction. If we will, the Lord will bless us mightily, and direct our path to a purpose-filled and meaningful life.  If we try to co-lead, God will simply step back and allow the chaos to ensue.  There is a great old hymn, I Surrender All, it is the embodiment of the right choice, “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him; in His presence daily live.  I surrender all, I surrender all. All to thee my blessed Savior, I surrender ALL!” 
 
Help me, Lord to surrender all!
 
God Bless You

Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.

Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves[b] and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.