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 30 Part 1–God Is Always Where to Turn!

David was released by the Philistine king and sent home. He no longer was put in a position to fight Israel.  So when he came to his city, He was met with the tragedy. of finding that the Amalekites raided the city, burned it and stole all of David and His men’s families and possessions. It was clearly adding Insult to injury.  David’s men had been extremely loyal in their following of the king, but to have their families taken while they were at a battle from which they were sent away; well that was too much. As they gathered they began to talk of stoning David–after all he got them and their families in this mess.  
 
David did what only David knew to do, He sought the Lord.  He had the priest come and David went straight to God.  He asked the right questions–Can we overtake these heathen? God gave him the best answer that only God could–Yes, son, you will overtake them and you will rescue all that you have lost.  David’s kingdom and life were based upon his trust in God. God delivered him from so many near-death experiences, that David lost count. So once again he proceeded to the throne of God for direction and direction he did receive.
 
We have to return to God in our difficult days.  No matter the stress, no matter the cause God is still the solution to our life issues.  If we will seek him first; If we will follow him daily, then He will lead us through our trials and restore what our enemies try to take.  It is never easy. but God is always faithful.  Sometimes the hardest thing we face is the reality that it is time to approach God and seek His leadership. The great news is that God ALWAYS welcomes our inquiries.  He is never too busy to listen and move in our lives.  Thanks, Lord for always being available and hearing our prayers!
 
God Bless You

David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”

“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

I Samuel 29–God Sends David Home

 God was kind to David.  He was at a critical point in his conflict with Saul.  He had been living with the Philistines for more than a year. Saul and his armies were going to battle with the Philistines. The Philistine king Acksish Loved David and marched he and his band right with his personal troops toward the battle.  David was now in the unique position of being the anointed King of Israel marching into battle against Israel.  What a horrible position to be in.  God then used the Philistine officers to spare David.  They told the king to send David and his men home–they were to great a risk.  So the king sent them away from the battle with Israel.  The king blessed David and David’s men as they went home.  
 
Sometimes we are placed into impossible positions. It seems hopeless and overwhelming. But, just then, God steps in and does something so amazing and so unexpected that it becomes clear that He was the author and executor of the miracle.  When God intercedes, it is a great reminder that the Lord alone can change the world and men’s hearts.  That is why we can never trusting in God’s leadership. We must seek Him, bring our needs before Him and follow His leadership through our daily life.  When we do, He does the best things to prepare us.  David was able to leave that day and not battle his people–Thank You, Lord, for interceding at just the right time.
 
God Bless You

The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish. The commanders of the Philistines asked, “What about these Hebrews?”

Achish replied, “Is this not David, who was an officer of Saul king of Israel? He has already been with me for over a year, and from the day he left Saul until now, I have found no fault in him.”

But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish and said, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master’s favor than by taking the heads of our own men? Isn’t this the David they sang about in their dances:

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

So Achish called David and said to him, “As surely as the Lord lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until today, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you. Now turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.”

“But what have I done?” asked David. “What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”

Achish answered, “I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, ‘He must not go up with us into battle.’10 Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light.”

11 So David and his men got up early in the morning to go back to the land of the Philistines, and the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

I Samuel 28–Saul Seeks a Medium

There is really no worse place to be than to be the king of God’s chosen nation, but also to be an enemy of God! That was the world where King Saul found himself.  He had continually disobeyed God and sought to make a name for himself.  God was not amused.  So God stripped Saul of His spirit and leadership and anointed David to be king.  Saul became more and more obsessed with killing David and with running things his way. Then, the day arrived when Saul was at the end of himself. He knew his kingdom was in danger. He had no direction from God and he really felt alone. So Saul sought out a medium to call Samuel, his last friend from God, up from the grave.  In short, Saul sought to find God by his own means–Samuel appeared and told Saul the truth. He was done! He and his Sons would die at the hands of the Philistines and David would take the kingdom.
 
When one strays so far from God that he can no longer hear his voice, the truth of God is rarely a comfort. Saul, hoped somehow that Samuel could give him a happy message–so such message would come. In short, the only answer is to repent and return to God. In our lives, Christ died for our sin. His atonement gives us the opportunity to repent and return even after we have sinned against God.  If we will repent and return–God will never leave nor will he forsake us. We still have to face the consequence of our choices, but we do so with God at our side and confident that he will love and protect us through the difficult times.  Saul needed to repent to God and return to God’s authority.  He should have turned the Kingdome to David and followed quietly. He refused and fought God–now he had to face the consequence of that choice.  Thank You, Lord, that we can repent and return to you and you will not leave or forsake us.
 
God Bless You

But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

10 Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”

11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”

“Bring up Samuel,” he said.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”

The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure[a] coming up out of the earth.”

14 “What does he look like?” he asked.

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.

Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has tornthe kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. 19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

I Samuel 27–A Time of Peace

David went back to the Philistines to hide out from Saul.  It was a year and four months of simply raiding and killing Israel’s enemies from outside Israel.  David was safe from Saul and yet he was serving his people.  He obtained the city of Ziklag for his troops and their families.  Saul quit chasing him, The Philistine king left him alone and for 16 months, David simply lived and raided.  While the story seems boring, David was in sore need of boring.  He had been living on the run for so long, that, a time of boring was critical for his health and the health of his men. So David lived as a man without a country but he did so in peace.
 
In our journey, it seems like the pressures of life keep us on the run.  Life throws its series of curves at us and we are always seeking to address them and to honor God.  Like David, we sometimes need boring to restore our health-physically, mentally and spiritually.  If your life seems a bit boring, thank the Lord for it.  Odds are that the time of boring will be limited and the adventures ahead will keep us jumping until He returns.
 
God Bless You

But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.”

So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maok king of Gath. David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal.When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him.

Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?”

So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since.David lived in Philistine territory a year and four months.

Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites.(From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.)Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish.

10 When Achish asked, “Where did you go raiding today?” David would say, “Against the Negev of Judah” or “Against the Negev of Jerahmeel” or “Against the Negev of the Kenites.” 11 He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, “They might inform on us and say, ‘This is what David did.’” And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory. 12 Achish trusted David and said to himself, “He has become so obnoxious to his people, the Israelites, that he will be my servant for life.”

I Samuel 26 Part 2–David Wins to Fight Another Day

In the grand scheme of things, it was a good day for team David.  God had once again handed Saul over to David, but, David spared Saul. David knew it was not his job to take vengeance upon Saul–that was God’s job. So Saul and David had a very open and frank conversation in which Saul admitted his sin and promised to leave David in peace.  The problem was David had heard it all before.  So, as he returned Saul’s spear and chastised Saul’s men, David knew he had won another battle, but, the war was ongoing.  For David, that prospect must have been maddening.  Still, his faith in God and God’s plan carried him through another difficult day.
 
In our lives, sometimes it seems like God has solved the problem and as we move forward we can point to his amazing protection and provision.  Still, the battle rages and we rise to face a new day and a new set of struggles.  In the midst of the struggle, we have to cling to the little victories.  when the enemy attacks or life throws the next curveball, those victories give us the hope to continue to move forward.  It is acceptable to become discouraged when things seem hopeless and out of reach–but, if we will focus upon God and his leadership, rather than on the circumstance before us, the Lord will carry us through.  David continued to move forward–so should we!
 
God Bless You

Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, David my son?”

David replied, “Yes it is, my lord the king.” 18 And he added, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of? 19 Now let my lord the king listen to his servant’s words. If the Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, people have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord! They have driven me today from my share in the Lord’s inheritance and have said, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the Lord. The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea—as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”

21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.”

22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”

25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.”

So David went on his way, and Saul returned home

I Samuel 26 Part 1–Honoring God is Always the Right Answer

It was very simple. David was being protected by God as King. Saul, on the other hand, was being deceitful, murderous and acting in direct rebellion to God. No man would have ever blamed David for killing Saul. David gave Saul countless opportunities to stop the hunt and allow David to live his life in peace. Still, Saul persisted. Now David had Saul’s life in his hands once again…but, David again trusted God and let Saul live.  It was never easy, and I am sure it frustrated his men, but, God was leading David and David had grown to trust God at all cost.
In our lives, we are faced with trials and issues that make us want to take over and try to run our own show. The world encourages it and everyone else seems to be doing that very thing.  In our effort to remain faithful, it looks futile and even those we love, wonder why we would not simply take matters into our own hand.  Like David, we must stay the course and trust that God will prepare us, protect us and provide for us–no matter what the world does.   If we will do that, God will show himself to be faithful and true.  We can never lose hope in God’s faithfulness. If we will only trust him, He will make our lives full and meaningful–just as he promised.
God Bless You

The Ziphites went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which faces Jeshimon?”

So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph, with his three thousand select Israelite troops, to search there for David. Saul made his camp beside the road on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon, but David stayed in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul had followed him there,he sent out scouts and learned that Saul had definitely arrived.

Then David set out and went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw where Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of the army, had lain down. Saul was lying inside the camp, with the army encamped around him.

David then asked Ahimelek the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, “Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?”

“I’ll go with you,” said Abishai.

So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him.

Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t strike him twice.”

But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”