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.”

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 23 Part 2–A Mountain Between Us

David was learning to fully rely on God.  He was seeking God in every step. He was seeing how little trust could be put into men and how very precarious life was.  In the midst of that, however, God continued to protect, prepare and provide for David and his 600 men.  On this day, David was hiding in the desert and among the forests.  Saul had no shortage of sycophants that were glad to turn David over to Saul.  Jonathan, however, was still a loyal friend to David and he made a covenant to support David as King and remain loyal. 
 
Saul was closing in, however, and on this day, He had tracked David so close that they were on opposite sides of a mountain.  Saul had done a great job of tracking David down and now as he closed in nothing could stop him…well almost nothing! Just as he had David cornered, the Philistines attacked the Land. Saul had to leave and respond to the attack. What a coincidence, God even used the enemies of Israel to save His anointed king.
 
We never know what God’s plan will include for our lives.  In great and in difficult times, God is always in control of His plan for our lives.  There are days when we simply feel trapped and see no way to continue.  In those moments, God reminds us that He loves us and will not forsake us.  He promised in Romans 8, “All things work together for Good for those that love God and are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.  We, like David, must fully rely upon God. He will deliver us in ways we would never expect–but should always know are from Him.  Our enemies may be clever, but God is greater! 
 
God Bless You

So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there.

14 David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.

15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that[a] Saul had come out to take his life. 16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenant before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.

19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 20 Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.”

21 Saul replied, “The Lord bless you for your concern for me. 22 Go and get more information. Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty.23 Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah.”

24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maon, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David.

26 Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.” 28 Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth.[b] 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.[c]

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?”

1 Samuel 18 Part 1–David’s Adventure Begins

There is an inherent danger that comes from following the Lord.  David had just followed God’s lead and killed the giant Goliath. His victory saved Israel and allowed the nation to regain its respect.  The king, Saul, should have been overjoyed–but, that was not the case.  Saul knew that God had abandoned him as king.  So, as Saul grew older, he also knew God was preparing his replacement. So when this young man, David, rose from nowhere to become the hero of Israel, Saul became fearful and jealous.
 
Jonathan, however, was thrilled to see David rise. Jonathan never lost sight of God being in charge of the kingdom.  Jonathan, the heir to the throne, became David’s best friend. So as Saul watched–he saw David taking everything he had built away from him. Saul became increasingly suspicious and jealous. David was becoming public enemy number 1 to Saul. There was nothing David could do–He was loyal to both Saul and to Israel. David played the Lyre to ease Saul’s torment. David stayed at Saul’s side–even at the risk of his own life.
 
Following God’s lead is never easy–Saul was simply unable to do it. David was beginning to find that despite his faithfulness to God, he was in a spiritual war that would be much more difficult than any battle with a giant. In our lives, the same holds true–we often find that following the Lord is difficult. It is far easier to do what we want–rather than trust God and allow Him to lead. What is more, when we do allow God to lead, the enemy will throw everything he has at us to try to neutralize our impact on others and to try to make us live a life independent of God. 
 
We, like David, must focus on God. We must gratefully walk the path laid out for us. What we will see, over time, is that God’s path is the only sustainable path to take. We will struggle, we will fail, and we will doubt ourselves and God in the process. When we look back through our lives, however, we will see that God’s plan was right and His leadership prepared us for the battles and victories we were able to experience.  David’s son–Solomon, said it best, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. Acknowledge God in all your ways–and HE, God, will make your path straight!” Proverbs 3:5-6
 
God Bless You

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.

When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang:

“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”

Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.

10 The next day an evil[a] spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

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.

I Samuel 13 Part 1–Saul, Off to a Rough Start…

Saul was confirmed by the people, as well as anointed by God.  As the new King, he and his son began to make a name for themselves and for Israel. Jonathan attacked an outpost and Saul made sure everyone knew Israel on the attack.  In the reading, however, there is nothing that indicates that God told Saul to attack, to put his troops together, or to trumpet his victory.  Those all seem to be Saul’s ideas.  The result was Saul angered the Philistines.  Philistia put together its army, and the army looked like an ocean compared to a pond of Israel’s troops.
 
SO, Saul called for everyone to come back and prepare for battle. Instead, when the troops saw what they were facing, they ran and hid and some even deserted the army.  Saul saw things getting away from him, so he took matters into his own hands and did the pre-battle sacrifices and prayers–the priest’s job.  When Samuel appeared, he was not pleased.  Saul started and continued the entire scenario without once seeking God, His leadership or His prophet.  Make no mistake–Saul meant well.  He was trying to be a great king and establish his name as leader. The problem was God would never honor a king that operated on his own, and without God’s direction.
 
In our lives, so many times, we start off on a journey of our own making–never seeking God’s direction. As we progress, we look for ways to make a name for ourselves–without God’s direction.  Then when things grow tense, we wait for God to jump in.  When God  does not swoop in and save us, we forge ahead, on our own and without God’s direction. We mean well, but in the end, we make a mess of things and rob ourselves of God’s blessing.  Our first step should be to seek God’s direction.  We must allow God to lead, and allow him to have the glory.We need not make a name for ourselves, we need to glorify the name for God. He promises that if we will seek Him and trust Him–then He will lead and bless us. It is a daily choice.  Help me, Lord to seek You first and allow You to call the shots!
 
God Bless You

Saul was thirty[a] years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-[b] two years.

Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Mikmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes.

Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!” So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become obnoxious to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.

The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand[c] chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.

Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited sevendays, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.