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1. Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell slain on Mount Gilboa.
Now our attention is drawn back from David and his men to King Saul and his army. Remember that we have just seen David’s activities, and that probably on this very same day and at nearly the same time he was slaughtering the Amalekites, a vastly superior force, and winning back his captives without a single loss to him or his men. Saul and the Israelite army are also facing a vastly superior force. Saul, however, has lost the favor of the LORD through his long unfaithfulness and stubborn disobedience. Therefore, the LORD does not help him, and it is the Philistines who are victorious in Saul’s war. The men of Israel flee from the Philistine army, and those who do not flee fall down slain in Mount Gilboa, the place where the Philistines were camped. This is what typically happens to a greatly outnumbered force, when the LORD is not on the side of the smaller force! Read the rest of this entry »
I Samuel 30 Continued
16. And when he had brought him down, there they were, spread out over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil which they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.
The former slave brings David down to where the Amalekites were camping. David finds them spread out in a very large camp over all the land. They are in the midst of eating and drinking and dancing in celebration of their successful raids against the Philistines and Judah. While these two nations were at war with each other, these Amalekites had sneaked into their lands and taken from them great spoil, enriching themselves. Thus David finds them celebrating, in disarray and not ready for battle. Read the rest of this entry »
I Samuel 30 1. Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, In order to make the long trip back to their home in Ziklag, David and his men would have probably headed west to the Mediterranean Sea and then traveled down the coast southward back to Philistia. It seems that they make the long journey in two days, no doubt hurrying both to get away from the angry Philistine lords, and to get out of Israel where they still were fugitives. This must have been a difficult journey, and the thought of the comforts of home that awaited them must have sustained them after the frightening journey with the Philistine army and the near-disaster of almost having to fight their own people. Yet when David and his men get back to their home in Ziklag, they find no such happy welcome as they were anticipating. We learn that the Amalekites had conducted a raid while the Israelite and Philistine armies were busy facing each other. Remember that David, while telling his new master Achish that he was invading Judah, had been making systematic attacks on various towns of the Amalekites, leaving none alive to bring back word to Achish of his true policy. Word of this had not reached Philistia, yet it seems that the Amalekites had somehow learned the truth of these deadly invasions, and have traced the cause back to the land of the Philistines, and even to David and the city of Ziklag. Thus when the armies of Israel and the Philistines, along with David and his forces, are busy facing each other in battle, they use the opportunity to take their revenge. Thus the Amalekites had invaded the southern part of Judah, perhaps because it had formerly been David’s home, and also David’s own town of Ziklag in Philistine territory. Thus the town is completely burned with fire when David and his men arrive. Read the rest of this entry »
I Samuel 29
1. Then the Philistines gathered together all their armies at Aphek, and the Israelites encamped by a fountain which is in Jezreel.
The Philistines apparently move their forces now, and all their lords come together and pitch their camp at Aphek. Aphek means “Fortress” or “Enclosure,” and was a traditional camp for them, as we saw they gathered there before in I Samuel 4:1: “Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines, and encamped beside Ebenezer; and the Philistines encamped in Aphek.” There were apparently two “Aphek”s in Israel, and this one was in the tribe of Issachar, near Jezreel. This is where the Israelites choose to camp: by a fountain in Jezreel. Jezreel means “God Plants,” and was a city in Israel on the northwest spur of Mount Gilboa. Read the rest of this entry »
15. Now Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”
And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.”
Here we have a difficulty. We know Yahweh specifically forbade going to mediums. We can read of this prohibition three times in the law. First, in Leviticus 19:31.
31. Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.
Next, in Leviticus 20:6.
6. And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people.
Here, we read that those who sought after mediums and familiar spirits would be cut off from Yahweh’s people. This was a harsh penalty, but it was necessary to discourage the people from ever indulging in this false and wicked practice. Finally, the prohibition is repeated in Deuteronomy 18:10-12. Read the rest of this entry »
I Samuel 28
1. Now it happened in those days that the Philistines gathered their armies together for war, to fight with Israel. And Achish said to David, “You assuredly know that you will go out with me to battle, you and your men.”
Now it so happens that the Philistines in those days gather their armies together and prepare for war, getting ready for another fight with Israel. Their war with Israel has been going on for a long time, going all the way back to before the time of Samson the judge. This is just another battle in the ongoing war. Yet David is now caught on the wrong side!
Achish plans to take David, his new servant, with him to the battle. Remember, he thinks that David has been killing Israelites all the time he has been with him, so he does not figure that this will be much of a step for David. Yet the reality is that David has not been attacking Israel at all, but rather has been attacking Israel’s enemies and doing good for his own people. Yet Achish does not know this, and so naturally thinks that David will be eager and willing to join him in the war.
Achish informs David that he expects him and his men to join him in the battle. Now David is caught in his own lie. He can have no excuse for not wanting to fight his own people, since he has lied to Achish and told him that he is already doing that. If he says anything now, the truth will come out that he has not been attacking his own people at all. Yet if he goes along with Achish, he might be forced to fight with his own people after all, and that was the last thing David wanted to do. Thus David’s plans and schemes to hide among the Philistines, all without the LORD’s advice and guidance, have now brought him to the brink of disaster. If he fights with the Philistines against Israel, his own people will know it and consider him a traitor. Their likelihood of ever accepting him as king then is very small. The LORD must step in to help David, or he will have planned himself right out of the throne. Read the rest of this entry »
I Samuel 27
1. And David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand.”
David now realizes that no appeal to God or conscience will turn Saul from his dogged pursuit of David to kill him, and no word from Saul to the contrary is worth anything at all. It seems that he starts to dwell on this, and it looms large in his mind to the point where he fears in his heart. Remember that the Hebrew word “heart” means not just the emotions, but the inner being. It seems with his whole being he starts to fear and lose his confidence in the helping hand of God that was with him. He focuses on his fears, rather than on the LORD, Who has helped him up until now. The result is that he does not think he can continue to escape from Saul forever, and so he concludes that one of these days Saul will catch him and kill him. Well, the only reason that had not happened already was because the hand of God was with David. Yet where did David think that hand would go in the future? David forgot here his confidence and trust. Read the rest of this entry »
1. Now the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is David not hiding in the hill of Hachilah, opposite Jeshimon?”
As they did back in chapter 23, the Ziphites once again betray David’s location to Saul. They had decided to throw in their lot with the current king, in spite of the fact that they were from Judah, David’s own tribe. Thus, they figured to go all in, and hope for the victory of Saul resulting in their own advancement. Fortunately for them, David was not a vengeful person. Yet certainly their hopes of advancement by siding with Saul did not come to fruition.
The Ziphites come to Saul at his home in Gibeah, and report to him that David is in the hill of Hachilah opposite Jeshimon. This was the same place he was in when they betrayed him back in I Samuel 23:19! Apparently he was as yet unaware of the treachery of the Ziphites, and so he had returned to this old hiding place, not realizing that his trust in the local peoples had been betrayed. Of course, it was also true that Saul was not supposed to be pursuing David anymore, as he had sworn to him back in I Samuel 24:22. Read the rest of this entry »
I Samuel 25 Continued
23 Now when Abigail saw David, she dismounted quickly from the donkey, fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground.
Now Abigail sees and recognizes David riding towards her. She jumps off her donkey and falls on her face before God’s anointed, bowing herself down before him. In our European customs, we usually only bow from the waist, but in an oriental culture like that of Israel, bowing to the ground was customary and usual, so this is what she does to honor David.
24. So she fell at his feet and said: “On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant.
Abigail falls at David’s feet, which was the position of a supplicant. She then asks David to let her take the blame for this iniquity, by which she means her husband’s insult against David. Yet she begs him to hear her out, claiming for herself only the position of a maidservant before David. Read the rest of this entry »
I Samuel 25
1. Then Samuel died; and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the Wilderness of Paran.
Here we have the sad note that Samuel, that great prophet, priest, and judge of Israel, died. Of course, this eventually happens to and is the fate of all men, for we are all dying in Adam. Thank God that, as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive, and so we have a life after this one. This life we are now living is indeed not all there is.
Now this book is the book of Samuel, and Samuel has been the author of the early chapters. What happens here, then, when the book itself records Samuel’s death? Surely the LORD did not have him write the historical record of his own death and of the events that took place after his death. Yet this is no problem, for as we have seen from I Chronicles 29:29, this book had three authors, listed in that verse as Samuel the seer, Nathan the prophet, and Gad the seer. Therefore it is doubtless true that one of them took over writing the book at this point, probably Nathan, since he is listed first. (He may not have taken over just here, but may have started writing the record a few chapters before this as well. There is really no way to tell when one author ends and another begins, since the book is written as a seamless whole.) Read the rest of this entry »