Acts 9 – Saul (aka: Paul)

Read Acts 9

The conversion of Saul, more commonly known in the New Testament as Paul, is arguably the 5th most significant event of the New Testament.  Behind the Birth, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus, Paul’s coming to know Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior has profound repercussions throughout the whole of Christianity.  He is credited with authoring nearly half of the New Testament, all of the books following Acts from Romans through Philemon.  Much of what He wrote also has become the basis for our Theologies and Doctrines in the Church throughout history.

Yet Paul, despite all the depth of relationship that He has with God in Jesus Christ, and with all of the revelation, He receives through the Holy Spirit, remains profoundly humble, truly living into the example the Christ teaches: “He who would be great must be your servant.”  Never once do we see Him lording over others his encounter with Christ, his understanding of the Gospel, or his influence over the church.  Instead, he faithfully preaches the Gospel, plants churches throughout the Roman empire, and lovingly corresponds with them working to help them deepen their faith and understand their identity in Jesus Christ.

As we get to know Paul better over the course of the book of Acts, and later in his own writings, we get the sense that he has a deep understanding of Christ’s work and its meaning.  Maybe it is because of the revelation he receives from God and/or the application of Old Testament Scriptures that he knew well.  But one thing strikes me: never once does he claim to be “ahead” of anyone.  In fact, in the midst of his work, he consistently “counts it all for nothing” for the sake of the Gospel.  This is an example we should follow.



Day 156: Psalms 15-18; A Royal Psalm

Have you ever just felt the urge to just sing and praise God for some reason.  Perhaps it was for no reason at all, just a joyful song welling up inside of you?  I know I have from time to time.  It just started to come out and before you know it you are singing praises to God, saying prayers of thanks for everything, and lifting up all things before the King of the universe.  Its like an infectious good mood that you can’t stop, a laughter that comes out at the most awkward of times, a smile that makes people wonder what you’re up to inside your head.  It is one of the truest expressions of “my cup overflows” that we experience in our lives.

Sometimes this can be brought on by seemingly nothing.  I know I’ve had days where I just hop out of bed singing in the morning and am praising God all day long.  I suppose it should probably be like this every day, but lets face it, we do live in a broken world and not every day is a good day… even if we believe that every day is a gift.

Psalm 18 - The Lord is My Rock Photo Credit: www.closerdaybyday.info

Psalm 18 – The Lord is My Rock
Photo Credit: www.closerdaybyday.info

There are other times though, when the circumstances of our lives bring us to our knees or lift us up in worship to God.  Perhaps you’ve just come through a very trying time in your family.  Maybe someone you or someone you know has just come through a difficult illness or loss.  It could be that you’ve been struggling with some problem personally for a long time and have just found freedom and victory from it.  In these cases and so many more, when we come through them by the grace of God we experience in a very real and tangible way how God upholds us and sustains us through every difficult step.  These are the times when it seems the easiest to lift up songs of praise!

This is the case with Psalm 18 today.  We read in the title that this is a Psalm that David sang “when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.”  Remember all of the struggles that David had with Saul?  We talked about David’s “exile” and how he was forced to feel from Saul in the wilderness for a long time and also from his son Absalom, an event which brought about Psalm 3 which we talked about on June 2.  Even after Saul died, David still had to contend with those that were loyal to Saul for the throne.  During his reign, David fought many wars with other nations, ultimately bringing peace to Israel.  This Psalm is kind of like David’s Song of Deliverance and David’s Song of Thanks recorded in 2 Samuel 22 and 1 Chronicles 16.  Both of those songs were similar to the Psalms we are reading now, and take on that same “Royal Psalm” motif of proclaiming the greatness of God and praising Him.

PSALM 15 is a liturgical Psalm that centers around Entering the Temple.  This would have likely been sung by priests and by those who were going up to the Temple of God to worship.  You can see too that Psalm 15 also has some didactic qualities to it as well.  Some might call this a “Song of Ascent,” though we will encounter more of those later in the book of Psalms.

PSALM 16 is a Psalm of trust that is written by David.  Reading through it, we see a beautiful confession of David’s trust in God.  If you listen closely to the word of this Psalm, you hear echoes of the prophecy of the coming Messiah and can see references to Christ hidden within these words.

PSALM 17 is another model Psalm for Lament that has didactic elements to it as well.  Like Psalm 13, we see the confession of trust in God at the end.

PSALM 18 is a Royal Psalm, as we talked about above.  In it we see David proclaiming the magnificence of God which is shown through all of creation.  We also see a great deal of thankfulness and praise in this Psalm as well.  I also think that, as you read it, and perhaps re-read it, you will find the Psalm impressing on your heart the many reasons to praise God each and every moment of your life… which certainly gives it a familiar didactic quality as well.

Psalm 18:28 - The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness Photo Credit: www.dailylifeverse.com

Psalm 18:28 – The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness
Photo Credit: www.dailylifeverse.com



Day 117: 1 Chronicles 8-10; King Saul

With the books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles being written primarily to the people of Judah that have returned from the exile, it is not surprising to find the section on King Saul to be rather short.  The Kingdom of Judah, and Israel divided, identified completely with the house and line of King David.  They were the only ones that stayed loyal to the the King that was after God’s own heart, he who was promised to have a royal line forever.  For them, and really for all of Israel, Saul was the example of what would happen if there was a bad king in Israel.  Though he wasn’t as bad as many of the kings to come after him, he followed after the wrong things and didn’t trust the Lord, thus provoking Him to anger and causing Him to remove the family of Saul from the Royal line.

Saul Tries to Kill David Photo Credit: http://biblicalgenealogy.kavonrueter.com/Pictures-David_InSaulsService.htm

Saul Tries to Kill David
Photo Credit: http://biblicalgenealogy.kavonrueter.com

However, Saul was an integral part of the history of the people of God and his name bore mentioning in the Chronicles of Judah.  Interestingly, we don’t get much here about Saul’s exploits in trying to kill David or anything about the sins that he commits.  Whether this wasn’t so important to the writer here or it was assumed that the people would know these stories I cannot say, however the fact is that in relation to what is to come in the narratives of King David, Saul is just a blip on the page.

That being said, I think it is important for us to remember together the stories of Saul from the book of 1 Samuel.  He was anointed by God, but reluctant to rule until he was thrust into power by a “national crisis.”  From there Saul assumes power, but makes several key mistakes, revealing his lack of trust in God.  The narrative continues for quite some time juxtaposing his son Jonathan and David the son of Jesse against Saul when it comes to covenant fidelity and following God.  Saul continuously makes mistakes and is incredibly hate filled when it comes to dealing with David, whom God has anointed to be the next king.  Yet even in all of this, David does no wrong to Saul, even gently correcting him in his errors.  In the end though, Saul’s lack of faith, trust, and obedience to God result in the death of most of his family and the eventually his own death at the hand of his enemies, the philistines.

David Spares Saul's Life Photo Credit: http://www.workersforjesus.com/1samuel22-24.htm

David Spares Saul’s Life
Photo Credit: http://www.workersforjesus.com

As I look back on this narrative of the life of Saul, I am forced to recognize and wonder about its relationship to the greater narrative of the people of Israel (and by Israel I mean the united Kingdom and both portions of the Divided Kingdom as well).  There are striking similarities between the life of Saul and the life of Israel in general.  Things many start out all peachy, but it doesn’t take long for them to go south.  Throughout the lives of both Saul and Israel there are warning signs and even some course corrections.  Yet their continued propensity to sin inevitably leads them a place in which God removes them from the place to which they have been appointed.  Saul’s life, I must admit, is a foreshadowing of what is to come as Israel progresses down the path of having a king.  Samuel warns them about this in 1 Samuel 8 and it indeed comes to pass several hundred years later.



Day 96: 1 Kings 1-2; The Death of King David

The Anointing of Solomon by Cornelis de Vos. A...

The Anointing of Solomon by Cornelis de Vos. According to 1 Kings 1:39, Solomon was anointed by Zadok. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

96 Days into the Bible now, and we find ourselves entering the book of 1 Kings.  Really, this is the continuation of 2 Samuel without interruption.  The books of 1 and 2 Samuel deal largely with Samuel, the “last judge of Israel” and the two kings that he anoints.  However, we could go ahead and call those two books 1 and 2 Kings in which case this book would be 3 Kings and the next 4 Kings.  Yet the naming is what it is.  What is important is that we understand that this isn’t a new narrative, but rather the continuation of all that has been happening following now from David to Solomon, David’s son.

After some brief family squabbling over the crown, and some interesting internal family politics, the it becomes very clear who it is that the Lord has chosen to be King.  There is some reasoning behind Adonijah’s attempt at the throne, being that he was the second oldest after his deceased brother Absalom.  As we have seen in examples of Monarchy throughout history, the oldest child is often the one to assume the throne after the father dies.  However, this is not historically true for Israel, as we have seen.  Ironically, Saul comes from the tribe of Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob (and smallest tribe of Israel.  David is also the youngest of Jesse’s sons.  Being 0/2 in traditional throne succession, I guess perhaps Adonijah shouldn’t have just assumed anything.

If you are wondering about David’s saying that “Solomon will be king” to Bathsheba, don’t worry… you didn’t miss it.  There is a single reference that “the Lord loved Solomon” in 2 Samuel 12, but apparently this conversation took place off the record of Scripture.

What I found to be of great importance in this passage is David’s charge to Solomon.  There are some things about the people that Solomon is going to need to remove to solidify his reign, and people that he was to protect.  These would have been fairly customary for the day when power was passed within a family.  The important part, as I read it, was the thing David tells Solomon first and foremost:

David's charge to solomon“Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’”

True to Character, even in his final breath, David encourages his Son, the next king to first and foremost “keep the charge of the Lord your God.”  There is no duty for the king greater than this.  There is no duty for the people of Israel greater than this.  It is the first commandment.  It is the purpose of the Shema.  For the people of God, they are to “keep the charge of the Lord your God.”

This is the essence of the Law and the Covenant and David knew it.  He had seen the success and blessing that had come with following the Lord.  He had also seen the destruction and horror of disobedience.  David impresses on his son these words, that Solomon would not lose his way.  He might as well have been repeating the words of Moses saying, “Hear, O Solomon, the Lord your God, the Lord is One.  You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your might…”



Day 94: 2 Samuel 21-22; David's Song of Deliverance

If the whole of David’s life were to be summed up into a single phrase, it would arguably be “God is always Faithful.”  Therefore, if we could sum up David’s song 2 Samuel 22, it would be something akin to “God is Great.  God is always Faithful.  Thanks be to God for His Faithfulness.”  Neither of these summaries do justice to the incredible story that is the story of King David’s life, nor the abundant providential faithfulness that God shows time and again throughout David’s years.  They also don’t do justice to the beautiful song that David has written here.  I hope that these two summaries can give us a starting place for thinking about today’s reading and reflecting on David’s life as he enters into is waning years.

Before we get more into the song though, there are some other things that should be mentioned here.  Our reading starts with a famine in the land due to Saul’s unfaithfulness to a long standing covenant with the Gibeonites.  This agreement goes all the way back to Joshua 9 when Joshua is deceived by a group of people pretending to be from a distant land.  This happened during Joshua’s southern campaign, but this is the first and only time we hear about Saul’s actions.  What is interesting about this, I think, is the direct impact this breach of the covenant has on the land, literally the land of Israel.  David seeks after God and the Lord reveals to him the atrocity that has taken place here.  Sometimes I think that we don’t put much stock in agreements that we make anymore.  We have politicians that promise us the world and deliver next to nothing.  Large companies promise great things while delivering shoddy workmanship.  Everything comes with small print…  I wonder what this world would be like if we saw the outwardly direct impact that these breaches have on the world by way of famine, disease, war, etc?  I certainly wouldn’t wish this on us… but it might get a few people’s attention.

We see some of the signs of David’s aging and frailty in chapter 21.  David is in battle and he grows weary?  This isn’t the mighty warrior that we remember from our readings over the last 2 weeks.  David is aging, yet the Lord remains faithful to him in his twilight years.  Other great warriors rise up to defend Israel against what seems like a whole army of giants that come out of the philistines.  There’s even another one named Goliath.  You’d think they’d of avoided that name after what happened to the last one.  However, no matter what their names or what their size, they are no match for the God of Israel.  We once again see God’s faithfulness in action providing for and defending the people of Israel at every turn.

Finally, let us turn our attention once again to the song of David.  As a worship leader, I often struggle to listen to music, especially Christian music, without wanting to hear the lyrics.  I often focus on things like who is this song about, or who are we singing to, or what are the theological overtones of this song.  I think a lot about music, especially worship music, because of the incredible impact that it can have on our lives and on our beliefs as well.  Sadly, there are many “worship songs” out there that really have much more to do with us, the supposed worshiper, than on God who should be the one who is worshiped.  While this could probably be debated a great deal (and I would love to talk about it more), I want to direct our attention back to that of the song of David here in 2 Samuel 22.

David starts out the song with 11 attributes of God right in a row, praising God for who God is.  He then spends the equivalent of 2 lines talking about his own calling out to the Lord and 4 lines referring to why he called out to the Lord, followed by 34 lines of song about the Lord’s answer.  The song continues much in this fashion, focusing more on who God is and the work of God than on the actions of himself.  For David, whether it be safety from Saul or defeat of his enemies, all these things are works of the Lord, faithfulness of God almighty.  For David, everything begins and ends with God.  There is no middle ground here.  We’ll see this more in the Psalms when we get there.  However, for David, as we see here in the twilight of his life, the Lord’s anointed one is giving all honor, all glory, all praise, and all credit to the only one due it: The God of Israel; the God of His fathers, the Holy One and only True God.  May it be so in our lives as we reflect each day on God’s faithfulness to us as well.



Day 93: 2 Samuel 19-20; The Return of the King

Not surprisingly, the victory of David’s men is overshadowed by the mourning of the King for his son.  Ever have one of those things happen where the right outcome is achieved but perhaps by the wrong means?  Perhaps you were trying to communicate something to someone but in the process ended up hurting another?  Maybe you have someone you know that is like that, someone who can always cast a negative light on a good success?  I don’t know if this relates fully here, but it seems similar.  Sometimes I think I can be that person who casts the negativity… or perhaps sarcasm… on good situations.  Here we see Joab rebuke David for doing just that pointing out the shame and disgrace he places on all those who have fought for him because of his own negativity.  Even though it is the death of his son, there are people that risked their lives to save David, and all he can do is focus on the negative.  Joab swears that every single person that was for David would desert him in one night if he kept it up.  While I’m sure that not many of us have lost our kids in order to retain the throne, I’m sure there have been situations in which disappointment has overshadowed success.  I wouldn’t want to boil this down to a simple moralistic teaching, but Joab does point out the importance of praising those who help, even in the midst of personal sadness or disappointment.

One of the most important points about today’s reading has to be the motif of forgiveness.  David has been usurped, thrown out of his own house and city, forced to live in the wilderness on the edges of his country (the country that he made great mind you), and then attacked by his own people.  He pretty much has every rite in the world to be angry.  Yet at this very pivotal point in the story, David doesn’t sent his victorious men out to find and kill every one of the traitors, which would have been customary to do at that time, but instead forgives… everyone.  This is an interesting way to exact judgment, to consolidate power, and to insure that something like this never happens again.  However, it is totally in character for David.  He has done this to the family of Saul who it would have been customary for him to kill as well.  What’s more, its totally in character for God.  This is what God does, He forgives.  David is, once again, expressing his heart for the Lord, seeking to honor God with his actions.  The only way to bring about peace is not through more bloodshed.  David has shown time and again what it means to follow God, and to keep the Law and the Covenant.  Good leaders lead by example, and that is exactly what David does here.  In the end, most of the people follow him, and those that don’t aren’t put to death by David, or even David’s army, but by their own people.

Joab pursues Sheba to the city of Abel.

Joab pursues Sheba to the city of Abel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Day 92: 2 Samuel 16-18; David in Exile

The narrative of today’s reading tells the story of David’s exile from the city of Jerusalem, the capital and his palace.  As we heard yesterday, Absalom has betrayed king David, as was foretold by the prophet Nathan, and now David is once again on the run from his enemies.  Fortunately for David, he has some experience with this and is in a much better position right now to be able to handle being pursued.  Before, with Saul, David didn’t really have an inside man except for Jonathan, now there are many people with in the city of Jerusalem, and even in Absalom’s own counsel that have vowed to keep David informed of the movements of his enemy.  They even “serve” Absalom and give him bad counsel.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention here as well that this is also another wilderness experience for David.  We talked about this a while back when David was running from Saul, what the imagery of the wilderness often means for the people of Israel.  Well here it is again.  David is forced out of his home and back into the wilderness of life, this time not simply to strip off his old identity, but now to strip him of this new sinful persona that he has acquired.  While this isn’t a major part of what is going on here, it is an important side note to keep in mind.

There are some less than pleasant images that come up in this narrative.  Yesterday we read that David left 10 concubines behind to tend to his house.  Today we read that on the advice of some of his “counselors,” Absalom defiled them all and thus defiled himself as well.  What’s worse, he did it in the sight of all of Israel.  I don’t know if this was a legitimate way for him to consolidate power or if this was bad counsel given to him to put him in bad standing with the Lord, but I would dare say that he accomplished the latter quite a bit more than the former.

Soon after this, Absalom goes after his father David, taking advice from his father’s informant in Absalom’s ranks.  This gives David the upper edge from a human standpoint.  However, as I read this, I couldn’t help but draw some comparisons between David’s exploits with Saul and his current predicament.  While we don’t necessarily read here that David has consulted with the Lord about his movements, the king doesn’t take any action against those that criticize him or even insult him, trusting that whatever comes is from the Lord.

And once again, the Lord is faithful to His servant David, the one with whom He has made a covenant.  All in all, it is likely that David was greatly outnumbered by the massing army of his son Absalom, and yet David’s men score a great victory, which is also a great tragedy for the people of Israel.

Absalom, in his short “reign” over Israel, if you want to call it that, does evil in the eyes of the Lord.  All that followed him were also under than evil.  Today we see first and foremost that God is faithful to the covenant that He has made, and we see both blessings and curses rolled out upon Israel.  David’s men act as an instrument of judgment against those who would seek to dethrone God’s chosen king and follow after one who takes power for himself and defiles others.

In all of this though, even after all the wickedness and difficulty caused by his son Absalom, David still weeps over the death of his son.  I was moved by David’s lament.  I can’t say that I would have lamented anyone, friend or foe, family or stranger, who had betrayed me and tried to kill me.  Yet David loves his son, so much so that even in this great calamity he weeps for his now dead son.  What an example of love this is.

I wonder sometimes if the writer here is trying to draw a parallel between David/Absalom and God/Israel. So often the people of Israel, the so-called “children of God” turn from their Father, the Lord, and betray Him for the gods of the nations around them.  They attempt to replace God’s rule and Law with that of their own, effectively doing in Absalom attempted to do with David.  Every time this happens, God sends judgment against them, often in the form of a great defeat against an enemy, eventually driving them back to God.  I wonder though, if God weeps for His children as they sin against Him and are judged accordingly, even in the midst of all the evil that they have done… I have to believe that a God who is, first and foremost, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness would weep for His children, even when they have turned from Him.



Day 87: 2 Samuel 1-3; Israel in Transition

Today we are in transition.  If 1 Samuel could be called something else, it would likely be labeled “The Book of King Saul.”  That would mean that if we could label 2 Samuel something different, it would would be labeled “The Book of King David.”  We read about Saul’s death, and that of his sons at their own hands, despite the questionably different report from the unfortunate Amalekite who David puts to death for killing the king.  I am not really sure why that man would have given a false report.  Perhaps it was to win favor with the man who would be the King of Israel.  Perhaps he was trying to show that he helped Saul die honorably.  In any case, his report doesn’t sit well with David, who has spared Saul’s life twice, and David has him put to death.

It is interesting to see David’s reaction to Saul’s death.  There is a whole song recorded for us here which David sings to mourn Saul and Jonathan.  I am struck by the depth of the words and the passion that he feels for the death of his king, even after being pursued by Saul all the time that he had been.  He mourns deeply for his enemy and all his men see this and do the same.  After this he also blesses those who went and buried Saul and his sons’ bodied, honoring them with a proper burial rather than let them be left on display by the Philistines.  What an amazing display of love, honor, and respect that David has for “God’s anointed one.”  I can’t say that I would have been that full of grief if a man who had spent the last several years driving me from my home and keeping me on the run, trying his utmost to kill me had died… no matter what his rank or position.  Yet David understands that God appointed him to the throne and respects that despite his hardships.  He continues to trust in the Lord and in God’s perfect timing.

What comes next in today’s narratives is not something that I was ever taught in Sunday School.  To be honest, I didn’t know that there was a long time of transition and civil war in Israel after Saul’s death.  Needless to say, I was intrigued by all that happened here and I am still processing quite  a bit of it.  I wonder… what was your reaction to this civil war?  Did you know about it?  Were you familiar with Abner or Ish-bosheth?  What do you see in these narratives?  Where do you see God in them?  I would love your comments and feedback as I have very little to offer at the moment!

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As I think about this more, later in the morning, I’ve been considering the fact that even in this story we see God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel, His covenant people.  If I were to ask myself where I see God in this story, I would see him providing for, strengthening, and being faithful to both His promise to the people of Israel and to Daivd, God’s anointed one.



Day 86: 1 Samuel 28-31; The End of Saul

As we have talked about in these last few days, the reign of King Saul and the legacy that he leaves behind is not one that I think anyone would want to claim for his own.  He starts of reluctant and humble, thrust into a position of power, but quickly forgets where the true power and authority of his position comes from.  God had made Saul king over Israel and yet at the end of the day, Saul doesn’t remember the ways of the Lord and constantly takes things into his own hands, leading to his rejection and his death as we read today.

The narrative leading up to Saul’s death is unique in that it brings up some interesting perspectives on Saul’s reign and some questions about the nature of the afterlife.  We are told that at sometime in Saul’s reign, all those that practiced different “spiritual arts” were put out of the nation of Israel.  When this happened we cannot say.  To be honest, that would be a gold star in the otherwise beaten and scared record of Saul’s reign.  Yet as he goes into battle for what will be his last time, he again forgets where the true power of the nation of Israel comes from.  After God gives him no answer, which for him should have been a bad sign, he turns to the very evil that he cast out of the land.  What’s worse?  He does it deceitfully!

This short narrative of Saul talking to the spirit of Samuel raises some interesting questions about a great many things.  Afterlife?  Spirits?  Is any of this real?  What are we to do with this?  Unfortunately I don’t have the answers to these questions.  So I have sought the help of several commentaries in order to come up with something to write about here, much of which is very interesting, even if it yields little answers… What we see here, once again, is a a wide array of contrasts between Saul and those around him.  Saul is the anointed king of Israel, given authority to rule by God himself, and living in complete and utter terror, with little confidence in God.  The Witch, or medium which he seeks out performs her craft with a great deal of confidence and the one in which she finds here power, even if it is evil, shows up with little effort at all.

Saul, we read, comes in a disguise which is revealed almost immediately upon his arrival.  “Samuel” also comes with a hood on, and it is clear that Saul never actually realizes his true identity, at least according the Matthew Henry’s commentary.  Henry points out that there is a reference to the medium lady seeing “gods coming out of the ground.”  In that day and age all angles and spiritual messengers would be referred to as “gods” in some way shape or form.  Generally speaking, the “gods” or Angels that came from God were that ones that came from the sky (remember Jacob’s ladder?), where as the “gods” that came from the ground would be more properly understood as demons or evil.  Matthew Henry also points to the facts of Satan as a master of lies who “masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)  Henry goes on to say that all the things that the “false Samuel” or “Satan” says are intended to weaken Saul and drive him to despair which will ultimately lead to Saul’s death.

There are some other view points on exactly what is happening here.  Most agree that this is not the spirit of Samuel that is actually talking to Saul.  If I was to infuse a bit of my own thoughts into this conversation, I would point out that a passage like this is not one meant to explain the nature of the afterlife, but rather is intended, at least on some level, to be a warning to those who would dabble in the darker side of spirituality.  If we learn something from this narrative is that there is an evil side to the spiritual realm and it ultimately leads to ruin and destruction.  Henry points out that there is no way of telling what would have happened here had Saul persevered in seeking after God.  I have to imagine that it would have been better than this outcome though.

In other news, this whole story is juxtaposed with more successes of David as he goes to rescue his family and an entire city from the Amalekites who seem to have taken advantage of the conflict between Israel and the Philistines.  We read that “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”  However this looked, it is clear that, unlike Saul, David seeks first the will of God and once again finds strength in Him.  God has not let him down yet and this is no exception.  David goes after the Amalekites and brings back everything that was lost to them plus all that was taken from other cities, which he returns to them in good faith.  Once again we see the faithfulness of God in the exploits of David, even while living in exile from his homeland, and how God provides protection and even vengeance for the people of Judah through David, the man seeking God in all things.



Day 85: 1 Samuel 25-27; David's Continuing Exploits

Again today we find David out in the wilderness.  He did not return to his home or a normal life after his last brush with Saul even though Saul returned home and stopped hunting him.  Scripture doesn’t tell us why, but does continue to communicate to us the narratives of David’s exploits and God continues to shape and form in in the wilderness of his life.

Interestingly, we see something that is seemingly brash about David in chapter 25.  He sends men to talk to Nabal, which interestingly means “fool” in Hebrew, and is rejected in a rather rude way.  David, apparently, is quite perturbed by this and goes to kill Nabal and all of Nabal’s house for the mistreatment.  One thing I noticed in this narrative is that David doesn’t ask God what to do, but just goes to do it.  Fortunately for David, Abigail is on the scene and, though she knows she has a foolish husband, sets David straight before he does something regrettable.  Her speech to David is very beautiful and it makes David think.  She is clearly speaking the words that God would have told him had he consulted him in the first place.  As has been David’s practice, his ears are open and he recognizes God’s voice even in this woman.  While it is hard to know what would have happened, or even if David was justified in his actions (I think he wasn’t), what we do know is that God dealt with Nabal accordingly in the coming days and David is free from the guilt he might have attained for himself had he actually killed Nabal himself.  In the end, because they listened to the Lord, David is guilt free with an honorable woman to call his wife, and Abigail is no longer joined to a fool but now has a good man as her husband.

We read after this that, for what seems like no reason at all, Saul comes after David again.  As we discussed yesterday, Saul has gotten himself nothing but failure in his pursuit of David while it seems like David has gained everything in his pursuit of God.  Here, again, is no exception to this rule.  Saul is once again given into David’s hands through the work of the Lord and once again David spares his life.  I think it very honorable that David spares Saul’s life, recognizing him as the Lord’s anointed one and the ruler of Israel, even when David knows his true destiny as king-to-be.  I wonder, sometimes, if we should take some cues from David in this regard.  Whether Democrat or Republican, we should honor our public officials, even if we don’t like them.  Romans 13:1 says,

“For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Finally, today we read that David, even after a promise from Saul that no more pursuit will take place, goes and seeks refuge with the Philistines, from which he is given his own city.  Interestingly though, David does not simply sit and do nothing, waiting for Saul to die, but attacks Israel’s enemies while telling one of the philistine kings that he is attacking Israel.  In this, David has been provided with refuge from Saul and is yet still being used by God for the greater good of the people of Israel.  This is yet another example of what we spoke of yesterday in the contrasts between David and Saul.  We see that Saul ultimately fails in his attempt to kill David within his own nation, and David, while seeking the will of God, is given refuge in a foreign land and is being used by God to do great things for the nation that he has been exiled from.  In this we see, once again, that God continues to be faithful to those who seek after him with their whole hearts and follow His Law.

An interesting side-note to all of this:

During this time, the Philistines were the technological superpower of their day.  They had mastered the art of working with Iron, creating stronger and better weapons than the nations around them.  Israel, we read several chapters ago in 1 Samuel 13, really only had plows and pitchforks for weapons, with few (if any) swords among them.  This gave the philistines a very distinct advantage in the region.  As we work our way out of 1 Samuel and into 2 Samuel, you will notice that this advantage seems to disappear.  Many scholars believe that it was in this time, while David lived among the Philistines, that he discovered the secrets of Iron-working, and brought it back to Israel with him and implemented it with his kingship.  This too is a very interesting way in which God used the circumstances of the day to provide in huge ways for His people yet again.