April 21, 2015.
Daily Reading: I Samuel 26-31.
Background: I Samuel 21-25.
Concepts and Connections.
Integrity, tested a second time: Just as we say in chapter 24, Saul is given into David’s hand here a second time, and a second time his men encourage him to kill Saul. This is even after David has reasoned with Saul, and Saul has turned away from pursuing him. The text makes it clear that a deep sleep had fallen on Saul and his men from the Lord, so that they would not wake up when David came near. It would seem like everything was lining up to give David a good reason to kill Saul. However, integrity is a thing that defines a person, not necessarily something that easily comes and goes (though it can do so over longer periods of time), and just as David’s integrity held up during the previous encounter with Saul, so it would during this encounter. This time, David takes Saul’s spear and jar of water, and then puts distance between him and Saul’s men before he calls back to them. However, instead of speaking directly to Saul like he did last time, this time he talks to Abner, the commander of Saul’s army, to reprimand him for not adequately protecting Saul, the Lord’s anointed. He had gone to sleep, leaving Saul unprotected from any danger that might slip up on them, just as David and Abishai did. However, David was not willing to lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed. David again reasons with Saul, and this time Saul would turn back and not pursue David again, though it might not be out of integrity on his own part.
Rapport: It is interesting that David still didn’t believe that Saul was done pursuing him, and thus chooses to go into the land of the Philistines, despite of his encounter with Goliath (see I Samuel 17), so that Saul would no longer chase after him. Once he was in Gath, he started to build rapport with the people there, so much so that he was able to go to Achish, the king of Gath, and ask for a territory for him and his men to dwell in since they had found favor in his sight. Achish gave David the land of Ziklag, and David would make raids on some of the surrounding areas. It is interesting, however, that David would lie to Achish about which people he would make raids upon, making the king believe that he was fighting against Judah, in order to make it seem like he had completely abandoned and cut ties with his own people. The people he would raid, however, were not Israelites, for David would not lift his hand against his own people. This indeed built his trust in the sight of Achish, and he gained more and more favor with him.
The witch of En-dor: As the Philistines (including David and his men) gathered their troops together to do battle with Israel, Saul was greatly afraid, for he knew that the Lord was no longer with Him, and He would not answer him though any means. In times past, even when Saul was in the wrong, he still had Samuel there who could be a liaison between him and God. But now Samuel was dead, and Saul had no way to receive an answer from the Lord. Thus, he turned to drastic measures, and went to a medium to call up Samuel from the dead that he might get an answer. It is interesting to note the reaction of the witch as soon as she sees Samuel, which may imply that she was not actually expecting for Samuel to come up though her arts. Regardless, Samuel does return from the dead to talk with Saul, but he does not have good news for him. Instead of telling him what he should do about the Philistines, or what he should do to once again inquire of the Lord, he gives him a message that says that both he and his sons will be dead tomorrow and the kingdom would be given into the hands of David, just as the Lord had said (see I Samuel 15:28). This was due to Saul’s disobedience to the word of God. After Samuel left, Saul was greatly distressed, so much so that he had to be strongly coaxed into eating. The Lord was about to bring about the punishment that was due Saul, and there was nothing that he could do about it.
Providence: As the Philistines gathered their troops together to do battle against Israel, the commanders of the Philistines came to Achish with a problem they had with David being with them in battle. They did not trust David like Achish did, especially since he was going to be fighting against his own people. They thought surly he would turn in the middle of the war and become an advisory to them. Achish tried to defend David, for he had built great trust with Achish, but the commanders would not have it. Finally, Achish goes to David and tells him he cannot go into battle with the Philistines. When David tries to protest, Achish tells him that the commanders of the Philistines simply won’t allow it. Though David is prepared to go into battle with them and fight against Israel it seems, the Lord though His providence provides a way where David would not have to fight against his own people, all while still finding favor in the eyes of Achish. This is important to show that God works in various ways to provide for and deliver His people. Knowing this, we trust in Him.
Capture and rescue: In an interesting interlude between the major acts that are playing here at the end of I Samuel, David encounters a problem as he returns from assembling with Achish to do battle against Israel. He and his men come back to find their dwelling place burnt and their wives and children captured. We see the humanity of David and his men as they weep extensively. Notice what David does next, however. He turns to the Lord, just as he has in all his trials. He inquires of the Lord whether or not he should go after this band of raiders who took their families, and the Lord answers yes, for he will rescue them. Four hundred of his men go with him to pursue the Amlekite band, and the Lord yet again proves a way for them to find the band through His providence, as they find n Egyptian that had been abandoned by his band because he was sick. This Egyptian agrees to lead David and his men to the Amlekites who raided David’s camp, and they surly overtook them and defeated them with a mighty blow, rescuing all of their wives and children. When they returned with the spoil, some of David’s men did not want to give part of it to the men who stayed behind with the baggage. However, David made it a precedent that the spoil would be divided against the whole army, not just the men who went out to war, when an enemy was defeated, once again showing his integrity. David was certainly not stingy with his spoil, as he even sent part of it to the elders of Judah, for all the places in which David had roamed. It seems that David was a very grateful man.
The death of Saul: As the book of I Samuel comes to a close, we read the story of the death of Saul and his sons. Saul’s sons, Jonathan, Abinadab and Malchi-shua were all struck down by the Philistines before Saul was wounded by the archers. Once he realized that he was mortally wounded, Saul tried to get his armor bearer to kill him, so that it could not be said that he was killed by the uncircumcised Philistines, but his armor bearer would not do it. Thus, Saul fell on his own sword and committed suicide, an action in which his armor bearer would follow. Israel was scattered before the Philistines when they saw that Saul and his sons were dead. When the Philistines found the body of Saul, they made a spectacle of his body. However, mighty men from Jabesh-gilead went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons from the Philistines and burned them in Jabesh. David would later praise these men for showing such loyalty to Saul in preforming this act (see II Samuel 2:4-7).
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 45-47.
Be strong and courageous.