Refresher: David is running from Saul who’s becoming increasingly unhinged. While he’s in the wilderness close to the Dead Sea, David asks Nabal, a nearby great man, to return a past favor and send food his way so that his men can celebrate a feast. When Nabal sends an insulting refusal, there’s no hesitation: ‘And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!”’
Read 1 Samuel 25: 14-31
o V. 14ff – Abigail is quite the woman. She’s a wise woman who understands justice. Proverbs 27: 10a – “Do not forsake your friend or your father’s friend.” There’s no question in her mind that Nabal should have acquiesced to David. If someone in the past has done good to you or your family, you have good reason to repay him when the moment allows. Don’t turn your back on him. Don’t refuse help in his moment of need. Repay old debts. Though her doltish husband felt no obligation, Abigail feels the force of this basic principle of justice.
o V. 17 – “…that one cannot speak to him.” You’re in bad shape if you can’t be approached with a question or rebuke, if you’re not willing to reconsider a decision, if you have to be right every time. And it’s fine to change your mind! “Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”
o V.19 – Why does Abigail send the young men ahead of her? Do you think the food accompanied them or her? Whatever the answer, the point is she’s putting some thought into the presentation. Trust in God doesn’t preclude some artfulness.
o VV. 21,22 – If we didn’t get the point in v. 13, the narrator stresses that David isn’t intending just a tongue-lashing. He’s a man of war, out for blood. He might have said what the character Charley Waite said in Open Range – “Men are gonna get killed here today, Sue, and I’m gonna kill ‘em.”
o VV. 23ff – Go ahead and count how many times Abigail refers to the Lord in her little speech to David. How did she know? How could she possibly have discerned that, at his depths, what moved David most was the blessing of God? Very simply, Abigail’s move is to remind David of His Lord. Even the most God-loyal of persons can get into frenzies when he/she needs such reminders.
Read 1 Samuel 25: 32-43
o V. 32 – Abigail reminds David of the Lord. So David is reminded of the Lord, and gives Him thanks for her intervention. Such are the influences of a good partnership. If you have a spouse that turns your attention onto the Lord, well, you’re doing pretty well!
o V.33 – One result of Abigail’s intervention is that she kept David “from working salvation with my own hand.” Earlier, Abigail had warned David of just that (v.31). It’s an interesting phrase that points to an age-old question: what is for us to do (initiative)? and what should we leave in God’s hands? One thing is for sure: there are some things that should be left to God. Are you trying to make something happen that would be better left to God?
o V.34 – David refers to her “hurry” (v.18) as being crucial in stopping him from doing something he’d later regret. Back to the previous matter about ours and God’s action: there are some things for us to do that aren’t spelled out. And sometimes haste is required. Stay alert, my friends.
o V. 37 – Why do you think Nabal respond so profoundly to Abigail’s account?
Read 1 Samuel 26: 1-12
o V. – Back in the day, Jewish people regularly used questions in lieu of a declarative sentence. Don’t know if this charming peculiarity is still in use today, but let me ask you: what is its effect?
o VV. 1-5 – David is still on the run from Saul, but now one has the feeling that David has his feet squarely underneath him and is in control of the situation from the minute Saul arrives on the scene. Even in a tenuous situation, competence can be acquired. Progress doesn’t require great conditions.
o V. 8 – Reminder: just because God’s name is invoked by a good man doesn’t mean He’s behind what is being suggested!
o VV. 9ff – Here the second time that David spares Saul. A modern mistake would be to reckon from this that David must have had some compunction about killing in general. But check in with 25:13, 22 and recall that David was quintessentially a man of war. It wasn’t a weak stomach that stopped David.
o VV. 9ff - David’s forbearance becomes more impressive when you recall some time has passed since David first spared Saul. It’s easy to do the noble thing once…and then later regret missed opportunities. But David is a man of principle and keeps making the hard choice. V. 10 suggests that he thought it possible that Saul would be alive for quite a bit longer, and so his flight will continue indefinitely. Nevertheless…
o V. 12 – Just a detail: God can give deep sleep when He chooses. As my son Kai is currently out in the field with very limited rest, my constant prayer is that God will give Him deep sleep when rest is possible.
Read 1 Samuel 26: 13--25
o VV. 14-16 – Interesting that David’s opening sally is directed at Abner. Does this bespeak an old rivalry from David’s days at court? Is David indirectly intimidating Saul by pointing out that his best allies are unreliable? Or is this simply one warrior holding another in contempt?
o V. 19b – David’s entire speech to Saul is interesting, particularly the latter half of v. 19. The men who have turned Saul against David [here David is hypothesizing: in reality Saul’s bitterness needed no tending outside of himself] have pushed David to abandon God. The thought seems to be, since David is forced to flee the land of promise, he will be tempted to worship the gods (supposedly) holding sway over that foreign soil. Reminder: Place and presence are big ideas in the Old Testament. And the New.
o V. 21 – Caught up in the moment and filled with remorse, Saul implores David to “return.” Funny thing, though, David and even the narrator of this event allow that plea to fall to the ground without comment. Fact: No one believes Saul anymore. He’s not capable of sustaining any frame of mind for any length of time. “The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
Read 1 Samuel 27
A short passage, more time for you to put a crease in your jeans and dab some polish on your best shoes.
o V. 1- Between this chapter and the last there seems to be a break in David’s psyche. Maybe we saw a hint of the despondency in 26:19? It reminds me of Elijah hacking prophets of Baal only to then turn around and dispiritedly run from Jezebel. Here’s my application, brothers and sisters. Prolonged stress is a @*!*#!, and we should give people a break when we see them at low points.
o VV. 1ff – Assuming this is the same Achish of 21: 10ff, his reception of David is surprising. Perhaps now David - + 600 men – presents himself not as a refugee but something like a junior partner?
o VV. 8ff – Question is, as David is avoiding Saul over these 16 months, why does he fill his time with raiding, killing, and looting? Well, the peoples David attacks are the old inhabitants of the land and staunch enemies of Israel. So there’s some patriotism involved. Also, meanwhile David is acquiring great wealth. At the risk of sounding insipid, an application for us: No matter how confusing your situation gets, there are always baddies to be gotten rid of and goodies to acquire. Or to use the loftier language of Colossians: It’s always a good time to “put off” and “put on.”
Read 1 Samuel 28: 1-11
o V. 2 – David can be cagey when he chooses!
o V.2 – The indignities that David endured, including here being patronized by Achish! God brings his people through this kind of humbling.
o V. 4- We’re pretty far north here, close to Galilee.
o V. 6 – A chilling verse. God has left Saul. And in extremis, Saul still can’t find God. There’s a verse in Isaiah that should be mulled over: “Seek the Lord while he may be found.” Have mercy on us, O God, so that we use the time we have.
o V. 7 – Humans are religious, longing for some contact with, comfort from, wisdom from the invisible realm.
o V. 10 – Saul’s oath “by the LORD” to the illegal necromancer before she summons the dead points to how confusing things can get when one turns away from God. “The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
Read 1 Samuel 28: 12-25
o V. 12 – It seems that the woman is surprised she was able to pull off an actual séance. Not sure why Samuel’s appearance clues her into Saul’s identity. Maybe Samuel called to him when he saw him?
o V. 15 – “Disturbed me” – the faithful dead rest from their labors. Our brothers and sisters who’ve gone before us would be just as annoyed as Samuel if they were forced to return to our realm.
o V. 18 – Even though Saul’s turning away from God wasn’t precipitous and was rather a gradual decline, there was a decisive moment when God cast him off.
o VV. 16ff – Samuel was no guarantee of cheerful news when he was alive. If anything, seeing the other side has made him more brutally honest. But I guess that’s what we want from our prophets, eh?
o V. 20 – Was Saul fasting in preparation for the séance? Or is he so overwrought that he’s lost his appetite? In either case, he’s in shambles. It’s ok to feel sorry for him.
o VV. 21ff – Why does the narrator take the time to tell of this meal that Saul is urged into eating? One possibility is – as if we needed the lesson – the readers are being taught again how backwards and twisted everything is. The king of Israel is the object of an illegal necromancer’s (and a woman at that [cultural point I promise!]) pity. In jealousy, the king has driven his best servant from his table; now he receives a compassionate meal from a dabbler in darkness who wishes he had never come. Sin is a monster: “If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you…”