Refresher: The Philistines have gathered for battle against Israel, and the vise is tightening around Saul. God has abandoned him, and he’s desperate for direction from Beyond, so he turns to a witch to call up Samuel from the grave. The dead prophet tells him the game is up; on the next day Saul and his sons will be with him in Sheol. Meanwhile, David has embedded himself with the Philistines and their leader Achish, who assume that the exiled servant of Saul must be reliably on their side against Israel.
Read 1 Samuel 29
o A chapter not without humor.
o V. 3 – David is something of a prize to Achish: as far as Achish knows he’s been practically useful against the Israelites (27:12). And the fact that he was expelled from Saul’s inner circle stamps him with celebrity status. But, as we know, Achish’s pride in David was comletely ill-placed. I wonder how common are these kinds of unwise sources of smugness?
o V. 4 – Achish’s colleagues perceive what he couldn’t: David might very well choose this battle to return to Saul’s good graces by selling out his new Philistine comrades. Sometimes the outsider sees more clearly.
o V. 6 – Why Achish the Philistine invokes Jehovah’s name is anyone’s guess. But whatever the answer to that question is, it is clear that David has Achish hoodwinked. Is this a radical example of “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7)?
o VV. 7-11 – We don’t know David’s intention were he actually to face Saul/Israel in battle, because God stepped in and prevented that gnarly scenario. There’s a lot that’s left up to us to decide, almost too much, and it can be a relief when decisions are taken out of our hands. God’s shepherding doesn’t rely on any single agency or source of supply… and that’s a good thing.
Read 1 Samuel 30: 1-15
o V. 4 – The old or middle eastern mode of grieving strikes me as a lot healthier than our current private and repressed practice. Sometimes the “stiff upper lip” is more manly than wise.
o V. 6 – The leader carries his own private pain plus the disappointment and grief of his people. In the soldiers’ extreme ferocity against David, one is shocked by their sudden turn – the winds of popularity can shift in an instant! The complaint against David might have been thus: David agreed to march with Achish against Israel only so he could extend his private feud with Saul…and in doing so showed he didn’t care much about those he left behind in Ziklag.
o V.6b – “Strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” - What a phrase! When you are in a minority, when many have turned against you, there is spiritual and emotional recourse in God. Fellowship with God grounds and heartens you. There’s an old quote that says something like: “God + one make a majority.” Can you think of any passages of Psalms that convey the psalmist strengthening himself in God?
o V. 7 -Compare this reaction of David’s to his in 25:13. Is he learning some lessons as time goes on? And here you could imagine that every second of delay felt like an hour. Consulting God before the action is taken can feel extraneous, but it’s not wasted time.
o V. 10 – Remember this detail, because it will come up later.
o VV. 11-15 – What a stroke of luck to find this Egyptian out in the open country who could direct them to the enemy and their loved ones!... Ok, not luck. Can you think of other biblical examples of being guided by a random stranger who one “happens” to come across? Point being: God finds a way to lead his people. If God is your God, and you’re not being led… stay where you are! When He’s ready for you to move you’ll know it.
Read 1 Samuel 30: 16-31
o VV. 18, 19 – You didn’t miss the fact that David et al ended up with more than with what they started? This increase matches a pattern easy to discern throughout the Scripture.
o V. 22 – And a “wicked and worthless fellow” you might be if you’re also one who wants to vaunt his [moral/ physical/ etc] superiority while dissing those who showed some weakness at a pivotal moment. Be generous in your spirit, and learn to take people as they come.
o V. 22 – “Because they did not go with us” – making your behavior the standard for others is an old mistake. “And depart…” Where exactly were they supposed to depart to? And the answer always is a version of: ‘Just stay away from us, the strong and accomplished ones who showed up for battle when it was time. You weaklings just get on our nerves.’ Don’t think like that.
o V. 23, 24 – David is like David’ Son and Lord: “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” (Isaiah 42:3) – And those qualities belong together: some of justice involves dealing gently with those who are weak and tired.
o V. 24 – “Who would listen to you in this matter” – David’s little taunt puts them in their place.
o V. 24, 25 – This episode is the basis for a new statute in Israel. What applications can you think for this statute/ proverb/ principle?
o VV. 26ff – Proverbs 17:8. Proverbs 18:16.
Read 1 Samuel 31
o Chapters like this make the discerning bible reader recall passages such as Deuteronomy 28:25. Point: It didn’t have to be this way. This is not a chance defeat. There is a theological meaning behind the events in the lives of the people of God.
o V. 4 – The respect that is afforded Saul through his reign and all the way up to his death is impressive. Can we learn something from this example about how we think/talk about our political leaders? Take your signals for dealing with authority from passages like this and Jude 8, not Twitter!
o V. 6 – Given his spotlighted role earlier in the book, interesting that Jonathan’s death isn’t singled out from Saul’s other sons. But the terseness fits with the narrative style of the Scripture: sentimentality not encouraged.
o V. 6 – The sad finale of a life’s sad last segment. I’m sure that Saul sometimes wished he would have never been selected as king.
o V. 8 – Saul and his sons die on the same mountain. We all see this as a great tragedy. But I wonder if there are other fathers, like I, who also discern here a sliver of severe mercy? At Endor, Saul had seemed lost and very alone. But now, at the end, fighting with three sons at his side… not alone.
o V. 12 – It’s just a corpse – who cares what happens to it? Answer: valiant men.
Read 2 Samuel 1: 1-16
o V. 6 – Why does the man decide to embellish the story and place himself into it? Because he’s human. Oh, the dangerous lure of wanting to come off as important. I often think of the Russian proverb: “The tall grass gets mown.”
o V. 11 – David is a special man. How many months has Saul made his life miserable? But for David, that’s not the important thing now. Although I don’t think the thought impelled David’s reaction, we should notice that his display of grief is politically astute.
o V. 14 – The conversation takes a turn the Amalekite wasn’t expecting. “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
Read 2 Samuel 1: 17-27
o V. 20 – Gath and Ashkelon are two of the five main cities of the Philistines. Don’t let the enemy have the satisfaction of hearing they had killed Saul, says David. This kind of reasoning is oft times used as an argument in prayer.
o V.21 – The place of Saul’s death is cursed. The OT, and the NT, care about place… and presence. Concerned with: Where do people live? Where do people die? Where are they buried?
o V. 23 – If your nose doesn’t smart and your eyes don’t get a little moist in reading this verse…. well, read it again! A noble soul ennobles the ignoble.
o V. 26 – “Surpassing the love of women” – partly reflecting our culture, some commentators read homosexuality into this expression. Silly. David says that he found in Jonathan a fellowship and friendship and conviviality and meeting of hearts that he hadn’t found in any women. That’s all (and that’s a lot). Maybe this verse prompts you to ask God for the high blessing of a good friend.
o V. 27 – Even though through Saul the might and weapons of war had lately been trained against him, David still marks and laments their passing. I want to admire my enemies’ attributes like David does his.
Read 2 Samuel 2: 1- 11
o V. 1 – First, David asks for general direction; afterwards he seeks specifics. Hebron, south of Jerusalem, is his first capital.
o V. 4 – David was God’s selection to be anointed as king a while ago. But as we’ve discovered, his road from anointing to inauguration as king of Israel was long and difficult. Windy too. Here David becomes king of one of the tribes, his tribe, but at this point the rest of the tribes still don’t call him their leader. Lesson for us: Most of the time, God’s plan develops ssslllllooowwwllllyyy.
o V. 4 David reaches out to Jabesh-gilead when he learns it was they who had troubled themselves to give Saul a proper burial. The valiant man seeks common ground with other “valiant men” (1 Samuel 31:12) “be they ever so vile.”
o VV. 8-11 – With every step of progress toward the promise of his kingship, David encounters new opposition. And it’s not necessarily passing trouble. Look at those time references: “Two years” Ish-bosheth is king (not David). “Seven years and six months” David has to be content with ‘just’ Hebron. ! Wait on the Lord, friends. The wait might be long, but in the end you’ll see that it was worth the trial of patience.