Fellowship is an essential part of the Christian life. It is a joy to come together with other believers who love Jesus as much as we do. Recently, I found one such group on Facebook: Titus Women’s Gathering. It is a lovely group of women devoted to serving God and His people. In an effort to help each other read, understand, and be able to discuss the Bible better, group administrators facilitate the ministry “Revel in His Word.” In it, a few different bloggers talk through chapters of the Bible and then members can discuss in the comments, supporting each other in understanding and application. This is where I will place my contributions and links to other bloggers’ pieces.
Start at the bottom to read blogs starting with 1 Samuel 1. Feel free to comment here, visit other links, and share as you feel led. Thank you for joining us!
Blogging Through 1 Samuel 27-28
1 Samuel 27
Lack of Faith Hits Hard
The devil is a liar. At the end of Chapter 26, after everything David had been through with Saul, he actually appears to get through to him. Saul admits he was wrong to seek David’s life and acknowledges the great love in David’s heart for sparing his own life yet again. He even promises not to attack him again. But Saul has said that before, so despite what looks to be a breakthrough, David is all of a sudden hit with an amazing amount of frustration and lack of faith. He basically says, “I guess Saul is going to kill me someday if I can’t get away. I better run to the land of the Philistines again. There’s no way he can get me there.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I totally relate here. How many times does the devil come and weary us again and again. Instead of having faith and standing on God’s promises, we just throw our hands up, “I guess this is it for me!” Never mind that David was anointed king. Never mind that God is faithful and doesn’t make idle promises. David decides to take matters into his own hands like we ourselves can do.
So David hits the road again. By this time, he has around 600 followers including his two wives. He visits King Achish again and asks for a nice little place in the country out of the king’s hair. The king obliges, and David is there over a year with his people.
You Have Time to Lean, You Have Time to Clean
During that time, David runs several operations for the king. He is attacking people groups in between Israel and the Philistines, looting them and bringing back goods for the king. Now, David is wiping out indigenous groups that were left over from when the Israelites took over the lands. He’s cleaning up loose ends for Israel while simultaneously lying to King Achish that he is attacking the Israelites themselves. Oh, and he isn’t leaving anyone alive to say any different. Achish thinks David is making himself an enemy of Israel and will be his personal servant forever, but David is just biding his time.
1 Samuel 28
Lies of Commission and Omission
Chapter 28 opens with the Philistines preparing to attack Israel. King Achish calls his top warrior to his side and basically says to David, “You and me, buddy. We got this!” David is all vague, “Well, you know what I can do!” The king promises to make him his top guy forever, and the scene cuts abruptly over to Saul.
Desperate Times and Demonic Measures.
Saul is watching the Philistine army stack up and is getting nervous. His own troops don’t look like they could match them, and his calls to God keep rolling over to voice mail. God isn’t answering with dreams or through the prophets, so Saul decides to try Plan B. If God isn’t answering, let’s try the devil.
So Saul searches the land for a witch, and he finds one in the town of En Dor. She already has a familiar spirit, so he asks her to do a seance to call up another spirit from the land of the dead. She’s a little nervous, though, because the OLD Saul had outlawed divination. She could get in big trouble if she were caught. In a huge double shot of both dramatic and situational irony, Saul swears to God that she won’t get in trouble for doing it. Really, Saul?
Now, here is where scholars disagree. Did God allow the real Samuel to come up out of the earth in a one-time deal just to deliver the news of Saul’s death? Or, was the witch just seeing a demonic apparition? In any case, the figure wears the mantle of a prophet and lets Saul know that he’s not too happy with being bothered just now. Saul says he’s desperate. God isn’t answering, the Philistines are about to attack, and he needs some advice. Here Saul is in a great deal of denial. Instead of realizing the seriousness of what he has done in turning to the occult, he is still trying to go back to the good old days when God was with him and Samuel was always right there to help him out.
Then “Samuel” delivers a triple punch to the gut. He reminds Saul that his kingdom has been removed from him and given to David for Saul’s own disobedience. He informs him that the Philistines will indeed attack and prevail over Israel, and he tells him that Saul and his sons will die the next day. All of this is too much for Saul. He is weak from having fasted all day and night, and he falls down.
The witch and Saul’s servants convince him to eat something before he leaves to face his last day on earth. The thing that strikes me here is that the witch seems to have a heart for Saul. She kills her own calf and cooks up a good meal for the guy before he leaves. This goes to show that even people who are into the occult can do good things in the natural. It’s really sad when you think of the futility of these two characters’ lives as they share this last meal. What is a comfort to them is a poignant reminder to the reader of how pointless it all is in the face of an eternity without God.
Dear God, please forgive us when we allow frustration to get to us. We know the devil’s attacks are nothing in the face of the promises you have given us in your Word. Help us to wait on your timing instead of trying to take matters into our own hands Help us to do things your way and remain in submission to you. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Samuel 25-26.
Join Tammy SD from Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 23-24.
Blogging Through 1 Samuel 21-22
1 Samuel 21
Lies and Supplies
On the run and out of options, David turns to the priest Ahimelech at Nob for help. Samuel the prophet couldn’t protect David from the murderous king Saul, nor could his best friend Jonathan, the prince. Escape seemed his only choice, but for that he would need supplies. The priest is surprised to see him there by himself, but David quickly makes up a story about a secret mission for the king. Now the reader knows this is a lie, but Ahimelech totally believes it. David then tells him that he needs bread and weapons for his trip, stat.
The priest would love to help, but there is only one problem. The only available bread was the showbread that was holy. Ahimelech had just that day pulled the old bread from the table before Lord and replaced it with fresh, so the older bread was free to be used for the priests and their families. David assures the priest that he and his men have kept themselves from women and are holy vessels. He had a real need for bread at that moment, and the priest gave it to him. Later, in Mark 2:23-28, we see Jesus telling this exact story to the Pharisees who were complaining about His disciples gleaning grain on the Sabbath. In both cases, hungry people trumped ritual observance. By telling that story, Jesus basically affirmed that Ahimelech did the right thing, and the Pharisees should just simmer down.
As for weapons, the priest says there is only one in the house. It is the very weapon that David took from Goliath the giant. It is quite the mighty sword, and David is pumped. It is interesting here to note that the whole reason that the priest had it was because David must have donated it after his battle. He gave the prize to the Lord for His glory, and in his time of need, God gave it back to him. That must have been some encouragement for David at that moment, and isn’t that just what God does for us? When we need a little reminder that He is there, He always finds a way to show us.
Foreshadowing and Something Weird
One bit of foreshadowing here before David leaves is a seemingly random mention of Doeg the Edomite. He is a chief herdsman who “belonged to Saul” who happened to be there that day and saw the whole thing. Not good.
The next section is kind of weird. David and his small band of men flee to Gath for safety. Now, Gath is the city where the Philistine Goliath came from. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? But before he even gets a chance to ask for protection, the king’s men recognize him, saying,
Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?”1 Samuel 21:11
David gets all freaked out that they might take him for an enemy. He pretends to be crazy, scratching on doors and drooling. The king, possibly to protect David from his own people, goes along with the act and disgustedly sends him away. David is then able to flee again, this time to the cave of Adullam.
1 Samuel 22
An Army Builds
While David and his men are in the cave, his brothers hear that he is there and go to join him. But they aren’t alone. In all, David picks up about four hundred men. Men who were in distress, in debt, or discontented came to him, and he became their captain. They may not have been the strongest or the best, but God would use them for His glory just like He does today.
The next order of business was for David to get his parents safely tucked away in Mizpah with the King of Moab for protection. There, the prophet Gad gives him advice to head on over to Judah.
Flip to Saul
Narration then switches to Saul, and we find him under a tamarisk tree in Ramah. He has his spear in his hand, and he appears to be trying to drum up some support. “Hear now, you Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds? (like I will, he seems to say)” How come nobody told me that my son was in league with him? Is everybody against me?
Here’s where that earlier foreshadowing pops up. Doeg the Edomite who was there the day David got the bread and sword of Goliath tattles on Ahimelech the priest. He tells Saul that the priest gave David the provisions and even “inquired of the Lord for him.” So Saul calls Ahimelech and all the other priests of Nob to him and asks about it. Ahimelech tells the truth but also mentions that he really had no idea anything was amiss since David had always been such a faithful servant to Saul in the past (knife to the heart for Saul here).
A Grisly Murder and Another Escape
The king tells his servants to murder the priests because they sided with David and didn’t even tell Saul he was there, but the servants were like, “Kill priests? No thanks.” Their refusal should have clued Saul into the idea that this was NOT the right thing to do, but Saul was too far gone at this point. He turns to Doeg the Edomite and orders the hit. Doeg swivels and kills 85 priests plus men, women, children, nursing infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep in Nob. Rage much?
One of Ahimelech’s sons named Abiathar escapes and runs to tell David. It was David’s lie that put the priests in danger, and David realizes it and regrets it. Sin has consequences now, and it did back then too. If he had just been honest with the priest, they might have been protected from Saul’s wrath. Too late to save the rest, David adopts Abiathar into his group and vows to watch out for him.
Dear God, we come to you in our weakness but with willing hearts. Please use us for your glory. Keep us from sin that has consequences for ourselves and others even when we are sorry. Please watch out for us as our loving Father and encourage our hearts. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Samuel 19-20.
Blogging Through 1 Samuel 15-16
1 Samuel 15
Have you ever found yourself in a position of being unsure of what the Lord would have you to do in a certain situation? Nothing is black and white, just lots of shades of grey? Well, as we enter Chapter 15, we see that Saul is NOT in this position. God, through Samuel, tells him exactly what to do without leaving even a hint of doubt:
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”1 Samuel 15:3
Sounds clear, right? The Amalekites have a nasty, violent history with Israel, but what’s even more, their doom had already been prophesied in Deuteronomy 25:18. They are slated to be destroyed, their remembrance “blotted out.” Saul was supposed to kill everything.
But that’s not what Saul did. Saul killed everything – except their King Agag, and the very best of the sheep, and the very best of the oxen, and the very best of the fatlings, and the very best of the lambs…oh, and anything else that was good. He kept all that.
Now, his reasoning seemed sound enough in his own mind. He kept them as a sacrifice unto the Lord. See, Saul didn’t take God at His word. Killing the commoners and the second-rate livestock was no problem, but he refused to destroy the things that he perceived as having value. (Why throw all this great stuff away when we can use it as a sacrifice to God?) He thought he knew best in the situation, just like in Chapter 13 when he refused to wait for Samuel to make the sacrifices. Saul refused to submit to the Lord his God.
That makes me think of another verse…”There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
But the worst part here is that Saul didn’t even realize what he had done. Samuel greeted him the next day, and Saul was all like, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” Wow. And the rest of that conversation is just as cringeworthy for anyone with a hint of the fear of God. Saul THOUGHT he was doing the right thing even in his disobedience. It took several, several paragraphs for Samuel to drill down into the situation deep enough for Saul to realize that he had really messed things up again.
Then Samuel gives the theme of the chapter for you and me: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” When we know what the Lord wants from us, we have to give it to Him. We can’t hold things back, using even “good things” as an excuse. We must obey God in all situations where we know or even think we know what He wants us to do. If we don’t, we are in sin which erases anything good that could have possibly come out of it.
Saul Loses His Crown
Then Samuel delivers the kill shot to Saul, “Because thou has rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” (See picture above.)
NOW Saul is sorry. As soon as he realized that God was not playing, he apologizes and tries to get Samuel to act all natural. Samuel turns from him, Saul grabs on, and his mantle is torn in two. Now, as we all know, things that happen in the natural are often symbolic for the spiritual realm. When the mantle, a symbol of the power of Samuel’s office as prophet, is “rent” or torn, Samuel says “The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, that is better than thou.” Oh, snap.
In the last scene, we see Samuel, zealous for the Lord, makes sushi of King Agag before returning to his house, never to see Saul again until the day of his death. Samuel feels bad for Saul, and the Lord repents that he had ever chosen Saul as King.
1 Samuel 16
There is a small break in time, and Chapter 16 opens with the Lord asking Samuel just how long he is planning to mourn for Saul. God wasn’t going to change His mind about this. In fact, He had already chosen the next king of Israel. Samuel needed to get up, splash some water on his face, and get moving. Oh, and just so Saul doesn’t get suspicious, Samuel was to take a heifer with him and say he was going to make a sacrifice to the Lord.
Samuel is sent to Bethlehem to see a man named Jesse. Everybody there is kind of freaking out that a man of Samuel’s power would show up on their doorstep, but he tells them to relax. He just want to make a sacrifice to God there, and oh, by the way, could you send Jesse and his eight sons on over to the sacrifice too?
Now, if you will remember the last time Samuel was sent to anoint a king, he was looking for the tallest hunk of a guy around. This time, God doesn’t want the ideal candidate by man’s standards. Instead, God wants a man after His own heart. So God tells Samuel to ask Jesse’s eight sons to pass by him, and He would let him know which one He had chosen. Well, seven sons go by with a firm “no” from God despite how perfect some of them seem to be in the natural. Finally, Samuel has to ask if there are any more sons because Jesse didn’t even think to call David in from the field.
David is Anointed King
Youngest of the sons, healthy and good looking, David is a keeper of the sheep. As soon as he comes near Samuel, God gives the green light. Again, Samuel anoints a king, pouring oil on his head right in front of everybody. David receives the Holy Spirit, and Samuel goes back home.
Saul, for his part is in bad shape now. The Spirit of the Lord has gone out from him, and an evil spirit comes to give him grief. Some of Saul’s servants suggest that he get someone to play some soothing music for him, and they know just the guy: David. We see God’s hand here in a big way as this little shepherd is called out of the fields and into the house of the king. Jesse sends David with some gifts for the king, and David gets a trial run. He works out great. Every time the evil spirits come, David plays some harp music, the evil spirits flee, and Saul is refreshed.
What is amazing to me about this last part here is how David the shepherd just happens to play the harp really well. Not only that, he just happened to have played that harp for some people who are in position to recommend a good harpist to a king in need. When we think about our own lives and the skills we pick up over the years, often times if we look closely, God has used or is using some of those skills we have picked up along the way to get us right into position to be used for His glory.
Dear God, please help us to always obey you and never think to ourselves that we know better than You do. You are God, and we are not. Let us submit to you with an open heart and seek to do your will rather than our own. We know that all things work to the good for those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose. Use our skills and talents to put us in the position to be used by you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Samuel 13-14.
Join Tammy SD from Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 11-12.
Blogging Through 1 Samuel 9-10
1 Samuel 9
Sometimes we ask for things that are bad for us, and God gives them to us. That seems to be a big theme of 1 Samuel 9-10. If you will remember, in in the previous chapter, despite everything God had done for them as their leader in the past, the people of Israel were not happy with God’s system of judges. Instead, they wanted an earthly king just like the neighboring cities. So God gave them exactly what they asked for.
The king God had all picked out was a tall, dark, and handsome man name Saul. He LOOKED like the perfect king. He came from a good family, and he was physically imposing. He was just what Israel ordered. Since he was from the tribe of Benjamin, though, it took some doing to get him from the city where he lived to the city where Samuel the prophet was in order to anoint him as king.
That leads us to another theme in these chapters: God is in control even when we don’t realize it. In this case, it took some lost donkeys to get Saul out of his house and onto the road for a search…right up to Samuel’s door. Saul and his servant looked for a long time for those donkeys before just about giving up. Then the servant realized that they had just entered a city where Samuel the prophet “just happened” to be visiting at the time. Prophets know things, right? They should ask the prophet for help.
Long story short, a very “fortuitous” meeting on the road got them right into the presence of Samuel himself. He invited them to dinner, gave Saul the best seat in the house with the best dinner portion, and told him he was about be the new king.
1 Samuel 10
If Saul was the star of 1 Samuel 9, Samuel shines in 1 Samuel 10. First, Samuel tells Saul’s servant to get lost and privately anoints Saul with oil and kisses him. The oil is the physical representation of the Holy Spirit that was soon to follow, and the kiss meant that Saul had Samuel’s blessing. Samuel then gives Saul a stern reminder: “The Lord has anointed you commander over his inheritance.” Basically, you may wear the headgear, but God is still on His throne. Saul is merely a steward over the people and things that belong to God. (Just like you and I are stewards over the people and things He places in our lives.)
Now, lest Saul was to head home thinking this was all Samuel’s idea, Samuel prophesies three signs that will come to pass to confirm that he is really hearing from God.
- The first sign is that when Saul gets to Rachel’s tomb, he will hear news about the donkeys. Check.
- The second one is that men with goats by the terebinth tree of Tabor will be carrying bread and wine and will, for no apparent reason, give Saul two loaves of bread. Check again.
- Third, a group of prophets with various musical instruments will come by prophesying, and Saul himself will be “turned into another man” (similar to being born again) and prophesy too. Now, Saul is by no means a prophet; he was just touched by the Holy Spirit and prophesies at that moment. Triple check and mate.
These signs are called “confirmations,” and God still works that way today, making sure we have plenty of indications exactly what the will of God is for us in our lives.
This leads us to another theme: God communicates with His people. He talked to Samuel directly, and He talked to Saul through lost donkeys, signs, and words prophesied out of his very own mouth.
Now, here’s the foreshadowing part: through Samuel, God tells Saul to wait seven days until he is publicly announced to be the king of Israel. He has to submit to God and wait on His timing because He is still very much in control of the show. We will see later on how waiting is the very issue that gets Saul in trouble with God.
Fast forward a week. God is giving Israel what it wants, and He is going to make sure they understand exactly what they are getting. Samuel says,
“Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you. But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.’”
Through an elaborate lottery system, Samuel “chooses” the new king. He lines up all the tribes and picks the tribe of Benjamin. Then he lines up all the families and picks the family of Matri. Finally, he lines up that family and chooses Saul. Of course, we already knew that, but this is just one more way God confirms to Israel and us that God is still in control. Now, as soon as Saul’s name is called, everybody has sort of a moment of concern when Saul is nowhere to be found. We find him hiding among the equipment in humility, and when people finally catch a glimpse of their new, tall hunk of a king, they shout “Long live the king!” (They have always wanted to say that!)
Last scene. Samuel lays down some rules about what exactly it’s going to mean to have a king, and Saul goes home, accompanied by some new brave, godly friends. A few people seem to grumble about the new arrangement, but Saul isn’t too worried.
When we end the chapter of 1 Samuel 10, we find Saul in a very good place. He has been chosen and anointed by God, filled with the Holy Spirit, and enthusiastically supported by most of Israel. He has received gifts, has been surrounded by brave men touched by God, and has wisdom enough not to take every critic as an enemy. It’s hard to believe that with this kind of start, everything could end so very badly for poor King Saul.
Dear God, thank you so much for being in control of our lives even when things feel out of control. Please help us to listen for your communication to us and be open when You speak your will for our lives. If sometimes we pray for things that are not good for us, be merciful to us and guide us in the direction you will have us to go. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Interested in another story about one of God’s kings? Try A “Manasseh Moment”: How One King’s Little Known Prayer Can Give Hope to Us All. In it, you will see how an idolatrous king of Judah seeks repentance and finds it, teaching us how to pray for our lost loved ones.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Samuel 7-8.
Join Tammy SD from Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 5-6.
Join Tammy SD from Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 4.
Join Tammy SD from Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 3.
Join Tammy SD from Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 2.
Join Tammy SD from Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 1.