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    • August 11, 2016 1:47 PM EDT
    • ME TOO CINDY LOU...THE LIFE OF DAVID...A MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART IS WONDERFUL!

    • July 28, 2016 12:31 AM EDT
    • Amem Faithy i love how Johnathan loved Davidso much that he looked out for him thise kind of friends are from God and hard to find amen love this message :)

    • July 3, 2016 1:29 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 1
       
      OPENS WITH DAVID MOURNS THE DEATH OF SAUL & JONATHAN
       
      Verses 1-4 tells us David hears the news in Ziklag.
       
      "Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had stayed two days in Ziklag, on the third day, behold, it happened that a man came from Saul's camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head. So it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the ground and prostrated himself. And David said to him, "Where have you come from?" So he said to him, "I have escaped from the camp of Israel." Then David said to him, "How did the matter go? Please tell me." And he answered, "The people have fled from the battle, many of the people are fallen and dead, and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also."
       
      King Saul and his three sons were killed in battle against the Philistines, dying on the slopes of Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:1-8). It was the sad end of a tragic life, concluding the story of a man who came to the throne humble but left it hard and bitter against both God and man.
       
      When David returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites...
       
      Towards the end of 1 Samuel despairing David left the people of God and allied himself with the Philistines. God prevented a complete alliance, and brought David back through breaking circumstances (the Amalekites stole the families and possessions of David and his men). Strengthening himself in God (1 Samuel 30:6), David defeated the Amalekites and brought back everyone and everything.
       
      Though David still lives among the Philistines, he is NOW a changed man since his breaking circumstances and his strengthening himself in the Lord God.
       
      When David came back triumphantly to Ziklag, he knew that the Philistines and the Israelites just had a major battle. He must have been concerned as to the outcome of the battle.
       
      A man came from Saul's camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head...
       
      David knew this was bad news, so he immediately reacted with humility and mourning. He knew it was bad news because the messenger had the traditional expressions of mourning for the dead - clothes torn and dust on his head.
       
      Verses 5-10 tells us The Amalekite's story.
       
      "So David said to the young man who told him, "How do you know that Saul and Jonathan his son are dead?" Then the young man who told him said, "As I happened by chance to be on Mount Gilboa, there was Saul, leaning on his spear; and indeed the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. Now when he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I answered, 'Here I am.' And he said to me, 'Who are you?' So I answered him, 'I am an Amalekite.' He said to me again, 'Please stand over me and kill me, for anguish has come upon me, but my life still remains in me.' So I stood over him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them here to my lord."
       
      Most believe, from reading 1 Samuel 31, that this Amalekite is lying. And it more likely he was the first to come upon Saul's dead body and took the royal crown and bracelet to receive favor and a reward from David.
       
      AND THINK ABOUT THIS...in a unique war of judgment, God commanded Saul to completely destroy the people of Amalek (1 Samuel 15:2-3). Saul failed to do this - and now an Amalekite also robbed Saul's dead body as a bitter end to his tragic life.
       
      Though the Bible does not specifically say it, Amalek is commonly regarded as an illustration of our fleshly, carnal nature.
       
      HOW?
       
      1. Like our fleshly nature, Amalek focuses its attack on the tired and weak (Deuteronomy 25:17-18)
      2. Like our fleshly nature, Amalek does not fear God (Deuteronomy 25:17-18)
      3. Like our fleshly nature, God commanded a permanent state of war against Amalek (Exodus 17:16)
      4. Like our fleshly nature, the battle against Amalek is only won in the context of prayer and seeking God (Exodus 17:11)
      5. Like our fleshly nature, God promises to one day completely blot out the remembrance of Amalek (Exodus 17:14)
      6. Like our fleshly nature, Joshua wins the battle against Amalek (Exodus 17:13)
      7. Like our fleshly nature, Amalek was once first but will one day be last (Numbers 24:20)
      8. Like our fleshly nature, Amalek allies itself with other enemies in battle against God's people (Judges 3:13)
       
      We now recognize, that Saul's failure to deal with Amalek when God told him to ended in ruin, with an Amalekite robbing his dead body. In the same way, when we fail to deal with the flesh as God prompts us to, we can expect that area of the flesh to come back and deliver some deadly strikes.
       
      I took the crown that was on his head and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them here to my lord...
       
      We can easily imagine the Amalekite smiling as he says this, assuming David is delighted that his enemy and rival is FINALLY dead. Now David can take the royal crown and bracelet and wear them himself.
       
      Verses 11-12 tells us David's reaction: mourning for Saul.
       
      "Therefore David took hold of his own clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son, for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword."
       
      When David heard of Saul's death he mourned. We might have expected celebration at the death of this great enemy and rival, but David mourned.
       
      Out of pure jealousy, hatred, spite, and ungodliness Saul took away David's family, home, career, security, and the best years of David's life - and Saul was utterly unrepentant to the end. Yet David mourned and wept and fasted when he learned of Saul's death.
       
      This powerfully demonstrates that our hatred and bitterness and unforgiveness ARE CHOSEN, not imposed on us. As much as Saul did against David, he CHOSE to become better instead of bitter.
       
      And so did all the men who were with him...
       
      These men had their own justifiable reasons to hate Saul, but they followed the example of their leader David and answered all Saul's hatred and venom with love.
       
      For Saul and Jonathan … for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel...
       
      David's sorrow was first for Saul, but it was also for his great and close friend Jonathan. More than that, it was for the people of God as a whole, who were in a dangerous and desperate place in light of the death of the king and the defeat by the Philistines.
       
      AND THINK ABOUT THIS....David hears this life-changing news - the throne of Israel was now vacant, and it seemed that the royal anointing he received some 20 years before might now be fulfilled with the crown set on his head. Nevertheless, David expressed little thought of himself.
       
      Verses 13-16 tells us David executes the Amalekite.
       
      "Then David said to the young man who told him, "Where are you from?" And he answered, "I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite." So David said to him, "How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?" Then David called one of the young men and said, "Go near, and execute him!" And he struck him so that he died. So David said to him, "Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, 'I have killed the Lord's anointed.'"
       
      The young Amalekite probably believed that David was getting ready to reward him. But NOT for long...
       
      How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed? Despite many opportunities to legitimately defend himself, David refused to reach out and destroy Saul.
       
      WHY?
       
      David knew that since God put Saul on the throne, it was God's job to end his reign - and woe to the one who puts forth his hand to destroy a God-appointed leader.
       
      Go near, and execute him...
       
      This shows that David's grief over Saul was real. He didn't put on a false display of grief and then secretly honor the man who killed Saul
       
      Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you...
       
      There were many factors that might excuse what the Amalekite did and said.
       
      1. Saul was in rebellion and hardened against God
      2. Saul was trying to kill David
      3. Saul was already dying
      4. Saul asked the Amalekite to kill him
      5. It may be that the Amalekite merely discovered Saul's dead body
       
      Yet none of these excuses mattered.
       
      Except for justified killing in war, self-defense, or lawful criminal execution, it is God's job to end a life - not ours. This is true of every human life, but it is even truer of the life and ministry of the Lord's anointed - God is fully able to deal with his servants, or even those who merely claim to be His servants.
       
      Verses 17-18 tells us the Introduction to the SONG OF THE BOW.
       
      "Then David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son, and he told them to teach the children of Judah the Song of the Bow; indeed it is written in the Book of Jasher:"
       
      David's sorrow was sincere, and it was deeply felt. He crafted a song to express the depth of his feeling.
       
      The book of Jashar...
       
      WHAT IS IT?
       
      This book is also mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and it evidently contained a collection of early Hebrew poetry.
       
      BUT, regardless of some critics and Bible commentators, we should NOT think that this is a "missing" book of the Bible. It is a completely unjustified leap over logic to say that if the Bible mentions an ancient writing, and if that ancient writing has any material in common with Biblical books, therefore that writing is genuinely Scripture and is a "lost" book of the Bible. Our Bibles are complete and completely inspired..NOTHING MISSING AND NOTHING LACKING, AMEN?!
       
      Verses 19-27 tells us The Song of the Bow.
       
      "The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places!
      How the mighty have fallen!
      Tell it not in Gath,
      Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
      Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
      Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
       
      O mountains of Gilboa,
      Let there be no dew nor rain upon you,
      Nor fields of offerings.
      For the shield of the mighty is cast away there!
      The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.
      From the blood of the slain,
      From the fat of the mighty,
      The bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
      And the sword of Saul did not return empty.
       
      Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives,
      And in their death they were not divided;
      They were swifter than eagles,
      They were stronger than lions.
       
      O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
      Who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury;
      Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
       
      How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!
      Jonathan was slain in your high places.
      I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
      You have been very pleasant to me;
      Your love to me was wonderful,
      Surpassing the love of women.
       
      How the mighty have fallen,
      And the weapons of war perished!"
       
      In this song, David shows the great love and generosity in his heart towards Saul. It shows that David did NOT kill Saul with a sword or with in his heart.
       
      - He saw beauty in Saul
      - He wanted no one to rejoice over the death of Saul
      - He wanted everyone to mourn, even the mountains and fields
      - He praised Saul as a mighty warrior
      - He complimented the personality and loyalty of Saul (not divided)
      - He called the daughters Israel to mourning, and praised the good Saul did for Israel
       
      All this is a powerful testimony of how David kept his heart free from bitterness, even when he was greatly wronged and sinned against.
       
      David fulfilled 1 Corinthians 13:5: "love thinks no evil".
       
      David KNEW the principle of 1 Peter 4:8: "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."
       
      David COULD do this because of his great trust in God and God's power.
       
      David KNEW that God was in charge of his life, and that even if Saul meant it for evil, God could use it for good.
       
      BALDWIN says it well, "Such a magnanimous attitude on the part of one who had suffered so much at Saul's hand is incomprehensible apart from a deep commitment to the Lord."
       
      How the mighty have fallen!
       
      Even though, David does NOT say it, but we understand that Saul fell long before this. He fell when:
       
      1. Saul hardened his heart against God.
      2. Saul hardened against the word of God through the prophet.
      3. Saul hardened against the man after God's own heart.
       
      Saul's death on Gilboa was the sad conclusion to his prior fall.
       
      I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan...
       
      David's mourning for Jonathan makes more sense to us. Jonathan was David's deep friend, like a brother, and his partner in serving God.
       
      Your love to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women...
      We remember that David's own experience of love with women was according to God's will. His multiple marriages kept him from God's ideal: one man and one woman in a one-flesh relationship.
       
      There is not the slightest hint that David and Jonathan expressed their love in a sexual way. They had a deep, godly love for each other - but NOT a sexual love. Our present world has a hard time believing that love can be deep and real without it having a sexual aspect.
       
      DAVID AND JONATHAN'S LOVE FOR EACH OTHER WAS BROTHER TO BROTHER, WARRIOR TO WARRIOR, TRUTH TO TRUTH, LOVE AND JUST IN ALMIGHTY GOD ALONE...IT IS AGAPE LOVE...THE SAME LOVE JESUS CHRIST HAS AND OFFERS ALL MANKIND THAT HE WILLINGLY DIED AND PAID FOR TO PROVIDE....IT IS ETERNAL LOVE...IT IS NOT CARNAL NOR SEXUAL LOVE AT ALL.

    • July 3, 2016 1:28 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 2
       
      OPENS WITH...DAVID AND ISHBOSHETH WAR
       
       
      Verses 1-4a tells us David, king of Judah.
       
      "It happened after this that David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?" And the LORD said to him, "Go up." David said, "Where shall I go up?" And He said, "To Hebron." So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. And David brought up the men who were with him, every man with his household. So they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah."
       
      David inquired of the LORD...
      Certainly, this was key to success in David's life. With rare exceptions, he constantly inquired of the LORD. David wanted more than God's blessing on his plans, he wanted to be right in the middle of God's plan.
       
      Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?...
       
      At this time David was still in Ziklag, in the territory of the Philistines. Out of great discouragement and despair he left the land of Israel and lived almost as a Philistine among the Philistines. Now that David is restored to the Lord, he wonders if it is time for him to go back to his homeland.
       
      It is NOT a simple question as we might think. David did NOT want to appear opportunistic, as if he only came back to Israel because Saul was dead. While not being overly concerned with appearances before man, he was not unconcerned with appearances either.
       
      And the LORD said to him...
       
      God was faithful to answer when David inquired. Since David was just coming out of a period of spiritual decline, God could have put him on "probation" and refused to speak to him for a while. Instead, the LORD spoke to David and gave him guidance.
       
      Some 15 to 20 years before this David was anointed king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:12-13). As the promise seems almost fulfilled, David does NOT rush in blindly and seize it. Instead, he carefully sought the Lord. David knew the promise was from God, so he knew God could fulfill it without any manipulation from David.
       
      There they anointed David king...
       
      This shows that David did NOT seize the throne. The elders of Judah approached him. David knew that it was better to let God lift you up through others instead of striving to advance yourself. We should strive to advance God's Kingdom and leave the advancement of self in His hands.
       
      This also shows that there is a sense in which the first anointing was NOT enough. We need a fresh anointing from God, and ongoing experience with the Holy Spirit.
       
      This anointing could NOT come when David still lived among the Philistines virtually as a Philistine. He had to get things right in his own walk before this fresh anointing.
       
      Verses 4b-7 tells us David thanks the men of Jabesh Gilead.
       
      "And they told David, saying, "The men of Jabesh Gilead were the ones who buried Saul." So David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead, and said to them, "You are blessed of the LORD, for you have shown this kindness to your lord, to Saul, and have buried him. And now may the LORD show kindness and truth to you. I also will repay you this kindness, because you have done this thing. Now therefore, let your hands be strengthened, and be valiant; for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah has anointed me king over them."
       
      David shows appropriate gratitude to these men who risked their lives to honor the memory of Saul and Jonathan (1 Samuel 31:11-13).
       
      David knew that he needed brave men like these to secure and advance his kingdom, especially in the turmoil sure to surround his ascension to the throne.
       
      Verses 8-11 tells us Abner sets up Ishbosheth as king over Israel.
       
      "But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim; and he made him king over Gilead, over the Ashurites, over Jezreel, over Ephraim, over Benjamin, and over all Israel. Ishbosheth, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. Only the house of Judah followed David. And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months."
       
      WHO WAS Abner the son of Ner?
       
      Abner was Saul's cousin (1 Samuel 14:50). Abner was the commander of Saul's armies for many years and he first met David when David was a young man (1 Samuel 17:55-57). David once challenged Abner when David had the opportunity to kill Saul, but did not. David pointed out that Abner failed to protect his king.
       
      SO WHO WAS Ishbosheth the Son of Saul?
       
      Saul had three sons who died with him in battle (1 Samuel 31:6). There is no previous mention of Ishbosheth among the sons of Saul, so it is possible that he was an illegitimate son or the son of a concubine.
       
      We should NOT forget that David was ALSO a son of Saul by marriage. David married Michal, the daughter of Saul (1 Samuel 18:17-30).
       
      Abner made Ishbosheth king, probably so he could be the real power behind the throne of a weak king.
       
      He reigned two years...
       
      For two years David ALLOWED Ishbosheth to reign over most of Israel.
      WHY?
      These two years show remarkable patience, longsuffering, and trust in God on David's part. Ishbosheth was NOT the LORD's anointed like Saul - David seemed to have every right to crush this man who stood in the way of his calling. Yet out of trust in the LORD and respect for Saul's memory, David waited.
       
      Why would many of the tribes want Ishbosheth instead of David?
       
      Since the Philistines had overrun many of the other tribes, they were even more hesitant to come out-and-out for David. "We'll just make the Philistines mad" they thought. In the same way, to come out and out for the Son of David you have to be ready for the disapproval of the Philistines.
       
      Seven years and six months...
       
      This describes the period of time David had his headquarters in Hebron. For the first two years of this time he ruled over Judah alone and Ishbosheth (propped up by Abner) ruled the rest of Israel.
       
      David would NOT force his reign on anyone - and neither will the Son of David. He will battle against pretenders to the throne, but He will NOT force His reign on you - yet.
       
      Verses 12-17 tells us Abner's troops and Joab's troops square off and fiercely battle
       
      "Now Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out and met them by the pool of Gibeon. So they sat down, one on one side of the pool and the other on the other side of the pool. Then Abner said to Joab, "Let the young men now arise and compete before us." And Joab said, "Let them arise." So they arose and went over by number, twelve from Benjamin, followers of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve from the servants of David. And each one grasped his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent's side; so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called the Field of Sharp Swords, which is in Gibeon. So there was a very fierce battle that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David."
       
      Joab the son of Zeruiah.
       
      WHO WAS JOAB?
       
      Joab was apparently one of the 400 men who joined David at Adullam Cave (1 Samuel 22:1-2), or he joined with David during this general period.
       
      - Joab had two notable brothers: Abishai and Asahel
      - Joab, Abishai, and Asahel were David's nephews, the sons of David's sister Zeruiah (1 Chronicles 2:16)
      - Joab had a long and checkered career as David's chief military assistant
       
      Abner said to Joab...
       
      This is a fascinating confrontation between two similar men. Abner and Joab were each tough, mean, military men, completely devoted to their cause.
       
      Abner suggested some kind of contest or duel between a select group of his men and Joab's men. When the two groups of 12 met it quickly degenerated into a mutual bloodbath (each one grasped his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent's side; so they fell down together). Yet David's men under the command of Joab prevailed in the very fierce battle that followed this bloodbath at the Field of Sharp Swords.
       
      Verses 18-23 tells us Abner kills Asahel
       
      "Now the three sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab and Abishai and Asahel. And Asahel was as fleet of foot as a wild gazelle. So Asahel pursued Abner, and in going he did not turn to the right hand or to the left from following Abner. Then Abner looked behind him and said, "Are you Asahel?" He answered, "I am." And Abner said to him, "Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and lay hold on one of the young men and take his armor for yourself." But Asahel would not turn aside from following him. So Abner said again to Asahel, "Turn aside from following me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I face your brother Joab?" However, he refused to turn aside. Therefore Abner struck him in the stomach with the blunt end of the spear, so that the spear came out of his back; and he fell down there and died on the spot. So it was that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died, stood still."
       
      The three sons of Zeruiah.
       
      WHO WAS ZERUIAH?
       
      Zeruiah was David's sister (1 Chronicles 2:16). Joab and Abishai and Asahel were the nephews of David, but since David was the youngest of eight sons they may have been about the same age or older than David.
       
      In the pressure and confusion of battle, Asahel got close enough to Abner, the commander of Ishbosheth's armies. It came down to a simple chase and if Asahel caught up to Abner he would surely kill him.
       
      Lay hold of one of the young men and take his armor for yourself: It seems that Asahel pursued Abner in part for the glory of killing the commander of Ishbosheth's army and taking his armor as a trophy.
       
      Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I face your brother Joab? Abner first asked Asahel to turn back out of concern for his own safety. This did NOT make much sense to Asahel because it seemed that Abner was at the disadvantage. Abner also appealed to Asahel on the grounds of military honor - that officers should not strike down officers, especially when it might lead to ugly retribution and the danger of leaderless armies.
       
      Yet, Asahel refused to turn aside. Abner's plea did NOT work - though perhaps it should have. Asahel was too single-minded in his determination to kill Abner and crush the armies opposing David.
       
      Therefore Abner struck him in the stomach … he fell down there and died on the spot...
       
      Clearly, Abner killed Asahel in self-defense - it was the only thing he could do. Yet his concern (How then could I face your brother Joab) was entirely justified, and Joab will make it his passion to avenge his brother's death.
       
      Verses 24-28 tells us A cease-fire called.
       
      "Joab and Abishai also pursued Abner. And the sun was going down when they came to the hill of Ammah, which is before Giah by the road to the Wilderness of Gibeon. Now the children of Benjamin gathered together behind Abner and became a unit, and took their stand on top of a hill. Then Abner called to Joab and said, "Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that it will be bitter in the latter end? How long will it be then until you tell the people to return from pursuing their brethren?" And Joab said, "As God lives, unless you had spoken, surely then by morning all the people would have given up pursuing their brethren." So Joab blew a trumpet; and all the people stood still and did not pursue Israel anymore, nor did they fight anymore."
       
      Joab and Abishai also pursued Abner...
       
      Now they are motived by more than the cause of David; they want to avenge the death of their brother.
       
      Shall the sword devour forever?
       
      When his armies were in full retreat and ready for a final do-or-die stand - and when two angry brothers wanted blood revenge - Joab found it easy to make the "Can't we all just get along?" plea. It was certainly to his advantage to give peace a chance.
       
      Joab blew a trumpet; and all the people stood still...
       
      Joab agreed to this cease-fire, probably to both rest his exhausted army and in hope of avoiding a long, bloody civil war.
       
      Verses 29-31 tells us a great victory for David's army.
       
      "Then Abner and his men went on all that night through the plain, crossed over the Jordan, and went through all Bithron; and they came to Mahanaim. So Joab returned from pursuing Abner. And when he had gathered all the people together, there were missing of David's servants nineteen men and Asahel. But the servants of David had struck down, of Benjamin and Abner's men, three hundred and sixty men who died. Then they took up Asahel and buried him in his father's tomb, which was in Bethlehem. And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at daybreak. Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. But David grew stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker."
       
      There were missing of David's servants nineteen men and Asahel...
       
      Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David, but this passage shows us just how badly they were beaten. Abner and the army of Ishbosheth lost 360 men to 20 in the army of David.
       
      There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David...
       
      This shows how wrong it was for Joab to accept Abner's appeal for a cease-fire at the battle of The Field of Sharp Swords. The fact was that they could NOT just get along, and that there could be no peace between the rightful king David and the pretender to the throne, Ishbosheth. The cease-fire seemed to make things better but it only made things worse, and it caused the long war.
       
      When we try to make peace between King Jesus and King Self within us, the result is a long, bitter war. It is so much better to simply surrender and submit to the reign of Jesus.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "In the lives of many Christian people today there is raging, literally, a civil war. The flesh - the kingdom of Saul, struggles with the spirit - the kingdom of David, and the conflict is bitter. We do everything we possibly can to hold up the tottering kingdom of self, so that it might exist just a bit longer. If only we could preserve some rights; if only we could have at least part of our own way; if only we could keep this or that at any cost! We feel we must bolster up this kingdom of self, that we cannot let ourselves be crucified with Christ."
       
      David grew stronger and stronger...
       
      The increasing strength of David and increasing weakness of Saul's house did NOT begin when Saul died. It began when God first chose David and withdrew His Spirit from Saul (1 Samuel 16:13-14).

       

    • July 3, 2016 1:26 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 3
       
      OPENS WITH ABNER'S DEFECTION AND MURDER
       
      Verses 2-5 tells us David's sons born in Hebron.
       
      "Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by David's wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron."
       
      Sons were born to David...
       
      During David's seven-year reign in Hebron, his six different wives gave birth to six sons. This shows that David went against God's commandment that Israel's king should NOT multiply wives to himself.
       
      David was wrong to have more than one wife. His many wives went against God's command to kings (Deuteronomy 17:17) and against God's heart for marriage (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6).
       
      David's many wives were common. Adding many wives was one of the ways great men and especially kings expressed their power and status.
       
      David was troubled because of his many wives. Some wonder why the Bible does NOT expressly condemn David's polygamy here, but as is often the case here the Scripture simply states the fact, and later records how David reaped the penalty for this sort of sin in regard to his family.
       
      WHAT DID DAVID REAP FROM THESE 6 WIVES AND SONS?
       
      1. Amnon raped his half-sister and was murdered by his half-brother.
       
      2. Chileab is also known as Daniel in 1 Chronicles 3:1. The few mentions of this son indicate that perhaps he died young or that he was an ungodly, unworthy man.
       
      3. Absalom murdered his half-brother and led a civil war against his father David, attempting to murder David.
       
      4. Adonijah tried to seize the throne from David and David's appointed successor - then he tried to take one of David's concubines and was executed for his arrogance.
       
      5. We can fairly assume that Shephatiah and Ithream either died young or were ungodly and unworthy men, mentioned only once again in the Scriptures - in a generic listing of David's sons (1 Chronicles 3:1-4).
       
      Verses 6-7 tells us Ishbosheth accuses Abner of impropriety with the royal concubine.
       
      "Now it was so, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner was strengthening his hold on the house of Saul. And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. So Ishbosheth said to Abner, "Why have you gone in to my father's concubine?"
       
      Abner was strengthening his hold on the house of Saul...
       
      It seems that Abner supported a weak man like Ishbosheth in power so he could be the power behind the throne. As time went on he increased in strength and influence on the house of Saul.
       
      Why have you gone in to my father's concubine? Ishbosheth accused Abner of a serious crime. This was regarded NOT only as sexual immorality but also as high treason.
       
      This might seems strange that there was a controversy over the concubine of Saul, especially because Saul was dead. In their thinking, the king's bride belonged to him and him alone, even if he was absent. This principle is even more true for Jesus and His bride - the church belongs to no one but Jesus, and it is treason to "take" the bride of Christ as if it were our own possession.
       
      Verses 8-11 tells us Abner's harsh reply.
       
      "Then Abner became very angry at the words of Ishbosheth, and said, "Am I a dog's head that belongs to Judah? Today I show loyalty to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hand of David; and you charge me today with a fault concerning this woman? May God do so to Abner, and more also, if I do not do for David as the LORD has sworn to him; to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba." And he could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him."
       
      Then Abner became very angry...
       
      We are NOT specifically told, but Abner's response leads us to believe that the accusation was false. It is possible that as he was strengthening his hold on the house of Saul he took the concubine as an expression of his power and dominance. It is more likely that because of Abner's increasing power Ishbosheth felt it necessary to invent this accusation as grounds for getting rid of Abner.
       
      If do not do for David as the LORD has sworn to him...
       
      Abner told Ishbosheth that he would now support David and help David fulfill what the LORD promised - to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and set up the throne of David.
       
      SOME HAVE ASKED THE OBVIOUS QUESTION...If Abner knew that David was God's choice for king, why did he fight against him before this? Abner is a good example of those of us who know things to be true but we do not live as if they were true.
       
      Abner did the right thing in joining David's side but he did it for the wrong reason. Instead of joining David because Ishbosheth offended him personally, he should have joined David because he knew that David was God's choice to be king.
       
      Verses 12-16 tells us David agrees to receive Abner if he will bring Michal with him.
       
      "Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to David, saying, "Whose is the land?" saying also, "Make your covenant with me, and indeed my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel to you." And David said, "Good, I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you: you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come to see my face." So David sent messengers to Ishbosheth, Saul's son, saying, "Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines." And Ishbosheth sent and took her from her husband, from Paltiel the son of Laish. Then her husband went along with her to Bahurim, weeping behind her. So Abner said to him, "Go, return!" And he returned."
       
      You shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul's daughter...
       
      David received Michal in marriage (1 Samuel 17:26-28), but Saul took her away to spite David (1 Samuel 25:44).
       
      Whom I betrothed to myself with a hundred foreskins of the Philistines...
       
      1 Samuel 18:20-30 describes how David used this unusual payment instead of a dowry for the right to marry the daughter of King Saul.
       
      Give me my wife Michal...
       
      Why did David do this? Did he really need another wife? David insisted on receiving Michal as his wife again for at least three reasons.
       
      1. David remembered that Michal was simply his wife by both love and right, and that King Saul took her away as part of a deliberate strategy to attack and destroy David.
       
      2. David wanted to show that he harbored no bitterness towards Saul's house, and he would show this through his good treatment of Saul's daughter.
       
      3. David wanted to give himself a greater claim to Saul's throne as his son-in-law.
       
      Verses 17-19 tells us Abner rallies support for David among the other tribes.
       
      "Now Abner had communicated with the elders of Israel, saying, "In time past you were seeking for David to be king over you. Now then, do it! For the LORD has spoken of David, saying, 'By the hand of My servant David, I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and the hand of all their enemies.'" And Abner also spoke in the hearing of Benjamin. Then Abner also went to speak in the hearing of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel and the whole house of Benjamin."
       
      Abner had communicated with the elders of Israel...
       
      It is significant that this word came from Abner regarding David instead of from David himself. Though he was the rightful king, David would not reign over Israel until they submitted to him freely. He never moved an inch without an invitation.
       
      This is an illustration of Jesus' lordship in our life. He is in fact King of Kings of Lord of Lords. But He chooses (for the most part) to exercise His sovereignty only at our invitation.
       
      1. Some do not invite Jesus to rule over anything
      2. Some invite Jesus to reign over a small area - like "Hebron"
      3. Some give Jesus reign over everything He has authority over - which is everything
       
      Abner is a good example of someone who eventually surrendered to God's king. Now he wants to influence others to surrender to God's king.
       
      Now then, do it! Because of the word the Lord spoke of David, and because it was so right to do, this was something that should be done now. In this sense, it is very much like our commitment to follow Jesus - we should be told, "Now then, do it!"
       
      "The sooner it is done the better. Until the deed is done, remember you are undone; till Christ is accepted by you as king, till sin is hated and Jesus is trusted, you are under another king. Whatever you may think of it, the devil is your master."
       
      For the LORD has spoken of David...
       
      The fact that Abner - who was a general, not a Bible scholar - knew these prophecies and the fact that he could ask the leaders of Israel to consider them means that these prophecies of David were widely known. Sadly, they were not widely obeyed - most of Israel was lukewarm and unenthusiastic in their embrace of David as king.
       
      In this regard David prefigures his greater Son. Jesus fulfilled all manner of prophecy regarding the Messiah, yet He was rejected by all but a remnant of Israel.
       
      Verses 20-21 tells us David formally receives Abner with a feast.
       
      "So Abner and twenty men with him came to David at Hebron. And David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. Then Abner said to David, "I will arise and go, and gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires." So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace."
       
      David made a feast for Abner...
       
      This is David, wise and generous towards a former adversary. A lesser man would never forgive Abner for leading an army against God's king, but David was a great, wise, and generous man.
       
      Verses 22-25 tells us Joab learns that Abner has joined David's side.
       
      "At that moment the servants of David and Joab came from a raid and brought much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. When Joab and all the troops that were with him had come, they told Joab, saying, "Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he sent him away, and he has gone in peace." Then Joab came to the king and said, "What have you done? Look, Abner came to you; why is it that you sent him away, and he has already gone? Surely you realize that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you, to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing."
       
      Joab accused Abner of being a double-agent for Ishbosheth. He was angry that David let Abner go without arresting or killing him.
       
      Why wasn't Joab pleased that Abner had defected and joined David's side?
       
      There are at least three reasons for his hostility.
       
      1. Joab feared Abner was a deceiver, a double agent working on behalf of Ishbosheth, the pretender king.
       
      2. Abner killed Joab's brother, and Joab was the avenger of blood for Asahel (as described in Numbers 35:9-28).
       
      3. As the chief general of the former King Saul, Abner had a lot of top-level military experience. Abner might take Joab's place as David's chief military assistant.
       
      Verses 26-27 tells us Joab murders Abner.
       
      "And when Joab had gone from David's presence, he sent messengers after Abner, who brought him back from the well of Sirah. But David did not know it. Now when Abner had returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him privately, and there stabbed him in the stomach, so that he died for the blood of Asahel his brother."
       
      Joab carefully engineered this murder so the killing was done outside the gate of Hebron. This was because Hebron was a city of refuge (Joshua 20:7), and it was against the law for Joab, as Asahel's blood avenger, to kill Abner inside the city.
       
      The careful plot to murder Abner outside the city of refuge made the murder all the more dark. It shows that Joab knew that Abner had a rightful claim of self-defense and was protected inside the city of Hebron, yet he killed him anyway.
       
      Joab may have justified this by the thought, "I'm doing this to defend and honor David my king." But our sin and treachery never honors our king. We must avoid the trap Spurgeon spoke of: "We may even deceive ourselves into the belief that we are honoring our Lord and Master when we are, all the while, bringing disgrace upon his name."
       
      Verses 28-30 tells us David renounces Joab's evil murder of Abner.
       
      "Afterward, when David heard it, he said, "My kingdom and I are guiltless before the LORD forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner. Let it rest on the head of Joab and on all his father's house; and let there never fail to be in the house of Joab one who has a discharge or is a leper, who leans on a staff or falls by the sword, or who lacks bread." So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle."
       
      My kingdom and I are guiltless before the LORD...
       
      David knew that he had nothing to do with this murder. Among other evils, this murder perpetrated by Joab set a bad precedent. It gave David's administration a reputation for brutality and made it harder for David to win the rest of Israel over to his side.
       
      Let it rest on the head of Joab...
       
      David pronounced a severe curse against Joab, but he did nothing with his actions. Perhaps David was afraid to lose Joab as a general. His ability to kill without remorse shows he is not a nice man, but not necessarily a bad general.
       
      Verses 31-39 tells us David leads the mourning for Abner.
       
      "Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, "Tear your clothes, gird yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn for Abner." And King David followed the coffin. So they buried Abner in Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. And the king sang a lament over Abner and said: "Should Abner die as a fool dies? Your hands were not bound nor your feet put into fetters; as a man falls before wicked men, so you fell." Then all the people wept over him again. And when all the people came to persuade David to eat food while it was still day, David took an oath, saying, "God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else till the sun goes down!" Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, since whatever the king did pleased all the people. For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king's intent to kill Abner the son of Ner. Then the king said to his servants, "Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? And I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too harsh for me. The LORD shall repay the evildoer according to his wickedness."
       
      David did not want his kingdom established by violence. He wanted God to establish his kingdom and to punish his enemies. David still believes that vengeance belongs to the Lord.
       
      For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king's intent to kill Abner: This whole affair was a mess, but it would not be the first or the last mess of David's kingdom.
       
      In some regard, "messes" like this are inevitable. Proverbs 14:4 shares an important principle: "Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox."

    • July 3, 2016 1:24 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 4
       
      OPENS WITH THE ASSASSINATION OF ISHBOSHETH
       
       
      Verses 1-4 tells us The weakened condition of the house of Saul.
       
      "When Saul's son heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost heart, and all Israel was troubled. Now Saul's son had two men who were captains of troops. The name of one was Baanah and the name of the other Rechab, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, of the children of Benjamin. (For Beeroth also was part of Benjamin, because the Beerothites fled to Gittaim and have been sojourners there until this day.) Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth."
       
      When Ishbosheth heard that the man who put him and propped on the throne was dead, he knew that his day was almost over. He trusted in man to gain his position, so when the man was gone he knew his position would be soon gone.
       
      Ishbosheth was weak because he trusted in man.
       
      His name was Mephibosheth...
       
      This was the son of Jonathan, David's good friend, who died with his father on the field of battle. Mephibosheth was the last male descendant of Saul with a strong legal claim to the throne of Saul. At this time he was only 12 years old - and he was lame.
       
      Mephibosheth was weak because of circumstances beyond his control. He was weak because of his age, and because of injury that came from the hand of another.
       
      Verses 5-7 tells us Baanah and Rechab murder Ishbosheth.
       
      "Then the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, set out and came at about the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth, who was lying on his bed at noon. And they came there, all the way into the house, as though to get wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped. For when they came into the house, he was lying on his bed in his bedroom; then they struck him and killed him, beheaded him and took his head, and were all night escaping through the plain."
       
      Ishbosheth did NOT gain any real loyalty among his troops; they were only loyal to him when they thought he was strong and had a chance to keep the throne of Saul. When the weakness of Ishbosheth was exposed Rechab and Baanah murdered him.
       
      2 Samuel 4:2 reminds us that Rechab and Baanah were of the children of Benjamin. This was the tribe that Saul's family came from. This means that it was fellow Benjaminites who murdered Ishbosheth.
       
      WHY did they behead Ishbosheth and take his head?
      This was an important part of their plan, because they wanted to prove to David that they murdered his rival to the throne.
       
      Verse 8 tells us Baanah and Rechab bring the head of Ishbosheth to David.
       
      "And they brought the head of Ishbosheth to David at Hebron, and said to the king, "Here is the head of Ishbosheth, the son of Saul your enemy, who sought your life; and the LORD has avenged my lord the king this day of Saul and his descendants."
       
      When they brought Ishbosheth's severed head to David they said, "We are God's servants, defeating your enemies as instruments of God."
       
      BALDWIN says it well, "Their claim, The Lord has avenged my lord the king, was presuming on God's approval of their deed, as though they had acted on the Lord's express orders."
       
      David could NOT relate to this, because he did NOT think of Saul as his enemy. REMEMBER...The beautiful song David composed at the death of Saul and Jonathan shows that though Saul set himself as an enemy of David, David did NOT regard him as an enemy.
       
      This tells us that these two Benjaminite who had SURELY HEARD DAVID'S SONG, did NOT believe David was sincere. They OBVIOUSLY did not consider NOR TAKE the time to REMEMBER how David had reacted to the murder of Abner either.
       
      So just as David reminded The Lord and the people that he was innocent of Abner's death and that David had executed the man who robbed the body of King Saul and stole his crown and bracelets...
       
      This tells us and reminds us that there will be those who do NOT take seriously and do NOT believe our words, our walk, our life, and our trust in Jesus Christ over all things...it should NOT change us. We should stand. We should continue to TELL people of our Jesus, and continue on as David did, and let Jesus deal with their belief or unbelief.
       
      Verses 9-12 tells us David has Baanah and Rechab executed.
       
      "But David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said to them, "As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life from all adversity, when someone told me, saying, 'Look, Saul is dead,' thinking to have brought good news, I arrested him and had him executed in Ziklag; the one who thought I would give him a reward for his news. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous person in his own house on his bed? Therefore, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and remove you from the earth?" So David commanded his young men, and they executed them, cut off their hands and feet, and hanged them by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth and buried it in the tomb of Abner in Hebron."
       
      Rechab and Baanah thought David would be pleased to see the severed head of Ishbosheth. They underestimated David's loyalty to God and the house of Saul. David was loyal to his pledge to honor and preserve Saul's family and descendants (1 Samuel 24:20-22).
       
      David was used to seeing severed heads - he carried the head of Goliath around as a trophy for some period of time. But David knew that Saul and his descendants were NOT his enemy the way that Goliath was his enemy.
       
      Even though Ishbosheth was not the LORD's anointed in the same sense as Saul was, David had thoroughly learned to let God take vengeance.
       
      David would not accept their evil deed, even though it seemed to serve a good purpose - unifying Israel under David's reign as king. "While it is true that God overrules all the doings of men, and compels them ultimately to serve His high purposes, it is equally true that no servant of His can ever consent to do evil that good may come. It is an arresting truth that our Lord in the days of his earthly life would not accept the testimony of demons.
       
      David swiftly made an example of these murderous men. They were not soldiers fighting together with him; they were murderers who deserved just punishment.
       
      David acted with strict justice in this case also, not only to prove to the people that he had neither commanded nor approved of the murder, but from heartfelt abhorrence of such crimes, and to keep his conscience void of offense towards God and towards man.
       
      _____________________________
       
      2 SAMUEL 5
       
      OPENS WITH DAVID MADE KING OVER A UNITED ISRAEL
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us the elders of Israel recognize David as king over Israel.
       
      "Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and spoke, saying, "Indeed we are your bone and your flesh. Also, in time past, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the LORD said to you, 'You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over Israel.' " Therefore all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD. And they anointed David king over Israel."
       
      Prior to this, only ONE OF THE TWELVE tribes of Israel recognized David as king. The other tribes recognized the pretend king Ishbosheth, a son of Saul. Ishbosheth was murdered is recorded in 2 Samuel 4 - so now the tribes turn to David.
       
      It IS sad that the tribes ONLY turned to David when their previous choice was taken away. On the same principle, it IS sad when Christians ONLY really recognized Jesus as king when other choices crumble. We should choose Jesus outright, not just when other options fail.
       
      We are your bone and your flesh...
      The elders of Israel received David's leadership because he was an Israelite himself. This was significant because for a period of time David lived as a Philistine among the Philistines. The elders of Israel put that away and embrace David as one of their own.
       
      The elders of Israel received David's leadership because he already had displayed his ability to lead.
       
      The elders of Israel received David's leadership because it was evident God called him to lead.
       
      These three characteristics should mark anyone who leads God's people.
       
      1. A leader must belong to God's people in heritage and heart
      2. A leader must demonstrate capability to lead
      3. A leader must have an evident call from God
       
      1 Chronicles 12:23-40 describes the great assembly that gathered in Hebron to recognize David as king over all Israel. Chronicles describes the impressive army that came to Hebron, and numbers the ranks at over 340,000 men. It then describes the scene: All these men of war, who could keep ranks, came to Hebron with a loyal heart, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest of Israel were of one mind to make David king.
       
      1 Chronicles 12:38-40 describes they were there with David three days, eating and drinking, for their brethren had prepared for them … for there was joy in Israel.
       
      Verses 4-5 tells us The duration of David's reign.
       
      "David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah."
       
      This is a good measuring point for David's life. Samuel anointed David when he was about 15, and he did not take the throne until 30. David spent at least 15 years in preparation for the throne of Israel.
       
      God uses great preparation when the task is great.
       
      Verses 6-8 tells us David captures Jerusalem.
       
      "And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, "You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you," thinking, "David cannot come in here." Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). Now David said on that day, "Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul), he shall be chief and captain." Therefore they say, "The blind and the lame shall not come into the house."
       
      To this point Jerusalem was a small Canaanite city in the center of Israel. Some 400 years after God commanded Israel to take the whole land, this city was STILL in Canaanite hands.
       
      The blind and the lame shall repel you...
       
      Because of its location, Jerusalem was an easily defended city. This made the Jebusites overconfident and quick to mock David and his troops.
       
      Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion...
       
      Despite the difficulty, David and his men took the city. Since the water shaft is mentioned, some think that David sent his men through what is called "Warren's Shaft." Whatever exactly their tactics, David and his men persisted through difficult circumstances to defeat an overconfident enemy.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "On the same principle, King Jesus conquers old strongholds when he becomes king over our life. Territory that should have been given to Him long ago is now conquered. "I want to say to you in the name of the Lord Jesus that there is no habit that has gone so deep but that the power of the blood of Jesus can go deeper, and there is no entrenchment of sin that has gone so far but the power of the risen Lord, by His Holy Spirit, can go further."
       
      Verses 9-10 tells us Jerusalem is David's NEW capital city.
       
      "Then David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the City of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward. So David went on and became great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him."
       
      Jerusalem became the capital city of David's kingdom. It was a good choice because:
       
      1. It has no prior tribal association and was therefore good for a unified Israel
      2. The geography of the city made it easy to defend against a hostile army
       
      David knew greatness, but he was by no means an "overnight success." David was long prepared for the greatness he later enjoyed, and he came to the place of greatness because the LORD God of hosts was with him.
       
      In God's plan there is almost always a hidden price of greatness. Often those who become great among God's people experience much pain and difficulty in God's training process.
       
      Verses 11-12 tells us David's palace and greatness.
       
      "Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters and masons. And they built David a house. So David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted His kingdom for the sake of His people Israel."
       
      This shows David's influence and importance. Neighboring kings honor him with the finest craftsmen and wood to build him a palace. This relationship with Hiram king of Tyre also shows that David was more than a man of war. He knew how to build important political alliances.
       
      David knew three things that made his reign great. Every godly leader should know these three things very well.
       
      1. David KNEW that God called him and established him over Israel.
       
      2. David KNEW that the kingdom belonged to God - it was His kingdom.
       
      3. David KNEW God wanted to use him as a channel to bless His people. It was not for David's sake that he was lifted up, but for the sake of His people Israel.
       
      Verses 13-16 tells us David's many wives.
       
      "And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he had come from Hebron. Also more sons and daughters were born to David. Now these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet."
       
      This was in direct disobedience to Deuteronomy 17:17: "Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away."
       
      Certainly David (and everyone else) saw these many children as God's sign of blessing upon David and his many wives. Yet most of the trouble to come in David's life comes from his relationship with women and from his children.
       
      Verses 17-19 tells us David fights against Israel's old enemies.
       
      "Now when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. And David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. The Philistines also went and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. So David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?" And the LORD said to David, "Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand."
       
      David's success brought new challenges from the outside. As God worked mightily in David's life, the devil also got to work and brought opposition against David.
       
      As David seeks God and looks to Him for guidance he is blessed. God honored David's dependence on Him and gave him the promise of victory.
       
      Verses 20-21 tells us David defeats the Philistines at Baal Perazim.
       
      "So David went to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there; and he said, "The LORD has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water." Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim. And they left their images there, and David and his men carried them away."
       
      At the battle of Baal Perazim David defeated the Philistines with an overwhelming force, like a breakthrough of water.
       
      The Philistines brought their idols to the battle, thinking they would help defeat the Israelites. Because David inquired of God and obeyed God, they carried away the Philistine idols.
       
      Verses 22-25 tells us David defeats the Philistines at the Valley of Rephaim.
       
      "Then the Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. Therefore David inquired of the LORD, and He said, "You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the LORD will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines." And David did so, as the LORD commanded him; and he drove back the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer."
       
      After the first victory over the Philistines, David was wise enough to wait on the LORD before the second battle. It is easy for many in the same situation to say, "I've fought this battle before. I know how to win. This will be easy." David always triumphed when he sought and obeyed God.
       
      God directed David differently in this battle. Even against the same enemy, not every battle is the same.
       
      CLARKE says it well, "In his commentary on this passage, he noted the remarkable guidance of God in David's life and asked a good question. "How is it that such supernatural directions and assistances are not communicated now? Because they are not asked for; and they are not asked for because they are not expected; and they are not expected because men have not faith; and they have not faith because they are under a refined spirit of atheism, and have no spiritual intercourse with their Maker."
       
      At the battle of Rephaim David waited for the LORD to strike the camp of the enemy first. The sign of the LORD's work was the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees.
       
      When you hear the work of God happening, bestir thyself - advance quickly. Spurgeon liked to point out that it said bestir thyself - often we think we must stir others up. That often just becomes hype and emotionalism. Instead, stir yourself.
       
      When we see the work of God happening around us, it is like the sound in the mulberry trees - the rustling sound should awaken us to prayer and devotion. A time of crisis or tragedy is also like the sound in the mulberry trees - the rustling sound should awaken us to confession and repentance.
       
      David listened, watched, and stirred himself up first and then his people.
      The family of Jesus Christ should always do the same, listen, watch, pray, and BESTIR YOURSELF!

    • July 3, 2016 1:22 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 6
       
      OPENS WITH KING DAVID BRINGS THE ARK OF GOD INTO JERUSALEM
       
      DID YOU KNOW...Psalm 132 is commonly associated with the events of this chapter.
       
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us the FIRST attempt to bring the Ark of God to Jerusalem.
       
      "Again David gathered all the choice men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the Name, the LORD of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim."
       
      David gathered so many of his best soldiers because bringing the ark to Jerusalem was an important step towards providing a central place of worship for all of Israel.
       
      The Ark of God is the SAME THING as the Ark of the Covenant, which God commanded Moses to make more than 400 years before David's time. It was a wood box (the word ark means "box" or "chest") completely covered with gold and with an ornate gold lid or top known as the mercy seat.
       
      The ark of God was 3 feet 9 inches long, 2 feet 3 inches wide and 2 feet 3 inches high. In it were the tablets of the law that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, a jar of manna, and the Aaron's rod that miraculously budded as a confirmation of his leadership.
       
      The LORD of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim...
       
      The ark of God represented the immediate presence and glory of God in Israel. David considered it a high priority to bring the ark out of obscurity and back into prominence. David wanted Israel to be alive with a sense of the near presence and glory of God.
       
      AND WE REMEMBER...the LAST WE SAW OR HEARD of The Ark of God was when it came back from the land of the Philistines in 1 Samuel 7:1. It sat at the house of Abinadab for some 70 years. David had a great motive - to emphasize the presence and glory of God in Israel.
       
      Verses 3-5 tells us The Ark is brought out with great joy.
       
      "So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark. Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals."
       
      So they set the ark of God on a new cart...
       
      AND WE ALSO REMEMBER... transporting The Ark on a cart was against God's specific command. The ark was designed to be carried (Exodus 25:12-15) and was only to be carried by Levites of the family of Koath (Numbers 4:15).
       
      Some have asked, why did God command the ark to be carried?
       
      REDPATH answers this well, "It was probably because there was to be nothing mechanical about the ark, which represented His presence. "The ark was nothing less than the burden of the Lord, and the burden of the Lord was to be carried on the hearts of the Levites."
       
      We can imagine what these men thought. "Look - we have a new cart for the ark of God. God will be very pleased at our fancy new cart." They thought that a new technology or luxury could cover over their ignorant disobedience.
       
      AGAIN REDPATH says it well, "We want God's presence very much, don't we? But we like to hitch His presence to some of our new carts. We like to add Him to our list of organizations, to load Him on top of the mechanics of a busy life, and then drive. How much of our service is really in the energy of the flesh, I wonder! So often we put forth our hands, but not our hearts."
       
      This Philistines transported the ark on a cart in 1 Samuel 6:10-11. They got away with it because they were Philistines, but God expected more from His people. Israel was to take their example from God's Word, not from the innovations of the Philistines.
       
      Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart...
       
      The meaning of the names of these sons of Abinadab paint a meaningful picture. Uzzah means "strength" and Ahio means "friendly."
       
      Much service for the LORD is like this - a new cart, a big production, with strength leading and friendly out front - yet all done without inquiring of God or looking to His will. Surely David prayed for God's blessing on this big production, but he did NOT inquire of God regarding the production itself. This was a good thing done the wrong way.
       
      Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD...
       
      Judging from the importance of the occasion and all the instruments mentioned, this was quite a production. The atmosphere was joyful, exciting, and engaging. The problem was that none of it pleased God because it was ALL in disobedience to His word.
       
      We are often tempted to judge a worship experience by how it makes us feel. But when we realize that worship is about pleasing God, we are driven to His word so we can know how He wants to be worshipped.
       
      GUZIK says it well, "It's hard to grab hold of in our consumer-oriented culture, but it isn't all about what pleases us. It's all about what pleases God."
       
      Verses 6-7 tells us Uzzah is struck dead for touching the ark.
       
      "And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God."
       
      At a threshing floor the whole stalks of wheat are gathered and the chaff is separated from the wheat. There was a lot of chaff in this production, and God will blow away the chaff at Nachon's threshing floor.
       
      Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it...
       
      This was strictly FORBIDDEN. Regarding the transporting of the ark Numbers 4:15 says, "they shall not touch any holy thing lest they die."
       
      Uzzah made a decision in a moment to disregard God's command and do what seemed right to him. Even our decisions made in a moment matter before God.
       
      God struck him there for his error...
       
      God fulfilled the ominous promise of Numbers 4:15 and struck Uzzah. David wanted Israel to know the presence of the LORD and God showed up at Nachon's threshing floor - but not in the way anyone wanted.
       
      Some have asked, What was the error of Uzzah?
      It was more than just a reflex action or instinct. God struck Uzzah because his action was based upon a critical error in thinking.
       
      1. Uzzah erred in thinking it didn't matter who transported the ark
      2. Uzzah erred in thinking it didn't matter how the ark was transported
      3. Uzzah erred in thinking he knew all about the ark because it was in his father's house for so long
      4. Uzzah erred in thinking that God couldn't take care of the ark of Himself
      5. Uzzah erred in thinking that the ground of Nachon's threshing floor was less holy than his own hand
       
      Verses 8-9 tells us David reacts with anger and fear.
       
      "And David became angry because of the Lord's outbreak against Uzzah; and he called the name of the place Perez Uzzah to this day. David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?"
       
      David's anger was based in confusion. He could NOT understand why his good intentions were NOT enough. God is concerned with both our intentions and our actions.
       
      David KNEW it was important to bring the Ark of the LORD into the center of Israel's life. He wanted all Israel to be excited about the presence and glory of God. Because of what happened to Uzzah, David felt he could NOT do what God wanted him to do.
       
      David's response in the rest of the chapter shows that he found the answer to his question. He answered the question with the thought later expressed in Isaiah 8:20: "To the law and to the testimony!"
       
      David found the answer in God's word.
       
      Verses 10-12a tells us David leaves the ark with Obed-Edom.
       
      "So David would not move the ark of the LORD with him into the City of David; but David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months. And the LORD blessed Obed-Edom and all his household. Now it was told King David, saying, "The LORD has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God."
       
      David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom...
       
      DID YOU KNOW...David did this in fulfillment of God's word?
       
      Obed-Edom was a Levite of the family of Koath (1 Chronicles 26:4). This was the family within the tribe of Levi that God commanded to transport and take care of the ark (Numbers 4:15).
       
      And the LORD blessed Obed-Edom and all his household...
       
      When God's Word was obeyed and His holiness was respected blessing followed. God wanted The Ark to be a blessing for Israel, not a curse. We might say that the curse did not come from God's heart but from man's disobedience.
       
      Verses 12b-15 tells us The Ark successfully comes to Jerusalem.
       
      "So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness. And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. Then David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet."
       
      So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness...
       
      David was glad to know that the presence and glory of God could bring blessing instead of a curse. He was also glad to see that when they obeyed God they were blessed.
       
      David explained to the priests why God struck out against them in their first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem in 1 Chronicles 15:13: "For because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order."
       
      When the worship was in the proper order it was still filled with gladness and joy. It is a mistake to feel that "real" worship must be subdued or solemn or only in a minor key.
       
      When those bearing the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep: This was elaborate, excessive, over-the-top sacrifice. This excess of sacrifice communicated atonement, consecration, and longing for fellowship.
       
      1 Chronicles 15:11-15 shows us that David specifically commanded the priests to carry the ark the right way - on their shoulders. We often think that a "new cart" or "strength" or a "friendly" manner is the way to bring for the presence and glory of God. But God always wants His presence and glory to come on the shoulders of consecrated, obedient, praising, men and women.
       
      It also showed that David brought the ark to Jerusalem with a big production - bigger than the first attempt. David was wise enough to know that the problem with the first attempt wasn't that it was a big production, but that it was a big production that came from man and not God.
       
      David danced before the LORD with all his might...
       
      David did NOT hold back anything in his own expression of worship. He did NOT dance out of obligation but out of heartfelt worship. He was glad to bring the ark of the LORD into Jerusalem according to God's word.
       
      This expression of David's heart showed that he had a genuine emotional link to God.
       
      There are TWO GREAT ERRORS in this area - the error of making emotions the center of our Christian life and the error of an emotionally detached Christian life. In the Christian life emotions must not be manipulated and they must not be repressed.
       
      We do NOT think that dancing is strange when the baseball player rounds the bases after the game winning home run. We do NOT think it is strange when the winning touchdown is scored or when our own child scores a goal. We think nothing at hands raised at a concert or a touchdown. Why should we think them strange in worship to God?
       
      David was wearing a linen ephod...
       
      It is a mistake to think that David was immodest. 1 Chronicles 15:27 indicates that David was dressed just like all the other priests and Levites in this procession.
       
      From our knowledge of ancient and modern culture we can surmise that David's dance was NOT a solo performance. He probably danced with simple rhythmic steps together with other men in the way one might see Orthodox Jewish men today dance. In this context, David's linen ephod means he set aside his royal robes and dressed just like everyone else in the procession.
       
      We might also point out that David's dancing was appropriate in the context. This was a parade with a marching band, a grand procession. David's dancing fit right in. If David did this as the nation gathered on the Day of Atonement it would be out of context and wrong.
       
      Verses 16-19 tells us David brings everyone present into the worship experience and the fellowship meal.
       
      "Now as the ark of the LORD came into the City of David, Michal, Saul's daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. So they brought the ark of the LORD, and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. And when David had finished offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. Then he distributed among all the people, among the whole multitude of Israel, both the women and the men, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins. So all the people departed, everyone to his house."
       
      She despised him in her heart...
      David's wife Michal did NOT appreciate David's exuberant worship. She felt it was NOT dignified for the King of Israel to express his emotions before God.
       
      They brought the ark of the LORD, and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle...
       
      After many years - since the ark was lost in battle - the ark is returned to the tabernacle and set in the most holy place. The emblem of God's presence and glory was set at its proper place in Israel.
       
      Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD...
      The burnt offerings spoke of consecration.
      The peace offerings spoke of fellowship.
      This was a day of great consecration and fellowship with God.
       
      Verse 20 tells us Michal's complaint.
       
      "Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, "How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!"
       
      David returned to bless his household...
       
      After this day of great victory David came home to bring a blessing to his whole family.
       
      How glorious was the king of Israel today...
      With biting sarcasm, Michal's criticism could have ruined this whole day for David. He might have expected such an attack after such a remarkable day of victory.
       
      A cynic once said, "No good deed goes unpunished." Sometimes it feels like that, does it not?!
       
      Uncovering himself today...
      Michal seems to indicate that she did NOT object to David's dancing, but to what David wore when he set aside his royal robes and danced as a man just like the other men celebrating in the procession. David acted as if he were just another worshipper in Israel.
       
      Verses 21-23 tells us David's rebuke of Michal
       
      "So David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the LORD. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor." Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death."
       
      It was before the LORD...
       
      David did NOT let Michal's sarcastic criticism ruin his day. He simply explained the truth: "I did it for God, not for you."
       
      This is not a justification for everything in the context of worship. When David considered the context of the procession and the whole setting his conscience was clear. He knew his dancing was NOT inappropriate to the setting or context. Someone who acts inappropriately to the setting or context of a meeting can NOT simply justify it by saying, "It was before the LORD."
       
      To appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD...
       
      David did not say, 'Over my people': he acknowledged that they were not his people, but Jehovah's people. He was only lieutenant-governor; the Lord was still the great King of Israel.
       
      And will be humble in my own sight...
      What David did was humbling to him. He did NOT dance to show others how spiritual he was.
       
      Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death...
       
      Michal's barrenness was not necessarily the result of Divine judgment. It may be that David never had marital relations with her again. Nevertheless, the principle stands: there is often barrenness in the life and ministry of the overly critical.
       

       

    • July 3, 2016 1:20 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 7
       
      OPENS WITH GOD'S COVENANT WITH KING DAVID
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us Nathan's premature advice to David.
       
      "Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains." Then Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you."
       
      The LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around...
       
      This leads us to believe that the events of 2 Samuel 7 happened AFTER the wars of conquest described in 2 Samuel 8. This section is placed before the war accounts in the text to show its GREATER importance.
       
      Cedar wood was especially valued. This means that David lived in an expensive, beautiful home. When he remembered that the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains, the contrast bothered him. David was troubled by the thought that he lived in a nicer house than the ark of the covenant.
       
      Without saying the specific words, David tells Nathan that he wants to build a temple to replace the tabernacle. More than 400 years before this, when Israel was in the wilderness, God commanded Moses to build a tent of meeting according to a specific pattern (Exodus 25:8-9). God never asked for a permanent building to replace the tent, but now David wants to do this for God.
       
      AND WE KNOW...The tent of meeting - also known as the tabernacle - was perfectly suited to Israel in the wilderness, because they constantly moved. Now that Israel is securely in the land, and the tabernacle is in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17), David thinks it would be better and more appropriate to build a temple to replace the tabernacle.
       
      Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you...
       
      Nathan said this to David because it seemed good and reasonable. What could be wrong with David building a temple?
       
      All that is in your heart shows that David's heart was filled with this question: "What can I do for God?" He was so filled with gratitude and concern for God's glory that he wanted to do something special for God.
       
      Verses 4-7 tells us God's response to David's offer.
       
      "But it happened that night that the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, "Go and tell My servant David, 'Thus says the LORD: "Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, 'Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?'" '
       
      That night that the word of the LORD came to Nathan...
       
      This tells us CLEARLY that Nathan's response to David was presumptuous. Nathan answered according to human judgment and common sense, but before the word of the LORD came to him.
       
      Would you build a house for Me to dwell in?
       
      God seems honored that David offered to build Him a house. "You want to build Me a house? No one has ever offered to do that before, and I never commanded anyone to do it."
       
      David's wants to do more than God commands...
       
      This is a wonderful place to be in our relationship with God. Most of us are so stuck in the thinking, "How little can I do and still please the LORD?" that we never really want to do MORE than God commands.
       
      Would you build a house...
       
      David now knew that God did NOT want him to build the temple, but David did NOT respond by doing nothing. Instead of building the temple, David gathered all the materials for its construction so Solomon could build a glorious temple to God confirmed to us in 1 Chronicles 29:2-9.
       
      Verses 8-9 tells us God reminds David what He has done for him.
       
      "Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth."
       
      I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people...
       
      God TOOK David from the pasture to the throne.
       
      I have been with you wherever you have gone...
       
      God PROTECTED David from all his enemies.
       
      Have made you a great name...
       
      God MADE David's name great in all the earth.
       
      Verses 10-11 tells us God promises TWO THINGS to David.
       
      "Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house."
       
      I will appoint a place for My people Israel...
       
      God promised David that under his reign, God would establish a permanent, secure, Israel. God promised this first because He knew that David, being a godly shepherd, was first concerned about the welfare of his people.
       
      He will make you a house...
       
      God promises David that he will build him a house in the sense of establishing a dynasty for the house of David. This was an ENDURING LEGACY for David long after his death.
       
      David wanted to build God a temple. God said, "Thank you David, but no thanks. Let me build you a house instead." This was a greater promise than David's offer to God, because David's house would last longer and be more glorious than the temple David wanted to build.
       
      God HONORED what David GAVE him, even though he only gave it to God in his sincere intention. There are some things that we want to give God, but are prevented from giving. In these cases God STILL RECEIVES OUR PRECIOUS intention as the gift.
       
      Why did God say, "No" to David's offer?
       
      Because David was a MAN OF WAR, and God wanted a MAN OF PEACE to build His temple.
       
      1 Chronicles 22:8-10 explains this: "But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 'You have shed much blood and have made great wars; you shall not build a house for My name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight … a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest … He shall be build a house for My name."
       
      WE NOTICE...God's EXPLANATION to David recorded in 1 Chronicles 22:8 came years AFTERWARDS.
       
      WHY?
      MEYER answers it well, "It would have wounded David needlessly to have been told this at the time … Meanwhile David possessed his soul in patience, and said to himself, 'God has a reason; I cannot understand it, but it is well.' "
       
      Verses 12-17 tells us God details HIS PROMISE of a house for David.
       
      "When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever."' " According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David."
       
      I will set up your seed after you...
       
      In this, God specifically promises a hereditary monarchy for the house of David. It was important for God to repeat this promise specifically, because there had NEVER YET been a king succeeded by his son in Israel.
       
      This great promise that God made to David had only a future fulfillment. David would only benefit now from this promise through faith. If he had a "what's-in-it-for-me-right-now" attitude.
       
      SPURGEON says it well, "The joy which filled David's bosom was a spiritual one, because he knew that Jesus would come of his race, and that an everlasting kingdom would be set up in his person, and in him should the Gentiles trust."
       
      He shall build a house for My name...
       
      Though David would not build a temple for God, David's descendent would.
       
      I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever...
       
      THE BIBLE TELLS US....he family of David did rule over Israel for more than FOUR centuries, but was eventually removed because of evil added upon evil. Yet out of the "stump" of Jesse, God raised up a new branch that would reign for ever and ever, confirmed to us in Isaiah 11:1-2.
       
      I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him...
       
      This descendent of David will enjoy a SPECIAL relationship with God. If he sins, God will NOT reject him. Instead, God will chasten him WITHOUT rejecting him.
       
      THIS SCRIPTURE RIGHT HERE, STRAIGHT FROM THE LIPS OF ALMIGHTY GOD GIVE US AN IMPORTANT TRUTH...AND REFERENCE, FOR THOSE WHO WRONGLY TEACH AND BELIEVE THAT KING SOLOMON HAD TOO MUCH SIN FOR THE LORD TO FORIGVE. THIS SCRIPTURE TELLS US THAT WE WILL SEE KING SOLOMON IN HEAVEN.
       
      Your throne shall be established forever...
       
      God promises David that the reign of his dynasty will last forever.
       
      AND WE KNOW...THAT EACH of these great promises was PARTIALY fulfilled in Solomon, David's son and successor to his throne.
       
      HOW?
       
      1. Solomon ruled on David's throne
      2. God's mercies never departed from Solomon, though he sinned
      3. Solomon built God a magnificent house
       
      But WE KNOW the prophets foretold a GREATER fulfillment of these promises:
       
      JEREMIAH 23:5-6, "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute righteousness in the earth.... Now this is His name by which He will be called: The Lord our righteousness."
       
      ISAIAH 9:6-7, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder… Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it … from that time forward, even forever."
       
      LUKE 1:31-33, "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
       
      God's promises to David are COMPLETELY FULFILLED in Jesus Christ.
       
      HOW?
       
      1. Jesus does reign, and will reign on David's throne forever
      2. The Father's mercies never departed from Jesus, even when He was made sin for us
      3. Jesus is building the Father a magnificent house (1 Corinthians 6:19) in the sense that we are God's temples (1 Peter 2:5) and the church is God's new house.
       
      Verses 18-24 tells us David humbly glorifies and gives thanksgiving for God and for His goodness.
       
      "Then King David went in and sat before the LORD; and he said: "Who am I, O Lord GOD? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord GOD; and You have also spoken of Your servant's house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD? Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord GOD, know Your servant. For Your word's sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them. Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name; and to do for Youself great and awesome deeds for Your land; before Your people whom You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods? For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, LORD, have become their God."
       
      Who am I, O Lord GOD? … Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD...
       
      When David received this spectacular gift, he didn't think it made him any greater. In David's eyes it made God greater.
       
      David's attitude WAS NOT "I am so great that even God's gives me gifts." His attitude was, "God is so great that He gives even me gifts." We should receive salvation and every blessing with the SAME attitude. God's giving reflects the greatness of the Giver, NOT the receiver.
       
      Your servant...
       
      David's humble reception of this gift is shown by the repetition of the phrase Your servant - ten times in this prayer.
       
      It shows that David humbly accepted God's "no" when he wanted to build the temple. David when his proposal was set aside found it in his heart not to murmur, but to pray.
       
      Verses 25-29 tells us David boldly asks that the promise be fulfilled as spoken.
       
      "Now, O LORD God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said. So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, 'The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel.' And let the house of Your servant David be established before You. For You, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed this to Your servant, saying, 'I will build you a house.' Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You. And now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant. Now therefore, let it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You; for You, O Lord GOD, have spoken it, and with Your blessing let the house of Your servant be blessed forever."
       
      Establish it forever and do as You have said...
       
      David's prayer boldly asks God to do what He promised. This is NOT passive prayer that says, "Well God, do whatever You want to do - I do NOT really care one way or another." This is NOT arrogant prayer that says, "Well God, let me tell You what to do." This is bold prayer that says, "God, here is Your promise - now I trust You to fulfill it grandly and to be faithful to Your word."
       
      The phrase "therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You" emphasizes this. David is saying, "I'm only praying because You promised. You told me that this is what You want to do."
       
      This kind of prayer appropriates God's promise. Just because God promises does NOT mean that we possess. Through believing prayer like this, God promises and we appropriate. If we do NOT appropriate in faith, God's promise is left unclaimed.
       
      1. We MAY appropriate His promise for forgiveness...
       
      1 JOHN 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
       
      2. We MAY appropriate His promise for peace...
       
      JOHN 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
       
      3. We MAY appropriate His promise for guidance...
       
      PSALM 32:8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye."
       
      4. We MAY appropriate His promise for growth...
       
      PHILIPPIANS 1:6 says, "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."
       
      5. We MAY appropriate His promise for help...
       
      HEBREWS 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace of help in time of need."
       
      Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You...
       
      Notice that David prayed from THE HEART. Some people pray from a book; others pray from their head. The right place to pray from is THE HEART.
       
      You are God, and Your words are true...
       
      This is David's foundation of faith. He knows that God is God, and that every word of His is true. God can be trusted.
       
      SPURGEON sums up this chapter well, "The great sin of not believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is often spoken of very lightly and in a very trifling spirit, as though it were scarcely any sin at all; yet, according to my text, and, indeed, according to the whole tenor of the Scriptures, unbelief is the giving of God the lie, and what can be worse?"

       

    • July 3, 2016 1:04 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 8
       
      OPENS WITH KING DAVID'S MANY WARS
       
      Verse 1 tells us David subdues the PHILISTINES.
       
      "After this it came to pass that David attacked the Philistines and subdued them. And David took Metheg Ammah from the hand of the Philistines."
       
      The Philistines had troubled Israel for centuries, and often dominated Israel. Under the reign of David, he both attacked and subdued these troublesome enemies.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "David didn't avoid fighting the Philistines because Israel had lost to them so many times before. "The thing that fascinates me about this complete victory is the utter contempt with which David treated the great power of his adversaries."
       
      David took Metheg Ammah...
       
      Did you know, this is ANOTHER name for the famous Philistine city of Gath (compare 1 Chronicles 18:1). When David became king the Philistines were taking territory from God's people. Under his leadership, God's people began to take territory from the enemy.
       
      Verse 2 tells us the MOABITES put under tribute.
       
      "Then he defeated Moab. Forcing them down to the ground, he measured them off with a line. With two lines he measured off those to be put to death, and with one full line those to be kept alive. So the Moabites became David's servants, and brought tribute."
       
      David's war against Moab, and his harsh treatment of their army seems out of place considering that David's great-grandmother was a Moabite (Ruth) and that he entrusted his mother and father into the care of the Moabites (1 Samuel 22:3-4). Many Bible Hebrew scholars believe it may be that the Moabites killed or mistreated David's parents.
       
      Brought tribute...
       
      God did not want Israel to destroy every neighbor nation. Generally, God wanted Israel to be so blessed and strong that other nations were "taxed" by Israel, in recognition of their strength and dominance.
       
      Verses 3-8 tells us David conquers a SYRIAN alliance.
       
      "David also defeated Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his territory at the River Euphrates. David took from him one thousand chariots, seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. Also David hamstrung all the chariot horses, except that he spared enough of them for one hundred chariots. When the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David killed twenty-two thousand of the Syrians. Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus; and the Syrians became David's servants, and brought tribute. The LORD preserved David wherever he went. And David took the shields of gold that had belonged to the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem. Also from Betah and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, King David took a large amount of bronze."
       
      The king of Zobah (a Syrian kingdom) ran into David on his way to capture territory to the Euphrates. David's dominance extended all the way to the Euphrates River.
       
      MEYER tells us, "The border of Israel was carried to the line of the Euphrates, so that promise made by God to Abraham was fulfilled: 'Unto thy seed I have given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.' "
       
      REDPATH adds, "Then there was Syria, the great heathen nation to the north, divided into two groups with capitals at Zobah and Damascus. They united together for protection but found themselves helpless against the might of David."
       
      David hamstrung all the chariot horses...
       
      This was military necessity instead of mere animal cruelty. David could not care for so many horses while on military campaign and he could not give them back to the enemy.
       
      That David kept such a small number shows remarkable self-control and trust in God. David obeyed the principle of Deuteronomy 17:15-16 and absolutely refused to trust in horses as military weapons. His trust was in God instead (Psalm 20:7 and 33:16-17).
       
      David took the shields of gold that had belonged to the servants of Hadadezer...
       
      David took what was the glory of the enemy and transformed it into trophies of the power and goodness of God. Those shields of gold were now in the temple, testifying to God's work in and through David.
       
      AND THE BIBLE TELLS US OVER AND OVER AGAIN...God loves to take people and things that are "trophies" for the Devil and make them trophies to His power and grace, AMEN!
       
      Verses 9-14 tells us THE GLORY of David's kingdom.
       
      "When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had defeated all the army of Hadadezer, then Toi sent Joram his son to King David, to greet him and bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer and defeated him (for Hadadezer had been at war with Toi); and Joram brought with him articles of silver, articles of gold, and articles of bronze. King David also dedicated these to the LORD, along with the silver and gold that he had dedicated from all the nations which he had subdued; from Syria, from Moab, from the people of Ammon, from the Philistines, from Amalek, and from the spoil of Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah. And David made himself a name when he returned from killing eighteen thousand Syrians in the Valley of Salt. He also put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became David's servants. And the LORD preserved David wherever he went."
       
      Neighboring nations saw the hand of God on David and brought him honor and gifts. They knew that a strong, godly leader of Israel was good for the WHOLE community of nations, not just good for Israel itself.
       
      Not every pagan nation surrounding Israel was hostile to Israel or their God, and David did not treat them as if they were hostile. We make a mistake if we treat every unbeliever as an openly hostile enemy of the Lord.
       
      When David received this acclaim from the nations he dedicated it all to the LORD. He knew that the praise and glory belonged to God, not himself. David could handle success as well as apparent failure.
       
      From Syria, from Moab, from the people of Ammon, from the Philistines, from Amalek...
       
      By citing these subdued nations we learn that David's victories were complete. God used David to lead Israel to victory over enemies in every direction.
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...Israel possessed more of the land God promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21) under David's reign than at any other time.
       
      David was able to accomplish so much against God's enemies because he, unlike Saul, was not consumed with fighting against the people of God
       
      The LORD preserved David wherever he went...
       
      This is the summary of this whole chapter. EVERY victory and EVERY enemy subdued was a testimony to the Lord's preserving power in the life and reign of David.
       
      Verse 15 tells us A general description of David's government.
       
      "So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people."
       
      This chapter of victory, blessing, and prosperity describes the national life of Israel during the reign of David. This is one reason why he is generally regarded as the greatest king or ruler Israel ever had.
       
      This is how God wanted to reign in the life of Saul, but Saul resisted the Lord and rejected His Spirit. Because David allowed God to subdue Him, the nations were subdued before David.
       
      David administered judgment and justice to all his people...
       
      This shows that David was a great king to his own people, not only against neighboring nations. He fulfilled what is the fundamental duty of government - to administer judgment and justice, as confirmed in Romans 13:1-7.
       
      Verses 16-18 tells us KEY PEOPLE in David's government.
       
      "Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were the priests; Seraiah was the scribe; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were chief ministers."
       
      No great ruler succeeds by himself. Only the smallest organizations can be governed well without a gifted and committed team. Part of David's success as a ruler was in his ability to assemble, train, empower, and maintain such a team.
       
      DID YOU NOTICE, we never find such a list regarding the organization of King Saul's government. This is because David's government had much more form and structure than Saul's.
       
      There is a limit to what we can be and what we can do for the LORD without order and organization. It is NOT that order and organization are requirements for progress in the Christian life; they are progress in the Christian life, becoming more like the LORD.
       
      Nothing is accomplished in God's kingdom without order and organization. While it may seem so to us, it is only an illusion - behind the scenes God is moving with utmost order and organization though sometimes we cannot see it.
       
      The Cherethites and Pelethites...
       
      DID YOU KNOW...These were hired soldiers from Crete. "By employing foreign guards to ensure the safety of the king David would minimize the possibility of becoming the victim of inter-tribal rivalries; these men from Crete could give whole-hearted allegiance to him."
       
      ________________________________________
       
      2 SAMUEL 9
       
      OPENS WITH...DAVID'S KINDNESS TO MEPHIBOSHETH
       
      Verse 1 tells us David's kind question.
       
      "Now David said, "Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?"
       
      REMEMBER In 1 Samuel 7 David asked, "What can I do for God?" and he proposed to build a temple for the Lord. Now David asks another question we should each ask: "What can I do for others?"
       
      David's question showed a great love because Saul made himself an enemy of David. It was customary in those days for the king of a new dynasty to completely massacre anyone connected with the prior dynasty. David goes against the principle of revenge and against the principle of self-preservation and asks what he can do for the family of his enemy.
       
      David did this because he remembered his relationship and covenant with Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:14-15). His actions were not only based on feelings, but also on the promise of a covenant.
       
      Verses 2-4 tells us Ziba, a former servant of Saul, tells David about Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan.
       
      "And there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba. So when they had called him to David, the king said to him, "Are you Ziba?" And he said, "At your service!" Then the king said, "Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?" And Ziba said to the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet." So the king said to him, "Where is he?" And Ziba said to the king, "Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar."
       
      David could only learn that there was a descendant of Saul still living and could only learn where he was through this servant named Ziba. This means that Mephibosheth was in hiding.
       
      The kindness of God...
      This phrase is KEY to understanding David's motivation in this chapter. David wanted to show someone else the same kindness God showed to him.
       
      We first learned of Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 4:4. It tells us that this son of Jonathan was made lame in his feet from an accident when they heard that his father Jonathan and his grandfather Saul died in battle.
       
      We should remember why Mephibosheth's nurse gathered the boy and fled in haste at the news of Saul and Jonathan's death. She rightly feared that the leader of a new royal dynasty would execute every potential heir of the former dynasty (2 Samuel 4:4).
       
      A son of Jonathan...
       
      This means that according to the prior dynasty of Saul, Mephibosheth had the right to the throne. He was a son of the first-born son of the king, and other potential heirs were dead. In a political sense David could see Mephibosheth as a rival or a threat.
       
      Later in 2 Samuel 16:5-8 we see a man named Shimei who was a partisan for the house of Saul against David. There were at least a few in Israel who felt that the house of Saul should still reign over the nation and that David should NOT be king. Mephibosheth might draw upon these partisans and develop a rival following.
       
      Ishbosheth was Mephibosheth's uncle, and he waged a bloody war against David for the throne of Israel. There was at least an outside chance that Mephibosheth might do the same.
       
      He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel...
       
      This speaks of Mephibosheth's low station in life. He does NOT even have his own house. Instead, he lives in the house of another man.
       
      Machir the son of Ammiel later showed he was intensely loyal to David. When David's son Absalom led a rebellion against David, Machir supported and helped David at great danger to himself (2 Samuel 17:27).
       
      Verses 5-6 tells us Mephibosheth makes a HUMBLE appearance before David.
       
      "Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar. Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, "Mephibosheth?" And he answered, "Here is your servant!"
       
      Mephibosheth must have been terrified when messengers from David knocked at his door and demanded that he come with them to see the king. In the back of his mind he anticipated the day when David would do as other kings did and massacre every potential rival to his throne.
       
      The knock on the door also meant that Mephibosheth was no longer hidden from David. He felt secure as long as he believed the new king did NOT know about him.
       
      According to the custom of the times, Mephibosheth had a lot to fear from David. Yet his fear of David was not founded in fact, only on assumption.
       
      Up to this point Mephibosheth and David never had a relationship and it was because Mephibosheth wanted it that way. He avoided David out of unfounded fears.
       
      Verses 7-8 tells us David REMOVES the fears of Mephibosheth.
       
      "So David said to him, "Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father's sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually." Then he bowed himself, and said, "What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?"
       
      David made a covenant with Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20, promising to show kindness to the descendents of Jonathan. David gladly makes good on his promise, though Jonathan is long dead.
       
      David simply promised Mephibosheth would receive what was his. Mephibosheth knew about these lands all along but he was afraid to take possession of them because it would expose him before the king. David went against ALL custom in showing such kindness to an heir of the former dynasty.
       
      This goes far beyond giving Mephibosheth what was rightly his. He gave Mephibosheth the honor of a close relationship with the king.
       
      AND WE KNOW...A similar promise is given to the followers of Jesus. Jesus told the disciples that they would eat and drink at His table in heaven promised us in Luke 22:30.
       
      Mephibosheth did NOT feel worthy of such generosity. He considered himself a dead dog, meaning a worthless and insignificant person.
       
      All the years of hiding from the king and living in fear and poverty made Mephibosheth think of himself as worthless.
       
      Verses 9-12 tells us David's instructions to Ziba.
       
      "And the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, "I have given to your master's son all that belonged to Saul and to all his house. You therefore, and your sons and your servants, shall work the land for him, and you shall bring in the harvest, that your master's son may have food to eat. But Mephibosheth your master's son shall eat bread at my table always." Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, "According to all that my lord the king has commanded his servant, so will your servant do." "As for Mephibosheth," said the king, "he shall eat at my table like one of the king's sons." Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Micha. And all who dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants of Mephibosheth."
       
      In addition to the land, David gave Mephibosheth servants to work the land. The food from the land was for Mephibosheth's family, because he would eat at David's table.
       
      Mephibosheth was happy to know that David did NOT want to kill him. To have a promise like this was almost unbelievable.
       
      Verse 13 tells us David fulfills his promise to Mephibosheth.
       
      "So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king's table. And he was lame in both his feet."
       
      NO LONGER hiding in fear of the king, this descendant of Saul now lived openly among the people of God.
       
      NO LONGER in poverty and estranged from the king, now he had great privilege before the king.
       
      Mephibosheth's weakness did NOT vanish. His life was far better, but he was still lame.
       
      AND THINK ABOUT THIS...David's grace to Mephibosheth is a wonderful picture of God's grace to us. We are Mephibosheth.
       
      HOW?
       
      1. We are hiding, poor, weak, lame, and fearful before our King comes to us
      2. We are separated from our King because of our wicked ancestors
      3. We are separated from our King because of our deliberate actions
      4. We separated ourselves from the King because we didn't know him or His love for us
      5. Our King sought us out before we sought Him
      6. The King's kindness is extended to us for the sake of another
      7. The King's kindness is based on covenant
      8. We must receive the King's kindness in humility
      9. The King returns to us what we lost in hiding from Him
      10. The King returns to us more than what we lost in hiding from Him
      11. We have the privilege of provision at the King's table
      12. We are received as sons at the King's table, with access to the King and fellowship with Him
      13. We receive servants from the King
      14. The King's honor does NOT immediately take away all our weakness and lameness, but it gives us a favor and standing that OVERCOMES its sting and CHANGES the way we think about ourselves.
       
      AND THINK ABOUT THIS...David's grace to Mephibosheth is also a pattern for us in serving and ministering to others. We are David.
       
      HOW?
       
      1. We should seek out our enemies and seek to bless them
      2. We should look for the poor, weak, lame, and hidden to bless them
      3. We should bless others when they don't deserve it, and bless them more than they deserve
      4. We should bless others for the sake of someone else
      5. We must show the kindness of God to others
       
      THESE TWO CHAPTERS SHOW US DAVID'S HEART, AND HOW HE WAS A MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART AND HOW DESPITE WHAT WEAPONS AND ENEMIES MIGHT EXIST OR BE FORMED AGAINST DAVID...GOD TOOK CARE OF DAVID AND ALL OF HIS ENEMIES.

       

    • July 3, 2016 1:02 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 10
       
      OPENS WITH THE WAR WITH THE AMMONITES AND THE DEFEAT OF THE SYRIANS
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us David sends ambassadors to the Ammonites at the passing of their king.
       
      "It happened after this that the king of the people of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. Then David said, "I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness to me." So David sent by the hand of his servants to comfort him concerning his father. And David's servants came into the land of the people of Ammon.
       
      David's kindness to Mephibosheth in the previous chapter did NOT end his kind works. Here he shows kindness towards a pagan king because he can sympathize with the loss of his father.
       
      David was NOT content to JUST FEEL kindness towards Hanun. He DID something to bring the grieving man comfort.
       
      Verses 3-5 tells us Hanun, the new king of the Ammonites, treats Israel's ambassadors shamefully.
       
      "And the princes of the people of Ammon said to Hanun their lord, "Do you think that David really honors your father because he has sent comforters to you? Has David not rather sent his servants to you to search the city, to spy it out, and to overthrow it?" Therefore Hanun took David's servants, shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away. When they told David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, "Wait at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return."
       
      It IS hard to explain why these advisers to Hanun said this to the king of Ammon. It IS possible that they genuinely suspected David, or they may have just used this as a way to appear wise and cunning to King Hanun. It is common for liars to always suspect others of lying.
       
      Hanun took David's servants, shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle … and sent them away...
       
      This was a disgraceful INSULT to these ambassadors from Israel.
       
      WHY?
       
      In that culture, many men would rather die than to have their beard shaved off, because to be clean shaven was the mark of a slave but free men wore beards.
       
      To insult the ambassador is the insult the king. It was just as if they had done this to David himself. The same principle is true with King Jesus and His ambassadors.
       
      REMEMBER JOHN 15:18 tells us, Jesus reminded His disciples, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you."
       
      David did NOT use these men as political tools to whip up anger against the Ammonites. He cared more for their own dignity and honor MORE, and allowed them to wait before returning to Jerusalem.
       
      Verses 6-7 tells us The Ammonites and Israelites prepare for war.
       
      "When the people of Ammon saw that they had made themselves repulsive to David, the people of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Beth Rehob and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand foot soldiers; and from the king of Maacah one thousand men, and from Ish-Tob twelve thousand men. Now when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army of the mighty men."
       
      When the people of Ammon saw that they had made themselves repulsive... They knew that they did this. David didn't reject the Ammonites, they made themselves repulsive to Israel.
       
      The people of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians...
       
      This was a common practice in the ancient world. 1 Chronicles 19:6 says that the Ammonites paid 1,000 talents to the Syrians.
       
      This is the FIRST mention of David's mighty men, calling them the army of the mighty men. What a glorious force was the army of the mighty men!
       
      It's important to understand that David was nothing without his mighty men, and they were nothing without him. He was their leader, but a leader is nothing without followers - and David had an army of the mighty men to follow him. These men did NOT necessarily start as mighty men; many were some of the distressed, indebted, and discontent people who followed David at Adullam Cave, told to us in 1 Samuel 22:1-2.
       
      One of these mighty men was ADINO THE EZNITE - famous for killing 800 men at one time (2 Samuel 23:8).
      Another was JASHOBEAM who killed 300 men at one time (1 Chronicles 11:11).
      Another was BENAIAH who killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day and took on a huge Egyptian warrior and killed the Egyptian with his own spear (1 Chronicles 11:22-23).
       
      Verses 8-12 tells us Joab divides the army into TWO groups.
       
      "Then the people of Ammon came out and put themselves in battle array at the entrance of the gate. And the Syrians of Zoba, Beth Rehob, Ish-Tob, and Maacah were by themselves in the field. When Joab saw that the battle line was against him before and behind, he chose some of Israel's best and put them in battle array against the Syrians. And the rest of the people he put under the command of Abishai his brother, that he might set them in battle array against the people of Ammon. Then he said, "If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight."
       
      As the army of the mighty men approached the Ammonite city Joab found themselves surrounded. In front of them were the Ammonites in battle array at the entrance of the gate. Behind them were the Syrians in the field. It looked bad for the army of Israel.
       
      Joab had only ONE strategy in battle - ATTACK. Many generals would consider surrender when surrounded on both sides by the enemy, but NOT Joab. He called the army to courage and faith and told them to press on.
       
      Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight: This is a great speech by Joab before the battle.
       
      JOAB MAKES THREE IMPORTANT POINTS IN BATTLE.
       
      1. Be of good courage, and let us be strong:
       
      Courage and strength are NOT matters of feeling and circumstance. They ARE matters of CHOICE, especially when God makes His strength available to us.
       
      EPHESIANS 6:10 reminds, "We can be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might."
       
      2. Let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God...
       
      Joab called them to REMEMBER all they had to lose. If they lost this battle they would lose both their people and their cities. This was a battle bigger than themselves, and the army of the mighty men had to remember that.
       
      3. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight..
       
      Joab wisely prepared for the battle to the best of his ability and worked hard for the victory. At the same time, he knew that the outcome was ultimately in God's hands.
       
      Verses 13-14 tells us Joab defeats the Syrians, and the Ammonites retreat to the city of Rabbah.
       
      "So Joab and the people who were with him drew near for the battle against the Syrians, and they fled before him. When the people of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fleeing, they also fled before Abishai, and entered the city. So Joab returned from the people of Ammon and went to Jerusalem."
       
      They fled before him...
       
      YOU NOTICE...It does NOT even say that Joab engaged the Syrians in battle. This mercenary army FLED before the army of the mighty men because God was with them.
       
      REMEMBER DEUTERONOMY 28:7 tells us God promised this kind of blessing upon an obedient Israel.
       
      They also fled before Abishai, and entered the city...
       
      When the Ammonites saw the Syrians retreating, they also retreated. They could no more stand before the army of the mighty men than the Syrians could.
       
      Verses 15-19 tells us David wipes out the Syrian reinforcements.
       
      "When the Syrians saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they gathered together. Then Hadadezer sent and brought out the Syrians who were beyond the River, and they came to Helam. And Shobach the commander of Hadadezer's army went before them. When it was told David, he gathered all Israel, crossed over the Jordan, and came to Helam. And the Syrians set themselves in battle array against David and fought with him. Then the Syrians fled before Israel; and David killed seven hundred charioteers and forty thousand horsemen of the Syrians, and struck Shobach the commander of their army, who died there. And when all the kings who were servants to Hadadezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and served them. So the Syrians were afraid to help the people of Ammon anymore."
       
      YOU NOTICE...The enemies of Israel would NOT quit and give up after ONE defeat. They were a PERSISTENT enemy, and came back to fight again.
       
      David gathered the rest of the army of Israel to prevent this army of Syrian reinforcements from crushing the army of the mighty men. The result was glorious: the Syrians fled before Israel.
       
      The chapter ends with UNFINISHED business at Rabbah. The offending Ammonites are still in their city and Joab has returned to Jerusalem. In the Spring King David will send Joab and the army out again to deal with Rabbah as he waits in Jerusalem. While he waited comfortably in Jerusalem he fell into sin with Bathsheba.
       
      Most of us know about David's sin with Bathsheba, and how it happened when David waited in Jerusalem when he should have led the battle at Rabbah.
       
      We see in 2 Samuel 10 that God gave David a warning by showing it was necessary FOR HIM PERSONALLY to come out against the Syrians. David tried to leave the battle with Joab in 2 Samuel 10, but his army needed him and God tried to show him that by blessing it when David did go out to battle.
       
      2 Samuel 10 was God's gracious warning that David sadly wasted.
       
      2 SAMUEL 10 TEACHES US SEVERAL IMPORTANT THINGS ABOUT OUR PHYSICAL ENEMIES AND OUR SPIRITUAL ENEMIES. WE LEARN THREE IMPORTANT PRE-BATTLE POINTS TO COMPLETE. AND THEN WE LEARN THAT JESUS CHRIST LIVING WITHIN US AND JESUS BEING FOR US IS MORE THAN ENOUGH TO DEFEAT ANY ENEMY OR BATTLE WE FACE. BUT WE MUST BE PREPARED STAND, FIGHT, AND NOT GIVE UP OR GIVE IN UNTIL WE TOTALLY DEFEAT OUR ENEMIES!

       

    • July 3, 2016 1:01 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 11
       
      OPENS WITH...DAVID'S ADULTERY AND MURDER
       
      Verse 1 tells us David stays home from the war against the Ammonites.
       
      "It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem."
       
      In the SPRING OF THE YEAR...
       
      In that part of the world, wars were NOT normally fought during the winter months because rains and cold weather made travel and campaigning difficult. Fighting resumed in the spring.
       
      David SENT Joab …
       
      David should have been out at the battle but he remained behind. In 2 Samuel 10 Joab and the army of the mighty men were preserved against the Syrians and the Ammonites but they did not win a decisive victory. The decisive victory came when David LED the battle at the end of 2 Samuel 10. Both through custom and experience God told David, "You need to be at the battle." But David remained at Jerusalem.
       
      Galatians 5:16 reminds us: "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."
       
      Nevertheless, it is WRONG to think that this was THE BEGINNING of the chain of events David followed all the way down to adultery and murder.
       
      David showed his disregard God's plan for marriage many years before when he took more than one wife (1 Samuel 25:42-43, 2 Samuel 3:2-5).
       
      David's practice of adding wives showed a lack of romantic restraint and an indulgence of his passions.
       
      This CORRUPT seed, sown long ago, has grown unchecked long enough and will now begin to bear bitter fruit.
       
      ALAN REDPATH says it well, "As I think of what happened, of this I am sure, that it did not happen all at once. This matter of Bathsheba was simply the climax of something that had been going on in his life for twenty years."
       
      Verse 2 tells us David ENCOUNTERS temptation.
       
      "Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold."
       
      The Hebrew verb form of "walked" suggests that David paced back and forth on the roof. He could NOT sleep and was uneasy - uneasy because he was NOT where God wanted him to be.
       
      There is little doubt that this woman (later called by the name Bathsheba) acted immodestly. Though it was evening and apparently the time when most people were asleep, certainly she knew that her bath was visible from the roof of the palace. Any immodesty on Bathsheba's part did NOT excuse David's sin, but she was still responsible for her wrong.
       
      We must be an occasion for sin in others, even in how we dress.
       
      REMEMBER 1 Timothy 2:9 is relevant here: "The women should adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation."
       
      David's sin was NOT in seeing Bathsheba. It was unlikely that he expected or planned to see her. David's sin was in choosing to KEEP HIS EYES on an alluring image after the sight came before his eyes.
       
      Christians - men, especially - must learn to NEVER let their eyes (or their mind) REST ON alluring images except for what "belongs" to them in marriage. Our eyes must "bounce" off of an alluring image that comes in sight.
       
      David's MANY wives did NOT satisfy his lust. This was because you can NOT satisfy lusts of the flesh, because they are primarily rebellious assertions of self. It was NOT so much that David wanted Bathsheba; it was that he could NOT AND WAS NOT satisfied with what God gave him.
       
      AND THE BIBLE TELLS US ....The principle would be illustrated in an exaggerated way in the life of Solomon, David's son. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. David and Solomon show us that if one woman is NOT enough, 1000 women are NOT GOING TO BE ENOUGH EITHER.
       
      Bathsheba's great beauty made the sight tempting. But the real strength of temptation often does NOT lie in the quality of the tempting object, but in THE CURRENT STATE of heart and mind of the one being tempted. David had long been "prepared" to stumble at this very point. Even so, this temptation was not too strong for David, no matter how beautiful Bathsheba was.
       
      AND WE REMEMBER JOSEPH...Joseph was MUCH MORE severely tempted to commit sexual immorality than David was here, but he FLED that temptation.
       
      David looked at Bathsheba and said "beauty" but God saw this as ugly. The pleasures of sin deceive us like the bait hides the hook. We must call it what God calls it - SIN.
      MANKIND WANTS TO EXCUSE OR DISMISS IT.
       
      1. We want to say, "affair" but God says "adultery."
      2. We want to say, "love" but God says "lust."
      3. We want to say "sexy" but God says "sin."
      4. We want to say, "romantic" but God says "ruin."
      5. We want to say, "destiny" but God says "destruction."
       
      Verse 3 tells us David PURSUES the temptation.
       
      "So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"
       
      David COULD HAVE ENDED the temptation by leaving the scene at that time, even after entertaining the temptation for a while. Instead, David put himself into a MORE tempting situation.
       
      From this David learned that the woman came from a NOTABLE family. She was from the UPPER classes.
       
      Her father was Eliam, one of David's Mighty Men (2 Samuel 23:34).
      Her grandfather was Ahithophel - one of David's chief counselors (2 Samuel 23:34, 2 Samuel 15:12).
       
      She was the wife of Uriah the Hittite - another of David's Mighty Men (2 Samuel 23:8, 39).
       
      He also learned that this woman's husband was away, because the Mighty Men were away in battle against the Ammonites.
       
      This knowledge made the situation far more tempting. David began to think, "I could get away with this."
       
      David committed adultery in HIS HEART FIRST on the roof.
       
      Now he knows that he has an opportunity to commit adultery in practice.
      Adultery in the heart and mind is BAD.
      Adultery in practice is FAR worse.
       
      David should have received the news of the woman's identity as a WARNING.
       
      He learned that this woman was related to men close to David.
       
      In taking Bathsheba David sinned against Uriah, Eliam, and Ahithophel - each of these men were close, faithful, and important to David.
       
      Verse 4 tells us David embraces the temptation.
       
      "Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house."
       
      David sent messengers, and took her...
      In this the man after God's heart went AGAINST his own heart, following through on a lustful impulse. David ignored every warning and way of escape God set before him.
       
      AND KEIL tells us, "In the expression he took her, and she came to him there is NO intimation whatever that David brought Bathsheba into his palace through craft or violence, but rather that she came at his request WITHOUT ANY hesitation, and offered NO resistance to his desires. Consequently Bathsheba is not to be regarded as free from blame."
       
      He lay with her...
       
      David knew this was wrong, yet he did it. It's hard to explain David's thinking here, because he was NOT thinking. He acted on feeling and impulse instead of thinking.
       
      If David thought about all this, he would see that the cost was so much greater than he wanted to consider at the time. If David knew that this illicit pursuit of pleasure would directly or indirectly result in:
       
      - An unwanted pregnancy
      - The murder of a trusted friend
      - A dead baby
      - His daughter raped by his son
      - One son murdered by another son
      - A civil war led by one of his sons
      - A son who imitates David's lack of self-control and it leads him and much of Israel away from God
       
      The same kind of ruin comes of adultery today.
       
      We think about all the children who went to bed without daddy at home because of the terrible attack on our country on September 11, 2001.
       
      But far more children go to bed every night without daddy in the house because of ADULTERY.
       
      At this moment David agreed with the world's understanding of the purpose of sex, seeing it primarily as the pursuit of a pleasurable experience.
       
      With his many wives, David may have never really understood God's purpose for sex: to be the "cement" that helps bond together a one-flesh relationship.
       
      She was cleansed from her impurity...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      This confirms that Bathsheba had recently had her menstrual period and was NOT already pregnant when David committed adultery with her.
       
      It seemed like David "got away" with this sin. But he and we could only think that if we believed the sin was something good God wanted to keep from David. David did something harmful and destructive to himself and others and harm and destruction will come of it. Just because David was NOT caught at the moment does NOT mean that he got away with anything.
       
      Verse 5 tells us Bathsheba's message to David.
       
      "And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, "I am with child."
       
      David and Bathsheba did NOT plan on this.
       
      SADLY...they were terrified both at the "problem" of the pregnancy itself and that it meant that their adultery would be found out.
       
      Her message "involved an appeal to him to take the necessary steps to avert the evil consequences of the sin.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      BATHSHEBA is referring to LEVITICUS 20:10, because the law required that BOTH the adulterer and adulteress should be put to death.
       
      Verses 6-11 tells us David attempts to COVER UP his sin.
       
      "Then David sent to Joab, saying, "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah had come to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people were doing, and how the war prospered. And David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house and wash your feet." So Uriah departed from the king's house, and a gift of food from the king followed him. But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. So when they told David, saying, "Uriah did not go down to his house," David said to Uriah, "Did you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?" And Uriah said to David, "The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing."
       
      When David heard the disastrous news of Bathsheba's pregnancy he should have used it as a prompting TO REPENT.
       
      Instead, David did what MOST unrepentant sinners do: TRY to hide his sin. He wanted to draw Uriah back home to have relations with Bathsheba to give a reason for her pregnancy.
       
      The whole concept of hiding our sin is deceptive.
       
      THE BIBLE TELLS US...
       
      1. Our sin is never hidden before God.
      2. Our sin is only hidden with difficulty from our conscience.
      3. Our hidden sin hinders our fellowship with God and others and is a barrier to spiritual life and power.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "The real question for us all is: Are we prepared to face sin? Not to discuss someone else's sin, but to face our own."
       
      GOD'S ANSWER to hidden sin is confession and repentance.
       
      SPURGEON says, "As soon as ever we are conscious of sin, the right thing is not to begin to reason with the sin, or to wait until we have brought ourselves into a proper state of heart about it, but to go at once and confess the transgression unto the Lord, there and then."
       
      David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people were doing, and how the war prospered...
       
      This was David's awkward attempt to pretend that nothing happened. David gave every appearance that things were normal when before God nothing was normal or right.
       
      The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents...
       
      This shows that Uriah had a PASSION for the glory of God, even though he was a Hittite and not a native Jew.
       
      This shows Uriah as a man of great INTEGRITY. He was a true "team player" who did not want to enjoy the comforts of home as long as his fellow soldiers endured hardship on the field of battle.
       
      BALDWIN says it well, "David had expected and hoped that Uriah would prove to be like himself; instead he proved to be a man of integrity, whose first loyalty was to the king's interests rather than to his own pleasure."
       
      Verses 12-13 tells us David's SECOND attempt to cover his sin FAILS.
       
      "Then David said to Uriah, "Wait here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart." So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk. And at evening he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house."
       
      David LIED to Uriah, knowing that he wanted to get back to the battle front as soon as possible. He hopes that Uriah will treat the coming evening as his last before returning to battle and be with Bathsheba.
       
      David HOPED that getting Uriah drunk would weaken his resolve to identify with his fellow troops. Yet Uriah did not go down to his house, refusing to enjoy what his fellow soldiers could not while the battle still rages.
       
      URIAH is a good example of how Christians should conduct themselves as fellow-soldiers in the spiritual battle.
       
      ROMANS 12:15-16 reminds, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another."
       
      David was drunk with lust when he slept with Bathsheba; he hoped that making Uriah drunk with wine would bring the same result.
       
      Verses 14-17 tells us David sends Uriah to battle with his own death sentence in hand.
       
      "In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, "Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die." So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men. Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also."
       
      Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle...
       
      Having failed to cover his sin, David wanted Uriah dead.
      Many adulterers secretly wish death would free them to marry the object of their adultery. This is the very heart of murder even if the deed is not done. David had the power to act on his wish.
       
      And sent it by the hand of Uriah...
       
      David TRUSTED the integrity of Uriah so much that he made him the unwitting messenger of his own death sentence.
       
      David COMMANDED Joab to arrange Uriah's death. Though it was hidden by the raging battle, Uriah was murdered just as surely as if David killed him in his own home.
       
      SPURGEON says it well, "Though we mourn over David's sin, yet we thank God that it was permitted, for if he had not so fallen he had not been able to help us when we are conscious of transgression. He could not have so minutely described our griefs if he had not felt the same. David lived, in this respect, for others as well as for himself."
       
      Joab did exactly what David commanded. He knew it was wrong but simply followed orders and murdered Uriah at David's order.
       
      If not immediately confronted, one sin can take a wretched course.
       
      David indulged his sensual lusts for years and ignored God's warnings and ways of escape.
      He allowed temptation to turn into lust and lust to turn into adultery.
      When the consequences of his adultery threatened to expose his sin he covered it first with deception and then with murder.
      Satan could never tempt David with the entire package at once, but he could deceive him with it piece by piece.
       
      Verses 18-25 tells us Joab sends word of Uriah's death back to David.
       
      "Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, and charged the messenger, saying, "When you have finished telling the matters of the war to the king, if it happens that the king's wrath rises, and he says to you: 'Why did you approach so near to the city when you fought? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Was it not a woman who cast a piece of a millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?'; then you shall say, 'Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.'" So the messenger went, and came and told David all that Joab had sent by him. And the messenger said to David, "Surely the men prevailed against us and came out to us in the field; then we drove them back as far as the entrance of the gate. The archers shot from the wall at your servants; and some of the king's servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also." Then David said to the messenger, "Thus you shall say to Joab: 'Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another. Strengthen your attack against the city, and overthrow it.' So encourage him."
       
      Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      This is a reference to Judges 9:50-57, where Abimelech was killed by coming too close to the walls of a city under siege. The idea is that Joab knew it was a bad military move to get so close to the walls, but that he did it anyway on the command of David.
       
      David heard these words with relief. He thought that now he could marry Bathsheba and give a plausible explanation for her pregnancy.
       
      The sword devours one as well as another...
       
      This was a proverb regarding fortunes of war. It was a way of saying, "These things happen." David said it to his own guilty conscience as much as he said it to Joab.
       
      Verses 26-27 tells us David marries Bathsheba.
       
      "When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD."
       
      We have no reason to believe that Bathsheba KNEW that David arranged the death of her husband. It is likely that David concealed all this from Bathsheba. At the same time, she was partly relieved to hear of her husband's death.
       
      This was nothing new for David. He had added wives before, so now he simply adds another.
       
      The thing that David had done displeased the LORD...
       
      DO YOU NOTICE...This is the first mention of God in the chapter. God witnessed every event and read the intent of every heart, but His displeasure is only implied until this specific statement.
       
      David's state of heart in the intervening year is reflected in Psalm 32:1-5: "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and You forgave the iniquity of my sin."
       
      Psalm 32 shows that David was under INTENSE conviction during this time and that all the joy in his life evaporated away. David knew the stress and agony of living a double, false life. He found no relief until he repented and got right with God again.
       
      David was in that terrible place where he had too much sin in him to be happy in God, but he had too much of God in him to happy in sin. Because David was a man after God's heart, God WILL DRAW David to repentance and restoration.

    • July 3, 2016 12:59 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 12
       
      OPENS WITH NATHAN CONFRONTS DAVID SIN, DAVID CONFESSES, REPENTS, & IS FORGIVEN BY GOD
       
      Verses 1-4 tells us Nathan's parable.
       
      "Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: "There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. "The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."
       
      Then the LORD SENT Nathan to David...
       
      David's sin displeased the LORD but David would NOT listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit or to his conscience. Now God will send someone else to speak to David. God mercifully kept speaking to David even when David would NOT listen.
       
      Yet no one should presume that God would speak forever to the unrepentant sinner. God said in Genesis 6:3, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever." When we hear or sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit we must respond to it immediately, because it might not always be there.
       
      With wisdom and courage, Nathan used a story to get the message through to David. It was common in those days to keep a lamb as a pet, and Nathan used this story of the pet lamb to speak to his friend David.
       
      WE REMEMBER...IN 1 SAMUEL 7, the prophet Nathan delivered a message of great blessing to David. David knew that Nathan was NOT a negative critic but a friend. It made David receptive to the message of the story.
       
      Who refused to take from his own flock … he took the poor man's lamb...
      The sin Nathan describes is theft.
      WHY?
      There is a sense in which David stole something from Uriah. The Bible says that in marriage a husband has authority over the body of his wife (and vice-versa). Obviously David did NOT have this authority over the body of Bathsheba and he stole from Uriah.
       
      THIS TEACHES US THAT...Adultery and sexual immorality are THEFT IN THE EYES OF JESUS - taking something that does not belong to us.
       
      This principle is also true regarding pornography and lust.
       
      REMEMBER Leviticus 18 describes the sin of uncovering the nakedness of those other than our spouse. The idea is that the nakedness of others does NOT belong to us and it is THEFT if we take it.
       
      Verses 5-6 tells us David CONDEMNS the cruel man of Nathan's story.
       
      "So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity."
       
      Nathan did not ask David for a judicial decision, and David naturally assumed the story was true. David immediately passed sentence on the guilty man of Nathan's story. David shows that we often try to rid our guilty consciences by passing judgment on someone else.
       
      The man who has done this shall surely die! David's sense of righteous indignation was so affected by his own guilt that he commanded a death sentence for the hypothetical case brought by Nathan, even though it was NOT a capital crime.
       
      David had to condemn his own sin before he could find forgiveness. We often try to find refuge in excusing or minimizing or deflecting the blame of our sin and we do not simply condemn sin in our self.
       
      David's use of the oath "As the Lord lives" shows how passionate his indignation is. He calls God to witness the righteousness of his death sentence upon Nathan's hypothetical rich man.
       
      He shall restore fourfold for the lamb...
      David rightly knew that penalizing the rich man - even with death - was NOT enough. He also had to restore something to the man he took something from. David knew that true repentance means restitution.
       
      Restore fourfold also shows that David's sin and hardness of heart did NOT diminish his knowledge of the Bible. He immediately KNEW what the Bible said about those who steal sheep.
       
      WHERE?
       
      EXODUS 22:1 says, "If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep."
       
      David knew the words of the Bible but was distant from the Author.
       
      Because he had no pity...
       
      The idea is that the man should have had pity on his neighbor and did not. In the same way David should have had pity on Uriah and Bathsheba's father and grandfather.
       
      Verses 7-9 tells us Nathan's confrontation.
       
      "Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.' "
       
      You are the man: With this, Nathan applied the parable with alarming simplicity. Nathan had to shock David into seeing his sin for what it was.
       
      Shocked, but NOT frightened...
       
      MACLAREN says it well, "You cannot frighten men into repentance, you may frighten them into remorse; and the remorse may or may not lead on to repentance. God accuses us and condemns us one by one that He may save us one by one."
       
      A personal salvation requires a personal conviction of sin. It was NOT enough for David to confess that he was a sinner in a general sense; he had to confess his sin at this very point.
       
      It costs nothing to say, "I'm not everything I should be" or "I ought to be a better Christian." It does cost something to say, "I have been a trouble-maker in this church" or "I have had bitterness towards certain leaders, to whom I apologize right now."
       
      I anointed you … I delivered you … I gave you … and gave you the house of Israel and Judah … I also would have given you much more...
       
      Through Nathan, God explains to David that his sin was really a base expression of ingratitude. When God gave all this to David and had so much more to give him, David sought out sin instead.
       
      Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight?
       
      WE REMEMBER in Psalm 19:8, David said: The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes."
       
      Yet by his sin he despised the commandment of the LORD. David acted as if God's command was wrong and to be despised when he did evil in His sight.
       
      You have killed Uriah … you have taken his wife...
       
      This is all another way of saying, "You are the man!" God WILL NOT allow David to blame anyone or anything else.
       
      Verse 10 tells us David's punishment.
       
      "Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife."
       
      The sword shall never depart from your house...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      God promised that from this day forward David would know violence and bloodshed among his own family members.
       
      David demanded FOURFOLD restitution for the man in Nathan's parable.
       
      God exacted FOURFOLD restitution for Uriah from four of David's sons: Bathsheba's child, Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah.
       
      Because you have despised Me...
       
      In 2 Samuel 12:9 God said that David despised the commandment of the LORD. Here Nathan explained that in doing this, David despised God Himself. We can NOT despise God's commandments without despising Him.
       
      Many who live in either open or hidden sin seem to believe it has NO effect or LITTLE effect on their relationship with God. But despising God's commandment means despising God Himself, and we can NOT have fellowship with God and despise Him at the same time.
       
      REMEMBER 1 JOHN 1:6, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth."
       
      The wife of Uriah the Hittite...
       
      God did NOT even use Bathsheba's own name. He wanted David to consider Bathsheba not only as an individual but as the wife of Uriah the Hittite.
       
      Verses 11-12 tells us Adversity against David.
       
      "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.'"
       
      I will raise up adversity against you from your own house...
       
      God warns David that because he troubled another man's house, God will allow trouble to come upon David's house - from within the house.
       
      I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor...
       
      As David violated another man's wife, so another will violate his wives. This was fulfilled in 2 Samuel 16:21-22.
       
      AND WE KNOW...Absalom abused his father's concubines on the house-top: and haply on that same terrace from whence he first looked, liked, and lusted after Bathsheba."
       
      You did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel...
      In these judgments, David will reap what he has sown - with interest.
       
      Verse 13 tells us David's repentance.
       
      "So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."
       
      David's confession is an example for each of us.
      HOW?
      1. He placed the blame squarely on his own shoulders.
      2. He did not minimize his offence.
      3. David realized that he especially sinned against God.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...In the original Hebrew, David's statement I have sinned against the LORD amounts to only two words: hata al-Yahweh. These two words, and the heart they reflect, show the fundamental difference between David and Saul. Confession does NOT need to be long to be real and sincere.
       
      KEIL adds, "The words are very few, but that is a good sign of a thoroughly broken spirit. There is no excuse, no hiding, no concealment of the sin. There is no searching for a loophole, no pretext put forward, no human weakness pleaded. He acknowledged his guilt openly, candidly and without any denial of truth."
       
      This was an exceptionally good response from a man of David's standing in life. When confronted with sin, kings often say, "Off with their head." David shows that God was working on his heart all along, and Nathan's confrontation was just the last piece of that work.
       
      MORGAN adds, "In all this David was pre-eminently revealed as a man after God's own heart. Other men who had been guilty of such failure might have defended their actions, might have slain the prophet. Not so with this man. He knew God, and he knew the wrong of his action, and he confessed his sin."
       
      David speaks of himself. It is NOT "we" though it was true that he was not the only sinner. Yet David knew that he had to deal with HIS sin. David shows personal responsibility for his sin.
       
      Have sinned...
       
      David does NOT use elaborate or soft vocabulary. He sinned. It was NOT a mistake, an error, a mess-up, an indiscretion, or a problem.
       
      Against the LORD...
       
      This expressed the enormity of David's sin. His sin against Bathsheba, against Uriah, against Ahithophel, against his wives and children, and against the nation were great. But his sin against the LORD was greatest of all. There are no small sins against a great God, and great sins are even greater.
       
      After meditation, David more eloquently expressed his repentance in Psalm 51.
      "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight - that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.... For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, and broken and contrite heart - these, O God, You will not despise.
       
      Verses 13-14 tells us Forgiveness and the immediate consequences of David's sin.
       
      "And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die."
       
      The LORD also has put away your sin...
       
      WE NOTICE...God's forgiveness was IMMEDIATE.
      God did NOT demand a time of probation.
      You shall not die meant that David would be spared the penalty for adultery commanded under the Law of Moses.
       
      It was because David believed the word, You are the man! That he could also believe the word, The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
       
      You have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme:
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
      David did this by doing just what those enemies of the LORD would do in the same situation. What David did was NOT unusual among the kings and rulers of the world, but it should be unusual among God's people.
       
      The child who is born to you shall surely die...
       
      There is a DIFFERENCE in judgment FOR sin and judgment BY sin.
      God forgave David's sin, but He would NOT shield him from every consequence of the sin. David must face the consequences of his sin, beginning with the death of the child born by Bathsheba.
       
      This shows that God did NOT only want to heal David of the guilt of his sin; He also wanted to heal David of the presence of this sin.
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...
      We never read of David committing adultery EVER AGAIN because God used these chastisements to drive such impurities far from David.
       
      Verses 15-23 tells us The death of David's son.
       
      "Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them. Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, "Indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He may do some harm!" When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" And they said, "He is dead." So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, "What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food." And he said, "While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?' But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
       
      The LORD struck the child...
      This is hard for many to accept.
      Sadly, often the innocent are made to suffer because of the sin of the guilty.
      Since the sickness came immediately after the words of Nathan the prophet, it was received as from the hand of God.
       
      This was far more tragic for David and Bathsheba than it was for the child himself.
       
      WHY?
       
      Their young son suffered for several days and we may trust that God's comfort was extended to the child in the midst of suffering. At the end of his suffering the child went to eternal glory. Though the child died, the chastisement was really upon David and Bathsheba and NOT upon the child.
       
      This passage answers MANY QUESTIONS we have about miscarriage, stillborn death, crib death, and what happens when the unborn and the new born die...THEY RETURN TO JESUS.
       
      THE INNOCENT ARE NOT HELD TO THE SAME GODLY STANDARDS AS THE AWARE AND KNOWING SINNER.
       
      THERE IS NO REASON AND NO PURPOSE FOR BAPTIZING THE NEWBORN AND THE NEWBORN ILL...THE INNOCENT ARE PRECIOUS AND PROTECTED BY OUR JESUS. THEY RETURN IMMEDIATELY TO JESUS IN HEAVEN.
       
      WHAT A PRECIOUS COMFORT FOR THOSE OF US WHO HAVE HAD MISCARRIAGES AND HAVE LOST NEWBORN BABIES.
       
      That Uriah's wife bore to David...
       
      Though Uriah was dead and David was legally married to Bathsheba, the Biblical writer can NOT help but refer to Bathsheba as Uriah's wife. This is because when the child was conceived Uriah was alive and Bathsheba was Uriah's wife. It is God's way of saying, "Uriah's death and the subsequent marriage does NOT make everything alright."
       
      David therefore pleaded with God for the child...
       
      WHY?
       
      David is right to take the announcement and presence of God's judgment as an invitation to earnestly seek His mercy. When God's judgment is announced or present, we should NOT receive it passively or fatalistically. We should cry out to God in repentance and ask for His grace and mercy, realizing we deserve NONE of it.
       
      David fasted … the child died...
       
      This shows that extraordinary prayer and fasting does NOT change God's mind. It put David in the right place to receive what he must from God but it did not "FORCE" God to change His plan as so many falsely teach.
       
      Extraordinary prayer and fasting are NOT tools to get whatever we want from God. They are demonstrations of radical submission and surrender to God's power and will.
       
      He went into the house of the LORD and worshiped...
       
      This shows that David's extraordinary prayer and fasting were answered. He had a sense of peace when the child died, knowing he did all he could to seek God's mercy in a time of chastisement.
       
      The ability to worship and honor God in a time of trial or crisis is a wonderful demonstration of spiritual confidence.
       
      I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me...
       
      David was confident that his son would meet him in heaven. This is an indication that babies and children who pass from this world to the next will go to heaven.
       
      1 Corinthians 7:14 says, "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."
       
      For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife...
       
      Why should a Christian try to keep their marriage to a non-Christian together? Because God can be glorified in such a marriage, and do a work through the believing spouse to draw the unbelieving spouse to Jesus Christ.
       
      SANCTIFIED, in this context, does NOT mean that the unbelieving spouse is saved just by being married to a Christian. It simply means that they are set apart for a special working in their lives by the Holy Spirit, by virtue of being so close to someone who is a Christian.
       
      Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy...
       
      Not only does the presence of a believing spouse do good for the unbelieving spouse, it also does good for the children - and great good, because it can be said now they are holy.
       
      This is a beautiful assurance that the children of a Christian parent are saved, at least until they come to an age of personal accountability (which may differ for each child). However, we have no similar assurance for the children of parents who are not Christians. In fact, the sense of the text argues against it. How could Paul claim it as a benefit for a Christian parent to be in the home, if the same benefit automatically applies to the children of non-Christians also? As well, Paul says otherwise your children would be unclean - clearly giving the sense that apart from the presence of a Christian parent, the child is not regarded as holy, rather as unclean.
       
      If the children of non-Christian parents are saved, and do go to heaven - even some of them - it is important to understand that it is not because they are innocent. As sons and daughters of guilty Adam, we are each born guilty as well. If such children do go to heaven, it is not because they are deserving innocents, but because the rich mercy of God has been extended to them as well.
       
      But we know at the age of accountability, which differs with each child, that children then MUST PERSONALLY ONE ON ONE CALL UPON THE NAME OF JESUS, MUST REPENT, AND MUST CHOSE AND PROCLAIM JESUS CHRIST AS THEIR OWN PERSONAL LORD, SAVIOR, MASTER, AND FRIEND TO BE SAVED.
       
      Verses 24-25 tells us God extends His mercy to David and Bathsheba.
       
      "Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the LORD loved him, and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD."
       
      David comforted Bathsheba his wife...
       
      DID YOU NOTICE...This is the FIRST time the Bible calls this woman Bathsheba except for the mere reporting of her name in 2 Samuel 11:3. Each time before this she is called the wife of Uriah. Only now, after the chastisement for sin, is she called Bathsheba his wife.
       
      Went in to her and lay with her...
       
      This shows that God did not command that David forsake or leave Bathsheba, even though his marriage to her was originally sinful. He was to honor God in the marriage commitment he made, even though it began in sin.
       
      AND WE REMEMBER Paul commands the same principle in 1 Corinthians 7:17: "As the Lord has called each one, so let him walk."
       
      In part, this principle in context warns us against trying to undo the past in regard to relationships. God tells us to repent of whatever sin is there and then to move on.
      If you are married to your second wife, after wrongfully divorcing your first wife, and become a Christian, do NOT think you must now leave your second wife and go back to your first wife, trying to UNDO the past. As the Lord has called you walk in that place right now.
       
      So she bore a son … the LORD loved him...
       
      This shows the great forgiveness and tenderness of God. He did not hold a grudge against David and Bathsheba. The days of blessing and fruitfulness were NOT over for David.
       
      He called his name Solomon...
      Remarkably it is this son - the son born out of a marriage that began in adultery - that will be heir to David's throne. God chose this son among David's many sons to be heir to the throne and the ancestor of the Messiah to demonstrate the truth that God DOES FORGIVE AND DOES BLESS repentant sinners.
       
      People may not forgive; we may refuse to really believe that we are forgiven. But God forgives repentant sinners.
       
      So he (GOD) called his name Jedidiah...
      The name Jedidiah means, "loved of the LORD." It was God's way of saying that He would love and bless this son of David and Bathsheba.
       
      Verses 26-28 tells us Joab fights against Rabbah.
       
      "Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the people of Ammon, and took the royal city. And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, "I have fought against Rabbah, and I have taken the city's water supply. Now therefore, gather the rest of the people together and encamp against the city and take it, lest I take the city and it be called after my name."
       
      Joab fought against Rabbah and the people of Ammon, and took the royal city...
      This continues the war that began in 2 Samuel 10. Joab was about to complete the defeat of the Ammonites.
       
      Lest I take the city and it be called after my name...
       
      Joab goads David into returning to battle by saying, "I'll take all the credit to myself if you do NOT come and finish this war."
       
      Joab struggled for more than a year to conquer Rabbah, and the victory only came when David got things right with God. There was an unseen spiritual reason behind the lack of victory at Rabbah.
       
      Verses 29-31 tells us David captures the city, takes the spoil, and sets the people to forced labor.
       
      "So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah, fought against it, and took it. Then he took their king's crown from his head. Its weight was a talent of gold, with precious stones. And it was set on David's head. Also he brought out the spoil of the city in great abundance. And he brought out the people who were in it, and put them to work with saws and iron picks and iron axes, and made them cross over to the brick works. So he did to all the cities of the people of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem."
       
      David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah...
      This is the FINAL PHASE of David's restoration. He went back to doing what he should have done all along - leading Israel out to battle, instead of remaining in Jerusalem.
       
      Fought against it, and took it...
      David is in victory once again. His sin did not condemn him to a life of failure and defeat. There was chastisement for David's sin, but it did not mean that his life was ruined.
       
      He took their king's crown … it was set on David's head...
       
      David's sin did NOT take away his crown. Had David refused the voice of Nathan the Prophet it might have. Because David responded with confession and repentance, there was still a crown for David's head.

       

    • July 3, 2016 12:57 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 13
       
      OPENS WITH DAVID'S CHILDREN: AMNON, TAMAR, AND ABSALOM
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us Amnon's infatuation with Tamar.
       
      "After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. Amnon was so distressed over his sister Tamar that he became sick; for she was a virgin. And it was improper for Amnon to do anything to her."
       
      SO WHO WERE ABSALOM AND TAMAR?
       
      This brother and sister were the children of David through David's wife named Maacah, who was the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur confirmed to us in 2 Samuel 3:3.
       
      SO WHO WAS AMNON?
       
      Amnon was David's first born son, born from his wife Ahinoam the Jezreelitess confirmed to us in 2 Samuel 3:2. Being the first born, Amnon was the crown prince - first in line for the throne of Israel.
       
      THIS VERSE TELLS US that Amnon longed for Tamar so much that he became lovesick. It was even more difficult for him because she was a virgin - meaning that she was available for marriage, but not to Amnon because marriage between half-brother and sister was forbidden, because they had the same father, but different mothers.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...The name Tamar means "Palm Tree," signifying fruitfulness. The name Absalom means "His Father's Peace." The name Amnon means "Faithful, Stable."
       
      IT IS SAD THAT NONE OF THEM MEASURED UP TO THEIR NAMES.
       
      Verses 3-5 tells us Jonadab's evil advice.
       
      "But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David's brother. Now Jonadab was a very crafty man. And he said to him, "Why are you, the king's son, becoming thinner day after day? Will you not tell me?" Amnon said to him, "I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister." So Jonadab said to him, "Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. And when your father comes to see you, say to him, 'Please let my sister Tamar come and give me food, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat it from her hand.'"
       
      Jonadab was INDEED a very crafty and wicked minded man.
       
      WHY?
       
      Jonadad's wicked advice to Amnon begins a disastrous chain of events. Jonadab was a cousin to Amnon, being the son of David's brother cofirmed to us in 2 Samuel 13:32.
       
      I love Tamar...
       
      Very SHALLOW words. As later events will show, he did NOT love Tamar at all. Amnon LUSTED after Tamar and called it love. He certainly is not the last person to do this, and lust often presents itself as love.
       
      My brother Absalom's sister...
       
      If Absalom is my brother than clearly Tamar is my sister. In his lust, Amnon cannot allow himself to call Tamar his sister - instead, she is Absalom's sister. The power of lust is strong enough to TWIST the way we see reality.
       
      Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Jonadab advised Amnon to deceitfully arrange a private meeting with Tamar. He does NOT need to say, "And then force yourself on Tamar" because in their shared wickedness, Jonadab and Amnon think the same wicked thoughts.
       
      Verses 6-10 tells us Amnon pretends illness in order to be alone with Tamar.
       
      "Then Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, "Please let Tamar my sister come and make a couple of cakes for me in my sight, that I may eat from her hand." And David sent home to Tamar, saying, "Now go to your brother Amnon's house, and prepare food for him." So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was lying down. Then she took flour and kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. And she took the pan and placed them out before him, but he refused to eat. Then Amnon said, "Have everyone go out from me." And they all went out from him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, "Bring the food into the bedroom, that I may eat from your hand." And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them to Amnon her brother in the bedroom."
       
      WE NOTICE FROM THE FIRST that Amnon's behavior is clearly childish, and David indulged it. Amnon acted like a baby. It is childish to refuse food unless it is served the way we want it.
       
      From this and other passages, it appears that David was generally indulgent towards his children. This may be because he felt guilty that having so many wives, children, and responsibilities of state, that he did NOT take the time to be a true father for his children. He dealt with the guilt by being soft and indulgent with his children.
       
      Amnon took Jonadab's wicked advice quickly and completely. It's too bad that men do NOT often respond to godly advice the same way.
       
      And David sent home to Tamar...
       
      This is what Amnon wanted. If he is alone with Tamar because David commanded it, then it gives part of the responsibility to David.
       
      But he refused to eat...
       
      Amnon shows that all he told David was a lie. He continues the deception so he can force himself upon Tamar in the bedroom, after he has all his servants, and we know (witnesses) removed from his rooms.
       
      Verses 11-14 tells us Amnon rapes Tamar.
       
      "Now when she had brought them to him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, "Come, lie with me, my sister." And she answered him, "No, my brother, do not force me, for no such thing should be done in Israel. Do not do this disgraceful thing! And I, where could I take my shame? And as for you, you would be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you." However, he would not heed her voice; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her."
       
      Amnon's evil naturally reveals itself. Here he admits his incestuous desire as he makes the wicked suggestion to Tamar. Amnon seems to be a spoiled prince who always took what he wanted.
       
      Do not do this disgraceful thing! Tamar COULD easily see how evil and disgraceful this was. Amnon could NOT see what was so plainly evident because he was blinded by lust.
       
      Where could I take my shame? And as for you, you would be like one of the fools in Israel.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Tamar wisely asks Amnon to consider the result of his desire, both for her and for him. It would shame Tamar and reveal Amnon as one of the fools. Blinded by lust, Amnon WILL NOT see the inevitable result of his desire.
       
      CLARKE says it well, "There is something exceedingly tender and persuasive in this speech of Tamar; but Amnon was a mere brute, and it was all lost on him."
       
      Please speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The Law of Moses commanded against any marriage between a half-brother and sister in Leviticus 18:11. Tamar probably said this simply as a ploy to get away from Amnon.
       
      He forced her and lay with her...
       
      This was nothing but rape. Tamar did whatever she could to avoid this and all the blame clearly lays on Amnon.
       
      Verse 15 tells us Amnon rejects Tamar.
       
      "Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, "Arise, be gone!"
       
      Amnon hated her exceedingly...
      This reveals Amnon's TRUE HEART and his attraction for Tamar for what it was - MOMENTARY LUST...not love. Amnon was attracted to Tamar FIRST BECAUSE HE LUSTED FOR HER AND SECOND BECAUSE SHE WAS FORBIDDEN TO HIM.
      LUST DOES NOT CONSIDER THE OTHER PERSON AND THEIR FEELINGS, DESIRES, OR WISHES....LUST IS WICKED AND SELFISH.
       
      SO AMNON was SELF-POSSESSED and ONLY CARED about what he could get from her, not out of concern for her. In many lustful relationships there is a combination of both love and lust but in Amnon's attraction there was only lust.
       
      In this single-minded lust, Amnon only built upon the example of his father David. David was never this dominated by lust, but he was pointed in the same direction. David's multiple wives (2 Samuel 3:2-5) and adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-4) displayed this same direction.
       
      This is often how the iniquity of the fathers is carried on by the children to the third and fourth generations told to us in Exodus 20:5. A child will often model a parent's sinful behavior, and go further in the direction of sin the parent is pointed towards.
       
      The hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her...
       
      Amnon had NO real love for Tamar, only lust and so he immediately felt guilty over his sin. Tamar was simply a reminder of his foolish sin. He wanted every reminder of his sin to be put far away.
       
      SMITH says it well, "Let me give a friendly, fatherly, tip unto all of you young girls, who may be in the position of Tamar, in that you have some fellow who is really pressing hard to have sex with you. He is the soul of kindness. He is very attentive. He calls all the time. He opens the door for you. He brings you flowers, but he's pushing hard for a sexual relationship. Don't give in. If you really love him, make him wait until you're married. If he really loves you, he will. Over, and over, time and again, the fellow will press and press until he has taken you to bed, and that's the last you see or hear from him. You're no longer a challenge. He's conquered, and he's off for new conquests. If you really love him and want him, make him wait. If you really love God, and love yourself, make him wait."
       
      Verses 16-18 tells us Amnon casts Tamar out of his presence.
       
      "So she said to him, "No, indeed! This evil of sending me away is worse than the other that you did to me." But he would not listen to her. Then he called his servant who attended him, and said, "Here! Put this woman out, away from me, and bolt the door behind her." Now she had on a robe of many colors, for the king's virgin daughters wore such apparel. And his servant put her out and bolted the door behind her."
       
      This evil of sending me away is worse than the other that you did to me...
       
      What Amnon did to Tamar was wrong, but he could still somewhat redeem the situation by either marrying her or paying her bride-price in accordance with Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29. The payment was meant to compensate for the fact that Tamar was now less likely to be married, no longer being a virgin.
       
      A robe of many colors...
       
      The idea behind the Hebrew phrase is that it was a robe extending all the way down to the wrists and ankles, as opposed to a shorter one. It was a garment of privilege and status, showing the person did not have to work much.
       
      Put this woman out … bolt the door behind her...
       
      Tamar deserved better treatment as an Israelite. Tamar deserved better treatment as a relative. Tamar deserved better treatment as a sister. Tamar deserved better treatment as a princess. Despite all this, Amnon spitefully treats Tamar as this woman.
       
      Verses 19-20 tells us Tamar mourns, Absalom comforts her.
       
      "Then Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore her robe of many colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head and went away crying bitterly. And Absalom her brother said to her, "Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this thing to heart." So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house."
       
      Tamar correctly treated this as a calamity and did not hide the truth that a terrible crime was committed against her. She did not give place to shame voice saying, "This was somehow your fault."
       
      Has Amnon your brother been with you? Amnon probably thought he had concealed his crime. Nevertheless it was so obvious to Absalom that he immediately knew that Amnon was responsible.
       
      Part of the blindness of lust leads the lustful man or woman to believe that their actions are NOT obviously apparent to others. Amnon was deceived by this.
       
      Tamar did NOT go to her father David because she knew he tended to be indulgent to his sons, and excuse all kinds of evil in them.
       
      Verses 21-22 tells us David's anger and inaction.
       
      "But when King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. And Absalom spoke to his brother Amnon neither good nor bad. For Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar."
       
      David was right to be angry but he did NOT do anything to either protect Tamar or to correct Amnon. It may be that David was conscious of his own guilt in a similar matter and therefore felt the lack of moral authority to discipline his own son.
       
      Absalom spoke to his brother Amnon neither good nor bad...
      Absalom played it cool. His devious nature set the stage for future revenge.
       
      Verses 23-27 tells us Absalom invites all the king's sons to a feast.
       
      "And it came to pass, after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal Hazor, which is near Ephraim; so Absalom invited all the king's sons. Then Absalom came to the king and said, "Kindly note, your servant has sheepshearers; please, let the king and his servants go with your servant." But the king said to Absalom, "No, my son, let us not all go now, lest we be a burden to you." Then he urged him, but he would not go; and he blessed him. Then Absalom said, "If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us." And the king said to him, "Why should he go with you?" But Absalom urged him; so he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him."
       
      After two full years...
      Two years have went by but Absalom did NOT FORGET AND DID NOT stop plotting revenge Amnon's sin against Tamar.
       
      Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal Hazor...
       
      WE KNOW THAT SHEEP SHEARING was a festive time, and it was natural that Absalom would have a great feast and invite Amnon and all the king's sons.
       
      So he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him...
       
      Absalom shows some of the same cunning we saw in Amnon. He asked David to allow Amnon and all the king's sons to come to the feast. This made David partly responsible for their meeting, just as Amnon got David to allow Tamar to visit him with food.
       
      Verses 28-29 tells us Absalom kills Amnon.
       
      "Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, "Watch now, when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, 'Strike Amnon!' then kill him. Do not be afraid. Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and valiant." So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and each one got on his mule and fled."
       
      As a cunning killer, Absalom waited until Amnon was relaxed and vulnerable. Amnon probably came to the feast nervous about being with Absalom, but after a few cups of wine he was relaxed. At that moment, Absalom gave the order to "Strike Amnon!" and they murdered him.
       
      AND WE REMEMBER...God promised David that the sword shall never depart from your house in 2 Samuel 12:10 in judgment of David's sin. This is definitely a partial fulfillment of this promise.
       
      Verses 30-36 tells us David learns of the murder of Amnon.
       
      "And it came to pass, while they were on the way, that news came to David, saying, "Absalom has killed all the king's sons, and not one of them is left!" So the king arose and tore his garments and lay on the ground, and all his servants stood by with their clothes torn. Then Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David's brother, answered and said, "Let not my lord suppose they have killed all the young men, the king's sons, for only Amnon is dead. For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar. Now therefore, let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead. For only Amnon is dead." Then Absalom fled. And the young man who was keeping watch lifted his eyes and looked, and there, many people were coming from the road on the hillside behind him. And Jonadab said to the king, "Look, the king's sons are coming; as your servant said, so it is." So it was, as soon as he had finished speaking, that the king's sons indeed came, and they lifted up their voice and wept. Also the king and all his servants wept very bitterly."
       
      AND THINK ABOUT THIS...It is significant that David did NOT react to this news with disbelief. He sensed that Absalom was capable of such evil. David reacted with mourning instead of disbelief.
       
      Jonadab brings the "good" news to David that only Amnon is dead, and dead because he forced his sister Tamar. Jonadab probably hoped to gain favor with David by bringing this more favorable news, but God KNEW that Jonadab set the whole course of events in motion with his WICKED advice to Amnon.
       
      David is rightly grieved at learning of the death of his eldest son, the Crown Prince Amnon. Yet David lack of correction against Amnon contributed to this murder. If David had administered Biblical correction according to Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Absalom would not have felt as free to administer his own brutal correction.
       
      AND SADLY WE KNOW...Absalom's fratricide would NEVER have taken place if David had taken instant measures to punish Amnon.
       
      Verses 37-39 tells us Absalom flees to Geshur.
       
      "But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day. So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And King David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead."
       
      Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur: Absalom did NOT go to a city of refuge because he was guilty, and the cities of refuge were only meant to protect the innocent.
       
      This made sense for Absalom because his mother's father was the king of Geshur told to us in 2 Samuel 3:3.
       
      King David longed to go to Absalom...
       
      After three years, the sting of Amnon's murder was not as sharp. David simply longed to be reconciled to Absalom again - without correcting his son for his evil. David indulgence towards Amnon is repeated towards Absalom and he will meet a similar end.

       

    • July 3, 2016 12:55 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 14
       
      OPENS WITH ABSALOM RETURNS TO JERUSALEM
       
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us Joab's plan to intercede and reconcile David and Absalom.
       
      "So Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was concerned about Absalom. And Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman, and said to her, "Please pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning apparel; do not anoint yourself with oil, but act like a woman who has been mourning a long time for the dead. Go to the king and speak to him in this manner." So Joab put the words in her mouth."
       
      Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was concerned about Absalom: David was obviously troubled by his estranged relationship with Absalom. Joab, David's chief general, and Zeruiah, his sister's son, perceived this and decided to do something to bring David and Absalom together.
       
      We know that Joab was fiercely loyal to David and he may have done this to protect David. Joab figured that it was dangerous to have Absalom stewing away in a distant country, and felt that the safest thing to do was to bring about reconciliation between father and son.
       
      Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman: Joab decides to soften David's heart towards Absalom by bringing a widow before him with a similar story of estrangement from her son.
       
      Verses 4-11 tells us the woman of Tekoa tells a story of one son dead and another son threatened with death.
       
      "And when the woman of Tekoa spoke to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and prostrated herself, and said, "Help, O king!" Then the king said to her, "What troubles you?" And she answered, "Indeed I am a widow, my husband is dead. Now your maidservant had two sons; and the two fought with each other in the field, and there was no one to part them, but the one struck the other and killed him. And now the whole family has risen up against your maidservant, and they said, 'Deliver him who struck his brother, that we may execute him for the life of his brother whom he killed; and we will destroy the heir also.' So they would extinguish my ember that is left, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the earth." Then the king said to the woman, "Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you." And the woman of Tekoa said to the king, "My lord, O king, let the iniquity be on me and on my father's house, and the king and his throne be guiltless." So the king said, "Whoever says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall not touch you anymore." Then she said, "Please let the king remember the LORD your God, and do not permit the avenger of blood to destroy anymore, lest they destroy my son." And he said, "As the LORD lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground."
       
      Help, O king!
       
      DID YOU KNOW...In ancient Israel those felt that their local judges did NOT treat them fairly had access to the court of the king himself.
       
      Deliver him who struck his brother, that we may execute him for the life of his brother whom he killed...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The woman of Tekoa speaks of the CUSTOM of the avenger of blood. The avenger of blood had the responsibility of avenging the death of a member of the family.
       
      AND WE KNOW...The cities of refuge mentioned in Numbers 35:9-34 were meant to protect someone guilty of manslaughter from being killed by an avenger of blood before the case could be heard properly.
       
      As the LORD lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground...
       
      This is what the woman - AND Joab behind her - waited to hear. Now David ignores the cause of justice for the sake of family sympathy and loyalty. In personal relationships it is a good and glorious thing to be generous with forgiveness and mercy when we are wronged. But David had a responsibility as the king and chief judge of Israel, and he was being sorely tempted to forsake that responsibility.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "King David (he) guaranteed safety at the expense of justice, and immediately the farsighted woman captured him in her trap."
       
      There were several factors that made this woman's appeal successful.
       
      1. She was a widow, which would invite sympathy
      2. She lived at some distance from Jerusalem, which made it difficult to easily know or inquire of the facts of her case
      3. She was old, which gave more dignity to her story
      4. She wore the clothes of mourning to heighten the effect
      5. She brought a case of family estrangement to David
      6. She brought a case that was not too similar, lest it arouse David's suspicions
       
      Verses 12-17 tells us the woman of Tekoa applies her story to David and Absalom.
       
      "Therefore the woman said, "Please, let your maidservant speak another word to my lord the king." And he said, "Say on." So the woman said: "Why then have you schemed such a thing against the people of God? For the king speaks this thing as one who is guilty, in that the king does not bring his banished one home again. For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him. Now therefore, I have come to speak of this thing to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. And your maidservant said, 'I will now speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his maidservant. For the king will hear and deliver his maidservant from the hand of the man who would destroy me and my son together from the inheritance of God.' Your maidservant said, 'The word of my lord the king will now be comforting; for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king in discerning good and evil. And may the LORD your God be with you.' "
       
      The king does not bring his banished one home again...
       
      The woman of Tekoa speaks boldly to David, confronting his sin of not initiating reconciliation with Abasalom. Because he was estranged from David and growing more and more bitter, Absalom was a threat to Israel and David allowed it (Why then have you schemed such a thing against the people of God?).
       
      David had some responsibility to initiate reconciliation. If David approached Absalom he might be rejected, but he still had the responsibility to try. Yet as king and chief judge of Israel, he had a responsibility to both initiate reconciliation and to do it the right way. Sadly, David will NOT succeed in this.
       
      We will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground...
       
      The woman of Tekoa is wisely speaking to David about the urgency of reconciliation. "David, we all die and then the opportunity for reconciliation is over. Do it now."
       
      But He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him..
       
      The woman of Tekoa means, "Find a way to do it, David. God finds a way to bring us back to Himself." It is true that God finds a way - but not at the expense of justice. God reconciles us by satisfying justice, NOT by ignoring justice.
       
      This is one of the best gospel texts in the Old Testament. If we are under the chastening of God, we may FEEL like banished ones. Yet we can put our place of being His banished ones, belonging to Him and trusting Him to bring us back to Him.
       
      God has devised a way to bring the banished back to Him, that they might not be expelled from Him. The way is through the person and work of Jesus, and how He stood in the place of guilty sinners as He hung on the cross and received the punishment that we deserved.
       
      Verses 18-20 tells us David asks the woman of Tekoa if Joab prompted her.
       
      "Then the king answered and said to the woman, "Please do not hide from me anything that I ask you." And the woman said, "Please, let my lord the king speak." So the king said, "Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?" And the woman answered and said, "As you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right hand or to the left from anything that my lord the king has spoken. For your servant Joab commanded me, and he put all these words in the mouth of your maidservant. To bring about this change of affairs your servant Joab has done this thing; but my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of the angel of God, to know everything that is in the earth."
       
      Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?
       
      David somehow knew that a plan this subtle had to come from the hand of Joab.
       
      He put all these words in the mouth of your maidservant...
       
      Joab orchestrated this with precision. He knew exactly what strings to pull in David. Joab was loyal to David, but it was NOT a selfless loyalty.
       
      Verses 21-24 tells us Absalom returns to Jerusalem but not to David.
       
      "And the king said to Joab, "All right, I have granted this thing. Go therefore, bring back the young man Absalom." Then Joab fell to the ground on his face and bowed himself, and thanked the king. And Joab said, "Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord, O king, in that the king has fulfilled the request of his servant." So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. And the king said, "Let him return to his own house, but do not let him see my face." So Absalom returned to his own house, but did not see the king's face."
       
      Bring back the young man Absalom...
       
      Joab got what he wanted and what he thought was best for the nation of Israel. He hoped that Absalom's reconciliation with David would prevent a rebellion.
       
      Let him return to his own house, but do not let me see my face...
      David was over-indulgent with his sons in the past (as when he did nothing against Amnon in 2 Samuel 13:21). Now David is too harsh with Absalom, refusing to see him after he had been in exiled in Geshur for three years (2 Samuel 13:38).
       
      THIS TEACHES AND SHOWS PARENTS AN IMPORTANT PRECEPT....When parents do NOT discipline properly from the beginning, they tend to over-compensate in the name of "toughness." This often provokes the children to wrath (Ephesians 6:4) and makes the parent-child relationship worse.
       
      Verses 25-27 tells us Absalom's handsome appearance & gaining an audience with his father.
       
      "Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he cut the hair of his head; at the end of every year he cut it because it was heavy on him; when he cut it, he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels according to the king's standard. To Absalom were born three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar. She was a woman of beautiful appearance."
       
      In all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks...
       
      This begins to explain WHY Absalom was popular in Israel. SADLY, Israel was ALSO attracted to King Saul because he was a very good-looking man told to us in 1 Samuel 9:2. Their popularity & approval had NOTHING to do with their LACKING character, heart, wisdom, and honor of The Lord.
       
      Absalom was also a man of political destiny.
       
      WHY DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Absalom was the THIRD son of David (2 Samuel 3:2-5). The firstborn Amnon was gone, and we hear nothing more of Chileab, the second born. It is likely that Absalom was NOW the crown prince, NEXT in line for the throne.
       
      He weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Absalom had such a great head of hair that he cut five and one-half pounds of hair off his head every year.
       
      REDPATH reminds, "Absalom was extremely proud of his long hair, and he lost his life because of it."
       
      One daughter whose name was Tamar...
       
      Absalom was a man of deep and sympathetic feeling. He memorialized his wronged sister Tamar by naming a daughter after her.
       
      Verses 28-32 tells us Absalom is REFUSED an audience with the king.
       
      "And Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, but did not see the king's face. Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king, but he would not come to him. And when he sent again the second time, he would not come. So he said to his servants, "See, Joab's field is near mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire." And Absalom's servants set the field on fire. Then Joab arose and came to Absalom's house, and said to him, "Why have your servants set my field on fire?" And Absalom answered Joab, "Look, I sent to you, saying, 'Come here, so that I may send you to the king, to say, "Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still." ' Now therefore, let me see the king's face; but if there is iniquity in me, let him execute me."
       
      Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, but did NOT see the king's face...
       
      During these two years we can imagine that Absalom grew more and more bitter against David. He was reconciled but only partially; David offered only a partial, incomplete reconciliation.
       
      Absalom was banished from Israel because he murdered his brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13). Yet Absalom felt entirely justified in killing the man who raped his sister. His sense of justification made the bitterness against David MORE intense.
       
      Frustrated that he can NOT see his father, and that Joab, his uncle REFUSES to come see him, Absalom burns Joab's fields to get his attention. This shows how brutal, spoiled, and amoral Absalom was.
       
      It's hard to think of a greater contrast than that between Absalom and the Prodigal Son of Jesus' parable. The Prodigal Son came back humble and repentant. Absalom came back burning Joab's fields.
       
      SPURGEON says it well, "At the same time, sometimes God gets our attention by setting our "barley field" on fire. "He, knowing that we will not come by any other means, sendeth a serious trial - he sets our barley-field on fire, which he has a right to do, seeing our barley-fields are far more his than they are ours."
       
      If there is any iniquity in me, let him execute me...
      This statement reflects Absalom's sense that he FELT FULLY justified in murdering AMNON, the first born son of King David, for the RAPE AND SHAME he did to his sister Tamar.
       
      Verse 33 tells us David receives Absalom.
       
      "So Joab went to the king and told him. And when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Absalom."
       
      As brutal and amoral as Absalom was, it worked. Burning Joab's fields got his attention and FORCED Joab intercede on Absalom's behalf.
       
      Absalom outwardly submits to David, but David's two-year refusal to reconcile left a legacy of bitterness in Absalom's heart and mind that will turn out badly for David, for Absalom, and for Israel.
       
      Then the king kissed Absalom...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      David offered Absalom forgiveness WITHOUT any repentance or resolution of the wrong. In personal relationships it is often a sign of love and graciousness to overlook a wrong.
       
      Proverbs 10:12 says, "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins."
       
      But as King of Israel this was MORE than a personal matter with David. He was the "chief judge" of Israel and David excused and overlooked Absalom's obvious crimes.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "David's forgiveness of Absalom was completely inadequate, leading to a further outbreak of sin. God's forgiveness of a man's soul is completely adequate, and a great deterrent to continued sin."
       
      "May God write it on your soul: if the pardon you want is that God should wink at your sin, He will not do it."
       
      ABSALOM WOULD HAVE HAD HIS BITTERNESS QUENCHED, IF HIS FATHER HAS PUNISHED HIM, AS HE PUNISHED AND JUDGED OTHERS IN ISRAEL.
       
      KING DAVID'S INDULGENCE AND FORGIVENESS OF HIS CHILDREN, THIS TIME, ABSALOM, WITHOUT COST, DID NOT BRING PEACE AND REPENTANCE AND RESTORATION BUT LEFT THE DOOR OPEN FOR SATAN TO WHISPER AND STIR UP THE ANGER AND BITTERNESS ALL THE MORE IN ABSALOM.
       
      THIS TEACHES PARENTS, THAT BOUNDARIES ARE NECESSARY. RULES ARE NECESSARY. DISCIPLINE IS NECESSARY. AND STANDING BY THOSE RULES, BOUNDARIES, AND DISCIPLINES, WHILE AT THAT MOMENT THEY MAY NOT BE APPRECIATED BY CHILDREN, THAT CHILD WILL KNOW THAT THEY REALLY MATTER, AND THAT THEIR PARENTS ARE EVER-VIGILANT, STRONG, STEADY, AND STRONG AND NOT COMPROMISING TO THEM OUT OF LOVE FOR THEM.
       
      MORE TIMES THAN NOT, INDULGENCE, DISMISSAL, WAVING AWAY THE SIN, EXCUSING THE SIN, THE BREAKING OF RULES, BOUNDARIES, AND DISCIPLINES TELL CHILDREN THAT THEY DO NOT MATTER ENOUGH TO BE CARED FOR AND IMPORTANT TO THE PARENTS.

    • July 3, 2016 12:54 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 15
       
      OPENS WITH ABSALOM'S REBELLION & DECEPTIVE TAKE-OVER.
       
      Verses 1-6 tells us Absalom steals the hearts of the men of Israel.
       
      "After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, "What city are you from?" And he would say, "Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel." Then Absalom would say to him, "Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you." Moreover Absalom would say, "Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice." And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel."
       
      Chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Absalom did NOT want the chariot for speed, but to make an impressive procession. This is Absalom the politician, sensing what the people want and knowing how to provide them with the image of what they want.
       
      Samuel - who anointed Absalom's father - never went around with horses and chariots and an entourage. Samuel traveled on foot - and as a man, Absalom was NOT worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as Samuel.
       
      Whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision...
       
      Ancient kings were MORE than JUST the heads of government, they were also the "supreme court" of their kingdom. If someone believed that a local court did not give them justice they appealed to the court of the king, where the king or a representative of the king heard their case.
       
      Your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Absalom PURPOSEFULLY LIED and stirred up dissatisfaction with David's government and campaigned against David by promising to provide justice that David denied the people.
       
      Oh, that I were made judge in the land … I would give him justice...
       
      Absalom had reason to be disillusioned with David's administration of justice.
      HOW?
      1. When Amnon, David's first born son raped Tamar his sister David did nothing.
      2. When Absalom did something about it, David banished Absalom and kept him at a distance even when he came back.
       
      Whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Absalom was skilled at projecting a "man of the people" image. In an obvious display, he would NOT let others bow down to him but would lift them up, shake their hand, and embrace them.
       
      From what we know of Absalom we can guess that he really did NOT consider himself a "man of the people" at all. He regularly acted as if he was ABOVE others and the laws that applied to others did NOT apply to him. He knew he was better looking, better connected, better off, and had better political instincts than most anyone. But these political instincts made Absalom know that he had to create the image of a man of the people.
       
      In ancient Israel they were too easily impressed by image and too slow to see or appreciate the reality behind the image. Since then, we are only more impressed by image over reality.
       
      Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
       
      SIMPLY MEANS, Absalom's cunning campaign worked. He became more popular and more trusted than David.
       
      Absalom knew exactly how to do this.
       
      1. He carefully cultivated an exciting, enticing image (chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him)
      2. He worked hard (Absalom would rise early)
      3. He knew where to position himself (beside the way to the gate)
      4. He looked for troubled people (anyone who had a lawsuit)
      5. He reached out to troubled people (Absalom would call to him)
      6. He took a personal interest in the troubled person (What city are you from?)
      7. He sympathized with the person (your case is good and right)
      8. He never attacked David directly (no deputy of the king to hear you)
      9. He left the troubled person more troubled (no deputy of the king to hear you)
      10. Without directly attacking David, Absalom promised to do better (Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice)
       
      Absalom's clever approach made him able to subvert and divide David's kingdom without saying any specific thing that could condemn him. If someone objected Absalom would simply say, "Tell me one specific thing that I have said or done." In fact, Absalom could do all this and say, "I'm helping David to deal with all this discontent" while Absalom was in fact promoting discontent.
       
      David was Israel's GREATEST king - and Israel became dissatisfied with him and let a wicked, amoral man steal their hearts.
       
      How could it happen?
      1. Because David was getting older
      2. Because David's sins diminished his standing
      3. Because people like change and Absalom was exciting
      4. Because Absalom was very skilled and cunning
      5. Because David had to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings, and be rejected like the Son of David would later be rejected.
       
      CLARKE says it well, "Behold a king, the greatest that ever lived, a profound politician, an able general, a brave soldier, a poet of the most sublime genius and character, a prophet of the Most High God, and the deliverer of his country, driven from his dominions by his own son, abandoned by his fickle people."
       
      Verses 7-10 tells us Absalom plans the overthrow of David's kingdom.
       
      "Now it came to pass after forty years that Absalom said to the king, "Please, let me go to Hebron and pay the vow which I made to the LORD. For your servant took a vow while I dwelt at Geshur in Syria, saying, 'If the LORD indeed brings me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD.'" And the king said to him, "Go in peace." So he arose and went to Hebron. Then Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, "As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, 'Absalom reigns in Hebron!'"
       
      After forty years...
       
      This may be Absalom's age at the time, but some believe that this is a minor corruption of the text and that it should read four years, based on the readings in Syriac and Arabic translations, Josephus, and some Hebrew manuscripts.
       
      Let me go to Hebron and pay the vow which I made to the LORD...
       
      Absalom committed TREASON under the guise of worship. He knew that the appearance of spirituality could work in his favor.
       
      It is possible - perhaps likely - that Absalom did all this feeling spiritual and in God's will. Men in Absalom's place often deceive themselves with words like this: "Lord, You know we need new leadership. Thank you for raising me up for such a time as this. Guide me and bless me, Oh Lord, as I endeavor to do what is best for Your people."
       
      AND THE BIBLE TELLS US AND SHOWS US THAT...DIVISIVE PEOPLE ALMOST NEVER SEE THEMSELVES AS BEING DIVISIVE.
       
      They see themselves as crusaders for God's righteous cause and often believe or hope God's hand is upon them. This is especially a problem when many will only believe a person is divisive if they admit they are divisive.
       
      Go in peace...
       
      DID YOU KNOW...Ironically, these are David's LAST words to Absalom. Upon hearing these Absalom went to carry on the plot to overthrow David's kingdom
       
      Absalom reigns in Hebron...
      Absalom counted on the hope that MOST of Israel would see this as succession not treason.
       
      Verses 11-12 tells us Legitimacy for Absalom's government.
       
      "And with Absalom went two hundred men invited from Jerusalem, and they went along innocently and did not know anything. Then Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city; from Giloh; while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number."
       
      With Absalom went two hundred men invited from Jerusalem...
      Absalom wisely knew that he NEEDED others to endorse - or to appear to endorse - his government. He counted on these two hundred men, who were not against David, to at least be silent - and give the impression that they were FOR Absalom.
       
      THIS TEACHES US A GREAT LESSON AND A WARNING...When the innocent and unknowing are among the divisive, their silence is ALWAYS received as agreement.
       
      Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor...
       
      Absalom's government gained more prestige when one of David's top aides defected to his side.
       
      Ahithophel was renowned for his wisdom and wise counsel (2 Samuel 16:23). Even wise men can be led into siding with divisive leaders. In Ahithophel's case it was probably prompted by a sense of personal hurt and bitterness because of what David did to Ahithophel's granddaughter Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:3 and 23:34).
       
      While he offered sacrifices...
       
      Absalom was CRAFTY AND CAREFUL to keep up his religious practices, both for the sake of image and because he was deceived enough to think that God wanted to bless him.
       
      And the conspiracy grew strong...
       
      Once some started coming to Absalom's side it encouraged more and more to come. Momentum builds because others are doing it.
       
      Verses 13-18 tells us David flees from Jerusalem with the help of faithful friends.
       
      "Now a messenger came to David, saying, "The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom." So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, "Arise, and let us flee; or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword." And the king's servants said to the king, "We are your servants, ready to do whatever my lord the king commands." Then the king went out with all his household after him. But the king left ten women, concubines, to keep the house. And the king went out with all the people after him, and stopped at the outskirts. Then all his servants passed before him; and all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had followed him from Gath, passed before the king."
       
      Arise, and let us flee; or we shall not escape from Absalom...
       
      David knew well that Absalom was a ruthless man who valued power over principle. He did NOT want the city of Jerusalem to become a battleground (strike the city with the edge of the sword) so he fled the city.
       
      The king's … the king … the king...
       
      The writer here wants to emphasize that David is the king, despite Absalom's treachery.
       
      The king left ten women, concubines, to keep the house...
       
      David thought - and had reason to think - that these ten woman could be safely left behind. He felt he needed someone to look after the house.
       
      Sadly, this also tells us that David had at least ten concubines. A concubine was essentially a legal mistress. In addition to David's many wives, this shows that David was a man who sometimes indulged his passions instead of restraining them in a godly way.
       
      All the Cherethites, all the Pelethites...
       
      These men comprised David's PERSONAL bodyguard. The Gittites faithfully followed him from the time he lived among the Philistines (who followed him from Gath). These men who were faithful to David before he became successful also stick with him when his success seems to be fading away.
       
      It is remarkable that in this defining moment FOREIGNERS rallied around David; it is more remarkable - and tragic - that his OWN countrymen and his OWN family are nowhere to be found.
       
      Passed before the king...
       
      As David watched this procession leave Jerusalem and head for safety, he was greatly pained. This is reflected in the Psalm that David wrote during this time.
       
      PSALM 55:4-8...David was afraid..."My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. And I said, "Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest."
       
      PSALM 3:1-6...David put his trust in God...."Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, "There is no help for him in God." But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around."
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...Psalms 41, 61, 62, and 63 were also written during this period.
       
      Verses 19-23 tells us David's FAITHFUL friends.
       
      "Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, "Why are you also going with us? Return and remain with the king. For you are a foreigner and also an exile from your own place. In fact, you came only yesterday. Should I make you wander up and down with us today, since I go I know not where? Return, and take your brethren back. Mercy and truth be with you." And Ittai answered the king and said, "As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in whatever place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be." So David said to Ittai, "Go, and cross over." Then Ittai the Gittite and all his men and all the little ones who were with him crossed over. And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people crossed over. The king himself also crossed over the Brook Kidron, and all the people crossed over toward the way of the wilderness."
       
      Why are you also going with us?
       
      As David watched the procession of his faithful supporters, Ittai the Gittite caught his eye. David could NOT understand why this newly-arrived foreigner should risk such loyalty to David.
       
      Return and remain with the king...
       
      In calling Absalom the king David shows that he will not cling to the throne. At that moment it seemed that Absalom would succeed, so David called him the king and left it unto the LORD.
       
      As my lord the king lives...
       
      Ittai meant David, not Absalom. David told Ittai, "Remain with the king." Ittai answered back, "That's exactly what I intend to do - and you are the king."
       
      Whatever place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be...
       
      Ittai was loyal to David when it looked to cost him something. True loyalty is NOT demonstrated until it is likely to cost us to be loyal.
       
      MACLAREN says it well, "Remember, the more rebels there are, the more need for us to be conspicuously loyal to our King Jesus."
       
      ITTAI teaches much about TRUE LOYALTY.
       
      1. Ittai did it when David was down
      2. Ittai did it decisively
      3. Ittai did it voluntarily
      4. Ittai did it having newly come to David
      5. Ittai did it publicly
      6. Ittai did it knowing that the fate of David became his fate
       
      SPURGEON adds, "If Ittai, charmed with David's person and character, though a foreigner and a stranger, felt that he could enlist beneath his banner for life - yea, and declared that he would do so there and then-how much more may you and I, if we know what Christ has done for us, and who He is and what He deserves at our hands, at this good hour plight our troth to Him and vow, 'As the Lord liveth, surely in whatsoever place my Lord and Savior shall be, whether in death or life, even there also shall His servant be.' "
       
      We must determine that wherever Jesus is, we will be also.
      1. He lives in the heavenlies, so will we be.
      2. He is with His church, so will we be.
      3. He is busy in His work, so will we be.
      4. He is with children, so will we be.
       
      Toward the way of the wilderness...
       
      Many years before David left the safety of Saul's palace to live as a fugitive. Those years in the wilderness prepared David to be king. God sends David out into the wilderness to continue the same work in his life.
       
      Verses 24-26 tells us David's submission to God's chastening.
       
      "There was Zadok also, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar went up until all the people had finished crossing over from the city. Then the king said to Zadok, "Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus: 'I have no delight in you,' here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him."
       
      Zadok also, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God...
       
      The priests WERE loyal to David, even though it would probably mean death for them if Absalom succeeded. It was good that the men who should have been spiritually sensitive to Absalom's evil and David's good WERE in fact sensitive to it.
       
      Carry the ark of God back into the city...
       
      David trusted in God, not in the ark of the covenant. He was willing to let the ark go back to Jerusalem and put his fate in God's hands.
       
      If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back … if He says thus: "I have no delight in you," here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him...
       
      David's humble and chastened spirit proves he knew God dealt with him righteously. David submitted to God, but with an ACTIVE submission, not a PASSIVE one.
       
      Verses 27-29 tells us David sends the priests back to gather information.
       
      "The king also said to Zadok the priest, "Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. See, I will wait in the plains of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me." Therefore Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem. And they remained there."
       
      Are you not a seer? David recognized that Zadok was a prophet. A man of supernatural insight might be a valuable information source for David.
       
      Verse 30 tells us David on the Mount of Olives.
       
      "So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up."
       
      David went up the Ascent of the Mount of Olives...
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...When Jesus went from the Last Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, He essentially TRACED David's steps. Both David and Jesus suffered for sin, but Jesus suffered for our sins and David suffered for his own.
       
      Wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot...
      WHY?
      These were EMBLEMS of mourning. David was struck by the greatness of this tragedy for the nation, for his family, and for himself.
       
      MORGAN says it well, "In light of all the facts it is almost certain that the tears David shed as he climbed Olivet, were rather those of humiliation and penitence, than those of self-centered regret. For Absalom there was no excuse, but David carried in his own heart ceaselessly the sense of his own past sin."
       
      This shows David to be a REDEEMED man.
      WHY?
      Some would say that God let David off easy - that he deserved the death penalty for adultery and murder. If God forgave him and spared David that penalty, surely David would just do it again. Those who say they do not understand how grace and forgiveness work in the heart of the redeemed. David's sin was ever before him - and in a strange combination of deep gratitude and horror over his forgiven sin, David never did it again.
       
      Verses 31-37 tells us David hears of Ahithophel's defection to Absalom.
       
      "Then someone told David, saying, "Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom." And David said, "O LORD, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!" Now it happened when David had come to the top of the mountain, where he worshiped God; there was Hushai the Archite coming to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head. David said to him, "If you go on with me, then you will become a burden to me. But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, 'I will be your servant, O king; as I was your father's servant previously, so I will now also be your servant,' then you may defeat the counsel of Ahithophel for me. And do you not have Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? Therefore it will be that whatever you hear from the king's house, you shall tell to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Indeed they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz, Zadok's son, and Jonathan, Abiathar's son; and by them you shall send me everything you hear." So Hushai, David's friend, went into the city. And Absalom came into Jerusalem."
       
      Turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness! David knew that Ahithophel was normally a good advisor, but he prayed that the counsel he gave to Absalom would be foolish.
       
      David had come to the top of the mountain, where he worshipped God...
       
      David's life was in danger and he had to flee. Yet he took time to stop at the top of the Mount of Olives, look back upon Jerusalem and the tabernacle, and he worshipped God. David knew worship was ALWAYS important and could worship when circumstances were bad.
       
      Then you may defeat the counsel of Ahithophel for me...
       
      David sent Hushai, his other aide, back to Jerusalem to frustrate Ahithophel's counsel to Absalom.
       
      Absalom came into Jerusalem...
       
      Absalom came into Jerusalem as a cunning, wicked rebel.
      David came into Jerusalem as a brave, noble conqueror (2 Samuel 5:6-7).
      Jesus came into Jerusalem as a servant-king (Matthew 21:4-10).

    • July 3, 2016 12:52 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 16
       
      OPENS WITH DAVID FLEES AS ABSALOM ASSERTS HIS REIGN
       
      Verses 1-2 Ziba deceives as he meets David with supplies.
       
      "When David was a little past the top of the mountain, there was Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth, who met him with a couple of saddled donkeys, and on them two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred clusters of raisins, one hundred summer fruits, and a skin of wine. And the king said to Ziba, "What do you mean to do with these?" So Ziba said, "The donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat, and the wine for those who are faint in the wilderness to drink."
       
      Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth...
       
      We remember Ziba is the servant of Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan to whom David showed great kindness to told to us in 2 Samuel 9.
       
      Who met him with a couple of saddled donkeys...
      At a time of great need, Ziba met David with essential supplies. This was a generous and helpful gift from Ziba.
       
      Verses 3-4 tells us Ziba LIES & SPEAKS AGAINST Mephibosheth.
       
      "Then the king said, "And where is your master's son?" And Ziba said to the king, "Indeed he is staying in Jerusalem, for he said, 'Today the house of Israel will restore the kingdom of my father to me.'" So the king said to Ziba, "Here, all that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours." And Ziba said, "I humbly bow before you, that I may find favor in your sight, my lord, O king!"
       
      Ziba told David that Mephibosheth was in Jerusalem, waiting to come to power after David and Absalom ruin each other. Ziba told David that Mephibosheth longed to restore the family of Saul to power (Today the house of Israel will restore the kingdom of my father to me).
       
      Ziba LIED to David and this will be revealed in 2 Samuel 19:24-30. In fact, Ziba left Mephibosheth behind to make it look like Mephibosheth did NOT support David.
       
      This report from Ziba hurt David, because at a time of crisis like this the last thing you need to hear is that another one has turned against you. Ziba "was utterly despicable, shameless, and senseless in his slander, uttered by a false and faithless servant and the more so because at the moment the sorrow he brought to the heart of David was his feeling that his kindness toward Mephibosheth was ill requited.
       
      All that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours: David - acting on the only information at hand - assumed that Ziba told the truth. Therefore he rewarded Ziba's loyalty and he punished Mephibosheth's reported disloyalty.
       
      This was exactly the response Ziba wanted. Ziba is an example of someone who wickedly used a crisis for his own benefit.
       
      Verses 5-8 tells us Shimei CURSES a deposed king.
       
      "Now when King David came to Bahurim, there was a man from the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera, coming from there. He came out, cursing continuously as he came. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. Also Shimei said thus when he cursed: "Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! The LORD has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!"
       
      A man from the family of the house of Saul...Shimei was a distant relative of the former King Saul, and he still resented David for replacing the dynasty of Saul.
       
      Cursing continuously … threw stones … "You bloodthirsty man, you rogue!" Shimei was about as offensive as a person could be. He wanted to destroy and shred of dignity or confidence that David had left.
       
      There are ALWAYS people ready to rejoice when a leader falls. Shimei had this heart against David for a long time, but he could only show it when David was down and out.
       
      SPURGEON says, "It is very hard to bear a cowardly attack. One is very apt to reply and use hard words to one who takes advantage of your position and deals you the coward's blow. Only the coward strikes a man when he is down."
       
      The LORD has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul … you are caught in your own evil...
      A quick look at the outward appearance of things seemed to confirm Shimei's analysis; but Shimei was wrong. None of this came upon David because of what he did to Saul or Saul's family.
       
      1. Shimei was WRONG because David actually treated Saul and his family with great love and graciousness.
       
      2. Shimei was WRONG because David was not a bloodthirsty man. It is true that he was a man of war, but not a bloodthirsty man.
       
      3. Shimei was WRONG because David did not bring Saul and his family to ruin - Saul himself brought the family to ruin.
       
      4. Shimei was RIGHT that the LORD had brought this upon David, but not for any of the reasons Shimei thought.
       
      Verses 9-14 tells us David receives adversity in humility.
       
      "Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!" But the king said, "What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the LORD has said to him, 'Curse David.' Who then shall say, 'Why have you done so?'" And David said to Abishai and all his servants, "See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him. It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day." And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust. Now the king and all the people who were with him became weary; so they refreshed themselves there."
       
      Abishai did NOT want to listen to Shimei curse or dodge his stones any more. The mighty men surrounding David were more than ready to kill Shimei in an instant.
       
      David did NOT try to shut up Shimei. He did NOT close his ears to unpleasant or critical words. David was WILLING to hear what God might say to him through a cursing critic.
       
      David LET Shimei speak because he was NOT a bloodthirsty man (what have I to do with you). Ironically, if David was the kind of man Shimei said he was, Shimei would be dead.
       
      David LET Shimei speak because he saw the hand of God in EVERY circumstance (the LORD has said to him). He knew that God was more than able to SHUT UP Shimei; David did NOT need to give the order.
       
      David LET Shimei speak because he put the "Shimei problem" in perspective (See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite?). David knew that his REAL problem was Absalom, NOT Shimei and he did NOT lose this perspective.
       
      David LET Shimei speak because he knew that God's hand was on the future as well as the present (It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day). David knew that if he did what was RIGHT in the present moment, God would take care of the future.
       
      SPURGEON again says it well, "David could take this fellow's head off and that in a moment, and yet he said, "Let him alone. Let him curse." And this makes a splendid example. If you can revenge yourself, DO NOT. If you could do it as easily as open your hand, keep it shut. If one bitter word could end the argument, ask for grace to spare that bitter word."
       
      So they refreshed themselves there...
      David was NOT without hope or comfort. God allowed comfort to find him, even if it was in the small things. David was able to receive the comfort because he was AT PEACE, knowing God WAS in control of Israel.
       
      MORGAN reminds, "In refusing to cling to the throne David was like Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:6-8). "As we thus follow David through these days of humiliation and shame … we nevertheless understand more perfectly that he was indeed a man after God's own heart."
       
      In his book A Tale of Three Kings, Gene Edwards put these words into the mouth of David: "The throne is not mine. Not to have, not to take, not to protect, and not to keep. The throne is the LORD'S." It was that kind of heart that kept David on-track through such a difficult time and enabled him to even be refreshed.
       
      Verses 15-19 tells us Absalom receives Hushai as an advisor.
       
      "Meanwhile Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem; and Ahithophel was with him. And so it was, when Hushai the Archite, David's friend, came to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, "Long live the king! Long live the king!" So Absalom said to Hushai, "Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?" And Hushai said to Absalom, "No, but whom the LORD and this people and all the men of Israel choose, his I will be, and with him I will remain. "Furthermore, whom should I serve? Should I not serve in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father's presence, so will I be in your presence."
       
      WE REMEMBER...Hushai wanted to leave with David and support him (2 Samuel 15:32-34). David thought it was better to send Hushai back to Absalom, to both spy on Absalom and to give him bad advice.
       
      The bad advice from Hushai was thought necessary because Ahithophel was with Absalom. Ahithophel was famous for his WISE counsel, and David wanted someone on the inside of Absalom's leadership who might frustrate Ahithophel's counsel.
       
      As I have served in your father's presence, so will I be in your presence...
      Hushai lied to Absalom, concealing his motives - like any good spy hides his true intentions.
       
      Verses 20-23 tells us Absalom FOLLOWS Ahithophel's advice.
       
      "Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, "Give counsel as to what we should do." And Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Go in to your father's concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that you are abhorred by your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strong." So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the top of the house, and Absalom went in to his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. Now the advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God. So was all the advice of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom."
       
      Ahithophel told Absalom to do something SO offensive that it would eliminate ANY possibility of reconciliation with David. Ahithophel felt this strong statement would GIVE courage to Absalom's followers.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...In the ancient world, taking the king's concubines was NOT only an act of immorality. It was ALSO an act of treason. This was a way for Absalom to not only replace David but to completely repudiate his father.
       
      SOME HAVE ASKED, Why did Ahithophel give such radical advice? Because it made sense from his OWN self-interest. Ahithophel had the most to lose if Absalom failed to keep the throne or if David and Absalom reconciled. He would be revealed and rejected as a traitor.
       
      So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the top of the house, and Absalom went in to his father's concubines...
      This disgraceful act says MUCH about Absalom, who actually did it. It also says a lot about Ahithophel, who must have had a strange sense satisfaction in seeing David's women VIOLATED in a similar way to how his granddaughter Bathsheba was violated.
       
      2 Samuel 11:3 tells us that Bathsheba's father was Eliam, one of David's Mighty Men (2 Samuel 23:34). This also means that her grandfather was Ahithophel (2 Samuel 23:34, 2 Samuel 15:12).
       
      This shows the DESTRUCTIVE POWER OF BITTERNESS. Ahithophel was willing to see these women abused, Absalom grievously sin, and the kingdom of Israel suffer GREATLY simply to satisfy his longing for bitter revenge.
       
      This disgraceful incident also shows that God kept His promise to David.
      2 SAMUEL 12:11-12 GOD SAID, "I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of the sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun."
       
      CLARKE says it well, "Every part of the conduct of Absalom shows him to have been a most profligate young man; he was proud, vindictive, adulterous, incestuous, a parricide, and in fine, reprobate to every good word and work."
       
      Now the advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Ahithophel had a well-deserved reputation for giving counsel almost as good as God. But in this case his counsel was foolish and destructive.
       
      WHY?
       
      It was FOOLISH AND DESTRUCTIVE because it was motivated by bitterness. Bitterness has the power to turn our best qualities sour.
       
      It was FOOLISH AND DESTRUCTIVE because God answered David's prayer (2 Samuel 15:31) by prompting Ahithophel to give (and Absalom to take) this foolish counsel.
       
      STRANGELY AND SADLY, Absalom thought he could establish his kingdom directly through immorality. He was a clever and skilled politician, but TOTALLY IGNORANT about the ways of God.
       
      WE LEARN VALUABLE TEACHINGS AND LESSONS ABOUT GOD AND ABOUT DAVID AND ABOUT MANKIND IN THIS CHAPTER.
       
      PERSONAL BITTERNESS AND PERSONAL REVENGE ARE ALWAYS NOT ONLY SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BUT EFFECT OTHERS.
       
      LEARN FROM DAVID'S HEART...LEAVING IT ALL WITH GOD AND LETTING GOD DEAL WITH THOSE WHO CURSE US, ATTACK US, MISTREAT US, LIE SHAMELESSLY AGAINST US...IS ALWAYS THE BEST.
       
      OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT AFFIRMS AND CONFIRMS THE LORD'S PROMISE TO US THAT VENGEANCE IS THE LORD'S AND THE LORD WILL REPAY!
       
      EXODUS 32:34, DEUTERONOMY 32:35, LEVITICUS 19:18, PSALM 94:1, JEREMIAH 8:12, JEREMIAH 20:11, JEREMIAH 23:12, JEREMIAH 51:56, EZEKIEL 7:5, HOSEA 13:12, NAHUM 1:12, ROMANS 12:19, ROMANS 13:4, HEBREWS 10:30, & 2 PETER 2:3!

    • July 3, 2016 12:50 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 17
       
      OPENS WITH...ABSALOM DECIDES HIS DIRECTION FROM ADVICE FROM AHITHOPHEL AND HUSHAI.
       
      Verses 1-4 tells us The counsel of AHITHOPHEL.
       
      "Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Now let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and weak, and make him afraid. And all the people who are with him will flee, and I will strike only the king. Then I will bring back all the people to you. When all return except the man whom you seek, all the people will be at peace." And the saying pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel."
       
      Ahithophel advised a quick, selective attack against David only (I will strike only the king). He advised urgency, doing so while David was still west of the Jordan River.
       
      I will strike ONLY the king...
       
      This slip of the tongue was more like an unknowing prophecy. Deep in his heart even Ahithophel KNEW that David was the REAL king.
       
      And the saying PLEASED Absalom and all the elders of Israel...
       
      Ahithophel's plan was smart. It was bold and had a high probably of success and it would spare Israel a protracted civil war between the supporters of David and the supporters of Absalom.
       
      Verses 5-10 tells us Hushai DISAGREES with Ahithophel's advice.
       
      "Then Absalom said, "Now call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he says too." And when Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom spoke to him, saying, "Ahithophel has spoken in this manner. Shall we do as he says? If not, speak up." So Hushai said to Absalom: "The advice that Ahithophel has given is not good at this time. For," said Hushai, "you know your father and his men, that they are mighty men, and they are enraged in their minds, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field; and your father is a man of war, and will not camp with the people. Surely by now he is hidden in some pit, or in some other place. And it will be, when some of them are overthrown at the first, that whoever hears it will say, 'There is a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.' And even he who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt completely. For all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and those who are with him are valiant men."
       
      Now call Hushai the Archite...
       
      It is a remarkable evidence of the hand of God and answer to David's prayer in 2 Samuel 15:31 that Absalom EVEN asked for another opinion after such wise, well-received counsel.
       
      The advice that Ahithophel has given is not good at this time...
       
      We can imagine that Hushai's heart sank when heard of the smart plan Ahithophel suggested. He had to quickly think of a counter-plan so that he could defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, as David asked him to do in 2 Samuel 15:32-35.
       
      You KNOW your father and his men, that they are mighty men...
       
      Hushai refers to the David of the past, not the David of the present. Hushai saw David with his own eyes and saw that he was not strong and mighty. He hoped that Absalom would vividly remember the David of the past.
       
      Like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field … by now he is hidden is some pit...
       
      Hushai knew David could barely keep himself together, but he effectively painted the picture that David and his men were dangerous and should not be attacked quickly.
       
      There is a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom...
       
      Hushai's point is that it was too risky to attack David immediately. We can imagine that he said all this praying that God would indeed answer David's prayer and defeat the counsel of Ahithophel.
       
      Verses 11-13 tells us Hushai advises Absalom to raise a huge army and get David in person.
       
      "Therefore I advise that all Israel be fully gathered to you, from Dan to Beersheba, like the sand that is by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. So we will come upon him in some place where he may be found, and we will fall on him as the dew falls on the ground. And of him and all the men who are with him there shall not be left so much as one. Moreover, if he has withdrawn into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city; and we will pull it into the river, until there is not one small stone found there."
       
      I advise that all Israel be fully gathered...
       
      WHY WOULD HUSHAI ADVISE THIS?
       
      This would take time. Hushai not only wanted to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, he also wanted to do whatever he could to buy David more time before the inevitable attack came.
       
      And that you go to battle in person...
       
      This suggestion favored Absalom's VANITY. He could prove that he is a mighty soldier like his father David. In Ahithophel's plan Ahithophel led the battle; in Hushai's plan Absalom led the battle.
       
      Verse 14 tells us Absalom and the elders FAVOR Hushai's advice.
       
      "So Absalom and all the men of Israel said, "The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than the advice of Ahithophel." For the LORD had purposed to defeat the good advice of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring disaster on Absalom."
       
      The advice of Hushai the Archite is BETTER than the advice of Ahithophel...
       
      DID YOU KNOW...This was the FIRST time ANYONE said this - people always favored the advice of Ahithophel. One reason Absalom liked Hushai's advice was because it appealed to his vanity.
       
      The LORD had purposed to defeat the good advice of Ahithophel...
       
      This was the greater reason why the advice of Ahithophel was rejected.
       
      1. God was in control.
      2. The throne of Israel belonged to God.
      3. God could grant it or deny at His will.
       
      Absalom had the world's idea of the SMARTEST man in Israel on his side, but David's prayer was mightier than Ahithophel's smarts.
       
      God could lead Ahithophel to give foolish counsel that was listened to (as in 2 Samuel 16:20-23).
      Or, God could allow Ahithophel to give great advice and yet have it be rejected.
      God was in control; the LORD had purposed.
       
      MORGAN says it very well, "This is one of the GREATEST principles of life which every page of the Bible emphasizes and illustrates. Men cannot escape God. They go their own way, but that way never sets them free from the authority and the invincible power of God."
       
      SO WHY did had the LORD purposed to defeat the good advice of Ahithophel?
      Because David prayed.
      Prayer moves the hand of God, and David prayed in 2 Samuel 15:31, "O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!"
       
      That the LORD might bring disaster on Absalom...
       
      In all of this there was a severe chastening for David, and he knew it well. Yet God did NOT forsake David during this time of chastening. He was there for David at this time also. He was not out to destroy David, but to correct him.
       
      Verses 15-16 tells us Zadok sends his sons to tell & warn David.
       
      "Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, "Thus and so Ahithophel advised Absalom and the elders of Israel, and thus and so I have advised. Now therefore, send quickly and tell David, saying, 'Do not spend this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily cross over, lest the king and all the people who are with him be swallowed up.'"
       
      Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests...
       
      This is exactly what David had in mind when he send Hushai and the priests back to Absalom (2 Samuel 15:35-36).
       
      Do not spend this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily cross over...
       
      Hushai meant that David should cross over the Jordan River, giving him room and time to regroup before Absalom's attack.
       
      Verses 17-22 tells us David IS warned.
       
      "Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed at En Rogel, for they dared not be seen coming into the city; so a female servant would come and tell them, and they would go and tell King David. Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom. But both of them went away quickly and came to a man's house in Bahurim, who had a well in his court; and they went down into it. Then the woman took and spread a covering over the well's mouth, and spread ground grain on it; and the thing was not known. And when Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house, they said, "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" So the woman said to them, "They have gone over the water brook." And when they had searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem. Now it came to pass, after they had departed, that they came up out of the well and went and told King David, and said to David, "Arise and cross over the water quickly. For thus has Ahithophel advised against you." So David and all the people who were with him arose and crossed over the Jordan. By morning light not one of them was left who had not gone over the Jordan."
       
      A man's house in Bahurim...
       
      Jonathan and Ahimaaz could find help along the way. The whole nation had NOT gone over to Absalom, especially since he publicly disgraced David's concubines.
       
      So David and all the people who were with him arose and crossed over the Jordan...
       
      Because of this successful intelligence operation, David escaped the immediate danger from Absalom.
       
      Verse 23 tells us Ahithophel commits suicide.
       
      "Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father's tomb."
       
      When Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed...
       
      Ahithophel did NOT kill himself over hurt feelings because his counsel was rejected. Instead, he was wise enough to know that under Hushai's plan Absalom would fail and Ahithophel would be implicated in the conspiracy. He knew all would be lost. He KNEW he was a dead man walking.
       
      He put his household in order, and hanged himself...
       
      Ahithophel committed suicide, and we know that suicide is a sin because it is self-murder and God commands, you shall not murder (Exodus 20:13). Yet suicide should NOT be regarded as an unforgivable sin. Anyone who does commit suicide has given in to the lies and deceptions of Satan, whose purpose is to kill and destroy (John 10:10).
       
      MORGAN says it well, "Suicide is always the ultimate action of cowardice. In the case of Saul, and in many similar cases, it is perfectly natural; but let it never be glorified as heroic. It is the last resort of the man who dare not stand up to life."
       
      SPURGEON wisely adds, "I desire to call your attention to the text on account of its very remarkable character. 'He put his house in order, and hanged himself.' To put his house in order, showed that he was a prudent man; to hang himself, proved that he was a fool. Herein is a strange mixture of discretion and desperation, mind and madness. Shall a man have wisdom enough to arrange his worldly affairs with care, and yet shall he be so hapless as to take his own life afterwards? Thousands set their houses in order, but destroy their souls; they look well to their flocks and their herds, but not to their hearts' best interests. They gather broken shells with continuous industry, but they throw away priceless diamonds. They exercise forethought, prudence, care, everywhere but where they are most required. They save their money, but squander their happiness; they are guardians of their estates, but suicides of their souls."
       
      Verses 24-26 tells us Absalom crosses the Jordan to pursue David.
       
      "Then David went to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. And Absalom made Amasa captain of the army instead of Joab. This Amasa was the son of a man whose name was Jithra, an Israelite, who had gone in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother. So Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead."
       
      Absalom crossed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him...
       
      Now Absalom was the head of Israel's army. It was good for Absalom's vanity, but bad for success on the battlefield. Absalom's vanity ensured his ruin.
       
      Absalom made Amasa captain of the army instead of Joab...
       
      Amasa was the son of a niece of David and a cousin of Joab.
       
      Verses 27-29 tells us David finds supporters in Gilead.
       
      "Now it happened, when David had come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the people of Ammon, Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds and basins, earthen vessels and wheat, barley and flour, parched grain and beans, lentils and parched seeds, honey and curds, sheep and cheese of the herd, for David and the people who were with him to eat. For they said, "The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness."
       
      Shobi … Machir … Barzillai...
      YOU NOTICE GOD SEES AND NOTICES AND RECORDS THEIR GOOD DEEDS HERE.
       
      These otherwise obscure men are given special mention because they helped David in a time of great need. Friends in need are friends in deed.
       
      The people are hungry and weary and thirst in the wilderness...
       
      These helpers of David were NOT dramatic warriors, but they helped David in this crisis as much as the bravest soldier. They were specially sent by God to comfort David in his affliction.
       
      MEYER says it well, "It was as though God stooped over that stricken soul, and as the blows of the rod cut long furrows in the sufferer's back, the balm of Gliead was poured into the gaping wounds. Voices spoke more gently; hands touched his more softly; pitiful compassion rained tender assurances about his path; and, better than all, the bright-harnessed angels of God's protection encamped about his path and his lying down."

       

    • July 3, 2016 12:48 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 18
       
      OPENS WITH THE DEFEAT & DEATH OF ABSALOM
       
      Verses 1-4 tells us David puts the army under three captains.
       
      "And David numbered the people who were with him, and set captains of thousands and captains of hundreds over them. Then David sent out one third of the people under the hand of Joab, one third under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and one third under the hand of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the people, "I also will surely go out with you myself." But the people answered, "You shall not go out! For if we flee away, they will not care about us; nor if half of us die, will they care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us now. For you are now more help to us in the city." Then the king said to them, "Whatever seems best to you I will do." So the king stood beside the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and by thousands."
       
      David numbered the people who were with him, and set captains...
       
      David KNEW just what to do in organizing his army. He set them into three divisions under the leadership of Joab, Abishai and Ittai the Gittite.
       
      I also will surely go out with you...
       
      David KNEW that the commander belonged out in the battle. He did NOT want to repeat his mistake of not going to battle before when he should have (2 Samuel 11:1).
       
      You shall not go out! The people surrounding David would NOT hear of him going out to battle with the rest of his army. There were THREE reasons why they insisted on this:
       
      1. His life was more valuable (you are worth ten thousand of us)
      2. He can bring reserves if needed (you are now more help to us in the city)
      3. They understood that it would be hard for David to fight against his own son Absalom
       
      Whatever seems best to you I will do...
       
      David was NOT stubborn. He KNEW how to submit to the good advice of others. He did NOT give up leadership; he practiced good leadership by listening to the wise advice of the people around him.
       
      So the king stood beside the gate, and all the people went out by hundreds and by thousands...
       
      They were willing to take on sacrifice and danger for the benefit of their king. Their devotion to David is an example of how the believer should be devoted to our King, Jesus Christ.
       
      Verse 5 tells us David's command to the three captains.
       
      "Now the king had commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom." And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains orders concerning Absalom."
       
      Now the king had commanded...
       
      David wanted it clearly known that Absalom was to be captured alive and NOT mistreated in any way.
       
      ALL the people heard...
       
      David gave this commandment in the presence of ALL the people so that the captains would feel greater pressure to do what David commanded.
       
      YOU NOTICE HOW DIFFERENT ARE THE THOUGHTS AND COMMANDS BETWEEN DAVID AND ABSALOM.
       
      1. Absalom and Ahithophel wanted David targeted, hunted down, and killed.
      2. David did not want Absalom targeted to be killed, much less hurt.
       
      Verses 6-8 tells us Absalom's armies are defeated.
       
      "So the people went out into the field of battle against Israel. And the battle was in the woods of Ephraim. The people of Israel were overthrown there before the servants of David, and a great slaughter of twenty thousand took place there that day. For the battle there was scattered over the face of the whole countryside, and the woods devoured more people that day than the sword devoured."
       
      So the people went out into the field of battle against Israel...
       
      Those loyal to David fought against Israel, because Israel was NOT loyal to David. Israel was seduced by Absalom's charisma and power.
       
      The people of Israel were overthrown there before the servants of David...
       
      David's trust in The Lord, and the experienced leadership of David and his captains WERE the TWO main reason for their overwhelming victory.
       
      The woods devoured more people that day than the sword devoured...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      This phrase implies that God fought for David in unusual ways. Soldiers loyal to Absalom seemed to be "swallowed up" by the woods.
       
      SPURGEON says it well, "Perishing not only by the sword, but among the thick oaks and tangled briers of the wood, which concealed fearful precipices and great caverns, into which the rebels plunged in their wild fright when the rout set in."
       
      Verses 9-17 tells us Joab kills Absalom.
       
      "Then Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom rode on a mule. The mule went under the thick boughs of a great terebinth tree, and his head caught in the terebinth; so he was left hanging between heaven and earth. And the mule which was under him went on. Now a certain man saw it and told Joab, and said, "I just saw Absalom hanging in a terebinth tree!" So Joab said to the man who told him, "You just saw him! And why did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have given you ten shekels of silver and a belt." But the man said to Joab, "Though I were to receive a thousand shekels of silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the king's son. For in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, 'Beware lest anyone touch the young man Absalom!' Otherwise I would have dealt falsely against my own life. For there is nothing hidden from the king, and you yourself would have set yourself against me." Then Joab said, "I cannot linger with you." And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom's heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree. And ten young men who bore Joab's armor surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him. So Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel. For Joab held back the people. And they took Absalom and cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very large heap of stones over him. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his tent."
       
      Absalom rode on a mule...
       
      Absalom's VANITY set him in this battle, against the wise counsel of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:1-14). Absalom does NOT seem like a great general, riding a mule into battle.
       
      His head caught in the terbinth; so he was left hanging between heaven and earth...
       
      Absalom was noted for his good looks and his luxurious hair (2 Samuel 14:25-26). What was his glory was now his curse - Absalom is literally caught by his own hair in the thick trees of the forest.
       
      I just saw Absalom hanging in a terebinth tree! When this was reported to Joab, the general wondered why the man did not immediately kill Absalom. The man replied that he did not do it out of obedience and faithfulness to David.
       
      Joab insisted he would give both money and a promotion for the one who killed Absalom (I would have given you ten shekels of silver and a belt). Yet the man would not do it out of loyalty to David.
       
      He took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom's heart...
       
      WHY?
       
      Joab did NOT hesitate to strike Absalom, though he knew David commanded him not to. Joab was convinced that it was in David best interest and in Israel's best interest to show Absalom justice, not mercy.
       
      MORGAN says it well, "Absalom only received what he deserved. He was a murderer, a traitor, and a rapist. Joab knew that David was generally indulgent towards his children and would never punish Absalom. He had seen David's action toward his sons characterized by lack of discipline. In the highest interests of the kingdom his hand was raised to slay Absalom."
       
      We might say that Joab was correct but NOT right.
      WHY?
      1. He was correct in understanding that it was better for David and for Israel that Absalom was dead.
      2. He was not right in disobeying King David, the God-appointed authority over him.
      3. By David's dealings with King Saul, refusing time and time again to kill Saul, God's appointed, we see that God can deal with those in authority, and we do NOT need to disobey them unless commanded to by Scripture or a clear conscience.
       
      At the same time, there is an ironic twist in that the rebel Absalom had his life taken in a rebellious act by Joab. Absalom got what he deserved and Joab would be held accountable for what he did to Absalom, both by God and eventually by David (1 Kings 2:5-6).
       
      Ten young men who bore Joab's armor surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him...
       
      Absalom was still NOT dead after three spears because heart is a general reference to the middle of the body instead of the specific internal organ.
       
      They took Absalom and cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very large heap of stones over him...
       
      WHY?
       
      Joab wanted to make sure that Absalom's body was NOT memorialized as an inspiration to other followers or future rebels.
       
      All Israel fled, everyone to his tent...
       
      This means Absalom's army was in full retreat. David's forces completely carried the day.
       
      Verse 18 tells us Absalom's pillar.
       
      "Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up a pillar for himself, which is in the King's Valley. For he said, "I have no son to keep my name in remembrance." He called the pillar after his own name. And to this day it is called Absalom's Monument."
       
      This is EXACTLY what we would expect from self-centered, self-promoting Absalom. Joab made sure that Absalom did not have a memorial in death, but Absalom made himself a memorial in life.
       
      I have no son to keep my name in remembrance...
       
      DID YOU KNOW...Absalom DID have three sons (2 Samuel 14:27). From this statement we surmise that they died before their father did.
       
      Verses 19-27 tells us TWO runners are sent to tell David the outcome of the battle.
       
      "Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, "Let me run now and take the news to the king, how the LORD has avenged him of his enemies." And Joab said to him, "You shall not take the news this day, for you shall take the news another day. But today you shall take no news, because the king's son is dead." Then Joab said to the Cushite, "Go, tell the king what you have seen." So the Cushite bowed himself to Joab and ran. And Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, "But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite." So Joab said, "Why will you run, my son, since you have no news ready?" "But whatever happens," he said, "let me run." So he said to him, "Run." Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain, and outran the Cushite. Now David was sitting between the two gates. And the watchman went up to the roof over the gate, to the wall, lifted his eyes and looked, and there was a man, running alone. Then the watchman cried out and told the king. And the king said, "If he is alone, there is news in his mouth." And he came rapidly and drew near. Then the watchman saw another man running, and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, "There is another man, running alone!" And the king said, "He also brings news." So the watchman said, "I think the running of the first is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok." And the king said, "He is a good man, and comes with good news."
       
      You shall not take the news this day...
       
      Ahimaaz wanted to take David the news of Israel's victory and Absalom's death. But Joab wanted to spare Ahimaaz the son of Zadok the burden of being the messenger of bad news.
       
      Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain, and outran the Cushite...
       
      Ahimaaz was faster than the other runner. Since the messenger was someone David knew (Ahimaaz), he assumed it was good news (He is a good man, and comes with good news).
       
      Verses 28-32 tells us David learns of Absalom's death from the Cushite, who arrives after Ahimaaz.
       
      "And Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, "All is well!" Then he bowed down with his face to the earth before the king, and said, "Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king!" The king said, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent the king's servant and me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was about." And the king said, "Turn aside and stand here." So he turned aside and stood still. Just then the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, "There is good news, my lord the king! For the LORD has avenged you this day of all those who rose against you." And the king said to the Cushite, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" So the Cushite answered, "May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise against you to do harm, be like that young man!"
       
      Is the young man Absalom safe?
       
      This was David's FIRST concern.
       
      He should have been more concerned for Israel as a nation than for his traitor son. At the same time, David's question is an example of the great bond of love between parent and child, and between God our Father and His children.
       
      SPURGEON says it well, "He might have said, 'Is the young man Absalom dead? For if he is out of the way there will be peace to my realm, and rest to my troubled life.' But no, he is a father, and he must love his own offspring. It is a father that speaks, and a father's love can survive the enmity of a son. Our children may plunge into the worst of sins, but they are our children still. They may scoff at our God; they may tear our heart to pieces with their wickedness; we cannot take complacency in them, but at the same time we cannot unchild them, nor erase their image from our hearts."
       
      I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was about...
       
      Compared to the Cushite, Ahimaaz was a better runner but a worse messenger because he did NOT know his message. A message can be delivered beautifully, but the messenger's first responsibility is to get the message straight.
       
      May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise against you to do harm, be like that young man...
       
      Without saying it directly, the Cushite told David that Absalom was dead.
       
      Verse 33 tells us David's great mourning.
       
      "Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: "O my son Absalom; my son, my son Absalom; if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!"
       
      The king was deeply moved...
       
      The Hebrew idea of deeply moved implies a violent trembling of the body. David felt completely undone at hearing the news of Absalom's death.
       
      In part, David was so deeply moved because he KNEW that he supplied the soil this tragedy grew from.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      1. The soil came from David's indulgent parenting.
       
      2. The soil came from David's sin with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, after which God promised David: The sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife … I will raise up adversity against you from your own house (2 Samuel 12:10-11)
       
      3. The soil came from David's own sinful indulgence of his passions and smaller rebellions against God, which sins and weaknesses were magnified in his sons.
       
      MORGAN says it well, "David's sorrow shows us that it is NOT enough that parents train their children to be godly; they must FIRST train themselves in godliness. We can not stand in the presence of that suffering without learning the solemn lesions of parental responsibility it has to teach, not merely in training our children, but in that earlier training of ourselves for their sakes."
       
      David mourned so much for Absalom because he really was his son. David saw his sins, his weaknesses, his rebellion EXAGGERATED in Absalom.
       
      MORGAN says, "This surely had a deeper note in it than that of the merely half-conscious repetition of words occasioned by personal grief. The father recognized how much he was responsible for the son. It is as though he had said: He is indeed my son, his weaknesses are my weaknesses, his passions are my passions, his sins are my sins."
       
      If only I had died in your place...
       
      David wanted to die in the place of his rebellious son. What David could NOT do, God DID by dying in the place of rebellious sinners.
       
      SMITH sums this chapter up perfectly, "So in the cry of David, we actually hear the cry of God, for His lost children. His desire to restore, His desire to forgive."
       
      THIS IS JUST ANOTHER REASON, DAVID WAS, IS AND EVER SHALL BE CALLED...A MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART! AND IS A PICTURE OF WHAT JESUS WOULD DO FOR HIS REBELLIOUS, ARROGANT, LOST CREATION...MANKIND.

    • July 3, 2016 12:46 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 19
       
      OPENS WITH THE KINGDOM IS RESTORED TO DAVID
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us the effect of David's grief upon his loyal supporters & Joab's rebuke.
       
      "And Joab was told, "Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom." So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people. For the people heard it said that day, "The king is grieved for his son." And the people stole back into the city that day, as people who are ashamed steal away when they flee in battle."
       
      The victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people...
       
      This was not good. David's loyal and sacrificing supporters won that day for the glory of God and the good of Israel. Now they feel bad about the victory because David is overcome with excessive weeping and mourning for Absalom.
       
      THIS TEACHES US AS CHRISTIANS AN IMPORTANT LESSON...ABOUT THE DESTRUCTIVENESS OF EXCESSIVE MOURNING.
       
      There is such a thing as excessive mourning - mourning that is basically rooted in unbelief and self indulgence.
       
      In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul warned Christians: "I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope."
       
      Some Christians sorrow at times in death or tragedy like those who have no hope in God and this is wrong to do.
       
      SPURGEON says it well, "If your dear ones are dead you can not restore them to life by your unbelief; and if they still survive, it will be a pity to be downcast and unbelieving when there is no occasion for it. 'Your strength is to sit still.' Remember that you are a Christian, and a Christian is expected to be more self-possessed than those who have no God to fly to."
       
      The people stole back into the city that day, as people who are ashamed...
       
      David's excessive sorrow made his loyal friends and supporter feel ashamed they won a great victory.
       
      Verses 4-7 tells us Joab rebukes David.
       
      "But the king covered his face, and the king cried out with a loud voice, "O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!" Then Joab came into the house to the king, and said, "Today you have disgraced all your servants who today have saved your life, the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives and the lives of your concubines, in that you love your enemies and hate your friends. For you have declared today that you regard neither princes nor servants; for today I perceive that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died today, then it would have pleased you well. Now therefore, arise, go out and speak comfort to your servants. For I swear by the LORD, if you do not go out, not one will stay with you this night. And that will be worse for you than all the evil that has befallen you from your youth until now."
       
      O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son! David could not stop singing this song. He was still locked into his excessive mourning and lack of perspective. He was mastered by his FEELINGS, and feelings were NEVER meant to master us.
       
      God is not against feelings - not at all. Many Christians lack deep and profound feeling and experience in their walk with God. At the same time, feelings were NEVER meant to master over us.
       
      David's problem was not in what he knew - Absalom's tragic death and David's own role in it. David's problem was in what he forgot - that God was still in control, that a great victory was won, that he had many loyal supporters, that God showed great grace and mercy to David. When someone is overcome in tragedy or sorrow the problem is not in what they know, but in what they FORGET.
       
      Today you have disgraced all your servants you today have saved your life...
       
      Joab gave David a stern wake-up call. "David, your excessive mourning is selfish. It is NOT all about you. These loyal, sacrificial supporters of yours deserve to feel good about their victory and you are making them feel terrible. Snap out of it."
       
      I perceive that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died today, then it would have pleased you well...
       
      This is a sharp truth delivered with precision. Joab wants David not only to see that he is being foolish in his excessive grief, but he is also being selfish.
       
      Now therefore, arise, go out and speak comfort to your servants: "Go out and encourage the team - they deserve it. If you do NOT you will lose most all of them."
       
      Verse 8 tells us David RECEIVES Joab's rebuke.
       
      "Then the king arose and sat in the gate. And they told all the people, saying, "There is the king, sitting in the gate." So all the people came before the king. For everyone of Israel had fled to his tent."
       
      Then the king arose and sat in the gate..
       
      YOU NOTICE...David did NOT FEEL like doing this. His feelings told him to stay locked into his excessive mourning. Yet David let his understanding of what was RIGHT be bigger than what he felt.
       
      We NEVER again hear David crying out, O Absalom. Doing what he needed to do got that song out of his head.
       
      So all the people came before the king...
       
      This is what they needed to see - David sitting as king in the place of authority (sitting in the gate). This told them that their sacrifice was worth it, that it was appreciated, and that David would continue to reign. Joab's rebuke worked because Joab cared enough to make it and David was wise enough to receive it.
       
      Verses 9-10 tells us the tribes DEBATE receiving David back as king.
       
      "Now all the people were in a dispute throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, "The king saved us from the hand of our enemies, he delivered us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled from the land because of Absalom. But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?"
       
      ALL the people were in a dispute throughout all the tribes of Israel: David survived Absalom's attempted overthrow, but the kingdom was not yet restored to David.
       
      The king saved us … But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died...
       
      The tribes of Israel understood what David did for them, they understood that they rejected him and embraced Absalom, and they understood that Absalom was now dead. It left Israel and in a dispute about bringing back the king.
       
      They only seemed to want David back after the false king Absalom failed. We often only decide to bring back King Jesus when our false kings have failed.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "The folly of their allegiance to Absalom was clear - it had brought only misery and confusion. They were on the wrong side; they had rejected their true king, and therefore the situation was full of unrest."
       
      Verses 11-14 tells us David sends negotiators to the tribes.
       
      "So King David sent to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, "Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, 'Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the words of all Israel have come to the king, to his very house? You are my brethren, you are my bone and my flesh. Why then are you the last to bring back the king?' And say to Amasa, 'Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if you are not commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.'" So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man, so that they sent this word to the king: "Return, you and all your servants!"
       
      Why are you the last to bring the king back to his very house?
       
      David would NOT force his reign on Israel. He would only come back if the tribes who rejected him for Absalom AGREED to bring back the king.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "David did not lift a finger to re-establish his authority … His return to sovereignty was decided by the voluntary submission of his kinsmen and by their loving obedience to his will."
       
      Amasa … commander of the army … in place of Joab...
       
      David agreed to replace Joab with Amasa, who was the captain of Absalom's army. This was to put Joab in his place and to offer a gesture of reconciliation to the former supporters of Absalom.
       
      So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man...
       
      The efforts of Zadok and Abiathar succeeded. David would not come back until welcomed by the hearts of all, and that could not be forced - their hearts had to be swayed.
       
      God will not force His reign on us. We must welcome His reign and He will not force our heart response. Our hearts must be swayed by the work of the Word of the God and the Holy Spirit.
       
      Just as the heart of one man...
       
      David wanted the reception to be unanimous. The men of Judah responded together to the wooing work of Zasok and Abiathar.
       
      Verses 15-18a tells us David crosses over the Jordan River with help from Judah and Benjamin.
       
      "Then the king returned and came to the Jordan. And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to escort the king across the Jordan. And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, who was from Bahurim, hastened and came down with the men of Judah to meet King David. There were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over the Jordan before the king. Then a ferryboat went across to carry over the king's household, and to do what he thought good."
       
      THEN the king returned...
       
      The point is emphasized - David would NOT return as king until he was welcomed, until hearts were swayed to receive him.
       
      To escort the king...
       
      David left Israel as a desperate fugitive, rejected by the nation and hunted by his son Absalom. He came back escorted by thousands of enthusiastic supporters.
       
      Verses 18b-23 tells us David shows forgiveness to Shimei.
       
      "Now Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king when he had crossed the Jordan. Then he said to the king, "Do not let my lord impute iniquity to me, or remember what wrong your servant did on the day that my lord the king left Jerusalem, that the king should take it to heart. For I, your servant, know that I have sinned. Therefore here I am, the first to come today of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king." But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, "Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord's anointed?" And David said, "What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should be adversaries to me today? Shall any man be put to death today in Israel? For do I not know that today I am king over Israel?" Therefore the king said to Shimei, "You shall not die." And the king swore to him."
       
      I, your servant, know that I have sinned...
       
      1. Shimei showed a remarkably HUMBLE, contrite confession. He sinned greatly against David, and here he repented greatly before him.
       
      2. Shimei's REPENTANCE was humble (fell down before the king). His posture represented his low place before David.
       
      3. Shimei's repentance was HONORING to David (Do not let my lord impute iniquity to me). He knew David had the right to impute iniquity, but he plead for mercy.
       
      4. Shimei's repentance was HONEST (I have sinned). He made no attempt to minimize his actions.
       
      5. Shimei's repentance was put INTO ACTION (here I am, the first to come today of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king). Real repentance will show itself not only in words and ideas, but in action.
       
      The king said to Shimei, "You shall not die": David spared the life of Shimei, showing forgiveness to the man who formerly bitterly cursed him in 2 Samuel 16:5-13.
       
      SPURGEON says it well, "Perhaps you have been like Shimei, who cursed king David, and you are afraid that Jesus will never forgive you. But David forgave Shimei, and Jesus is ready to forgive you. He delighteth in mercy. I do believe that the harps of heaven never give to Christ such happiness as he has when he forgives the ungodly, and saith, 'Thy sins are forgiven; go in peace.' "
       
      Do I not know that today I am king over Israel?
       
      David could readily forgive a man who deserved to die because he was secure, knowing that God gave him the throne. Insecurity is a great motivator for revenge and holding on to bitterness.
       
      Verses 24-30 tells us David shows understanding to Mephibosheth.
       
      "Now Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king. And he had not cared for his feet, nor trimmed his mustache, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he returned in peace. So it was, when he had come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said to him, "Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?" And he answered, "My lord, O king, my servant deceived me. For your servant said, 'I will saddle a donkey for myself, that I may ride on it and go to the king,' because your servant is lame. And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king, but my lord the king is like the angel of God. Therefore do what is good in your eyes. For all my father's house were but dead men before my lord the king. Yet you set your servant among those who eat at your own table. Therefore what right have I still to cry out anymore to the king?" So the king said to him, "Why do you speak anymore of your matters? I have said, 'You and Ziba divide the land.'" Then Mephibosheth said to the king, "Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house."
       
      Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king...
       
      Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan and the LAST surviving heir to the dynasty of Saul.
       
      2 Samuel 9 told how David showed unique kindness to Mephibosheth.
       
      2 Samuel 16:1-4 described how Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, met David with supplies as he left Jerusalem. Ziba said that Mephibosheth abandoned David and hoped to gain from the conflict between David and Absalom.
       
      My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: Mephibosheth explained why he did not join David, and how Ziba slandered him before David.
       
      You set your servant among those who eat at your own table. Therefore what right have I still to cry out anymore to the king?
       
      Though Mephibosheth was slandered before David, Mephibosheth WILL NOT defend himself or demand a hearing before David. He knew David already gave him more than he deserved, so if David were to now take it all away, he would still be ahead.
       
      You and Ziba divide the land...
       
      When Ziba told David that Mephibosheth abandoned him, David granted Ziba all of Mephibosheth's land and property (2 Samuel 16:4).
       
      Hearing the whole story, David WILL NOT go back on his promise to Ziba even though it was made under fraudulent circumstances. Yet he did lessen Ziba's reward by offering a split between Ziba and Mephibosheth of all the property from Saul's house.
       
      Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house...
       
      Mephibosheth was content to let Ziba have ALL the property if he can only know that David reigns. David's reign was MORE important to him than his personal enrichment.
       
      MORGAN says it well, "For his own enrichment this man cared nothing at all. It was everything to him that his king should come into the possession of his kingdom in peace … It is to be feared that too often we are more concerned about our rights than about His. It is a great and glorious thing when our loyalty and love make us far more concerned about the victories of our Lord, than about our own unquestioned rights. Yet that should be the normal attitude of all who sit at the King's Table."
       
      Verses 31-39 tells us David shows appreciation to Barzillai.
       
      "And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim and went across the Jordan with the king, to escort him across the Jordan. Now Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old. And he had provided the king with supplies while he stayed at Mahanaim, for he was a very rich man. And the king said to Barzillai, "Come across with me, and I will provide for you while you are with me in Jerusalem." But Barzillai said to the king, "How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? I am today eighty years old. Can I discern between the good and bad? Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any longer the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be a further burden to my lord the king? Your servant will go a little way across the Jordan with the king. And why should the king repay me with such a reward? Please let your servant turn back again, that I may die in my own city, near the grave of my father and mother. But here is your servant Chimham; let him cross over with my lord the king, and do for him what seems good to you." And the king answered, "Chimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him what seems good to you. Now whatever you request of me, I will do for you." Then all the people went over the Jordan. And when the king had crossed over, the king kissed Barzillai and blessed him, and he returned to his own place."
       
      Come across with me, and I will provide for you while you are with me in Jerusalem...
       
      Barzillai brought essential help to David when he fled Jerusalem as Absalom took over the city. In gratitude, David offered him the honor of living with the king in Jerusalem.
       
      He was a very rich man: Barzillai was a man of great resources - and he wisely used those resources to support the servant of God and the cause of God.
       
      REMEMBER In Luke 12:21, Jesus spoke of the foolish man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Barzillai was wise enough to use his resources to lay up treasure in heaven and he was rich toward God.
       
      Why should the king repay me with such a reward?
       
      Barzillai did NOT do this for the sake of reward. He gave out of a RIGHT heart, not out the motive of self-exaltation.
       
      Here is your servant Chimham; let him cross over with my lord the king...
       
      Barzillai respectfully declined the honor for himself but accepted it on behalf of his son Chimham.
       
      Verses 40-43 tells us Israel and Judah QUARREL about David.
       
      "Now the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him. And all the people of Judah escorted the king, and also half the people of Israel. Just then all the men of Israel came to the king, and said to the king, "Why have our brethren, the men of Judah, stolen you away and brought the king, his household, and all David's men with him across the Jordan?" So all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, "Because the king is a close relative of ours. Why then are you angry over this matter? Have we ever eaten at the king's expense? Or has he given us any gift?" And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, "We have ten shares in the king; therefore we also have more right to David than you. Why then do you despise us; were we not the first to advise bringing back our king?" Yet the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel."
       
      ALL the people of Judah escorted the king, and also HALF the people of Israel...
       
      The northern tribes felt excluded in this ceremonial welcoming back of David from across the Jordan River.
       
      Why have our brethren, the men of Judah, stolen you away … why then are you angry … why then do you despise us...
       
      This argument is ultimately about who is more LOYAL to King David, and who has the greater right to honor him.
       
      Why then do you despise us...
       
      The ten northern tribes felt unappreciated by the tribe of Judah. This competitive attitude between Judah and the ten northern tribes sets the stage for civil war in David's day and the eventual division of the nation into two.

    • July 2, 2016 3:54 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 20
       
      OPENS WITH THE REBELLION OF SHEBA AGAINST KING DAVID
       
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us King David returns to Jerusalem and to Sheba's rebellion.
       
      "And there happened to be there a rebel, whose name was Sheba the son of Bichri, a Benjamite. And he blew a trumpet, and said: "We have no share in David, nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!" So every man of Israel deserted David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah, from the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, remained loyal to their king."
       
      There happened to be a rebel...
       
      Sheba took advantage of David's weakened position after Absalom's failed rebellion and the conflict between Judah and the other ten tribes (2 Samuel 19:40-43). He based his rebellion on THREE principles common to rebels:
       
      1. We have NO share in David:
      Sheba DENIED the king's sovereignty. He claimed that David had NO right to reign over him or the ten tribes of Israel.
       
      2. The son of Jesse:
      Sheba DEVALUED the king's identity. Jesse was a HUMBLE farmer and Sheba wanted to emphasize David's humble beginning
       
      3. Every man to his tents:
      Sheba decided to go HIS OWN WAY and drew others with him. He acted on his low opinion of David
       
      G. Campbell Morgan sees the phrase "We have no share in David, nor do we have an inheritance in the son of Jesse" as an effective slogan promoted by Sheba. "The story should teach us that popular and plausible catchwords ought to be received and acted upon with great caution."
       
      THEN AS NOW, MANY IN THEIR OWN ARROGANCE, REJECTION OF CREATOR GOD, AND HIS PRICELESS GIFT TO WICKED MANKIND, JESUS CHRIST ARE REJECTED TO GO THEIR OWN WAY...THEIR OWN MAN-CREATED RELIGIOSITY...THEIR OWN PATH...THEIR OWN WAY. AND THE BIBLE THEN AND NOW...TELLS US THAT THOSE WHO ARE DECEIVED AND DECEIVING THE LOST AND SEEKING...CHOOSE TO AND WILL REAP ETERNAL DESTRUCTION.
       
      Israel deserted David:
       
      Sheba succeeded in drawing away the TEN northern tribes and David had another civil war to deal with.
       
      AND REMEMBER...In 2 Samuel 19:40-43 leaders from these SAME TEN TRIBES ARGUED with the tribe of Judah over who honored David more. Their response to Sheba's rebellion shows that their desire to honor David had NOTHING to do with honoring him, but in exalting SELF.
       
      THE BIBLE AND SECULAR HISTORY TELLS US AND SHOWS US, MANKIND WITHOUT GOD, IT IS ALWAYS THEIR NATURE AND DESIRE AND GOAL TO DIVIDE....NOT UNITE.
       
      We have to be held together by the Holy Spirit.
       
      Paul put it like this, in EPHESIANS 4:1-3, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
       
      We DO NOT MAKE the unity of the Holy Spirit, we KEEP the unity of the Holy Spirit - but we must keep what He has created.
       
      The desertion of the ten tribes is distressing but the loyalty of the men of Judah is wonderful. When others desert or divide it gives us a greater opportunity to demonstrate loyalty.
       
      We should imitate the loyalty Judah showed to their king.
       
      This means:
       
      1. We who love Jesus Christ and call Him Lord, Savior, Master, and Friend MUST BE LOYAL to Jesus in spite of the MOCKING, JEERING, REJECTION, AND SNEERING of the multitude.
       
      2. We must be loyal to Jesus in spite of the rebellion of the flesh.
       
      3. We must be loyal to Jesus in spite of the times when He seems distant.
       
      Verse 3 tells us David puts away the women Absalom violated.
       
      "Now David came to his house at Jerusalem. And the king took the ten women, his concubines whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in seclusion and supported them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up to the day of their death, living in widowhood."
       
      Put them in seclusion...
       
      WHY?
       
      Absalom raped these ten concubines as part of his rebellion against David (2 Samuel 16:20-23). Upon his return, David set them aside as unfortunate victims of Absalom's sin & to protect and provide for them, even as David insured the seed of Absalom was not mistaken for a child or heir of King David.
       
      CLARKE says it well, "He could not well divorce them; he could not punish them, as they were not in the transgression; he could not more be familiar with them, because they had been defiled by his son; and to have married them to other men might have been dangerous to the state."
       
      They were shut up to the day of their death, living in widowhood...
       
      The sad fate of David's ten concubines is an example of how our sin often has horrible effects on others. They suffered because of Absalom's sin - and David's sin.
       
      Verses 4-5 tells us David tells Amasa to marshal an army to deal with Sheba's rebellion.
       
      "And the king said to Amasa, "Assemble the men of Judah for me within three days, and be present here yourself." So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah. But he delayed longer than the set time which David had appointed him."
       
      The king said to Amasa...
       
      Amasa was Absalom's former general and David made him the commander of his army as a conciliatory move after the death of Absalom.
       
      Assemble the men of Judah for me within three days...
       
      David knew that time was of the essence. When Absalom had the chance to quickly crush David, he did not take advantage of the opportunity. David did not want to make the same mistake with Sheba.
       
      He delayed longer than the set time...
       
      Amasa WAS NOT up to the job David gave him. He was NOT a completely competent military man, and Joab (the former commander of David's army) defeated Amasa soundly when they fought together.
       
      Verses 6-7 tells us TIRED OF WAITING, David sends his royal guard.
       
      "And David said to Abishai, "Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom. Take your lord's servants and pursue him, lest he find for himself fortified cities, and escape us." So Joab's men, with the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and all the mighty men, went out after him. And they went out of Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri."
       
      David gave these orders to Abishai. He was the commander over your lord's servants - David's personal guard.
       
      So Joab's men … and all the mighty men, went out...
       
      Joab was the field commander of these troops, but Abishai was in command over him.
       
      Verses 8-10 tells us using deception, Joab murders Amasa & destroys the rebellion of Sheba.
       
      "When they were at the large stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa came before them. Now Joab was dressed in battle armor; on it was a belt with a sword fastened in its sheath at his hips; and as he was going forward, it fell out. Then Joab said to Amasa, "Are you in health, my brother?" And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not notice the sword that was in Joab's hand. And he struck him with it in the stomach, and his entrails poured out on the ground; and he did not strike him again. Thus he died. Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri."
       
      Amasa came before them...
       
      Amasa did NOT assemble the army of Judah quickly enough, but he did NOT want to be left out of the battle. He joined the troops loyal to David at Gibeon.
       
      Joab took Amasa by the beard...
       
      Joab approached Amasa with cunning and deception. Holding the beard was a sign of a friendly welcome, and the fallen sword made it seem that Joab was unarmed.
       
      He struck him with it in the stomach...
       
      Joab showed how ruthless he was. He murdered Amasa - the man who replaced him as commander of David's armies - out of both rivalry and concern that Amasa was NOT genuinely supportive of David.
       
      Verses 11-14 tells us Joab takes command of the troops loyal to David.
       
      "Meanwhile one of Joab's men stood near Amasa, and said, "Whoever favors Joab and whoever is for David; follow Joab!" But Amasa wallowed in his blood in the middle of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he moved Amasa from the highway to the field and threw a garment over him, when he saw that everyone who came upon him halted. When he was removed from the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. And he went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel and Beth Maachah and all the Berites. So they were gathered together and also went after Sheba."
       
      ALL the people went on after Joab...
       
      For all his ruthless devotion to David, Joab was a TRUE leader. The soldiers naturally followed the commander who successfully led them many times before.
       
      He went through all the tribes of Israel...
       
      Joab was able to find men loyal to David in ALL the tribes of Israel. Though Sheba was able to assemble an army against David, there were still MANY people loyal to David.
       
      Verses 15-22 tells us THE END of Sheba's rebellion.
       
      "Then they came and besieged him in Abel of Beth Maachah; and they cast up a siege mound against the city, and it stood by the rampart. And all the people who were with Joab battered the wall to throw it down. Then a wise woman cried out from the city, "Hear, Hear! Please say to Joab, 'Come nearby, that I may speak with you.'" When he had come near to her, the woman said, "Are you Joab?" He answered, "I am." Then she said to him, "Hear the words of your maidservant." And he answered, "I am listening." So she spoke, saying, "They used to talk in former times, saying, 'They shall surely seek guidance at Abel,' and so they would end disputes. I am among the peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city and a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?" And Joab answered and said, "Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not so. But a man from the mountains of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has raised his hand against the king, against David. Deliver him only, and I will depart from the city." So the woman said to Joab, "Watch, his head will be thrown to you over the wall." Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. Then he blew a trumpet, and they withdrew from the city, every man to his tent. So Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem."
       
      A wise woman cried out from the city...
       
      When Sheba took refuge in the city of Abel, Joab set a siege against the city. Siege warfare was a TERRIBLE ordeal of the citizens of the besieged city, and this wise woman was smart enough to seek a speedy end to the struggle.
       
      Deliver him only, and I will depart from the city...
       
      Joab was a practical man. He had NOTHING against the city of Abel, ONLY against Sheba. If the people of Abel would help him get Sheba it was all the better.
       
      They cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab...
       
      Sheba probably thought he was SAFE within the walls of that city, but NO ONE IS SAFE when they run AGAINST God's will. There is NOT a wall high enough or strong enough to protect against God and His will.
       
      TRAPP says it well, "We can make a spiritual analogy out of Sheba, his rebellion, and his refuge in the city of Abel. "Every man's breast is a city enclosed. Every sin is a traitor that lurketh within those walls. God calleth for Sheba's head, neither hath he any quarrel to us for our person, but for our sin. If we love the head of our traitor above the life of our soul, we shall justly perish in the vengeance."
       
      So ended the rebellion of Sheba.
       
      Yet the division between Judah and the other eleven tribes of Israel REMAINED.
      After the death of Solomon there was a civil war that PERMANENTLY divided the united kingdom into TWO nations: the southern Kingdom of Judah and the northern Kingdom of Israel.
       
      Verses 23-26 tells us David's SECOND administration.
       
      "And Joab was over all the army of Israel; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; Adoram was in charge of revenue; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; Sheva was scribe; Zadok and Abiathar were the priests; and Ira the Jairite was a chief minister under David."
       
      Joab was over all the army of Israel...
       
      Though he gained the position through murder, David allowed Joab to take control over the armies of Israel.
       
      Benaiah … Adoram … Jehoshaphat … Sheva … Zadok and Abiathar … Ira the Jairite...
       
      YOU NOTICE SOMETHING IMPORTANT HERE...The greatness of David's kingdom was NOT built on David's abilities alone. He trusted God to lead him and God had taught him HOW to assemble and lead an effective team.
       
      If David - a man after God's heart and the sweet psalmist of Israel - needed "help," we should not think ourselves above it.

    • July 2, 2016 3:51 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 21
       
      OPENS WITH KING DAVID AVENGING THE GIBEONITES
       
       
      Verse 1 tells us A 3 YEAR FAMINE prompts David to seek God.
       
      "Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, "It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites."
       
      David WISELY sought God in the face of CHRONIC problems. David was concerned after the first year of famine, and even more after the second - but two years of famine did NOT make him look to a spiritual cause. Yet after three years of famine, David inquired of the LORD.
       
      David did NOT see a spiritual reason in every problem; but he did NOT shut his eyes to the hand of God in circumstances.
       
      It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites...
       
      DID YOU KNOW, This massacre GOD told King David of, is NOT recorded in 1 Samuel, but David did NOT question that it happened. Apparently at some time during his reign Saul attacked and killed many of the Gibeonites.
       
      TRAPP says it well, "The whole people suffered for Saul's sin; either because they approved it, or at least bewailed it not; neither did what they could to hinder it; whereby they became accessory."
       
      KING SAUL killed the Gibeonites...
       
      When David HEARD FROM GOD that it was because of an attack against the Gibeonites, a chill probably ran up his back. He knew they were a people especially wrong for Saul to attack and kill.
       
      HOW DID KING DAVID KNOW?
       
      WE ARE TOLD...In JOSHUA 9, in the days of Joshua - more than 400 years BEFORE David's time - Israel swore NOT to harm the Gibeonites, a neighboring tribe. God EXPECTED Israel to keep their promise, even though the Gibeonites tricked Israel into making the agreement. Saul's crime was NOT only in the killing of the Gibeonites but also in WILLINGLY AND KNOWINGLY breaking this ancient and important oath.
       
      This emphasizes many important principles:
       
      1. God expects us to keep our promises
      2. God expects nations to keep their promises
      3. Time does not diminish our obligation to promises
      4. God's correction may come a long time after the offense
       
      If God has such a high expectation that men keep their covenants, we can have great confidence that He WILL keep His covenant with us. There is an emerald rainbow around the throne of God to proclaim His REMEMBRANCE to His everlasting covenant with His people.
       
      Verse 2 tells us David speaks to the Gibeonites.
       
      "So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; the children of Israel had sworn protection to them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah."
       
      David KNEW he had to do something about this and so he initiated a resolution with the Gibeonites.
       
      Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah...
       
      We normally think of such of zeal as a GOOD thing. Yet Saul's misguided zeal was SELF-CENTERED, SELF-INTERESTED, AND a sin and brought calamity on Israel.
       
      This is a good example of how good intentions do NOT excuse bad actions. We often excuse bad actions in our self and others because of what we think are good intentions. But God looks to both our intentions and our actions.
       
      Verses 3-6 tells us David's AGREEMENT with the Gibeonites.
       
      "Therefore David said to the Gibeonites, "What shall I do for you? And with what shall I make atonement, that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD?" And the Gibeonites said to him, "We will have no silver or gold from Saul or from his house, nor shall you kill any man in Israel for us." So he said, "Whatever you say, I will do for you." Then they answered the king, "As for the man who consumed us and plotted against us, that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the territories of Israel, let seven men of his descendants be delivered to us, and we will hang them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD chose." And the king said, "I will give them."
       
      In resolving this matter with the Gibeonites, David did NOT dictate terms to them. He came to them as a servant, not as a king.
       
      David felt that if the Gibeonites could bless Israel then the reconciliation would be complete and God's chastening of Israel would end.
       
      The Gibeonites make it clear that they do NOT want money or direct retribution. Though Saul made a wholesale slaughter of the Gibeonites, they do NOT ask for the same among Israel.
       
      Let seven men of his descendants be delivered to us...
       
      In that day the request of the Gibeonites was considered reasonable. Instead of money or an "eye for an eye" they only ask for justice against Saul through his descendants. David agreed to this (I will give them).
       
      I will give them...
       
      David knew this was the RIGHT thing to do. Some believe he knew it was right because David knew that Saul's descendants helped in or benefited DIRECTLY from that massacre.
       
      Obviously, we are not told everything about this incident; we must trust the principle stated by Abraham: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? in Genesis 18:25.
       
      Verses 7-9 tells us David FULFILLS the agreement with the Gibeonites.
       
      "But the king spared Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the Lord's oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. So the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; and he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the hill before the LORD. So they fell, all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest."
       
      The king spared Mephibosheth...
       
      Mephibosheth was the most notable living descendant of Saul and it made the most sense to put him as the first of the seven to be delivered to the Gibeonites for execution. Yet David promised to protect and bless Mephibosheth and he would not fulfill one promise at the expense of another.
       
      They hanged them on the hill before the LORD...
      David chose seven male descendants of Saul to give over the to the Gibeonites and they executed them by public hanging. The phrase before the LORD implies God APPROVED of their execution.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...The method of death was also important because it fulfilled the promise of Deuteronomy 21:23, which says, "He who is hanged is accursed of God." These descendants of Saul bore the curse Saul deserved and so delivered Israel from the guilt of their sin against the Gibeonites.
       
      This promise from Deuteronomy 21:23 explains WHY Jesus died the way He did.
       
      Galatians 3:13 ALSO explains: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree").
       
      Verses 10-14a tells us Rizpah's vigil.
       
      "Now Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the late rains poured on them from heaven. And she did not allow the birds of the air to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night. And David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done. Then David went and took the bones of Saul, and the bones of Jonathan his son, from the men of Jabesh Gilead who had stolen them from the street of Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them up, after the Philistines had struck down Saul in Gilboa. So he brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from there; and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged. They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the tomb of Kish his father."
       
      Spread it for herself on the rock … until the late rains poured on them from heaven...
       
      Rizpah - the mother of two of the seven delivered for execution - held a vigil over the bodies until the late rains came. The coming of rain showed the famine was over, justice was satisfied, and Israel was delivered.
       
      This shows that the bodies of these men were deliberately left unburied. This was to emphasize the fact that these men were executed as an act of judgment.
       
      They gathered the bones...
       
      David gave these seven a popular burial, together with the remains of Saul and Jonathan.
       
      Verse 14b tells us The famine ends.
       
      "So they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God heeded the prayer for the land."
       
      They performed all that the king commanded..
       
      WHY?
       
      David directed all of this and he did it partly on the principle stated in Numbers 35:33, which says, "So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it."
       
      The idea is that blood from UNPUNISHED murders DEFILES a land and God will one day require that blood from the nation.
       
      After that God heeded the prayer for the land...
       
      It was NOT as if from the time Saul massacred the Gibeonites until David's day that God did not answer any of Israel's prayers. Yet there came a time when God wanted to deal with this sin, and at that time He would NOT answer their prayers until they dealt with it.
       
      THIS TEACHES US...There are many reasons for unanswered prayer and when we see our prayers not answered we should seek God to address the problem.
       
      Verses 15-17 tells us David RETIRES from active duty.
       
      "When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint. Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, "You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel."
       
      And David grew faint...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Even a great man of God grows old. As the years went on, David became unable to fight as he once did. In this battle against the Philistines David's life was endangered when he grew faint in battle against a DESCENDANT of Goliath.
       
      What will the people do when they see weakness in their leader?
       
      If it is a weakness that can be understood - such as David's increasing frailty in old age - then they should rally around their leader and supply what he cannot.
       
      Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid...
       
      When David's strength failed God protected him through the strength of others. God will allow at times ALLOW us to be in places where we NEED the strength of others.
       
      REMEMBER ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12, which says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up … Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him."
       
      You shall go out no more with us to battle...
       
      In his advanced age, it was time for David to retire from the field of battle. His season as a warrior had passed.
       
      Verses 18-22 tells us Killing THREE more Philistine giants.
       
      "Now it happened afterward that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbechai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the sons of the giant. Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was born to the giant. So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David's brother, killed him. These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants."
       
      Now it happened afterward...
       
      This description of victory over Philistine giants shows that Israel could slay giants WITHOUT David.
       
      Sibbechai … Elhanan … Jonathan...
       
      These men accomplished heroic deeds when David was finished fighting giants. God will continue to raise up leaders when the leaders of the previous generation pass from the scene.
       
      David's legacy lay not only in what he accomplished, but in what he left behind - a people prepared for victory. David's triumphs were meaningful not only for himself but for others who learned victory through his teaching and example.
       
      Fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants...
       
      Part of the idea is that David is conquering enemies now so it will be better for Solomon in the future. Our present victory is NOT only good for us now but it passes something important on to the next generation.
       
      The defeat of these four giants is rightly credited to the hand of David and the hand of his servants. David had a role in this through his example, guidance, and influence.
       
      MORGAN says it well of David, and of those who are love our Jesus, but are physically waning in strength..."Let those who after long service find themselves waning in strength, be content to abide with the people of God, still shining for them as a lamp, and thus enabling them to carry on the same Divine enterprises. Such action in the last days of life is also great and high service."

       

    • July 2, 2016 3:49 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 22
       
      OPENS WITH DAVID'S PSALM OF PRAISE
       
      Part One: Praise, Deliverance, and the Reason for Deliverance.
       
      Verse 1 gives us an Introduction to the psalm.
       
      "Then David spoke to the LORD the words of this song, on the day when the LORD had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul."
       
      Then David spoke to the LORD the words of this song...
       
      For many reasons, most commentators assume that this was a psalm David wrote and sung many years BEFORE and is inserted at the end of 2 Samuel out of its chronological place. This is possible, but NOT necessary.
       
      BOICE says it well, "The psalm appears almost as David's final words. Hence, it is a summary thanksgiving for God's many deliverances of him through his long life of service."
       
      The words of this song...
       
      With minor variations, this psalm is the same as Psalm 18. It is likely that David composed this song as a younger man - perhaps when Saul died and he first took the throne, as described in 2 Samuel 8:14, when David had subdued all his enemies, and the Lord preserved David wherever he went. Yet in his old age David could LOOK BACK with great gratitude and sing this song again, looking at his WHOLE life.
       
      MORGAN says it well, "This psalm is a GREAT SUMMARY of David's whole character and attitude through life. "Such convictions - of the absolute sovereignty of Jehovah, of His omnipotent power to deliver, of the necessity for obedience to His law, and of assurance that in the case of such obedience He ever acts for His people - constituted the underlying strength of David's character."
       
      SPURGEON adds,"We have another form of this Psalm with significant variations … and this suggests the idea that it was sung by David at different times when he reviewed his own remarkable history, and observed the gracious hand of God in it all."
       
      Verses 2-4 tells us David praises the God of his deliverance.
       
      "And he said: The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
      The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
      My shield and the horn of my salvation,
      My stronghold and my refuge;
      My Savior, You save me from violence.
      I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
      So shall I be saved from my enemies."
       
      My rock and my fortress and my deliverer...
       
      David piles title upon title in praising God. God's work for David is so big and comprehensive that it can NOT be contained in JUST ONE title.
       
      David experienced the LORD's deliverance:
       
      1. God delivered David from Goliath
      2. God delivered David from Saul
      3. God delivered David from backsliding
      4. God delivered David from Israel's enemies
      5. God delivered David from Absalom
      6. God delivered David from David's own sinful passions
       
      In whom I will trust...
       
      When we see God for who He is, it is EASY to trust Him. When we know He is our rock and fortress and deliverer and shield and stronghold and Savior, it is natural to then trust Him COMPLETELY.
       
      Faith does NOT completely depend on knowledge, but the RIGHT knowledge of God gives great strength to faith.
       
      My Savior, You save me...
       
      Each title is meaningful to David because God has fulfilled the meaning of the title in David's experience. This is NOT a list of the names of God one might find in a systematic theology; this is the knowledge of God combined with the right experience of God.
       
      GOD IS WORTHY TO BE PRAISED.
       
      Verses 5-20 tells us David's deliverance comes FROM God.
       
      "When the waves of death surrounded me,
      The floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
      The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
      The snares of death confronted me.
      In my distress I called upon the LORD,
      And cried out to my God;
      He heard my voice from His temple,
      And my cry entered His ears.
       
      Then the earth shook and trembled;
      The foundations of heaven quaked and were shaken,
      Because He was angry.
      Smoke went up from His nostrils,
      And devouring fire from His mouth;
      Coals were kindled by it.
      He bowed the heavens also, and came down
      With darkness under His feet.
      He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
      And He was seen upon the wings of the wind.
      He made darkness canopies around Him,
      Dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
      From the brightness before Him
      Coals of fire were kindled.
       
      The LORD thundered from heaven,
      And the Most High uttered His voice.
      He sent out arrows and scattered them;
      Lightning bolts, and He vanquished them.
      Then the channels of the sea were seen,
      The foundations of the world were uncovered,
      At the rebuke of the LORD,
      At the blast of the breath of His nostrils.
       
      He sent from above, He took me,
      He drew me out of many waters.
      He delivered me from my strong enemy,
      From those who hated me;
      For they were too strong for me.
      They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
      But the LORD was my support.
      He also brought me out into a broad place;
      He delivered me because He delighted in me."
       
      Waves … floods … sorrows … snares...
       
      Danger surrounds David on EVERY side - physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially - David was on the brink of ruin when he cried out to God.
       
      In my distress I called upon the LORD...
       
      The enemy of our soul wants us to believe that we CAN NOT call upon the LORD in our distress - as if we have to be right with God and sitting peacefully in a prayer chapel to pray rightly. David KNEW that God hears our distress signals.
       
      He heard my voice...
       
      For David it was that simple. He cried out to God, and God heard. David also knew that God could not hear the distress of His people without taking action on their behalf.
       
      Then the earth shook...
       
      God was so concerned about David's problem that it seemed to David as if He shook the earth to meet his need.
       
      BOICE says, "What is most impressive … is the magnificent way the psalmist describes God rising from his throne in heaven in response to his servant's cry, parting the clouds, and descending to fight the king's battles accompanied by earthquakes, thunder, storms, and lightning."
       
      He rode upon a cherub, and flew...
       
      David pictures the LORD coming to meet his need, coming with glory and speed. He came so fast to David that it seemed that God traveled upon the wings of the wind.
       
      The Most High uttered His voice...
       
      When God came He spoke up on David's behalf, commanding all creation to respond to His passionate desire to deliver His child.
       
      All this is a reflection of David's CONFIDENCE in the love of God. David sees a God so loving that he WILL NOT tolerate the distress of His beloved. When things are NOT right for His beloved all creation will see His passion and urgency to meet the need of His beloved.
       
      He took me … He drew me … He delivered me...
       
      David saw God apply all that majesty and strength to the meeting of his need.
       
      They were too strong for me … the LORD was my support...
       
      David knew that the victory was due to God's hand, not due to his own ingenuity or ability. Without the LORD for support David would fall.
       
      He delivered me because He delighted in me...
       
      David had a sense of God's delight in him. His plea for deliverance was rooted in relationship, NOT merely in a desire to survive.
       
      Verses 21-25 tells us WHY God delivered David.
       
      "The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness;
      According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.
      For I have kept the ways of the LORD,
      And have not wickedly departed from my God.
      For all His judgments were before me;
      And as for His statutes, I did not depart from them.
      I was also blameless before Him,
      And I kept myself from my iniquity.
      Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness,
      According to my cleanness in His eyes."
       
      According to the cleanness of my hands...
       
      These words are ONE reason why many believe David could only sing this psalm BEFORE his sin with Bathsheba. Yet the text seems to indicate that David sang this towards the end of his days (2 Samuel 22:1).
       
      We might say that David simply believed what the Prophet Nathan told him in 2 Samuel 12:13: The LORD also has put away your sin. David KNEW he was a forgiven man, and that the cleanness of his hands was because they were cleansed BY God, not because they had never been dirtied.
       
      BOICE says it well, "If we were to remind David of his sin with Bathsheba, he would claim it as an illustration and a proof of this principle since he suffered in a variety of ways as a consequence of that great sin. But even though that happened, just as similar transgressions are committed by us all, on the whole he was nevertheless a man after God's own heart and was greatly blessed by God."
       
      I have kept the ways of the LORD … I was also blameless before Him...
       
      David IS NOT claiming sinless perfection. He speaks of his general righteousness and of his righteousness as it contrasts with the wickedness of his enemies.
       
      We can come to God in prayer with the same claim, but not on the basis of our own righteousness, but the righteousness we have received Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30 and 2 Corinthians 5:21).
       
      I kept myself from my iniquity...
       
      Some think this is arrogance or pride on David's part. Spurgeon quotes one commentator who wrote, "Kept himself! Who made man his own keeper?" Yet we know there is certainly a sense in which we must keep ourselves from sin, even as Paul spoke of a man cleansing himself for God's glory and for greater service (2 Timothy 2:21).
       
      The Reason for Deliverance and Praise.
       
      Verses 26-30 tells us WHY God delivered David.
       
      "With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
      With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
      With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
      And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
      You will save the humble people;
      But Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down.
       
      For You are my lamp, O LORD;
      The LORD shall enlighten my darkness.
      For by You I can run against a troop;
      By my God I can leap over a wall."
       
      With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful...
       
      Jesus discussed this principle in the sermon on the mount but from the perspective of man instead of from God: For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:2)
       
      David did NOT only sing about this principle; he lived it and benefited from it. God showed David great mercy because he showed great mercy to others, like Saul (1 Samuel 24:10-13) and Shimei (2 Samuel 16:7-12).
       
      With the devious You will show Yourself shrewd...
       
      Translators have trouble with this sentence because it communicates a difficult concept. It's easy say that if a man is pure towards God then God will be pure to him. But you can't say that if a man is wicked towards God then God will be wicked towards him, because God can't do wickedness.
       
      BOICE says it well, "David expresses the second half of the parallel by a somewhat ambiguous word, the root meaning of which is 'twisted.' The verse actually says, 'To the twisted (or crooked) you will show yourself twisted (or crooked)' … The idea seems to be that if a person insists in going devious ways in his dealings with God, God will outwit him, as that man deserves."
       
      You will save the humble people; but Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down...
       
      David proclaims his confidence in the principle repeated in Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6, and 1 Peter 5:5: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
       
      There is something in true humility that prompts the grace and mercy of God and there is something in pride and haughtiness that prompts God's resistance and displeasure.
       
      Humility isn't necessarily a low opinion of self; it is a combination of accurate opinion of self and simple self-forgetfulness. Humility is others centered not self centered.
       
      The LORD shall enlighten my darkness...
       
      When God met David's need He first brought light. Great strength and skill don't help much at all if we can't see in the midst of the struggle.
       
      By You I can run against a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall:
       
      When God met David's need He brought strength. One man should not be able to battle a troop, nor should he be able to leap over a wall protecting a city.
       
      David knew the principle of Ephesians 6:10 long before Paul penned the words: "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might."
       
      God has a resource of power (His might) that He makes available to us by faith. We don't have to be strong in our might, but we can be strong in His might.
       
      Verses 31-46 tells us David's deliverance comes from God.
       
      "As for God, His way is perfect;
      The word of the LORD is proven;
      He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
       
      For who is God, except the LORD?
      And who is a rock, except our God?
      God is my strength and power,
      And He makes my way perfect.
      He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
      And sets me on my high places.
      He teaches my hands to make war,
      So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
       
      You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
      Your gentleness has made me great.
      You enlarged my path under me;
      So my feet did not slip.
       
      I have pursued my enemies and destroyed them;
      Neither did I turn back again till they were destroyed.
      And I have destroyed them and wounded them,
      So that they could not rise;
      They have fallen under my feet.
      For You have armed me with strength for the battle;
      You have subdued under me those who rose against me.
      You have also given me the necks of my enemies,
      So that I destroyed those who hated me.
      They looked, but there was none to save;
      Even to the LORD, but He did not answer them.
      Then I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth;
      I trod them like dirt in the streets,
      And I spread them out.
       
      You have also delivered me from the strivings of my people;
      You have kept me as the head of the nations.
      A people I have not known shall serve me.
      The foreigners submit to me;
      As soon as they hear, they obey me.
      The foreigners fade away,
      And come frightened from their hideouts."
       
      He is a shield to all who trust in Him...
       
      When God met David's need He brought protection. David could see with light and stand in God's strength, but he still needed supernatural protection. David's trust was the vital link in receiving this protection from God.
       
      He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places:
       
      David thought of how the deer seem to skip from place to place and never lose their footing. God gave him the same kind of skill in working through the challenges brought by his enemies.
       
      So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze...
       
      David thought of the strength needed to bend a bow made of bronze. God gave him the same kind of strength to overcome the challenges brought by his enemies.
       
      Your gentleness has made me great...
       
      For David, it wasn't only about skill and power. It was also about receiving God's mercy and enjoying relationship with the God of great gentleness. This also was a resource of strength for David.
       
      MEYER says it well, "We might brave the lion; we are vanquished by the Lamb. We could withstand the scathing look of scorn; but when the gentle Lord casts on us the look of ineffable tenderness, we go out to weep bitterly."
       
      I have pursued my enemies and destroyed them...
       
      David relishes the place of victory he has in the LORD. He is NOT hesitant to proclaim it, either out of false humility or out of uncertainty of possessing the victory. He knows that enemies may rise again, but he looks back at the field of battle and says, "They have fallen under my feet, and when they were under my feet I trod them like dirt in the streets."
       
      You have also delivered me from the strivings of my people...
       
      David did NOT only have to battle with problems from enemies, but also with the strivings of his OWN people. In the midst of the battle he had to endure the contention of his own people, but God sustained him through that also.
       
      You have kept me as the head of the nations...
       
      David knew that the throne belonged to God. David knew, "The throne is not mine. Not to have, not to take, not to protect, and not to keep. The throne is the LORD'S." Therefore when David had the throne, he knew it WAS God who gave it to him.
       
      Verses 47-51 tells us David praises the God of his deliverance.
       
      "The LORD lives!
      Blessed be my Rock!
      Let God be exalted,
      The Rock of my salvation!
      It is God who avenges me,
      And subdues the peoples under me;
      He delivers me from my enemies.
      You also lift me up above those who rise against me;
      You have delivered me from the violent man.
      Therefore I will give thanks to You,
      O LORD, among the Gentiles,
      And sing praises to Your name.
      He is the tower of salvation to His king,
      And shows mercy to His anointed,
      To David and his descendants forevermore."
       
      The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock!
       
      David thinks of the great victory of God on his behalf and can only worship.
       
      It is God who avenges me, and subdues the peoples under me...
       
      David emphasizes the thought, "This is the LORD's victory. He has won it for me. The glory goes to Him."
       
      He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up...
       
      We see in this psalm that David constantly moves back and forth from speaking about God (He delivers me) to speaking directly to God (You also lift me up). David does NOT seem to have a problem moving between the two aspects, indicating that there is place for both in praise.
       
      Paul quotes 2 Samuel 22:50 (Psalm 18:49) in Romans 15:9.
       
      And shows mercy to His anointed...
       
      David ends the psalm understanding his standing in mercy. Though earlier in the psalm he proclaimed his own righteousness, he comes back to the foundation of God's mercy. David's relationship with God was based on God's great mercy, not upon David's own righteousness.

       

    • July 2, 2016 3:47 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 23
       
      OPENS WITH DAVID'S PSALM OF HONOR TO GOD AND HIS MIGHTY MEN
       
       
      Verses 1-4 tells us The CHARACTER of God's PERFECT king.
       
      "Now these are the last words of David.
       
      Thus says David the son of Jesse;
      Thus says the man raised up on high,
      The anointed of the God of Jacob,
      And the sweet psalmist of Israel:
       
      "The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me,
      And His word was on my tongue.
      The God of Israel said,
      The Rock of Israel spoke to me:
      'He who rules over men must be just,
      Ruling in the fear of God.
      And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises,
      A morning without clouds,
      Like the tender grass springing out of the earth,
      By clear shining after rain.' "
       
      It is NOT that these were the words David spoke from his deathbed, but they to express his heart and longing at the end of his life.
       
      TRAPP says it well, "This short psalm is a beautiful song of wisdom from David at the end of his life. "Wherein he doth, in few words but full of matter, acknowledge God's benefits, confess his sins, profess his faith, comfort himself in the covenant, and denounce destruction to unbelievers … How much in a little!"
       
      What a life his was - we have a capsule of David's life in the titles and descriptions of 2 Samuel 23:1:
       
      1. The son of Jesse: Jesse was a humble farmer and this title reminds us of David's humble beginning
      2. The man raised up on high: David allowed God to raise him up, so he could confidently rest in this title
      3. The anointed of the God of Jacob: David was anointed by God, not by himself or merely by man. He had a unique empowering and enabling from God
      4. The sweet psalmist of Israel: David had a beautiful gift of eloquence and expression before God. This title reminds of David's deep inner life with God
       
      The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me...
       
      This indicates that at least at times, David was aware of the work of divine inspiration through him and expressed in his words.
       
      He who rules over men must be just...
       
      As David looks back over his life and reign, he is struck by the great need for rulers to exercise justice. He knew this by seeing the goodness of justice provided and the curse of justice denied.
       
      Ruling in the fear of God...
       
      This is the key to justice in the work of a leader. When leaders rule in the fear of God they recognize that a God of justice reviews their work and will require an accounting of how the ruler has led.
       
      He shall be like the light of the morning...
       
      David reflects on how a wise ruler is blessed when he rules with justice. Though David's reign was not perfect it was blessed - and his reign is the most identified with the reign of the Messiah.
       
      From ONE perspective David's reign was a disaster.
       
      WHY?
       
      1. He suffered from a dark scandal during his reign.
      2. He suffered under repeated family crisis.
      3. Under an attempted insurrection from his own son.
      4. Under another civil war.
      5. From three years of famine.
       
      In contrast to David, his son Solomon's reign seemed perfect.
      WHY?
       
      1. Solomon enjoyed a reign of peace.
      2. Enjoyed great prosperity.
      3. Enjoyed great prominence.
      4. Enjoyed great glory.
       
      Yet the Bible has nothing but praise for David and his reign, reflected in passages like Psalm 89:20; Isaiah 55:3-4; Romans 1:3; Revelation 22:16.
       
      In contrast, Solomon is barely mentioned in the rest of the Scriptures and when he is, it is almost in a backhanded way (Matthew 5:28-29 and Matthew 12:42).
       
      The difference between David and Solomon was found in their DIFFERENT relationships with God.
       
      1. David's passion in life was simply to be with God (Psalm 84:10), while Solomon's passion was personal improvement (1 Kings 3:4-15).
       
      2. We can also say that David endured to the end, loving and serving God in the final chapters of his life (2 Samuel 23:1-7), while Solomon forsook God in his later years (1 Kings 11:4-8), and only came back to God at the end of his life.
       
      Verses 5-7 tells us David's TRUST in God's covenant.
       
      "Although my house is not so with God,
      Yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant,
      Ordered in all things and secure.
      For this is all my salvation and all my desire;
      Will He not make it increase?
      But the sons of rebellion shall all be as thorns thrust away,
      Because they cannot be taken with hands.
      But the man who touches them
      Must be armed with iron and the shaft of a spear,
      And they shall be utterly burned with fire in their place."
       
      Although my house is not so with God...
       
      David looks at the complete blessedness of a just ruler's reign and he knows that his reign fell short of both perfect justice and complete blessedness.
       
      Yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant...
       
      David knew that the everlasting covenant from God was NOT based on David's perfection as a ruler. It was based on God's gracious commitment to His everlasting covenant.
       
      This is all my salvation and all my desire...
       
      David can only say this because the covenant was based on God's faithfulness and NOT David's. David KNEW that his own obedience was NOT enough to be a foundation for ALL his salvation and ALL his desire.
       
      We can say that because of his sin and its consequences, David's light dimmed towards the end of his life, but it was by NO MEANS extinguished. He shined until the end.
       
      MORGAN says it well, "In the Divine dealing with us, there is no mistake, no lapse. Nothing has been permitted which has not been made to serve the highest purpose. This is so even of our failures, if, like David, in true penitence we have forsaken them and confessed them. It is certainly so of all our sorrows and trials."
       
      The sons of rebellion shall all be as thorns thrust away...
       
      The covenant was based on God's faithfulness, but David knew that obedience STILL mattered. God would still oppose the sons of rebellion and they would end in ruin. David knew he could trust the LORD to take care of his enemies and wicked men.
       
      SMITH says it well, "This was the whole theme of David. The Lord is in control. Rest in Him. Don't fret yourself because of the evildoers that bring evil devices to pass. Rest in the Lord, trust also in Him. Delight thyself in the Lord! And all of the help, and the strength, the ministry of God's Spirit to our hearts, through the Psalms, the sweet psalmist of Israel. What a legacy he has left."
       
      This remarkable relationship with God is THE REASON why David was Israel's greatest king, and the most prominent ancestor of Jesus Christ. The New Testament begins with these words: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David (Matthew 1:1).
       
      Verses 8-12 tells us the names and exploits of David's top THREE soldiers.
       
      "These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-Basshebeth the Tachmonite, chief among the captains. He was called Adino the Eznite, because he had killed eight hundred men at one time. And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated. He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder. And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines had gathered together into a troop where there was a piece of ground full of lentils. Then the people fled from the Philistines. But he stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. And the LORD brought about a great victory."
       
      These are the names of the mighty men...
       
      David was nothing without his mighty men, and they were nothing without him. He was their leader, but a leader is nothing without followers - and David had the mighty men to follow him. These men did NOT necessarily start as mighty men; many were some of the distressed, indebted, and discontent people who followed David at Adullam Cave (1 Samuel 22:1-2).
       
      SPURGEON says it well, "These men came to David when his fortunes were at the lowest ebb, and he himself was regarded as a rebel and an outlaw, and they remained faithful to him throughout their lives. Happy are they who can follow a good cause in its worst estate, for theirs is true glory."
       
      The day for mighty men and women - heroic men and women for God - has NOT ended.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "The triumph of the church as a whole depends upon the personal victory of every Christian. In other words, your victory, your life, your personal testimony, are important to the cause of God today. What happens out in New Guinea, down in the Amazon jungle, over in disturbed Congo, is not unrelated to what happens in your own personal relationship with God and your personal battle against the forces of darkness. Victory for the church on the whole world-front depends upon victory in your life and in mine; 'home' and 'foreign' situations cannot be detached."
       
      Adino the Eznite...
       
      This leader among David's mighty men was noted for having killed eight hundred men at one time.
       
      Eleazar the son of Dodo...
       
      This leader of David's mighty men was famous for hanging with David in a famous battle and when his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword. Through his tenacity the LORD brought about a great victory that day.
       
      Spurgeon says of Eleazar, in his solitary stand until victory, was a tremendous example for believers today. "Solitary prowess is expected of believers. I hope we may breed in this place a race of men and women who know the truth, and know also what the Lord claims at their hands, and are resolved, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to war a good warfare for their Lord whether others will stand at their side or no."
       
      Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite...
       
      This leader among David's mighty men stationed himself in the middle of field when others fled and he held the ground single-handedly until the LORD brought about a great victory.
       
      Verses 13-17 tells us a daring exploit from David's days at Adullam.
       
      "Then three of the thirty chief men went down at harvest time and came to David at the cave of Adullam. And the troop of Philistines encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. And David said with longing, "Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!" So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD. And he said, "Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?" Therefore he would not drink it. These things were done by the three mighty men."
       
      Came to David at the cave of Adullam...
       
      David spent time in this cave when those who would become his mighty men first came to him in 1 Samuel 22:1-2. This passage describes something that happened either during that time or a later time of battle against the Philistines when David went back to the cave of Adullam.
       
      David said with longing, "Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem": During this time David had a nostalgic longing for the taste of water from a well near his boyhood home.
       
      The three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem...
       
      In response to David's longing - which was NOT a command or even a request, just a vocalized longing - these three mighty men immediately went to fulfill David's desire at GREAT personal risk.
       
      He would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD...
       
      David was so honored by the self-sacrifice of these three mighty men he felt that the water was too good for him - and worthy to be poured out in sacrifice to the LORD. He believed that the great sacrifice of these men could only be honored by giving the water to the LORD.
       
      Verses 18-23 tells us two more notable men among the mighty men.
       
      "Now Abishai the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief of another three. He lifted his spear against three hundred men, killed them, and won a name among these three. Was he not the most honored of three? Therefore he became their captain. However, he did not attain to the first three. Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel, who had done many deeds. He had killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day. And he killed an Egyptian, a spectacular man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand; so he went down to him with a staff, wrested the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and killed him with his own spear. These things Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and won a name among three mighty men. He was more honored than the thirty, but he did not attain to the first three. And David appointed him over his guard."
       
      Abishai the brother of Joab...
       
      This leader among David's mighty men was famous for his battle against three hundred men. His leadership is also recorded in passages like 1 Samuel 26:6-9, 2 Samuel 3:30 and 2 Samuel 10:10-14.
       
      Benaiah the son of Jehoiada...
       
      This leader among David's mighty men was famous for his battles against both men (two lion-like heroes of Moab … an Egyptian, a spectacular man) and beasts (a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day).
       
      Verses 24-39 gives us a list of David's mighty men.
       
      "Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite, Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abiezer the Anathothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite, Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, Heleb the son of Baanah (the Netophathite), Ittai the son of Ribai from Gibeah of the children of Benjamin, Benaiah a Pirathonite, Hiddai from the brooks of Gaash, Abi-Albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite, Eliahba the Shaalbonite (of the sons of Jashen), Jonathan, Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite, Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite, Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite, Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite (armorbearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah), Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, and Uriah the Hittite: thirty-seven in all."
       
      Eliam the son of Ahithophel...
       
      This man is notable among the mighty men because he was the father of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 3:11) and shows that Ahithophel was Bathsheba's grandfather.
       
      Uriah the Hittite...
       
      He is notable among the mighty men because he was the husband of Bathsheba. When David heard of Bathsheba's relation to Uriah and Eliam and Ahithophel (2 Samuel 3:11) he should have put away every idea of adultery.
       
      Thirty-seven in all...
       
      These remarkable men were the foundation of the greatness of David's reign. They did not come to David as great men but God used his leadership to transform them from men who were in distress, in debt and discontented, who met David back at Adullam Cave (1 Samuel 22:1-2).
       
      MORGAN sums up this chapter well. "More than all his victories against outside foes, the influence of his life and character on the men nearest to him testify to his essential greatness."

    • July 2, 2016 3:44 AM EDT
    • 2 SAMUEL 24
       
      OPENS WITH DAVID AND THE CENSUS
       
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us David is MOVED to take a census.
       
      "Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, "Go, number Israel and Judah." So the king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, "Now go throughout all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and count the people, that I may know the number of the people."
       
      The anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David...
       
      DID YOU KNOW...The translators of the New King James Version believe that "He" in this sentence applies to God, because they capitalize it. Yet 1 Chronicles 21:1 tells us, "Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel." The best explanation is that Satan moved and deceived David to take a census and that Satan is the "he" of 2 Samuel 24:1. Yet the LORD expressly ALLOWED it as a chastisement against David.
       
      Go, number Israel and Judah...
       
      This was dangerous WHY?
       
      Because of a principle stated in Exodus 30:12: "When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them."
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The principle of Exodus 30:12 speaks to God's ownership of His people. In the thinking of these ancient cultures, a man only had the right to count or number what belonged to him. Israel did NOT belong to David; Israel belonged to God. It was up to the LORD to command a counting, and if David counted he should only do it at God's command and receiving ransom money to "atone" for the counting.
       
      Verses 3-4 tells us Joab OBJECTS to the census.
       
      "And Joab said to the king, "Now may the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times more than there are, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king desire this thing?" Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab and against the captains of the army. Therefore Joab and the captains of the army went out from the presence of the king to count the people of Israel."
       
      YOU NOTICE Joab was NOT afraid to speak to David when he thought the king was wrong. With the best interest of both David and Israel in mind, Joab tactfully asked David to reconsider this foolish desire to count the nation.
       
      Joab also hints at the motive behind the counting - PRIDE in David.
       
      So LATER in his reign, David WAS tempted to take some of the glory in himself. He looked at how Israel had grown and prospered during his reign - it was remarkable indeed. The count was a way to take credit to himself.
       
      MORGAN says it well, "The spirit of vainglory in numbers had taken possession of the people and the king, and there was a tendency to trust in numbers and forget God."
       
      Nevertheless the king's word PREVAILED against Joab and against the captains of the army.
       
      WE SEE IT WAS NOT ONLY Joab who tried to tell David not to do this - the captains of the army also warned David not to count the soldiers in Israel. But David did so anyway.
       
      Verses 5-9 tells us The census IS taken.
       
      "And they crossed over the Jordan and camped in Aroer, on the right side of the town which is in the midst of the ravine of Gad, and toward Jazer. Then they came to Gilead and to the land of Tahtim Hodshi; they came to Dan Jaan and around to Sidon; and they came to the stronghold of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and the Canaanites. Then they went out to South Judah as far as Beersheba. So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to the king. And there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men."
       
      DID YOU KNOW...It took almost 10 months to complete the census. David should have called off this foolish census during the ten months, but SADLY he did NOT.
       
      Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to the king...
       
      The results showed that there were 1,300,000 fighting men among the twelve tribes, reflecting an estimated total population of about 6 million in Israel.
       
      AND ODDLY ENOUGH...1 Chronicles 21:5, the sums are widely different: in Israel one million one hundred thousand, in Judah four hundred and seventy thousand. Neither of these sums is too great, but they can NOT be both correct; and which is the true number is difficult to say.
       
      Verse 10 tells us David KNOWS that he has done WRONG in numbering the people.
       
      "And David's heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O LORD, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly."
       
      WE SEE AND UNDERSTAND...The man after God's heart was NOT PERFECT NOR SINLESS, but David had a heart SENSITIVE to sin when it was committed. David kept a short account with God.
       
      Take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly...
       
      David now saw the pride and vainglory that prompted him to do such a foolish thing.
       
      Verses 11-13 tells us David is allowed to CHOOSE his judgment.
       
      "Now when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, "Go and tell David, 'Thus says the LORD: "I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you."' " So Gad came to David and told him; and he said to him, "Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days' plague in your land? Now consider and see what answer I should take back to Him who sent me."
       
      I offer you three things...
       
      WHY?
       
      God used David's sin and the resulting chastisement to reveal David's heart and wisdom. His choice of the following three options would TEST David:
       
      THINK ABOUT THESE CHOICES:
       
      1. Seven years of famine...
       
      This would surely be the death of some in Israel, but the wealthy and resourceful would survive. Israel would have to depend on neighboring nations for food
       
      2. Flee three months before your enemies:
       
      This would be the death of some in Israel, but mostly only of soldiers. Israel would have to contend with enemies among neighboring nations
       
      3. Three days' plague in your land:
       
      This would be the death of some in Israel, but anyone could be struck by this plague - rich or poor, influential or anonymous, royalty or common.
       
      Now consider and see what answer I should take back to Him who sent me:
       
      God wanted David to USE the prophet as a mediator, and to answer to the prophet instead of directly to God.
       
      WHICH ONE WOULD WE CHOOSE?
       
      Verse 14 tells us David chooses the THREE days of plague.
       
      "And David said to Gad, "I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man."
       
      Please let me fall into the hand of the LORD:
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      David chose the three days of plague.
       
      WHY?
       
      In the other two options the king and his family could be insulated against the danger, but David knew that he had to expose himself to the chastisement of God.
       
      CLARKE explains it well, "Had he chosen war, his own personal safety was in no danger, because there was already an ordinance preventing him from going to battle. Had he chosen famine, his own wealth would have secured his and his own family's support. But he showed the greatness of his mind in choosing the pestilence, to the ravages of which himself and his household were exposed equally with the meanest of his subjects."
       
      Do not let me fall into the hand of man:
       
      This meant that David chose the three days of plague. In the other two options, Israel would either be at the mercy of neighbors (as in the famine) or attacked by enemies. David knew that God is FAR MORE merciful and gracious than man is.
       
      Verses 15-17 tells us The plague of destruction hits Israel SEVERELY.
       
      "So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died. And when the angel stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, "It is enough; now restrain your hand." And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, "Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father's house."
       
      Seventy thousand men of the people died:
       
      This was a great calamity upon Israel - a devastating plague striking this many in such a short period of time.
       
      The LORD relented from the destruction:
       
      This justified David's wisdom in leaving himself in God's hands. He could not trust man to relent from destruction.
       
      Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father's house:
       
      Like a TRUE FAITHFUL shepherd, David asked that the punishment be UPON HIM AND HIS HOUSEHOLD. Having another purpose to accomplish, God did NOT accept David's offer.
       
      Verses 18-21 tells us David instructed to erect an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah.
       
      "And Gad came that day to David and said to him, "Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded. Now Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. Then Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?" And David said, "To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people."
       
      Erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite:
       
      This is where David SAW AND MET the Angel of the LORD, and where God relented from the plague before it came upon Jerusalem.
       
      AND FROM HAVING STUDIED THE BIBLE, WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE MANY ANGELS OF THE LORD....BUT ONLY ((ONE)) THE ANGEL OF THE LORD...AND THAT IS JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, WHO KING DAVID SAW AND MET.
       
      Now God wanted David to meet Him there in worship.
       
      The threshing floor of Araunah had both RICH history and a RICH future.
       
      DID YOU KNOW?
       
      2 Chronicles 3:1 tells us that the threshing floor of Araunah was on Mount Moriah; the same hill where Abraham offered Isaac (Genesis 22:2), and the same set of hills where Jesus died on the cross (Genesis 22:14).
       
      To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the LORD:
       
      David wanted to transform this place where chaff was separated from wheat into a place of SACRIFICE AND WORSHIP.
       
      DID YOU KNOW?
       
      It would remain a place of sacrifice and worship, because this land purchased by David became the site of Solomon's temple (1 Chronicles 21:28-22:5).
       
      Verses 22-24 tells us REFUSING the gift of Araunah, David BUYS the threshing floor.
       
      "Now Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever seems good to him. Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood. All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king." And Araunah said to the king, "May the LORD your God accept you." Then the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver."
       
      Araunah had a good, generous heart and wanted to GIVE David anything he wanted.
       
      AND THINK ABOUT THIS...
       
      Had Araunah's noble offer been accepted, it would have been Araunah's sacrifice, NOT David's; NOR would it have answered the end of turning away the displeasure of the Most High.
       
      I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing:
       
      David knew that it would NOT be a gift nor a sacrifice unto the LORD if it did NOT cost him something. He did NOT look for the cheapest way possible to please God.
       
      MEYER says it well, "Where there is true, strong love to Jesus, it will cost us something. Love is the costliest of all undertakings … But what shall we mind if we gain Christ? You cannot give up for Him without regaining everything you have renounced, but purified and transfigured."
       
      Verse 25 tells us David's altar and sacrifice.
       
      "And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel."
       
      And offered burnt offerings and peace offerings:
       
      This shows that David understood that the death of the 70,000 in Israel in the plague did NOT atone for his and Israel's sin. Atonement could only be made through the blood of an approved substitute.
       
      Burnt offerings were to atone for sin; peace offerings were to enjoy fellowship with God. This shows us from beginning to end, David's life was marked by fellowship WITH God.
       
      MORGAN says it well, "We finally see the man after God's own heart turning the occasion of his sin and its punishment into an occasion of worship."
       
      So the LORD heeded the prayers for the land.
       
      HOW?
       
      1 Chronicles 21:26 tells us that God showed His acceptance of David's sacrifice by consuming it with fire from heaven.
       
      God honored David's desire to be right and to fellowship with God by answering with Divine blessing from heaven.
       
      So it always was, is, and ever shall be when God's children draw near to their God and Father for cleansing and fellowship..He hears and answers. He turns the evil intents of Satan and man and the world into good for those who love Jesus Christ and are called to His purposes!

       

    • July 2, 2016 3:38 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 31
       
      OPENS WITH THE DEATH OF SAUL AND HIS SONS IN BATTLE AGAINST THE PHILISTINES
       
       
      Verse 1 tells us the battle turns against Israel.
       
      "Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell slain on Mount Gilboa."
       
      The Philistines had attacked deep into Israeli territory (1 Samuel 28:4), and Saul's army assembled and prepared for battle at Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4). Because of his deep rebellion against the LORD, Saul was NOT ready for battle. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly (1 Samuel 28:5).
       
      WHY?
       
      Instead of taking his fears to the LORD, Saul made things even WORSE by seeking God's voice through a spirit medium. Strangely, God did speak to Saul, but God spoke words of judgment to Saul through an unusual appearance of the prophet Samuel. Samuel told Saul that he and his sons would die the next day (1 Samuel 28:19).
       
      WE KNOW...1 Samuel 31:1 is the NEXT day.
       
      The Philistines fought against Israel, and David wanted to be part of this group of Philistines (1 Samuel 29:2, 8). It was the LORD's mercy that did NOT allow David to take up with these enemies of the LORD.
       
      Gilboa was the location of the Israeli army camp (1 Samuel 28:4), so the battle has turned so badly for Israel that they are in full retreat, back to their own camp.
       
      Verse 2 tells us of the death of Saul's sons.
       
      "Then the Philistines followed hard after Saul and his sons. And the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul's sons."
       
      The Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul's sons: Tragically, Saul's sons are affected in the judgment of God against their father Saul.
       
      The brave and worthy Jonathan dies as we might expect him to - loyally fighting for his God, his country, and his father the king unto the very end.
       
      Their death was tragic, yet important in God's plan.
       
      WHY?
       
      In taking the logical heirs to Saul's throne, God cleared the way for David to become the next king of Israel. We know that if Jonathan had survived, he would have gladly yielded the throne to David (1 Samuel 18:1-4). But the same could not be said of Saul's other sons, so God was merciful to the nation and to David in taking Saul's sons in battle. God was also merciful to Jonathan, sparing him the ordeal of having to side with David against his own brothers.
       
      As it was, David had to deal with Ishbosheth, the one surviving son of Saul before taking the undisputed throne of Israel (2 Samuel 2:8 through 4:12).
       
      Verses 3-6 tells us of the tragic end of King Saul.
       
      "The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armorbearer, "Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me." But his armorbearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it. And when his armorbearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword, and died with him. So Saul, his three sons, his armorbearer, and all his men died together that same day."
       
      Saul, struck by many arrows and severely wounded, knew the battle was completely lost. He pleads with his armorbearer to kill him, and when he will not, Saul kills himself.
       
      In the way most people think of suicide, Saul's death was not suicide. Clarke explains well: "He was to all appearance mortally wounded, when he begged his armourbearer to extinguish the remaining spark of life … though this wound accelerated his death, yet it could not be properly the cause of it, as he was mortally wounded before, and did it on the conviction that he could not survive."
       
      Yet, how does God feel about suicide?
       
      It is sin; it is the sin of self-murder. Yet, we are wrong if we regard it as the unforgivable sin, and anyone who does commit suicide has given in to the lies and deceptions of Satan, whose purpose is to kill and destroy, as confirmed to us in John 10:10.
       
      As sad as anything is in this account, sad is the absence of any kind of sorrow or repentance or crying out to God at all on Saul's part. He was told the previous day that he would die (1 Samuel 28:19), yet he does not seem to have prepared his soul to meet God in any way.
       
      The events of this chapter happened some 20 years after Saul first heard the announcement of judgment against him from the prophet Samuel. Perhaps Saul thought that time was on his side, because God's announced judgment did not happen immediately. But time was against him, because in the 20 years since, his heart became MORE AND MORE hard against God.
       
      At the end of his life, Saul had become so hardened in sin that he did NOT WANT to repent. Many people put off getting right with God until a later time, assuming they will still want to get right with God then. But that is a dangerous, dangerous assumption, because repentance is a gift from God, and if it is here today it should be received today.
       
      AND INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH...In 2 Samuel 1:4-10, an Amalekite came to David with the report that Saul had died in battle, and that he had actually delivered the death-blow to Saul. Does the Amalekite's statement contradict this passage, where it seems Saul killed himself? It may be that Saul fell on his sword, and life still lingered in him, so he asked this Amalekite to finish him off. Or it may be that the Amalekite simply lied, and was the first one to come upon Saul's dead body, and that he told David that he killed him because he thought David would be pleased and he would be rewarded.
       
      Verse 7 tells us about the significant defeat for Israel.
       
      "And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley, and those who were on the other side of the Jordan, saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them."
       
      The victory of the Philistines was so complete that even those on the other side of the Jordan fled in terror before the Philistines. With the Philistine army occupying territory on the other side of the Jordan, they have cut Israel in half, drawing a line from west to east. The rest of the nation is ripe for total conquest by the Philistines.
       
      As the Philistines routed the land, Jonathan had a five-year-old son named Mephibosheth who was injured and left lame as he fled (2 Samuel 4:4). King David's later kindness to Mephibosheth is one of the more touching stories of David's life (2 Samuel 9:1-13).
       
      This great defeat came when God's people saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead. When the leader (King Saul) was struck, it spread panic among God's people.
       
      Jesus knew this same principle would be used against His own disciples:
       
      MARK 14:27, "Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'"
       
      In fact, when the soldiers came to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus made a very deliberate effort TO PROTECT His disciples (John 18:8-9). They also fled, but to safety until the leader triumphed over everything. It was the opposite of what happened under Saul.
       
      In Jesus' case, He knew that after the glory of His triumph on the cross and over death at the empty tomb, the disciples would once again be gathered unto Him.
       
      But sadly this is NOT always the case today when a leader of God's work falls. Ideally, people would look to the LORD instead of stumbling themselves over a leader's fall, but this does NOT always happen.
       
      Saul's sin, hardened rebellion, and eventual ruin affected far more than himself and even his immediate family. It literally endangered the ENTIRE nation of Israel.
       
      This shows why leaders have a higher responsibility, because their fall can endanger many more people than the fall of someone who is not a leader. This is why the New Testament openly preaches a higher standard for leaders, even saying they should be blameless for just cause before the world and God's people...told to us in 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6.
       
      Verses 8-10 tells us the Philistines DISGRACE the corpses of King Saul and his sons.
       
      "So it happened the next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. And they cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and sent word throughout the land of the Philistines, to proclaim it in the temple of their idols and among the people. Then they put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan."
       
      Saul's tragic death gave opportunity for the enemies of the LORD to disgrace His name.
       
      HOW?
       
      FIRST, they gave the ultimate insult to Saul; in that culture, to have your dead body treated this way was considered a fate worse than death itself.
       
      SECOND, Saul's death was used to glorify pagan gods and to mock the living God (to proclaim it in the temple of their idols and among the people).
       
      They fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...You can go to the ruins of Beth Shan today, as the foundations to the city sit high on a hill overlooking the Roman ruins destroyed in an earthquake. It was high on that hill that the Philistines hung the decapitated corpse of King Saul in the ultimate humiliation.
       
      Verses 11-13 tells us the VALIANT men of Jabesh Gilead end the disgrace of Saul and his sons.
       
      "Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days."
       
      ALL the valiant men arose...
       
      In a time of disgrace, loss, and tragedy like this, God still has His valiant men to do His work. The men of Jabesh Gilead took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from their place of humiliation and gave them a proper burial.
       
      Glory to God, He always has His valiant men!
       
      WE NEED TO REMEMBER...When one servant passes the scene, another arises to take his place. If Saul is gone, God raises up a David. If the army of Israel is utterly routed, God still has His valiant men. God's work is bigger than any man, or any group of people, AMEN?!
       
      The inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead are also recognized for their gratitude.
       
      Many years before, Saul delivered their city from the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:1-11), and they repay the kindness God showed them from the hand of Saul.
       
      Upon taking the throne, David rightly thanked these valiant men for their kindness to the memory of Saul, Jonathan, and Saul's other sons (2 Samuel 2:4-7).
       
      When David heard of Saul's death, he did NOT rejoice. In fact, he mourned and composed a song in honor of Saul and Jonathan (The Song of the Bow, 2 Samuel 1:11-27). In spite of all that Saul did against David, David spoke well of Saul after his death.
       
      David called Saul the beauty of Israel (2 Samuel 1:19).
       
      David wanted no one to rejoice in Saul's death (2 Samuel 1:20).
       
      David wanted everyone to mourn, even the mountains and fields (2 Samuel 1:21).
       
      David praised Saul as a mighty warrior (2 Samuel 1:22-23).
       
      David complimented the personality and loyalty of Saul (2 Samuel 1:23).
       
      David called Israel to mourning, and called on others to praise Saul for the good he did for Israel (2 Samuel 1:24).
       
      SOME ASK...HOW did David keep his heart free from bitterness, and keep himself in a place where he could speak so wonderfully about a man who had hurt him so much?
       
      David CHOSE to trust in the power and authority of God.
      David CHOSE to believe that God was in control and must have a purpose even for terrible things that He allows to happen.
       
      Many, many times we can only see the good in retrospect. If you can NOT see the good in something terrible that has happened to you, you must SIMPLY TRUST that it is there, and it WILL BE revealed in time.
       
      David chose to "let it go."
      He chose not to hold on to bitterness and hurt.
      David had two great opportunities to kill Saul, and "let him go" each time.
      David's "Song of the Bow" in 2 Samuel 1 shows that this attitude was in HIS HEART, not ONLY in his actions.
      David could have murdered Saul in his heart a thousand times over, but never doing it in his actions.
       
      David's heart in the Song of the Bow shows that he did NOT even murder Saul in his heart; he "let him go" there also. To do this, David must have kept a short account of the wrongs Saul did to him.
       
      David chose to think the best about Saul.
       
      He could NOT have spontaneously said the things he said about Saul in the Song of the Bow unless they had been in his heart and mind before that.
       
      AND WE REMEMBER, One of the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is "Love thinks no evil."
       
      David CHOSE to remember that God had forgiven him.
      David heard the news of Saul's death and sang the "Song of the Bow" when he was in Ziklag (2 Samuel 1:1). The city was still filled with burned rubble that was the indirect result of David's backsliding and sin.
      David had just come from a time when the LORD had graciously forgiven him - how could he NOT show a gracious heart towards Saul's memory.
       
      David CHOSE to keep doing these things. Many people can set their heart right for a moment, but it is quickly lost. Whenever that happened to David, he put his heart back in the right place quickly.
       
      Choosing this kind of heart showed David to be a true "Man after God's Own Heart." It showed that the years in the wilderness, escaping Saul, really were years when God trained him to be a king, and a king after God's own heart.
       
      David would never follow in the same tragic footsteps as King Saul.
       
      It MIGHT HAVE LOOKED very dark for Israel, but God had not given up on them. God had another king ready to lead Israel into security and blessing. That was David, and he was a figure of his greater Son, Jesus Christ – who has the title, Son of David (Matthew 1:1). If a bad leader falls, it makes us look all the more to God’s perfect leader – Jesus Christ, the Son of David.

    • July 2, 2016 3:36 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 30
       
      OPENS WITH....DAVID'S DISTRESS OVER THE ATTACK OF THE AMALEKITES ON ZIKLAG.
       
      Verses 1-2 tell us Ziklag is plundered by the Amalekites.
       
      "Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way."
       
      It CERTAINLY HAPPENED, but it didn't happen by accident. God had a purpose for all of this in David's life.
       
      ON THE THIRD DAY...indicates that David and his men covered about twenty-five miles a day on the march south from Aphek to Ziklag, where they would have arrived tired, hungry and expecting all the comforts for a welcome home.
       
      While David and his men were to the north trying to join the Philistine army, their own city of Ziklag was unguarded. The opportunistic Amalekites took advantage of the defenseless city, attacked it, and burned it to the ground.
       
      FAR WORSE...the Amalekites had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great. Not only was the city burned, but all their women and children were taken away.
       
      There is a touch of the LORD's poetic justice in all this.
       
      WHY?
       
      David had brought this exact calamity on other cities. 1 Samuel 27:8-11 says during his time among the Philistines, David made his living as a bandit, robbing cities and whenever David attacked the land, he left neither man nor woman alive. The Amalekites were being more merciful than David had been!
       
      THINK ABOUT THIS...
       
      God, who is great in mercy, does not discipline us as much as we deserve. Like a compassionate father, He tempers the stroke of His hand with kindness and love, AMEN?!
       
      Verses 3-6 tells us David and his men come upon the empty, burned city.
       
      "So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David's two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God."
       
      As DAVID AND HIS MEN came within a few miles of their city, the hearts of David and his men must have brightened. They were discouraged that they had NOT been allowed to fight with the Philistines; they are soldiers, and soldiers want to fight! But at least they knew they were coming home, and home meant all their familiar surroundings, and all their families. But that bright thought quickly turned black as night.
       
      Even off in the distance they could see something was wrong. Smoke rose from their city, but it was NOT the smoke of cooking fires. It was too much smoke for that, and the smoke was too black. When they came to the city and saw it was a ghost town, a pile of burned rubble, with no voice of the survivors, it seemed that everything was lost.
       
      THEY ALL WEPT...
       
      All had been lost. At this point, David has nothing more to support him. No one in Israel can help him. The Philistines do not want him. His family is gone; all he has owned is gone. But at least he has his friends, right? Not really; the people spoke of stoning him. Every support is gone, except the LORD. That is a good place to be in, not a bad place.
       
      AND DAVID WEPT because he KNEW that he was responsible for it. No wonder David was greatly distressed. He is about as low in his backslidden state as a man can be; David is like the prodigal son who now sits in the pigpen.
       
      But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God...
       
      It took a lot to bring David to this place, but now he is here - God is his only strength.
       
      This was backslidden David, wayward David, "fight with the Philistines" David. Why would God strengthen him? Because God is rich in mercy and grace, and because David was now completely broken, ready to be filled. Sometimes we think we have to achieve God's blessing or strength, but David shows us another way.
       
      HOW?
       
      David RECEIVED the strength, and felt it flow through himself, and was bold enough to ask for it and receive it from God. Before this, he did NOT see himself as weak, but after coming home to a burned-out ghost town, David KNEW he was weak and needed God's strength.
       
      David ALSO STRENGTHENED HIMSELF in the LORD his God.
       
      He did NOT wait for someone else to strengthen him. He did not say, "Well LORD, if You want to strengthen me, that's fine. I'll just wait here until You do it." David KNEW that the LORD's strength was there for those who wait upon Him, so he strengthened himself in the LORD his God. God's strength was there for David ALL the time, but now he TAKES IT for himself and will strengthen himself in the LORD his God.
       
      MAKE NO MISTAKE, this was NOT, as some teach and preach, a MASS POSITIVE AFFIRMATION THERAPY SESSION. There was NO PEP RALLY, NO REPETITIVE mantras of I AM GREAT, I AM WORTHY, I AM SPECIAL, IT IS ALL GOING TO BE OKAY.
       
      THIS WAS COMPLETE HUMILITY.
       
      This was the strength of the living God making itself real in the life and heart of a hurting man.
      This was strength for recognition, strength for brokenness, strength for repentance, strength for determination to win back what the enemy has stolen.
      This is the same strength that would raise Jesus from the dead!
       
      SO HOW DID DAVID STRENGTHEN HIMSELF IN THE LORD?
       
      David REMEMBERED THE LOVE AND CARE OF THE LORD. At this point of total loss, David now saw the love of the LORD in the rejection of the Philistine leaders.
      THINK ABOUT THIS:
       
      1. If the Philistines had not sent him away, he and his men would not have returned right now, when the Amalekites had just left and the fires of their destruction were still burning.
       
      2. If God had not sent him back home through the rejection of the Philistines, it would have been months and months until he returned, and the situation would have been far worse.
       
      3. That which stung him before became sweet to him now, and the most precious expression of the LORD's love.
       
      David also REMEMBERED GOD'S promise and calling. He could shake his head, clear the fog that had set about it for the last year or so, and say "I am a man anointed by God, called by God, and promised by God to be the next king of Israel. I have a high calling and promise from God, and He has NOT taken it away. I need to start living according to that destiny." David could thank God and see the glory of His power in this high call.
       
      David REMEMBERED GOD'S past deliverances. He could say, "This is a terrible spot, no doubt. But remember all the times when the LORD delivered me out of a bad spot before? If He did it then, He will do it now. He did not deliver me before just to let me perish now."
       
      David TOOK ENCOURAGEMENT from the LORD.
      David AGAIN SEEKS THE LORD for the first time in 16 months.
       
      Verses 7-8 tells us David inquires of the LORD.
       
      "Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, "Please bring the ephod here to me." And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. So David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?" And He answered him, "Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all."
       
      DAVID'S FIRST STEP...ASK THE LORD WHAT HE IS TO DO.
       
      Of all the time David spent among the Philistines, this is the first time we read of him seeking God in any way. During his time of compromise and backsliding, David simply DID NOT inquire of the LORD in this way.
       
       
      David SOUGHT God with the help of the priest, almost certainly using the Urim and Thummim that were part of the HIGH PRIEST'S priest's ephod. An ephod was a special apron that priests would wear, to cover over their clothing, so the sacrificial blood and gore would splash on the ephod, not so much on their clothing.
       
      EXODUS 28:15 & 28...tells us the High Priest ephod, had the breastplate of judgment attached to it. The breastplate had in it a pouch with two stones, known as the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). When David inquired of the LORD, he probably asked Abiathar to use the Urim and Thummim.
       
      We do NOT have the Urim and Thummim today; and even if they were discovered in a miracle of archaeology, God would no more bless their use today than He would bless a re-establishment of the Old Testament priesthood.
       
      The day for the Old Testament priesthood is past for us today, being perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Amen!?
       
      But in David's day it was commanded of the LORD. The key to the effectiveness of the Urim and Thummim was that God's Word gave them. In seeking God through the Urim and Thummim, David was really going back to God's Word for guidance, because it was the word of God that commanded their place and allowed their use.
       
      Today, if we have the same focus on God's Word, He will guide us also.
       
      What did David ask the LORD?
       
      At one time, David would not have bothered to even ask these questions. He would have simply done it, because when a soldier is attacked, he attacks back. But in returning from his backsliding, David brings everything to the LORD. Nothing is done just because it was done before. He asks God about EVERYTHING.
       
      What did God answer David?
       
      Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all. God first gave David something to do (pursue). Then, God gave David a promise in the doing (you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all). When God gives us something to do, He also gives us a promise in the doing.
       
      Verses 9-10 tells us David pursues the Amalekites who conquered Ziklag.
       
      "So David went, he and the six hundred men who were with him, and came to the Brook Besor, where those stayed who were left behind. But David pursued, he and four hundred men; for two hundred stayed behind, who were so weary that they could not cross the Brook Besor."
       
      God told David to go and pursue them, and David did exactly that. Obedience to the LORD is often that simple.
       
      What is the use of calling Jesus "Lord" if we will not do what He tells us to do? Is there a single thing you have done, or a single thing you have not done, for the simple reason that Jesus told you to do it or not do it?
       
      He and the six hundred men who were with him...
       
      David's men were almost at a place of mutiny against him (the people spoke of stoning him.
       
      But now, since he strengthened himself in the LORD his God, and since he inquired of the LORD, and since he did what God told him to do, his men are totally back on his side.
       
      When it says, David went, he and the six hundred men who were with him, it implies that David said, "Men, I am going. I have a promise from God for victory, and I am going to believe it. It does not matter if you come with me or not, because God is on my side, and I have to beat all the Amalekites all by myself, God's promise will not fail." But such faith in God stirred the hearts of the six hundred men, and they couldn't stand by and not follow David.
       
      What a sight it must have been! David and the six hundred men on the march again, this time not hoping to fight for the Philistines, or for themselves, but off again on a mission FROM God. There was NOT an army on earth that could beat David and his six hundred men when they walked in God's will.
       
      For two hundred stayed behind, who were so weary that they could not cross the Brook Besor...
      This might have been tremendously discouraging to David. As he pursues a significantly larger Amalekite army, he finds that one-third of his men can NOT continue. But David does NOT let this trial stop him. He sets the one-third to work guarding the supplies, lightening the load of the 400 who continue, and he sets out again, full of faith.
       
      Verses 11-15 tells us David and his men befriend a helpless Egyptian.
       
      "Then they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David; and they gave him bread and he ate, and they let him drink water. And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. So when he had eaten, his strength came back to him; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights. Then David said to him, "To whom do you belong, and where are you from?" And he said, "I am a young man from Egypt, servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind, because three days ago I fell sick. We made an invasion of the southern area of the Cherethites, in the territory which belongs to Judah, and of the southern area of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire." And David said to him, "Can you take me down to this troop?" So he said, "Swear to me by God that you will neither kill me nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this troop."
       
      As David and his men pursue the Amalekites, they come across a man collapsed in the wilderness. It would have been easy, and perhaps logical, to ignore this man because they had a "much greater" mission in pursing the Amalekites. But David and his men show unexpected kindness to this man, and they gave him bread and he ate, and they let him drink water.
       
      But David and his men refused these excuses, and showed an unexpected kindness to this man. This SHOWS US that David was really walking in the heart of God.
       
      The fact that this was unexpected care and kindness is significant. We may all pat ourselves on the back for showing expected love to others, but what great praise is that? Jesus' question in the Sermon on the Mount rings true: What do you do more than others? (Matthew 5:47)
       
      AND this young Egyptian slave confirmed EXACTLY who had attacked Ziklag, where they came from, where they would return, and the young man promised to take them STRAIGHT to them.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...The southern area of the Cherethites: "Ketrthi, which, without the points, might be read Creti, were not only at this time Philistines, but that they were aborigines of Crete, from which they had their name Cherethites or Cretans.
       
      Zephaniah speaks of them in chapter 2:5: "Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, The nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines: 'I will destroy you; So there shall be no inhabitant.'"
       
      Ezekiel speaks of them also in chapter 25:16: "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'I will stretch out My hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the remnant of the seacoast.'"
       
      Verses 16-20 tells us David routs and spoils the Amalekites, winning back everything that was taken.
       
      "And when he had brought him down, there they were, spread out over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil which they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. Then David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. Not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled. So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all. Then David took all the flocks and herds they had driven before those other livestock, and said, "This is David's spoil."
       
      Catching the Amalekites in the midst of their victory celebration, David and his men attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. How surprised the Amalekites must have been! They figured that all the Philistine and Israelite armies were far to the north, preparing to fight each other. They were NOT expecting this army that was neither Philistine, nor among the Israelite army.
       
      ALL were partying and celebrating...no sober guards posted around them. No defense ready to defend. Arrogance, pride, and stupidity defeated them first.
       
      YOU NOTICE...EVERYTHING that the enemy had taken, David took back. God gave him a complete victory.
       
      WHY?
       
      Because David...
      1. Strengthened himself in the LORD his God
      2. Inquired of the LORD
      3. Did what God told him to do.
      4. Showed unexpected care and kindness to others.
       
      AND REMEMBER...God's promise was fulfilled exactly, but it was NOT fulfilled as David sat back passively and said, "All right God, now You can do it." The LORD fulfilled His promise, but He used David's actions to fulfill the promise. God's promise did NOT exclude David's cooperation, the promise invited his cooperation.
       
      God GAVE David even more than what was promised. He received spoil from the battle, beyond what had been taken from Ziklag. This was blessing straight from the grace of God.
       
      Some commentators of 1 Samuel, queston and wonder why David was allowed to keep the spoil of the Amalekites when Saul was expressly commanded to not keep any spoil from that nation (1 Samuel 15:1-3), and was judged by God for not obeying that command (1 Samuel 15:13-23).
       
      The answers are simple...
       
      1. David had NO specific command from God to destroy all the spoil from the Amalekites, as Saul did.
       
      2. David was recovering what the Amalekites had taken from others, though he recovered far beyond what was taken from his city.
       
      3. David was not acting as the king of Israel, representing the LORD's nation, as Saul was. So in this case, simply put, the rules were different for David.
       
      Verses 21-25 tells us the spoils are distributed EQUALLY among those who fought and those who supported.
       
      "Now David came to the two hundred men who had been so weary that they could not follow David, whom they also had made to stay at the Brook Besor. So they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near the people, he greeted them. Then all the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David answered and said, "Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except for every man's wife and children, that they may lead them away and depart." But David said, "My brethren, you shall not do so with what the LORD has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us. For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike." So it was, from that day forward; he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day."
       
      Apparently, when David was in swift pursuit of the Amalekites, 200 men among his company could not continue on. So they made a camp where they were, and lightened the supply load from the soldiers who would continue. Now, David returns to the two hundred men who stayed by the supply camp.
       
      When David returned, these men of the supply camp saw their own possessions among the spoils of battle, and they wanted them back. The wicked and worthless men (apparently, there were some among David's men) protested, and said they could only have back every man's wife and children, but none of their possessions.
       
      David declares an IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE FOR CHRISTIANS: the supply lines are just as VITAL as the soldiers are and God will reward BOTH "soldiers" and "supporters" properly.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Many people serve the LORD in invisible, behind-the-scenes ways, often supporting a much more visible aspect of the LORD's work. God who sees all, and is an EXCELLENT ACCOUNTANT, will support the hidden servant with the same reward as prominent servant.
       
      The wicked and worthless men looked at the spoil and said, "We fought for this spoil and it is ours."
      David looked at the spoil and said, "Look at what the LORD has given us."
      When you looked at it that way, how could you not share?
      When the LORD had given David such a great victory, he really saw it as the LORD's victory more than his own.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...This PRINCIPLE was so important that it was declared to be a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day. The principle should be declared and believed among God's people today too.
       
      Verses 26-31 tells us David MENDS strained relationships.
       
      "Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, "Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD"; to those who were in Bethel, those who were in Ramoth of the South, those who were in Jattir, those who were in Aroer, those who were in Siphmoth, those who were in Eshtemoa, those who were in Rachal, those who were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, those who were in the cities of the Kenites, those who were in Hormah, those who were in Chorashan, those who were in Athach, those who were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to rove."
       
      When David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends.
       
      WHY?
       
      David knew that his time among the Philistines had strained his relationships with God's people. Now he knows he must do whatever he can to put things right again, so he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah.
       
      This is the FINAL STEP in David's getting things right after his time of backsliding among the Philistines.
       
      1. David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.
      2. David inquired of the LORD.
      3. David believed God's promise.
      4, David did what God told him to do.
      5. David showed unexpected care and kindness to others.
      6. David saw it as the LORD's victory.
      7. David shared the reward with others.
      8. David did what he could to mend relationships.
       
      Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD: David sent spoil from the battle to more than 13 cities.
       
      Obviously, there was GREAT SPOIL to spare from the battle.
       
      In this, David is a picture of his greater Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus triumphed on the cross, He won the greatest battle, and He had "spoil to share." He shared the spoil with His people, as it says in Ephesians 4:7-8: But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." Jesus has spoil from His victory to give you!
       
      David is a remarkable picture of Jesus in this chapter. Note these five points of association:
       
      1. We are like David's men, David is like Jesus.
      2. We are like the weary ones left behind, David is like Jesus.
      3. We are like the Egyptian slave, David is like Jesus.
      4. We are like the spoil David recovered, David is like Jesus.
      5. We are like the elders of Judah, and David is like Jesus.
       
      This chapter in David's life...shows us in the EYES OF OUR TRIUNE GOD what it REALLY means to be a man or woman after GOD'S own heart.
       
      Are you backslidden...Jesus waits for you to call on him.

    • July 2, 2016 3:32 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 29
       
      OPENS WITH...THE PHILISTINE RULERS REJECT DAVID
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us Achish defends David in the face of accusations from the other leaders Philistines.
       
      "Then the Philistines gathered together all their armies at Aphek, and the Israelites encamped by a fountain which is in Jezreel. And the lords of the Philistines passed in review by hundreds and by thousands, but David and his men passed in review at the rear with Achish. Then the princes of the Philistines said, "What are these Hebrews doing here?" And Achish said to the princes of the Philistines, "Is this not David, the servant of Saul king of Israel, who has been with me these days, or these years? And to this day I have found no fault in him since he defected to me."
       
      The battle lines were drawn in the previous chapter, when the Philistines made a deep incursion into Israelite territory. The Philistines were intent on delivering a death-blow to Israel, and the two armies square off in anticipation of battle.
       
      Where is Saul?
       
      The night before, Saul sought the help of a spirit medium, the witch of Endor, wanting to hear from God. Through a strange appearance of the prophet Samuel, God told Saul he would die the next day in battle. Instead of humbling himself in repentance before the LORD, Saul simply resigned himself to this fate.
       
      What is David doing among the Philistines?
       
      In 1 Samuel 27, David, in the midst of great discouragement, left the people of God and the land of Israel, and cast his lot with the Philistines instead.
       
      David now finds himself in a place he thought he would never be. He and his 600 men are among the ungodly, ready to fight against God's people! When we sin, when we backslide, when we turn away from the things of God, we may soon find ourselves in a place we never thought we would be.
       
      Leaders among the Philistines looked at David and his men, and said, "They are NOT one of us. They are Hebrews. They worship another God. They live in the land God promised to them. We do NOT belong together!"
       
      YOU NOTICE...The Philistine leaders could see what David was blinded to. David had started to think and act like a Philistine, and was ready to fight with them against the people of God. But the Philistine leaders could see that this was NOT right, even when David could NOT!
       
      The Philistine leaders KNEW who David really was - that is, a Hebrew, a part of God's people. David seems to have forgotten this, but the Philistine leaders knew. David would have never slipped into this sinful place if he had remembered who he really was, and what His destiny was. This is a sad example of a time when we wish David had the wisdom of the Philistines!
       
      AND THIS IS A SAD THING...that Achish, a Philistine ruler, will defend David so confidently! David has identified himself so much with the ungodly, that Achish knows he has David in his pocket.
       
      AND SADDER STILL...hearing these words from Achish SHOULD have grieved David. To hear an ungodly ruler say, "David has been with me" and "I have found no fault in him" and "he defected to me" should have been a great wake-up call to David. It would be as if an ungodly coworker insisted to others that you really were NOT a Christian after all, because they had seen how you live! God was speaking to David through this, but was David listening?
       
      It is also important to see that Achish was NOT just making this up. David had said as much in 1 Samuel 28:1-2 and Achish had every reason to believe that David would fight on his side.
       
      Verses 4-5 tells us The Philistine leaders REJECT David.
       
      "But the princes of the Philistines were angry with him; so the princes of the Philistines said to him, "Make this fellow return, that he may go back to the place which you have appointed for him, and do not let him go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become our adversary. For with what could he reconcile himself to his master, if not with the heads of these men? Is this not David, of whom they sang to one another in dances, saying: 'Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands'?"
       
      The other Philistine leaders were NOT in agreement with Achish at all. They did NOT trust David, and they feared he would turn against the Philistines in battle, to bring himself back into Saul's favor.
       
      The faith-filled victory over Goliath seemed like a distant, distant memory for a backslidden David, but the Philistines remembered it well! The song of David's victory has come back to haunt him again.
       
      Verses 6-7 tells us Achish tells David to go home to Ziklag.
       
      "Then Achish called David and said to him, "Surely, as the LORD lives, you have been upright, and your going out and your coming in with me in the army is good in my sight. For to this day I have not found evil in you since the day of your coming to me. Nevertheless the lords do not favor you. Therefore return now, and go in peace, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines."
       
      David thought he could NOT be happy or at peace in the land of Israel (Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 27:1). Now he finds that his "Philistine friends" WILL NOT accept him either. David has NO home; he is trying to live in BOTH worlds, so he has a home in NEITHER world.
       
      No doubt, David did NOT like being rejected by the Philistine rulers. Not many people like rejection. But God would use the rejection of ungodly people in David's life. Many people are hesitant to live out-and-out for Jesus Christ because they are afraid of the rejection of the ungodly. How much better it is to be all out for Jesus, and to trust that if the ungodly reject us, God will use it for good - for our good and for theirs.
       
      In many ways, David is in the worst place for any child of God. He has too much of the world IN him to be at peace in the LORD, and he has too much of the LORD IN him to be at peace in the world. God is speaking to David through this, but is David listening?
       
      David used to displease the lords of the Philistines all right; he used to be a mighty warrior for the cause of God, and he used to strike FEAR in the heart of EVERY enemy of God. Now, David is concerned about displeasing the lords of the Philistines!
       
      Is this the same David who fought Goliath? Could you imagine someone coming to David before that battle, and saying, "Excuse me David, I do not think you should do that. You MIGHT displease the lords of the Philistines." What do you think David's response would be? He might say, "Of course I will displease the lords of the Philistines! I want to displease the lords of the Philistines! I can NOT wait to displease the lords of the Philistines! Let me know if I ever stop displeasing the lords of the Philistines!" But all of that is a distant, distant memory, in this time of BACKSLIDING AND COMPROMISE for David.
       
      Verses 8-10 tells us David appeals to Achish.
       
      "So David said to Achish, "But what have I done? And to this day what have you found in your servant as long as I have been with you, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?" Then Achish answered and said to David, "I know that you are as good in my sight as an angel of God; nevertheless the princes of the Philistines have said, 'He shall not go up with us to the battle.' Now therefore, rise early in the morning with your master's servants who have come with you. And as soon as you are up early in the morning and have light, depart."
       
      David seems genuinely disappointed that he will not be able to fight for the Philistines against Israel.
       
      SADLY...David wanted to fight with the Philistines against Israel, but God would NOT let him. David's heart is in a bad place, but God has NOT abandoned him! We should praise God for the times when He kept us from sinning as bad as we wanted to sin!
       
      Verse 11 tells us David returns to Ziklag and the Philistines army prepares to meet Saul.
       
      "So David and his men rose early to depart in the morning, to return to the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel."
       
      The Holy Spirit makes it clear. All of this that happened in this chapter should have waked David up. He should have heard God speaking in many ways, but he did not. Instead, he made his return to the land of the Philistines. What will it take to bring David around? Because God loves David, He will do what it takes.

       

    • June 29, 2016 2:09 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL
       
      OPENS WITH THE BIRTH OF SAMUEL...
       
      DID YOU KNOW...1 and 2 Samuel form one book in the ancient Hebrew manuscripts. They were not divided into two books until the Old Testament was translated into Greek. We don't know who wrote the books; certainly, Samuel was a major contributor, but much of the book takes place AFTER his death in 1 Samuel 25. They are called the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, not because he wrote all of them, but because they describe his great ministry in Israel and the legacy of it.
       
      "Samuel the Prophet" practically bridges the gulf between Samson the Judge and David the King: and there is deep significance in the fact that his name is identified with the two Books of Scripture which describe this great transitional period, every event of which was affected by his influence.
       
      Hannah's barrenness and her vow.
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us of The family of Elkanah.
       
      "Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children."
       
      Now there was a certain man...
       
      The book begins with a certain man, living at a certain time in Israel. This was a critical time in Israel's history.
       
      WHY?
       
      Because of the rising power of the Philistines, who were becoming stronger and stronger because of their more modern Greek military technology. Israel COULD compete on more equal terms with Moab and Ammon, but Greek military equipment (helmets, shields, coats of mail, swords and spears) made the Philistines much more formidable opponents.
       
      AMOS 9:7 tells us The Philistines were an immigrant people from the military aristocracy of the island of Crete.
       
      Small numbers of Philistines were in the land at the time of Abraham; but they only came in force soon after Israel came to Canaan from Egypt. They were organized INTO FIVE city-states. Archaeologists tell us two other things about the Philistines.
       
      THEY were HARD drinkers, and they were the FIRST in the region to effectively USE IRON, and they made the most of it.
       
      AND SMITH, a biblical historian, tells us, "Never did time seem more hopeless than when Samuel arose. The Philistines, strengthened not merely by a constant influx of immigrants, but by the importation of arms from Greece, were fast reducing Israel to the condition of a subject race."
       
      A CERTAIN man...
      At this strategic time and place, God BEGINS His plan as He almost always does - with a person, a man or a woman He will use. God could accomplish His work all by Himself, or by using angels, or by any number of other means, but HIS NORMAL FAVORED WAY of working is to FIND A CERTAIN man or woman and work through them.
       
      Elkanah was a descendant of Zuph, and his family line shows he was a Levite in 1 Chronicles 6:16-30. He is called an Ephraimite here because his family LIVED IN a Levitical city in boundaries of Ephraim, NOT because he was of the TRIBE of Ephraim.
       
      Elkanah … had two wives...
      The certain man mentioned in verse one, whose name was Elkanah, had TWO wives.
       
      History tells us polygamy WAS a fact of life in that WHOLE part of the ancient world. However, the Bible NEVER puts polygamy in a favorable light; strife and conflict always characterize polygamous families in the Bible.
       
      In this account, we will see an intense, competitive relationship between the two wives, Peninnah (who had children) and Hannah, who did not.
       
      THE BIBLE shows us time and time again, that the custom of those times PERMITTED polygamy; but wherever there was more than one wife, we find the peace of the family greatly disturbed by it.
       
      Verses 3-7 tells us Elkanah and his family journey to the tabernacle.
       
      "This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there. And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb. And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat."
       
      This man went up from his city...
       
      According to the law of Moses, Israelites were NOT to worship God through sacrifice any time and any way they pleased. They were to BRING their sacrifices to the tabernacle of God, and the priests of God, which at this time, were at Shiloh.
       
      AND WE KNOW, Shiloh was the central city of Israel, the religious center, for almost 400 years.
      The tabernacle - the majestic tent God command Moses to build when they came out of Egypt, was erected there, and in it sat the Ark of the Covenant.
       
      AND WE KNOW...The Ark was the SYMBOLIC throne of God among Israel, the SACRED chest containing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. At the Ark, ONCE a year, the high priest would make atonement for the SINS OF THE NATION. Though it was hidden, it was a powerful and important part of Israel's religious life.
       
      Today, if you visit Shiloh, you can see the bare, ancient outline of ruined walls of stone, walls that had once surrounded Israel's tabernacle for almost 400 years. On the heights you can see desolate, fruitless hills all around; rocky and bare, except for a distant Israeli neighborhood.
       
      Shiloh enjoyed all this glory for hundreds of years, but it came to an end abruptly. Hundreds of years later, through the prophet Jeremiah, in JEREMIAH 7:12-14.....God used Shiloh as a lesson. "Go to Shiloh," He says. "Look what happened to a place of spiritual privilege and glory when they forgot about Me. The same will happen to you if you do not turn again to Me."
       
      Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there...
       
      These priests are mentioned by name because they were KNOWN among Israel as NOTORIOUSLY WICKED priests, as we will discover later in 1 Samuel 2:17, 24. Their mention here is to show how godly Elkanah was - even though the priests were wicked, he still offered sacrifices to the LORD, knowing that the wickedness of the priest did NOT make his own service to the LORD invalid.
       
      He would give portions...
       
      Every year, when Elkanah brought his family to the tabernacle for sacrifice, he would eat a ceremonial meal at the tabernacle with his family, giving portions to his wives and their children. He showed his favor and love to Hannah by giving her a DOUBLE portion.
       
      No one who offered a sin offering ate any portion of it; but of the peace offerings or offerings of thanksgiving, the offerer received a substantial portion.
       
      CLARKE tells us, "The sacrifices which were made were probably peace-offerings, of which the blood was poured out at the foot of the altar; the fat was burnt on the fire; the breast and right shoulder were the portion of the priest; and the rest belonged to him who made the offering; on it he and his family feasted, each receiving his portion."
       
      Yet, because of the conflict between the two wives, Hannah could not enjoy this display of love and favor from Elkanah: therefore she wept and did not eat.
       
      It is possible for problems at home to make your time at the house of God miserable. There is Hannah, at the house of the LORD, with a full, blessed, double portion in front of her, and she can't enjoy it at all!
       
      Despite the pain of Hannah, God had a purpose in it all...
       
      The LORD HAD closed her womb. God would use the closed womb of Hannah, and the pain from being childless, to accomplish something GREAT in her life and in the whole plan of salvation. Even though things were hard, God was still in charge.
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW, God's sovereignty over the womb is a familiar theme in the Bible, told to us in Genesis 20:18; 29:31; 30:22. Though many couples today experience the same pain of childlessness, God has a plan and a purpose for something GOOD - though not easy - in it all.
       
      "Barrenness in ancient times was the ULTIMATE tragedy and shame for a married woman, since her husband's hopes and dreams depended on her providing him with a son to perpetuate his name and inherit his estate."
       
      THERE ARE THOSE WHO ASK....Why should Peninnah (who seems of a bad character) be blessed with children, and Hannah (who seems of a good character) be cursed with barrenness?
       
      Often, we don't understand God's ways, until He has finished accomplishing His purpose. Hannah (her name means grace) has a barren womb, but a fruitful spirit. God is going to use this woman!
       
      Verses 8-11 tells us Hannah's godly vow.
       
      "Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?" So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, "O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head."
       
      Hannah, why do you weep? … Am I not better to you than ten sons?...
       
      In Elkanah's response to Hannah's sorrow, we see that he really does love her; yet, as many men, he is at least somewhat insensitive to her. He does not recognize that she had needs that he could not fulfill (such as the desire to be a mother).
       
      Hannah was in bitterness of soul and great anguish; yet she did the right thing. Hannah took those bitter and anguished feelings to God honestly in prayer.
       
      Hannah had many problems. Her husband's heart was divided. Her home, instead of being a place of refuge from trials, was a place of trials. Her hope had been disappointed. She was misunderstood by her husband. Yet in all those things, Hannah did the RIGHT things: she wept, she prayed, and she committed the whole situation to the LORD.
       
      O LORD of hosts...
      Hannah begins her prayer by calling on the LORD of hosts.The title LORD of hosts is used some 260 times in the Old Testament, and has the idea "LORD of the Mighty Armies." Hannah feels attacked by her rival, and so calls on the LORD of Mighty Armies to be her protector!
       
      She made a vow...
      Hannah promises her son to the work of the LORD, vowing that he will be a Nazirite from birth (I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head). According to Numbers 6, the vow of a Nazirite included the following:
       
      Abstinence from ANY product from a grape vine, signifying distance from all fleshly pleasures.
       
      Taking NO part in any mourning for the dead, nor to come near a dead body, because the dead show the corruption and the fruit of sin. Also, because the Nazirite had greater concerns than the ordinary joys and sorrows of life.
       
      Never cutting the hair, because it was a public, visible sign to others of THE VOW.
       
      Typically, the vow of a Nazirite was taken for a SET and rather SHORT period of time. Samuel and Samson, told to us in Judges 13:5 were UNIQUE, because they were Nazirites from BIRTH.
       
      I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life...
       
      The child born would be a Levite, and being of that tribe, would be already dedicated unto the LORD, because God regarded the tribe of Levi as His own special possession. But the time of a Levite's special dedication to the LORD only lasted from the age of 30 to 50 told to us in Numbers 4:2-3.
       
      Here, Hannah was taking something that already belonged to the LORD in some sense, and gave it again to the LORD in a greater way - for the WHOLE LIFE, and in a the dedication of a Nazirite, which was a greater consecration than a Levite.
       
      Even so, we may be dedicated unto the LORD - but is there a greater dedication God wants from us?
       
      It would have been easy for Hannah to say, "I don't need to dedicate my child to the LORD, because he is already dedicated." But there was a deeper dedication the LORD was trying to draw out of Hannah. Is there a deeper dedication the LORD is trying to draw out of us?
       
      It is difficult, even impossible to understand all the reasons and dynamics behind the plan of God; but certainly, if God wanted this little boy to be dedicated to Him in this special way, He had to allow Hannah to come to this place of desperation.
       
      Certainly, this was not the first time Hannah had prayed for a child. But perhaps this was the first time she prayed, truly giving the child to the LORD - not just in her heart, but in this vow as well.
       
      Prayers and tears are a Christians BEST weapons. But Hannah - just as many of us - would not resort to these best weapons until bitterness and anguish forced her.
       
      Verses 12-14 tells us Eli, the high priest, watches Hannah's silent prayer.
       
      "And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, "How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!"
       
      As she continued praying is literally, "as she multiplied to pray." We have recorded only a bare summary of Hannah's prayer. As is the case with most all of the prayers and speeches of the Bible, all we have recorded is a portion or a summary of what was said.
       
      Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard...
       
      It is often good to pray aloud, because it can help us to better focus our thoughts. Yet this passage shows that prevailing prayer DOES NOT need to be vocal, it can be silent in the heart.
       
      How long will you be drunk?...
       
      Of course, Eli misunderstands Hannah here. But the fact that he would even suspect that she was drunk shows that it may not have been all that unusual for people to be drunk at the "fellowship meals" they would have in sacrificing to the LORD at the tabernacle. The fact that Eli suspected Hannah of drunkenness doesn't speak well for what he had seen around the tabernacle area previously!
       
      AND...The fact that Eli supposed her to be drunken, and the other of the conduct of Eli's sons already mentioned, prove that religion was at this time at a very low ebb in Shiloh; for it seems drunken women did come to the place, and lewd women were to be found there.
       
      Hannah suffers from being misunderstood by both her husband and her high priest; Eli.
       
      BUT WE WHO LOVE JESUS CHRIST, KNOW our High Priest never misunderstands us, as promised in Hebrews 4:14-16, AMEN?!
       
      Verses 15-18 tells us Hannah responds to Eli's accusation; Eli answers back with a blessing.
       
      "And Hannah answered and said, "No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. "Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now." Then Eli answered and said, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him." And she said, "Let your maidservant find favor in your sight." So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad."
       
      No, my lord...
       
      Hannah will NOT accept Eli's accusation, but she will NOT respond in a haughty or an arrogant tone. She will explain herself, but will do it remembering that he is her high priest.
       
      I have poured out my soul before the LORD...
       
      This is exactly what Hannah needed to do. Instead of keeping the bitterness of soul and the anguish in her heart, she poured it out of her soul before the LORD.
       
      HANNAH SHOWS AND TEACHES US ALL A VALUABLE LESSON....Don't hold it in, pour it out before the LORD! The bitterness and anguish is like an acid that will eat up your insides, unless you pour it out before the LORD.
       
      The God of Israel grant your petition...
      Eli may have spoken this only as a pious wish; but it was in fact a word from the LORD.
       
      AND WE KNOW, Caiaphas is an example of ANOTHER high priest who was not godly, yet spoke a word from the LORD told to us in John 11:49-52.
       
      Her face was no longer sad...
       
      The change in Hannah's countenance shows that she received the promise with faith, something necessary if we will inherit the promises of God, we are reminded of this in Hebrews 6:12.
       
      Hannah shows how we can REGAIN the joy of fellowship in the house of the LORD again: by pouring out our heart before the LORD and by, receiving His word with faith.
       
      Verses 19-20 tells us Samuel's miraculous conception is evidence of God's special call on his life.
       
      "Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, "Because I have asked for him from the LORD."
       
      Then they arose early in the morning and worshipped...
       
      Hannah could genuinely worship the LORD in faith, while the promise was still not yet fulfilled. What a glorious pattern of faith!
       
      And the LORD remembered her...
       
      To use the term REMEMBERED is an anthropomorphism, a way of EXPLAINING God's actions in human terms that we CAN understand, even if it doesn't perfectly describe God's action. It isn't as if God ever forgot Hannah.
       
      It came to pass in the process of time...
       
      It didn't happen right away. Hannah had reason enough to be discouraged, but when the promise of God came, she did NOT lose faith in the promise, even when it took SOME time. She is a GREAT example of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises reminded to us in Hebrews 6:12.
       
      Verses 21-23 tells us Hannah keeps the child until he is weaned.
       
      "Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the LORD and remain there forever." And Elkanah her husband said to her, "Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him. Only let the LORD establish His word." So the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him."
       
      Until the child is weaned...
       
      In that culture, a child was not weaned until TWO OR THREE YEARS OLD. It is reasonable to assume that Hannah was in no hurry to wean Samuel!
       
      Only let the LORD establish His word...
       
      This is wonderful counsel from Elkanah. He is saying, "do everything in obedience to God so we may see His word established among us."
       
      Verses 24-28 tells us Hannah dedicates Samuel to God's service.
       
      "Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, "O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the LORD. For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD." So they worshiped the LORD there."
       
      She took him up with her...
       
      How difficult this must have been! Not only hard for Hannah, but hard for Elkanah also. Their willingness to fulfill the vow, even at great personal cost, is evidence of godliness in both Elkanah and Hannah.
       
      The fact that 1 Samuel 1:24 mentions THREE bulls brought to Shiloh, but 1 Samuel 1:25 mentions only ONE being sacrificed (with some of the meat available for a fellowship meal) emphasizes that one of the bulls was specifically made as a burnt offering for the cleansing and consecration of little Samuel.
       
      The magnitude of Elkanah's offering when Samuel was dedicated to the LORD - offering an entire bull - shows that a "grown up" offering for sin was made at his dedication, even though Samuel was only about three years old. This is a subtle reference to the inherited nature of our sinfulness. Though Samuel has not sinned as much as an adult, he is still a guilty sinner, because he has inherited a sinful nature from Adam - as we all have, AMEN?!
       
      Literally, I also have lent him to the LORD could be translated, "And I also made myself to ask him for the LORD." The idea is not that Hannah "owns" the child and is "lending" him to the LORD. Instead, the idea is that the child is her "prayer," or the fulfillment of her prayer to the LORD.
       
      The name Samuel means "Name of God" but Hannah - as was common among the Hebrews - made a pun on the name by saying that she had "asked the LORD for him." Asked in Hebrew sounds like Samuel.
       
      So they worshipped the LORD there...
       
      Worship is a repeated characteristic of this family in 1 Samuel 1:3, 19, 28.
       
      Even in DIFFICULT situations, they CAN AND DID worship the LORD. Praising God on the day you give your little son away may not be easy, but it is praise God is pleased with, even as we are to bring a sacrifice of praise to God reminded to us in Hebrews 13:15.

    • June 29, 2016 2:07 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 2
       
      OPENS WITH...HANNAH'S PRAISE/PRAYER, AND TELLS US OF HIGH PRIEST ELI'S EVIL SONS & GOD'S JUDGMENT AGAINST THEM
       
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us Hannah's thanksgiving and praise.
       
      "And Hannah prayed and said:
       
      "My heart rejoices in the LORD;
      My horn is exalted in the LORD.
      I smile at my enemies,
      Because I rejoice in Your salvation.
      No one is holy like the LORD,
      For there is none besides You,
      Nor is there any rock like our God."
       
      WE KNOW...1 Samuel 1:28 ended, So they worshipped the LORD there. Here is the worship Hannah offered, and what she offered on the very day she left her little boy - her only child - at the tabernacle, never for him to live in her home again.
       
      My heart rejoices in the LORD...
       
      Here, Hannah shows a depth of commitment and love for God that humbles us. On the day she makes the biggest sacrifice she will ever make in her life, she rejoices in the LORD!
       
      Notice though, that she rejoices in the LORD. She does not, and she can not, rejoice in the leaving of her son. But she can, and she does, rejoice in the LORD. In the most desperate situations, when we have nothing else to rejoice in, we can ALWAYS rejoice IN the LORD.
       
      My horn is exalted in the LORD...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      The horn is an often used as a picture of strength in the Bible (Psalm 75:4-5; 92:10). This is because the strength of an ox or a steer could be expressed in its horn. Hannah is speaking of her strength and power being exalted in the LORD.
       
      I smile at my enemies...
       
      Hannah has a strong sense of vindication over her rival, Elkanah's other wife Peninnah. Peninnah had cruelly brought Hannah low (1 Samuel 1:6-7), but now Hannah can rejoice because the LORD has lifted her up.
       
      There is none holy like the LORD...
       
      In this verse, Hannah shows a classic form of Hebrew poetry - a repetitive parallelism. To say the LORD is holy is to say He is completely set apart; that He is unique, and not like any other. So, when she continues in the same verse and says, "For there is none besides You," she is saying the same thing as "There is none holy like the LORD," only saying it in different words. When she says, "Nor is there any rock like our God," she is again saying the same thing in different words.
       
      In this, Hebrew poetry does not rhyme words by sound, as much as it rhymes ideas. The ideas of the three lines of 1 Samuel 2:2 all rhyme together, having different words yet "sounding" the same.
       
      Beyond the literary structure, the idea is emphasized: God is so great, there is no one - not one in all the universe - who compares with Him. It isn't that He has the same power and wisdom and purity we have, just that He has more of it all. No, His power and wisdom and purity is of a different order than ours, beyond ours.
       
      Verse 3 tells us a warning to the arrogant and proud.
       
      "Talk no more so very proudly;
      Let no arrogance come from your mouth,
      For the LORD is the God of knowledge;
      And by Him actions are weighed."
       
      Talk no more so very proudly...
       
      While Hannah certainly has her rival in mind, her "fellow-wife" Peninnah here. But in some way, she sees Peninnah as just a representative of all the proud and arrogant people in the world. Hannah wisely tells the proud to talk no more and to let no arrogance come from your mouth. Pride can be expressed in many ways, but it usually is expressed by our words. The proud would be much better off if they would just not talk so much, AMEN?!
       
      For the LORD is the God of knowledge...
       
      This, of course, is the best reason to forsake our pride. Next to God, we all know nothing, and since we are all far from God, we are all far from all knowledge. He knows us, and by Him actions are weighed.
       
      Verses 4-8a tells us Hannah gives glory to the God who often humiliates the strong and exalts the weak.
       
      "The bows of the mighty men are broken,
      And those who stumbled are girded with strength.
      Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
      And the hungry have ceased to hunger.
      Even the barren has borne seven,
      And she who has many children has become feeble.
      The LORD kills and makes alive;
      He brings down to the grave and brings up.
      The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
      He brings low and lifts up.
      He raises the poor from the dust
      And lifts the beggar from the ash heap,
      To set them among princes
      And make them inherit the throne of glory."
       
      In her song, Hannah has warned against pride. Here, she gives more reasons why we should all be humble before the LORD (especially those like Peninnah, her rival!).
       
      We should be humble before God because He knows how to humble the strong...
       
      The bows of the mighty men are broken … those who were full are now begging, and she who has many children has become feeble. If we are strong now, or exalted now, we should be humble, because the LORD can change our place quickly.
       
      We should be humble before God because He knows how to exalt the weak. Those who stumbled are girded with strength … those who were hungry have ceased to hunger … even the barren has borne seven. If we are weak now, or in a low place, we should wait humbly before God and let Him lift us up.
       
      In Luke 14:7-11, Jesus said when we have the opportunity to set ourselves high, we should take a low place instead. Then, when someone sets us in a higher place, it will be a pleasant experience. But if we put ourselves in a high place, someone may come and set us in a lower place, and then we will be embarrassed. Jesus concluded by saying, "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
       
      Hannah knew all this intimately in her life. She was barren because the LORD had closed her womb (1 Samuel 1:6). She knew The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. God had first set her low, and then brought her high. She could see the hand of the LORD in it all.
       
      Verses 8b-10 tells us Hannah's confidence in the future is really confidence in the LORD.
       
      "For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's,
      And He has set the world upon them.
      He will guard the feet of His saints,
      But the wicked shall be silent in darkness.
      For by strength no man shall prevail.
      The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces;
      From heaven He will thunder against them.
      The LORD will judge the ends of the earth.
      He will give strength to His king,
      And exalt the horn of His anointed."
       
      For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's...
       
      Hannah is confident in God's ability to humble the strong and exalt the weak because God is in control. If God were not in control, then perhaps the strong could do what they wanted and God couldn't do anything about it. But Hannah KNEW that the foundation of the earth itself (the pillars of the earth) belonged to the LORD.
       
      God uses His power to set things right...
       
      For by strength no man shall prevail. The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces. It isn't enough for us to believe God has this power; we must know He will use it for His glory and righteousness.
       
      He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed...
       
      At this time, Israel did not have a king, and seems to have not even wanted one. So when Hannah speaks of His king, she is looking ahead to the Messiah, who will finally set all wrongs right. He is His anointed.
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...
      This is the FIRST PLACE in the Bible where Jesus is referred to as the Messiah. She first applied to him the remarkable epithet MESSIAH in Hebrew, CHRIST in Greek, and ANOINTED in English, which was adopted by David, Nathan, Ethan, Isaiah, Daniel, and the succeeding prophets of the Old Testament; and by the apostles and inspired writers of the New.
       
      Zecharias, the father of John the Baptist, quotes Hannah in Luke 1:69, when he prophetically calls Jesus a horn of salvation, quoting from 1 Samuel 2:10. Mary, the mother of Jesus, in her beautiful prayer found in Luke 1:46-55, seems to quote Hannah's song often too.
       
      Verse 11 tells us Samuel ministers unto the LORD.
       
      "Then Elkanah went to his house at Ramah. But the child ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest."
       
      Then Elkanah went...
       
      They did it. It was hard to do, to leave his little son behind, but he and Hannah did it because they promised God that is what they would do.
       
      But the child ministered to LORD before Eli the priest...
       
      Young as he was, Samuel could have a ministry to the LORD. Our young people can praise God and please God and worship Him, and it is often a breakthrough in their walk with God when they experience God in worship.
       
      And the child became the Lord's helper. There are ways that even children can serve God and minister to Him...no wonder Jesus chastised, warned, and rebuked those who tried to keep the children from Him, Amen?!
       
      Verse 12 tells us of the EVIL CHARACTER of the sons of Eli.
       
      "Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD."
       
      The sons of Eli were corrupt...
       
      Literally, the Hebrew calls them sons of Belial. Belial was a pagan DEMONIC god, and the phrase sons of Belial refers to worthless, wicked SELF, WORLD, AND SATAN serving men. This was a significant problem, because the sons of Eli were to succeed him as high priest, and were already functioning in the priesthood.
       
      This scripture reminds me what Charles Spurgeon said, "One devil within the body of Christ, the church, is far more dangerous than a thousand devils outside her."
       
      They did not know the LORD...
       
      Even though their father Eli KNEW the LORD, that knowledge was not passed on genetically to the sons of Eli. They had to know the LORD for themselves.
       
      THIS SCRIPTURE ALSO ANSWERS AND CORRECTS THE MINDSET AND THE BELIEF OF SOME RELIGIOSITIES, THAT IF YOUR PARENTS OR FAMILY ARE CHRISTIAN, THAT YOUR CHILDREN ARE ALSO AUTOMATICALLY SAVED AND REDEEMED CHRISTIANS.
       
      JESUS CHRIST WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE A ONE ON ONE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP SAVIOR. HE KNOWS EACH HUMAN BEING ON THIS EARTH BY NAME AND HE KNOWS AND SEES, AND READS THEIR HEARTS, MINDS, AND SOULS PERFECTLY...JESUS EXPECTS US TO STRIVE TO KNOW HIM AS WELL.
       
      It can be a difficult thing for a child to come to a true, genuine knowledge of the LORD JESUS when they have grown up in a Christian home. They just kind of assume they know the LORD JESUS because mom and dad do. But young people need to have a passionate commitment to knowing the LORD JESUS for themselves. And knowing ABOUT the LORD JESUS isn't enough; we must know Him ourselves, in a personal relationship.
       
      Verses 13-17 tells us their first offense: stealing what was offered to God.
       
      "And the priests' custom with the people was that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling. Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. Also, before they burned the fat, the priest's servant would come and say to the man who sacrificed, "Give meat for roasting to the priest, for he will not take boiled meat from you, but raw." And if the man said to him, "They should really burn the fat first; then you may take as much as your heart desires," he would then answer him, "No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force." Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD."
       
      The priests' custom with the people...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      With many of the sacrifices brought to the tabernacle, a portion was given to God, a portion was given to the priest, and a portion was kept by the one bringing the offering. According to other passages in the Old Testament, the priest was supposed to receive a portion of the breast and the shoulder. But now, some four hundred years after the law of Moses was given, the priestly custom had changed - they would not take the prescribed portion of the breast and shoulder, but take whatever the fork brought up out of the pot.
       
      THIS MEANS THESE PRIESTS, THESE TWO SONS OF THE HIGH PRIEST ELI...were NOT content with the breast and shoulder which were allotted to them by God, Exodus 29:27-28; Leviticus 7:31, they took also part of the offerer's share.
       
      It was bad enough for the priesthood in general to change their practice from what God had said in His word. But the sons of Eli went even beyond this!
      HOW?
      The portion that was to be given to God was always to be given FIRST, so it was wrong to take the priest's portion before they burned the fat.
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...
       
      The fat was thought to be the most luxurious, BEST part of the animal, so that was given to God. The idea was that God should always get the best, and God should get His portion first. But in their pride, the sons of Eli took their portion & part of the offer's share EVEN before they burned the fat for THE LORD.
       
      He will not take boiled meat from you, but raw...
       
      Why did the sons of Eli want raw meat?
       
      Perhaps it was so they could prepare it anyway they pleased; or more likely, it was because raw meat was easier to sell, and they would sell meat and pocket the money.
       
      No, but you must give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force...
       
      The greed of Eli's sons was so great, they did not hesitate to use violence and the threat of violence to get what they wanted.
       
      The priest's servant...
       
      As is the case with many influential people, they have someone else do their "dirty" work. The sons of Eli themselves would not threaten or intimidate those who brought their offerings to the LORD, but they would tell their servants to threaten and intimidate the worshippers. In this, they felt they could be "above" their own corruption. Yet, the text says the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD. Of course, God was not pleased with the priest's servants. But God knew that this sin was the sin of the two young sons of Eli more than it was the sin of the priest's servants.
       
      For men abhorred the offering of the LORD...
       
      The greatness of the sin of Eli's sons was found in this - that they, through their greed, violence, and intimidation, made others not want to come and bring offerings to the LORD. It was bad enough what they themselves were doing; but the greater sin of Eli's sons was in how they hurt other people.
       
      TRAPP says it well, "A wicked priest is the worst creature upon the earth. Who are devils, but they which were once angels of light?"
       
      And we remember the one time Jesus got angry was when the priests and the money changers set up shop on the synagogue grounds and the priests and the money changers purpose was to cheat and steal and get wealthy from the people who came to offer sacrifice offerings to The Lord. So we see that the den of thieves, began in Ancient Israel, not just in Jesus day.
       
      AND WE REMEMBER, Jesus said that whoever offends one of His little ones, it would be better for that one if a millstone (a very heavy stone) were tied around his neck and he were cast into the ocean told to us in Matthew 18:6-7. Our self-destructive sins are bad enough; it is even worse when we destroy someone else.
       
      It is the same today with greedy, corrupt ministers, who make others hate the offering of the LORD. God will judge them by a high standard! told to us in:
       
      James 3:1, which says, "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."
       
      James has a sober admonition for those who would become teachers in the church. They must take the responsibility seriously, because their accountability is GREATER, and they shall receive a stricter judgment.
       
      AND TODAY FOR SOME, It is easy to take the position of teacher lightly in the church, without considering its cost in terms of accountability. Jesus warned "To whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much have been committed, of him they will ask the more," in Luke 12:48.
       
      Verses 18-21 tells us the purity and service of Samuel and his family is a contrast to the evil character of Eli's sons.
       
      "But Samuel ministered before the LORD, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod. Moreover his mother used to make him a little robe, and bring it to him year by year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, "The LORD give you descendants from this woman for the loan that was given to the LORD." Then they would go to their own home. And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the LORD."
       
      But Samuel...
       
      As bad as Eli's sons were, Samuel was different. Is this not why God raised up Samuel, because of the corruption of Eli's sons? God knew how Eli's sons were, so He guided the whole series of events that resulted in Samuel coming to serve at the tabernacle. If Eli's sons would not be worthy successors, then God would raise up someone else HIMSELF, who would be.
       
      Ultimately, corrupt ministers do not stop - or even hinder - the work of God. Oh, it may look like it; but every time there are men like Eli's sons, God raises up someone like Samuel. God's work does NOT stop when God's ministers become corrupt.
       
      Why was Samuel godly and Eli's sons were not?
       
      It might be easy to say it was because Samuel grew up in a godly home and Eli's sons did not. But Eli does not seem to have been a particularly bad parent, though he obviously did some things wrong (as stated in the rest of the chapter). No, it would be wrong to give Eli ALL the blame for his sons, or to give Hannah all the credit for Samuel. There is a significant measure that, after all the parenting, is left up to the FREE WILL of the child.
       
      THE SONS OF ELI...FREELY CHOSE SELF, GREED, VIOLENCE AND WHAT THE WORLD OFFERED.
       
      SAMUEL...EVEN AS A CHILD...FREELY CHOSE THE LORD GOD FIRST, ABOVE ALL THINGS.
       
      Wearing a linen ephod...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Samuel, even as a child, distinguished himself in his service to the LORD. His service was exceptional enough that he was given a LINEN EPHOD, which was a priestly garment told to us in Exodus 39:27-29.
       
      What did Samuel do at such a young age that pleased The Lord?
       
      He did small charges, as setting up lights, laying up vestments, learning music, or the like.
       
      Even as a child...
       
      Though a child, Samuel is serving the LORD better, and in a greater way, than the sons of Eli are. What man looks at in the service of God is often not what the LORD looks at, AMEN?
       
      His mother used to make him a little robe...
       
      How beautiful! Only someone who was really there would describe such a small detail. Though Hannah gave her little boy to the LORD, she NEVER FORGOT HIM AND NEVER stopped loving him. AND SHE MADE SURE THAT EACH YEAR THAT THEY VISITED, SHE HAD WITH HER OWN HANDS, MADE HIM A NEW, BETTER FITTING ROBE SO THAT HE WOULD NOT BE SHAMED BUT WOULD LOOK HIS BEST FOR THE LORD.
       
      The LORD visited Hannah...
       
      He certainly did! Three more sons, and two daughters! God will never be a debtor to anyone. Hannah could never say to the LORD, "I gave you my son, but what did you give me?" because God gave her much.
       
      Samuel grew before the LORD....Not only before men, who might be deceived, but in the presence of the all-seeing God.
       
      Verse 22 tells us the SECOND OFFENSE of Eli's sons: sexual immorality.
       
      "Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting."
       
      Now Eli was very old...
       
      This passage is not focused on Eli's sons as much as it is on Eli himself. He was old, and in no condition to take the kind of leadership Israel needed from him as high priest. He heard everything his sons did: Eli heard about the evil acts of his sons; but what will he do about it?
       
      They lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      This means the sons of Eli we committing sexual immorality with the women who came to worship at the tabernacle. It is an ancient version of modern "preacher sex scandal."
       
      The two great sins of Eli's sons were that they stole from God's people in 1 Samuel 2:12-17 and they committed sexual immorality with women who came to worship at the tabernacle.
       
      Both show the heart of a hireling, of an unfaithful shepherd who cares more about what HE CAN GET FROM GOD'S PEOPLE than about what he CAN GIVE GOD'S PEOPLE. In this sense, the sins of greed and sexual immorality are not far apart. They often go together as the evidence of self-will and the abuse of power.
       
      It is possible that the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle were in some way workers at the house of the LORD. Exodus 38:8 refers to the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting too.
       
      SOUND FAMILIAR? THEY CAME TO OFFER TO SERVE THE LORD IN THE CARE OF THE TEMPLE, AND TO HELP THE PRIESTS DO THEIR SERVICE...AND SUFFERED TO BE USED BY THE VERY MEN AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO TRUST.
       
      Verses 23-26 tells us the vain, ineffective rebuke of Eli to his sons.
       
      "So he said to them, "Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. "No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the Lord's people transgress. "If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?" Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them. And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men."
       
      Why do you do such things?
      It is an understandable question, but a needless one. Who cares ABOUT THE WHYS OF IT? Could there ever be a justified reason? They cannot excuse their sinful behavior, they had to be responsible for it instead.
       
      Eli did about the worst thing a parent can do in trying to correct their children: just talk.
      All he did was whine about what they were doing wrong, but he never took the necessary actions to correct the problem. Parents would be better off to yell less, lecture less, and to take sensible action more often, letting the children see the consequences for their disobedience.
       
      Writing from the 17th century, John Trapp advises Eli on what he should have said: "Draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore … ye degenerate brood and sons of Belial, and not of Eli; ye brats of fathomless perdition … It is stark stinking naught that I hear, and woe is me that I yet live to hear it; it had been better that I had died long since, or that you had been buried alive, than this to live and stink above the ground." That's a lecture from dad who loves and fears and respects The Lord God and demands that his sons REALIZE THEIR GREAT SIN!
       
      You make the LORD's people to transgress...
       
      Again, this was the great sin of Eli's sons. It was bad enough that they stole and indulged their own lusts; but they also, by their corrupt behavior, made people hate to worship God with their offerings at the tabernacle (1 Samuel 2:17), and they led women worshippers into sexual immorality.
       
      If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?
       
      FORTUNATELY... 1 John 2:1 answer's Eli's question: And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. Praise God, there is some to intercede for us when we sin against the LORD!
       
      Nevertheless they did NOT heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them...
       
      This striking statement may seem unfair to some. They picture Eli's sons wanting to repent, wanting to heed the voice of their father, but God preventing them. This is not the case at all. Repentance is a gift from God, and if God chooses not to grant the gift, people will never want to repent. God judged Eli's sons this way: God gave them exactly what they wanted. They did not want to repent, and God did not work repentance in their hearts.
       
      But what about the words, the LORD desired to kill them?
       
      God saw they were corrupt men and wanted to judge them. All God did was right and just. Is it wrong to desire justice? When the LORD desired to kill them, it simply means that God desired justice towards Eli's sons.
       
      And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men...
       
      What a contrast to the wickedness of Eli's sons! This shows that although Eli was far from a perfect father, he was not a chronically bad father, because he essentially fathered Samuel and Samuel grew up to be a godly man.
       
      We can't read 1 Samuel 2:26 without thinking of Luke 2:52, which describes Jesus' boyhood: And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Samuel was in good company!
       
      The announcement of God's judgment against Eli's house.
       
      Verses 27-33 tells us An unknown man of God pronounces judgment to Eli: his family will be cut off from the office of High Priest.
       
      "Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Did I not clearly reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? Did I not choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer upon My altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod before Me? And did I not give to the house of your father all the offerings of the children of Israel made by fire? Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?' Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: 'I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.' But now the LORD says: 'Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. 'Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 'And you will see an enemy in My dwelling place, despite all the good which God does for Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 'But any of your men whom I do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age.'"
       
      Then a man of God...
       
      We don't know who this was; this man of God is one of the wonderful anonymous characters of the Bible. But it doesn't matter who he is; he is a man of God, and God has raised him up to speak to Eli and Eli's whole family at this important time.
       
      Did I not clearly reveal Myself to the house of your father...
       
      The father referred to is Aaron, who was the FIRST High Priest. Since the High Priesthood was a hereditary office, Eli was a descendant of Aaron, whom God had revealed Himself to.
       
      1 Samuel 2:28 is a wonderful summary of some of the duties of the priesthood in Israel.
       
      To be MY PRIEST...
       
      First and foremost, the job of the High Priest was to minister unto the LORD. Before he served the people, he was a servant of God. He was not first the people's priest (though he was that also, he was first the priest of God.
       
      To offer upon My altar...
       
      The priest was to bring forth sacrifices for atonement and worship. The altar was the place where atoning blood was both shed and applied, blood that would cleanse from sin. The altar was also the place where the "sacrifice of praise" was brought.
       
      To burn incense...
       
      The burning of incense was always a picture of prayer, because the smoke and the scent of the incense would ascend up to the heavens. The priest was to lead the nation in prayer, and to pray for the nation.
       
      To wear an ephod before Me...
       
      The priest was clothed in specific garments, for glory and for beauty (Exodus 28:2). He was to represent the majesty, dignity, glory, and beauty of God to the people.
       
      ALL the offerings...
      The priest was also charged with the responsibility to receive the offerings of God's people and to make good use of them.
       
      Why do you kick at My sacrifice...
       
      It would have been easy for Eli to say, "I'm not doing it! My sons are!" But Eli had a double accountability for his sons, both as a father (though this was diminished because the sons were adults), and as the High Priest. His sons "worked" FOR him as a priests, and Eli was a bad "boss."
       
      And honor your sons more than Me...
       
      Since Eli would NOT correct his sons the way he should, either as a father or as a head over them, he was essentially preferring them to the LORD. If He would have been more afraid of offending God, and less afraid of offending his sons, he would have corrected them.
       
      AND HOW DOES THAT APPLY TO US TODAY...
       
      REMEMBER Eric Liddell?
       
      HE was one of Britain's great athletes, and later he gave his life for Jesus on the mission field. In 1924 he was to run for Britain in the Olympic Games, when it was discovered that the preliminary heats of his best event, the 100 meters, would be run on a Sunday. Quietly but firmly, Liddell refused to run. The day of 400 meters race came, and as Liddell went to the starting blocks, an unknown man slipped a piece of paper in his hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30: Those who honor Me I will honor. That day Eric Liddel set a world's record in the 400 meters.
       
      I will cut off your arm...
       
      Not literally, but since the arm was a picture of strength and might in Hebrew thinking (Psalm 10:15, 77:15, 89:10), this was THE LORD'S WAY OF saying that the house of Eli would be left powerless and without strength.
       
      'I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever'; but now the LORD says: God here promises that the priestly line would NOT STAY with Eli and his descendants, but would pass to another line of descendants from Aaron. This was fulfilled many years later, in Solomon's day; Abiathar (from Eli's family) was deposed as High Priest and replaced with Zadok (who was from another family).
       
      1 Kings 2:27 reads, So Solomon removed Abiathar from being priest to the LORD, that he might fulfill the word of the LORD which He spoke concerning the house of Eli at Shiloh.
       
      SOME WRONGLY SAY AND TEACH AND BELIEVE that God was going back on His word when He said, "I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever," but now the LORD says?
       
      Not at all. The promise referred to is a promise to Aaron in passages like Exodus 29:9. God did not remove the priesthood from the line of Aaron, but He did remove it from the line of Eli. Eli had assumed the promise was to him also, but God was going back on Eli's assumption, not on a promise made to Eli. The implicit promise made to Eli was conditional, and he failed to fulfill the conditions.
       
      There shall not be an old man in your house forever … And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age...
      This idea is repeated three times in these few verses. God wants to emphasize that He will NOT BLESS the descendants of Eli with a long life.
       
      Shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart...
       
      The descendants of Eli who do live a little longer will not live blessed lives. They will be painful to observe.
       
      Verses 34-36 tells us the sign and the promise: both sons will die on the SAME day.
       
      "'Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them. Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever. And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and say, "Please, put me in one of the priestly positions, that I may eat a piece of bread." ' "
       
      Now this shall be a sign to you...
       
      Since the fulfillment of the judgment would be many years away (in the days of Solomon), God gave Eli an immediate sign to demonstrate His truthfulness. Both of Eli's sons will die in one day, and Eli will see this, and know the judgment of God has come against his house, and that one day the priesthood will be removed from his family.
       
      Just because something hasn't happened yet doesn't make it untrue. God's promise was sure, and He wanted Eli to know this.
       
      Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest...
       
      Who is the faithful priest predicted here? He was a great priest, because he did according to what is in [God's] heart and in [God's] mind. He was a blessed priest, because God said of him, I will build him a sure house, and he will walk before My anointed forever.
       
      This promise was partially fulfilled in Samuel, because he functioned as a godly priest, effectively replacing the ungodly sons of Eli.
       
      The promise was partially fulfilled in Zadok, in the days of Solomon, because he replaced Eli's family line in the priesthood.
       
      The promise was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, because He is a priest forever according to the order of Melchezedek told to us in Hebrews 7:12-17).
       
      THE LORD GOD'S lesson for us and for those who CALL THEMSELVES PRIESTS, SAY AND CLAIM THEY ARE CALLED AND SERVE THE LORD?
       
      The lesson is emphasized through this chapter. God always has His priests. Whenever there are weak priests (like Eli) or corrupt priests (like Hophni and Phinehas), God will raise up great and godly priests to replace them.
       
      Everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver...
       
      This is a fitting judgment, since much of the sin of Eli's sons was greed and stealing from God AND GOD's people. Instead of receiving the priestly portions which were rightfully theirs, Eli's family will one day be reduced to begging.

    • June 29, 2016 2:05 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 3
       
      OPENS WITH GOD SPEAKS TO LITTLE SAMUEL...
       
      AS A CHILD, THIS WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE STORIES IN THE BIBLE...AND MY PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS ALWAYS TOLD ME WHEN THEY READ IT TO ME, TO REMEMBER THAT JESUS SPEAKS TO CHILDREN TOO...THAT WE, AS CHILDREN, WERE JUST AS SPECIAL AND IMPORTANT TO JESUS AS ADULTS..
       
      GOD SPEAKS TO SAMUEL AND AT FIRST LITTLE SAMUEL IS UNABLE TO RECOGNIZE GOD'S VOICE.
       
      Verse 1 tells us of The SCARCITY OF REVELATION in Israel.
       
      "Then the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation."
       
      The boy Samuel ministered to the LORD...
       
      DO YOU NOTICE...For the THIRD TIME it is emphasized that Samuel ministered to the LORD also told to us in 1 Samuel 2:11 and 18...
       
      JUST AS Aaron and his sons at their consecration as priests in Exodus 29:1.
       
      JUST AS Paul and Barnabas before being sent out as missionaries in Acts 13:1-2.
       
      The word of the LORD was RARE in those days...
       
      YOU NOTICE...The ONLY WORD of the LORD we read of in the first two chapters of 1 Samuel is the WORD OF JUDGMENT brought by the man of God against Eli. God didn't speak often in those days, and when He did, it was a word of judgment!
       
      SOME HAVE ASKED...WHY was the word of the LORD rare in those days?
       
      Probably, AS ALWAYS, because of the HARDNESS OF HEART among the people of Israel and the CORRUPTION of the priesthood. God will speak, and guide, when His people SEEK Him, and when His ministers SEEK TO SERVE Him diligently.
       
      Verses 2-4 tells us God's FIRST words to Samuel.
       
      "And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, "Here I am!"
       
      His eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see...
       
      SADLY, this was TRUE SPIRITUALLY AS WELL AS PHYSICALLY of Eli. His old age had made him LESS ABLE to effectively lead the nation.
       
      Before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      As a figure of speech, this simply means "before dawn." But it is also suggestive of the dark spiritual times of Israel: it is dark, and will probably get darker.
       
      AND WE KNOW, Exodus 27:21 refers to the responsibility of the priests to tend the lamps until sunrise, or just before dawn.
       
      WHICH MEANS NOT ONLY WERE THE PRIESTS UNCARING, AND INATTENTIVE TO THE TEMPLE LAMPS AND TO KEEP THEM BURNING BRIGHT UNTIL DAWN, THEY WERE BLIND TO THE GROWING DARKNESS THAT THEY HAD CREATED AND ENCOURAGED AND BROUGHT ABOUT FOR THE NATION OF ISRAEL AT SHILOH TOO.
       
      While Samuel was laying down to sleep, that the LORD called Samuel...
       
      SOME HAVE ASKED does the Bible tell us how old was Samuel at this time? We don't know for certain; the ancient Jewish historian Josephus says Samuel was 12 years old at the time. However old he was, God spoke to THE BOY Samuel.
       
      How does God speak? How did He speak to Samuel?
       
      Some people wait for God to speak in a audible voice, BEFORE THEY WILL BELIEVE, BUT MOST people believe God speaks to them through HIS WORD, DURING PRAYER, AND by an "inner voice"; by the thoughts and feelings which may come into our hearts and our heads, which one believes are prompted by God.
      HAVE YOU SUDDENLY HAD SCRIPTURE WHISPER THROUGH YOUR HEART AND MIND, THAT SPEAKS TO YOU...ENCOURAGES, CONVICTS, COMFORTS, AND DIRECTS YOU....? THAT IS THE LORD JESUS SPIRIT SPEAKING TO YOU.
       
      HAVE YOU SUDDENLY HAD A SPECIAL PRAISE JESUS SONG COME TO MIND, OR YOU WAKE UP WITH A JESUS PRAISE SONG WHISPERING THROUGH YOUR MIND...THAT IS JESUS SINGING TO YOU.
       
      HAVE YOU EVER HAD A SUDDEN URGE TO PRAY FOR SOMEONE...CALL THEM...THAT IS JESUS MINISTERING TO YOU AND GIVING YOU HIS DISCERNMENT.
       
      BUT AS IT WAS IN ANCIENT TIMES, IT IS TODAY, WITH ALL THESE NEW AGE GURUS, AND WITH THOSE WHO GIVE PROPHETIC WORDS THAT SAY COMES FROM THE LORD JESUS...BUT THEIR WORDS TO PEOPLE ARE VAGUE, OR BROAD SPECTRUM, AND ALMOST ALWAYS PROVEN FALSE AND UNFULFILLED....THE LORD SHOWS US HERE...
      THE LORD GOD is not the only source of thoughts and feelings coming into our hearts and heads.
      Thoughts or feelings (good or bad) can come from ourselves, or they can also come from Satan.
       
      REMEMBER Peter, in Matthew 16:13-23, was at one moment speaking from God, and at the next moment speaking directly from the Devil.
       
      Because it is uncertain, there are THREE THINGS AS CHRISTIANS WHO KNOW AND LOVE JESUS...WE MUST KEEP IN MIND.
       
      FIRST, we must always judge what we think God may be telling us by what He HAS CERTAINLY told us in His Word, the Bible. THE LORD WILL NEVER CONTRADICT His eternal Word.
       
      SECOND, we should always be humble when it comes to the idea of God speaking to us. We can never completely trust our ability to hear from God by this "inner voice" accurately. It is easy for us to add something to what God has said, or to stop listening, or to misapply what He has said, or to think that it was God when it was ourselves or something else.
       
      It is far better to say and think, "I think the LORD told me …" than to talk and think as if you hear God perfectly.
       
      THIRD, no one should feel "unspiritual" because they think THE LORD DOES NOT speak to them the way He seems to others. If you really want God to speak to you, and to speak to you the best way, get into God's Word, the Bible! We know He has spoken PERFECTLY there TO ALL MANKIND, LOST AND SAVED, AMEN?!
       
      And he answered, "Here I am!"
       
      This leads us to believe God spoke to Samuel in an audible voice, instead of in an "inner voice," though this is not certain. But Samuel was so impressed by what he heard, he responded by saying, Here I am!
       
      What a beautiful way to respond to God's Word! It isn't that God does not know where we are before we tell Him, but it tells God and it reminds us we are simply before Him as servants, asking what He wants us to do and that we ARE LISTENING for Him.
       
      THE BOY SAMUEL is in pretty impressive company with this response to God.
      Here are some others who said, Here I am when the LORD spoke to them: Abraham (Genesis 22:1), Jacob (Genesis 46:2), Moses (Exodus 3:4), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8), and Ananias (Acts 9:10).
       
      Verses 5-9 tells us Samuel DOES NOT recognize God voice.
       
      "So he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." And he said, "I did not call; lie down again." And he went and lay down. Then the LORD called yet again, "Samuel!" So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." He answered, "I did not call, my son; lie down again." (Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.) And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. Then he arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you did call me." Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, 'Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place."
       
      AND WE KNOW PRECIOUSLY, THAT MANY TIMES, SPOKE OR CALLED THREE TIMES, MEANS THAT ALMIGHTY GOD CALLED HIM, THEN JESUS CHRIST CALLED HIM, AND THEN THE HOLY SPIRIT CALLED HIM.
       
      He ran to Eli...
       
      DO YOU NOTICE, EVEN AS A CHILD, HE WAS A DILIGENT, LISTENING, AND OBEDIENT BOY! He is wrong in thinking Eli was speaking to him, but he was right in what he did. If Eli was calling, he would run to Eli! After all, Eli was blind and might need Samuel's help.
       
      And the LORD called yet again...
       
      AND WE SEE AND LEARN SOMETHING ELSE HERE ABOUT THE LORD, When speaking to us, THE LORD GOD almost always confirms His word again and again. It is generally wrong to do something dramatic in response to a single "inner voice" from the LORD. If God is speaking, He will confirm, and often in a variety of ways.
       
      Samuel did not yet know the LORD...
       
      Here is Samuel, a godly, obedient boy, serving God wonderfully. Yet, this verse right here tells us something VERY IMPORTANT...Samuel has not yet GIVEN HIS HEART to the LORD. Even children raised in the most godly home must be converted by the Spirit of God, and Samuel now is hearing God speak to his heart.
       
      Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears...
       
      Samuel is given wise counsel by Eli. Eli tells Samuel to make himself available for God to speak (Go, lie down); he tells Samuel to not be presumptuous about God speaking (if He calls you); he tells Samuel to respond to the word of God (Speak, LORD); and he tells Samuel to humble himself before God and His word (Your servant hears).
       
      Speak, LORD...
       
      We must hear from God. The preacher may speak, our parents may speak, our friends may speak, our teachers may speak, people on the radio or television may speak. That is all fine, but their voices mean nothing for eternity unless God speaks through them.
       
       
      Charles Spurgeon expressed this well, by showing how one should pray...."'Speak, Lord!' While the minister is speaking, Lord do thou speak. I have heard the minister's voice, and sometimes it awakens me, but I am not saved, and I never shall be, Lord, if the minister speaks alone. Speak, Lord! My mother has talked with me; my earnest teacher has sought to lead me to the Saviour; but I know that the words of blessed men and women will fall to the ground if they come alone … Oh, let it be to-night a real work of grace in my soul! Let divine power come and operate upon me."
       
      Verse 10 tells us Samuel responds just as Eli told him.
       
      "Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel answered, "Speak, for Your servant hears."
       
      Then the LORD came and stood and called...
       
      Because it seems to have been an audible voice, and because it says the LORD stood, we can know this was a unique appearing of the LORD JESUS CHRIST to Samuel. Clearly, this was not a dream or a state of altered consciousness.
       
      Verses 11-14 tells us God's message to Samuel: coming judgment on Eli and his house.
       
      "Then the LORD said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. "In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."
       
      Both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle...
       
      God is going to give young Samuel spectacular news. In other places in the Old Testament, tingling ears are a sign of that an especially severe judgment (2 Kings 21:12, Jeremiah 19:3). And, if both ears are tingling, it must be really shocking news!
       
      I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end...
       
      God's judgment against the house of Eli would be complete. "Execution of justice is God's work, though his strange work confirmed to us in Isaiah 28:21.
       
      For I have told him that I will judge his house...
       
      Through the word of the man of God in 1 Samuel 2:27-36, Eli has already heard of the judgment to come. This word, given to young Samuel, is a word to confirm the previous message from God.
       
      CHARLES SPURGEON says it well, "When God had sent a man of God to Eli, and the message did not arouse him to a sense of his sin in over-indulgence of his sons, and toleration of evil in those under him, the Lord sends him a word of threatening by a child; for God has many messengers."
       
      For the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile...
       
      Eli knows of this iniquity, not only by his own observation, but because God has made it known to him by the message of the man of God. The iniquity is not directly his own, it is the sins of his sons, which Eli failed to confront and restrain.
       
      And he did not restrain them...
       
      Eli's responsibility to restrain his sons was not only, or even mainly, because he was their father. These were adult sons, no longer under Eli's authority as sons as they were when they were younger. Eli's main responsibility to restrain his sons was as their "boss," because he was the high priest, and his sons were priests under his authority and supervision... and High Priest Eli did nothing, but talk to them. When what he SHOULD have done was REMOVED THEM FOR THE TEMPLE, REMOVED THEIR PRIESTLY STATUS, AND PROTECTED ISRAEL FROM THEM.
       
      The iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever...
       
      What a terrible judgment! God is saying, "It's too late. Now, the opportunity for repentance is past. The judgment is sealed."
       
      Probably, the judgment declared by the man of God in 1 Samuel 2:27-36 was a warning, inviting repentance. Because there was no repentance, God confirmed the word of judgment through Samuel. Or, perhaps Eli had been pleading that God might withhold His judgment, and this is God's answer to that pleading.
       
      Do we ever come to a place where our sin cannot be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever?
       
      YES MANKIND CAN AND DOES...by DISMISSING AND REJECTING the sacrifice of Jesus for our sin. As Hebrews 10:26 says, if we reject the work of Jesus for us, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. Yet, we will always reject the work of Jesus for us unless God softens and speaks to our heart. Therefore, it is necessary we always be responsive to the work of God in our hearts, so we can receive the atoning work of Jesus for us.
       
      Verses 15-18 tells us Samuel tells Eli the message from God.
       
      "So Samuel lay down until morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision. Then Eli called Samuel and said, "Samuel, my son!" And he answered, "Here I am." And he said, "What is the word that the Lord spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that He said to you." Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, "It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him."
       
      Samuel lay down until morning...
       
      Of course, he didn't sleep at all! Young Samuel, laying on his bed, ears tingling at the message from God, wondering how he could ever tell Eli such a powerful word of judgment (Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision).
       
      Opened the doors of the house of the LORD...
       
      Presumably, this was one of Samuel's duties as a servant at the tabernacle.
       
      Samuel, my son!...
      Eli had not been a good boss, or a good parent, to Hophni and Phinehas. But Samuel was given to him as a "second chance," and Eli did a better job of raising Samuel then he did with his sons by birth.
       
      What is the thing that the LORD has said to you? Eli had an idea of what the message of God to Samuel was. Kindly, he takes the initiative and asks Samuel, knowing it would be difficult for the young boy to tell him.
       
      Eli made it clear to Samuel he had the responsibility to bring the message, even if it was bad news. With a threat like God do so to you, and more also, Samuel would be suitably motivated to tell Eli everything.
       
      Eli was admirable, because he was willing to be taught from an unexpected source, he wanted to hear the bad news of his condition, and he wanted to hear all of God's message.
       
      Then Samuel told him everything...
       
      How hard it is to bring a message of judgment! There may be a few, with hard hearts (like Jonah) who are happy to announce God's judgment, but most find it difficult. Yet, it is always the responsibility of God's messenger to bring everything God says, not just the "easy" words.
       
      THIS SCRIPTURE TEACHES US SOMETHING POWERFUL TO REMEMBER....It is a dangerous thing, both for the messenger and the hearers, when the messenger fails to tell everything God says.
       
      In the prophets, God says those who only bring a "good" or "happy" message seduce God's people: "Because they have seduced My people, saying, "Peace!" when there is no peace", told to us in Ezekiel 13:10.
       
      God also says the messenger who doesn't say everything God says doesn't help his listeners: "They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, "Peace, peace!" When there is no peace.", told to us in Jeremiah 6:14.
       
      Paul could say of his own ministry, "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God," in Acts 20:26-27. Can the modern messenger of God say the same thing? If he cannot, he risks being guilty of the lives of others.
       
      It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him...
       
      It is hard to know if Eli's response here is godly, or fatalistic. If it is the submissive response of a heart that knows there is nothing which can stop God's judgment, his response is godly.
       
      But if he is missing another opportunity to repent, and get things right, and instead having the fatalistic, "whatever" kind of heart, his response is ungodly. Only God knows where Eli's heart was in this matter.
       
      We should always submit to God's rod of correction. Yet, that submissive is not totally passive. It is also active in repentance, and doing what one can to cultivate a godly sorrow.
       
      Verses 19-20 tells us Samuel grows, maturing physically and spiritually.
       
      "So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD."
       
      The LORD was with him...
       
      Is there anything better than this? To have, and to know you have, the LORD with you? For the Christian, we can know we have God with us: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" told to us in Romans 8:31.
       
      William Newell, in his commentary on Romans, speaks well to this point: "Our weak hearts, prone to legalism and unbelief, receive these words with great difficulty: God is for us … They have failed Him; but He is for them. They are ignorant; but He is for them. They have not yet brought forth much fruit; but He is for them." God is not for us because we are so good, or so great, but because of who we are in Jesus. God is for you. God is with you, even if you are not as good as Samuel, because you have given to you the goodness of Jesus."
       
      Let none of his words fall to the ground...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      This means ALL of Samuel's prophecies came to pass, and were known to BE TRUE words from God. Therefore, all Israel … knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD.
       
      Since the days of Moses (some four hundred years before the time of Samuel) there have not been many prophets in Israel, and certainly NO great prophets. Now, at this important time in Israel's history, God raises up Samuel as a prophet.
       
      Coming in this place in Israel's history, Samuel is rightly seen as Israel's LAST JUDGE AND FIRST PROPHET. Samuel bridges the gap between the time of the judges, and the time of the monarchy when prophets (such as Nathan, Elijah, and Isaiah) spiritually influenced the nation.
       
      Through the book of judges, when God raised up a judge, he led the nation mostly through political and military influence. Samuel, as a judge, mainly led the nation by his spiritual influence.
       
      From Dan to Beersheba is a way of saying "from northernmost Israel to southernmost Israel." It carries a similar idea as saying in the United States, "from New York to California."
       
      Verse 21 tells us The word of the LORD comes to Samuel.
       
      "Then the LORD appeared again in Shiloh. For the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD."
       
      The LORD appeared again in Shiloh...
       
      When did the LORD first appear in Shiloh? We know He appeared to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:10. Now, in some undescribed way, the LORD JESUS appears again.
       
      As the LORD appeared again, how did He reveal Himself? The LORD revealed Himself … by the word of the LORD. God reveals Himself by His word. Whenever God is moving, He will reveal Himself by the word of the LORD.

       

    • June 29, 2016 2:04 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 4
       
      OPENS WITH THE CAPTURE OF THE ARK OF THE COVENANT
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us Israel is defeated before the Philistines.
       
      "And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines, and encamped beside Ebenezer; and the Philistines encamped in Aphek. Then the Philistines put themselves in battle array against Israel. And when they joined battle, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men of the army in the field."
       
      Israel went out to battle against the Philistines...
       
      DID YOU KNOW...During this time, there was NO GREAT WORLD POWER (such as Egypt or Assyria) seeking to dominate the region. So, Israel's battles were waged against her NEAR neighbors, such as the Moabites, the Ammonites, or as here, the Philistines.
       
      Israel COULD compete on more equal terms with Moab and Ammon, but the Philistines had much influence from far away Greece. Greek military equipment (such as helmets, shields, coats of mail, swords and spears) made the Philistines formidable opponents. The Philistines were the FIRST people in Canaan to process iron, and they made the most of it.
       
      AND AS I SAID BEFORE...The Philistines were AN IMMIGRANT people from the military aristocracy of the island of Crete told to us in Amos 9:7. Small numbers of Philistines were in the land at the time of Abraham, but they only came in force soon after Israel came to Canaan from Egypt. They were organized into five city-states.
       
      This was a difficult period for Israel. "Never did time seem more hopeless than when Samuel arose. The Philistines, strengthened not merely by a constant influx of immigrants, but by the importation of arms from Greece, were fast reducing Israel to the condition of a subject race.
       
      We shouldn't infer from the connection of the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to battle that the battle was led by the direction of Samuel's word. Some manuscript traditions (evident in the Septuagint) make it clear the Philistines INITIATED this conflict.
       
      The battle ended in disaster...
       
      Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men.
       
      Verses 3-4 tells us The elders of Israel respond with a superstitious trust in the ark.
       
      "And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies." So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the Ark of the Covenant of God."
       
      Let us bring the Ark of the Covenant … it may save us from the hand of our enemies...
       
      The elders of Israel, after the battle with the Philistines, decided the NEXT battle could be won if they took the Ark of the Covenant with their soldiers.
       
      AND WE KNOW...The Ark of the Covenant was the REPRESENTATION of the throne of God among the people of Israel. Kept in the most holy place of the tabernacle, it was never seen by the people. In that most holy place, only the high priest would enter and see the ark, and only ONCE a year. Yet, they wanted to take this representation of the throne of God out of the holy of holies (it could be moved when the tabernacle was to be moved), cover it, and take it into battle with them. It would give them confidence God was really with them.
       
      WE KNOW...The ark had gone into battle before.
       
      JOSHUA 6:6-8...The ark went in front of the marchers around the city of Jericho.
       
      NUMBERS 31:6...Moses told the priests to lead the ark into battle against the Midianites.
       
      1 SAMUEL 14:18...King Saul brought the ark into battle.
       
      2 SAMUEL 11:11...as did King David.
       
      2 SAMUEL 15:24-25....During the rebellion launched by Absalom, David knew the ark was not a "lucky charm," so he sent it back to Jerusalem when he fled the city from Absalom.
       
      SO WHAT WAS WRONG ABOUT THE ELDERS DECISION?
       
      The elders of Israel WERE RIGHT in seeing they NEEDED HELP from God to win the battle....BUT they WERE WRONG in the way they went about getting help. Instead of humbly repenting, praying and seeking God and what HE WOULD HAVE THEM DO, they turned to THINGS AND METHODS that God never approved. They only cared ABOUT THE HOLY OF HOLIES...THE ARK...AS A TALISMAN...A GOOD LUCK CHARM...AND HOPED it would work.
       
      They WRONGLY BELIEVED, WITHOUT PRAYER, WITHOUT ASKING GOD WHAT THEY SHOULD DO...THEY DECIDED TO TAKE A SHORT CUT...THEY believed the PRESENCE of the ark would FORCE God TO work for them. Their idea was that God should be forced to fight for them. If He was not willing to do it for their sake, He would have to do it for His honour's sake.
       
      AND THEY DID NOT CARE OR CONSIDER THAT THEY WERE TEMPTING GOD....WITH THEIR SHORT CUT. This is the very thing Satan encouraged Jesus to do in His wilderness temptation, trying to "force" God into a miracle by suggesting Jesus leap off the pinnacle of the temple.
       
      No doubt, it seemed like a brilliant suggestion. It would work for certain! They must have been pleased to arrive at such a great solution.
       
      But their belief is really only VAIN SUPERSTITION.
       
      WHY?
       
      They regard the ark as the ultimate "good luck charm" and believe they can't lose with it present. Notice their words: that it may save us from the hand of our enemies. They are looking to THE THING...THE ARK ITSELF to save them, not the LORD Himself.
       
      CHARLES SPURGEON says it well...."Instead of attempting to get right with God, these Israelites set about devising superstitious means of securing the victory over their foes. In this respect most of us have imitated them. We think of a thousand inventions; but we neglect the one thing needful … They forget the main matter, which is to enthrone God in the life, and to seek to do his will by faith in Christ Jesus."
       
      MACLAREN says it well for us today..."There are plenty of Christians, like these elders, who, when they find themselves beaten by the world and the devil, puzzle their brains to invent all sorts of reasons for God's smiting, except the true one, - their own departure from Him."
       
      Instead of TRUSTING IN A THING...THE ARK, they should be more concerned that the ark is being served, and carried, by priests who HAVE FORSAKEN the LORD: the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were THE TWO PRIESTS SENT with the Ark of the Covenant of God.
       
      AND WE KNOW, God had commanded the ark be carried and cared for BY priests ONLY. They did the right thing in having JUST PRIESTS to carry the ark. But ELI SHOULD HAVE NEVER ALLOWED OR CHOSEN HIS SONS, WHO DID NOT KNOW THE LORD AND HAD FORSAKEN HIS COMMANDMENTS AND HE KNEW IT AND GOD HAD TOLD HIM SO, BUT HE SENT THEM WITH IT...AND THAT ON TOP OF THEIR REFUSAL TO HUMBLE THEMSELVES, REPENT, AND PRAY FIRST...BUT TO TRY A SHORT CUT THAT TEMPTED AND SOUGHT TO FORCE THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY TO GIVE THEM VICTORY.
       
      IN THE EYES OF THE LORD, they were doing a wrong thing, even if they did it in a right way.
       
      Verse 5 tells us of Israel's confidence in the Ark of the Covenant.
       
      "And when the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook."
       
      All Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook...
       
      Someone passing by Israel's camp would have thought something tremendous was happening. Certainly, this would have been considered a great church service, and many would think they were really trusting in God. But for all the appearances, it was really nothing. All their noise and excitement meant nothing because it WAS NOT grounded in God's truth.
       
      The Israelites probably felt they were better than the Philistines because the Philistines were pagans, worshipping false gods. Yet the Israelites were thinking and acting just like pagans, thinking they could manipulate God, and force Him into doing what they wanted Him to do.
       
      Had they humbled themselves, and prayed devoutly and fervently for success, they would have been heard and saved. Their shouting proved both their vanity and PREFERENCE FOR RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS AND POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE RITUALS AND ICONS...RATHER THAN THE LORD.
       
      CHARLES SPURGEON says, "Now, beloved, when you are worshipping God, do not be so foolish as to suppose that because there is loud noise there must also be faith. Faith is a still water, it flows deep. True faith in God may express itself with leaping and with shouting; and it is a happy thing when it does: but it can also sit still before the Lord, and that perhaps is a happier thing still."
       
      Verses 6-9 tells us The Philistines' FEAR of the Ark of the Covenant.
       
      "Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, "What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?" Then they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp. So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, "God has come into the camp!" And they said, "Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before. "Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines, that you do not become servants of the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Conduct yourselves like men, and fight!"
       
      ODDLY ENOUGH...WE SHOULD COMPLIMENT THE PHILISTINES!
       
      WHY?
       
      THEY HAD PERFECT understanding of the Ark of the Covenant (they knew it represented the presence of God), and on their knowledge of Israel's history.
       
      AND THE PHILISTINES KNEW it was unusual - even unheard of - for the Israelites to bring the ark into battle (For such a thing has never happened before).
       
      AND THEY KNEW AND REMEMBERED the God of Israel had defeated the Egyptians (who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues).
       
      These mighty gods...
       
      Even though THE PHILISTINES did not understand very much about God, the Philistines recognized the superiority of the God of Israel. Yet, they will not submit to God, but simply determine to fight against Him all the more. If they really believed their gods were greater than the God of Israel was, they should not have been worried. If they believed the God of Israel to be greater than their gods, they should have submitted to Him, AMEN!?
       
      We, like them, often know God is greater and deserves our submission. Yet we often resist God as well, instead of submitting to Him. Knowledge wasn't their problem. Submission to God was.
       
      Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines...
       
      The presence of the ark has not made the Philistines feel like giving up. Instead, it has made them feel they must fight all the harder to overcome the odds. They will show the courage that comes from desperation.
       
      THE GODLESS PHILISTINES can teach us something.
       
      Christians need to show MORE of this courage.
       
      Instead of GIVING UP when things look bad, why not, trusting the LORD, fight all THE HARDER?
       
      Why not dedicate yourself in submission to God all THE MORE?
       
      Why not decide, God giving you the strength, you will NOT GIVE UP?
       
      Courage and persistence win many a victory, even some victories for evil. Shouldn't we show the same kind of courage and persistence for the LORD?
       
      Verses 10-11 tells us The ark goes into battle and Israel is defeated WORSE than before.
       
      "So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died."
       
      Israel was defeated...
       
      There were THREE REASONS for the great defeat.
       
      FIRST, the Philistines fought with the courage of underdogs.
      SECOND, the Israelites felt that the battle would be easy with the ark of the Covenant there, and did not try as hard.
      THIRD, God did not bless Israel's superstitious belief in the power of the ark instead of the power of God.
       
      We often make the same mistake the Israelites did. We believe that if God is with us, we don't need to try so hard. We think if God is on our side, the work will be easy. That may not be true at all!
       
      As it turned out, God did not feel obligated to bless the Israelites just because they took the ark into battle. He wouldn't allow His arm to be twisted by the superstitions of the Israelites. God is a Person, not a genie to be summoned at the will of man. You can't manipulate God.
       
      There fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers...
       
      Not only did Israel lose, they lost far worse than they did before taking the ark into battle. The loss which prompted them to take the ark saw about four thousand men of Israel fall (1 Samuel 4:2). Here, more than seven times as many men of Israel are killed.
       
      AND INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH....DID YOU KNOW...
       
      In the late 1970's, a five-line inscription was found on a grain silo in the ruins of Izbet Sarteh. When deciphered, it was found to contain a Philistine account of this battle, the capture of the ark, even specifically mentioning the priest Hophni. This is the earliest known extra-biblical reference to an Old Testament event.
       
      Can it get worse? Yes. The ark of God was captured. The very "thing" they though would win the battle was taken away!
       
      WHY?
       
      Israel had made an IDOL of the ark, and God often breaks our idolatry by taking the idol away.
       
      We can make good things idols. There was nothing wrong with the ark itself. God commanded them to make it. It was important to Israel. He told them to put the tablets of the law, a jar of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, in the ark. Yet, even a good thing like the ark can be made an idol, and God won't tolerate our idols.
       
      The ark of God was captured...BUT WE KNOW OUR LORD GOD OF ISRAEL was still on the throne in heaven, and guiding these circumstances for His glory. Israel thought they could ignore the God of the ark and find deliverance in the ark of God. But God showed He was greater than the ark.
       
      Could it get worse? Yes. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. The priests who were supposed to supervise the ark were killed in the battle. God promised the two sons of Eli would die on the same day as proof of His ultimate judgment on the house of Eli (1 Samuel 2:34). Now the proof of judgment has come.
       
      AND YOU NOTICE...THEY DIED AS THEY LIVED...DISOBEYING, REJECTING, AND DISHONORING THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL.
       
      Verses 12-18 tells us Eli hears of the loss of the Ark of the Covenant of God and dies.
       
      "Then a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line the same day, and came to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. Now when he came, there was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out. When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, "What does the sound of this tumult mean?" And the man came quickly and told Eli. Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were so dim that he could not see. Then the man said to Eli, "I am he who came from the battle. And I fled today from the battle line." And he said, "What happened, my son?" So the messenger answered and said, "Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured." Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years."
       
      A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line the same day, and came to Shiloh...
       
      The battle was fought near Aphek (1 Samuel 4:1), and it was at least twenty miles from Aphek to Shiloh. The messenger had a long way to go, the route was mostly up hill, and he carried very bad news.
       
      Because the news was so bad, he came with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. These were some of the traditional signs of mourning. The messenger brought bad news, and he let his appearance reflect how bad the news was.
       
      Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God...
       
      Eli anxiously waited back at the tabernacle for news of the battle. Eli is rightly more concerned about the fate of the ark than the fate of his sons.
       
      Why is he so nervous?
       
      He might have been as foolishly confident as the soldiers of Israel were when the Ark of the Covenant came into their camp (1 Samuel 4:5).
       
      Instead, Eli knows he has let the ark go on an unwise, superstitious errand, and his conscience makes him fear it will end in disaster.
       
      As Eli hears the commotion in the city regarding the loss of the battle, the priests, and the ark, he asks for information, and the messenger tells him the story of bad to worse to worser to worst...Israel has fled before the Philistines (bad), and there has been a great slaughter among the people (worse). Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead (worser); and the ark of God has been captured (worst).
       
      Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died...
       
      Eli fell over and died at the news of the ark (when he made mention of the ark of God). It wasn't the news of Israel's loss in battle, or the slaughter of the army, or even the news of the death of his own sons, which killed him. It was the news that the Ark of the Covenant of God had been lost.
       
      God had promised that Eli's two sons were to die on the same day as a sign of judgment on the house of Eli (1 Samuel 2:34).
       
      God had not announced the promise that Eli would also die the same day. God tells us much in prophecy, but not everything. Some of it is only seen in its fullness after it has already happened.
      Verses 19-22 tells us MORE tragedy among the family of Eli.
       
      "Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, "Do not fear, for you have borne a son." But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel!" because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."
       
      Poor wife of Phinehas! Pregnant, she hears of the death of her husband, her brother-in-law, her father-in-law, a slaughter among the soldiers of Israel, a lost battle, and the capture of the Ark of the Covenant all on one day! The anguish is too great, and labor pains came upon her.
       
      Then she named the child Ichabod...
       
      For a Jewish woman, news that a son had been born was wonderful news. But not for the wife of Phinehas on this day. To reflect her anguish, and the national tragedy upon Israel, she names the child Ichabod, meaning, "The glory has departed from Israel."
       
      But she did not answer, nor did she regard it...
       
      Her grief was so great, it overcame her maternal joy at the birth of her son. To her, the loss was total, and she herself even lost the desire to live.
       
      The glory has departed...
       
      The glory of God, displayed by His presence in the Ark of the Covenant, had departed from Israel. The Philistines now held it.
       
      Had the glory of God truly departed? In one sense, yes. The glory left when Israel stopped repenting and trusting God and started superstitiously trusting in the ark itself. The glory of God had indeed departed, but not because the ark of God had been captured; the ark had been captured because the glory had already departed, AMEN?!
       
      Tragically, the same could be said of many churches, many ministries, and many individual Christian lives...the glory has departed.
      There are still priests, there is still a tabernacle, but God is not enthroned in glory among them.
       
      2 TIMOTHY 3:5 confirms it..."There is the form of godliness, without the power."
       
      You could write Ichabod across many churches, many ministries, many individual Christian lives!
       
      AND WE THINK AND ASK....How could God allow something so terrible to happen?
       
      FIRST... He allowed it as a righteous judgment upon Israel as a nation and the family of Eli. They simply received what they deserved.
       
      SECONDLY...God allowed it as a correction to the nation, so they would not trust in the ark of God, instead of trusting in the God of the ark.
       
      THIRDLY...though it seemed so terrible to man, was it all that terrible to God? At this moment, was God wringing His hands in heaven, worried about how things would turn out? Worried about His own reputation? Worried about the Philistines and their gods? Looking at it this way, the glory had not departed one bit.
       
      Instead, God was just beginning to show His glory.
       
      WHAT DO I MEAN BY THIS?
       
      Many circumstances we regard as a calamity, God uses in a marvelous way to glorify Himself. Israel was right to be sad at the loss of life and the ark on that day. But they should have had confidence, knowing God was well able to take care of Himself.

       

    • June 29, 2016 2:02 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 5
       
      OPENS WITH...THE ARK OF THE COVENANT AMONG THE PHILISTINES IN THEIR CITY OF ASHDOD
       
       
      Verses 1-5 tells us God HUMILIATES the idol Dagon.
       
      "Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the temple of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon's torso was left of it. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon's house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day."
       
      According to other passages, WE KNOW THAT after the Philistines defeated the Israeli army, they went on to DESTROY the city of Shiloh itself, CONFIRMED TO US IN Psalm 78:60-64, Jeremiah 7:12 and 26:9.
       
      They brought THE ARK OF GOD into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon...
       
      No doubt, the Philistines were jubilant, and confident in the superiority of their god over the God of Israel. They had faced the God of Israel in battle, and believed their god Dagon had delivered them and defeated Israel. Now, the Ark of the Covenant of Israel's God stood as a trophy in the temple of their god Dagon. The victory was complete!
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW....
      The Philistine god Dagon was represented with a half man, half fish figure, and was said to be the FATHER OF BAAL. BAAL WORSHIPPERS, we remember from 2 Kings and other scripture in the Bible, believed in cutting their followers to allow the spirit of BAAL to more easily enter their hearts and minds and control them. They believed in tattooing themselves with occultic signs and symbols to show their devotion and faithfulness to BAAL AND DAGON. They believed in drinking their iniates blood from communal goblets, having orgies for indoctrination, and the highest of honors was for their newborn babies and small children to be chosen to be offered as live sacrifice on the burning altar, while they writhed, chanted repitious mantras, gyrated and shook on the floor, barked like animals, laughed and squealed hysterically...rang gongs, burned incense, took drugs, and were laid out by the sweep of their high priests hand and at his command...mainly while the babies screamed in terror and pain as they were burned alive.
       
      There was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD...
       
      Had the glory of God departed? Not at all! God was more than able to glorify Himself among the Philistines and their pagan gods. God made this nothing statue bow down in worship before Him!
       
      God will glorify Himself.
       
      Sometimes, when men disgrace the glory of God, we fear God will go without glory.
       
      We think the glory has departed.
       
      But when men and women will not glorify God, God will glorify Himself.
       
      You can count on it, AMEN!
       
      God is glorifying Himself, but man is resisting God's glory. See the Philistine priests, and the excuses they make? "Must have been an accident. Must have been an earthquake. Yes, some strange accident." All the while they refuse to give glory to God!
       
      Imagine the horror of the Philistine priests when they entered the temple of Dagon the next morning. They not only saw their god bowing down before the LORD, they also saw the head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were BROKEN OFF on the threshold; only the torso of Dagon was left of it. An accident two days in a row? And now, the head and hands of Dagon broken? How strange!
       
      After seeing the SUPERIORITY of the God of Israel, these Philistine priests had a choice. They could turn from their weak, inferior god Dagon, and begin serving the mighty, superior LORD of Israel.
       
      Or they could make a religious tradition instead!
       
      They chose the religious tradition: Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon's house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.
       
      These Philistine priests, like men confronted with the truth today, rejected God despite the evidence, not because of the evidence. They wanted to believe it was an accident.
       
      BUT WE KNOW THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS COINCIDENCE WITH OUR ALMIGHTY GOD, AMEN!?
       
      How could they believe something so ridiculous?
       
      Because worshipping the LORD instead of Dagon meant a huge change in thinking and living. The Philistine priests were UNWILLING to make those changes. It was easier when they took Dagon and set it in its place again. Setting Dagon up and gluing him together was easier than changing your life and your thinking.
       
      POOLE says it well of this scripture, "The head is the seat of wisdom; the hands, the instruments of action: both are cut off, to show that he had neither wisdom nor strength to defend himself nor his worshippers. Thus the priests, by concealing Dagon's shame before, make it more evident and infamous."
       
      Verses 6-8 tells us The LORD AFFLICTS the city of Ashdod with TUMORS.
       
      "But the hand of the LORD was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god." Therefore they sent and gathered to themselves all the lords of the Philistines, and said, "What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?" And they answered, "Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried away to Gath." So they carried the ark of the God of Israel away."
       
      The hand of the LORD was heavy on the people of Ashdod...
       
      They would NOT LISTEN OR BELIEVE when God struck down their statue of Dagon; they just set it up again. When we close our ears to God, He often finds another way to speak to us, and we may not like the second way.
       
      He ravaged them and struck them with tumors...
       
      What were these tumors?
       
      Older commentators often describe them as hemorrhoids, and newer commentators often describe them as signs of the bubonic plague. Either way, they were bad.
       
      YOUNGBLOOD confirms... "Of the numerous suggested identifications of the specific malady that struck the Philistines, bubonic plague remains the most likely: 'It is a disease characterized by an epidemic occurrence, by the appearance of tumours, bleeding from all orifices and by the production of panic amongst the affected population, by a high mortality rate, and by an association with mice or rats.'
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW..."Emerods; a disease mentioned ONLY here and Deuteronomy 28:27 it was in the hinder parts.
       
      The Septuagint adds this to verse six: "And the cities and the fields of all that region burst up, and mice were produced, and there was the confusion of a great death in the city." Some think this was originally in the Hebrew text, and explains why golden images of rats were included in the return of the ark (1 Samuel 6:5).
       
      Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried away to Gath...
       
      Instead of submitting to the God of Israel, they decided to get rid of Him. The problem is, we can't get rid of God. We can do things to push Him away, but even the best of those are temporary. We must all face God, and stand before Him one day, AMEN?!
       
      When God shows us how wrong our thinking is and how wrong our lives are, we may ignore Him, patch up our lives, establish religious ceremonies, or do the best we can in the midst of His judgment. We can try and push Him away, but we still have to stand before God one day.
       
       
      Verse 9 tells us The Ark of the Covenant in the Philistine city of GATH.
       
      "So it was, after they had carried it away, that the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction; and He struck the men of the city, both small and great, and tumors broke out on them."
       
      The hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction...
       
      The city of Gath didn't do any better than the city of Ashdod. More of the destructive and painful tumors broke out on them.
       
      Verses 10-12 tells us The Ark of the Covenant in the Philistine city of EKRON.
       
      "Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. So it was, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, "They have brought the ark of the God of Israel to us, to kill us and our people!" So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place, so that it does not kill us and our people." For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men who did not die were stricken with the tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven."
       
      Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron...
       
      The Ark of the Covenant is now, among the Philistines, a "hot potato," burning every city where it stays. The Ekronites were not happy see the ark ("They have brought the ark of the God of Israel to us, to kill us and our people!"), but they still wouldn't submit to the LORD God of Israel.
       
      Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place...
       
      The Philistines, if they would have repented and turned towards the LORD, could have benefited from the ark. Instead, it became a curse and a judgment to them.
       
      The same is true of the presence of God among us.
      Paul wrote, in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16..."For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life."
       
      The work of Jesus on your behalf will either be the greatest blessing you have ever known for all eternity or it will be the greatest witness of God's judgment against you. If you submit and surrender to God, it can be a blessing. If you refuse His voice and His heart towards you, it can be a curse. What will you decide?
       
      WHAT WE LEARN FROM THIS CHAPTER...
       
      NO matter what we decide, NO matter what the Israelites decided, NO matter what the Philistines decided, God WILL glorify Himself. Period.
       
      The unfaithfulness and superstition of the Israelites COULD NOT deny God His glory.
      The pride and the arrogance of the Philistines COULD NOT take one bit of glory from God.
      THE LORD GOD will be glorified; the only question is "Will we choose to enjoy it?"

    • June 29, 2016 2:00 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 6
       
      OPENS WITH...THE ARK OF THE COVENANT RETURNED TO ISRAEL AND HOW THE PHILISTINES G0T RID OF THE ARK OF THE COVENANT?!
       
      Verses 1-6 tells us The priests of the Philistines suggest a way to relieve themselves of the burden of the ark.
       
      "Now the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, "What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we should send it to its place." So they said, "If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return it to Him with a trespass offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you." Then they said, "What is the trespass offering which we shall return to Him?" They answered, "Five golden tumors and five golden rats, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. Therefore you shall make images of your tumors and images of your rats that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will lighten His hand from you, from your gods, and from your land. Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart?"
       
       
      What shall we do with the ark of the LORD?
       
      When the Philistines FIRST CAPTURED the Ark of the Covenant, they thought it was a GREAT victory. They put it in the temple of their god Dagon as a trophy, with the message that their god was greater than the LORD. But because God glorified Himself in the temple of Dagon, then by striking the Philistines with plagues in whatever city the ark would come to rest, the Philistines began to regard the ark as a BURDEN, AND A CURSE, not as a trophy.
       
      More than any other thing on earth, the Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of the LORD God of Israel. The Philistines (like the Israelites who carried the ark into battle) therefore thought that when they had the ark, they "had" the LORD.
       
      But they did not "have" the LORD at all. He had them. He was in control, and now they are on the defensive. God doesn't have a problem, they do.
       
      Why did they keep it seven months at all?
       
      Because they were reluctant to give up such a wonderful "trophy" of what they at first felt was such a victory over the God of Israel. It can take a long time before we realize the futility of resisting God!
       
      By all means return it with a trespass offering...
       
      The Philistine priests knew enough to know they have offended the LORD God. Therefore, they know they should do something to express their sorrow and repentance before the LORD.
       
      FIVE golden tumors and FIVE golden rats....
       
      WHY FIVE?
       
      FIVE FOR THE FIVE PHILISTINE LORDS OVER THE STATES AND FIVE FOR THE CITIES WHERE THE ARK WAS TAKEN!
       
      THE FIVE PHILISTINE LORDS SAID...FORGIVE US...NOW GO AWAY AND LEAVE US ALONE.
      THE FIVE PHILISTINE CITIES SAID...IT IS NOT OUR FAULT...BLAME THE LORDS...BUT FORGIVE US...NOW GO AWAY AND LEAVE US ALONE.
       
      The specific offering recognizes that it was the LORD who brought the plague upon the Philistines. They were ALSO saying, "OKAY...WE NOW KNOW these plagues were not accidents. We know the LORD God of Israel has caused them. We are apologizing to the LORD God and asking Him to turn away His anger too."
       
      We know the plague involved tumors (1 Samuel 5:6, 9, 12). We had not been told in 1 Samuel 5 that the plague involved rats. Some think the tumors were the result of bubonic plague, carried by rats. Others think the rats were part of another plague or calamity mentioned in 1 Samuel 5:11: For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
       
      And you shall give glory to the God of Israel...
       
      Acknowledging God's judgment one way to give glory to the God of Israel. We often fail to give God this glory because we ignore His judgment or write it off as fate or bad luck.
       
      Perhaps He will lighten His hand from you, from your gods, and from your land...
       
      The Philistines are admitting that the God of Israel is judging their gods, and has jurisdiction over their lands. They are confessing that He is the Almighty God, yet they REFUSE TO HIT THEIR KNEES AND THEY REFUSE TO ADMIT THERE IS BUT ONE GOD, ALMIGHTY GOD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL...AND THEY CHOOSE...YET AGAIN...NOT TO WORSHIP THE LORD...instead of their own silly man-created gods!
       
      Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?
       
      The Philistines rightly remembered that no good comes when anyone hardens their heart against the LORD. Even in a purely self-interested sense, it wasn't smart to harden your heart against the LORD.
       
      Even as it was shown in 1 Samuel 4:8, the Philistines were quite aware of the Exodus story. Here, they even know that the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts. Perhaps they had been reading in Exodus 8:15?
       
      The issue of hardening the heart is important, because Exodus also quotes the LORD saying, "I will harden Pharaoh's heart" (Exodus 7:3). So, who hardened Pharaoh's heart? The answer is "both." God did not harden Pharaoh's heart against Pharaoh's own desire. It was not as if Pharaoh wished to have a tender heart towards Israel, but God would not allow him. Pharaoh hardened his heart, and God confirmed him in his desire to have a hard heart.
       
      Hardness of heart is a terrible place for any Christian.
       
      The pagan Philistines had the sense to ask the question, why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?
       
      Do Christians today have the sense to ask themselves the same question?
       
      Hosea 10:12 speaks to our hardened, fallow hearts...."Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you."
       
      The Philistines would prevent or cure hardness of heart by acknowledging their sin, God's righteousness, and doing something to make it right before God.
       
      AND WE KNOW THE HARDEST BATTLE MANKIND WILL EVER FACE AND EVER FIGHT...IS THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THEIR KNEES AND THE FLOOR. PRIDE AND ARROGANCE HAS DESTROYED MORE PEOPLE AND COUNTRIES SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME.
       
      THE BIBLE AND HISTORY TELLS US...WARS COME AND WARS GO...AND MOST NATIONS RECOVER OVER TIME....BUT THE WAR WILLINGLY FOUGHT AND THE CHOICE OF WILLINGLY NEGLECTING, DISMISSING, AND REJECTING ALMIGHTY GOD, THE GREAT I AM, OUR JESUS CHRIST...SENTENCES THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO REJECT JESUS CHRIST...TO ETERNAL DEFEAT...AND A WILLINGLY CHOSEN ETERNITY IN THE LAKE OF FIRE WITH SATAN AND ALL HIS DEMONS.
       
      PRIDE, ARROGANCE, AND REJECTION OF JESUS CHRIST...LEAD TO DEATH IN THIS LIFE...THEN THE WAITING PRISON OF HELL...AND THEN THE SECOND DEATH...CHOOSING TO BE SENTENCED TO THE LAKE OF FIRE FOREVER.
       
      Verses 7-9 tells us The Philistines decide how to return the ark, including A TEST to see if the judgment was from God or by chance.
       
      "Now therefore, make a new cart, take two milk cows which have never been yoked, and hitch the cows to the cart; and take their calves home, away from them. Then take the ark of the LORD and set it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you are returning to Him as a trespass offering in a chest by its side. Then send it away, and let it go. And watch: if it goes up the road to its own territory, to Beth Shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance."
       
      Take two milk cows which have never been yoked...
       
      Here, the Philistines are conducting an experiment. They think all the calamity of the plagues has been from the LORD God of Israel. But they are not 100% sure. So, they devise another test. After all, one never wants to repent unnecessarily!
       
      THIS REMINDS ME OF MY CHILDHOOD. BEING THE OLDEST OF FIVE, WE WERE ALWAYS TAUGHT AND REMINDED, WHEN WE DID WRONG TO EACH OTHER OR OTHERS...WE WERE TO FIRST ADMIT OUR WRONG TO JESUS AND ASK HIS FORGIVENESS, THEN THE PERSON WE WRONGED, THEN TELL THE INJURED ONE, I'M SORRY, AND THEN WE HAD TO HUG AND KISS EACH OTHER. BEING THE OLDEST, AND MOST TIMES THE MOST STUBBORN...I GRUDGINGLY ADMITTED WHEN I WAS WRONG, AND GRUDGINGLY SAID I AM SORRY, BUT LET ME TELL YOU I WOULD HAVE RATHER HAVE HAD TO EAT WORM-INFESTED DIRT...THAN HAVE TO HUG AND KISS THEM TOO.
       
      IT TOOK A LONGGGGGG TIME BEFORE I GOT TO THE POINT WHERE I COULD APOLOGIZE FOR A WRONG OR EVEN APOLOGIZE FOR AN UNINTENDED WRONG WITHOUT THINKING I WAS BEING FORCED TO EAT DIRT...
       
      WHEN WILLING REPENTANCE, WILLINGLY GIVEN APOLOGIES WOULD HAVE NOT ONLY FREED THEIR HEART AND MIND...BUT ALSO MY OWN.
       
      PRIDE AND ARROGANCE ARE THE MOST DANGEROUS BATTLES WE FACE...AND SO WE SEE THE PHILISTINES WHO KNEW WHAT HAPPENED TO EGYPT AND THE MIDIANITES BECAUSE THEY CHALLENGED THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL....YET....YET...THEIR PRIDE AND ARROGANCE DECIDED IT NEEDED ONE MORE TEST...WANTED ONE MORE PROOF BEFORE THEY WOULD BELIEVE THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL DESERVED AN APOLOGY AND WAS THE GREAT I AM.
       
      AND WHAT WAS THE TEST?
       
      The test was simple, and stacked against God.
       
      WHAT DO I MEAN BY THIS?
       
      ANYONE WHO HAS TRAINED ANIMALS TO THE ACCEPT THE HARNESS AND THE TRACES FOR A WAGON OR CART KNOWS...IT IS A PATIENT, TIME-CONSUMING DIFFICULT JOB TO DO.
      WHY?
      By nature, two milk cows which have never been yoked should NOT pull a cart at all, but they should have resisted their yokes.
       
      WHY?
       
      UNTRAINED "GREEN" COWS DO NOT KNOW EACH OTHER, THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN PUT INTO HARNESS NOR THE TRACES...AND THEY FIGHT EACH OTHER, THE HARNESS, THE TRACES ACROSS THEIR BACKS AND ALONG THEIR SIDES, AND THEY RESIST THE WAGON AND THE DRIVER.
       
      Additionally, THE PHILISTENES decided to take USE MOTHER COWS, AND TAKE their calves AWAY FROM THEM AND TAKE THEM home, away from them. The "maternal instinct" of the cows would have drawn them not towards the land of Israel, but back home to their own WAILING calves. The Philistines devised a test that "forced" the God of Israel to do something miraculous to demonstrate He had really been the cause of the plagues upon them.
       
      Take the ark of the LORD and set it on the cart...
       
      God NEVER wanted the ark to be transported by a cart. He wanted it to be carried by the poles that were set in it, CONFIRMED TO US IN Numbers 4:15.
       
      AND REMEMBER...The ark didn't have "handles" and was not to be carried by lifting it directly in one's hands. Instead, it was to be carried by inserting gold-overlaid wood poles into gold rings at each corner of the ark. The poles were to remain inserted in the rings, and to be the source of contact with the ark. Apart from touching the poles, it was FORBIDDEN to touch the ark of the Covenant, which is CONFIRMED TO US in Exodus 25:12-15.
       
      AND AS WE STUDIED LAST WEEK....In 2 Samuel 6:6-7, Uzzah touched the ark to keep it from falling off a cart, but he did not touch it at the poles, and God struck him dead. Uzzah was wrong in his thinking that God would let the ark be damaged; in fact, it did not fall off the cart, and no thanks to Uzzah. Uzzah was also wrong in his thinking that there was something less pure about the ground than his act of pure disobedience.
       
      SO WAIT A MINUTE...WHY DID GOD NOT STRIKE THE PHILISTINES WITH SEVERE JUDGMENT FOR DARING TO TOUCH THE ARK, in light of God's command, and punishment against Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6?
       
      Though this way of transporting the ark was prohibited by THE MOSAIC law, AND BY GOD'S COMMAND, God excused them because of their ignorance of His law, because they were ignorant of God's law to the contrary, and because, REMEMBER THEY HAD NO HANDY LEVITE PRIESTS to carry it upon their shoulders either.
       
      SOME COMMENTATORS HAVE SAID, "That isn't fair!"
       
      BUT WE WHO LOVE JESUS should remember this:
       
      Do we REALLY want COMPLETE UNBENDING LEGALISTIC fairness from God?
       
      Will we allow Him to show mercy where He wants to show mercy, or do we demand that He immediately judge each sin, each sinner, to the fullest extent of what that sin, what that sinner, deserves?
       
      ME, I AM THANKFUL FOR JESUS GRACE AND MERCY!
       
      Put the articles of gold which you are returning to Him as a trespass offering in a chest by its side...
       
      The Philistines you notice WERE WISE ENOUGH TO NOT OPEN the Ark of the Covenant, and set the articles of gold in the ark itself. Certainly, they were curious about what was in the ark, but they didn't let their curiosity lead them into sin.
       
      If not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that struck us; it was by chance that it happened to us...
       
      THE PHILISTINES AND THEIR PRIESTS STILL ASK AND WONDER...Is it possible that the tumors and other judgments came by chance?
       
      Many people think things happen by chance. Some say the world was created by chance. People who are otherwise intelligent often fall into this delusion.
       
      Jacques Monod, a biochemist, wrote: "Chance alone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution."
       
      But assigning such power to "chance" is crazy.
       
      WHY?
       
      Because chance has NO power.
       
      WHAT DO I MEAN BY THAT?
       
      For example, when a coin is flipped, the chance that it will land "heads" is 50%. However, "chance" does not make it land heads. Whether or not it lands heads or tails is due to the strength with which the coin is flipped, the amount of air currents and air pressure as it flies through the air, where it is caught, and if it is flipped over once it is caught.
       
      IN OTHER WORDS...Chance doesn't "do" anything other than describe a probability.
       
      When Carl Sagan petitioned the federal government for a grant to search for intelligent life in outer space, how did he hope to find it? By using a super sensitive instrument that could pick up radio signals from distant space. When he received those radio signals, he looked for order and pattern - which would demonstrate that the signals were transmitted by intelligent life. In the same way, the order and pattern of the whole universe demonstrates that it was fashioned by intelligent life, not by "chance." Scientists detect "chance" in the radio signals constantly (in the form of unpatterned static), but it tells them nothing.
       
      Therefore, when someone says that the universe or anything else came about by CHANCE, they are extremely ignorant, superstitious, or just parroting a line they have heard before and have unthinkingly accepted.
       
      Chance makes NOTHING happen; it is merely a way of described statistical probabilities. We live in a cause and effect world, and chance is not a cause, but God is the great cause, AMEN?!.
       
      What will happen?
       
      When unbelievers put God to the test, sometimes He ignores their arrogant action. But sometimes He blows their mind by doing what they NEVER REALLY expected He would do.
       
      Verses 10-12 tells us Against all expectation, the cows go the land of Israel.
       
      "Then the men did so; they took two milk cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. And they set the ark of the LORD on the cart, and the chest with the gold rats and the images of their tumors. Then the cows headed straight for the road to Beth Shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right hand or the left. And the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh."
       
      Then the cows headed STRAIGHT for the road to Beth Shemesh...
       
      They should not have done this. The cows should have been resisting the yoke, because they had never been harnessed before. They should have headed back for their Philistine homes out of concern for their young calves. But they headed straight for the road to Beth Shemesh. God wasn't leaving this up to chance!
       
      Not only were they headed straight for the road, they did not turn aside to the right hand or the left.
       
      AND I CAN TELL YOU...COWS LOVE TO MEANDER...A BITE OF GRASS HERE OR THERE...A SLURP OF WATER...THEY STOP AND LOOK AROUND....THEY ARE IN NO HURRY...BUT THESE MAMA COWS didn't meander around the way; they went straight where they were supposed to go!
       
      What a miracle! Two cows who had never pulled a cart before, either alone or together.
       
      AND REMEMBER....NO DRIVER leads them, yet they leave home, and march the ten miles or so to a city they had NEVER been to. They leave their own calves behind, and go straight on a certain road, with never a wrong turn, never a stop, never turning aside into the fields to feed themselves, never turning back to feed their own calves.
       
      As the cows are on the road back to Israel, can you see the Israelites mourning over the loss of the ark?
       
      Perhaps at that very moment they were crying out to God, grieving because they thought the glory had departed. God's glory had NOT left anywhere! The Israelites and the Philistines were BOTH resisting Him, so the LORD found a few FEMALE cows to show His glory through! Israel had no reason to mourn, even though they thought all was lost and there was no hope, because they thought the glory had departed.
       
      Lowing as they went...
       
      This means the cows were not especially happy. They were longing for their calves at home, yet they still did the will of God.
       
      God was able to overpower the instinctive nature of the UNTRAINED MOTHER cows. He can overpower our instinctive nature also. Who we are in Jesus have MORE POWER than who we are in Adam, AMEN?
       
      This all shows us the incredible power of God.
       
      REMEMBER THIS:
       
      THE LORD LEAVES NOTHING TO CHANCE. This is our Father's world, and even the cows fulfill His plan!
       
      AND WE HAVE ALL THOUGHT OR HAD PEOPLE SAY TO US....But if everything is fulfilling God's plan, then how come my life is so tough? Why did I have, or someone else have, such a great tragedy?
       
      When we think like this, it shows we don't understand God's goal for our life, which is to make us godly, more like Jesus day by day...NOT to just make us comfortable.
       
      It also shows we are looking TOO SHORT, and NOT trusting ALMIGHTY GOD to work things out in OUR TODAYS, TOMORROWS, AND CERTAINLY IN OUR eternity.
       
      It also shows we are looking TOO NARROW and don't consider all God is doing outside of what we can see.
       
      Finally, it shows we are looking TO OURSELVES and acting as if God OWES US an explanation on everything. We have to accept there are going to be some things we just can't figure out, and leave it up to God to DO WHAT ONLY HE CAN DO....HE HAS PROMISED HE HAS GONE BEFORE US...HE HAS ALREADY FIGURED IT OUT...AND WE HAVE TO TRUST HIM TO DO WHAT ONLY HE CAN DO, AMEN?
       
      MEYER says it well of this scripture..."When people don't believe there is a loving God who sits enthroned in the heavens and has a good plan for our lives, you can't blame them for being afraid, for being proud, for being miserable. But for those who believe in the God of the Bible, there is no excuse for fear, pride, or misery. God is still on His throne! "As we go forth into the world, let us believe that the movement of all things is towards the accomplishment of God's purpose."
       
       
      Verses 13-15 tells us The ark is received with honor and joy at Beth Shemesh.
       
      "Now the people of Beth Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and they lifted their eyes and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. Then the cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there; a large stone was there. So they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. The Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the chest that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone. Then the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices the same day to the LORD."
       
      Rejoiced to see it...
       
      What joy! They would have felt something like the disciples felt on the day they saw the resurrected Jesus, because they would have felt they had received God back to them from the dead. On this day as they were reaping their wheat harvest (between May and June), they knew the God of Israel was alive.
       
      Of course, God had NEVER been DEPARTED OR DEAD, and God never left them. But the Israelites felt as though God was dead, and they were as desperate, discouraged, and hopeless as if He really were dead. According to their feelings, it was as if the LORD God of Israel had risen from the dead.
       
      The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there...
       
      After being guided for some ten miles from the Philistine city, without stopping or go to one side or the other, now the ark stops in Israelite land, at the exact field of ONE CHOSEN MAN.
       
      They split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering...
       
      They knew this was the right thing to do in honor to God, yet it really cost them something. Cows and carts were expensive property.
       
      In a STRICT sense, their offering was AGAINST the Mosaic law.
       
      WHY?
       
      FIRST, they offered FEMALE MOTHER animals to the LORD, which was forbidden told to us in Leviticus 1:3; 22:19.
       
      SECOND, they made a burnt offering to the LORD AWAY from the tabernacle, which VIOLATED the command in Deuteronomy 12:5-6.
       
      FOR ALTHOUGH, the Ark of the Covenant was there, it might be said that the holy place was "there".
       
      Yet, God knew BOTH their hearts and the remarkable circumstances and was no doubt honored.
       
      The Levites took down the ark of the LORD...
       
      The Israelites were CAREFUL to let the Levites handle the ark, as was commanded by the law in Numbers 4:1-6, 15.
       
      AND...Beth Shemesh was a priestly city, confirmed to us in Joshua 21:16, so there were priests on hand.
       
      Verses 16-18 tells us the description of the trespass offering from the Philistines included with the return of the ark.
       
      "So when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day. These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned as a trespass offering to the LORD: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; and the golden rats, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and country villages, even as far as the large stone of Abel on which they set the ark of the LORD, which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh."
       
      When the FIVE lords of the Philistines had seen it...
       
      They had wondered if all what had happened to them while they had the ark was an accident. So, they set up an elaborate and difficult test for God to fulfill, and then PERSONALLY observed, so they must have FOLLOWED at a distance, to see if God would indeed MEET the test. Their reaction isn't recorded, but they must have been persuaded! The LORD God of Israel had glorified Himself before the Philistines!
       
      Verse 19 tells us The men of Beth Shemesh PROFANE God's holiness.
       
      "Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter."
       
      Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD...
       
      The Ark of the Covenant was a box, and box containing SACRED things told to us in Exodus 25:16 and 16:33-34, Numbers 17:3-4.
       
      It was ONLY TO BE TOUCHED and handled by specific Levites from the family of Kohath, and even they were commanded to not touch the ark itself told to us in Numbers 4:15. But the men of Beth Shemesh sinned by not only touching the ark, but also looking into it inappropriately.
       
      We again notice God is dealing with the Israelites MORE STRICTLY than He dealt with the Philistines, who just transported the ark by a cart.
       
      WHY?
       
      God does this because the Israelites, who HAD His law, should have, and did KNOW better. Even so, it is sad to consider that the Philistines showed MORE HONOR to the holiness of God than the Israelites.
       
      POOLE says it well..."Men are very incompetent judges of these matters, because they do not understand all the reasons and causes of God's judgments … there are many secret sins which escape man's observation, but are seen by God, before whom many persons may be deeply guilty, whom men esteem innocent and virtuous. And therefore men should take heed of censuring the judgments of God, of which it is most truly said, that they are oft secret, but never unrighteous."
       
      Because they looked into the ark of the LORD...
       
      AND WE REMEMBER, In the book of Job, the friends of Job tried to explain the crisis in his life by saying it was because he had sinned, and all he needed to do was to repent and things would be fine again. This frustrated Job, because he KNEW he had not sinned in any way to bring the crisis upon himself.
       
      So, Job demanded that God tell him why the crisis had come, and so vindicate Job in front of his friends. But when Job demanded God tell him "why," God responded: Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me told to us in Job 38:2-3. There were secrets in the heart and mind of God, which Job had no right to demand to know, and the LORD had to deal with Job about this.
       
      AND REMEMBER IN Isaiah 55:8-9 shows this same thought: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
       
      We need to respect the fact that God is God and we are not, and there are some things we just will not, and should not, know.
       
      He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people...
       
       
      Verses 20-21 tells us The men of Beth Shemesh appeal to the men of Kirath Jearim to take the ark from them.
       
      "And the men of Beth Shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? And to whom shall it go up from us?" So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath Jearim, saying, "The Philistines have brought back the ark of the LORD; come down and take it up with you."
       
      Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God?...
       
      In THEIR DISRESPECT for God, the men of Beth Shemesh had offended the holiness of the LORD. Now, they know the LORD is holy, but it doesn't make them want to be closer to God; it makes them want to distance themselves from God.
       
      One of the more successful movies of the 1990's was a film titled Ghost. To see why the movie has been so successful, the studio took out a classified ad asking for response from people who had seen the movie six or more times. They had hundreds and hundreds of responses. One Burbank mother of two saw it more than seventeen times. An Ontario nurse racked up a dozen. A bank manager from Los Angeles said he watched it eight times. Why? The movie dealt with something that we are all attracted to, yet afraid of: the supernatural, something from another world. When modern man is interested in Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Cocoon or E.T. or Field of Dreams or Ghost, we are trying, in our awkwardly modern way, to understand something beyond ourselves, something mysterious, and something different. But the Bible tells us what that different thing we are looking for is all about. It is God. It is His holiness. The essential idea behind the word for holiness in the Bible is something different, something set apart.
       
      AND THE PRIMARY IDEA behind holiness is NOT moral purity (though the idea includes moral purity), but it is THE IDEA OF APARTNESS--- that God is separate, different from His creation, both in His essential nature and in the perfection of His attributes.
       
      BUT WE KNOW TOO FROM THE BIBLE...that when people encounter the holiness of God, they are NOT NECESSARILY ATTRACTED to it.
       
      WHY DO I SAY THIS?
       
      REMEMBER when Peter saw the HOLY POWER of Jesus he said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" in Luke 5:8.
       
      HOW ABOUT when the disciples on another occasion saw THE HOLY JESUS shining forth at the transfiguration, they were greatly afraid, told to us in Matthew 17:6.
       
      REMEMBER WHAT KING DAVID SAID about when we see how different God is from us, it can be FRIGHTENING. "Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth." in Psalm 96:9.
       
      When we meet the holy God, we are excited and afraid all at the same time. It's like going up on a roller coaster; you want to be there, but you don't. In fact, many of the thrill-seeking pleasures of our modern world are nothing but feeble attempts to imitate the fulfillment we can only find by meeting the holy God, AMEN?!
       
      Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God?
       
      THINK ABOUT THIS TOO...In one sense, the men of Beth Shemesh show a BAD HEART in asking this question. Their question makes God seem too harsh instead of showing themselves to be too disobedient.
       
      CLARKE says it well of this scripture..."Why this exclamation? They knew that God had forbidden any to touch his ark but the priests and the Levites; but they endeavoured to throw that blame on God, as a Being hard to be pleased, which belonged solely to themselves."
       
      WHO is able to stand before this holy LORD God? In another sense, the men of Beth Shemesh ask a good question. God is, in fact, holy, and Who is able indeed?
       
      AND WE KNOW...Holiness is not so much achieved through our OWN efforts, but it is received, as we are new men and women in Jesus.
       
      EPHESIANS 4:24 reminds us, "Holiness is part of the new man we are in Jesus."
       
      HEBREWS 12:10 reminds us, "And we are invited to be partakers - sharers of Jesus' holiness.
       
      Though God is holy, though He is apart from us, instead of building a wall around His apartness, God calls us to come to Him and share His apartness. As it says in 1 Peter 1:6, "God calls us to Be holy, for I am holy."
       
      Holiness is not so much something we have, as much as it is something that has us.
       
      And to whom shall it go up from us?
       
      For the men of Beth Shemesh, the holiness of God was A PROBLEM, a problem that could be fixed by PUTTING DISTANCE between themselves and God. Their question was not, "How can we be made right with a holy God," but it was "Who can we give this problem to so the holiness of God is no longer a burden to us?"
       
      They sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirath Jearim...
       
      We don't know why they picked this village. Perhaps they had good relations with these men and thought they would take good care of the ark. Perhaps they had bad relations with them and wanted the LORD to curse them. Whatever the reason, the men of Kirath Jearim will indeed receive the ark, and the ark will stay there some SEVENTY YEARS until King David brings it to Jerusalem, told to us in 2 Samuel 6.

       

    • June 29, 2016 1:58 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 7
       
      OPENS WITH SAMUEL AS JUDGE AND HE LEADS THE NATION IN REPENTANCE
       
      Verses 1-2 tell us The ark at Kirath Jearim.
       
      "Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD. So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD."
       
      The men of Kirath Jearim treated the Ark of the Covenant with RESPECT AND HONOR; yet they did not take it to the tabernacle. Instead of the ark resting in the holy of holies, at the house of God, it was brought into the house of Abinadab.
       
      Yet, they consecrated Eleazar his son to the keep the ark of the LORD. We don't know if Eleazar was of the proper priestly lineage, or if his consecration ceremony was like the ones that truly consecrated a priest told to us in Exodus 29. But it all reflected at least A DESIRE to do the right things.
       
      It stayed this way a long time. Israel had the ark back; but things were NOT really set right. Israel finds they are no more right with God just because they have the Ark of the Covenant again. Instead, all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.
       
      WHY?
       
      They had GOOD reason to lament. Their cities were in ruins, their armies were defeated, and they were under Philistine domination, all because they were NOT right with God.
       
      CHARLES SPURGEON says it well, "It may very naturally be asked, 'Where was Samuel all that time?' I know not what he was doing during those twenty years; but I have a suspicion, I may say, I have a firm persuasion, that he was going from place to place, preaching in quiet spots wherever he could gather an audience; warning the people of their sin, and stirring them up to seek Jehovah, this endeavouring to infuse some spirituality into their national life."
       
      Verses 3-4 tells us Samuel preaches repentance, both outward and inward.
       
      "Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, "If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines." So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only."
       
      Then Samuel spoke to ALL the house of Israel...
       
      REMEMBER 1 SAMUEL 4:1...told us God had raised up Samuel as A PROPHET & A JUDGE.
       
      Yet, Samuel is strangely ABSENT from the whole Ark of the Covenant fiasco. 1 Samuel 4:1 was the last place Samuel was mentioned, right before Israel schemed to use the ark as good luck charm in battle.
       
      If you return with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods...
       
      Samuel was calling the nation to repentance. The repentance had to be inward (with all your hearts), and it had to be outward (put away the foreign gods).
       
      The INWARD was more important than the outward, and it had to come FIRST.
       
      That is why Samuel FIRST called Israel to return with all your hearts, and then told them to put away the foreign gods.
       
      However, inward repentance is a secret thing. It is hidden. No one can really "see" the heart of another. Yet, the inward was proven by the outward. We can know if Israel did return with all your hearts by seeing if they really did put away the foreign gods. No one could see their heart, but they could see if they put away the foreign gods.
       
      And serve Him only...
       
      Israel did NOT FEEL they were rejecting the LORD God; they felt they were only ADDING THE WORSHIP of other gods to their worship of the LORD.
       
      BUT THEN AND NOW....But this was totally unacceptable to Almighty God.
       
      AND REMEMBER...Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other."
       
      Samuel was calling on Israel to TURN THEIR BACKS on these other gods and serve Him only.
       
      SPURGEON says it well again of this scripture, "A worse enemy than the Philistines held sway over the land … the people were thus in double bondage; the heavy yoke of the Philistines was upon them, because the heavier burden of a false worship crushed out the life of their hearts."
       
      So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only...
       
      The local gods of Baal and Ashtoreth were POPULAR IDOLS among the people of Israel.
       
      WHY?
       
      BAAL was attractive because he was thought to be the god of weather, and could bring good crops and financial success.
       
      ASHTORETH was attractive because she was thought to be the goddess of love and sex.
       
      BALDWIN, A CHRISTIAN HISTORIAN tells us, "Ashtoreth was worshipped over a wide area as the GODDESS of fertility, love and war, and plaques of naked female figures from the Bronze and Iron Ages in Palestine are numerous. The Baals were the corresponding male deities."
       
      AND WE HAVE ALREADY LEARNED THAT...Baal, god of fertility and the storm, was believed to be the son of Dagon, god of grain. Ashtoreth, goddess of love and fertility, vied for supremacy with Asherah, mother-goddess and consort of El … The association of Baal, Asherah, and Ashtoreth with fertility, particularly as expressed in depraved sexual ritual at Canaanite shrines, made them especially abominable in the Lord's eyes.
       
      AND WE NOTICE SOMETHING ELSE....Samuel DID NOT ask the nation to just take the good from Ashtoreth and Baal and throw away the rest; he called them to renounce ALL these rival gods and their idols COMPLETELY. At this time in their history, Israel did this.
       
      Verses 5-6 tells us The nation repents at Mizpah.
       
      "And Samuel said, "Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you." So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the LORD. And they fasted that day, and said there, "We have sinned against the LORD." And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah."
       
      Gather ALL Israel to Mizpah...
       
      WHY MIZPAH?
       
      WE REMEMBER IN OUR STUDY OF GENESIS 31:49, that MIZPAH was the place where Jacob separated from Laban, and MIZPAH was ALSO the gathering place for a repentant Israel in Judges 20:1. This was a place remembered for separation and repentance.
       
      I will pray to the LORD for you...
       
      Samuel had already called the nation to repentance, and they had made a beginning to it. Samuel knew the work God was doing in them could only be COMPLETED through prayer.
       
      So they gathered together at Mizpah...
       
      This showed the spiritual need Israel felt at the time. They did well to express their repentance both with the desire to put away the bad, and to pursue the good.
       
      BUT THE BIBLE TELLS US AND WE KNOW FROM OUR OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE...that CONVICTION of sin proves NOTHING. It is our response to that conviction that demonstrates repentance. Israel responded by both putting away the bad and going after the good.
       
      They drew water, and poured it out before the LORD...
       
      A ceremonial pouring of water, in this context, was a demonstration of having one's soul poured out before the LORD. It was an expression of emptiness and need.
       
      They poured out their heart like water in penance before the Lord." Pouring out water could express "pouring out the heart in penitence as if it were water; or as a symbolical act expressing their ruin and helplessness."
       
      AND WE SEE THEY WERE expressing the SAME heart as Lamentations 2:19, which says, "Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord."
       
      And they fasted that day, and said there, "We have sinned against the LORD."
       
      Israel also expressed their sorrow over their sin by fasting (a message that nothing else really mattered except getting right with God), and by confession (a straightforward claim of guilt and responsibility).
       
      When you are baptized, you are confessing your sin by saying you needed to be cleansed and reborn. When you receive communion, you confess your sin by saying you need the work of Jesus on the cross to take your sin away. But of course, we need to confess our sin in the most straightforward way: by admitting to God that we have sinned, and asking for His divine forgiveness, based on what Jesus has done on the cross for us.
       
      Our sins are not forgiven because we confess; if this were the case - if forgiveness for a sin could only come where there was confession - then we would all be damned.
       
      WHY?
       
      Because it would be impossible for us to confess EVERY sin (THOUGHT, WORD, OR ACTUAL DEED) we ever commit. We are forgiven because our punishment was put upon Jesus, His blood cleanses us ALL PERFECTLY...FROM THE INSIDE OUT.
       
      However, confession is STILL VITAL to maintain relationship with God. Someone might ask, "If I am always falling short of God's perfect standard, what do I know I need to confess and what do I not worry about?" The answer is simple: confess every sin God tells you to confess. As God convicts us of sin that is hindering our fellowship with Him, we must confess it and receive forgiveness and cleansing for our relationship with God to continue without hindrance.
       
      As it was with Israel, confession must be personal; saying "God, IF we have made any mistakes, forgive us" isn't confession, because it isn't convinced (saying "IF we made"), it isn't personal (saying "IF we made"), it isn't specific (saying "IF we made any"), and it isn't honest (saying "mistakes").
       
      If it is meant from the heart, it is hard to make a better statement of confession than "We have sinned against the LORD." This is almost exactly what David said when confronted with his sin in 2 Samuel 12:13.
       
      And Samuel judged the children of Israel...
       
      Samuel was the LAST JUDGE, and was a judge over Israel as were the leaders of the book of Judges. But his leadership was more SPIRITUAL than military.
       
      Verse 7 tells us Samuel leads the nation to victory and The Philistine threat.
       
      "Now when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines."
       
      When the Philistines heard...
       
      The Philistines SHOULD have been afraid of a repentant, God-seeking Israel, because with God fighting for them, Israel was invincible, AMEN?!
       
      However, it is probably too much to credit the Philistines with this kind of spiritual understanding. More likely, their strategy was like Arab plan in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. The idea was to catch them praying, hoping they would be off-guard.
       
      As well, when the Philistines looked at a humble, low, repentant Israel, they probably thought they saw WEAKNESS. They may have been saying, "Look at those weakling Israelites. They are such wimps, crying out before their God like this." But the Philistines were dead wrong on that account!
       
      Only if every spiritual attack could find us humble and repentant before the LORD, trusting in the atoning work of Jesus, and crying out to the LORD!
       
      When the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines...
       
      SADLY, The Israelites didn't have much more spiritual understanding than the Philistines! They should have been more confident in the LORD than they were here.
       
      Our feelings of confidence can be very deceptive. In 1 Samuel 4:5, Israel was completely confident against the Philistines when the ark came into the army camp. But their confidence was false, and they were soon defeated.
       
      Here, Israel is fearful and sure of defeat, they have no confidence at all. But they are humble and repentant before the LORD, and will see a great victory. Often, we can't go by how we feel (good or bad), we just need to REMEMBER THE LORD'S PROMISES TO US, CLAIM THEM, AND humbly do what is right before God and TRUST HIM for the victory, AMEN?!
       
      Israel seemed to have more faith when they were trusting in the ark than when they were humble and repentant before the LORD. But SMALL FAITH in the true and living LORD JESUS CHRIST is more powerful than the strongest faith in a lie.
       
      Verses 8-9 tells us Samuel prays for the nation.
       
      "So the children of Israel said to Samuel, "Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines." And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. Then Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him."
       
      Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us...
       
      The last time Israel was in this kind of situation they said, "Let's get the Ark of the Covenant and take it into battle with us. Then we can't lose!" Now, they are much wiser before the LORD, and instead of trusting in the ark, they do the right thing and ask Samuel to cry out to the LORD our God for us.
       
      Notice the contrast between that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines and Let us bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies (1 Samuel 4:3). Instead of looking to the ark, a thing, a representation of The Lord God is Israel....now they are now LIFTING THEIR EYES TO THE HEAVENS, and looking to the LORD Himself!
       
      AND ANOTHER SIGN OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL'S humble heart is shown by they did not feel worthy to come to the LORD themselves (Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us). "We are ashamed and afraid to look God in the face, because of our great wickedness this day remembered and acknowledged; do thou therefore intercede for us, as Moses did for his generation.
       
      Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered it as whole burnt offering to the LORD. Then Samuel cried out...
       
      Why did Samuel take time for a sacrifice at such a critical time? Because he knew he could only effectively pray in light of God's ATONING sacrifice.
       
      Think of that poor lamb - a suckling lamb - who had never hurt anyone or who had never sinned itself, had its throat slit, its blood poured out, its body cut up, and its carcass burned.
       
      Why?
       
      Because Samuel and Israel were saying, "This is what we deserve. This is the punishment that should come upon us. We thank you God, for accepting the punishment of this innocent lamb instead."
       
      JUST AS IS CONFIRMED TO US IN JOHN 1:29, "When we trust in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." We are saying the same thing.
       
      When we pray in light of God's atoning sacrifice, we are then ready to cry out to the LORD. We are coming to God because of what He has done for us, instead of what we think we have done for Him.
       
      And the LORD answered him...
       
      The battle has NOT yet been fought, a hostile Philistine army is approaching. Yet, in a real way, the battle is over and won, because the LORD answered him.
       
      The Bible speaks of Samuel as a mighty man of prayer.
       
      PSALM 99:6 says, "Samuel was among those who called upon His name; they called upon the LORD, and He answered them."
       
      Verses 10-12 tells us The LORD fights FOR Israel.
       
      "Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."
       
      The LORD thundered with a loud thunder...
       
      God fought from heaven on behalf of Israel, and sent the Philistines to defeat. But this was a special work of God. After all, the Israelites heard the same thunder, but only the Philistines became so confused … that they were overcome. God not only send thunder, He sent confusion to the Philistines and confidence to Israel.
       
      AND BETTER YET...AND MOST INTERESTING...It is also significant to understand that Baal was thought to be the god of weather, and was sometimes pictured with a thunderbolt in his hand. When Israel put away their worship of Baal (1 Samuel 7:4), it was as if God said, "I'll show you who the real God of thunder is."
       
      This was the kind of victory Israel was hoping for in 1 Samuel 4, when they brought the Ark of the Covenant into battle. If they would have only repented and sought the LORD as they are doing here, they could have had this kind of victory long ago, AMEN?!
       
      Called its name Ebenezer, saying "Thus far the LORD has helped us." Samuel knew the nation needed to REMEMBER this amazing victory, which came to a humble and repentant Israel. This battle was won by the LORD, NOT by Israel, so he named the stone Ebenezer, which means "stone of help."
       
      "Thus far the LORD has helped us."
       
      Samuel KNEW the LORD had done a great work; yet he knew there was much more to be accomplished. So, he knew it was not finished, yet he could say, "Thus far the LORD has helped us." God helps us thus far at a time, and His past work is a pledge of future help, AMEN?!
       
      Thus far the LORD has helped us can either means BOTH "to this point in time" or "to this geographical place."
       
      The place was important.
       
      WHY?
       
      Because some 20 years before, the nation had suffered a terrible defeat and had surrendered the Ark of the Covenant at the same place (1 Samuel 4:1). Now, the place could be remembered for something great, instead of something terrible.
       
      Verses 13-14 tells us The success of Samuel as a judge over Israel.
       
      "So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. Then the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered its territory from the hands of the Philistines. Also there was peace between Israel and the Amorites."
       
      The hand of the LORD was against the Philistines ALL THE DAYS OF SAMUEL … the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel.
       
      Samuel was NOT a military man, but he was MORE successful, than Israel's best generals, because the LORD fought FOR Samuel.
       
      Compare Samuel - a humble, spiritually minded judge - to Samson, who was a compromising, carnal judge. Samuel seemed so much weaker, and Samson seemed so much stronger, but who was more effective in leading Israel into victory over their enemies?
       
      Also there was peace between Israel and the Amorites...
       
      THIS TELLS US Samuel was successful not only as a man of war, but also as a man of peace.
       
      Verses 15-17 tells us Samuel's service as a circuit judge.
       
      "And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places. But he always returned to Ramah, for his home was there. There he judged Israel, and there he built an altar to the LORD."
       
      Samuel was used of God all his days...
       
      Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. Some judges ended their ministry early or in disgrace, but Samuel finished well.
       
      "For though Saul was king in Samuel's last days, yet Samuel did not then quite cease to be a judge, being so made by God's extraordinary call, which Saul could not destroy; and therefore Samuel did sometimes, upon great occasions, though not ordinarily, exercise the office of a judge after the beginning of Saul's reign; confirmed to us in chapter 11:7; 15:32,33.
       
      Samuel worked hard in his service of the LORD...
       
      He went from year to year on a circuit … and judged Israel in all those places. Every year, Samuel worked hard to go all about Israel to help settle disputes and to promote righteousness.
       
      Samuel remained faithful to the LORD...
      He always returned to Ramah … and there he built an altar to the LORD. An altar was a place of sacrifice and worship, and Samuel had a consistent relationship with the LORD in sacrifice and worship.

       

    • June 29, 2016 1:56 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 8
       
      OPENS WITH ISRAEL DEMANDS A KING
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us Samuel appoints his sons as judges.
       
      "Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice."
       
      When Samuel was old … he made his sons judges over Israel...
       
      Samuel was one of the most godly men in the entire Bible. He is never specifically said to sin. Yet, this may be a sin on his part. We never have the pattern of judges being appointed by men, or of the office of judge being passed from father to son. The Lord, did not command it. Samuel was NOT right in appointing his sons as judges over Israel.
       
      WHY?
       
      His sons did NOT walk in his ways...
       
      This is why Samuel was wrong to appoint his sons as judges over Israel. This kind of nepotism is a common, but harmful mistake many leaders in ministry make, especially as they grow older.
       
      Probably, Samuel just could not look objectively at his sons. He would excuse sins in them that he would see more clearly in others. This is a common mistake with people in The Bible, and people make with their family, especially with their OWN children.
       
      They turned aside to dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice...
       
      This was bad enough, but what many of our leaders do today seems worse! We almost wish for leaders "only as bad" as these sons of Samuel!
       
      Verses 4-5 tells us Samuel's sons are REJECTED as leaders over Israel.
       
      "Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations."
       
      All the elders of Israel gathered...
       
      This was WISE for the elders of Israel to do this. They did not have to accept leaders who were obviously ungodly and unfit to lead.
       
      YET...while it is WAS wise for the elders of Israel to REJECT Samuel's UNGODLY sons as leaders, it was WRONG for them to say, "Now make for us a king to judge us like all the nations."
       
      WHY?..
       
      In and of itself, the desire to have a king was not bad. God knew that one day Israel would have a king. Four hundred years before this, God gave instructions to Israel about their future king (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). A king was in God's plan for Israel...BUT NOT YET.
       
      Yet, the reason Israel wanted a king was wrong.
       
      WHY?
       
      BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO BE LIKE ALL OTHER NATIONS...is no reason at all. We often get into trouble by wanting to be like the world, when we should instead be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2). The church struggles with the same issue today, too often wanting to be LIKE the world...instead of being SET APART TO JESUS CHRIST ALONE, AMEN?
       
      We may also get into trouble when we want the RIGHT things for the WRONG reasons. In those situations, God may give us what we want, and then deal with us regarding the reasons.
       
      What was the difference between a king and a judge?
       
      A judge was a leader raised up by God, usually to meet a specific need in a time of crisis. When the crisis was over, usually the judge just went back to doing what he was doing before. A king not only held his office as king as long as he lived; he also passed his throne down to his descendants.
       
      In addition, a judge would not have a "government." He was there to meet a specific need in a time of crisis. A king would establish a standing government, with a bureaucracy, which is both a blessing and a curse to any people.
       
      WE REMEMBER In Judges 8:23, Gideon was offered the throne over Israel. He refused it, saying "I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you." This was the heart of all the judges, and why Israel went some 400 years in the Promised Land WITHOUT a king.
       
      Verses 6-8 tells us Samuel prays about their request and God answers.
       
      "But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." So Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day; with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods; so they are doing to you also."
       
      The thing displeased Samuel...
       
      No doubt, Samuel was stung by the rejection of his sons. But even more than that, Samuel saw the ungodly motive behind the elders' request for a king that REJECTED HIS LORD GOD.
       
      So Samuel prayed to the LORD...
       
      This is the RIGHT thing to do whenever we are displeased. We should NEVER CARRY such troubles with us. Instead, we should do what Samuel did, when he prayed to the LORD.
       
      MEYER says it very well...."Things do not always turn out as we had hoped, and we get displeased for our own sakes and God's. We had planned in one direction, but events issued in another; and the results have threatened to become disastrous. There is but one resource. If we allow vexations to eat into our heart, they will corrode and injure it. We must rehearse them before God - spreading the letter before Him, as Hezekiah did; making request like Paul; crying like Samuel … Surely it is the mistake of our life, that we carry our burdens instead of handing them over; that we worry instead of trusting; that we pray so little."
       
      Heed the voice of the people...
       
      God told Samuel to fulfill the people's request. This was not because their request was good or right, but because God was going TO TEACH Israel through this. Sometimes, when we insist of having something bad, God will allow us to have it, and then LEARN the consequences.
       
      Again, in many ways, this was a matter of timing. God knew Israel would one day have a king, but He wanted to give Israel that king in His own timing. Because Israel was demanding a king out of bad, carnal reasons, God will give them a bad, carnal king. Israel will get what they want, and will hurt because of it!
       
      They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them...
       
      God had a purpose in not giving Israel a king up to that point. It was because He did not want them to put an ungodly trust in the king, instead of trusting in the LORD. Now, Israel is rejecting this plan of God, and declaring that they do not want the LORD God to reign over them.
       
      In the words they have not rejected you, we sense God comforting Samuel, don't we!?
       
      It is as if God is saying "Samuel, don't take it personally. They are not rejecting you, but Me." It is easy for God's servants to take such rejection personally when they should not. AND REMEMBER TOO, Jesus warned His disciples, he who rejects you rejects Me (Luke 10:16). As long as we are not being personally offensive or obnoxious, we shouldn't take such rejection personally.
       
      In fact, Israel was forsaking God by asking for a king...
       
      They HAVE FORSAKEN ME… so they are doing to you also. When the elders of Israel asked for a king, they were thinking that better politics or government could meet their needs. But if they had just been faithful to their King in heaven, they would NOT have needed a king on earth, AMEN?!.
       
      This strikes us as simply unfair. Had not God shown Himself to be a worthy King? Didn't He demonstrate His ability to lead the nation, PROTECT IT, PROVIDE FOR IT, and demonstrate it over and over again?
       
      There is a sense in which their rejection of God as their king is prophetic, too.
       
      HOW?
       
      REMEMBER...when Jesus stood before Pilate, the assembled Jewish mob declared, we have no king but Caesar (John 19:15). Jesus was a rejected King also.
       
      Verse 9 tells us Samuel to warn the nation.
       
      "Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them."
       
      You shall solemnly forewarn them...
      The sense in this verse is that Israel will NOT change their mind, and this isn't Samuel's goal. His goal is to simply FOREWARN them. If this was the course Israel would choose, God wanted them to make an INFORMED choice. So, the LORD tells Samuel to show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.
       
      Of course, information creates responsibility, doesn't it?
       
      In telling Israel this IN ADVANCE, Samuel was not only helping them to make an informed choice; he was increasing their accountability for making the right choice. They couldn't say, "We didn't know."
       
      Verses 10-18 tells us Samuel SPEAKS TO THE NATION OF ISRAEL AND WARNS them of the responsibilities of having a king.
       
      "So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, "This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day."
       
      This WILL BE the behavior of the king who will reign over you...
       
      HOW CAN ANYONE READ THIS CHAPTER OF SAMUEL AND NOT SEE AND FEEL THE PATIENCE OF THE LORD? HOW CAN ANYONE DOUBT THE PROTECTIVE LOVING CARE OF THE LORD?
       
      God wanted Israel TO KNOW there would be problems connected with having a king. In Israel's view, they had problems that would be solved by having a king. While those problems may have been solved, God wanted them to know a king would bring other problems also. They should carefully weigh the benefits against the problems.
       
      Many people fail to do this properly today. When a problem come up, they think up an answer that brings worse problems with it. But they don't maturely look at the situation and anticipate the problems the solution will bring. Others will never do anything unless they can come up with a "perfect" solution - one that has no problems. There rarely is a perfect solution, but that doesn't mean we should do nothing. It means we should maturely look at, and measure the good and the bad, pray for guidance, wait on the LORD, and then step out in faith, AMEN!?
       
      DO YOU NOTICE...HOW MANY TIMES THE LORD SAYS...He will take … He will take … he will take … He will take … he will take … He will take … And you will be his servants...
       
      The LORD, through the prophet Samuel, is giving fair warning. Most kings are takers, not givers, and they come to be served, not to serve. If Israel wants a king, they must realize he WILL BE A TAKER, not a giver, and they will be his servants.
       
      Not every king is a "taking" king.
       
      The King of Kings is a giving king. Jesus said of Himself, in MATTHEW 20:28, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve."
       
      Paul carried the same thought, in PHILIPPIANS 2:5-8, which says, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."
       
       
      AND REMEMBER 1 Peter 2:9 calls us a royal priesthood. If we are royalty, let us be like our King Jesus: a giving King, not a taking king, AMEN?!
       
      And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen...
       
      Why would Israel cry out?
      Because they wanted a king for unspiritual, ungodly reasons. So God will call this coming king YOUR king, and make it clear that he is the king whom THEY CHOSE, NOT HIM. If Israel had WAITED for God's king, they would not have needed to cry out unto the LORD.
       
      Verses 19-22 tells us Israel DEMANDS a king DESPITE God's warning.
       
      "Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, "No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles." And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the LORD. So the LORD said to Samuel, "Heed their voice, and make them a king." And Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Every man go to his city."
       
      No, but we WILL HAVE a king over us...
       
      Israel demanded a king, and as it will work out, this is exactly what happens. God gives Israel "their" king: Saul. Later, after "their" king fails, God will give Israel "His" king: David. Because we know God ultimately wanted Israel to be a monarchy, we might even guess that if Israel had not forsaken the LORD here, God would have made David the first king of Israel, and spared the nation (and David!) all the trouble Saul caused.
       
      AND SADLY, THE TRUE HEART of the nation of Israel is revealed by their reasons for wanting a king.
       
      WE ARE TIRED OF BEING DIFFERENT...WE WANT TO BE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.
       
      God NEVER wanted this to be the goal for Israel.
       
      God WANTED to make them a SPECIAL TREASURE TO ME ABOVE ALL PEOPLE… a kingdom of priests and a holy nation told to us in Exodus 19:6.
       
      God WANTED to make Israel something special, and they wanted to be just like everyone else!
       
      Poole says of this, "woeful stupidity! whereas it was their glory and happiness that they were unlike all other nations … that the Lord was their only and immediate King and Lawgiver."
       
      And that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.
       
      UNBELIEVABLE RIGHT?
       
      Had the LORD God NEVER won a battle for Israel before?
      God had just won a SPECTACULAR battle for Israel in 1 Samuel 7.
      Israel did not want a king. They had a king in the LORD God.
       
      What they wanted was THE IMAGE of a king.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Their desire for a king was really the desire for someone to look at with their own eyes that looked like what they thought a king should look like.
       
      So the LORD said to Samuel, "Heed their voice, and make them a king."
       
      In a sense, this almost funny. They are rejecting the rule of God, yet they cannot escape it, because God will appoint their king.
       
      God will NEVER step off His throne, even if man asks Him to. Yet, if we resist the rule of God, we will find that we do not benefit from it the way that we might. When we resist God, we only hurt ourselves!
       
      THERE IS A SAYING TODAY...BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR AND WISH FOR, OUTSIDE THE WILL OF THE LORD...YOU MAY JUST GET IT!
       
      AND WE KNOW JESUS SAID AND REMINDED THE SAME THING, WHEN HE TAUGHT THE PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON...HE WAS BLESSED, HONORED, PROTECTED, PROVIDED FOR, YET HE DID NOT LIKE THAT HIS FAMILY WAS SET APART...HE WANTED HIS INHERITANCE...HE WANTED TO USE IT AND SPEND IT AND ENJOY IT IN ALL THAT THE WORLD OFFERED...INSTEAD OF WHAT HIS LOVING FATHER GAVE HIM...AND HE GOT MORE OF THE WORLD THAT HE EVER WANTED...
       
      WE SHOULD PRAY ALL THINGS UP, THEN TRUST OUR LORD JESUS WHO ADORES US, IS PROTECTIVE OF US, TO GIVE US HIS PERFECT MATE, JOB, CAREER, DIRECTION, AND PROVISION IN HIS PERFECT TIMING..AND HIS PERFECT WILL FOR US WILL NOT HARM US....BUT BLESS AND PROTECT US ALWAYS!
       
      LEARN FROM THIS STUDY...WAIT PATIENTLY ON THE LORD JESUS TIMING AND PROVISION AND DIRECTION...HIS TIMING IS PERFECT.

       

    • June 29, 2016 1:52 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 9
       
      OPENS WITH GOD LEADS SAUL TO SAMUEL
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us Kish, the father of Saul, and his son Saul.
       
      "There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people."
       
      A mighty man of power...
       
      Kish, the father of Saul, was a wealthy and influential man in Israel. Saul came from a prestigious family, and was born to wealth and influence.
       
      A choice and handsome young man...
       
      Saul was NOTABLE, not only for his family, but also for his appearance. Saul was tall (taller than any of his people) and good looking. In fact, there was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. Saul looked like a great king. If being king over Israel was all about image and appearances, Saul was the man.
       
      In 1 Samuel 8, the people of Israel had just REJECTED the LORD God as king over Israel, because they WANTED a king like all the surrounding nations had. What they really wanted was the image of a king, because God gave them the substance of a king better than any man could. Saul was exactly the type of king that the people wanted. He was the king from central casting. God is giving Israel the kind of leaders they wanted and deserved!
       
      DID YOU KNOW....
       
      The name Saul means "asked of God." Israel was ASKING for a king, and Saul would indeed be the one "asked of God."
       
      DID YOU NOTICE AS I DID, What is NOT MENTIONED in these first two verses is GOD.
       
      WHAT THAT MEANS IS THIS....Saul came from a wealthy, influential family and was good looking. He had all the VERY BEST THIS WORLD AND MAN COULD OFFER OR ASPIRE TO OR TO BE THANKFUL FOR...but there is NOTHING said about his RELATIONSHIP with the LORD God of Israel. There is nothing said because there was NOTHING to say!
       
      Saul reflected the spiritual state of the whole nation of Israel. There may have been some spiritual image present, but THE HEART was far from where God wanted it to be.
       
      From his shoulders upward he was taller than ANY of the people does not mean Saul had an extremely long neck and head. It means he was "head and shoulders" TALLER than just about anyone else.
       
      Verses 3-14 tells us Saul and his servant search for his father's donkeys and meet Samuel the prophet.
       
      "Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul's father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul, "Please, take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys." So he passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, and they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them. When they had come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, "Come, let us return, lest my father cease caring about the donkeys and become worried about us." And he said to him, "Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way that we should go." Then Saul said to his servant, "But look, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For the bread in our vessels is all gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?" And the servant answered Saul again and said, "Look, I have here at hand one fourth of a shekel of silver. I will give that to the man of God, to tell us our way." (Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: "Come, let us go to the seer"; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.) Then Saul said to his servant, "Well said; come, let us go." So they went to the city where the man of God was. As they went up the hill to the city, they met some young women going out to draw water, and said to them, "Is the seer here?" And they answered them and said, "Yes, there he is, just ahead of you. Hurry now; for today he came to this city, because there is a sacrifice of the people today on the high place. As soon as you come into the city, you will surely find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now therefore, go up, for about this time you will find him." So they went up to the city. As they were coming into the city, there was Samuel, coming out toward them on his way up to the high place."
       
      Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul's father, were lost...
       
      Look at how God opens one of the most important chapters of Israel's history! A king will be led to the throne by three lost donkeys! We have no idea how God will use the seemingly normal - and annoying - circumstances of life.
       
      AND SADLY WE KNOW, there are TWO RECURRING DOWN THROUGH TIME MISTAKES people make regarding God's guidance through circumstances.
       
      ONE MISTAKE is to think EVERY EVENT of our lives is HEAVY with meaning from God. This is wrong, because though nothing happens by accident, not everything happens for a GREAT purpose.
       
      The SECOND MISTAKE is to IGNORE THE MOVING OF GOD in our lives through circumstances. God wanted to use this situation to guide Saul, and God will often use circumstances in our lives the same way. We need to trust in God's goodness and in His ability to make all things work together for good, as promised in Romans 8:28.
       
      They did not find them … they were not there … did not find them...
       
      This was frustrating to Saul. Yet, God was working out His plan through the lost donkeys, in a way Saul couldn't even imagine.
       
      Those donkeys could have gone anywhere. But they went exactly where God wanted them to go. They submitted themselves to what God wanted them to do. We often speak of "dumb animals," but these donkeys were smart enough to submit to God. Are we that smart?
       
      Saul had no idea he was being guided by God, but he was. The same is true in our lives. God has a plan and a purpose for you right where you are at, and you should submit to God and get in with His plan.
       
      CHARLES SPURGEON says it well...."It is important for us to learn that the smallest trifles are as much arranged by the God of providence as the most startling events. He who counts the stars has also numbered the hairs of our heads."
       
      Look now, there is in this city a man of God … perhaps he can show us the way we should go...
       
      The suggestion of Saul's servant shows something about these two men. They weren't men of much spiritual character! They seem to be men who wouldn't think to come to the prophet Samuel for real spiritual guidance, but they do think, "Hey! Maybe he can help us find the donkeys!"
       
      Yet, their words are a great credit to Samuel. His reputation was well known: A man of God … an honorable man … all that he says surely comes to pass. What do people think about you and I? When they are looking for a man or a woman of God, would anyone ever come our way?
       
      There is no present to bring the man of God...
       
      Out of respect for the prophet Samuel, Saul did not want to approach the prophet of God empty handed. But it is wrong to think that Samuel had some type of FEE for his "prophetic services." Samuel was a great prophet of the living God, NOT a fortune-teller.
       
      CLARKE clears up a point of debate....between a SEER and a PROPHET..."The word seer, ROEH, occurs for the FIRST time in this place; it literally signifies a person who SEES; particularly preternatural sights. A seer and a prophet were the same in MOST cases; only with this difference, the seer was always a prophet, but the prophet was not always a seer. The difference is The Lord. If they are a prophet/seer of The Lord God of Israel what they SEE and what they SAY will always come to pass."
       
      AND ALL THROUGH THE BIBLE...GOD CALLED HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE....PROPHET...and mankind might call them prophet....but the humble servants of THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY...never called themselves anything above...a bond servant of The Most High God. HUMILITY IS A KEY FRUIT OF A TRUE SERVANT OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, Amen?!
       
      AND WE KNOW...When consulting a prophet, it was common courtesy to bring a gift in Amos 7:12, whether modest in 1 Kings 14:3 or lavish in 2 Kings 8:8-9.
       
      Hurry now; for today he came to this city...
       
      It "just happened" that Saul and his servant came looking for their donkeys on the same day Samuel was in town. God is guiding through these circumstances.
       
       
      Verses 15-17 tells us God tells Samuel that Saul is the man who will be king.
       
      "Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying, "Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to me." And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to him, "There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people."
       
      Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear the day before...
      Saul has NO relationship with the LORD, so all He can do is speak to Saul through lost donkeys. But Samuel knows and loves the LORD, so the LORD can speak to Samuel in his ear.
       
      The LORD had told Samuel in his ear is literally, "had uncovered his ear."
       
      DID YOU KNOW....
       
      The same phrase is used in Ruth 4:4. "The phrase is taken from the pushing aside of the headdress in order to whisper, and therefore means that Jehovah had secretly told Samuel."
       
      Tomorrow about this time...
       
      God gave the prophet Samuel very specific guidance regarding future events. Samuel received this guidance wisely, and looked for the fulfillment of the words to confirm God's choice of a king. But Samuel was also wise in not manipulating circumstances to "make" what God had said come to pass. Samuel felt that if this was God's word, He was able to make it happen.
       
      I will send you...
       
      Even though Israel had rejected the LORD God as their king told to us in 1 Samuel 8:7, God was still in control. He didn't step off His throne just because Israel asked Him to. He would indeed give them a king, but He would send a flawed king to a flawed Israel.
       
      That he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines...
       
      Though there were MANY problems with the reign of Saul, no one should think it was a total disaster. Saul led Israel to many military victories, and greater independence from the Philistines.
       
      And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to him...
       
      The day after God told Samuel about the coming of the new king, God specifically identifies the man to Samuel. God's speaking one day will be confirmed by His speaking another day.
       
      Verses 18-21 tells us Samuel and Saul meet.
       
      "Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, "Please tell me, where is the seer's house?" And Samuel answered Saul and said, "I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart. "But as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not be anxious about them, for they have been found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you and on all your father's house?" And Saul answered and said, "Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?"
       
      You shall eat with me today...
       
      All this must have seemed amazing to Saul. He is looking for a noted prophet, and the first man he asks is the prophet. Then, the man of God invites Saul to dinner. Finally, he hears the words many fear to hear from a prophet: tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart.
       
      At the same time, Samuel PROVED to Saul that he was a TRUE prophet from God.
      HOW?
      He did this by showing Saul he knew things that he probably could not have known unless it was revealed to him supernaturally by The Lord God Himself. (But as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago …).
       
      On whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you? With this, Samuel hints at Saul's destiny. All of Israel desired a king, and Saul would be the answer to that desire.
       
      Why then do you speak like this to me?...
       
      This was a genuinely HUMBLE response from Saul, even if it WAS NOT completely honest. Saul could not figure out why the prophet would say God wanted him to be king.
       
      Saul's statement and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin is more an example of his modesty than his truthfulness. Saul's father and family were actually prominent men told to us in 1 Samuel 9:1.
       
      Saul's humility was one reason God chose him to be king.
       
      But as he was lifted up as king, his humility LEFT him.
       
      So why did God ever raise up Saul?
       
      Why does God raise one up to a place of prominence, and not raise up another?
       
      We sometimes think it is because one is more spiritual, or more holy, or better than another is. Or, we think that it is because one is more talented or usable or has more faith than another is. These things may or may not be the case. God has raised up many to prominence who were less deserving than others.
       
      Probably THE BIGGEST mistake we can make is to think that we can figure out all of God's reasons for raising one and keeping another low. Many of these reasons are bound up in the unsearchable wisdom of God. What we should NEVER DO is assume that just because God is using a man, that he deserves it!
       
      Verses 22-24 tells us Samuel makes certain that Saul receives the seat and portion of honor at the feast.
       
      "Now Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in the place of honor among those who were invited; there were about thirty persons. And Samuel said to the cook, "Bring the portion which I gave you, of which I said to you, 'Set it apart.'" So the cook took up the thigh with its upper part and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, "Here it is, what was kept back. It was set apart for you. Eat; for until this time it has been kept for you, since I said I invited the people." So Saul ate with Samuel that day."
       
      Had them sit in the place of honor...
      WHY?
      In that culture, any dinner had a special seating protocol. The seat of honor was always on a particular side next to the host. It was a great honor to be seated in this place next to the prophet Samuel.
       
      It was set apart for you...
       
      Saul was also given the special portion.
       
      WHY?
       
      Also in that culture, every meal had a special portion that would be given to the one the host wanted to honor. Saul was specially honored at this meal.
       
      We might imagine that Samuel was very interested to see how Saul would REACT when he was honored this way.
       
      WHY?
       
      Often, the way one reacts when they are honored shows what kind of person they really are, does it not?
       
      If they receive the honor humbly, without regarding it too much or becoming proud about it, it says something GOOD about them. But if they show a false humility or a proud heart in the way they receive the honor, it shows something BAD in their character.
       
      Verses 25-27 tells us Samuel and Saul talk together through the night.
       
      "When they had come down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on the top of the house. They arose early; and it was about the dawning of the day that Samuel called to Saul on the top of the house, saying, "Get up, that I may send you on your way." And Saul arose, and both of them went outside, he and Samuel. As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, "Tell the servant to go on ahead of us." And he went on. "But you stand here awhile, that I may announce to you the word of God."
       
      Samuel spoke with Saul on the top of the house...
       
      How we wish we could have listened to this conversation! No doubt, Samuel told Saul all about Israel's desire for a king, and how he had to be a good king for Israel.
       
      We can just imagine Samuel saying: "Look Saul, you have a lot going for you. You have the image, you are a humble man, and you will have the support of the people. But if you don't give your heart to serving God, and submit to Him as your king, you will never be a fit king for Israel.
       
      AND THIS REMINDS ME OF Queen Victoria who reigned over Great Britain for 64 years. But when she was 11 years old, her governess showed her a list of the kings and queens of England with her name added at the end. When she understood what it meant, she burst into tears. Then she controlled herself and said solemnly, "I will be good." Here, Samuel gave Saul the opportunity to say with his heart, "I will be good."
       
      That I may announce to you the word of God...
       
      Samuel dramatically introduces the official anointing as king he will give to Saul.
       
      Through an amazing set of circumstances, God had brought Saul to this place. Some people see God move in such remarkable ways, and think, "If God moves in such remarkable ways, I can just sit back and if God wants to reach me, He will arrange it and force Himself on me."
       
      BUT THE BIBLE tells us and teaches us this mindset is WRONG.
       
      Though God may deal in special ways with certain people, He has commanded us to seek Him with all our hearts, Amen?!
       
      CHARLES SPURGEON says it well of this scripture..."Suppose, now, it were known that the events of a certain battle would depend entirely on the skill of the general. The two armies are equally balanced, and everything must depend on the tact of the commander; would the soldiers therefore conclude that they needed not to load, or fire, or draw a sword, because everything depended on the commander? No, but the commander works, and his soldiery work together with him. So it is with us. Everything depends on God, but we are his instruments."
       
      This chapter of Samuel teaches us several things...God wants us to look at the heart of people, what they say, do and how they react in any given situation helps us to see the TRUE heart of a person...and NOT rely on their PHYSICAL APPEARANCE, THEIR WEALTH, THEIR HERITAGE OR THEIR SUCCESS BY WORLD STANDARDS.
       
      GOD WILL USE SAUL TO TEACH THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL A VALUABLE LESSON...THEY WANTED TO BE JUST LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD...THEY DID NOT LIKE BEING SET APART....THEY DID NOT LIKE BEING DIFFERENT. THEY WANTED GOD TO STAY IN HEAVEN, BUT GIVE THEM A FLAWED HUMAN TO RULE OVER THEM, INSTEAD OF THE ALL-KNOWING, ALL-SEEING, AND LOVING HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL.
       
      THEY HAD A WORLDY IDEA OF WHAT A TRUE KING LOOKS LIKE...AND THEY WANTED HIM SO THEY COULD BE JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE...AND THE LORD IS GOING TO GIVE THEM WHAT THEY ASK...AND SUFFER BECAUSE OF THEIR REJECTION OF THE LORD.
       
      REMEMBER SAUL, WHEN THE WORLD CONDEMNS US FOR BEING SET APART...FOR BEING DIFFERENT...INSTEAD OF BEING ASHAMED...REJOICE...BECAUSE THE FRUIT OF THE LORD IS SHINING BRIGHTLY FROM WITHIN US AND IN OUR LIVES.

    • June 29, 2016 1:51 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 10
       
      OPENS WITH Saul Anointed and Proclaimed King over Israel
       
      Verse 1 tells us Samuel anoints Saul.
       
      "Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: "Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance?"
       
      Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head...
       
      This was A LITERAL anointing of Saul. The word "anoint" means to rub or sprinkle on; apply an unguent, ointment, or oily liquid to. When Samuel poured it on his head, Saul was anointed with oil.
       
      But the idea of anointing is MUCH bigger.
       
      What happened to Saul's head and body was simply a picture of what God was doing IN him spiritually. The Holy Spirit was being poured out ON him, equipping him for the job of being king over Israel.
       
      Priests were anointed for their special service to the LORD told to us in Exodus 28:41.
       
      Literal oil would be applied, but as a sign of the Holy Spirit upon their lives and service. The oil on the head was only the outward representation of the real, spiritual work going on inside them.
       
      DID YOU KNOW?
       
      Sometimes anointing oil would be POURED in Exodus 29:7.
      Sometimes it would be SPRINKLED in Exodus 29:21.
       
      This shows that the Holy Spirit's equipping for service is poured out in DIFFERENT WAYS and in DIFFERENT MEASURES at different times and on different persons AS HE CHOOSES.
       
      Exodus 30:22-33 tells us about the special anointing oil. It was regarded as a sacred compound that could not be imitated nor used as normal perfuming oil. Since oil is emblematic of the Holy Spirit, we see that the Holy Spirit is not poured out to enhance our flesh, but to glorify Himself.
       
      Exodus 30:32 says specifically: it shall not be poured on man's flesh. Also, the work of the Holy Spirit is never to be imitated: nor shall you make any other like it … it is holy, and it shall be holy to you (Exodus 30:32). There is to be no place for encouraging a fleshly imitation of the gifts or operations of the Holy Spirit; this denies the holiness of the Holy Spirit, regarding His work as something we can do just as well on our own.
       
      INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH...YOUNGBLOOD, A CHRISTIAN HISTORIAN, TELLS US, "In 1988 archaeologists uncovered in the bottom of a three-foot-deep put near Qumran, at the northwestern end of the Dead Sea, a five-inch-diameter clay flask wrapped in a nest of palm fibers and containing a small amount of well-preserved reddish oil, probably distilled from balsam. Dating from the first century A.D., the oil may be the only surviving sample of its kind and may be similar to that use to anoint ancient Israelite kings."
       
      As Christians under the New Covenant, we also have an anointing...
       
      1 JOHN 2:20, says, "But you have an anointing from the Holy One."
       
      In the New Testament sense, anointing has the idea of being FILLED with, and BLESSED by, the Holy Spirit. This is something that is the common property of ALL Christians, the instant we repent, and invite the Lord Jesus into our hearts, minds, and lives to be our Lord, Savior, Master, & friend. It is not something we EARN, or seek after, it is GIVEN us at the point of salvation and it is something we can and should become more submitted and responsive to.
       
      And kissed him...
      This was not only a greeting, but it was a sign of Samuel's personal support of Saul. It was important that the first king of Israel feel the support of the man of God.
       
      Is it not because of the LORD has anointed you...
       
      God had anointed Saul, and there were many aspects to this anointing which were especially memorable to Saul.
       
      It was a secret anointing, because it was not yet the time to reveal Saul as king to the nation. As Christians, our anointing in private and personal, one on one with Jesus, who seals us as HIS. Contrary to what many falsely teach and preach today, our salvation and anointing is felt and comes to each of us in the same private, loving one on one way...it is NOT BOISTEROUS, LOUD, FLASHY, AND PUBLIC DISPLAY.
       
      It was a memorable and evident anointing, because Saul's head was drenched with oil.
       
      Psalm 133:2 describes how messy an anointing could be: "It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down the beard … running down on the edge of his garments." As Christians, the day of our salvation, our anointing, and our being filled with Jesus' precious Holy Spirt, should be memorable and evident.
       
      Saul could look back on this day, and this event, and know that God had called him to something special as the king of Israel.
       
      AND AS ALWAYS, THE OLD TESTAMENT POINTS TO JESUS.
       
      HOW?
       
      It was a prophetic anointing, because just as Saul was anointed as king, so Jesus is anointed as the King of Kings. Jesus is the Messiah (the same word as "Christ"), which means Anointed One.
       
      Commander over His inheritance...
       
      Samuel reminds Saul that Israel belongs to the LORD, they are His inheritance. At the same time, Saul has an important job to do, because God has placed him as commander over His inheritance. Saul should have tried to be the best king he could be, because he was taking care of a people who belonged to the LORD God.
       
      Verse 2 tells us Samuel tells Saul of a sign to confirm what God has done.
       
      "When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel's tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, 'The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, "What shall I do about my son?" ' "
       
      You will find two men by Rachel's tomb...
       
      Samuel gives Saul a specific, prophetic word from God, by which Saul can have confidence that his anointing by Samuel was really from God. If there were no men by Rachel's tomb, or if there was only one man and not two, then Saul should know that Samuel was NOT really speaking from God.
       
      AND THAT SHOULD REMIND US TO TEST THE SPIRITS...THERE ARE MANY THEN AND NOW, WHO ARE SELF-PROCLAIMED PROPHETS AND PROPHETESS OF GOD...SADLY THERE ARE SEVERAL SITES DEDICATED TO PROPHETIC MINISTRIES AND PROPHETIC...AND SADLY THEIR PROPHETIC WORDS ARE VERY VAGUE, OUTRAGEOUS AND BOLD...BUT WHEN YOU TEST THE SPIRITS...MOST OF THEM NEVER COME TO PASS...NOT EVEN TO A VAGUE DEGREE. THEY ARE ALL SELF-AGGRANDIZEMENT, ATTENTION-DRAWING...BUT THEY DO NOT COME TO PASS...SO I DO NOT BOTHER WITH PROPHETIC WORDS OF MAN...I TRUST ONLY WHAT THE BIBLE TELLS ME...JESUS AND HIS WORD AND HIS PROMISES ALWAYS COME TO PASS...EXACTLY AS HE SAYS THEY WILL.
       
      They will say to you....
       
      If the men by Rachel's tomb do not tell Saul about the finding of the lost donkeys, Saul will know Samuel is not a true prophet. God gave Saul this sign to make Saul confident in Him and in Samuel, so Saul could be absolutely CONFIDENT AND TRUST in what the LORD was doing.
       
      We need to trust in THE LORD JESUS confirmation along the way. God did not want Saul to doubt his calling later, so he gave him a lot of confirmation.
       
      Verses 3-4 tells us Samuel tells Saul of another sign to confirm what God has done.
       
      "Then you shall go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hands."
       
      The terebinth tree of Tabor … three men … three young goats … three loaves of bread … a skin of wine … they will greet you and give you. Again, Samuel is giving Saul such SPECIFIC predictions that they can be EXACTLY verified.
       
      And this tells us something else, God READ Saul's heart and KNEW that Saul doubted Him and Samuel, so The Lord made sure that Saul KNEW what would happen BEFORE it EVER HAPPENED.
       
      Which you shall receive...
       
      It would be unusual for men to simply give a stranger like Saul loaves of bread. But as king, Saul will be often receiving gifts, so this was a good way to speak to confirm to him his position as king.
       
      Verses 5-7 tells us Samuel tells Saul of a THIRD SIGN to confirm what God has done.
       
      "After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying. Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you."
       
      WE KNOW THAT THREE IS THE NUMBER OF OUR TRIUNE GOD...SUCH AS WHEN YOU SEE AMENS SAID THREE TIMES, YOU CAN KNOW IT IS, AND HAS THE YEA AND AMEN OF THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT...IT IS UNANIMOUS.
       
      A group of prophets...
       
      These prophets were apparently seeking the LORD and worshipping Him at the place of worship (the high place). They will be prophesying isn't necessarily that they were all predicting the future, but that they were all speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
       
      Prophets may speak by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, yet their words may not be predicting the future.
       
      REMEMBER 1 Corinthians 14:3 says, "He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men." Also, people may speak to God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...
       
      Members of prophetic bands were often young told to us in 2 Kings 5:22; 9:4.
      They frequently lived together told to us in 2 Kings 6:1-2.
      They ate together told to us in 2 Kings 4:38
      They were supported by the generosity of their fellow Israelites told to us in 2 Kings 4:42-43…
       
      And we know Samuel provided guidance and direction in its early stages, as Elijah and Elisha did later.
       
      Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you...
       
      This reception of the Holy Spirit was the real anointing. The oil poured out on Saul's head was just a picture of this. A gallon of oil could have been put on his head, but if the Spirit of the LORD did not come upon him, it would have meant nothing!
       
      And you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man...
       
      Saul, before this time, never seems to have been a particularly spiritual man. So for him to prophesy - that is, speak as inspired from the LORD, whether predicting the future, exhorting others, or speaking unto God - was real evidence that he had been turned into another man.
       
      God picked Saul just as he was, even though he was not a particularly spiritual man. Yet, God did not want to leave Saul just as he was. For God to use Saul to the fullest, he had to be turned into another man by the filling of the Spirit of the LORD.
       
      AND REMEMBER ZECHARIAH 4:6, which says, "God says His work will be done, not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit." When we let the Spirit of the LORD fill us and change us, then we can see the work of God really done.
       
      When these signs come to you...
       
      God arranged for each one of these three events to be a sign to Saul. God always confirms His anointing to the Old Testament chosen!
       
      Verse 8 tells us Saul is commanded to wait for Samuel at Gilgal.
       
      "You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do."
       
      Seven days you shall wait...
      This is an important command.
      WHY?
      By the nature of their office, kings do NOT wait for anybody. Others wait for them. But Samuel commands Saul to wait for him, because the prophet of God had more real authority than this king over Israel! Saul had to show that even though he was a king, he was submitted to the LORD, and the LORD's prophet. Failing to wait for Samuel will get Saul into trouble on a future occasion.
       
      Why Gilgal?
       
      Gilgal was chosen for this purpose as a very fit place; partly because that place was famous for the solemn renewing of the covenant between God and Israel, told to us in Joshua 4 … and partly because it was a very convenient place for the tribes within and without Jordan to assemble, and consult, and unite their forces together upon such occasions.
       
      Verses 9-13 tells us The signs come to pass.
       
      "So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day. When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, "What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?" Then a man from there answered and said, "But who is their father?" Therefore it became a proverb: "Is Saul also among the prophets?" And when he had finished prophesying, he went to the high place."
       
      When he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart. Samuel could not give Saul another heart. Only the Spirit of the LORD could do that. To demonstrate this, God did not grant this change of heart to Saul until he left the presence of Samuel. God wanted Saul to honor and respect Samuel, but to never look to Samuel in the place of the LORD.
       
      God gave him another heart...
       
      Samuel did not give it. Saul did not even give it to himself. The new heart was a gift from God. We can have another heart from the LORD also, but we must receive it from him. We can't receive a new heart from anyone but from Jesus Christ, and we can never make a new heart in anyone else...only Jesus can.
       
      Is Saul also among the prophets?
       
      This phrase became a proverb describing astonishment that someone had become a religious fanatic. As some used to say of someone who was not a religious person who became very religious, "He got religion?" Saul was an unspiritual man who became very spiritual at the time when the Spirit of the LORD came upon him.
       
      When he had finished prophesying...
       
      Saul prophesied without ever really being called as a prophet. This shows us that someone can receive prophecy as a gift from the Holy Spirit without really being a "prophet" in the sense of having that office or title. This scripture right here affirms and confirms the GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ...ARE HIS AND HIS ALONE TO GRANT...WHEN THE NEED ARISES AND WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT CHOOSES TO GRANT THEM. THEY ARE NOT, AND CAN NOT BE SUMMONED OR COMMANDED BY ANY PERSON...ONLY BY THE HOLY SPIRIT AS HE CHOOSES, AMEN?!
       
      Verses 14-16 tells us Saul HIDES his experience from his family.
       
      "Then Saul's uncle said to him and his servant, "Where did you go?" So he said, "To look for the donkeys. When we saw that they were nowhere to be found, we went to Samuel." And Saul's uncle said, "Tell me, please, what Samuel said to you." So Saul said to his uncle, "He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found." But about the matter of the kingdom, he did not tell him what Samuel had said."
       
      Where did you go?
       
      This may have been a simple, logical question. Or, Saul's uncle may be asking because he noticed that Saul had very, very oily hair!
       
      About the matter of the kingdom, he did not tell him...
       
      Of course, it seems strange that Saul would not tell of what he had experienced. Didn't he have a lot to tell about?
       
      THERE ARE TWO POSSIBILITIES FOR SAUL'S SILENCE.
       
      Perhaps Saul was wise, knowing that the LORD had to reveal him as king over Israel. What point was there in saying, "I'm the king now!" until the LORD had declared him to be king?
       
      Or, perhaps Saul is just experiencing what many experience after a powerful encounter with the LORD: an attack from the enemy, making us fearful and cowardly to tell others what God has done in our lives.
       
      Verses 17-19 tells us Samuel's speech to the nation before the appointment of a king.
       
      "Then Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah, and said to the children of Israel, "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."
       
      I brought Israel out of Egypt...
       
      Before God appoints a king for Israel, God reminds Israel of all He has done for them. In a sense, God is reminding Israel that He was still more than qualified to be their king, and their rejection of Him was all because of them, and not because of the LORD.
       
      But you have rejected your God, who Himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations...
       
      The LORD, speaking through Samuel, is showing Israel how their rejection of Him made so little sense. Why would anyone reject the one who Himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations?
       
      It is easy for us to think, "Wow, those Israelites were really stupid. How foolish to reject God like that!" But are we much different? Whenever we, even in the smallest way, reject God, we show the same lack of sense.
       
      Verses 20-21a tells us Saul is selected BY LOT.
       
      "And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was chosen. And Saul the son of Kish was chosen."
       
      And Saul the son of Kish was chosen...
       
      Why did God do it this way, when He had already anointed Saul as king over Israel?
       
      Because this would show the whole nation that Saul was the right man. It would show that God had chosen Saul, not that any man had chosen him. AND IT WOULD ALSO REMIND THEM IN DAYS AND YEARS TO COME...YOU CHOSE THIS FLAWED MAN OVER ME. YOU HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT YOURSELVES.
       
      It is important to say that Saul did not become king because he was chosen by lot. Instead, he was chosen king because of God's word to the prophet Samuel. The choosing by lot simply confirmed the word of the LORD through Samuel.
       
      Verses 21b-24 tells us Saul is revealed to be the king.
       
      "But when they sought him, he could not be found. Therefore they inquired of the LORD further, "Has the man come here yet?" And the LORD answered, "There he is, hidden among the equipment." So they ran and brought him from there; and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. And Samuel said to all the people, "Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?" So all the people shouted and said, "Long live the king!"
       
      Hidden among the equipment...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      In fact, here Saul shows a healthy embarrassment and humility. He was not looking forward to being "center stage" in front of the nation; he seems to be dreading it. Saul was not made king because of his own personal ambition, or to gratify a desire for the limelight.
       
      He was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward...
       
      The physical description of Saul shows he is exactly what the people wanted. Israel wanted a king that would look good to the other nations, and God gave them "the king from central casting"!
       
      Long live the king!
       
      The people of Israel, in their desire for the image and pageantry of a human king had been longing to shout these words for a long time. They knew all the other nations got to see and have royal ceremonies and functions. Now they get to also!
       
      Do you see him … there is no one like him among all the people...
       
      What did Samuel mean by this?
       
      Probably, there was a note of sarcasm in his voice when he said this. He wanted the nation to see the king, and according to what they could see, he was a great king. But Samuel, from his long conversations with Saul told to us in 1 Samuel 9:25-26, probably knew him well enough to mean something else when he said, there is no one like him among all the people.
       
      Verses 25-27 tells us The MONARCHY established.
       
      "Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house. And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched. But some rebels said, "How can this man save us?" So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace."
       
      Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty...
       
      Samuel taught them God's guidelines for both rulers and subjects, probably using Deuteronomy 17:14-20.
       
      When it says the behavior of royalty, we can guess that Samuel was not explaining how a king should hold a teacup. Instead, Samuel was probably warning them about the wickedness and selfishness kings have, just as Jesus said, in MARK 10:52-45..."You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But Jesus added this word of instruction: Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
       
      According to the way the kings of this world live, God NEVER wants us to imitate the behavior of royalty.
       
      Wrote it in a book and laid it up before the LORD...
       
      It doesn't seem that this book Samuel wrote is any of the books of the Bible we have. This doesn't mean that there is something missing from our Bibles, it simply means that God did not want this book preserved in His eternal word.
       
      Saul also went home to Gibeah...
       
      At the time, there was no palace or capital. So, Saul simply walked home with his future leaders, the valiant men who went with him.
       
      God called Saul to be king and lead the nation. Yet, this was not something he could do himself. He needed valiant men around him, men whose hearts God had touched.
       
      So they despised him … But he held his peace...
       
      Not all of Israel was supportive of Saul yet. It was probable that because they had never had a king before, that it was unlikely they could choose any one man the whole nation could get behind. Yet, Saul should be recognized for his wise reaction (he held his peace). An insecure or unwise leader, at this point, might feel the need to "crush" anyone that opposed him, or simply regard them as enemies. Saul did neither, understanding that it might take him some time to win over the doubters.
       
      MEYER says of this scripture, "The Hebrew, as suggested by the margin, is still more striking. 'He was as though he had been deaf' - he pretended not to hear. He did hear; every word had struck deep into his soul, but he made as though he were deaf. It is a great power when a man can act as though he were deaf to slander, deaf to detraction, deaf to unkind and uncharitable speeches, and treat them as though they had not been spoken, turning from man to God, leaving with God his vindication, believing God that sooner or later will give him a chance … of vindicating the true prowess and temper of his soul."
       
      From this, we see that Saul started out with so much promise.
      He was chosen and anointed by God.
      He was filled with the Holy Spirit.
      He had the support of a man of God like Samuel.
      He had been given gifts appropriate to royalty.
      He had the enthusiastic support and goodwill of most all the nation.
      He had valiant men around him, men whose hearts God had touched to support him.
      And, he had the wisdom to not regard every doubter, or every critic, as an enemy.
      But despite all these great advantages, Saul can still blow it.
       
      GOD WARNED SAMUEL. GOD WARNED THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL WHEN THEY REJECTED HIM...WHEN THEY DEMANDED TO BE JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE...WHEN THEY DID NOT LIKE BEING DIFFERENT...DID NOT LIKE BEING SET APART...WHEN THEY WANTED THE RITUALS, THE POMP, THE CEREMONIES, THE ICONIC FADE AND FLASH AND DASH OF OTHER NATIONS...
       
      THEY SHRUGGED OFF ALL THE LORD GOD SHOWED THEM, DID FOR THEM, PROTECTED THEM FROM, DELIVERED THEM FROM, PROVIDED FOR THEM...ALL HIS WONDROUS DISPLAYS OF HIS MIGHT, HIS POWER, HIS HONOR, AND HIS GLORY...AND HIS LOVE AND CARE...
       
      THEY WANTED THEIR OWN MAN...GOD GAVE IT TO THEM
       
      SO THE QUESTION REMAINS...Will Saul walk in the advantages God had given him so far, or will he go his own way? AND IT BEGS THE QUESTION OF US...DO WE WALK IN THE ADVANTAGES OUR JESUS GAVE US, OR DO WE WANT HIS BLESSINGS AND FAVORS BUT WANT TO LIVE AS THE WORLD DOES AS WELL?
       
      The rest of the book of 1 Samuel gives the answer to that question concerning Saul.

       

    • June 29, 2016 1:48 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 11
       
       
      OPENS WITH Saul's Victory at Jabesh Gilead
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us Nahash the Ammonite gives an ultimatum to an Israelite city.
       
      "Then Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, "Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you." And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, "On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel."
       
      Encamped against Jabesh Gilead...
       
      Nahash the Ammonite has surrounded this Israelite city, and simply by doing so, he has made his demands clear. They must either surrender, or be conquered.
       
      Why did the Ammonites attack Jabesh?
       
      Probably to revenge and to recover their former great loss by Jephthah, Judges 11:33. Jabesh-gilead was beyond Jordan, and near the Ammonites, who dwelt in part of Arabia.
       
      Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you...
       
      The men of Jabesh Gilead feel this is their ONLY HOPE of survival. Either they surrender to Nahash (we will serve you) under agreed upon terms (make a covenant with us), or they will simply be killed and looted.
       
      It might seem to us that the men of Jabesh Gilead are cowards, and unwilling to fight against this enemy. But the odds WERE GREAT against them, and the expected to simply be taxed by Nahash. It was if they were being mugged, and they had the opportunity to negotiate with the mugger, and strike a deal with the mugger they could live with.
       
      At the same time, WHERE was their trust in God?
       
      Yes, they were in what seemed to be in an impossible place, but that is where the power of God can shine the brightest.
       
      BALIKE says it well of this scripture, "Instead of humbling themselves before God and confessing the sins that had brought them into trouble, they put God altogether aside, and basely offered to become the servants of the Ammonites … We see here the sad effect of sin and careless living in lowering men's spirits, sapping courage, and discouraging noble effort. Oh, it is pitiable to see men tamely submitting to a vile master! Yet how often is the sight repeated! How often to men virtually say to the devil, 'Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee'!"
       
      That I may put out your right eyes...
       
      When the men of Jabesh Gilead as Nahash for a covenant, he agrees to settle peacefully with them - if all the men of the city will have their right eyes gouged out. Certainly, Nahash meant business!
       
      Why did Nahash make this demand?
       
      Of all the things he could have demanded, why does he want to put out your right eyes?
       
      FIRST, it was to glorify himself by HUMILIATING the men of this city, and all of Israel. Half-blinding the men of this city would bring reproach on all Israel by making Israel look weak and unable to prevent such an atrocity.
       
      SECOND, it was to make the men of Jabesh Gilead UNABLE TO FIGHT effectively in battle. In hand-to-hand combat, and man with one eye has less depth perception, and is at a disadvantage to a man with two eyes.
       
      DID YOU NOTICE....We can see in this account a similarity between Satan, our spiritual enemy, and Nahash, the enemy of Israel.
       
      HOW?
       
      1. Satan attacks us, but cannot do anything against us without our agreement. He asks for, and requires our surrender.
       
      2. Satan wants us to serve him, and will attempt to intimidate us into giving in to him.
       
      3. Satan wants to humiliate us, and exalt himself over us. Through humiliating one saint, Satan wants to bring reproach on all God's people.
       
      4. Satan wants to take away our ability to effectively fight against him.
       
      5. Satan wants to blind us, and if he cannot blind us completely, he will blind us partially.
       
      DID YOU KNOW...The name Nahash means serpent or snake!
       
      Verse 3 tells us The answer of the elders of Jabesh Gilead.
       
      "Then the elders of Jabesh said to him, "Hold off for seven days, that we may send messengers to all the territory of Israel. And then, if there is no one to save us, we will come out to you."
       
      Hold off for seven days … if there is no one to save us, we will come out to you...
       
      The men of Jabesh Gilead are in a difficult spot. They are horrified at the demand of Nahash, but they also know they have no other choice. If there is no one to save them, Nahash can do to them as he pleases, and losing an eye seems better to them than losing their lives.
       
      Was there no one to save them?
       
      SADLY, The men of Jabesh didn't know for certain. But they did know there was no hope in and of themselves, that they had to have a savior.
       
      In one way, the men of Jabesh Gilead were in a good place, because they absolutely knew two things.
       
      1. They knew their need to be saved.
       
      2. They knew they could not save themselves.
       
      Many today - even in the church - don't know what the men of Jabesh Gilead knew.
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Many today don't really know their NEED to be saved, AND rescued from the righteous judgment of God against them and their sin.
       
      And many today don't really know they CAN NOT save themselves. They still think in their hearts that they can do it!
       
      In another way, the men of Jabesh Gilead were in a bad place. They knew their need of a savior, and they knew they could not save themselves.
       
      Yet, they did NOT KNOW if there was anyone to save them.
       
      We can know.
       
      We can know what John said in 1 John 4:14: "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world."
       
      Why did Nahash let the messengers go?
       
      It seems strange that the allowed them to leave, and to see if Israel could muster up the troops to come and defeat him.
       
      But Nahash had two reasons.
       
      FIRST, he was confident of Israel's disunity, and figured they would be unable to find anyone to save them.
       
      SECOND, by allowing the messengers to go through all Israel, he was making HIS NAME BIG and HIS REPUTATION FEARSOME throughout the whole nation.
       
      Verses 4-5 tells us Saul hears of the plight of Jabesh Gilead.
       
      "So the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news in the hearing of the people. And all the people lifted up their voices and wept. Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul said, "What troubles the people, that they weep?" And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh."
       
      So the messengers came...
       
      As the messengers spread out over all Israel, they came to Gibeah, Saul's home city. Upon hearing of the plight of Jabesh Gilead, all the people lifted up their voices and wept. This was exactly the reaction Nahash was hoping for!
       
      Coming behind the herd from the field...
       
      See the HUMILITY of the king of Israel at this point?!
       
      Saul had already been anointed and recognized as king over Israel, yet in a sense there was nothing for him to do.
       
      He really didn't know where to begin when it came to setting up a royal court and a bureaucracy, and Israel HAD NEVER HAD ONE before. So, he just went back home, got to work in the field, and figured God would tell him what to do when the time was right!
       
      Saul was wise in going back to the farm.
       
      He knew it was the LORD's job to raise him up as king over the nation, and he knew the LORD would do it in the right way at the right time. He didn't have to promote himself, or scheme on his own behalf. The LORD would do it.
       
      In this, Saul is a good example of Jesus, the King of Kings. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve, and here Saul is simply serving, not being served.
       
      They told him the words of the men of Jabesh...
       
      This also shows there was NO established system of government in Israel. Otherwise, the king would have been the FIRST TO KNOW of the threat against Jabesh, instead of hearing the news second or third hand.
       
      Verses 6-8 tells us zealous for Israel's cause, Saul angrily gathers an army.
       
      "Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused. So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, "Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen." And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent. When he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand."
       
      Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul...
      It was time for Saul to act, and God was WITH Saul. The Spirit of God came upon Saul, but it did not come to entertain him or to thrill him. It came to EQUIP HIM for service, so that he could do something for the LORD.
       
      This is ALWAYS God's pattern.
       
      He DOES NOT want us to seek the Spirit SELFISHLY, but to be empowered to be used by Him to TOUCH OTHERS.
       
      REMEMBER WHAT Jesus told His disciples before He ascended into heaven, in Acts 1:8, which says, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
       
      JESUS POWER was given and received to do something FOR the LORD!
       
      And his anger was greatly aroused...
       
      This was a GOOD ANGER, and Spirit-led anger within Saul.
       
      REMEMBER EPHESIANS 4:26, which says, "We can be angry, and do not sin."
       
      UNFORTUNATELY most of our anger is SELFISH.
       
      WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
       
      Here, Saul's anger is NOT out of a PERSONAL sense of hurt or offense, but out of a righteous concern for OTHERS AND FOR THE CAUSE of the LORD among His people.
       
      So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      In doing this, Saul was delivering a clear threat to the people of Israel. The manner of the threat seems more from the Mafia than from the people of God, but Saul wanted it clear that failure to step up and defend the cause of God at this time would be sin, and it would be punished as sin.
       
      When the cause is right and the need desperate, it is WRONG to do nothing.
       
      NUMBERS 32:23 tells us , "Doing nothing in such cases is sin, and when it comes to the sin of doing nothing, be sure your sin will find you out."
       
      Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to the battle...
       
      Saul's inclusion of Samuel implies that he expects the prophet to accompany him into battle in view of the fact that Saul is responding to the Spirit of God.
       
      And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent...
       
      Saul's bloody threat worked. When those hunks of ox-flesh came special delivery, all Israel knew there was a leader in Israel who meant business. They knew the LORD was calling them TO DO SOMETHING about the crisis of Jabesh Gilead.
       
      Verses 9-11 tells us The defeat of Nahash the Ammonite.
       
      "And they said to the messengers who came, "Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh Gilead: 'Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have help.'" Then the messengers came and reported it to the men of Jabesh, and they were glad. Therefore the men of Jabesh said, "Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do with us whatever seems good to you." So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch, and killed Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together."
       
      The messengers came and reported it to the men of Jabesh, and they were glad...
       
      Certainly they were glad! Before, they did not know if there was anyone to save them. Now they know they have someone to save them! Knowing we have a savior should make us glad.
       
      Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do with us whatever seems good to you...
       
      Here, the men of Jabesh Gilead ARE DECEIVING Nahash. They are speaking as if they will surrender to Nahash, so his army will be UNPREPARED for battle.
       
      Of course, one might say they really didn't lie.
       
      After all, the next day they would indeed come out to Nahash, and he could do to them whatever seems good. It is just that what Nahash though was good might change when he was being attacked by Saul's army of 330,000 men of Israel.
       
      Saul put the men into three companies...
       
      Saul appears to be a man of GOOD military strategy. He thought out the attack BEFORE the battle started.
       
      Killed Ammonites until the heat of the day … no two of them were left together...
       
      Through Saul's action, and by God's blessing, the victory was total. Nahash and his army were utterly routed, and the city of Jabesh Gilead was saved.
       
      Verses 12-13 tells us Saul shows MERCY to his former opponents.
       
      "Then the people said to Samuel, "Who is he who said, 'Shall Saul reign over us?' Bring the men, that we may put them to death." But Saul said, "Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has accomplished salvation in Israel."
       
      Who is he who said, "Shall Saul reign over us?"
       
      At this moment of great victory, the SUPPORTERS of Saul want to expose and kill those who were HESITANT to support him as king as described in 1 Samuel 10:27.
       
      Not a man shall be put to death this day...
       
      Saul wisely knew this was no time to take revenge on his opponents. Satan, having failed in the attack through Nahash, was now trying to attack Israel - even in victory!
       
      HOW?
       
      BY SEEKING TO divide the nation against each other. Satan will attack us ANYWAY he can, and often use times of victory OR WORDS OF PROMISE AND DIRECTION FROM JESUS to attack.
       
      Today the LORD has accomplished salvation in Israel...
       
      In 1 Samuel 11:3, the men of Jabesh Gilead wondered if there was one to save us. Saul was the man the LORD raised up to bring the victory, yet Saul himself knew that the LORD has accomplished salvation in Israel. It was the LORD who did the saving, and Saul was humble enough to know it. At this moment of victory, it would have been all the more tempting to take the credit for himself.
       
      The phrase the LORD has accomplished salvation in Israel points us to Jesus, because His name means the LORD is salvation. Whenever salvation is accomplished, it is through Jesus!
       
      Verses 14-15 tells us Saul is accepted as king by the entire nation.
       
      "Then Samuel said to the people, "Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there." So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly."
       
      Samuel said to the people...
       
      Samuel, as well as anyone, knew that the people were not entirely behind Saul when he was proclaimed as king in Gilgal. So Samuel wisely sees this time of victory as a strategic opportunity to renew the kingdom at Gilgal.
       
      Saul had to prove himself before many would accept that he was the king. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is one thing for a person to be "anointed" or "appointed," but the evidence must be in the doing. It was understandable for some to say, "Let's see what kind of man this Saul is," but once it was demonstrated (as it was in this chapter) it would have been wrong for them to fail to support Saul. "Unwittingly, the Ammonites provided just the opportunity Saul needed to take an initiative, and to prove himself as well to Israel at large that he could 'save' his people from oppressors.
       
      They made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal...
       
      It wasn't that Saul was not king before this. He was anointed as king by Samuel (1 Samuel 10:1) and recognized by king by much of the nation of Israel (1 Samuel 10:24). Yet, there was a sense in which Saul was NOT A REAL KING TO THEM until virtually all the nation recognized him as king, and here that recognition is given.
       
      MEYER wonderfully reminds us, "Jesus is our King. The Father hath anointed Him, and set Him on his holy hill; and we have gladly assented to the appointment, and made Him King. But sometimes our sense of loyalty and devotion wanes. Insensibly we drift from our strenuous endeavour to act always as his devoted subjects. Therefore we need, from time to time, to renew the kingdom, and reverently make Him King before the Lord … There is a sense in which we can consecrate ourselves only once; but we can renew our vows often."
       
      There Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly...
       
      They did indeed! After all, now they felt they had a king, and a good king. It is a great blessing to be under a great, victorious king!
       
      Saul won the battle that day, but it was more than one battle he won.
       
      This chapter records Saul's inward and outward battles.
       
      The OUTWARD victory was obvious, but INWARDLY, Saul fought the strong and subtle temptations to pride, insecurity, and revenge. He won the battle against pride, insecurity, and revenge on this day, and he also won the outward battle.
       
      But would he continue to? Only as he was FILLED with the Spirit of the LORD, and WALKING in the Spirit, under the LEADERSHIP of the King of Kings over Israel.
       
      CLARKE says it well, "Thus far Saul acted well, and the kingdom seemed to be confirmed in his hand; but soon through impudence he lost it."
       
      BLAIKIE says it well, "O Saul, Saul, how well for thee it would have been hadst thou maintained this spirit! For then God would not have had to reject thee from being king."

       

    • June 29, 2016 1:46 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 12
       
      OPENS WITH SAMUEL'S SPEECH AT SAUL'S CORONATION
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us Samuel talks about his leadership over Israel.
       
      "Now Samuel said to all Israel: "Indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you. And now here is the king, walking before you; and I am old and grayheaded, and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my childhood to this day. Here I am. Witness against me before the LORD and before His anointed: Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I received any bribe with which to blind my eyes? I will restore it to you."
       
      Samuel said to all Israel...
       
      After the victory of Saul over the Ammonites in 1 Samuel 11, Samuel knows the nation will now begin to look to this king for leadership. Here, in this chapter, he is helping Israel to make the transition from Samuel's leadership to Saul's leadership. Samuel makes this clear when he says, "now here is the king" and "I am old and gray headed." Samuel is telling Israel that his day is over, and Saul's day is beginning.
       
      It is true that Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life (1 Samuel 7:15), but now that a king has been raised up, his role will change and diminish.
       
      Samuel never officially "stepped down" from leading Israel as a judge, but he would NOT allow his shadow to eclipse Saul. Perhaps he knew Saul would have enough trouble on his own, and didn't want to be accused of subverting Saul's reign as king.
       
      In this, Samuel shows himself as a truly godly man.
       
      WHY?
       
      He is willing to pass from the scene when God raises up another leader. His heart is the same as John the Baptist's heart towards Jesus: He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). Samuel would not grasp onto a position when God was changing it.
       
      Indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you have said to me...
       
      Samuel wanted it clearly known that it was NOT his idea to appoint a king over Israel. This idea began in the hearts of Israel, NOT in the heart and mind of God. God allowed it, and directed its execution, but it was the voice of the people that prompted it.
       
      My sons are with you...
       
      In 1 Samuel 8:1-5, Samuel was challenged to take his sons out of leadership in Israel, because they were not godly men. Though it must have been difficult, he did it. The words my sons are with you are proof; Samuel's sons were simply a part of the assembly of Israel, not "up on the platform" with Samuel.
       
      I have walked before you from my childhood to this day...
       
      Samuel remembers his humble beginnings as a child, dedicated to the LORD and serving Israel and the LORD at the tabernacle in 1 Samuel 2:18, 3:1.
       
      I have walked before you is not the idea "I have been on display before you." Instead, it is the idea of a shepherd walking before his flock, leading it on. Samuel had been a godly leader and shepherd for Israel these many years.
       
      Witness against me before the LORD...
       
      As Samuel speaks to the nation about the transition of leadership, he wants it clear that he has NOT defrauded or oppressed or been corrupt in anyway. He simply challenges the nation: "If I have wronged you or been corrupt, come forward now and declare it."
       
      This is impressive as an example of the godly character of Samuel. Certainly, few people could give such an invitation to accuse!
       
      Why does Samuel do what seems to be a purely self-justifying and self-glorifying thing?
       
      From what we know of the character of Samuel in other passages, we have to believe this is more than him saying, "Look at how good I am." Instead, it seems that Samuel wants the nation to know that he has passed a good legacy of leadership to the new king Saul. He wants Israel to recognize that he HAS NOT handed Saul a mess that he has to clean up. If Saul should prove to be a poor leader, no one could say it was because of the bad example set by Samuel.
       
      I will restore it...
       
      It seems as if Samuel is saying, "I may have wronged someone without knowing it. If that is the case, state it now, so I can make it right. I don't want to leave any unfinished business." This testifies to Samuel's humble heart.
       
      Verses 4-5 tells us Israel AFFIRMS the blameless leadership of Samuel.
       
      "And they said, "You have not cheated us or oppressed us, nor have you taken anything from any man's hand." Then he said to them, "The LORD is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand." And they answered, "He is witness."
       
      You have not defrauded us or oppressed us...
       
      Israel knew Samuel had been a good, godly leader. He had not led them for what he COULD GET from them, but for what he COULD GIVE to them.
       
      This is a priceless testimony for any leader.
       
      How precious to stand before your own people, and to hear them affirm the integrity of your leadership! Samuel could only make the challenge of 1 Samuel 12:3 because he knew the answer ahead of time.
       
      The LORD is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day...
       
      Samuel settles the matter.
       
      All parties agree that he has led Israel well. This is the second time Samuel has mentioned His anointed in this passage, and the phrase refers to Saul, because he was anointed as king (1 Samuel 10:1). Samuel deliberately included Saul in all this to make the idea of a transition between his leadership and Saul's clear.
       
      In what sense was the LORD witness against them?
       
      If Israel were to later accuse Samuel of wrong, he could call them back to this time, and what they said here would be a witness against them. As well, if Israel ever tried to blame Saul's problems as king on Samuel, what they said here would be a witness against them.
       
       
      Verses 6-12 tells us Samuel challenges Israel to serve God under their new king & gives them a brief refresher history...to remind them...
       
      "Then Samuel said to the people, "It is the LORD who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did to you and your fathers: When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. And when they forgot the LORD their God, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them. Then they cried out to the LORD, and said, 'We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.' And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you dwelt in safety. And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, 'No, but a king shall reign over us,' when the LORD your God was your king."
       
      The righteous acts of the LORD...
       
      Samuel, in this remembrance of God's work from the time of the Exodus until his present day, focuses not on the history of Israel, but on the history of the righteous acts of the LORD.
       
      Who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place...
       
      Israel should remember their salvation from slavery and the new life God gave them in the Promised Land. This is ONE of the righteous acts of the LORD.
       
      He sold them into the hand of Sisera...
       
      Israel should REMEMBER how God allowed a disobedient Israel to be under the domination of their enemies, as a chastisement intending to bring them to repentance. This is ONE of the righteous acts of the LORD.
       
      We should recognize God's chastisement as one of the righteous acts of the LORD. His discipline is just as righteous as His deliverance.
       
      They cried out to the LORD … now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You … And the LORD sent … and delivered you...
       
      Israel should REMEMBER that when they cried out to God, confessed their sin and humbled themselves in repentance before Him, that He delivered them. This is ONE of the righteous acts of the LORD.
       
      The list of the deliverers God used (Jerubbaaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel) shows TWO THINGS.
       
      FIRST... it shows Israel was constantly in need of deliverance because of their sin, and God kept delivering them when they repented.
       
      SECOND...it showed that God didn't need just one man. He could use many different leaders to do His work in Israel. So, even if Samuel is old and gray headed (1 Samuel 11:2), God can now raise up a Saul.
       
      AND WE KNOW...Jerubbaal was another name for Gideon (Judges 6:32).
       
      BUT WHO WAS BEDAN?
       
      We have no mention of him in the book of Judges. Perhaps he was a deliverer known in their history, but no recorded in the book of Judges. Or, Bedan may be a variant spelling or name for Barak, mentioned in Judges 4:6. The Septuagint, an ancient translation of the Old Testament, translates the name as Barak.
       
      AND MANY BIBLE HISTORIANS FEEL that one reason Gideon is mentioned is "because he specifically refused to establish dynastic as opposed to divine rule over his countrymen … for which refusal he must surely have been one of Samuel's heroes."
       
      Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you...
       
      Samuel remembers the most recent example of God's deliverance for Israel in 1 Samuel 11. Samuel is tying together the story of God's deliverance for Israel, from the time of the Exodus to the present day. Each of these were examples of the righteous acts of the LORD.
       
      Why the history lesson?
       
      Because as Israel makes the transition into monarchy, they need to remember the righteous acts of the LORD. Everything the LORD wants to do in our lives now is in the setting of what He has already done in our lives.
       
      DOWN THROUGH BIBLE HISTORY...AND TODAY...PEOPLE ARE QUICK TO FORGET THE DAY TO DAY, SMALL, AS WELL THE LARGE PROTECTIONS, BLESSINGS, FAVORS, AND GIFTS FROM THE LORD JESUS. WE CAN MORE QUICKLY AND EASILY RECALL OUR HURTS, LOSSES, ILLNESS, SADNESS, AND SEEMING FAILURES...THAN WE CAN LIST AND REMEMBER ALL THE GOODNESS OF JESUS IN OUR LIFE.
       
      You said to me, "No, but a king shall reign over us," when the LORD your God was your king...
       
      As they begin to live under the king, Samuel reminds the nation of their disobedient desire for a king. The LORD had been a good king for Israel, but they wanted a king for carnal, fleshly reasons. The people of Israel wanted to be just like everyone else...They did not like being different...set apart...ruled, protected, led, and directed by a Heavenly King.
       
      Verses 13-15 tells us If you fear the LORD: a choice for Israel.
       
      "Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the LORD has set a king over you. If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the LORD your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers."
       
      Here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired...
       
      Samuel probably had the feeling, "Here is the king you wanted. You will find that he isn't quite the king you need, but he is the king you wanted."
       
      If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice...
       
      Samuel presents Israel with an important choice. They had been disobedient in their desire for a king, yet God had given them a king. Even so, if they would fear the LORD and serve Him, God could still bless them.
       
      One wrong turn HAD NOT put them out of God's plan forever.
       
      Yes, Israel should have never sought a human king. But now they had one, and Samuel simply calls them to serve the LORD where they are at now.
       
      THIS TEACHES US A LESSON TOO...We need to know that one wrong turn doesn't wreck our lives before God! Instead of agonizing over the past, get right with God today. Fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and God will bring good even out of yesterday's wrong turn.
       
      However, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD … then the hand of the LORD will be against you...
       
      Samuel puts the choice before Israel. They had made a wrong turn, yet God puts them at fork in the road. On one side is submission to God and obedience; on the other is rebellion and disobedience. If they choose the wrong path, they can trust God will not bless it.
       
      As it was against your fathers...
       
      Every individual every generation is tempted to think of itself as a special exception. They know of the righteous acts of the LORD in previous generations, yet somehow feel they are excepted from God's correction or judgment. Samuel is reminding Israel they are not any different from their fathers, and God will not deal with them any differently than He did with their fathers.
       
      Verses 16-18 tells us God confirms Samuel's word with a sign.
       
      "Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes: Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves." So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel."
       
      Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do...
       
      Samuel will pray and ask God to send a sign to confirm His word. This is a concession to the wicked hearts of the people, because Samuel knows only a sign from God will impress them.
       
      That you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves...
       
      Why would Samuel and the LORD wait until now for such a dramatic sign?
       
      Why not do it when Israel first asked for a king, so they would have known their sin right then, and taken back their request for a king?
       
      Because God had a purpose in allowing the "people's king," Saul, to come first.
       
      Because if it had happened in the first days of Saul's reign, the people would have cast him off just as quickly, and just as wrongly, as they asked for him. Now, that his reign has been confirmed by the victory of 1 Samuel 11 and accepted by the people, they can be more directly confronted with their sin.
       
      Because Samuel might have been accused of reproving the people out of a personal sense of hurt. By waiting until now, everyone knows that Samuel isn't saying, "Get rid of Saul so I can lead the nation again."
       
      Because now, Israel rejoiced greatly (1 Samuel 11:15). They were perhaps a little too excited about their new king, and Samuel wants them to have a more spiritual perspective.
       
      The LORD sent thunder and rain that day...
       
      Thunder and rain were unusual during the wheat harvest. This was a truly remarkable sign from God.
       
      The sign was especially meaningful because one of the common gods of that day was Baal, who was thought to be the god of thunder and rain. The LORD was showing that He was the true God of the weather.
       
      The people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel...
       
      The result was good, but it shows something weak and carnal in the hearts of the people.
       
      Didn't they know God was this powerful before?
       
      Perhaps their knowledge of it was purely intellectual knowledge. They could have known the power and majesty and sovereignty of God in their hearts before this, and then it would have been unnecessary to bring a sign before the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.
       
      Even more impressive than thunder during harvest time is the thunder of the Holy Spirit's conviction in the heart. Even more impressive than rain during harvest time is the love of God poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The inner work is more effective in making us serve God than any outward sign, no matter how impressive.
       
      I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder … So Samuel called to the LORD...
       
      This is an impressive example of power in prayer. Samuel is known in the Bible as a mighty man of prayer told to us in Psalm 99:6, Jeremiah 15:1.
       
      Verse 19 tells us Israel sees their sin of desiring a king.
       
      "And all the people said to Samuel, "Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves."
       
      Pray for your servants...
       
      Samuel had just shown himself a mighty man of prayer, and Israel now knows how much they need prayer. It made sense to ask Samuel to pray for them!
       
      We have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves...
       
      Finally, Israel sees their sin of wanting a king. They see it too late; if only they had realized it in 1 Samuel 8, when Samuel first warned them! Now they are stuck with a king, yet God can still turn it for good if Israel will repent and seek the LORD.
       
      It is sad that it took thunder and rain for Israel to be impressed with God's power and majesty.
       
      What will it take for us to fear the LORD and treat Him as a God of power and majesty?
       
      Verses 20-25 tells us Samuel exhorts Israel to walk right with the LORD today.
       
      "Then Samuel said to the people, "Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king."
       
      You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart...
       
      Samuel will not minimize Israel's sin. Yet, he does not want them to dwell on the sin of the past, but to get on walking with the LORD today.
       
      Make sure now that you worship the Lord with true enthusiasm, and that you don't turn your back on Him in any way. We can't do anything about yesterday, and at the present moment we can't serve God tomorrow. At the present moment, all we can do is not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. Satan would love for us to live in the past or in the future; to do anything but serve the LORD with all we have right now!
       
      Do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing...
       
      Samuel wants Israel to know that rejecting the LORD, and turning aside from Him, just doesn't work. If they will not serve God out of spiritual reasons, then let them do it for pragmatic reasons: nothing else can profit or deliver!
       
      It is precious place in our walk with God when we realize this. It isn't easy to come to this place; we usually learn by bitter experience that nothing else can profit or deliver. But how wonderful to say with Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68).
       
      What a gift to know that as tough as it might be serving God, it is only worse to turn aside from Him!
       
      For the LORD will not forsake His people … it has pleased the LORD to make you His people...
       
      Samuel wants Israel to know that God loves them. This is why, despite the sin of their past, they can get on with serving the LORD and still see His blessing. Because God loves them. His favor towards Israel was not prompted by good they had done, were doing, or promised to do. It was for His great name's sake, because it pleased the LORD to do it. The reasons were in Him, not in Israel.
       
      Why doesn't God give up on Israel?
       
      Because He loves them.
       
      Why is God willing to put away the sin of the past?
       
      Because He loves them.
       
      Why is God willing to give them a new start?
       
      Because He loves them. Only God's love makes any sense of this!
       
      Far be it for me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you...
       
      Samuel knew the BEST THING he could do for Israel was to pray for them. His words to them would make no difference if the LORD was not working in their hearts, and the best way to cultivate the working of the LORD in their lives was through prayer.
       
      CHARLES SPURGEON says it well, "Many would say, "I promise I will start praying for you." For Samuel, starting to pray was a non-issue, because he was already praying. For him, the issue was ceasing to pray. "Samuel had become so rooted in the habit of prayer for the people that he seems to start at the very thought of brining his intercession to an end."
       
      This statement of Samuel makes it plain...
       
      It is a sin for a leader of God's people to stop praying for them. It is the most basic of his duties as a leader. If it is sin to stop praying, how much worse must it be to even fail to start praying!
       
      I will teach you the good and the right way...
       
      Samuel would pray, but he would not only pray. There was still a place for teaching, and Samuel would faithfully fulfill that role as well.
       
      Samuel wants the people of Israel to know that even as he is stepping back and allowing Saul to emerge as a leader, he will not forsake Israel. He will continue to lead and to serve them, but more in a spiritual way, through prayer and teaching. Saul will take the more visible reins of leadership.
       
      Only fear the LORD … for consider what great things He has done for you...
       
      ALL of our service, ALL of our obedience, ALL of our love for THE LORD JESUS should be put in this context. We do it because of the great things He has done for us. We don't serve God so as to persuade Him to do great things for us. He has done the great things, and asks us to receive them by faith. Then we serve Him because of the great things he has done for us.
       
      We can only keep perspective in our Christian lives if we keep focused on what great things He has done for you. And if we lose perspective, everything is distorted.
       
      If you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away...
       
      This warning became the sad legacy of Israel, when they were conquered and taken from the land in captivity.
       
      AND SADLY, Never was a people more fully warned, and never did a people profit less by the warning.

    • June 29, 2016 1:44 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 13
       
      OPENS WITH KING SAUL'S DISOBEDIENCE AT THE PHILISTINE THREAT
       
      Verses 1-2 tells us Saul assembles Israel's FIRST standing army.
       
      "Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Saul chose for himself three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in the mountains of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent away, every man to his tent."
       
      Saul chose for himself three thousand men of Israel...
       
      This was the FIRST "regular" ARMY for Israel. Previously, Israel only had a MILITIA that assembled in times of national threat. Now, for the first time, Israel has a PROFESSIONAL army.
       
      A thousand were with Jonathan...
       
      This is the first mention of Saul's son Jonathan. He will be become a prominent, and wonderful, part of this book of 1 Samuel.
       
      Verses 3-4 tells us Jonathan INITIATES conflict with the Philistines.
       
      "And Jonathan attacked the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, "Let the Hebrews hear!" Now all Israel heard it said that Saul had attacked a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel had also become an abomination to the Philistines. And the people were called together to Saul at Gilgal."
       
      Jonathan attacked the garrison of the Philistines...
       
      THE BIBLE AND HEBREW HISTORY TELLS US...Jonathan was a remarkable military leader. He repeatedly demonstrated the ability to lead a successful attack. Yet this attack merely wakened the Philistines.
       
      Israel had enjoyed the "peace" of subjected people...everything will be fine as long as you take your place of subjugation. Through this attack, Jonathan proclaimed, "We won't take our place any longer."
       
      It clearly says, Israel had become an ABOMINATION to the Philistines. As long as the Israelites stayed in their weak, defeated "place," the Philistines thought they were great guys. But as soon as the Israelites show some boldness in the LORD, and are willing to battle against the LORD's enemies, the Philistines consider the Israelites an abomination!
       
      The SAME principle is true spiritually in our lives.
       
      We don't war against armies of Philistines; our enemies are principalities … powers … the rulers of the darkness of this age … spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places, confirmed to us in EPHESIANSE 6:12.
       
      But our SPIRITUAL enemies have the SAME attitude as the Philistines. As long as we are weak and subjected to our spiritual enemies, they don't mind us at all. They may even kind of like us. But as soon as we show some boldness in the LORD, and are willing to battle against the LORD's enemies, our spiritual foes consider us an abomination!
       
      AND THIS TELLS US...If peace with devil is more important to US than victory in the LORD, WE will often be defeated and subjected.
       
      In Geba....
       
      DID YOU KNOW....Archaeologists have found this Philistine fortress at Geba (also known as Gibeah). The archaeological evidence shows that it was destroyed but then later rebuilt by Saul, and then became his palace and fortress.
       
      All Israel heard it said that Saul had attacked a garrison of the Philistines...
       
      Plainly, Saul is taking THE CREDIT for Jonathan's bold attack on the garrison of the Philistines.
       
      This is a BAD SIGN in the heart and character of Saul.
       
      His own sense of insecurity will NOT ALLOW ANY of his associates (NOT EVEN HIS OWN SON) to receive credit. Saul NEEDS to drink in the praise like a thirsty man drinks water.
       
      And the people were called together to Saul at Gilgal...
       
      King Saul gathers the nation together at Gilgal to prepare for battle against the Philistines.
       
      Verses 5-7 tells us The Philistines PREPARE their army.
       
      "Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And they came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits. And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling."
       
      Thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude...
       
      The Philistines, angered by the Israelites, gather a HUGE army to crush their rebellious servants.
       
      When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger...
       
      Jonathan had been bold enough to launch the initial attack against the Philistines. But the men of Israel are NOT bold enough to now stand strong against their enemy. In great fear (the people were distressed) they hide anywhere they can (in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits) or they flee across the Jordan River (to the land of Gad and Gilead).
       
      This is a VERY LOW point for Israel!
       
      As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal...
       
      Saul's position as king had been confirmed at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:15). He is still there, many months later (1 Samuel 13:1). It may be that Saul wanted to keep living the glorious day when Samuel recognized and confirmed him as king before the entire nation. But now, since he is king, the men of Israel are expecting greater things from him.
       
      The people followed him trembling...
       
      They still honored Saul as king, but they are really frightened! It must be better to have trembling followers than no followers at all, but how much better if Israel would have really prayed it up and then trusted the LORD here to potect and defend them instead of King Saul!
       
      Verses 8-9 tells us Saul offers the BURNT offering, an UNLAWFUL sacrifice.
       
      "Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. So Saul said, "Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me." And he offered the burnt offering."
       
      He waited seven days...
       
      Saul had been in Gilgal for many months. In the press of the current crisis, every day now took on much more importance. He knew the Philistines were assembling a huge army against him, and that once they were organized they would be much harder to beat. Saul probably felt that a quick response gave them the best chance to win the battle.
       
      According to the time set by Samuel....
       
      Samuel had told Saul to wait for him at Gilgal. Then Samuel would preside over sacrifices, and Israel would be spiritually prepared for battle.
       
      But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him...
       
      This added to Saul's anxiety.
       
      WHY?
       
      FIRST, the waiting for Samuel was stressful, because he felt time was his enemy.
       
      SECOND, the people were scattered from him, feeling that the battle wouldn't be fought and that the plan wasn't working out.
       
      And he offered the burnt offering...
       
      This was plainly sinful.
       
      WHY?
       
      FIRST, Saul plainly disobeyed Samuel.
       
      SECOND, Saul was a king, not a priest, and ONLY priests were to offer sacrifices. Saul had NO business doing what ONLY a priest should do.
       
      History shows how dangerous it is to combine religious and civic authority and God would not allow the kings of Israel to be priests and the priests to be kings.
       
      REMEMBER in 2 Chronicles 26, king Uzziah tried to do the work of priest and God struck him with leprosy.
       
      Verses 10-12 tells us Samuel arrives and Saul tries to explain what he has done.
       
      "Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. And Samuel said, "What have you done?" And Saul said, "When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said, 'The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD.' Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering."
       
      As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering...
       
      Saul decided to perform the sacrifice not more than an hour before Samuel arrived! If he would have TRUSTED God and WAITED ONE MORE HOUR, how different things could have been!
       
      AND THIS TELLS US, REMINDS US, AND TEACHES US...The last moments of WAITING are usually the most difficult, and tempt us most to take matters into our own hands.
       
      Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him...
       
      Saul is really overstepping his bounds now.
       
      WHY?
       
      Literally, the Hebrew says that Saul wanted to bless Samuel - perhaps as a priest blesses someone! Now Saul really sees himself as a priest!
       
      In wanting to bless Samuel, Saul may also be trying to show Samuel how spiritual he is.
       
      Samuel said, "What have you done?"
       
      Samuel knew Saul had done something wrong. He could probably smell the sacrifice in the air! But Samuel was not looking for reasons or excuses. There were NO valid reasons or excuses. All Samuel wanted to hear WAS confession and repentance.
       
      And Saul said: Saul's response is a classic example of excuse making and failure to trust God.
       
      I saw that the people were scattered from me: "I had to do something to impress the people, and gain their support back."
       
      But if Saul would have obeyed and trusted God, God would have seen him to victory over the Philistines with or without the people. It is true, that many of the Israelites may have admired Saul for offering the sacrifice. "My, there's a man of action! He gets things done! I never understood why the priests were so special anyway." But Saul could have great numbers in all the polling data, and if God were not with him, it would all crumble. He should have been more concerned with pleasing God instead of pleasing the people.
       
      You did not come within the days appointed...
       
      "You see Samuel, it was really YOUR fault. If you would have come earlier, I wouldn't have needed to do this." But if Saul would have obeyed and trusted God, God would take care of Samuel and the timing. Even if Samuel was totally in the wrong, it didn't justify Saul's sin. We often try to blame our sin on someone else.
       
      The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD...
       
      "We really needed God's help against the Philistines, and we needed it now, so I had to do it."
       
      But if Saul would have obeyed and trusted God, the LORD would take care of the Philistines. Saul could have made supplication to the LORD in any number of ways. He could have cried out the LORD for the whole nation with a humble heart, but instead he did the one thing he MUST NOT do: offer a sacrifice.
       
      Therefore I felt compelled...
       
      "I had to. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I couldn't wait any longer." Even though Saul felt compelled, he was not supposed to be ruled by his feelings. He didn't have to sin, though he felt like it.
       
      The whole manner of Saul's explanation makes it clear that this was NO misunderstanding.
       
      WHY?
       
      YOU NOTICE SAUL DID NOT SAY TO SAMUEL..."Did I do something wrong?" He knew exactly what he was doing, and probably had thought of the excuses ahead of time.
       
      Verses 13-14 tells us Samuel proclaims God's judgment upon Saul's household.
       
      "And Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you."
       
      You have done foolishly...
       
      This is a FAR STRONGER phrase than we might think. Samuel is NOT saying that Saul is unintelligent or silly; the Bible speaks of the fool as someone morally and spiritually lacking.
       
      You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you...
       
      Despite ALL the excuses, ALL the reasons, ALL the blaming of someone else, the bottom line is still the bottom line. Samuel puts it plainly: you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God. God commanded you to do something, and you did the opposite.
       
      Can not the same be said of all us? You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. Yet there is forgiveness with God, but it is given to the HUMBLE heart. It has yet to be seen if Saul will humble himself before God and seek forgiveness and restoration.
       
      For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever...
       
      The WHOLE point in being a king was to establish a DYNASTY, where one's sons would sit on the throne afterwards. God tells Saul that his descendants will NOT reign after him. Though he is a king, he will NOT be the one to ESTABLISH THE MONARCHY in Israel.
       
      But now your kingdom shall not continue...
       
      We might have expected that Saul would be "impeached" as king right then and there. After all, Samuel uses the word "now." But Saul will actually reign another 20 years. He will still be on the throne as a king, but it will NEVER be the same, because the end of his kingdom is CERTAIN.
       
      POOLE SAYS IT WELL, "Men see nothing but Saul's outward act, which seems small; but God saw with how wicked a mind and heart he did this; with what rebellion against the light of his own conscience, as his own words imply; with what gross infidelity and distrust of God's providence; with what contempt of God's authority, and justice, and many other wicked principles and motions of his heart, unknown to men. Besides, God clearly saw all that wickedness that yet lay hid in his heart, and foresaw al his other crimes; and there had far more grounds for his sentence against him than we can imagine."
       
      AND because the actual judgment for this sin was so far off, we should regard Samuel's pronouncement of judgment as an invitation to repentance. Many times, when God announces judgment, He will relent if His people repent. "Though God threaten Saul with the loss of his kingdom for this sin, yet it is not improbable that there was a tacit condition implied, as is usual in such cases … to wit, if he did not heartily repent of this and of all his sins."
       
      The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people...
       
      Though God has rejected Saul, He has not rejected Israel. Because God loves Israel, he will raise up a king, a man after His own heart.
       
      Saul was a man after Israel's heart.
      He was all about image and prestige and the things men look at.
      But God will now give Israel a man after His own heart, and raise that man up to be king.
       
      It would be easy to say that the kingdom was taken from Saul because of his sin.
      And on one level, that was certainly the case. But it was more than that.
      After all, didn't David sin also? Yet God never took the kingdom from David and his descendants.
      Because the issue was bigger than an incident of sin, the issue was being a man after God's own heart.
       
      What then does it mean to be a man after His own heart?
      We can discover this by looking at the man who was not a man after His own heart and comparing him to the man who was a man after His own heart.
       
      A man after God's heart HONORS the LORD.
      Saul was more concerned with his will than God's will.
      David was a man after God's heart in the way that he knew God's will was most important.
      Even when David didn't do God's will, he still knew God's will was more important than his own was.
      All sin is a disregard of God, but David sinned more out of WEAKNESS and Saul more out of a DISREGARD AND DISRESPECT for God.
       
      A man after God's heart ENTHRONES God as king.
       
      For Saul, Saul was king.
      For David, the LORD God was king.
      Both David and Saul would have thought sacrifice important before the battle.
      But David thought it was important because it PLEASED AND HONORED God.
      Saul thought it was important because it might help him win a battle.
      For Saul, God would help him achieve his goals.
      For David, God Himself was the goal.
       
      A man after God's heart has a soft, REPENTANT heart.
       
      When Saul was confronted with his sin, he offered excuses.
      When David was confronted with his sin, he simply said I have sinned against the LORD (2 Samuel 12:13).
       
      A man after God's heart LOVES OTHER people.
       
      Saul became increasingly bitter against people and lived more and more unto himself.
      David was a man after God's own heart in the way that he loved people.
      When David was down and out, he still loved and served those who were even more down and out than himself (1 Samuel 22:1-2).
       
      The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart...
       
      God was looking for this kind of man, and God found this man in an unlikely place.
       
      In fact, at this time, he wasn't a man at all, David was at best a newborn baby! God is still looking for men and women after His own heart.
       
      SOME SADLY THINK AND TEACH...we think of a man after His own heart, many of us think that this is a title reserved for JUST A FEW "super-spiritual" folks.
      OR THAT It isn't for EVERYONE.
      We want these kinds of people around us, but we NEVER think WE can be one of them.
      We aren't spiritual enough.
      But look at David...
      He was a warrior who killed hundreds of men with his own hands, a fugitive, a traitor, a man who had seasons of backsliding, an adulterer, a murderer. Yet he could be called a man after His own heart.
       
      REMEMBER THIS ALWAYS...If David can have our sins, then we can have his heart. We can love God and pursue Him with the kind of focus and heart David had, AMEN?!
       
      Verses 15-18 tells us The Philistines begin their raids.
       
      "Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people present with him, about six hundred men. Saul, Jonathan his son, and the people present with them remained in Gibeah of Benjamin. But the Philistines encamped in Michmash. Then raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned to the road to Ophrah, to the land of Shual, another company turned to the road to Beth Horon, and another company turned to the road of the border that overlooks the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness."
       
      Then Samuel arose: Samuel had just announced God's judgment to Saul, because Saul's heart was not after God's heart. Samuel left, probably knowing that the announcement of judgment was an invitation to repentance, and probably knowing that Saul would not repent.
       
      About six hundred men...
      Earlier, Saul had about 3,000 in his regular army (1 Samuel 13:2). Now, he is down to six hundred, because many of the people scattered while Saul waited for Samuel (1 Samuel 13:8). The loss of so many men was probably the reason why Saul offered the sacrifice without Samuel, and it displayed a heart of distrust IN GOD and disobedience TO GOD.
       
      For a commander, it would be terrible to see an already mismatched force (the Philistines had a huge army, according to 1 Samuel 13:5) shrink to one-fifth of its previous size (from 3,000 to 600).
       
      SOME HAVE ASKED...Why would God allow this?
      Simply to test Saul's faith. Would Saul trust in a God great enough to deliver from so many with so few?
       
      Then raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines...
      With so many troops, the Philistines could raid at will. They were a fearless, and fearsome army set against Saul and Israel.
       
      Verses 19-23 tells us The technological SUPERIORITY of the Philistines.
       
      "Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, "Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears." But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man's plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads. So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son. And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash."
       
      There was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel...
      The Philistines had superior military technology, and they wanted to keep it that way. Since they were a seafaring people, the Philistines traded with the technologically sophisticated cultures to the west, especially the Greeks. They imported weapons and know-how from those distant lands.
       
      CLARKE tells us, a bit of history..."It is very likely that in the former wars the Philistines carried away all the smiths from Israel, as Porsenna did in the peace which he granted to the Romans, not permitting any iron to be forged except for the purposes of agriculture … The Chaldeans did the same to the Jews in the time of Nebuchadnezzar; they carried away all the artificers, 2 Kings 24:14; Jeremiah 24:1, 29:2. And in the same manner did Cyrus treat the Lydians."
       
      Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears...
       
      Because the Philistines were the FIRST PEOPLE in Canaan to process iron, they made the most of it and kept the Israelites from using the technology to make better weapons.
       
      All the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man's plowshare...
      By carefully guarding their military technology, the Philistines kept the Israelites in a subservient place.
       
      We might imagine that the Philistine blacksmiths, even though they charged each Israelite a pim for sharpening, would never put too fine an edge on anything.
      FIRST, this was because these farm tools were the only weapons the Israelites had, so why make them so sharp?
      SECONDLY, if you make it really sharp, it will be longer before they come back with another pim to get their ax sharpened!
       
      There was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people … they were found with Saul and Jonathan...
      There were so few iron weapons available that only the royal family could be properly equipped! The rest of Israel fought with whatever they could.
       
      It was bad enough to be outnumbered so badly. Now, we see God allowed the Philistines to have a huge technological advantage over the Israelites. The only way the Israelites could ever win was to trust in God for everything!
       
      GOD WANTS US TO REMEMBER THAT IMPOSSIBLE IS HIS SPECIALTY. THE MORE IMPOSSIBLE IT SEEMS FOR US, LOOKS FOR US, THE EASIER IT IS FOR OUR GOD WHO IS ABLE TO DO ALL THINGS.

       

    • June 29, 2016 1:41 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 14
       
      OPENS WITH...GOD & JONATHAN'S VICTORY OVER THE PHILISTINES
       
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us Jonathan's proposal and his adventure IN FAITH.
       
      "Now it happened one day that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, "Come, let us go over to the Philistines' garrison that is on the other side." But he did not tell his father. And Saul was sitting in the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men. Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod's brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord's priest in Shiloh, was wearing an ephod. But the people did not know that Jonathan had gone."
       
      It happened one day...
       
      At the beginning, there was NOTHING in this day that indicated it would be a REMARKABLE day. But it would! On this day, God would win a great victory through the bold trust of Jonathan.
       
      MEYER says it well of this scripture..."God is ever on the outlook for believing souls, who will receive his power and grace on the one hand, and transmit them on the other. He chooses them, that by them he should make his mighty power known."
       
      Said to the young man who bore his armor...
       
      DID YOU KNOW, every "officer" in the Israelite army had an "assistant" known as an armor bearer. The armor bearer would help the officer in fighting and administration of the army. They would often simply carry the armor and weapons of the officer, so they were known as armor bearers.
       
      YOUNGBLOOD tells us more about ARMOR-BEARERS...."Armor-bearers in ancient times had to be unusually brave and loyal, since the lives of their masters often depended on them."
       
      AND WE KNOW LATER, God would raise up a SPECIAL armor bearer for King Saul: a young man named David.
       
      Come, let us go over to the Philistines garrison...
       
      The Israelites were in a military conflict where victory, from all OUTWARD appearance, was IMPOSSIBLE. They were vastly outnumbered, and were greatly surpassed in military technology. Yet Jonathan is bold enough to go over to the Philistine garrison just to see what the LORD might want to do.
       
      We can imagine Jonathan probably was awake at night, offended and outraged at the way these godless Philistines were oppressing the Israelites. He was mad at the way it seemed so hopeless and how the people were just waiting around, discouraged. As he lay awake that night, perhaps a thought suddenly came into his mind: "Shamgar!" Shamgar? Jonathan probably remembered him from his Bible. After all, Judges 3:31 describes how Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with a sharp stick. Jonathan probably thought, "Well, if God could do it through Shamgar, He could do it through me!"
       
      As Jonathan thought about it more, he considered there was no way the LORD had forsaken Israel. Sure, the odds were great against them. But God was greater than the odds. God had promised to do great things for Israel. He promised that Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you. (Leviticus 26:8) He had won great victories against great odds before, as in the days of Gideon or Samson. God gave this land to Israel, not to the Philistines. God could do it! Why not now? Why not today? Why not through me?
       
      He did not tell his father...
       
      Why not? It may have been just an oversight, or something easily and properly explained. Or, it may have been that Jonathan deliberately did not tell his father, because he believed his father would have simply said "no."
       
      Saul was sitting...
       
      What a contrast! The bold, brave, king is simply sitting … under a pomegranate tree while his son boldly goes over to the Philistine garrison. Saul is there, the priest with the ephod is there (as sort of an "army chaplain"). They sit back while Jonathan bravely trusts God.
       
      The mention of Ichabod seems almost unnecessary.
       
      Why would we need to know that the priest with Saul, Ahijah, was the nephew of Ichabod?
       
      When you think about it...God wants us to associate the meaning of Ichabod's name with where Saul is at spiritually. Saul's royal glory is almost gone, and it is appropriate that he associates with a relative of Ichabod...whose name means... "The Glory Has Departed."
       
      The people did not know that Jonathan was gone...
       
      This indicates that Jonathan did not go over to the Philistine garrison out of a desire for personal glory. If that was his motivation, he would have told at least a few people that he had gone over.
       
      Verses 4-5 tells us Jonathan finds a STRATEGIC position.
       
      "Between the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistines' garrison, there was a sharp rock on one side and a sharp rock on the other side. And the name of one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. The front of one faced northward opposite Michmash, and the other southward opposite Gibeah."
       
      Between the passes … there was a sharp rock on one side and a sharp rock on the other side...
       
      On his way to the Philistine garrison, Jonathan sees something that any military man would notice. He sees a strategic position - a narrow path through a pass, with large, sharp rocks on either side. A few men could easily fight against a much larger number at this strategic place.
       
      If Jonathan would have never decided, Come, let us go over to the Philistines' garrison that is on the other side (1 Samuel 14:1) he would have NEVER found this strategic place. God guided Jonathan as Jonathan was boldly trusting God, and acting on that bold trust.
       
      Verses 6-7 tells us Jonathan's bold proposal.
       
      "Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the LORD will work for us. For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few." So his armorbearer said to him, "Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart."
       
      It may be that the LORD will work for us...
       
      For Jonathan, this was more than a reconnaissance expedition. He wanted to see what God could do through two men who would trust him and step out boldly.
       
      Jonathan KNEW the NEED was great. Israel was already hopelessly outnumbered and demoralized.
       
      Jonathan ALSO KNEW God wanted to use someone. His father, King Saul, just wanted to sit under a pomegranate tree. Something had to be done, and Jonathan was willing to be used by God to do it.
       
       
      Jonathan ALSO KNEW God wanted to work with someone. Jonathan could have just prayed that God would rain down fire from heaven on the Philistines. But Jonathan knew that God uses the bold action and fighting spirit of His people.
       
      For NOTHING RESTRAINS the LORD from saving by many or by few...
       
      What wise courage in God! Many in Israel probably believed this as a theological truth. But few believed it enough to do something. Jonathan's faith was demonstrated by his works.
       
      Nothing restrains the LORD!
       
      Do we really believe it?
       
      Or does the title of J.B. Phillips' book describe us: Your God is Too Small.
       
      We often feel that God is restrained in one way or another.
       
      In reality, the only thing that could be said to restrain God is our unbelief.
       
      REMEMBER IN Matthew 13:58, it says of one time in Jesus' ministry, "He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief."
       
      God's power is never restrained, but His will may be restrained by our unbelief. He may choose not to act until we partner with Him in trust. God had a trusting partner in Jonathan!
       
      By many or few...
       
      IN OTHER WORDS...WHAT DID IT MATTER...IF THEY WERE MANY OR FEW WHERE GOD WAS CONCERNED?
       
      Who cares about the odds or the point spread when God is on your side?
       
      The odds were already against Israel.
       
      Did it matter if it was a million-to-one or a thousand-to-one?
       
      Numbers or odds did not restrain God, but UNBELIEF COULD, CAN, AND DOES.
       
      Jonathan never read the New Testament, but he had a Romans 8:31 heart: "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
       
      DO YOU NOTICE....where Jonathan had the emphasis?
       
      JONATHAN had little faith in himself, but great faith in God.
       
      It wasn't "I can win a great victory with God's help." It was "God can win a great victory through even me."
       
      AGAIN MEYER SAYS IT WELL, "He had the smallest possible faith in himself, and the greatest faith in God. His soul waited for the Lord; in Him was centred all his hope, and from his gracious help he expected great things. All he aspired to was to be humble vehicle through which the delivering grace of God might work."
       
      Go then; here I am with you...
       
      These words from Jonathan's armor bearer must have cheered Jonathan greatly. When we step out in faith, encouragement can make all the difference for good. And discouragement can make all the difference for evil!
       
      God was going to use Jonathan, but He wasn't going to use Jonathan alone.
       
      AND FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION, THE BIBLE TEACHES US AND SHOWS US...SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER...Almost always, when God uses a man, he calls others around that man to support and help him. They are just as important in getting God's work done as the man God uses. So, if you can't be a Jonathan, then find a Jonathan - and attach yourself to him as like Jonathan's armor bearer, AMEN?!
       
      Verses 8-10 tells us Jonathan proposes a test.
       
      "Then Jonathan said, "Very well, let us cross over to these men, and we will show ourselves to them. If they say thus to us, 'Wait until we come to you,' then we will stand still in our place and not go up to them. But if they say thus, 'Come up to us,' then we will go up. For the LORD has delivered them into our hand, and this will be a sign to us."
       
      Very well...
       
      THESE SIMPLE WORDS...indicates that Jonathan took the support of his armor bearer as confirmation.
       
      This will be a sign to us...
       
      In his step of faith, Jonathan wants to know he is really being led by God. So he proposes a test...
       
      They will show themselves to the Philistine guards. If they respond one way ("Come up to us") Jonathan will know God wants them to fight and win the battle. If the guards respond another way ("Wait until we come to you") Jonathan will know God does not want them to fight this day.
       
      Jonathan is showing wisdom, not unbelief, as some have wrongly stated.
       
      WHY?
       
      To this point, he is not acting on a specific, confirmed word from God. Instead, he is following the bold hope and impression of his heart. He is humble enough to know his heart might be wrong on this day, so Jonathan asks God to guide him.
       
      This is NOT the same as Gideon's setting of a fleece in Judges 6:36-40. Gideon had a confirmed word of God to guide him, and he doubted God's word.
       
      Jonathan WAS NOT doubting God's word, he was doubting his OWN HEART AND MIND.
       
      Jonathan is prompted by faith.
       
      DO YOU NOTICE, JONATHAN does not demand to know the whole battle plan from God in advance. He is willing to take it one step at a time, and let God plan it out. Faith is willing to let God know the whole plan and know our part one step at a time, AMEN?!
       
      Verses 11-14 tells us Jonathan and his armor bearer attack the Philistines.
       
      "So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, "Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden." Then the men of the garrison called to Jonathan and his armorbearer, and said, "Come up to us, and we will show you something." Jonathan said to his armorbearer, "Come up after me, for the LORD has delivered them into the hand of Israel." And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armorbearer after him; and they fell before Jonathan. And as he came after him, his armorbearer killed them. That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armorbearer made was about twenty men within about half an acre of land."
       
      Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden...
       
      At this time of crisis, the Israelites were hiding anywhere they could (1 Samuel 13:6). It was reasonable for the Philistines to think these were Hebrew deserters surrendering to the Philistines because they thought it was better than hiding in a hole!
       
      Jonathan said to his armorbearer, "Come up after me, for the LORD had delivered them into the hand of Israel." What an exciting moment this must have been for Jonathan! His bold trust in God had been confirmed by a sign, and now he knew God was going to do something great.
       
      Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armorbearer after him...
       
      This was a difficult climb. Jonathan was not the kind to say, "Well, it would be nice to do this. But the rocks are steep and there are a lot of Philistines up there. Let's just pray instead." No; he got down on his hands and knees and climbed! If we only want victory, or want to be used by God when it is easy, we won't see much victory and we won't be used very much.
       
      And they fell before Jonathan...
       
      Jonathan knew that the battle was the LORD's, yet he knew God would use him to fight. When Jonathan saw God's confirming sign, he didn't lay down his sword and start praying that God would strike them all down. He prayed, made sure his sword was sharp, and trusted that God would use him to strike them all down!
       
      Verse 15 tells us God attacks the Philistines.
       
      "And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling."
       
      There was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people...
       
      It seems that the Philistines, under a divine confusion, instantly awoke that early morning with the thought "We are attacked by enemies in our midst!" Then rushing about, they thought their fellow Philistines might be the enemy, so they began to fight one another, and kill one another!
       
      It didn't matter if the Philistines greatly outnumbered the Israelites, and had far better weapons. God was more than able to set the Philistines against each other. If the Israelites had no swords, the LORD would use the swords of the Philistines against the Philistines! AMEN?!
       
      Possibly God blinded their eyes or their minds, that they could not distinguish friends from foes.
       
      REMEMBER Judges 7:22; 2 Kings 6:18; 2 Chronicles 20:23, where God did the same thing. He sent confusion, panic, and blindness of a sort, so that they turned on one another.
       
      The earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling...
       
      Jonathan and his armor bearer had done their part. Now God was doing his part. Jonathan could use his heart and his sword, and he did. But what Jonathan could not do - send a great earthquake to terrify the Philistines - God did. Often we wait around for God to do what we can do. But God will often do miracles - what He alone can do - if we will do what we can do, AMEN?!
       
      The very great trembling must have terrified the Philistines. But it would have comforted Jonathan and his armor bearer. They would have been confirmed in their confidence in such a great God.
       
      Verses 16-19 tells us Saul learns of the battle.
       
      "Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there. Then Saul said to the people who were with him, "Now call the roll and see who has gone from us." And when they had called the roll, surprisingly, Jonathan and his armorbearer were not there. And Saul said to Ahijah, "Bring the ark of God here" (for at that time the ark of God was with the children of Israel). Now it happened, while Saul talked to the priest, that the noise which was in the camp of the Philistines continued to increase; so Saul said to the priest, "Withdraw your hand."
       
      There was the multitude, melting away...
       
      Imagine how this must have looked to the watchmen of Israel! They were keeping an eye on the huge army of the Philistines, and the army starts to melt away before their eyes.
       
      Call the roll...
       
      Why?
       
      Did it matter?
       
      What Saul should have done was go and fight the Philistines at this strategic moment. Instead, he was probably worried about who was leading the battle, and who would get the credit.
       
      Bring the ark of God here...
       
      Why?
       
      What for?
       
      ONCE AGAIN...Saul is probably trying to look spiritual here, but what did he need to seek God about? There is a time to go aside and pray, and there is a time to get your sword out and fight. Saul didn't know what time it was!
       
      While Saul talked to the priest … the noise which was in the camp of the Philistines continued to increase; so Saul said to the priest, "Withdraw your hand."
       
      It is strange that at this moment, Saul would not know what to do.
       
      His insecurity and fear and self-focus have paralyzed him.
       
      It was time to fight.
       
      But eventually, the noise of God and Jonathan fighting against the Philistines becomes so loud, that Saul knows he has to fight to. So, he tells the priest "Withdraw your hand."
       
      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
       
      WITHDRAW YOUR HAND means, "Stop seeking and answer from God with the urim and thummin," which were held in a pouch in the priest's breastplate.
       
      Verses 20-23 tells us Saul fights in the battle and a great victory is won.
       
      "Then Saul and all the people who were with him assembled, and they went to the battle; and indeed every man's sword was against his neighbor, and there was very great confusion. Moreover the Hebrews who were with the Philistines before that time, who went up with them into the camp from the surrounding country, they also joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. Likewise all the men of Israel who had hidden in the mountains of Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, they also followed hard after them in the battle. So the LORD saved Israel that day, and the battle shifted to Beth Aven."
       
      They went to the battle...
       
      SADLY...It has taken a long time for Saul, the leader of Israel, to start leading. Now he is following God and Jonathan into battle.
       
      Why was Saul just sitting … under a pomegranate tree when Jonathan was boldly trusting God for the victory?
       
      Probably Saul's insecurity had made him so afraid to fail that he didn't want to do anything. Now he will only go into battle because it seems like a "sure thing." We are far from a bold trust in God when we will only do what seems to be a "sure thing." Go out and do something bold. If you fail, and God wasn't really with it the way you thought He would be, then you still have tried. The armchair quarterbacks and back seat drivers have nothing to say to you!
       
      These were the hold-backs, who were out there to fight the Philistines, but didn't enter the battle until the odds were in their favor. Better to come out then than never, but how much better to have the bold trust of a Jonathan!
       
      Moreover the Hebrews who were with the Philistines before that time … also joined the Israelites...
       
      It seems that many in Israel had the insecure heart of Saul. These Hebrew deserters to the Philistines probably hated their masters, but were afraid to stand free in the LORD. They would only come out for Israel when victory was assured.
       
      These were the sell-outs, who had forsaken Israel and supported the Philistines when it seemed Israel was a "loser" and the Philistines were the "winners." Better to come out then than never, but how much better to have the bold trust of a Jonathan!
       
      Likewise all the men of Israel who had hidden in the mountains of Ephraim … they also followed hard after them in the battle...
       
      Others in Israel, when the Philistine oppression became severe, simply fled (1 Samuel 13:6-7). They were afraid to come out for Israel when things were bad, but now that victory seems assured they will join in the battle.
       
      These were the hide-outs, THE DESERTERS, who had left the scene of battle and stood on the sidelines until it seemed "safe." They would not stand for the LORD until the odds seemed to be in their favor. Better to come out then than never, but how much better to have the bold trust of a Jonathan!
       
      So the LORD saved Israel that day...
       
      God really used Jonathan, but it wasn't Jonathan's victory. It was the LORD's victory. God was just waiting for someone with the bold trust of Jonathan!
       
      Josephus says there were 6,000 Philistines killed in this rout. And all groups of people had a hand in the victory - the hold-backs, the sell-outs, and the hide-outs. But there was no doubt who led the battle: the boldly trusting Jonathan.
       
      THIS PASSAGE BEGS THE QUESTION OF US AND OUR OWN HEARTS AND FAITH IN THE LORD?
       
      Which of these groups of people are WE most like?
       
      God wins the same kind of victories today.
       
      INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, DID YOU KNOW, In fact, Keller recorded in, The Bible As History, pages 179-180, tells of ONE military man who read this account and used Jonathan's EXACT strategy to win an important battle.
       
      Here is the story from Major Vivian Gilbert, a British Army Officer:
       
      In the First World War a brigade major in Allenby's army in Palestine was on one occasion searching his Bible with the light of a candle, looking for a certain name. His brigade had received orders to take a village that stood on a rocky prominence on the other side of a deep valley. It was called Michmash and the name seemed somehow familiar. Eventually he found it in 1 Samuel 13 and read there: "And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin but the Philistines encamped in Michmash." It then went on to tell how Jonathan and his armour-bearer crossed over during the night "to the Philistines' garrison" on the other side, and how they passed two sharp rocks: "there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez and the name of the other Seneh." They clambered up the cliff and overpowered the garrison, "within as it were a half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plough." The main body of the enemy awakened by the melee thought they were surrounded by Saul's troops and "melted away and they went on beating down one another." Thereupon Saul attacked with his whole force and beat the enemy. "So the Lord saved Israel that day."
       
      MAJOR GILBERT reflected that there must still be this narrow passage through the rocks, between two spurs, and at the end of it the "half acre of land." He woke the commander and there read the passage through together once more. Patrols were sent out. They found the pass, which was thinly held by the Turks, and which led past two jagged rocks - obviously Bozez and Seneh. Up on top, beside Michmash, they could see by the light of the moon a small flat field. The brigadier altered his plan of attack. Instead of deploying the whole brigade he sent one company through the pass under cover of darkness. The few Turks whom they met were overpowered without a sound, the cliffs were scaled, and shortly before daybreak the company had taken up a position on "the half acre of land."
      The Turks woke up and took to their heels in disorder since they thought they were being surrounded by Allenby's army. They were ALL killed or taken prisoner. And so, after thousands of years British troops successfully copied the tactics of God and Jonathan.
       
      Verses 24 tells us Saul foolishly compels the army of Israel under an oath.
       
      "And the men of Israel were distressed that day, for Saul had placed the people under oath, saying, "Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies." So none of the people tasted food."
       
      Saul had placed the people under an oath...
       
      Jonathan, in his bold trust in the LORD, had just struck a mighty blow against the Philistines. God had totally routed and confused the Philistine army. Now it was the job of the army of Israel, under King Saul, to finish the job by striking down the fleeing Philistine army. And on this day of battle against the Philistines, Saul declared a curse. "Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies."
       
      On the surface, this sounds so spiritual. IN TODAY'S VERBIAGE, SAUL SAYS, "Let's set today aside as a special day of fasting unto the LORD. We want God to do a great work, so we should fast today. And I should enforce this among the whole army with a curse."
       
      What could be wrong with that?
       
      It was wrong because Saul's FOCUS was wrong.
       
      Notice his focus: IT IS SELF...HERE COMES THE I I I ....
       
      Before I have taken vengeance on my enemies. Saul, don't put the army of Israel under an oath so that you can take vengeance on your enemies. If that is how you regard this battle, then just fast yourself! Saul shows that even in the midst of doing something spiritual like fasting, his focus is on HIMSELF, not the LORD.
       
      Saul's desire is NOT the glory of God.
       
      It is the glory of Saul.
       
      He was not the first one, nor the last one, to command "religious" or "spiritual" acts for his own glory, not the glory of God. The focus here is not on the LORD, or on the LORD's victory, but on Saul's commanded fast.
       
      It was wrong because Saul's MOTIVE was wrong. It is possible that Saul genuinely did something he thought would please God, but this is unlikely. It is more probable to see TWO DARKER motives behind Saul's curse.
       
      He may have been acting out of a false spirituality. Before, when he first learned that the Philistine army was melting away, he "acted spiritual" by calling for the priest to bring the Ark of the Covenant and inquiring of God through the priest (1 Samuel 14:16-19).
       
      Or, Saul may have been acting out of insecurity, doing this to draw THE FOCUS on himself.
       
      REMEMBER Saul had been concerned with just who it was leading this attack (1 Samuel 14:17), because he knew the army and the nation would cherish this person AS A HERO.
       
      Now, through this curse, he puts the focus back on himself. That day, no one would be thinking much about Jonathan, or The Lord, because their hunger would always remind them of Saul's curse.
       
      It was wrong because Saul's sense of authority was wrong.
       
      Cursed is the man.
       
      Says who, Saul?
       
      Since when did you have the authority to proclaim such a curse?
       
      Are you now the spiritual leader of the nation?
       
      If any such fast was to be declared, and curse attached to it, the prophet Samuel had the spiritual authority to do it, NOT king Saul.
       
      It was wrong because Saul's promised punishment was wrong.
      Cursed is the man.
       
      That's a little heavy handed, don't you think?
       
      If Saul wanted to call for a voluntary fast, that was one thing. He might have said, "I'm fasting today before the LORD. I will not eat any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies. If anyone wants to join me, they are welcome." But instead of leading by example and inviting the army of Israel to follow, he placed the people under an oath...a curse.
       
      This in itself has a bad taste to it.
       
      We can imagine Saul standing before the whole army of Israel, and saying, "All right everyone. Raise your right hand and swear an oath before God" and then leading them in this forced, manipulated promise.
       
      Saul had probably left that assembly of the army thinking he had really done something ("What a great promise they all made!"). He had really done something all right; he had done something really bad. It is always WRONG to place someone else under a promise or under an oath. If it isn't on their heart to put themselves under the oath, it doesn't do any good to force them under it, AMEN?!
       
      It was wrong because Saul's timing was wrong.
       
      The day of decisive battle is not the day to command the troops that they do not eat.
       
      WHY?
       
      They NEED the energy, and they need the focus on the job at hand. They don't need the discouragement and the distraction of a forced fast. It was more important to achieve a complete victory over the Philistines that day. It's not that there was anything wrong with fasting itself, but that it wasn't the right time. It was Saul's day to fast, not the LORD's day to fast.
       
      It was wrong because the result among the army of Israel was wrong.
       
      No matter what Saul's motive was, it was a foolish thing to do. On this day of battle when the morale of Israel should have been the highest, and when the physical energy of Israel should have the strongest, instead the men of Israel were distressed that day. Because none of the people tasted food, the army was weak and discouraged on a day when they should have been strong and excited.
       
      Verses 25-30 tells us Jonathan UNKNOWINGLY breaks the oath and is told of his offense.
       
      "Now all the people of the land came to a forest; and there was honey on the ground. And when the people had come into the woods, there was the honey, dripping; but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath. But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath; therefore he stretched out the end of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his countenance brightened. Then one of the people said, "Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, 'Cursed is the man who eats food this day.' " And the people were faint. But Jonathan said, "My father has troubled the land. Look now, how my countenance has brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now would there not have been a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?"
       
      There was honey on the ground...
       
      This was provision from God! The Israeli army was hot on the pursuit of the fleeing Philistines. They were all tired and hungry. They needed energy to continue the pursuit and finish the battle. And here is honey on the ground!
       
      They really did need the energy.
       
      BALDWIN explains it well..."The mopping-up operations after a rout were all-important if the maximum benefit from the victory was to be reaped, but pursuit of the enemy involved an exhausting, unremitting journey over steep hills for hours on end."
       
       
      A taste of that honey would have given the soldiers the kind of sugar-rush energy they needed to carry on the battle.
       
       
      No one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath...
       
       
      This group of soldiers all saw the honey. It was dripping, right in front of their eyes. Yet Saul's foolish oath prevented them from receiving what God had put right in front of them!
       
       
      This must have been torture for the soldiers. And there was the honey, dripping. Right in front of their eyes! They want the honey. They need the honey. God provided the honey. But a foolish, legalistic command from Saul kept it from them. How this must have discouraged and embittered the soldiers!
       
      But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath...
      Jonathan ate some of that honey! Immediately, it did the weary soldier well: his countenance brightened. He needed the energy to fight, and here it was, provided by God.
       
      We may wonder at what exactly is meant by Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath. Did this mean that Jonathan did not know of the oath? Or, did he hear of the oath from others, but say to himself, "Well, since I wasn't there, my father never charged me with this oath. I never heard him say any such thing."
       
      My father has troubled the land...
       
      Perhaps Jonathan should not have said this. There was a sense in which he was undercutting his father's authority before the troops here. If there were anything to say, it would have been best to say it to his father directly. However, despite all that, Jonathan was exactly right!
       
      King Saul had indeed troubled the land with his pseudo-spiritual command to fast. Because of his command, the people were faint on a day when they should have been strong. They were weak and distracted. The victory could have been greater if the people could have eaten!
       
      You really can't say it better than Jonathan did...How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now would there not have been a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?
       
      Verses 31-35 tells us The soldiers of Israel sin because of Saul's foolish command.
       
      "Now they had driven back the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. So the people were very faint. And the people rushed on the spoil, and took sheep, oxen, and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood. Then they told Saul, saying, "Look, the people are sinning against the LORD by eating with the blood!" So he said, "You have dealt treacherously; roll a large stone to me this day." And Saul said, "Disperse yourselves among the people, and say to them, 'Bring me here every man's ox and every man's sheep, slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the LORD by eating with the blood.'" So every one of the people brought his ox with him that night, and slaughtered it there. Then Saul built an altar to the LORD. This was the first altar that he built to the LORD."
       
      The people rushed on the spoil … and the people ate them with the blood. God specifically commanded Israel that they should always properly DRAIN the blood from an animal before they butchered it.
       
      WHERE?
       
      IN Deuteronomy 12:23-25 is one place where God commanded this, "Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you may not eat the life with the meat. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it on the earth like water. You shall not eat it, that it may go well with you and your children after you, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD."
       
      Since the blood was the picture of life in any animal or man (for the blood is the life), God would not allow Israel to eat meat that had not been properly bled. Instead, it was to be given to God by pouring it out on the earth. Life belongs to God, not man, and this was a way to declare that.
       
       
      On this day of battle, because of Saul's foolish command, the people were so hungry they broke this command. Their obedience to Saul's foolish command led them to disobey God's clearly declared command.
       
      This is ALWAYS the result of legalism!
       
      AND WE REMEMBER Jesus said it plainly to the legalists of His day, IN MARK 7:8, "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men … All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition."
       
      We often think that legalistic rules will keep people FROM sin.
       
      Actually, the opposite is true.
       
      WHY?
       
      Legalistic rules lead us into sin, because they either provoke our rebellion, or they lead us into legalistic pride.
       
      AND REMEMBER Paul said it powerfully in Colossians 2:23, "These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh."
       
      You have dealt treacherously...
      Saul is blaming the people for what is really HIS OWN FAULT.
      He should have never made such a foolish commandment, and his commandment provoked the people into sin. But in his pride, insecurity, and foolishness, Saul set the people up to sin.
       
      Of course, this does not excuse the sin of the people. They are accountable for their own sin before God. Yet Saul is also accountable.
       
      AND REMEMBER Jesus referred to this principle IN MATTHEW 18:7, "When He said, For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!"
       
      Slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the LORD by eating with the blood...
       
      Saul set up a stone to properly butcher the animals, and also built an altar to the LORD. At least Saul is doing some of what is right after he had done what was wrong.
       
      Verses 36-39 tells us In response to God's SILENCE, Saul makes another foolish oath.
       
      "Now Saul said, "Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and plunder them until the morning light; and let us not leave a man of them." And they said, "Do whatever seems good to you." Then the priest said, "Let us draw near to God here." So Saul asked counsel of God, "Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You deliver them into the hand of Israel?" But He did not answer him that day. And Saul said, "Come over here, all you chiefs of the people, and know and see what this sin was today. For as the LORD lives, who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die." But not a man among all the people answered him."
       
      So Saul asked counsel of God...
       
      This was good. Saul should have sought the counsel of God. We shouldn't think that everything Saul did was bad before the LORD.
       
      He did not answer him that day...
       
      Saul inquired of the LORD through the priest. It is likely that the priest used the Urim and Thummim to inquire of the LORD.
       
      The use of the discerning tools of Urim and Thummim is described on a few occasions (Exodus 28:30, Numbers 27:21, 1 Samuel 28:6; Ezra 2:63, Nehemiah 7:65) and their use may be implied in other passages (Judges 1:1; 20:18, 23).
       
      AND WE REMEMBER, The names Urim and Thummim mean "Lights and Perfections." We aren't sure what they were or how they were used. Most Bible historians believe they were a pair of stones, one light and another dark, and each stone indicated a "yes" or "no" from God. The High Priest would ask God a question, reach into the breastplate, and pull our either a "yes" or a "no."
       
      On this occasion, the priest would probably start inquiring of the LORD with this question: "LORD, do you want to speak to us today?" Because we are told He did not answer him that day, probably when this question was asked, the stone that indicated "no" kept being drawn out.
       
      Many would consider the Urim and Thummim as crude tools of discernment. In fact, they are better than the tools many Christians use today. It would be better to use the Urim and Thummim than rely on feelings, or outward appearances, or to simply use no discernment!
       
      Why did the LORD not answer him that day?
       
      Saul was convinced the problem was that some violated his commanded oath. When he said, know and see what this sin was today, he was convinced the sin was among the people instead of in himself.
       
      Saul was so sure of being right he pronounced another oath...For as the LORD lives, who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.
       
      Of course, if Saul KNEW that it was Jonathan who had violated HIS oath, he would never had said this. But he was so caught up in BEING RIGHT, that he adds this foolish vow to his previous foolish commandment.
       
      AND WE SEE...Saul was very good at making religious oaths and promises. But that didn't mean very much, because he was NOT good at having a heart after God, and he was NOT good at keeping the oaths he made.
       
      Not a man among all the people answered him...
       
      The people KNEW that Jonathan had eaten of the honey, and Saul's sentence of death on anyone who had eaten must have sent a chill up their back. All the people loved and respected Jonathan, and they knew that Saul was in the wrong. But no one wanted to answer Saul!
       
      Verses 40-44 tells us Jonathan is IMPLICATED by the casting of lots.
       
      "Then he said to all Israel, "You be on one side, and my son Jonathan and I will be on the other side." And the people said to Saul, "Do what seems good to you." Therefore Saul said to the LORD God of Israel, "Give a perfect lot." So Saul and Jonathan were taken, but the people escaped. And Saul said, "Cast lots between my son Jonathan and me." So Jonathan was taken. Then Saul said to Jonathan, "Tell me what you have done." And Jonathan told him, and said, "I only tasted a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand. So now I must die!" And Saul answered, "God do so and more also; for you shall surely die, Jonathan."
       
      Saul and Jonathan were taken, but the people escaped...
       
      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
       
      Saul wanted to FIND the wrong doer by the casting of lots. They would separate people into two groups, then select one group by a "low" or "high" roll of something like dice. You would continue to narrow the selected group until you found your man.
       
      First, Saul wants everyone to know that he and his son Jonathan are innocent, so that is the first division. Imagine Saul's shock when the lot indicates that he and Jonathan are the guilty group!
       
      So Jonathan was taken...
       
      This must have shaken Saul. He had pronounced a death sentence on whoever ate in violation of his forced vow. And Saul, instead of admitting that his commandment and his death sentence were foolish, hardens in his foolishness, and declares "God do so and more also; for you shall surely die, Jonathan."
       
      THINK ABOUT THIS...WHAT PRIDE, ARROGANCE, AND EGO DO...
       
      Saul was willing to kill his son rather than to humbly admit that he is really at fault. Saul started out as a humble man (1 Samuel 10:21), but his once impressive humility is being overtaken by pride.
       
      Why did God allow the lot to pick out Jonathan?
       
      "Not in answer to Saul's prayers, which God valued not...but for THREE REASONS.
       
      1. To show that he is the dispenser of lots.
       
      2. To humble Jonathan, who was in danger of being puffed up too much with the joy of his victory.
       
      3. To discover Saul's hypocrisy.
       
      PERFECT LOT in the Hebrew is very close to the word for Thummim. They no doubt used the Urim and Thummim as the way to cast the lot.
       
      Verses 45-46 tells us The people RESCUE Jonathan from execution.
       
      "But the people said to Saul, "Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the LORD lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day." So the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die. Then Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place."
       
      Certainly not! As the LORD lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day...
       
      WE CAN SAY FINALLY AND WITH JOY...the people finally stand up to Saul's foolishness. They simply will not allow Jonathan to be executed. They knew that Jonathan was working for the LORD that day, not against the LORD.
       
      Was this right? Should Jonathan have been executed?
       
      No; he should not have been executed FOR THREE reasons.
       
      1. The oath itself and the pronouncement of the death penalty on the oath breaker were simply bad and foolish laws, and should not have been enforced.
       
      2. Jonathan broke the oath in ignorance.
       
      3. God's approval was evident from His great blessing upon Jonathan (he has worked with God today).
       
      Which had more to do with the victory won that day? Was it Saul's foolish regulation or Jonathan's bold faith in God?
       
      And the Philistines went to their own place...THIS SCRIPTURE ANSWERS THAT QUESTION WELL.
       
      The implication in this phrase is that the victory might have been much greater if not for Saul's foolish oath. JONATHAN'S BOLD FAITH AND TRUST IN GOD WON THE VICTORY, BUT THE VICTORY WAS NOT COMPLETE BECAUSE OF SAUL'S FOOLISH OATHS AND EGO.
       
      Verses 47-52 tells us Saul's MANY wars and his family.
       
      "So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the people of Ammon, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he harassed them. And he gathered an army and attacked the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them. The sons of Saul were Jonathan, Jishui and Malchishua. And the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal. The name of Saul's wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul's uncle. Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. Now there was fierce war with the Philistines all the days of Saul. And when Saul saw any strong man or any valiant man, he took him for himself."
       
      So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel...
       
      This last passage in the chapter is all about Saul's strength. And Saul was strong. He established his sovereignty over Israel. He fought many successful wars. He had a large and influential family. And the strength of his army grew (when Saul saw any strong man or any valiant man, he took him for himself). Saul's strength was broad over many areas.
       
      Ishbosheth, Saul's other son, THE CRIPPLED SON WE NOTICE IS OMITTED HERE, because SAUL intended to mention only those of his sons who went with him into the battles here mentioned, and who were afterwards slain with him. SAUL WANTED ONLY THE POWERFUL, BEAUTIFUL, CONNECTED TO HIM...SAUL TIME AND TIME AGAIN, REMOVED OR IGNORED ANY WHO DID NOT MAKE HIM "LOOK" GOOD IN THE EYES OF ISRAEL AND HIS ENEMIES.
       
      AND MEYER SAYS IT WELL OF THIS CHAPTER, "Saul alone was to blame. He had not only missed the greatest opportunity of his life, but he was already enwrapping himself in the unbelief, the jealousy, and moroseness of temper in which his sun was to be enshrouded while it was yet day."
       
      AND WE SEE, even while Saul's strength was broad, it was shallow.
       
      WHY?
       
      Because Saul was NOT and NEVER WOULD CHOOSE TO BE a man after God's own heart, because his own relationship with God was more about HIS image than substance, his kingdom cannot last. The weakness of Saul has been seen here and there; but in the next chapter it will be fully exposed.

    • June 29, 2016 1:38 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 15
       
      OPENS WITH...GOD REJECTS SAUL AS KING
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us of the Battle against the Amalekites. God gives a clear, radical command: destroy Amalek.
       
      "Samuel also said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'"
       
      Samuel also said to Saul...
       
      This was a message FROM ALMIGHTY GOD'S CHOSEN spiritual leader of Israel to THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL'S CHOSEN political and military leader of Israel. The message was clear: punish what Amalek did to Israel … go and attack Amalek, and UTTERLY DESTROY ALL that they have, and DO NOT spare them.
       
      GOD'S JUDGMENT Israel was to bring against Amalek was frighteningly complete: Kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey. God clearly told Samuel to tell Saul to bring a TOTAL JUDGMENT against the Amalekites.
       
      DID YOU KNOW....Utterly destroy...This Hebrew verb (heherim) is used SEVEN times in this account. The idea of total, complete judgment is certainly stressed.
       
      Why?
       
      SOME ASK...What did the Amalekites do that was so bad?
       
      Samuel EXPLAINED THE WHYS OF IT to Saul also: how he laid wait for him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Centuries before this, the Amalekites were the FIRST peoples to attack Israel after their ESCAPE from Egypt told to us in Exodus 17.
       
      HUNDREDS of years before, the LORD said He would bring this kind of judgment against Amalek.
       
      WHERE IS THIS WRITTEN?
       
      EXODUS 17: 14-16..."Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; for he said, "Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...Deuteronomy 25:17-19 repeats the point: "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore, it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget."
       
      The Amalekites committed a TERRIBLE SIN against Israel. When the nation was weak and vulnerable, the Amalekites attacked the weakest and most vulnerable of the nation (attacked your rear ranks, all the strangers at your rear, when you were tired and weary). They did this with NO provocation, NO reason EXCEPT BLOOD LUST, GREED, & VIOLENCE.
       
      THE BIBLE CLEARLY SHOWS US DOWN THROUGH TIME THAT God hates it when the strong take cruel advantage over the weak, especially when the weak are HIS PEOPLE.
       
      So God PROMISED to bring judgment against the Amalekites.
       
      BUT SOME POINT OUT, WAIT A MINUTE....ALL THIS HAPPENED MORE THAN 400 HUNDRED YEARS EARLIER!!
       
      WHY did God hold it against the Amalekites?
       
      This shows us an IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE OF OUR TRIUNE GOD!
      TIME DOES NOT ERASE UNREPENTED SIN BEFORE GOD.
       
      MANKIND SAYS...TIME FORGETS AND TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS, RIGHT?
       
      But before God, time cannot atone for sin.
      Only the blood of Jesus Christ can ERASE sin, not time.
       
      In fact, the time was time that the Amalekites were mercifully given opportunity to repent. And they did not repent! The hundreds of years of hardened unrepentant hearts made them MORE guilty, NOT LESS guilty!
       
      CLARKE SAYS IT WELL...."Nothing could justify such an exterminating decree but the absolute authority of God. This was given: all the reasons of it we do not know; but this we know well, The Judge of all the earth doth right. This war was NOT for plunder, for God commanded that all the property as well as the people should be destroyed."
       
      AND SOME ASK....WELL IF God wanted to judge the Amalekites, why didn't He just do it Himself?
       
      REMEMBER GOD COMPLETELY DESTROYED the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and its surrounding villages WITHOUT any help from man. Why not just do the same here?
       
      BUT WE KNOW, God had a SPECIAL purpose in this for His special nation, Israel. He wanted it to be a TEST OF OBEDIENCE FOR KING SAUL and all of Israel.
       
      Plus, since Amalek's sin against Israel was a military attack, God wanted to make the judgment fit the sin.
       
      Would God call His people today to fight such a war of judgment?
       
      Many today are afraid that this is the real agenda of the "religious right," and they imagine that they want to rule the world according to the Bible, and at the end of a gun.
       
      BUT WE KNOW, God has a completely DIFFERENT call for Christians under the NEW Covenant than He did for Israel under the Old Covenant.
       
      HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
       
      REMEMBER JOHN 18:36?
       
      Jesus said in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."
       
      Jesus made it clear that He was establishing a SPIRITUAL kingdom, not a POLITICAL OR MILITARY kingdom.
       
      AND EPHESIANS 6:12, Paul made it clear that the enemies of the church were not material, but spiritual.
       
      "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
       
      Through the centuries, whenever the church has TRIED to rule the world politically or militarily, it has run into ENORMOUS trouble.
       
      We want to win the world for Jesus Christ, but we want to do it through the influence of individual lives, transformed one at a time by the spiritual power of Jesus Christ.
       
      MEYER SAYS IT WELL, "Though God no longer calls His people to take up arms as instruments of His judgment, it does not mean that God has stopped judging the nations. "But we cannot suppose, for a single moment, that the judgment of the nations is to be altogether relegated to that final day. Throughout the history of the world the nations have been standing before Christ's bar. Nineveh stood there, Babylon stood there, Greece and Rome stood there, Spain and France stood there, and Great Britain is standing there to-day. One after another has had the solemn word - depart, and they have passed into a destruction which has been absolute and terrible."
       
      Verses 4-6 tells us Saul prepares for the attack on the Amalekites.
       
      "So Saul gathered the people together and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and lay in wait in the valley. Then Saul said to the Kenites, "Go, depart, get down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt." So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites."
       
      So Saul gathered the people together and numbered them...
       
      Saul was certainly a capable military leader. He shows he has the ability to gather and organize a large army. He also knew how to time his attack properly; he lay in wait in the valley.
       
      Saul said to the Kenites, "Go, depart"...
       
      Here, Saul shows wisdom and mercy in letting the Kenites go. God's judgment was not upon them, so he did not want to destroy them with the Amalekites.
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...
       
      The Kenites "were the posterity of Jethro, told to us in Judges 1:6, who, thought he went not with Israel, yet some of his children did, and were helpful."
       
      Verses 7-9 tells us Saul attacks the Amalekites.
       
      "And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed."
       
      Saul attacked the Amalekites...
       
      This was good, and in obedience to the LORD.
       
      But it was a SELECTIVE & INCOMPLETE obedience.
       
      WHY?
       
      First, Saul took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
       
      God commanded Saul to bring His judgment on ALL THE PEOPLE, including the king.
       
      Why did Saul take Agag king of the Amalekites alive?
       
      MOST AGREE KING SAUL DID IT, BECAUSE HE PERCEIVED THAT ROYALTY WAS EXEMPT FROM GOD'S JUDGMENT & TO GLORY IN HIS PERSONAL TRIUMPH OVER KING AGAG!
       
      As well, Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them.
       
      God had clearly commanded in 1 Samuel 15:3, that EVERY ox and sheep, camel and donkey was to be destroyed also, and Saul didn't do this.
       
      HISTORY TELLS US...In a normal war in the ancient world, armies were freely permitted to plunder their conquered foes. This is how the army was often paid. WE HAVE ALL HEARD THE ANCIENT ADAGE...TO THE VICTOR GO THE SPOILS OF MAN, WOMAN, AND BEAST.
       
      SO WHY was it wrong here?
       
      It was wrong for anyone in Israel to benefit from the war against the Amalekites, because it was an appointed judgment from God. This was just as wrong if a hangman were to empty the pockets of the man he has just executed for murder.
       
      As well, they were careful to KEEP WHAT THEY PERCEIVED THE BEST themselves, but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. They took the care to make sure that they took home the best, and we can imagine they were all pleased with what they had gained after the battle.
       
      This perhaps was worst of all, because Israel was NOT reflecting God's heart in His judgment. When they came home happy and excited because of what they gained from the battle, they implied there was something JOYFUL, HAPPY, & WEALTH GAINING in the midst of God's judgment.
       
      This dishonored God, who brings His judgment reluctantly and WITHOUT pleasure, LONGING that men would have repented instead.
       
      MACLAREN says it well, "Partial obedience is complete disobedience. Saul and his men obeyed as far as suited them; that is to say, they did not obey God at all, but their own inclinations, both in sparing the good and destroying the worthless. What was not worth carrying off was destroyed, - not because of the command, but to save trouble."
       
      MEYER reminds us..."But an even deeper reading of this story is permissible. Throughout the Bible Amalek stands for the flesh, having sprung from the stock of Esau, who, for a morsel of meat, steaming fragrantly in the air, sold his birthright. To spare the best of Amalek is surely equivalent to sparing some root of evil, some plausible indulgence, some favourite sin. For us, Agag must stand for that evil propensity, which exists in all of us, for self-gratification; and to spare Agag is to be merciful to ourselves, to exonerate and palliate our failures, and to condone our besetting sin."
       
      Verses 10-11 tells us God's word to Samuel.
       
      "Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments." And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night."
       
      I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king...
       
      God's heart was broken over Saul's disobedience. The man who started out humble and submissive to God was now boldly going his own way in disobedience to God.
       
      How can God say, "I greatly regret"?
       
      Does this mean that God did not know what would happen?
       
      That God wanted things to happen a certain way, but was powerless to make them come to pass?
       
      Not at all. This is the use of anthropomorphism, when God explains Himself to man in human terms, so man can have some understanding of God's heart.
       
      GOD KNEW from the beginning Saul's heart, and Saul's ways, and Saul's destiny.
       
      GOD KNEW that He had already sought for Himself a man after His own heart told to us in 1 Samuel 13:14.
       
      Yet, as all this unfolded, God's heart was NOT emotionless.
       
      GOD DID NOT AND DOES NOT sit in heaven with a clipboard, checking off boxes, coldly saying, "All according to plan."
       
      Saul's disobedience HURT God, and since we couldn't understand what was really happening in God's heart, the closest that we could come is for God to express it in the human terms of saying, "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king."
       
      And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night...
       
      Samuel shows that he has God's heart. It hurt God to reject Saul, and it hurt God's prophet to see him rejected. We are close to God's heart when the things that grieve Him grieve us, and the things that please God please us.
       
      Verses 12-13 tells us Saul greets Samuel.
       
      "So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, "Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal." Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, "Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD."
       
      So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul...
       
      Reluctantly, Samuel (who had anointed Saul as king years before) now comes to discipline the disobedient king.
       
      Was Saul grieved over his sin?
       
      Not at all. Instead, he set up a monument for himself.
       
      THIS TELLS US THAT KING SAUL was quite pleased with himself! He felt he had done something good, and he believed he was totally justified in what he had done.
       
      YOU NOTICE....There is not the slightest bit of shame or guilt in Saul, even though he had directly disobeyed the LORD.
       
      In coming chapters, God will raise up another man to replace Saul as king.
       
      David, in contrast to Saul:
       
      David was known as a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
       
      Even though David, as king of Israel, would also disobey God, the difference between him and Saul was great.
       
      HOW?
       
      David felt the guilt and shame one should feel when they sin.
      Saul didn't feel it. His conscience was dead to shame and his heart was dead to God. Saul's heart was so dead he could directly disobey God and set up a monument for himself on the occasion!
       
      He set up a monument for himself also shows that Saul is not the same humble man who once had a humble opinion of himself in 1 Samuel 9:21 and who once hid among the equipment out of shyness told to us in 1 Samuel 10:22.
       
      The years, the military victories, and prestige of the throne of Israel have all revealed the PRIDE in Saul's heart.
       
      But the truth is, SAUL was zealous for SAUL'S own honor and interest, but lukewarm where God only was concerned.
       
      Saul said to him, "Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD."
       
      HOW could Saul do this?
       
      How could he come to the prophet of God with such boldness, such confidence, and boast of his obedience?
       
      Because of his pride, Saul is self-deceived. He probably really believed what he told Samuel. He probably believed, "I have performed the commandment of the LORD."
       
      BUT THEN THE BIBLE AND HISTORY TELLS US CLEAR AS CRYSTAL THAT Pride always leads us into self-deception!
       
      Verses 14-16 tells us Saul "EXPLAINS" his sin to Samuel.
       
      "But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" And Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed." Then Samuel said to Saul, "Be quiet! And I will tell you what the LORD said to me last night." And he said to him, "Speak on."
       
      What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
       
      Saul had been proud of his accomplishments. He set up a monument for himself. He could openly - and in his own mind, honestly - say "I have performed the commandment of the LORD." At the same time, the evidence of his disobedience was could be heard, even as he spoke! The livestock that God clearly commanded to be killed could be heard, seen, and even smelt even as Saul said, "I have performed the commandment of the LORD."
       
      Pride and disobedience make us blind - or deaf - to our sin.
       
      What was completely obvious to Samuel was invisible to Saul.
       
      We all have BLIND SPOTS of sin in our lives, and we need to constantly ask God to show them to us. We need to sincerely pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
       
      I have heard people say to another over this passage, "If you only knew how obvious it was to everyone else that you are in the flesh, you would be terribly embarrassed."
       
      That could be said of almost any Christian at some time or another. We need to plead with God to reveal our blind spots to us!
       
      Saul's excuses are revealing.
       
      FIRST...SAUL blames the people, NOT himself (They have brought them … the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen).
       
      SECOND...SAUL includes himself in the obedience (the rest we have utterly destroyed).
       
      THIRD...SAUL justifies what he has kept because of its fine quality (the best of the sheep and the oxen).
       
      FOURTH...SAUL claims to have done it for a spiritual reason (to sacrifice to the LORD your God).
       
      Of course, while all this made perfect sense to Saul (in his proud self-deception), it meant NOTHING to God and Samuel.
       
      In fact, it was WORSE than nothing - it showed that Saul was desperately trying to excuse his sin by word games and half-truths.
       
      But even in his excuse, Saul REVEALS the real problem: he has a poor relationship with God.
       
      WE NOTICE how he speaks of God to Samuel: "to sacrifice to the LORD your God."
      The LORD was not Saul's God. Saul was Saul's God. The LORD was the God of Samuel, not Saul. In his pride, Saul has removed the LORD God from the throne of his heart.
       
      The rest we have utterly destroyed...
       
      BUT WE KNOW...As it turned out, this was not even true.
       
      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
       
      Saul, in fact, did not even do what he said he did.
       
      There were still Amalekites he left alive. HOW DO WE KNOW THIS...BECAUSE David later had to deal with the Amalekites told to us in 1 Samuel 27:8, 30:1, 2 Samuel 8:12.
       
      REMEMBER Haman, the evil man who tried to wipe out all the Jewish people in the days of Esther, was in fact a descendant of Agag!, CONFIRMED TO US IN Esther 3:1.
       
      Most ironic of all, when Saul was killed on the field of battle, the final thrust of the sword was from the hand of an Amalekite told to us in 2 Samuel 1:8-10.
       
      When we don't obey God completely, the "left over" portion will surely come back and trouble us, if not kill us!
       
      Then Samuel said to Saul, "Be quiet!"
       
      Samuel has had enough. He will listen to NO MORE from Saul. The excuse was revealed for what it was - just a LAME excuse. Now it is time for Saul to be quiet, and to listen to the word of the LORD through Samuel.
       
      But even in this, Saul can't shut up. He shows his proud desire to retain some control by replying, "Speak on."
       
      As if the prophet of God Samuel NEEDED Saul's permission! He would speak on, but not because Saul had given him permission. He would speak on because he was a MESSENGER OF ALMIGHTY GOD.
       
       
      Verses 17-21 tells us GOD'S charge against Saul, and his feeble defense.
       
      "So Samuel said, "When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel? Now the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, 'Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.' Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?" And Saul said to Samuel, "But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal."
       
      Now the LORD sent you on a mission … Why did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?
       
      This was the most apparent of Saul's sins. God had given him a specific command, and he had directly disobeyed it.
       
      Though the disobedience was the most apparent sin, the root of Saul's disobedience was far worse: SELF PRIDE.
       
      Samuel refers to this when he remembers when things were different with Saul: When you were little in your own eyes, were you not the head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel? Now, it could no longer be said of Saul, you are little in your own eyes. He was big in his own eyes, and that made the LORD small in his eyes!
       
      But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD...
       
      Saul first insists that he is innocent. But he is so self-deceived, that he can say, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD and then immediately describe how he did not obey the voice of the LORD! (Saul admits that he brought back Agag king of Amalek).
       
      Saul's claim, I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites is plain evidence of the power and depth of his self-deception.
       
      WHY?
       
      FIRST...SAUL admits that he brought back Agag king of Amalek. There was an Amalekite right in front of him whom was not utterly destroyed!
       
      SECOND...the Biblical record makes it clear that Saul had not even utterly destroyed the Amalekites, because:
       
      LATER DAVID fought them (1 Samuel 27:8, 30:1, 2 Samuel 8:12),
      LATER ESTHER fought them (Esther 3:1)
      LATER SAUL was killed by an Amalekite! (2 Samuel 1:8-10).
       
      Yet, Saul can "honestly" say, "I have obeyed the voice of the LORD" and "I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites" because he is self-deceived.
       
      But the people took of the plunder...
       
      After insisting he is innocent, Saul then BLAMES the people for the sin. His statement is a half-truth that is a whole lie. It is true that the people took of the plunder. But they did so by following Saul's example (he spared Agag king of Amalek), and with Saul's allowance (he did nothing to stop or discourage them).
       
      Saul certainly could be zealous in commanding his army when it suited him to be so.
       
      REMEMBER...In the previous chapter, he commanded a death sentence on anyone who ate anything on the day of battle. He was willing to execute his own son in his zeal to have his command obeyed.
       
      Saul was full of fire and zeal when it came to HIS OWN WILL, but not when it came to the will of God.
       
      AND SADLY, THEN AND NOW, THIS STATEMENT SPEAKS TO SELF-DECEIVED, SELF-PRIDE AND SELF-CENTERED PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO BE GOD'S SHEPHERDS, GOD'S VOICE, GOD'S MESSENGER IN MANY CULTIC RELIGIOSITIES TODAY...WHO ARE FULL OF ZEAL AND ADAMANCE ABOUT THEIR PREACHINGS AND TEACHINGS THAT HAVE NO BASIS IN THE WORD OF GOD....IT IS NOT THE WORD OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST THEY ARE SPEAKING, PROCLAIMING, AND COMMANDING...IT IS THEIR OWN SELFISH, SELF-CENTERED, PRIDEFUL ZEAL FOR THEMSELVES AND FURTHERING AND ELEVATING THEMSELVES...AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH JESUS CHRIST, ALMIGHTY GOD, AND HIS WORD.
       
      THIS IS A WORD AND A WARNING STRAIGHT FROM ALMIGHTY GOD....I DO NOT DOUBT THAT MANY WHO CALL THEMSELVES CALLED OF GOD, SPEAK TO GOD AND FOR GOD, AND PROCLAIM ALL THEY HAVE DONE FOR GOD...WILL BE JUST AS SHOCKED AS SAUL WAS TO FIND THEMSELVES AT THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT, INSTEAD OF THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST...AND FIND THEMSELVES THROUGH THEIR OWN LIPS, WORDS, SELF-DECEPTIONS AND DECEIVING OTHERS TO FIND THEMSELVES TOLD BY JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF...DEPART FROM ME...I NEVER KNEW YOU...AND WILL FIND THEMSELVES SPENDING ETERNITY IN THE LAKE OF FIRE...INSTEAD OF WITH OUR JESUS FOR ETERNITY.
       
      Verses 22-23 tells us Samuel prophesies God's judgment against King Saul.
       
      "Then Samuel said: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king."
       
      Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
       
      Religious observance without obedience is empty before God. The best sacrificial offering we could bring to God is a REPENTANT HEART (Psalm 51:16-17), and our bodies SURRENDERED to His service for obedience (Romans 12:1).
       
      One could make a thousand sacrifices unto God; work a thousand hours for God's service; or give millions of dollars to His work. But all of those sacrifices mean NOTHING TO JESUS CHRIST AND ALMIGHTY GOD if there is not a surrendered heart to God, shown by simple obedience.
       
      THEN AND NOW, RELIGIOSITIES PLACE GREAT IMPORTANCE OF POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE, OBEYING THE RITUALS, CEREMONIES CREATED BY MAN, NOT THE LORD GOD, AND CONCERN THEMSELVES WITH DECEPTIVE PRACTICES, SACRIFICES, RITUALS AS PROOF OF THEIR HOLINESS AND WORTHINESS...WHEN IN THE EYES OF THE LORD GOD THEY ARE IDOLATRY AND BLASPHEMIES AGAINST HIM.
       
      THEN AND NOW THE LORD GOD WANTS FAR MORE A REPENTANT, HUMBLE HEART AND A WILLING SURRENDER TO HIS WILL, IN HIS WORD, NOT MAN'S EDITTED, RE-CREATED, OR ALTERNATIVES TO HIS COMMANDS AND HIS WORDS FOUND IN THE BIBLE.
       
      For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry: A rebellious, stubborn heart rejects God just as certainly as someone rejects God by occult practices or idolatry.
       
      AND WE LEARN SOMETHING ELSE HERE TOO...
       
      Saul's problem WAS NOT just that he NEGLECTED some ceremony. That is how Saul thought of obedience to God. In today's world, he might have said, "What? So God wants me to go to church more? All right, I'll go." But religious observance was not Saul's problem; the problem was that his heart had become rebellious and stubborn against God. If religious observance was not helping that problem, then it was no good.
       
      AND WE ARE REMINDED AGAIN OF JESUS WORDS...COME OUT OF HER OH MY PEOPLE...JESUS WANTS YOU FAR FAR AWAY FROM RELIGIOUS POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE...JESUS WAS, IS AND ALWAYS SHALL BE ABOUT ONE ON ONE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM THROUGH A HUMBLE HEART AND LIFE AND A REPENTANT AND SURRENDERED WILL.
       
      It would have been easy for Saul to point his finger at the Amalekites or the Philistines and say, "Look at those Godless idolaters. They don't worship the true God like I do." But Saul didn't worship the true God either, because the real worship of God begins with surrender.
       
      KEIL SAYS IT WELL, "All conscious disobedience is actually idolatry, because it makes self-will, the human I, into a god."
       
      Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king...
       
      In his empty religious practice, rebellion, and stubbornness against God, Saul was rejecting God's word. So God rightly rejected him as king over Israel.
       
      It would be easy to say, "What, Saul will be rejected as king because he spared a king and a few sheep and oxen?
       
      BUT WE KNOW...Later kings of Israel would do far worse, and not be rejected as king. Why is God being so tough on Saul?" But God saw Saul's heart, and saw how rebellious and stubborn it was. Saul's condition was like an iceberg: what was visible might be managable in size, but there was far more under the surface that couldn't be seen. God could see it.
       
      So Saul was rejected … from being king...
       
      Yet, it would be almost 25 years before there was another king enthroned in Israel. Saul's rejection was final, but it was not immediate. God needed almost 25 years to train up the right replacement for Saul!
       
      Verses 24-25 tells us Saul's weak attempt to repent.
       
      "Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD."
       
      I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words...
       
      So far, so good. Saul's statement begins like a GENUINE confession, reflecting a genuinely repentant heart. But that changes as he continues: because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. In this, Saul refuses to own up to his sin; instead he blames the people who "made him" do it.
       
      Again, on the surface, this isn't such a bad statement of repentance. It is better than most the confessions of sin one hears today! Yet, at the same time, these were only words for Saul. His heart wasn't in them at all.
       
      WHEN WE ARE TRULY REPENTANT...WE STRIVE TO CHANGE...WE STRIVE TO HEAR AND OBEY THE BIBLE AND OUR JESUS TEACHINGS AND COMMANDS...
       
      SAUL MAY HAVE SAID WHAT HE THOUGHT HE NEEDED TO SAY, BUT HIS HEART WAS NOT IN IT...AND HIS LIFE PROVED IT.
       
      Worst of all, he tries to justify one sin with another. Because I feared the people makes that clear. "This was to excuse one sin with another. He should have trusted in God, done his duty, and not feared what man could do."
       
      CLARKE says it well, "This was the best excuse he could make for himself; but had he feared GOD more, he need have feared the PEOPLE less."
       
      Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD...
       
      Instead of dealing with the deep issue of his heart of rebellion and stubbornness against God, Saul thinks that with a word from Samuel, everything can be fixed. But a word or two from Samuel will not change the settled nature of Saul's heart.
       
      God knew Saul's heart.
       
      Not only did He know it was full of rebellion and stubbornness, but it was SETTLED in that condition. That is something that no man could know with certainty, looking from the outside.
       
      But God knew it, and God had told Samuel the prophet this was the settled state of Saul's heart. A simple "please pardon my sin" would not do when one's heart is settled in rebellion and sin against the LORD.
       
      Verses 26-31 tells us God's rejection of Saul as king over Israel is final.
       
      "But Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel." And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent." Then he said, "I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God." So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshipped the LORD."
       
      I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel...
       
      Samuel has nothing more to say on this matter, other than what the LORD has already said through him previously (1 Samuel 15:23). That was all there was to talk about.
       
      Why would Samuel say, "I will not return with you" when Saul just wanted him to worship with him? Because that worship would have no doubt also included sacrifices, and sacrifices of the animals that Saul and wickedly spared from the Amalekites. "This was a politic device of Saul's that Samuel might at least seem to countenance his design, in reserving the cattle for sacrifice; which Samuel seeing, refused to do it."
       
      AND YOU NOTICE...SAUL WANTED SAMUEL WITH HIM, SO THAT THE ELDERS AND LEADERS OF ISRAEL WOULD THINK ALL WAS FINE AND THAT SAUL WOULD NOT HAVE TO EXPLAIN THE WORDS OF SAMUEL, GOD'S JUDGMENT, AND SAMUEL'S ABSENSE FROM HIM.
       
      Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today"...
       
      Saul's desperate action provides a vivid object lesson on how the kingdom was torn away from him.
       
      As useless as the torn piece of robe was in his hand, so now his leadership of the nation was futile. Now he was ruling AGAINST God, not FOR THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL. And just as much as the robe tore because Saul grasped it too tightly, so his tight grip on his pride and stubbornness meant the kingdom would be taken away from him.
       
      In this respect, Saul was the OPPOSITE of Jesus, of whom it is said He had always been God by nature, did not cling to His prerogatives as God's Equal, but stripped Himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as a mortal man (Philippians 2:6-7).
       
      Jesus was willing to let go, but Saul insisted in clinging on. So Saul lost all, while Jesus gained all!
       
      The Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent...
       
      Saul might have thought there was a way out of this. He was thinking of what he could do to "fix" this. Samuel let him know there was NOTHING he could do. This was PERMANENT.
       
      Samuel uses a title for the LORD found ONLY HERE IN THE ENTIRE BIBLE: The Strength of Israel.
       
      This reminds Saul that the LORD is determined in His purpose, and is strong in His will. There will be NO change.
       
      The title The Strength of Israel was also important, because at that time, Saul probably thought of HIMSELF as the strength of Israel.
       
      After all, 1 Samuel 14:47 says, So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side. Saul was a mighty warrior, and it was easy for him to think, "I'm the strength of Israel." But he wasn't. The LORD God was The Strength of Israel!
       
      I have sinned, yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel...
       
      Saul's desperate plea shows the depths of his pride. He is far more concerned with his image than his soul and pleasing & obeying the Lord God.
       
      POOLE says it well, "Here he plainly discovers his hypocrisy, and the true motive of this and his former confession; he was not solicitous for the favor of God, but for his honour and power with Israel."
       
      So Samuel turned back after Saul...
       
      WHY did Samuel do this? Why didn't he lead an immediate rebellion against Saul, since God had rejected him as king?
       
      Because God had not raised up Saul's replacement yet, and Saul was better than the anarchy that would come with no king.
       
      So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshipped the LORD...
       
      Did this do any good?
       
      NO...It did no "good" in gaining the kingdom back for Saul. That was a decision God had made, and He made it finally. But it may have done Saul good in moving his proud, stubborn heart closer to God for the sake of saving his soul. At least it had that opportunity, so Samuel allowed Saul to come with him and worship the LORD.
       
      Verses 32-33 tells us Samuel carries out God's will.
       
      "Then Samuel said, "Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me." So Agag came to him cautiously. And Agag said, "Surely the bitterness of death is past." But Samuel said, "As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women." And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal."
       
      Then Samuel said, "Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me."
       
      WE NOTICE...For Samuel, the issue is NOT yet resolved. There is still the matter of Saul's incomplete obedience. God's command to utterly destroy all of Amalek still stood, even if Saul had not obeyed it.
       
      And Agag said, "Surely the bitterness of death is past."
       
      As Agag came to the old prophet, he thought, "We will let bygones be bygones. I guess this old prophet will let me go home now." The Living Bible expresses the thought well: Agag arrived all full of smiles, for he thought "surely the worst is over and I have been spared."
       
      As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women...
       
      Samuel makes it clear that Agag was NOT some innocent bystander when it came to the atrocities the Amalekites inflicted on Israel. Agag was the wicked, violent leader of a wicked, violent people. God's judgment against him and the Amalekites was just.
       
      And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal...
       
      Samuel was a priest, and had officiated at hundreds of animal sacrifices. He knew what it was like for the blade to cut into flesh; but he had never killed another person. Now, without hesitation, this old prophet raises a sword - or probably, a large knife, because that is what Samuel would have used in sacrifices - and brings it down upon this proud, violent king. Samuel hacked Agag in pieces.
       
      DO YOU NOTICE, AS I DID, SOMETHING IMPORTANT HERE....Samuel did it before the LORD. This was not before Saul, to show him how weak and proud he was. This was not before Israel, to show them how strong and tough Samuel was. No; this was before the LORD, in tough obedience to the LORD God. This scene must have been shockingly violent; the stomachs of those watching must have turned. Yet Samuel did it all before the LORD.
       
      Verses 34-35 tells us The tragic split between Samuel and Saul.
       
      "Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel."
       
      And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death...
       
      Samuel knew that it wasn't his place to see Saul. It was Saul's place to come to him in humble repentance before the LORD. If he did, it probably would not have restored the kingdom to Saul; but it COULD HAVE RESTORED his heart before God. But Saul NEVER CAME to see Samuel. Ramah and Gibeah were less than ten miles apart, but they never saw each other again.
       
      The next time Saul and Samuel "meet" will be a strange situation in itself! IN 1 Samuel 28...when Saul visits the witch of Endor.
       
      Nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul: Samuel was not a cold, dispassionate messenger of God's word. He hurt for Saul. "For the hardness of his heart, and the hazard of his soul."
       
      SAMUEL HAD JESUS HEART FOR LOST AND REJECTING MANKIND...HE CAME TO SERVE NOT BE SERVED AND JUST AS JESUS CAME TO SEEK AND SAVE THOSE THAT ARE LOST...SO THAT THROUGH JESUS CHRIST ALONE, THEY MIGHT BE SAVED.

       

    • June 29, 2016 1:36 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 16
       
      OPENS WITH GOD CHOOSES DAVID & SAMUEL ANOINTS HIM KING.
       
      FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN DAVID'S Psalms that may go with this period... PSALM 8, 19, 23, and 29.
       
      Verses 1-3 tells us God tells Samuel to go and anoint a new king over Israel.
       
      "Now the LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons." And Samuel said, "How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me." And the LORD said, "Take a heifer with you, and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.' Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you."
       
      How long will you mourn for Saul...
       
      There is a time to mourn, but there is also a time to move on and do what God wants us to do. Fill your horn with oil must have excited Samuel, because he knew that God wanted him to anoint someone else as king over Israel.
       
      AND THE BIBLE SHOWS AND TEACHES US THAT God will never allow His work to die with the death or failure of a man. If it is God's work, it goes beyond ANY man. Perhaps Samuel was paralyzed with mourning because of Saul's tragic rebellion, but God was NOT paralyzed.
       
      AND THIS IS ANOTHER REMINDER...GOD DID NOT MIND SAMUEL MOURNING FOR A BIT OVER SAUL, BUT HE DID NOT LIKE TO SEE SAMUEL DEPRESSED AND DESPAIRING....AND WE KNOW SURELY THAT...
      Satan wanted Samuel to REMAIN TRAPPED in mourning over the tragedies of the past.
       
      Satan wanted Samuel STUCK THERE, unable to MOVE ON with the LORD.
       
      But there are times when God tells us to simply MOVE ON.
       
      REMEMBER....This is what God told Moses at the shores of the Red Sea: "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward." in Exodus 14:15.
       
      NOW GET OVER MOURNING...IT WAS TIME FOR SAMUEL TO MOVE ON...GO FORWARD WITH GOD'S PLAN.
       
      I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite...
       
      The new king for Israel would be found among his sons, the sons of Jesse. Jesse was the grandson of Ruth and Boaz in Ruth 4:17, 22.
       
      How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me...
       
      We can certainly understand Samuel's fear.
      There isn't any doubt that Saul would consider this treason.
      At the same time, it shows a note of fear in Samuel we are almost surprised to see. Perhaps Samuel's excessive mourning over Saul has introduced an element of defeat, depression, fear and unbelief in his heart.
       
      In truth, Samuel didn't have anything to worry about, because God promised I will show you what you shall do.
       
      Was God telling Samuel to lie?
       
      Not at all.
       
      This was strictly true; Samuel did offer a sacrifice; and it does not appear that he could have done the work which God designed, unless he had offered this sacrifice, and called the elders of the people together, and this collected Jesse's sons.
       
      But Samuel did NOT tell the principle design of his coming; had he done so, it would have produced evil and no good: and though no man, in any circumstances, should ever tell a lie, yet in all circumstances he is NOT obliged to tell the whole truth & purpose.
       
      For I have provided Myself a king among his sons...
       
      Years before this, Israel rejected the LORD God as their king, and they wanted a human king instead. God gave them their human king, after their own desire (Saul), but God is still on the throne, crowning who He pleases, as He pleases.
       
      The simple fact was that God was ruling Israel. They could recognize His rule, submit to it, and enjoy the benefits; or they could resist His reign over Israel, and suffer because of it.
       
      We don't have to fear for the future when we know God has provided for Himself leaders. In some unlikely place, God is raising up leaders for His people. He will keep them obscure and hidden until the right time, then God will raise them up. God will always provide for Himself leaders.
       
      You shall anoint for Me the one I name to you...
       
      The first king of Israel was anointed FOR the people. He was the "king from central casting," the kind of king the people wanted. Now, the "people's choice" had failed and disqualified himself.
       
      Now, the LORD said, it's time for a king for Me. God was going to show Israel His king.
       
      Because Israel was not walking in God's heart, and God's mind, we should expect that God's king would not look like the "people's choice" king. God had no interest in bringing "Saul Number Two" to the throne of Israel. This would be a different kind of king, who would be unto the LORD a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
       
      Verses 4-5 tells us Samuel comes to sacrifice at Bethlehem.
       
      "So Samuel did what the LORD said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, "Do you come peaceably?" And he said, "Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice." Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice."
       
      So Samuel did what the LORD said, and went to Bethlehem...
       
      AND WE NOW...Bethlehem was a small town, not very far from Jerusalem. It was the home of Ruth and Boaz, from whom the family of Jesse descended. It was a hilly grain-growing region, with many small grain fields carved into the hillsides.
       
      And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, "Do you come peaceably?"
       
      Considering what Samuel had just done with the Amalekite king Agag (1 Samuel 15:33), it's no wonder the elders of Bethlehem were afraid.
       
      Come with me to the sacrifice...
       
      The idea was not that Jesse and his sons were to just watch Samuel sacrifice this heifer. They would watch the sacrifice, then they would share in a large ceremonial meal, eating the meat that came from the sacrificed animal.
       
      When an animal was sacrificed to atone for sin, none of it was eaten and it was all burned before the LORD. But when an animal was sacrificed as a peace offering, a fellowship offering, or a consecration offering, then part of the animal was burnt before the LORD, and part of it was eaten in a special ceremonial meal.
       
      Verses 6-10 tells us God DOES NOT choose ANY of Jesse's older sons.
       
      "So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him." But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." So Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, "Neither has the LORD chosen this one." Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, "Neither has the LORD chosen this one." Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen these."
       
      Surely the LORD's anointed is before Him...
       
      As Samuel looked at Eliab, the oldest son of Jesse, he thought "This man sure looks like a king. This must be the one God will tell me to anoint. That's a good choice, God!" Samuel saw a tall, good looking young man who looked like he would be a great king and leader.
       
      Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him...
       
      Samuel made the mistake of judging Eliab based on his appearance.
       
      This was the SAME MISTAKE Israel had made when it came to the failed king Saul. Saul looked the part of a king, but he DID NOT have the heart a king of God's people should have. It didn't matter how good Eliab looked, because God said, "I have refused him."
       
      For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
       
      This was both a statement of FACT, and an exhortation to godly thinking.
       
      WHY?
       
      FIRST...it was a statement of fact. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. Even the best of men will look at the outward appearance. Samuel was guilty of it right at that moment. We must understand that we can't read the secrets of someone else's heart, and we often do only judge on outward appearance.
       
      BLAIKIE says it well, "The world is full of idolatries, but I question if any idolatry has been more extensively practices than the idolatry of the outward appearance."
       
      SECOND... it was an exhortation to godly thinking. God was telling Samuel, "Your natural inclination is to only judge on outward appearance. But I can judge the heart that you can't see. So look to Me, and don't be so quick to judge a person only on their outward appearance." Samuel needed to know his natural inclination to judge only on outward appearance, but he didn't have to give into it. He could seek the LORD and seek God's heart and mind when looking at people.
       
      The LORD has not chosen these...
       
      God told Samuel that He had not chosen any of the seven sons of Jesse who attended the sacrificial feast. It WAS NOT that these sons of Jesse were bad men, but they were NOT God's choice. God had a man in mind different from Samuel's or Jesse's expectation.
       
      Eliab and the seven oldest sons of Jesse were perfect potential kings as far as the FLESH is concerned. But God didn't want a king after the flesh. Israel already had one of those! God needed to do more than fix up a fleshly king; God looked for a different kind of king.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "To educate and refine the flesh so that it may become profitable in His service is never God's plan. He insists on the sentence of death upon everything that you and I are in ourselves … There is only one place for all that is 'self' - on Calvary."
       
      MORGAN adds, "All the things which men count as privileges, and therefore as creating fitness for position and high service, are in themselves of no value in the sight of God. He looketh on the heart. He considers the deepest fact in personality, the inner and hidden impulse, desire, affection."
       
      Verse 11 tells us Samuel asks about a MISSING son.
       
      "And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all the young men here?" Then he said, "There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here."
       
      Are all the young men here?
       
      Samuel had a problem.
       
      God had told him of Jesse, I have provided Myself a king among his sons (1 Samuel 16:1).
       
      Yet here were the seven sons of Jesse, and God had not chosen ANY of these. Since Samuel knew God's word was true, he knew there must be ANOTHER son of Jesse who was NOT INVITED NOR INCLUDED at the sacrificial feast.
       
      Samuel was a prophet, and knew how to trust the word of the LORD given to him. He might have said, "I guess the LORD was wrong when He told me it would be one of Jesse's sons," but he didn't say that. He might have said, "It has to be one of these seven sons, so pass them by me again" but he didn't say that. He had confidence in the word of the LORD when it came to the prophecy regarding Jesse's sons, and he had confidence in the word of the LORD when it came to God's rejection of each of the seven sons.
       
      We should trust God's Word AS MUCH as Samuel trusted the word of the LORD!
       
      There remains the youngest...
       
      This shows the low regard David had among his own family.
       
      First, his father doesn't even mention him by name.
      Second, he wasn't even invited to the sacrificial feast.
      Third, he would not have been brought unless Samuel insisted on it.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "So small was David in his father's esteem that it wasn't considered necessary to include him in the family when the prophet of God called them to sacrifice."
       
      When we consider that David was the youngest of eight sons, we aren't surprised at the low regard he had in his own family. It wasn't because David's character or conduct was unworthy, it was simply because he was the youngest of eight sons.
       
      This is often how God chooses.
       
      Paul wrote that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called (1 Corinthians 1:26).
       
      God often chooses UNLIKELY people to do His work, so that all know the work is God's work, not man's work. He wants to work in a way so that people regard His servants as they regarded Samson: they wondered at the secret of his strength (Judges 16:5).
       
      AGAIN REDPATH says it well, "You may not be intellectual or well thought of in your family circle; you may be despised by others for your faith in Christ. Perhaps you had only a little share in the love of your parents, as David did. But remember that those who are rejected of men often become beloved of the Lord."
       
      And there he is, keeping the sheep...
       
      When was David called for this great anointing? When he was out keeping the sheep. David was simply doing his job, being faithful in small things and doing what his father told him to do.
       
      AND WE KNOW TOO...Keeping the sheep was a servant's job. The fact that David was out keeping the sheep showed that the family of Jesse was NOT especially wealthy, because if they were, a servant would have been keeping the sheep. But they were NOT affluent enough to have servants. David was the servant, and keeping the sheep was a servant's job.
       
      CHARLES SPURGEON says it well, "David was none of your strutting peacocks who cannot be content unless all eyes are upon them; he sang God's praises as the nightingale will sing in the dark when no human ear is listening and no eye is admiring. He was content to bloom unseen, knowing that the sweetness of a renewed heart is never wasted on the desert air. He was satisfied with God alone as his auditor, and he coveted not the high opinion of man."
       
      AND WE KNOW...Keeping the sheep meant you had time to think. David would spend a lot of time looking over the sheep and looking at the glory of God's creation. God built in him the heart that would sing,
       
      REMEMBER PSALM 19:1-4, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world."
       
      PSALM 8, GIVES US ANOTHER GLIMPSE INTO THE HEART OF THIS BOY DAVID.
       
      "O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens! Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen; even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!"
       
      Keeping the sheep took a special heart, a special care. It meant you knew how sheep needed the care and help of a good shepherd. It meant that you knew you were a sheep and God was your shepherd. During these years, God built in David the heart that would sing,
       
      REMEMBER THE WELL KNOWN AND BELOVED PSALM 23.
       
      AND DID YOU KNOW...Keeping the sheep meant you had to trust God in the midst of danger. David had lions and bears and wolves to contend with, and the sheep had to be protected. The country round Bethlehem was not a peaceful paradise, and the career of a shepherd was not the easy life of lovesick swains which poets dream.
       
      Does God have you keeping the sheep right now?
       
      Are you in a humble, lowly, servant's place, but feel that God has called you to greater things?
       
      If He has, it will only be fulfilled as you are faithful in keeping the sheep right where you are at.
       
      This isn't waiting time, this is training time.
       
      David was a great man, and a great king over Israel, because he NEVER lost his shepherd's heart.
       
      Verses 12-13 tells us David is chosen and anointed.
       
      "So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!" Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah."
       
      Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking...
       
      The physical description of David tells us he was of fair complexion (this is probably the meaning of ruddy, and a light complexion was considered attractive in that culture). He had bright eyes, which speak of vitality and intelligence. And he was good-looking.
       
      David had a pleasant appearance, but he did not look like Saul, who was a choice and handsome young man. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people. (1 Samuel 9:2)
       
      David looked nice, but you didn't look at him and say, "There's a born leader. There is a king." That is what people said when they looked at Saul. When they looked at David, they said "That's a nice looking boy."
       
      But look at what God said to Saul about David prophetically in 1 Samuel 15:28: "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you." As unlikely as he appeared, David was better than Saul in the eyes of God.
       
      We don't know how old David was at this time. The ancient Jewish historian Josephus says that David was ten years old. Others guess he was about fifteen years old. It's safe to say he was somewhere in that range.
       
      And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!"
       
      David's seven brothers, by all outward appearance, seemed to be better material for royalty. David, as unlikely as he was, was the one.
       
      If it was strange for God to find the king of Israel at the sheepfold, it was even stranger for the Savior of the World to come from a carpenter's shop.
       
      God looks for different qualities in leaders than we normally look for.
       
      David was a shepherd, but there were a lot of shepherds.
      David was good-looking, but so were a lot of young men.
      David was young, but there were plenty of young men God could have chosen.
       
      God described what made David SPECIAL in 1 Samuel 13:14: "The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD had commanded him to be commander over His people."
       
      What made David the one was that he was a man after God's own heart.
       
      God's choice of David shows that we DO NOT have to quit our jobs and enter into full-time ministry to be people after God's own heart.
       
      We DO NOT need to be famous or prominent to be people after God's own heart.
       
      We DO NOT need to be respected or even liked by others to be people after God's own heart.
       
      We DO NOT need status, influence, power, the respect or approval of men, or great responsibilities to be people after God's own heart.
       
      Where did David get this heart?
       
      Obviously, from time spent with the LORD.
       
      But SOMEONE started him on that path.
       
      WE NOTICE FROM SCRIPTURE THAT David says NOTHING of his father, but TWICE in the Psalms he refers to his mother as a maidservant of the LORD (Psalm 86:16 and 116:16).
       
      Probably, it was David's godly mother who poured her heart and love and devotion of the LORD into him, and gave him a foundation to build on in his own walk with the LORD. God used David's mother to pour into him a godly faith.
       
      Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers...
       
      From the actions of David, Jesse, and David's brothers from this point on, we can gather that ONLY God and Samuel knew exactly what was happening here.
       
      REDPATH says it well, "Everyone else probably thought that Samuel was just honoring David for some reason. Probably no one even dared to think that this was David's anointing to be king over all Israel. But God knew, because He had been working in David's heart for a long time. "The public anointing was the outcome of what had taken place in private between David and God long before."
       
      In SOME ways, David's anointing was similar to Saul's (1 Samuel 10:1).
       
      Both were anointed in secret, and neither immediately took the throne.
       
      But over time, David responded to the anointing of God in a completely different way than Saul.
       
      There were THREE OUTWARD EVIDENCES of the destiny God had for David's life.
       
      The FIRST EVIDENCE was the anointing. He received that immediately.
       
      The SECOND EVIDENCE was the spiritual battle he entered into with Saul.
       
      The THIRD EVIDENCE was when he received the crown and was enthroned in Israel, some 25 years later.
       
      It was a long time between the time David was chosen and anointed to be a king and the time he was crowned.
       
      In our lives, it is a long time for most of us between when we are chosen and anointed, and the time when we receive our crowns (2 Timothy 4:8).
       
      In between, there is a lot of conflict and spiritual warfare God has for us.
       
      AND WE NEED TO REMEMBER...SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT HERE....The spiritual warfare is just as much evidence of our destiny as the anointing and the crowning!
       
      And the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward...
       
      The real anointing happened when the Holy Spirit came upon David. The oil on the head was just a sign of this inward reality.
       
      The symbol of the Holy Spirit coming upon David was the anointing oil on his head.
       
      The symbol of the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus was the dove that appeared from heaven.
       
      The symbol of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples was the tongues of fire that appeared over their heads.
       
      The Holy Spirit loves to do His work as He wills, in many different ways.
       
      So Samuel arose and went to Ramah...
       
      What?
       
      SOME HAVE SAID...WHY didn't Samuel begin a "Let's Enthrone David" political party?
       
      WHY didn't Samuel begin to undermine Saul's throne, and look for a way to establish David as king?
       
      THE REASON SIMPLE...IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT...
       
      Samuel took one look at a young David, and reacted exactly the way God wanted him to: "LORD, I don't know why You chose this kid. But You will have to put him on the throne. I can't do it."
       
      And God would do it.
       
      1 Samuel 16:13 is the first mention of the name David in the book of 1 Samuel.
       
      He has been prophetically referred to on several occasions before (1 Samuel 13:14, 15:28).
       
      But this is the first mention of his name, David which means "Beloved" or "Loved One."
       
      David will become one of the greatest men of the Bible, being mentioned more than 1,000 times in the pages of Scripture - more than Abraham, more than Moses, more than any man in the New Testament.
       
      It's no accident that Jesus wasn't known as the "Son of Abraham" or the "Follower of Moses," but as the Son of David (Matthew 9:27 and at least a dozen other places).
       
      But it all began here - as David was keeping the sheep.
       
      No wonder the LORD would later say of David, in Psalm 78:70-72: "He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes that had young He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands."
       
      Verse 14 tells us Saul's distressing spirit troubles him.
       
      "But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him."
       
      In 1 Samuel 16:13, the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. As the Spirit of the LORD comes upon David, a distressing spirit came to Saul, and troubled him.
       
      SOME HAVE ASKED, If God is all-good, why did He send a distressing spirit upon Saul?
       
      There are TWO SENSES in which God may send something.
       
      He may send something in the active sense.
       
      He may send something in a passive sense.
       
      ACTIVELY, God NEVER initiates or performs evil; He is the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:17).
       
      BUT...PASSIVELY, God may withdraw the hand of His protection, and therefore allow evil to come, without being the source of the evil itself.
       
      This is indicated by what happened with Saul.
       
      FIRST, the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul. This meant Saul lost his spiritual "protection" and covering.
       
      So, Satan was more than ready to send a distressing spirit to fill the void in Saul.
       
      ANOTHER IMPORTANT POINT TO REMEMBER....
       
      This is why THE CONTINUAL presence of the Holy Spirit for all Christians, who love Jesus Christ, and call Him Lord, Savior, Master, & Friend is such A COMFORT for us.
       
      WHY?
      We don't have to fear that God will take the Holy Spirit from us (Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
       
      Why Did God allow all this? Perhaps this was to judge Saul's past wickedness and rebellion against the Holy Spirit's guidance. This may be an example of God giving Saul over to his sin.
       
      Saul clearly had the Spirit of the LORD upon him at one time (1 Samuel 10:10).
       
      Yet, as he showed himself proud and rebellious against God, Saul resisted the Holy Spirit.
       
      Saul told the Holy Spirit "No" and "Go away" so many times, that God finally gave Saul what he wanted. But Saul never realized the price he would pay when the Spirit of the LORD departed from him.
       
      Saul thought he would be more free to do his thing without the Spirit of the LORD "bugging" him. He didn't realize he would be in even more bondage to a distressing spirit that troubled him.
       
      Even in this, Saul could have repented. He was NOT past the place of repentance and restoration before God. It was up to him to receive God's correction and respond with a tender, repentant heart before the LORD.
       
      A distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him...
       
      Today, Saul would probably be diagnosed as mentally ill. Yet his problem was spiritual in nature, NOT mental or psychological.
       
      There are many people in mental hospitals today that are really suffering from spiritual problems. It is certainly wrong to assume that every case of mental distress is spiritual, because chemical imbalances and physiological problems are also real in our fallen world. Even so, there are certainly some that liberation from a distressing spirit, and may never find it in our modern mental health system.
       
      Verses 15-17 tells us A solution suggested.
       
      "And Saul's servants said to him, "Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well." So Saul said to his servants, "Provide me now a man who can play well, and bring him to me."
       
      Saul's servants said to him, "Surely a distressing spirit from God is troubling you."
       
      It was OBVIOUS to EVEN Saul's servants, but it does not seem to have been obvious to Saul. Often our spiritual condition is far more apparent to others than it is to our selves.
       
      Seek out man who is a skillful player...
       
      Essentially, Saul's servants are advising that he find what we would call a "worship leader." They will seek out a man who can, using music, bring the love, peace, and power of God to Saul.
       
      God created music, and gave it the capability to touch people with great power. Music can be used for great good or for great evil, because it is such a power tool of communication to our inner being.
       
      Especially, God wants the power of music to be used in worshipping Him.
       
      In HEAVEN...God's people worship Him with music and singing (Revelation 14:2-3).
       
      On EARTH, we should worship God the same way (Psalm 150).
       
      Worship is, and should be, more than music and singing; but certainly music and singing are wonderful, God-appointed ways to worship the LORD!
       
      God wants His people to worship Him, and God can do a tremendous work in the hearts and lives of His people through worship. Because worship is so important, worship leaders are important. Saul needed to be led into worship, so it was important to seek out a man to do the job.
       
      There is a sense in which the worship minister is like a priest in the Old Testament, standing between God and the congregation. His job is not to entertain the people, or even to please the people, but to lead them into worshipping God in Spirit and in truth.
       
      In describing the ministry of priests in Exodus 28:1-21, 29, the LORD repeatedly called them to minister to Me.
       
      Clearly, the job of the priests was to offer ministry unto God; yet at the same time, God wanted them to have a heart for the people. On their shoulders and over their hearts, God wanted to priests to have the names of the tribes of Israel.
       
      This shows both aspects of worship ministry - it has to be done unto the LORD, yet with the people on our hearts and shoulders. In worship ministry, there can be two harmful extremes. We can do ministry connected to the LORD, but not to the people; or we can do ministry connected to the people but not to the LORD. We have to be in close communion with God, and have the people on our hearts (loving them) and on our shoulders (working hard for them).
       
      You shall be well...
       
      In the past, Saul received the Spirit of the LORD in the presence of music (1 Samuel 10:10). Perhaps this is an effort to recreate that experience.
       
      Verse 18 tells us A man is nominated.
       
      "Then one of the servants answered and said, "Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the LORD is with him."
       
      Look, I have seen a son of Jesse...
       
      Saul's servants suggested that Saul command a search; Saul commanded the search, and then one of Saul's servants answered and said he had found a man to be Saul's worship leader.
       
      What kind of man was this son of Jesse (David), to make him a fit worship leader for Saul?
       
      FIRST...Skillful in playing...
       
      To lead Saul in worship, and to minister to him in music, David had to be skillful in playing. The technical quality of music makes a difference in being an effective worship leader. The heart matters, but so does technical ability.
       
      This DOES NOT mean that a person has to be a virtuoso before they can be used of God. But it does mean that they cannot tolerate a too casual, unconcerned, lazy, "we don't really need to practice" attitude. Skillful in playing reflects an attitude as much as it reflects ability.
       
      SECOND....A mighty man of valor, a man of war...
       
      Worship ministry is a constant battleground.
       
      There are often conflicts and contentions surrounding worship ministry, and if someone isn't equipped and ready for spiritual warfare, they will probably be spiritually and emotionally "injured" in worship ministry, and probably "injure" others!
       
      So much of what makes a person a good musician or a good artist goes against true worship ministry. The desire for the spotlight, the desire for prominence, the desire for attention, the need for ego satisfaction, all work AGAINST effective worship.
       
      Worship ministers must make war against the world.
       
      Worldly ideas and approaches to music don't belong in worship ministry. This isn't to say that certain musical styles are off-limits; much of today's "old fashioned gospel music" was cutting edge when first composed. But it does mean that the things that are important to the world in music shouldn't be important in worship.
       
      Worship ministers must make war against the devil.
       
      He is constantly trying to stir up strife, jealousy, hurt feelings, pride, discouragement, and anything else he can find. Satan has a special "regard" for worship ministry, because before his fall, he was the "worship leader" of heaven (Ezekiel 28:12-15).
       
      Worship ministers must make war against the flesh.
       
      To be effective in worship ministry, or in any ministry, one must die to self. If you "must" be up on the platform, you need to die to self. If you "must" have a solo, you need to die to self. If you "must" have it your way, you need to die to self. Much of the conflict in worship ministry blamed on the devil really comes just from the flesh. The devil just doesn't have the time to be the source of all the problems that can come up in worship ministry! Sometimes it is much more convenient to blame then devil than to die to self and crucify the flesh with its passions and desires.
       
      THIRD...Prudent in speech...
       
      Good worship ministry needs a lot of diplomacy. Everyone has an opinion on music, and everyone has a suggestion. Effective worship ministers know when to speak and when to be quiet on the platform, among the team, and in the congregation.
       
      FOURTH...A handsome person...
       
      David was a good-looking young man (1 Samuel 16:12). An effective worship minister doesn't need to be a fashion model, but their appearance is important. They need to present themselves so as to be invisible. If they are so dressed up, or so dressed down, that their appearance calls attention to themselves, it needs to change.
       
      FIFTH...The LORD is with him...
       
      This is the MOST IMPORTANT attribute.
      The other measures will grow and develop, but it must be said of any worship minister, the LORD is with him. This means that they called by God, submitting to God, and submitting to whatever leadership the LORD has placed over them.
       
      Verses 19-23 tells us David enters Saul's court.
       
      "Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, "Send me your son David, who is with the sheep." And Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine, and a young goat, and sent them by his son David to Saul. So David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer. Then Saul sent to Jesse, saying, "Please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight." And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him."
       
      Send me your son David, who is with the sheep...
       
      Since this happened after Samuel anointed David, we know that he simply returned to the sheep after he was anointed king. Perhaps David didn't understand the significance of what Samuel did yet. Or, if he did, he understood that it was God's job to bring him to the throne. In the meantime, David would simply go back to the sheep.
       
      David did not have to manipulate his way into the palace or into Saul's favor. He allowed the LORD to open the doors for him. David didn't have to wonder, "Is this of the LORD or is of me?" because he let the LORD open the doors FOR him.
       
      And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer...
       
      David was an outstanding young man who was worthy of his name ("Beloved" or "Loved One"). Saul took to him immediately, and gave him the important and trusted position of armorbearer, his chief assistant in battle. A soldier's life would often depend on the courage and faithfulness of his armorbearer, and Saul knew David was worthy of this position.
       
      This was an important time in David's life and training for the destiny God had for him.
       
      WHY?
       
      For the first time, he was in a royal court, and began to learn the customs and manners that he would need to be a good king later in life.
       
      David would take a harp and play it...
       
      A harp is a lyre, the ancient version of the guitar. This isn't speaking of one of the big harps you might find in an orchestra.
       
      Then Saul would become refreshed and well...
       
      God used David to minister to Saul. David was happy to be used. What seemed like a great arrangement would not stay great for very long.
       
      God was at work in ways no one could see. It seems plain to us from our distant perspective, but at the time, perhaps only Samuel knew what was going on.
       
      BALDWIN says it well, "Unwittingly, Saul was becoming dependent on the one designated to succeed him."

       

    • June 29, 2016 1:34 AM EDT
    • 1 SAMUEL 17
       
      OPENS WITH DAVID AND GOLIATH
       
       
      Verses 1-10 tells us The Philistine Goliath challenges Israel.
       
      "Now the Philistines gathered their armies together to battle, and were gathered together at Sochoh, which belongs to Judah; they encamped between Sochoh and Azekah, in Ephes Dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him. Then he stood and cried out to th