1 Samuel

1 Samuel Intro – The Books of I & II Samuel provide an account of Jewish history from the end of the Judges to the last years of King David (about 1075 – 975 BC). The prophet Samuel would transition Israel from ruling judges to kingship by first appointing Saul, then David as the nation’s first kings.

1 Samuel 1-28:

Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah. So far she was barren but her rival wife, Peninnah, already had sons and daughters and would taunt Hannah without mercy. So Hannah sought the Lord in the Temple one day with some serious prayer for a son. Because she did not speak aloud but only her lips moved, Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk and began to scold her. Once she explained herself and promised to dedicated her future child wholly unto the Lord, he told her to go in peace and said, “May God grant your request.” Full of faith from what the priest said, Hannah’s countenance lifted and she fully believed that she would have a son. Soon she gave birth to Samuel and gave him to Eli at the Temple after the child was fully weaned. From that point on, Samuel was raised in the Temple.

Application for Today: When we hear of the promises of our God, rejoice in them knowing that they will come to pass. No one can stay sad very long if they do this. God also hears silent prayers!

1 Samuel 2:

1-17: Hannah prayed an anointed prayer to God describing many of His great attributes. It shows how much she knew Him. Samuel stayed behind and was raised in the Temple under Eli, the priest. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were not good. They disregarded and broke laws concerning the burnt offerings and did it in front of the people.

18-21: Samuel continued to minister unto the Lord wearing robes that his mom would bring once a year during the yearly sacrifice. When Eli saw Hannah and her husband, he would bless them in the name of the Lord and asked God to give them children to replace the one she dedicated to God. She lived on to have 3 sons and 2 daughters as the boy Samuel grew up in the Lord.

22-25: Bad news for Eli’s wicked sons – Eli heard about their sin but they would not listen to the voice of their father for the Lord was planning on putting them to death.

26: Samuel grew in stature and favor with God and men.

27-36: A man of God came to Eli and rebuked him for allowing his evil sons to continue their evil all this time. Because Eli did not condemn them and get them out of their official positions, God viewed this as honoring his sons over Him. Not good. Eli’s judgment was that God would wipe out his family from being priests and they will die before their time. A few will survive but it would be sad for them and their children would die by the sword. As a sign that these things would come to pass, he predicted that both Hophni and Phinehas would die on the same day.

Application for Today: God has given us all talents and gifts to be used to build His Kingdom on earth while we are here. The bigger the responsibility the bigger the expectations, and the bigger the judgment, especially concerning behavior. A stricter judgment awaits anyone who has a big anointing upon their life if they fall into evil and do not walk with the Spirit. Examples include: Moses not entering the Promised Land, King David’s nation was divided with waring factions because of his sin with Bathsheba, Solomon backsliding from God due to his attraction for many women, and some televangelists of today. James 3:1 and Matthew 25:14-26 also speak of this concept. Bottom line = be faithful with whatever God has given you, whether it be small or great.

1 Samuel 3 – The Calling of Samuel – Any word or vision from God was rare in these days and Eli’s eyesight was failing due to aging (cataracts?). Now the boy Samuel heard an audible voice calling his name. After the third time, Eli realized it was God speaking to him so he told Samuel to acknowledge the Lord and listen to Him, which he did. God told him He was about to do a shocking thing in Israel, including the executing of His judgment against Eli and his house. The next day, Eli insisted that Samuel tell him all that God had said. After reluctantly revealing to Eli what was said, Eli agreed that it indeed was the Lord and yielded himself to that judgment. Apparently, Eli was open to God’s truth and justice. All of Israel now recognized that God had raised up Samuel as their official prophet.

1 Samuel 4 – War broke out with the Philistines and Israel was defeated in the first encounter. So they brought in the Ark of the Covenant from the town of Shiloh figuring that would bring God Himself to the next battle. When the Philistines heard the triumphant shouts from the Israeli camp due to the arrival of the Ark, they feared “the Israeli gods,” but fought harder against them. Israel was beat down again and the Ark was captured. Both the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died in that battle. This fulfilled God’s word regarding Eli. A man escaped the battle and ran to Eli in Shiloh. After hearing the bad news about the battle, the Ark, and his two sons, he fell backward off his chair, broke his neck, and died. He judged Israel for 42 years. Phinehas’s wife was pregnant and upon hearing the tragic news, she went into labor and delivered a son in deep sorrow for she knew that the glory of God was gone from Israel at that time.

Application for Today: Even in this dark time, the presence of Samuel was God’s “dawn.” There is always a light at the end of a tunnel with our God, so do not waver in faith in Him.

1 Samuel 5 – At first, the Philistines thought it was a great coup having the Hebrew Ark of the Covenant. That celebration was short-lived, however. When they set it near their god *Dagon, their idol fell down face to the ground. After setting it back up, the next day it fell down with its head severed and part of its hands cut off. Then God ravaged the people with hemorrhoids in every city to which they moved the Ark. Some towns had great confusion also. Finally they feared “the Hebrew God” enough to want to send the Ark back to where it belonged. Sadly, this fear did not make them want to worship Him, they just wanted no part of Him. This is typical of reprobate people.

*Dagon = a Philistine god that was characterized by a human face and hands but with a fish tail at its end, and it represented fruitfulness.

1 Samuel 6 – Indiana Jones?

The Philistine priests and diviners suggested they send back the Ark with a guilt offering, so if the hemorrhoids and confusion ceased, they would know that it was because the God of the Hebrews is connected to the Ark. The implication was that if the bad things did not stop, then perhaps all this was a coincidence. The Hebrew exodus from Egypt was so well known in those days that the Philistine priests advised their people not to harden their hearts against the Hebrew God like the Egyptians did because worse things would happen. The priests also advised them to give glory to God so He would perhaps stop His judgments against them. This advice from heathens is quite remarkable. So the guilt offering was 5 molded likenesses of hemorrhoids in solid gold and 5 golden likenesses of mice. The number 5 represented the 5 lords of the Philistine land. I think in this way the Hebrews would realize that all Philistines were in agreement with this (it gave credibility to the offering).

The Philistine priests further tested to see if God was behind everything by the way they sent out the Ark. They hooked up two cows who had never been yoked to a carrying cart and had just given birth to calves. Then they turned them loose. Now chances would be that the cows would return to their calves in the Philistine land. If they did this, the priests would say that no God was involved. If the cows bee-lined it to foreign territory (which was most unlikely), then the God of Israel must be reckoned with. Well, those cows bee-lined it! The Philistines even followed them to the border. When the Hebrews saw the Ark entering the field of Joshua, they rejoiced greatly, as the Philistines watched from a distance. They had their answer and returned to their cities.

Unfortunately for the Hebrews, 70 men looked into the Ark, so God killed them, and He continued to strike down a total of 50,070 men! Thus the remaining Hebrews had great fear of Jehovah and begged other Jews from another town to come and take the Ark away from them. This may reflect how wrong many Hebrew hearts were at this time — still far from their Lord. They were glad that the Ark was back with them, but not necessarily willing to accept the God that had to be revered and obeyed who was connected to the Ark. Perhaps to them, the Ark was just something that made their enemies cower in fear and lose battles. Maybe this is why those 70 men looked inside it. Perhaps they thought there was something physical that would help them win fights rather than revere God, much like the Nazis in the Indiana Jones movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Power, apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will always be destructive in the hands of fallen humans.

Applications for Today:

1) When the True God stands before false gods or other inventions of mankind, they all fail and fall before Him.
2) When God says to us that He is Holy, we probably have little idea about what that is. This passage may help us just begin to comprehend it. For Jesus to later say in John 15:15, “No longer to I call you slaves; for the slave does  not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you,” brings us much closer to the Father than that Ark of the covenant could. This leap over that gap is quite remarkable! Just another great feat performed by the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

1 Samuel 7 – Jews from another town came and took the Ark and put it into Abinadab’s house on a hill and put his son Eleazar in charge of it. For the next 20 years the Jews cried after the Lord while removing all the Baals and Ashtaroths from their land in order to serve God alone. Then Samuel gathered all the people of Israel together at Mizpah and he prayed on their behalf. This gathering must have made the Philistines nervous because they attacked Israel again. Despite the fear among the Israelis, God caused them to subdue their enemy by great thunder and confusion. God kept the Philistines at bay all the days of Samuel.

1 Samuel 8 – When old, Samuel appointed his sons as judges over Israel (probably because of age he could not get around to do all the judging himself). The trouble was that his sons were not good men. I have to wonder how much blame can be assigned to Samuel as a father who did not raise one good kid? He had been dedicated wholly unto the Lord by his mother Hannah and had such an anointing upon his life one would think that at least some of his children would have walked with the Lord. (But remember, it only takes one generation to fall into sin). These sons were taking bribes and were guilty of dishonest gain. So understandably, the people complained about them and wanted a king over them since the “judge thing” wasn’t working. But what probably hurt God the most was when the people wanted to be like the other nations. This is exactly what God did not want. In fact, He wanted the opposite. So this most likely cut to His heart. It is no wonder that He told Samuel that these people were not rejecting the prophet but rather God Himself. So the people’s issue went far beyond the understandable complaints against corrupt judges. The truth was that they really did not want God to rule over them, and wanted to be like the other nations. Ouch. So God revealed to Samuel all the oppression and evil a king would do to them and told him to tell it to the people. It did no good. God told Samuel to give them what they want….a king.

Application for Today: We need to be careful to discern the difference between our wants and our needs when praying. If we don’t, and clamor persistently for what we want, God just might give that to us. Billy Graham once said, “There are two tragedies in life: praying for what we want and getting it.” Lots of wisdom there. Jesus underscored this issue in Luke 10:41-42 when He taught Mary and Martha about “The Priority of Life.”

1 Samuel 9 – God revealed to Samuel who the king will be a day before he met him. Saul, a tall handsome man, was the son of Kish who had wealth and influence. Saul was searching the countryside for some AWOL donkeys. Although he did not know Samuel, He came upon him to get some insight about the whereabouts of those donkeys. Samuel told him the donkeys had been already found and that God had a word for him.

1 Samuel 10 – Samuel reveals to Saul that he is to be king over Israel. Saul was shocked. Samuel also prophesies details of Saul’s day which all come true, and when the prophets came down a hill toward Saul, the spirit of the Lord fell upon Saul and changed him into a new man. People who knew Saul previously were astounded that Saul was suddenly spiritual, and related to and was in the midst of the prophets. After Saul returned home, his uncle asked him what Samuel had told him. Saul told only the part about the donkeys being safe at home. Now Samuel gathered the people again at Mizpah and officially announced about their rejection of God as their ruler. Now they would have a king like the other nations. At this point, Saul’s tribe was selected to come forth, then he himself was singled out to come forth, but he wasn’t there. He was actually hiding in some baggage! But the Lord revealed this to Samuel and Saul was fetched out and the people hailed him as their king. So it was official. But some worthless men despised Saul and showed it by not giving a gift. Saul, however, let it go and said nothing. Perhaps it was because he was a reluctant leader at this point who was still in shock from all the sudden changes and hoopla.

Application for Today: We cannot hide from God.

1 Samuel 11 – A threat from the Ammonites against a Jewish town caused Saul to rise up in anger. He rallied the Israelis by threatening them and organized 330,000 soldiers. They struck down the enemy and the people rallied behind their new king Saul. This action of Saul and the victory solidified popular support for him. Now they wanted to bring out those worthless men who earlier despised Saul. Saul, however, stopped that vengeance saying that it was a day of celebration before the Lord. So far, power has not intoxicated Saul. He is not vengeful or bloodthirsty or arrogant, and most importantly, he recognizes and honors the Lord. A good start…too bad it wouldn’t last.

1 Samuel 12 – Samuel, though old and gray, makes a big speech to the sons of Israel reminding them that he has never done them wrong. Then he reminds them of their miraculous history about how God delivered their fathers and how they were guilty of a repetitious cycle of repenting then returning to apostasy. He gave them another warning about the consequences of rebelling and following false gods. As further proof of his credibility with God, Samuel asks God to cause thunder and rain that day, and He did. This made the people fear both God and Samuel. Samuel promised to intercede on their behalf and to continue to guide them in righteous ways, but warned them to not turn aside from God. If they do that, they would go after futile things which cannot save them in times of trouble. Despite all the failings of the Jewish people, Samuel proclaimed that God is pleased to have a people for Himself. Finally, he commands them to fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all of their hearts. To help them do this he said to consider what great things He had done for them. If the people and king would not do this, they would all be swept away.

Applications for Today:

1) In order to maintain our fear (respect and love) for the Lord, we need to be ever mindful of the great things He has done for us — not only salvation through the suffering of Jesus, but also all that Jewish history. As humans, we tend to forget the good things and dwell on the negative things. The Bible says in many places for us to remember God’s history (HIS-Story). Seeing God’s big picture helps us deal with everyday problems that Jesus said would constantly hound us.
2) There exists a tremendous faithfulness to mankind in God that transcends human ability.
3) If we do not stay tight with God, we will automatically turn toward futile things. This world is full of futile things that vie for our souls (affections). These things can be as “big” as heroin addiction or as “little” as a hobby. Both have power to keep us from God. I believe that sin causes a void inside humans, and that emptiness yearns to be filled with something. If that something is anything else but God, it will not work well for us or others around us. An idol can be anything that has a higher priority than Jesus in our heart, and it will eventually cause us to stumble. In the OT, God was trying to have His people not make a physical idol in order to bow and pray to it. But idolatry goes deeper than the outer physical realm. In NT revelation, we find that the issue is an attitude of heart. An idol can be anything more important or pleasing to us than God. This is why the NT insists that our hearts be circumcised. Attitudes are the fathers of actions. Christ has the ability to probe our hearts on issues of this life and successfully gets to the root of our problems.

1 Samuel 13:

1-4: Saul was 40 years old when he became king over Israel and ruled for 32 years. The Philistines were organizing themselves to attack the new king’s nation, but the Israelis routed them in the first battle with the help of Saul’s son Jonathan.

5-7: The Philistines were now more motivated than ever against Israel and came back stronger than before. The Israeli soldiers melted with fear, ran, and hid in caves. Saul, however, did not run and he had some troops who were loyal to him despite their fear of the Philistine numbers.

8-14: Samuel had told Saul to wait for him to arrive on the 7th day, but did not show. Saul’s troops were starting to abandon him. Saul knew that a sacrifice to the Lord was essential for victory, so rather than wait for the proper person to conduct that ceremony, he did it himself. Just then Samuel arrived on the scene and he rebuked Saul’s disobedience. This was Samuel’s job to do, not Saul’s. God’s judgment was to cut off Saul’s kingship and give it to someone who would have a “heart after God.” (Probably referring to David).

15-23: The Israelis lacked sharp weapons because the Philistines did not allow any blacksmiths to be Jewish lest they arm themselves against them. So the Jews had been going to the Philistine blacksmiths to sharpen their farming equipment (plows, axes goads, etc). So when the battle camps were established and fighting was eminent, the Jews, save Saul and Jonathan, had no weapons. Something tells me that another miracle was about to happen.

Application for Today: It is not clear if Samuel showed up at the end of the 7th day, or came on the 8th day. I think it was the 7th, and Saul allowed fear and his flesh to take over. He had to know that the anointing of the Lord was in Samuel and he should have been submitted to that. For us today, we need to trust and lean upon the anointing of God to do things in His name. We tend to have head knowledge of the right things to do, but do not seek His anointing. Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

1 Samuel 14:

1-23: The opposing camps were established and the two sides were to begin fighting soon. Jonathan, however, was filled with faith and brought his armor-bearer up to the Philistine camp. He believed that if they said they would come down to him, then God was not giving him a victory. If, on the other hand, they told him to come up to them, then God would give the Philistines into his hands. He did not tell his father Saul or any other person he was doing this. The Philistines saw the two Israelis approaching them coming up a hill. They mocked them and then told them to come up to them. That’s all Jonathan needed to hear. He went up and killed about 20 men with the help of his sidekick. Then God caused a frightening earthquake and sent confusion into the Philistine army. They started killing each other and ran away. In the meantime, Saul discovered that Jonathan was gone. He immediately went up with his 600 men and saw the enemy in confusion and God delivered Israel that day.

24-36: The Israelis were weak and hungry due to Saul’s death decree of not eating anything until his enemies were defeated. Jonathan did not know of this and ate honey. When told of the oath, Jonathan was frustrated because the Philistines were not killed off as good as they could have been had the Israelis had more physical strength. I think Jonathan had already forgotten that it wasn’t physical strength that won the battle here. He apparently convinced the people to eat, but they were so anxious that they rushed greedily upon the spoil and killed animals. They also ate the blood with the slaughtered animals which was a great taboo.

37-45: Now Saul asked God if he should go after more Philistines, but God did not answer. Saul knew something was wrong. When addressing the people about this problem they all knew it was due to Jonathan eating the honey but they all kept quiet about it. Saul found out it was Jonathan by way of casting of *lots. Then Jonathan confessed and agreed that he must die. Saul agreed, but the people protested so heartily that Jonathan was spared.

*Lots = Urim and Thummim. Theologians do not know as much as they would like concerning these items. They are mentioned in Scripture as though we would already know all about them which is not the case. Apparently, the high priest would carry them in his breastplate. They were passed down from Aaron’s garb. Urim literally means “light” and Thummim means “perfection.” There is no description of them in Scripture. The priests used them in some manner to determine the will of God. They are mentioned in other places in Scripture which implies their usage was common. We do not know how often they were used or what determined the need for their use, however. To me, it seems strange that the Israelis, of all people, would need these considering how God was speaking directly to their prophets and leaders in those days. They were, however, given to the Jews by God in Exodus 28:30. I am not sure that God intended them to be used for determining His will because the Bible just does not tell us.

46-52: Saul called back his army and the Philistines all went to their homes, but the war against them was never over in all of Saul’s years as king. Consequently, every time he saw a strong man, he drafted him into his army. This is one of the prophecies that God gave to Samuel concerning Israel having a king over them.

Application for Today: The concept of OT “lots” is probably what is perverted by Satan through the use of Tarot Cards today. The devil likes to take something that originates from God and twist or counterfeit it. Moreover, I do not believe New Covenant believers should use any method like this to determine His will since we now have the Holy Spirit, the complete Word of God, and the established local church that guide us.

1 Samuel 15:

1-9: Saul is commanded by God via Samuel to destroy all the Amalekites, including women, children, infants, and animals. But Saul spared the king and the best animals.

10-11: God told Samuel that He regretted making Saul king because he does not carry out His orders completely. Samuel was so distressed that he stayed up all night grieving for Saul and Israel’s eventual loss.

12-15: That next morning Samuel goes to confront Saul, but Saul claims that he carried out the command of the Lord. Samuel hears the bleating of the sheep and asks Saul about it. Saul justified his deeds again claiming that the good animals were spared to be later used for a sacrifice to the Lord.

16-21: Then Samuel repeated God’s instructions to Saul, but Saul still asserted that he obeyed by destroying the Amalekites (despite bringing back the king alive and allowing the people to save some animals).

22-23: Then Samuel states that classic line: “To obey is better than sacrifice….for rebellion is as the sin of divination (witchcraft) and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.” Because Saul had rejected God’s Word, God now rejected him as king over Israel. In other words, the anointing would diminish and his days were now numbered and a replacement was already chosen by God (David).

24-31: Saul finally admits his guilt. His fear of people helped him to take those animals alive. Apparently they wanted to do that. Saul then sought forgiveness and wanted to worship the Lord with Samuel. Samuel refused.

32-35: Samuel executes the king of the Amalekites and parted ways with Saul. He never saw him again until Saul’s death and he grieved much over him.

Perhaps at first look, God’s attitude (thus Samuel’s attitude too) toward Saul seems harsh. My guess is the God saw the major flaw in Saul’s heart and knew if he stayed in power longer, more wrong actions would follow along with severe consequences. God always sees the whole picture, we never do. Therefore, we must be careful not to judge God because we do not have the full perspective and therefore do not know everything.

Critics of the God of the Bible will cite passages such as this to condemn God as being a ruthless murderer of innocent people, especially when women, children, and infants were to be slain. In this case, even animals had to be killed. What is our defense here? First, they were not innocent people. They were heathens who either would constantly try to kill all Jews and teach their offspring to do so over the future generations, or influence them to worship false gods. This would destroy the Messianic lineage, and Satan knew this. So just like a good doctor today will kill malignant cancer cells to preserve a person’s life, so too God was preserving Life that He saw in the Big Picture. But why animals? So that pagans would realize that this was the true God working through His people as judgment against evil and idolatry rather than selfish Jews attacking for personal gain. Animals were (and still are) very valuable to humans. Remember, God wants all people to have eternal life, not just Jews.

Application for Today: Obedience is better than sacrifice. It is tempting for carnal believers to act religious, go to church, say some prayers, yet return home untouched by God. Believers can fast for days but if they do not do it according to God’s Word, it is of no value. There are many good deeds we can do, but are they orchestrated by God? Are we taking the easy way out rather than dealing with what God wants us to deal with? Do we give money to the church but despise our neighbors? Do we say the right words to God but look forward to sinning again? The list of examples is endless. See Colossians 2:18-23.

1 Samuel 16: David Enters God’s Plan

1-5: God rebukes Samuel for his prolonged grieving over Saul and reveals that there is another person who He has chosen as Saul’s replacement. The Lord sends Samuel to Bethlehem to show him the next king, but Samuel feared that Saul would kill him. God then showed Samuel a way to do it without Saul knowing. Samuel was deeply feared by the Israeli people. When they saw him coming to their city, they trembled and asked what he was doing there. He invited all to a sacrifice, including Jesse and his family.

6-11: Samuel had each of Jesse’s sons walk in front of him to see which one would be the next king. When the first one came, Samuel thought for sure he was the one because he was tall. But God told Samuel not to judge by outer appearance because God sees the heart of a man. Well, all of Jesse’s sons presented themselves but no king was picked. So Samuel asked if Jesse if he had any other sons, and he did. Why was David not included in this meeting originally? I think because he was young and responsible for watching over sheep and playing music on a harp, so maybe Jesse did not regard him highly because he was judging by outer appearances as well. Or, maybe David was out working with the sheep at the time and no one thought it was important to summon him. After all, Jesse did not know what Samuel was doing. Jesse’s sons were, however, consecrated by Samuel before the meeting (v5), so they must have known at least something was going on.

12-18: David was fetched, and as soon as Samuel saw him God told him he was the next king. We learn that David had healthy-looking red hair, was handsome, had nice looking eyes, and could play skillfully on the harp. The spirit of the Lord fell upon David at this time and it departed from Saul. So, David was on the rise, and Saul was going downhill. God sent an evil spirit that tormented Saul. His servants somehow thought that if a skillful musician would play, it would drive the spirit away. Oh, the power of music! One of Saul’s young men knew about David’s harp skill and that he was a mighty man of valor, a good warrior, a good speaker, and anointed of God. Quite a nice resume.

19-23: As soon as Saul met David he loved him and David stayed with Saul as his armor-bearer. David would also play the harp to successfully drive away that evil spirit from Saul more than once. Another brief glimpse into the Spirit World – God will control evil spirits for His will to be done. I think He did this to Saul to help people around him realize that the anointing was gone, and that there was something special about this new kid on the block named David.

Applications for Today:

1) 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 says, “Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh…if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.” I think this primarily means that we should not have ill feelings about our brothers and sisters in Christ regarding their past. We also need the attitude of viewing new Christians as “diamonds in the rough” rather than hopeless cases. As Christians, it is difficult for us to practice this because we generally tend to size up people according to their weaknesses and personality types. By doing this, we tend to label them or have trouble believing they can accomplish certain things. We need to pray to have “God’s eyes” when we consider a brother or sister in Christ. We need to see them as God sees them. He knows their heart better than us and He can do great things through “unlikely” people. Church leaders also need to apply this when considering giftings people can have for ministry, but the person’s heart needs to be right as well. If leaders do not do this, then they will tend to pick “Sauls” rather than “Davids” to do ministry.
2) Grieving time – There is a time to grieve, but prolonged grieving is not healthy. If grieving goes on too long, it may be a spirit of self-pity causing it rather than true grieving the loss of someone else. The way you can tell is to pray against a spirit of self-pity and see what happens. It has worked for me.

1 Samuel 17: Enter Goliath

1-7: The Philistines camped on one mountain ready for battle against Israel while Saul and his men were camped on the next mountain with a valley between the armies. Goliath of the Philistines, who stood a bit over 9 feet tall, came out and challenged the Israeli army. He wore a helmet and huge armor and carried a big javelin. His spear was like a huge beam of wood. This guy was mean, arrogant, strong, and ready to kill.

8-15: In a distinctly defiant manner, Goliath proposes a deal – let one Israeli fight him, and winner takes all rather than having all the men of the armies clash. All the Israelis were paralyzed with fear. David’s three older brothers were at the battle site while David was tending sheep elsewhere.

16: Goliath strutted and insulted the God of Israel for 40 days.

17-20: David’s father Jesse told him to deliver food to his brothers and to report any news back to him.

21-30: Both armies had now arrayed themselves against each other and were on the brink of battling when David arrived. He immediately went to the front of the line with his brothers (leaving the food supplies behind). Then David heard for himself the taunts Goliath was heaving at Israel. He immediately wanted to know what reward would be given to the man who kills this uncircumcised heathen who mocks the One and only True God. Then his brother yelled at him for he thought that David’s food provision delivery was a lame excuse to see a battle face-to-face. David did not let this deter him or his passion to defend God.

31-37: Soldiers told Saul what David had said so Saul called for him. David volunteers to fight Goliath but Saul said he was too young. But David shared a part of his “resume” with Saul revealing that he had killed a lion and a bear when he had the passion to protect his sheep, and certainly he would kill this enemy that insulted God. He also proclaimed that God would deliver him from this giant just as He did with those beasts. This must have impressed Saul because he finally agreed to let David go after Goliath.

38-40: David could not wear any armor because it was too big and heavy. He couldn’t move well with it on. Instead, he fetched 5 smooth stones from a brook and put them in a bag along with a sling and a stick. Interesting note: Goliath had 4 brothers. I wonder if David knew this, hence the choice of 5 stones.

Note about David’s age – David was not a little boy here. In verse 18, David is described by one of Saul’s servants as being a “mighty man of valor, a warrior, and one prudent in speech.” This is no boy and it was said to Saul before the Goliath event. But he wasn’t a seasoned adult because Saul’s armor was too big and heavy for him and Goliath described him as a youth, but it is safe to say that David was not a young boy. I’ll guess he was around 18-20.

41-47: Now the two met and Goliath was insulted that a “youth” would come to fight him and he cursed David’s God. Then David stated this wonderful quote: “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts….whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you….that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”

48-51: As soon as Goliath moved toward David, David ran straight at him and slung one stone. It struck Goliath “right between the eyes” (actually sank into his forehead) so that he fell on his face to the ground. David then killed him with his sword and beheaded him. The Philistine army fled.

Further insights to this battle: If Goliath’s abnormal size was caused by the genetic defect of giantism, then there would be a tendency for his bones to age prematurely. As bones age they get weaker. So Goliath’s “Achilles Heel” may have been in the middle of his forehead. Malcom Gladwell offers more insight to this historical event:

First, David’s sling is a devastating weapon. It’s one of the most feared weapons in the ancient world. The stone that comes from his sling has the stopping power equivalent to a bullet from a .45 caliber pistol. It’s a serious weapon. And second, there are many medical experts who believe that Goliath was suffering from acromegaly, which causes you to grow. Many giants have acromegaly, but it has a side effect which is, it causes restrictive sight. Goliath in the biblical story does, if you look closely, sound like a guy who can’t see.

Malcolm also asserts that the speed and agility of David would favor him. But my final point is that this fight was still supernaturally orchestrated by God.

52-58: The Israeli army then shouted triumphantly and chased after the Philistines and plundered their camps. David brought Goliath’s head to Jerusalem but put his weapons in his tent. This may have been a humble gesture on David’s part, i.e., he did not want to show off the method he used to conquer the giant. He did bring the head to Saul later and Saul found out more about David’s family background.

Applications for Today:

1) Faith can do great things (but keep in mind that the Bible says that God’s anointing was upon David before this event happened).
2) God’s purpose of this miracle through David was to prove God’s existence to unbelievers and that God ultimately decides battles rather than mere human strength. David realized this as we see evident in the above quote. Whatever we do today for others, we need to have this same passion to reveal the True God to those people. Many times our faith, as seen by our behaviors, has power to convince others that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.
3) All our personal battles belong to the Lord, therefore we fight them in faith and with His weapons, not in our own  strength (Ephesians 6:12-18ff). When we win, only He gets the glory.
4) The same arrogant, defiant spirit that was in Goliath is in the theory of evolution. This spirit insults God, His Word, and His people. I heard a news commentator say creationists are as ridiculous as a flat-earther. Some people of high intelligence have a stereotype against Bible-believers – that we are ignorant shallow thinkers. If true, that would mean no one with high IQs can be creationists. The truth is that there’s a growing list of intelligent defectors going from evolution to the creationist side as science increases its knowledge.

1 Samuel 18:

1-4: David moved in with Saul and became very close friends with Saul’s son Jonathan. They became so close their “souls were knit together.” I think this means they became closer than close brothers, or at least as close.

This is where Christians get the idea about “soul ties” between people. In this case it was healthy. Satan, however, likes to pervert what God does. Therefore, some soul ties can be unhealthy. This is one of the many dangers with premarital sex, for example. When human beings have sex, it is not just a physical act as with other species on earth. There are spiritual and emotional elements that cannot be denied nor ignored. The most common result of all premarital sex is not unwanted pregnancies or diseases. It is emotional hurt (when the break-up occurs). This can often run deep into the human psyche and may never heal. Thankfully through Christ we can be set free from unholy soul ties and all of their “tentacles.” I taught teens sex education for 35 years and wish I had room to share all the stories of the toll their premature sexual involvement cost them. Among the more common ones are: anger, rejection, poor self-esteem, embarrassment, jealousy, and the feeling of being used as an object not a person. I often asked my students if all that is worth a brief moment of pleasure (and sometimes even pleasure is not a part of it, especially with young females). We are extremely complicated beings that need to listen to their Creator because He knows best, and He says to allow Him to join us first (marriage), then have sex. Imagine all of the great impacts upon society if all people obeyed just this one command.

5-9: Saul began sending David out against the Philistines and he killed many…in fact, too many in Saul’s mind. David’s reputation was claiming he killed more than Saul himself. From that day onward, Saul viewed David as an enemy.

10-16: An evil spirit invaded Saul again and he threw a spear at David, but David escaped. God had been with David for a while now, but had departed from Saul. David kept prospering with battle victories and favor with all the people, including Saul’s servants.

17-19: Saul offered one of his daughters named Merab to marry David if he agreed to do more battles against the Philistines. But David did not think himself to be worthy enough to become the son-in-law of the king. This angered Saul because he wanted David to be killed by the Philistines. This is what happens when God withdraws from people — they fail to recognize God’s will and will even fight against it.

20-30: Saul’s daughter Michal loved David and eventually married David. As David was now his son-in-law and was killing many Philistines, King Saul finally knew that God was with David and became more afraid of him. This begins the story about David acting rightly and Saul acting wrongly.

Application for Today: We all need the humility found in David. His rise to public esteem and power was not going to his head. The more fame we receive, the more difficult it is to remain humble. The more power we receive, the more difficult it is to do right. This is part of the reason why God could say that David was a man after His own heart. God has ultimate power, yet possesses ultimate humility.

1 Samuel 19 – Saul told Jonathan and all his servants to kill David, but Jonathan talked him out of it. Later Saul, with that evil spirit within him, tried to spear David to death but David escaped. David’s wife, Michal, warned him of Saul’s plans and she helped him escape to where Samuel was living. When Saul’s servants came to take David, they all began prophesying with Samuel and the other prophets three separate times. Then Saul went himself and the same thing happened to him. Clearly the Holy Spirit was guarding David from harm.

1 Samuel 20 – Jonathan finally knew that all hope of his father not killing David was gone. Jonathan loved David so much that it never bothered him that the throne of Israel would not be his after Saul. He warned David, and the two had to part company forever at this point. It was a very sad scene. Now David was a fugitive on the run.

1 Samuel 21 – As a fugitive, David lacked food and weapons, so he lied to a priest who had not yet heard of Saul’s plan to kill David in order to get what he needed, including the sword he used to kill Goliath. But the only bread available was “consecrated,” that is, for priests only. The priest and David, however, had no problem having David eat it because it was for an important cause. Years later, Jesus cited this event when addressing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees regarding rules and traditions sometimes getting in the way of love (Matthew 12:1-4).

One of Saul’s servants named Doeg was in that town and saw David. So David fled to a Philistine city of Gath and went to king Achish. When Achish recognized David, David feared for his life since they were enemies, so he pretended to be insane. Achish then wanted nothing to do with him so David departed unharmed…whew, close one. Why would David flee to an enemy city? I would guess that he was afraid to be recognized in an Israeli town and word would get back to Saul about his whereabouts. At this point, David is like an innocent man who must run away from the bad guys and the police force (like The Fugitive). Where do you go?

Application for Today: Is it okay to deceive for a greater cause? A lot depends on the cause, I think. I agree with Bible smugglers who pretend to be tourists in order to deceive the border guards. Hiding Bibles and not declaring them is practicing deception. I think that is okay. If asked about the contents in his/her suitcase by a guard, and they say just clothes (lie), I think that’s okay. I think it was great that Christians lied to Nazis to save Jews during World War II. David, I think, did the same here. To protect his life he lied to the priests about his “mission” and he pretended to be insane to avoid being executed by an enemy king. People may lie to communist authorities to give protection to the innocent. We must be careful, however, to make sure we do not get carried away with this application because we can easily justify wrong behavior.

1 Samuel 22:

1-4: So David fled to a cave and was soon joined by some family members. Then about 400 more men joined. These men were discontented or owed money and probably thought they had little to lose to fight for David of whom they had heard so many good things. He also arranged for his mom and dad to live in Moab (probably to be safe from Saul). Why the king of Moab agreed to this I do not know. They usually were enemies.

5-21: David is told by the prophet Gad to go to Judah, so he went. In the meantime, Saul was getting angry with his servants because they weren’t volunteering any info about where David was hiding. He lamented that no one felt sorry for him (ugh). But then Doeg who had seen David before, told Saul about it and that it was Ahimelech, the priest, that gave David his weapon and food. So Saul gathered the priests and demanded to know why Ahimelech helped David. Ahimelech’s defense was that he thought David was a highly valued member of Saul’s kingdom. Although probably true, Saul was not pleased and ordered his servants to kill him and the other priests from that city. But the servants were not willing to carry out such a horrific deed, but Doeg was more than willing. He went on to murder 85 priests and more in the city of Nod, including women, children, and animals. This was NOT good. Fortunately, one guy, Abiathar the grandson of Ahimelech, got away and fled to David and told him all that had happened.

22-23: David suspected that Doeg would do all that and he felt guilty of bringing death to all those priests and people. So he comforted Abiathar and told him to stay with him and that he would be safe.

We can see the downward spiral of Saul’s rule. Unfortunately, he had blood-thirsty servants like Doeg to justify just about anything. He did not have the respect for God or life like those other servants of Saul did. Tyrants always need henchmen to carry out their immoral plans. Hitler, for example, had plenty of them, as did Stalin, Sadam Hussein, etc.

Application for Today: Romans Chapter 13:1-2 says that we should submit to authority. This, however, is not unconditional. Saul ordered his servants to do something immoral and they rightly refused to carry out those orders. Back in Moses’ day, the Hebrew mid wives were ordered by Pharaoh to kill all male new born Jews. The Scriptures say, however, that they feared God more than man and did not kill anyone. Many Nazis during WWII tried to defend their murderous actions by claiming they were simply obeying orders. That did not hold up in the court trials months later at Nuremberg. Today, if your boss orders you to do something illegal or immoral, then you should respectfully decline. If the boss causes further trouble for you, you have some options: 1) defend yourself via the legal system, 2) refuse and submit to the consequences if any, or 3) resign and find another job. In any case, you have stood your ground on this issue which is a great witness to others.

1 Samuel 23 – Saul continues to hunt for David, but each time David escapes. One time, Saul’s army was beginning to surround him, but they were called back due to a raid by the Philistines on Saul’s land. I’m sure God timed that one. David and his 600 men settled in Engedi.

1 Samuel 24 – Saul comes to Engedi with 3,000 soldiers. He enters a cave to go to the bathroom. David and his men happened to be hiding there! Saul had set down his robe. David’s men told David to kill him while he had the chance. They told him it was God’s will. But David would not raise his hand against the person in an anointed position from God. He secretly cut off a small piece of that robe, however. Moments later after Saul had left the cave, David yelled out to Saul showing him the robe piece which proved that David could have easily killed him. This caused Saul to weep and regret his pursuit of David, and he acknowledged that David was a better man than he, and David would become king of Israel. Saul did ask David not to blot out all of his descendants though, and David agreed. Saul went home, but David returned to a stronghold in the wilderness. This implies that David never could trust Saul’s emotions and words, hence he stayed away from him.

Applications for Today:

1) We all need to respect positions of authority. We may disagree with the person holding that position, but they should be treated with respect.
2) Do not do evil in the name of God or to fulfill what we think God’s will is.
3) Be careful of the advice of well-meaning friends. Be sure to make sure it conforms to the Holy Scriptures. The more familiar we are of those Scriptures, the better off we will be.
4) When others sin against us often, we certainly have to forgive them, but we do not have to trust them or hang around them.

1 Samuel 25 – Samuel died and all of Israel mourned. Later, a harsh, worthless, rich man named Nabal scorned David’s men even though his men treated his family well and protected his wealth during wars. David was about to kill him when his wife Abigail brought a gift apologizing for her husband’s foolishness. David accepted it and was refrained from killing Nabal and his male servants. The day after Abigail returned home, Nabal “became as stone” (probably a stroke), then died 10 days later. Thus God avenged David for him. David asked Abigail to be his wife and she accepted (Saul had given away David’s wife Michal to another man).

1 Samuel 26 – Saul came after David again to kill him. While he and his men were sleeping in camp, David and one other man sneaked up to Saul. The man wanted to kill Saul, but David would not allow it. This is exactly like the time in the cave. God seemed to be testing David’s character with this issue. I think his episode with Nabal helped David realize that God would strike down Saul and that he did not have to “force God’s hand” in this matter. David’s self-restraint and trust in God went a long way with the people. God had put Saul and all his men in a deep sleep so they would not wake up when David was among them. As proof of David’s proximity to Saul, he took Saul’s spear and a jug of water. Once safely to the other side, David yelled and woke them up. He began taunting Abner for not guarding his king and held up Saul’s spear and jug to prove he could have killed him. Once again Saul admits his error and leaves David alone.

1 Samuel 27 – David shows his cunning. Because he does not believe Saul will ever leave him alone, he flees to a Philistine king named Achish of Gath. David knew that Saul would not attack him there and he may have thought that Achish knew he was being hunted down by Saul, thus Achish may believe David would serve him rather than Israel. David talked Achish into giving him his own city (Ziklag) to live in with his men. Then David would kill Philistines in other towns but tell Achish he killed Israelis in their towns. Each time David made sure all Philistines died so that they could not tell Achish the truth. So Achish believed him. (Good thing there were no cell phones!) So all the time David was killing the enemies of God’s people, Achish thought those people were getting more angry against David. I’d say David knew how to turn a seemingly no-win situation into a win-win one.

At this point in history, David had two wives: Abigail and Ahinoam, a Jezreelite. I do not know how well he knew the Law from Deuteronomy 17:17 at this point. But there is a command by God that is recorded only once in the OT. Kings of God’s people were not to multiply wives unto themselves. David is just getting started here. Solomon was worse. The reason for this law was to prevent a king’s heart from turning away from following God. David’s snare involving Bathsheba would lead to horrible division and violence within his own family and throughout Israel. Solomon’s heart backslid away from God as a result of marrying many women who were not believers. The NT states that elders (bishops) and deacons are to have only one wife (1 Timothy 3:2, 12).

Application for Today: Vengeance belongs to God, not us. When we get even with people, we are not trusting that God sees all and will deliver justice better than us.

Every once in a while I receive feedback that stimulates further thought. Here is one:

Gary R. – It kills me that a man like David who was full of 4000 year old wisdom (that still applies today) could get so far off track.

Dave – David going off track is a good illustration for us to realize the power that sin has in a mortal body. We can have all the right Bible knowledge and even a great attitude and faith, but still we will fall far short of God’s glory. David and Solomon are “shining” examples of this. As sad and tragic as it is, it is good for us to glean from it. Paul touches upon this problem in Romans 7:14-8:2. Oh but for the grace of God go I. No room for pride.

1 Samuel 28 – Stealth Viruses?

1-2: Achish now wants David to come with him for the big attack against Israel. David is caught in a scary position so he opts to continue his ruse and agrees to go along. There wasn’t much else he could have said at that point.

3-19: Saul removed all mediums and spiritists from the land, but he became desperate to hear from God when he saw the Philistines getting ready to fight. His fear drove him to a woman medium (fortune teller) because God would not answer him via dreams or other prophets. This was a man willing to break God’s law to hear from God. That makes no sense, but this is what desperation can do to us. So he put on a disguise so the woman would not recognize him. At first, the woman refused to call up any dead person because of what Saul had done recently. After promising she would not be in trouble, she called for Samuel to come back from the dead. When Samuel appeared she screamed in terror which implies that she was not expecting something real to actually come. Samuel rebukes Saul for using a medium and prophesies that he and his sons will die in battle, the army of Israel would be taken over by the Philistines, and David would become king.

20-25: Saul fell on his face in terror and had to be talked into eating something for he had fasted all day and night.

Controversy: Was the real Samuel brought back by this sorceress at Endor or was it a demonic impostor? The passage does not give us any reason to believe it was anyone other than Samuel. The message Samuel gave Saul was accurate. God allowed her to summon the prophet Samuel in order to give King Saul the news of his coming defeat and death. This does not mean that it is actually possible for witches or mediums to speak with the dead, only that God allowed it in this one exceptional case. There is no reason to believe that a deceased person has ability to leave the spiritual realm to visit living family members. I believe that any such claim is a demonic deception (2 Cor. 11:14-15). God declared such practices to be abhorrent to Him, and those who did practice such things in Israel were to be put to death (Lev. 20:27; Deut. 18:10-12). Satan wants people to dabble in the occult world of spiritism and necromancy. Fallen mankind will always be a sucker for obtaining some sort of hidden power. God’s commandments against these practices are designed to protect us from the schemes of our enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Application for Today: It is great for us to seek God for direction and answers to life’s challenges. There is a holy and an unholy way to do this, however. When seeking Him, He wants us to use the Bible, pastors/elders, and individual prayer (and fasting if necessary). To use anything connected to the occult (hidden power) is sin – crystal balls, Ouija boards, Tarot cards, palm reading, tea leaf reading, automatic writing, astrology to name some. If we rebel against God’s protective rules, we will receive “hidden downloads” much like a computer when it gets “infected with a virus.” When a cyberspace virus, or an actual micro biotic virus, or an occult virus (demon) enters its target, that target is unaware of it at first. One of Satan’s chief means of deception is to move by stealth. Our loving Creator knows this and wants to protect us, but we have to trust and obey Him.

1 Samuel 29 – As the Philistines were preparing to attack the Hebrews, the commanders, who knew of David’s reputation as a great warrior, refused to allow David and his men come with them into battle lest they turn on them. Reluctantly, King Achish sent David and his men away the next morning.

1 Samuel 30 – When David and his men returned to their homes in Ziklag, they discovered that the Amalekites captured their wives and children and animals, and burned the city. His men were so angry that they were about to stone him, but he strengthened himself in the Lord. God told him to go after their enemies and they would recover all. So he took his 600 men as far as at the brook at the town of Besor. Here, 200 men were too exhausted to go further so they stayed behind and tended to supplies. Then David found an Amalekite servant who was left behind by his master due to illness. He had not eaten or had water for 3 days and nights. David immediately gave the man food and drink. The grateful man agreed to lead David to the Amalekites as long as David would not kill him or return him to his master. David and his 400 men soon found the Amalekites partying heartily and swooped down on them suddenly and slaughtered all but 400 who escaped on camels. All woman and children and animals were saved, including David’s two wives. When they returned to the brook where the 200 others were waiting, some worthless men from the 400 did not want any spoil to go to them because they did not go all the way to battle. But David explained that they were all a team – some to fight and some to tend the baggage. Therefore the victory belongs to everyone. David then shared some the spoil with neighboring towns that he had visited over the years.

Applications for Today:

1) Obey our leaders. Because David obeyed Achish and returned to Ziklag, he was able to rescue all their families.
2) Romans 8:28 – “All things together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”  Achish’s rejection of David led to that huge rescue.
3) When angry, do not jump into action immediately every time. If the situation allows, take time to seek the Lord and be strengthened in Him before taking action.
4) How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord?
a) Get alone and pray.
b) Remember what God has done and praise Him and thank Him.
c) Recite key Bible verses and agree with God that they are Truth.
d) Sing a song of praise to Him.
5) Recognize people in the Body of Christ (the local church) who play “minor” roles, and elevate that stereotype to be an important and necessary role. Everyone must feel appreciated and important in the scheme of things within a church. This is not just a feeling either. It is the Truth. For example, I view the person who cleans my church as being worthy of all the praise that a good pastor may receive. Think — what would the church be like if that job was not done? I think it takes about 20 men to keep a F-16 fighter jet in the air. They are just as crucial as those great pilots. This is true Kingdom living, not as this world teaches.
6) Be kind to an enemy. Feed and clothe him/her if needed. Most will respond well and you have won over a friend from an enemy. Conquer evil with good. It is the very heartbeat of our Father. David did this very thing to that Amalekite servant whose master did not care about him. Christians who operate abortion alternative places practice this all the time. Clients notice the big difference in care between the Pro-Abortion approach and the Pro-Life approach.
7) Nothing good ever results from getting high on alcohol and drugs. It always puts one onto the path to destruction — sometimes sooner than later, and sometimes later than sooner. These celebrating Amalekites’ guard was down allowing their sudden destruction. It’s too bad that the DWI cops weren’t around back then to stop those 400 escapees on those camels.

1 Samuel 31 – When David was rescuing his people from an invasion and destruction of their city Ziklag, Saul and Jonathan were fighting the Philistines led by King Achish. Most of Saul’s men fled and Jonathan was killed and finally Saul was badly wounded. He could not stand the thought of the heathens making sport of him so he killed himself on Mount Gilboa. When the other Israelis in the nearby towns heard that Saul was dead and defeated, they all fled those towns and the Philistines moved in and lived there. The next day, the Philistines caught off Saul’s head, impaled his body on their wall, and put his weapons in their Temple of Ashtaroth. They triumphantly spread the news to all the Philistine towns about Saul’s defeat. This was almost like Hitler if he had defeated America. All this was devastating and humiliating for Israel and marked one of their low points in history. Possibly as a sign of glimmering light, some valiant Jews, who probably were ever grateful for Saul saving their city back in Chapter 11, walked all night long and took Saul’s body and the bodies of his sons and buried them at Jabesh. Then they fasted for 7 days. God’s Word came true – both Saul and Jonathan fell on the same day.

Application for Today: Israel’s history had its ups and downs. So do our individual lives. Just as God was and is forever faithful to Israel, He is also faithful to us (2 Timothy 2:13). So anytime things appear to be bleak and we become depressed, we can know that He will make things better eventually, whether or not our own sin has caused the temporary dark time (repentance required, however). In the transition between 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, we find Israel in the dark moment with David waiting in the wings to become one of their greatest kings ever. In Christ Jesus there is tremendous HOPE no matter what the circumstance.