Friday, March 29, 2013

Overconfidence Is Fatal

II Samuel 2:18-32

“And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel: and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.  And Asahel pursued after Abner; and in going he turned not to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner.” (II Samuel 2:18-19)

Three of David’s cousins on his mother’s side, all brothers and experienced warriors, were  there.  The youngest, Asahel, was listed as one of David’s top soldiers in II Samuel 23.  He was a very fast runner, and when he saw the enemy general, Abner running away, he determined to catch and kill him.  He refused to let anything stop him.

“Then Abner looked behind him, and said, Art thou Asahel? 

And he answered, I am. 

And Abner said to him, Turn thee aside to thy right hand or to thy left, and lay thee hold on one of the young men, and take thee his armour. 

But Asahel would not turn aside from following of him. 

And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn thee aside from following me: wherefore should I smite thee to the ground? how then should I hold up my face to Joab thy brother?” (II Samuel 2:20-22)

Apparently, Asahel had discarded his weapons and armor so he could run faster.  It enabled him to catch up to Abner, and he recognized him.  Abner advised him to take some weapons from one of the less experienced warriors before he fought him.  Thinking he was afraid or thought he could get away, Asahel refused.  Abner pointed out that he would be embarrassed to fight and kill Asahel when he was unarmed.

“Howbeit he refused to turn aside: wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib, that the spear came out behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place: and it came to pass, that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.” (II Samuel 2:23)

Even with Abner’s warning, Asahel refused to stop‘ so Abner stopped and pushed back with the back of his spear, apparently intending to just bruise him up since it had a wooden paddle on it as Deuteronomy 23:13 commanded,  “And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:”  Asahel was running so fast he drove the entire paddle through his body, killing himself.  The battle was effectively over and everyone who saw his body stopped to see what had happened.

“Joab also and Abishai pursued after Abner: and the sun went down when they were come to the hill of Ammah, that lieth before Giah by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon.  And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner, and became one troop, and stood on the top of an hill.” (II Samuel 2:24-25)

Asahel’s brothers were determined to avenge his death and pursued him and his men almost all the way to the wilderness of Gibeon.  The men of Benjamin regrouped around Abner at the top of the hill of Ammah, ready to fight again.

“Then Abner called to Joab, and said, Shall the sword devour for ever? knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end? how long shall it be then, ere thou bid the people return from following their brethren?” (II Samuel 2:26)

Abner called Joab, asking how long he would continue the fight since they were countrymen and relatives?  All that it would produce was bitterness and hatred if it was allowed to go on, and the destruction of both sides.

“And Joab said, As God liveth, unless thou hadst spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother. 

So Joab blew a trumpet, and all the people stood still, and pursued after Israel no more, neither fought they any more.  And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, and passed over Jordan, and went through all Bithron, and they came to Mahanaim.” (II Samuel 2:27-29)

Joab acknowledged the truth of Abner’s comments and said that even if nothing had been said, exhaustion would have ended the pursuit by morning, but he sounded a trumpet to end it then.  Abner and his men traveled all night, crossing the Jordan and on to Mahanaim.

“ And Joab returned from following Abner: and when he had gathered all the people together, there lacked of David's servants nineteen men and Asahel.  But the servants of David had smitten of Benjamin, and of Abner's men, so that three hundred and threescore men died.” (II Samuel 2:30-31)

When they counted the dead, they learned that David had lost seven men in the battle besides the twelve on the original team.  Asahel had been killed after the battle, when the other side was fleeing, simply because of his own pride and overconfidence. There was no reason for his death.   Abner had lost three hundred sixty men of the tribe of Benjamin.  In most sports, a score of 360 to 20 would be considered decisive.

“And they took up Asahel, and buried him in the sepulchre of his father, which was in Bethlehem. And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at break of day.” (II Samuel 2:32)

Asahel’s body was carried to Bethlehem and buried in the family sepulchre.  Joab and the army then traveled all night to Hebron to meet David just at sunrise.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Competition Leads To War

II Samuel 2:1-17

“And it came to pass after this, that David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? 

And the LORD said unto him, Go up. 

And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron.

So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal's wife the Carmelite.  And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron.” (II Samuel 2:1-3)

Saul was dead and Israel was in disarray.  Most people would think it was a no-brainer for David to go back to take over, but he prayed and asked God what he should do.  Proverbs 3:5-6 promises, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  By asking God, David went to the right place, to Hebron.

“And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul. 

And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabeshgilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the LORD, that ye have showed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him.  And now the LORD show kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing.  Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them.” (II Samuel 2:4-7)

In Hebron, the nation of Judah declared David king.  It would be a base on which he could build and people could begin to accept him as  king.  Learning what the people of Jabesh Gilead had done to prevent the Philistines degradation of Saul, David thanked them and encouraged them on behalf of the nation, letting them know they could call on him like they had Saul.

“But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim; And made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel.  Ishbosheth Saul's son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years.

 But 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. ” (II Samuel 2:8-11)

Though many people had not liked Saul as king, and believed David should be,  when he died they would act on what they thought he wanted in their grief.  We have seen the same thing when Senator Ted Kennedy died and several unpopular bills that he supported were passed because others said it was what he wanted.  When Abner proposed Ishbosheth, all the tribes but Judah accepted him without question.  For about two years, there was little conflict, although kingdom remained divided, with david as king of Judah for seven and a half years.

"And 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 together by the pool of Gibeon: and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool. 

And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. 

And Joab said, Let them arise.” (II Samuel 2:12-14)

Tensions built between the two kingdoms, and finally the two armies met by the pool of Gibeon.  In a small rural country where everyone has been their for their entire lives people know everyone for miles around, and Joab and Abner were acquainted, if not friends, having served together in the army.  Abner proposed that a team be selected from each side and thye see who was the best, and Joab agreed.

“Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. 2sa 2:16 And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkathhazzurim, which is in Gibeon.  
And there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David.” (II Samuel 2:15-17)

Both teams were out to win, rushing to grab the other and stab him before he was ready, result ing in the deaths of all the contestants.  Both sides were upset at the outcome, and the rivalry quickly turned into a fight, just as friendly sports competitions sometimes do today.

It resulted in the first major battle of what would be a five year war between Judah dn the rest of Israel.  David’s army was the clear victor in this first battle, driving Abner’s forces from the field.

Many people believe competition builds cooperation and excitement in different groups.  While it sometimes does, it usually results in rivalry between the spectators, and sometimes cheating and fights among the participants.  This contest resulted in war between the two parts of Israel.  Competition  often splits neighborhoods, churches, and families as well.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

David Learns Of Saul’s Death

II Samuel 1:1-27

“Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag; It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.” (II Samuel 2:1-2) 

A week after the Philistines sent him home, David finally learned the outcome of the battle.  Remember, they had no cell phones or internet, and he had taken three days just to get back from the Philistine camp at Aphek before he found out Ziklag had ben attacked.  With no official standing, he was not notified immediately.  Finally a man came to David with evidence of having a hard time emotionally, with dirt on his head and ripped clothing.

“And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? 

And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped. 

And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. 

And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also. 

And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?” (II Samuel 1:3-5)

The young man stated that he had been with the Israelite army, and had escaped the Philistines, but that many had been killed and the Israelite army routed.  When he stated that both Saul and Jonathan were dead, David asked how sure he was of that.

“And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.  And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me.  And I answered, Here am I.  And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.   He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.” (II Samuel 1:6-9)

As the young man described it, Saul’s attempt to commit suicide had failed, and he had managed to get up again, using his spear to hold himself up.  Since his armor bearer had refused to kill him  for fear of God, Saul asked the young man where he was from, and upon learning he was an Amalekite, with little or no fear of God, begged him to kill him so the Philistines couldn‘t torture him.  

“So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.” (II Samuel 1:10)

Convinced Saul could not survive the wounds from the battle and his attempted suicide, the young man complied, believing he was doing Saul a favor by letting him escape further pain.

“Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him: And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.” (II Samuel 1:11-12)

Though Saul hated him and repeatedly tried to kill him, David respected Saul’s position and had refused to kill him.  Johathan was a close personal friend.  In addition Saul had been king of Israel, and his death was a blow to the nation, compounded by the death of so many of the soldiers.  They observed a period of mourning.

“And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? 

And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite.

 And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD'S anointed?  And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.  And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD'S anointed.” (II Samuel 1:13-16)

David questioned how even an Amalekite could consider it okay to kill anyone, and especially one God had chosen, even in the belief he was alleviating their pain.  Decisions about life or death belong to God, not to man.  Even though he believed Saul could not survive, the young man had no authority to kill him, but was usurping God’s authority.  David ordered him executed in accordance with God’s command in Leviticus 24:17.  “And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.”  David was authorized and commanded to take this action, because he had confessed to the crime.

“And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)” {II Samuel 1:17-18)

David made a memorial speech reminding them of Saul and Jonathan’s impact on Israel.  He also made a point of teaching their children to use the bow and arrow in memory of Jonathan and his use of it.

“The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!  
Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.  Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.” (II Samuel 1:19-21)

He called them not to let it become a time of celebration for the Philistines that Saul had been slain, praying that even nature itself not give the appearance of approval.

“From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.  Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.” (II Samuel 1:22-23)

He reminded them of Jonathan’s boldness in battle to deliver Israel and that under Saul  they had experienced great victories.  Even in their deaths, they were working together for Israel.

“Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.  How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!” (II Samuel 1:24-25a)

Saul should be remembered for the prosperity and safety they had enjoyed under his reign.

"O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.  I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.  How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!’ (II Samuel 1:25b-27)

David himself would remember Jonathan for his wonderful friendship and love, exceeding even the love of a man and wife.

People gravitate toward those who have similar attitudes, as the old saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together.”  David and Jonathan were undoubtedly drawn together by similar attitudes of faith toward God and personal courage.  They were the very things that caused Saul to hate and fear David.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Philistines Defeat Israel

I Samuel 31:1-13

Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa.  And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Melchishua, Saul's sons.   And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. ” (I Samuel 31:1-3)

There had been few times when Israel had been defeated in six hundred years, but they were beaten badly this time.  Many were killed, including three of Saul’s sons.   Saul himself was severely wounded.

“Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. 

But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.” (I Samuel 31:4) 

Fearing the indignity of being captured, Saul asked his armor bearer to kill him.  Fearing the consequences of killing Saul, his armor bearer refused, so Saul attempted suicide by standing his sword against the ground and falling on it.

“And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. 

So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.  And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and they that were on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.” (I Samuel 31:5-7)

Believing Saul was dead, his armor bearer committed suicide, leaving the army almost leaderless. The people fled the cities on both sides of the Jordan to escape the Philistines who took possession of them.  It was the lowest point Israel had ever had up to that time.

“And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa.  And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.  And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.” (I Samuel 31:8-10)

The Philistines didn’t even find Saul’s body until the next day, when they began to rob the dead bodies.  After finding the bodies of him and his three sons, they cut the head off and sent his armor be displayed in the temple of Ashtaroth as proof of their God’s power.   They fastened the bodies to the city wall at Bethshan as a warning to anyone else who might fight them.

“And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul; All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.  And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.” (I Samuel 31:11-13)

Saul’s first action as king had been to deliver the City of Jabesh Gilead from the Ammonites under Nahash.  They had not forgotten what he had done, and they resented his being treated in such a fashion. They went down under cover of darkness and took the bodies down, cremating them in Jabesh before burying the bones under a tree there.  They held a seven day fast in Saul’s honor.

Samuel had prophesied, “Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.  Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.”  That was exactly what happened.  Saul and his sons were dead, and Israel was under Philistine control.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sharing With All Who Help

I Samuel 30:21-31

“ And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them. 

Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart.” (I Samuel 30:21-22)

The two hundred men who had stayed behind to keep the other’s stuff were overjoyed to see them bring back their stuff.  David’s followers were men who had been dispossessed according to I Samuel 22:2.  “And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him...”  Not all of them were good men.  Some were cheats or thieves, and being with David did not change their outlook.

They felt that they had done all the work and thus deserved all the rewards.  They would give back what belonged to those who had stayed behind, but everything else belonged to them.  It was a satanically inspired attitude.

Not everyone who joins a church is devoted to God.  Just as David worked with the men who came to him, we need to learn to work with the people God gives us.  I Corinthians 12:18 tells us, “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”  If God put them there, he had a reason.  Don’t try to get rid of them.

“Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand.  For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.  And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.” (I Samuel 30:23-25)

The Amalekites had been able to raid Ziklag because no one had stayed behind to protect it, and had no one stayed behind to keep their stuff, David and his men might have been delayed enough for the Amalekites to escape. David said it would be unfair to deprive men who had done such a valuable job of their fair share because they were not able to be there to take it.  He established the policy as a permanent policy. Those who provide the support should share equally with the stars.

“And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the LORD; To them which were in Bethel, and to them which were in south Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir, And to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa,  And to them which were in Rachal, and to them which were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, and to them which were in the cities of the Kenites, And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chorashan, and to them which were in Athach, And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt.” (I Samuel 30:25-31)

David then divided up the cattle and sheep he had claimed as his own and sent it to each of the communities that had harbored him and his men in thanks for their help, ensuring their continued support.   Had they fought along with the Philistines, that support would have been lost.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Blessing In Disguise

I Samuel 30:1-20

“And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.  So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.” (I Samuel 30:1-3)

The third day after being sent home, David and his men arrived in Ziklag to learn that in their absence the Amalekites had raided Ziklag, kidnapping the women and children and burning the city.  An Amalekite band had taken advantage of the Philistine fight with Israel to attack while the men were elsewhere.

“Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.  And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.  And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” (I Samuel 30:4-6) 

The people blamed David for their loss since if they hadn’t gone ot help the Philistines they would have been there to prevent the kidnapping, ignoring the fact that he had lost as much as any of them.  Hurting people tend to lash out and blame others without considering who was actually responsible.  Demagogues often play on this tendency to stir up anger and conflict.  It reached the point where they even talked of stoning David. Because of their hurt.   While the others focused on the hurt, David turned to the Lord for comfort.

“And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. 

And David inquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them?

 And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.” (I Samuel 30:7-8)

David prayed and asked God for direction as to how to deal with the problem.  God promised success if they would overtake the kidnappers and get everyone back.  He didn’t need to worry about what would happen.

“David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed.  But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.” (I Samuel 30:9-10)

With a plan of action, David’s men forgot about blaming him and set out to recover theie wives and children.  The best way of getting over depression is to get up and do something.  Having just made a quick trip from Aphek to Ziklag, some of David’s men were exhausted and had to quit at the brook Besor.  David left two hiundred with the packs and equipment and took the remaining four hundred to pursue the Amalekites.

“And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water; And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights. 

And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? 

And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days ago I fell sick.  We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.” (I Samuel 30:11-14)

Finding a young Egyptian man unable to escape, they fed him and began to interrogate him.  He had been taken as a slave by the Amalekites.  Three days before, they had raided Ziklag and burned it, kidnapping the women and children.  Fearing Philistine pursuit, when he had gotten sick, they had left him behind to die, without food or water.

“And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company?

 And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this company.” (I Samuel 30:15)

David asked him if he knew where they were going and would help them.  His experience as an amalekite slave had not been good, and he agreed to help them if they would promise not to turn him back over to the Amalekites, or kill him.  He had a reason for wanting to get even.

“And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah.” (I Samuel 30:16)

The former slave brought them right to where the Amalekites had stopped for the night.  Confident that they had escaped any pursuit, the Amalekites had stopped to celebrate.  They were scattered out and off guard, just about the time the sun went down.

“And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled.  And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives.  And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.

And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave before those other cattle, and said, This is David's spoil.” (I Samuel 30:17-20)

Catching them off guard, David was able to pin down the Amalekite army for about twenty four hours and kill all but four hundred who escaped on fast camels.  They were able to recover everything that had been taken including a lot of things that had been taken from other people.  David claimed all the extra cattle and sheep for himself.

Had the Philistines not sent David and his men back, They probably would not have discovered the loss of their families in time to get them back, and they would have been further estranged from Israel because they had helped the Philistines.  Bad as it seemed at first to David, it was actually a blessing.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Philistines Question David’s Loyalty

I Samuel 29:1-11

“Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel.  And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by thousands: but David and his men passed on in the rereward with Achish.” (I Samuel 28:1-2)

The Philistines were divided into five city states.  When they got ready to attack Israel the amassed all five armies at Aphek, while the Israelites camped by a spring in Jezreel.  The Philistine kings had their various armies pass in review as they planned their strategy.  David and his men were at the very back of the review as Achish’s personal guard.

“Then said the princes of the Philistines, What do these Hebrews here?

 And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines, Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath been with me these days, or these years, and I have found no fault in him since he fell unto me unto this day?” (I Samuel 29:3)

When the Philistine leaders saw David and his men, they demanded to know why a bunch of Hebrews were there.  After all, they were getting ready to attack the Hebrew’s home country and they weren’t sure where their loyalties lay.

Achish tried to reassure them that David had given his best for Saul, and Saul had turned on him unfairly, so that he had his own score to settle.  During the time, almost a year and a half that David had been in Gath, he had done nothing to cause any problems, and Achish trusted him.

“And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? should it not be with the heads of these men?  Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?” (I Samuel 29:4-5) 

The other Philistines got upset at Achish for bringing David.  They didn’t know him, but they knew his reputation in Israel, as a great warrior.  They didn’t want to take the chance that in the middle of the Battle, David and his men might suddenly turn on them and disrupt all their planning in an attempt to ingratiate himself with Saul.  While they didn’t know it would happen, they were not willing to take the chance, and demanded that David and his men be sent back.

“Then Achish called David, and said unto him, Surely, as the LORD liveth, thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in with me in the host is good in my sight: for I have not found evil in thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day: nevertheless the lords favour thee not.  Wherefore now return, and go in peace, that thou displease not the lords of the Philistines.” (I Samuel 29:6-7)

Achish apologized for sending David home, stating that he had absolute confidence  in him, but that the other Philistines didn’t trust him and he didn’t want to offend them.

“And David said unto Achish, But what have I done? and what hast thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king? 

And Achish answered and said to David, I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God: notwithstanding the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle.  Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.” (I Samuel 29:8-10)

David wanted to make sure he had done nothing to offend Achish and that he knew he appreciated being given asylum enough to fight to help protect the land.  Achish again stressed that he was absolutely confident of David’s loyalty, but that since the Philistines demanded it, he thought it better that David and his men return Ziklag as soon as the sun came up thae next morning.

“So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.” (I Samuel 29:11)

Acceding to Achish’s request, David and his men returned to Ziklag, while the Philistine army advanced to Jezreel to attack Israel.   Though it seemed a slur against them at the momentt, they would be glad God caused them to come back when they did.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Not What He Wanted To Hear

I Samuel 28:15-25

“And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? 

And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.” (I Samuel 28:15) 

Saul demanded that the medium communicate with Samuel, and she was shocked when the real person came.  Samuel wasn’t too happy about being brought back either.  Though he was not in heaven, he was in Paradise,  and didn’t want to come back.  While we know very little about it, Luke 16:25 tells us, “But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”  Samuel had lived his entire life dealing with Israel’s problems and sin.  Why would he want to come back ?

When Samuel asked why Saul was bothering him, Saul said it was because he was really worried that the Philistines were threatening war and he couldn’t get any answers from God, so he had demanded Samuel come up and answer his questions.

When Saul went to the rescue of  the men of Jabesh Gilead, he threatened the others with destruction if they didn’t help.  He tried to force God to do what he wanted by prayers and sacrifices.  He tried to manipulate David and others by offering his daughters as prizes. When he couldn’t see a way of accomplishing his goals by manipulation he panicked, because he couldn’t control things, and didn’t trust God.

“Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?  And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David: Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.” (I Samuel 28:16-18)

Samuel asked why bother him when God had departed.  There was no way Samuel could overcome God’s opposition.  God was just doing what Samuel had warned him would happen because he insisted on keeping the livestock instead of obeying God when he was sent to destroy the Amalekites.

“Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.” (I Samuel 28:19)

Not only would God give the kingdom to his neighbor, but he would also give the Philistines and Saul and his sons would be killed.  It was certainly not what Saul hoped for.

“Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night. 

And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled, and said unto him, Behold, thine handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have hearkened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me.  Now therefore, I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee; and eat, that thou mayest have strength, when thou goest on thy way.” (I Samuel 28:20-22)

Because he was so upset Saul hadn’t eaten anything, and in a weakened state, there was no strength left to deal with the emotional pressure.  The woman offered him food, reminding him that she had put her life on the line to even consult Samuel.  Now she asked him to allow her to feed them so he would have the strength to do what he needed to.

“But he refused, and said, I will not eat. 

But his servants, together with the woman, compelled him; and he hearkened unto their voice. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed.  And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof: And she brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that night.” (I Samuel 28:23-25)

At first Saul refused to eat, wallowing in his misery, but the woman and his servants finally convinced him to eat and get his strength back.  After a good meal, they left and returned to the army.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Consulting A Medium

I Samuel 28:1-14

"And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said unto David, Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men. 

And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do. 

And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.” (I Samuel 28:1-2) 

Always before, when an enemy was defeated, there was a period of peace before they dared try again.  Under Saul, there was never a period of peace when the Philistines were afraid to come against Israel.  I believe it was because while God gave the victory, Saul always focused the attention on himself, his desires, and his efforts to motivate rather than on God.  The Philistines were not afraid of Saul.

All the Philistine kings got together to make a concerted attack on Israel, rather than individual raids.  Believing David had been so mistreated by Saul that he had turned against Israel, Achish wanted him to accompany him to the battle.  David made no commitment, just going along with him, and Achish offered him the the position as chief body guard, convinced of his loyalty.

“Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land. 

And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.  And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.  And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. 

Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. 

And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.” (I Samuel 28:3-7) 

Since the time of Samson, there had been a steady trend awasy from God, despite Samuel’s best efforts to direct them to God.  As king, Saul had the power to enforce the law, rather than just depending on people to keep it.  He had followed up on Exodus 22:18, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” by having some killed.  

Samuel had died about a year and a half before, and Saul had the priests murdered.  When the Philistines attacked, Saul had no one left to turn to for spiritual guidance.  He prayed for guidance, but as Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:”

Saul had repeatedly acknowledged he was wrong, and many think of that as repentance.  Proverbs 28:13 makes it clear that real repentance involves not only acknowledging sin, but changing our behavior.  “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”  While Saul acknowledged his sin when he was caught, there was no effort to change, implying that he really didn’t consider it that important.

God wasn’t taken in, and didn’t answer, so saul decided to find some one else for an advisor.  He sent his servants out to find a witch or medium to ask for advice, and they found one who hadn’t been killed at Endor.

“And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee. 

And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die? 

And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.” (I Samuel 28:8-10)

The people knew that Saul had slain most of the witches, and that it was what the law specified.  Saul didn’t want them to find out he was breaking the law, so he disguised himself, and asked the woman to make contact with a dead man for him.  The woman didn’t recognize him and was afraid to comply, suspecting that it was a set-up to entrap her.  Saul swore that nothing like that would happen.  

“Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee?

 And he said, Bring me up Samuel. 

And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.” (I Samuel 28:11-12)

Convinced that he was sincere, the woman called for Samuel to speak to her.  Always before, a spirit she was familiar with had posed as the person she asked to speak to.  She was horrified when Samuel himself appeared rather than the familiar spirit.  Immediately she recognized that this had to be Saul.  She panicked, expecting to be killed.

“And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? 

And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. 

And he said unto her, What form is he of?

 And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. 

And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.” (I Samuel 28:13-14)

Saul reassured her, and asked what she had seen that upset her so.  As she described it, she had seen a real spirit being coming up out of the earth.  She described him as being an old man dressed like Samuel usually dressed.   Her description of him coming up from the earth supports Jesus’ description of Abraham’s bosom in Luke 16, and Peter’s statements in I Peter 3, since those who died before Christ’s death had to wait until he paid for their sin to enter heaven.  Saul recognized that it was Samuel and bowed down to the man who had anointed him king.

There are an amazing amount ot people who profess to be Christians who are like Saul.  Rather than give up their sin, and develop a personal relationship with god, they depend on other people.  When things go wrong they find it easy to turn to other sources of direction, whether astrology, palm readers, shamans, or various other groups.   Samuel’s comments to Saul are enlightening.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Relocating To Gath

I Samuel 27:1-12

“And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand. 

And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath.  And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal's wife.” (I Samuel 27:1-3)

After years of living under the constant threat of being killed by Saul and his army,  David began to get discouraged.  Time after time Saul had, just missed capturing or killing him. And David began to fear that sooner or later he wouldn’t miss.  He took refuge in the Philistines lands belonging to Acish king of Gath, bringing his family and servants, including his two wives, as well as his six hundred man army.  For a time, he stayed in the capital with Achish.

“And it was told Saul that David was fled to Gath: and he sought no more again for him.” (I Samuel 27:4)

Much as Saul wanted to kill David, he wasn’t willing to risk invading Philistine territory to get him.  It might trigger all out war, with Israel getting defeated. 

And David said unto Achish, If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee? 

Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day. 1sa 27:7 And the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a full year and four months.” (I Samuel 27:5-6)

Though they tried not to cause trouble, it was a strain to prevent conflicts between six hundred Israelites and thousands of Philistines.  Their cultures, values, language, and religion were different.  It wasn’t long before David asked for a separate place where they could stay without constantly having to be on guard to avoid conflict.  While we are often told how bad segregation is, it often alleviates a lot of problems.

In the early 1970’s, I took a door selling job working in Kansas City.  I quickly discovered that I enjoyed working in both the all black and all white neighborhoods, but I really wasn’t welcome in the mixed neighborhoods where they lived everyday with interracial interaction and resented having to deal with anything else.  Neither blacks nor whites wanted me there.

Achish was experiencing some of the same problems, and gladly donated Ziklag, one of the border cities to David, to provide a buffer zone between Israel and the Philistines.  Ziklag would remain property of David’s descendants for hundreds of years.

“And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt.  And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and returned, and came to Achish.” (I Samuel 27:8-9)

Along the southwestern border of Judah and Simeon were several groups that had originally occupied parts of Israel.  They made frequent raids on across the border into Israel.  David took his men and destroyed their bases, leaving no survivors to tell who had made the attacks.

“And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road to day? 

And David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites.  And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines.” (I Samuel 27:10-11)

The Philistines had a policy of not bothering the Amalekites and other groups if the didn’t bother them as a way of maintaining a truce.  David knew Achish might consider his attacks on provocative and turn on him, so when asked where they had fought that day David just said they had fought along the southern edge of Judah, against the Kenites and Jerahmeelites, who were friendly to Israel.

“And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant for ever.” (I Samuel 27:12)

Achish had no reason to doubt David’s statement, and if he was attacking Israels friends, it would deepen the separation between David and Israel.  He hoped it would seal the relationship between himself and David

Friday, March 15, 2013

David Spares Saul’s Life Again

I Samuel 26:1-25

"And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon?  Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.  And Saul pitched in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon, by the way.” (I Samuel 26:1-3a)

Ziph was at the far southern edge of the land of Simeon and Judah.  The Ziphites had sought to ingratiate themselves with Saul in chapter 23, but David had gone before Saul arrived.  They would try again, telling him where to look.  Saul took three thousand chosen men to capture David’s six hundred, camping at Hachilah.

 "But David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness.  David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in very deed.  And David arose, and came to the place where Saul had pitched: and David beheld the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his host: and Saul lay in the trench, and the people pitched round about him.” (I Samuel 26:3b-5) 

David was aware of Saul’s movements and had spies observing him.  It was really detailed, even identifying which bedroll was Saul’s.  Saul had chosen to sleep in a protected trench with the entire army around him, confident that David couldn’t get through.

“Then answered David and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp? And Abishai said, I will go down with thee. 

So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him.” (I Samuel 26:6-7) 

Knowing exactly where Saul and Abner were sleeping, David decided to sneak into the camp.  His cousin Abishai volunteered to go with him.  They entered the camp undetected and found Saul sleeping with his spear stuck in the ground next to his pillow, surrounded by Abner and the army.

“Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time.” (I Samuel 26:8)

Abishai remembered that David had refused to kill Saul because he was God’s chosen man.  Abishai had no such qualms and asked David to let him kill Saul.  He promised that Saul would never know what hit him because he’d only need one blow.  After all, God had put them into position to kill him, so why shouldn’t they?  Years later David would lament that these cousins of his, Abishai and Joab were too hard and cruel for him to deal with.

"And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD'S anointed, and be guiltless?  David said furthermore, As the LORD liveth, the LORD shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.  The LORD forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the LORD'S anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.” (I Samuel 26:9-11)

David told Abishai that nobody had the right to kill God’s chosen man even when he did wrong, and that God would take care of Saul at the proper time.  He might die a natural death or be killed in battle, but God would take care of it.  David refused to disobey God even though he believed Saul was doing wrong.  Instead, they would take Saul’s spear and his water bottle and leave.  Abishai undoubtedly thought it was a waste of time to take such risks and not do more than that.

“So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul's bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them. 

Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them: And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? 

Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king?” (I Samuel 26:12-14)

David and Abishai got back out of the camp without disturbing anyone, because God caused the entire army to sleep unnaturally soundly.  Not one of three thousand men woke up to go to the bathroom or couldn’t sleep, and none of the guards heard them.

Once they were well out of shooting range, David yelled at Abner, Saul’s general, waking the entire camp.  To a society surrounded with constant machine noises, and used to public address systems, it seems unbelievable how far the human voice will carry.  Abner called back, wanting to know who was waking them up.

“And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord.  This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the LORD liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the LORD'S anointed. And now see where the king's spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster.” (I Samuel 26:15-16)

David pointed out that Abner was responsible for protecting the king, and that he had failed at his job. A man who wanted to kill the king had been able to get easily within striking distance and there had been no one to stop him.   As proof, he had Saul’s water bottle and spear.  Abner needed to send somebody over to get them back.  Three thousand men now knew that Saul’s claims that David was trying to destroy him were baseless.  Though they would continue to follow orders, their sympathies would lie with David, and they wouldn‘t forget.  They’d also tell others, increasing respect for David.

“And Saul knew David's voice, and said, Is this thy voice, my son David? 

And David said, It is my voice, my lord, O king.  And he said, Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand? Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. 

If the LORD have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the LORD; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve other gods.  Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the LORD: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.” (I Samuel 26:17-20)

Saul responded to David as if there had never been a problem between them, “Is this thy voice, my son David?”  It is amazing how hypocritical such people can be.

David proceeded to bring out the problem asking what Saul’s justification for trying to kill him was.  What crimes had he committed?  If it was God that had ent him out David was more than willing to offer sacrifices to God.  If it was just other people trying to drive David away from go and into idolatry, they were cursed of God, and Sul shouldn’t be listening to them.  If Saul were serving God, he would not allow David to be killed, because David was no more than a minor annoyance as long as the people and God were satisfied with Saul.

“Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.” (I Samuel 26:21)

Put in a spot where he cannot deny he was wrong again, Saul again admits it, and promises not to hurt David because David didn’t kill him.  Like a lot of people who promise to change, there was no intention of changing, he just wanted to get the pressure off.

“And David answered and said, Behold the king's spear! and let one of the young men come over and fetch it.  The LORD render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the LORD delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the LORD'S anointed.  And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.” (I Samuel 26:22-24)

Though experience had convinced him Saul didn’t mean it, David would give him the benefit of the doubt again.  He did warn him that God was aware of what was happening and would settle the accounts, and that he was depending on that rather than on Saul’s promise.

“Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.” (I Samuel 26:2)

Saul said he knew David was going to win in the end!   Why keep fighting?  Why not give in and see what God would do?  Unfortunately, I know a lot of people who would do or have done the same thing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Letting God Take Care Of It

I Samuel 25:23-44

“And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, And fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid. 

Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.” (I Samuel 25:23-25)

Knowing how offensive her husband could be, Abigail had rushed as much as she could to stop David before he started a fight and killed innocent people.  She also knew that there was no point in talking to Nabal because he wouldn’t listen to anyone.

I Corinthians 13:6 says that love “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”  Abigail did not deny what her husband was really like, but she didn’t want him killed.  She volunteered to take the responsibility for what had happened because her husband was such a servant of Satan that he was incapable of making intelligent decisions., and she had not seen David’s men.   She asked that David would at least listen to her before he proceeded.

Like other women married to selfish and domineering men, Abigail had probably spent a lot of time trying to smooth over other people’s anger and enable them to survive.  Such bullies rarely realize that their success is because of their mate’s diplomacy and not their forcefulness.

“Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the LORD hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.  And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.  I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the LORD, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days.” (I Samuel 25:26-28)

She pointed out that repeatedly God had promised to punish those who did wrong so that David should do what Paul instructs in Romans 12:19.  “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”  By attacking and killing Nabal and his servants, David would be doing evil himself.  Instead she asked to be forgiven for not having been able to stop Nabal, and that David accept the things she had brought.  By doing so, he would not bring God’s judgment on himself, and God would bless him.

 “Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling. 

And it shall come to pass, when the LORD shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel; That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the LORD shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.” (I Samuel 25:29-31)

She made it clear she understood David was being unfairly persecuted and that it was understandable that he would react violently to further unfair treatment, but he needed to remember that God had promised to make him King over Israel,  If he went on and killed Nabal, he would have to live with the regret for the rest of his life, and Nabal simply wan’t worth it.  Her final request was that when God fulfilled his promise, David not forget she had helped him.  Apparently she had had to bail Nabal out before, and thought she might need David’s help in the future.

“And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.  For in very deed, as the LORD God of Israel liveth, which hath kept me back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall. 

So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person.” (I Samuel 25:32-35)

David thanked her for stopping him from doing something in the heat of anger he would later regret.  As he said, in his anger, he had intended to kill not only Nabal, but every man among them that very day.  Instead he was going to accept what she offered with thanksgiving and not kill th family.

“And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light. 

But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.  And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.” (I Samuel 25:36-38)

When Abigail got home, Nabal was holding a party, gloating about how he had lorded it over David’s men.  He was very drunk so she didn’t try to explain what had almost happened.  The next morning, when he had sobered up, She told him what David’s response had been and how close he had come to getting the whole bunch killed.  Realization of what could have happened caused him to have a massive stroke, leaving him paralyzed, and about ten days later he died.

“And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the LORD hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head.” (I Samuel 25:39)

When David heard about Nabal’s death he thanked the Lord for giving him what he deserved, and that Abigail had stopped him from living with the regret of having killed him over such a minor thing.

“And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife.  And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee, to take thee to him to wife. 

And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.  And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife.” (I Samuel 25:39b-42)

Knowing that Abigail was beautiful, and Impressed with her good sense and kindness, David decided to marry her, particularly since Saul had taken Michal and married her off to another man.  Knowing that David would listen to reason, Abigail was glad to go with him for a change, even if it was just as a menial servant.  Almost anything looked good after putting up with Nabal.  She gladly accepted his offer of marriage.

“David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives.” (I Samuel 25:43)

There was no prohibition against marrying more than one wife, although a man who did so was required to treatr them equally in every way, so David also took a second wife.

“But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.” (I Samuel 25:44)

Saul didn’t love his children, he just used them as political pawns.  Originally, he had promised Merab to David, but had married her off to some one else when he got angry over the people bragging about David’s accomplishment in killing Goliath.  Later, he used both daughters as bait when he offered to take her back from her husband or give David Michal if he’d kill a hundred Philistines in and attempt to get David killed.

Michal loved David and helped him escape from Saul, but she had no doubt he’d kill her if he thought she’d willingly helped David, so she accused David of threatening to kill her if she didn’t.  Saul believed her because that’s what he’d have done.  After David fled, Saul forced Michal to marry another Phalti in an effort to ensure his loyalty.  History is replete with stories of power hungry leaders using their children as pawns to form alliances.

In offering to take Merab away from her husband, and in taking Michal away from David, Saul usurped God’s authority.  In Matthew 19:5-6, Jesus said,  “…For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”  God has not given authority over marriage to any man or government or church.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Angry People Cause Fights

I Samuel 25:1-22

“And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah.” (I Samuel 25:1a)

We don’t know exactly when Samuel died, but we know that he started serving the Lord as a small child, and continued for his entire life.  He became judge about twenty years after Eli’s death, and led Israel until he was an old man and they demanded a king.  Several years later, he anointed David to take Saul’s place, and remained as a person of considerable influence until probably about ten years before Saul’s death.

His influence over such a long time made his death a major event in Israel, similar to that of a former president of the United States.  People came from across the entire nation to the funeral.

“And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.  And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 

Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.” (I Samuel 25:1b-3) 

Though he was no longer leader, Samuel had exercised a lot of influence, limiting Saul’s power.  When he died, David moved to the wilderness of Paran, at the very edge of Israel’s land, where he could escape into Edom, Moab, or Midian without much trouble.

One of the largest landholders in the area was a descendant of Caleb named Nabal.  He is described as being a churlish, or selfish, rude and mean person, who constantly ran over, cheated and took advantage of those around him with no concern for others.  His wife, Abigail, was a very attractive woman, and very understanding, forming good relationships with those she met.  

“And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep.  And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name: And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast.  And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel. 

Ask thy young men, and they will show thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.” (I Samuel 25:4-8)

Hearing that Nabal was taking crew out to shear his three thousand sheep and a thousand goats, David sent contingent of ten guys to him asking for a little food in return for the fact that they had  repeatedly defended his herds against marauders at the risk of their own lives.

“And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased. 

And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.  Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?” (I Samuel 25:9-11)

It was customary to invite visitors to eat with you at least and express appreciation for help.  Nabal was unappreciative, accusing them of being runaway slaves and thieves and refusing to even consider basic manners.  He was like a lot of selfish people today, who take pride in being mean, and spue out their anger with no concern for how people respond, convinced no one can do anything about it.

“So David's young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings. 

And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. 

And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff.” (I Samuel 25:12-13)

David was offended by the way Nabal treated his men and decided to teach him a lesson.  Nabal was a rich man but too stingy to hire enough men to protect his sheep from bandits.  He didn’t have nearly enough to protect him against David’s army.  Angry about Nabal’s rudeness and belligerence, David took four hundred of his men to attack Nabal, leaving two hundred to protect their camp.

“But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal's wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them.  But the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields: They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.  Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.” (I Samuel 25:14-17)

One of Nabal’s employees went to tell Abigail how much David’s men had helped them out, and how abusive and discourteous Nabal had been.  Almost anyone would be angry by such treatment, and he knew David would probably retaliate.  As Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.  Abigail had earned the employees’ respect enough they took problems to her, because they knew that Nabal was so controlled by a satanic attitude he would never listen to anyone else.  Nabal's attitude is very common today, and it is still Satanically inspired.

“Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.  And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.” (I Samuel 25:18-19) 

Abigail knew how offensive her husband could be and took immediate action to deflect David’s anger.  She had the servants pack a large amount of food on donkeys and help her take it to David in hopes of calming him down.  Knowing it would only make Nabal mad, she didn’t bother to tell him what she was doing.  She told the servants to go as fast as they could and she would try to keep up, because she knew how upset David’s men might be.

“And it was so, as she rode on the ass, that she came down by the covert on the hill, and, behold, David and his men came down against her; and she met them. 

Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good.  So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.” (I Samuel 25:20-22) 

David had decided that anybody who would treat people that helped him in such a way didn’t deserve to live and was on his way to kill him and his entire family.  They were almost to Nabal’s house when they met Abigail, despite her efforts to hurry.  Had she delayed to confer with Nabal, she’d have been too late.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Saul Repents

I Samuel 24:1-22

“And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.  Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats.  And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.” (I Samuel 24:1) 

The Philistine invasion had forced Saul to withdraw from pursuing David, and allowed him to escape to Engedi.  After defeating the Philistines, Saul returned with three thousand men when he found out where David was.  In and area that was equipped for keeping sheep at night there was a cave where the shepherds often stayed, and Saul decided to sleep there.  He didn’t realize David and his men were hidden deeper in the same cave.

“And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily.” (I Samuel 24:4)

David’s men saw this as the best opportunity to kill Saul they were likely to get.  As they saw it, God had placed Saul in a position where they could do whatever they wanted to him while he was sleeping.  It seemed like God wanted them to kill him., and David’s decision to just cut off a piece of his robe must have seemed kind of dumb.  After all, Saul was trying to kill him.

“And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt.  And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD'S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.  So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way.” (I Samuel 24:5-7) 

David even felt guilty about cutting off the piece of Saul’s robe.  God had made Saul king, and what right did David have to try to take it away from him or kill him.  He refused to allow his followers to harm Saul.  It was a decision that would cost him dearly, but later, in Acts 13:22, God said, “…I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.”

“David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself.  And David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou men's words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt? 

Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD'S anointed. 1 Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it. 

The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.  As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. 

After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea.  The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.” (I Samuel 24:8-14)

After Saul left the cave, David revealed himself and showed the piece of material as proof that he could have easily killed Saul but had chosen not to because he didn’t consider him and enemy, and refused to kill him because he was God’s anointed.  Clearly he was not trying to usurp Saul’s throne, despite what Saul might believe.

An old proverb said that wicked people do wicked things, but David was refusing to do wickedness, even for his own protection.  He would depend on God to judge who was doing right instead, but Saul had no reason to fear him.

“And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.  And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil. 

And thou hast showed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the LORD had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not.  For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the LORD reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day.” (I Samuel 24:16-19)

Once  again, Saul acknowledged that his hatred of David was irrational and wicked.  He even wept tears of sorrow for what he was doing, and told how good David had been, asking that God would bless him.

“And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.  Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father's house.” (I Samuel 24:20-21)

Saul concludes by acknowledging that he knew God had chosen David to be the king who would establish the kingdom on a firm basis.  He requested that David promise not to destroy his family when he came to power.

Knowing he knew this, it was exceedingly wicked for him to keep on trying to prevent God from having his way.  Unfortunately, even a Christian can become so selfish and self centered they have no interest in what God wants, just trying to force things to turn out the way they want.  That attitude would eventually cost the lives of all his sons.

“And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold.” (I Samuel 24:22)

David readily agreed to Saul’s request, and Saul went home.  While Saul was sincere in his repentance at the moment, David didn’t forget that he had promised not to try to kill him before.  David and his men went back to their stronghold where they’d be safe if he changed his mind.

Like many other people, Saul made an emotional commitment.  Unfortunately, emotions are very changeable, and commitments based on them tend to change when they do.  David didn’t have a lot of faith in Saul’s commitment.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

God Delivers David From Certain Capture

I Samuel 23:19-29

“Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon? Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of thy soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king's hand.” (I Samuel 23:19-20)

In an effort to ingratiate themselves with Saul, the Ziphites offered to betray David if Saul would bring sufficient forces down to capture him.  They knew exactly where he was in hiding.

“And Saul said, Blessed be ye of the LORD; for ye have compassion on me.  Go, I pray you, prepare yet, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who hath seen him there: for it is told me that he dealeth very subtly.  See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hideth himself, and come ye again to me with the certainty, and I will go with you: and it shall come to pass, if he be in the land, that I will search him out throughout all the thousands of Judah.” (I Samuel 23:21-23)

Though what Saul was doing was in direct opposition to God, he praised the Ziphites for helping him, claiming God would bless them for their care for him.  When people become so totally self centered, they no longer distinguish between what God wants and their own desires and plans, convincing themselves that they are the same.

“And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon.  Saul also and his men went to seek him.” (I Samuel 23:24-25a)

 David and his men were constantly moving to prevent attacks.  By the time the Ziphites and Saul were able to put their plan into action, they had relocated to the wildernes of Maon making the plan impossible.  Saul had to start their search again.

“And they told David: wherefore he came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon. 

And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.  And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them.” (I Samuel 23:25b-26)

Saul’s intelligence got him really close to David.  Finally, they were just on opposite sides of the same mountain.  David began to feel desperate because Saul’s army had been able to cut off their escape routes, and capture seemed certain.

“But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land.  Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Selahammahlekoth.” (I Samuel 23:27-28)

Knowing that Saul was down in Judah looking for David, the Philistines seized the opportunity to invade Israel in hopes of being able to catch Saul off guard and defeat him.  Saul received word that he had to come immediately if he wished to remain as king, and was forced to pull his forces away just when David’s capture seemed inevitable.  He had to take the entire army to fight the Philistines, allowing David to escape again.

“And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at Engedi.” (I Samuel 23:29)

Realizing he had been trapped at Maon, David wasted no time moving to a stronghold at Engedi that would be easier to defend and less likely to serve as a trap.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Saul Orders the Priests Killed

I Samuel 22:1-23

“David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.  And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” (I Samuel 22:1-2)

Recognizing the risk of staying in Gath, David fled to the Cave Adullam, but it wasn’t long before people began to hear where he was.  His relatives all came down to help him partly out of family ties and partly in fear of Saul.  In addition, those who were suffering under Saul’s administration came to David in hopes of seeing a change. Saul had begun to support a standing army, taking food and property from the people to do so.  This forced some into debt and left others homeless and increasingly concerned that it was to promote Saul’s interests, rather than that of the people.

“And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me.  And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.” (I Samuel 22:3-4)

Fearing retaliation by Saul, and knowing his parents were too old to spend their lives in hiding, David took them to Moab on the east side of the Dead Sea, where they would be protected, making a deal with the king of Moab.  They stayed there through out the time David was in hiding.

”And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.” (I Samuel 22:5)

The prophet Gad warned David not to stay in the stronghold of Adullam where he risked attack by both Philistines and Saul’s forces, but to go farther into Judah.  David followed the advice, going into the forest of Hareth.

“When Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, (now Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him;) Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds; That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that showeth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or showeth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?” (I Samuel 22:6-8)

Learning that David had moved to Judah, Saul turned on his own tribe of Benjamin, accusing them of supporting David in hopes that he would reward them.  He accused Jonathan of betraying him and turning David against him to try to assassinate him, and his own people of helping him.  The more he let the evil spirit control his thinking, the more paranoid and irrational he became.

“Then answered Doeg the Edomite, which was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub.  And he inquired of the LORD for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.” (I Samuel 22:9-10) 

In an effort to ingratiate himself and allay Saul’s suspicions, Doeg told Saul about seeing David at the tabernacle talking to Ahimelech, and that he had supplied David with food and weapons.

“Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests that were in Nob: and they came all of them to the king.

 And Saul said, Hear now, thou son of Ahitub.

 And he answered, Here I am, my lord. 

And Saul said unto him, Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, in that thou hast given him bread, and a sword, and hast inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day? 

Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king's son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house?  Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more. 

And the king said, Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou, and all thy father's house.” (I Samuel 22:11-16)

Saul immediately called Ahimelech in and accused him of treason for assisting David.  Ahimelech defended his actions, pointing out that David was still officially one of Sauls most trusted emmissaries, as his son-in-law, and that he had no reason to doubt David’s word when said he was on a special mission for Saul.  He had acted in good faith.  Saul ignored his innocence, condemning him to death, along with all his relatives.  It was a very unjust sentence.

“And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the LORD; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not show it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the LORD. 
And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.  And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.“ (I Samuel 22:19)

None of the Jews were willing to murder God’s priests, so Saul ordered Doeg to do so.  As an Edomite, he still retained some of that old family animosity, as well as traces of Esau’s disregard for God.  He obeyed Saul, killing eighty five of the priests and murdering every man, woman and child in the city of Nob, as well as their livestock.  Though it was a very wicked action, it fulfilled God’s prophecy to Eli in I Samuel 2:31-33.  “Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.  And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.  And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.” 

“And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David. 1sa 22:21 And Abiathar showed David that Saul had slain the LORD'S priests. 

And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul: I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father's house.  Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard.” (I Samuel 22:20-23)

One of the priests, Abiathar, escaped and brought the news to David.  David said it was what he had feared after seeing Doeg at the tabernacle.  He promised to protect Abiathar if he would stay with him, and Abiathar did.   He would continue as priest throughout David’s reign.  Only when Solomon became king was he removed from office to finish the prophecy.