1Samuel 28-31

Sunday Evening Bible Study

March 3, 2002


David is not in a good place.  He has spent so much time running from Saul that he has made a decision to leave Israel and join the enemy.  He is now living among the Philistines. 

We are also approaching the end of the reign of King Saul.  Saul has continued to go downhill in his life.  He’s been troubled by an evil spirit.  He’s been overcome with jealousy over David’s success and has tried to kill David on numerous occasions.  Saul doesn’t have Samuel around to give him guidance.  And the Philistines are gathering once more for a huge battle.  Saul is desperate.

1Samuel 28

:1-2  David follows the Philistines

:1  Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men.

Because David has been hiding with the Philistines under the protection of Achish, he is about to be drawn into a battle against Israel.

:2  Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.

Achish is convinced that David is the best thing that has ever happened to him.  But David is lying to Achish.

:3-20 Saul and the witch

:3 Now Samuel was dead

We were told of Samuel’s death back in

(1 Sam 25:1 KJV)  And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.

The writer is simply telling us that this is happening during the same period of time.

:3  And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.

familiar spirits‘owb – water skin bottle; necromancer; one who evokes the dead; ghost, spirit of a dead one; one that has a familiar spirit. A “medium”.

The term “familiar spirit” is synonymous with that of demons.  When you see “familiar spirit”, think of a person who is working with demons.  Today we call this person a “channeler”.

wizardsyidd@‘oniy – a knower, one who has a familiar spirit; soothsayer, necromancer; “spiritist”, “psychic”.  A “necromancer” is a person who tries to contact the spirits of dead people.

Again, this is setting the stage for what is about to happen.  At one point in his reign as king, Saul had acted out of obedience to the Law of Moses and had outlawed mediums and psychics in Israel.  This is what the Law of Moses says –

(Lev 19:31 NLT)  "Do not rely on mediums and psychics, for you will be defiled by them. I, the LORD, am your God.

(Lev 20:6 NLT)  "If any among the people are unfaithful by consulting and following mediums or psychics, I will turn against them and cut them off from the community.

(Lev 20:27 NLT)  "Men and women among you who act as mediums or psychics must be put to death by stoning. They are guilty of a capital offense."

(Deu 18:9-14 NLT)  "When you arrive in the land the LORD your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. {10} For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, {11} or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. {12} Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you. {13} You must be blameless before the LORD your God. {14} The people you are about to displace consult with sorcerers and fortune-tellers, but the LORD your God forbids you to do such things.

This is pretty clear.  God says it’s wrong.

Why are these things wrong?

Is it because we will get bad information?
Not always.  In fact, this is one reason why people are sucked into these things, because there is a real power here.  Satan is at work and he draws people in with demonstrations of power and knowledge.
But the problem is that people then become hooked on these things, and then it is easy for Satan to lead a person astray.
And worst of all, a person becomes dependant upon Satan instead of God.
Paul says that this is something we ought to be aware of in the end times.

(1 Tim 4:1 KJV)  Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

In the time of the Great Tribulation, people will be blinded by these things, and even though they will be aware of God’s judgment, they won’t be able to give these things up.

(Rev 9:20-21 KJV)  And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: {21} Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

sorceriespharmakeia – the use or the administering of drugs; sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it

Going back to our story, the sad thing is that Saul’s death will come in part because of what he’s about to do in consulting a medium, breaking his own law.

(1 Chr 10:13-14 KJV)  So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; {14} And inquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.

God is pretty serious about this stuff.  It’s pretty dangerous.  It will lead you astray and bring your destruction.

:4  the Philistines … pitched in Shunem …Israel  …pitched in Gilboa.

Sounds like a baseball game.

ShunemShuwnem – “double resting place”  see map

GilboaGilboa‘– “swollen heap”; a mountain-ridge at the southeastern end of the plain of Jezreel;  see map

:5 And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.


The danger of fear

Saul’s fear is going to drive him to do some very foolish things.
So what do I do if I’m afraid? David wrote,
(Psa 56:3-4 KJV)  What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. {4} In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
(Psa 56:11 KJV)  In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
Let your fear drive you to God.  Run to Him.

:6 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.

inquiredsha’al – to ask, enquire, borrow, beg.  This is the root of Saul’s name which means “desired” or “asked”.

There were three ways that God spoke in those days:

dreamschalowm – dream

Urim ‘Uwriym – “lights”; stones kept in a pouch on the high-priest’s breastplate, used in determining God’s decision in certain questions and issues

prophetsnabiy’ – spokesman, speaker, prophet

Saul at least seems to be trying to ask God for help.  He is trying to use the various things that were at his disposal in seeking answers from God.

But he doesn’t know what to do when God doesn’t answer.


God wants to speak to us

I believe very much that God can speak directly to us today.  I believe very much that the Holy Spirit wants to lead and direct our lives.  I believe that God can still speak through dreams and prophets.
But God speaks clearest and loudest through His Word, the Bible.
(2 Pet 1:19 KJV)  We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

If you want to hear from God, the best place to start is to develop a regular, daily time of reading God’s Word.


When God is silent

Is there a reason God is silent?
Sin:  Sometimes it’s because there is sin in our lives that we aren’t dealing with.
(Isa 59:1-2 KJV)  Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: {2} But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Perhaps God didn’t answer Saul because he had killed the priests (1Sam. 22).  That might do it.

Another time that Saul had disobeyed was when he didn’t obey what God commanded concerning the Amalekites.  At that time, Samuel had said,

(1 Sam 15:22-23 KJV)  And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. {23} For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

And here rebellious Saul is now contacting a witch.

If you want God to talk to you, you’ll need to do something with your sin.  Like stop it.  Like pay for it.  The only way we can “pay for” our sins is to let Jesus pay for them.  The Bible says,

(1 John 1:9 KJV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Jesus can cleanse us from our sins because He died on a cross to pay for our sins.

Impatience: Sometimes we simply need to wait for Him and His time.  Sometimes God is silent because it’s simply not time for us to get an answer.
One of the things we’ve seen in Saul’s life is a tendency to be impatient and impulsive.

When Samuel was alive, Saul had been instructed to wait for Samuel at Gilgal for seven days, and then Samuel would show up, perform a sacrifice, and give Saul instructions of what to do.  But one time it seemed that Samuel wasn’t going to show up, and Saul needed to know what to do to fight the Philistines, so instead of waiting, he jumped ahead of things and got into trouble (1Sam. 13:8-14).

David wrote,

(Psa 25:5 KJV)  Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Keep seeking God.  Keep waiting on Him.

:7 a woman that hath a familiar spirit … at Endor.

Endor‘Eyn-Do’r – “fountain of Dor”  see map.  This is not the planet with a forest moon in the Star Wars movie.  But at least now you know where George Lucas got the name.

Saul had earlier made a law against witchcraft and psychics.  Yet now he goes to look for help from the very things he knows is wrong.


Stay within God’s ways

Don’t go outside the boundaries.
(Isa 8:19-20 NLT)  So why are you trying to find out the future by consulting mediums and psychics? Do not listen to their whisperings and mutterings. Can the living find out the future from the dead? Why not ask your God? {20} "Check their predictions against my testimony," says the LORD. "If their predictions are different from mine, it is because there is no light or truth in them.

:8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment

disguised himselfchaphas – to search, disguise oneself

raimentbeged – treachery, deceit; (CLBL) garment, clothing (used indiscriminately)

Why is Saul disguising himself?  Because he knows he’s doing a bad thing and he doesn’t want anyone to recognize him.

:8  divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.

divineqacam – to practice divination, divine

by the familiar spirit – Saul is asking her to use her personal demon to contact a dead person.

bring me him up ‘alah – to go up, ascend, climb; (Hiphil) to bring up, cause to ascend or climb, cause to go up; to bring up, bring against, take away; to cause to ascend; to rouse, stir up (mentally)


I have a good friend who used to be involved in all sorts of occult/metaphysical things.  Before he became a Christian, he dabbled for a while with this practice of contacting the dead.  He had read books about it and had learned to go into certain states of consciousness where he would make contact with something.  He was fascinated with the power this brought him, especially as these voices began to tell him things.  A lady asked him to contact her dead husband, and in response, the voice told him where the lady could find a certain document that had been lost.  But the next time he tried to contact this dead person, he found himself terrorized and pinned to his bed by some huge, black force.  It scared my friend to death.  This became part of what drove my friend to Jesus.

I’m not going to tell you that the things of the occult (séances, witchcraft, astrology, Ouija boards, tarot cards, wicca, etc) are bogus.  The truth is there is something very real and very powerful involved in these things.  And this is why people are drawn in, because of the power.  But it is all a trap of Satan, a trap that will lead to a life of desperation, fear, bondage, and eventually to hell itself.

:9  wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?

The witch is being careful.  She thinks she may be stepping into a trap.

:10 And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth …

Pretty heavy thing for Saul to be doing here, swearing in God’s name that he isn’t going to punish this witch for doing what he is asking, in breaking God’s Laws.

:12 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.

Apparently this “being” named Samuel tells the witch that the man before her is King Saul.

Why did the woman cry with a loud voice?

One suggestion is that she cries out because she realizes that Saul is in front of her, and he could have her killed.

Another idea is that she is experiencing something different than what she normally experienced.

Some have suggested that she was a fake, as some are who pretend to do these things.  And when she actually sees something, whether or not it was really Samuel, she’s frightened.
Others have suggested that this woman is used to talking only with demonic spirits, and if this was actually Samuel’s spirit, she’s blown away to see the real thing.

Is this really Samuel?

There are two possible answers to that question.

Some say no. 

I believe that most of the time that a person is trying to contact the “other side”, what they are contacting is simply demons who pretend to be something.  Demons have been around a long time, know a lot of things, and I don’t think it would be hard for them to tell someone things that are unique or amazing.  Some people have suggested that this being that is called Samuel is really a demon. 

Some say yes.

As uncomfortable as it is to say this, it seems to me that this is exactly what the text is saying.
All through this story, this “thing” is called “Samuel”.  The text itself never gives us a reason to think it is anything but Samuel.
Even though God has forbidden this practice of trying to talk to the dead, this doesn’t mean that God might not have decided to allow Samuel to give Saul one last strong message.
Charles Ryrie:  “The medium shrieked with fear when Samuel himself actually appeared, rather than some spirit that would impersonate him. On this occasion God miraculously permitted the actual spirit of Samuel to speak and announce Saul's imminent death”.
Also, keep in mind, the prophecy that will come out of this will actually happen.

:13  I saw gods ascending out of the earth.

gods‘elohiym   (plural); rulers, judges; divine ones; angels; godlike one; the (true) God

I think the idea is that this woman is in some sort of “altered state of consciousness” where she is able to see things, but nobody else in the room can see what she sees.

:14 An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle

mantlem@‘iyl – robe; a garment worn over a tunic by men of rank

Even though Saul can’t see Samuel, he bows to the ground anyway, out of respect.

:15 Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?

disquietedragaz – tremble, quake, rage, quiver, be agitated, be excited, be perturbed

:16 Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?

enemy ‘ar – enemy, adversary, foe.  Pretty heavy stuff to be hearing from Samuel.

:17-18 And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me

Samuel had actually warned Saul twice that he was going to lose the kingdom.

The first time came when he had not waited for Samuel, but had performed a sacrifice by himself.

(1 Sam 13:13-14 KJV)  And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. {14} But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.

But the one time that Samuel is talking about came after Saul had disobeyed in not wiping out the Amalekites as God had commanded him to do:

(1 Sam 15:27-28 KJV)  And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. {28} And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.
It was after this that Samuel would be sent to find David and anoint him to be the next king (1Sam. 16:13)

:19 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

Samuel will now give two specific prophecies of what would happen.

First, Israel is going to lose the battle to the Philistines.  The army of Israel would lose the battle.

Second, Saul and his sons would be dead and with Samuel in Sheol on the next day.

:20 Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth … he had eaten no bread

Saul faints because of two things – he’s terrified at what Samuel has said, and he hasn’t eaten all day.


Run to Jesus

It seems to me that Saul’s root problem is that he doesn’t know where to run.  He runs to everyone but God.  Though the writer said that he “inquired of the LORD” (vs.6), but you can see by his actions that in reality he did everything but run to the Lord.  He’s run to his prophets, he’s run to his priests (if there were any left), he’s run to a witch, he’s run to Samuel.  That’s why the writer in Chronicles could say he “inquired not of the LORD” (1Chr. 10:14).  He’s run everywhere but to God Himself.
When Paul was living in Ephesus,
(Acts 19:11-20 KJV)  And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: {12} So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

People were amazed at the things that God was doing through Paul.

{13} Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. {14} And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. {15} And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? {16} And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. {17} And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

People had been confusing God’s power with Paul.  They had thought that Paul was the one to “run to”.  But they realized that the Lord Jesus was the one to run to.

{18} And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds.

These were people who had already been in the church.  People in the church, believers, had been dabbling in bad stuff.

{19} Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. {20} So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

I am concerned that we too don’t fall into the traps of Satan.  If you have been dabbling with these kinds of things, you need to stop it.  Today.  You need to run to the Lord.

:21-25  The witch serves dinner

:21-25 And the woman came unto Saul …

Somehow this woman takes pity on Saul and ends up giving him and his servants supper.

They leave that night, having this terrifying prophecy hanging over them that they will be dead before the next night.

1Samuel 29

:1-11 David rejected by the Philistines

We’re now going to back track in time a couple of days, to just before the Philistines arrive up north at Shunem.

:1  the Philistines gathered …to Aphek: …the Israelites …in Jezreel.

Aphek ‘Apheq – “enclosure”  see map

Aphek must have been the place where the five lords of the Philistines had decided to rendezvous on their way up north to fight Israel.  Aphek is about forty miles southwest of Shunem. We’re going to see that David never made it as far north as Shunem, and I think part of the purpose in this is to show that David had absolutely nothing to do with the death of Saul.

JezreelYizr@‘e’l – “God sows”.  This is the valley where the city of Megiddo is located, perhaps the location of Armageddon as well.  see map

:2 but David and his men passed on in the rereward with Achish.

rereward – the rear guard

Remember that David is not in a good place here.  He’s gotten tired of running from Saul and so he decided to hide with the Philistines.  But I have a hard time thinking that this is where God wants David.  He’s not only hiding among his enemies and being friends with them, but he’s lying to them, telling them he’s fighting against Israel when he’s making raids on Israel’s enemies.

:3 Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath been with me these days

David has been living with the Philistines, serving Achish, for one year and four months (1Sam. 27:7).

:4  lest in the battle he be an adversary to us

The Philistine leaders don’t trust David and are afraid that David might end up fighting against them to get on Saul’s good side.

:5 Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?

That old song has come back to haunt David again. This was the song that got Saul jealous of David in the first place (1Sam. 18:7,8).  It was also the song that caused David to not stay in Gath the first time he came to hide among the Philistines (1Sam. 21:11).

:6 Then Achish called David, and said unto him, Surely, as the LORD liveth …

LORD – the name of God, Yahweh.  I find it interesting that Achish is now using Yahweh’s name.

:8 And David said unto Achish, But what have I done?

I wonder if David is really serious here.  He sounds as if he’s hurt, offended that the Philistines don’t trust him.  Yet he hasn’t been honest with them.  The Philistines think that David has been making raids against the tribe of Judah, yet he’s been raiding the enemies of Israel instead (1Sam. 27:8-10).

:9 I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God

That sounds nice.  It sounds as if a pagan man has been impressed with David’s “witness”.  Yet David has not been honest with Achish and David has been living a lie.  Achish has been deceived by David.

:11 So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning

God would use the suspicions of the Philistines to keep David from being in a position to have to choose between fighting for Achish or fighting for Saul and Israel.

:11  the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

Now without David, the Philistines head north to the battleground at Jezreel.


God is not finished with you

This is one of the lowest points in David’s life.
He’s been running from Saul and has ended up running in the wrong way, right into the hands of the real enemy.
He’s been living a lie, telling Achish one thing, but living another.
And now, just as David is about to get caught into a situation where he is actually supposed to be fighting against his own people, God moves in such a way to get David out of the battle.
You may have felt like you’ve been doing nothing but make bad decisions.  God isn’t through with you.  I think God wants to give you another chance.
(Phil 1:6 KJV)  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

1Samuel 30

:1-20  Rescuing the captives

:1 the Amalekites had invaded the south…and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;

Ziklag – this is the city that Achish gave to David to rule over and live in.  It is about fifty miles south of Aphek, a three days’ journey.

Amalekites – The Amalekites were a constant enemy to Israel.  They had attacked Israel when they were coming out of Egypt, attacking the stragglers as the nation moved through the desert.  Joshua had fought a great battle against the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-16), and God had commanded Saul to wipe out the Amalekites (1Sam. 15), which he didn’t fully accomplish.  They now rise up to attack David’s city of Ziklag.

While David has been off marching with the Philistine armies, his home has been attacked.

:2 And had taken the women captives

They are probably intending on taking the women to Egypt and selling them as slaves.

:4 lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep

David’s entire army is completely overcome with grief.  Everything has been lost.

:5 And David's two wives were taken captives

David isn’t exempt from the pain.  He’s lost his wives.

:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him

distressedyatsar – to bind, be distressed, be in distress, be cramped, be narrow, be scant, be in straits, make narrow, cause distress, beseige (Qal) to suffer distress

was grievedmarar – to be bitter

Why did David’s men want to stone him?

Sometimes people simply blame who ever is at the top, whether there’s a reason or not.

Perhaps some of the men thought that they shouldn’t have been following the Philistines in the first place.  They were in the land of the Philistines because of David.  If they hadn’t been following the Philistines, then they could have protected their families.

:6  but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

This is where David’s life turns around.


Encourage yourself in God

It is wonderful to have friends around who can recognize that you need encouragement and then who can encourage you.
Earlier, it was Jonathan who encouraged David.

(1 Sam 23:15-18 KJV)  And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood. {16} And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. {17} And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. {18} And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

But sometimes there isn’t a single person around who will encourage you.
I read of a television program aired on PBS on that most staid of subjects—a library. This, however, was the Library of Congress, and the PBS’s former chairman, Sir Huw Wheldon, was standing in a forest of card index files.  The program had all the makings of a slow-moving, dull documentary until....
About halfway through, Dr. Daniel Boorstin, the Librarian of Congress, brought out a little blue box from a small closet that once held the library’s rarities.  The label on the box read: Contents of the President’s Pockets on the Night of April 14, 1865.
Since that was the fateful night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, every viewer’s attention was seized.
Boorstin then proceeded to remove the items in the small container and display them on camera.  There were five things in the box:

A handkerchief, embroidered “A. Lincoln”

A country boy’s pen knife

A spectacles case repaired with string

A purse containing a $5 bill—Confederate money (!)

Some old and worn newspaper clippings

“The clippings,” said Boorstin, “were concerned with the great deeds of Abraham Lincoln.  And one of them actually reports a speech by John Bright which says that Abraham Lincoln is “one of the greatest men of all times.”
Today, that’s common knowledge.  The world now knows that British statesman John Bright was right in his assessment of Lincoln, but in 1865 millions shared quite a contrary opinion. The President’s critics were fierce and many.  His was a lonely agony that reflected the suffering and turmoil of his country ripped to shreds by hatred and cruel, costly war.
There is something touchingly pathetic in the mental picture of this great leader seeking solace and self-assurance from a few old newspaper clippings as he reads them under the flickering flame of a candle all alone in the Oval Office.
We need to know what to do in those lonely, discouraging times when it seems that everyone is against us.
But even more than just carrying clippings of our own deeds, we need to focus on encouraging ourselves “in God”.
(Hab 3:17-19 KJV)  Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: {18} Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. {19} The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

:7 bring me hither the ephod

ephod – a garment that the priests would wear, and it seems to have a connection with “enquiring” of God.


Let your trials turn you to God

I think that David has not been in a good place up to this point.
Whereas David had been in the habit of asking God for help in just about everything, we didn’t see a single instance while he was in the land of the Philistines where he asked God for advice.
But now, with his family being taken from him, and all his friends are mad at him, he turns back to God for help.

:8 Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? …thou shalt …recover all.

pursue radaph – to be behind, follow after, pursue, persecute, run after.  I think there’s a hint of speed here.

overtakenasag – to reach, overtake, take hold upon

recovernatsal – to snatch away, deliver, rescue, save

:9 came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed

BesorB@sowr – “cheerful”. Besor is about 15 miles southwest of Ziklag.

:10 David pursued … two hundred …were so faint …

pursuedradaph – to be behind, follow after, pursue, run after

so faint – keep in mind they have just finished marching from Aphek, a three day, fifty mile journey.  And now they’ve run another fifteen miles.

Two hundred of the men are so exhausted that they can’t go any further.

:12 And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins

figs … and … raisins – that’s the same kind of food that Abigail had given to David and his men a couple of years ago.  It was probably just typical food for that area of the world. Interesting coincidence, huh? 

:13  To whom belongest thou?

I wonder how David knows to ask this question? It seems he knows the man is a slave.

The man probably had an earring, a sign that he was somebody’s slave.


Can people see that you belong to someone?

Married people:  Is it obvious to people around you that you are “taken”?  Do you act “taken”?  Can they see your ring?
Christians:  Can people tell that you serve Jesus?

:13  three days ago I fell sick.

three days ago … - David had taken three days to get back to Ziklag from Aphek (1Sam. 30:1), and this servant had been sick for three days after having raided Ziklag.  I think this would imply that the Amalekites had attacked Ziklag while David was furthest from home, playing war games with the Philistines.

:14 We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites…the south of Caleb

CherethitesK@rethiy – “executioners”.  Apparently this was another name for the Philistines (Eze 25:16; Zep. 2:5). This name would also be applied to a group of foreign mercenary soldiers serving as a bodyguard for king David, apparently coming from the Philistines.

south of Caleb – Caleb was that hero of Israel during the time of Joshua.  He was of the tribe of Judah, so his descendants lived in the land of Judah.  Remember anyone else lately who was a descendant of Caleb?

Nabal was “of the house of Caleb” (1Sam. 25:3).

Before David had run to hide among the Philistines, one of the things he had done was act as a protector to Nabal’s shepherds (1Sam. 25:16), being a “wall” to them.
If David hadn’t run to the Philistines, perhaps this raid by the Amalekites wouldn’t have hurt either the people in Judah or David’s people.

:15 that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master

The slave will help as long as David doesn’t hand him back to his master.

:16 eating and drinking, and dancing

The Amalekites are having a huge party.

:17 And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day

David and his men fight for twenty-four hours straight.

:18 And David recovered all …David rescued his two wives.

recoverednatsal – (Hiphil) to take away, snatch away; to rescue, recover; to deliver (from enemies or troubles or death)

rescuednatsal – (Hiphil) to take away, snatch away; to rescue, recover; to deliver (from enemies or troubles or death)

:19 And there was nothing lacking … neither sons nor daughters…David recovered all.

sons nor daughters – At this time, David doesn’t have any children, but some of his men must have.  David wouldn’t have any children until he becomes king in Hebron.

(2 Sam 3:2-5 KJV)  And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; {3} And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; {4} And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; {5} And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.

recoveredshuwb – to return, turn back; (Hiphil) to cause to return, bring back; to bring back, allow to return, put back, draw back, give back, restore, relinquish, give in payment

Note:  If Achish hadn’t sent David home, he might not have been able to rescue his family.  I think that God was at work through this pagan Achish to send David home.


Rescue the captives

I think that there’s a sense in which we can have a “ministry” like David’s.
There are people who are being held “captive” by Satan, to do his will.
(2 Tim 2:24-26 KJV)  And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, {25} In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; {26} And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
(2 Tim 2:25 NLT)  They should gently teach those who oppose the truth.

:20 This is David's spoil.

It seems that the men want David to have all the extra flocks that they’ve captured from the Amalekites to be his reward.

Remember that the guys the day before had been thinking of stoning David.  Now he’s their hero again.

:21-25 Sharing the rewards

:22 Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David

wickedra‘– bad, evil

Belialb@liya‘al – worthless, good for nothing, unprofitable, base fellow

David has some bad people following him.

:22  that they may lead them away, and depart.

These guys are willing to give the weary ones their families back, but that’s all they’ll get.  And they’ll be forced to leave as well.

:23 Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren

David is not going to go along with bad advice.

:24  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.

David now sets up a new rule about sharing in the spoils of battle.  Those that stay back with the “stuff” get the same portion as those who go into battle.


The place of support

I think this can be a principle in God’s kingdom as well. 
Those that go out on the mission field will certainly reap rewards for what they’ve done.

But those who stayed back and sent support checks will share in the rewards.

In the church, there are going to be those in ministries that are “up front”.  We tend to think that they will be the ones getting all the rewards.  But I think that the folks who “stay behind” and clean the toilets, vacuum the carpets, and mow the lawns will share in the rewards as well.
You don’t have to be an “up front” person to receive rewards.  You just have to be a faithful servant with whatever God has gifted you with.

:26-31 David sends presents

:27-31 To them which were in Bethel …

These are all cities in the southern part of Israel.  see map

David is letting these people know that he hasn’t deserted Israel.

David isn’t keeping all his newly accumulated wealth to himself, he’s giving it away.


Be a giver.

Sometimes it seems all we focus on is how much we “need” for ourselves.  It seems that there is never enough paycheck at the end of all the bills each month.
David is learning how to give.
When Paul was saying “farewell” to the elders at Ephesus, he said,
(Acts 20:32-35 KJV)  And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. {33} I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. {34} Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. {35} I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

1Samuel 31

:1-7  Saul’s death & Israel’s defeat

:1 Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa.

The battle finally starts up in the north.  It could very well be that around the same time that David is chasing the Amalekites and rescuing his family, the Philistines have entered into battle with Saul and his army.  The prophecy of Samuel’s “spirit” (1Sam. 28:19) is coming to pass.

:2  the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Melchishua, Saul's sons.

Three of Saul’s sons, including Jonathan are killed.

:4 Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword

Saul doesn’t see how he’ll survive the battle and so rather than be captured and tortured by the Philistines, he wants to be put to death immediately.  But his armourbearer can’t stand the thought of killing Saul, so Saul attempts to commit suicide.  We’ll see next week that it’s possible that he doesn’t die immediately (2Sam. 1:9-10).

:5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword

The armourbearer commits suicide out of loyalty to Saul.

:8-13 Saul’s body recovered

:9 And they cut off his head …

Saul’s head and armor go on a tour of the Philistine cities.

:10 And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.

Ashtaroth‘Ashtarowth – “star”; false goddesses in the Canaanite religion, usually related to fertility cult

BethshanBeyth Sh@’an – “house of ease”  see map

This is typical stuff of a victor to do.  When David killed Goliath, he paraded around with Goliath’s head.  He also put the sword of Goliath in the Tabernacle for a time.

:11 And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard …

Jabeshgilead – About twelve miles from Bethshan, across the Jordan River.   see map . This was the city where Saul had his first tasted of battle (1Sam. 11).  The Ammonites had surrounded the city and threatened to either wipe it out or to at least poke out everyone’s right eye.  Saul responded by gathering up an army and rescuing the city.  This was the thing that really solidified Saul as the king for the nation.  Also, the people of Jabeshgilead might have also been “kinfolk” to Saul, since it was their daughters that had been given to the Benjamites at the end of the period of the Judges (Judg. 21:12).

:12  and burnt them there.

We have an early example of cremation.  Some have suggested that this was so the Philistines wouldn’t be able to recapture the bodies and abuse them.

The Bible doesn’t say anything about cremation.  It seems to just be a quicker way of making the body go back to the dust.  You can either be buried and let it take thirty years, or be cremated and let it take thirty minutes.  It’s all the same result.

:13 and fasted seven days

It has been suggested that the “seven days” was in memory of the seven-day period in which Saul responded to their cry for help and rescued them from the Ammonites (1Sam. 11:3).

This ends the reign of King Saul over Israel.