1Samuel 30-31

Thursday Evening Bible Study

May 24, 2012


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved?

Saul was anointed to be the first king, but through Saul’s continued disobedience to God’s commands, God has told Saul that he would no longer king.

Samuel the prophet went ahead and secretly anointed the next king, a young man named David. In God’s eyes, David is the king, but in the nation’s eyes, Saul is still king.

As God used David to bring victory over the Philistines, Saul began to grow insanely jealous, to the point of trying to have David killed.

David has now been hiding out for the last year, living with the Philistines.

Play Aphek Jezreel Ziklag map clip.

When the Philistines decided it was time to have a war with Israel, they gather their armies at Aphek before moving into the Jezreel valley to face the Israelites.

David initially tried to go with the Philistines.  But the Philistines weren’t sure they could trust David, so they sent him back to his new home base at Ziklag from the meeting at Aphek.

30:1-20 Rescuing the Captives

:1 Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire,

:2 and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way.

:1 came to Ziklag

Ziklag is about 50 miles south of Aphek.  It takes David and his men three days to make the trip to Ziklag from Aphek.

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

:1 the Amalekites had invaded

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)
It was these same Amalekites that God had commanded Saul to wipe out (1Sam. 15), which he obviously didn’t.

:2 taken captive the women

The captives could be sold as slaves in Egypt.

:3 So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive.

:4 Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep.

David’s entire army is overcome with grief.  They have lost everything.

:5 And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive.

David isn’t excluded from the pain and loss.

:6 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

:6 the people spoke of stoning him

Why did David’s men want to stone him?

Sometimes people simply blame whoever 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 David strengthened himself in the Lord


Help Yourself

It is good to have friends to help you through difficult times.
At times Jonathan was that kind of friend to David.
(1 Sa 23:16 NKJV) Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.
But there are going to be times when there is no one around to encourage you.
What will you do?  Sit around and wait for someone to drag you out of your hole of despair?

Sometimes you have to learn to help yourself.

There’s a box in the Library of Congress that has a label that reads:  Contents of the President’s Pockets on the Night of April 14, 1865.

That was the fateful night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

The contents of the box included:

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 are about 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.
The best help you can give yourself is to strengthen yourself in God.  What does that look like?  How do we encourage ourselves in God?
(Ps 34:4 NKJV) I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.
I have to confess that sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed with fears and anxieties.

I am learning that the best way to deal with fear is to pray.  Really.  Honestly.

We need to learn that God is our best help.

I have to put the problem squarely into God’s hands.

(Ps 119:71 NKJV) It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.
Learn to have a time every day when you are reading your Bible.

I can’t express how important it is that we be men and women of the book.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer used to tell his students that they needed to read God’s Word every day, and to read it as if it were the very words of God written directly to us, to me, to my situation.

We publish every week a list of Scripture readings.  It’s on the webpage.  There’s a year long list if you want it.  It’s on my “Pastor to Person” email each week.  It’s in the bulletin. The purpose is to get you into the book, read through it in a year, and all read at the same place on the same day.  There are two sections of Scripture each day – Old and New Testament.  15 minutes.

(Ps 62:5 NKJV) My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.
God wants to speak to my situation.

I need to be listening for His voice.

It might be through a Scripture you are reading.  It might be through a friend.  It might be directly to your heart.

We saw when David was being chased by Saul that there was a point when Saul coincidentally got called away to fight Philistines.

David took that opportunity to get up and escape, calling that place the “Rock of Escape”. (1Sam. 23:28)

(1 Sa 23:28 NKJV) —28 Therefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; so they called that place the Rock of Escape.

David learned to respond and DO what he needed to do.

We’re going to see David do these very things…

:7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring the ephod here to me.” And Abiathar brought the ephod to David.

The ephod was a robe worn by the priests, somehow used to discern God’s will.

Abiathar was the survivor of that massacre of the priests by Saul.  He has been with David ever since.

:8 So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.

David has no way of knowing whether anyone is left alive or not.

He doesn’t have spies or satellites to give him intelligence on this situation.

He asks God.

:9 So David went, he and the six hundred men who were with him, and came to the Brook Besor, where those stayed who were left behind.

:10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men; for two hundred stayed behind, who were so weary that they could not cross the Brook Besor.

:9 Besor[email protected] – “cheerful”

Play Run to Besor Map clip.

David and his men had just finished a fifty mile journey from Aphek to Ziklag
Besor is a small stream that is about fifteen miles further south of Ziklag.
The Amalekites are somewhere out in the wilderness even further south.

David’s group of six hundred splits up.  Two hundred stay at Besor, while the other four hundred keep pressing on.

:11 Then they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David; and they gave him bread and he ate, and they let him drink water.

:12 And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. So when he had eaten, his strength came back to him; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights.

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

(1 Sa 25:18 NKJV) —18 Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys.

:13 Then David said to him, “To whom do you belong, and where are you from?” And he said, “I am a young man from Egypt, servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind, because three days ago I fell sick.

:13 To whom do you belong

David can tell this fellow is somebody’s slave.  Perhaps he had an earring, showing he belonged to someone.

:13 three days ago I fell sick

It took David three days to get from Ziklag from Aphek (1Sam. 30:1).

This servant had been sick for three days after having raided Ziklag (because he knew all about the raid).

You could make the point that the Amalekites had raided Ziklag while David was up north in Aphek, hanging out with the Philistines as they discussed their battle plans.

:14 We made an invasion of the southern area of the Cherethites, in the territory which belongs to Judah, and of the southern area of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.”

:14 Cherethites

These were Philistines.  (Eze 25:16; Zep. 2:5).

They would also become part of David’s bodyguards, his secret service.

:14 the southern area 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. 

We are in the whole area that Caleb used to hang out in four hundred years earlier.

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 And David said to him, “Can you take me down to this troop?” So he said, “Swear to me by God that you will neither kill me nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this troop.”

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

:16 And when he had brought him down, there they were, spread out over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil which they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.

The Amalekites are having a huge party with all the stuff they’ve taken.

:17 Then David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. Not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled.

After having travelled from Aphek for three days, the fourth days’ journey from Ziklag, now David and his men fight for twenty-four hours straight.

:18 So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives.

:19 And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all.

:19 sons or 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 (2Sam. 3:2-5)

(2 Sa 3:2–5 NKJV) —2 Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3 his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; 4 the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5 and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.

:19 nothing of theirs was lacking


God’s fingerprints

Though some might say that David should never have been hiding out with the Philistines in the first place, I do see a hint of God being at work in this present situation.
David might have been wondering about being sent home by Achish.  He might have even been a bit disappointed.
He might have been wondering if he should have been up north with the battle that is about to take place.
Yet 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.
Sometimes there’s a reason for those disappointments.

:19 David recovered all


Rescue the captives

An enemy had come and taken entire families away.
David and his men could have sat at Ziklag and had a funeral.
David could have stayed consumed with his own grief so much that he would be unable to move.
But instead he got up and did something.
There are people all around us who need help.
Play Teaching By Example video
We don’t all have good dads to teach us how to reach out and help others.  Paul wrote to Timothy about what it takes to rescue people.  Look at all the qualities that are helpful when it comes to helping others …
(2 Ti 2:20–26 NKJV)20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
Being useful for the task of rescuing others requires that we take care of our “vessel”.  There are things we can get involved in, “dishonorable” things that keep us from being as useful as we could be.
22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.
Sometimes we get involved in some pretty petty things.  Sometimes Christians are so caught up in arguing over small points of doctrine that we ignore the fact that people have been captured by the enemy and need help.
24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
Gentle, having answers, patience, humility.
People need rescuing.
Some might need help with their car, but ultimately there’s something far deeper that people need – they need Jesus.

:20 Then David took all the flocks and herds they had driven before those other livestock, and said, “This is David’s spoil.”

:20 This is David’s spoil

The Amalekites hadn’t just plundered Ziklag.  They had been raiding the whole area.

The men want David to have all the extra flocks they’ve captured as his reward in being their captain.

We’ll see in a minute what David does with these extra spoils.

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

30:21-31 Sharing the reward

:21 Now David came to the two hundred men who had been so weary that they could not follow David, whom they also had made to stay at the Brook Besor. So they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near the people, he greeted them.

:22 Then all the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David answered and said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except for every man’s wife and children, that they may lead them away and depart.”

:22 all the wicked and worthless men

Even David’s band of men has a few bad apples.

:22 we will not give them any of the spoil

The writer is letting us know that this kind of selfish attitude comes from “wicked and worthless” men.

:23 But David said, “My brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us.

:24 For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.”

:25 So it was, from that day forward; he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.

:24 they shall share 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.


Support’s rewards

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.
Jesus spoke of these things while in Samaria:
(Jn 4:34–38 NKJV) —34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

:26 Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord”—

:27 to those who were in Bethel, those who were in Ramoth of the South, those who were in Jattir,

:28 those who were in Aroer, those who were in Siphmoth, those who were in Eshtemoa,

:29 those who were in Rachal, those who were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, those who were in the cities of the Kenites,

:30 those who were in Hormah, those who were in Chorashan, those who were in Athach,

:31 those who were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to rove.

:27 Bethel – don’t know the location of this city

:27 Ramoth of the South – don’t know the location of this city

:28 Aroer – see map

:28 Siphmoth – don’t know the location of this city

:28 Eshtemoa – see map

:29 Rachal – see map

:30 Hormah – see map

:30 Chorashan – see map

:30 Athach – see map

:31 Hebron – see map

:27-31 Bethel … Hebron

We don’t know the location of some of these places, but most of them we do.

Play Gift Cities map video

The most important city on the list is Hebron, the city that was given to Caleb when they conquered the land.  In a sense, it was the chief city of the tribe of Judah.
This will soon be where David will start ruling as a king, first over the tribe of Judah.

:26 Here is a present for you

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.


Learning to give

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.
When Paul was saying “farewell” to the elders at Ephesus, he said,
(Ac 20:35 NKJV) I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
David is learning how to give.  This is not a lesson about giving to church.  It’s a lesson about learning to give.  David is thinking of others.

31:1-13 Saul’s Death

Play Ziklag to Gilboa map clip.

While David is engaged in rescuing the captives from the Amalekites, things have been happening up north between the Philistines and the armies of Israel.

The battle is beginning to unfold between the Philistines at Shunem and the Israelites on Gilboa.

Remember that back in 1Sam. 28, Saul had met with the witch at Endor and had heard that on the next day he would be dead in battle.

This is that day.

:1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell slain on Mount Gilboa.

:2 Then the Philistines followed hard after Saul and his sons. And the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul’s sons.

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

:3 The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers.

:4 Then Saul said to his armorbearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.” But his armorbearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it.

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. 

Perhaps he recalls how the Philistines treated Samson when they had captured him.

The armorbearer can’t stand the thought of killing Saul.

Perhaps he had the same respect for Saul’s life that David did.

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 armorbearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword, and died with him.

The armorbearer commits suicide out of loyalty to Saul.

:6 So Saul, his three sons, his armorbearer, and all his men died together that same day.

:7 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley, and those who were on the other side of the Jordan, saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.

:7 they forsook the cities and fled

Play Gilboa to Gilead map clip.

I think this means that the Israelites in that area fled to the eastern side of the Jordan River.
They may have fled to Jabesh Gilead.  Maybe even as far as Ramoth Gilead.

:8 So it happened the next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa.

:9 And they cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and sent word throughout the land of the Philistines, to proclaim it in the temple of their idols and among the people.

:10 Then they put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.

:10 put his armor in the temple

You see these ancient peoples showing off the trophies of their battle by putting them in the house of their “gods”.

We saw this back in chapter 5 when they tried to put the Ark in the temple of Dagon.

Even the Israelites did this so some extent.

Where did Goliath’s sword end up?
It was with the priests at Nob.

:10 the wall of Beth Shan

Play Beth Shan map video.

Beth Shan is a key city in the Jordan River valley, only about four miles from the River.
Putting Saul’s body on the wall of Beth Shan would be a warning to the pesky Israelites who have crossed the Jordan to let them know that the Philistines now control everything up north to the Jordan River.
Today, one of Israel’s coolest archaeological sites is at Beit She’an, but not because of the city dating back to Saul’s day (still buried in the hill), but because of the city at the site that was uncovered that dates back to Jesus’ day.

:11 Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul,

:12 all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there.

:13 Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

:12 burned 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.

:11 the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead

Play Jabesh to Beth Shan map clip.

Jabesh Gilead is about twelve miles from Beth Shan, across the Jordan River.
This was the city that might have had “kinfolk” related 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).
This was also the city where Saul had his first tasted of battle (1Sam. 11).  When he had rescued from the Ammonite threat.
This was the battle that had really solidified Saul as the king for the nation.

:13 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).


Honoring the dead

Saul was a fellow with a boatload of flaws.
Yet these people chose to show him the honor of a decent burial.
Saul had a good history with them.  They weren’t going to forget the good things that Saul had done for them.
David too will be giving honor to Saul, and he probably had nothing but bad memories of Saul.

Yet David will pay the folks of Jabesh Gilead a tribute for this act of bravery.

This ends the reign of King Saul over Israel.