1760.) 1 Samuel 19

January 29, 2016
"David and Saul" by contemporary Chinese artist He Qi

“David and Saul” by contemporary Chinese artist He Qi

1 Samuel 19   (NRSV)

Jonathan Intercedes for David

Saul spoke with his son Jonathan and with all his servants about killing David.

David is a marked man!  Already Saul has tried to get rid of him in various ways:  throwing a spear at him, giving his promised bride to someone else, sending him out to kill a hundred Philistines . . . but David is still around, and Saul is more and more afraid of him.

But Saul’s son Jonathan took great delight in David. 2Jonathan told David, “My father Saul is trying to kill you; therefore be on guard tomorrow morning; stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you; if I learn anything I will tell you.”

4Jonathan spoke well of David to his father Saul, saying to him, “The king should not sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have been of good service to you; 5for he took his life in his hand when he attacked the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great victory for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced; why then will you sin against an innocent person by killing David without cause?”

6Saul heeded the voice of Jonathan; Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.”

7So Jonathan called David and related all these things to him. Jonathan then brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before.

Jonathan, out of love for David, helps him and — at no small risk to himself — speaks well of David to Saul.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Michal Helps David Escape from Saul

8Again there was war, and David went out to fight the Philistines. He launched a heavy attack on them, so that they fled before him.

David’s success against the enemies of Israel aroused Saul’s jealousy earlier . . .

9Then an evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand, while David was playing music. 10Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear; but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall.

“Saul Attempts the Life of David” by Gustave Dore, 1865.

David fled and escaped that night.

David never returned to the palace until he was the king of Israel — some 20 years later! From now until the day Saul dies David lives as a fugitive.

–David Guzik

11Saul sent messengers to David’s house to keep watch over him, planning to kill him in the morning. David’s wife Michal told him, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 12So Michal let David down through the window; he fled away and escaped.

“Michal Saves David from Saul,” lithograph by Marc Chagall, 1960.

13Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed; she put a net of goats’ hair on its head, and covered it with the clothes.

14When Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.”

15Then Saul sent the messengers to see David for themselves. He said, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” 16When the messengers came in, the idol was in the bed, with the covering of goats’ hair on its head.

17Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me like this, and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?”

Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go; why should I kill you?’”

Michal/David’s wife has helped him escape.  But now Michal/Saul’s daughter blames David for making her do it.  Tough to blame her for putting a self-protective spin on it when she knows her father is obsessed with killing her husband.

David Joins Samuel in Ramah

18Now David fled and escaped;

During this night, when men watched his house and David escaped he composed a song unto the Lord found in Psalm 59. The introduction of that Psalm says, when Saul sent men, and they watched the house in order to kill him. In a time of danger David could sing unto the Lord. We will read that Psalm in our next post.



HERE  Todd Fields, the worship leader at North Point Church in Atlanta, sings his “Breathe On Me.”

Find me here, in this place
Son of God, Saving Grace
At this hour, all my days
Breathe on me, breathe on me

Morning star, shine Your light
As I walk through this life
God of power God of might
Breathe on me, breathe on me

Forever, you are the reason for living
Merciful Savior unending
Breathe on me

When I’m weak, You are strong
Your breath in me will be my song
In You my King, I belong
Breathe on me, breathe on me

Forever, You are the God of my story
Write every line for Your glory
Breathe on me

Breathe on me, breathe on me
When I am weak, You are strong
Your breath in me, be my song
When I am weak, You are strong
You are strong


David came to Samuel at Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. He and Samuel went and settled at Naioth.

Wise David.  When he is troubled, he goes to a person of God and discusses the situation.

19Saul was told, “David is at Naioth in Ramah.” 20Then Saul sent messengers to take David. When they saw the company of the prophets in a frenzy, with Samuel standing in charge of them, the spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also fell into a prophetic frenzy.

This was the Holy Spirit’s warning to these men and to Saul. It is as if the Spirit said, “I don’t want David captured. I am sending these men home empty handed. Instead of seeking to kill David, you should seek to be filled with the Spirit of God.”

–David Guzik

21When Saul was told, he sent other messengers, and they also fell into a frenzy. Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also fell into a frenzy. 22Then he himself went to Ramah. He came to the great well that is in Secu; he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?”

And someone said, “They are at Naioth in Ramah.”

23He went there, toward Naioth in Ramah; and the spirit of God came upon him. As he was going, he fell into a prophetic frenzy, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24He too stripped off his clothes, and he too fell into a frenzy before Samuel. He lay naked all that day and all that night. Therefore it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

God protects David (and you and me)  in most amazing ways!


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
He Qi.    http://saulsilasfathi.com/images/heqi7.jpg
Dore.    http://www.creationism.org/images/DoreBibleIllus/g1Sa1811Dore_SaulAttemptsTheLifeOfDavid.jpg
Chagall.    http://www.spaightwoodgalleries.com/Media/Chagall/Chagall_60Bible_David_Micha.jpg

1759.) 1 Samuel 18

January 28, 2016
two friends

two friends

1 Samuel 18   (NRSV)

Jonathan’s Covenant with David

When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.

We have already met Jonathan — he single-handedly warred against the Philistines in 1 Samuel 14!  When he heard David tell his father about his faith in God during the Goliath episode, Jonathan knew David and he  were one in the spirit.  Yet on other counts, how different!  Jonathan was the first-born son of King Saul, the crown prince.  David was the last-born son of a farmer.  But Jonathan understood, I think, and by giving David his robe and his armor, he was saying, “These belong to you, David.” Jonathan had a pure love for God, for Israel, and for David.



David and Jonathan had such a remarkable friendship, each so faithful to the other.  As I have been considering that, this song from Twila Paris came to mind.  She and Steven Curtis Chapman sing “Faithful Friend.”  The video  HERE  is from the 1996 Dove Awards.


5David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved.

6As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. 7And the women sang to one another as they made merry,

“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands.”

8Saul was very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9So Saul eyed David from that day on.

The old saying, Like father, like son, doesn’t seem to apply to Saul and Jonathan.  Jonathan loved David.  But Saul is jealous of him, afraid of him,  angry at him, as the Scriptures say over and over.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby


Jealousy is a destructive attitude that poisons the way you view life.  It is so harmful that God condemned jealousy in the Ten Commandments.   King Saul was a jealous and insecure man.  He had been elevated to the highest position in Israel.  He had been blessed in numerous ways.  But Saul saw that David was gaining the attention and praise of the Israelites.  The Israelites recognized Saul’s accomplishments, but they also praised David, whom God was using to accomplish even more.  Rather than rejoicing that God had empowered another to defeat their enemies, Saul became murderously jealous and sought to destroy David.

Jealousy is an abomination in the life of a Christian.  God has made us His children.  None of us deserves to be God’s child, so there is no need to compare our blessings with those of other children of God.  Jealousy is self-centeredness at its worst.  Jealousy robs us of joy and chokes our contentment.  Jealousy hardens the heart and stifles gratitude.  Jealousy assumes that God’s resources are too limited for Him to bless another and still bless us.

Watch over your heart!  If you find yourself unable to rejoice in the success of others, beware!  Do not let jealousy taint your heart.  Repent before it robs you of any more of the joy and contentment God desires for you.  When you are tempted to compare your success in life to that of another, ask God to remind you of all the ways He has blessed you undeservedly.

Saul Tries to Kill David

When the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14), this evil spirit found its way in. 

10The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand; 11and Saul threw the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

12Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. 13So Saul removed him from his presence, and made him a commander of a thousand; and David marched out and came in, leading the army. 14David had success in all his undertakings; for the Lord was with him. 15When Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in awe of him. 16But all Israel and Judah loved David; for it was he who marched out and came in leading them.

David Marries Michal

17Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife; only be valiant for me and fight the Lord’s battles.” For Saul thought, “I will not raise a hand against him; let the Philistines deal with him.”

This was a trap because of the dowry that Saul would demand. In that day, a dowry was required whenever a man married. The dowry was paid to the bride’s father, and the more important and prestigious the bride and her family, the higher the dowry price. Since David was from a humble family, there was no way he could pay the dowry for the daughter of a king. Saul knew this and will demand that David kill 100 Philistines as a dowry. Saul figured that the job was too big and too dangerous for David, and he would be killed gaining the dowry to marry a king’s daughter. Yes, Saul thinks, I want David to be valiant for me and to fight the Lord’s battles for me.  But more than that, I want David dead.

18David said to Saul, “Who am I and who are my kinsfolk, my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” 19But at the time when Saul’s daughter Merab should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite as a wife.

A slap in the face to David.

20Now Saul’s daughter Michal loved David. Saul was told, and the thing pleased him. 21Saul thought, “Let me give her to him that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law.”

22Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘See, the king is delighted with you, and all his servants love you; now then, become the king’s son-in-law.’”

23So Saul’s servants reported these words to David in private. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man and of no repute?”

24The servants of Saul told him, “This is what David said.” 25Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no marriage present except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged on the king’s enemies.’” Now Saul planned to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.

26When his servants told David these words, David was well pleased to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, 27David rose and went, along with his men, and killed one hundred of the Philistines; and David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Saul gave him his daughter Michal as a wife.

The NIV says David and his men killed TWO hundred Philistines, and presented the king with twice as many foreskins as he had requested.  (You can be grateful that I am deliberately omitting any accompanying picture!)

28But when Saul realized that the Lord was with David, and that Saul’s daughter Michal loved him, 29Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy from that time forward.

Proverbs 11:17 (NIV)

A kind man benefits himself,
but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.

30Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle; and as often as they came out, David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his fame became very great.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
fist bump.   http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1971628/images/o-FIST-BUMP-facebook.jpg
green eye of jealousy.     http://media.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2007/09/20070907_jealousy.jpg
wedding rings.    http://www.reception-wedding.com/wedding%20rings.jpg
Jewish bride and groom, stained glass by Susan Fullenbaum.    http://www.stainedglassdesigns.net/sc/scimages/4710.jpg

1758.) 1 Samuel 17

January 27, 2016

“David,” a 17-foot tall marble statue, was finished by Michelangelo (age 29!) in 1504 and now stands in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy.  Some viewers believe it shows David before his fight with Goliath, tense and ready for combat, his sling in his left hand.

1 Samuel 17   (NRSV)

David and Goliath

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2Saul and the Israelites gathered and encamped in the valley of Elah, and formed ranks against the Philistines. 3The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.

4And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span (that is, between 8 and a half to 9 feet). 5He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him (that is, his armor and weapons weighed somewhere between 150 and 200 pounds).

I have read that the word champion comes to English from Old French by way of Latin and is related to the Hebrew word meaning “the middle man.” The idea is that this man stood between his army and the enemy’s army, and fought as a representative of his side. Of course, we usually remember the winners instead of the losers, so champion carries a victorious connotation.

8He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

DISADVANTAGE:  Saul is afraid. Yet Saul has won notable military victories. And we remember that Saul stands taller than any other Israelite — head and shoulders above the rest. Logically, this is his battle; he is the reasonable choice to stand up for Israel. But he is “dismayed and greatly afraid.”

12Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years. 13The three eldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle; the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14David was the youngest; the three eldest followed Saul, 15but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

1Sam17 40

Forty— days or years — is a number consistently used in Scripture for testing. Noah sat in the ark while it rained for 40 days. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Jesus was tested by the devil after 40 days of fasting. Here Goliath mocks Israel and their God for 40 days.

17Jesse said to his son David, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers; 18also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See how your brothers fare, and bring some token from them.” 19Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.

20David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. 23As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him. 24All the Israelites, when they saw the man, fled from him and were very much afraid.

25The Israelites said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. The king will greatly enrich the man who kills him, and will give him his daughter and make his family free in Israel.”

26David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

The situation is desperate! Saul offers a bribe, as well as a bride and a tax exemption, to entice someone into fighting the giant! But David sees the battle in spiritual terms. We remember that in Acts, God calls David “a man after my own heart.”

27The people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.”

28His eldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, “Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.”

29David said, “What have I done now? It was only a question.” 30He turned away from him toward another and spoke in the same way; and the people answered him again as before.

31When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him.

1Sam17 lion

This is good news and bad news for King Saul. Good news:  finally someone is willing to fight the giant! Bad news:  it’s a kid!

32David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

1 Peter 1:13 (NIV)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

33Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

“Immediately before the encounter with the Philistine he fought a battle which cost him far more thought, prudence, and patience. The word-battle in which he had to engage with his brothers and with king Saul, was a more trying ordeal to him than going forth in the strength of the Lord to smite the uncircumcised boaster. Many a man meets with more trouble from his friends than from his enemies; and when he has learned to overcome the depressing influence of prudent friends, he makes short work of the opposition of avowed adversaries.”

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon

34But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, 35I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. 36Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.

God had been preparing David, and now David understood that. Goliath is a dead man right now!!

So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”

2 Timothy 2:1 (Contemporary English Version)

My child, Christ Jesus is kind, and you must let him make you strong.

38Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. 39David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them.

1Sam17 armor-of-God

David did not face Goliath unarmed. He had much better armor than Saul’s. Saul had a bronze helmet,  but David had the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17). Saul had a coat of mail, but David had a breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14). Saul had a sword, but David had the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). David had the whole armor of God! (Ephesians 6:11).

–David Guzik

40Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

Why did David choose five stones? He only needed one to kill Goliath. Perhaps it was because Goliath had four brothers (1 Samuel 21:18-22).

41The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.”

45But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”

48When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly

“David ran” — so far was he from fear!

–from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

Ecclesiastes 3:5 (NASB)

There is  . . . a time to throw stones . . .

The Israelites thought:  Goliath is so big, I can’t fight him.
David thought:  Goliath is so big, I can’t miss him!

50So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking down the Philistine and killing him; there was no sword in David’s hand.



Do you remember this song from your childhood?  HERE  is “Only a Boy Named David.”


51Then David ran and stood over the Philistine; he grasped his sword, drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; then he cut off his head with it.

When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52The troops of Israel and Judah rose up with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53The Israelites came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armor in his tent.

David will use Goliath’s sword later.  But the giant’s head? — a hunting trophy on his living room wall?! At least one commentator has suggested that David had Goliath’s head pickled and eventually hung it in his banqueting hall!

55When Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?”

Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.”

56The king said, “Inquire whose son the stripling is.”

57On David’s return from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with the head of the Philistine in his hand.

“David,” by Caravaggio, 1607 (Kinsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria)

58Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?”

And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”



What impossible situations are in front of you, situations that call for victory?  Let this story  HERE  renew your faith!  Along with David, and Steve Green — “We Trust in the Name of the Lord our God.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Michelangelo.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelos_David.jpg
Valley of Elah.    http://www.generationword.com/images/israel_pictures/elah_valley/elah.jpg
champion.    http://www.montana.edu/wwwextec/images/champion.jpg
40.     http://kidmin1124.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/40.jpg
David kills a lion.   http://biblelessonsite.org/flash/images46/slides/p_0003.jpg
David throws a stone.    http://www.banklawyersblog.com/.a/6a00d8341c652b53ef015432d30cc9970c-800wi
Rally in the Valley.    http://churchrelevance.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/sermon-series-1-samuel.jpg
armor of God.   http://www.preschool-plan-it.com/images/armor-of-god.png
David and Goliath.    http://www.epilogue.net/art/9992-david-goliath
mounted animal head.    http://images.cabelas.com/is/image/cabelas/s7_614863_999_02
Caravaggio.    http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=3860&size=large

1757.) Psalm 23

January 26, 2016

Ps23 lamb

Psalm 23 (New King James Version)

A Psalm of David.

A psalm about Jesus.

1 The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD



David never forgot his shepherd roots. And this psalm is surely one of the most familiar and most loved passages in all of Scripture.  HERE  is a beautiful musical arrangement of Psalm 23: “The Lord’s My Shepherd” sung in a Celtic rendition by Sheila Walsh.

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul He doth restore again
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for His own name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk in darkness veiled,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

My table Thou hast furnished
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy, all my life,
Shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house forevermore
My dwelling place shall be.


Ps23 Lord

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1

–from Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings
by Martin Luther, ed. by Barbara Owen

In this passage you hear that you lost sheep cannot find your way to the Shepherd yourself but can only roam around in the wilderness.  If Christ, your Shepherd, did not seek you and bring you back, you would simply have to fall prey to the wolf.

But now he comes, seeks, and finds you.  He takes you into His flock, that is, into Christendom, through the Word and Sacrament.  He gives His life for you, keeps you always on the right path, so that you may not fall into error.  You hear nothing at all about your powers, good works, and merits—unless you would say that it is strength, good works, and merit when you run around in the wilderness and are defenseless and lost.

No, Christ alone is active here, merits things, manifests His power; He seeks, carries, and directs you.  He earns life for you through His death.  He alone is strong and keeps you from perishing, from being snatched out of His hand.

And for all of this you can do nothing at all but only lend your ears, hear, and with thanksgiving receive the inexpressible treasure.  Learn to know well the voice of your Shepherd, follow Him and avoid the voice of the stranger.


The Lord is my shepherd — that’s RELATIONSHIP!


I shall not be in want — that’s SUPPLY!


He makes me lie down in green pastures — that’s REST!


He leads me beside quiet waters --- that's REFRESHMENT!

He leads me beside quiet waters — that’s REFRESHMENT!


He restores my soul — that’s HEALING!


He leads me in paths of righteousness — that’s GUIDANCE!


for his name's sake --- that's PURPOSE!

for his name’s sake — that’s PURPOSE!


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death — that’s TESTING!


I will fear no evil --- that's PROTECTION!

I will fear no evil — that’s PROTECTION!


for you are with me --- that's FAITHFULNESS!

for you are with me — that’s FAITHFULNESS!


your rod and your staff, they comfort me — that’s DISCIPLINE!


You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies — that’s HOPE!


You anoint my head with oil — that’s CONSECRATION!


My cup overflows — that’s ABUNDANCE!


Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life — that’s BLESSING!


and I will dwell in the house of the Lord — that’s SECURITY!


forever — that’s ETERNITY!


New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Images courtesy of:
lamb on green grass.     http://betterphotojim.com/uploads/processed/0019/0412221635309crw_5335littlelamb_lordmy.jpg
Jesus holding a lamb.    http://bedlam1020.deviantart.com/art/The-Lord-is-my-shepherd-I-shall-not-want-470387879
father with daughter.     http://secondadventchristian.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/bigstockphoto_father_and_daughter_250481.jpg
fruit salad.    http://seasonedfork.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/fruit-salad.jpg
green grass.    http://www.seekerstrove.com/i/email-art/psalm23/a_004.jpg
quiet waters.    https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/85/232221150_8c2d184661_b.jpg
path of righteousness.    http://www.turnbacktogod.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/right-path.jpg
one way.    http://www.cksignsplus.com/components/com_virtuemart/shop_image/product/One_Way_Jesus_4e82b87d9c797.jpg
ambulance.    http://todaysseniorsnetwork.com/Hospital,%20Ambulance,%20Emergency%20Room.jpg
lighthouse.   http://www.soulseeds.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/lighthouse-fog.jpg
skydiving.     http://archives.deccanchronicle.com/sites/default/files/mediaimages/gallery/2013/Jan/Skydiving.jpg
right way-wrong way.    http://itorganization2017.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/student_discipline_head_photo.jpg
dinner table.    http://peggyparks.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/dinnerpartyetiquette1.jpg
Holy Spirit dove.     https://curthreecurthrea.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/ruach-the-holy-spirit-descends-like-a-dove-upon-yehshua.jpg?w=470&h=311
overflow.     https://www.flickr.com/photos/vshioshvili/388221237
footprints in the sand.    http://www.magic-city-news.com/artman2/uploads/1/14_Blessing.JPG
infinity sign.    http://karpus.files.wordpress.com/2006/06/infinity-sign.jpg

1756.) 1 Samuel 16

January 25, 2016

“David and Saul” by Philippe Chery, 1808 (Musee de Soissons)

1 Samuel 16   (NRSV)

Samuel Anoints David

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”

Jesse is the grandson of Ruth and Boaz.

2Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.”

And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.”

4Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?”

Considering what Samuel had just done with the Amalekite king, Agag (1 Samuel 15:33), it is no wonder the elders of Bethlehem were afraid.

5He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When an animal was sacrificed to atone for sin none of it was eaten and it was all burned before the LORD. But when an animal was sacrificed as a peace offering, a fellowship offering, or a consecration offering, then part of the animal was burnt before the LORD, and part of it was eaten in a special ceremonial meal.

–David Guzik

Jesse presents his sons to Samuel — Lucile Butel, 1989

6When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.”

7But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

8Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 9Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?”

And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.”

The youngest one was out keeping the herd — Lucile Butel, 1989.

And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome.

How old was David?  The ancient Jewish historian Josephus says that David was ten years old.

The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.”

David’s years keeping the sheep were not waiting time; they were training time. David was a great man and a great king over Israel because he never lost his shepherd’s heart. Psalm 78:70-72 speaks of the connection between David the king and David the shepherd: He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes that had young He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.

–David Guzik

13Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.

Samuel anoints David — Lucile Butel, 1989.

Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

David Plays the Lyre for Saul

14Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

15And Saul’s servants said to him, “See now, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16Let our lord now command the servants who attend you to look for someone who is skillful in playing the lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will feel better.”

17So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me someone who can play well, and bring him to me.”

18One of the young men answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a warrior, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence; and the Lord is with him.”

19So Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, “Send me your son David who is with the sheep.” 20Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine, and a kid, and sent them by his son David to Saul.

21And David came to Saul, and entered his service. Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.

This was an important time in David’s life and training for God’s destiny for him. For the first time he lived in a royal court and began to learn the customs and manners he needed to know to be a good king later in life.

22Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.”

Acts 13:22 (New Living Translation)

. . . David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’

23And whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him.

from Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings,
edited by Barbara Owen

Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise.  She is a mistress and governess of those human emotions which, as masters, govern mortals or more often overwhelm them.  No greater commendation than this can be found—at least not by us.  For whether you wish to comfort the sad, to terrify the happy, to encourage the despairing, to humble the proud, to calm the passionate, or to appease those full of hate—and who could number all the masters of the human heart, namely, the emotions, inclinations, and affections that impel people to evil or good?—what more effective means than music could you find?

The Holy Ghost himself honors music as an instrument for his proper work when in his Holy Scriptures he asserts that through her his gifts were instilled in the prophets, namely, the inclination to all virtues, as can be seen in Elisha (2 Kings 3:15).  On the other hand, she serves to cast out Satan, the instigator of all sins, as is shown in Saul, the king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:23).



Close your eyes and imagine you are King Saul, feeling pretty upset.  You call in young David, who plays this song  HERE  for you on his harp.  Such a soothing sound. . . the demons seem to fade away.  And if he sings the words, they go like this:

The King of love my shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
And he is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow,
My ransomed soul he leadeth
And, where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love he sought me
And on his shoulder gently laid
And home rejoicing brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With thee, dear Lord, beside me,
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spredst a table in my sight;
Thine unction grace bestoweth;
And, oh, what transport of delight
From thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never.
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
Within thy house forever.

Performed on the harp by Ray Pool.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Chery.    http://www.culture.gouv.fr/Wave/image/joconde/0379/m079404_00304_p.jpg
Butel:  Jesse presents his sons.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/1sa1601_David_king/images/20%20BUTEL%201%20JESSE%20FIT%20DEFILER%20SES%20ENFANTS%20DEVANT.jpg
Butel:  youngest one keeping the herd.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/1sa1601_David_king/images/20%20BUTEL%202%20IL%20MANQUE%20LE%20PLUS%20JEUNE%20QUI%20GARDE%20LE.jpg
Butel:  Samuel anoints David.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/1sa1601_David_king/images/20%20BUTEL%203%20ALORS%20SAMUEL%20OIGNIT%20DAVID.jpg
David under the stars.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/16-david-harp-stars.jpg
King David playing the harp — church window from Fringford, UK.    http://previews.123rf.com/images/hospitalera/hospitalera0709/hospitalera070900039/1622401-detail-of-victorian-stained-glass-church-window-in-Fringford-depicting-King-David-the-author-fo-the–Stock-Photo.jpg
piano keys.    http://ted.coe.wayne.edu/sse/wq/Thweatt/PianoKeys.jpg

1755.) 1 Samuel 15

January 22, 2016
"All kings is mostly rapscallions." --The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.

“All kings is mostly rapscallions.” –The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.

1 Samuel 15   (NRSV)

Saul Defeats the Amalekites but Spares Their King

Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. 3Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

Think that command is clear enough?  Anything Saul couldn’t understand?

4So Saul summoned the people, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot soldiers, and ten thousand soldiers of Judah. 5Saul came to the city of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley. 6Saul said to the Kenites, “Go! Leave! Withdraw from among the Amalekites, or I will destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites withdrew from the Amalekites.

7Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8He took King Agag of the Amalekites alive, but utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and of the cattle and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was valuable, and would not utterly destroy them; all that was despised and worthless they utterly destroyed.

But it seems that Saul thought he knew better than God what to save and what to destroy.

Saul Rejected as King

10The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11“I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.” Samuel was angry; and he cried out to the Lord all night.

12Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, and Samuel was told, “Saul went to Carmel, where he set up a monument for himself, and on returning he passed on down to Gilgal.”

13When Samuel came to Saul, Saul said to him, “May you be blessed by the Lord; I have carried out the command of the Lord.”

14But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears, and the lowing of cattle that I hear?”

Saul is BUSTED!! — Samuel hears and sees (and probably smells) Saul’s disobedience.

15Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the cattle, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.”

As it turned out, not even this was true. There were still Amalekites left alive. David later had to deal with the Amalekites (1 Samuel 27:8, 30:1, 2 Samuel 8:12). Haman, the evil man who tried to wipe out all the Jewish people in the days of Esther, was a descendant of Agag (Esther 3:1). Most ironic of all, when Saul was killed on the field of battle, an Amalekite claimed to deliver the final thrust of the sword (2 Samuel 1:8-10). When we don’t obey God completely, the “left over” portion will surely come back and trouble us, if not kill us.

–David Guzik

16Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”

He replied, “Speak.”

17Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18And the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”

20Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21But from the spoil the people took sheep and cattle, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

Poor Saul. He is living in his own world of self-deception. He tells Samuel “I have obeyed the Lord” and then goes on to explain how he did NOT obey the Lord!

22And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed than the fat of rams.
23For rebellion is no less a sin than divination,
and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king.”

Saul is REJECTED!! — God will find another man to rule his people.

24Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.

It’s not really my fault, Samuel!  I was just doing what the people wanted!

“This was the best excuse he could make for himself, but had he feared GOD more, he could have feared the PEOPLE less.”
–Adam Clarke

25Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”

26Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”

But it will be over 20 years before God has finished training the new king to take the throne.

27As Samuel turned to go away, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29Moreover the Glory of Israel will not recant or change his mind; for he is not a mortal, that he should change his mind.”

30Then Saul said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.”

Here is Saul’s real problem:   his honor before others is of more importance to him than his obedience to God.

31So Samuel turned back after Saul; and Saul worshiped the Lord.

32Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.”

Watch the old prophet take care of unfinished business!

And Agag came to him haltingly. Agag said, “Surely this is the bitterness of death.”

33But Samuel said,
“As your sword has made women childless,
so your mother shall be childless among women.”

And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.

Not that Samuel ever butchered a pig — or like this —

All those priestly sacrifices had taught Samuel very well how to kill and butcher a living animal.  He did it in front of the Israelites, and in front of Saul, for their instruction — but more importantly, he did it before the Lord as obedience.

34Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.



Martin Luther said, “I had rather be obedient, than able to work miracles.”

HERE  is a kind of modern-day prophet:  Keith Green (1953-1982) in a live performance of “To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
king of spades card.    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/Poker-sm-212-Ks.png
rejected.   http://media.photobucket.com/image/rejected%20stamp/FrostbiteInWinter/rejected.gif
excuses.    http://www.bariatriccookery.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/excuses.gif
pig in an Okinawa butcher shop.    http://everystockphoto.s3.amazonaws.com/pork_meat_butcher_674827_l.jpg

1754.) 1 Samuel 14

January 21, 2016

Jonathan and his armor-bearer attack the Philistines — unknown artist, 1928.

1 Samuel 14   (NRSV)

Jonathan Surprises and Routs the Philistines

Now a garrison of the Philistines had gone out to the pass of Michmash.

One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.

“Armor-bearers in ancient times had to be unusually brave and loyal, since the lives of their masters often depended on them.”

–Ronald F. Youngblood

2Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree that is at Migron; the troops that were with him were about six hundred men, 3along with Ahijah son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, carrying an ephod. Now the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.

Frankly, this chapter does not present Saul in an altogether flattering light.  King Saul is lolling under a fruit tree while his son Jonathan goes out to fight the enemy.  As per Shakespeare, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

4In the pass, by which Jonathan tried to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on one side and a rocky crag on the other; the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5One crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.

6Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will act for us; for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.”

Jonathan never read the New Testament, but he had a Romans 8:31 heart: If God is for us, who can be against us?

7His armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that your mind inclines to. I am with you; as your mind is, so is mine.”

The encouragement of a friend! 

8Then Jonathan said, “Now we will cross over to those men and will show ourselves to them. 9If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up; for the Lord has given them into our hand. That will be the sign for us.”

11So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines; and the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12The men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer, saying, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.”

At this time of crisis the Israelites hid anywhere they could (1 Samuel 13:6). It was reasonable for the Philistines to think these were Hebrew deserters surrendering to the Philistines because they thought it was better than hiding in a hole. But really, their words were giving Jonathan the go-ahead!

Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me; for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”

13Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer following after him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer, coming after him, killed them. 14In that first slaughter Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed about twenty men within an area about half a furrow long in an acre of land. 15There was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people; the garrison and even the raiders trembled; the earth quaked; and it became a very great panic.

Jonathan is not willing to simply hang around while God was perfectly able to defeat the Philistines!  He and his armor-bearer bravely went forward in the name of the Lord and oh, look!  The enemy army panicked and God sent an earthquake!  Thank you, Jonathan!  You have illustrated perfectly the truth of 2 Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.


The Sunday before David and I left Orlando and moved to St. Simons Island, GA, we went to service at First Baptist Church and heard this sermon by Ben Mandrell, based on this story of Jonathan’s bravery. It was such an encouragement to us! We were not Ben’s intended audience, but the Holy Spirit gave it to us, for courage and inspiration. You might enjoy it too.  HERE is Ben Mandrell (currently Lead Pastor of Storyline Fellowship, Arvada, CO) and “Becoming a Brave Heart.”

16Saul’s lookouts in Gibeah of Benjamin were watching as the multitude was surging back and forth. 17Then Saul said to the troops that were with him, “Call the roll and see who has gone from us.”

Whatever for?!  Just go fight the enemy!

When they had called the roll, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there.

18Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.”

Whatever for?!  Just go fight the enemy!

For at that time the ark of God went with the Israelites. 19While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more; and Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”

20Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle;

At last!

and every sword was against the other, so that there was very great confusion. 21Now the Hebrews who previously had been with the Philistines and had gone up with them into the camp turned and joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22Likewise, when all the Israelites who had gone into hiding in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed closely after them in the battle. 23So the Lord gave Israel the victory that day. The battle passed beyond Beth-aven, and the troops with Saul numbered altogether about ten thousand men. The battle spread out over the hill country of Ephraim.



“Let God Arise”  by Chris Tomlin.  HERE  is a song of victory!


Saul’s Rash Oath

24Now Saul committed a very rash act on that day. He had laid an oath on the troops, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before it is evening and I have been avenged on my enemies.” So none of the troops tasted food.


Oh, Saul, stop and think!

Denying troops food?  They will get hungry and weak.  They will disobey and eat something else — in this case, something against God’s food laws for them.  And if one of the troops who eats food is his son — well, will we have another Jephthah on our hands, sacrificing a child for an unwise vow?

25All the troops came upon a honeycomb; and there was honey on the ground. 26When the troops came upon the honeycomb, the honey was dripping out; but they did not put their hands to their mouths, for they feared the oath. 27But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the troops with the oath; so he extended the staff that was in his hand, and dipped the tip of it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes brightened. 28Then one of the soldiers said, “Your father strictly charged the troops with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food this day.’ And so the troops are faint.”

29Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land; see how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. 30How much better if today the troops had eaten freely of the spoil taken from their enemies; for now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.”

31After they had struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon, the troops were very faint; 32so the troops flew upon the spoil, and took sheep and oxen and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the troops ate them with the blood. 33Then it was reported to Saul, “Look, the troops are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood.”

The Lord said to Moses, “You must not eat the blood of any bird or animal . . . ”   –Leviticus 7:26

And he said, “You have dealt treacherously;

Saul blames the others instead of acknowledging that he had made a mistake with that curse.

roll a large stone before me here.” 34Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the troops, and say to them, ‘Let all bring their oxen or their sheep, and slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’”

So all of the troops brought their oxen with them that night, and slaughtered them there. 35And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.

Jonathan in Danger of Death

36Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and despoil them until the morning light; let us not leave one of them.”

They said, “Do whatever seems good to you.”

But the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.”

37So Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day.

38Saul said, “Come here, all you leaders of the people; and let us find out how this sin has arisen today. 39For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, even if it is in my son Jonathan, he shall surely die!” But there was no one among all the people who answered him.

Of course not!  No one is blaming Jonathan, who was unaware of the command!

40He said to all Israel, “You shall be on one side, and I and my son Jonathan will be on the other side.”

The people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.”

41Then Saul said, “O Lord God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant today? If this guilt is in me or in my son Jonathan, O Lord God of Israel, give Urim; but if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim.” And Jonathan and Saul were indicated by the lot, but the people were cleared. 42Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan.” And Jonathan was taken.

43Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.”

Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand; here I am, I will die.”

44Saul said, “God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan!”

45Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great victory in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground; for he has worked with God today.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, and he did not die. 46Then Saul withdrew from pursuing the Philistines; and the Philistines went to their own place.

Should Jonathan have been killed?  No!  Saul made a foolish vow, one that weakened his army and dishonored the Lord; it was a bad law.  And Jonathan broke it out of ignorance.  Besides, the Lord’s favor was clearly on Jonathan, since he was in effect the leader of the victory!

Saul’s Continuing Wars

47When Saul had taken the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side—against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines; wherever he turned he routed them. 48He did valiantly, and struck down the Amalekites, and rescued Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them.

49Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchishua; and the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn was Merab, and the name of the younger, Michal. 50The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner son of Ner, Saul’s uncle; 51Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.

52There was hard fighting against the Philistines all the days of Saul; and when Saul saw any strong or valiant warrior, he took him into his service.

Remember what Samuel had told the people when they demanded a king?  In chapter 8, he said that the king would “take your sons and make them serve with chariots and horses . . . others will make weapons of war and equipments for his chariots . . .”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jonathan and his armor-bearer.   https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Rxglamckn-4/hqdefault.jpg
pomegranate tree.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/14-pomegranate-tree.jpg
honeycomb.    http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/voracious/honeycomb2.jpg
bloody steak.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/bloody%20steak/iamrad123/stuff%2520i%2520like/bloodySteak.jpg