3161.) 1 Samuel 31

May 31, 2021

A “word cloud” is a mixture of technology and art; it gives greater prominence and size to the words which appear more frequently in the text. This is a word cloud for the book of 1 Samuel.

1 Samuel 31   (NRSV)

The Death of Saul and His Sons

For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
How some have been deposed; some slain in war;
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives; some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life
Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!

–William Shakespeare
Richard II, Act Three



HERE  is “Dead March,” a funeral anthem for Saul and his son Jonathan, from Handel’s oratorio Saul. Arranged by Leopold Stokowski.


Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and many fell on Mount Gilboa.

Mount Gilboa is about 20 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee.

Let’s review. The Philistines are well inside the land of Israel. Saul and the Israelite army are on Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4), and Saul is afraid; “terror filled his heart” (1 Samuel 28:5). Then he sneaked out to a witch to call up the prophet Samuel from the dead. Samuel told him that he and his sons would die in battle the next day. Meanwhile, David was all set to go with the Philistines against Saul (1 Samuel 29:2, 8). He was prevented by the Philistine commanders’ objection to a Hebrew (could he be trusted?) fighting with them; this was, of course, the Lord’s safe-keeping of David. This story could be quite the movie!

2The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchishua, the sons of Saul.

The old king and his heirs are now out of the way and will not trouble David as he takes the kingship.

3The battle pressed hard upon Saul; the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by them.

4Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and thrust me through with it, so that these uncircumcised may not come and thrust me through, and make sport of me.”

But his armor-bearer was unwilling; for he was terrified. So Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.

“Death of Saul” by Marc Chagall, 1956.

5When his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. 6So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together on the same day.

7When the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook their towns and fled; and the Philistines came and occupied them.

How much of the Promised Land is now given up by the Israelites!

8The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9They cut off his head, stripped off his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to carry the good news to the houses of their idols and to the people. 10They put his armor in the temple of Astarte; and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan.

Saul’s tragic death gave opportunity for the enemies of the Lord to disgrace His name. Saul’s death was used to glorify pagan gods and to mock the living God.

–David Guzik

1Sam31 Beth Shan

The city of Beth Shan is now under a tel, and the Roman ruins of the Decapolis city of Scythopolis are now exposed at the base.

11But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12all the valiant men set out, traveled all night long, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. They came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

Jabesh-gilead — does that name sound familiar? In chapter 11, Saul rescued that very city from the Ammonites. Now they repay Saul by rescuing his body and those of his sons from the disgrace the Philistines had inflicted on them.

The End of 1 Samuel



HERE!  Let’s take a quick (7 minute), fun look back over the book of  1 Samuel!


I’d love to hear your thoughts now at the end of this book:

1)  How does DWELLING benefit you and your understanding of Scripture?

2)  What have you learned as you have been reading 1 Samuel?


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:
word cloud.   https://gracewalk.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/1samuel-word-cloud.gif
“Death comes even to kings.”    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/31-deathking.jpg
Mount Gilboa.    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/13/Gilboa_096.jpg/250px-Gilboa_096.jpg
Chagall.    http://www.artrev.com/art/imageprocess/detailview_v2/streamimage.asp?name=mc_death_of_saul_plate65.jpg
Beth Shan.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/959ca-bethshean-beitsheanfromtheatre5b2autocorrect5d.jpg

3160.) 1 Samuel 30

May 28, 2021

Ziklag was a town assigned to the tribe of Simeon in the book of Joshua. During the reign of Saul, it seems to have been controlled by the Philistines. This picture is of Tel Sera, identified by many scholars as the site of ancient Ziklag.

1 Samuel 30   (NRSV)

David Avenges the Destruction of Ziklag

Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day,

They may have been disappointed, or relieved, not to have to fight with the Philistines. But certainly they were looking forward to returning to their wives and children and a home-cooked meal!

the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negeb and on Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag, burned it down, 2and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great; they killed none of them, but carried them off, and went their way.

There is a touch of the Lord’s poetic justice in all this. David had brought this exact calamity on other cities. 1 Samuel 27:8-11 says during his time among the Philistines, David made his living as a bandit, robbing cities and whenever David attacked the land, he left neither man nor woman alive. The Amalekites were being more merciful than David had been!

–David Guzik

3When David and his men came to the city, they found it burned down, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept, until they had no more strength to weep. 5David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6David was in great danger; for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in spirit for their sons and daughters.

God is beginning to get David’s attention!

But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV)

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.



HERE  is “You Never Let Go,” a hymn of praise from David Crowder to a faithful Lord!


7David said to the priest Abiathar son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David.

This ephod may have been the garment of the High Priest, which had a pocket containing the Urim and Thummin.  Some scholars believe these were two stones, one light and one dark, meaning Yes and No. The questions would be put to the priest, who would reach into the pocket and pull out the stone which indicated God’s answer.

8David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?”

He answered him, “Pursue; for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.”

1Sam30 Rainbow

God gave David an answer, and a promise. Oh, the kindness of our God!

9So David set out, he and the six hundred men who were with him.

They had talked of stoning David, but now they see him renewed in the Lord, and they follow him.

They came to the Wadi Besor, where those stayed who were left behind. 10But David went on with the pursuit, he and four hundred men; two hundred stayed behind, too exhausted to cross the Wadi Besor.

11In the open country they found an Egyptian, and brought him to David. They gave him bread and he ate, they gave him water to drink; 12they also gave him a piece of fig cake and two clusters of raisins. When he had eaten, his spirit revived; for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights.

David stopped to show kindness to a poor nobody — further proof he is back on track with God.

13Then David said to him, “To whom do you belong? Where are you from?”

Charles Spurgeon has a wonderful sermon on this verse, called “A Searching Question.” He says that the question “To whom belongest thou?” is a question of universal pertinence and of very practical character, which can be answered. This is a question with eternal consequences!  Spurgeon proposes five additional questions which help answer the first question:

1) Where were you born? — and of course, he means a new birth.

2) What company do you keep? — are you neglecting the fellowship of the Church?

3) What is your dialect?  — do your words show your faith?

4) What have you learned to do? — are you imitating Christ?

5) What do the angels see you do?  — when no else else sees you, are you thinking and behaving in a way that honors your Father who loves you?

Then we can truly answer the question by saying, “I belong to Christ.”

Click  HERE  if you would like to read the sermon.

He said, “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite. My master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago. 14We had made a raid on the Negeb of the Cherethites and on that which belongs to Judah and on the Negeb of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag down.”

15David said to him, “Will you take me down to this raiding party?”

He said, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me, or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.”

16When he had taken him down, they were spread out all over the ground, eating and drinking and dancing, because of the great amount of spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. Not one of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. 18David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken; and David rescued his two wives. 19Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken; David brought back everything. 20David also captured all the flocks and herds, which were driven ahead of the other cattle; people said, “This is David’s spoil.”

21Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow David, and who had been left at the brook Besor. They went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. When David drew near to the people he saluted them. 22Then all the corrupt and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may take his wife and children, and leave.”

23But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us; he has preserved us and handed over to us the raiding party that attacked us. 24Who would listen to you in this matter? For the share of the one who goes down into the battle shall be the same as the share of the one who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike.” 25From that day forward he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel; it continues to the present day.

Any general will agree:  The supply lines are as important as the front lines.

26When David came to Ziklag, he sent part of the spoil to his friends, the elders of Judah, saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord”; 27it was for those in Bethel, in Ramoth of the Negeb, in Jattir, 28in Aroer, in Siphmoth, in Eshtemoa, 29in Racal, in the towns of the Jerahmeelites, in the towns of the Kenites, 30in Hormah, in Bor-ashan, in Athach, 31in Hebron, all the places where David and his men had roamed.

–David Wilkerson

While David and his army were away, the Amalekites raided his village of Ziklag. These marauding invaders took all the women and children and burned down the whole town. When David returned, he “was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him…but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).

Talk about spiritual warfare! This wasn’t just an attack against David. It was an all-out assault against God’s eternal purpose. Once again, the devil was after God’s seed.

This is the focus of all spiritual warfare: The enemy has always been determined to destroy the seed of Christ. And that fact hasn’t changed even 2000 years after the Cross. Satan is still out to destroy God’s seed, and he does this by attacking us, the seed of Christ. David felt threatened when he heard the grumbling of his men. But David encouraged himself in the Lord and immediately, this man of faith took off in pursuit of the Amalekites. Quickly he overtook them, rescuing every person and possession that had been taken (see 1 Samuel 30:19–20). David not only recovered what was taken from Ziklag but everything else the Amalekites had plundered.

What did David do with all these spoils of war? He used them to maintain the purposes of God. In addition, he sent gifts of the spoils to the elders of Judah and to the towns where he and his men had been hiding (see 1 Samuel 30:26 and 31). This is another example of God’s purpose in our spiritual warfare. We’re to take spoils from battle not just for ourselves, but for the body of Christ. The resources we gain are meant to bring blessing to others.

Are you beginning to understand the reason for your present battle? Those who put their trust in the Lord are promised glorious victory over all power of the enemy. God wants you to know, “Yes, you’ll come through victorious. But I am going to make you more than an overcomer. I’m working out an even greater purpose in you for my kingdom. You’ll come out of this battle with more spoils than you can handle.”


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:
Ziklag.   http://www.bibleplaces.com/images/Ziklag,_Tel_Sera,_from_east,_tb_n050701.jpg
Be strong in the Lord.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2021/05/d7bde-strong.jpg
rainbow.   http://www.bffohio.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Rainbow-Background2.jpg
I belong to Jesus.    http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/shakeitup/images/8/89/I_BELONG_TO_JESUS_.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20110822131433
resurrection icon.    http://young.anabaptistradicals.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/resurrection_icon.jpg

3159.) 1 Samuel 29

May 27, 2021

1 Samuel 29   (NRSV)

The Philistines Reject David

Now the Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, while the Israelites were encamped by the fountain that is in Jezreel. 2As the lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish,

The battle lines were drawn in the previous chapter when the Philistines made a deep incursion into Israelite territory. The Philistines intend to deliver a death-blow to Israel and the two armies have squared off in anticipation of battle.

3the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?”

Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of King Saul of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years? Since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day.”

4But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him; and the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Send the man back, so that he may return to the place that you have assigned to him; he shall not go down with us to battle, or else he may become an adversary to us in the battle. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here? 5Is this not David, of whom they sing to one another in dances,
‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

David has sworn his loyalty to the king of the Philistines, and is all set to go with him to war against the Israelites! It is only the good sense of the Philistine commanders which prevents David from taking part in the battle; they knew, better than he, who he really is!

6Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the Lord lives, you have been honest, and to me it seems right that you should march out and in with me in the campaign; for I have found nothing wrong in you from the day of your coming to me until today. Nevertheless the lords do not approve of you. 7So go back now; and go peaceably; do nothing to displease the lords of the Philistines.”

1Sam29 David rejected
David said to Achish, “But what have I done? What have you found in your servant from the day I entered your service until now, that I should not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”

Is this the same David who fought Goliath?! The same one who fought against the Philistines in the name of the God of Israel?

9Achish replied to David, “I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God; nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’ 10Now then rise early in the morning, you and the servants of your lord who came with you, and go to the place that I appointed for you. As for the evil report, do not take it to heart, for you have done well before me. Start early in the morning, and leave as soon as you have light.”

11So David set out with his men early in the morning, to return to the land of the Philistines. But the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

What is David thinking as he and his men march back to Ziklag? Is he wondering where he belongs?

Lord, how long will you let your servant David be so blind? Do something dramatic to get his attention and bring him back to you!

And God will do just that, as David and his men return home to Ziklag . . . (cue ominous music)



Sadly, we all know what it means to be blind to the truth of God and to the joy of following in his ways — like David, we choose our own paths.  This song, by one of my most favorite groups, is a coming-home song. How wonderful to know that the Father never says, “Go away,” but is always ready to welcome us back!   HERE  is “All of Me”  by Selah.


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:
Go Away.    http://cache2.allpostersimages.com/LRG/37/3710/UGYAF00Z.jpg
Achish sends David away.    https://www.onochurch.org/reflection-david-betwixt-and-between/

3158.) 1 Samuel 28

May 26, 2021

“Saul and the Witch of Endor” by William Sidney Mount, 1828 (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

1 Samuel 28   (NRSV)

Saul Consults a Medium

3Now Samuel had died,

Samuel’s death was originally reported in 1 Samuel 25:1. Here, the fact is mentioned again to emphasize the spiritual vacuum left by Samuel’s departure.

–David Guzik

and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. Saul had expelled the mediums and the wizards from the land.

As per God’s clear command.

Leviticus 20:6, 27 (NIV)

“I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people.

“A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.”

4The Philistines assembled, and came and encamped at Shunem.

Shunem, in the Valley of Jezreel, was about twenty miles north of Aphek, the most northerly Philistine city. The fact that the Philistines had penetrated thus far gives an indication of their dominance over Saul’s kingdom, and of their intention to press further east to the Jordan.”

–Joyce G. Baldwin (1921-1995)

Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. 5When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, not by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets.

7Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, so that I may go to her and inquire of her.”

His servants said to him, “There is a medium at Endor.”

This variety of bearded iris, ruffled black-crimson with a velvet finish, is called Witch of Endor.

8So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes and went there, he and two men with him. They came to the woman by night. And he said, “Consult a spirit for me, and bring up for me the one whom I name to you.”

9The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?”

10But Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.”

Saul promises — in the name of the Lord, no less! — that she can do what is evil in the Lord’s sight! We see how totally confused Saul is in his life right now.

11Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”

He answered, “Bring up Samuel for me.”

Saul often did not listen to Samuel when he was alive, yet now he drags him up from the dead.

12When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice;

Perhaps she screamed because her contacts with the spirit world were always either her tricks or demonic. To suddenly encounter a dead person who arrived with Holy Spirit power must have been a shock to her. I think we can agree, too, that Samuel came not because he was called by the medium, but because God sent him.

and then the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

13The king said to her, “Have no fear; what do you see?”

The woman said to Saul, “I see a divine being coming up out of the ground.”

14He said to her, “What is his appearance?”

She said, “An old man is coming up; he is wrapped in a robe.”

So Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance.

“Saul and the Witch of Endor” by Benjamin West, 1777

15Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams; so I have summoned you to tell me what I should do.”

“Saul is asking for guidance when his course of action is obvious: he has to fight the Philistines. What he really wants is reassurance that all will be well and that he will win the battle.”

–Joyce G. Baldwin

16Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? 17The Lord has done to you just as he spoke by me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbor, David. 18Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you today. 19Moreover the Lord will give Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

Bad news for Saul:  Not only will the Israelite army lose the battle, but Saul and his sons will die.

20Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel; and there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night.

It wasn’t just that Samuel told Saul that he would die or fall in battle before the Philistines. Far worse to Saul was the knowledge that the Lord was his adversary. Not only were the Philistines set against him, so was the Lord God. Knowing this was more than Saul could bear.

–David Guzik

21The woman came to Saul, and when she saw that he was terrified, she said to him, “Your servant has listened to you; I have taken my life in my hand, and have listened to what you have said to me. 22Now therefore, you also listen to your servant; let me set a morsel of bread before you. Eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way.”

23He refused, and said, “I will not eat.”

But his servants, together with the woman, urged him; and he listened to their words. So he got up from the ground and sat on the bed.

24Now the woman had a fatted calf in the house. She quickly slaughtered it, and she took flour, kneaded it, and baked unleavened cakes. 25She put them before Saul and his servants, and they ate.

1Sam27 Mealmade

Saul’s last meal. Now I would have asked for my son Sean to make me grilled salmon with fennel and Romanesco (his food pictured above). Then for dessert I would love my friend Linda’s cream puffs (which are sort of like unleavened bread!), filled with lemon cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce. Delicious! What meal would you choose?

Then they rose and went away that night.

“The Witch of Endor” by Charles Brochart, 1873.

from Peculiar Treasures:  A Biblical Who’s Who
by Frederick Buechner


As soon as King Saul passed a law against witchcraft and drove all practitioners out of the land, the Witch of Endor traded in her broomstick on a bicycle, changed her pointed black hat for a summer straw, flushed a great many evil-smelling concoctions down the john, and tried to go straight.

But then Saul fell on evil times. He felt so sure David was after his throne that he grew paranoid on the subject. He was convinced his own son Jonathan had sided against him too. And the Philistines were gathering for a massive attack at Gilboa. He had to know how things were going to turn out, and since he and Yahweh were no longer on speaking terms as far as he was concerned, and the prophet Samuel was dead, he was forced to go elsewhere for his information.

He tried a dream-book, but none of his dreams were in it. He tried things like tea leaves and ouija boards, but they all malfunctioned. So he asked his servants whether they happened to know if anybody was still around who might be able to help, if they knew what he meant, and they told him about this old party in Endor who looked like something straight out of Charles Addams.

Saul disguised himself heavily for the visit, but as soon as he stepped through the door and said he wanted her to conjure up somebody who could foretell the future, she grew shrill and suspicious. What did he want to do, she said, get the cops after her? And only when he swore by Yahweh that he wouldn’t breathe a word to a soul did she go so far as to ask him who exactly it was he’d like her to try to get hold of for him. As soon as he said Samuel, she knew there could be only one person in Israel who would dare face that fierce old ghost, and the cat was out of the bag.

“You are Saul,” she said, and by that time he was past denying it. The next thing she knew, he’d let out a yelp that not only was enough to awaken the dead but did. “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe,” she said, and Saul realized immediately he was the right old man and bowed so low his beard touched the carpet.

Except on the grounds of wanting to make himself even more miserable than he already was, it’s hard to explain why it was his old enemy he’d asked for. Even before Samuel opened his mouth, Saul knew what he was going to say, and sure enough he said it. Samuel told him that everybody was against him including Yahweh, and not only would the Philistines win at Gilboa but by that time the next day Saul and all his sons would be joining him in the grave. Saul crumpled in a heap to the floor.

The witch did all she could to get him back on his feet. She tried to make him eat something, but he refused. She told him that she’d done what he’d asked for and the least he could do in return was to take enough to get his strength back and go, but he didn’t even seem to hear what she was saying. Finally with the help of the servants she managed to get him to where he was sitting on the edge of the bed, and when she produced a little meat and some freshly baked bread, he stuffed a bit of it into his mouth and then left without saying a word.

Nobody knows what the witch did after they were gone. Probably she just sat there in a daze for a while, trying to pull herself together with the comforting smell of the bread she’d baked. Maybe she decided to get out of Endor for good in case Saul broke his word and squealed on her. But she needn’t have worried about that because Saul had no time left to squeal on anybody.

On the next day he was just as dead as Samuel had risen from the grave to tell him he’d be, and this side of Paradise or anywhere else, she’d never have to worry about seeing him again. Unless she got herself talked into having another séance, of course, but the odds against that seem overwhelming.



HERE  is a whole different kind of bewitching — Linda Ronstadt and Nelson Riddle put together a marvelous jazz album in 1986 which included this classic number, “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.”


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:
Mount.    https://mydailyartdisplay.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/saul-and-the-witch-of-endor-by-william-s-mount-1828.jpg
iris.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/28-iris.jpg
West.    http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/christian/images/BenjaminWest-Saul-and-the-Witch-of-Endor-1777.jpg
salmon with fennel.    http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0972/6726/products/01_20_2016_Mealmade-033-Edit-FINAL_grande.jpg?v=1453527873
Brochart.   https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist257/thershir/witch_of_endor.jpg

3157.) 1 Samuel 27

May 25, 2021

1Sam27 slippery
1 Samuel 27   (NRSV)

David Serves King Achish of Gath

David said in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul; there is nothing better for me than to escape to the land of the Philistines; then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.”

David said, “There is nothing better for me . . .”

Once upon a time the devil decided to have a garage sale. He did it because he wanted to clear out some of his old tools to make room for new ones. After he set up his wares, a fellow dropped by to see what he had. Arrayed on a long table were all the tricks of his infernal trade. Each tool had a price tag. In one corner was a shiny implement labeled “Anger—$250.” Next to it was a curved tool labeled “Sloth—$380.” As the man searched, he found “Criticism—$500” and “Jealousy—$630.” Out of the corner of his eye, the man spotted a beaten-up tool with a price tag of $12,000. Curious, the man asked the devil why he would offer a worn-out piece of junk for such an exorbitant price. The devil said it was expensive because he used it so much. “What is it?” the man asked. The answer came back, “It is Discouragement. It always works when nothing else will.”

We all know the truth of this little story. Look at David. God had promised him that he would be the king of Israel. And David has just come off some good moments, some spiritual victories:  he spared Saul’s life in the cave at En Gedi (1 Samuel 24), he spared Nabal’s life thanks to Abigail’s intervention (1 Samuel 25), and he spared Saul’s life again when he let him sleep through the night at camp (1 Samuel 26). Even so, David chose to focus on what might happen in the future, and relied on his own feelings instead of on God’s promises.

David is discouraged, and he is about to make several wrong decisions.

2So David set out and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to King Achish son of Maoch of Gath. 3David stayed with Achish at Gath, he and his troops, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow.

What about LOYALTY?  David and his men and their families go to live with the enemy, the Philistines!

Previously (recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10-15), David briefly went over to Achish of the Philistines, believing there might be a place of refuge for him. God allowed that experience to quickly turn sour, and David pretended to be a madman so he could escape. Achish received David this time when he would not earlier for two reasons. First, it is clear now when it wasn’t clear before that David and Achish share the same enemy, Saul. Second, David now brings with him 600 fighting men, whom Achish can use as mercenaries.

–David Guzik

4When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought for him.

5Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your sight, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, so that I may live there; for why should your servant live in the royal city with you?”

6So that day Achish gave him Ziklag; therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. 7The length of time that David lived in the country of the Philistines was one year and four months.

Ziklag. Remember the name of this poor town. Having David come to live there is the kiss of death . . .

8Now David and his men went up and made raids on the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites; for these were the landed settlements from Telam on the way to Shur and on to the land of Egypt. 9David struck the land, leaving neither man nor woman alive, but took away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothing, and came back to Achish.

What about MERCY? This is unnecessary cruelty. David kills them all to protect the lie he is living.

10When Achish asked, “Against whom have you made a raid today?” David would say, “Against the Negeb of Judah,” or “Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Kenites.” 11David left neither man nor woman alive to be brought back to Gath, thinking, “They might tell about us, and say, ‘David has done so and so.’” Such was his practice all the time he lived in the country of the Philistines. 12Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself utterly abhorrent to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”

What about TRUTHFULNESS? David says he has raided his own people — but really, he has not. King Achish took him at his word and believed David had really joined up with him. This is a dangerous game David is playing. But hey, Saul is a distant memory, the men are doing well, David can sleep without one eye open — all things considered, not a bad life.

Disobedience often results in a temporary lessening of pressure. But God always has the last word.

28) In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “You know, of course, that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.”

2David said to Achish, “Very well, then you shall know what your servant can do.”

Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

David, don’t you think you’re in this a little too deep?



Take your choice!  HERE  is Simon and Garfunkel (from 1981, Live in Central Park) and “Slip Slidin’ Away,” as we see David on a slippery slope . . . The verse “God only knows” could have been written with David in mind!

HERE  is “His eye is on the sparrow . . . and I know He watches me.” Thank God for his faithfulness, even when we are not on track! This favorite Gospel hymn was written in 1905 and has brought comfort and encouragement to thousands of listeners.  Sung here by Tanya Blout and Lauryn Hill.


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:
slip sliding away.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/ebcee-12bsamuel2b272bslippery2bslide2bto2bthe2bphilistines.jpg
discouraged man.    https://bolstablog.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/line-drawing-discouraged-man-sitting.gif

3156.) 1 Samuel 26

May 24, 2021

“David refuses to kill sleeping Saul” by Count Feodor Tolstoy, 1806 (The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia)

1 Samuel 26   (NRSV)

David Spares Saul’s Life a Second Time

Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “David is in hiding on the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon.”

These Ziphites! They had betrayed David to Saul in chapter 23, and now again here!

2So Saul rose and went down to the Wilderness of Ziph, with three thousand chosen men of Israel, to seek David in the Wilderness of Ziph. 3Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon beside the road. But David remained in the wilderness. When he learned that Saul came after him into the wilderness, 4David sent out spies, and learned that Saul had indeed arrived.

5Then David set out and came to the place where Saul had encamped; and David saw the place where Saul lay, with Abner son of Ner, the commander of his army. Saul was lying within the encampment, while the army was encamped around him.

6Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?”

Abishai said, “I will go down with you.”

Abishai will become, over the years, one of David’s most trusted, most valiant warriors.

7So David and Abishai went to the army by night; there Saul lay sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the army lay around him.

8Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand today; now therefore let me pin him to the ground with one stroke of the spear; I will not strike him twice.”

David has already been anointed to be the next king. Saul is not doing his job very well. David’s warrior friend offers to do the dirty work for him. This is obviously a divinely granted opportunity to put things right! . . . don’t you agree?

9But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” 10David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him down; or his day will come to die; or he will go down into battle and perish. 11The Lord forbid that I should raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed; but now take the spear that is at his head, and the water jar, and let us go.”

illumination from a Bible c. 1430

(Don’t you love that the medieval artist put Saul on a mattress and box spring?! )

12So David took the spear that was at Saul’s head and the water jar, and they went away. No one saw it, or knew it, nor did anyone awake; for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.

13Then David went over to the other side, and stood on top of a hill far away, with a great distance between them. 14David called to the army and to Abner son of Ner, saying, “Abner! Will you not answer?”

Then Abner replied, “Who are you that calls to the king?”

15David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy your lord the king. 16This thing that you have done is not good. As the Lord lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the Lord’s anointed. See now, where is the king’s spear, or the water jar that was at his head?”

This dramatic evidence, like the evidence of the corner of Saul’s robe in 1 Samuel 24:11, was undeniable proof that David had the opportunity to kill Saul, but did not do it.

17Saul recognized David’s voice, and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?”

David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” 18And he added, “Why does my lord pursue his servant? For what have I done? What guilt is on my hands? 19Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the Lord who has stirred you up against me, may he accept an offering; but if it is mortals, may they be cursed before the Lord, for they have driven me out today from my share in the heritage of the Lord, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20Now therefore, do not let my blood fall to the ground, away from the presence of the Lord; for the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea, like one who hunts a partridge in the mountains.”

21Then Saul said, “I have done wrong; come back, my son David, for I will never harm you again, because my life was precious in your sight today;

It seems, from Saul’s subsequent actions, that Saul isn’t truly repentant. Instead, he bitterly realizes that David got the better of him again. His words in 1 Samuel 26:25 express this thought also: You will do many things and will succeed in them.

I have been a fool, and have made a great mistake.”

“I have been a fool.”

A great title for Saul’s autobiography.

22David replied, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and get it. 23The Lord rewards everyone for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord gave you into my hand today, but I would not raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed. 24As your life was precious today in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he rescue me from all tribulation.”

25Then Saul said to David, “Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them.”

Hebrews 6:10 (CEV)

God is always fair. He will remember how you helped his people in the past and how you are still helping them. You belong to God, and he won’t forget the love you have shown his people.

So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.

“Since now there is nothing more to be said, David and Saul part, never to see each other again.”

–Ronald F. Youngblood (1931-2014)



Saul was grateful to still have his life.  David was right not to take Saul’s life.  And Jesus gave his life.

HERE  is “You Gave Your Life Away”  by Paul Baloche.


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:
Tolstoy.     http://www.abcgallery.com/T/tolstoy/tolstoy6.html
Hello. My name is . . .    http://mycrazylifeasanavywife.blogspot.com/2013/03/believe-that-something-big-is-coming.html
miniature illumination.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/26-miniature.jpg?w=450
autobiography.   http://mesleh82.blogspot.com/2010/01/blog-post_6464.html

3155.) 1 Samuel 25

May 21, 2021

“Abigail Offering Bread to David,”  by Louis de Boullogne, 1700 (The Louvre, Paris)

1 Samuel 25   (NRSV)

Death of Samuel

Now Samuel died; and all Israel assembled and mourned for him. They buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David got up and went down to the wilderness of Paran.

Samuel’s heritage lived on in a remarkable way.
  • 1 Chronicles 9:22 suggests that Samuel laid the foundation for the organization of the Levites for the service of the sanctuary which was completed by David and Solomon.
  • 1 Chronicles 26:27-28 says that Samuel began to collect the treasures for the building of the temple in Solomon’s day.
  • 2 Chronicles 35:18 says that Samuel remembered the Passover, and kept Israel in remembrance of God’s great deliverance.
  • Psalm 99:6 and Jeremiah 15:1 commemorate Samuel as a man of great intercession.
  • Hebrews 11:33 puts Samuel in God’s “Hall of Faith.”
–David Guzik

David, Nabal, and Abigail

2There was a man in Maon, whose property was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3Now the name of the man was Nabal,

The name Nabal means fool. In ancient Israel names were often connected with a person’s character. We don’t know if Nabal was given this name or he earned it but he certainly lived up to it.

–David Guzik

and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was clever and beautiful, but the man was surly and mean; he was a Calebite. 4David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. 6Thus you shall salute him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have.

7‘I hear that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing, all the time they were in Carmel. 8Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your sight; for we have come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

1Sam25 sheep

David is asking for a kind of payment since he and his men protected Nabal’s workers against Philistine raids. The reasonable request is worded politely. And this request is made during sheep-shearing time, when there was much celebration and feasting.

9When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David; and then they waited.

10But Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are breaking away from their masters. 11Shall I take my bread and my water and the meat that I have butchered for my shearers, and give it to men who come from I do not know where?”

Insult upon insult! Everyone knew who David was! And David was a respectful servant (usually) to King Saul.  Furthermore, all the goods Nabal has (my bread and my water and the meat I have butchered) are gifts to him from God. Nabal shows his character to be just as the writer has described:  surely and mean.

12So David’s young men turned away, and came back and told him all this. 13David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every one of them strapped on his sword; David also strapped on his sword; and about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.

Not that David didn’t have every right! But he previously showed such gracious restraint with Saul. David ought to be returning good for evil to Nabal, as well.

14But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he shouted insults at them. 15Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we never missed anything when we were in the fields, as long as we were with them; 16they were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. 17Now therefore know this and consider what you should do; for evil has been decided against our master and against all his house; he is so ill-natured that no one can speak to him.”

Proverbs 17:12 (ISV)

It’s better to meet a mother bear who has lost her cubs

than a fool in his stupidity.

18Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs. She loaded them on donkeys 19and said to her young men, “Go on ahead of me; I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.

Abigail is doing what Nabal should have done. And the fact that she is able to gather so much food so quickly gives an indication of how rich Nabal was.

20As she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, David and his men came down toward her; and she met them. 21Now David had said, “Surely it was in vain that I protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; but he has returned me evil for good. 22God do so to David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.”

23When Abigail saw David, she hurried and alighted from the donkey, fell before David on her face, bowing to the ground.

“The Meeting of David and Abigail,” by Peter Paul Rubens, 1630 (National Gallery of Art, Washington)

Can you picture this? David and his men, feeling angry and insulted, swords at the ready, marching to Nabal’s place.  Then suddenly, a beautiful woman, at the head of a long procession of food and gifts, bows before them. This is quite unexpected!

24She fell at his feet and said, “Upon me alone, my lord, be the guilt; please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. 25My lord, do not take seriously this ill-natured fellow, Nabal; for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him; but I, your servant, did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent.

26“Now then, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, since the Lord has restrained you from bloodguilt and from taking vengeance with your own hand, now let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be like Nabal. 27And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28Please forgive the trespass of your servant; for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord; and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live.

1Sam25 fight

from Whispers of His Power
by Amy Carmichael

My lord fighteth the battles of the Lord. — 1 Samuel 25:28

Reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.  –Romans 5:17

Don’t wait to be attacked. Fight the Lord’s battles and He will fight yours. What about that one you know who is being badly tempted? What can you do to help him? Find out a way. Fight the devil who is attacking your brother.  Don’t slink off and do nothing to help. Fight, fight hard. “Fight the good fight with all thy might.”

When the wise Abigail saw David, who at that time was a long way from final victory, she was perfectly sure that he would win because he was fighting the battles of the Lord. The strongest, happiest, most victorious people are those who forget all about themselves in trying to help others. They are fighting the battles of the Lord and He fights for them and gives them the victory in their own private lives. They reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.

29If anyone should rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living under the care of the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30When the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you prince over Israel, 31my lord shall have no cause of grief, or pangs of conscience, for having shed blood without cause or for having saved himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”

Abigail is thinking the way David should have thought. And the fact that David listens to her and changes his plans shows her wisdom.

32David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! 33Blessed be your good sense, and blessed be you, who have kept me today from bloodguilt and from avenging myself by my own hand! 34For as surely as the Lord the God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there would not have been left to Nabal so much as one male.”

35Then David received from her hand what she had brought him; he said to her, “Go up to your house in peace; see, I have heeded your voice, and I have granted your petition.”

Abigail did not come to David empty-handed. One reason her appeal was effective was because she paid David what was owed to him. When David received it from Abigail he acknowledged that Nabal had paid the bill and there was nothing outstanding.

–David Guzik

36Abigail came to Nabal; he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she told him nothing at all until the morning light. 37In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him; he became like a stone. 38About ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.

Luke 12:15-21 (NLT)

Then Jesus said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

39When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord who has judged the case of Nabal’s insult to me, and has kept back his servant from evil; the Lord has returned the evil-doing of Nabal upon his own head.”

Then David sent and wooed Abigail, to make her his wife. 40When David’s servants came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.”

41She rose and bowed down, with her face to the ground, and said, “Your servant is a slave to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” 42Abigail got up hurriedly and rode away on a donkey; her five maids attended her. She went after the messengers of David and became his wife. 43David also married Ahinoam of Jezreel; both of them became his wives. 44Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Palti son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

Abigail is as “a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance.” In her, winsomeness and wisdom were wed. She had brains as well as beauty. Today, many women try to cultivate beauty and neglect their brains. A lovely face hides an empty mind. But with Abigail, loveliness and intelligence went hand in hand, with her intelligence emphasizing her physical attractiveness. A beautiful woman with a beautiful mind as she had is surely one of God’s masterpieces.

Added to her charm and wisdom was that of piety. She knew God, and although she lived in such an unhappy home, she remained a saint. Her own soul, like that of David, was “bound in the bundle of life with the Lord God.” Writing of Abigail as “A Woman of Tact” W. Mackintosh Mackay says that, “she possessed in harmonious combination these two qualities which are valuable to any one, but which are essential to one who has to manage men—the tact of a wise wife and the religious principle of a good woman.” Eugenia Price, who writes of Abigail as, A Woman With God’s Own Poise, says that, “only God can give a woman poise like Abigail possessed, and God can only do it when a woman is willing to cooperate as Abigail cooperated with Him on every point.” She experienced that in God her Father there was a source of joy enabling her to be independent of the adverse, trying circumstances of her miserable home life. She must have had implicit confidence in God to speak to David as she did about her divinely predestined future. In harmony with her many attractions was “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is more lustrous than the diamonds that decorate the delicate fingers of our betters, shone as an ornament of gold about her head, and chains about her neck.”




Does this story have a country-western twang to it?  Yes, it does!  HERE  is David Wyper and “Abigail.”


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:
Boullogne.    http://www.culture.gouv.fr/Wave/image/joconde/0011/m503604_95de8835_p.jpg
half-sheared sheep.    http://i.imgur.com/JiiHQFx.jpg
you go girl.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/fe2ab-you_go_girl.jpg
Rubens.    http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.99280.html?category=The%20Collection&category=Exhibitions&category=Visit&category=Education&category=Conservation&category=Research&category=Calendar&category=Audio%2FVideo&category=About&category=Support%20Us&category=Opportunities&category=Press&category=Notices&category=Contact%20Us&category=Online%20Features&tags=ngaweb%3Aartobjects%2F9%2F9%2F2%2F8%2F0%2FArtObject_99280&pageNumber=1&lastFacet=category
Fight the good fight.     https://flamestar5.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/il_fullxfull-145778003.jpg
the rich fool.   http://bibleencyclopedia.com/gs400px/stdas0163.jpg

3152.) 1 Samuel 24

May 18, 2021

En Gedi — a canyon,  a large oasis, a fresh water spring — lies along the western shore of the Dead Sea.

1 Samuel 24   (NRSV)

David Spares Saul’s Life

When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the wilderness of En-gedi.”

The En Gedi canyon runs westward from the Dead Sea. One can still see the good sized creek flowing down the canyon, making En Gedi, with its waterfalls and vegetation seem more like a tropical paradise than the middle of the desert. In the middle of barren desert, scouts could easily detect approaching troops. There was plenty of water and wildlife and many caves and defensive positions.

–David Guzik

2Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to look for David and his men in the direction of the Rocks of the Wild Goats.

3He came to the sheepfolds beside the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 4The men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’” Then David went and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak.

5Afterwards David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak.

David is a man after God’s own heart. The robe is a symbol of Saul’s royal authority, and David regretted having done anything against Saul’s God-appointed authority.

6He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the Lord’s anointed.” 7So David scolded his men severely and did not permit them to attack Saul. Then Saul got up and left the cave, and went on his way.

from This Day with the Master
by Dennis F. Kinlaw


The key to David’s character may be seen in his reaction to Saul. Samuel had anointed him, so David knew that he was destined to be king. He knew that he was called of God to that role. In fact, the Spirit of God had already departed from Saul and had come to him, making him qualified to be king. He had all of the kingly authority, and it was all gone from Saul. Moreover, the people of God were suffering under Saul’s tragic leadership. It seemed an ideal time for David to make his move.

One day David was hiding from Saul in a cave, and Saul came into the cave to relieve himself, not knowing that David and his men were lurking in the shadows. One of David’s men turned to him and said, “The Lord has delivered Israel. God has given him into our hands.” The temptation for David was to think, Now I have a chance to fulfill God’s will and save Israel. But David said, “Don’t you touch him.” It was God’s business to put David on the throne, and David was not about to put himself there. He believed that when God wanted to make him king, he would do it.

We can never rush the will of God. David could wait because he knew he could trust God. Our efforts profit nothing; only the Spirit of Jesus gives life and direction. During these days, do you have a spiritual need in your heart? Are you pushing him? Today is the day to meet God. Do not be content until you are free to let the Spirit of God order your life.



It is not easy to wait, especially for something we feel the Lord has in mind for us. But like David, we must learn to guard our hearts and wait for God’s timing. He is never late.

HERE  is “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller.

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve you while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord


8Afterwards David also rose up and went out of the cave and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance.

9David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of those who say, ‘David seeks to do you harm’? 10This very day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you into my hand in the cave; and some urged me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11See, my father, see the corner of your cloak in my hand; for by the fact that I cut off the corner of your cloak, and did not kill you, you may know for certain that there is no wrong or treason in my hands.

1Sam24 torn robe

Through this cut robe, God sent a message to Saul. The robe was a picture of Saul’s royal authority, and through this God said, “I am cutting away your royal authority.” In 1 Samuel 15:27-28 the prophet Samuel rebuked Saul for his hard-hearted disobedience to God. In his distress, Saul tried to keep Samuel from leaving, and grabbed his robe, and a portion of the prophet’s robe tore away. When Saul was left holding the torn piece of Samuel’s robe, Samuel said to him: The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. Now, when David confronts Saul with the torn robe, Saul must be reminded of this incident, and God’s message to him was loud and clear.

–David Guzik

I have not sinned against you, though you are hunting me to take my life. 12May the Lord judge between me and you! May the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you. 13As the ancient proverb says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you.

Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Ephesians 4:31 (NLT)

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.

Romans 12:21 (ESV)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

14“Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A single flea? 15May the Lord therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you. May he see to it, and plead my cause, and vindicate me against you.”

16When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. 18Today you have explained how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. 19For who has ever found an enemy, and sent the enemy safely away? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20Now I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not wipe out my name from my father’s house.”

22So David swore this to Saul.

Twice now, David has made the promise to protect that family — to Jonathan, and to Saul.

Then Saul went home; but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

Saul’s repentance seems to be deep, sincere, and emotional. We will see how long it lasts.


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:
En Gedi.    http://www.bibleplaces.com/engedi.htm
David holds out the torn piece.  https://freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/3895373/posts
“Kind hearts are the garden” poem.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/24-kind-tree1.gif

3149.) 1 Samuel 23

May 13, 2021

This map can help get us situated.  In the previous chapter, David was in Adullam.  Now he comes to rescue the city of Keilah from Philistine looting.  Remember David is in the territory between the coast and the hills that no one really controls.

1 Samuel 23   (NRSV)

David Saves the City of Keilah

Now they told David, “The Philistines are fighting against Keilah (an Israelite town), and are robbing the threshing floors.”

So it seems that as soon as the people got their grain all harvested, the Philistines swooped in and stole it. Why did the people go to David? Why didn’t they go to King Saul? Evidently Saul was not able to protect them.

2David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”

The Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.”

3But David’s men said to him, “Look, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?”

The men said, “Hey, David, open your eyes. We aren’t exactly a well-trained and well-equipped regular army. And we already have Saul as an enemy–why go adding the Philistines to the list?”

4Then David inquired of the Lord again. The Lord answered him, “Yes, go down to Keilah; for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” 5So David and his men went to Keilah, fought with the Philistines, brought away their livestock, and dealt them a heavy defeat. Thus David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah. 6When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand.

7Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand; for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” 8Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

Not to war against the Philistines, who had been oppressing fellow Israelites. No, Saul, goes to war against David, to save his own reputation. Such pathetic leadership!

9When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to the priest Abiathar, “Bring the ephod here.” 10David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. 11And now, will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, I beseech you, tell your servant.”

The Lord said, “He will come down.”

12Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?”

The Lord said, “They will surrender you.” 13Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they wandered wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.

14David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but the Lord did not give him into his hand.

David continually asks the Lord for directions and thereby stays alive.

David Eludes Saul in the Wilderness

the wilderness of Ziph

15David was in the Wilderness of Ziph at Horesh when he learned that Saul had come out to seek his life.

Ziph was a town below the southern tip of the Dead Sea. God guided and protected David, but it wasn’t comfortable or easy. This was an essential time for God’s work in David’s life. He became a man after God’s heart in the shepherd’s field but he became a king in the wilderness.

–David Guzik

16Saul’s son Jonathan set out and came to David at Horesh; there he strengthened his hand through the Lord. 17He said to him, “Do not be afraid; for the hand of my father Saul shall not find you; you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be second to you; my father Saul also knows that this is so.” 18Then the two of them made a covenant before the Lord; David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.

This may have been the final time that David and Jonathan were together. And how generous and gracious of Jonathan to encourage David in the Lord.

19Then some Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “David is hiding among us in the strongholds of Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon. 20Now, O king, whenever you wish to come down, do so; and our part will be to surrender him into the king’s hand.”

For David:  On the one hand, a faithful Jonathan. On the other hand, a fellow Israelite ready to betray him.

21Saul said, “May you be blessed by the Lord for showing me compassion! 22Go and make sure once more; find out exactly where he is, and who has seen him there; for I am told that he is very cunning. 23Look around and learn all the hiding places where he lurks, and come back to me with sure information. Then I will go with you; and if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah.”

24So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. 25Saul and his men went to search for him. When David was told, he went down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued David into the wilderness of Maon.

Ps54 flower

David wrote a psalm about this experience; we will read Psalm 54 tomorrow.

26Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, while Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them. 27Then a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come; for the Philistines have made a raid on the land.” 28So Saul stopped pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. 29David then went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En-gedi.



David may have felt himself in danger from Saul, but actually he was quite safe in the Lord’s hands. And we, in the various vicissitudes of our lives, can also rest in our Lord’s loving care for us. “My peace I give to you,” Jesus said, “— not as the world gives.”  HERE  are two old hymns, “Near to the Heart of God” and “A Wonderful Savior,” sung by Evie Tornquist Karlsson. She was recognized as the Dove Award recipient of Female Vocalist of the Year for 1977 and 1978. Lyrics follow.

There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God;
It’s a place where sin cannot molest,
It’s near to the heart of God.

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God;
Hold us, who wait before you,
Hold us near to the heart of God

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
With His strong hand.


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:
map showing Keilah.    http://bibleatlas.org/area/keilah.jpg
wilderness of Ziph.    http://bibleencyclopedia.com/placesjpeg/Wilderness_of_Ziph,_tb_n021900.jpg
Surely God is my help.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/7d/71/16/7d71160bad8cabf7d87d8d3795adb843.jpg

3147.) 1 Samuel 22

May 11, 2021

Adullam is the green hill in the center of this picture. You are looking east.  The coastal plain, controlled by the Philistines, is behind you; the hill-county, controlled by Saul, is in front.  David found some kind of safety in between, in no man’s land.

1 Samuel 22   (NRSV)

David and His Followers at Adullam

David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam;

David’s options were limited! He could not go to his parents’ home, he could not go back to the palace, he could not go to Jonathan or Samuel, he could not go to the house of the Lord, he could not go to the enemies of Israel —

when his brothers and all his father’s house heard of it, they went down there to him. 2Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred.

This could be a beginning of a rebel army; David could go up against Saul. But David never did. He waited for the Lord to bring the crown to him, rather than taking the crown for himself from Saul.

These men came to David in distress, in debt, and discontented, but they didn’t stay that way. David made them into the kind of men described in 1 Chronicles 12:8: Mighty men of valor, men trained for battle, who could handle the shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains.

–David Guzik

3David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. He said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come to you, until I know what God will do for me.” 4He left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.

1Sam22 Ruthgleaning

Family connections! David’s great-grandmother, Ruth, had come from Moab. 

5Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; leave, and go into the land of Judah.” So David left, and went into the forest of Hereth.

Saul Slaughters the Priests

6Saul heard that David and those who were with him had been located. Saul was sitting at Gibeah, under the tamarisk tree on the height, with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing around him. 7Saul said to his servants who stood around him, “Hear now, you Benjaminites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? 8Is that why all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a league with the son of Jesse, none of you is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as he is doing today.”

Hear Saul, paranoid and whiny — “It’s all about me!”

9Doeg the Edomite, who was in charge of Saul’s servants, answered, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech son of Ahitub; 10he inquired of the Lord for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

11The king sent for the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub and for all his father’s house, the priests who were at Nob; and all of them came to the king. 12Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.”

He answered, “Here I am, my lord.”

13Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, by giving him bread and a sword, and by inquiring of God for him, so that he has risen against me, to lie in wait, as he is doing today?”

14Then Ahimelech answered the king, “Who among all your servants is so faithful as David? He is the king’s son-in-law, and is quick to do your bidding, and is honored in your house. 15Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him? By no means! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any member of my father’s house; for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little.”

16The king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house.”

Saul kills Ahimelech the priest for telling the truth.

17The king said to the guard who stood around him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David; they knew that he fled, and did not disclose it to me.”

But the servants of the king would not raise their hand to attack the priests of the Lord.

18Then the king said to Doeg, “You, Doeg, turn and attack the priests.”

"Saul Commands Doeg to Slay the Priests," by James Tissot

“Saul Commands Doeg to Slay the Priests,” by James Tissot

Doeg the Edomite turned and attacked the priests; on that day he killed eighty-five who wore the linen ephod. 19Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; men and women, children and infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep, he put to the sword.

“This is one of the worst acts in the life of Saul; his malice was implacable, and his wrath was cruel, and there is no motive of justice or policy by which such a barbarous act can be justified.”

–Adam Clarke

20But one of the sons of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I am responsible for the lives of all your father’s house.

Now David see the price of his lies to the priest, who was therefore unaware of the enmity between Saul and David, and got caught in the crossfire. David later wrote Psalm 52 about this situation; we will look at Psalm 52 in our next post.

23Stay with me, and do not be afraid; for the one who seeks my life seeks your life; you will be safe with me.”



I am inspired to imitate David in this regard:  no matter how dire his situation, he rejoices in the Lord! This song uses David’s words from Psalm 36:5-6 — Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths.  HERE  Third Day sings “Your Love, O Lord.”


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:
Adullam.     http://lh4.ggpht.com/_x4Gor5dqvi8/TEDVjP7jI0I/AAAAAAAABeI/zDZu23hpwbM/Adullam%20area%20aerial%20from%20west,%20tb010703651_thumb%5B2%5D.jpg?imgmax=800
Ruth.    https://wearefearfullymade.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/ruthgleaning-reapers-in-background.jpg
Tissot.    https://mudpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/james-tissot-saul-commands-doeg-to-slay-the-priests.jpg