1 Samuel – 2 Samuel

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How the mighty have fallen!”2 Sam 1:27

What a difference we see in the life of one man, Saul, from the beginning of 1 Sam – when he was described as “an impressive young man without equal” (1 Sam 9:2) to what we witness happening to him by the end of the book. Envy, Bitterness, Strife, Rejection of God, Rebellion all led Saul from the throne to the doorstep of the Witch of Endor (1 Sam 28) and finally falling upon his own sword on the battlefield (1 Sam 31).

It is quite easy for anyone to look backwards and understand how Saul fell to his eve3ntual demise. By allowing sin to take hold of his heart – and rejecting the Word of the Lord from the Prophet Samuel – Saul found himself in over his head. Like a drowning man – he could only tread water for so long before the consequences of his choices pulled him under.

This reminds me so much of our world today. While on the outside it may seem that our neighbors, friends, family have crafted their lives apart from God and His Word – the truth is that eventually (just like Saul) their choices will pull them under. What can start out with such promise ends up a battlefield suicide.

Beyond just the lesson from Saul – there is even a greater lesson for us as we witness the actions and choices of David. As 1 Samuel closes and 2 Samuel opens we transform our gaze upon the man who represents the future of the nation of Israel. David has been holding in his heart the truth that he is the rightful King – previously anointed by Samuel on the outskirts of Bethlehem in 1 Sam 16. Yet – instead of sitting on his throne, we see David ducking from spears and running for his life. Numerous times he had the power to redeem himself within his grasp – yet this man of high integrity refused to do so… waiting on the Lord to redeem him instead.

At the curtain closes on 1 Samuel, the audience has just witnessed the death of Saul & his sons (including Jonathon) on the battlefield. As 2 Samuel opens – an eager Amalekite sprints to David with what he thought would be received as joyful news. King Saul is dead! David’s enemy is dead! Now the throne is open for the taking.

Unfortunately for the Amelekite, David does not see this news in the same light… and as the Amalekite stretches the truth to paint himself in a favorable position with the new king – David instead reacts with sorrow and vengeance, costing the Amalekite his life.

Did you catch the huge point here? I don’t know how you would have reacted – but if the guy who had been making my life pure misery for the Past 10-12 years – with 21 different attempts on my life alone – was reported to me as finally dying I think I would have thrown a party! But David, this man of high integrity, instead weeps for him. He refers to Saul (along with his best friend Jonathon) as “loved and gracious “ (2 Sam 1:23). He commands the nation to weep for them and mourn their loss! He writes a song about them and teaches it to all the people!

How could David do this? What gave him the self-control needed to continue to love a man who had treated him so poorly all those years? We will learn later on that David was no saint… a person like all of us. So what did David posses that made him special?

It was his heart for God.

David really loved the Lord – not just as a show but deep in his being. He cherished his time with God – wrote songs of worship to Him – and built his very life around the Words of God.

The dichotomy between Saul and David are stark.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

 

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1 Samuel 27

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What would you do if you were on the run for years? What would your attitude be like if you were wrongly accused, sleeping in caves, fearing for your life at every turn? After living that way for quite some time – we see David getting exasperated, frustrated, and beginning to take matters into his own hands. Any of us would have done the same – but that doesn’t excuse it.

We see it start in the very first verse of chapter 27:

But David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape into the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any more within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.”– 1 Sam 27:1 AMP

David “said in his heart…”. The NIV says he “thought to himself”. Either way you phrase it – David was getting frustrated. Understandably so, he was tiring of being chased by Saul for no reason. Up to this point David had demonstrated a high level of integrity – choosing to honor God and allow Him to handle this situation. He had seen God get him out of several difficult circumstances at the hands of Saul – yet here we see David begin to make some mistakes.

It all started when he “thought to himself” – and then he proceeded to speak things which he had no reason to believe and to think. God had not abandoned him yet – and the promise he had from the Lord (that he would be the next king) should have filled him with faith. But instead – his words revealed a lack thereof. After all, how can he be king of Israel one day, yet “perish by the hand of Saul”? David was caught getting weary and looking at the situation through his eyes of despair instead of the eyes of faith. (Gal 6:9). It wasn’t David who was going to help him escape from Saul’s hand… it wasn’t some master plan he concocted about running and hiding in the land of the Philistines. The only way David could be sure to escape from Saul’s hand was to continue trusting the One who had taken him this far. God was his Protector and Provider – not himself.

Instead David came up with his own solution. (Prov. 14:12).

As we shall see in the next few chapters, this unfortunate stumble in his faith caused the following chain reaction of events:

  1. It caused him to stop depending on God for his deliverance (27:1).

  2. It caused him to leave his own country, despite the fact that Saul had invited him to return (27:1; 26:21).

  3. It caused him to join up with sworn enemies of Israel (27:1; 28:1-2; 29:1-11).

  4. It caused him to destroy several groups of people (Geshurites, Gezrites, Amalekites) – with whom David had no reason to fight (27:8-9).

  5. It caused him to lie to Achish and kill in order to cover up his acts (27:10-12).

  6. It caused him to be in a difficult situation regarding possibly going to war against his own people (28:1-2; 29:1-11).

  7. It caused the destruction of the city of Ziklag by the Amalekites as they sought revenge against David (27:8; 30:1-31).

It is impossible to know for sure how different these outcomes would have been had David continued to trust in the Lord for his defense. Amazingly – David is still considered a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) and the apple of God’s eye (Ps 17:8). That just shows more of the deep love and mercy our God has for all of us!

So… what lessons can you take from David’s misstep?

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

1 Samuel 19-24

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Sometimes, when we sit and dwell on our particular circumstances in life, it is easy to get discouraged. If we dwell further still we can begin the descent into outright depression… asking the question “Why me?”. Once that occurs it is a sure sign that we have gotten our eyes off of the Lord and onto our problems – and we inevitably sink just like Peter the Rock (pun intended).

As we read through the early life of a small shepherd boy named David – we see a young man who found himself in a situation he did not create – yet instead of despair, he chose faith. To be honest, Scripture describes David as a ruddy boy, perfectly content to lead the sheep in the wilderness alone while his older brothers handled the public life. But God had much bigger plans for David.

Before long, due to circumstances beyond his control, young David finds himself dodging spears and then being hunted by the insanely jealous King Saul. Forced to flee his home and friends, David faces difficulty after difficulty as Satan pursues him as a beloved of the Lord.

I’m sure there were times during this stretch of his life that David felt frustration. I’m sure there were moments when he just threw up his hands in desperation. I’m positive there were those days alone in the caves where David pondered that age-old question, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’. Perhaps David even let out the typical ‘It’s not fair’ complaint.

In fact – we know David felt this way because David was a musician… a writer of poems and songs. A major collection of those writings of David are found in the book of Psalms, and it was during these days on the run when David wrote some of his famous psalms.

For example:

      1. David wrote Psalm 59 after Saul sent men to catch him at his own home to kill him – saved only by the help of his wife. (1 Sam 19).
      2. He wrote Psalm 52 after Doeg, the Edomite, came and told Saul that David stopped at the home of Ahimilech, the priest, for help. (1 Sam 21).
      3. Psalm 54 was written after the Ziphites betrayed David’s hiding place to Saul – even after he and his men had protected them. (1 Sam 23).
      4. David wrote Psalm 56 during the time he was forced to play insane for the Philistine king of Gath in order to save his life. (1 Sam 21).
      5. As well, he wrote Psalm 57 after forced to flee from Saul and hide in caves in 1 Sam 24.

If anyone had reason to get bitter and angry – or even to slip into depression and just give up – it was David during this time. To say that he was treated poorly and unfairly is to understate the situation. Yet, if you take a moment to read the songs David wrote – they all reflect a posture of hope and faith.

Because that is what men of God speak… not doubt and despair – but hope and faith that in the end, despite the situation, God will work things out and he will end up on top.

 

What a great example young David has left us!

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Saul’s evil spirit (1 Sam 16)

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Over the past few weeks I have been asked a common question that has crept up in our reading. The question revolves around the account in 1 Samuel 16 where Saul begins his downward spiral with an “evil spirit from the Lord” tormenting him.

Here is the actual reference:

But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented and troubled him. Saul’s servants said to him, Behold, an evil spirit from God torments you. Let our lord now command your servants here before you to find a man who plays skillfully on the lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well. Saul told his servants, Find me a man who plays well and bring him to me. One of the young men said, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who plays skillfully, a valiant man, a man of war, prudent in speech and eloquent, an attractive person; and the Lord is with him. So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, Send me David your son, who is with the sheep. And Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine, and a kid and sent them by David his son to Saul. And David came to Saul and served him. Saul became very fond of him, and he became his armor-bearer. Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David remain in my service, for he pleases me. And when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took a lyre and played it; so Saul was refreshed and became well, and the evil spirit left him.” 1 Sam 16:14-23 AMP

The part in question is that the evil spirit came “from the Lord”. This seems to stand in direct opposition from what we have learned regarding God and how He works all throughout Scripture thus far. After all – repeatedly we have started that God isn’t evil. He isn’t a destroyer. He doesn’t send wickedness and destruction into the lives of His people. (You could say that Saul wasn’t “His people” – but that wouldn’t line up with the rest of Scripture which has him being a pure Israelite, from the tribe of Benjamin, and one who was anointed by God and had the power of God upon him) (1 Sam 10).

So what can be said of this “evil spirit”? Was it sent from God?

Well – first of all – what we CAN tell from Scripture is that Saul had made several conscious decisions which led him into sin and rebellion. It was this sin and rebellion which invited this evil spirit into his life. But what about the wording here?

The language “evil spirit from God” is just that – language. Our predispositions cause us to interpret that as “God is responsible for the action of sending an evil spirit upon Saul” – but that is not what that term means. How do we know this?  Because of the rest of Scripture.

Scripture as a whole is consistent that God is not a destroyer and is not sending evil spirits to harm His people. Therefore – the language phrase must be speaking of something else. We allow Scripture to interpret Scripture.

The verb “sent” is permissive – not active. The spirit is “from God” only in the sense that really everything is “from God” because He is supreme. But that doesn’t mean He actual ordered it to go.

A scriptural example of this is the account of the prophet Micaiah and his prophecy regarding Israel attacking Ramoth-Gilead in 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 18.

“And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ ” ‘By what means?’ the LORD asked. ” ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. ” ‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’ “So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you.” – 1 Kings 22:20-24

As we see here – God didn’t command the lying spirit to entice the king to attack and get wiped out… but He did ALLOW that spirit because King Ahab was choosing a life of rebellion and sin.

So the same is in Saul’s case. Saul was making a choice to live outside of the blessing of the Lord. That choice opened him up to an attack from the enemy. The idea is that God does not protect such a person from spirits as He otherwise would if he yielded to Him instead, and obeyed Him. God gave Saul over to an evil spirit as punishment for his sins and self-will. Naturally, when the Holy Spirit left him, he was open to an evil spirit of torment from Satan.

How grateful we are for Jesus and Righteousness and Grace that we now live under in the NT – we do not live under that system any longer.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

1 Samuel 11-15

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What starts out with such promise – ends in failure and misery for Saul the Benjamite. Chapters 10-15 of 1 Samuel chronicle this devastating decline from the top to the bottom for King Saul… and it a great lesson for us all on the importance of obedience.

What we see right away is that Saul started out as a good king. After his anointing as king in 1 Sam 10, we see Saul’s first challenge to his authority and subsequent victory. In 1 Sam 11, Nahash the Ammonite lays siege to Jabesh Gilead. When Saul hears of this, he rallies his army and defeats the Ammonites. Now two things stand out to me about this event. The first is what Saul was doing when he received the word of the attack on Jabesh Gilead. 1 Sam 11:5 tells us that Saul was returning home with his oxen after working in his field. Wow! The King of Israel doing the work of a common laborer. At this point Saul was still grounded with his people.

The second is Saul’s response in victory. In 1 Sam 11:12-15 some of the people wanted to kill those who had opposed Saul in becoming king, and with his popularity due to his military victory, Saul could have easily ordered this. Instead, Saul told them, “No one shall be put to death today, for this day the LORD has rescued Israel.” And then Samuel taking Saul’s lead, leads the people in the worship of the LORD. (Things have begun on track for king Saul!).

But what a drastic comparison can be made between the Saul of chapter 11 and chapter 15.

Of course by chapter 15, we already know things are not going to end well for Saul. In 1 Sam 13 , his impatience in waiting on Samuel and preforming a sacrifice on his own has already led to the foretelling that the kingdom will not remain with his family. And in 1 Sam 14 we see that Saul is not a man who can keep an oath before God (even though if he had, it would have meant the death of Jonathan).

However, the greatest break from God occurs in 1 Sam 15. Here we see that Saul is given strict instructions on how to fight the Amalekites, but doesn’t follow them. Instead, he spares the king’s life and he takes plunder in livestock.

But notice that when Samuel hears of what Saul has done, where is Saul to be found? Verse 12 says that Saul has gone to Carmel to set up a monument (do we dare say idol?) to himself because of his victory! (Where is the man that insisted of giving God the credit for victory in chapter 13?)

And then to make his rebellion against God complete, he justifies and lies about why he allowed livestock to be taken. First in verse 21 he says the best were kept in order to sacrifice them to God. (to which Samuel gives the famous line, “to obey is better than sacrifice.”). Then in verse 24 he says he allowed his men to take the animals as plunder because he was afraid of them. For Saul, it is obvious that he is shifting the blame to everyone but himself.

So is it any wonder that, after all of these issues with Saul, in the next chapter, God has Samuel select the shepherd boy David as a new anointed one. It will be another 40 years before Saul’s rebellion against God leads to his own suicide in 1 Samuel 31 and David takes the throne, but the separation is complete here in chapter 15.

So what can we learn from the life-lesson of Saul?

I think the biggest lesson is the subtle slide from obedience to outright rebellion that is before all of us. Notice what Samuel tells Saul in chapter 15:

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.” –
I Sam 15:22-23

Rebellion has become a huge issue in the Church today! Those tiny ways of arching our backs and imposing our own will against the authority God has placed in our lives will only lead us to ruin. Notice how quickly Saul went from a king who was in touch with his people and seeking to walk in integrity – to the man we will see slide into insanity over the next few chapters. This slide began with small steps of disobedience and rebellion.

Notice also that Samuel compares the SIN of rebellion alike to the SIN of witchcraft.

In our culture we have taken indivuality and distorted it into a passive form of rebellion. Statements about freedom have been twisted to justify this gross attitude of sin. Statements such as; “It is a free country” and “I can hear from God myself” are really cloaked ways the enemy is using to keep us in bondage to this rebellious spirit. That will only lead us on the same path as Saul.

God is looking for a “man after His own heart” (like David). That type of man/woman is quick to look within – eager to serve and learn – and slow to defend their own errant positions.

Let’s seek those qualities together… and sit on the throne as David will. 🙂

 

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

 

1 Samuel 8-10

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Dictionary.com defines a Theocracy as a form of government in which God is recognized as the supreme civil ruler”. That is the form of government which God had planned out for Israel from her very start. While the other nations of the world had human rulers – kings – with all of their faults and humanity… Israel would be led by God Himself – in all of His perfection. From Abraham to Samuel – about 1400 years – the children of Israel had been under that form of government – God rule.

But in 1 Sam 8:4-5 this all began to change. The elders of Israel (responding to their national decline) came upon the conclusion that things were messed up because of their form of government. Now, as we have seen, the real reason things were messed up was only because of the nations continued disobedience to the commands of God. But, for the elders, this plain fact never even dawned upon them. Instead – they used human reason and logic to solve their problem in their own way. In this – Proverbs 14:12 is, once again, proved correct: “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death.”

Obviously – Samuel is upset by this request from the leaders of Israel. Not only is it a rejection of HIS rule as judge (mainly based upon the fact that his own son’s failed to walk correctly as well) – but this request is more importantly a rejection of God Himself. The Lord is well aware of this – and informs Samuel to grant the people’s desire… but also to warn them about the residual affects of a monarchy (1 Sam 8:11-18).

So God gives in to the people’s desire – and chooses for them one who would fit their idea’s of strength and valor. Saul was an impressive man, “a choice young man, handsome, and a head taller then any of the people” (1 Sam 9:2). Yes, this guy was tall, tanned, handsome, strong – a real man! So the Israelites were impressed by his outward appearance. This man was the answer they were looking for. He would make them “like all of the other nations” (1 Sam 8:5).

But the problem was their desire to be “like all of the other nations”. That wasn’t God’s plan for them! He wanted them to become an example for the entire world to follow. He wanted them to demonstrate to the world the benefits of living life God’s way. He wanted the world to yearn to be like them (not the other way around!). If this tiny growing nation had simply followed the Lord from the start – that plan of God’s would have come to pass. Instead – by constantly choosing their own way – they short-circuited this plan and found themselves in hot water again and again.

God does not do things like we do. That much should have been apparent to them after witnessing the miracles and deliverance over their enemies since the start of their existence. God doesn’t think like us – reason like us – conclude like us – nor does He measure worth like us. The answer isn’t to change God to conform Him to our perspective (this is called RELIGION) – the answer is to change and conform OUR perspective to match God’s.

So the people chose Saul… impressive – tall – handsome.

God’s choice would be revealed after the people’s choice fails… His choice would be David – small – rugged – but with a heart after God.

The children of Israel made a fatal decision the day they asked for a King. They chose to be “like the other nations” and sought to solve their problems by human means. As we shall see in the coming chapters – this decision caused much heartache and multiplied their problems ten-fold. (In fact – ALL of what Samuel told them a King would do to them in chapter 8 would come to pass in the future).

Finally, did you notice what happened during the coronation ceremony for this new King? In 1 Samuel 10:22-24 we see that the pomp and circumstance is in full swing – the people are cheering – the band is playing… yet no one can find Mr. Tall – Dark – and Handsome. Where is he? He is hiding in the baggage! (vs. 22).

That is what we get when we choose our own way.

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

1 Samuel 1-4

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Continuing in our reading through the Bible – we come to 1 & 2 Samuel. In the original Hebrew text these books were actually one large book aptly named “Samuel”. (They were later divided in the Greek translation and have remained that way ever since). These books chronicle the end of the Judges with Eli and Samuel – and the transition into the Israelite Monarchy under King Saul and then King David. The lives of both Samuel and David are outlined in detail within these pages.

As we have already witnessed, the nation of Isreal has struggled from her beginning to fully obey God and walk in His ways. Our bird’s-eye view provides insight into the revolving door their lack of obedience has led them on. We have the benefit of hindsight as we watch God’s people obey Him and enjoy the benefits of the obedience – as well as seeing them wander into all sorts of evil and abominations, only to reap the destruction that accompanies those choices. From corrupt priests to whole communities involved in unrepentant gross sin – God’s people have found themselves vacillating back and forth between two extremes since the days of Joshua.

As 1 Samuel opens – we see that things have not changed.

Eli is the current judge ruling over the tribes of Israel – and his son’s are corrupt in the worst way. Cheating the system – stealing from the sacrifices meant for God – oppressing God’s people with threats… the list goes on and on. Perhaps even more embarrassing is the fact that Eli seems unable (or unwilling) to intervene and discipline his sons. This will eventually lead to his downfall.

So what has God been doing during this period recorded in the end of Judges and into Ruth and 1 Samuel? The Bible tells us that “The word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days; there was no frequent or widely spread vision.” 1 Sam 3:1b AMP. God has been watching – waiting – keeping silent as His people reject His instructions and run into disaster at every turn. I believe God’s heart has been breaking at the sight of this nation (whom He had such big plans for) seemingly unable to learn from their past mistakes. Consistently falling into rebellious sin, foreign nation after foreign nation comes along and oppresses them – once delivered by their loving, watchful God – they soon forget and fall right back into the same situation.

Like so many of us these days.

This time God is raising up a new Judge. This Judge would not only rescue the people from their current calamity, but he will also begin to speak on behalf of the Lord to attempt to curb this cycle the Israelites have found themselves in. This Judge will be wise beyond this years – full of power and anointing from the Spirit of God – equipped with the words from the Almighty Himself.

Enter: The Prophet.

After a period of silence – God begins a new approach for His people… raising up a Prophet among them to speak – plead – warn the Israelites to turn from their own way and return back to His. Samuel is the first of that kind… the last of the Judges and the first of the Prophets. He is revered, honored, respected, feared… but also rejected.

One would think God’s people would hear the words of the Prophets and be cut to the quick, repent, cry out, and resume their relationship with their God anew. But, unfortunately, as we have seen so many times already, the people are stubborn, hard-hearted, thick-skulled, and determined to live their own way.

Aren’t you glad we have evolved so much today?

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK