Theocracy vs Monarchy
How Jesus Christ viewed 1st and 2nd Samuel (Part I) (Mar 98)
1. As with the books of Numbers, Joshua, and Judges, the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel are a compilation of the works of several authors (apparently for the most part the same people who wrote and/or compiled Numbers, Joshua and Judges). The two books of Samuel should logically be thought of as a single book, or perhaps as a continuation of the book of Judges. They cover a period of about 130 years from the time when Eli was the Chief Priest to the end of the reign of King David. Although much of the writings may have originated during that period, they were apparently compiled into a somewhat coherent story during the Babylonian exile by Hebrew scholars who were concerned with answering the question "What did we (as a people) do wrong that led to this?" Chronicles I and II contain descriptions of many of the same events and occasionally add some further details, but they were written for a different purpose, and the stories of Saul and David which they convey are far less complete. Due to time constraints, Part I of this article will only cover the first book of Samuel. As before, the text in this article contains "considerable borrowing" from the New King James Version of the Bible.
2. Like my commentaries on Numbers, Joshua, and Judges, this article will primarily examine this book from the "second heaven" point of view (i.e. literally, from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments as summarized by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (NKJ)
3. Occasionally, I'll refer to religious or political teachings which violate these two commandments as being "Satanically inspired", and you'll see why. It won't take you long to see how this "second heaven" point of view differs SIGNIFICANTLY from the commonly taught "first heaven" points of view which often attempt to make the concept of national sovereignty appear to be more "holy" than God Himself. In a few places, I will also indicate where some of the "third heaven" parables or interpretations (i.e. allegorical interpretations based on God's two most fundamental commandments) are that were carefully crafted into some of these stories. I'll address the third-heaven parables in detail when we examine the writings of the great prophets of Israel, because they are very much related to each other. So let's continue from where we left off at the end of January.
THE STORY OF ELI AND HIS CORRUPT SONS (1st Samuel, Chapters 1-4)
4. In those days, the Chief Priest and guardian of the Ark of the Covenant in Shiloh was a Levite named Eli (a distant descendant of Aaron's youngest son). Eli himself is portrayed as being a fair and honest "judge." But his two sons Hophni and Phinehas were widely despised, because they took for themselves more than their legal share of the burnt offerings, so much so in fact, that the people were becoming reluctant to give more offerings [sound familiar?]. They even "lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting" in blatant disregard for the Laws of Moses. Although the text shows that Eli admonished his sons, it is clear that he made no serious attempt to enforce the Laws of Moses, at least as far a his sons were concerned. One of the authors of 1st Samuel remarkably editorialized that "they did not heed the voice of their father, because the Lord desired to kill them" as if the Lord were the cause of their behavior. [If that authors were referring to the team of Satan and Jahweh as "the Lord" (i.e. before Satan was "thrown out of heaven"), then indeed that may well have had a case for such an assessment.]
5. Anyhow, in chapter 2 an unidentified "man of God" came to Eli and reprimanded him severely for his tolerance of his sons' ungodly behavior. He warned,
"Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. And you will see an enemy in My dwelling place, despite all the good which God does for Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever. But any of your men whom I do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them. Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever. And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and say, 'Please, put me in one of the priestly positions, that I may eat a piece of bread.'"
(1 Sam 2:31-36)
5a. Most biblical commentaries conclude that the "faithful priest" referred to above was Zadoc, a Levite High Priest during the reign of Solomon. But Zadoc and his descendants did not "walk before [God's] anointed forever." The "faithful priest" that this prophet was referring to turned out to be Jesus Christ. This was the first SECOND-HEAVEN-level prophesy in the Old Testament to predict the Second Coming of Christ. The book of Genesis contained two THIRD-HEAVEN-level prophesies predicting the Second Coming of Christ in the Garden of Eden story and the Noah' Ark story [as shown in my article "HOW IT ALL BEGAN" on this web site]. Notice that the authors of 1st Samuel made no attempt to attribute any "credentials" to the "man of God" who made the prophecies above. Instead, they show by example that he was a follower of God's two most fundamental commandments [he really tried to convince them to change their ways]. As you will see, the near term portions of his prophecies did indeed come true.
6. In Chapter 4, Israel went to war against the Philistines for some reason and lost 4,000 men. So they figured that if they brought the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh to the battlefield (i.e. to use it like a military banner), they would surely win the next battle. So Eli's two sons brought the Ark to the battlefield, and when the Israelis saw it, they shouted so loud that the earth shook. That intimidated the Philistines for a while, but then they decided to be courageous. They routed the Israelis killing 30,000 of them (including Hophni and Phinehas) and ended up capturing the Ark as well. When Eli learned what had happened, he fell off his seat backwards, broke is neck, and died. He was 98 years old.
THE STORY OF THE PESTULENT ARK (1st Samuel, Chapter 5 and 6)
7. The Philistines were an apparently illiterate (and uncircumcised) seafaring people of Greek origin who lived in five main cities (Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkeloh, Gath, and Ekron) on or near the Palestinian coast. In Chapter 5, when they found the Ark, they took it to a temple in Ashdod dedicated to a god which they called Dagon. The next morning, they discovered that their statue of Dagon had fallen on its face, so they put it back in its place again. The following morning, they found that the statue had fallen again, this time with its head, arms, and legs broken off. [Supernatural occurrences? Pranks by Israelite sympathizers?] Not long thereafter, the people of Ashdod began contracting a disease which gave them tumors and was apparently quite deadly. They moved the Ark to Gath and then to Ekron, and the results were the same. After consulting with their chiefs and priests, the Philistines decided to send the Ark back.
7a. In Chapter 6, as a trespass offering to God, they fashioned five golden tumors and five golden rats (evidently, during the seven months that they had the Ark, they figured out that rats had something to do with the spreading of the disease-like the bubonic plague). They put these and the Ark on a cart which they hitched to two milk cows that had never been yoked before. Then they watched figuring "if it goes up the road to its own territory, to Beth Shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that struck us-- it happened to us by chance." The two cows headed straight for Beth Shemesh.
7b. When the people of Beth Shemesh saw the Ark, they rejoiced and "rewarded" the faithful cows by sacrificing them as a burnt offering to God, using the wood from the cart for the fire. Their Levites took possession of the Ark, but
"He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter. And the men of Beth Shemesh said, 'Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? And to whom shall it go up from us?' So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath Jearim, saying, 'The Philistines have brought back the Ark of the LORD; come down and take it up with you.'"
7c. So some men from Kirjath Jearim took the Ark back with them where it stayed under the care of a priest named Eleazar for twenty years.
[When America's soldiers returned from the European battlefields of World War I, some of them brought with them a disease called the "Spanish Influenza" which ended up killing as many as 18 million Americans (far more than had died during the war itself). Some scientists have theorized that this particularly deadly strain of the flu virus developed in the first place due to the highly unsanitary conditions on those World War I battlefields (rotting corpses, etc.). Since the Ark was "captured" on a battlefield after many had died, it too may have become contaminated with such a virus. So, as if often the case, events such as these which many religious leaders portray as being "supernatural" may in fact have been caused by what we now regard as being "natural" phenomena. As you will see, the Old Testament authors themselves often suggest alternative "natural" explanations for the apparently "supernatural" incidents described in their writings (ddreams, reputations, etc.).]
THE STORY OF SAMUEL (1st Samuel Chapters 1-4, 7-25)
8. During the administration of Eli, there was an Ephraimite named Elkanah who had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Of these, he loved Hannah the most, even though she seemed unable to bear children. Peninnah "provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb." While they were visiting the house of the Lord in Shiloh, Hannah prayed,
"O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head." (1 Sam 1:11)
8a. She was essentially pledging that her son would become a Nazirite, like Samson. Eli saw Hannah quietly mouthing her prayers and accused her of being drunk, but she explained that she merely had a sad heart and was petitioning God, so Eli said, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him." In time, she gave birth to a son whom she called Samuel which means "Heard by God". Soon after she had weaned her son, she brought him along with three bulls and an ephah of flour to Shiloh. After sacrificing one of the bulls, she offered her child to be raised to by Eli in a priestly tradition. Each year she her husband would come to visit Samuel.
"And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, "The LORD give you descendants from this woman for the loan that was lent to the LORD." Then they would go to their own home. And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the LORD." (1 Sam 2:20-21)
"And the LORD visited Hannah..." [a point of view which may have contributed to the idea of a "virgin birth" for Jesus.]
"Then the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation." (1 Sam 3:1) [What do you suppose the authors of Samuel meant by that? We shall see...]
9. In Chapter 3. late one night, the young Samuel heard a voice saying "Here I am." He got up and ran to Eli, saying "Here I am, for you called me", but Eli denied that he had called Samuel. Then the youth heard someone call "Samuel". He ran to Eli again, but Eli denied it again.
"(Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.) And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. Then he arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you did call me." Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, 'Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place
9a. Sure enough, the Lord called Samuel again, and when Samuel agreed to listen, the Lord told him that the initial portions of the prophecy which the unidentified "man of God" had spoken were about to come true by saying "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli ALL THAT I HAVE SPOKEN CONCERNING HIS HOUSE, from beginning to end. FOR I HAVE TOLD HIM that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them." The next morning, Samuel reluctantly agreed to tell Eli all that the had heard, and Eli said, "It is the Lord, let him do what seems good to Him."
9b. "Then the LORD appeared again in Shiloh. For the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD [a.k.a. The Word of God]."(1 Sam 3:21)
[Notice that according to the authors of Samuel, from the Lord's point of view, that unidentified "man of God" and the Lord were one and the same! And yet, that "man of God" had no apparent "credentials" other than the fact that he was following God's two most fundamental commandments!]
9c. Not long thereafter, the Israelites engaged in that disastrous battle with the Philistines at Gilboa where Eli's errant sons were killed, the Ark of the Covenant was captured, and Eli died upon hearing the news.
10. By the time the Ark was safely resettled in Kirjath Jearim, Samuel had become officially recognized as the new "judge" of Israel. Samuel promised the Israelites that if they would repent, put away their foreign gods and idols, and follow the Lord, then the Lord would deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. He sent out a call to gather "all Israel" together at Mizpah to worship the Lord. When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah, they decided to attack them there. Samuel offered a suckling lamb as a whole burnt offering. Then Lord "thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines" and so confused them that they were overcome by the Israelites [evidently, the Philistines were only trained for "fair weather fighting"]. The Israelites then drove the Philistines out of many of the areas which they had occupied including the former Philistine towns of Ekron and Gath (the home of Goliath).
11. For a decade or two thereafter, Israel enjoyed peace. Samuel traveled from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpah, and Ramah to judge all of Israel from those places. When Samuel was old, he made his sons (Joel and Abijah) judges over all of Israel. But they turned out to be nearly as corrupt as Eli's two sons had been [another bad omen]. So in Chapter 8 (for this and the reasons described in my earlier articles on this web site) the elders of Israel finally decided that they no longer wanted to be ruled by a theocracy. They asked Samuel to appoint them a king, like the other nations had.
11a. Samuel didn't like that idea, so he prayed to the Lord who advised him to "heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day-- with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods-- so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them." (1 Sam 8:7-9)
11b. Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, "This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day."
11c. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, "No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the LORD. So the LORD said to Samuel, "Heed their voice, and make them a king." And Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Every man go to his city."
[So the change they were asking for was quite significant. Up to this point, virtually all "taxes" went to the Levites and occasionally to some non-Levite "judges." What they were asking for now was a monarchy which would have its own standing military and police forces, which would take over the role of the "judges", and which would be permitted to conscript people into governmental service and levy taxes to help pay for them. From then on, the "judges" would become mere employees of the monarchy and the Levites would have to compete with the monarchy for its share of the "taxes". So of course the priests would tend to resist such a change. Nevertheless, Samuel was getting old by then, and the elders prevailed. To finish out the story of Samuel, we must now begin:
THE STORY OF SAUL AND DAVID (1st Samuel Chapters 9-31)
12. In Chapter 9, after the above decision was made, a remarkably tall and handsome man named Saul of the tribe of Benjamin set out with his servant into the wilderness to search for a missing herd donkeys. After three days without success, they were about to give up when they approached a city named Zuph. The servant said he had heard that there was a "man of God" there who might be able to help them in their quest. He was referring to Samuel who by then had acquired a reputation as being an honorable "man of God." Saul was concerned that he didn't have anything to offer him, but the servant said he had one-fourth of a shekel of silver which should do. [This indicates that this story was written or at least revised after money (coins) began to be used throughout Palestine, sometime after 600 BC.] They met a woman who confirmed that Samuel was indeed there and that he was planning to conduct a sacrifice/feast that day for the people at a high place nearby. Apparently, sacrifice/feasts were popular events in those days.
12a. Now Samuel was expecting Saul's arrival, because the Lord had told him, "Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to me." And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to him, "There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people." So when he met Saul, Samuel invited him to the feast, told him that the herd of donkeys he was looking for had been found, and hinted that Saul was destined to do great things for Israel. Saul answered, "Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?" (1 Sam 9:21) [Another biblical rebuke of the "firstborn" tradition.]
12b. At the feast, Saul and his servant were given seats of honor by Samuel and were given the best of the food they had to offer. In Chapter 10, the next morning, Samuel told the servant to go on ahead. Then he anointed Saul's head with a vile of oil and kissed him saying, "Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance?" [He said reluctantly] Then he gave Saul the following specific instructions:
12c. "When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel's tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, 'The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, 'What shall I do about my son?' Then you shall go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hands. [The first tribute paid to Saul as king of Israel] After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying. Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man." (1 Sam 10:2-6)
12d. And so it happened, as Samuel had predicted, and Saul became known as a prophet. [What do you suppose the authors meant when they were referring to acts of "prophesying" in this case? Was it simply praising the Lord and singing religious hymns? Perhaps. But the term "prophesying" implies that they were rendering observations, and perhaps even predictions, based on what they learned while following God's two most fundamental commandments. Samuel knew that such training would help Saul gain wide acceptance as a king and would help to make him a good king as well.]
12e. When Saul returned home, he didn't tell his relatives right away that he had been anointed king of Israel. Instead, he waited for Samuel to prepare the way. Samuel called the people of Israel together at Mizpah and said to them, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you.' But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, 'No, set a king over us!' Now therefore, present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your clans." As the tribes passed by, Samuel indicated that the new king would come from the tribe of Benjamin. As the families of Benjamin passed by, he indicated that the king would come from the family of Matri, and of them the family of Kish, and of them specifically the king would be Saul. But when they couldn't find Saul, the Lord said, "There he is, hiding among the equipment." [This shows that initially, Saul was quite reluctant to assume the role of king of Israel. Did it ever occur to anyone that Samuel's "selection process" which he displayed to the people here was a complete sham?] Oh well, when Samuel presented the tall and handsome Saul to the people of Israel, they shouted "Long live the king!" [Ah, so that's where that phrase came from!] Samuel then explained to the people the expected behavior of royalty and wrote it down in a book. But not everyone was convinced that Saul should be their king.
13. For some reason, the neighboring Ammonites decided that they wanted to take the fortified Israelite city of Jabesh Gilead. The people of the city offered to serve them if they would make a covenant with them, but the Ammonites said they would agree to such a covenant only if the people agreed to have their right eyes put out and to reproach Israel. The people asked the Ammonites to hold off for seven days, while they sent messengers to Saul. When Saul heard of this, he was infuriated. He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, "Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen." And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent. When they assembled in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. [The fact that the men of Judah are identified separately indicates that this was written after Israel split.] The next day, under Saul's leadership, the Israelites easily routed the Ammonites, killing most of them. The Israelites rejoiced and suggested that those who had doubted Saul's leadership should be put to death. But Saul said no, let them be, for the Lord had "accomplished salvation in Israel." After that, there was no question that Saul was indeed to king of Israel, and he appeared to be off to a good start.
14. In Chapter 12, Samuel, who was getting old now, addressed the Israelites. He pointed out that he had never cheated them, and they agreed. Then he recounted the history of how God a delivered the Israelites time and time again from various forces of evil and how they nevertheless insisted on having their own king. So he warned...
"If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the LORD your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers." (1 Sam 14-15)
"Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes: Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves." So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. And all the people said to Samuel, "Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves." Then Samuel said to the people, "Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king." (1 Sam 12:15-25)
14a. So it is clear that Samuel still had serious reservations about these significant changes in the way the Israelites were to be governed.
[When Samuel referred to "the voice of the LORD" and "the commandment of the LORD", was he referring to 1) God's two most fundamental commandments, 2) The "Laws of Moses", or 3) "whatever came out of his mouth, no matter how godly or Satanic it might be? We shall see... At this point, suffice it to say that what Samuel said in Chapter 12 WAS true if he were in fact referring to God's two most fundamental commandments. If both he and the new king had behaved themselves (in accordance with those two commandments), then the new Israelite monarchy would probably have faired quite well. But at this point, the story begins to take some strange and ugly turns.]
15. In Chapter 13, by the time Saul had completed his second year as King of Israel, he had acquired the services of three thousand men to help operate his government. For some unexplained reason, Saul's son Jonathan led an attack on a Philistine garrison in Geba. The Philistines responded by gathering a large force (including 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen) to attack Israel. The people of Israel began to hide in rocky areas, thickets, and caves; some of them fled across the Jordan river. Apparently, Saul had been instructed by Samuel to wait seven days. When Samuel failed to show by the evening of the seventh day, Saul said, "Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me", and he ordered that a burnt offering be performed. Immediately thereafter, Samuel arrived and asked Saul what he was doing. Saul explained that the Philistines were about to attack, and since Samuel hadn't arrived yet, he felt compelled to order the burnt offering as "supplication to the Lord." Samuel responded, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you." Then Samuel left. (1 Sam 13:13-14).
[That seems rather strange, does it not? Was Samuel upset to find that he wasn't able to keep this new king "under his thumb", so to speak? Was he upset because Saul had a burnt offering performed without a priest present to do it (i.e. did he encroach on the prerogatives of the church)? Or was Samuel simply making a prophesy of doom about the present regime and "bugging out of there" before Saul and his 600 men were annihilated by those vastly larger Philistine forces? Believe it or not, the authors of 1st Samuel WANTED their readers to ask questions like this (i.e. to use their OWN minds); that's why they provided such details. These stories are a bit like spiritual training exercises or classroom "case studies".]
15b. Before describing the battle itself, the authors of 1st Samuel further emphasize the disparity between the Israelite and Philistine forces by pointing out that the Philistines had not allowed the Israelites to have any blacksmiths, because they feared that Hebrew blacksmiths would make swords and spears. So Saul's 600 men were primarily armed with sharpened plowshares, axes, and sickles. Only Saul and Jonathan had swords and spears.
15c. Although it looked in 1st Samuel 13:17 like the Philistines had actually begun their attack, it appears that they merely did some "raiding" and then returned to their garrisons. So in Chapter 14, Saul's son Jonathan decided to sneak out of camp and do some "raiding" of his own on the Philistines, even though he was accompanied only by his armor bearer. They climbed through a rocky pass and stood up so that the Philistines could see them. Jonathan had instructed his armor bearer so that if they said "wait until we come to you", they would stand and fight there. If they said, "Come up to us", they would go up to them to fight. Jonathan was convinced that the Lord would be on his side either way. As it turned out, they encountered a group of about 20 Philistines outside the garrison who said, "Look, the Hebrews are coming up out of the holes where they have hidden. Come up to us and we will show you something." [This doesn't really imply an intent to kill.] Jonathan and his armor bearer climbed on their hands and knees out of the rocks and then proceeded to kill all of them (perhaps their intent to fight caught the Philistines by surprise).
15d. Shortly thereafter, there appears to have been an earthquake of some kind. The Philistines began to scatter. When Saul "called the roll" to see if his troops were all there, he discovered that Jonathan and his armor bearer were missing. So Saul ordered that the Ark of God be brought there. They heard a large noise coming from the Philistine camp (caused by the earthquake? Or by arguments among Philistine factions that turned violent?), so Saul decided that this would be a good time to attack. So he told the priest, "Withdraw your hand" (cease praying for guidance) and he launched his attack. They soon discovered that in the confusion the Philistines actually killing each other ("every man's sword was against his neighbor"). Then, once it became obvious that the Philistines were in disarray and retreating, more Israelite men began coming out of the hills to pursue and kill them. [This story was also designed to support a third-heaven interpretation that deals with the way the Second Coming of Christ will come about. We'll examine that in a later article.]
[Notice that this apparent "earthquake assistance" from God occurred in spite of the fact that Samuel had "stomped off the scene in a huff."]
16. In Chapter 14, we learn that Saul had placed his 600 men under an oath, "Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies." And they obeyed. But Jonathan wasn't there to hear about that oath, so he ate some honey. When Jonathan learned of his father's oath, he said, "My father has troubled the land. Look now, how my countenance has brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found. For now would there not have been a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?" The famished men then began to slaughter some of the animals they had captured and to eat them "with the blood." When Saul learned about this, he built an alter to the Lord, ordered his men to bring their oxen to be slaughtered properly. They had a very big feast. Then Saul proposed that they go out and kill some more Philistines by night, but a priest said "Let us draw near to God here." So when Saul asked counsel of God, "Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You deliver them into the hand of Israel?" But God did not answer him that day.
16a. Now Saul had to deal with another problem (which he may have wished to avoid by going out to kill some more Philistines). He gathered the chiefs and elders together, and said, "For as the Lord lives, who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he [the one responsible for his not receiving an answer from God] shall surely die." By casting a series of lots, they determined that Jonathon was the "guilty one." So Jonathan confessed to eating some honey. Saul then decreed that his own son, Jonathan should die. But the chiefs and elders objected citing his role in the defeat of the Philistines [and overlooking role that Jonathan played in starting that potentially disastrous war in the first place]. So Jonathan was spared.
17. "Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the people of Ammon, against Edom, against the kings of Sobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he harassed them." (1 Sam 14.47). [It's no wonder that Israelites were in an almost continual state of war under the reign of Saul, he would habitually start such wars by "harassing" his neighbors!] "Now there was fierce war with the Philistines all the days of Saul. And when Saul saw any strong man or any valiant man, he took him for himself (conscripted him into his standing army)." (1 Sam 14:52) Many of Samuel's predictions regarding to costs of having a monarchy were coming true.
18. In Chapter 15, Samuel said to Saul, "The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: "I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." (1 Sam 15:1-3)
[WHAO! WAIT A MINUTE! This so-called "man of God" is clearly speaking with the "voice of Satan." Committing genocide against a whole people because of a skirmish that occurred 400 years ago? (Sound's like Hitler, does it not?) Are these the hallucinogenic ravings of a senile old man? Perhaps. Is he doing this in an attempt to establish a Satanic form of "religious control" over the monarchy? Perhaps. Or did Agag, the present king of the Amlekites, do something that offended Samuel? Perhaps. Whatever his motives were, it was clear that they were influenced by some of the most Satanically inspired teachings of the Levites (Jacob's curse continued), and that he now regarded just about anything that came out of his mouth (no matter how Satanic) as being the "word of God." As you will see, Samuel's Satanically inspired actions from this point on led to some dire consequences not only for the Amalekites, but for the Israelites as well.]
18a. Of course, Saul didn't view it this way. So he assembled 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah for this battle. Showing some compassion for a past kindness, he advised the Kenites who were living among or near the Amalekites to depart hastily, lest they be killed too. Then he attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, killing all the Amalekites he could find (except the Amalekite King himself). Although they killed most of the Amalekites' livestock as well, his troops did keep a considerable number of the Amalekites' sheep and cattle, evidently for use in sacrifices. [Why sacrifice your own sheep and cattle when you can sacrifice somebody else's sheep and cattle?]
"Now the word of the Lord [Elohim?] came to Samuel saying, "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments." And it grieved Samuel and he called out to the Lord all night. (1 Sam 15:11). [Again, who was it (if anyone) that was REALLY speaking to Samuel?]
18.b So Samuel went to meet Saul, and Saul greeted him saying "Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord." But Samuel said, "What this is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" And Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have utterly destroyed." Then Samuel responded, "Be quite! And I tell you what the Lord said to me last night... 'When you were little in your own eyes were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel? Now then the Lord sent you on a mission...[to utterly destroy the Amalekites]. Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil and do evil in the sight of the Lord?'" And Saul said, "But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal." (1 Sam 15:13-21)
18c. So Samuel said, "Had the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king." Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord." But Samuel said, I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel." And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, "The Lord had torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to an neighbor of your, who is better than you. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent, For He is not a man, that he should relent." (1 Sam 15:22-29)
18d. Then Samuel said, "Bring Agag the king of the Amalekites here to me." So Agag came to him cautiously. And Agag said, "Surely the bitterness of death is past." But Samuel said, "As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women." And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal. Then Samuel when to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless, Samuel mourned for saul, and the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.
[Notice the striking similarities between the ungodly attitudes displayed by Samuel in this instance and the attitudes displayed by Senator Jesse Helms (and others) when President Clinton cancelled their beloved "Gulf War II".]
19. Hey, I'm not the one who "trashed" the reputations of the elderly Moses in Chapter 31 of Numbers, or the elderly Joshua in most of the chapters of Joshua, or of the elderly Phinehas in the Chapter 20 of Judges, or elderly Samuel in Chapter 15 of 1st Samuel. It was THE AUTHORS of Numbers, Joshua, Judges, and 1st Samuel who quite deliberately "trashed" the reputations of those men. They devoted a considerable portion of their writing to documenting the tragic human costs and consequences of the actions of such men in order to show that NOT ALL THOSE WHO CLAIM TO REPRESENT GOD DO IN FACT REPRESENT GOD--even if they DID represent God in the past! Jesus demonstrated that he recognized this Old Testament lesson when he severely criticized the Pharisees (calling them a "brood of vipers") even though the Pharisees were claiming to represent God. So regardless of the past achievements or any other worldly "credentials" that a so-called "man of God" may have, if that "man of God" is claiming to represent God while advocating violations of God's two most fundamental commandments, then his is a LIAR and is in fact using God's name in VAIN!
20. In chapter 16, Samuel perceived the Lord as saying, "How long will you morn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons. [An alternative explanation which the authors themselves suggest is that Samuel may have already have heard about Jesse's son David as a writer of "great psalms." He may have figured that this young David would be "easier to control."] When Samuel expressed reservations that Saul might kill him if he learn that he was about to go out an anoint someone else, the Lord suggested that he take a heifer with him and invite Jesse and his family to participate in a sacrificial feast.
20a. As Samuel approached Bethlehem, the city elders trembled, asking him "Do you come peaceably?" [Samuel's deadly reputation preceded him.] Samuel told them he was there for peaceful purposes, namely to share a sacrifice with the family of Jesse. He then consecrated Jesse and his sons. While looking at Jesse's first son, he said, "Surely the Lord's anointed stands before Him." But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees: for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." Likewise, the Lord rejected the other sons of Jesse who were present. So he asked Jesse if those were all of his sons, and Jesse said that his youngest son was out attending the sheep. Samuel responded, "Send and bring him, for we will not sit down till he comes here." As soon as David arrived, the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him, for this is the one." Then Samuel took the horn of oil, anointed David in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. [i.e. Samuel had thus sewn the seeds for a yet-to-be-determined amount of bloodshed among the Israelites-with religious leaders like that, who needs enemies?]
21. In the meantime, Saul was suffering from depression ("a distressing spirit from the Lord") because he was no longer receiving spiritual reassurances from Samuel. So his servants suggested that he send for a skillful player of the harp to sooth his spirits. One of his servants said, "Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him." [This is the alternative explanation--David's reputation was already widely known at that time.] Saul was so impressed with David when he met him that he made him his armor bearer. And whenever he felt depressed, David would play his harp, and perhaps sing some of his psalms for him. [Many of David's psalms may have been written specifically for this purpose.]
THE STORY OF DAVID AND GOLIATH (the 2nd-heaven interpretation)
22. In chapter 17, the Philistine army had amassed on one mountain and the Israelite army had amassed on another mountain with a valley in between. Suddenly there appeared in the valley a giant of a man named Goliath from Gath who said in a loud voice, "Why have you come out to line up for battle? [Good question! Why?] Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him, then you shall be our servants and serve me." Goliath did this for 40 days, morning and evening, but Saul merely cowered in his tent.
22a. Meanwhile, David arrived from Bethlehem bringing some food for three of his brothers who were serving in Saul's army. After leaving the food with the supply keeper, David ran out to meet his brothers when Goliath once again reiterated his challenge. The men of Israel said to David, "Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his house exemption from taxes in Israel." And David said, "What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away this reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" Then David got into an argument with his oldest brother who said, "Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle."
22b. When Saul heard of David's remarks, he sent for him, and David said, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go fight with this Philistine." Saul expressed doubts that such a young man could prevail, but David argued, "Your servant has killed both lion and bear [while defending his sheep] and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God." [Note David's apparent implication of subservience on one had while using a "racial slur" on the other-an apt illustration of David's "pride and insolence of heart"]. Finally, Saul agreed to let David fight [which was quite remarkable, considering the high stakes of this particular "game"]. Saul clothed David in his suit of armor, but it didn't fit right. So David set out against Goliath armed only with his staff, a sling, and a leather pouch containing five smooth stones from a nearby brook. [Evidently, David figured he would have enough time to sling five shots before Goliath could reach him.]
22c. When Goliath saw David, he remarked disdainfully, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" Then he began cursing David by his gods... David responded with his own divine curses, "You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin. But I come to you with the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly will know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear, but the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands."
22d. Then, once he got close enough, David "nailed" Goliath in the forehead with his first shot. Then he used Goliath's own sword to kill him and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw this, they turned a fled, and the Israelites pursued them killing as many of them as they could catch. [Hadn't the Philistines already agreed to become servants of the Israelites if Goliath were defeated?] Then the Israelites returned to plunder the Philistine tents. David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent."
22e. When Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, "Abner, whose son is this youth?" and Abner said, "As your soul lives, O king, I do not know." So the king said, "Inquire whose son this young man is." Then as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, "Whose son are you, young man?" So David answered, "I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlemite."
[Notice that the above account at the end of Chapter 17 portrays Saul as if he were meeting David for the first time. So much for the Jack Van Impe's claims about "the inerrency of the scriptures"!]
23. In chapter 18, we learn that Jonathan apparently fell in love with David. "The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." Saul invited David to become part of his household. "Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him, and gave it to David, and his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt." The this very strongly implies that Jonathan had a homosexual interest in David, but it's not as clear whether or not David had a homosexual (or bisexual) interest in Jonathan. [Some more "dirty laundry" which our religious leaders would prefer not to talk about. In effect, the authors of 1st Samuel are challenging the Levite prohibitions against homosexuality in this story.]
24. Saul put David in charge of some Israelite "men of war", and he apparently used them quite effectively to slaughter Philistines. When returning from such battles, the women on Israel would come out of the cities singing and dancing, with tambourines and other musical instruments proclaiming, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David has slain his ten thousands."
24a. This made Saul angry and fearful that David might try to replace him as king of Israel. [The worship of "national sovereignty" does that to people.] So the next day, during one of his depressed moods while David was playing music to sooth his soul, Saul grabbed a spear and tried to "pin David to the wall", but David escaped-twice! From then on, David was no longer part of Saul's household. But David continued to command Saul's troops quite effectively in battle after battle.
24b. As time went on, Saul devised a scheme. He decided to offer one of his daughters to be David's wife. When David humbly indicated that he had no dowry to offer for her, Saul assured David that he was worthy to be his son-in-law and suggested that he offer the foreskins of 100 Philistines "to take vengeance on the king's enemies". Saul was hoping that David might be killed while trying to procure them. So David and his men went out and killed 200 Philistines whose foreskins were then presented to Saul. Saul gave David his second daughter Michal (who love David) to be his wife.
[This was not the first time or the last time that a religious ritual got perverted for the sake of national sovereignty, but it IS one of the most OBVIOUS examples of that phenomenon.]
25. In Chapter 19, after David continued to achieve military successes against the Philistines, Saul spoke to Jonathan about killing David. But Jonathan loved David, so he advised David to hide for a while. Then Jonathan sweet-talked his father into changing his mind about David. But later on, while David was playing the harp during one of his depressions, Saul again grabbed a spear and tried to pin David to the wall. [Perhaps he could sense David's "pride and insolence of heart."] After David escaped the spear again, his wife Michal noticed that her father's servants were waiting outside their house to kill him. She advised David to escape through a window and placed a statue with a cover of goat's hair in his bed.
26. So David decided to visit Samuel in Ramah. When he told him what had happened, they decided to move to Naioth. When Saul learned that they were in Naioth, he sent some servants to kill David there, but when they saw a group of prophets prophesying with Samuel as their leader, they began prophesying as well. When Saul was told what happened, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. Then Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also. So Saul decided to go there himself. "Then the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on and prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he also stripped off his clothes and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, 'Is Saul also among the prophets?'" [Evidently, Saul and the others were reminded of what it really meant, spiritually, to be a Hebrew-they were to love their neighbors as themselves-at least within the very narrow confines of their definition of neighbor.]
27. Nevertheless, in Chapter 20, David decides to "test the waters" before returning to Saul's table. He told Jonathan that if Saul asked where he was, he was to tell his father that David had gone to celebrate a sacrifice with his brothers in Bethlehem. If Saul responded gracefully, then all would be well. If not, then he needed to know that too. They devised a secret code whereby Jonathan would shoot three arrows into a field, then based on the instructions he gave to the boy sent to retrieve the arrows, David would know how Saul reacted to his absence.
27a. Noticing that David's seat was empty for a second night in a row, Saul asked Jonathan where David was. When Jonathan responded as planned, Saul's anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? [i.e. He accused Jonathan of having a homosexual relationship with David.] For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die." And Jonathan answered, "Why should he be killed? What has he done?" Then Saul cast a spear at Jonathan to kill him but he missed again. Now Jonathan knew that his father was determined to kill David. So Jonathan went out into the field and used the arrow scheme to warn David. Once the boy was gone, David arose from the field and reaffirmed an oath which he had made that he would never "cut off his kindness" from the house of Jonathan and his descendants.
[It's interesting to note that if Saul really believed that Jonathan and David were having a homosexual relationship, then according to the "Laws of Moses" (Leviticus 18:22,29), he was supposed to kill (or at least exile) both of them. If Saul had effectively enforced the "Laws of Moses" in this case, what would have happened to Jewish history?]
28. In Chapter 21, David flees to the town of Nob where he told a priest named Ahimelech, "The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, 'Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you.' And I have directed my young men to such and such a place. Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found." [David had many strong traits, but honesty was not one of them.] And the priest answered, "There is no common bread on hand; but there is holy bread, if the young men have at least kept themselves from women." David assured him that it had been three days since any of them had been with a woman, so the priest took the "showbread" from the alter and gave it to them. Jesus referred to this incident in Matthew 12:4 (also Mark 2:26, Luke 6:4) when he rebutted criticisms from the Pharisees regarding his disciples' gathering of food on the Sabbath.
28a. Then David asked Ahimelech, "Is there not here on hand a spear or a sword? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste." So the priest said, "The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, there it is, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it. For there is no other except that one here." And David said, "There is none like it; give it to me." David noticed that Saul's chief herdsman, an Edomite named Doeg was there at the time, but he made no attempt to conceal what was happening.
29. At one point, David decided to seek refuge in Gath (the home of Goliath) by posing as a common soldier. But the servants of Achish the king of Gath recognized who he was and took him into custody. Then in a spectacular display of deceit, David pretended madness, scratched the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard. When Achish saw this, he said, "Look, you see the man is insane. Why have you brought him to me?" So they let him go!
30. In Chapter 22, David holed up in a cave Adullam where he was joined by his brothers and other relatives, and "everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him." David made arrangements with the king of the Moabites to take care of his parents [an amazing courtesy considering the way the Israelites had treated the Moabites in the past], and then he moved his band of "outlaws" to the forest of Hereth.
30a. When Saul learned that David had acquired such a following, he said to his servants, "Hear now, you Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds? All of you have conspired against me, and there is no one who reveals to me that my son has made a covenant with the son of Jesse; and there is not one of you who is sorry for me or reveals to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day." Then Doeg the Edomite said, "I saw the son of Jesse going to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. And he inquired of the LORD for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine."
30b. Saul then sent for Ahimelech the priest, and all his father's house, the priests who were in Nob. When they arrived, Ahimelech explained that they had no idea that David was fleeing from Saul when they helped him (which was true), but Saul didn't care. He ordered that all of them be killed immediately (including 85 priests, some of whom were almost certainly friends of Samuel). Saul then ordered his troops to kill every man, women, child, and animal that remained in the town of Nob. Thus the seed of rebellion sewn by Samuel's "second anointment" began to bear bloody "fruits" for the Israelites themselves.
[Notice that it was quite easy for Saul to "logically" employ the same kind of genocidal (Samuel-inspired) tactics against his own people as he had used against the Amalekites.]
30c. One of the sons of Ahimelech escaped and told David what had happened. David replied, "I knew that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have caused the death of all the persons of your father's house."
[David could have said, "Saul is a madman who should die for that", which would have been typical of the shallow level of understanding that is often reflected in America's "30-second news analyses". But David's deeper understanding of what actually happened (recognizing and accepting the fact that he had "caused" their deaths even if not by his own hands) is an example of the Judeo-Christian form of reasoning that has enabled western civilization to overcome and correct countless examples of Satanically inspired political and religious abuses over the centuries. The authors of 1st Samuel go a step further by illustrating how the annihilation Nob was ultimately caused by the Satanically inspired actions of Samuel.]
31. In chapter 23, David learned that the Philistines were attacking the town of Keliah and robbing their grain. So he asked the Lord if he should help them, and the Lord said, "Go and attach the Philistines, and save Keliah." So David and his men struck the Philistines with a "mighty blow" and stole all of their livestock, thereby causing the Philistines to flee. When Saul learned that David was in Keliah, he figured he might trap David inside the walled city, so he set out to catch him there. But David inquired of God, took God's advice, and fled into the wilderness of Ziph [thereby sparing Keliah from suffering the same fate as Nob].
31a. Saul pursued David into the wilderness but lost track of him. Somehow though, Jonathan managed to find him, and the two them reaffirmed their covenant of mutual protection. Jonathan told David that he thought that even Saul knew that he (David, not Jonathan) would be the next king over Israel. But, evidently Saul will still not convinced that would be the case. After chasing David around mountains and through forests for a while, Saul had to abandon the pursuit, because he received word that the Philistines are attacking again. [Why are we not surprised?].
31b. In Chapter 24, after dealing with the Philistine attack, Saul selected 3,000 men and continued his pursuit of David into the Wilderness of En Gedi. There he found a cave where he decided to hole up for the night, not knowing that David and his men were hiding further back in that very same cave. [Saul wasn't exactly a military genius.] While Saul and his men were sleeping, David crept up and cut off a corner of Saul's robe. His men urged him to kill Saul as well, but David figured it would tarnish the significance of being an "anointed king of Israel" if the first king of Israel were to be killed by his own people. [Being an "anointed one" himself, he evidently wanted that "anointed" status to really mean something.] The next morning, after Saul was a safe distance from the cave, David popped out and shouted,
"Why do you listen to the words of men who say, 'Indeed David seeks your harm'? Look, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, 'I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD'S anointed.' Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it. Let the LORD judge between you and me, and let the LORD avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you..."
31c. When David had finished, Saul said, "Is this your voice, my son David?" And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. Then he said to David: "You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil. And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the LORD delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely? Therefore may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now I know indeed that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Therefore swear now to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not destroy my name from my father's house." So David swore to Saul. And Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
In Chapter 25 we lean that Samuel died was buried at his home in Ramah.
32. David sent ten of his young men to Carmel to solicit food donations from a wealthy sheep owner named Nabal. They pointed out that they had helped to protect his people from the enemies of Israel and had always treated his people fairly and properly. But Nabal responded, "Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?" So they left empty handed. When David learned of this response, he ordered his men to put on their swords and said, "Surely in vain I have protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belongs to him. And he has repaid me evil for good. May God do so, and more also, to the enemies of David, if I leave one male of all who belong to him by morning light."
32a. Meanwhile, one of Nabal's servants informed Nabal's wife, Abigail, that David's men had come looking for food. He reaffirmed that they had always been treated fairly by David's men, but warned that great harm might now come to them all because of their master's selfishness. So Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys. When Abigail saw David, she hastened to dismount from the donkey, fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground, fell at his feet and said: "On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant. Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal ("foolish") is his name, and folly is with him. But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent. Then David said to Abigail: "Blessed is the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand. For indeed, as the LORD God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hastened and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal." [a classic example of "preventive diplomacy"]
32b. When Nabal learned of these things, "his heart died within him and he became like a stone." Ten days later, he died. Upon learning of his death, David asked Abigail to marry him, and somehow as part of the deal, Abinoam and Jezreel became his wives as well. Saul had given David's former wife Michal to another man.
33. In Chapter 26, Saul learned that David and his men were hiding in the Wilderness of Ziph again, so he decided to try and hunt him down [as if he had nothing better to do]. One night David and a companion managed to sneak into Saul's camp and walk up to where Saul was sleeping with his spear beside his head. David once again resisted a temptation to kill Saul and chose instead to take his spear and water jug. Then David stood on the top of a hill afar off, and called out to the people and to Abner, Saul's general, saying, "Do you not answer, Abner?" Then Abner answered and said, "Who are you, calling out to the king? So David said, "Are you not a man? And who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not guarded your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy your lord the king. This thing that you have done is not good. As the LORD lives, you deserve to die, because you have not guarded your master, the LORD'S anointed. And now see where the king's spear is, and the jug of water that was by his head."
33a. Then Saul heard David's voice, and said, "Is that your voice, my son David?" And David said, "It is my voice, my lord, O king." And he said, "Why does my lord thus pursue his servant? For what have I done, or what evil is in my hand? So now, do not let my blood fall to the earth before the face of the LORD. For the king of Israel has come out to seek a flea, as when one hunts a partridge in the mountains." Then Saul said, "I have sinned. Return, my son David. For I will harm you no more, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Indeed I have played the fool and erred exceedingly." And David answered and said, "Here is the king's spear. Let one of the young men come over and get it. May the LORD repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the LORD delivered you into my hand today, but I would not stretch out my hand against the LORD'S anointed. Then Saul said to David, "May you be blessed, my son David! You shall both do great things and also still prevail." So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.
34. In chapter 27, David decided to seek "political asylum" for himself and his men with Achish the king of Gath. Evidently, he was able to convince Achish that since they shared a common enemy (Saul), they could therefore be allies. Achish gave them the town of Ziklag to live in. Then for about a year and four months, David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites [Saul must have missed some of them]. For those nations were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as you go to Shur, even as far as the land of Egypt. Whenever David attacked the land, he left neither man nor woman alive, but took away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the apparel, and returned and came to Achish. Then Achish would say, "Where have you made a raid today?" And David would say, "Against the southern area of Judah, or against the southern area of the Jerahmeelites, or against the southern area of the Kenites." David would save neither man nor woman alive, to bring news to Gath, saying, "Lest they should inform on us, saying, 'Thus David did.'" And thus was his behavior all the time he dwelt in the country of the Philistines. So Achish believed David, saying, "He has made his people Israel utterly abhor him; therefore he will be my servant forever."
[EEEEEEEE-GADS! Does this mean that for a year and four months, David and his men were "mass murderers?" YES! Does it mean that they were cold, premeditating SERIAL mass murderers? YES! And THAT was how they "made their living" (off of the possessions of their victims)? YES! I was never told about this in Sunday School. [They'd have a hard time selling David as a "role model" if they told the WHOLE story...] This is how God (and Jesus) viewed David's conduct at this point in his career. As we will see when we examine 2nd Samuel, eventually David himself began to view his own past conduct this way as well.]
35. In Chapter 28, the Philistines started amassing again to launch an attack on the Israelites [as if the Philistines had nothing better to do as well. The same nation-sovereignty-oriented psychological phenomenon has been motivating our "arms race" for years.] So Saul gathered "all of Israel" together at Gilboa. When Saul saw the size of the Philistine forces, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. Saul inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim (a priestly amulet) or by the prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her." And his servants said to him, "In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at En Dor." So Saul disguised himself and went with two other men to the woman by night. He said, "Please conduct a seance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you." Then the woman said to him, "Look, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the spiritists from the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?" [Evidently, Saul had been enforcing Dueteronomy 18:10-11] But Saul swore to her by the LORD, saying, "As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing."
35a. Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" And he said, "Bring up Samuel for me."
When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, "Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!" And the king said to her, "Do not be afraid. What did you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth [See 3rd heaven note below]." So he said to her, "What is his form?" And she said, "An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle." And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down. Now Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" And Saul answered, "I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do."
35b. Then Samuel said: "Why then do you ask me, seeing the LORD has departed from you and has become your enemy? And the LORD has done for Himself as He spoke by me. For the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day. Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines."
35c. Then immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no food all day or all nigh. And the woman came to Saul and saw that he was severely troubled, and said to him, "Look, your maidservant has obeyed your voice, and I have put my life in my hands and heeded the words which you spoke to me. Now therefore, please, heed also the voice of your maidservant, and let me set a piece of bread before you; and eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way." But he refused and said, "I will not eat." So his servants, together with the woman, urged him; and he heeded their voice. Then he arose from the ground and sat on the bed. Now the woman had a fatted calf in the house, and she hastened to kill it. And she took flour and kneaded it, and baked unleavened bread from it. So she brought it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night.
[Notice that the authors of 1st Samuel portray this "witch" as a sincere, courageous, and kindly woman. They gently hint at the question, "How many others like her were probably stoned to death during Saul's reign because the Levites viewed them as "religious competition"? The third-heaven significance of this story is that Samuel's spirit arose from the "earth" (of mankind's perceptions of popular truths) rather than from heaven. As you will see, although that spirit's "prophesies" proved to be true as far as they went, they were expressed win a way that was Satanically misleading .]
36. In the meantime, Achish invited David to participate on the side of the Philistines in this upcoming battle. In Chapter 29, David made it clear that he and his men were ready to fight along side the Philistines against the Israelites. But the other Philistine Princes didn't trust him and insisted that he and his men go home and stay out of the battle altogether. Achish said to David, "I know that you are as good in my sight as an angel of God; nevertheless the princes of the Philistines have said, 'He shall not go up with us to the battle." [Achish had no idea how greatly David had deceived him.] So David and his men headed home to Ziklag.
37. In Chapter 30, David and his men discover that while they were gone, a band of Amalekites [which Saul evidently missed] burned Ziklag to the ground and had "taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way." [As the authors of 1st Samuel carefully point out, when it came to attacking villages, the Amalekites were considerably LESS barbaric than either Saul or David.] Nevertheless, David and his men wept until they had no more power to weep. [David finally got a taste of how it feels to be on the receiving end of such barbaric behavior.] There was even talk that David should be stoned to death. But David prayed to God and asked if he should pursue them, and God said, "Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover ALL".
37a. In the course of their pursuit, David had to leave 200 of his men behind, because they were too exhausted to go any further. Then they found an Egyptian lying in a field. After they had given him food and water to regain his strength, he told them that he was abandoned by the very same group of Amalekites who had raided Ziglag, and he agreed to lead David to them. When they finally came upon the Amalekite camp, they found Amalekites partyinig. So David and his men attacked them from twilight until evening of the next day, killing all but about 400 who escaped on camels. So (thanks to the mercy of those Amalekites), David recovered all of his people and most of their possessions.
37b. On their return trip, when they reached the 200 men who were left behind, "all the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David answered and said, 'Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except for every man's wife and children, that they may lead them away and depart.' But David said, 'My brethren, you shall not do so with what the LORD has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us. For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.' So it was, from that day forward; he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel." When he got back to Ziglag, David even shared some of the spoils with the elders of Judah and with many of Israelite towns and villages in his area.
38. In Chapter 31, Saul's Gilboa battle with the Philistines turned into a disaster, as predicted. Saul's three sons were killed, and Saul himself was severely wounded by archers. Saul said to his armor bearer, "Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me." But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it. And when his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword, and died with him. So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and all his men died together that same day.
38a. When the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley, and those who were on the other side of the Jordan, saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and sent word throughout the land of the Philistines, to proclaim it in the temple of their idols and among the people. Then they put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan. Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.
39. So! Was Israel's first experiment with a monarchy a success? Not hardly. Although the predictions of Samuel's spirit at En Dor came true [an outcome which may had been widely expected anyway], like Samuel himself, that spirit Satanically misidentified the real causes of Saul's defeat. If Samuel had never anointed David, he (David) might have remained perfectly happy living out the rest of his life serving as one of Saul's leading generals, and Israel would probably have faired better militarily. But God often finds ways to turn people's mistakes into eventual successes. When we examine 2nd Samuel, we'll see how Israel's monarchy fairs under the leadership of David himself.
(one grain of salt)
|[Previous]||Some comments on the wierd world of February 1998|
|[Next]||How Jesus Christ viewed King David|
Last modified on Friday, May 03, 2002