Chapter 28 (Saul and the medium of Endor)
The obvious question by many is, did she really bring up Samuel? The Bible text doesn’t give us any reason to believe this did not happen. So, this incident may have been a onetime allowance made by God. Regardless, we have no reason to believe that a medium can bring up any deceased person as desired. God condemned the practice. Saul’s death happened the day after he consulted the medium of Endor.
Deuteronomy 18:10-12: There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11) or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12) For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.
Isaiah 8:19: And when they say to you, "Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter," should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?
David seems to be a bit between a rock and a hard place… he flees from Saul and ends up in the realm of Achish, King of Gath. David and his 600 men were able to stay there safely for some time, but could have been asked to fight against his own people; thank God that Achish’s men decided they didn’t trust David. David’s road to the throne wasn’t “smooth” and far from ideal, but God would succeed at what He had promised David.
“But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (vrs. 6)
When everything that could go wrong, seemed to go wrong, David “strengthened himself in the LORD.” What does this mean? In chapter 23 Jonathan “strengthened David’s hands” by encouraging him with the truth of what God would do in his life as he stayed patient; he reminded him that he would take the throne one day. Now, David in his darkest hour would need to strengthen himself because everyone around him was angry with him. His decision caused him to get back all that was lost and more. He would also begin to take the throne since Saul had died.
David praises God for delivering him from Saul (and all his enemies), and we see in 2 Samuel chapter 1 that David also writes a song mourning Saul’s death. It is interesting that songs could be written for both aspects of this event.
In 1 Samuel 26:9-10 David said to Abishai, "Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD's anointed, and be guiltless? …As the LORD lives, the LORD shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish.”
I want to speak 2 points from these verses.
In 1 Samuel 27:1 David said in his heart, "Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand." We need to watch our emotions when our patience is tested and make sure we don’t make decisions out of weariness. This wasn’t a fatal decision of David, but he would need to learn a difficult lesion because of it.
David’s first army described…
· Everyone who was in distress
· Everyone who was in debt
· And everyone who was discontented
When you’re in the situation David is in, you don’t get to pick from the "best men." David would instead take those he had and make them into the best through his faithful leadership.
It is a good example of David’s bold leadership in this chapter. All his people say one thing, but David follows the leadership of the LORD. They save the city of Keilah, and then the city was ready to hand him over to Saul and his army. Often we don’t get the “thanks” we deserve when we do what God asks, but the LORD sees and he will repay us.
1 Samuel 23:14b says, “…Saul sought him (David) every day, but God did not give him into his hands.” When we have faith in God, it doesn’t matter what man plans, God’s plans for our lives will stand.
1 Samuel 23:16-17 says “Then Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, "Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that." How did Jonathan “strengthen David’s hand?” He spoke to him the truth he already knew. When people are in the battle and things look dark, we need to remind them of the truth they heard in the light. We often don’t need a new word for people; we need to remind them of the truths they knew before the test came.
It seems that David and his men find Saul sleeping and David’s men say to him in 1 Samuel 24:4, "This is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.” Apparently David had received a “word” previously about this situation; this wasn’t happenstance, this was divine providence. David wisely interpreted this word by the godly principles that governed his life, instead of moving on emotion or pride. Even after cutting off a corner of Saul’s robe in an attempt to show him that he was not his enemy, David’s heart smote him; he recognized he had taken things into his own hands.
It probably didn’t feel like God was around to David as he was going through these situations, but they caused him to grow deeper in faith and trust God at a deeper level.
By the way... congratulations on reading for over 100 days now. I applaud you! Woo-hew!!!
Saul was supposed to kill everything, but when Samuel asked about the sheep and oxen that were kept alive Saul says, “The people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God” (1 Sam. 15:15). There is always a “reason” for sin, but it is never a good one. In Chapter 13, Saul felt compelled to sacrifice because the people began to scatter from him; here in chapter 15, Saul didn’t want to keep back the people from taking what they wanted. He finally admits to sin but says in 1 Samuel 15:30, “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel.” When King David sinned he wasn’t concerned about his honor, but instead he humbled himself and received mercy from the LORD.
To the people, Saul looked like what a king should look like; even Samuel was swayed by what he saw when he looked at Eliab, Jesse’s son. He said in 1 Samuel 16:6, "Surely the LORD's anointed is before Him!" In verse 7 the LORD responds, "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."
Just like they didn’t expect David to become the LORD’s anointed King, so most didn’t expect Jesus of Nazareth to be God’s Anointed. People looked at Jesus on the outside and rejected him as King, but those looking for truth knew who He was. Peter said, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God" (Matt 16:16).
InterestingThe first battle recorded by David was with his harp; evil spirits had to depart when David played.
How does a young man, with only a sling shot, kill a large warrior who has a sword and shield? It was by faith in God. David trusted that the same God who delivered him from bear and lion would deliver him from this Philistine who had no covenant with the Living God. David’s faith inspired him to proclaim to Goliath that he would take off his head, and then David ran toward Goliath. That’s faith; it believes, it confesses and it moves into action!
When Samuel anointed Saul to be king in 1 Samuel chapter 10, he told him how he would prophecy and “be turned into another man,” and the Bible says, “God gave him another heart” (vrs. 9). God was able to change him into a “king” in a moment, but this didn’t mean he had a heart after God’s like David’s. Saul would bravely lead Israel to fight against their enemies but he continued to disobey the LORD’s commands also.
In chapter 13, Saul takes things into his own hands and offers a burnt sacrifice even though he knew that it was Samuel’s job. From the beginning, the actions of Saul show he is moved by circumstance and not the command of the LORD.
Chapter 14 is a very powerful account of what happens when there is faith and unity. Jonathan says to his armor bearer in 1 Samuel 14:6, "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the LORD will work for us. For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few." His armor responds in verse 7, "Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart." They fought and won by the power of God because they were unified together in faith.
God had something special in mind for the child Hannah would someday give birth to, so He closed her womb until she had completely devoted the child to the LORD. When Samuel was born, there was no mistaken that the child was an answer to her prayer and the vow she had made.
Ask yourself, how does this relate to my life?
1 Samuel 2:21b in the English Standard Version says, “… the young man Samuel grew in the presence of the LORD.” Despite the wickedness around him, the LORD was able to teach and groom Samuel.
Eli told his sons that he didn’t want them practicing the wickedness they were, but he did not stand up to them to stop them. The LORD’s response was to ask him in 1 Samuel 2:29, “Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?” When leadership wants to make people happy more than God, we are not honoring God. The LORD continues in verse 30, “those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.”
1 Samuel 3:11 says, “Then the LORD said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.” The people’s “hearing” of God’s word had become dull; God said He would do something that would cause their ears to “tingle.” Eli’s natural eyes had grown dim (symbolic of his spiritual sight), and when God tells him judgment is looming over his house, he acknowledges it is the LORD but he doesn’t do anything about it. How often to Christians “acknowledge” God’s word but don’t do anything about it in their lives. Samuel would truly honor God’s word and, “the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground” (vs. 19).
These chapters are the beginning of 1 Samuel 3:11 taking place, “Then the LORD said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.” Eli and his sons died on the same day the Ark of the Covenant was lost. It was a great loss and wake-up call, but Israel would quickly realize that the Philistines could not handle the manifest presence of God contained in the Ark either. After seven months the Philistines would send back the Ark with offerings to the delight of Israel, but some Israelite's would be struck by the LORD after they irreverently looked into the Ark of God. Some versions say 50,070 men were struck; other versions say it was 70; 70 is probably the accurate number.
All the events of chapters 4-6 along with twenty more years under the rule of the Philistines were precursors to what God wanted to do through Samuel. 1 Samuel 7:3-4 “Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, "If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines." So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.”
This is where Israel loses its uniqueness of only having the LORD as their King. Samuel attempted to delegate his work to his sons but Israel asked for a king instead. Samuel felt like this was a personal rejection of himself, but the LORD assured him the people were only rejecting Him. Samuel’s sons were not honorable like Samuel, but Israel should have trusted the LORD to rise up a Judge or Judges if they needed. Having a king would cause problems of tyranny and would also contribute to the people looking to man instead of God to save them.
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan