Monday, April 15, 2024


David Inquires of the Lord


Since Saul had died, David would believe it was his time to become king. Before he acted, however, he asked God what to do. David was of the tribe of Judah, so he asked God if he should go into Judah and, if so, where. God told him to go to Hebron.

Hebron was a city located about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. It had a long history of connection to the Hebrews. Abraham moved close to it after separating from Lot. (Genesis 13:18) It was a sizable city for the time. It was fortified with walls. Abraham settled at the Oaks of Mamre nearby.

Abraham’s wife died there. Abraham bought a field and buried Sarah in a cave there. Abraham was buried there later (Genesis 25:10), as were Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob (Genesis 47:29–30), and Leah (Genesis 49:30–32).

Joshua allotted the area to the tribe of Judah and allotted Hebron to Caleb for his service to Israel. So, there was much symbolic importance to the city and was a good choice for David as the future king.

So David moved there with his wife’s and possessions. His men also moved to the area with their families and possessions. So David and his army basically took over the area. 

David Made King of Judah


After David moved to Hebron, the men of Judah came and made him king. This and subsequent events show that Israel was not really united under Saul. The text does not tell us whether the people of Judah all knew David was anointed by God to be king, but it was not far from Bethlehem, so it is possible. Plus, David had sent gifts to people in the area from the spoils of his defeat of the Amalekite raiders and he already had an army. 

God’s word to David is beginning to come true. David is king, but only of one of the 12 tribes. He starts small. It reminds us of the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-32. 

David Honors The Men of Jabesh-gilead


When the Philistines found Saul’s body after the battle, they cut of his head, stripped him of his armor, and fastened his body to the wall around the city of Beth-Shan. They also fasted the bodies of Saul’s sons to the walls. The Philistines occupied this city at the time. 

This act was a desecration of Saul’s body and a humiliation to Israel. When they heard about this, some men in Jabesh-gilead went there at night and took the bodies away to their town and buried them. They may have done this at least partly because Saul had previously rescued the town from the Ammonites. (1 Samuel 11) 

When David heard what the men of Jabesh-gilead had done for Saul, David sent them a message blessing them for their loyalty and their brave actions. He promised to doo good for them and let them know he had become king of Judah. 

A New King In Israel


The other tribes of Israel did not join Judah in recognizing David as king. Abner, who was the commander of Saul’s army, took Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, and had him crowned as king over Israel. Abner probably saw David as a threat and enemy after David taunted him at the cave. and told him he deserved to die for not protecting Saul. (1 Samuel 26:13-16)

So we see two kingdoms established. One was established under divine guidance. The other, an opposition kingdom, was established by human ambition. 

Ish-bosheth stayed in Mahanaim, east of the Jordan. Israel was divided into three parts: the area ruled by Ish-bosheth, the area ruled by David, and the area occupied by the Philistines. There were also cities, such as Jerusalem, still occupied by other Canaanite tribes. 

The First Battle Between Judah And Israel


The armies of Israel and Judah confronted each other at Gibeon. The commander of the army of Ish-bosheth (Abner) and the commander of the army of David (Joab) arranged a combat of champions. Each side put forth 12 fighters. There is no indication that either commander consulted his king before doing this.

Joab’s fighters defeated Abner’s fighters. 

The Death of Asahel


After his fighters were killed, Abner fled. Asahel pursued him. Asahel was one of three brothers. Joab, Abishai, and Asahel were all the sons of David’s sister, Zeruiah. So, they were David’s nephews. 

Asahel was a fast runner and caught up with Abner. Abner tried to get Asahel to turn back, confident that he could kill him. But Asahel would not turn back. In the confrontation, Abner struck Asahel a great blow with his spear and killed him. This will turn out to start a great enmity between Joab and Abner. 

The End Of The Pursuit


Asahel’s brothers, Joab and Abishai, went after Abner to avenge the killing of Asahel. They caught up to him at sundown at the hill of Ammah. However, Abner’s army (people of Benjamin) had regrouped and they joined Abner on top of the hill. That gave them the advantage of higher ground.

Abner again tried to stop the fight, telling Joab he was pursuing this fellow Hebrews (brothers) and also it would not turn out well. He got through to Joab, who then called off the pursuit. 

Everyone Goes Home


Abner did not waste any time getting back to his home base. His men marched all night and the next morning to return to Mahanaim where his king resided. He had suffered suffered heavy losses in the battles, 360 men.

Joab also took his men to Bethlehem. They brought the body of Asahel with them. They buried him in his father’s tomb. Then they marched all night to get back home to Hebron.


God is always working to accomplish his purposes.

Sometimes the results seem small, especially at the beginning. But God is at work nonetheless.

Often, our job is faithful waiting. Psalm 27:14 says “Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! 


Monday, April 08, 2024



While David was dealing with the Amalekites, he was not aware of what was happening in the battle between the invading Philistines and the Israelites. In fact, the Israelites suffered a defeat with great losses. The losses included the death of the king, Saul, and his sons. 

David Learns Of The Deaths of Saul and Jonathan

2 Samuel 1:1-10

After defeating the Amalekite raiders and recovering their families and belongings, David returned to Ziklag. A man came to him there. He had been in the battle with the Philistines. The fact that he was alive means he was one who fled the battle at some point. He had torn his clothes and put dirt on his head. He was either mourning or wanting to look like he was.

David asked about the outcome of the battle, probably thinking Saul and the Israelites had prevailed. Instead he was told that the Israelites were defeated, many were killed, and many fled. Among the dead were Saul and Jonathan.

You can read about the battle in 1 Samuel 31:1-7.

David was incredulous. He demanded to know how the man knew Saul and Jonathan were dead. (5) The man told him he “happened” to be on Mount Gilboa, where Saul was. He claimed that Saul was still alive, but injured, and the Philistines were closing in. 

The man further claimed that Saul called him and asked him to kill him. So, the man killed him. Then he took Saul’s crown and armlet and brought them to David. (10) These items are signs of kingship. 

The man was lying about killing Saul. Saul committed suicide to avoid abuse at the hands of the Philistines. (1 Samuel 31:4-6) He likely made the claim to gain favor with David. He must have know David was to be king after Saul. So he also brought the royal items to David. But David did not react as the man expected. 

David Mourns Saul And Jonathan


Instead of rejoicing, David tore his clothes in grief. He and his men mourned, wept, and fasted until evening. The grief was for Saul and Jonathan, but also for the great losses in battle. 

But David also called the messenger to account for killing Saul. He asked the man where he was from. The man said he was (the son of) an Amalekite sojourner. (13) A sojourner was a foreigner who was living in Israel. A sojourner was required to obey the covenant law. (Leviticus 24:22)

So, the Amalekite should have known he was not to strike the Lord’s anointed. Saul’s armor bearer refused to strike him even though Saul instructed him to. (1 Samuel 31:4) David had also refused to strike Saul on this basis. 

The penalty for taking a life was execution. (Leviticus 23:17) So, David had the man executed. 

David had previously said that the Lord would take care of Saul as he pleased, without David’s participation. (1 Samuel 26:10) And that has come to pass. David will come to the throne without killing Saul. 

David’s Lament


David then wrote a poem of lament, or a lamentation, for Saul and Jonathan. A lament expresses sorrow and mourning. It was to be taught to the people. It was recorded in the Book of Jashar, or Book of the Upright, an extra biblical book. There are several books that bear this name, but do not seem to be the one mentioned here. This book has been lost. 

There is no criticism of Saul in the lament, only praise for the men and sorrow that they have been killed. David is certainly generous to the memory of Saul.

But we do notice David’s personal grief over Jonathan. He called on the women of Israel to weep for Saul. But he expresses his personal grief over Jonathan in verses 25-26. He was distressed. He appreciated the love Jonathan had for him and said it was extraordinary. 

And it was extraordinary, because Jonathan loved and supported David at his own expense. He who would have been king supported the man who should have (in human terms) been his rival. Matthew Henry put it this way:

He had reason to say that Jonathan’s love to him was wonderful; surely never was the like, for a man to love one who he knew was to take the crown over his head, and to be so faithful to his rival: this far surpassed the highest degree of conjugal affect and constancy.

But, I would add even more. Jonathan had an extraordinary love for God. He knew it was God’s will for David to be king instead of his father or him. Without grieving any personal loss, he was all in to support God’s man and love him. 

Jonathan is such a great example for us in love that leads to self denial and sacrifice. It is how Jesus Followers should live. 1 Corinthians 13 (the “love chapter”) says that love does not insist on its own way. Philippians 2:3 says “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others”. 

Believers and churches witness best to their communities when they show love, humility, and self sacrifice. 

And it is pleasing to God!

Monday, April 01, 2024




Achish Commands David To Fight 

1 Samuel 28:1-2 

The Philistines were preparing to invade Israel again. 28:1-2 tell us that, as they gathered, Achish the king told David that he and his men were to go with him and the Philistine army for the invasion. David agreed, saying he would show Achish what he could do, meaning he would see David and his men fight successfully. Achish was pleased and made David his bodyguard for life. (2)

The writer then interrupts the story to tell of Saul going to consult a medium as to the outcome of the battle, since he was afraid of the Philistine army. 

This was a terrible thing to do. The Old Testament law expressly forbid consulting mediums. (Leviticus 19:31) Saul probably did this because he had no way to ask God what to do since Samuel was dead and the High Priest was with David. 

David Rejected


Chapter 29 returns to the scene of the Philistines preparing for the invasion. The Philistine forces gathered at Apheck, the northernmost city in their country. It is the same place from which the Philistines attacked during the time of Samuel. They defeated the Israelites, imposing great loss of life, and captured the ark of the covenant.

The Israelites prepared to defend by gathering at Jezreel. As the Philistine troops from around the country passed by in great numbers, David and his men brought up the rear with Achish the king. They were functioning as the king’s guard. 

However, the Philistine military commanders complained about the Israelites (Hebrews) being in their company. (3) Achish defended David, saying he found no fault in him. (3) But the commanders were angry and demanded David’s removal. They were afraid David would turn on them during the battle and use this as means to get back into the good graces of Saul.

Achish Sends David Home


Achish gave in to his commanders and told David he had to leave, even though he thought David should go with him.  He called the commanders “the lords of the Philistines”. (7) They were probably the rulers of the 5 major Philistine cities (Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath and Ekron). 

Achish referred to David as honest, having no wrong in him, and blameless in his sight. But, he was mistaken. David claimed to have fought against the enemies of the Achish, but he really was fighting against the enemies of Israel. 

 Nonetheless, the next morning David and his men set out for Ziklag while the Philistines advanced to Jezreel to engage Israel in battle. 

The Amalekite Raid On Ziklag


When David and his men left to join the Philistine army, they left the city of Ziklag defenseless. So, the Amalekites raided it and burned it. They also took all of the women and children as captives. 

The writer notes for us that the Amalekites did not kill the women and children. He makes a contrast to David, who killed everyone in the places he raided. The pagan Amalekites acted more ethically than the Hebrew David. 

The Bible gives us the story with all of the faults of people revealed. The heroes are not portrayed as perfect. They are not “sugar coated” as people used to say where I grew up. It testifies to the truth of the scriptures.

So, when David and his men returned, they found the city burned and empty. Their families were gone. They grieved deeply, weeping until they could cry no more. 

They also got angry. They blamed David and discussed stoning him. 

David himself grieved because his two wives were also taken. But, encouragingly for the readers, he “strengthened himself in the Lord”. He had been following his own designs, but now turned to the Lord for comfort and guidance. 

How did David strengthen himself in the Lord? I think he did so by remembering the promises God had made to him. He remembered that God chose him to be king. For that to be so, he would not be stoned by his men. He would continue to lead and do the right things. 

David also strengthened himself is by availing himself of God’s presence. He sought the Lord through the priest. Nahum 1:7 says: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”

We can be comforted and strengthened in the Lord by seeking him through our high priest, Jesus. (Hebrews 4:14) He makes intercession for us. (Hebrews 7:25)

David Consults The Lord


This time David consults the Lord about what he should do in response to the raid. He summoned Abiathar the priest to come with the ephod. He asked the Lord if he should pursue the Amalekites and, if so, would he overtake them. The Lord told him to pursue and that he would succeed in rescuing the captives. 

So David and his men took off after the Amalekites. He took 400 men, leaving behind 200 who were exhausted to guard the baggage. 

God Provides A Guide 


The Lord told David what to do and provided a way to do it. During the pursuit, David found a lone Egyptian man. He was starving, having gone without food or water for 3 days. David fed him and gave him water.

The man turned was the former servant of one of the Amalekites, who had abandoned him when he got sick after the raid. He agreed to show David where the Amalekites were camped in return for his life. Without him, David would have had to search all over the wilderness and may not have found the captives in time. 

David Rescues the Captives


With the help of the  Egyptian, David caught up with the Amalekites while they were celebrating the spoils of their raid of Ziklag. They probably knew the Philistines had gone north to fight the Israelites and thought they were safe.  David and his men caught them off guard and slaughtered most of them, save a few who escaped on camels. 

All of the wives and children were recovered, as well as their goods, so that nothing was lost. You can imagine the rejoicing that went on as the captives were set free, husbands and wives reunited, and children recovered. 

David also captured the livestock of the Amalekites for additional spoil, and returned with all of it to Ziklag. Despite some opposition, David divided spoils equally even with the men who stayed behind and did not fight. Notice the difference in attitude between David and some of the men. The men referred to the spoil they had recovered and did not want to share. David referred to “what the LORD has given us”. (23)

In an astute political move, David also sent part of the spoils to the elders of Judah in several towns. This would create good will and acceptance when David became king.


In times of grief or distress, we can strengthen ourselves by spending time with the Lord in prayer.

When we seek God's guidance, he will indeed guide us and provide for us. 

In keeping David from fighting for the Philistines, he preserved David's chance to become king and win the loyalty of the Israelites.