Daily reading assignment: 1 Samuel 28-31
Knowing Saul was bent on killing him, David and his warriors had withdrawn from Israel and for sixteen months lived among the Philistines (27:8-11). Having earned the trust of Achish, king of the Philistines, David and his men prospered. Indeed, the opening verses of 1 Samuel 28 finds David being invited by Achish to go to battle with the Philistines against Israel (28:1-2).
1 Samuel 28 – A Portrait of Desperation
Samuel is dead and Saul and all Israel lament his passing (28:3). Having put away some of the evil present in the land, Saul sees the armies of the Philistines gathered against Israel. Out of fear and desperation, Saul made a pretense of seeking the LORD (28:4-6); however, heaven was silent.
The king had rejected the LORD, and now the LORD rejected him. “The LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim (meaning the high priest), nor by prophets” (28:6).
Desperate and seeking a revelation for the battle he would soon face, Saul disguised himself and reverted back to the practice of divination, the practice he had just recently put out of the land. Saul sought the counsel of a witch (28:7-10; Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:31). Asked whom he was seeking, Saul requested Samuel be called from the dead (28:11). When Samuel’s visage appeared the witch realized her guest was the king (28:12).
Saul confessed, “God is departed from me, and answereth me no more” (28:15). Rather than give hope, Samuel warned the battle that would follow would bring the death of Saul and his sons, and the throne of Israel would pass to David (28:17-18). Saul learned the tragic consequences of his sins for himself, his sons, and the nation.
1 Samuel 28:19 – Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.
Terrified, Saul “fell straightway all along on the earth” (28:20).
1 Samuel 29 – A Providential Dismissal from Battle
Unlike King Achish, the princes of the Philistines did not trust that David would war against Israel and demanded he and his men be removed from the battle lest they turn their swords against them (29:1-5).
Achish yielded to his leaders’ demands and dismissed David and his men (29:6-7). David pretended to protest his dismissal from the battle (29:8) and retreated from the field early in the morning (29:11).
1 Samuel 30 – Tragedy in Ziklag
After a three days journey to their homes in Ziklag, David and his men found the Amalekites had attacked their city, destroying their homes by fire and taking their wives, sons, and daughters captive (30:1-4). Overcome with grief, the hearts of David’s men were stirred to revenge, and some would have stoned him (30:6a).
How did David respond? Like a man after God’s own heart: “David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” and “enquired at the LORD” (30:6, 8). Learning where the Amalekites had taken their loved ones (30:9-16), God answered David’s prayer and restored to him and his men their families and possessions (30:17-20).
1 Samuel 31 – The King is Dead!
One might feel compassion for Saul in the latter years of his life and reign. The king was old, and the strength and vitality of his youth had faded. He had made David, the man who had served him faithfully, his enemy. Saul was haunted by the knowledge the LORD was no longer with him (28:6).
On the next day, the battle went against Israel, and Saul received word his sons were dead and the army was in disarray (31:1-2). Having suffered a mortal wound from an arrow, Saul commanded his armor bearer to slay him, but his servant refused. Realizing he would soon fall into the hands of his enemy, Saul fell upon his own sword (31:3-4). Adding to his ignoble death, when Saul’s body was discovered on the battlefield, the Philistines cut off his head, stripped his body of his armor, and “put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan” (31:10; 1 Chronicles 10:8-10).
Sin and disobedience cost Saul everything. He lost his army (31:1), his sons (31:2), his life (31:3-4), and his honor (31:9-10).
Numbers 32:23 warns: “Your sin will find you out” and James concludes, when it is finished, brings forth death (James 1:15b).
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith