I Samuel 27–II Samuel 2. David's Life As an Outcast. The Death of Saul.
Key Notes: Saul's final interaction with Samuel. God saved David from duplicity. Saving his people from the Amalekites. A rule on rewards for non-combatants.
27:1–12 David ran for his life to Achish of Gath--again. He had been there before (21:10) and narrowly escaped with his life. This time he was older, and had a 600 man army with him. He asked and received a town of his own--Ziklag. From there they made raids on Amalekites, Geshurites, Girzites, taking no prisoners nor allowing any to escape, but taking the booty with them. He would give Achish the answer that he was attacking Judah. There was no one to contradict him. Achish trusted him, thinking that he had made himself abhorrent to Israel.
28:l-2 The Philistines prepared for war with Israel and David was called to be Achish's body-guard.
28:3–7 Meanwhile, Saul was desperate, because God did not speak to him by dreams, by Urim (he had killed all the priests), or by prophets (Samuel was dead). He made arrangements to go with two servants to visit a medium, the Witch of Endor.
28:8–14 When he asked for help, the woman reminded him that Saul had cut off the mediums and wizards, but Saul promised that she would not be punished. When he asked for Samuel, she surmised that she was talking to Saul. She described a "god" coming out of the earth. Saul saw Samuel, an old man wrapped in a robe, and bowed his face to the ground.
28:15–19 Samuel chided him for disturbing his rest. Saul explained his distress, the Philistines at war with him, and God was silent. Samuel did not mince words: The Lord had turned from him and become his enemy. He had torn the kingdom from him and given it to his neighbor, David, because Saul had disobeyed the voice of God with respect to the Amalekites. So God would give Israel and Saul into the hands of the Philistines and tomorrow Saul and his sons would be in the abode of the dead with Samuel.
28:20–25 Saul fainted. He had not eaten for a day. The woman consoled him, and made a meal for him. He said he would not eat, but when the servants and the woman urged him, he ate fatted calf (veal) and unleavened bread.
Comment: This seance between Saul, the witch of Endor and Samuel only adds to the strangeness of Saul's life. It is unique in Scripture. (Description of the status of the dead can be found in the Job notes and also in Isaiah and I Corinthians.) It should not tempt us to seek mediums, fortune-tellers and sooth-sayers which Scripture forbids. IIChron.33:6
29:l-5 The Philistines rallied at Aphek; Israel was by the fountain at Jezreel. David and his men were with the Philistine army and the commanders protested. Achish defended David, but the commanders were angry and insisted that David be sent back. They knew he was the one of whom it was said "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands" ...of Philistines. I Sam.29:5. He might turn on them during the battle.
29:6–11 Achish apologized to David. David answered with mock irritation but he was off the next morning.
I think God saved David from being totally discredited. If he had fought with the Philistines, he would have been the opposite of the young Israelite who had fought single-handedly and conquered Goliath, champion of the Philistines. If he had attacked the Philistines from the rear while Saul was attacking them from the front, he would have been traitor to those Philistines from Gath who had protected him from Saul. He was saved not only from potential death in war, but also from being viewed as totally unscrupulous in the political world where he would later be a major figure.
30:1–6 David went back to Ziklag and found it sacked and all the families of his men kidnapped. The men all cried until they were exhausted. Bitter of soul, they were at the point of stoning David. He had gotten them onto the stupid strategy of going with the Philistines.
30:7–10 David enquired of the Lord from Abiathar with the ephod and he was advised to pursue the kidnappers. He went so fast, running into the desert, that he left 200 exhausted at the Brook Besor.
30:11–15 They found an Egyptian slave of an Amalekite in the open country. They gave him water, bread, figs and raisins: he had not eaten or drunk for three days. He had been left behind in the escape because he was sick. When David swore to protect him, he agreed to take David to the band.
30:16–25 David found them feasting and dancing. He struck them down from twilight until the next evening. Yet 400 young Amalekites escaped on camels. David recovered everything that was taken. Some of the angry men with him did not want to share the booty with the exhausted 200, but David said those who go into the battle receive the same as those who stay by the baggage. It became a law in Israel.
30:26–31 Back at Ziklag, he sent part of the spoils to the elders of Judah, to all the cities where David and his men had roamed.
31:l-7 Meanwhile, the Philistines attacked Saul at Mt. Gilboa near Mt. Carmel. Three of his sons, including Jonathan, were killed. He was hit with arrows, and committed suicide when his armor-bearer refused to kill him. The armor-bearer then also committed suicide. Israel fled from the Philistines.
31:8–13 The next day the Philistines found Saul's body, sent his head around Philistia, and pinned his body to the wall of Bethshan. Then the men of Jabesh-Gilead, whom Saul had rescued years before from the Ammonites, made a daring night raid, and reclaimed the bodies of Saul and his three sons, cremated their bodies at Jabesh-Gilead, and buried them.
II Sam 1:1–27 David stayed two days in Ziklag and on the third day a messenger came with information about the battle with the Philistines. He was another young Amalekite. He brought Saul's crown and arm-band and he took credit for killing the wounded king. He lied. David and all his men wept and fasted till evening for Saul and Jonathan and the people of Israel fallen by the sword. Then he had the young Amalekite executed for killing Saul.
His lament for Saul and Jonathan repeats "How have the mighty fallen...." (IISam.1:19,25, 27).
God protected David through many dangers, toils and snares. At least 16 rescues are reported during Saul's reign.
Victory over Goliath. ISam.17
Victories over Philistines. ISam.18:6;‘:30; 23:5
Evading Saul's spear ISam.18:11 twice, and a third time.’:10
Michal helped him escape out of his house ISam.19:11 from Saul's messengers.
Escape from Achish by playing mad. ISam.21:15
Escape from Keilah and Saul's army. ISam.23:13
Escape from Saul in the wilderness of Maon. ISam.23:26–28
Escape from Saul at Engedi, cutting Saul's robe. ISam.24:4
Diverted from killing Nabal. ISam.25:30–32
Escape from Saul in the wilderness of Ziph, getting Saul's spear and water bottle. ISam.26:8–12
Bypassed so that he would not be caught in the war between Israel and Philistines. ISam.29:1–11
Rescuing his people from Amalekites. ISam.30:16.
God loved him and promised him a great future but did not give him an easy time. He had spears thrown at him, was hounded out of his own bed, out of his country, and had to live with enemies. He was an outcast, "having no share in the heritage of the Lord, being told to 'Go, serve other gods'". (ISam.26:19). He even had his home raided and his wives and children taken away by the Amalekites. Psa. 63 and 142 express some of his feelings. He strengthened himself in the Lord his God. ISam.30:6
If we are Christians, doesn't God promise us prosperity and a good life?
A second lesson is for those who stay by the stuff. David made it law that those who stayed by the baggage shared equally with those who fought the battle. There had been two previous precedents. In Num.31:25–27 after the defeat of the Midianites, the loot was shared equally between the warriors and the congregation. The two and a half tribes who had fought with Israel were ordered to share their loot with their brothers. Josh. 22:8
For every front-line fighter in WWII, there were three noncombatants in support. Did they share equally in the rewards? Behind Billy Graham, there were tens of thousands of supporters. Do they share equally? For every missionary, there are twenty or more supporters. Do they share equally? It seems most unlikely. Will God reward the unspectacular givers, pray-ers, nursery workers, assistants in Jr. High Youth equally with the pastors? Many people long to be evangelists, but seem stuck with staying by the stuff, doing the routine chores, never scoring visible spiritual victories. If David seems just, our God is much more just.
"God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for His sake in serving the saints." (Heb. 6:10)
"For you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain ". (I Cor 15:58)