Beulah Baptist Church
Saturday, November 18, 2017

The United Monarchy

THE UNTIED MONARCHY.
 
INTRODUCTION
 I.             Title of the Book
The two books of Samuel were originally one. The translators of the Septuagint were the first to divide the books into two. In the Septuagint and the Vulgate the books of Samuel are regarded as belonging to the books of the Kings. The division into two is unknown to the Talmud and Hebrew manuscripts. It was first introduced in the Hebrew text by the Venetian printer Daniel Baumberg in his 1516AD addition of the Hebrew Bible. They get their title from the man Samuel the principle character in the opening chapters of the book. Since it was he who anointed by Saul and David it is appropriate that these books should bear his name.
 
II.             The Text – these books have plagued commentators for many years since they are characterized by numerous variant readings and at some places copyist errors. In most cases however these types of problems are minor and in no way impair the historical value of the books.
A.    The Dead Sea Scrolls – contained a number of Samuel portions. In cave one portions of I Samuel 18, II Samuel 20, 21, 23 were found. In cave four I Samuel 3:14-17 were represented. Also known as the Qumran manuscripts. Fragments of the books of Kings were also found in these caves. From a study of recent Dead Sea Scroll discoveries we now know that there were several textural recensions. There was quite clearly a neutral text that is a text that was different from both the traditions and the Septuagint [Greek] and the mazoretic texts.
B.     The LXX – the Septuagint exhibits a number of variant readings. There are the usual double renderings and corruptions occurring from the very process of translation. Anytime one translates a text from one language to another there are bound to be certain variations and variance.
C.     Literary Quality - The books of Samuel are an amazing peace of both personal and national historiography. Indeed they represent a clear example of inspired writing. We believe these books to be fully inspired of God and therefore inherent in the autographs. The very fact that a writer would include in his history the details of the great kings failures is an indication of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. This was not typical of ancient near Eastern historiography as we know it today. There was a tendency to glorify the king or omit those tragedies in his kingdom that would bring shame to that period of writing and history. Not so in biblical historiography. With a marvelous balance the Holy Spirit guided the writers so that the principle events of history are included but no to the exclusion of the personal lives of the individuals involved and these details included not only their great successes but their tragic failures as well. 
 
III.                Authorship – the Talmud attributes to composition of Judges, Ruth, and the first part of I Samuel to the man Samuel. The rest of the material is ascribed to Nathan and Gad [I Chron. 29:29] compare in this regard. This view was challenged by Jewish commentators at an early date. There are indications that large portions of the books must have been written after the death of Samuel. Compare for example the data that are supplied in I Sam. 25:1 and 28:3. And even after the division of the kingdom according to I Sam. 27:6. The presence of parallel accounts, incongruities, and apparent discrepancies has led liberal critical scholars to seek for various sources as an explanation for the origin of the books. The final composition of the book was attributed to a Deuteronomic editor who completed his work before 586BC. In all probability it was a prophet probably from Judah who after the division of the kingdom composed the larger section of these books using freely and incorporating earlier written materials. It is also possible that several writers were involved in the process. This viewpoint in no way weakens the biblical view of inspiration. It would be just as easy for the Holy Spirit to use several qualified men as to use just one.
 
IV.             The Scope of the Book – the historical scope of the Book of Samuel covers a period from 1100BC to 971BC. More specifically I Samuel included the period from about 1100BC to about 1011BC. II Samuel covered the period from 1011BC to 971BC, a period of about 40 years.
 
V.          The Theme – it would be from theocracy to monarchy. A change of no small consequence in the history of Israel.
 
VI.       Position in the Canon – these books are included in that portion of the OT known as the former prophets.
 
VII.             Major Theological Themes
1.      To observe the rejection of the theocracy and its consequences both politically and spiritually. This event in Israel’s history was a turning point and brought about major changes in daily practice and their culture and significant spiritual changes as well in the life of Israel.
2.      The unique ministry of the Holy Spirit during this time. It’s interesting to observe how the Holy Spirit worked with Israel’s leaders. The rise of prophetism as both a specialized office and a ministry calls into question a number of factors with regard to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in this regard. There are questions as to the Holy Spirit’s ministry with the average believer during this time. How much influence did the Holy Spirit have in their lives and what was His specific ministry in relation to the average believer?
3.      Sin and its Effects in the Human life – these books are a spectacular expose of the process of sin. They give us enlightening examples of how sin finds its way even in the most sophisticated of circumstances. Even among those who are the most knowledgeable of the law of God. And with great detail and accuracy the books describe the consequences of sin in the lives of those individuals.
4.      There will be study of the development of the prophetic office and as a matter of fact the phenomenon of prophetism. Specifically what was a prophet? What was his responsibilities? How did he function?
 
VIII.                Special Problems – some of these will be textual in nature. For example the Hebrew text of I Samuel 13:1 is utterly impossible to translate with historical coherence. Therefore what is the solution how can the gaps be filled? There are numerous theological problems of a very knotty nature that will have to be considered. For example there is the unique ministry of the Holy Spirit in relationship to Saul. The Holy Spirit was taken from him and an evil spirit from God came upon him. What exactly happened in this experience? There is also I Samuel 28 and Saul’s encounter with the witch of Endor. Frustrated by his attempts to receive revelatory truth from God he then went to the witch of Endor to contact the dead. And in fact actually spoke with Samuel the prophet who had died. There are also some historical problems that will be dealt with along the way.
 
IX.             Historical Setting
A.    Biblical Data – the chronology for this period is established upon the date for the death of Solomon in 930BC. Adding the 40 years of Solomon’s reign we would have the beginning of his reign 971BC. David’s reign began in 1011BC. The exact date for Saul’s reign is not so easily established for the only information that is readily available to us is found in the NT [Acts 13:21], his reign last 40 years so that his reign began in 1050BC. The ministry of Samuel spans a considerable period of time. It included the last days of Samson, Elon, and Abdon and continued on through most of the reign of King Saul.
B.     Egypt – read carefully The Birth of a Kingdom
C.     Palestine – which archaeologically brings us to the Iron Age I period, 1200-900BC. This period was dominated by the Philistines along the coastland and in portions of the Esdraelon valley as far east as the Jordan valley. Their power was centered in five cities commonly known as the Pentopolis. A lord ruled each city and one of the secrets to Philistine military success was their effective use of iron, about 1200BC the Philistines introduced this common use of iron to Palestine although it had been known and was commonly used by the Hittites in Asia Minor. The control of iron was a definite advantage of the Philistines over Israel and it wasn’t until this monopoly was broken by David that Israel was able to compete militarily for control of large portions of land. Philistine customs are now well known to us from recent excavations at Ashdod and other sites. We know about their burial customs and the popular anthropoid clay coffins, which may be an influence from Egypt. Construction during this period was well illustrated in the walls of numerous cities. The walls were commonly known as casemate walls with double wall units with space in between and supported by a series of buttresses at right intervals. The Iron Age I period was followed by Iron Age II the dates of which are usually 900-550BC. This includes the period of the divided monarchy. It is a period of extensive literary activity and a time of exciting building in the land.
 
XI.          Outline of the Book
A.    Samuel: Judge and Prophet (I Samuel 1:1-7:17)
B.     The Reign of Saul (I Samuel 8:1-14:52)
C.     The Decline of Saul and Rise of David (I Samuel 15:1-31:13)
D.    David’s Rule over Judah [II Samuel 1:1-4:12]
E.     David’s Rule over all Israel [II Samuel 5:1-24:25]
 
THE BIRTH OF SAMUEL [I Samuel 1:1-2:11]
 
I.                   His Family Background
A.    The Location of Ramathaim-Zophim [1:1] – this term can mean two high places of the watchman or twin heights of the Zuphites. The exact location of Ramathaim-Zophim is not known three sites have been suggested: [1] Beit Rima, about twelve miles west of Shiloh in the mountains of Ephraim; [2] Er-Ram, about five miles north of Jerusalem in Benjamite territory; [3] Ramallah, in the mountains of Ephraim approximately 8 miles north of Jerusalem.
 
B.     The Two Wives of Elkanah [1:1-3] – the one Hannah and the other Peninnah. The practice of polygamy in the OT is always a perplexing problem to students of the Bible. It is not clear to what extent this was tolerated. While the practice seems to appear in a number of places there is not always a strong condemnation to it. How then shall we square this up with God’s apparent intention of monogamy as exhibited in the Garden of Eden? Perhaps it would be safe to assume that this cultural practice so common in the ancient near East was one that was tolerated by God in preference to other priorities at this time in Israel’s history. While the Bible does not outright condemn polygamist practices every time they are referred to the context and the description of polygamist practices is something less than optimistic or perfect. In fact whenever polygamist practices are described it is in something less than a good light. Such is the case in I Samuel 1. Hannah had no children and Peninnah did and barrenness in the Hebrew family was considered a great tragedy.
 
C.     Hannah’s Barrenness [1:4-9] - This barrenness led to sorrow for Hannah and contributed to family difficulties. Elkanah appears to be a godly man and one faithful to the tabernacle at Shiloh. This was unique indeed because as we study the latter years of the period of the Judges there were few men who seemed to share any concern for this central place of worship at Shiloh. He also seems to have been a good family man. There appears to be an expression of love and care of his family. Because of the barrenness of Hannah he gave to her a worthy portion that can be translated as one portion of two faces, that is a double portion. This was an expression of his love for Hannah. Children [v. 5] were regarded as gifts from God and childlessness was attributed to an act of God as well. Because of her barrenness there came shame and that shame was highlighted by the provocations of Peninnah [v 6]. In spite of all the difficulties that Hannah faced she nonetheless was faithful in going to the tabernacle year by year. But as time went on her bitterness increased and it became more difficult to participate with the family in these yearly trips to the tabernacle, which included praise to God for all His gifts and provision. She had only remembrances of her barrenness to bring to the tabernacle. Elkanah did his best to console his wife [v 8].
 
II.                Hannah’s Vow [1:10-23]
A.    The Nature of the Vow [1:10-11] – the answer for anyone who confronts the crisis’s of life is effective and effectual prayer to a God who not only hears but is fully capable of understanding and providing. Hannah’s prayer was more than a superficial request for she included in it a very serious vow and a commitment. Vows in the OT were something of great importance. To fully appreciate the importance of this a Bible student should read Ecclesiastes chapter 5, where Solomon issues very strong warnings against those who violate vows that they had made to the Lord. Therefore the vow was something of great responsibility. What impresses about [v 11] is the simplicity of her prayer. In fact there is an interesting contrast between the prayer of Hannah in [I Sam. 1] and the praise of Hannah [I Sam. 2]. Her prayer of request and petition is characterized by simplicity of expression. In fact the whole prayer is wrapped up in two words – remember me. What a magnificent request and the simplicity are overwhelming and yet it is profound. It represents the prayer of one totally helpless and incapable of conquering their current circumstances and is reminiscent of the prayer uttered by Samson after a life of tragedy and failure and concluding in total humiliation. This was the prayer of Hannah she was totally helpless and could see no hope for the future apart from divine intervention. Her prayer was not selfish because it was not just to have a child for her vow also included a promise. That if a son were born he would be dedicated to the Lord and be a Nazerite by dedication. This is the meaning of the expression that no razor shall come upon his head. According to Numbers 6 a Nazerite had three responsibilities: [1] abstinence from wine; [2] letting the hair grow untouched by a razor; [3] refraining from ceremonial defilement by touching a dead body.
Its interesting that Eli does not receive a grand introduction in the Book of I Samuel, in fact the introduction of Eli is somewhat abrupt. Since he belonged to the house of Ithamar, Aaron’s fourth son one would not expect him to be referred to as the High Priest. The last High Priest before him was Phinehas the son of Eleazar [Judges 20:28]. Why the succession passed from the house of Eleazar to that of Ithamar is not indicated. He may have achieved that position due to unusual circumstances in the house of Eleazar coupled with his own unique merit. His position was unique in that he was both High Priest and a judge. As Hannah prayer her lips moved but no sound came and Eli marked her mouth and concluded that she was drunk. We are able to understand Eli’s evaluation her action was most unusual indeed. As she prayed Eli moved closer and began to question her. There are some interesting sidelights to the vow that Hannah made. The vow was one of dedication [v 11] the reason that this is interesting is that there is a serious problem and a great challenge raised by a similar vow of Jephthah [Judges 11:31] it has been the view of many that Jephthah’s vow was that of mere dedication of his daughter and that he did not intend to offer her up as a human sacrifice. [however the conclusion is that Jephthah did actually offer his daughter in sacrifice a view not popular but supported and demanded by the Hebrew text. A contrast of Judges 11 with I Samuel 1 will reinforce that conclusion. If Jephthah had really intended to dedicate his daughter to the tabernacle for special service then any number of expressions were available to him in that case without using a specialized idiom that refers to the offering up of a whole burnt offering. For example Hannah speaks of giving him; in [v. 22] she speaks of bringing him; in [v 28] we read as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord; however in Judges 11:31 the terminology is completely different. There Jephthah speaks of offering up her as a whole burnt offering. Therefore we must conclude that Jephthah’s vow was one indeed of human sacrifice.]
B.     Eli’s Response [1:12-18] – as she talked to Eli she began to relate to him the tragedy of her life [v 15]. In this verse she justifies, vindicates or more accurately explains the nature of her actions. She see Eli had judged Hannah by the normal actions of others. Could it be that he had witnessed such drunken activity on the part of his own sons? How different God’s evaluation is for God looks on the heart. Hannah also plead with Eli that she not be counted as a daughter of Belial. The etymology of the word Belial is a component of two words beli meaning without and the root yaal meaning worth or profit. The use of this word in the OT conveys the sense of total worthlessness. After Eli heard her explanation he was fully satisfied that she was a women of great faith and prayer and not drunken as he had previously supposed. With that settled in his mind he sent her away and said go in peace. With the promise that God would hear such a prayer and that an answer was on the way. According to [v 18] she went away and for the first time in quite a while she ate and her countenance was no more sad. We have a practical illustration of the effects of prayer on our lives. There is a positive psychological effect to prayer but prayer is not just that alone. There are those who claim that prayer has no logical or real effect in the life of an individual. It didn’t change circumstances. It didn’t affect people. The only real benefit to prayer according to his viewpoint was that it had a psychological calming of the individual. Was this a fair assessment? Is prayer only merely an exercise to comfort a troubled mind without really having an objective effect? I think not. That would be like going out to the fields and plowing day and night fertilizing the land, preparing the soil, planting the seed, watering the crops and then expecting nothing to happen. And then to conclude from that, that I went to all of that effort merely for my own comfort without the expectation of fruit or benefit. That’s precisely what the liberal critical contention about prayer really is. If it is merely and exercise to provide psychological comfort and nothing else then it is like the farmer who plants without real expectation. And natural history tells us that there is a product, there is a benefit. Prayer not only changes things it changes people and one of the primary functions of prayer is to bring us into conformity with God’s will so that we can pray aright and enjoy the effective benefits of His grace and love.
 
C.     The Prayer Answered [1:19-23] – according to [v 19] the Lord heard the prayer of Hannah and He remembered her. He remembered her in a special sense not just her name but He provided for her. The use of the word remember here is reminiscent of Genesis 8:1. In what sense did God remember Noah? He had protected him and cared for him and provided for him. The word remember carries all of these ideas as it is used in this context. Wonder of all wonders after years of tragedy, barrenness, and loneliness Hannah know has a child. The name given to him was Samuel explained in [v 20] because I asked him of God. It is here that we get some etymological insight into the significance of the name heard of God.
 
III.             Hannah’s Obedience [1:24-28] – Hannah was faithful in her vow and these verses describe that obedience. She went yearly with her husband with the exception of the weaning time according to [v 22]. The weaning of child usually last about 2 years in some cases 3 and after that was concluded she promised that she would bring Samuel to the tabernacle and there he would be dedicated. And according to [v 24] that vow was fulfilled. It is rather challenging to observe the faith of Hannah and the faith of Elkanah, their lives are a bright spot against the dark shrouded background of the period of the apostasy of the Judges. It is much like the story of Ruth that also takes place during the dark days of the Judges. It seems that the Holy Spirit carefully calls to our attention these great saints as they commit themselves to the Lord in spite of the trends and pressures of their day.
 
IV.             Hannah’s Praise [2:1-11] – this prayer has definite prophetic and messianic character. It provides the second prayer of Hannah and tells us of her great rejoicing and her praise to God because of His provision on her behalf. And as a matter of fact it provides some interesting theological insights into what this woman really knew. The question is often asked how much did an OT saint really know about his God? Was his knowledge shrouded in a developing monotheism? So that he really knew little about God or that his conceptions were inadequate? No indeed. While they may not have had the written scriptures the communications from God and the teachings that was provided from the Mosaic period onward had definitely enriched many hearts. And the prayer of Hannah is a good indication that OT saints did have an accurate concept of who God was and what His essential nature was like. This prayer or praise is divided into four stanzas.
Four Stanzas
1.      Thanksgiving and praise [2:1-2] – theologically the holiness is emphasized in [v 2] and also provides a clear example of monotheistic teaching.
2.      A warning to the arrogant and proud [2:3]
3.      Humiliation of the lofty and elevation of the humble [2:4-8] – in these verses surely Hannah was thinking of her own experiences and was remembering the great taunts of the proud Peninnah as she looked upon Hannah. But know she is able to praise the Lord because she too is lifted up and blessed with children.
4.      Hope and confidence for the future [2:9-10] – here she speaks of the horn of His anointed. While this term is applied to priests and prophets it may also be a reference on her part to the future king that Israel was to have. For Moses had predicted such a king and even know many of the Israelites were expecting the appearance of a king. Hannah a housewife and a mother but more than that an example o godly faith and perseverance in the most difficult of experiences.
 
THE CHILDHOOD OF SAMUEL [1 Samuel 2:11-3:21]
 
I.                   Corruption of the Priesthood [2:12-17]
A.    The Character of Eli’s Sons – they are described as the sons of Belial and this phrase was used commonly with those associated with idolatry. This phrase also includes those who were disreputable individuals in Israelite society, rebels, and transgressors of the law. And according to [v 12] these sons of Eli did not know the Lord. This does not imply that they did not know about God certainly they did by training and experience but there was a particular sense in which they did not know the Lord and that was in genuine realistic experience.
B.     The Deeds of Eli’s Sons – it was the custom by law for the Israelites to come to the Tabernacle for appropriate times of sacrifice. And it was the priest custom to aid and to help in this sacrificial system. However the sons of Eli saw this as an opportunity to exploit the religious responsibilities of the people for their own gain. As a result the priests would send their servant to the altar to make special demands of the gifts that were being brought see [v 15]. And if the individual demanded that the sacrifice continue as planned then he would be threatened [v 16]. The Law made adequate provision for the protection and care of the priests. The priest was allowed to take the breast and the right thigh as his share from the sacrifice. He was not to take this share until the meat had been properly offered to God.
1.      Corruption of the sacrifice [2:12-17] - Therefore in the light of these facts it should be observed that the sin of Hophni and Phinehas was threefold: [1] they took any part of the meat they wished to have; [2] they took the meat before it had been offered to the Lord; [3] they took it by force. Such attitude and actions of course made the whole sacrificial system abhorable to those who had to participate in it. And this is expressed explicitly in [v 17]. What a great tragedy not only did many Israelites have to travel great distances to reach Shiloh but when arriving there they received reprehensible treatment on the part of the priests. The acts and the attitude on the part of the sons of Eli had their negative influence on the people of Israel and influenced important aspects of the structure of Israelite life [v 24]. And it resulted in sin and corruption among the leaders of Israel [4:3; 8:1-5]. And as we learn later in [14:32] it resulted in a breakdown in the people’s faithfulness to the Law of Moses.
2.      Immorality [2:22] – and again the activities of the sons of Eli are placed in sharp contrast to the faithfulness and simplicity of the acts of Samuel. [v 18] Samuel ministered before the Lord with a linen ephod was the distinctive dress of the priest of that time compare [22:18]. In the Law however it was not listed as one of the garments worn by the ordinary priests [Ex. 28:40] occasionally it was worn by others engaged in religious ceremonies. David for example used this garment. Samuel’s mother also made for him a little coat, which was something like the coat of the High Priest [Ex 28:31]. In all probability this little coat was like a long outer garment that was like that which was worn by the people of rank or special status. Hannah because of her faithfulness to the Lord in keeping the vow and faithfully supporting and encouraging Samuel at the Tabernacle was blessed by God according to [v 21]. The child Samuel continued to grow before the Lord and this same expression is used of Moses [Ex. 2:10ff]. Eli was more than likely 90 years old and perhaps older at this time. Because of his age and dimming eyesight he was not able to move about freely and be aware of the activity of his sons. Thus in [v 22] we see the immorality of Eli’s sons how they lay with the women that assembled at the Tabernacle door of the congregation. Some say these women are the same ones or of the same group referred to in [Ex. 38:8]. Others have suggested that they may have been female singers associated with Tabernacle worship see [Psalm 68:11]. What exactly was occurring at the Tabernacle? It is not impossible that Canaanitic influence was beginning to show up at the central sanctuary. For it was a common practice associated with the Baal and Ashtoreth to involve individuals with co-habitation with a sacred priesthood. Could it be that the sons of Eli actually had adopted or encouraged practices of this nature? It certainly is not impossible in light of the trends of the period of the Judges in light of the monarchy. For Phinehas of course this involved in open adultery because we learn in [4:19] that he was a married man.
3.      Poor leadership [2:24] – Were this not enough the sons of Eli found themselves as a strong influence among other of the Israelites and Eli shows great concern over this [vv 23-24]. Eli refers to a report he had heard that he had made the Lord’s people to transgress. But the words of Eli were not heeded.
4.      Rebellion [2:25] - The sins of the sons of Eli not only included the corruption of the sacrifice, immorality at the Tabernacle, a wrong example for the people of Israel but according to [v 25] they engaged in open rebellion to admonitions of their father. This of course brought great tragedy to the central sanctuary and diminished its spiritual effectiveness among the children of Israel.
II.                Samuel’s Call and Commitment [2:18-3:21] - Again in [v 26] we are introduced to Samuel who was described as being in favor with the Lord and men. Surely the people who visited the Tabernacle took courage in the growth and maturity of Samuel.
A.    The Blessing of Hannah [2:18-21] - Hannah because of her faithfulness to the Lord in keeping the vow and faithfully supporting and encouraging Samuel at the Tabernacle was blessed by God according to [v 21]. The child Samuel continued to grow before the Lord and this same expression is used of Moses [Ex. 2:10ff].
B.     The Rebuke of Hophni and Phinehas [2:22-26] 
C.     God’s Warning to Eli [2:27-36]
1.      The identity of the “Man of God” [2:27] - The Lord spoke to Eli about these matters and the process of revelation at this point comes through a man of God according to [v 27]. This expression could refer to an angelic visitor as in [Judges 13:6; Deut. 33:1], but more likely it refers to a prophet as it is similarly used in [I Samuel 9:6].
2.      The failures of Eli [2:28-29] - The problem with the sons of Eli cannot be attributed to them alone. As modern criminologists have noted juvenile delinquency has a two-fold aspect. There is the rebellion and the self-engagement in the willful acts of sin on the part of young people or individuals. But there is also parental neglect that is an ingredient in juvenile delinquency. It is interesting that this man of God sent by the Lord puts his finger on that very ingredient [v 29]. Eli honored his sons above the Lord. The spiritual and practical priorities of every day life at the holy sanctuary did not involve first choices for God alone but his sons were given free hand in movement about the sanctuary and this only to make themselves fat with the offerings that really belonged to the Lord. The practical implications of this are obvious we're faced in our generation with a disastrous situation of widespread juvenile delinquency. It is not because of a lack of education this is an enlightened society. It is not for lack of opportunity for there are more opportunities that exist than any one nation in history. The bare facts are that there is self-indulgement in open sin and that accompanied and encouraged by parental neglect with respect to basic discipline in the family situation. Therefore there is something to be learned from a practical family situation from I Samuel 2.
3.      The predicted judgment [2:30-34] - Because of Eli’s failure and the failures of his sons according to [vv 30-34] a judgment would fall. In [v 31] it speaks about the cutting off of thine arm and the arm of thy father’s house. This is an idiom meaning that it will destroy the strength of either a man or family – compare Job 22:9; Psalm 37:17 – in this regard. According to [v 32] there would be tragedy at the hands of an enemy. This of course meant for Eli a sense of great tragedy for he was able see and hear of the termination of the priesthood as it related to his family. [v 33] speaks of great grief, tragedy and sorrow as a result of God’s judgment. But the ultimate prediction and the one most specific is found in [v 34] that Eli’s two sons would both die in one day. This is indeed a dark scene the High Priest now confronted with the prediction of imminent tragedy and death in his own family. But God does not leave men in a helpless situation of total despair for the chapter concludes with a positive promise for there would be a faithful priest who would be raised up by the Lord and walk before his anointed forever.
4.      The identity of the “Faithful Priest” [2:35]
The Promise of perpetual priesthood was first given to Aaron, a descendent of Levi, the son of Jacob [Ex 28:43; 29:9]. It was because of the sacrilegious act of Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu in offering the strange fire [Lev. 10:1-2; Num. 3:4] that they died before Jehovah. They had no children so Eleazar the third son of Aaron and his younger brother Ithamar occupied a more important position for they ministered in the priest office in the presence of their father Aaron [Num. 3:4]. When Aaron died Eleazar the oldest living son became the High Priest [Num. 20:22-29], later the priesthood was given to Phinehas the son of Eleazar because he was zealous for his God and made atonement for the children of Israel [Num. 25:11-13]. Due to some unexplained cause the High Priesthood was transferred from the line of Eleazar to that of Ithamar in the person of Eli. The book of Samuel therefore begins with Eli as the High Priest and there is no hint that Eli’s claim to the priesthood was a false one or one which was usurped in an improper manner.
Various Views:
a.       Fulfilled in the “whole house of Aaron”
b.      Samuel
c.       Christ [with partial reference to Samuel]
d.      Zadok – this is the more probable view because when we examine I Kings 2:26-27 in the light of I Samuel 14:3; 22:20, it is clear that the house of Eli continued until the days of Solomon. Then God transferred the high priesthood back to the line of Eleazar, in the person of Zadok, who remained faithful to David at the time of Adonijah’s rebellion [I Kings 1:7-8]. This prophecy also indicates that there will never lack a descendent of Zadok to walk before God’s anointed kings. Zadok himself walked before David and Solomon, and the sons of Zadok will walk before Christ in the millennial temple [Ezek. 44:15; 48:11; Jer. 33:21].
D.    Encounter with the Lord [3:1-21]
1.      The spiritual conditions of that day [3:1] – this verse based upon the Hebrew verb is better translated the Word of the Lord was scarce in those days. That means that prophetic activity, revelation was scarce, that the voice of God was silent because of the widespread apostasy in the land. It also speaks of the fact that there was no common vision. Visions were not spread abroad in those days. We also read [v 7] that Samuel did not yet know the Lord. What does this mean? In this case the idea is special knowledge. Thus we are at a crisis point in Israel’s history but was about to be heard as He speaks to this young godly man Samuel, prepared by God and dedicated by his mother.
2.      The time of Samuel’s encounter [3:2-3] – Eli who was old was lying down and we’re told that the lamp of God had not gone out yet refers to the early morning before dawn. He Lord called audibly to Samuel on three occasions.
3.      The nature of Samuel’s encounter [3:4-10] - The expression Samuel did not know the Lord does not mean that he hadn’t heard of God certainly he had. But there was a special sense in that he had not experienced revelatory communication from God, which was now occurring. For that reason he was both startled and uninformed as to this communication by God. After the third time he consulted with Eli and Eli said go and lie down and it shall be if he call thee say speak Lord for thy servant hears.
4.      The content of the Lord’s message [3:11-19] – the words he was about to hear would be challenging to say the least [v 11]. The tingling of the ears is a common expression or idiom [II Kings 21:12; Jer 19:3] and it is a way of vividly expressing that the news that one was about to hear would be frightening and emotionally upheaval in the individual’s life. The first charge given to Eli was not an easy one to carry out for he had to bring to Eli the sad news of divine judgment upon his whole family and the tension of this is seen in [v 15]. The reason for the judgment is because Eli’s sons had made themselves vile and Eli hadn’t restrained them. Either he did not rebuke them at all or not enough and because of this judgment would fall. Samuel weighed the issues and realized the importance of his message and told all to Eli in obedience. This is amazing indeed Samuel could have easily skirted the issue but here we have an example of total dedication. He was committed to the revelation of God regardless of its personal or practical consequences. What a lesson can be learned here for the modern man of God. So often we tend to emphasize the optimistic and the good to the exclusion of the careful consideration of sin and the negative. Not Samuel the true prophet of God does not encourage people with a lopsided message.
5.      The blessing of Samuel [3:19-21] - [v 19] Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and did let none of his words [the Lord’s words] fall to the ground. The idea of words falling to the ground means the surety of a prophecy [Joshua 21:45]. Therefore Samuel the man of God willing, dedicated, and committed to the total message that God had given to him. An example for those in that day and prime example for the man of God today.
 
 THE CAPTURE AND RETURN OF THE ARK [I Samuel 4:1-7:17]
 
I.                   War with the Philistines [4:1-11]
A.    The Location of the Battle [4:1] – just where are theses sites located; some have suggested the Valley of Esdraelon in the north; others sites southwest of Bethel. In all probability the best location is just west of Bethel and Ai in the central hill country. As Israel prepared the Philistines prepared likewise and it is interesting that this battle should even take place in this territory. For by this time we would have expected that the Israelites would have occupied and controlled all the central hill country. The very fact that the Philistines were able to penetrate and prepare for war in Aphek is an indication of the overall weakness and military organization of Israel at this time.
B.     The Results of the First Battle [4:2] – as the battle was engaged Israel was badly beaten and lost about 4000 men in that first encounter. Did this bring Israel to her knees in repentance and to God for help and guidance? No it did not.
C.     Israel’s Response to the Loss [4:3-9] - The reaction of Israel in this defeat was quite different from that of Joshua’s day [7:6; Judges 20:26]. Instead of turning to the Lord for help like the Canaanites they began to trust in totems, teraphim, and sacred objects as the key to victory. And so the children of Israel called for the Ark of the Covenant and their conclusion was that the Ark would save them from defeat. Perhaps they felt since the Ark had guided them to victory at Jericho and at the crossing of the Jordan River that it now would provide the necessary magical power to achieve victory. So they sent to Shiloh and had the evil sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas and they brought the Ark into the camp of the Hebrews. When that Ark came into the camp of Israel there was great rejoicing the people shouted and sang and rejoiced at the presence of the Ark. Assuming of course that the presence of the Ark now guaranteed them the victory they could not achieve by obedience to God. When the Philistines heard of this they were afraid and rightly so for if Israel were returning to their God in faith and if God were fighting for the children of Israel then the odds were not in favor of a Philistine victory. The Philistines knew their OT history and they knew of the mighty God or gods of Israel [v 8]. They even in believed in a literal interpretation of the ten plagues in Egypt. Something that is hard to find even among enlightened scholars of our day. The Philistines did not believe the miracles done in Egypt were the results of accidental natural causes. They believed in the providence and the power of God in the affairs of men and therefore it is appropriate that they should express fear for if God were indeed acting on behalf of Israel there was little hope for the Philistines in such a battle. But the Philistines began to encourage one another to show themselves to be men and don’t give up before the battle begins.
D.    Results of the Second Battle [4:10-11] – these verses described the fact that Israel was smitten and every man fled to his tent. Fleeing Israelites was reminiscent of Joshua 7 and the first attempt at Ai. 30,000 men died and after two engagements with the Philistines 34,000 soldiers were now dead to say nothing of the thousands that must have been wounded and maimed as a result of this battle. As a result of their success they were able to take the Ark of God and Hophni and Phinehas were killed. [v 11] is the fulfillment of the prophecy of chapter 3:34. 
II.                The Death of Eli [4:12-18]
A.    Eli Hears of the Defeat [4:12-17] – Eli was 98 and blind and the word came that Israel was fled before the Philistines and that there had been a great slaughter and Eli your two sons are dead. The Ark of God now rested in the hands of the enemy.
B.     The Cause and Nature of his Death [4:18] - When this news came to Eli he fell from the stone benches broke his neck and died. This is not a very glorious conclusion to the life of Eli a man who certainly contributed much to Israel in his earlier years. But now he had to hear that the Ark had been captured.
III.             The Birth of Ichabod [4:19-22]
A.    The Significance of the Name [4:21] – At this time the wife of Phinehas was about to give birth to a child and when the child was born he was given the name Ichabod which meaning no glory. It is an appropriate name for the glory of Israel was taken and the Ark was gone. Compare [Psalm 78:60-64]
B.     The Ark Taken [4:22] – the Philistines rejoiced and took the Ark to one of their most important cities the city of Ashdod.
IV.             The Ark at Ashdod [5:1-12]
A.    Ashdod and Archaeology – Ashdod has been located at the site of Istood. The mound covers over more than 100 acres. Excavations at the site were begun in 1962 under the direction of Dr. Friedman and this excavation was significant because prior to 1965 none of the cities of the Philistine Pentopolis [Ashdod, Gath, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gaza] have been excavated on a large scale. Approximately 20 levels of occupation have been identified ranging from the late Bronze Age [16-13 B.C.] to the Byzantine Period. Discovered here was a large Philistine fortress revealing walls of approximately 4’ thick and in some places still standing to a height of 7’. The fortress was apparently destroyed in the tenth century B.C.
B.     The House of Dagon [5:2] - The importance of Ashdod is seen in that it had a temple described as the House of Dagon. This evidently was one of the chief temples of the Philistines. The Ark became a sort of visual evidence of this great god Dagon. It was a common practice for ancient people to collect war trophies as physical evidence of the greatness of their god. For they believed in apologetics as well and here were the evidences of the greatness of their gods. The Ark was set by the statue of that god. This is amazing here the naiveté of the Philistines on this occasion for the last time they brought something into the temple from Israel they lost a whole temple and 3000 people [Judges 16 and the death of Samson].
 
 
C.     The Worship of Dagon – according to the Book of Judges we learn three things about the nature of worship to Dagon. [1] they offered sacrifices to this deity [Judges 16:23]; [2] they offered praise to their God for acts of power [Judges 16:24]; [3] certain celebrations to Dagon probably included excessive drinking [Judges 16:25]. Their worship was organized because [I Sam. 5:5] speaks of a priesthood. Dagon was a fertility deity.
D.     The Humiliation of Dagon [5:3-7] – the irony here is that Dagon had fallen on his face before the Ark of the Lord. There is a little bit of humor here is you imagine the high priest of Dagon picking up his statue dusting him off and re-establishing his position before the Ark of God. On the basis of [v 4] it appears that the statue was in human form for after the statue had been lifted up it had to be put together for the head and hands had to be put back together. The priests of Dagon realized that something strange was happening in their temple for this had never happened before and the glamour of their museum exhibit began to diminish and fear and superstition set in among the priests. So much so that they feared to tread upon a threshold of the temple of Dagon in Ashdod. After getting together to discuss the situation which included great tumors for the Lord smote them with emerods. The Hebrew word for emerods or tumors here is translated boils and this may have been a form of bubonic plague of which boils are characteristic. And the fact that mice and rats are mentioned [6:4] seems to reinforce such a suggestion. The leaders of Ashdod began to think this through and decided why keep this museum exhibit to themselves why not share it with the other cities of the Pentopolis. A practical suggestion with the ulterior motive of getting rid of the Ark that was bringing humility to the temple and the town.
E.     The Journey of the Ark [5:8-12] – so the Ark was sent to Gath and when the Ark arrived in Gath the same thing happened and it was sent to Ekron and when the people saw it they were not thrilled and did not think highly of the officials of Gath. So finally they decided to return the Ark to Israel after death, destruction, boils, and total humiliation.
V.                The Return of the Ark [6:1-21]
A.    The Location of Kiriath-Jearim [6:1-2]
B.     The “Priests and Diviners” [6:2] – involved in the return of the Ark were the priests and diviners of the Philistines. We know that the Philistines were given to divinatory practice to a large extent. The priest would be the official temple functionaries and the diviners were probably those who were specialist and studied natural phenomenon for oracles thus telling the future. Compare with [pg 95 – The Birth of Kingdom].
C.     The Trespass Offering [6:3-9] – the priests suggested that the Ark be returned with a trespass offering that is an offering intended to appease the deities involved and this is what we call sympathetic magic. The attempt to remove a curse by using some form of an idol or object and the purpose of such an offering was to remove the curse that was upon them. The trespass offering is distinctly different from that which was practiced in Israel [Lev. 5:14ff] to note the differences.
D.    Death of Beth-Shemesh [6:10-21] – the Ark was returned to the Israelite city of Beth-Shemesh and here another tragedy occurred. And it was occasioned by the men of Beth-Shemesh and their disobedience and mishandling of the Ark. The men of Beth-Shemesh were really without excuse by looking into the Ark. And there were Levites present who certainly knew the penalty of mishandling the Ark and God had given clear instructions on this matter to Moses [Num 4:5-6, 15-20].
VI.             The Ark at Kirjath-Jearim [7:1-8] – this site is located west of Jerusalem.
A.    Reason the Ark Rested Here – the reason the Ark rested here for a period of about 20 years; three explanations are given [1] this was a sign of the apostasy of the age; [2] the loss of the Ark to Shiloh was a judgment upon that city because of the desecration brought to the site by the sons of Eli; [3] more probable however and backed up by archaeological evidence is that Shiloh had been destroyed by the Philistines and for that reason the Ark had to rest at another site.
 
B.     Samuel’s Charge to Israel [7:3-8] – Samuel took this occasion to remind the children of Israel of their commitment to the Lord and to warn against further idolatry. He prayed for the people and he poured out water on behalf of the people is a symbolic act of repentance. This was accompanied by a confession and repentance on the part of the people of Israel. These events took place at Mizpah.
 
ISRAEL’S FIRST KING [I Samuel 7:9-9:27]
 
I.                   Victory at Ebenezer [7:9-17]
A.    An Offering to the Lord [7:9-10] - There were two reasons for this fear: [1] they remembered well the previous battle with the Philistines [4:10] leading to the death of 34,000 Israelite soldiers; [2] they remembered the capture of the Ark and now it had been returned and they did not want to see it recaptured. The difference between previous encounters with the Philistines and the one at hand is their spiritual attitude in the leadership they sought. On this occasion Samuel took initiative rather than others. He offered a special whole offering to the Lord and prayed and according to [v 9] the Lord heard him and answered him. As Samuel was offering up this burnt offering the Philistines decided to use this as the occasion for their attack. Little did they know that now the children of Israel could count on intervention from God, we are not told how the Lord intervened on this occasion but we are assured that he stepped in and thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines and discomfited them and they were smitten before Israel. The Lord’s intervention on this occasion is reminiscent of the manner in which He guided the Israelites conquest under Joshua [Ps. 99:6]. The Lord’s help was a direct result of Samuel’s prayer. 
B.     The Defeat of the Philistines [7:11-14] – after this decisive victory over the Philistines there was little retaliation and threat from the Philistines during the remaining days of Samuel’s life according to [v 13]. In addition to that the Amorites were also on peaceful terms with Israel [v 14].
C.     Samuel’s Journeys [7:15-17] – the last days of Samuel were given to civil responsibility and training of young prophets who would follow in his steps. He apparently had a circuit that he covered on a regular basis. According to [v 16] this included Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and after the circuit was completed he would return to his home at Ramah there to rest and continue his ministry.
 
II.                Israel’s Demand for a King [8:1-22] – what prompted this demand? Why change their political system at his point in their history?
A.    The Sons of Samuel [8:1-3] – these verses give us some indication as to why the people of Israel felt it would be necessary for a king at this point. What we learn from this can be supplemented from our understanding of previous history. Tribal coalition was largely unsuccessful having been in the land for almost 400 years they were still unable to colonize large portions of it. Rather than attribute this to their own failure and apostasy they blamed it on their political and military organization. But there were some immediate problems that were of great concern to them. According to [8:1] Samuel at this time was quite old [according to tradition –52] and he made his sons judges over Israel. Why he did this we are not told. Is it possible that he was attempting some form of dynastic succession or rulership? That does not seem to be the case at this point however the suggestion is interesting. According to [v 2] the area over which his sons judged was Beersheba and as you know Beersheba is located far in the south. Why would he place his sons in judgeship so far south? Kiel argues that this is evidence that Samuel had no intention of laying down his office. Stationing his sons in this region was his way of indicating that he remains judge of the more important areas. More likely however he stationed them in that area out of practical necessity, it was not possible for one man to assume judicial responsibility for all Israel at one time. Therefore it was appropriate that he should have official representation in the regions to the south. From the scriptures we see that Samuel to care of the areas to the north.
B.     The Concern of the Elders [8:4-5] - But of great concern to the elders of Israel was the failure of these sons there was a decided corruption of judicial power according to [v 3]. Like Eli his sons turned away from the teaching and admonition they had received and were receiving payoffs, taking bribes, and perverting judgment. Perhaps giving favor to the rich against the poor. This problem coupled with the age of Samuel, coupled with the growing threats around Israel caused the elders of Israel to meet Samuel and remind him of the possible tragedies at hand and then request a king. Of great concern to Samuel and the Lord was the way in which they asked for a king because they said, makes us a king to judge us like all the nations. Who were these elders to make such a demand? The elders of course had an important function from the history of Israel beginning with Moses. They were responsible for tribal organization and tribal representation as councils met concerning national affairs. There concern was to have proper justice and it appeared to them as a result of the failure of judgeship systems such as recorded in the Book of Judges that this was not the way to go for the future. They wanted a king in which resided centralized authority. We also learn from [v 20] another reason they wanted a king; that they would have someone to go out before them and fight their battles. They had decided that military victory was possible largely to the organization and leadership within the army. If they had a king they would not lose they seemed to imply. But their desire to be like all the nations was of great concern to Samuel.
C.     Samuel’s Response [8:6-9] – fortunately he did not react indiscreetly on this occasion. As a mature godly man even though the matter displeased him he took the appropriate step he prayed to the Lord [v 6]. His initial response was one of disappointment for he had interpreted the request of Israel as a personal rejection. The Lord’s response to Samuel is instructive. It was not merely Samuel’s judgeship that was being rejected but theocratic rule as experienced up to this time. This raises an interesting question; was it ever God’s will to have an earthly king over his people other than Messiah or Christ? Or was the negative response of Samuel and the Lord due to the timing of their request and the kind of king they demanded? Another interesting aspect to this problem was the selection of Saul for Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, was it not predicted in the Book of Genesis that the Scepter should remain with Judah? It appears on this occasion at least that it was not the establishment of a king or kingdom per se that is being rejected, the impatience of Israel and the manner in which they requested a king seems to be of greatest concern.
D.    The Issue of Kingship – how quickly Israel had forgotten what kingship was all about. They had lived in Egypt for 430 years under monarchial rule. They knew about the absolutism of such a monarchy and the taxation that would come with and the loss of personal freedom. Those who ignore history and the tragedies of history are doomed to experience those things again.
E.     The Price of Kingship [8:10-18]
1.      A military draft [8:11-12a] – conscription would indeed be part of the manner of the king. Many will be involved in the military organization of the country.
2.      Conscription for domestic tasks [8:12b-13] – according to Samuel’s evaluation of the monarchy as reflected in ancient near eastern cultures. Not only would men be mobilized for military service under the king but the women would be pressed into service in the same manner that is taken. The warning is that the daughters of Israel would be committed to domestic slavery in the process of allowing a monarchy in the traditional sense of that function.
3.      Confiscation of land [8:14] – the confiscation of land for the purposes of gifts to the servants of the king and in particular to military personal was not unknown elsewhere in the ancient near east. Such a practice ultimately brings under control of the king tremendous areas of land thus creating a structured society of the rich and poor. This was something that God wanted to prevent. It was not His purpose that there should be widespread slavery and servitude. As we know from earlier biblical history the land belonged to God and certain agricultural laws were established to prevent such forms of land acquisition and slavery.
4.      Taxation of goods [8:15] – a tenth of your seed and vineyards would have to be given to the king’s officers.
5.      The loss of personal liberty [8:16-17] – there would be a loss of personal liberty he would take your servants and young men and use them in his own service. For as the royal court grew in number and prestige more people would be conscripted to supply labor for that office.
6.      Fear, oppression and disenchantment [8:18] – Samuel was right when he said this compare I Samuel 14.
F.      The Persistent Demand of Israel [8:19-22]
But they persisted in their demand having heard the warnings of Samuel who many probably regarded as old fashioned and archaic and obscurantist in the light of modern trends the warnings went unheeded and they refused to obey the voice of Samuel. They said we will have a king over us so that we can be like all the other nations. This seems to be a surrender of their covenantal distinctiveness for God had chosen the people of Israel to be a special people. This indicates how far they have drifted from their covenant consciousness and their commitment to the Lord. It indicates how diversified their thinking had become in the light of Canaanitic influences and they wanted the king to judge them rather than God. Could it be that they did not want the moral obligation of God’s revelation but rather judicial exercise as reflected in an earthly king? And of course they wanted military victory. There are two crisis points in Jewish history that revolve around the establishment or the rejection of a king. Here Israel demands a king and at Calvary Israel rejected their king. The cry of John 19:15 rings out across the ages “we have no king.” The sounds of rebellion ring out in these verses.
III.             The Private Appointment of Saul [9:1-10:16]
A.    The Man Saul [9:1-2] – it appears to have been God’s will to select a man from the smallest of tribes the tribe of Benjamin. Why from such a small tribe? Probably to prevent the domination of the other tribes on the part of the king. It would be very easy for a single tribe to exploit the others if a king represented them. Selecting a man from the smallest of tribes would prevent this and we understand well the smallness of Benjamin. You will recall the tragic inter-tribal battles of [Judges 20] in which the other tribes nearly annihilated the whole tribe of Benjamin. In fact there were only 600 male survivors that were able to perpetuate that tribe. Saul appeared to be a likely candidate for he was a choice young man according to [v 2]. He was in the prime of manhood and a good man in the sense of fair and reputable. He was a man of great physical stature and rustic in nature rugged in approach and self-willed and self-centered. But the combination of these abilities and the impressiveness of his stature would make his leadership possible.
B.     Saul’s Meeting with Samuel [9:3-27]
1.      The circumstances of the meeting [9:3-14] – Saul went to seek the animals that had wandered off from his father’s farm. His seeking the asses of Kish was no accident of history. It is another example of God’s providential work in the lives of His people to accomplish His own purposes. The ass was an animal of considerable importance to the Israelites at this period of time. Compare [Judges 5:10;10:4].
a.       The search for lost animals [9:3-5] – according to [v 4] Saul and one of his servants covered a considerable distance in their search for these animals. The distance covered is a further verification of the tremendous value of such animals used in domestic service. Word came to them concerning a man of God that is a prophet who was an honorable man [v 6] and all that he says comes to pass. Why was that description important? You’ll recall from Deuteronomy 13; 18:22, that one of the signs of the true prophet was the fact this his prophecies came to pass. As time went on they met the prophet Samuel and they were concerned that they did not have a gift but they continued on with the expectation that the prophet would be able to help them locate the lost animals.
In verse 9 we are introduced to two terms, which have created a problem for many interpreters. We read that “Beforetme in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.” This verse has been the subject of considerable debate particularly over the two Hebrew words that occur in this verse. The word for prophet nabi and the word for seer roeh. There are three fundamental interpretations of the passage. [1] that in Israel there was an original distinction between the Seer who was a native diviner type of individual and the prophet more of a foreign dervish type. In time the two offices or practices were confused thus merging into a common office utilizing the Hebrew term nabi or prophet. Some scholars regard the nabi as generally Israelitish. It is concluded by this second school that both the Seer and the prophet existed side by side in ancient Israel while having diverse functions. This view sees two offices. The third and most acceptable interpretation is that which regards the terms roeh and nabi as being essentially synonymous. This verse does not in fact conclude that the term nabi or prophet was unknown prior to the time of Samuel. This verse is merely stating that in the time of Samuel the term roeh or Seer was no longer commonly used of the man of God. There are three important terms that refer to prophetism in the OT. [1] roeh; [2] Hozeh; both of these terms emphasize the subjective element that is the mode of receiving divine revelation. The other important term nabi emphasizes the objective element or the work of the prophet thus the two men attempt to encounter this man who could tell them things that others could not.
 
SAUL ANOINTED AND CHALLENGED [I Samuel 9:6-12:25]
 
I.                   Encounter with the Man of God [9:6-10:16]
A.    The Expression “Man of God” [9:6] -
B.     The Nature and Functions of the Prophet [9:9]
C.     The Appointment to Leadership [9:15-27]
D.    The Private Anointing of Saul [10:1-16] – the oil used on this occasion was most likely olive oil for olive oil was a symbol of prosperity [Dt. 32:13; 33:24] this act on the part of Samuel was symbolic of an impartation of a special endowment of the Holy Spirit for the accomplishment of His appointed tasks. The only other anointing among the people of God was that of the priest and the sanctuary [Ex. 30:23ff; Lev. 8:10]. The kiss of Samuel reflects both his personal affection for Saul and a sign of reverential homage to the new king. Also observe that Saul was elected to be the king over God’s inheritance. In order to verify this appointment three signs were set aside. The first is described in [v 2] – he would meet two men by Rachel’s sepulcher ; is it not interesting that the tombs of the patriarchs were known, located, and reverenced even at this early period. It is reminiscent of the many holy sights that remain in Palestine to this day. The second sign is recorded in [vv 3-4] he would meet three men on there way to Bethel. One would be carrying three kids, one three loaves of bread, and another a bottle of wine. These particulars would be a confirmatory evidence of God’s call in his life. The third sign and perhaps the most significant was Saul’s encounter with a company of prophets [v 5] and they shall act as prophets. What kind of prophetism is this that uses musical instruments? Is it the ecstacticism that is described by so many liberal scholars? Was prophetism a crude form of Canaanitic practices not yet sophisticated in Israel? It appears that music played a specific role in prophetism and in the ministry of Israel’s leaders. The musical instruments here were used probably used to accompany the prophets as they spoke in praise of God. In no way are we to conclude that music was used to create some kind of unnatural emotionalism or to lead them into a state that would be unusual. On this occasion it was prophesied that the Holy Spirit would come upon Saul and he would act the part of a prophet [v 6]. He would proclaim and praise God. The latter part of [v 6] says and thou shalt be turned into another man. Exactly what does this imply? Are we to assume from this that on this occasion Saul was converted or regenerated? I don’t think so. While it is true that a man in order to become a part of the kingdom of God needed to be regenerated in all ages and there indeed was a regeneration in the OT. This chapter is not describing that event in Saul’s life being turned into another man appears to be a direct result of the filling of the Holy Spirit that came upon him. In other words in order for him to carry out the functions of kingship effectively it was necessary for the Spirit of God to equip him with such sensitivities and capabilities. The ministry of the Holy Spirit as described in this chapter is like that unique ministry of the Holy Spirit described in the Book of Judges when He came upon Jephthah and Samson, Gideon, and others in order to equip them for specific tasks. He was turned into another man and indeed this was necessary for naturally speaking Saul would have little concern for matters of great priority for there is no doubt that he was a self-willed man. But the Holy Spirit would enable him to do things that he would not normally do. According to [v 9] God changed his disposition through this special anointing of the Holy Spirit in order that he may accomplish this task of kingship. The Lord used this occasion to indicate to the people that something was different about Saul.
II.                The Public Anointing of Saul [10:17-27]
A.    The Place of the Appointment [10:17] – Mizpah was a place of revival and renewal and was therefore appropriate that Samuel should call the people to this place to make the declaration of God’s appointment of a king.
B.     Samuel’s Evaluation of the Appointment [10:19] – he also used this day as a warning to the people you have this day rejected your God and have demanded a king. As Samuel prayed and the people gathered he was introduced.
C.     The Method of Appointment [10:20-26] – it took time to find Saul because he had hidden himself either through fear or humility nevertheless he was found and Samuel declared to the people see him who the Lord has chosen and the people responded by saying God save the king. [v 25] mentions writing these matters in a book and implies that Samuel had some part in writing the history of this period. After this Saul went home to Gibeah and there went with him a band of men who’s hearts God had touched. Again this refers to a group of men upon whom the Holy Spirit had touched in a special anointing ministry to provide those capabilities necessary for effective duty.
D.    Opposition to His Appointment [10:27] – the children of Belial despised Saul and brought him no presents and the scriptures say he held his peace. This response on the part of Saul can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit for Saul has a rugged rustic man would have the natural tendency to respond in a manner quite different from that which is described here.
III.             The Threat of Ammonite Oppression [11:1-2]
A.    The Identity of the Ammonites – Nahash the Ammonite came against Jabesh-gilead. A city that was far removed from Gibeah or Jerusalem but a city of importance. The Ammonites came to that city with a proposal of a covenant. The Ammonites of course had a long history of conflict with Israel. They were descendents of Lot [Gen. 19:38]. Their belligerency is due to the encounter they had with Jepthah the Judge. While this occurred many years ago the encounter was a significant one has Jepthah was able to soundly defeat the Ammonites. They had not forgotten and saw this as an occasion to provide some retribution for that occasion.
B.     Terms of the Treaty [11:1] – the terms of the covenant treaty that was offered favored the Ammonites. The thrusting out of the right eyes of the inhabitants of the city was not unknown in ancient times. And as a matter of fact the savagery of the Ammonites is seen elsewhere in scripture [Amos 1:13]. The loss of the right eye had military implications for it would disable the men of that city for military duty since the left was usually covered by shield in battle and the right eye was used to spot the enemy. The threat of the Ammonites needed to be taken seriously for they were a people of considerable military ability.
IV.             The Appeal of the Elders [11:3-5]
A.    The Request of the Ammonites [11:3] – Nahash gave the people seven days to agree to his terms of surrender. This concession illustrated the contemptuous regard which he had for the fighting strength of Israel.
B.     Their Challenge to Saul [11:4-5] - they appealed to king Saul for one of the primary functions of the king was to protect the people. Therefore they sent to him and told him of the threat. According to [v 5] Saul was working in the field. Had Saul abandoned his commitment? Some feel that Saul had returned to his former duties until he was needed in a special sense. Others have suggested that since his election had been opposed by some Saul refrained from exercising his full powers for the time being. If this indeed was the case it was a wise choice. Saul was located at Gibeah.
V.                The Response of Saul [11:6-10]
A.    The Significance of the Spirit’s Activity [11:6] – this verse again shows that it was not a regenerating power but a filling to enable Saul to accomplish the task of kingship.
B.     Saul’s Symbolic Act [11:7] – he did an unusual thing on this occasion he utilized the symbolic act of destroying valuable yoke of oxen. He hewed them to pieces [v 7] and sent sections of those animals to the tribes as a reminder of the threat that now existed. Apparently this symbolic act was understood and it did have a precedent see [Judges 19:29].
C.     Preparation for War [11:8-10] – this worked for Saul was able to muster an army of considerable size. The army came from two basic areas. From Israel 300,000 and from Judah 30,000. Now we are still in the time of the united monarchy and yet we have reference here to a political division of Israel and Judah. There is no question that this political and cultural development was already taking place only to find its culmination after the death of Solomon in 931B.C.
VI.             Victory over the Ammonites [11:11-15]
A.    Saul’s Tactical Moves [11:11] – he divided his people into three armies a very popular tactical maneuver [see Judges 7:16] and they arrived during the morning watch the last of the morning watches. In ancient Israel there were three watches the first from 6-10; 10PM-2AM; 2AM-6AM. The morning watch was the third. Saul’s tactical maneuvers combined with his timing provided a decisive victory. They were scattered and divided so that they no longer provided a threat to the people of Jabesh-gilead. Saul responded with such force because there was a tribal implication in all of this. You’ll recall after the tragic Benjamite war [Judges 20-21] 400 women from Jabesh-gilead were given in marriage to the only surviving Benjamites of that conflict [Judges 21:8-12]. In all probability many of the Benjamites returned with their women to Jabesh-gilead after their marriage and therefore Saul was protecting some of his own in the defense of Jabesh-gilead.
B.     The Commitment of the People [11:11-15] – that victory solidified Saul’s power and strength in the eyes of the people and they charged that they would put to death any man who would challenge the power and authority of Saul. But again we have evidence of Saul’s Spirit-led decisions for he said no man will be put to death. How different this is when compared to his later actions.
VII.          Samuel’s Address [12:1-25]
A.    The Integrity of Samuel [12:1-5] – Samuel wanted to establish his innocence and his fidelity among the people, but in so doing indirectly admitted that his sons were failures.
B.     The Witness of History [12:6-15] – the judges listed in [v 11] present special difficulties because the name Bedan is problematic for it does not appear in the Book of Judges. Nonetheless there are some adequate solutions to the problem and the easiest solution would seem to be that it is a reference to Barak.
C.     A Sign, a Promise, and a Warning [12:16-25] – the warnings issued by Samuel were in effect a call back to covenantal responsibilities these are expressed in [vv 14-15] and in essence if the children of Israel did not obey the voice of the Lord they could not then count on His guidance and intervention. As a confirmation of these warnings Samuel provided a miracle. He raises the question is it not the wheat harvest today [v 17]?  Which would be of course about May or June after the latter rain. As a sign of the importance of this occasion he promised to send thunder and rain as a severe warning of possible judgment through disobedience. When the people saw and heard this they asked Samuel to pray for them. It is appropriate that they should call on him for prayer for he was a man of prayer [v 23]. He was convinced of the efficacy of prayer. These events helped Samuel to underscore the covenantal responsibility of the people even though they had a king their ultimate responsibility morally and spiritually was to God. The chapter concludes with a challenge to the people [v 24].
 
THE FAILURES OF THE KING [I Samuel 13:1-15:35]
 
I.                   The Philistine War [13:1-14:52]
A.    Saul’s Presumptuous Act at Gilgal [13:1-23] – as pressures mounted on the king from without and on occasion from within he began to weaken and become insensitive to divine commands and thus he relied on his own judgment and initiative. This led to frustration and ultimately to failure and finally to rejection. 
1.      Jonathan’s Victory at Geba [13:1-7]
a.       A textual problem [13:1] – the Hebrew text of verse 1 literally reads Saul was the son of one year in his reign and he reigned two years over Israel. Obviously this literal translation is impossible on two grounds. [1] he could not and did not reign when he was one year old and [2] its impossible to believe that all the events of Saul’s reign could be placed with two years. As a matter of fact the figure would be in contradiction with NT evidence. All commentators agree that this text has suffered from an omission of numbers, which were originally there. The formula that is used in the verse is well known to us. The exact formula is used in connection with David in [II Sam. 5:4], it is also used in reference to Manassah [II Kings 21:1]. Another example would be Josiah [II Kings 22:1]. These examples show that there was a common formula used in the introduction to a king’s reign. It included his age and the length of his reign. With these corresponding formulas in mind it is possible to suggest a reconstruction of the verse even though the exact numbers cannot be supplied. We might read Saul was blank years old when he began to reign and he ruled blank and two years over Israel. This is the best rendering of the verse in the light of the compared formulas. This is rather interesting situation as it relates to biblical inspiration and inerrancy. A great deal of emphasis is placed on so-called errors in scripture as being evidence that the Bible could not and in fact was not inspired and therefore not inerrant. However if this scribal omission is indeed a mistake and an obvious one indeed is it not strange that a later copyist or scribe did not correct it or attempt to do so? The very fact that scribes permitted this verse to stand as it was is evidence that the text did not go through major editorial changes. Whatever changes may have occurred in the text were done by Divine guidance of the Holy Spirit and in accordance with the theological purposes of that book. Modern form criticism has placed a great deal of emphasis upon so-called parallel/duplicate readings and have attempted to isolate various sources of material assuming that editors took a great deal of freedom with the text. Preserved mistakes such as this one is evidence that the scribes and writers were very judicious and meticulous in their handling of the biblical text. And even though an obvious mistake was apparent they refused to alter the text because of its sacredness. This fact presents an amazing conclusion if the Bible contains so few errors as a result of careful transmission this may point to an original inerrant autographa and thereby we better understand and appreciate what the apostle Paul says all written scripture is God breathed.
b.      Defeat of the Philistine garrison [13:2-4] – Jonathan was very active in military affairs and was able to conquer the small Philistine garrison at Geba which is located in the central hill country. After this initial victory the Philistines decided that to let this go unnoticed would encourage Israel to further attempts therefore the Philistines began to gather themselves together, number there troops and prepare for a major attack. Saul was aware of this and gather his troops at Gilgal. The very fact that Saul gathered his troops at Gilgal is evidence of the fact that he did not have full control of the hill country.
c.       Philistine chariot strength [13:5] – here we read that part of the Philistine attack force included 30,000 chariots and six thousand horseman. There is no problem with 6000 horseman or the other numbers that are mentioned but 30,000 chariots in the vicinity of Michmash staggers the imagination. Even if the chariots were equipped with non-skid treads on their wheels they couldn’t maneuver effectively in the rugged rocky hill country of Michmash. It is evident to most scholars that the text has suffered from a minor change in its transmission. 30,000 chariots is further out of harmony with other matters of history that relate to chariot warfare. For example Jabin [Judges 4:3] marshaled only 900 chariots in major warfare in the large plains of Israel. Pharaoh pursued Israel with only 600 chariots [Ex. 14:7]. Solomon possessed up to 1400 chariots [I Kings 10:26]. Thus we can show that other chariot forces in no approximate the number given here. That coupled with the location of this battle indicates that the number has been expanded by mistake. The Septuagint lists the number has 3000, it is also possible that the number could be reduced further to 300 which would be a manageable force of chariots in that general vicinity. Nonetheless the problem remains with us.
d.      Israel’s weakness [13:6-7] - The very presence of chariots and horseman caused the children of Israel to flee and to hide in the many caves that jot the Jordan valley.
2.      The Impatience of Saul [13:8-12] – Saul found himself in great distress and he remained at Gilgal for seven days that was allotted him by Samuel on a previous occasion [10:8]. Saul offered the burnt offering and he was condemned for the act. When Samuel came he offered a question as to why this impatience should have been exhibited? Saul gave three reasons why he could not wait any longer: [1] the people were scattered from me; [2] you did not come within the days appointed; [3] the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash. The Philistines had one major tactical goal in mind and that was to thoroughly penetrate the central hill country of Palestine. If they could do this successfully they would then divide the land in half and would make it easy to conquer. The weakness of Saul and the inability of the armies of Israel is more than obvious in the that the Philistines could maintain a fortress as deep in Israelite territory as Michmash. Saul was convinced that this explanation would more than satisfy Samuel assuming that circumstances or that the end would justify the means.
3.      The Rejection of Saul [13:13-14] – However Samuel was not about to acquiesce to this type of philosophy assuming that the workability of a proposition maintains its rightness. Therefore Samuel condemned him and considered his acts as being foolish. Now this brings us to the precise nature of the sin of Saul [I doubt that this would be the problem alone for David and Solomon offered sacrifices II Sam. 24-25; I Kings 3:4; 8:63] in all probability the condemnation was because of the impatience of Saul and his disobedience. This led to a rejection of Samuel’s leadership and ultimately the leadership of the Lord. His rationalization was a dangerous sign of a self-willed spirit rather than patiently waiting on the Lord to give divine guidance he took matters into his own hands assuming his own genius. As a result he is rejected as God’s choice for the continuing monarch in Israel. The kingdom would not continue under Saul but would seek a man sensitive to the Lord. Thus King Saul humiliated by the condemnation of Samuel and frustrated by the successes of the Philistines find himself in a difficult condition indeed. His troops had shrunk to 600 and on top of that the Philistines had begun a series of raids throughout the hill country in Israel. 
4.      Philistine Military and Economic Strength [13:15-23] – the spoilers mentioned in [v 17] are raiding parties organized into three companies as was a popular tactical maneuver in that day. [vv 17-18] describe the fact that the Philistines raided over a large area of territory. On top of that they had a monopoly on the handling of iron for there was no smith in Israel [v 19]. This monopoly over iron made it possible for the Philistines to maintain the best military equipment and therefore superiority over Israel. It was not until David’s conquest of Edom and other territories that he brought the control of metallurgy under Israel.
B.     The Battle of Michmash [14:1-52]
1.      Jonathan’s Bravery [14:1-23] – he is the only bright spot in the political, economic and military situation at this time. He is introduced to us as a man of faith, skill, cunning, and great courage. Recognizing the fact that some victory was necessary to prevent a complete destruction of Israel he and his armor bearer prepared a plan to attack Geba a small Philistine fortress that he had earlier defeated. The description of the territory in which Geba and Michmash were located [v 4] is an example of the topographical accuracy of the Bible. Jonathan believed that the Lord could do what the armies of Israel could not do. Thus he established an audible sign in words that would give him an indication that he was to proceed. And he did with his armor bearer was able to slay 20 men according to [v 14]. This initial victory small as it was, was at least a beginning for Israel and provided them with an occasion to marshal additional troops together and attack the Philistines in force. This they did and with measured success were able to drive the Philistines out of sections of the hill country westward as far as Bethhoron. But victory should not be ascribed to Jonathan or Saul but to the Lord [v 23].
2.      Saul’s Rash Oath [14:24-45] – the difficulty was that Saul took this initial victory as an occasion for personal revenge. Still smarting from the personal rebuke he had received at the hands of Samuel at Gilgal he decided to reassert his authority and perhaps redeem himself in the eyes of the people and thus he said in [v 24].
a.       The nature of this oath [14:24-26] – Saul is losing perspective for this was not his war it was God’s war and this self-centered statement continues to exhibit a weakening of Saul’s spiritual character. Rather than providing for the people so that the battle could be continued and won successfully. Here he provides a military hindrance and a detriment.
b.      The consequences of the oath [14:27-45] – Jonathan had not heard this oath but when he arrived hungry and weary-worn he saw some honey and ate it. Such a command on the part of Saul was unreasonable in the eyes of his son. He was able to see that the people were faith [vv 28, 31]. This was a poor move on Saul’s part for the people could hardly win battles in this condition. [v 29] Jonathan’s assessment of the situation was difficult to make but certainly accurate. And when they finally did defeat the Philistines far to the west in Aijalon the people flew upon the spoil and took sheep and oxen and slew them and ate the meat with the blood a clear violation of [Lev. 19:26]. Saul must bear some responsibility for this downfall. When he saw this provision was made so that the animals could be slaughtered and the blood drained according to the Law and the meat eaten. But the damage had been done and Saul now faced an even more difficult situation and that was to determine who had violated his command. After an investigation and a casting of lots Jonathan was taken and it was Saul’s plan to kill him. But to this the people would not agree [v 45]. It appears here that the monarchial honeymoon is quickly coming to an end and the people are being made aware of the price of kingship.
3.      Summary of Saul’s Wars [14:46-52] – this chapter concludes with a summary of Saul’s battles with Moab, Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines.
II.                The Amalekite War [15:1-35] – the Amalekites were a vicious desert fighting people to the south and a very capable army. The Lord had remembered well what Amalek had down to Israel during the wilderness journey. The first attack on the Israelites an unprovoked attack came from Amalek [Ex. 17:8ff] in company with the Canaanites they were victorious at Hormah [Num. 14:45] and they continued to harass Israel after the occupation and during the Judges period [Judges 3:13;6:3]. It is interesting to observe that in the Pentateuch they were doomed to destruction [ Ex. 17:6; Dt. 25:19].
A.    Instructions for the Battle [15:1-4] – the command came to Saul to utterly destroy these people. thus when he came upon the Amalekites in the southern desert they were to be totally destroyed men, women, children, and animals as was done for example at Jericho.
B.     Preparations for Battle [15:5-6] - Saul gathered his armies together that now were better organized and larger in number with perhaps men from Judah and they marched southward.
C.     The Battle Described [15:9-11] – he was able to accomplish a significant victory but he kept the king of the Amalekites alive in disobedience to God’s command. Furthermore he permitted the people and may have encouraged them to keep the best of the sheep and oxen in order that sacrifice might be made. The result of this was that the Lord said to Samuel it repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king for he has turned back form following me. This is not a reference to God’s mistakes but an indication of the sorrow that had come to the Lord because of the rebellion of king Saul.
D.    Samuel’s Rebuke [15:12-19] – Samuel came to Saul and received a very optimistic greeting that he had fully performed the Lord’s command. Note the pronouns in [v 13-15] I have performed the command of the Lord that is until Samuel heard the bleating of the sheep and asked about them and the pronoun changes and Saul says they brought them from the Amalekites. Here Saul is passing the buck and the 15th verse concludes we have utterly destroyed them. Another the reason the Amalekites were to fall under God’s judgment is noted in [v 18] they were sinners and as such it was God’s right to demand the total destruction of the people. This is not unjust or barbaric treatment but the Lord reserves the right as a Sovereign God to judge sin wherever it occurs.
E.     Saul’s Reply [15:20-21] – Saul thought that he again could explain the situation by saying that the goal of the people was really a good goal, that is to bring sacrifices to the Lord. In other words the end would justify the means. Here again we are confronted with an ancient example of situation ethics. But Samuel would not accept that and indicates that obedience is better than mere sacrifice.
F.      Instructions and Warnings [15:22-23]
1.      Sacrifice and obedience [15:22-23] – sacrifices are only significant when they are accompanied by a heart of obedience and repentance. If rebellion proceeds or accompanies the sacrifice it is a worthless exercise for the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin. [see Hebrews]
2.      The repentance of the Lord [15:11, 29, 35] – the Hebrew word for repent can have the idea of sorrow and disappointment. Thus there is a sense in which God never repents that is changes His mind as a man would because of a mistake. On the other hand God can repent in sorrow because of the disobedience of man. Thus Saul is rejected because of his own self-will and his own rebellion.
 
INTRODUCTION TO DAVID [I Samuel 16:1-17:58]
 
I.                   David Chosen and Anointed [16:1-13] – it is fascinating to see how the evil acts of men will often work to accomplish the decretive will of God. Saul through evil actually led to David’s selection.
A.    Samuel’s Journey to Bethlehem [16:1-11] – Samuel mourned for Saul and the people of Israel for a considerable period of time. He was disheartened for he saw no future in Saul and even less future perhaps in the continuation of a kingship. The Lord came to Samuel and told him to seek out a new king and go to Jesse the Bethlemite and among his sons the next monarch would be found. Samuel had some reluctance about this for he realized the nature of Saul on this occasion. For he said if Saul hears of it he’ll kill me [v 2]. Samuel’s assessment was probably correct for Saul was in no mood to tolerate rebellion or underhanded activity on the part of Samuel. The Lord told Samuel to take a heifer and go to Bethlehem for the purpose of sacrifice. It could be that during this time a number of prominent cities were set aside for such sacrifices since the central sanctuary at Shiloh hand been destroyed. This may also account for the presence of numerous high places. In any event Jesse was to be called to that sacrifice and the purpose of this was to inform him of the Lord’s desire. As Samuel approached Bethlehem the elders in town saw him coming and trembled and they raised the question do you come in peace? Why should they be afraid? They were aware of the fact that when Samuel paid a visit with an animal to be sacrificed that they recognized this was a special occasion indeed. He indicated that he was not coming to pronounce judgment for that seemed to be his ministry in recent days but he came in peace and challenged the people to sanctify themselves. The sanctification here would be spiritual and physical for there was a ceremonial cleansing necessary for such occasions. As the sacrifice proceeded the Lord warned Samuel not to look for a man who would suite kingship because of his height, stature, or physical appearance. That’s the kind of king Israel got in the first instance one like all the other nations. This time it would be one after God’s own heart. The sons of Jesse were called and has they passed by it occurred to Samuel that none of these were the ones. Finally David a young innocent shepherd boy was called out and he is described as being ruddy and an attractive young man and the Lord said this is the man.
B.     David’s First Anointing [16:12-13] – thus a private anointing is placed upon David as the next king of Israel and that anointing brought a special blessing of the Holy Spirit upon him [v 13]. This is significant because this is God’s verification of the new king. There are actually three anointings of David: [1] here before his brothers in private; [2] anointed when he was made king over Judah at Hebron; [3] anointed when he was chosen king over all Israel.
II.                David in the Royal Court [16:14-23]
A.    The Departure of the Spirit [16:14-16, 23]
1.      The nature of this event. – note the timing and the sequence described. As the Spirit of the Lord came upon David at his anointing that same Spirit left Saul. [v 14] has been difficult for scholars to interpret: exactly what does it mean that the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul? This is not to be regarded as an explanation or description of the loss of Saul’s salvation. The salvation of the man Saul is not in view here, it is the Holy Spirit’s ministry in relationship to his kingship. The Spirit of God had been given to Saul in order to enable him to perform the functions of kingship correctly. When the Lord rejected Saul as king it was appropriate that these special gifts and dispositions wrought by the Holy Spirit should be removed as well. This thought is verified in II Sam. 7:15 where it speaks of the mercy of the Lord having been taken from King Saul. This is what David had in mind in his prayer in Psalm 50. 
2.      The effect of this event. – when the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul it says that an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. And again we are confronted with the problem of interpretation. Precisely what was this evil spirit of the Lord? A variety of explanations have been given: [1] a spirit of demonic activity such as such as an evil demon; [2] others say it was a spirit of discontentment or fear [Judges 9:23]; others say that it was a reference to evil men and prophets and they cite [I Kings 22:20-23]; others suggest that the evil spirit that troubled him is evidence of a mental evil, a destructive force in his life or sickness. There can be no doubt that when the evil spirit came Saul was a sick man mentally and spiritually. For this evil spirit troubled him greatly and changed his whole manner of behavior. That he was mentally ill is further confirmed by the manner in which he would be made well. [v 16] when servants were commanded to bring musicians before him, music had a soothing effect upon this man and he was made well and his spirit was refreshed and the evil spirit departed from him [v 23].
B.     The Character and Reputation of David [16:17-23] – the man selected to be the court musician was David. An accident no. The description of David in [v 18] is intriguing indeed. He is described as cunning in playing; a mighty valiant man [this refers to his taking care of is father’s herds]; and a man of war evidently he had taken part in the small battles of Judah. He was prudent in matters and a comely person and the Lord was with him. That last phrase was the key to his life and success. David apparently was greatly favored by Saul initially [v 21].
III.             David and Goliath [17:1-58]
A.    The Philistine Challenge [17:1-14]- we can assume that at this time the Philistines were not in a position to challenge Israel to major military conflict. Presumably the previous battles had taken their toll and they may have lost some of their best troops and the destruction of their chariot horses and horsemen left them without a full strength army. Thus the Philistines used a well-known tactic known as representative conflict. A procedure that is attested from contemporary documents.
1.      The place of the challenge [17:1-3] –The place of the challenge was Shochoh in the area of Azekah which is southwest of Behtlehem. Where was Jonathan the son of Saul and a more recent war hero? Perhaps he was away on other matters and he is not mentioned here at all.
2.      Goliath of Gath [17:4-10]
a.       His background
b.      His size [17:4] – he was about 9’6” tall
c.       His armor [17:5-7] – his equipment was made of bronze. His spear was of tremendous size and weight was made of iron.
d.      The nature of his challenge [17:8-10] - the challenge went forth for single combat to see who was the greatest but the challenge went unheeded.
B.     David’s Arrival at the Camp [17:15-30] – he was brought to the battleground not by Saul but on an errand to feed his brothers and bring them food. David came and heard the challenge and the desperate promise of king Saul. The promise was the man who would defeat Goliath would be made rich and marry the king’s daughter. David was perplexed by what he heard and saw. No man of the armies of Israel was willing to accept the challenge. The imposing height and the arrogance of Goliath was more than any would want to challenge.
C.     David’s Victory over Goliath [17:31-58]
1.      The faith of the shepherd [17:31-39] – David decided to accept the challenge and Saul did not seem to be disposed to prevent him for no one else accepted it. They attempted to arm him with the weapons of warfare but this did not seem to work out and in the simplicity of a shepherd David used the weapons with which he was most familiar. His staff and five stones from the brook. We must remember that the Israelites had tremendous skill with the sling [Judges 20:16].
 
 
2.      The defeat of Goliath [17:40-51] – as David approached Goliath he was somewhat amazed and insulted [v 43] the dog of course the lowest and most despicable of animals in Palestine. And the Philistine cursed David by his gods that is the gods of Philistia. But David was unimpressed by all of this and proceeded to give God the glory for the victory that he fully anticipated and a stone was taken and thrown and it struck the forehead of the giant and this permitted David to rush up to Goliath and take his sword and cut off his head.
3.      Rout of the Philistine army [17:52-58] - The defeat of Goliath was a great moral victory for Israel and the men of Israel and Judah arose shouted and pursued the Philistines. Without a doubt the Philistines never expected this turn of events and this turn of events brought about their defeat and further humiliation. According to [v 54] David carried the head of Goliath to Jerusalem and he put Goliath’s armor in his tent. This reflects common military practices at this time. It was common to bring war treasures to a city. Later on the head of Saul was taken to the temple Dagon [I Sam. 31:9]. This verse also sheds some light on the rejection of David in the building of the Temple. Could it be that one of the reasons that God did not permit David to build the temple was that he wanted to prevent that temple from becoming a museum filled with war trophies? David had spent time among the Philistines and he was a warrior by nature and it could well be that temple could be turned into a mere collection of trophies and thus diminish it original purposes.
 
LIFE IN THE ROYAL COURT [I Samuel 18:1-21:15]
 
I.                   Saul’s Attempts on David’s Life [18:1-20:42]
A.    Jonathan and David [18:1-7]
1.      Their relationship [18:1] – it appeared to be an unlikely relation but is indeed an example of warm deeply committed friendship. Jonathan appears to us as a very warm committed individual and he has shown himself to be a man of considerable capability. He has shown military courage and now we see another side of this man in his personal commitment and warmth. Jonathan and David had made a covenant between themselves according to [v 3] a bond of friendship, of mutual protection and respect.
2.      The evidence of Jonathan’s love [18:4] – so significant was this covenant to Jonathan and the evidence of his fidelity to it he stripped himself of the robe that was upon him and this was evidence perhaps that Jonathan looked to David as the heir to the throne rather than himself. The fact that he gave his garments, sword, and bow was evidence that he had the highest respect for David. This was an honor that few would receive.
3.      The success of David [18:5-7] – David earned this respect because he had behaved himself wisely [v 5]. And this in spite of the difficult circumstances in which he found himself. The fact that he was able to behave himself wisely in spite of the taunts and threats of King Saul is fact of the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in his life. The Holy Spirit provided for David a stabilizing force. He enabled David to work with patience toward the goal of throne ship. It should be remembered that David already knew that he was God’s choice for the throne of Israel. He had already been anointed by Samuel, but we should note that nowhere is there evidence that David was trying to seize the throne from King Saul or maneuver in such a way as to have Saul dethroned or slain. This is an important observation because it indicates David’s viewpoint of kingship. And he brings moral climate to the idea of kingship that certainly did not exist in the mind of King Saul. David had become a war hero and his subsequent works of merit were well known to the people and spread abroad quickly. And has David returned from the slaughter of Goliath he was met in the cities of Israel with hundreds of women singing and dancing and of course as they sang and danced there was one song that predominated the singing [v 7]. This was the hit tune of that day it was not only on the lips of the Israelites but on the lips of the Philistines who enjoyed singing the praise of David much to the humility of King Saul. See I Sam. 21:11; 29:5]
B.     The Jealousy of Saul [18:8-12]
1.      The reasons for his jealousy [18:8] – in the light of declining political popularity this young man David had already secured the hearts of the people and the absolutism of King Saul was beginning to crumble at every point and the respect for his ability was on the decline. Nonetheless David remained faithful to King Saul. The reasons for Saul’s jealousy was that the people ascribed to David ten thousands but to Saul they ascribed thousands and this displeased Saul and he thought David would take the kingdom.
2.      The attempt to kill David [18:10-11] – David attempted to honor the king whenever appropriate and whenever possible. But the changing disposition of the king made it most difficult for David to maintain equilibrium in his relationship with the king. For time and time again that evil spirit from God came upon him [v 10]. And he prophesied in the midst of the house. What does this mean? As the evil spirit from God broke upon him this became a punishment to induce in the mind of Saul feelings of jealousy and despondency. In this changed disposition or frenzied activity described in the word prophecy here, David was called in to play music as at other times and he did this well. But here we see Saul sitting there with a spear in his hand a very unlikely scene for a time of pacification. There is something to be said for David’s faith here or shall we say he was naïve for Saul took the spear and cast it at David twice. Saul was afraid of David because of his growing popularity with the people and it was evidenced to Saul as well as to everyone else that the Lord was with David. And David continued to behave himself wisely in spite of the threats of Saul and this endeared him to the people of Israel. From this moment onward Saul had one principle goal in mind: the fulfillment of his jealousy and the death of David. And his first attempt at David’s life with the use of the javelin was unsuccessful. But he would not stop here the next step would be the marriage to his daughter.
C.     The Marriage of David [18:12-30] – by this he would make it possible for David to be slain and this was not successful as well in spite of the fact that he tried to encourage him into battle. Michal Saul’s daughter loved David greatly and according to [v 20] Saul heard of this and decided that he would then give Michal to David. Of course Saul had promised Michal to the one who had conquered Goliath [I Sam. 17:25] why she hadn’t been given to David at that time the question is not answered. Nonetheless David is promised possible marriage assuming that he is able to fulfill the dowry demands of King Saul. Which he set up as a hundred foreskins of the Philistines [v 25], in order that the King may be avenged of his enemies. Little did David know that this act on the part of Saul was an attempt on his own life. Rather David considered it an opportunity to honor the king and to free Israel. Saul’s plan was to bring about the death of David by sending him into battle. Could it be possible that this is where David got his idea for the death of Uriah [II Sam. 11:15] since he was used in a similar manner? Little did Saul think that David would accomplish such a task. But he did and brought back the necessary dowry and was given Michal as his wife. In this there is no bitterness in the heart of David and no attempt to turn on Saul rather he continues in his faithfulness.
D.    Saul’s Third Attempt on David’s Life [19:1-23]
1.      Saul’s plan [19:1] – he spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants that they should kill David.
2.      Jonathan’s intercession [19:2-7] – intervening here was Jonathan who had to be torn between the two. He loved his father and felt bad that he was able to witness the mental and moral decline of his father on the throne and the lack of respect that he now commanded among the people of Israel. And yet on the other hand even though Saul regarded David as an enemy Jonathan still loved David and wanted to protect him. So he sets himself up as a mediator and attempts to affect reconciliation between the two. Saul listened to his son at least for the moment [v 6].
3.      Saul’s attempt on David’s life [19:8-11] – once again David was called back to the royal court on the basis of Saul’s commitment that David would not be slain. And an evil spirit came upon Saul once again with the javelin in his hand and Saul once again took the javelin and threw it at David missing and hitting the wall. We might conclude here that David is a man of great patience.
4.      David’s escape [19:12-24] – David was protected by Michal and in order to give David time to escape his wife lied for him and she also attempted to deceive the soldiers of Saul by putting an image a teraphim in the bed making it look like David was sick and in bed. But the whole plot was discovered and the lie of Michal became known. This raises an interesting moral and ethical question: are there certain circumstances in which a lie can be justified? Assuming that it is to protect an honest individual or to protect the death of an innocent man? Does this not remind us of the account of Rahab [Joshua 2]. Many have seen this has the justification of a lie on certain occasions where good can be accomplished. Again it is an exercise in situational ethics in which the ethics or a moral of a situation is determined by the good it may or may not bring. But this is a dangerous philosophy for a number of reasons. If for no other reason this must be rejected because the Bible uniformly condemns lies on all occasions. No lie is ever determined as being good regardless of the circumstances or the outcome of the same. Secondly to lie in order to save the life of an individual is presumptuous for it assumes that we know without any failure or certainty the outcome of every given situation. This is to assume the omniscience of God. We do not know that the immediate outcome of a particular circumstance will result in the death of that innocent man. If God wanted the two spies to survive He could have stepped in and made necessary provisions for their escape and survival. Rahab did not know for a surety that they would be slain and the same is true for Michal. It is therefore incumbent upon a believer not to acquiesce to the use of lies to the achievement of any good for to lie is not to achieve good in a moral sense but to exercise and evil. Truth should always be characteristic of the man of God.
Nonetheless David escaped and was able to come to Ramah to Samuel for there he would receive help and counsel from Samuel and as we learn even protection. Saul sent messengers to Samuel and David and much to their surprise they prophesied much to the embarrassment of the messengers and the frustration of King Saul and so Saul went himself and he prophesied also. What exactly was this kind of prophesying? In this instance the word to prophecy is more descriptive of the outward actions of the individual rather than the content of his message. This of course meant complete humiliation of Saul and rather than being a sign of his coming kingship as in [ch 10] here it is a sign of his humiliation. Here David knows it will be impossible to achieve reconciliation with Saul.
E.     Jonathan’s Pact with David [20:1-42]
1.      The agreement to test Saul [20:1-8] – David agrees to a test of Saul’s commitment to Jonathan [19:6]; he will miss the feast of the new moon on the premise that he was going to Bethlehem for sacrifice. Another lie –is it not interesting that history records the lies of Israel’s greatest heroes – this is one of the strongest evidences of divine inspiration because it was out of character for the historians of the ancient near east to record the failures of their kings. The fact that such lies and immorality as we’ll encounter in [II Sam. 11] are recorded of David is a clear indication of the guidance of the Holy Spirit in these matters of record. A system was worked out where Jonathan could contact David regarding Saul’s disposition and intent. The covenant renewed [20:9-23]
2.      Saul tested [20:24-34] - After this Jonathan knew the intentions of his father because [v 33] shows that Saul cast the javelin at Jonathan to smite him.
3.      The warning given [20:35-42] - In spite of this David refused to seize the throne or to act in any indiscriminate way as to bring reproach upon God’s anointed. David refused to seize the throne on the basis that Saul was God’s anointed and until Saul died David would not attempt to seize that throne.
II.                David at Nob and Gath [21:1-15]
A.    David and Ahimelech [21:1-9]
1.      The identity of Ahimelech [21:1] – was the grandson of Eli.
2.      The lie of David [21:2-10] – this is the second lie in a short period of time telling the priest that he had come on the king’s business and needed food. Again this was a lie in order to accomplish what David thought was a reasonable end. But the involvement of this priest in coalition of David as the result of the lie brought about the slaughter of the priest at this city. Later on David realized the costly nature of that lie and confessed that he had occasioned the slaughter of the priest [see I Sam. 22:22ff] Lies have consequences they are not spoken in secrecy and if they are an attempt to cover up one circumstance in favor of another they will come back to haunt the individual or those associated with him. The desperate situation of the priesthood at this time is reflected in the fact that there was little food at the sight. The only bread that could be spared was the holy bread of the tabernacle and of course according to Law the only ones to eat this bread were the priests and only in the holy place. But on this occasion assuming the situation to be desperate as David described it the priest gave the bread to David and this was all witnessed by a man who was something less than sympathetic to David and his cause Doeg the Edomite as an Edomite he might have been a proselyte to Jewish religion or he may have been a slave working at Nob under the priests. In any event his commitment was to King Saul and David did not realize that his words were being overheard and that soon the message would be relayed to Saul. David also strangely enough requested sword of Goliath be returned to him. Why David would want that gigantic sword I’m not sure but nonetheless he requested and received it. Perhaps most amazing and perplexing of this whole affair is the conclusion to chapter 21.
B.     David and Achish [21:10-15]
1.      The problem David created [21:10-12] – David was war hero who was recognized by the people of Gath and he was carrying Goliath’s sword so this would have given him away and the possibility loomed that he could be killed.
2.      The solution to the difficulty [21:12-15] – the solution to this difficulty in David’s eyes was to present himself as a madman and to act out insanity, which he did with an Oscar-winning performance because he was released.
 
DAVID AS A FUGITIVE [I Samuel 22:1-26:25]
 
I.                   David’s Wanderings [22:1-24:22]
A.    From Adullam to Mizpeh [22:1-5] – it seems almost incongruous that David, God’s anointed should find himself at odds with the political system of Israel. This is the situation David fins himself in Chapters 22-26. According to Josephus Adullam has been identified t about 15 miles southwest of Jerusalem on the western slope of the mountains of Judah as they fall toward the Shaphelah. Many caves are found in these hills some of which are quite large. The sandstone formation of the caves is so soft that the walls can be cut with shells. This would seem to be an appropriate site for David to hide. There are many who feel that the cave of Adullam is better located at a site discovered not too long ago between Bethlehem and Tekoa [II Sam. 23:13-14]. This very large cave is an impressive system of cave units and would indeed provide an excellent hiding place for David. The cave was selected in order to provide protection and a place of rest for the hills of Judah are notoriously hot and uncomfortable in the afternoon sun. And this cave was suitable for this purpose and David had with him 400 men. We can presume that these 400 men were made up of members his family as well as various dissidents from the land of Judah who found themselves quite discontent with the leadership that Saul was providing from the north. David journeyed to Mizpah [means watchtower] of Moab and his trip was to provide protection for his father and mother from the character and intentions of King Saul at this point in his life. As a fugitive he would be accepted in a foreign country and we might also remember that the ancestor of David, Ruth came from Moab a matter of no small coincidence. While in Moab David met the prophet Gad and though the introduction to Gad is brief but in no way reflects the importance of this man of God. He may have been one of Samuel’s pupils that was sent to David for purposes of prophetic guidance and comfort in these days of uncertainty and tragedy. This prophet was to have a long and significant ministry with David after he became king [I Chron. 29:29] this prophet along with the prophet Nathan helped compile the biography of David. Following this David went to the forest of Hareth [v 5].
B.     The Destruction of Nob [22:6-23] – specific word of this came to Saul from Doeg who was set over the servants of Saul [v 9]. This indicates that Doeg was a man of some capability. He gave to Saul information concerning David’s whereabouts and of his visit concerning Ahimelech. This information has conveyed to Saul brings about one of the great tragedies in biblical history. The king said to his footman to go and slay the priests of the Lord. The only reason for this command was that Ahimelech had aided David. What a contrast this is as we compare Saul’s earlier attitudes especially [I Sam. 15] on which occasion he tried to portray himself as a man with religious and godly interests. So deep were those interests at least according to Saul that he preserved Agag alive and encouraged the people to save the best of the sheep and the oxen for the soul purpose of offering a sacrifice to the Lord. But now the real character of Saul is clearly outlined for us. He may have been a man of religious pretensions in [Ch 15] but he didn’t fool Samuel and by this point he didn’t fool anyone for his hatred for David and lack of concern for the holy priesthood is evident in his demand for the slaughter of the 85 priests that resided at this site. Not able to get cooperation from the footmen he turned to Doeg to carry out this slaughter and this he did only to satisfy the hatred of a wicked king. Word of this occasion reached David and for David this was a bleak moment to say the least. It was quite evident that David’s encounter with Ahimelech and lie was the reason for the slaughter of the priest. A lie is not without its subsequent consequences. A single act is not isolated and is not an end in itself. And therefore David realized that lie contrived to satisfy the need of a single occasion was now to have its serious consequences Thus he observed in [v 22]. This certainly puts a different light on the utilization of a lie for an apparently respectable goal. This should provide a warning to all who think that a lie is permissible as long as they think it will not hurt anyone. There is no real possibility of that and a lie can bring no good regardless of the circumstance or of its intention.
C.     The Rescue of Keilah [23:1-12] – the Philistines at this time were occupied with raids throughout the southern hill country and even to points north of Hebron. The natural thing for David would be to fight the Philistines without any problem whatsoever. Where was Saul at this time was it not the King’s responsibility to provide adequate defense for these helpless villages and crops they were gathering at this harvest season? David’s sensitivity to God’s will is evident in [v 2] because he asks if he should go. Now the average man having become a fugitive would not have asked such a question. To him it would have been obvious that defeat of the Philistines would have been legitimate. But David is sensitive to God’s will and his responsibility within the kingdom. Word was given to go and to smite the Philistines and the Lord gave him a significant victory. A great help to David was the presence of Abiathar the priest the only survivor of the slaughter of the city of Nob. He came to David with the ephod in his hand and this would be an encouragement to David for the priest possessing this was one who could provide information from God and leadership. For Saul this would provide frustration because he now lacked such leadership and guidance. David’s men now numbers 600 as 200 men were added because word got around of David’s successes and many were now willing to join him recognizing that Saul provided a hopeless outlook for adequate leadership.
D.    From the Wilderness to En-Gedi [23:14-24:22]
1.      David betrayed at Ziph [23:14-23] - He would then go to the wilderness of Ziph. He had hoped to receive some protection in this area from the Ziphites but that was not to come. The only consolation that he really had during this stay was a very important and final visit from Jonathan, Saul’s son. We are told in [v 16] that he strengthened his hand in God. Many feel that Psalm 11 was written after this visit by Jonathan a psalm that reflects renewed assurance and confidence in God. [v 17] is significant because Jonathan recognized that David had been anointed by as the next king of Israel and was willing to take a subservient position. Jonathan by action shows that he was sensitive to God’s will and a man faithful to David. A man with the capability of playing first violin but with the willingness to play second. That is a hard man to find in any generation. They renewed their covenant and then David had to flee because the Ziphites were still loyal to Saul.
2.      The flight to Maon [23:24-26] – David fled to Maon and was able to stay for a short time this is about 4 miles south of Hebron. As word spread of his presence he again had to move and he found himself at the beautiful site of En-Gedi. 
3.      Saul’s life spared [24:1-7] – here King Saul was discovered and at the mercy of David because he had entered a cave for quote “covering his feet” [v 3]. Which is euphemistic of course and a description of bowel movement [Judges 3:24]. After a short period of time David had an opportunity to cut off a part of Saul’s robe as an indication that he had the power to take the life of the king. Many men would have taken this opportunity to assassinate the king and would have received considerable sympathy for his deed and many would have justified it. But not David as long Saul was alive he was God’s anointed. He did not forget that and the sensitive conscience of David smote him [v 5]; this is important because it indicates that David has a high and holy perspective on kingship. If he assassinated king Saul solely for the purpose of acquiring the throne he would have established a political precedent that would have destroyed his own chances for effective kingship. David was attempting to establish a valid kingship without violence. Therefore sensitive to God’s will and timing he waited and Saul was able to escape this encounter with David.
4.      David’s protest [24:8-15] – David was somewhat surprised at Saul’s interest [v 14] as he pictures the great king of Israel pursuing him through the wilderness – only to pursue a dead dog. Dogs of ancient Palestine of course were nothing but scavengers and the most despicable of animals and a dead dog was even more worthless yet. And then he speaks of Saul as one pursuing a flea. A very vivid description of the priorities that Saul had established for himself and David’s subsequent importance. Just exactly how important was David to the demands of the kingdom and the threat of the Philistines. Saul’s pursuit was has valuable as trying to swat a flea in the mountains of Judah.
5.      The remorse of Saul [24:16-22] – here he shows some temporary remorse and he concludes that David will be king. This was a bitter admission on his part but nonetheless he could not help but be well aware of the fact that David was a gifted warrior and the hand of God was upon him.
 
 
 
 
 
II.                David and Nabal [25:1-44] – Nabal was evidently a rather wealthy man located at Carmel which is about 1 mile north of Maon south of Hebron.
A.    The Death of Samuel [25:1] – this particular time in history was a time of great despair and darkness. Darkness because Israel’s great prophet Samuel was now dead. [v 1] gives the scope of his influence in that all Israel gathered to lament this man. David was probably not able to attend but remained in the wilderness of Paran.
B.     David’s Request [25:4-11] – David made contact with Nabal to gain food for his troops. The feeding of 600 men as fugitives was not easy. But Nabal’s response was less than favorable. The Bible describes him as churlish and he was a man of dubious character. And the ten men that sent were treated in a very despicable manner. David’s initial response with this was that he wanted to go to war and punish this man for his obstinence and for the insults that he had heaped upon David in front of his men. Thus he girded on his sword and prepared to pay Nabal this fool his just due.
C.     Abigail’s Plan [25:12-31] – but in the meantime word was received regarding David’s plan in the ears of Abigail, Nabal’s wife. A woman of beauty and capability and she intervened on behalf of her worthless husband. She speaks of him as a son of Belial [v 17] and the servants used the same word [v 25]. She made haste in preparing the food for David and his men and then went and plead in behalf of her miserable husband who had committed this deed. David was impressed not with the beauty of this woman but with her wisdom and negotiating skills. Nabal caught up in a great feast and was drunken [v 36] and by a means not described for us he died. According to [v 38] the Lord is credited with his death.
D.    David’s Marriage to Abigail [25:32-44] – when David heard of this according to [v 39] he blessed the Lord and following this took her to be his wife. The chapter concludes with a list of the wives of David up to this point. Again we are confronted with the problem of polygamy and as a man of importance and significance David acquiesced to the cultural trends of that day.
 
III.             David’s Mercy to Saul [26:1-26]
A.    Critical View of This Chapter – liberal critical views of this chapter regard this to be mere duplication of chapter 24. But it should be pointed out however that the differences outweigh the resemblances and the difficulty of trying to reconcile the narratives if they refer to the same occurrence is far greater than that of supposing that somewhat similar events happened twice. Therefore we consider chapter 26 to be distinct from the events at En-Gedi in chapter 24. In this chapter David again has opportunity to take the life of Saul.
B.     Ahimelech the Hittite [26:6] – this time he as with him Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother of Joab. And David found Saul sleeping within the trench and according to the Hebrew the trench is made by wagons. Saul had his spear at his head. And a deep sleep had fallen upon Saul a deep sleep according to the Hebrew text like that put on Adam [Gen. 2:21].
C.     David’s Mercy Exhibited [26:7-25] – David again had opportunity had to take Saul’s life but he didn’t do so but spoke to Saul and once again according to [v 20] could not reconcile Saul’s actions on the part of Israel’s needs and saw this as the attempt of a hunter to smash a partridge in the mountains. Certainly the king must have had more important things to do than this. David’s assessment of the whole situation is important. David saw greater priorities for Israel than for Saul to spend time and energy and money in order to kill one single enemy. The greater enemy of Israel was not David but the Philistines, but the Philistines would not be challenged at this point because of the incompetence of Saul a self-centered king.
 
THE DEEDS OF A DESPERATE MONARCH [I Samuel 27:1-28:25]
 
I.                   David’s Return to Gath [27:1-12] - it is indeed remarkable that David was able to maintain his composure in the light of the tremendous pressures constantly placed upon him by the king of his land. Saul was relentless in his pursuit of David. Day and night he had to conceal himself and play the role of a fugitive. This in spite of the fact that he had been anointed by the prophet to be Israel’s next king.
A.    Despair and Frustration [27:1] – finally the pressure was more than David could accommodate and that despair drove him from his own people and led him back to the land of Philistia. To find what comfort was possible but most of all to assure himself of some safety without having to flee through the hills and to hide and be away from his family for long stretches at time. David had finally concluded in his heart that he should one day perish by the hand of Saul and so he felt he needed to escape into the land of the Philistines. He felt that if he went into this territory that Saul would conclude he had joined the enemy and now was no longer a threat to his throne.
B.     David and His Men Accepted [27:2-7] – David went with his 600 men and returned to Gath and contacted Achish. The question is often raised is this the same king as the one mentioned in [21:10]? There does not seem to be any reason why it would not be. The question that is raised however and it is legitimate why was David accepted in the city of Gath by this king on this occasion while on an earlier occasion he had to flee for his life and to act as a madman in order to escape the wrath of the king? There are a number of possible reasons the most important of which would be that David is now established as a fugitive. There is no question in the mind of this king that David was not a loyal servant of Saul in the sense of being in Saul’s favor and thereby providing a threat to the Philistines. Furthermore Achish may have been in a desperate situation militarily. He certainly would have heard of the exploits of David’s men who would have been regarded at this time as Habiru that is those who invaded into the land either belligerently or in a peaceful manner. In any event David was accepted by the king and given a town in which to settle. It is instructive that David did not settle in the principle city of Gath. He requested a place that was located in the country [v 5]. The reason for this should be obvious David did not want to be under the scrutiny of this king. He wanted freedom of movement and in particular he wanted to have the options to move out with his men in protection of Judean cities, which is exactly what he did according to the latter verses of this chapter. He spent 14 months in the land of the Philistines and this certainly must have been a long time from the standpoint of his psychological peace of mind and his own spiritual welfare. He was away from the prophet and priests and had little contact with the people of Israel except on the brief occasions when protecting their cities.
C.     Invasion and Victory [27:8-12] – it was a time of military success because he invaded the Geshurites, Gezrites, and the Amalekites. The Amalekites were a constant threat to the tribes of Judah and Simeon to the south. These victories enabled the tribe of Judah to enjoy some semblance of peace although they were continually threatened by Philistine incursions. Because the Philistines by this time were strong and gaining in strength because of the impotence and poor leadership of Saul. When David conquered the people to the south was very careful to employ the herem principle of victory that is the complete annihilation of all that were in the cities [9]. The reason for this is given in [v 11]. Some of the people defeated by David may have been occasional allies of the Philistines and this would put David in a precarious position if his activities were discovered. Thus for 14 months he was able to provide limited protection which should have been the job of king Saul. All of this would stand him in good in years to come for after David would take the throne he would be challenged by the very people he remained among during this time. David while among the Philistines learned of their major fortresses and was aware of their military tactics and their ways of march, the size of their armies and their military encampments. This would providentially help him in the long run. What happens however to a man who stands even more alone than David? We’re referring to Saul.
II.                Saul and the Witch of Endor [28:1-25]
A.    The Plight of the King [28:1-6] – this is a chapter of despair and discouragement for Saul had driven David out of the land, Samuel was dead, he had slaughtered off priests, and now the heavens were silent.
1.      The Philistines threat [28:1-5] – to compound the problems of Saul [v 1] says that the Philistines were gathering themselves together for a major challenge to Israel’s military might. It is very doubtful that the armies of Israel were in any condition to defend themselves from the Philistine attack. Saul was frightened at the prospect of a major Philistine war.
2.      The silence of God [28:6] – he attempted in his vain manner to get help from the Lord but the attempt was vain and purely self-centered and probably out of accord with a true approach to a holy God. His inquiry of the Lord was threefold but without success. He was not contacted by dreams that were a common form of revelation in the OT; nor by Urim; nor by prophetic revelation.
B.     Witchcraft in the Ancient Near East - During the months that had preceded this battle Saul had put those who had familiar spirits and wizards out of the land [v 3]. There seems to have been some pressure put upon Saul perhaps by the priests to put an end to the popularity of mediumship in the land and of course he should have done that anyway in accordance with the law. Nonetheless as the Philistine hosts began to gather he was afraid [v 5].
The OT makes reference to at least six forms of divination. All these, however, were clearly condemned as inappropriate to the search for God’s will. They are as follows:
[1] Hepatoscopy, which was the process of divining from the liver of a sacrificed animal [Ezek. 21:21]. This was a common practice in both Babylon and Palestine.
[2] Hydromancy, or divination by water. Many feel this is referred to in the Joseph story [Gen. 44:5].
[3] – Rhabdomancy – this is the use of a divining rod or the casting of arrows [Ezek. 21:21; Hos. 4:12].
[4] Teraphim – the use of teraphim or household images was quite common among the peoples of Mesopotamia and Palestine. They were a sign of authority and land ownership, but were also used for purposes of divination [Ezek. 21:21; Zech. 10:2].
[5] Astrology – the study of the stars rests upon the belief that heavenly bodies are in fact deities or are controlled by deities and influence the destiny of men. Such practice was very common to Babylon and appeared to be a problem in the days of the prophets [Isa. 47:13; Jer. 10:2].
[6] Necromancy – included two ideas; involves the worship of ancestors and the other is that the dead may be consulted for purposes of determining the future. The practice of necromancy is uniformly forbidden in the OT [Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:11; Isa. 8:19; 19:3].
C.     The Woman with a Familiar Spirit [28:7-11] – in order to meet with this woman Saul had to disguise himself because he had driven those with familiar spirits out of the land and he had to contact her by night presumably the only time this craft could be practiced without being discovered. She made Saul promise if she functioned as a medium and attempted to contact the dead that she would be spared the punishment that had been threatened to all those of her craft. This Saul did and he kept his promise. She asked who Saul would like to see and he asked for Samuel the one prophet he knew who had the ear of God. He wanted to know about the future. He desperately needed guidance.
D.    The Appearance of Samuel [28:12-19] – and when the woman saw Samuel she cried with a loud voice and said why has though deceived me for thou art Saul.
1.      The problem stated – two problems are raised by this verse: [1] – why did she know Saul and not recognize him before? One writer says that when Samuel appeared he identified Saul. Another view maintains that the appearance of Samuel provided great light in the room thereby exposing the identity of king Saul. [2] - is the particular nature of this event. Was this a genuine apparition or was this a hallucination on the part of Saul or was the whole thing an ingenious imposter? This problem has been attacked by a number of viewpoints.
2.      Various views
a.       The product of psychological impressions – according to this view the woman had permitted herself to become emotionally involved and psychologically identified with the prophet so that she was convinced that he had actually appeared when called. Two objections raised against this view: [1] – from [v 12] indicates that when Samuel did appear the medium cried out with a loud voice apparently startled by his appearance. Such would not be the case if she was seeking a vision produced by psychological excitement. [2] – the general reading of the text leads one to the conclusion that not only did the woman speak with Samuel, but Saul spoke with him as well [v 15].
b.      A demon or Satan impersonated Samuel – in such an ingenious way that both the witch of Endor and Samuel were impressed with its genuinous. It is argued by those of this view that God would not allow a woman to disturb the rest of a godly man. They further argue that God did not allow the practice of necromancy and therefore would not have violated his command to speak to Saul. It is argued in the third place that God would not speak to Saul in this manner if he would not speak to him by dreams, urim, or by prophets. Therefore the whole thing was an imposture on the part of satan. While it is true that satan can perform such deception it is highly doubtful that he has the prophetic knowledge necessary to reveal that which was given to Saul in this chapter. And also in the light of the godly character of David and the wickedness of Saul, the demonic power would have flattered Saul with a positive prophecy.
c.       Saul was deceived by deliberate imposture – the witch really did not see Samuel, but fooled Saul into believing that her voice or that of someone else was that of Samuel. Those maintaining this view point out that only the woman saw Samuel and reported his words. The following is a representative argument of this view. The more reasonable view is that the whole transaction was a feigning on the part of the woman. The LXX uses the word eggastrimuthos [a ventriloquist] to describe the woman and those who exercise kindred arts [v 9]. Though pretending ignorance [v 12] the woman doubtless recognizes Saul from the first. It was she who saw Samuel, and reported his words; the king himself saw nothing and heard nothing. It required no great skill in a practical diviner to forecast the general issue of the battle about to take place, and the disaster which would overtake Saul and his sons; while if the forecast proved untrue, the narrative would never have been written. Saul, in fact, was not slain, but killed himself. The incident, therefore, may best be ranked in the same category as the feats of modern mediumship.
d.      Samuel actually appeared – the most popular view and that which is maintained by most orthodox commentators is that this was a genuine appearance of Samuel brought about by God Himself. In favor of this proposal is the Septuagint reading of I Chronicles 10:13 which is as follows. “Saul asked counsel of her that had a familiar spirit to inquire of her, and Samuel made answer to him.” Furthermore, the fact that she cried out when she saw Samuel indicated that she did not bring Samuel up and did not expect him to appear in this manner. The fact that Saul bowed himself to the ground and did obeisance is a further indication that this was a real appearance of Samuel. It is doubtful that he would have reacted merely on the grounds of a verbal description or a false impression. Samuel’s statement to Saul in [v 15] should not be regarded as proof of the fact the witch of Endor or Saul brought him back from the dead.
3.      A suggested solution – what, then, was the purpose of God in bringing Samuel back for this appearance? This unusual act on the part of God was certainly designed to emphasize the doom of Saul and God’s displeasure for his coming to a necromancer. Robert Jamieson suggests three additional reasons: [1] – to make Saul’s crime an instrument of his punishment; [2] – to show the heathen world God’s superiority in prophecy; [3] to confirm a belief in a future state after death. Two other men made an appearance on earth after death Moses and Elijah [Matt. 17:3; Luke 9:30-31].
4.      Some theological implications – there are some serious theological implications to any viewpoint taken on this chapter and these have been at the forefront ever since 1966 when James Pike, the son of Bishop Pike committed suicide. His death was followed by a whole series of strange events occurring in England. Bishop Pike and Episcopal bishop was so influenced by these strange and unexplainable occurrences that he consulted with a medium. He was convinced that the events that had happened were an attempt to draw his attention to his son and make an attempt to contact him. Accordingly Bishop Pike called the medium and a séance was held and it was affirmed that the son of Bishop Pike actually did speak to his father. How then shall we evaluate this experience as compared to that of Saul? Is there the possibility of the appearance or communication with the dead? Or is this theologically unsound? We would suggest as a proposition that it is utterly impossible for any communication or contact to take place between the living on earth and those who are deceased. There are a number of viewpoints for this reason. The first of which is a purely spatial argument. We know from scripture that death is separation of the soul from the body. While the body cease its normal conscious functions the soul continues in a conscious stream apart from the body. At death it goes either to Hades [place of punishment] or to the presence of Christ. The soul is not omnipresent it is localized in sphere and in form and therefore if it is reserved in these places from a purely spatial point of view it cannot be here. Nor can it be contacted mysteriously. A second argument is based on [Luke 16] – after the rich man had died he was not only separated from his body [although his soul continued to consciously exist and even experience the torture of divine punishment] but he was separated by a great gulf from Abraham’s bosom to the punishment in Hades. A gulf that was fixed that one could not pass from one place to another. This should put an end to a transfer from purgatory to any other state of being after death. It is also further implied in this chapter that there is no possibility of his return to earth or communication with the living on earth for any reason whatsoever [Luke 16:27]. Thirdly we know from the book of Hebrews that the next event after death is judgment. There is no hint whatsoever that there is the possibility of one returning from the dead and having any earth oriented experience after death. A fourth argument has to do with the sovereignty of God over the souls of men. When one dies his life is committed into the hands of an infinitely sovereign and holy God. That life is reserved for judgment. I find it difficult to believe that the Lord would permit the souls of believers who are in rest to be wrested from that state by a wicked medium for no other purpose than to satisfy the emotional whims of someone on earth. The time of communication is now and once death occurs it ends.
E.     The Response of Saul [28:20-25] – after Saul received the message from Samuel and it was the same message he had heard before, his disobedience would mean the end to his throne. Saul then fell on the earth and was even more afraid than when he came for he realized that he was now doomed and there was no hope for the future. A high price to pay for disobedience to God’s will and just for mere satisfaction of his own will and plans. The desperate situation of Saul would become even more of a crisis as the Philistines polished their swords and got ready for battle.
 
THE LAST DAYS OF SAUL [I Samuel 29:1-31:13]
 
I.                   The Philistine March to Jezreel [29:1-11]
A.    The Location of Aphek [29:1] – the Philistines have gathered at Aphek and the Israelites at Jezreel not far from the mountains of Gilboa. It appears the Philistines have chosen the place of battle for it was decidedly to their advantage to fight in this particular valley and area. We have observed in previous discussions the use of chariots by the Philistines and of course the Canaanites were also experts in the use of chariots as well. This means that Israel was in a decided tactical disadvantage by being lured to a major battle in this area. We might conclude that Saul’s inability to manipulate such as to prevent such a tactical advantage to the Philistines is further evidence that the Spirit of God no longer guided him in a special sense of giving him wisdom and capability in these matters. David remained with the Philistines and with him was Abiathar the priest. All of these factors made it difficult for Saul in his leadership of the people.
B.     The Objections to David’s Presence [29:2-5] – the lords of the Philistines were the principle rulers of the Pentopolis. They are the sarne [see Josh. 13:3; I Sam. 6:16]. Their concern is that David whom they still regard as the servant of Saul was among them. They are concerned that in the heat of battle David might turn against them and in so doing aide Saul in his conquest of the Philistines. The term adversary is the Hebrew word s’atan from which we get our English word satan and gives us some insight into how the person satan does work. He is an adversary and a deceiver. As an angel of light he does move among those as an ally and a friend but only to deceive and to destroy. Therefore the use of the Hebrew word here provides a worthwhile commentary on the nature and activity of satan the one who is the enemy of our very souls. The question raised here is the prowess of David as a champion in Israel and note again the popular folk tune of that day [v 5]. 
C.     David Released by Achish [29:6-11] – the statement of the king in [v 6] as the Lord liveth as presented some problems to some commentators. This appears to be a strange statement coming from the lips of a heathen king. And scholars have intended to interpret this expression in three different ways: [1] – some feel that Achish may have been attracted to Israel’s religion through his association with David and therefore would have used the expression quite naturally.
[2] - others feel that Achish actually used a different expression, but the writer used a substitution in preparing the final record of these events. [3] – the more probable view proposed by S. Goldman is that Achish used this expression basically to impress David with his sincerity. To this request to leave David gives some resistance for sure just enough to remove himself from suspicion and with this resistance Achish said to David [v 9].
II.                The Amalekite Invasion of Ziklag [30:1-31]
A.    Destruction of the City [30:1-6] – when David left his city along with his men the Amalekites saw this as an opportunity to avenge an earlier defeat at the hands of David [I Sam. 27:8]. This vicious fighting people would not let this opportunity pass and so while David was gone they attacked the city which was probably only defended by a token force and captured easily. The women were taken captives as were their daughters and sons. The purpose of taking captives on the part of the Amalekites was to enjoy the price of a slave. The Amalekites were very active in trading slaves between Palestine and Egypt and these individuals would bring a good price as slaves. As word came to David of the defeat of his hometown the people turned against him and according to [v 6] they spoke of stoning him. Which is reminiscent of Moses in [Ex. 17:14] how quickly the people forget the great deeds of such leaders. How short is the memory when it comes to situations that are strained. And David at this point was faced with a tremendous challenge. Should he turn and flee at this point leaving the Philistines and other apparent enemies behind? David didn’t do this he strengthened himself in the Lord perhaps through prayer and meditation.
B.     David’s Response to the Tragedy [30:7-10] – David requested that the ephod be brought so that a formal inquiry could be made of the Lord. David’s question for God is intriguing. From a purely human point of view there should be no question as to what should be done. The Amalekites had invaded his city, destroyed it and taken the people captive, from a human point of view the options were obvious go and defeat the Amalekites. But not David again we witness the restraining force of the Holy Spirit in his life. sensitive to God’s will he then prays and wants to know shall I pursue after this troop? Shall I overtake them? The answer was to pursue for he would recover all. Therefore David was encouraged he and his 600 men with him started their journey southward to locate the Amalekites and recover what belonged to them.
C.     Pursuit of the Enemy [30:11-20] – on their way south they came across an Egyptian who was near death and they give him bread and water and helped him to revive. And the food that is mentioned in [vv 11-12] is characteristic of the diet of the Bedouin Arabs in the desert region. The Egyptian identified himself as a slave of an Amalekite. This statement on the part of the Egyptian is interesting from two standpoints: [1] it gives some indication as to the interests and activities of the Amalekites. They were so brash as to invade sections of northern Egypt and capture Egyptians and use them as slaves. [2] it gives some information on the weakness of Egypt at this time. The very fact that Egyptians could be captured and made slaves indicated the impotence of Pharaoh and the leaders of Egypt at this time. They asked information of this man as to the location of the Amalekites at this time and he was willing to convey this information as long as they spared his life. He knew well that if he were turned over to his master he would be slain. So with a promise from David they march southward and come upon the Amalekites who at this time were enjoying a massive victory celebration which they felt they had earned. There was drinking and dancing unfortunately the celebration may have been planned too soon. This is sort of reminiscent of the great victory celebration of Ahab and recorded in [I Kings 20:15-20] or like the victory celebration of Ben-Hadad I all of which turn out to be inappropriate in the light of subsequent events. This celebration provided a means for victory for David for he was able to attack them while in their drunken state and it began at the twilight and continued until the evening of the next day. And there escaped not a man of them except 400 young men which rode upon camels and fled. The escape of 400 young men from David’s attack might explain the presence of a large Amalekite force even after Saul had defeated them. You’ll recall [I Sam. 15] we read of Saul’s major attack upon the Amalekites to the south. Presumably he was to have slaughtered most of them. We gather from this account and the short time that has transpired that Saul’s command was to attack a certain group of the Amalekites or perhaps one encampment or site. It was not his intention perhaps to annihilate every single Amalekite and as a matter of fact he didn’t. Otherwise we cannot account for the size of the Amalekite force and their capability in defeating Ziklag. We might also assume that in Saul’s attack the same thing that happened here happened that with the use of camels certain of the Amalekites were able to escape the Israelite armies. David was able to rescue all and claim a victory of great significance. This he did with only 400 men, 200 of his men were weary and completely fatigued from their march from the north.
D.    Division of the Spoil [30:21-25] – the fact that 200 didn’t participate in the battle created another situation of tension and possible danger. For when all the spoils were taken a certain group of men self-centered, wicked, and shortsighted described in [v 22] as sons of Belial decided that only those who had participated in the battle should be recipients of the spoil. On two grounds David would not accept this proposition: [1] – it was presumptuous on their part to assume that they had won the battle and that they had earned the recovery of the goods. As a matter of fact according to [v 23] it was the Lord who had given the victory and the subsequent recapture of their own goods; [2] if David had agreed to this it would have caused a serious morale problem among his own men and would have set a dangerous precedent for military warfare in the future. In effect David did have a precedent one which to fall [Num. 31:25-54] we have record of Moses division of the spoil of the Midianites and upon this principle David permitted every man to enjoy the goods that had been recaptured. For David this was a move of great importance from a military point of view but politics also were not far from David’s mind and with shrewdness he thought of the people of Judah remembering that he was still anointed as king. And a day would soon come when Saul would be dead and he would then make his move toward the throne.
E.     Gifts to Judah [30:26-31] – in order to do that and in order to secure continued favor in Judah he took large sections of the spoil and sent them to the elders of Judah. This was a good move on David’s part because it maintained from friendship with some of the key leaders of Judah and indicated to them that he had not sold out his people and joined the Philistines. The concluding part of chapter 30 contains a list of towns probably in Judah that received gifts from David as a result of his conquest of the Amalekites.
III.             The Death of Saul and Jonathan [31:1-13]
A.    The Battle at Gilboa [31:1-10]
1.      Geographical setting [31:1] – the northern part of Palestine near Gilboa as the Philistines attack with their chariots, footmen, and horsemen they were overwhelmingly successful [I Chron. 10:1-6] the battle went so bad for Israel that in a brief time they had to flee in an attempt to reach the mountains of Gilboa believing that the Philistines would not pursue them there. But this was not a successful move for as they fled the Philistines caught Jonathan and Abinadab, and Melchishua, Saul’s sons and slew them leaving only Ishbosheth to survive.
2.      Saul wounded [31:2-5] – the battle went so bad that the archers were able to get close enough to wound king Saul and according to [v 3] he was sore wounded of the archers. This phrase is better translated from the Hebrew text as “He was greatly alarmed regarding the archers” and does not indicate a mortal wound at this point. The archers therefore did play an important role in Philistine military maneuvers. Saul perhaps frustrated and probably wounded asked his armor bearer which tradition says was Doeg the Edomite although this can’t be confirmed to draw the sword and to slay him. Recognizing that he was in danger of being captured he wished to die. He mentions the fact that he did not want to be abused [v 4]. Perhaps Saul remembered well what Samson went through when he was captured by the Philistines. This Saul did not want he was too proud for that and above all he did not want to humiliate his people. His armor bearer refused to kill his king. Therefore Saul took his sword and fell upon it in an attempt to commit suicide. The armor bearer saw that his king was dead and saw no hope for himself or the possibility of being accused of neglect took his own life.
3.      The death and mutilation of Saul [31:6-11] – [v 6] explicitly says Saul dies presumably as a result of suicide. But [II Sam. 1] raises the precise nature of Saul’s death. Was it suicide or was murder at the hand of a wandering Amalekite? The men of Israel were badly scattered. They had to flee the cities that they occupied in the north and probably found themselves hiding in caves once again but this time with the deepest of despair. The high priest was gone. David was gone. Samuel was dead and now the king and his sons had been slaughtered. The bleakness of the moment in the conclusion of I Samuel cannot be overemphasized. The book begins with a note of optimism. The man Samuel, the election of a king, great victory brought by King Saul, but then comes the steady decline and frustration of Philistine success and Israeli frustration and all of it ending in a bloody heap on the mountains of Gilboa. The beauty and stature of Saul ends with the cutting off of his head [v 9]. Could it be that they did this as a reciprocal action for what David did to their champion Goliath? Then they took his armor and sent it into the land of the Philistines and published this in the house of their idols.
4.      Saul’s body recovered [31:12-13] – the chapter concludes with a very valiant effort on the part of the men of Jabesh-Gilead who took the body of Saul and his sons and gave them a burial. The purpose of this was reflect their love for the king for it was he who had rescued them in a moment of great despair. Now they show their respect for the king by jeopardizing their own lives to recover the bodies of the king and his sons. This chapter concludes with a practical reminder that pride will bring a man to a low fall if he ignores the principles of God’s Word and the leading of His will.
 
DAVID’S RULE OVER JUDAH [II Samuel 1:1-3:39]
 
I.                   Introduction
A.    Nature and Scope of the Book – this book represents a study in human relationships, political moves, and of course interesting theological moves. It tells the story of David’s ascension to the throne. The scope of the book includes a period of about 40 years. It begins with David’s ascension over Judah and closes with just before his death. It covers a chronological period from about 1011B.C.- 971B.C. There are some commentators who have found it advantageous to divide the book on its spiritual content rather than historical. In this case the book would be divided as follows: [1] David’s triumphs [1:1-12:31] and [2] David’s troubles [13:1-24:25].
B.     Theological Perspectives
C.     Suggested Outline
1.      David’s rule over Judah [1:1-4:12] – David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites and was no abiding in Ziklag his hometown in Philistia. He had been there for approximately 3 days and a man approached David. His clothes were torn and he had dirt on his head which was a sign of mourning. He told David he came form out of the camp of Israel and he begins to describe the manner in which Saul died and his role in that death. According to this man both Saul and Jonathan had died on the field of battle. David wanted to know how knew this and according to [v 6] it was by chance that he had come upon Mt. Gilboa. Saul had leaned upon his spear in an attempt to commit suicide but according to the Amalekite had failed. Saul still alive but bleeding badly and afraid of falling into the hands of the Philistines alive requested the Amalekite to slay him and end his life once for all. So the Amalekite slew him according to [v 10] and as evidence of the fact that Saul was dead he had the crown and bracelet that had been on Saul’s arm and head and he had brought them to David. David’s immediate response to this news was that of great sorrow and he began to mourn the death of King Saul. David’s behavior on this occasion is instructive. It again reflects the fact that in spite of Saul’s failures and the difficulties that Saul provided for David he nonetheless saw the death of God’s anointed not the death of a rebel or an enemy and of course the death of Jonathan came as a deep blow to David for he had established a close and enduring friendship with the son of King Saul. The whole question that arises at this point is how shall we account for this history of Saul’s death compared with that in I Samuel 31. In that chapter it is clearly stated that king Saul died as an act of suicide. However II Samuel 1 implies that he was killed on the filed of battle by this man at Saul’s request. There are basically three accounts of Saul’s death in scripture [I Sam. 31:3-6; I Chron. 10:1-6; II Sam. 1:2-10]. In all the accounts except this one there is unanimous conclusion that Saul died as a result of suicide. He took his own life. Commentators have been divided as to the veracity of the Amalekite’s story. Did he merely invent the story in order to achieve prominence and favor in the sight of David? Many feel this was the case. Others conclude that what the Amalekite said was true that Saul had not died from suicide but in fact was slain by the Amalekite. In any event the man told David he was an Amalekite. It seems strange that a man should approach David from this tribe since a few days earlier David had fought and defeated these people who had taken his wives captive. What the Amalekite did not understand however was the full character and disposition of David as it related to kingship. He thought that he had made a move that would endear him to David politically and perhaps gain him some financial security. How wrong he was, David assuming that the Amalekite’s story was true pointed out the fact that he had slain the Lord’s anointed king. And he called immediately for the execution of the Amalekite. This again is a view of the sacredness of life as viewed by scripture. In this present age there is a great question concerning the propriety of capital punishment. It is argued by many that capital punishment per se does not provide an effective deterrent to murder or manslaughter. However the Bible does not establish capital punishment on the basis of its deterrent factors. Capital punishment that is judicial punishment by recognized law is brought about as a result of the sacredness of human life see [Gen. 9]. The death penalty for premeditated murder is appropriate in light of the way God looks at human life.
David goes into deep mourning for Saul and Jonathan. These are not the superficial words of a king who was trying to maneuver himself into political acceptability with the people. No indeed it is the genuine outpouring of a broken heart for ones he loved dearly and those he respected. In this we have a number of stanzas that are divided by the phrase “how the mighty are fallen.” And this ode on the part of David represents again his deep love for Jonathan. For Israel this was the darkest of moments. For now Samuel was gone, King Saul was gone; many of the priests had been slaughtered. Where should they look for leadership? David prayed to the Lord and God told him to go to the people of Hebron. Here David is anointed over the house of Judah. David’s first act as king was to send messengers to Jabesh-Gilead and gives them a strong commendation for their act of heroism and for their act of faithfulness. For David this was a shrewd political move because if he could gain the support and understanding from the people of Jabesh-Gilead who were deeply committed to the line of Saul. Then he would be well on his way to a unification of the land.
2.      David’s rule over all Israel [5:1-24:25]
3.      Ishbosheth made king over Israel [2:8-11] – According to [v 8] Abner brought Ishbosheth the son of Saul and brought him to the river Mahanaim and it was Abner’s plan to make this son of Saul the next king. There is an interesting play on words here the name of Saul’s son as it appears here is Ishbosheth. But the original name according to [I Chron. 8:33; 9:39] was Ish-Baal, that is a man of Baal or perhaps man of the Lord. Because of the later implications of the name as it related to the Canaanite pantheon and perhaps because of the actions of this man his name was changed to Ishbosheth and bosheth of course means shame. It is not uncommon for the scribes to change the names of men of similar character. Abner intended to have a kingdom separate from Judah and made Ishbosheth king and he reigned for 2 years according to [v 10]. David reigned in Hebron for 71/2 years. Civil war breaks out between the house of David and the house of Saul prompted primarily by Abner the general and chief of Ishboseth’s army and the real power behind the throne. It seems according to the latter part of this chapter that Abner and Joab met at the site of Gibeon.
4.      Defeat of Abner and death of Asahel [2:12-32]
a.       Archaeology and ancient Gibeon [El-Jib] – this spot is located just a few miles northwest of the city of Jerusalem. They sat down each on one side of the pool located at Gibeon. There they began to speak to one another and presumably began to taunt one another. The taunts ultimately developed into a form of battle which for us is somewhat obscure but has been enlightened by archaeological discovery. A word is in order concerning the identity of this site of Gibeon.
1] The work of James B. Pritchard – led the expeditions that made discoveries that are most helpful to the Bible student. Identification of El-Jib as ancient Gibeon was made sure by the recovery of a number of jar handles dating from the seventh century B.C. on these jar handles were a number of inscriptions including the name of the town, Gibeon.
2] Identification of the site – among the important industries at ancient Gibeon was the making of wine. This has been verified by the discovery of wine vats dating to the pre-exilic period. Most spectacular of all the discoveries, however, was a large shaft leading to a pool, now identified with the pool mentioned in this chapter. This pool was cut down into a solid rock and was cylindrical in shape, measuring 37 feet in diameter and 35 feet deep. At the base of this cut the excavators discovered a circular stairway which continued by means of a tunnel down another 45 feet. This ultimately led to the water room which could be used by the people at all times, but especially during those periods when the enemy was outside the walls.
b.      The nature of the battle [2:14-17] – Abner taunted Joab by saying let the young man arise and play before us. To this Joab agreed. The word for play is the word sahaq.  When the twelve from each of the groups was selected they encountered each other by each one taking his fellow by the head and then thrusting his sword into the fellow’s side. All these men died on this occasion and this broke out into a larger battle and the men of Abner were badly beaten.
c.       The death of Asahel [2:18-23] – during the battle the brother of Joab decided that this was an opportunity to demonstrate his military prowess and perhaps gain some recognition for his military capabilities. Thus he began to pursue Abner personally and as a matter of fact would not let up. At the first Abner was not in a mood to slay this young man but ultimately he had no choice and had to kill him. The expression he smote him under the fifth rib is euphemistic for the idea of smiting him in the abdomen. The death of this young man will have important consequences later on.
d.      Conclusion of the battle [2:24-32] – another geographical fact is noted in [v 29]. The political capital of the northern kingdom at this time was the site of Mahanaim. This is located on the east side of the Jordan. This may be another indication of the success of the Philistines in raiding the central hill country. They were so successful that Abner did not find it was to establish the kingdom in the West Bank area.
II.                Abner and David [3:1-39]
A.    The Family of David [3:1-6] – at this time David had taken a number of wives.
B.     Abner’s Submission to David [3:7-26] – a conflict broke out in the royal court of the north. Ishbosheth who does not seem to demonstrate great skill in handling political matters charged Abner with attempting to take his father’s concubine. As we know from ancient Near Eastern custom the harem of the king passes to his heir and is a visible sign of royal authority. This comment was not appreciated by Abner and he responded saying am I a dog’s head which belongs to Judah. Thus his alliance and allegiance to Ishbosheth begins to diminish. He immediately made contact with David with the promise that if David would make a league with him he would encourage the other tribes to come under David’s rulership. To this David agreed for this was after all the desire of his heart but with one condition that Michal Saul’s daughter should be returned to him. She had been given to another man as an act of spite by King Saul.
C.     The Murder of Abner [3:27-39] – as we study the life of Joab we are impressed with two things first his military skill and cunning that is beyond dispute. But on the other hand we are impressed with the lack of moral discretion on the part of this man. It is quite clear from biblical history that David tolerated many things as an expedient for military strength for on many occasions Joab proved himself undesirable and an embarrassment to David. On the other hand he was a skilled military leader and in an age of Philistine threats his services were much needed. Abner had done his best to effect unification of the north with the south. He had returned Michal as a condition upon which unification would begin. When Joab returned from war he was informed of this communication and was not at all pleased. According to [v 27] Abner was summoned by Joab to return. Perhaps on the premise that negotiations be complimented by these two men. Little did Abner know that Joab had other things in mind. After the shalom greeting Joab invited Abner to step aside and speak with him quietly in the gate and there he smote him in the abdomen. According to [v 27] this was done as a retribution for the blood of Asahel his brother. But we doubt that blood revenge here fully accounts for the death of Abner. In fact it raises some serious questions of whether the principle of lex talionis or whether the responsibility of slaying the murderer is even appropriate here for Abner was unwilling in his slaying of Asahel. Furthermore Hebron was a city of refuge and if this took place inside the gate it was without question a violation of the law. The murder of Abner was brought to David’s attention and over this he expressed great concern and genuine sorrow. He could not change the deed that had been done but in careful sensitivity he mourned over the death of this man and quickly denied any association with the murder of the man. This of course put David in difficult position for the people in the north would immediately be suspect of David’s intentions and this could have brought an end to any possibility of unification. But the mourning of David and his fasting pleased the people. they were convinced that he was genuinely disassociated with what Joab had done.
 
UNIFICATION OF THE LAND [II Samuel 4:1-6:23]
 
I.                   The Assassination of Ishbosheth [4:1-12]
A.    The Murder Described [4:1-8]
1.      “His hands were feeble” [4:1] – Ishbosheth was not a strong king and he lost power and courage to act as a king since Abner had been the only real support to the throne. It was Abner that had made him king and judging from everything that was done it was really Abner who was running the country. In this chapter two men take it upon themselves to slay what they thought was David’s enemy. While Ishbosheth was asleep in bed at noon they went and slew the king and beheaded him and brought the head of that slain king to David. I can imagine that they entered into David’s royal court with an air of pride and satisfaction. Note [v 8] they said to the king behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought they life. David was not pleased with this assassination. How little they understood the heart of David. The one thing David refused to engage in was assassination as a means of accomplishing political purposes.
2.      “His name was Mephibosheth” [4:4] – the northern tribes were in a most difficult position. The only son that was really available for any possibility of assuming the throne was Mephibosheth but he was crippled and certainly not capable of providing effective leadership for the ten northern tribes.
B.     The Murderers Punished [4:9-12]
1.      “A righteous person” [4:11] – they had slain a righteous man since righteous in this sense means being free from major wicked deeds or crimes.
2.      “Cut off their hands” [4:12] – David called for the execution of the men and he slew them and cut off their hands and feet and hanged them over the pool in Hebron allowing the blood to drip into the water as a vivid reminder to the people of the severity of which he looked upon assassination and widespread murder. Why were the hands and feet cut off of these bodies? Perhaps the hands a symbol of that which they had committed murder and the feet with which they had run for the reward. Again we have evidence of the ethics David brought to throne of Judah.
II.                The Establishment of a Capital [5:1-6:23]
A.    The Capture of Jerusalem [5:1-25]
1.      David anointed king over all Israel [5:1-5] – because Mephibosheth was crippled and not capable of providing effective leadership the ten northern tribes came to David and requested that he be king. The anointing of David as king over all Israel was a very intricate and sensitive process. The elders came and many others were involved in the approach to David. The elders of course came as representatives of the people but numerous bands of armed men participated as well according to [I Chron. 12:23-38] and 4600 Levites with Jehoiada as the leader of the Aaronites and Zadok as a quote young man mighty of valor were also participants [I Chron. 12:26-28].
a.       The basis of kingship over all the tribes [5:1] – with this widespread unity David was able to assume a throneship over the whole kingdom. The request of the people was that he should be king in the manner that the Lord appointed.
b.      The nature of David’s kingship [5:2] – and that manner is implied in [v 2] thou shalt feed my people Israel. He was to care for them as a shepherd. He was also to engage in civil responsibility to care for them, feed them, and to be a prince a leader, ruler, and a soldier.
c.       The third anointing of David [5:3] – at the age of 30 years he is anointed for the third time.
d.      The length of David’s reign [5:4-5] – he reigned for 40 years.
2.      The fall of Jerusalem [5:6-10]
a.       The identity of the Jebusites [5:6] – the first thing that David had to do was to consider the location of a capital and this was strategic for Hebron would not serve as a capital very well. Hebron is some 15-20 miles south of Jerusalem. Far to removed from the north to be an effective center of political and religious activity. Thus he set his eyes upon Jerusalem that at this point was in the hands of the Canaanites and therefore would be a neutral city. The Jebusites mentioned here are one of the strong hill country Canaanite tribes and had dominated this site all the way from the time of the Judges period.
b.      The arrogance of the Jebusites [5:6] - Jerusalem was well fortified and impossible to conquer and on previous occasions may have had support from the Egyptians. Nonetheless Israel had never been successful in capturing the site. Thus if David could conquer the city it would be a real boost for David politically and militarily and then he would be able to possess a city that was centrally located in the hill country and easily defensible from Canaanite attacks. But the difficulty was how to get into that city and how to conquer it. The Jebusites were arrogant defenders and in sarcasm they cried from the walls of the city and said except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither.” Now this expression has been the subject of some speculation. Various explanations have been given to its meaning. The first is put forth by J. Sidlow Baxter and he says that the blind and the lame were the Jebusite gods. The meaning of the Jebusite’s and their challenge that David should not enter Zion unless he took away their gods was that David would never be able to take away their gods and therefore he would never enter Zion. Probably the Jebusite’s brought out their gods and idols of brass and placed them on the fortress walls, which would explain the saying they shall not come into the house. It may be that Baxter is following rabbinic tradition. However this is very unlikely would the Jebusite’s refer to their gods in this manner calling them lame and blind. And if they meant their gods and idols why wouldn’t they state that? A second viewpoint and a more probable one was that the Jebusite’s were so sure of their security in their walled fortress that they felt that the lame and the blind could not keep David out. Later David took up the words of the Jebusite’s and called all the defenders of the citadel of Zion lame and blind and ordered them to be cast down the precipice on the outer corner.
c.       The method of attack [5:7-10] – the precise means of how the entered into the city is found in [v 8]; David said whosoever gets up to the gutter and smites the Jebusite’s, and the lame and the blind – the word gutter is the Hebrew word sinnor. According to Kiel this word comes from a root meaning to roar. The only other time that this word occurs in the OT is in Psalm 42:7 where it is translated in the authorized version waterspout and in the American Standard Version, waterfalls. Most commentators interpret this as a water conduit or a watercourse that went under the walls into the Jebusite city. This is a sound interpretation. For the rock bedding under that section of Jerusalem has many, many tunnels. The most famous of course is one that was dug by Hezekiah.
3.      David’s palace and family [5:11-16]
a.       Hiram King of Tyre [5:11] – this king sent messengers to David and he was the lumber king of the north as he provided both David and Solomon with lumber see [v 11]. He helped build David a palace. He is now enjoying the wealth of all his success.
b.      David’s sons [5:12-16] – unfortunately David acquiesced to the custom of the day and as a sign of such prominence, wealth, and influence took more wives from Jerusalem. This of course was in complete disobedience to the Spirit and the law of Deuteronomy 17:17. This law explicitly forbids the king of Israel to multiply wives unto himself. The taking of many wives was a popular political maneuver in order to secure peace treaties with other nations and peoples. But as always polygamist practices have their negative effects as we’ll see later. When David was secure in Israel and the Philistines noted that the land was united they began to show some concern. Up to this time the Philistines do not seem to be concerned about David. They permitted him to be anointed and to rule in Hebron since he was a traditional enemy of Saul and the tribes to the north they felt this was a good thing the land remained divided and weak and they could continue their incursions into the northern hill country. But now that there was only one king and one kingdom this would mean a solidification of the armies and perhaps a diminishing of Philistine influence in the north.
4.      Defeat of the Philistines [5:17-25]
a.       The reason for the conflict – thus they came to see David but he was protected in the citadel. They concluded that a major attack on the city was necessary at this time in order to prevent any further success or strengthening on the part of King David. The attack was spread mainly in the valley of Repahim, which according to Joshua 15:8 was south, or southwest of Jerusalem. The attack of the Philistines came in two main phases. The first is described in [vv 18-21] and David did not move without inquiring of the Lord [v 19].
b.      The importance of Israel’s victory – so great was David’s victory that the Philistines left in great haste and left their images behind. Which indicates that the rout must have been pretty complete because the totems and images of the Philistines were very important to them and it was of the utmost humiliation to them that they should be driven off in such a manner as to leave their gods behind. The second attack is described in [vv 22-25] and once again David received divine guidance in military tactics and divine help in the victory. This time he outflanked them and as they moved into the valley of Rephaim they were surrounded on all sides and David not only used this occasion to defeat them there but according to [v 25] he smote the Philistines from Gibeon all the way south to Gazer. With this victory David was able to make another important move in the establishment of his kingdom and the unification of the land. Jerusalem at this point was now the political, military capital of the whole land. That was undisputed. However David realized that the real unity in Israel did not rest in politics or military organization. The heart of Israelite strength was in her God. It was therefore his desire to bring to Jerusalem the Ark of the Covenant and thus institute Jerusalem as the center of religious function and cause Jerusalem to be the center of spiritual influence.
B.     The Ark Brought to Jerusalem [6:1-23]
1.      David’s plan for the Ark [6:1-11] – David had 30,000 chosen men come to move the ark and in the process of moving the ark which was not moved by Levites carrying it but was placed on a new cart [v 3] and this may not have been a wise choice because they came to the threshing floor of Nachon the cart began to rock badly and man by the name of Uzzah put his hand on the ark of God in order to steady it for the oxen shook it and for him this was a fatal mistake. For according to [Num 4] the Levites and the Levites alone were to handle the ark and it was supposed to be carried and the use of a cart was inappropriate and the anger of the Lord was kindled and he was smitten. Many may feel that such a punishment was unjustified. There are those who charge God with barbaric treatment at this point and it even appears that David had difficulty with this punishment [v 8]. Perhaps David is not all that he should have been spiritually and was not sensitive to the importance and sacredness of the ark at this point. The Lord did not want to permit at any time the mishandling or misuse of the ark. The Philistines learned that lesson when they captured it and tried to use it as a religious museum piece.
2.      The Ark transferred to Jerusalem [6:12-23]
a.       The house of Obed-edom [6:12-15] – because of Uzzah’s death David moved the ark to the house of Obed-edom who was a Levite of the family of the Korathites. He probably did this in order to seek further God’s will. This man Obed-edom belonged to the class of Levitical doorkeepers whose duty it was in connection with other Levites to watch over the ark in sacred tent [I Chron. 15:18, 24]. Word came to David that the Lord had blessed the house of Obed-edom and this David took as a sign that the Lord’s anger had ceased and the ark could now be moved. And he brought the ark to Jerusalem. At first only six paces perhaps 60’ and then he sacrificed oxen and fatlings. This was sort of a test and then the sacrifices as recognition and praise to God.
b.      The reaction of Michal [6:16-20] – the movement of the ark to Jerusalem was an event that thrilled David and one that was emotionally charged in his experience for according to [v 14] he danced before the Lord and this he did with all his might while wearing a linen ephod. However he found that his wife Michal who had recently been brought to the royal court was not enthusiastic. The description of Michal in [vv 16, 20] is not as David’s wife but as Saul’s daughter as if this better explains her attitude. When she saw David leaping and dancing before the Lord she despised him in her heart and upon his return home he was greeted not with praise and enthusiasm from Michal but with sarcasm and bitter irony [v 20]. Why this reaction of Michal? Three suggestions: she had probably built up hatreds after having been separated from her second husband forcibly; this was un-kingly behavior in her eyes; she was not interested in getting enthused about religion, probably showing something of her father’s nature. The result of this was that she was barren until the day of her death. 
c.       David’s rebuke of Michal [6:21-23]
 
 THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGDOM [II Samuel 7:1-10:19]
 
I.                   David’s Desire to Build the Temple [7:1-29]
A.    The Desire Stated [7:1-3] – David recognized that he as a mere king was able to dwell in a house of cedar but the ark of God had only a tent dwelling [v 2]. David felt that the resting place of the Ark ought to be more significant than this.
1.      The political situation [7:1] - Was this indeed David’s real motive for wanting a temple? Or was it for political sophistication a place to show off to visitors? I think we can assume that David’s desire was for a temple for God to reside as it had done historically in the tabernacle. I think that David sought a place that would become the focal point of Israel’s spiritual life.
2.      Nathan the prophet [7:2-3] – this is the first mention of Nathan the prophet and he in all probability has had a major role in the royal court life of David up to this time probably as an advisor. According to [I Chron. 29:29] he along with Gad was one of the compilers of David’s biography. Here we see somewhat of a presumptuous answer on the part of Nathan to David’s desire. Rather than careful consultation with the Lord Nathan’s immediate response was predicated on reason. The response of David appeared to be a perfectly reasonable request and therefore he gave him the go ahead sign.
B.     The Davidic Covenant [7:4-17]
1.      Introduction [7:4-7] - That night however the Lord came to Nathan and revealed a plan diametrically opposed to the plan of affirmation given to David by Nathan. Evidently it was not in the will of God to have a temple at this time in spite of Nathan’s original go ahead. As the Lord spoke to Nathan and the means of that revelation is not given to us although presumably it was an audible one. A number of reasons are suggested as to why David was not to build the temple. First is the historic argument written in [v 6] and reflects on the history of Israel up to this time. The Lord had not had a permanent dwelling place such as a temple why then would this be necessary for the spiritual welfare of Israel at this point? Secondly the question raised in [v 7] was did God ever ask for this? What was the motivation for building such a temple? God had never requested this and therefore it was inappropriate for David to assume responsibility for such a building at this point in history. There are two other reasons why David was not permitted to build the temple [I Chron. 22:8 – David was a man of blood and that he had shed blood and thus could have permitted the temple to be misunderstood. There was a tendency on David’s part to collect war trophies. This being the case the temple could easily be reduced to be a political religious showplace of war trophies collected from Philistine victories and it was not right for David to build a temple because of his long background in war and bloodshed; I Kings 5:3-4 – it was premature for David to build such a structure in Jerusalem the Philistine threat had not ended and it along with Jerusalem could have been destroyed] Therefore Nathan had the difficult job of going to David and giving him the Lord’s revelation. We must have a high respect for Nathan because on numerous occasions he is called upon to go before David with less than optimistic news. Here is called upon to go and reverse his own opinion and decision and reveal the will of God and for this the prophet is well remembered in biblical history.
2.      The nature of the covenant [7:8-11] – David was not left empty for the response of God wasn’t all negative. Nathan was also to rehearse God’s grace with David. The way he had been selected from a humble background as a shepherd and blessed by God and lifted to his high and lofty position. Thus we are introduced to the Davidic Covenant. The Davidic Covenant is of great significance for it indicates something of the developing plan of God for His people as a nation. That plan began with the Abrahamic covenant and now in a more refined and distinctive and detailed terms the covenant is expanded and explained to involve a kingdom and a throne. David therefore would not be without a great blessing.
3.      Contents of the covenant [7:12-13] – the contents of the covenant are important for it is a covenant of grace and of love and David had not earned such a great blessing as this but as the case in all of scripture God gives to the sinner that which he doesn’t deserve. Mercy on the other hand is the means by which God withholds the judgment that man really deserves. It is His mercy and His grace therefore that compliments the covenantal programs of God in the OT. The contents of the covenant are three in number. [1] the promise of a seed a perpetuation of the family of David; [2] a throne that would be established as part of the great kingdom see [Luke 1:32] for the significance of this aspect of the covenant; [3] is mentioned of a kingdom a realm over which the future Messiah would reign see [Luke 1:33].
4.      Conditions of the covenant [7:14] – the conditional aspect of this covenant was based upon conditions and this verse states those conditions. If he commit iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the stripes of the children of men.
5.      Duration of the covenant [7:15-17] – [v 15] is a rather important statement not only in respect to the unending aspects of the covenant but as a reflection on the experiences of King Saul many years prior. There it is stated that God’s mercy will not be put away as it was from Saul. Note that there is no mention of the Holy Spirit but the mercy of God that special gift given to Saul had been removed as a result of Saul’s disobedience. [it is not wise to use the experience of Saul as an argument for conditional salvation for if Saul lost his salvation in I Samuel then this verse would provide for David a promised eternal security and no arguments have therefore been solved] it is promised here that the Lord would not take away from David that which He took from Saul. [v 16] summarizes the Davidic Covenant and the fulfillment of this covenant was not in Solomon for Solomon did not fulfill the conditions of this covenant nor were the circumstances in such a way as to be a fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. The total fulfillment of this covenant will be when Jesus Christ take the throne of David and rules on this earth. The millennial kingdom will be the final fulfillment of this covenant.
C.     Prayer and Thanksgiving [7:18-29] – David’s response was to stay sensitive to God’s priorities set before him and he was convinced of God’s perfect omniscient and omnipotence and that the Lord’s will was better than his own interest. Therefore in these verses we have a magnificent expression of Davidic worship and praise to God for the Lord’s will in his life. David recognized that the wisdom of man was not to be compared with the will of God thus he acquiesced to the revelation given by Nathan and in prayer and praise accepted God’s rejection of his plan. What a perfect lesson this is for the believer – the willingness to be flexible and pliable in the hands of a potter whose mastery is unquestioned.
II.                A Summary of David’s Wars [8:1-18] - there is quite a distinction between the military activities of David and Saul. King Saul was largely caught up with a defensive type of warfare. There is little evidence that Saul ever took up imperialistic initiative in an attempt to drive the enemy out of the land completely and to establish fortresses as a protection for occupied territories of Israel. On the other hand David by and large the stronger of the two kings and certainly bringing to the throne great military skills had wars made of offense. The material in this chapter establishes that David’s wars were offensive for the first time in monarchal history David begins to solidify the kingdom and establish its borders. Something that Saul completely failed to do.
A.    The Defeat of Philistia and Moab [8:1-2] – to defeat the Philistines along with their various cities would be to free pressure from Judah and Simeon in the southwest. He defeated the Moabites was significant for this relieved pressure from east and gave some freedom to trans-Jordanian tribes.
B.     Victory over the Aramaeans [8:3-12] – the most significant offensive warfare of David is described here. His attention turned to a very significant threat from the north in the kingdom of the Aramaeans. In the Authorized Version that kingdom is referred to as Syria and the peoples as Syrians but more accurately they are referred to as Aramaeans and the kingdom of Aram for this is how it appears in the ancient documents. The victory of David in the north was an impressive one. The spoils of victory are recorded in [v 4]. He did not however capture all the chariots and horse and he houghed many of the horses according to this verse. The houghing of a horse of course was a cutting of the back sinews of their legs and this apparently rendered the animal unfit for war although they may have been still useful in domestic service. Why did David establish a border as far north as stated here? We now from history that the Aramaean kingdom centered in Damascus was now reaching the height of its power and it had become a major power to the north and for the first time a major threat to all of Israel. After these initial victories David put garrisons in Damascus that is a line of fortresses to serve two purposes. First and foremost was for reconnaissance. He was able to monitor all movement of troops in the northern regions of Damascus. Secondly they served as a defensive force or buffer zone. He certainly could not man that area with massive forces and provide protection for all the area. But a defensive force providing a buffer zone would certainly slow down a major attack and give him adequate time to group his forces. The wealth that David acquired from that area is described in the verses that follow and the list is impressive.
C.     The Defeat of Edom [8:13-14] – David also turned his attention to the southeast and Edom in the area south of the Dead Sea. He put garrisons here as well for the same reasons as he did in Damascus. In addition to this these garrisons would have protected David’s interest in the copper and iron mines to the south. As we previously suggested David was the first one to break the Philistine monopoly over iron. The fact that he was bale to conquer Edom with its rich copper mines was an important political move for Israel. It provided the way for Solomon a short time later to build an important port down at Ezion-Geber and therefore open an important port to trade with vast portions of the world that were beforehand cut off from ancient Israel. Therefore we can see the difference between David and Saul. Saul wasted military effort. He was inefficient in his use of troops and military planning and therefore lost vast portions of the central hill country. Crops were devastated and towns were ravaged by the Philistines. David’s conquest of Jerusalem set the stage for the kind of military policy that would be effectively carried out. Thus in this chapter we see David effectively expanding the kingdom.
D.    David’s Court Officials [8:15-18] – these verses give us some indication of the organization David effected in the royal court and throughout the country. There wasn’t this kind of organization under Saul because the tribes were scattered and there was a great deal of fragmentation of military force but under David the whole countryside is well organized and the military is brought to its height of efficiency. We are able to see three basic types of organization reflected in [vv 16-18]. [1] a military organization; [2] a scribal organization; [3] and a priestly organization. The military was headed by Joab. The scribal organization within the royal court included a recorder [mazkir – rememberer] and a scribe [soper]. The particular functions of a recorder and the scribe apparently were different and most likely were parallel to similar Egyptian offices. David had two priests over the land Zadok and Ahimelech. The appointment of Ahimelech is interesting because he was the son of Abiathar, the only one to escape Saul’s senseless massacre of the priests of Nob [I Sam. 22:11-20]. Some scholars feel that the appointment of Ahimelech to the high priesthood was to repay a debt to him or to salve a troubled conscience over the lie that caused the slaughter; however this is not indicated in the text. The personal bodyguard of the king was made up of two groups of men known as the Cherethites and the Pelethites [v 18]. The Cherethites were many times associated with the Philistines and may have been part of that nation [I Sam. 30:14; Ezek. 25:16; Zeph. 2:5].
 
 
III.             David and Mephibosheth [9:1-13] – this is a brief interlude and parenthetical information concerning matters of the royal court and deals with David’s kindness to Mephibosheth. This move was prompted by two things: [1] the covenant he had made with Jonathan; [2] the attempt to end any conflict between his household and the household of Saul. These events probably took place more than 14 years after the death of Jonathan.
IV.             The Ammonite-Syrian War [10:1-19]
A.    A Plan for Friendship [10:1-6] – recognizing that neither the Ammonites nor the Arameans to the north were strong enough to conquer Israel they formed a coalition. A strange coalition indeed for the Ammonites dwelt far to the east of the trans-Jordan and the Arameans to the north. But in desperation from both kingdoms they marshal together a significant army and encountered the armies of Israel. Their attempt at invasion however was not successful.
B.     The Battle Described [10:7-19]
1.      The first attack [10:7-14] – Joab was able to outflank them and defeat these armies soundly.
2.      The second attack [10:15-19] – here again Joab and his men were victorious over the Arameans as they marched down from the north. These victories brought peace with the Arameans and completely humiliated the Ammonites.
 
 DAVID’S GREAT FAILURE [II Samuel 11:1-13:39]
 
I.                   David’s Sin with Bathsheba [11:1-12:25] – that satan is the great master of deceit is without question when one studies the scriptures carefully. From the outset of Holy Writ in Genesis we are introduced to the subtleties of this master of spiritual deception. Whereas David was able to accomplish great victories by war and enjoyed success as a result of ingenuity and political leadership he nonetheless was the subject of great failure. Where satan could not humiliate David by the sword he did so by personal sin.
A.    The Occasion of the Sin [11:1] – it was at the time of the year when kings went forth to battle. As is well known major marches of a military nature were seasonal in nature. It was important to have adequate provision for the troops as they extended themselves on a long march. Therefore the harvest season was a popular time but during this particular period David because of his previous successes was not required on the battlefield. It was enough to send Joab, his commander and chief of the army. The interest of David militarily at this time was east of the Jordan River in Ammon the city of Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It was probably this idleness that contributed to the difficulty that David faced. Quite often satan uses our idleness and inactivity to exploit his purposes.
B.     The Progress of Sin [11:2-5] – David had finished his afternoon siesta and was walking on the roof of the royal palace. Probably located high on Mount Ophel which gave him a view over many homes which were built along the slopes of the mountain. Quite accidentally he was able to see a woman washing herself and she was very beautiful. Not satisfied with that he takes a second step and it is here that we are introduced to three significant verbs that describe the progress of sin. In [v 2] saw – observation is always a factor in temptation the moment that one looks he begins to think and reason and calculate the emotions are stimulated and interest is created. [v 3] – he inquired – this has the idea of intention, there is a plan involved, there is contemplation of an act; [v 4] – participation – he took her. The sequence described is not the only one to be found in scripture. You’ll recall in Genesis 3 a similar progress in sin is described. In Joshua 7 the sin of Achan is described in a similar manner. While satan may change circumstances and images the approach is basically the same. Therefore it is quite important to carefully discern what we see and what we look at. For the look or the observation is the first step. The present rating system in the American theater is almost ludicrous. It assumes that once one becomes a certain age or an adult he then is immune from the effects of immorality. Such a conclusion of course is pure folly. For the more knowledgeable one becomes and the more mature he becomes the easier it is to entice him into a variety of forms of sin. Thus in a tragic moment of time David surrendered spiritual ground that he did not surrender on several previous occasions. If David could fall in such a manner being a wealthy king having a number of wives already to satisfy all of his desires, having prophets in the royal court, the instructions of priests and the knowledge of the Word of God how much more should we guard our own spiritual life? For certainly we have much less advantage in the light of what we learn here.
C.     The Results of Sin [11:6-27]
1.      David’s attempts to conceal the sin [11:6-13] – rather than confess the sin once conception had occurred he set out on a course to cover up these particular sins. The idea was to bring Uriah home for presumably a battle report but the real motive was of course to unite him with his wife so the conception would be understood as a normal consequence of their meeting. When Uriah came to David’s royal court he was greeted with great friendship and gifts but Uriah refused to return home and remained at the door of the king’s house. Once again David attempted to get Uriah to return home but he refused with the presumption that how could he go to his home and enjoy all the comforts of home while his brothers were dying on the battlefield. Many have raised the question as to the motives of Uriah’s commitment at this point. Was he a completely faithful soldier who refused to enjoy luxury while others sacrificed? This is part of it because he was a mercenary and probably a proselyte in Israel. But there is a good possibility that Uriah already knew of David’s act of adultery. In fact we may be inclined to believe that he knew much of this plan for the servants certainly knew what David was doing and it is very doubtful that the servants would refrain from the kind of gossip that was common in the royal court throughout the ages. So I imagine that by the time Uriah arrived in Jerusalem David’s incest with Bathsheba was a matter of common knowledge. Therefore David had deceived himself and was not deceiving Uriah. The next attempt was when he made Uriah drunk and this failed.
2.      The murder of Uriah [11:15-27]
a.       The method employed [11:15-26] – finally David wrote a letter to Joab instructing him to set Uriah in battle in such a way that he would be smitten. The matter describe is a very heartless one indeed for in the hottest part of the battle the rest of the army was to retire leaving Uriah alone to be smitten. Joab did not exactly follow this procedure but the end result was the same Uriah was slain. Word was brought back to David telling him of the success and a period of mourning was observed [v 26]. In all probability she shed reluctant tears and forced out groans from a really joyful heart.
b.      Bathsheba’s return to David [11:27] – when the mourning was past David sent and fetched her to his house and she became his wife and bore a son.
c.       God’s view of the whole matter [11:27] – while David may have deceived some his whole sin was in open view before an infinitely perfect God. And God’s view of the whole affair is described in this verse. It displeased the Lord. This could not go without notice for if David should not be confronted with perhaps others in the royal court would practice the same thing.
D.    David’s Repentance [12:1-31]
1.      The Rebuke of Nathan [12:1-12]
a.       An appropriate parable [12:1-6] – he selected a parable that was in keeping with ancient near eastern culture. He describes a poor man who had nothing but one ewe lamb and this lamb was the most precious possession he had. Then we are introduced to a rich man who had many flocks but rather than use one of his own he seized the poor man’s lamb and used it to provide for the visitor. When David heard this he assumed that the event had actually occurred and he said to Nathan the man that had done this shall surely die. The parable as constructed by Nathan was obvious in its application not to David at first but after the interpretation we can appreciate it. For the poor man was Uriah whose most precious possession was his wife Bathsheba. The rich man was David who already had many wives and had all that he could possibly want. David’s immediate reaction was one of righteous indignation and he called for the death of the lamb and the restoration of the lamb fourfold. Perhaps in accordance with Exodus 22:1.
b.      The interpretation of the parable [12:7] – Nathan then proceeds to interpret the parable and pointing to David he says thou art the man. This is an exercise in prophetic courage for his whole standing before David was jeopardized by such a claim.
c.       Condemnation and judgment [12:8-12] - Then the rebuke begins and it is to the point, specific and unadorned. He reminds David that he has been the recipient of great grace [v 8]. Now Nathan puts his finger on the nature of the crime and the fact that not in any way could David plead innocent [v 9]. This indicates that David’s sin was not a sin of ignorance. He knew the commandment of the Lord. He was well aware of the laws view of adultery and on top of that he had committed murder. The charge against David is two-fold it is murder and adultery. Both of which were punishable by death [Ex. 20:10; Lev. 24:17]. Appropriate to this occasion was a stated punishment. There would be judgment and while God would forgive David and spare his own life, the sword would never depart from David’s house and evil would be raised up against him in his own house [Absalom’s insurrection].
2.      The Response of David [12:13-14] – David’s response was to admit is sin against the Lord. This is a key verse and Psalm 51 gives detail to the nature and purpose of David’s confession. Psalm 32 is a psalm that was written after David’s confession but reflects more the period of time that existed between the committing of the sin and David’s confession. In other words it describes the 9-12 months that David remained in concealed sin. It describes the agony of un-confessed sin and the deterioration of his physical being as a result of that un-confessed sin.
E.     Death of the Child [12:15-23] – Nathan said to David that the Lord had put away his sin but the consequences and implications of the sin would certainly remain even though he would live on. The immediate judgment would be the death of the child that had been born. It was about one year before Nathan confronted David over his sin. Therefore David had had plenty of time to confess the sin on his own but this he had not done. Upon hearing of the child’s death David did something unusual in that he did not remain in the long tradition of mourning but rather he anointed himself and went to the house of the Lord and worshiped and then came to his own house. This action confused the servants and they asked and David answered [v 23]. Some have seen in this verse a small indication that children who die before an age of accountability will be saved.
F.      The Birth of Solomon [12:24-25] – after a period of time David comforted his wife and Solomon was born and his name means the peaceful one.
II.                The Defeat of Rabbah [12:26-31] – its interesting that David’s sin was so important to an analysis of his career that it was actually inserted in the war narrative. Here are two chapters devoted to the failure of one of Israel’s greatest kings. There is no way of explaining this apart from Divine Inspiration. Thus the narrative resumes with the conclusion of the outcome of the battle at Rabbah. The victory that was achieved at Ammon was significant because it again prevented any major incursions from the east. And the victory brought into David’s land considerable wealth. [v 31] gives indication that David actually condoned the mutilation of the soldiers of Ammon. There are two views regarding this: the first considers the implements mentioned as instruments of torture and death and would mean that he sawed them in pieces with the saw and iron harrows. It this translation were adopted then the Hebrew text would have to be changed from wayyasem bammegerah to arrive at this translation the word would have to be wayyasar and was adopted from I Chron. 20:3]. This would mean that David punished the Ammonites with bodily mutilation. The other view is that the Hebrew text should stand as it is in and thus the Ammonites were put to various forms of slave labor.
III.             Amnon and Tamar [13:1-22] – these two were brother and sister.
A.    Amnon’s Crime [13:1-2] – the Bible says that Amnon loved her but we find that it wasn’t truly love but incest. Amnon was the firstborn son of David and therefore the possible heir to the throne. He was the son of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess whereas Absalom was the son of Maacah, daughter of Talmi, king of Geshur. Notice how these polygamist relationships create the intrigue and difficulty in the royal court.
1.      The occasion of the crime [13:3-5] – he was so overcome by his incest that he fell sick His interested were frustrated by the fact that she was a virgin and as such she probably lived in a home somewhat secluded and in a residence quite different from a widow or one who’s husband was missing in war. And he thought it hard for him to do anything to her that is Tamar was proper and reserved so it was difficult for him to make any approaches to her.
2.      Jonadab’s plan [13:3-5] – it was on the advice of Jonadab that he deceived is sister in coming to him.
3.      Amnon’s deceit [13:6-10] – and while presumably helping him in his time of sickness by providing food he forced her to have sex with him and commit incest.
4.       The sin committed [13:11-12] - after having satisfied that physical desire he hated her exceedingly for lust is not love and rather than being loved she was despised [v 17]
5.      The consequences of the sin – David heard of this but did not exercise any discipline according to [v 21[ he was merely mad. For how could he discipline this son in the light of his own sin?
B.     Absalom’s Revenge [13:23-39] – Absalom heard of it and he hated his brother for two reasons: [1] because of the sin committed to his sister and [2] perhaps he had some ideas on the throne; and after two years [ v 23ff] he provided for the slaughter of Amnon. David is beginning to see the implications of his own sin. Amnon was dead and the sword was not departed from David’s house and Absalom had to flee and went to Talmi and remained separate from David for three years. So there is death and separation all because of that one sin.
 
 ABSALOM’S REBELLION [II Samuel 14:1-17:29]
 
I.                   Introduction - – the separation from Absalom must have brought great pain to David for Absalom was now the heir to the throne. It is the view of many that other sons who may have qualified had either died or were killed. And David mourned for his son every day for three years. Joab attempts to reunite David with his son. Joab was probably thinking of the personal welfare of David but even more than that the welfare of the kingdom. For the sorrow and despair of this king over such a long period of time would have a depressing effect upon the armies and the moral of the people.
II.                The Return of Absalom [14:1-33]
A.    Joab’s Plot [14:1-20]
1.      The parable presented [14:1-11] – Joab sent to Tekoa to fetch a wise woman, a woman skilled in wisdom. The purpose was to utilize her as a mediator to David and to make the return of Absalom possible. In a very subtle way Joab had to create a change of heart in David. Tekoa is known as the hometown of the prophet Amos. The archaeological excavations that took place in 1968 proved very profitable. We now know that the occupational history of this site goes back before 1200B.C. In fact some pottery discovered from a tomb goes back as far as 3000B.C. Tomb 302 perhaps was the most spectacular. A massive chamber measuring 9’ wide and 21’ long with 8 sub-chambers around the outside, which in itself is without parallel in Palestinian archaeology. This particular tomb had been reused a number of times. The pottery inside indicated a wide use during the 8th-7th centuries B.C. a heavy layer of limestone on top of the 7th century B.C. pottery indicating that the ceiling of the tomb had partially collapsed as a result of a great earthquake. This was intriguing because the prophet Amos speaks of a great earthquake at Tekoa. The purpose of her visit was to speak a parable that Joab had put in her mouth. She tells the parable of a whole family that had assumed the responsibility of a blood revenge. If this son should be killed they would squelch the coal of life that was left [v 7] and shall not leave to her husband a name upon the earth. This to a Semitic society was the greatest of tragedies. Not to have an heir to perpetuate the name of the father and to preserve the property within the family.
2.      The parable applied [14:12-20] – just as if she lost her son there should be no heir for her husband so if Absalom should be cut off from David where would there be an heir from the throne. When the king heard this he was convinced of its wisdom and of course he did recognize the source of the parable [v 19].
B.     Forgiveness and Restoration [14:21-33]
1.      Joab brings Absalom back [14:21-24] – Joab went to Geshur personally and brought Absalom home [v 23]. When he came to Jerusalem he was permitted to go to his own house but he could not see the face of is father. It was quite some time before David allowed Absalom to return to the royal court and he forgave him.
2.      Reconciliation of David and Absalom [14:25-33] – Absalom was a man of tremendous capability. He was attractive to look upon and he apparently took care of himself in a special manner to enhance that [v 26] and unto him was born three sons and a daughter named Tamar. Evidently Absalom named her after his sister. She was probably the same woman who married Uriel of Gibeah and had a daughter named Maachah or Michaiah. The wife of Rehoboam and the mother of Abijah were called both Maachah the daughter of Absalom and Michaiah the daughter of Uriel [II Chron. 13:2; 11:20-22; I Kings 15:2]. Most likely she was the granddaughter of Absalom and the daughter of Uriel. After two full years in Jerusalem Absalom had still not seen David. Finally Joab brought the two together and a full reconciliation was effected and it was sealed with the kiss of the king. An outward sign that Absalom had been forgiven and encouraged to return to the royal court.
III.             The Revolt of Absalom [15:1-17:29]
A.    Introduction – Absalom’s name means father of peace or peacemaker but after studying the events of these chapters it is clear that Absalom was anything but a peacemaker. This revolt was one of the results of David’s practice of polygamy. Within David’s household there were many smaller families that gathered around their own mothers. Many times these children of David’s different wives developed great hate and jealousy against their half-brothers and sisters. One of David’s sons, Amnon had ravished his sister Tamar and David had failed to punish him. This failure on the part of David to punish him was probably an evidence of his own spiritual weakness and lack of discipline at this point. Therefore Absalom took matters into is own hands and Amnon was slain. [I Kings 1:6] makes it quite clear that David had in effect been delinquent in disciplining his sons. And this factor was a key in the revolt of Absalom. With so many sons from a practical point of view we can understand why he could not properly discipline and train each one. Absalom’s revolt was also the result of his vanity and ambition. In David’s household he was the only son of a king’s daughter and he was attractive.
 
 
B.     Various Views on the Insurrection – John Bright views the situation as a weakening of David’s interest in and control of his subjects with the consummate growth of what Bright describes as a massive growth of indefinable grievances. Martin Noth admits that we do not learn exactly what had made David so unpopular in Israel in time every regime loses its sympathizers and acquires enemies and it is easy to conceive that the Israelite tribes were more dissatisfied with the growth of David’s dominion into an empire extending far beyond the territory of Israelite tribes. Robert Pfieffer states, “by his national pride David had failed to gain the Israelites affection.” Theodore Robinson concludes that David was already growing old and was unable to attend as closely as he had done in earlier years to his judicial function. That may be a very accurate observation.
C.     The Insurrection Described [15:1-12]
1.      The promises of Absalom [15:1-6] – he rose up early and stood beside the way of the gate. And as he stood there he provided a critical viewpoint of the work of David [v 3]. Now it was not possible for David to hear every case and in fact it was probably not possible for the major judges to hear all the cases. And so Absalom promised that if he were made judge in the land [v 4] then every man who had a case could come to him and he would do him justice. This of course has political overtones and is reminiscent of the political promises that flow with great ease during an election year here in the United States. Thus on a daily basis he promised the people judicial equity if he were made king and according to [v 6] he stole the hearts of the people.
2.      The conspiracy [15:7-12] – this verse provides a textual problem the verse says after 40 years however the Lucian edition of the Septuagint and the Syriac read four years instead of forty. This is the number suggested by Josephus in Antiquities. The point at which these four years began was probably Absalom’s return to Jerusalem. If this were the case it would mean that two of thee years were spent in turning the people’s hearts from David [II Sam. 14:28]. Why did Absalom go to Hebron? A number of reasons one of which may be that the people of Hebron may have been disgruntled at the fact that David had moved the capital from that city to Jerusalem. And it would be very easy for Absalom to gather about himself such individuals that had turned against David. Also Hebron may have been considered a stronghold of David therefore if Absalom could take over Hebron he would rob David of a central point of influence. Also Hebron would provide a center of spy and reconnaissance activities [v 10]. The question as been raised where was David during this time? Was he not aware that such a revolt and insurrection was on the way? Or was he blinded by his own optimism? Or was his judicial sensitivity beginning to decline? At any event Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite. Why did this man leave David? According to [II Sam. 23:34-39; 11:3] Ahithophel was the grandfather of Bathsheba and therefore the grandfather of Uriah by marriage. We can well understand therefore Ahithophel’s change of allegiance. Perhaps he never did care for David in the light of what David had done in the family so he joined forces with Absalom in the south. It was not long before Absalom had gathered about himself a considerable force of men so much so that when David heard of it he was forced to leave the city of Jerusalem.
3.      The Flight of David [15:13-37] – many have raised the question why didn’t David remain there defend the city and fight Absalom? A number of reasons are possible. Perhaps the insurrection was quite widespread and he didn’t want to involve the people in a mass slaughter of his own countrymen. It is also possible he didn’t want to subject the city of Jerusalem to a treacherous siege that would bring about the death of many people.
4.      The flight from Jerusalem [15:13-23] – he fled to the east crossing the Kidron Valley taking with him only a few men leaving his concubines behind. Those who were faithful to him were his bodyguards and the 600 men who had been with him on previous occasions. The separation of David from Jerusalem did not go without observation and there was great sorrow according to [v 23] at the humiliation of this king at the hand of his son.
5.      The Ark is returned to Jerusalem [15:24-31] - They had brought with them the Ark of the Covenant but David began to realize that the ark was not the key to victory or the solution to his problem. So he required Zadok to carry the ark back to the city of Jerusalem.
6.      Hushai sent back [15:32-37] - It also came to David’s attention that Ahithophel had joined the conspiracy and was now the advisor to Absalom. In great skill and an interesting maneuver David provided for a counter action to that defection. He selected the older advisor Hushai the Archite to go back to the royal court and join Absalom. Presumably convincing Absalom that he was remaining faithful to the royal court and now that Absalom was king he would provide advice for him as he had done for his father. David’s whole purpose in this was to provide a counsel that would prevent Absalom from doing that which was rash and inappropriate.
D.    Ziba, the False Servant of Mephibosheth [16:1-4] – a wicked servant named Ziba and brought David the news that Mephibosheth had turned to Absalom. This of course was not true. Jonathan’s son had indeed remained faithful to David.
E.     David Cursed by Shimei [16:5-14] – as David traveled further eastward he was further humiliated by a man called Shimei described in [vv 5ff]. The type of curses heaped upon David are known to us only in part one of which was that David was a bloody man. That is a murderer and he calls David a man of Belial. A very despicable term that is used to describe thieves and immoral people. And he cast stones at David as a sign of rebuke. One of the soldiers who accompanied David wanted to slay this man but David refused. And interestingly enough he attributes this man’s actions has ultimately coming from the Lord [v 11].
F.      The Counsel of Ahithophel and Hushai [16:15-17:23]
1.      Hushai sent to Absalom [16:15-19] – Hushai told Absalom that he was faithful to the people’s choice in the royal court and that he would serve Absalom well.
2.      The counsel of Ahithophel [16:20-17:4] – Ahithophel counseled Absalom to immediately pursue after David defeat him while David was in flight and disorganized. He said that if he defeated David now that he would secure the kingdom.
3.      The counsel of Hushai [17:5-14] – But there was something about that advice that raised questions in Absalom’s mind and he called Hushai to come and hear the advice, evaluate it and give alternate counsel if he desired. Hushai said the council given by Ahithophel is not good at this time [v 7]. Hushai told Absalom that he needed to be sure that victory would be assured when he attacked David for any sign of defeat among the troops of Absalom would make it possible for David to accomplish a victory and return to Jerusalem. This indicates the genius of Hushai and confirms David’s confidence in this man. And all the men in Absalom’s royal court said that the counsel of Hushai was better than the council of Ahithophel.
4.      Hushai’s message to David [17:15-22] – word got to David of Absalom’s plans
5.      Ahithophel’s suicide [17:23] – when Ahithophel learned that his advice was not followed he got his house in order and committed suicide. There was a deeper frustration involved here for Ahithophel saw in this the possibility of his own removal or perhaps even death.
G.    David at Mahanaim [17:24-29] – David was forced to cross the Jordan River and remain eastward. He came to the old capital of the northern kingdom Mahanaim that at this time was favorable to him and whose loyalty he had gained. Absalom reorganized the military forces and made Amasa the general and chief of Israel’s forces instead of Joab [v 25]. Thus we are able to see another evidence of the implications of a single sin. That sin of adultery resulted in the death of young infant, the incest of Amnon and his ultimate murder, and now Absalom his son takes David’s wives for his own, drives him from the city, and humiliates him. These are all fulfillments of the prophecy uttered by Nathan [II Sam. 12], and a stern reminder to all of us that sin has consequences. They may not be immediate and apparent at first but ultimately the price will be paid. The admonition and warnings of Romans 6:23 should be heeded by all.
 
ABSALOM’S DEATH AND DAVID’S RETURN [II Samuel 18:1-20:26]
 
I.                   The Death of Absalom [18:1-33]
A.    The Battle Described [18:1-8] – according to popular military tactics David divided his army into three units one under the direction of Joab, one third under Abiashai, and a third under the hand of Ittai. Three men who had distinguished themselves in military service. David wanted to join them in battle but the people felt that this was a luxury they could not afford and [v 3] gives some indication of the high esteem the people had for David even during this time of crisis and despair. David had only one request of his people and to the outsider this may seem somewhat surprising it is recorded in [v 5]. From a purely human point of view we should not expect such a response. The normal reaction would have been be sure under any costs that Absalom was slain. For it was he who initiated the humiliation of David. We only fully appreciate this response of David in the light of all the events of I Samuel and the early chapters of II Samuel. The sensitive godly character of David still comes through in spite of his sin and failure. It is for this reason that he was considered a man after God’s own heart. Of course he still maintained a love for Absalom his son in spite of the insurrection that was led by him. This battle according to [v 6] took place in the wood of Ephraim. Normally we would not question the location of any battle but because of the lack of any mention of the Jordan River a controversy has arisen as to the precise location of the battle. Many feel that it took place in trans-Jordan perhaps not far from Mahanaim where David was located. Others have argued should have and must have taken place on the west side of the Jordan in the central hill country occupied by Ephraim. The arguments for the eastside are impressive. After the victory that was accomplished they returned immediately to Mahanaim. If the battle had occurred on the west bank it would have been better to stay in the west and perhaps to return to Jerusalem. Others have argued saying that nothing was said of Absalom’s re-crossing the river. Again we can’t rule out that the wood of Ephraim was an unknown location. Another writer states it this way that the wood of Ephraim would naturally be sought in the west of Jordan but on the hand it seems certain that this battle took place on the east of the Jordan River. It seems inevitable to conclude that some portion of the thick oaks and terabinth that still run down to the Jordan on the east side were for some reason called the wood of Ephraim. Others feel that the phrase wood of Ephraim must be describing an area in the west bank. With all the evidence at hand the most favorable position seems to be a battle in the east bank of the Jordan River. This is especially significant in the light of the last phrase of [v 3] that implies that David would be close to the battle area. The battle begins and the forces of Joab, Abishai, and Ittai were too much for the rebels of Absalom. According to [v 7] there was a slaughter of 20,000 men a tragic price for the arrogance of young Absalom. Who presumably had all answers to the needs of the kingdom? 
B.     The Slaying of Absalom [18:9-32] – the battle went against him and he had nothing left but to flee the area. He selected a mule which was the common animal ridden by royalty and in the process of going through the forest area had his head caught in the hold of an oak. It is possible that his head or neck was caught in the branches but certainly his suspension in the air was complicated by the tremendous amount of hair he had accumulated and cared for. Thus suspended in the air without a mule and quite helpless a servant came upon him and saw him still alive but refused to kill him. In the process he informed Joab of the location of Absalom the rebel. Joab however was a hard man a practioner of cold warfare. And his response to the servant was not positive at all [v 11]. This is a small price to be paid to the disobedience of David’s command. The young soldier should receive historic commendation for his reaction because he responds to Joab his general and chief if you paid me a $1000 shekels of silver I would not kill the king’s son. For this soldier was well aware of David’s attitude toward assassination and he was well aware of the kind of man Joab was for had he slain Absalom Joab may have turned on him in retribution for the king because Joab was an opportunist and would have used any occasion to make himself favorable in the eyes of David. Joab had no apprehension to taking the life of Absalom who he considered a serious threat to the peace of the kingdom and the security of David’s throne. Therefore he took three spears in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was suspended in the oak tree. Later ten young men further took his body and smote him. Evidently Joab hadn’t killed him and he was then taken and cast into a pit [v 17] and a large heap of stones was placed upon him. A heap of stones such as this was a common practice especially for one whose burial was one of disdain [Joshua 7:26; 8:29]. Thus Absalom receives less than a glorious burial. His life ends in shame and little did he calculate this end to the whole affair as he very proudly told the people of his genus in the rule of the kingdom.
C.     David’s Great Sorrow [18:33] – the next problem was how to inform David of what had happened. Ahimaaz offered to go and tell David. Presumably he was a friend of David and had the ear of David and his counsel and message would be received in an appropriate manner. But Joab selected Cushi a man little known to us and perhaps a foreigner to carry the message to King David. For reasons not given to us Ahimaaz continued to press Joab for permission to carry the message and after Cushi left he was given permission and perhaps because of his speed or knowledge of the country or both he overran Cushi [v 23]. When Ahimaaz came he gave news of the victory but no word of the death of Absalom and he certainly new of the death of his son and so why he didn’t tell him the text does not say. Cushi came and told him of Absalom’s death and went to his chamber over the gate of the city of Mahanaim and wept. The cry of David though not audibly heard today in written form still penetrates the heart of all who know the story. Two observations are pertinent here. One is the tragic cry of the rebellious sinner as he recognizes the judgment of God. That moment of sensual pleasure was it worth it all? The death of Amnon, the separation of Absalom, separation from Jerusalem, the humiliation at the hands of Shimei, and now the slaughter of another of his sons. Sin comes at a high price. Oh there is pleasure in sin but as the Bible reminds us it is only for the moment of time. The ultimate consequences and the final judgment are the most painful indeed. Also the cry of David is a reminder of dangers of polygamy. The competition between the half brothers and the sons of David was intense and presumably others were caught up in a similar conflict.
II.                David’s Grief Over Absalom [19:1-8]
A.    The Expression of David’s Grief [19:1-4] – [vv 1-2] indicate the affect this grief had on David and [vv 3-4] are a grand description of the love that David had for his son. Kennedy describes this in the century Bible: these two verses are among the most perfect specimens of literary art in the OT. With a few masterstrokes the writer paints the sudden revulsion of feeling from joy and pride of victory to the sorrow that is born of a perfect sympathy with another’s grief. Then follows the inimitable picture of the victorious veterans getting them by the stealth that day into the city. Like the conscience-smitten cowards that sneak away when the day is lost or like the thief that creeps on tiptoe toward his home before the dawn. What a man this David must have been to have so endeared himself to his men that his personal grief became so completely theirs. Joab fears a sudden revulsion of feeling in the opposite direction and no one can gainsay the truth of his statements or of the force of his arguments and yet who can suppress a feeling of sympathy with a broken hearted king?” Indeed we do have an outbreak of emotions on the part of two individuals. The practical cold war tactic of Joab. He saw the necessity for the adversary of David and that was all. David’s request and desire was not regarded. Priorities lay only in ultimate victory in Joab’s eyes. On the other hand the deep emotion of David is in the other direction. It was a victory for Israel but the deepest of losses for King David. Thus his grief captivates him for days at a time and his cry was heard aloud on many occasions [v 4].
B.     The rebuke of Joab [19:5-8] – Joab finally approached David in a seeming cold and calculating manner but with a practical necessity [v 5]. In other words David you mourn as one who has lost the battle. Indeed you have lost a son but Joab calls this the price of war and the debt to be paid for great victory. In this Joab is correct [v 6] the long despair of David would ultimately take its toll on the troops and the lack of aggressive leadership and a quick recovery on David’s part could be a danger and could signal an attack from the Philistines at a time when Israel was not prepared for an effective defense vv 7-8].
III.             David’s Return to Jerusalem [19:9-43]
A.    The King’s Return Negotiated [19:9-15] – David sent a messenger to Zadok and Abiathar to speak to the elders [v 11] asking them to consult with the elders of Judah for while David was dwelling in Mahanaim he had received no invitation to return to Jerusalem and no encouragement from the tribes in Judah. Had they abandoned him? Were they afraid to recall David was opposition continuing in Jerusalem? Word does come back to return to the city of Jerusalem and assume the throne. On his way back he is greeted by a number of individuals who have some interesting reactions.
B.     Shimei seeks pardon [19:16-24] – the violent curses and rocks thrown at David done when David was a fleeing king now he is a returning monarch with a re-established security in the land. The old Scotsman used to have an expression – “make your words sweet today because tomorrow you might have to eat them” – and Shimei is caught up in that particular circumstance and he knew well David had the power to take his life for the humiliation he brought upon him. Thus he is described as coming to David [vv 18-19]. The sons of Zeruiah spoke up and wanted to help David but their responses were not in the best interest of David’s kingdom and thus he prevents the murder of Shimei. This however does not represent a total forgiveness of Shimei but only out of political necessity the prevention of executions. For when David was upon his deathbed [I Kings 2:8-9] he condemned this man and suggested that Solomon take the necessary steps to eliminate him from the kingdom.
C.     Mephibosheth interviewed [19:25-31] – he didn’t present an effective appearance for he had not dressed his feet which were lame and he had not trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes from the day the king departed. Presumably as a sign of mourning for the king. David wanted to know concerning the message of Ziba had he defected to Absalom. This he denied and indicated that the message brought to him was a false one at the hands of Ziba and Mephibosheth had been deceived by him as well.
D.    David and Barzillai [19:32-40] – we don’t know a whole lot about this man but he appears to have been a good man to David. 80 years old but a man sensitive and kind. He and his sons had helped David during this time of despair and it was David’s idea to bring him back to Jerusalem and provide him with a fitting token of his thanksgiving. But this he could not except because he could contribute nothing to the royal court and would only be a liability and therefore he requested that he be allowed to return to his own city and die [vv 37-40].
E.     The Dispute Between Judah and Israel [19:41-43] – in an attempt to get the kings favor and the king’s ear. Again we are reminded that already in David’s reign there is a political and military distinction between the northern ten tribes and the tribe of Judah including of course Simeon. The men of Israel say we have ten parts in the king. This conflict would continue in small form and as smoldering ashes but after the death of Solomon it would break open and end the unification of the land.
IV.             The Revolt of Sheba [20:1-26]
A.    The Revolt Organized [20:1-3] – this man is described as a man of Belial whose name is recorded for us who tried to secure prominence in the kingdom of Israel. The Benjamites still had not forgotten their bitterness at the death of Saul and David’s ascension to the throne. They felt that the heirs of Saul should be the leaders of Israel. But the men of Judah remained faithful to David.
B.     The Murder of Amasa [20:4-13] – David had established Amasa as the general and chief of the troops and therefore he is requested to assemble the troops and put an end to this revolt of Sheba. But he was not to be found at this time and Joab was sent along with the Cherethites and the Pelethites to meet Amasa and we all know about Joab’s priorities and he gave him the usual greeting and kiss and little did Amasa know that he would get an unexpected surprise a sword in the abdomen. Thus Joab again eliminated any competition for military leadership in the land.
C.     The Death of Sheba [20:14-26] – the battle followed and once again the armies of Israel were established and all rebels put down. The last four verses of this chapter describe again the careful organization David had established in his kingdom. Despite all the confusion the land was still well organized. Sheba was captured and slain thus removing the final threat to the security of the throne. He died by being beheaded [II Sam. 20:22].
 
 APPENDICES TO THE BOOK [II Samuel 21:1-22:51]
 
The last four chapters of II Samuel constitute historical appendices to the book. In these chapters we are provided with a number of historical details intended to shed light on previous accounts and to help integrate various events in David’s life.
I.                   The Three Years of Famine [21:1-14]
A.    The Time of the Famine [21:1] – there was a famine in the land for a period of three years. A three-year famine is of tremendous magnitude in an agricultural society. There economy is based on agricultural success and the feeding of the people as well. David certainly realized that this famine was no mere accident of nature. While such a conclusion may have been reached after one year not after three. Therefore David inquired of the Lord according to this verse. He knew that this famine came by Divine direction. It is well known that the Lord used the famine on numerous occasions for judicial purposes.
B.     Reasons for the Famine [21:1-2] – the Lord responded to David’s inquiry that the reason for the famine was because Saul had violated an earlier treaty made with the Gibeonites. Accordingly he had slain some of these people. This is the only reference to the fact that Saul had committed an offense to the Gibeonites. The details of Saul’s action are not given but according to [v 2] the details are provided. Some feel that this is a reference to the slaying of the priests at Nob [I Sam. 12:18] to whom the Gibeonites were attached as laborers. In slaying the priests Saul had destroyed their means of support and was therefore virtually guilty of slaying them. Others feel that Saul was merely trying to rid the land of the remnant of heathen in order that Israel and Judah might move and grow with more freedom. In any event it should be observed that covenant making was no small part of life in the ancient near east. A covenant was of great importance. The covenant made by Joshua some 400 years before Saul was still valid and had to be respected. This covenant agreement with the Gibeonites for protection and care is found in [Joshua 9:15ff]. In the light of these events the warnings of Solomon recorded in Ecclesiastes 5 regarding the vow and promises to God becomes even more significant. The king in order to solve the problem called in the Gibeonites and it is interesting that as far as the record is concerned he did not consult the Lord as to a course of action. And some commentators have concluded that David’s slaying of the sons of Saul recorded in this chapter was out of harmony with the best interests of the Lord.
C.     The Demand of the Gibeonites [21:3-6] – nonetheless the Gibeonites were called in and they are described as being the remnant of the Ammorites. According to [Joshua 9:7;11:19] the people of Gibeon were Hivites. In many listings of the narrative the native inhabitants of Palestine the Hivites are clearly distinguished from the Ammorites [Gen. 10:16-17; Josh. 9:1; 11:3; 12:8]. How then can we resolve such an apparent contradiction? The resolution of the problem is quite simple the term Ammorite is often employed in a more comprehensive sense somewhat equivalent to the word Canaanite as meaning any of the inhabitants of Canaan [Gen. 15:16; Deut. 1:27]. Ammorites sometimes denotes more particularly the inhabitants of the hill country of Palestine as distinct from the Canaanites of the plains [Num 13:29; Deut. 1:7, 20]. After the Gibeonites had come before David they made known to him the reason for the possible difficulty. They pointed out that Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah. And David wanted to know what he could do to compensate for the losses that had been brought to his attention [v 3]. 
D.    The Death of Saul’s Sons [21:7-14]
1.      The demand for seven [21:6] – the response of the Gibeonites is amazing in that they refuse to set a price as an atonement for what was done [v 4]. The quarrel between the Gibeonites and the people of Israel was not with the nation itself but with the house of Saul, which had evidently killed off a number of their members. The crime of Saul was considered great enough that mere monetary payment was not sufficient. It was not their intention that any in Israel should be punished and it was also impossible that Saul himself could bare this responsibility since he was no longer alive. Therefore the request was for seven men of his sons. Thus they promised that an execution would be the only way to satisfy the breech of covenant that Saul had committed.
2.      The manner of execution [21:6] - They promised that they would hang them up to the Lord in Gibeah. This was to happen at Gibeah of Saul known as Tel-el-Ful located just north of Jerusalem. David agreed to this and many have found in this a very difficult problem. How can we reconcile the death of Saul’s sons with the command of Moses in [Deut. 24:16]. Rabbai Jochanan’s comment on this problem was, “It is better that a law of the Torah should be overridden than God’s name should be publicly profaned by the failure to expiate Saul’s breech of oath to the Gibeonites.” Many have concluded that Saul’s sons may have been implicated in the attack on the Gibeonites and this of course is not impossible that they participated or encouraged such an attack. Nonetheless David was willing to turn over these men for execution in order to satisfy the Gibeonites. The particular manner of execution a hanging before the Lord in Gibeah is also of interest [Num 25:4]. Maybe the Gibeonites had in mind the incident where the heads of the people guilty of the crime of Baal-Peor were to be hung up before the Lord that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.
3.      Mephibosheth protected [21:7] – the one exception was that Mephibosheth was spared because of the Lord’s oath and David would be very sensitive to the oath he had made between him and Jonathan especially in light of the fact that another oath is now under consideration the one made between Joshua and the Gibeonites.
4.      A textual problem [21:8] – this list presents a problem and the problem in this text is that Michal the daughter of Saul brought up these sons for Adriel. For it was Merab not Michal that was married to Adriel [I Sam. 18:19]. This is an example of biblical error thereby casting disparagement on the concept of inspiration and this is one of a number examples of copyist errors or mistakes that are extremely minor in nature and easily corrected by additional information. She was the one who was originally to be given to David but she was given to Adriel instead and David was given Michal [I Sam. 18:20-27]. Unless Michal had children through her marriage to Phalti [I Sam. 25:44] she died childless [II Sam. 6:23]. The Gibeonites took the sons of Saul and they were slain. Rizpah the daughter of Aiah was very much touched and bereaved by the death of these men [vv 10ff] express the sorrow of this woman.
5.      The reburial of the remains of Saul and Jonathan [21:9-14] – word came to David of this woman’s unusual sorrow and David went personally and oversaw the removal of the remains of Saul and Jonathan that the men of Jabesh-Gilead had buried and brought them and gave them a proper and special burial in the land of Benjamin.
 
 
II.                War with the Philistines [21:15-22]
A.    The Time and Nature of the First Battle [21:15-17] – indicate that sometimes in the latter years of David’s reign [v 15] there was a very strategic encounters with the Philistines including some great giants [v 16] the weight of whose spear was 300 shekels of brass. These sons of the giants were probably remnants of the gigantic race of the Rephaim who roamed throughout the southwest part of Palestine in earlier periods of time. Evidently at this time David’s life was in grave danger for the admonition of Abishai was that thou shall not go out anymore to battle.
B.     Victory at Gob [21:18] – during this time other giants were slain in conflict with the Philistines. There is no question therefore that Goliath was not an oddity from the southwestern part of Palestine. There were a number of people of gigantic size that roamed the hills and were part of the Philistine armies.
C.     The Feast of Elhanan [21:19] – here another battle is described this time located in Gob. Here we are told that Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim a Bethlemite slew the Goliath the Gittite. This would seem to contradict the story in [I Sam. 17]. And it does raise the question then that who exactly slew the great giant Goliath? The probable answer to this question is to be found in [I Chron. 20:5] here we find that the man whom Elhanan slew was the brother of Goliath and not Goliath himself.
D.    The Battle at Gath [21:20-22] – the fourth conflict between Israel and the Philistines occurring at Gath and here a man of great stature was encountered who had six fingers and six toes. This is not an unusual deformity it rendered one unfit for tabernacle service however [Lev. 21:18].
III.             A Psalm of David [22:1-51] – this song praises God for His intervention on behalf of His people and more particularly he thanks God for His provision and protection that he received during years of disaster and trouble.
A.    The Title of the Psalm [22:1] – is also found with some variations in Psalm 18 and this verse is the title of Psalm 18.
B.     Introduction: His Faith in God [22:2-4] – the use of the terms rock, fortress, and deliverer and then in [v 3] rock, shield, horn, tower, and refuge represents the language of a military man. David had lived in the rugged territory of Judah for a number of years and he had lived in and among the rocks and a special appreciation for the protection and assurety that the rocks could provide. It’s this type of imagery that is used by David to describe the assurance that he had in the protection of his God. We can better appreciate his use of the shield in [v 3] when note how strategically important a shield was in the protection of a soldier in hand to hand combat. The mention of a tower that which gave vision and gave knowledge of an approaching enemy speaks of God’s care for David.
C.     His Great Peril [22:5-7] – here he reflects upon the fact that he was besieged by the enemy on every hand. And this was historically true for the Moabites, Ammonites, Amalekites, the Philistines, the Arameans to the north all of these people provided a serious threat to the security of his throne and he had to face the enemies within the kingdom.
D.    God’s Intervention [22:8-16] – this is a description of God as majestic and beautiful and not unlike that, which is found in Exodus 19. This is a description of God’s great power and majestic strength was of great comfort to David for no human rebellion, no military force could withstand the heavy hand of judgment as he acted in behalf of David.
E.     Divine Deliverance [22:17-21] – note the verbs here: he sent from above, he took me, he drew me out and in [v 18] he delivered me; [v 20] he brought me forth; [v 21] he rewarded me according to my righteousness. What s meant by my righteousness? Is this a false self-affirmation on the part of David? That he considered himself righteous in the sense of arrogant pride and affirmation? I don’t think so his righteousness here is understood in the light of the revelation God had given him and his true faith in the God of the heavens.
F.      The Integrity of David [22:22-25] – as he compared himself with the wicked he saw himself upright and this again is not a false affirmation of purity or shallow piety. This is a realistic appraisal of his standing before God as a believer. It does not say that he didn’t fail but it does state that he was a believer and therefore declared righteous.
G.    God’s Relationship with Man [22:26-28] – the contrast to these verses is that to the wicked there will be judgment.
H.    A Personal Testimony [22:29-31] – David’s relationship to God was not a cold theologically disassociated one it was personal and these pronouns emphasize that fact.
I.       The Faithfulness of God [22:32-37] – again take note of the verbs used.
J.       The Key to Victory [22:38-46] – the key is the Lord.
K.    Summary and Conclusion [22:48-51] – these verses show once again the relationship of David and God
 
THE WORDS AND WORKS OF DAVID [II Samuel 23:1-24:25]
 
I.   David’s Last Words [23:1-7]
  1. The Nature of These Words [23:1] – David was the sweet psalmist of Israel and his commitment to the establishment of musical accompaniment in the worship services make this a valuable reference to the man.
  2. The Source of the Message [23:2-3] – this is reminiscent of II Peter 1 that speaks about the Holy Spirit bearing those along who were writing. It also reaffirms and illustrates that all scripture is given by inspiration [II Tim. 3:16]. The message of David was not a self-concocted proposal for it represents revelation from God and as such carries with it divine authority and importance. Because it was God who spoke it carries with it not only divine approval but also the full extent of authority in the lives of His people.
  3. The Content of the Message [23:4-7] – here David continues to describe the Lord and the Lord’s deeds in his own life. The everlasting covenant made with David was a high point in his life and he certainly did not deserve such a covenant but by the grace of God a throne and a people were to be established in his name. In contrast to this is the information stated in [v 6]. David as a recipient of God’s covenant would be blessed and fruitful. The sons of Belial all wicked men who rebel against God would be like thorns without fruit and lacking usefulness and therefore cast aside.
II. A List of David’s Mighty Men [23:8-39] – this list also appears in [I Chron. 11:11-41] with some variations the variations however are helpful to the Bible student. In the list here the man Uriah is included [v 39] but not included in the list is Joab.
III. David’s Numbering The People [24:1-9]
  1. The Nature and Purpose of This Act – why was the anger of the Lord kindled against Israel? The probable reason was because of the rebellion of the people led by Sheba [II Sam. 20:1-2]. And in order to punish them David was then moved against them to say go number Israel and Judah.
  2. The Problems Involved:
    1. Who provoked David to number the people? – in this passage it speaks to the fact that the Lord moved him assuming of course that the pronoun he in [v 1] has as its antecedent the word Lord. However according to [I Chron. 21:1] it was satan who caused David to number the people. A number of suggested solutions have been given to this problem. One writer argues that is was the anger of Jehovah that prompted David to number the people of Israel and Judah. This view takes the subject of the first independent clause and makes it he subject of the second independent clause. While this is remotely possible is makes the grammar awkward and strained. A second view translates the Hebrew word satan found in I Chronicles 21:1 as an adversary rather than the personal name satan. It was an adversary who prompted him to muster the people together for warfare. Those supporting this theory argue that there is no article prefix to the noun as in Job 1:6, 7, 8: 2:1-2. The term, therefore, must have reference to someone other than satan himself. They also point out that Hadad and Rezon were “satans” to both Solomon and Israel [I Kings 11:14-23, 25]. It is the latter usage of the term that they feel the writer of Chronicles was employing. Other commentators have felt that it was satan himself initiated David’s numbering of the people, perhaps in disobedience to a command of God. Those holding this view point out that God could not be angry with David if He had moved David to commit this act. The final viewpoint proposed by scholars, and that which appears to be more popular, is that the Chronicles account and the Samuel account merely reflect two aspects of the same incident. Satan was the immediate cause of David’s action, but, theologically speaking, God was the ultimate cause in that He did not prevent the incident from occurring. In other words, it was actually satan who instigated the pride and ambition that led David to increase the size of his army, perhaps unnecessarily. This view is the most preferable.
    2. Are the numbers in 24:9 in error? – David’s plan to number the people meets with some resistance from Joab [vv 3-4]. Why would Joab protest a numbering of the troops? Perhaps this was a time of peace and the appearance of this [I Chron. 21]indicates this and that being the case the actions of David may have been awkward and inappropriate. When they began to number the people [v 8] it took them nine months and twenty days and the summaries that are given in [v 9] indicate that Israel had a military potential of some import for there were in Israel 800,000 men and the men of Judah were 500,000. A careful study of this passage along with its parallel in I Chronicles we have a difficult problem because entirely different figures are given for the same census apparently. The numbering of the men would have given David a national military potential of about one million three hundred thousand men as already noted according to the parallel account in I Chronicles the number was higher that is one million five hundred and seventy thousand men. The difference between the two accounts would be that in II Samuel 24 800,000 were supposed to have come from Israel but in I Chronicles 21 one million one hundred thousand are said to come from Israel. This is a difference of 300,000 and therefore an error or a difference of no small consequence. With reference to Judah II Samuel 24 states that it had a military potential of 500,000 men whereas I Chronicles 21 states that Judah’s military potential was 470,000 or 30,000 less than the Samuel account. Now two specific problems are presented by this data. One relates to the differences in figures between the two accounts and the other relates to the size of the numbers in the two accounts. Most liberal critical scholars reject these numbers as being both meaningless and unreliable and therefore don’t worry about the problem. And so little effort is taken to provide a solution. If the Chronicles record showed increases for both Israel and Judah it might be argued the census in II Samuel was incomplete but such is not the case as the above chart has shown. Another possible case for the differences might be that the list represents different stages of counting. Perhaps the Samuel account represents completed totals for Judah but not for Israel while the Chronicles account may be the completed totals for Israel but not for Judah. This assumes of course that the larger numbers are actually the final totals. The fact that neither of the summaries was placed in the official records of the kingdom [I Chron. 27:24] might be an indication of their incomplete character. The other problem raised by the numbers is the implication that in Israel at this time there may have been over four million people and the military population would constitute about one fourth the total population of the land. The answer to this particular problem requires a detailed study by the student.
    3. In what did David’s sin consist? – a number of suggestions have been given. Josephus felt that David forgot the commands of Moses in that he did not collect a half of a shekel for the Lord for every head counted. Others have suggested that it was the attitude of David that brought God’s anger and condemnation. David commanded the census out of an attitude of pride and vanity, and the purpose of the numbering was to serve selfish ends only. Others feel that David was over-expanding his military potential and perhaps placing upon the people excessive burdens.
IV. The Choice of Punishments [24:10-14] – it isn’t often that those who oppose God or rebel against Him are given options as to their punishment. David knew that he had sinned because [v 10] says that his heart smote him after he had numbered the people. Perhaps David recognized that the influence for numbering the people was satanically controlled and the passage in Chronicles would explain that. He therefore prays that the Lord would remove this sin for he had acted foolishly. He was up early in the morning and made contact with the prophet Gad. Gad like Nathan does not have an easy task. It would be an easy thing for him to resign his post or to leave or to change the message or to ignore the whole thing and keep silent. But that was not the character of Gad and therefore even though difficult he came to David and gave the proposition the Lord had offered. Three possible punishments: [1] shall seven years of famine come unto thee in the land; [2] flee three months before his enemies while they pursued him; [3] is the possibility of three days pestilence in the land. As David pondered these options he concluded that the best road to take was to cast his life into the hands of a merciful God. Therefore the Lord did send pestilence on Israel and it was no small thing for 70,000 men died in Israel. This is some indication of the severity with which God looked upon Israel’s rebellion and David’s sin.
V. The Plague in Israel [24:15-17] – in [v 16] we read the Lord repented of the evil – does this mean that God had concluded that He had made a mistake and repented of the tragedy that he had wrought in Israel. This does not refer to a change of mind resulting from a mistake. God does change but He always changes in accordance with His holiness and His perfection. Since God doesn’t make mistakes He has nothing to be sorry about or to repent for. The repentance of the Lord therefore represents a change within His own being in accordance with His will and purposes for man. As the circumstances of time and history change then God makes a change in accordance with that. The term also reflects upon the sorrow of God and therefore the Lord was sorrowful for the calamity that had occurred. The word evil does not refer to moral evil but to judgment and calamity.
VI. Purchase of the Threshing Floor [24:18-25]
  1. The Owner of the Site [24:18-23] – the owner of the site was Araunah the Jebusite and he was willing to give the site to David without charge and even to provide a suitable animal for sacrifice. David says he will not make sacrifices unto the Lord from that which costs him nothing. What a lesson this is. It should teach us about our dedication and consecration to the Lord. Many very willingly give the Lord nothing and then take great pride in a sacrifice they have engaged in. David believed that the Lord should receive the best and that which would cost a price.
  2. The Price of the Land [24:24] – so he provided to Araunah fifty shekels of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen for the sacrifice. The greatest sacrifice to be given is our bodies [Rom. 12:1-2]
  3. The Purpose for Purchase [24:24-25] – was to offer sacrifices to the Lord
 
INTRODUCTION [I Kings 1:1-2:11]
 
I. Introduction to I Kings – this book describes very briefly the last days of King David and the beginning of Solomon’s reign and the conclusion of the reign. 
  1. The Title of the Book – the title of I and II Kings is derived from the type of leadership that is exemplified in these books. They are a record of the both the kings of Judah and Israel. Like the books of Samuel the book of Kings was once just one.
  2. The Author – ancient Jewish tradition found in the Talmud asserts that Jeremiah was the author of the books of Kings. While this has some credibility, for there are striking similarities between the parts of Kings and material found in the book of Jeremiah [II Kings 24:18-25:30 with Jer. 52]. The similarities here make it obvious that Jeremiah did make some contribution to the history of this period. Also in favor of this theory is that there is no mention of Jeremiah himself in chapters that deal with Josiah and his successors. However, the final chapters of these books must have been written by someone other than Jeremiah, for Jeremiah was in Egypt at that time [Jer. 43:1-8], and the description is that of one living in Babylon. It is evident that whoever the author was he made extensive use of previously written documents. Three such documents are well known to us from these books. There is the book of the acts of Solomon; the book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah; the book of the Chronicles of Israel. Therefore it is fair to conclude that number of authors contributed to the official record of the royal courts and at a later date this was compiled into a single document.
  3. The Purpose – the theological and practical purposes for the books of Kings are to be found in a number of areas. From a historical prospective these books carry on the story of the theocracy until its end in the Babylonian exile. But they go beyond history. There are some important theological truths that are emphasized in the two books. For example three important theocratic institutions find a historic treatment throughout the material. There is the temple, prophecy and the prophets, and then the Davidic dynasty. These three ideas run concurrently throughout the books and are highlighted on many occasions.
  4. Historical Setting – from the standpoint of comparative ancient near eastern studies and archaeology the books are fruitful and pregnant in meaning. Some of the most crucial and important events to occur in ancient near eastern history are related to the biblical material found in these books. From a standpoint of Egypt the events of I Kings and following are parallel to the 21st –26th dynasties in Egypt. While Egypt was relatively weak as compared to it’s past it still had its designs on conquest in Palestine and some serious interest in Syria. It was also the time of the rise of Syria and its great conquest leading to the destruction of Samaria in 722B.C. These books also recall the rise of the great neo-Babylonian Empire and the ultimate destruction of Judah at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. The primary interest was to relate the history of Israel and Judah but in so doing there are many inter-relationships that are enriched and better understood in the light of ancient contemporary material. For example we read about Mesha of Moab as having paid tribute to Ahab and then rebelling against Israel after the death of Ahab.
  5. Basic Outline
    1. The reign of Solomon [1:1-11:43]
    2. The divided kingdom [12:1-22:53]
II. Solomon’s Accession to the Throne [1:1-2:11]
  1. Solomon Anointed King [1:1-53]
    1. David’s illness [1:1-4] – David is 70 and his illness is quite serious and it will be recalled that according to II Sam. 5:4 David was 30 when he began to reign and since he reigned for 40 years. He had become so feeble that according to [v 1] he was not able to remain warm. There is an interesting rabbinic tradition that comments on this verse. Rabbi’s concluded that this coldness was inflicted upon David by God as a punishment for his having cut off a piece of Saul’s robe [I Sam. 24:5]. It is difficult to take such a tradition seriously more likely it is a fanciful view of David’s weakness at this point. In order to aid David a number of servants were called to attend to David. According to Josephus the servants of [v 2] were physicians. In addition to that a young virgin was called by the name of Abishag a Shunammite. Her primary purpose was to care for the king and see that he remained warm. But no sexual relations were advanced in this case [v 4]. Because of David’s weakness and his lack of involvement in the political affairs of the royal court his son Adonijah began to take steps to usurp the throne. It was probably already known that the throne was promised to Solomon.
    2. Adonijah’s attempt to usurp the throne [1:5-53]
a.       The plot initiated [1:5-9] – he said he would be the king and took steps in that direction by preparing chariots and horsemen and fifty men to run before him. Why did Adonijah feel that he should be king? What led him to conclude that this was his right? The Bible gives us at least three reasons. [1] His father had not displeased at any time in saying why has thou done so. In plain words he was a spoiled child. David throughout his life lacked either the time or the interest to exercise consistent and effective discipline among his sons. This accounts for their poor behavior and gives some reason for the arrogant approach of Adonijah at this point. [2] he had an imposing appearance, he was attractive and we have already learned from the people’s response to King Saul that this was one ingredient that was desirable in a monarch. [3] is that he was David’s oldest living son for his mother bore him after Absalom. The first-born son Amnon had been killed by his half-brother Absalom [II Sam. 13:28ff]. In order to make his plan for seizing the throne effective he conferred with Joab and with Abiathar the priest for the priest would have to function to anoint him and he gathered others. As the plot was going on and he was gathering people it is interesting to notice that many were left out. Adonijah knew well who he could entice into his camp and he knew who would remain faithful to the Davidic household and dynasty. Therefore we read in [v 8] that Zadok the priest and others were not with Adonijah. He began to organize his party of rebellion and began to take steps to affirm his claim on the throne by offering sacrifices [v 9]. 
b.      Nathan’s counter plan [1:10-14] – Nathan heard about this plan and immediately contacted Bathsheba and reminded her that David’s promise to the throne was to Solomon. Why then was Adonijah taking these steps to be king?
c.       Bathsheba’s conference with David [1:15-21] – Bathsheba went to David and began to present the case to him and very carefully was this presented.
d.      David and Nathan meet [1:22-27] – while he was meeting with Bathsheba Nathan the prophet came into the room to confirm what Bathsheba said. And David would have every reason to believe Bathsheba’s report because Nathan had proven to be a faithful prophet. Adonijah had already begun to gather his people around him and they were already crying out God save King Adonijah. David at this point did not waste any time. He knew what had to be done and he knew how to do. His wisdom and genius was not lost in the weakness of his own body.
e.       The kingdom promised to Solomon [1:28-38] – therefore he commanded them to get Solomon and cause him to ride upon the royal mule and to bring him down to Gihon or the fountain of virgins. The purpose of riding publicly on the king’s mule was to give visible proof that he was the king’s choice and the legitimate heir to the throne. It was also commanded that they should declare his kingship and that he should be accompanied by Zadok the priest and Nathan and the Cherethites and the Pelethites.
f.       The anointing of Solomon [1:39-40] – Zadok the priest took a horn of oil out of the Tabernacle that would be properly recognized in the anointing process of Solomon. This was taken and Solomon was officially anointed and this was completed with the blowing of the trumpet and the people shouted God save King Solomon.
g.      Adonijah’s submission [1:41-53] – there must have been some anxiety on the part of the people because Adonijah calculated his move at a time when the people felt desperate. Perhaps David’s weakness lasted over a considerable period of time and he had very limited public appearances and the running of the country was left to his advisory council. Adonijah may have felt that if he moved at this time he could exploit the anxiety and fear of the people to his own ends. Imagine if you were a guest at this kind of political rally [vv 41-49] and needless to say many lost their appetite and enthusiasm for the plans of Adonijah and they were afraid and rose up and every man went his own way. They left him to withstand the consequences of his own political campaign. And [v 50] tells us he didn’t feel too optimistic about the future and that fear drove him to the Tabernacle to grab hold of the horns of the altar. Such a procedure is not unknown in biblical history to take hold of the horns was to claim the right of the sanctuary. This right however was to be denied to a willful murderer [Ex. 21:14]. We shall observe in [I Kings 2:28-31] that the horns of the altar were also seized by Joab as a plea for mercy. Adonijah felt that if he should take this course of action his life would be spared because competitors for the throne are rarely tolerated they are usually eliminated. He was taken into custody and came and bowed himself down before Solomon and he released him to his own house. This decision on the part of Solomon was probably the best course of action for the execution of Adonijah at this point would not be effective at this point nor would it accomplish the ultimate purposes that David had for him. 
  1. David’s Charge to Solomon [2:1-11] – this is the record of David’s challenge to Solomon. It is theologically oriented and it is politically oriented but in terms of priority David starts with the spiritual. David made it clear that obedience to the Word of God was the key to prosperity [v 3; Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2]. Following this admonition David cited certain individuals who should be removed from the royal court in order that further trouble should not develop. Among those to be removed was Joab who had murdered Absalom [II Sam. 18:14ff] and Amasa [II Sam. 19:13; 20:8-10] and he had also supported Adonijah in his attempt to seize the throne [I Kings 1:7]. The second individual cited for punishment was Shimei [v 8]. David remembered the curses and the stones thrown by Shimei when he had to flee because of Absalom [II Sam. 16:5-13]. Even though Shimei sought pardon after the rebellion it was possible that he might turn against the throne again. David also remembered Barzillai, the man who had helped to sustain him and David wanted him to have preferential treatment as a reward for his faithfulness to the throne. David wanted Solomon to understand that the heart of Israel’s strength was not military might or the acquisition of great wealth it was her God.
 
SOLOMON’S ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGDOM [I Kings 2:12-4:34]
 
I. The Removal of Solomon’s Adversaries [2:12-46] – Eissfeldt in his well-known The Hebrew Kingdom cites five characteristics of Solomon’s reign. The first was a through going change in Israel’s military organization, namely the introduction of chariots as the essential decisive arm in war. Secondly was the creation of new administrative districts. Thus providing more food for the royal court. Third, there was the creation of commercial monopolies and this of course made Solomon extremely wealthy and therefore powerful both in the land and with respect to other countries. Fourth, were extensive and luxurious building projects such as the Temple and the palace complex. The fifth characteristic was the refinement of court procedure on the model of neighboring countries. There is good evidence that Solomon was strongly influenced by Egyptian court organization and procedure and it is reflected in a number of his policies. 
  1. The Execution of Adonijah [2:12-25] – one would think that after the narrow escape he had because of his attempting to lead an insurrection and secure the throne before Solomon that he would have forgotten about the throne but that is not the case. Because in [v 15] he tells Bathsheba that she knows the throne was his because of his seniority. It is doubtful that all Israel supported his claim to the throne and we see from the previous chapter that wasn’t the case. Adonijah acknowledges that the sovereign will of God is a factor in Israel’s monarchy [v 15b]. This is an important point to observe because it was not God’s intention that monarchy should be established on strict dynastic principles and that there would be a father/son succession regardless of the moral character of the individual or his commitment to the revelation that God had given to his people. Adonijah’s request was to be given Abishag the Shunammite [v 17]. It might seem on the surface that this was an innocent request but it was not so understood by King David. For as we have observed possession of the king’s harem was a sign of royal authority and influence. Bathsheba went to ask for Abishag to be given to Adonijah.[v 22]. For Adonijah to make a claim for the king’s harem was in effect to make a claim for the king’s throne. Solomon understood this as another approach on the part of Adonijah to seize the throne and he felt that he was left with no alternative any longer and Adonijah was executed that day [v 25].
  2. Abiathar Removed from the Priesthood [2:26-27] – Abiathar participated in the rebellion of Adonijah and with his removal from the priesthood comes a fulfillment of the prophecy recorded in [I Sam. 2:34-35; 3:11-14]. Thus the priesthood is shifted away from Abiathar and is shifted to the house of Zadok. And in the light of this we are able to observe the change from the house of Ithamar to the house of Elieazar, the elder son of Aaron. These verses help to confirm that the faithful priest should be identified as the priest of Zadok.
  3. The Death of Joab [2:28-34] – Joab caught hold of the horns of the altar just as Adonijah did in chapter one. For Adonijah this brought mercy but as we’ve already observed this was not an effective escape for one who was guilty of premeditated murder [Ex. 21:14]. Therefore Joab was slain because of his violent deeds in taking the lives of others so freely.
  4. Zadok the Priest [2:35] – is sort of parenthetical in the way it reads.
  5. The Execution of Shimei [2:36-46] – Shimei had been given great grace by David and apparently was given the opportunity of remaining in Jerusalem by Solomon without being executed. The reason Solomon wanted him in Jerusalem is that he could keep an eye on him. He knew of the volatile character of Shimei and the real possibility that he could lead a revolt given the opportunity for he was a strong-willed Benjamite. This worked out for three years but after the three-year time Shimei broke that covenant agreement and because of that he was executed as were the others.
II. Political Alliance with Egypt [3:1-3]
  1. The Marriage of Pharaoh’s Daughter [3:1]
    1. Its purpose - Solomon made a commercial agreement or perhaps a covenant or treaty of some kind. Solomon received from David a rather stable and secure kingdom. Solomon is characterized more by his literary and cultural pursuits in addition to great commercial agreements. The political moves of Solomon as the related to international politics were confirmed and validated and strengthened by the use of royal marriages.
    2. Its uniqueness - As far as we know there is no real example of Pharaoh’s daughter given in marriage to a foreign royal house. Although the Pharaoh’s quite frequently marry the daughters of foreign rulers. The marriage of Solomon to Pharaoh’s daughter has important political and military implications. It indicates on the one hand that Egypt under the leadership of 21st dynasty was extremely weak. On the other hand it indicates the military and political superiority of the Solomonic empire over Egypt. She was brought to Jerusalem and thereby resided and presumably was the wife of the greatest priority. For in [I Kings 11] there is an implication that while Solomon had other wives it was Pharaoh’s daughter that was the one that was most important to him and perhaps the one with the greatest priorities and privileges. The fact that she is singled out from the other strange women may indicate that she had a place of prominence.
  2. The High Places in Israel [3:2-3] – the historian calls attention to the fact that the people sacrificed in high places because there was no house built unto the name of the Lord. This may help further explain the widespread use of high places for worship and sacrifice. Apparently Solomon who loved the Lord also engaged in this. The manner in which this is described indicates the writer has some reservations about the appropriateness of such actions and indeed it appears that the high places are subject to the danger of apostasy and infiltration by Canaanitic influences. 
III. A Prayer for Wisdom [3:5-10] – this prayer teaches us some important spiritual lessons. It reflects on effective prayer. There are five simple observations we can make from [vv 5-10] in the prayer that was offered. This all occurred because of a dream in Gibeon. The first observation we can make is that God is deeply interested in us. It was God who came to Adam during the time of his greatest need and it is God who comes to Solomon asking him what should be given. A second observation [v 6] is the recognition of the ability of God to meet our needs. This is confirmed by His nature and His power. David and Solomon emphasize two things in their writings and that is the transcendence of God along with His imminence. The ability of God to meet our needs is not only confirmed by His nature and power but by history. We have a record of what He has done with a promise of continued help. A third observation is that there should be a recognition of our personal limitations [vv 7-9]. This is reflected in the statement I am but a little child and know not how to go out or to come in. According to rabbinic tradition Solomon ascended to the throne at the age of twelve years but this should be rejected. Josephus gives the age as fourteen. The best interpretation is to understand it as a metaphor referring to inexperience and that fits in well with this time in Solomon’s life. Honesty in petitioning God is important we must remember that one valid function of prayer is to change us and to give us a realistic appraisal of where we stand before God. By changing us prayer will bring us into conformity of God’s will thus making our prayer life effective. A fourth observation comes from [v 8] and it means that we need to recognize the greatness of ones task. Solomon looked up at his task and this is an appropriate example for the man of God. The fifth observation is to recognize our essential needs. Understanding genuine priorities is crucial in effective prayer and thus Solomon asks for wisdom which pleased the Lord. For that was the key to correct handling of the matters with which he would be faced.
IV. The Blessing of God [3:11-28]
  1. The Answer to Prayer [3:11-15] – God gave him greatness and a lengthening of days
  2. The Exercise of Wisdom [3:16-28] – Solomon knew well that the deepest desire of the true mother would be the survival of the child and not mere equity in division and the one who was not the true mother would not really care for the welfare of the child. A brilliant deduction on Solomon’s part and clear evidence of God’s special gift of wisdom to this man.
V. Organization of the Kingdom [4:1-28]
  1. The Princes of the Kingdom [4:1-6] – the most significant changes taking place are the rapid bureaucratization during the reign of Solomon. There is a general decline of tribal rights and there may be a reduction of the force of covenant law. There is no doubt that the political and economical characteristics of the tribes of Israel begin to change under a rigidly controlled economy by a king. the first officer listed in Solomon’s court is a priest. Basically Solomon’s organization of the royal court represented an expansion of the system established by David. One of the officers was the “recorder” which Jehoshaphat held during David’s reign [I Chron. 18:15] and apparently continued to hold into the reign of Solomon. This office was, in effect, that of a court annalist whose duty it was to record events as they occurred and who probably was responsible for the official archives of the realm [II Kings 18:18-37; II Chron. 34:8]. The captain of the hosts was Benaiah [v 4], with Zadok and Abiathar as the chief priests. Adoniram was set over the tribute [v 6], which is better translated “forced labor” or “levy.” This office was established in the latter part of David’s reign [II Sam. 20:24], for his earlier list of offices does not include the one mentioned here [II Sam. 8:16-18].
  2. Officers over the Twelve Districts [4:7-28] – Solomon organized the Northern Kingdom and Transjordan into twelve districts headed up by one governor in each district. The twelve districts had no consistent relationship to the original division of the land among the twelve tribes, but were related primarily to the twelve months of the year. Each governor was responsible for supplying the needs of the royal court for one month [v 7]. In order to guarantee the fidelity of several of the governors, his daughters were given to them as wives [vv 11, 15].
VI. The Fame and Wisdom of Solomon [4:29-34] – Solomon was the writer of 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs, his wisdom included information in the biological realm and is a strong indication that he is the writer in Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon [v 33]. The greatness of Solomon is unquestioned both as a politician, military leader, and king.
 
CONSTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE [I Kings 5:1-8:66]
 
I. Preparation for Building [5:1-18]
  1. Commercial Agreements with Hiram [5:1-12] - this agreement included not only the exchange of materials but also of laborers as is described [vv 6-12]. The issue was given to bring cedar trees from Lebanon and there are records that indicate that the Pharaoh’s were greatly interested in cedar for royal building projects. The observation in the latter part of verse 6 gives us some indication of the tremendous skills the Phoenicians had developed in these areas. When Hiram heard the needs of Solomon and his great needs he rejoiced greatly and why not he had just received a huge lumber contract. The manner in which payment was made for lumber and other supplies is described in [v 11]. This was a common type of payment using the barter system.
  2. Solomon’s Labor Force [5:13-18]
    1. The source of his workers [5:13, 18] – this is another indication of the high price of kingship. Solomon of course had to use men to carry out the vast building projects which he had set for himself and this included not only building in Jerusalem but other large cities as well. Thus King Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel and the levy was 30,000 men. This was established and carried out on a monthly basis.
    2. The number of men employed [5:15] – gives a further description of this; beside the chief of Solomon’s officers which were over the work 3300 ruled over the people which wrought the work. The wealth and prominence of King Solomon required a vast army of workers who would assume domestic responsibilities. Accompanying the workers that Solomon was able to marshal together were special skilled tradesman from Hiram’s realm in the north.
II. Construction of the Temple [6:1-38]
  1. The Date of Construction [6:1] – this verse is chronologically important because it fixes the date in the construction of the Temple that is in the fourth year of Solomon which is approximately 967 or 966B.C. but even more important is the fact that this verse indicates that the exodus from Egypt took place 480 years prior to the fourth year of King Solomon. Simple calculation therefore indicates that the exodus from Egypt must have taken place in 1445B.C. This provides a considerably earlier date for the exodus than is commonly accepted in popular books. Many have argued that the exodus took place in 1280B.C. The question is can we really depend on the chronological notice of I Kings 6:1 or is the number 480 merely a rounded number of 12 generations and is not to be taken literally? We should suggest that there is no reason for rejecting the numerical notices of this verse. From the standpoint of the Hebrew text there are no significant variance to the number 480 in Hebrew text. Secondly the verse is not poetic. It is very sober prose and found in a section of Israel’s history that was not given to fanciful idealization of its history. This is a chronologically fixed point for the beginning of the Temple. This verse is at the heart for an earlier date of the exodus. 
  2. The Size and Appearance of the Temple [6:2-36] – according to [v 2], the temple proper was 60 cubits long and 20 cubits wide, exactly twice the size of the Tabernacle [Ex. 26:16, 18]. If the cubit is regarded as 18”, then the floor plan of the temple would have been 90’ by 30’. The temple proper was divided into two sections like the Tabernacle. The inner room or the most Holy Place was a cube measuring 20x20x20 cubits [6:16, 20]. The other room or the outer chamber called the Holy Place measured 40x20 cubits. The finishing work and decoration of the temple proper was nothing short of spectacular. The floor and walls were made of stone covered with cedar and then overlaid with gold [I Kings 6:16, 21, 22]. Around the temple proper, on the two sides and back, special chambers were added [vv 5-6]. In front of the temple there was a porch which measured 20 cubits long and 10 cubits wide [v 3]. Two large pillars stood in front of the temple which were given the names Jachin and Boaz [7:21]. The specifications for both the Tabernacle and the Temple came from the Lord.
  3. The Time Required for Completion [6:37-38] – the completion of the Temple took 7 years and the length of time gives some indication of the beauty of this building.
III. The Royal Palace and Temple Equipment [7:1-51]
  1. Construction of Solomon’s Palace [7:1-12] – according to [v 1] Solomon spent 13 years building the palace complex in Jerusalem. In other words 20 of his 40 year reign were devoted to extensive building projects. From [vv 1-3] we need to ask the question are we to assume that there were three palaces built? Two in Jerusalem his own and one dedicated to Pharaoh’s daughter and then one in Lebanon or as many have suggested and more probably were these three units in the city of Jerusalem and the expression the house of the forest of Lebanon merely indicating that it was characterized by great quantities of cedar that had come from that place. This latter viewpoint is probably preferable and that the building activities herein described are those that were carried out in the city of Jerusalem. In the light of Solomon’s wealth and commerce he was able to select the very best materials.
  2. The Pillars named Jachin and Boaz [7:13-22] – these pillars were made by a man named Hiram who came from Tyre but this is not King Hiram for if we look at [II Chron. 2:12; 4:11] he is identified as Huram. In any event this skilled craftsman is brought from Hiram for the purpose of making the pillars and overseeing that construction project.
  3. The Ornamental Basin [7:23-26] -
  4. The Laver and their Carriages [7:27-39]
  5. The Work of Hiram [7:40-45]
  6. The Location of the Foundry [7:46-47] – most of the smelting was done in the plains of the Jordan between Succoth and Zarthan, which would probably place it in the upper part of the Jordan Valley.
  7. The Objects of Gold for the Temple [7:48-51] – in the Holy of Holies the old Mosaic Ark of the Covenant was placed with its two golden cherubim’s above the mercy seat. The ark had an added feature in this temple in that it was placed between two additional cherubim made of olive wood and overlaid with gold. Inside the Holy Place was the altar of incense covered with cedar and overlaid with gold. Instead of the single golden candlestick as in the Tabernacle there were now ten. Five placed on one side and five on the other side of the Holy Place. Instead of one table of showbread there were now ten. Five on each side of the room with all utensils made of gold. The inner court had the brazen altar of burnt offering and the bronze sea which in effect took the place of the laver of the Tabernacle. It was given the name the molten sea because of its tremendous size.
IV. Dedication of the Temple [8:1-66]
  1. The Ark and Vessels Brought to Jerusalem [8:1-11] – after a long period of building and many frustrations the people of Israel again were able to rejoice in a permanent home for the Ark of the Covenant. For this occasion Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, the heads of the tribes, and the chief of the fathers of Israel [v 1]. This reflects the fact that basic tribal organization had still continued. When the Ark was brought in it was observed by the historian that there was nothing in the Ark except the two tablets of stone that Moses had put there are Horeb. According to other passages there were two things missing, Aaron’s rod and the golden pot of manna. What had happened to these we do not know. When the priest came out of the Holy Place after fixing the Ark the cloud filled the house of the Lord [vv 10-11]. It filled the Temple and remained in the Temple from the 11th year of Solomon all the way until Ezekiel’s time. [Ezek. 10:18] – because of the wickedness of the people, their apostasy, and idolatry the glory of the Lord’s presence left the Temple.
  2. Solomon’s Speech [8:12-21] – his speech reflects a key knowledge of God’s acts among His people and the fact that Solomon knew his responsibility before the Lord.
  3. The Prayer of Dedication [8:22-53] – in this prayer Solomon makes some important theological affirmations as well as some warnings. [v 23] – covenant and mercy are two crucial terms in the OT and are associated as God’s covenant loyalty. He also mentions the implications of the Davidic Covenant [v 24ff]. His knowledge of God’s omnipresence is reflected in [v 27] and this clears up any doubt that Solomon’s concept of God was idolatrous in nature. He knew well the nature and the power of the true God. The concept of the omnipresence of God was well-known in the OT.
  4. Worship and Exhortation [8:54-66] – then hear thou in heaven as a plea for God’s presence in the affairs of men. This occurs in [vv 32, 34, 36, 39, 45, 49]. It should be observed here that if Solomon thought this building so important so as to have spent this much time and effort in its dedication, how much more should we look upon another temple with great care. The temple of the Lord built then was clean and wholesome this should indeed be the character and the nature of our body the temple of the Holy Spirit. 
 THE LAST YEARS OF SOLOMON [I Kings 9:1-11:43]
 
I. Reaffirmation of the Davidic Covenant [9:1-9]
  1. The Lord’s Appearance to Solomon [9:1-3] – this occurred when Solomon had finished building the temple and the palace and does raise a question when exactly did the Lord answer the prayer of Solomon in [I Kings 8] or when did the dedication prayer take place? After the seven years and the completion of the temple? Or after 20 years when all the building was done? Because of the brevity of the biblical account it is not really possible to answer the question or to solve the problem. What we do know is that God answered the prayer of Solomon.
  2. Exhortations and Warnings [9:4-9] – there is a condition for God’s blessing and that is stated in these verses. If thou will walk before me – that is a big if – the conditions under which blessing were to be received are clearly stated. And important warnings are attached to these ifs observe [v 6]. Compare [v 7, with Deut. 28:37; Psalm 44:14]. The warning therefore comes clear and stern. The blessing of God is fully available to Solomon if he obeys His word. But where disobedience and apostasy occur a price must be paid. And of course in terms of larger biblical history the tragedy of the fall of Samaria after a 3-year siege in 722 B. C. is an attestation to the fact that God keeps His warnings. And later on in 586 B. C. Judah was crushed by Nebuchadnezzar has a judgment for apostasy and disobedience.
II. The Domestic and Foreign Enterprises of Solomon [9:10-28]
  1. Hiram and Solomon [9:10-14] – some have felt that the 20 cities given to Hiram indicates an agricultural difficulty at the time since agricultural goods were not exchanged or perhaps a financial problem on Solomon’s part of this we can’t be sure but cities were given to Hiram. Hiram was not pleased with what he had received and he called them the land of Cabul unto this day. What is the significance of cabul? There are at least three suggestions as to the significance of cabul: [1] that the noun is derived from a root which means to close or close off. On account of its inferiority no travelers visited it and therefore cabul was called a closed land and these may have been obscure isolated cities removed from major trade roots and of no economic value. [2] others connect the name with a root meaning to bind and it was sandy or marshy land in which the feet sank and movement was as if they were bound. [3] is that the name as been taken as a combination of two Hebrew elements and means that the land is worthless and this word reflects the unhappiness of Hiram with the gift.
  2. The Royal Building Projects [9:15-25] – we read that Solomon did not drive the heathen out of the land as he should have but put a tribute upon them and made them slaves and it was this procedure that made apostasy and idolatry possible. They made them slaves and put them in servitude in order that they may improve their economic situation. This of course brought disaster and divine judgment upon them.
  3. Solomon’s Seaport and Navy [9:26-28] – this area has been carefully excavated and many objects have been discovered that this was a port city and involved in the smelting process for copper.
III. The Visit of the Queen of Sheba [10:1-13] – the visit of the Queen of Sheba is not to be regarded as the mere response to curiosity. As to where Sheba is located is subject to some debate. Many feel and with good archaeological reason that it is located in southern Arabia, while others argue for Ethiopia. She came to Solomon to prove him with hard questions. When she came she brought appropriate gifts for the king and Solomon conducted negotiations with her. She asked him many questions and Solomon in his wisdom gave practical and wise answers and the Queen of Sheba was duly impressed [v 7]. Solomon gave gifts to the Queen as a diplomatic act of courtesy [v 13]. If she was indeed from Arabia then this has interesting implications for Solomon’s economic interest in that part of the world.
IV. The Wealth and Influence of Solomon’s Empire [10:14-29] – there is reference here that the exchange of goods that Solomon received were a result of the visit of the Queen of Sheba. Solomon at this time built up a chariot force and horsemen and this was in direct opposition to the Lord’s command of Deuteronomy 17:16. in the book of Isaiah there are warnings against putting faith in the chariots and Solomon was engaged in this and it had an effect on his life spiritually.
V. Apostasy and Its Consequences [11:1-43] – it is tragic indeed that our study of this great king should have to conclude on such a dark note. Nonetheless as we have observed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit both the great deeds and the failures of the kings are recorded.
  1. Polygamy Involving Foreign Women [11:1-3] – this was done primarily for political reasons and in spite of that it had an effect on his spiritual life and it turned his life away from God to these other deities. The polygamy of Solomon far exceeded that of David and other Israelite kings. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines and if these were all housed in Jerusalem it’s understandable why it took him 20 years to get all the building done. The marriage of many wives had its political and spiritual implications for international marriages as we know from contracts that have been discovered required the recognition of foreign gods. In order to achieve political, military, and economical greatness Solomon was willing to hedge upon God’s revelation.
  2. Idolatry in the Royal City [11:4-8] - In Jerusalem itself Solomon built high places and temples for these other gods and this of course was a diplomatic necessity for as official visitors came from other countries to Jerusalem they would look for some kind of official recognition of their country within Jerusalem and the most appropriate form would be a temple. We are able to understand therefore how Solomon would then follow Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians because of his relationship to Hiram.
  3. Divine Anger and Judgment [11:9-25] - This sort of approach will always bring disaster. Compromise is not possible we cannot serve God and mammon at the same time. The principle of biblical separation as understood in the Old Testament is just as valid today and therefore the lessons of this chapter are significant for us.
  4. The Rise of Jeroboam [11:26-40] – who would become the leader of the northern tribes
  5. The Death of Solomon [11:41-43] – of interest for the archaeologist is the mention of Shishak [v 40] this is known to us as Shishonk I, a Libyan prince who founded the 22nd dynasty and reigned for about 21 years. We have some of his records confirming his raids into Judah. Another example of the accuracy of biblical traditions and history in the light of archaeological data. But most important for our study is a recognition of the theological and spiritual implications of the books. Let us view the history of the united Monarchy not with just objective coldness or mere interests in historical facts but as practical spiritual lessons for every day living.