This book is the story of two men, Samuel and Saul. Samuel is the last of the judges, also a priest and a prophet. Saul is the first of the kings. When Samuel anoints Saul, Israel changes from a theocracy to a kingdom. (If democracy was really the ideal form of government, wouldn’t God have instituted a democracy instead of a king/kingdom?) We see the rise of the office of prophet.
1 What do we learn about Samuel's father in 1? Compare I Chr. 6:33-38. He was of the priestly line of the Levites. He lived among the tribe of Ephraim, but his town was not one of the Levitical cities of Ephraim. What might we infer about him from this?
2 What else do we learn about him?
3 What important person do we meet? What are we told is often part of their worship? Does this relate to us? First use of "Lord of hosts"--hosts usually speaking of the army of angels, may also refer to a large amount of people or stars. This name for God will now be used quite a bit.
4-8 Now we begin to learn about Samuel's mother. Barrenness was considered a curse; compare 5 and Deut. 28:11 (the blessings of obedience). Hannah actually seems more godly than the other wife. Polygamy was not God's plan for marriage, but does He permit us to sin, to go our own way, to follow the ways of the world? Does polygamy bring problems? What similar situations have we read about? Sarah/Hagar, Leah/Rachel. Hannah lives with this day after day, year after year. Does the Bible show us people with symptoms of depression? Also Elijah when the ravens took care of him. 8, does he "get it"? So he doesn't seem very discerning, spiritually or maritally.
9-11 What else is part of her depression? bitterness. Does she whine? She makes a vow (Nazarite). That Eli sat on a seat might seem a strange detail, but apparently it was a sign of his importance because most people sat on the ground (or perhaps it was because of his age/great size). Levites served from age 25-50; is this what she promised for her son? What does this promise reveal about her heart?
12-18 Besides having a husband lacking in understanding and spiritual discernment, what kind of priest does she encounter when she goes to seek God? Adding insult to injury. Might we infer that drunkenness while sacrificing was a common problem in worshippers at that time? 15, we
will read this in the next chapter. How can we see that she has left her problems in God's hands? Did she hold onto her bitterness? Holding onto bitterness is a choice.
19-23 Had God "forgotten" her? No, this term means now God is beginning to act on her behalf. His name might mean "heard of God" or "name of God" or "God hears." Her name means "grace" or "graciousness."
Weaning could have taken place at up to three to five years. Some believe it includes the larger meaning of the early years with the mother, especially based on the improbability of Eli being saddled with a three-year-old. Others speculate that one of the godly women serving at the tabernacle would have been in charge of him. We wonder at what early age could a small boy be of actual use there? At any rate, does Hannah keep her vow? What took place with Hannah and Samuel those years? How do we know this?
So in the dark days of Israel that we have been reading about, in Judges, we find a faithful remnant. We read of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz, whose line would lead to Christ. We read of Hannah, whose son would be a godly prophet in Israel, as Israel transitions from the time of the judges to the time of the kings. Can God use our meager influence in our family and our sphere of influence? We just need to trust and obey. Do our best (obey), and leave God the rest (trust).
Why do you think God waited so long to give Hannah her desire? Can we conclude from this story that if you wait long enough, your prayer will be answered? Why does God often wait so long to answer a prayer? Should we infer that adding a vow to our prayer is the key to getting what we want? Does the New Testament teach this to the church? What IS the trick to getting what you want? (that is a trick question) Giving up self-will? Desiring God and His will more than Self and our will?
We saw five people contrasted in this chapter, each responding to God in a different way. We will read much about Samuel, and we get some insight into his story and his times by reading of those who were instrumental in his birth.
1-11 Who is the focus of this prayer? God, not Hannah or Samuel. Does she ask for anything? 1-2, what does she know?--who God really is. Doesn’t that tend to happen more as God takes us through deep trials? What warning in 3-4? To who? The other wife, and other women who had made her life miserable? Israel? Is it prophetic? Might 7-8 foreshadow
the church age, when the Gentiles are lifted up in God's plan? And 10, speaking of God anointing a king for them, even pointing to Christ, God's anointed, the Messiah--even of the endtimes? Here is the first prophecy of Christ's final triumph. Deut. 17:14-20, God had told Moses that He would give them a king when they would ask for one. Did only Hannah know these things, or does this tell us that the knowledge of God was still alive and well in Israel, in spite of the negative things we have just read?
A commentator remarks that this song has parallels to the song of David that closes II Samuel, and that the two songs at the open and close of I & II Samuel point to themes in these two books, of reversal of fortunes (Hannah, Saul, David), of the sovereign God as rock and salvation and deliverer, of the blessings that come to those who trust and obey, of kings/God's anointed--Israel's first king, Saul, then God's choice, David, in whose line would come God's Anointed, Christ.
6 This affirms the Christian belief that only God has the power and authority to give or to take life.
8 Did she/they really think the earth sat on pillars? Poetically speaking, what is this saying?
10 Anointed: the Hebrew word Messiah, translated Christ in the Greek (NT).
A quote from Dr. Thomas L. Constable's notes: "God will bless people who want to further His program in the world by making it possible for them to do that. He may even do supernatural things to enable them to do so. Natural limitations do not limit God. Knowledge of what God has revealed about Himself and His program is what God uses to inspire trust in Himself and interest in His program. God may even reverse the fortunes of people in response to the response to His will."
12-26 As we read through this section, notice how the sons are contrasted: Samuel and Eli's sons. What kind of a father was Eli, apparently? What kind of sin? Greed in the disguise of religious. Sexual in the disguise of religious. Do we see these kind of sinful fakers today? Also this is what pagan religions engaged in.
21 Did it just happen that now she finally got in gear? Or do you think God withheld these until He and she had worked out the “Samuel problem”? I think there was something God was working in Hannah’s life that had to happen first, and the only way to bring it about was to withhold from her the thing she wanted most. Might God do that or something similar in our lives, something that’s “just not fair”? Pain, bitterness, depression. Have you wanted something so
bad that you didn’t even enjoy the blessings you already had? Thinking about Hannah might help you through this time.
What should we want most in life? But isn’t it often something else, or even SEVERAL other things? Do we sometimes struggle to truly want God and His will most of all? How can He bring about this change in our values?
Does Eli crack down, remove them from the service of the Lord? Why might Eli shut his eyes to this sin, or not deal with it? Why do Christians shut their eyes to sin in their family or in the church? Hard to deal with; personal feelings; they might have to start getting serious about their relationship with God.
27-36 Because of not disciplining his sons, what does God accuse Eli of? God will bring judgment, since Eli didn’t. Was their sin unintentional (and covered by sacrifices), or intentional (which was punishable by death)? Phinehas, 34--contrast him with an earlier Phinehas, Num 25:6-13, also a son of a priest. Eli's sons were characteristic of the times we just read about. Did God use their sins (that brought about their deaths) to shift the emphasis to Samuel now?
Does sin and evil thwart God's plans? Can He use it to further His plans? Hannah entrusted her little boy to Eli (not the most godly father-substitute), but ultimately to God; can we trust God with our kids and grandkids even though we know they are around questionable influences? How did Samuel's few years with Hannah impact him? Did she have ongoing input into his life?
Samuel served as a priest; several generations later, the priesthood would pass from Eli’s line to the line of another descendent of Aaron--ultimately, it would be Christ.
God begins to deal with Samuel.
1 How did God speak in those days? But this is not always specified; we may read that God appeared to so-and-so or God spoke to him.
Samuel is thought to be teenage, same word used in 17:33. The secular historian Josephus wrote that he was 12.
2 The lights burned all night and were put out at dawn.
6 Does Eli seem to have much spiritual discernment?
7 God had not yet communicated personally with Samuel. He obviously knew the Lord as well as anyone that age could. In the Old Testament, believers in general did not have a "personal relationship" with God, other than those the Holy Spirit had come upon; that relationship is unique to the church.
9 Finally he gets it.
10 The vision is visual and audible. Had God been testing Samuel? Would every boy that age get up all three times, in the night? Samuel is obedient, diligent, self-disciplined?
Imagine his anticipation of that last call. Then imagine how he felt when he heard the message. How does Samuel’s relationship with God begin?--on a very serious note.
17 An oath used at that time meaning: may you be cursed if you don't do this.
18 Again Samuel's obedience is tested; would he give all this hard message? Now Eli sounds spiritually mature: Thy will be done.
20-21 He is a prophet. Abraham, Moses and Aaron were referred to as prophets--they spoke for God occasionally. But Samuel is the first of a new kind of prophet--now God will speak to Israel through prophets rather than through priest and ephod. From Dan to Beersheba: a phrase used often, meaning all the land of Israel from north to south, about 150 miles. These first three chapters are the introduction to the life and ministry of Samuel, which we find in I & II Samuel.
1 In Judges we read that God delivered Israel into the hands of the Philistines for 40 years; who was used to deliver them? Samson. They will continue to be a problem; we will later read of David and of Goliath, the Philistine giant.
2 What happened?
3 What was their response? WAS that the answer? How did they look at the Ark?--good luck charm, idol? Where was the Ark supposed to be? In the tabernacle, holy of holies. Only the high priest (Eli) was allowed in there; how did anyone manage to get in there and get it? Do they see it and treat it as holy? They think they can manipulate God. Does having or doing Christian "stuff" do any good? Do many lack understanding of what being a Christian is, who God is, God's holiness?
6-9 What was the Philistines’ reaction? They had heard about Israel’s God. How long had it been since the plague business? Several hundred years? Could they have repented and turned to God? "Hebrew" was an ethnic term; "Israelite" was a political/religious term.
10 So did the ark help? Why are they ever defeated in battle? Had God allowed defeat because of how they treated the ark?
11 What else happened? Why? 3:13.
12 Why torn clothes and dust? Showed grief.
17-18 How did Eli react? What specifically caused his fall?
19-22 How did Phinehas’s wife react? Was her dismay about the family deaths, or the ark? Secular historian Josephus says the baby was two months early.
How does God use the ark to get their attention and show the power of the true and living God? Do you think God has a sense of humor? Do they see the difference between their god and Israel's God? They are without excuse.
3 Did these offerings show repentance? Guilt offerings were common in Eastern religions.
5 Apparently there was also a plague of mice, or the plague was carried by mice. The plague may have been tumors, in the rectal area, or hemorrhoids. Gold tumors.
9 They want to find out for sure why this all happened.
12 Driverless cart, untrained cows, which way they’ll go--wouldn’t they go home, toward their calves? This might be a kind of divination, looking for a sign. Even Gideon’s use of fleece may have been an attempt at divination.
God makes sure they know. Is their guilt greater now that they know God is powerful? Is there such a thing as “more guilty,” degrees of guilt? Degrees of punishment, Mark 12:40, Luke 12:47-48.
19-20 “Some” died. (Variation in manuscripts; a few say 70, most say 50,070.) What did the Law say? The Levites did the tabernacle work, but only the priests (Aaron and sons) could touch. Ignorance or arrogance? Why didn’t a similar fate befall the Philistines who touched the ark, for surely they did? They didn’t know; does God hold those with less knowledge to the same standard as those with more? Rom. 2:12.
1-4 After Eli's death, how much longer was Israel under the Philistines? The ark is no longer in the tabernacle; it remains here for about 100 years, until King David brings it to Jerusalem. Do they finally repent?
5-6 Starting with this chapter, we see Samuel acting as what? What did the people do? Fasting = mourning, repentance.
7-8 Are they still sure of themselves? Why didn't they feel this way earlier?
We are told in I Cor. 10:1-11 that the things that happened to them are for our instruction. Are humility (even humiliation), brokenness, part of the Christian journey of sanctification? Learning not to put confidence in Self? Has God ever allowed you to feel like a failure, a wash up? Is this good or bad? Psychologists would say you are suffering from low self esteem, that you need to affirm yourself, to feel better about yourself. (Just look at Facebook!) What does the Bible say about these kinds of negative experiences and feelings?
Remember Gideon and the torches inside the clay pots? What had to happen to the pots before the light shown out? They had to be broken. Is II Cor. 4:7-11 talking about the possibility of death by persecution, or death to self? Maybe both? Gal. 2:20. Crucifixion results in what? Death. Two selves are mentioned in this verse. What is he talking about? Rom. 6:5-12.
So what IS supposed to happen to Self (the old nature)? John 3:30 (I = Self). When God begins to allow such happenings in our lives, what is our first reaction? We pray fervently and ask Him to change things, to make it stop. Why might God not answer that prayer? Self is very strong; we have a lot of trouble in learning to see Self for what it really is.
The Bible tells us about the old and new self, but is knowledge enough to change us? He may have to take us through experiences where we learn to see Self for what it really is, so we can then see Him for who He really is. Just like we see Israel being allowed to be broken, over and over. We may feel hopeless, but will He leave us there forever? But why doesn't He deliver us sooner? Why does He leave us there so long, when we think we are repenting? He would allow Israel to be oppressed for years before delivering them--why? When we think we have truly repented, maybe God sees that we have not actually come to the place of truly giving up Self. Ps. 40:1-3. What else may be happening in your situation, 3?
10 How do they win? Self-effort?
12 What does "Ebenezer" mean? The stone of help. Standing stones were common at that time. Why would Samuel do this?
What hymn do we sing about this? "Come Thou Fount," 2nd verse, "here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I've come. And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home." How and why might we do that? Hymnary.org shows a change of lyrics; apparently someone thought it should be replaced since people don't know their Bibles well enough to understand the original words. Changed to: "Here I find my greatest treasure; hither by thy help I've come."
Other words in this hymn (and others) have also been changed. This hymn contains theology that some find offensive, so changes reflect a different thought than the composer had in mind. Originally, part of verse 3: "Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee; prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love." Some replace "wandering" with "yielded," and "prone to wander" with "let me know Thee in Thy fullness".
Amazing Grace: "Saved a wretch like me" is traded for "saved someone like me" or "saved and set me free."
In Christ Alone: A hymnal committee didn't like the line, "On that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied." They preferred "the love of God was magnified." The composer and copyright owners did not approve the change, so they dropped the hymn from their hymnbook.
Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed: "For such a worm as I?" to "For sinners such as I?"
What if a song in our book has something unbiblical in it? Then we just don't sing that one. Even if we loved it before we noticed the problem? Yes.
12-17 The Philistines are defeated. 13, not permanently. Samuel the circuit rider.
1 Are we told much about Samuel’s life? Now he is old. Mainly we learn about the circumstances of his birth, which is really the story of his mother; his calling; and how he anoints Saul their first king and then tells him of God’s judgment against him.
3 What ARE we told about him? He did no better than Eli. Did God deal with him like He did with Eli regarding his sons? We might speculate why.
4 Have things improved since the days of the judges?
5 The plot thickens, in Israel’s history. What was their reason? Was this God's plan for them? What had God said about a king? He knew they eventually would, and He gave laws regulating a king.
7-9 Does God (through Samuel) remind the people of His earlier commands or repeat threats against them? Why is this scene scary, for us? If we want/ask for something that His Word has already warned of, be careful. Will God stop you from going your own way? 9, He gives you free will, but what does "however" indicate? You will reap what you sow! We learn in this scene several important things about God and how He works. Hos. 13:11, Psa. 106:15.
10-18 What does Samuel tell them? Taxation, servitude, the price they will pay to have a king.
19-20 Was their reason godly? When we tell Him what we want Him to do, are we saying we know better than Him? Does He know best? Does He promise He will do what is best for us? So why would we ask Him to do something other than what He is now doing? How might we think and pray instead? What if things aren't going well--what should we pray?
1-3 Valor = wealth/influence. Of what tribe? But what tribe was prophesied--the scepter shall not depart from who? Was Saul in the chosen line? But he was what? Choice, handsome, tall. Were the people interested in godliness or outward appearance? Why did He give them this kind of man, instead of David now? It’s what they wanted. Owned donkeys = rich, important.
4-17 Prophet at that point was somewhat of a seer; later, prophets will do more proclaiming God’s words, revelations. At this point Saul is humble enough to take suggestions from who? A servant. How come the servant knew of Samuel, but not Saul? Didn't Saul's father take his family to worship at the temple yearly, where they would surely have known of him?
We learn how Saul comes across Samuel. From his viewpoint, did it just “happen”? But WE learn how things that just "happen" are actually planned by the Lord. 16-17, the plot thickens! Why might God say "prince" not "king"? Who is the king?
18-27 Why is Benjamin the smallest of the tribes? (We read it in Judges.) Does God pick the most important person in the largest, most important tribe? Saul was from a small family, but apparently wealthy and influential in his tribe. 23-24, it was probably apparent to all that a special cut had been reserved for Saul.
1-12 Samuel anoints Saul; is this done publicly or privately? Up till now, only the priests and the tabernacle were anointed with oil (set apart for God’s service, accompanied by the presence/power of the Holy Spirit); starting with Saul, kings, like priests, represent God to the people. What is the result of the anointing? Saul received a gift as a sign, but he was not considered a prophet after that. Why do you think Samuel told him all these signs that would happen? Today, in the church age, because all believers are given the indwelling Holy Spirit, we all have the anointing, I John 2:20,27.
9 God changed his heart, NASB; God gave him another heart, KJV. Some read salvation/regeneration into this; we don't find that type of language used in the Old Testament or even salvation spoken of in that way. People were referred to as righteous or unrighteous. It is more likely to mean that Saul's mind--his thoughts and feelings and intentions--were now different than they had been before he met Samuel, was anointed, and saw the signs come to pass. The rest of his story surely does not lead us to believe he was a righteous man; we will read that God rejects him as king because of his disobedience.
10 A company of prophets; in other places we will read about a "school" of prophets. These would probably be men in spiritual training under the teaching and example of a prophet; not as in learning how to prophesy, as some today teach that people can "learn" how to speak in tongues.
11-12 Some think this implies that people were impressed; others think it implies that the people, who knew the "old Saul," were skeptical.
13-19 Samuel speaks to the people about their desire for what? It should have been an exciting day, but what is the tone in 19?
20-27 Samuel had already anointed Saul as king; does he just tell the people who it is? Maybe he didn't want them to think HE had chosen the king? God had revealed to Samuel who He had chosen to please the people; now God reveals to the people who He has chosen. 21-23, why might Saul have been hiding? Does he come across like the brash insane man we read about later? He seems humble so far. 27, so is everything great?
2 Putting out the right eye would not blind them but would render them unable to aim an arrow--unable to go to war. Does he seem like he is acting as king yet, 5? He had not received directions from God (Samuel) to do anything yet. Even though apparently wealthy, he wasn't too puffed-up to work the land himself.
7 This may have been a symbolic act like the Levite and the concubine, designed to provoke a strong reaction in the people. Remember in Judges 21, when after the call to take arms against the tribe of Benjamin, no one came from Jabesh-gilead? Remember how they then slaughtered everyone in Jabesh-gilead except for 400 virgins which they kept alive, as wives for the 400 Benjamites who survived? Saul's deliverance of Jabesh-Gilead may have been designed to remind them of that incident and, as one commentator suggested, "to connect the commencement of his reign with the historical event which accounts for his Jabesh-Gilead maternal roots."
Saul leads them to victory against the Ammonites; does he take credit for it? Saul acts as king as he leads the people in battle, which is what kings did in those days; then in 15 he is officially made king. Where does this take place? This is the first of three important events at Gilgal concerning Saul.
So far, Saul sounds pretty choice: humble, brave, good leader...oh, and tall and good-looking. What more could you want? Eventually Saul will implode; will it be because God made a poor choice?
Samuel speaks to the people about choosing a king, absolves himself of responsibility for their sinful decision, and reminds them that God was their king but they demanded a "real" king.
14 Even though God was displeased about their demand, what do we see here?
15 But if they disobey, there will be trouble.
17-18 Samuel gives them an object lesson about their wicked choice.
18-19 Their reaction--somewhat like, after the spies talked the Israelites out of entering the Promised Land, the next day their consciences smote them, and although God told them to head for the wilderness for 40 years, THEN they decided maybe they’d better go into the land.
20 Does Samuel say, “Well, that’s better; now enough of the king nonsense"? No; the past cannot be undone; now look to the future. Even though they have made a wrong choice, he still tells them to follow the Lord. When we mess up Plan A, what happens? Are we done? Can we undo undoable choices? God goes with Plan B.
22 Israel disobeys often in the future, and God punishes; does He ever abandon them? He still has a place for them in His plan. Can we ever get to the place where He abandons us? Why?--because of US? No, because of--?
23-25 This is the end of the period of the judges, and the beginning of the period of the kings. Although they have rejected Samuel and God, what will be Samuel’s role now? He is still a prophet. No matter how bad we mess up, we can go on from that point to follow and obey God. They were not "done," and neither are we.
Chapters 13-15 explain Saul's personal downfall and why he was rejected as king.
1 There are confusing different versions of these numbers; perhaps a number had been dropped from the original Hebrew by a copyist. So the time frame is unclear; he may have been 20ish when he began to reign--or he may have been 40ish. Did he have a grown son, a military commander, two years after he began to reign? Acts 13:21, he reigned 40 years. Jonathan could have been David's contemporary, or could have been decades older.
5 Also some dispute about these numbers.
9-14 What happens here? Saul directly disobeys God. Does he think it's that big of a deal? Does it seem like too severe a penalty? Sin is a bigger deal to God than we realize.
The Lord found a man after His own heart; what does that tell us about Saul? He started well but what happened? He is impatient, unbelieving, disobedient, presumptuous, falsely pious.
Did Saul’s rule end at this time? But this was the deciding moment. Does this remind you of God’s judgment on an earlier man’s seemingly small disobedience? Moses.
What do we do when it is seemingly time to act, and things aren’t happening? Can we wait and trust God? Or do we assume that any action is better than no action? If that action means disobeying God, stretching our idea of what’s right, then no action is better, even though it looks like disaster or failure if we don’t act. Do what’s right, and trust God. “Trust and obey.”
19-23 This section really belongs with the next chapter. The state of their weaponry; only Saul and Jonathan had iron weapons. Hittites had metallurgy at that time. The enemies had chariots and horses, Israel had neither.
How would you compare Saul and Jonathan? We get a glimpse of Jonathan’s faith, and 13, the result.
How did they treat the ark? In a superstitious way.
20 When it seems there is no way out of your dilemma, can God make a way?
32 How did Saul’s foolishness cause the people to sin?
To 44, where does his foolish decision lead?
45 Who is wiser, Saul or the people? He was willing to kill his own son, who had unknowingly violated his command. Had Saul violated God’s command? Knowingly? Do we hold others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves? First remove the log in your own eye.
God's final rejection of Saul. This chapter also contains important teaching for us.
1-3 Who were they fighting? What does Amalek represent in the Bible, Exo. 17:8-16? The flesh. Amalek was one of their enemies in conquering the Promised Land. The flesh is one of our big enemies in entering our promised land of spiritual rest and victory. What are they to do to Amalek? Deut. 25:17-19.
8-9 Are we ruthless in our attempts to deal with the flesh, the old nature? Or do we also find that some of it seems OK, usable? In making his decision about what to do about Amalek, did Saul rely on God, or self/feelings/human reasoning?
10-15 What was Saul’s reasoning? According to God’s standard, had he obeyed or disobeyed? According to Saul’s standard, which?
Do Christians ever use our own form of reasoning, and then attribute that to God? Why might a Christian do that? Flesh/old nature leans toward “feel good, less effort.” D. Martin Lloyd-Jones often refers to how we--the new nature--must continually talk to ourselves--SELF, the old nature--about what is the right thing to do. Because of our two inner natures, two selves, we have these conflicting feelings.
Saul spared the “good.” ARE any parts of the old nature salvageable or neutral? Rom. 7:18, 8:18,13.
15 Saul gives his version of God’s command (v3). Reinterpreting; a common method of changing parts of God’s Word that people disagree with. (“But that just doesn’t make sense for my situation, or for today’s world.”) Saul justified his disobedience with pious reasoning. He claimed that sacrifice (religious ritual) is more important than obedience. What clue tells us about Saul’s relationship with God?
17-21 Now he passes the buck--man’s original means of dealing with sin and guilt. Even if the people had pressured him, should he, the king, be swayed? He must accept responsibility.
22 In God’s eyes, which is more important, obedience, or sacrifice (religious rituals)?
23 Failure to obey equals what? God equates it with what? Purposeful, knowing disobedience is rejection of what? For Saul this has serious future consequences. We are not called to be king over God’s people, so this probably isn’t so serious for us, right??
But our society values “doing your own thing,” personal freedom, your right to choose your own authority. Isn’t this an important part of being American, being a democracy? (Voting: the people choose/reject leaders they don’t agree with.) Is this how God works? Many of our basic values in this country are wrong when applied to our relationship with God, yet they are an integral part of our thinking that we must recognize and deal with. Has God rejected Saul as an individual? No, as king.
24-26 Why is Saul’s repentance not accepted? Judgment has already fallen; it’s too late.
29 What do we learn about God’s nature and man’s? What implications does this have for one’s interpretation of the whole Bible? Would God really have given us instructions that He knew would be outdated by our time? Would God say He created the world in six days if He really meant many years? Would He say Israel when he is talking about the church, if He didn’t really mean Israel? Etc.
30 What else do we see about Saul? Concern for appearances more than for right and wrong. Man's opinion rather than God’s opinion. Is this a trap for us?
35 Regret/repent: to sigh (sadness), to feel differently. Does it mean God has done WRONG and now should do RIGHT? Of course not. Sometimes it looks to us, from a limited human point of view, like God is changing His mind, but is that really possible? If He does something, then does something different, did He always know He was going to do that, and that people would act the way they did?
Initially Saul looked good. Can you always tell initially what someone is like? It often takes years for the truth to come out.
1-13 The choosing of the next king. Do mature believers always hear God's voice perfectly? Do we sometimes think we are hearing God but it turns out to be Self? Whose voice does Samuel hear first? Self. Does he ask, "is this him?" In choosing a spouse or pastor, are we easily influenced by appearances? Ruddy: red, probably red-haired. Does everyone realize why Samuel has anointed David? Does Samuel say? Does David himself really know what just happened? Events in the next few chapters make this all unclear, but it seems it was NOT understood at that time.
14-23 What have we been seeing about Saul’s spiritual state? Had he been showing any inclination toward faith and obedience? Did God inflict him unfairly with something or had Saul brought this on himself by his rejection of God? This is not evidence as some claim that you can lose your salvation; salvation is not the issue here but rather God’s anointing power. The Holy Spirit did not indwell believers prior to the church age—these are two different dispensations.
According to the concordance, “evil spirit” does not seem to be a word that means demonic. Some think he had some mental illness. The next chapters seem to point to paranoia, perhaps schizophrenia. Is there any connection between one’s spiritual health and one’s mental health? In Saul’s case, does it seem his own choices contributed to his mental issues? Does that mean all mental issues arise that way? Of course not. If we have what we think are mental or psychological problems, it might be good before getting on meds or committing to humanistic help, to check out our spiritual life, our spiritual diet—the milk, the bread, the meat of the word, the water of life, and our application of biblical principles.
18 When David killed Goliath, was he a young boy as we see in the flannelgraph stories and Sunday School pictures? David is called to Saul’s court; he is a gifted musician (apparently in both words and instrument). The plot thickens. The relationship between Saul and David; how does it start out? Again, does it seem that Saul knows that God has chosen and anointed David as future king?
This chapter is the beginning of the story of David’s life. We find it in 1 & 2 Samuel, I Kings, I Chronicles, and Psalms. How long is it before God fulfills the promise of kingship? 15 years. Is it all pleasant anticipation for David? No, it is filled with many difficult, negative, painful experiences. What can we learn from this? As we observe what God does in this period of David’s life, and David’s response, we can learn important lessons for our lives, especially for when things don’t seem to be going the way we think they should, or when things we desire seem to be far off, or when God isn’t working in our lives the way we expect Him to work. In the next few books, we find the circumstances of David’s life, but in Psalms we find his reaction to them, his feelings, the ups and downs of his life.
God says he was a man after His own heart, so we need to look closely into David’s life, and find out what God desires in people. Look at how God prepared him. Is CH16 REALLY the beginning of the story of David’s life? What must have been going on? Was he raised in a godly home? How else might he have learned about God? Like Joseph, we see the younger brother as the one with the heart for God, perhaps raised a bit differently than the older brothers, or perhaps just having more of a heart for God than the others. He was a shepherd; what kind of things might he have learned from this job? His preparation was lengthy and often painful, and was down as much as up. How does this remind us of Jospeh? What are some problems David had that are typical of many people?
What sort of expectations do new or young Christians often have? Don’t they romanticize things? What sort of timetable do they envision? Much shorter than reality turns out to be! We want the end result, but we don’t want the process.
1-11 Who do we meet? Lots of details--he is indeed a giant. Have we read about giants before? These are not mythical.
12-27 Apparently this takes place after the previous chapter. Apparently David doesn’t stay at court all the time. Does he sound like the little boy we often see in the Sunday School stories?
28-35 Does Eliab sound like he knows David is the future king? Perhaps he’s just an annoying older brother, but perhaps not; should we assume David was without flaws? Are we going to learn of more flaws later? Could this be like Joseph the hated younger brother? Might he have been the type to leave the sheep? 34-35, does this really sound like a small boy?
36-37 David’s faith; does this remind us of Jonathan back in CH14. Do most people have that kind of faith? When we find others with faith, doesn’t that faith often bind us together as friends? Perhaps this is what happens to David and Jonathan. David is concerned for God’s honor, that God’s name not be disparaged, dragged through the mud. When we are not careful how we live/talk, it is like dragging God’s name through the mud.
38-on Would Saul put these on a small boy? We see David’s confidence in God; perhaps he knew the story of Gideon. 51, a small boy could not do this. 58 Whose son? Saul doesn’t ask who David is—he knows him. He probably wanted to either know about his lineage or clarify for purposes of fulfilling his promise in 25.
What lessons does this story have for us?
We see parallels with the story of Saul: the anointing, then a military victory that brings honor from the people. But then we see strong contrasts--the true heart and character of each.
1 How would you explain what happened here? The beginning of David and Jonathan’s friendship. They may have been years apart; what seems to have drawn them together?
4 What does Jonathan seem to understand--what do these acts seem to symbolize? He is spiritually mature.
5 Is David a little boy?
8-9 What do we see about Saul?
10-11 Saul’s mental condition was previously soothed by music but it seems to be worsening.
15, 17, 25, 29 How is Saul beginning to look on David?--as his enemy. His first attempts to kill David. Later David will use this same strategy on Bathsheba’s husband.
17-19 David turns down the king's daughter because he doesn’t feel worthy. What was Saul’s true motive?
20-29 What is Saul’s motive? David argues he is too what? How does Saul use that against him while pretending to be magnanimous? Does it work? Is this who you want for a father-in-law?
Saul and David are continually contrasted, just as Samuel and Eli’s sons had been earlier.
We see more about how God is preparing David to be king: spending time in the royal court (he was from a poor family); learning statecraft; learning to be a warrior and leader of men; his background as shepherd and musician.
Does Saul see David as a personal threat? Why not? What position does this put Jonathan in? Divided loyalty.
Is Saul not a man of his word, or a liar or not in his right mind? If the latter, does that mean he is not responsible for his actions? This scenario will happen over and over.
Does the story about the wife who lies to her father about the household idols remind you of someone earlier, in Genesis? Is the lie hers or David’s idea? We are about to see more lies coming up.
Both Saul’s children choose who? Which one handles it in a godly way? Has Michal always been a liar and trickster? Is this why Saul said she would be a snare to him, hoping she would be his undoing? Did she learn or inherit this tendency from him?
David flees; this will continue until Saul’s death. What must David be thinking about the anointing to be king? In Psalms we read about David’s emotional ups and downs. David had things to learn first. Heb. 5:8, does this verse apply to us also? Is this one of the reasons for our trials, our suffering? What is another reason according to II Cor. 1:4?
How did God supernaturally override Saul’s murder attempts at the end of the chapter? God is quite creative; when things look bleak, should we doubt Him?
Can Saul thwart God’s purposes? Can anyone?
How would you describe David and Jonathan’s friendship? Close, godly. Today some point to this as a homosexual relationship. But David was a man after God’s own heart; if he repented of his relationship with Bathsheba, he surely would have repented of this if it were true. David is married and is obviously attracted to women, we will see. We see no corroborating evidence of homosexuality.
30-31 What do both Saul and Jonathan know? How does each respond to that knowledge? Why their different responses? Might Jonathan have made a good king?
Did David think Saul was going to kill him? Had he lost sight of God’s promise? Do we ever do that? Is everyone equally interested in following God’s will? What do we learn about David’s marriage? Did David ask Jonathan to lie for him? Should we assume that isn’t a big deal, just because God didn’t say anything to him about it? Should we use man’s ways to try to accomplish God’s purposes? Would you lie for a friend who asked you to? Like Jonathan, might we need to accept God’s will even though it means putting someone else before ourselves and our desires?
15 It was common practice for a new king to kill off any family of the previous king to keep them from reclaiming the throne. David kept this promise, II Sam. 9:1.
30 An insult comparable to bastard or son of a bitch. Shame his mother’s nakedness: shaming his mother by refusing to pursue the purpose for which he was born.
1-2 Ahimelech is suspicious and fearful. Once you’ve told a few lies, does it get easier, tend to happen more? Is David already losing his earlier innocence and total trust in God? Is this the same David that went after Goliath?
He is seen by one of Saul’s men. He flees to Achish of Gath—Goliath’s hometown, and him with Goliath's sword. What do they understand, 11? Is David’s act another lie, more deception? Does he trust God? Even though we trust in God, do our actions always reflect that? Is our growth trajectory always steadily upward? (They were superstitious, afraid to harm the insane.) What is David feeling now about God’s plan for his life? Let’s look at a few Psalms and see.
Psa. 3 starts with his problem, then focuses on God.
Psa. 5 starts: Help! Then he reminds himself of God’s character, asks for help, talks about bowing before God (submitting), ends on positive note.
Psa. 7 starts: Help! If he is guilty, then he deserves it, but he has a clear conscience. The wicked will reap what he sows. Ends positive--thanking, praising.
Psa. 10: Is God sometimes far from us? What about the indwelling Holy Spirit? What about in the Old Testament though? But sometimes He seems far off; do we trust in feelings or God’s Word? Then he talks to God about the wicked--the person or situation he is having trouble with, asks God to punish the wicked. Some today have trouble with this--is it right to pray like this? But, was anything different then from now? We in the church age are told to pray for our enemy, and forgive, but Israel was to wipe out the ungodly nations, eye for eye, etc. He ends by praising God--yes, even in trouble.
Psa. 13: Does God forget us, or hide His face? He starts by moaning and groaning, but ends with his eyes back on God.
Psa. 57: In the cave.
In all these Psalms, we see a pattern we can follow. Talk to God about what is on our hearts: our fears, our tears, our anger, but then get your focus off Self, feelings, circumstances, and back on God. Talk about His character, praise Him that He is a great God, thank Him for what He has done, is doing, will do.
We get a picture of the kind of believer that David was. He wasn’t a tough guy or a wimp. He was a strong leader and warrior, but he had doubts and fears and tears, and wasn’t afraid to admit them (to God, at least). His life was characterized by lots of emotional ups and downs, just like ours.
David escapes and is living in a large cave. Who all is with him, 1-2? Those who have not fared well under Saul and are no longer loyal to him. Are these the kind of people who come to Jesus? Those who have nowhere left to turn.
3 Safety for his family in Moab. Who in his family was a Moabitess? Great-grandma Ruth.
5 He is warned by a prophet; he knows God is leading him.
6-19 More about Saul; more of his weak character is revealed, his paranoia. Doeg speaks up (kisses up)--Doeg the what? Who is Edom? Remember we saw Jacob represented as the spiritual man and Esau the fleshly. The priests are all called on the carpet because one priest helped David. What kind of a man would order this?
14-15 What is this priest like? He boldly stands up to Saul.
17 Why isn’t Saul obeyed?
18-19 What is Doeg like? What does this incident reveal about Saul's heart?
20-23 One priest escapes. How does David feel? He must feel sick about the whole thing. Hadn’t he lied to Ahimelech, letting him think David was on a mission for Saul? See where it led… David desires to please God, but what gets in the way?
The following is an extended excerpt from Constable’s commentary:
“God preserved one of Eli's descendants even though 85 other priests died. This man fled to David, so from then on the priesthood was with David rather than Saul. David acknowledged that his deception of Ahimelech was responsible for the slaughter of the priests (1 Samuel 22:22; cf. 1 Samuel 21:2). David became the protector of the priesthood. The king-elect and the priest-elect now became fellow fugitives from Saul. Psalms 52 provides insight into how David felt during this incident…
"Eli and Saul had both refused to submit to God's authority. Eli, the priest, put his family before God. Consequently God cut off his family. Even though David was the cause of 85 priests' deaths, this was one way God partially fulfilled the prophecy concerning Eli's descendants (1 Samuel 2:27-36). God used David's folly to accomplish His will. So even in this David became a blessing. This in no way justifies David's lie (1 Samuel 21:2), but it does show how even in his sinning, David was used by God for blessing (cf. Psalms 76:10; Romans 6:1-2). Saul, the king, put himself before God. Therefore God cut off his life. Saul became increasingly paranoid, isolated from others, hateful toward his supporters as well as his enemies, and guilty of shedding innocent blood…
"David’s sins, including deceiving Ahimelech, bore bad consequences for himself and others. Nevertheless God continued to bless and use David. He blessed him personally: David continued to rise to the throne. God also blessed him by using him to accomplish God's will, here the pruning of Eli's descendants.
"Therefore we conclude that the most important issue is one of long-term authority, not incidental acts. Acts are important, but who is in control--God or self--is even more important.”
This is a good example of how God’s sovereignty works with our free will, sinful as we are. God’s big plan will always work out.
David seeks the Lord’s leading and delivers the city of Keilah. We see David seeking God’s will, then doubting if it is true?--trusting and obeying. While hiding from Saul, David in the midst of his own personal battles also fights on behalf of his people, against the Philistines. God warns him to leave there. What can we learn from 14? Don’t panic when things look bleak. Did Saul have himself convinced that his agenda was God’s agenda? Our hearts can do that when we are not obedient: self-deception.
16-18 What kind of man is Jonathan? More loyal to David than to his father; he is in touch with God’s plan. John the Baptist understood who Jesus truly was and was his true friend: “He must increase but I must decrease.” No bitterness or selfish desire. Is it easy for us to be all about Jesus and not about ME?
David’s hiding place revealed to Saul. When things look grim, does that thwart God? 27-29, a coincidence? God’s divine timing. Have you ever had that happen, where it looked like the worst was about to happen, was inevitable? And then somehow, it just evaporated? Why might God let that happen, so that it looks like He’s not going to help the situation, when it IS His intention to help us? Why so last minute? What do we learn? Not to trust circumstances or feelings. Prov. 3:5-6. David isn’t always obedient but in this chapter we see a great example for us. But did David ever sit back and say, hey I’m the anointed, I'm untouchable?
David and Saul in the cave.
1-7 How many men did David have? What did David’s men want to do, and want him to do? 4, had God said this? They knew God had made him king; perhaps this was how it was to happen? Were they using religious language to convince him—changing or adding to what God had said? Where else did Satan use this technique to deceive? Does he still? Might our friend or our pastor do this? Should we get even with people, or let God handle it? Is David convinced? Did he respect Saul or his office? How is this a lesson for us? What do we see about David’s conscience? Does a sensitive conscience always stay that way?
Hem: in the ancient Near East, the king's robe would have an ornate edging identifying him as king. It doesn't say whether or not Saul had taken off his robe to relieve himself, but it seems likely he may have. Perhaps David's action was symbolic, hence his guilt feelings.
8-15 David speaks to Saul; so who had been trying to kill whom? David had been fleeing; Saul had been attacking.
16-22 How does Saul sound now? Not cut off his descendants: a new king had the right to exterminate the old king and all his descendants. At this point, what do you suppose David thinks? Might he be tempted to think Saul has changed?
Samuel dies--the last of the judges. Now we have the era of the kings. Josephus wrote that he served with Saul 18 years.
The rest of the chapter is about Nabal and Abigail. 3, their contrasting character. What else have David’s men been doing? Protecting the locals. David asks something in return, Nabal scorns them; is he implying disloyalty to Saul?
David plans retaliation. Why is he so different from the previous chapter? Different situation; Saul was God's anointed, Nabal is just a wicked man. Is David righteously destroying the wicked, or this a personal vendetta?
What kind of woman is Abigail? Intelligent, wise, bold, independent, brave, tactful. What does she think of her husband? Why might she marry such a man? Arranged marriage?
What’s her pitch to David? Does 26 imply that David's actions in the last chapter have become widely known? She tells him to think ahead to what God has for him, and wants to do through him. Don’t blow it. She plays to his ego? His conscience? She is handy with words. Is 29 a reference to Goliath?
What did we just see with Saul about David avenging himself? Her logic must have appealed to him. His reaction to her; what does he say she has? What is that?
What happened to Nabal? A stroke? What must have been his reaction, to bring about this physical result? Fury at her, or at David, or fear as he realized how close to death he had just come? He blew his plug. God is perhaps showing David that if he refrains from taking matters into his own hands, God WILL take care of things, like with Saul.
39 How does David see God at work? David’s proposal; what does this tell us about his character? Hasty? Impetuous? Weakness for women? Romantic? Decisive? Smart? Maybe he just thinks she now needs rescuing from her new situation. Good judge of character? He was attracted by her high character, but of course she may also have been good looking; do you think David would have asked her if she wasn’t beautiful? He may have seen it as God’s providence. Did he ask her in person?
How might she feel about him, what expectations, especially in the light of her previous husband? Do you think he told or she asked about “any other wives?” before she said yes? Would she even be bothered, since that was common? She may have already known--David was well known among the people. Is anything in life ever perfect? It seems there is always a down side to even good things. Might we be unrealistic when we expect everything to go right, to go the way we want? Are we always looking for God to one day change that imperfect situation in our lives? What if He doesn’t?
44 Saul’s double-mindedness again.
David has another chance to take Saul’s life. He and his men are vastly outnumbered. We read of Joab and Abishai, who will figure frequently in David’s story. Joab will later become David's commander. They are David's nephews, sons of his sister Zeruiah; they might share family characteristics. Abishai will be come a general, and Joab David's commander.
Ahimelech is a Hittite, as is, later, Uriah the husband of Bathsheba; the Hittites were inhabitants of the land of Canaan and conquered by the Israelites; apparently some threw in with them. Interesting that it records that David spoke to both men but only one accepted the challenge; this Hittite is not mentioned again, only here. Apparently Abishai is bolder and up for excitement and danger. They are able to sneak into Saul's camp at night. What does Abishai think? What does David think? How does he say it must end? What do they do instead? Why are they able to get by with this? Do David's men, even his own relatives, reflect David's understanding of God?
Some in the church today refer to this and similar passages that say “touch not the Lord's anointed,” but what do THEY mean by it? They take it out of context and try to say that it is unbiblical to criticize a pastor or leader; what does Paul teach though? ARE pastors or leaders “the Lord's anointed”? In the Old Testament, prophets, priests and kings (and a few others) were anointed with oil to signify they were chosen by God for some particular role; the anointing oil symbolizes the fact that the Holy Spirit now comes upon them to empower them for service. We do not find this in the New Testament. The only passage that speaks of being anointed is I John 2:20,27 which says that in the church, we all have the anointing--equating it with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Charismatics tend to speak of being anointed, or how the preaching or the music was anointed, meaning, in their vernacular, powerful and moving. That is not the biblical meaning.
David taunts Saul's commander, Abner, who deserves to die for his failure to protect his king. As the story unfolds, we see that David's nephew have a feud with Abner, who later kills the third brother, Asahel. What does David say to Saul? He compares himself in importance to Saul as a what? How is he using psychology on Saul?
21, 25 Saul’s double-minded response. He swings back and forth to extreme positions. These are the last recorded words of Saul to David, and their last recorded meeting.
Might God be testing David, by providing these opportunities to see if he will trust God or take matters into his own hands and into human thinking? Is every open door a sign from God to go through? How can we know?
Does David believe what Saul just said? Does he even believe God, that he will be king? Do we always believe God? Saul knows, Jonathan knows, Abigail knows. But he flees from the land of Israel--the land of God's promise. Who does he consult with before making the decision to leave Israel? Do we ever do that? Did he ever get a direct order from God not to leave Israel? Then how should he have known not to? Might a sinning Christian use that logic? "Well, God never told me not to"--but is that true? Is David trusting God? Only kind of? Do we ever do that? A divided heart? Before David had 400 men--how many now?
They are given a city of their own. What do we learn about David in 10? More lies, more deception. He deceives Achish, to make himself look loyal, by telling him he has been pillaging his own people, when he was actually attacking Israel's enemies. Will David reap what he is sowing? Later others will deceive king David.
What difficult position has David's deception put him in? Does he agree to fight against Israel? Does he lie to Achish? He uses tricky words.
The incident of Saul and Samuel and the medium: was it really Samuel, or, was it an impersonation by an evil spirit? Who does it say it was? Why was the medium surprised and scared when Samuel appeared? What was Samuel's message?
CAN the dead come back, appear, talk to us, tell us the future? When you ignore/reject God, then look in other places for direction, will God allow you to be deceived? Can mediums actually bring back the spirits of the dead? Does it say she summoned Samuel? God intervened in an unusual way, as He often does.
Saul had inquired of the Lord; why did the Lord not hear him? Because of his past failures to obey? The priest would inquire of God via the Urim and Thummim, but after Saul ordered Doeg the Edomite to slaughter 85 priests, one priest, Abiathar, escaped to David, taking with him the ephod with the Urim and Thummim. Without them, how had Saul inquired?
Did Saul listen to Samuel? Had Saul been listening to God all along and obeying Him? Why did Saul promise to protect her? Israel's law specifically forbade mediums, and commanded they be put to death, Lev. 20:27. Who seems to be the better person in this story--Saul or the medium?
In those days, God spoke to people by what three methods, 6? The church has the complete written Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit; we are to be led by Him, we are to ask God for wisdom and believe that He has given it, then walk by faith.
Notice how the writer keeps going back and forth between Saul and David, contrasting them as he tells their stories.
King Achish’s men are suspicious of David when they go into battle; will he be loyal or turn on them? Should the king have been suspicious like his military men? Isn't he rather easily deceived for a leader? We first saw David with Achish back in CH 21; there also, his men have heard of David's exploits and are suspicious, but the king is completely taken in by David's deception. IS David loyal to the Philistines? Won’t he later fight and defeat them when he becomes king? How is David justifying this deception in his heart? Sometimes we get ourselves in tricky situations, and we do justify our actions. But we don’t have truly clear consciences. David made lots of mistakes, just like Abraham, Moses, and everyone else. We are given the unvarnished pictures, to learn from.
How long has he been keeping up this deception with this king, 27:7? How did the gullible Achish spin that to his men?
David and his men are sent home; this seems providential when we read the next chapter. Even when we have gotten off the path, does God in His mercy still work in our lives to accomplish His will, and sometimes even to help us out of the messes we have gotten into?
How long had they been marching? The Amalekites take Ziklag, David’s city, stealing everything including wives and children.
WAS David at fault? Then why would they want to stone him? But the leader must take responsibility for his choices; had he left part of his men to protect the city?
What does David do in 8 that he hasn't been doing? I wonder what went through Abiathar's mind, and how he had felt while David had been barging ahead without consulting God.
After the long trek, not all were able to continue. They slaughter the Amalekites, get everything back, take much spoil. How do we see David's good side in this chapter? What application is there for us?
Finally, the death of Saul, and not at the hand of David. How does he die? In 9:16 God had said that Saul was to deliver Israel from the Philistines; had Saul done this? Why not? All along, he failed to obey God. Three of Saul's sons die also, as Samuel had said in 28:18; in II Sam. 2:8 we find that Abner his commander escaped, and another son. When had Samuel said he would die? The next day; in between that incident and this, the author inserted the account of David, Achish and Ziklag. Apparently these events were happening simultaneously, in the conflict with the Philistines, and the author was contrasting the stories of David and Saul, as he has been all along, back and forth.
The first chapter of II Samuel records another version of Saul's death; this one is stated as an account, whereas the other version is told to David by an Amalekite. One commentator states that this version is the factual one; others say that both could be true. What was Saul's excuse for his suicide? Who was he concerned about? Who was he NOT concerned about (as usual)? The armor-bearer may have been concerned that he would be executed anyway for failing to protect the king with his own life.
9-10 These people were much more barbaric than our society today. Was Saul's demise an honorable one in any way?
David's days as a fugitive are now over; that period probably lasted four to five years. The story continues right on into II Samuel.
The Amalekite that put Saul out of his misery--might it actually have happened this way, comparing to I Sam. 31? Is it possible that this man is not telling the truth? This account differs slightly from I Sam. 31. Maybe he found Saul dead, but with no witnesses to discredit him, decides to take the credit and maybe get a reward. How had he expected David to react? Why does David punish him? Was David's choice to execute him proof that he was telling the truth? Saul had disobeyed by not wiping out the Amalekites, and so he is killed by one?
David was harsh and quick to punish to show his respect for God's will; will he be so when there is blatant sin in his own family?
Jonathan is also killed; David mourns them both. Why? David has great respect for God’s plan, regardless of how it impacts his personal agenda. Can we say the same?
Homosexuals use 26 as evidence of a homosexual relation. Is it possible for a same sex friendship to be better than heterosexual? Maybe it depends on what had been the experience of the one making the claim. Maybe David had never had a close friendship, a true love relationship, with a woman, even with his wives. Is polygamy an atmosphere for the complete trust and loyalty that is required for strong friendship and love? Perhaps David is comparing true and lasting friendship to sexual lust, and saying which is better. David does seem a bit lustful; he seems to have been a ladies’ man, as will be his son Solomon, but neither seem to be successful in love--true love--again, perhaps because of polygamy. Which is better--true friendship or an empty sexual relationship? Probably the end of 26 is more a bitter comment on David's experience with women that it is indicative of inappropriate feelings for Jonathan. Does/should 26 apply to our relationship with Christ? (for both men and women)
1-2 Why is David wanting to go to Judah? Saul is dead; David can now become king. Why is he first accepted in Judah? It is his own tribe. Even though he is the anointed king, he doesn’t just go. He asks God, waits on His direction. Jezreel is a town in land of Issachar. What important contrast and conflict do we see in David in 1 and 2 that characterize his life?
4-6 Is David king now, only over Judah? Anointed again, by Judah. Even after his death, David doesn’t badmouth Saul. 6, what Bible principle? Sowing/reaping. David begins reaching out to the other tribes.
8-9 Who makes Ish king over Israel? Who made David king, 4? Abner was a powerful man; perhaps Ish was weak--why hadn't he died in battle with his father and brothers? David ends his reign 7 1/2 yrs later, so apparently it took Abner five years to get this accomplished?
10 Jonathan was probably the oldest son, so older than this son. Saul had other sons that were killed in the battle also, probably all his oldest sons. So it seems likely that he and David were at least 20 years apart, maybe more. 11, David must be 33, because he is 40 when he becomes king over Israel.
From this point on in II Samuel (David's story), we’ll be reading lots about military strategy and power struggles. What were these people like? Like other peoples of that time, the Israelites were often bloody and barbaric. Armies, and generals in particular, were killers. Does this contradict the idea that they were a God-fearing people?
12-17 The two armies meet; the leaders apparently try to decide the outcome by this contest, which apparently was a draw, so the battle continued.
18-23 The historian Josephus wrote that Asahel could outrun a horse. It seems odd to use the butt end rather than the point; perhaps Asahel was running right behind him and Abner jabbed it backwards at him, since they were close enough for Abner to speak to him as they ran. Zeruiah is David’s sister, I Chr. 2:16. These are his three nephews; Abner kills one--there is now a blood feud. Had David commanded or participated in all this? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Was he not in control of his army? The other two, Joab and Abishai, will be important in David’s reign.
1-5 War goes on and on. David has more what? Because of this listing of sons, it sounds like one of the purposes of many wives was to have many sons--a power thing. All these were born in his seven years in Hebron, so he got them pretty quick. Which son becomes king after David? Solomon is not even one of the first six sons; who was his mother? When Solomon becomes the favored son, no wonder there is drama and trouble. I Chr. 3 records 13 more sons, plus more sons by his concubines. Had David obeyed Deut. 17:17? Elsewhere eight wives are named, plus unnamed "other" wives and concubines.
6-11 Over in the other kingdom, Abner and Ish are not getting along--trouble over what? Taking the ex-king’s concubine implied you were taking his place, or desired to; if she became pregnant, he would have an heir by the royal concubine, who could become king, so it was a power play. A dog was a male prostitute; he may be accusing Ish of saying he is prostituted to Judah, being paid by Judah to take him down. Does he deny what he did? Does he offer an explanation? Why is it that men in high places think that entitles them to sexual privileges? 10, why is he changing his tune? Is this another power play, in exchange for becoming David's general as he was Saul's?
12-19 Abner offers to use his power to consolidate the kingdom; David demands his other wife back, her weeping husband. Would remarrying her be right though? This was apparently part of the deal with Abner: consolidating the kingdom, tying himself to the house of Saul, being more acceptable to his enemies.
20-21 Abner leaves in peace; David wishes to accomplish this peacefully. But the two sons of Z don’t trust Abner, accuse David of being naïve and trusting--who was right? 27, Joab kills Abner, in Hebron, a city of refuge; vengeance killing was not allowed. He may also have realized Abner was setting himself up to usurp Joab as general. David is angry, refuses to take responsibility for it, puts a curse on Joab’s house. But did God use this to solidify David's rule? On his deathbed, David charges Solomon with repaying Joab for this killing, I Kings 2:5-6, 28-35. Is politics a neat, clean business? Not then or now. One commentator suggests the funeral was basically a media event.
Was David too soft-hearted in the matter of Abner? Is he questioning himself in 39, "I am weak today"? Yet he certainly does his share of killing. Double standard? Wishy-washy? Death penalty for those who he believes wrongly killed Saul and Jonathan, but not for his nephews, who have done the same, out of personal vengeance? One law for “us,” another for everyone else? WE can flaunt the law, but not the rest of you.
31 King David.
David is popular but can’t always control his men, or later, his children. He has a tender heart--sometimes too soft? He had a heart for God, but--always? Is anyone really totally consistent? Check our own hearts...
Ish is weak without Abner. We are told of the last two remaining of Saul's house, of those who could claim his throne. How are each now out of the picture? What was their motive? Did David reward the killers? Again we see David's double standard: one rule for them, a different rule for us.
1-12 David truly becomes king, is anointed again, by all Israel. What are the three names of this important city? It becomes the central city--central to the plot of the Bible, even to today, to the endtimes. It sat right on the boundary line between Benjamin (Saul's tribe) and Judah (David's tribe). Did David choose this spot, or did God? Deut. 12:5. The shepherd king, 2, pointing to who?
Blind/lame: we’re so strong that even the blind and the lame could keep David out! David’s like-sarcastic response, using blind/lame to refer to them, his enemies (no, he doesn't hate blind or lame people). Joab attacked and conquered Jerusalem by way of the vertical water shaft. The Millo = the citadel. 11, this happened much later. 1-12 seem to be a summary, with details in the following chapters--a pattern we find often in the Bible. This is Israel’s greatest period in history--prosperity and expansion.
13 Meanwhile... A harem was an eastern custom, so everyone else was doing it--so then it's not sin? The Law forbade this very thing. Doesn’t matter if it’s socially acceptable or everyone is doing it. Within the line of David, Nathan is the line leading to Mary and the Messiah, Solomon is the line leading to Joseph.
17-25 David has victories against the Philistines.
Getting the ark. The importance of God's what? This is stressed in the Old and New Testaments. What does it mean to keep His name holy?
Compare 3 to Num. 7:7-9 (4:1-15 tells in detail). If this had been done in the right way, would this death have happened? God is holy, and is to be obeyed. Is it possible to do the right thing in a wrong way?
David has the ark brought to a special tent. He celebrates, Michal despises him--evidence of a poor relationship with a wife. “Uncovered,” took off his royal garments. Was she concerned about proper worship, or was she concerned about appearances, about keeping his position over the common people? He says he will continue to be “common,” whether it means in worship, or in how he relates to his people. She is punished by the Lord (or by David?).
1-9 David wants to build a house for God. But God is interested in a different kind of house, the house of David, and the Messiah.
Who is Nathan? Is he right or wrong? How can a prophet be wrong? Had he really consulted God, or did he assume he knew what God would want? Do we ever do that? Lesson: don’t assume or run ahead. If God had wanted a house, wouldn’t He have said? Sometimes we think or feel that we want to do some particular thing but He doesn't seem to open the door. Might He have something different for you that is NOT what YOU had in mind?
10-17 Prophetic. God’s covenant with David--the Davidic covenant? God promises David a house (a dynasty), a kingdom, and a throne forever. What are the important Old Testament covenants? Abrahamic, Mosaic, Palestinian. All these covenants are very important to our understanding of all the rest of the Old Testament prophecies, which confirm these over and over again. God promised the woman a seed, then Abraham a seed that would be a blessing to all the nations. God narrows down the promise to which son of Jacob? What tribe is David? Now the promised One will come in David's line. Matthew contains the genealogy of Joseph, Luke contains Mary's; both are in the line of David, through two different sons--Solomon and Nathan, both who are sons of which wife? Bathsheba.
Is God talking about Solomon or the Messiah? Both elements; prophecy is frequently on two levels--a short-term/present and a future fulfillment. God says "forever" three times. David uses the word five times in his response. 10-11, have these promises about Israel happened yet? So we know that Israel will in the future be in their land, without enemies, with a descendant of David ruling over the earthly kingdom from an earthly throne, and this kingdom will be everlasting. Is the Davidic covenant conditional--is it "if/then"? No. It will happen.
Who is 14 about? The Messiah will be called God’s Son--there is a father and a son in the Godhead. Another allusion is Psa. 2:7, about the Lord’s Anointed: “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee.” But this was not really revealed in the Old Testament.
18-29 As David begins his prayer, what attitude does he show? Humility. Also gratitude, magnifying God. Does he take God’s promises as present or future? 21, does God do wonderful things for "our" sake? Because we are so righteous or deserving? Does David speak a lot about "me" or "I"? Ten times he refers to himself as God’s servant; do we see ourselves that way? Notice how often he speaks of "You." I counted 61 references to God/Lord/You/Your. He basically prays, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done." Commentators tend to place the giving of this covenant as late in David's reign, but I don't see it myself.
David’s victories, first over the Philistines--what do you think old king Achish (I Sam. 29) thought about this?
4 First mention of Israel using horses and chariots; compare Deut. 17:16, is this OK? At what point is "multiplying? NASB 1700 horsemen unclear, could also read 700 or 7000, I Chr. 18:14.
6, 14 Why is David successful?
10-11 Starting to put aside articles for God’s future house.
15 A summing up of David's reign. Joab and Benaiah will be important; sons have positions (time has passed). In the following chapters we will now read details of David's reign, and they are not all rosy.
David and Mephibosheth. Why did David do this? But what if M. had been a so and so--it was not because of who that person was himself. Did God love us and save us for our sake, because we were neat, likeable? It is for HIS sake, because HE is love; it’s in spite of us and what we are.
8 Why does he say this about himself? All the previous king’s family is usually slain, to prevent uprisings. David may have done this partly to solicit the loyalty of the northern tribes, in his succession of Saul.
M. ate at David’s table. What did they have in common? Their love of Jonathan; must have talked about him a lot. The child was young when he was hidden away; he didn't know Jonathan well. Do you imagine David told him much about his father? How can we have fellowship with other believers that we hardly know or have little in common with--what is our fellowship centered on? Even if they are not someone we might choose for a friend? Might this picture how we are cripples turned to rich men, feasting at the Lord’s table, unworthy in ourselves, but daily in His presence?
Ziba, his family, his response: in our culture, we don’t have servants/lords, or that type of unquestioning obedience. In fact, we value the questioning of authority. Which attitude more closely reflects what is to be our relationship to God? What if Ziba had other plans for his life, for all those sons and servants? Did he say, “but...”? Was he indignant or resentful? Why might he keep those thoughts inside and obey anyhow? Can we do that when we find that God is asking us to do something we don’t want, or not to do something that we do want? Should we obey and then get our attitude right? Or should we wait till our attitude is right before we obey? If our attitude is bad and we try to serve or obey God, is that hypocritical? What if our attitude never gets right?
Ziba will turn out to not be loyal to David, we will see in chapter 19.
More military stuff. Were David's good intentions accepted and appreciated? Does that sometimes happen to us?
Which verse has application to our understanding of God’s will? When we are facing a difficulty, is this what we say, or do we instead ask God to do some specific thing, to make things turn out a certain way? Is God's will something we should try to influence? or to accept? These are two different approaches to prayer, and to life. Worship is defined in the Bible as, not singing, or being in church, but as bowing before God’s will--whatever He allows to happen, in humble acceptance.
Joab, who expressed this trust in God, appears elsewhere as hot-headed. In the last chapter of this book, we see him (unsuccessfully) trying to keep David from disobeying God by holding a census. As we see throughout the Bible, no one who follows the Lord is completely obedient or consistent.
David and Bathsheba.
A commentator suggests that just as David's growing power when he was still a fugitive led to him sinning by taking a second wife, Abigail, so perhaps the previous chapter detailing David's victories set him up for his sinful taking of Bathsheba. Does power sometimes lead people to feel they are above the law? (We might think of Bill Clinton in particular, but many others have done similar, with less publicity.) David went out of his way to honor his covenant with Jonathan; is he as diligent to honor the covenant with God? Was his honoring of Jonathan's son done out of pure motives, or might it be tinged with political motives--placating the tribe of Saul, trying to consolidate all Israel under his rule? Are any of our motives truly pure?
1-5 What does 1 tell us three times? What clues are here about David’s spiritual condition? Deut. 17:18-20, what was he probably NOT doing that was required of the king? Has David sinned in 2? When we have thoughts of temptation, is that sin? When does it become sin? But what are we told about his actions in 2? How might he have responded, without sin?
Should Bathsheba bear some of the blame here? Some speculate that surely she knew her roof was within sight of the king. Do we know her mind? Her husband had been gone for a while--maybe she was open to some "action." If she was also at fault, does that lessen David's sin? The story is not presented as her sin but his.
What additional fact is added in 3 that takes this sin beyond lust? Adultery. Her husband and father were both listed in David's "mighty men," 23:34,39. Her grandfather was David's counselor, 15:12. We might even speculate whether David, knowing her family, had already known of her, and maybe had thoughts about her in the past; we know he had a weakness for women.
Bathsheba could have suffered the shame of sin in silence and bore the consequences. She could have explained to her husband that David took her against her will--he may or may not have believed that. In telling David, might she be asking him to do something about it, to take some action?
6-25 David plots against Uriah’s life. What kind of a man is Uriah? Honorable. There was a wartime ban on conjugal relations, I Sam. 21:4-7; doesn't this apply to David also? A commentator says that drunk Uriah is a better man than sober David. Why doesn’t David murder him personally, or send someone to kill him right then? Sinning in a roundabout way helps us rationalize. Were the other casualties also David's doing, as he had set up the situation of certain death? Why didn't Joab follow David's instructions? Perhaps he realized it would look too obvious, too hard to explain to others. 25, David realizes that Joab would see this as wrong, so he tries to influence Joab's conscience (displease: be evil in your sight) to see it as not wrong, as apparently he was trying to tell himself. When we want to sin, Self is not that hard to deceive; the Bible has many warnings about Self.
27 Time has passed, at least a couple of months; he marries her. She has the child; nine months have passed. Do we see any repentance yet?
Usually the Old Testament accounts don’t add editorial comments, but this act is labeled as EVIL/DISPLEASING to God. Do any of us have natures less sinful than David's?
Who is Nathan? Why do you think he told a story, rather than just accuse? Isn't it easier to see someone else’s sin more clearly than our own? The man in the parable did not deserve to die according to the Law, but David, who HAD done what the Law punished by death, thought THAT man should die. I wonder if Nathan was wondering if confronting David would result in his own death?
Did Uriah's fall in a staged battle situation absolve David from personal responsibility? David had meant it to look like a natural occurrence, but perhaps it had become known. 8, wives could mean women, like the entire household, or it could mean David took Saul's widows, implying David had no justification for craving another woman.
10-12 God’s judgment on David. He will reap what he has sown; natural consequences (personal and national) will punish him. This is often how God deals with people in this life. (Just as with Abraham acquiring Hagar on his unauthorized trip to Egypt, the consequences were personal, national, and continuing.) In coming chapters, we will read of these things happening. 13, David admits, repents. Forgiveness is instantaneous; does that seem right? Don't we want to see David "pay"? Do we deserve our own forgiveness? Does God then agree to neutralize the consequences? We. will never experience hell, but on earth still might reap what we have sown--might find that what goes around comes around. There was no sacrifice under the Law for intentional sin; the penalty was death.
14-23 Even though David's sin is forgiven, God's judgment falls immediately, and we are given the reason for it. David fasts--a sign of mourning; God does not teach or command fasting, nor do we see it presented in the Old Testament as a time devoted to more effective prayer. 18, this leads us to believe that the unnamed child was just born; perhaps Nathan appeared on the day of his birth. A name was usually given in connection with circumcision on the eighth day. 22, it doesn't say David asked God to change His mind--God had said he would die.
Many believe 23 teaches that children who die go to be with the Lord--apparently because they have not yet reached the age of accountability, which is not a concept specifically mentioned in the Bible, but can be inferred from various passages. Or he could just mean that all go down into Death, to Sheol, eventually. Even if David meant the latter, God could use his statement to reveal that children go to be with the Lord.
24 It sounds here like almost a year has passed, Solomon is soon conceived and is the next child. Comparing I Chr. 3:5, what do we learn about Solomon? He was Bathsheba’s fourth son. So apparently time is compressed for us in this verse and we are not given many details. You would think any other children from this union would not have God’s favor, but what does it say? Does God continue to hold our sin against us, after we repent? No, BUT those natural consequences are still there. David will have four sons by Bathsheba; one will be named Nathan. We might wonder if he is named after this prophet Nathan.
26-31 Military stuff. 31, torture?? Probably slave labor.
When we read Psalms, keep in mind what David was really like, and the ups and downs of his life, and his relationship with God. He was not just an innocent shepherd/king, but also a bloody, impetuous, sinful man.
Is David the biggest sinner in the Bible? Did David justify his sin, refuse to repent, or pass the buck (“it was all her fault”), as everyone else did? Because he instantly repented, he is presented as a man after God's own heart. The Bible stresses David’s heart for God, his right relationship with God, not his sins. Psa. 51 is his response to this sin, and should be our response to sin and the conviction of sin.
Now begins the melodrama of David's sowing and reaping, regarding both Bathsheba and plural marriage, and the ongoing trouble with Absalom. How much time did he spend being the leader of his family? Isn't it hard enough with just one wife? This was not God's plan for marriage. David’s sons seem to have his weaknesses, but not his strengths.
Who are the main players, 1? Two sons, half-brothers; is either portrayed as having David’s heart for God? 2, Amnon’s preoccupation with Tamar; he’s the firstborn. 3-11, scheming, his cousin helps him. Is he a crude sinful friend, or was his plan designed to bring about the downfall of Amnon? We don't know whose side in this family he is on. 12-13, she reminds him of God's laws, and even offers him a way out. 14, if he actually loved her, wouldn't he gladly ask his father for her? 14, what did he really want? Would love respond like this? Don't people confuse lust and infatuation with love? Since he had taken away her virginity, he should have married her, but he sends her away. Her lack of virginity now make her chances of marriage slim. 15 tells the true story.
16-20 She makes a scene; he has just ruined her life. Absalom acts like it's no big deal, but he WILL deal with it; he bides his time for revenge. She remains "desolate" in his house--unmarriageable and without children, so he as her brother is now responsible for her.
21 David’s response to his children: nothing...he is mad. How do you think David feels? Do you suppose he feels too hypocritical to punish his son for the same crimes of passion that he himself had committed? Everyone knows what he did and that he did not die, so how can he publicly have his son put to death for the same crime? David's sin has put him in a hard spot. Even though he is forgiven, is he again overcome with guilt and remorse, remembering what God had predicted for his future? "The sword shall not depart from your house." Like many godly men in the Bible, he was an ineffective father. Did David’s lack of action turn Absalom to revenge and all the later trouble?
23 Delayed revenge; eating at his heart.
28-29 Like David, he chooses not to do it by his own hand.
30-33 Rumors exaggerate drama. Who is involved again, 32? The one that had helped Amnon plot the rape; he seems to be allied with Absalom, again causing us to wonder about his motives in helping Amnon to do the dastardly deed. But can you imagine what David goes through until he learns they are not all dead? The desire for revenge has apparently been known by some, or many--just not by David. It makes us wonder why Absalom waited so long.
34-39 Absalom flees to maternal grandfather (see 3:3); his mother was not an Israelite. Might this have been a problem? Is he a murderer, or was this revenge killing an honor killing because of his sister?
1-24 Joab schemes to get Absalom back; David is told another story, to get him to extend mercy to his own son. Absalom was loved by the people; perhaps Amnon wasn’t, and so had no sympathy. He lives in limbo, neither punished or pardoned.
25-27 We see a reason why Absalom was so favored. Don't the “Favored Ones,” the “Beautiful People,” tend to get by with things?
28-33 Absalom and Joab, more about Absalom's personality. His strained relationship with his father, David’s mixed feelings; he loves Absalom, but he has done wickedly. He forgives Absalom, but has Absalom even shown any repentance, as David did?
1-6 Absalom the unpunished murderer schemes for power, steals the hearts of the people, undermines his father the king. He tells people what they want to hear. Four chapters deal with the situation with Absalom.
7-12 Forty years/four years? More scheming, to become king. Do you think he really made that vow? But pious lies are often unquestioned. Why would Ahithophel treacherously defect to Absalom? 11:3, 23:34. Like Absalom had bided his time in order to take revenge on Amnon for raping his sister, so Ahithophel has been looking for the right opportunity for his revenge; it has been simmering. 9-10, Hebron was his birthplace, so probably loyal to their native son.
13 What is going on in Israel? How has David lost them? Did Absalom win their hearts the same way David had?
14-18 David and his people flee Jerusalem; fear the sword of Absalom. Why flee instead of fight? David had lost the moral high ground; perhaps he wasn’t confident that God would give him victory if it came to a battle. 18, apparently foreign soldiers who had given their loyalty to David.
Read Psa. 3. Who is our adversary? 4, what two things should we do? Where are God’s answers found? 6, what words tell us we are not at the mercy of our feelings?
24-30 The ark and the priest come; David sends them back. His reasoning is interesting, 25-26. What does 26 tell us about David? 30, barefoot indicated mourning.
31-37 What two things does David do to counter the treachery? Prays against him, plants a false counselor and spy into Absalom’s people. Is this strategy used in government today? President Trump dealt with this all the time.
Is it possible to have a truly godly king, who makes right decisions? Israel had God as their king, but they wanted a man, who is fallible. Would God want him to be merciful (and therefore possibly weak), or strong (and possibly overly harsh and bloodthirsty)? Could a Christian president really be true to his faith--isn’t politics a dirty business, driven by compromise?
1-4 Donkeys are for riding; in Bible days, horses are for military. What do you think of Mephibosheth? Of Ziba? Actually we will later see that Ziba is lying, but David apparently believes him. Just like in today’s politics--so many deceivers, so many agendas, so hard to know who to believe. Mephibosheth's portion is given to Ziba as a reward for what David thought was his loyalty.
10-14 Does God use unbelievers, even bad people, to speak to us or work His will in our lives? If we see God as continually working out His will in our lives, should we have David’s attitude? We saw David’s ego and temper in the story of Nabal--do we perhaps see evidence here of change and growth in David? What does Job tell his wife in Job 2:10? David accepts adversity as from the Lord--do we? He understands that because of his sin, even though he is forgiven, he does not deserve anything from God. So David wonders if God might be using Absalom? How hard should he struggle to hang onto the throne, or should he accept the possibility that God was taking it from him? As He did from Saul when he disobeyed God?
15-20 Remember that David had planted loyal Hushai with Absalom to thwart the counsel of Ahithophel, David’s counselor who had defected to Absalom. Does Hushai lie here? How would Absalom interpret this? Either he cleverly chose his words to have a double meaning, or God gave him just the right words. Could God do the same for us if we are in a tricky situation?
20-23 What prophecy does this fulfill? 12:11. By doing this publicly, Absalom is saying what?
1-3 what do we see from David’s former counselor, apparently his close friend? Betrayal. Conflicting advice--whose is listened to? (that Absalom himself should go after David—kings generally led their men into battle) Why? He appeals to Absalom's ego. Hushai warns David and his people to cross the Jordan.
23 What happened to Ahithophel, whose advice was ignored? Apparently because of public humiliation, repudiation.
24-29 Israel not only loves Absalom, they are now willing to what? Amaya is David’s nephew. Apparently David had some wealthy loyal supporters.
As a commentator points out, we can see a similarity between David, the Lord’s anointed, leaving Jerusalem in distress with those loyal to him, crossing the Kidron and heading toward the Mount of Olives and being betrayed by his close friend, who then kills himself, and what later event? Would we call this a prophecy or a foreshadowing? What is the difference?
Do some Christians have to deal with family members, like Absalom, who not only don’t believe but are crooked, two-faced, backstabbers, manipulators, liars, etc? Might we have friends, like Ahithophel, who turn out not to be friends and hurt us deeply? Might even believing friends and family be hurtful? Did Jesus experience these things? Are we promised that the Christian life will be easy and pleasant?
1-5 We see how many left with David. He wants his three generals to go easy on Absalom. Does this show strength or weakness of character in David?
6-8 Victory for David. The forest was apparently thick, dark, with rocks and ravines, treacherously dangerous. Does God sometimes use nature to accomplish His purposes?
9-15 Does it say he hung by his hair? Maybe, maybe not. A commentator pointed out that as the mule, which was the animal kings rode, so his kingdom was pulled out from under him. Was Joab right or wrong? As general, what was his job? Is right and wrong always cut and dried? Each person has his own motives and priorities. Same with us, and with judging others. Only God is the truly righteous Judge.
18 Apparently his sons had died, compare 14:27.
19-33 The two runners deliver the news; David’s reaction. Should he have felt rejoicing or victory? Bittersweet. He is both a king and a father, and saw God’s hand of discipline through sowing and reaping. When life is messy, is God still working?
1-4 Here we see further evidence of David’s favoritism of Absalom over Ammon, the firstborn son whom Absalom killed, 13:37-39. Much greater grief here, even though Absalom wanted David's kingship and even his life.
5-7 Joab and all the people find his reaction inappropriate. Joab rebukes him, warns him that what is about to happen? Who is right, David or Joab? Joab comes across as harsh and bloody, but he IS the military commander; he also comes across as being godly, trusting God, being concerned with doing God’s will, with obeying him, even confronting David when necessary. Back in chapter 3, we saw him ignore David’s wishes in order to take personal revenge, and David responded, “these sons of Zeruiah are too difficult for me.” He and David are an interesting contrast, both presented to us as godly men. Do we ever see them having a close personal friendship? Yet isn’t Joab acting here as a true friend even if David doesn’t see it that way? 8, the gate was where business was conducted; the king was back to doing his job.
9-15 Israel, 8, speaking of the majority of the nation, that had followed Absalom, as differentiated from Judah, who had stayed loyal to David. A tricky situation, the kingdom is in disarray. David is returning to Jerusalem to be king again but is not back there yet. Absalom had been anointed by Israel, he is dead, they accept David back. Many come to the Jordan to meet him and escort him home. David replaces Joab with Amasa (Absalom’s general, David’s nephew, Joab’s cousin); do you think this will turn out well? Why might David do this? What two things had Joab just done that David might be punishing him for? 18:14, 19:5-7. They were two strong personalities that often butted heads.
16-23 Shimei asks forgiveness for cursing David when he left. Was he sincere or just covering his rear end? Back in chapter 16, he appeared to be one man, but here he appears to be leader of a large faction, including Ziba--remember there had been some business with him. Abishai thinks he should be executed; David forgives. Is Abishai vengeful and hot-headed, or more discerning than David? It's hard to know if someone is lying to protect themselves from consequences, or if earlier, they just acted badly out of fear or some other sinful motive, for which they now are truly sorry? How can he know if Shimei will later be a thorn in his side? How much going on here, or elsewhere, is political posturing, or should be taken at face value, or is more complex or even sinister than appears on the surface? Is this a problem throughout history, and today? Even for us, as we watch news and try to be informed? Again we see David at odds with the sons of Zeruiah--Joab and/or Abishai. When someone apologizes, are we to forgive, even if we are suspicious of their motive or their sincerity? When David is on his deathbed, we will find out the rest of the story. David didn’t really forgive, and apparently considered him dangerous, or maybe just held a personal grudge.
24-30 Mephibosheth--is he a literal son of Saul? We often see “son of” referring to a bloodline. 24, signs of mourning, showing his loyalty to David. Mephibosheth declares his loyalty, claims Ziba was actually a two-faced liar. So, who really lied? Is Mephibosheth telling the truth now, or just trying to save himself? Should David punish or forgive? Do leaders and parents often face this? Earlier, David believed Ziba; now he seems to believe Mephibosheth. 29, is this half-hearted justice? Or does this show that David is not sure who was telling the truth? 30, is Mephibosheth being magnanimous, or is he spurning David’s gift?
31-39 David desires to reward old Barzillai; he is too old to leave his home, though. Extra-biblical sources say Chimham may have been his son.
40-43 Quarreling between Israel and Judah about David. Are we beginning to see an identity split within the 12 tribes, of Israel (the northern ten tribes) and Judah (the two southern tribes, Judah and the smaller Benjamin)? They squabble, but which side had been disloyal and gone over to Absalom?
Why do you suppose the Bible gives us so many fascinating and personal details of David’s life and his kingdom? What does the Bible teach about free will (to sin or not, and the consequences of either) and God’s sovereignty? Both are always in play, at the same time. It doesn’t just tell us that fact; it shows us what that looks like in real life, how that plays out, to teach and encourage us, in our personal lives and as we try to make sense of what goes on around us.
1-3 So is everyone on the same page now? Sheba the Benjamite leads another revolt. Saul had been of what tribe? The public is always fickle--like today? and easily manipulated? Kings (and presidents) are continually dealing with threats from what two directions? Inside and outside. 3, why? Maybe Deut. 24:1-4? Absalom had relations with them.
4-6 Amasa (who had been Absalom’s commander and who David put in Joab’s place) was to organize the men of Judah. He delays. Is this guy perhaps “small potatoes”?
7-12 Abishai and company pursue Sheba, Joab joins them; Cherethites and Pelethites were foreign soldiers of Philistine background who were loyal to David. Joab kills Amasa, his cousin--was he right to do this or not? (The sword shall not depart from your house...) What does this kiss remind us of? Joab is a general who often disagrees with David, even takes matters into his own hands (like when he killed Absalom and Abner, Saul’s commander). Would you call these three deaths assassinations? David, on his deathbed, commands Solomon to deal with Joab, and he will be put to death. Why didn’t David? Maybe he needed Joab in spite of his improprieties? Maybe he privately concurred with them even though he publicly decried them? Politics is messy and murky--who can know everyone’s true motives, and the various pressures and considerations? Might moral compromises be made sometimes? By moral or even godly leaders?
14-22 Sheba holes up at Abel; who saves the city from destruction? The inheritance of the Lord, 19, would be Israel, also I Sam. 26:19. What other wise women have we seen in David’s story? 14:1-20, Abigail. Earlier, we saw Deborah the judge, and even bold Jael, the woman who drove the spike through Sisrea’s head and killed him while he slept in her tent as she appeared to offer him hospitality. God has set man in leadership above woman, but what does Gen. 2 call woman? The context is marriage, but is there broader application? Do we see women having important helping roles in Jesus’ ministry and in the early church? Godly women can be very influential in many spheres--in every sphere?
23-26 David’s government. Forced labor was prisoners of war, Deut. 20:10-11, 2 Sam. 8:2, 6, 14.
The middle section of this book focused on David’s personal life; these last four chapters are kind of an appendix, focusing on his public life and not flowing in chronological order. This first story appears to have happened early in David’s reign, and makes more sense in that timeframe.
A natural disaster; God had promised that obedience or disobedience to the Law resulted in what and what? What is David’s response? 3, Israel. God revealed why. Because the Bible often records God using natural sisters in this way, Christians often make claims that some natural disaster is God’s judgment on our nation, or on the church, for XYZ. How can we know if this is true? Three reasons it is not true: 1) In the Bible God always reveals the purpose of judgment--they didn’t have to wonder or guess. 2) We are not in the age of judgment; we are in the age of grace. Judgment was in the Old Testament and again in Revelation after the church is removed. There is no talk of judgment or calamities for the church age in the Epistles, which are the directions for the church. We cannot take the Old Testament, the age of Law, and directly apply it to the church age. It is important and helpful to understand the distinctions between Israel and the church. This is the doctrine of dispensationalism, which is crucial to a clear understanding of the entire Bible. 3) The words of Jesus in Luke 3:4-5.
The incident with Saul and the Gibeonites is not recorded, but we know the background. Joshua made a pact with the Gibeonites; God had told Israel to make no covenants with the people of the land of Canaan, but to wipe them all out. The Gibeonites tricked them, pretending to be from a faraway place. But once Joshua had sworn an oath before God, it must be honored. Saul had broken the promise made to the Gibeonites, had broke God’s law, so apparently it had happened recently.
Did God tell them how to make things right? Did David ask Him? As even today, mideastern people are big on revenge and blood atonement; maybe that’s why they could understand God’s concept of blood sacrifice and substitutionary atonement, and maybe that’s why modern man has some trouble with the blood part?
6 Justice was dispensed, an eye for an eye... David spares Mephibosheth, according to his promise to Jonathan to do good to his descendants. Sons of Saul may be grandsons; these terms are used very broadly to speak of family lines--a consideration when using genealogies to set dates, for creation, or for Jesus’s return. We need to take everything in context, which you can’t really do unless you read the WHOLE Bible. (Probably Merab/NASB, not Michal/KJV, who died childless. Or perhaps Michal had raised five children as a step-mother.) The Law said sons were not to be executed for the sins of the father, so what does that tell us about these who were executed? They had taken part with Saul.
14 God’s response? He saw their efforts to make things right. (He didn’t specify that was necessarily the way to do it.)
15-22 These giants could have been relatives of Goliath or not. Gittites were the people of Gath (Philistines). This is where the giants lived. Jos. 11:22, I Sam. 17:4, and here. “The giant” is the Hebrew “Rephaim” so it could be referring to the race of giants there, or specifically to the giant David killed. 19, the parallel passage in I Chr. 20:4-8 says brother of Goliath, and speaks of “the giants,” not “the giant.” We are told of some of the exploits of David’s small band of mighty men, and how God blessed and used them. But we do see here that there were giants in early times, just as we read about in mythology and tales passed down such as Jack and the beanstalk. Even in our time this rare genetic mutation can show up, called gigantism, that can result in heights of nine feet.
This is Psalm 18 almost verbatim. What circumstance? After Saul’s death, when he was no longer a threat to David as king, so, early on. Because in the Psalms we are given such a full picture of David’s heart, we can know that God values this and has shown us what this looks like.
1-3 Terms that describe what God is to him: we see these terms used throughout Psalms. Horn = power. David the military man sees God in military terms. How does this apply to us? Spiritual battle. Is God able to relate to us, to show Himself to each of us, in relation to whatever WE know and understand in our particular sphere of knowledge? Like what?
What one word here is used throughout Scripture symbolically of God, of Christ? In the Old Testament God is a rock of strength; how does the New Testament build on that? Build your life on what not what, found where? The sermon on the mount, found where? Mat. 5-7 (7:24-27). (Even if we don’t have verses or locations memorized, it is good if we can remember general ideas and locations.) Psa. 118:22 refers to what, repeated many times in the New Testament? And how did that help us understand and apply the incident of water from the rock when Israel wandered in the wilderness, and relate it to the New Testament?
4 Remember that the Palestinian covenant promises Israel physical blessings (like salvation from their enemies) for obedience, righteousness, integrity, blameless living. God sets things up differently in different dispensations; the New Testament does not promise that to the church. Instead, what are we promised in John 16:33 and elsewhere? This is different than what God promised Israel. Keep that in mind when you read the Psalms; they were written by and for Jews, under the Law, but there is application for the New Testament believer. The Bible makes much more sense when we first note who was being spoken to, when, under what circumstances, in which dispensation--in other words, in context. Then we compare it to the rest of the Bible and can understand how it applies to us. This is why it is so important to read ALL the Bible. (I can’t thank J. Vernon McGee enough for drilling that into my head over the many years I read him and listened to him on the radio.)
5-6 Death seemed imminent. He calls for help.
7-15 Could it mean God used these elements at some point in rescuing him from his enemies, or could it be a poetic way of describing God’s power in rescuing him, or could it be a reference to past or future? Could it be all these at the same time? And if so, did David intend to weave layers of meaning into his words, or did the Holy Spirit guide his words to convey many truths? We often find such layers of meaning in the Bible, especially Psalms.
16-19 God rescues him. Who is our strong enemy?
21-25 Is righteousness the same as sinlessness? Does blameless mean without sin, or rather, having integrity, right living, right actions? Is he speaking of salvation or earthly blessing? Again we see that in the Old Testament, under the Law, righteousness--right living, not sinlessness--was required. When they failed, they must offer sacrifice. 25 alludes to what will come in the age of grace--what will be different? We are no longer judged by our own goodness, by our ability to keep the Law, but now God looks at us and sees Christ. His righteousness is imputed to us. Old Testament believers did not have that in the dispensation of the Law.
26-28 Crooked, twisted, perverse—p--often used as an opposite of straight, righteous, integrity. A frequent theme in the Bible is humility vs what?
29 What well-known verse in Psalms does this remind us of? 119:105.
30 So should we try to leap a wall, or move literal mountains? What does this mean for us? What if we find ourselves in seemingly impossible situations? (We don’t know WHAT He’ll help us do, or how...) We can have total confidence in God.
31 Walking in God’s way results in what? The trustworthiness of what? Where do we find the third truth in the New Testament? The armor, found where? Eph. 6.
32-42 Our way should be like what, 33? Hind, 34: like a deer; what is the implication? Sure-footed. Descriptions of his military victory. How does this apply to us?
41 Does God answer the prayers of unbelievers? Yes if in repentance. Does He sometimes help them though, in His mercy, as He draws them toward knowledge of Himself?
This psalm, like many, seems to have several levels of interpretation. Besides speaking poetically of God helping David in a military situation, it may have prophetic reference to Christ’s death and resurrection; many Psalms are prophetic. 4-6, death on the cross. 7-10, darkness, earthquake; could this section poetically refer to God’s wrath being poured out on sin, or be a poetic picture of the great lengths God went to (so to speak) to bring about our salvation, or the spiritual battle that was being fought and won at this time? Jesus temporarily descended into Sheol, the realm of who? 17-20, God rescued Him from death. Who might be the strong man? 20-25, Christ the sinless sacrifice. 26-43, what time period might this section encompass? After the resurrection, the day of wrath. 43-51, He reigns on earth; does He still have enemies? 49, who might be the violent man? 51, what word takes us past the literal time of David?
Another possible interpretation sees the flood in the first part; if so, we might even see the first half of this Psalm revealing the thoughts and feelings of Noah to us. We can see both Noah and David being presented as a “type” of Christ.
1-7 In that day, a man’s last words were considered significant, as we saw with Jacob’s last words to his twelve sons at the end of Genesis. What important Bible doctrine does 1-2 confirm? Where else do we find these kinds of claims? Here are just a few. Isa. 66:1-2 where a prophet claims to be speaking God’s words (My, claims only God could make), Eze. 2:1-3 where we have a record of God speaking directly to someone, Eze. 30:1-2 where God speaks to people through a prophet, Mat. 22:43, II Pet. 1:21. In many places, the Bible claims that God is actually speaking, which indicates He is using this particular man to speak through, but they are God’s words.
Compared to the Old Testament passages we just looked at, we see that David the poet doesn’t simply say “thus says the Lord” but says that in a long flowery way; this gives us insight into David’s style in the book of Psalms. Where in this passage are God’s words? Middle of 3 through 4. Who is God speaking of? David, the Messiah. The rest is David speaking. In David’s final public words, what are some common Old Testament themes? The importance of righteousness, God’s sovereignty, God’s everlasting covenant, salvation, judgment on wickedness.
8-39 is a listing of David’s “mighty men.” Mentions “the Thirty” and “the Three.” The elite troops, the Green Berets. We know from elsewhere that Joab was the commander over all the military. (“The 30” is also a Hebrew technical name for a small military contingent; might actually have a few more or less than 30 and still be called that. Where the lists vary, some may have died and been replaced, or some may go by different names.) Special mention for two others: 18-19, Abishai; 20-23, Benaiah, a priest who became a soldier. Who is the last one mentioned? This was no ordinary soldier David had found expendable--he had been one of his best. 24, we read the story of Asahel’s death and the blood feud that resulted. 34, here are the father and grandfather of Bathsheba.
How are David’s men like Jesus’ men? The three, the twelve, the seventy. Then in Acts and the Epistles, we see the twelve, a wider group of those who accompanied and assisted them, and those they trained and commissioned. We see men in leadership and bold godly women assisting them. We see how God used and blessed David’s small army; what does the Bible teach about numbers and strength? Does spiritual warfare require greater numbers or ability? Does it require boldness and faith? Whatever form it takes, who is our enemy?
This chapter is very important and relevant to our lives and understanding. Read 1-10, then read the parallel passage in I Chr. 21:1-8. What are some questions or issues that arise here for our discussion in this chapter? Are there contradictions in these two passages? Did God’s desire to punish Israel for something lead to this incident, or did this incident result in His desire to punish them? Was taking a census sinful? In the past, God had ordered several censuses; had He commanded this one? What was sinful, which Joab saw, and which David came to see after he did it? So maybe it wasn’t the act but the motive that was wrong? Who caused this sin--sinning Israel, David, God, Satan, or possibly someone (an enemy nation) which Satan was using? What important truth do we learn from this? Could it be all of the above? Here we are shown how man’s free will and God’s sovereignty work together and are BOTH true.
Like in Job, this gives us a glimpse of how things happen in God’s universe, how He sees it, even though we have trouble grasping this. What light does that shed on pain or tragedies or even our own sin that God allows in our lives? Are either God or Satan responsible for OUR choices? If some person or event influences our choice, does that make us less responsible for our choices? We like to place blame, to excuse responsibility in ourselves or others; so does our society. Guilt feelings are a huge problem for mankind.
Those who refuse God’s remedy may try various ways of drowning out those feelings; many try psychology and its humanistic solutions. Psychology does not recognize sin, but sees Self as good and having the answers within. “You are not really at fault for the way you are, or what you did, because look at what happened to you, how your parents treated you (or your teacher, or the other kids, your boss, etc.).” This is why they always get you to go way back into your past, even dredging up false memories, in search of any possible person or circumstance you can blame so you can stop feeling guilty. Psychology is truly the religion of humanism--the worship of Self and the absolution of guilt.
What do we see about Joab in 3-4? In this situation, he is more righteous than David, boldly stands up to the king, but is obedient to him, even though he thinks he is wrong.
What was the sin? Trust in military might. It is interesting that David was not convicted of sin when Joab warned him, but only after the deed was done. What does David do when he IS convicted of his sin? Just as we saw when he was convicted of sin with Bathsheba. This apparently is why sinful David is called a man after a God’s own heart. Do we all have hearts as sinful as David? Yet how should we try to be like him? Does conviction of sin always happen immediately after we sin? Have a heart that is sensitive to sin, quick to recognize it and repent.
The census numbers in 9 are different than in the parallel account in I Chr. 21:5. This account lists “valiant” men who drew the sword; perhaps two categories of soldiers are alluded to--800,000 valiant men (perhaps tested soldiers) and then 300,000 other men. This account says 500,000 men of Judah; the other says 470,000 but specifies that it does not include Benjamin (Judah and Benjamin were often considered as one). This is a good example of what some may claim as conflicts in the Bible; a little digging and comparing usually explains.
In 10, does David excuse his sin by saying that God had caused him to do this, or that Satan had? Yet the passage tells us that both were active in bringing about the situation. He recognizes HIS guilt.
Sometimes we wonder if a temptation is Satan or Self? Is it a test or a temptation? How does this chapter answer that for us? God is working, Satan is at work, and so is Self. God is testing us, and Satan is tempting us, in the same situation, and Self must make a choice. Remember that David was operating in the power of the flesh; he did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit or the new nature. We do, but we can choose to walk in the flesh or in the Spirit, Rom. 8:1-14.
11-17 If God was desiring to punish Israel for something, did He CAUSE David to sin in order to accomplish that? Is God ever responsible for our sin? Or, did He KNOW that David was going to commit this sin and He used that sinful situation to accomplish His purposes? This is the debate between Calvinists and noncalvinists: does God predetermine and cause everything (which takes away our free will, our personal responsibility, and our need to confess sin), or do we have free will which God has foreknowledge of and uses in His sovereignty? Did David’s sin with Bathsheba accomplish God’s purposes in bringing about Solomon, the wisest king of all time, the writer of Proverbs? Calvinists would say that because Solomon needed to come along to fulfill God’s plan, therefore God must have caused this situation in order to bring it about. Yet we see that God is not limited to a human understanding of cause and effect.
How should this chapter influence the way we see life? Is God indeed sovereign over ALL that happens, in our lives, in the world, in EVERY event, good or bad? If we say, oh well, then it doesn’t matter if I sin, will there be consequences, sowing and reaping? Does EVERYTHING that happens fit into and further His plans? If so, is there ANY reason to worry, to doubt? Chewing on this chapter is key in changing from anxiety, worry, doubt and fear to trusting God more fully--to recognizing what it means that God is sovereign, that nothing Satan does, nothing I do, nothing that happens to me or anyone I care about, is outside God’s plan and control. He is using everything.
It is interesting, and kind of scary, that God offered David a choice of punishments, all equally bad. David chose the three days over the three months or seven years. Who was God punishing, David or Israel? Was David responsible for those deaths? Or Israel? Or Satan? We see that in His sovereignty over all forces and events, God could have used any of those three phenomena--famine, enemy nation, plague. Because of what we read in the Old Testament, some Christians try to interpret these types of events today as judgments from God and try to assign them to various causes. We can know this is not true for three reasons. 1) When God brought or threatened judgment in the Old Testament, He warned and was specific; people didn’t have to wonder. 2) Israel was under the Law; God had promised them blessings for obedience, and curses for disobedience. The church is no longer under the dispensation of Law; we are in the dispensation of grace. No judgment is spoken of until God pours out His wrath on evil during the coming seven years of tribulation--after the church age ends. 3) Jesus said that natural disasters will happen, but that does not mean that those it happened to are being punished for sin, Luke 13:4.
18-25 The plague was to be for three days; did it just stop automatically? 16, “repented” in KJV is better translated “relented” in NASB; is it possible that God had done something wrong and needed to repent? Of course not. Did God tell the angel to stop, or did it stop because of what David did, because he obeyed the prophet? What do we see about David’s attitude in 17? He intercedes for the people. What do we learn about Araunah (translated Ornan in the parallel account in I Chr. 21), and the concept of sacrifice, in 21-24? Is sacrificing the same thing as giving? We know that Jesus was our sacrifice--He gave His life for us. What does Rom. 12:1 say about sacrifice now?
Who said there must be a sacrifice made? Who chose the location for the sacrifice? Why this location? Araunah was a what? Jebusites were a Canaanite tribe that inhabited that area, Jebus was the town that became Jerusalem, 5:6-10. This threshing floor was on Mt. Moriah, just outside Jerusalem, where what happened, Gen. 22:1-19? God didn’t let Abraham perform this act in any old place; He had him travel how far to do it here? Three days travel. What similarity do we find in David’s incident and Gen. 22:10-11? Stopping what, by the hand of who? Death, the angel of the Lord, which is who? These prefigure what other similar later event on the mountain on which Jerusalem sits, just outside the city gate?
What else will soon happen on this site, I Chr. 21:28-22:5? Solomon builds the temple. David has purchased the threshing floor, with silver, and apparently then the entire site/place, I Chr. 21:22, 25. I Chr. adds what miraculous detail, 21:26?
Why is this site now the focus of world events?
One last thing. What do we learn here about angels? Are there two angels in this story? I think not.
Isn’t it amazing how many very important teachings we find in this chapter, woven into one story, and so relevant for the New Testament Christian? This chapter needs to be read and reread and chewed on, while turning the pages of our Bibles to see how all Scripture dovetails so beautifully and speaks to us today.
Copyright 2021 Jan Young
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