Ss lesson111013.commentary 1 Samuel


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Ss lesson111013.commentary 1 Samuel

  1. 1. November 10, 2013. SESSION 5, Step In - COMMENTARY The Point: Sometime we are called to step in to keep a bad situation from getting worse. For the past four sessions, we have considered the things we can do to resolve our conflicts with another person. What do we do, though, when we see another’s conflict and they are not putting these principles into practice? What if they are not taking the steps needed properly to resolve the conflict? The easy path is to say, ―It’s none of my business.‖ Consider what love would compel us to do (Eph. 4:15). Christ lovingly confronts and helps us, and as His followers, we are to follow His example and lovingly help others reconcile. The Passage: 1 Samuel 25:14-17, 23-28, 32-35 The Setting. While David was in the wilderness, he sought support from Nabal, for whom David’s men had provided protection. When Nabal refused, David became angry and set out for revenge. Nabal’s wife, Abigail, intervened with both wisdom and diplomacy, keeping the conflict from becoming disastrous.t does the Bible say? Introduction. In Matthew 5:9, from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: ―Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.‖ Peace is often limited to absence of war or the cessation of violence. Ceasefires and surrenders are important as preambles to peace. However, peace in the Bible includes the finest of loving relationships between individuals, within families, communities and nations. Peace also includes good health. The peace here discussed is primarily the peace of God, which includes all of the above and "passes all understanding" (Phil 4:7). The word peacemaker appears only here in the entire Bible. Semitic languages are obliged to break this unique word into two. It is neither the "peaceful" nor the "pacifists" but the peacemakers. Given this broad scope of peacemaking, it is easy to see why Jesus called such people "sons/children of God." Kenneth E. Bailey. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (p. 84). Kindle Edition. Summary: David Spares Foolish Nabal 25:1-44 The notice of Samuel’s death is not incidental to the author (25:1). He shows how the people’s love for Samuel’s godly leadership continued with David as well. David kindly protected the flocks of a wealthy herdsman named Nabal (Hebrew fool; compare 25:25). As a result, none of his flocks were stolen or lost to wild animals. It was not unreasonable then for David to ask Nabal to respond kindly to him. However, Nabal angrily refused, and David threatened to kill him. The shepherds of Nabal, who had benefited from David’s protection, entreated Abigail, Nabal’s wife, to intercede. Abigail pleaded with David that the Lord’s anointed had no need to avenge himself since the Lord would do so. David gratefully agreed and resisted the evil deed. Later, God struck Nabal dead (25:2-38). 1|Page
  2. 2. This event exemplifies the Old Testament understanding of God’s sovereignty over all things. Everything happens as part of the outworking of God’s will. This famous incident involving Abigail led the author to list David’s wives (25:39-44). He married Abigail from Carmel and Ahinoam from Jezreel. His first wife, Saul’s daughter Michal, was given to another man (compare 18:27). the Bible say. 1 Samuel 25:14-17,23-28,32-35 (HCSB) 14 One of Nabal’s young men informed Abigail, Nabal’s wife: ―Look, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, but he yelled at them. 15 The men treated us well. When we were in the field, we were not harassed and nothing of ours was missing the whole time we were living among them. 16 They were a wall around us, both day and night, the entire time we were herding the sheep. 17 Now consider carefully what you must do, because there is certain to be trouble for our master and his entire family. He is such a worthless fool nobody can talk to him!‖ 23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off the donkey and fell with her face to the ground in front of David. 24 She fell at his feet and said, ―The guilt is mine, my lord, but please let your servant speak to you directly. Listen to the words of your servant. 25 My lord should pay no attention to this worthless man Nabal, for he lives up to his name: His name is Nabal, and stupidity is all he knows. I, your servant, did not see my lord’s young men whom you sent. 26 Now my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and as you yourself live, it is the Lord who kept you from participating in bloodshed and avenging yourself by your own hand. May your enemies and those who want trouble for my lord be like Nabal. 27 Accept this gift your servant has brought to my lord, and let it be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28 Please forgive your servant’s offense, for the Lord is certain to make a lasting dynasty for my lord because he fights the Lord’s battles. Throughout your life, may evil not be found in you. 32 Then David said to Abigail, ―Praise to the Lord God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! 33 Your discernment is blessed, and you are blessed. Today you kept me from participating in bloodshed and avenging myself by my own hand. 34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord God of Israel lives, who prevented me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, Nabal wouldn’t have had any men left by morning light.‖ 35 Then David accepted what she had brought him and said, ―Go home in peace. See, I have heard what you said and have granted your request.‖ Key Words Nabal (v. 14) – The Hebrew term means fool or foolish, from a word meaning to be senseless. This probably was not his given name but a distortion or nickname describing him According to the 1st Book of Samuel Chapter 25, Nabal (‫ ,)לבנ‬was a rich Calebite who was also described as being harsh and surly. It is unknown whether "Calebite" is a reference to Caleb the representative of Judah, Caleb the son of Hezron, or another Caleb. David (who was not yet king) and his band of men who had been outlawed by King Saul were living off the Wilderness of Paran and providing voluntary protection to the shepherds in the area. 2|Page
  3. 3. The account states that Nabal lived in the city of Maon, and owned much land in the Judean town of Carmel, as well as many sheep and goats; the events it reports are stated as happening at the time of sheep shearing which in Israelite culture was a time for great festivities, owing to the importance of the wool trade. During this time David sent a small group of men to Nabal with a request for what provisions were readily at hand. David told his men exactly what to say when they approached Nabal. The words David used were a reminder that Nabal's profit would not have been so great if his shepherds had not been protected. In addition, David extends a great deal of honor to Nabal, recognizing him as a nobleman of high stature. Nabal, who knew who David was, responded by questioning David's lineage and insulting his men. David took the insults personally and decided to do something about it. It also reports that when Nabal rejected David's request, one of the shepherds recognized that Nabal could not be approached because of his abrasive nature and therefore informed Nabal's wife (named Abigail) of the situation along with a very positive account of the protection that David and his men had provided. Abigail recognized what Nabal had done and chose to intervene in order to avert David's wrath. In the account, while David armed his men, and set off with 400 of them for Nabal's home, leaving 200 men behind to look after the supplies, Abigail set off with her servants, and a very large quantity of provisions, without telling Nabal. The narrative continues by stating that Abigail manages to meet David and his men before David could reach Nabal and she pleads for David to accept the gifts she has brought with her, and begs that there be no bloodshed, asking to take Nabal's blame herself, and complimenting David by stating that Yahweh would make his dynasty long lasting, and David sinless and divinely protected; as a result of her actions, David recognized that he is about to sin and calls off his threat and sends Abigail home in peace. In the coda of the account, Abigail doesn't tell Nabal about what she has done until the following day, as, when she returns, Nabal is drunk and high spirited due to a kingly banquet, but when she does tell Nabal he has a heart attack, and dies ten days later; the coda ends with David hearing about the death, recognizing that it was a punishment from Yahweh, and asking for, and receiving, the hand of Abigail in marriage. Abigail - Abigail (Hebrew: / ; "her Father's joy" or "fountain of joy", spelled Abigail in 2 Samuel 17:25) was the wife of Nabal; she became a wife of David after Nabal's death (1 Samuel 25). She became the mother of one of David's sons, who is listed in the Book of Chronicles under the name Daniel. In the passage from 1 Samuel, Nabal demonstrates ingratitude towards David, and Abigail attempts to placate David in order to stop him taking revenge. She gives him food, and speaks to him, urging him not to "have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed" (verse 31, NIV) and reminding him that God will make him a "lasting dynasty" (verse 28). Levenson calls this an "undeniable adumbration" of Nathan's prophecy in 2 Samuel 7. Bach notes that Abigail pronounces a "crucial prophecy," and the Talmud regards her as one of the Tanakh's seven female prophets. Levenson, however, suggests that she "senses the drift of history" from intelligence rather than from special revelation. 3|Page
  4. 4. After Abigail reveals to Nabal what she has done, "God struck Nabal and he died," (v.38), after which David married her. The text explicitly describes Abigail as "intelligent and beautiful" (1 Samuel 25:3, NIV). The Talmud amplifies this idea, mentioning her as being one of the "four women of surpassing beauty in the world."[8] In terms of her moral character, Abraham Kuyper argues that Abigail's conduct indicates "a most appealing character and unwavering faith," but Alice Bach regards her as subversive. David and His Wives - David was born in Bethlehem, in the territory of the Tribe of Judah. His grandfather was Obed, whose mother was the Moabite Ruth and whose grandmother was the prostitute Rahab, who are two of the most famous women of the Bible, even though they were "goyim", i.e. they did not belong to the chosen people David's father was named Jesse. His mother is not named in the Bible, but the Talmud identifies her as Nitzevet, daughter of Adael. David had seven brothers and was the youngest of them all. David also had two sisters, Zeruiah and Abigail. He had eight wives: Michal, the second daughter of King Saul; Ahinoam the Jezreelite; Abigail the Carmelite, previously wife of Nabal; Maachah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; Haggith; Abital; Eglah; and Bathsheba, previously the wife of Uriah the Hittite. The Book of Chronicles lists David's sons by various wives and concubines. In Hebron he had six sons 1 Chronicles 3:1–3: Amnon, by Ahinoam; Daniel, by Abigail; Absalom, by Maachah; Adonijah, by Haggith; Shephatiah, by Abital; and Ithream, by Eglah. By Bathsheba, his sons were: Shammua; Shobab; Nathan; and Solomon. His sons born in Jerusalem by other wives included: Ibhar; Elishua;; Nogah; Nepheg; Japhia Elishama; and Eliada. 2 Samuel 5:14–16 According to 2 Chronicles 11:18, Jerimoth, who is not mentioned in any of the genealogies, is mentioned as another of David's sons. According to 2 Samuel 9:11, David also welcomed Jonathan's son Mephibosheth to his table after giving him the land that previously belonged to King Saul. The custom of hospitality – In David’s time, his request that Nabal supply food was not unreasonable nor considered extortion. Eastern hospitality, and Israelite law, included providing for needy people and outcasts. Sojourners (nomads) had a right to expect others’ hospitality. Peace-[maker] In Matthew 5:9, from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, ―Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.‖ Peace is often limited to absence of war or the cessation of violence. Ceasefires and surrenders are important as preambles to peace. However, peace in the Bible includes the finest of loving relationships between individuals, within families, communities and nations. Peace also includes good health. The peace here discussed is primarily the peace of God, which includes all of the above and "passes all understanding" (Phil 4:7). The word peacemaker appears only here in the entire Bible. Semitic languages are obliged to break this unique word into two. It is neither the "peaceful" nor the "pacifists" but the peacemakers. Given this broad scope of peacemaking, it is easy to see why Jesus called such people "sons/children of God. 4|Page
  5. 5. The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, is derived from a root denoting wholeness or completeness, and its frame of reference throughout Jewish literature is bound up with the notion of shelemut, perfection. Its significance is thus not limited to the political domain--to the absence of war and enmity--or to the social-to the absence of quarrel and strife. It ranges over several spheres and can refer in different contexts to bounteous physical conditions, to a moral value, and, ultimately, to a cosmic principle and divine attribute. In the Bible, the word shalom is most commonly used to refer to a state of affairs, one of well-being, tranquility, prosperity, and security, circumstances unblemished by any sort of defect. Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace. Of course, shalom also denotes the opposite of war, as in "a time for war, and a time for peace" (Ecclesiastes 3:8), for the absence of war, too, suggests an orderly, prosperous, and tranquil state of affairs. In several scriptural passages the word peace refers to a value, and is used in the sense of equity, or loyalty (cf. Zechariah 8:16; Malachi 2:6). However, it means more than this. In the rabbinic texts, shalom primarily signifies a value, an ethical category--it denotes the overcoming of strife, quarrel, and social tension, the prevention of enmity and war. It is still, to be sure, depicted as a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace, but in a great many sayings, it appears in a normative context: The pursuit of peace is the obligation of the individual and the goal of various social regulations and structures. Thus, one who is a peacemaker is one who brings shalom to the parties. In today’s story, Abigail was a peacemaker. 1 Samuel 25:14-17 Commentary First Samuel 25 opens with the account of Samuel’s death and burial, a time of national mourning for Israel’s gifted leader. David went to the Wilderness of Paran, an area south of Judah. In Maon, a village in the hill country of Judah, lived an extremely rich man named Nabal, who was shearing sheep in Carmel, a village in Judah about seven miles south of Hebron. The name ―Nabal‖ means foolish (intellectually and/or ethically). Whatever his mother originally named him, others who interacted with him probably gave him a distorted nickname because of his senseless decisions and behavior. True to his nickname, Nabal was ―harsh [hard] and evil [ethically wicked] in his dealings‖ (1 Sam. 25:3). In contrast, his wife was intelligent. David and his men protected Nabal’s shepherds in Carmel. David’s men prevented raids on Nabal’s servants and sheep. Nabal’s young men could verify David’s protection. David’s young men were to ask Nabal to contribute what he could afford for David and his men. Usually, at the end of shearing season an owner would give a feast and invite his neighbors to participate. David referred to his men as Nabal’s servants. David’s reference to himself as Nabal’s son expressed respect and good relationship (vv. 4-8). 5|Page
  6. 6. True to his character as surly and mean, Nabal feigned to have no knowledge of David and referred to him and his men as a renegade band of runaway slaves, perhaps implying David had rebelled against Saul, David’s rightful master. His repeated use of ―my‖ to describe his resources expressed his arrogant selfishness (vv. 9-11). David ordered his men to arm themselves and set out with about 400 men. One of Nabal’s servants reported to Abigail, Nabal’s wife, the exchange between David’s delegation and her husband. The wise young man accurately conveyed what had occurred. David’s messengers had greeted Nabal; they had saluted or blessed him with a wish for prosperity and health. Nabal had yelled (screamed, shrieked) at them. He flew into a rage; in today’s vernacular, ―he lost it.‖ David’s blessing had met with loud insult. The servant echoed and gave credence to the statement of David’s men to Nabal. David’s force had not harassed (insulted, humiliated) Nabal’s men but had treated them well (had been extremely good or kind to them). David’s men formed a protective barrier against would-be raiders. The young man then advised Abigail to consider carefully her course of action. Nabal’s insulting response to David’s delegation certainly would bring severe reprisal for Nabal and his entire family. Surprisingly, the young man described his master as a worthless fool—a good-for-nothing person (literally, ―a son of Belial‖; reckless, lawless, ill-natured, wicked, godless). Nabal was beyond reason, so no one could approach him to talk sensibly with him. Nabal’s young servant demonstrated remarkable wisdom and courage. To address his master’s wife and give her advice was a daring act. 1 Samuel 25:23-28 Commentary Abigail responded quickly. She had servants gather food and wine and load the supplies on donkeys. The food would not have fed 600 men and David for an extended period, but it was a sizable peace offering. Abigail told her male servants to precede her with the gift as she went to find David and his men. She did not send word to Nabal. Unseen by David and his force (v. 20), Abigail and her servants approached him. David stewed over Nabal’s insulting response to the polite request for provisions. David felt he had protected Nabal for nothing; Nabal had repaid David’s good with evil. With a strong oath, David swore he would annihilate Nabal and his men. The text may imply that Abigail and her servants encountered David and his men suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly (vv. 18-22). Abigail’s gathering supplies without Nabal’s permission and meeting David privately were not customary in her time. Her actions demonstrated she grasped the gravity of the situation and the need for swift, if almost unprecedented, steps. Abigail quickly began her attempt to defuse the volatile conflict situation. She referred to herself as David’s servant (handmaid), one who was subservient to David as her superior. One interpretation of her opening statement, ―The guilt is mine, my lord,‖ is that it was a diplomatic conversation starter with a superior. It was an expression of courtesy, not of guilt. 6|Page
  7. 7. An alternate view is that she accepted guilt (punishment, consequences) for her husband’s insulting treatment of David. Abigail made no attempt to excuse Nabal’s actions. She asked that David pay no attention to her husband, describing him as a worthless man (literally, ―man of Belial‖) who was living up to his name. She implied that had she known, she might have prevented Nabal’s insult. Abigail’s words, ―As surely as the Lord lives and as you yourself live,‖ could be taken as an oath enforcing her next assertion that God arranged her meeting with David. Abigail declared that, through her, God had intervened to prevent David from participating in bloodshed and avenging himself by his own hand. If David killed Nabal and his servants, David would incur bloodguilt. In Leviticus 19:18, God through Moses commanded the Israelites not to take revenge. Earlier, David had restrained himself from killing Saul (1 Sam. 24:1-7). Abigail asked David to accept the gift she had brought. The Hebrew word for gift she used means blessing in the sense of a present. She asked David to distribute the food to the men in his band who accompanied him. The gift was designed to meet David’s earlier request (25:8) and to remove the sting of Nabal’s insults in refusing the request. Abigail assured David that when enemies pursued him with the intention of killing him, God would preserve his life. David would ―be tucked safely in the place where … God protects the living‖ (v. 29)—literally, ―be bound up in the bundle of the living with … God.‖ David’s safety lay in his relationship with God. God also would disperse his enemies as one would place a stone in a sling’s cup to hurl it (v. 29). 1 Samuel 25:32-35 Commentary To his credit, David saw the wisdom of Abigail’s words. He responded with three beatitudes (blessings). First, He saw God at work in their encounter and offered praise to Israel’s sovereign, covenant God. His title contained two names for God: Yahweh and Elohim. The combination stressed God’s covenant-making and covenant-keeping as well as His power. David pronounced God as blessed. Although Abigail was instrumental in turning David from his murderous course, God was directing the action. Second, David pronounced Abigail’s discernment (advice, judgment, discretion) to be praiseworthy (blessed). She had seen clearly the dangerous implications of David’s intentions—for others as well as for himself—and had acted to persuade him to forgo revenge. Thus, with a third beatitude he pronounced a blessing on her. With an echo of Abigail’s previous statement (see v. 26), David acknowledged the magnitude of what she had done for him: She (with God’s guidance) had kept him from taking part in bloodshed and from exacting personal revenge. Through Abigail, God taught David a valuable lesson: Violence leads to increased violence; restraint can lead to non-violent resolution. Whether David applied the lesson in the future would be up to him. 7|Page
  8. 8. With a strong oath, David acknowledged that if God had not intervened to prevent him from exacting revenge, by morning Nabal and all his men would have been dead. Providentially, God had kept David from harming Abigail as she approached him. Furthermore, had she not acted quickly to intercede for peaceful resolution, and had David not heeded her advice, a bloodbath would have resulted. David accepted the gift of provisions Abigail had brought. His bidding her to go home in peace meant more than an assurance that the conflict was resolved; she could have a sense of well-being because of God’s working through her. David had been attentive to (heard and obeyed) her advice. Totally unaware of the drama that played out between Abigail and David, Nabal was indulging himself. When Abigail returned home, she found Nabal hosting a lavish feast. Evidently buoyed by the results of his sheep-sheering, he celebrated by becoming ―very drunk‖ (v. 36). He was in no condition to hold an intelligent conversation, so Abigail waited until the next morning when he sobered up to relate her meeting with David. Her shocking report caused Nabal to have a seizure, perhaps a stroke (literally, ―his heart died within him‖), and to become paralyzed (literally, ―became a stone‖). So severe was Nabal’s shock that ―about 10 days later,‖ he died. The biblical writer recognized God’s hand in all that occurred, from Abigail’s willingness to ―Step In‖ to resolve the conflict all the way to Nabal’s death (vv. 37-38). On learning of Nabal’s death, David praised God for vindicating David and punishing Nabal. David praised God for preventing him from committing wrong. David sent messengers to ask Abigail to marry him. ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND READING: The Northern Negev By Alan Ray Buesche, freelance writer living in Nashville, Tennessee. IN BIBLICAL TIMES, the Negev referred only to the northernmost part of the modern-day Negev: the area east and west Beersheba, just south of the hill country of Judah. With an annual rainfall of less than 10 inches a year, the northern Negev presented a challenge for its inhabitants, the first glance appearing to be nothing more than a barren wilderness of ―hissing and howling.‖ Most of the rain falls during the winter, providing a quick growth of grasses from nomadic hears of goats and sheep. During the Old Testament era, other than the area surrounding Beersheba, a few locations in the Negev could grow crops without irrigation. Only with the invention and construction of cisterns to capture the runoff of infrequent rainfalls, for both drinking and agricultural purposes, could the Judean fortifications of the monarchy be built and permanently occupied. 8|Page
  9. 9. The occupants of the Negev during the time of Abraham lived in unfortified cities, easily conquered by Chedorlaomer and others from the east (see Gen. 14:1-7). From this time until the rise of the Israelite monarchy in the tenth century BC, no known permanent settlements existed in the northern Negev, with only a few sites established during the period of the judges. Semi-nomadic Bedouins freely wandered this land from Abraham’s day until David became king of Israel. Most viewed the Negev as a dangerous place of lawless, wild people. As the Israelites began to settle the land of Canaan during the period of the judges, expansion proved impossible to the west where the Philistines occupied the coastal plains; so the tribe of Judah began to venture into the northern Negev. In addition to the need for real estate for a growing population, this area offered political and economic advantages to the nation that controlled it. David appeared as the first leader of Israel to truly understand the strategic and economic importance of the Negev. His military escapades and political maneuverings in the northern Negev while Saul was king undoubtedly contributed to his knowledge as the area’s role in national defense as well as his knowledge of the trade routes which traversed the land. First Samuel 25 recounts the story of David’s kinsman, Nabal, a Calebite, who lived in the region of Maon and Carmel in the northern Negev. Although a property owner, his possessing many sheep and goats reflects the typical semi-nomadic lifestyle. However, life in this region changed somewhat when David began the goal of securing the Negev for national defense and economic enrichment; and especially during Solomon’s reign when Solomon built a system of fortresses along the trade routes and assess routes to the copper mines of the Arabah. Settlements in the northern Negev prospered during the seventh century BC due to international trade between Assyria, the Mediterranean coast, Judah, and Edom. Prosperity invites thieves, and with few natural protections such as rivers and hills, settlements could only withstand foreign invasion with walled strongholds. Solomon and Uzziah built these fortresses on hilltops, with villages lying nearby in valleys capable of providing enough crops to sustain the inhabitants through cistern irrigation. Israel’s greatest periods of prosperity occurred when the nation most securely controlled the Negev. DAVID: His Life and Times By Vernon O. Elmore, pastor, First Baptist Church, Corpus Christi, Texas. DAVID was the great hero of the Hebrew people. The story of his exploits stirred the imagination of the Jews as did no other personality in the Old Testament. Their admiration of him reached an epitome when they characterized the coming Messiah as ―a new David.‖ They easily forgot the weaknesses of the old David and magnified his virtues, for he was the man used of God to bring Israel to her greatest glory. 9|Page
  10. 10. No consensus exists among scholars on the actual dates of David’s reign. Perhaps W. F. Albright is as good an authority as any; he suggests 1000-961 BC. David succeeded Saul, who was both his benefactor and his most virulent enemy. Much of the excitement in David’s early life came as he fled from Saul, a king maddened with jealousy and paranoid with senility, who was determined to kill this young rival. David had once soothed the unstable passions of Saul became enraged when the people sand of David’s exploits. The children of Israel had become restless and insecure with the informal and decentralized state of affairs under the rule of judges. They felt a need for a strong king who would unify them and organize the nation. Many Israelites believed that only then could they compete militarily and economically with the monarchies around them. Saul was that tall man of God anointed by Samuel to be their first king. As time went by, however, Saul exhibited the corruptive influences of power. He even took upon himself the prerogative of the priest and brought down the wrath of the religious community upon him. He died in defeat at the hands of the Philistines on the slopes of Gilboa. His death opened the way for the accession of David to the throne. As just a youth, David had insured his place in the affections and legends of the Hebrews by slaying Goliath, the Philistine giant. Long before Saul’s death, David sympathetically became the leader of the Hebrews. Saul sensed this turn of affections and sought desperately to eliminate this threat to his dynasty. Saul no doubt wanted Jonathan, his son, to succeed him. Furthermore, Samuel had been forced to renounce Saul for his spiritual presumption as well as for his failure to obey the instruction to slay all of the Amalekites. In a frenzy of frustration, he had sought to slay David and, instead, succeeded only in making David an even more popular choice of the people. David was from a distinguished family. His father was Jesse, a descendant of Ruth and Boaz. His genealogy is given in Ruth 4:18-22. He was born in Bethlehem, was of the tribe of Judah, which occupied such a prominent place in the history of the Hebrew people. He was a man of many gifts. His physical prowess had been displayed in his battle with beasts as a shepherd boy. His faith made him fearless in the face of opposition, as was seen in his shoot-out with Goliath the giant. He was a musician of such talent that he gave command performances at the court. He was not vindictive by nature, as is seen in the fact that he treated Saul with respect and refrained from killing him when the king played into his hands. He had the charisma and leadership to attract a considerable following of men who accompanied him in his guerrilla life. The warmth of his spirit and his capacity for friendship is exemplified in his relationship with Jonathan, son of Saul. The depth of their bond is indicated in the fact that Jonathan wanted David to be his father’s successor and sought to protect him from his father’s wrath. David was married to Michal, the daughter of Saul, who also assisted him to escape from the anger of her father. 10 | P a g e
  11. 11. David never compromised himself by fighting against his king or his own people. In his weariness from the harassment of Saul, David asked to be accepted as a refugee by the Philistines. Achish (AY-kish), king of Gath, treated David with great respect and gave him and his men the city of Ziklag (ZICK-lag) as their home. His 600 men with their families lived in Ziklag for sixteen months. He pretended to lead his men in forays against the Israelites but actually attacked people such as the Geshurites, (GEHSH-yoo-RITES), Girzites (GUR-zights), and Amalekites. David was careful to avoid any hostile contacts with his fellow Israelites. Actually, through these actions he helped prepare the way for his own rule. The officers of the Philistine army, however, were suspicious of David and would not permit him to accompany their forces into battle against Saul’s army. At the battle of Gilboa, Saul suffered defeat and both he and his son Jonathan were slain. David expressed his grief in a musical tribute to Saul and Jonathan. The way was then open for the elevation of David to the throne. After a discreet interval spent in prayer for God’s leadership, David felt that it was God’s will for him to go to Hebron where the Jewish elders had gathered to select a king of Judah. Judah, acting independently of the rest of the nation, proclaimed David king. Saul was survived by a son named Ishbosheth (IHSH-boh-sheth). In a power play, Abner, Saul’s commander, led the other tribes to select Ishbosheth as king; the capital was set up at Mahanaim (may-huhNAY-ihm), a city east of the Jordan. This act divided loyalty between the two kings and so created considerable tension among the Jews. The two rival generals, Joab of Judah and Abner of Mahanaim, were in the thick of the rivalries and conspiracies. Their forces tangled at Gibeon. Later, the plot thickened when Ishbosheth became incensed at Abner for supposedly taking one of Saul’s concubines. Such an act, if true, was tantamount to treason for it meant that Abner had claims to the throne. Abner angrily responded by going to Hebron to offer his services to David. David agreed to accept Abner if he would return his former wife, Michal, to him. Saul had taken his daughter from David and had married her to a certain Paltiel. Neither Michal nor Paltiel were agreeable to David’s demand, but Abner nevertheless did as David requested. Then Abner turned his talents to negotiating with the elders of Israel, including Benjamin, Saul’s tribe, and succeeded in persuading them to accept David as the king of all Israel. General Joab, David’s commander, did not take kindly to the presence of his rival general, Abner. He obviously saw him as a threat to his own position of power. Furthermore, Abner had killed Joab’s brother, Asahel (2 Sam. 2:23). On that basis, Joab found adequate justification to murder Abner at the gate of Hebron. David made it clear to the people of the northern tribes that he had nothing to do with the death of Abner. The rash act by Joab might have alienated the northern peoples and thus thwarted David’s desire to be king of all the Jews. 11 | P a g e
  12. 12. Shortly thereafter, Ishbosheth also was murdered by two of his minor officers. His death forced the northern tribes to select a new king. I am sure there was a great deal of politicking going on behind the scenes. Finally, however, the leaders of the northern tribes assembled at Hebron and declared David to be the official ruler of the entire nation. David had reigned for seven years as king of Judah, but now by popular choice became the king of the entire nation. Hebron had served satisfactorily as a capital for Judah, but now that he was king of the whole nation, David realized that a more centralized location was needed. He chose Jerusalem as the logical place, but a problem existed. Jerusalem already was occupied by a Canaanite people called Jebusites. The city had never been conquered by the Israelites. That fact, and its location, made it a neutral site for a capital. Perhaps David saw that the conquest of Jerusalem would be a dramatic gesture, also, with which to inaugurate his rule. Therefore, he led his army against the Jebusite stronghold. Jerusalem was well fortified with walls. The Bible seems to indicate that David and his men gained access into the city through the Gihon Spring and its water shaft. Not only did Jerusalem become the capital of the nation, but David also made it the religious headquarters by bringing the ark of the covenant into the city. David set out quickly to secure the military position of his people. His foreign wars included victories over the Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Edomites, and Ammonites. These conquests extended the boundaries of his kingdom from t eh Euphrates to Egypt, some fifty thousand square miles. His conquests came at a time when the military and administrative power of Egypt was at a low ebb. Control of the country was largely in the hands of priests, so Egypt was not in any position to oppose. Internal difficulties occupied the peoples of Babylonia and Assyria. David had plenty much of a free hand in dealing, then, with his immediate neighbors. He made a lasting and important alliance with the great city of Tyre. David had a immense pool of trained men at his instant command; each tribe furnished 24,000 men every month on a rotation basis. These men were trained as the standing militia of the country. David had one great disappointment in his ambitious efforts. He dreamed of adorning his capital city with a magnificent Temple for the worship of Yahweh. It was revealed to him, however, that this was not to be his privilege. This reverent task he had to leave to the hands of his successor, Solomon. David’s greatest failure was in his own family life. Many of his family problems resulted from the custom of polygamy, in which David fully participated. His sin in taking Bathsheba, for example, had repercussions in his family for many years to come. Within his own family circle existed incest, fratricide, plotting, counterplotting, and rebellion. The treachery of his son Absalom broke David’s heart. His sin in taking a census of the people brought great suffering upon the nation. He chose Solomon, son of Bathsheba, to be his successor. 12 | P a g e
  13. 13. Another son, Adonijah, however, made a desperate attempt to preempt his father’s plan and obtain the throne for himself. His plot failed and ultimately cost Adonijah his life. At the age of seventy, exhausted and dispirited, David turned the rule over to Solomon. Prior to this, he had committed Solomon to building the Temple. Soon thereafter, David died after a reign of forty years. He was buried on Mount Zion. The life of David, the sweet singer of Israel, is both a doxology and a lament. He was a man after God’s own heart, but at times also a weak vassal of sin. Like Simon Peter in the New Testament, he was a man whom we can admire but from whom we can also learn important spiritual lessons. Like all great men of God, his flaws do not cancel his glory. He was a man of his age, but also a man of the ages whose songs we still sing and whose praise we still proclaim. David as an Outlaw By James O. Newel, associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, The Baptist College of Florida, Graceville, Florida. DAVID IS ONE OF THE BEST KNOWN PERSONS of the Old Testament. The events of his life, from his anointing to become the second king of Israel to his building a great dynasty to be passed on the his son Solomon, are recorded in historical literature of the Bible: 1 Samuel 16—31; 2 Samuel; and 1 Kings 1—2. David’s journey to become Israel’s king included the unusual experience of being an outlaw.1 David’s success as a servant of King Saul became a liability as Saul developed an intense jealousy of David’s esteem in the eyes of the people. Ultimately, David fled from Saul’s presence and sought refuge from Saul’s attempts on his life by living in the familiar environment of his Judean homeland. Saul’s Rage The Book of 1 Samuel records the account of Saul’s jealousy, fear, and hatred of David and David’s actions to preserve his life in response to Saul’s threats. The historical writer described Saul as David’s enemy (1 Sam. 18:29). Saul evidenced his hatred of David by commanding Jonathan and the court attendants to kill David (19:1). Jonathan’s intervention resulted in Saul temporarily changing his mind. David recognized the danger Saul was to him and went to Samuel at Ramah and reported the attempts Saul had made on his life (v. 18). First Samuel 20 is the record of David’s final attempt to determine Saul’s intentions regarding him. Jonathan realized Saul intended to kill David. Jonathan and David shared an emotional farewell as they resigned themselves to the reality of Saul’s enmity toward David. 13 | P a g e
  14. 14. On the Run David departed from Saul’s courts and headed south to the community of Nob, close to Jerusalem. Nob was home to at least 85 priests (22:18), with Ahimelech serving as their spokesman. Ahimelech questioned why David was alone. David demonstrated a capacity for creativity by telling about being on a secret mission for Saul and having troops awaiting his arrival at a designated location (21:1-9). David’s request for food and weaponry gave evidence of his pitiful condition. The only food available was the ―bread of the Presence‖ or holy bread. According to the Law, only the priests were authorized to eat it (Lev. 24:5-9). Ahimelech inquired about the ritual cleanliness of David’s men and gave David the bread, apparently in recognition of the consecrated service David was rendering to Saul. Ahimelech responded to David’s request for a spear or sword by giving him Goliath’s sword. David left Nob and decided to live among the Philistines rather than remain in Israel as a lone fugitive. Upon his arrival in the Philistine city of Gath, some of the servants of Gath’s King Achish recognized David. David illustrated another great character trait, the ability to think quickly, and used his creative skills to pretend insanity. David’s ploy worked since Achish refused to allow David to stay in the city and chose to let him go, probably out of fear associated with the commonly-held belief that madmen were possessed by spirits (1 Sam. 21:10-15).2 According to 1 Samuel 22:1-2, David left Gath and took refuge in a cave at Adullam, a frontier settlement on the border of Israel and Philistia, about 12 miles southwest of Bethlehem. At this point, David’s circumstances began to change. No Longer Alone. At Adullam, people began to gather around David. First, his family came to him. Then others who had problems, either financial or possibly political, gathered around David. David found himself no longer alone but accompanied by 400 men. David became concerned about his parents’ safety. He traveled to Mizpah in Moab, east of the Dead Sea and made arrangements for his parents to live there (22:3-4). The prophet Gad came to David and advised him to return to Judah. David heeded Gad’s instruction and moved his forces to the Forest of Hereth, in the hills of Judah, possibly in the vicinity of Keilah. Saul interpreted David’s gathering of men and his movements throughout the Judean wilderness as further evidence of David’s rebellion and desire to take the throne by force. 14 | P a g e
  15. 15. When Saul learned the priests at Nob had given help to David, Saul decided to make an example of them by ordering them to be killed. Doeg the Edomite not only carried out Saul’s order regarding the priests but also killed the men, women, children, infants, and livestock of Nob (vv. 18-19). One of the priests, Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech, escaped and fled to David, who was at Keilah (23:6). Upon hearing about the tragedy at Nob, David claimed responsibility for the death of Abiathar’s family and invited the priest to remain with him. On the Offensive David and his troops had come to the fortified city of Keilah to defend the city from a Philistine attack. Prior to going to Keilah, David twice came before the Lord, wanting to know if he should attack the Philistines who were attacking the city. After consulting the Lord a second time, David led his men in a successful raid against the Philistines, inflicting significant losses, capturing their livestock, and rescuing the inhabitants Keilah (23:1-6). Abiathar had brought his linen priestly ephod with him to Keilah. Priests used the ephod to help determine the Lord’s will. Saul heard of David’s decisive victory at Keilah and decided to attack him there. When David learned about Saul’s plans to come to Keilah and attack him, he called on Abiathar for advice. Abiathar had become a spiritual advisor for David. Talking to Abiathar, David wanted to know if the residents of Keilah would be loyal to him. Because of the Lord’s revelation, David and his forces, then numbering about 600 men, traveled southeast from Keilah to the Desert of Ziph, moving from one stronghold to another in order to evade Saul’s relentless pursuit. Jonathan’s encouraging and reassuring words during this time must have been a great help to David (23:15-18). No matter where David went, Saul eventually received news of David’s whereabouts and changed his plans accordingly. Whenever Saul approached, a report would come to David and David would move to a new location. David moved from the Desert of Ziph farther south to the Desert of Maon. Saul broke off his pursuit of David only because the Philistines began invading Israel. From the Desert of Maon, David moved to the wilderness strongholds of En-gedi, a town located on the western shore of the Dead Sea. David’s Preparation David’s earlier life as a warrior and a shepherd and proved to be excellent preparation for the time he spent as an outlaw fleeing from Saul. David learned how to be resourceful and how to recognize danger. The solitude of shepherding would have helped him deal with loneliness during the early days of his flight from Saul. 15 | P a g e
  16. 16. The skills David learned in battle and the leadership he developed while fighting for Saul helped him control the men who gathered around him. The men who joined David respected him because of the leadership he gave. Ultimately, David’s faith in God sustained him through the difficult days of Saul’s pursuit. David’s anointing by Samuel as a sign of God’s choice for Israel’s next king probably took David by surprise. David’s experience as an outlaw was just as surprising. David would have never guessed that the path to the throne would go through the wilderness. David’s story is a classic example of biblical irony. 16 | P a g e