Even though Saul was fixated on taking David’s life, David modeled great restraint and respect toward Saul, honoring him as God’s anointed king. David had an opportunity to put an end to the one who wanted to destroy him and the soldier with David was perplexed as to why he did not take that chance. Instead of killing Saul as he lay sleeping, David took Saul’s spear and water jug. From the other side of the mountain, David called out to Saul.
Saul came to his senses and said to David, “You are blessed, my son David. You will certainly do great things and will also prevail.” Then David went on his way, and Saul returned home. Saul and David had made peace, but life in general was far from peaceful. Not too long after this meeting with David, Saul’s sons were killed during a great battle against Israel’s enemy, the Philistines. Saul himself was critically injured by an archer and to avoid falling into the hands of the enemy, he took his own life.
David deeply lamented the deaths of these prominent men—Saul and his sons. After Saul’s death, David became the king of Judah and he certainly did go on to do great things. I’m thankful for this passage in God’s Story for it shows us how reconciliation really can take place. Let us be like David and actively seek peace while we can.
1 Samuel 26:25 HCSB
We would never want Nabal to marry anyone we loved. Although he was rich, Nabal was also a selfish, harsh, evil, drinking fool. David and his men were traveling through Nabal’s territory and the interaction went so poorly when Nabal rudely repaid evil for good that David wanted to kill him. It is a good thing that Abigail, Nabal’s wife, was insightful and brave and when she heard of the situation she took matters into her own hands.
Immediately Abigail prepared gifts of food and drinks and with wise and humble words approached David and his troops to make peace. David received her message and gifts and thanked Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand!
Nabal died about ten days later and when David heard this news David continued his thanksgiving to God, “Blessed be the LORD who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The LORD has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.”
David remembered Abigail who was now a widow, and asked her to become his wife. Abigail had no idea that the blessing she had offered would not only spare her life, but would also lead to a wedding proposal from Israel’s next king! How good it is to do right because it is right. God knows our motives and in His good timing blessings will come.
1 Samuel 25:32b-33, 39a ESV
God indeed will replace Saul with a man after God’s own heart and Samuel anointed David but he does not become the new king right away. As a shepherd boy, David learned many valuable life skills. The close relationship he developed and maintained with God was perhaps his greatest asset. David, seeking to honor God, killed Goliath when he was still too young to fill out Saul’s armor. Saul got to know David better when David came to play music to comfort him. Saul’s own son Jonathan established a meaningful friendship with David and David even married Saul’s daughter. By this time, David was an intricate part of Saul’s family.
But because of David’s growing popularity as a warrior, Saul became increasingly jealous of him and even wanted to take his life. One time in particular, Saul was out searching for David and got a lead on David’s whereabouts. Saul replied to those who had helped him, “The Lord bless you for your concern for me.” Even when it may have seemed to David that everyone was out to get him, God protected David from Saul’s pursuits.
It was during this season that David poured out his heart to the Lord in songs. How we respond in times of unfair treatment can tell us a lot about ourselves. Closeness to God can make all the difference.
1 Samuel 23:21 NIV
“To obey is better than sacrifice.” This is the truth that cost King Saul his crown. The basic story is that God gave a very specific message to Saul and sadly, Saul only partially followed God’s command. Half-obedience is not obedience at all and Samuel was sent to let Saul know that the consequences of his choice would be grave.
When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the LORD bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the LORD’s command!” Cheerfulness cannot cover sin and Samuel got right to the heart of the matter. Saul’s glad greeting turned to rationalization which then turned to shifting the blame. Saul begged for forgiveness when he heard Samuel’s words: “because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
Unfortunately we are often like Saul. We rationalize here, or partially follow truth there. And then upon careful reflection we realize that our way of taking care of a situation is not obeying God’s way at all. God does not want our “sacrifice” but our loyalty. Lord, have mercy on us. Amen.
1 Samuel 15:13 NLT
Samuel, who was once a small baby and then a boy in Eli’s care, grew to be a man of faith and prayer, and at this point in God’s Story is now an old man. Times are at a spiritual low for the Israelites and the people join together and clamor for an earthly king. God chooses a tall young man named Saul.
It might not make for the most exciting of coronation ceremonies but it is interesting how Samuel first met Saul. Saul’s dad’s donkeys had gone missing and Saul was sent out to find them. After three days he was about to give up but he heard that a man of God was in the next town. Maybe he could help. Some girls drawing water told Saul, “As soon as you enter the town, you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people will not begin eating until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat. Go up now; you should find him about this time.” Saul found Samuel and Samuel went from blessing the sacrifice to anointing Israel’s first king.
But the Israelites would soon realize that they should have never given up a theocracy by asking for a monarchy. We need to learn to be very wise with our requests.
1 Samuel 9:13 NIV
Just a few weeks before our first child was born in August 1990, I read from God’s Story of a remarkable woman named Hannah who longed for a child. It touched me so deeply that when Russell returned from a mission trip I asked him if we could name our daughter Hannah. We prayed that our baby girl would grow to be like the Hannah of the Bible who was dedicated, faithful and trusting.
The ancient Hannah poured out her request and her tears before the Lord. When a son, Samuel, was born to her and Elkanah, she followed through with her promise to give him back to the Lord. Samuel grew up in the Temple where he served under the leadership of a priest named Eli. Hannah’s prayer and praise to the Lord was a wonderful testimony of her faith. Each year she would make a new robe for her growing son and when they traveled to the Temple for worship she would give it to Samuel. Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” God answered that prayer too and blessed the couple with five additional children! The Lord used Samuel, the first born, in a great way and he was the last and greatest of Israel’s judges, a mighty prophet, and he was chosen by God to anoint Israel’s first and second kings.
May we be like Hannah and never underestimate the power of prayer and then faithfully live and model a healthy spiritual life of thanksgiving.
P.S. Nearly twenty-five years after our Hannah was born, God blessed Hannah and and her husband Andrew with their firstborn son, Eamon Mark. What a joy he is to our family. May he grow to know and love the Lord, trusting in His faithfulness.
1 Samuel 2:20 HCSB