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1 Samuel

Double Intrigue
26:1 - 28:25

Proverbs 10:29
The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.
KJV


Related reading

Psalm 17

Psalm 58

Psalm 64

Psalm 70

Romans 12:9-21


Finagle's laws of information:

1. the information you have is not what you want.

2. the information you want is not what you need.

3. the information you need is not what you can obtain.

4. the information you can obtain costs more than you want to pay.

Oh, how true Saul finds this "law" to be as his days as king draw to a swift end. At the same time, David finds himself betrayed and lonely, reaching towards despair. Oh, how often do we find ourselves in the same position and posture. We experience the same emotional feelings as David and Saul. Which one do we follow as an example?

So many people come to Christ with the concept that having accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior cures all the problems of life. This is not the case. Jesus told His disciples they would suffer trials and tribulations. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In today's study, David learns the same lesson.
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God is using David's wilderness experiences as a time of trying, testing, and teaching. David will receive great blessings (a new wife in Abigail), but his faith will be sorely tried. David responds in a fashion which makes God proud. Saul, on the other hand, given the same opportunities, continues to display his ignorance of spiritual matters.

ole79.gif When the going gets rough, who do you turn to for peace and comfort?

 

Victory! -- or a Test? [26:1-10]

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David is back in the land of the Ziphites and they once again waste no time in reporting to Saul. The "repentance" Saul expressed in chapter 24 proves to be tongue- in-cheek, as he gathers up an army to once again pursue David. This "chase" is not too different from the last one. Saul chases after David until David captures him! As Saul sleeps, David and his nephew Abishai penetrate the king's camp. In practical terms, the mission of David could not have been accomplished. Only a small, quiet animal like a mouse could have walked through Saul's camp without being detected. God's hand was upon David as he crept up to his enemy (26:1-7).

The depth of God's help may be seen in the conversation David and Abishai have concerning Saul's fate (26:8). David had every motive in the world -- measured in human terms -- to eradicate Saul. For example, there was self-preservation, the desire to escape continued persecution, the hope of an immediate ascent to the throne as he was anointed to accomplish, revenge, knowledge that Saul was, or was fast becoming, unfit to serve as king of the Nation, and the pressure from his own men, such as Abishai. But David holds a different view from the rest of us "normal" people.

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And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD’S anointed, and be guiltless?

1 Samuel 26:9

David's statement flows from two different concepts. The first was the shepherd’s knowledge that God would deal with Saul (26:10). Paul assures us that God will deal with our enemies, in God's time and fashion.

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Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Romans 12:19

Secondly, David recognized that Saul was God's anointed. As such, it is God's task to deal with His Chosen when they are out of line. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). Most governments are not anointed by God in the same personal sense as Saul. God just allows most governments to arise, and then He makes use of them, such as the Egyptians and the Babylonians. But Saul had been personally anointed as king of Israel. Who was David to overturn this choice?

book2143.gif The same is true of church leaders. The godly church leader is ordained by God via a special call to service. The rest of the church must be careful not to interfere with this call. “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren. . .Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:1, 17).
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ole80.gif How do these concepts reflect upon your views of America today? Why?

 

Calling Card [26:11-25]

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David does, however, leave his calling card so that Saul appreciates how close to death he slept. David takes Saul’s spear and water canteen (26:11-12). After crossing the ravine, David calls to the king to demonstrate his "control" of the situation. Saul, once again, "repents" for his sins. The king offers a confession of wrongdoing and invites David to return. Notice that David does not personally return Saul's spear nor does he return to Saul's camp (26:17-24). David trusts in the Lord, but he exercises some common sense. David does not tempt God by irrationally stepping into a dangerous situation. Saul's confession rang hallow in his ears and David was wise enough not to place himself in foolish danger.

ole81.gif How often do we fail to "listen" to the meaning conveyed by others and place ourselves in foolish situations?
book2146.gif Warren W. Wiersbe writes of Saul: “We play the fool when we run ahead of the Lord (13:18ff); when we fail to obey completely (Chap. 15); when we turn our back on our godly friends (David and Samuel); when we seek guidance from the devil (chap. 28); and when we refuse to repent even when we know we are wrong. ‘Be sure your sins will find you out!’” (FTNT)

 

A Spy in the Enemy Camp [27:1-7]

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Despondency hits David like a runaway truck. He fears for his life, convinced Saul will kill him. So, off the shepherd runs to the enemy camp! Once again, David enters into Philistine territory. This action is treasonous regardless of any other actions David may take. He has failed to separate himself from the evil world. Rather he runs right into it. Further, he takes his wives, his men, and their belongings and moves across the tracks. David stays in Philistine sixteen months, months that must have been long and difficult as David and his followers dealt with the pressures of idol worship and life among the heathens. David still believed strongly in God, but he had to learn to watch his speech and his actions so as neither to offend nor to get into personal trouble.

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How like today's modern workplace does this sound?

In this society of "tolerance" and non-Christian "lifestyles" do you find yourself frequently biting your tongue so as not to offend? Or do you "just have your say" anyway?

David resolved many of the pressures upon he and his followers by acquiring a city of their own. For most of their stay in Philistine, the Israelites had the comfort of a ghetto of their own -- the town of Ziklag (27:6).

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God directs his people to be separate from the world. Why?

Does living in your own private "ghetto" assure accomplishment of this separation?

How do you overcome temptation?

 

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He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

Proverbs 16:32

 

Tough Ethics [27:8-12]

 

David spends his time in Philistine clearing away the enemies of Israel. But, whenever Achish, king of Gath, asks what David has been upon, David replies in general, intentionally misleading terms. David convinced Achish that he, David, was doing away with Achish's enemies and that David would serve the Philistine king forever (27:10-12). Review this section of Scripture and identify sins built around a lack of faith on David's part.

ole84.gif Ethics should be built solidly around a person's beliefs. How does one justify the "little white lies" David told Achish?
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Ziklag was in the territory assigned to both Judah and Simeon (Joshua 15:31; 19:5), but the Nation had never captured it. David’s cleverness with God’s providence now brings the city into Israelite control. Indeed, although David is guilty under the letter of the law for lying and deception, his raids during this period against the enemies of Israel enable the spirit of the law to be fulfilled. David avoided a confrontation with Saul and he cleansed the territory of enemies which were supposed to be killed during the period of Moses.

 

ole85.gif What implications do these actions have for your life today?

One might well ask why David lives in this era of lies and deceptions. Maybe David simply has burned out from the efforts of being chased by Saul, trying always to do good, and having to care for the band of followers. He has been indirectly responsible for the death of the priests of Nob. He has been betrayed by Saul and alienated from both his best friend, Jonathan, and his wife, Michal. His own parents have been endangered.

ole86.gif Have you ever been so worn out, you slip and say “yes” when you have always said “no” in the past? Maybe it was sex or drugs or drink or pornography or something similar. Did you just wear out? Why?

 

Trouble From "Below" [28:1 - 25]

 

Saul's double-mindedness shows itself once again. The Philistines have gathered for battle and Saul seeks the Lord, only to discover that God is not answering. Why did Saul go to God? Because "his heart greatly trembled" (28:5) at the presence of trouble. Saul resorted to the age-old principle, "when all else fails, try prayer." Great emotional stress will drive people to God, but God only hears when the heart is contrite and desires to place God in His proper position on the throne of their lives. Remember, God sees into the heart, past the outward appearances we throw up for ourselves and others. A proper prayer and devotional life means that God is the first resort ALL OF THE TIME, not just in times of desperate trouble.

book2148.gif God will sometimes answer these desperate pleas, but only for His purposes not ours. When Saul is described as having "greatly trembled," the Hebrew is the same word used to describe the quaking of Mount Sinai at the presence of God when He descended to give Moses the Law (Exod 19:18). What great fear and inner turmoil Saul must have experienced!

Saul then takes the final, inexcusable step. Failing to have properly approached God, Saul turns to the Devil (28:7-25). Why? Maybe for no other reason than he felt he would receive an answer.

Saul had previously driven all of the witches and practitioners of the occult from the land in accordance with the directions of the law. But when Saul needs an answer, he turns to the witch of Endor. She raises Samuel from the dead, to both her surprise and terror and to Saul's great consternation.

 

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There are a large number of Old Testament passages which speak against mediums, spiritists, and witches (Lev 19:31; 20:6; 27; Deut 18:10-14). Saul is a tragic example of what can happen to all of us when we fall too far into sin. Even the Christian can rebel against God to the point where he is unable to distinguish and understand God’s Word (cf. 2 Timothy 3:1-13; 4:1-4). Pushing this far enough brings one to the “point of no return,” the point where the Holy Spirit is so grieved and quenched that the person is no longer aware of the convicting power of God. The heart becomes hardened due to the persistent rejection of the Gospel message. Christians will not lose their salvation, but those who are not saved have passed beyond the point of hope. The unsaved who believe they can continually live in sin and then turn to God whenever they want (“at the last moment”) will be sorely surprised. Pharaoh is an example of this hardening.

 

ole87.gif Do you know people who are rushing headlong into such a hardness of their heart? Now is the time to approach them about God’s saving grace. Otherwise, it may be possible to wait too long!

Samuel is still Samuel, even from beyond the grave. He continually stands for the Lord. Saul's future is foretold in great detail. He and his sons will die in battle (28:15-19). And this judgment is not one vaguely far off. It will be tomorrow!

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book2151.gif Saul turned his back on God early in his career as king. He entered into the kingship in spiritual darkness. He could have drawn from his position and learned to recognize who God was and how to deal with him. Instead, Saul continually turned to his own devices and earthly wisdom. His spiritual darkness grew stronger to the point he was willing to go to the dark side of life in order to find Samuel.
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How often do we turn to the occult for answers? Horoscopes, psychic hot-lines, Ouija boards, New Age teachers?

God promises all the answers we need to survive life. Why are we so desperate to acquire these answers on our time frame rather than His?

book2152.gif It is this “pressure” which drives us to seek answers from the wrong places, even when we know better.
ole89.gif If God promises us tribulation in this world, how can a theology of "feeling good" and "prosperity" be from God?

 


Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 26-31, (Wheaton, Il: Victor Books, Logos Electronic Edition), 1.  Back to text

 

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December 7, 2019

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