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October 26, 2008


Background Passage: I Samuel 24:1-31:13 (I Chronicles 10:1-12)

Lesson Passage: I Samuel 24:1-7a, 11-12, 16-22




Our lesson passage teaches Christians important principles about waiting on the Lord. Samuel anointed David to succeed King Saul, but years passed before the new king took power.The waiting might have proved hard enough under pleasant circumstances, but David was forced to cope with several years of great hardship. The pressures, at times, must have seemed overwhelming, ands this young man occasionally chose some poor means of relieving the stress. In time, the Lordís promises came true: God sustained David, Saul fell into serious decline, and David became the king of Israelóbut all in Godís good timing.



Lesson Outline:


I.                   David Spared Saulís Life (24:1-22)

A.    Davidís encounter with Saul (vv. 1-7):The wilderness of Engedi, located on the western shore of the Dead Sea, was an excellent place for David to hide.This arid region is hilly and pock marked with ravines and caves.Saul took a large army to Engedi to find and kill David.The king went into a cave to relieve himself, unaware that David had hidden in the recesses of the cavern.Davidís men urged him to kill the king, but David, fearful of running ahead of the Lordís timing, refused to strike his enemy.Instead, he cut some cloth from Saulís garment as proof that he could have murdered the king.Afterward, Davidís conscience bothered him because he had dishonored the Lordís anointed.

B.     Davidís confrontation with Saul (vv. 13-22): David moved a safe distance from the cave and called out to Saul.The young man bowed to the king and revealed that he could have killed the king.He assured Saul that he had remained a loyal subject and servant, and he had done nothing to deserve Saulís murderous wrath.In an unusually lucid moment, Saul wept because of his evil, vengeful heart, and he, for the first time, acknowledged tat he knew Godís hand rested on David.The king realized that the Lord had rejected him, and he asked David to spare his family, once David ascended the throne.David gave his word that he would not harm Saulís offspring.


II.                Davidís Encounter with Nabal (25:1-44)

A.    The death of Samuel (v. 1): Israel grieved deeply at the death of faithful, wise Samuel.

B.     David sought help from Nabal (vv. 2-13): David moved south from Engedi, to Paran.As he traveled, David encountered a very wealthy man named Nabal (name means ďfoolish oneĒ).This inhospitable man refused to give provisions for Davidís hungry men.Davidís offense at Nabalís actions may seem strange to modern readers, but we must recall that ancient Semitic people placed great emphasis on hospitality.Nabalís refusal to help David constituted a serious breach of respect toward the future king of Israel.Later in the chapter, we learn that Davidís men had protected Nabalís shepherds; yet, the ungrateful man refused to aid David. Angered by Nabalís churlish response, David took two hundred men to settle matters with the uncongenial man.

C.     Abigailís intercession (vv. 14-35): Realizing her husbandís mistake, Abigail collected a large amount of food and took the supplies to the hungry soldiers.She explained that her husband was not a kind or wise man, and then she blessed the future king.Furthermore, Abigail acknowledged that David would soon rule all of Israel.The text does not reveal how she knew this, but news of Godís promise to David must have spread throughout the kingdom.Perhaps the Lord revealed this to this gracious, obedient woman.Whatever the case, she earned the favor of David, and the king promised that she would come to no harm.

D.    Abigailís return to Nabal (vv. 36-44): After speaking with David, Abigail returned to her husband.She recounted her conversation, and drunken Nabal, confronted with the consequences of his terrible behavior, died at the hand of the Lord.

E.     Davidís marriage to Abigail (vv. 39-44): After Nabalís death, David took Abigail as the second of his eight wives. Later, she bore at least one child to the king.The chapter ends with a brief account of Saulís disgraceful behavior in giving Michal, Davidís first wife, to another man.Eventually, Michal returned to David, but this dishonorable action irreparably injured the relationship between David and Michal.


III.             Davidís Second Confrontation with Saul (26:1-25)

A.    Davidís second opportunity to kill Saul (vv. 1-12): Saul received news from the Ziphites that David was camped near Jeshimon (somewhere between Hebron and the Dead Sea); so, Saul took a large contingent of solders to kill his future successor. As Saulís troops slept, David and Abishai (one of Davidís nephews and most trusted generals) crept into the camp.They found Saul asleep and had the opportunity to kill his enemy.David resisted Abishaiís plea, and, instead of killing Saul, the young man took the kingís spear and a jar of water.

B.     Davidís appeal to Saul (vv. 13-25): After moving to a safe location, David called out to Saul and appealed to the king to honor their previous agreement.Again, Saul seemed sorrowful for his aggression and acknowledged his sin before the Lord.Saul blessed David, and the two men parted.


IV.             Davidís Alliance with the Philistines (27:1-12): In my judgment, this chapter does not reflect well on David.Fearful of Saulís threats, David allied himself with the ungodly Philistines.Achish, king of Gath, gave the fugitive a piece of land (Ziklag) and encouraged Davidís lethal raids against several tribal groups: the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites.The text does not indicate divine authority for David to carry out such drastic military actions (killing noncombatant women and children) and taking the spoils of war to enrich David and his men (I assume David also paid some tribute to the Philistines).The future king of Israel remained a vassal of Gath for a year and four months. Perhaps the Lord had these incidents in mind when he refused to allow David to build the Temple because the king was a man of blood.


V.                The Continued Decline of Saul (28:1-25): This is a troubling paragraph. Taken at face value, the text indicates that Saul consulted a medium, in En Dor, among the Tribe of Issachar.After Samuelís death, Saul had no place to turn for direction from the Lord.Efforts failed to discern Godís will, and the king, in desperation, turned to a woman who had a reputation for necromancy (contacting the dead).Saul had banished the sorcerers and mediums from the land; so, he came in disguise to visit the woman.Reluctantly, the medium conjured the spirit of Samuel.Itís tempting to deduce that this apparition was not really Samuel (perhaps a demonic likeness of the prophet), but the passage seems to indicate that Saul had a conversation with Samuel, a conversation that confirmed Godís choice of David and rejection of Saul.After the sťance, the medium took pity on Saul and his attendants, and she fed the hungry men.


VI.             Davidís Departure from the Philistines (29:1-11): The Philistine Confederation gathered at Jezreel to mount a military campaign, probably against Israel.Amazingly, David and his men allied themselves with the Philistines, but the pagan rulers, perhaps showing more discernment than David, refused to accept these Hebrews as allies.Achish was forced to conclude his covenant with David.


VII.          Davidís Regence on the Amalekites (30:1-31): Davidís followers, you will recall, settled in Ziklag during their sojourn with the Philistines.When David returned to the settlement he discovered that Amalekite raiders had stuck Ziklag.When the Hebrews found their settlement sacked by the Amalekites, the men almost mutinied against David (see v. 6), but the future king encouraged himself in the Lord.Determined to recover the families and possessions of his people, David mustered his men to find the Amalekites.A young Egyptian servant fell into the hands of the Hebrew troops, and this fellow informed David of the whereabouts of the raiders.The Hebrews found the Amalekites and attacked them in a battle that lasted for more than a day.After recovering their families and goods, some of Davidís men refused to give any of the spoils to two hundred soldiers who remained behind to guard the armyís provisions (they were also profoundly wearied by the constant marching and fighting); however, the future king insisted that all soldiers share on the spoils.


VIII.       Saulís Demise (31:1-13): finally, we read of the sad end of King Saul.In response to Philistine raid, Saul led his troops into battle on Mount Gilboa. The fighting went badly, and Saulís sons, including Jonathan, fell in battle.During the fray, a Philistine archer mortally wounded the king.Unwilling to fall into the hands of his enemies, Saul asked his assistant to end the kingís misery.The aide refused, and Saul killed himself with his own sword.The Philistines discovered Saulís body, and, as Saul feared, they mutilated the kingís remains.The inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead recovered Saulís body, cremated the remains, and buried the kingís bones near Jabesh.