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1 Samuel 23-25

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

1 Samuel Chapter 23

David (see King David) was unjustly forced to live as a fugitive from King Saul and his army, while at the same being at war with Saul's enemies. It was a bizarre and confusing situation for David. Nevertheless, although he literally didn't know which way to turn, with humans, David always knew to turn to The Lord. When the people of Israel in Keilah, a city of Judah under Saul's rulership, were attacked by the Philistines, The Lord told David to help them to defend themselves.

In The Wilderness

"Now they told David, "Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are robbing the threshing floors." Therefore David inquired of The Lord, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" And The Lord said to David, "Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah." But David's men said to him, "Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?"

Then David inquired of The Lord again. And The Lord answered him, "Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will give the Philistines into your hand." And David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and made a great slaughter among them. So David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah. When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand." (1 Samuel 23:1-6 RSV)

While David was still at Keilah, after having saved it for Saul from the Philistines, Saul came and prepared to attack, not the Philistines, but David.

"Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, "God has given him into my hand; for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars." And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men." (1 Samuel 23:7-8 RSV)

Like Saul, the people of Keilah were hardly grateful to David for all that he had done for them; they were about to surrender David to Saul, so David was forced to flee again. David was at war with the Philistines who were attacking Saul's kingdom, David was at war with Saul, and the people that David risked his life to save from the Philistines would have readily permitted him to be killed by Saul.

"Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as thy servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant." And The Lord said, "He will come down." Then said David, "Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?" And The Lord said, "They will surrender you." Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition." (1 Samuel 23:11-13 RSV)

1 Samuel Chapter 24

Fortunately for Saul, David was not like Saul. When David could easily have killed Saul, he not only didn't do it, but pleaded for forgiveness for getting close enough to Saul, who was still "The Lord's anointed" on the throne, to do it.

In The Dark

"When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, "Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi." Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats' Rocks.

And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, "Here is the day of which The Lord said to you, 'Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.'" Then David arose and stealthily cut off the skirt of Saul's robe.

And afterward David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt. He said to his men, "The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, The Lord's anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing he is The Lord'S anointed." So David persuaded his men with these words, and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave, and went upon his way." (1 Samuel 24:1-7 RSV)

David even pleaded for Saul's forgiveness.

"Afterward David also arose, and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, "My lord the king!" And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and did obeisance. And David said to Saul, "Why do you listen to the words of men who say, 'Behold, David seeks your hurt'? Lo, this day your eyes have seen how The Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave; and some bade me kill you, but I spared you. I said, 'I will not put forth my hand against my lord; for he is The Lord's anointed." (1 Samuel 24:8-10 RSV)

Saul then repented, in the way that he had repented numerous times before. Well in keeping with his psychotic mind, Saul even admitted to David, "I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand." While David steadfastly refused to kill, or even stand and defend himself from Saul, The Lord's anointed, Saul admitted that he himself had been trying to murder David, the new anointed of The Lord.

"When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, "Is this your voice, my son David?" And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, "You are more righteous than I; for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when The Lord put me into your hands. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may The Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by The Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father's house."

And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home; but David and his men went up to the stronghold." (1 Samuel 24:16-22 RSV)

1 Samuel Chapter 25

Samuel had anointed, for The Lord, both Saul, and when Saul proved himself to be unfit, David. The death of Samuel was the end of an era, The Judges, and the beginning of another (see Israelite Monarchy - The Origin), for Israel.

The Desert

"Now Samuel died; and all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah. Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran." (1 Samuel 25:1 RSV)

Although the days of Saul's reign, and his life itself, were now running out, David remained a fugitive. Despite Saul's promise to not seek to harm David any more, David knew not to trust the word of a very unstable man. David and his now 600 man army remained on the move. One day, in the north of Israel, they asked a wealthy man of Carmel for food. David didn't just take what they needed; they remained hungry and respectfully requested help from Nabal, a man who could easily afford to supply them, particularly since the presence of David's army had benefited Nabal's security.

"David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, "Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. And thus you shall salute him: 'Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. I hear that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing, all the time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes; for we come on a feast day. Pray, give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.'" (1 Samuel 25:4-8 RSV)

Nabal arrogantly refused David's reasonable request. By declaring himself an enemy of David in such a way, David responded to Nabal in a way that an enemy would.

"So David's young men turned away, and came back and told him all this. And David said to his men, "Every man gird on his sword!" And every man of them girded on his sword; David also girded on his sword; and about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage." (1 Samuel 25:12-13 RSV)

Fortunately, Nabal's wife Abigail was neither foolish or arrogant. Without Nabal's knowledge, she sent the requested food supplies to David and personally met David's approaching army in order to prevent the attack.

"Let not my lord regard this ill-natured fellow, Nabal; for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him; but I your handmaid did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. Now then, my lord, as The Lord lives, and as your soul lives, seeing The Lord has restrained you from bloodguilt, and from taking vengeance with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal." (1 Samuel 25:25-26 RSV)

"Then David received from her hand what she had brought him; and he said to her, "Go up in peace to your house; see, I have hearkened to your voice, and I have granted your petition." (1 Samuel 25:35 RSV)

The next morning, Nabal had a heart attack from which he would not recover: "about ten days later The Lord smote Nabal and he died". Upon hearing that she was a widow, David asked to marry Abigail.

"And Abigail came to Nabal; and, lo, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she told him nothing at all until the morning light. And in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And about ten days later The Lord smote Nabal; and he died.

When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, "Blessed be The Lord who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from evil; The Lord has returned the evil-doing of Nabal upon his own head." Then David sent and wooed Abigail, to make her his wife." (1 Samuel 25:36-39 RSV)

Upon marrying Abigail, David had two wives, the other being Ahinoam (see also Tamar and Amnon). David also still regarded himself married to Saul's daughter Michal, since he would reclaim the marriage later (see the Fact Finder question below).

"David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and both of them became his wives. Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim." (1 Samuel 25:43-44 RSV)

Fact Finder: Why did Saul arrange for the marriage of his daughter Michal to David? How was their marriage interrupted, when both married other people? How and when was their marriage resumed?
See Michal


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