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1 Samuel 26-28

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

1 Samuel Chapter 26

Saul had again supposedly repented of his trying to kill David: "Is this your voice, my son David?" And Saul lifted up his voice and wept." (1 Samuel 24:16 RSV). But by then David knew all too well that Saul's word was worthless. Not long after, Saul again sought to kill David.


"So Saul arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, with three thousand chosen men of Israel, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph." (1 Samuel 26:2 RSV)

David had already spared Saul's life (see notes for 1 Samuel 24), but Saul kept after him. Now, David got another chance, made himself another chance, by boldly entering Saul's own garrisoned camp at night with Abishai (see the Fact Finder question below).

"So David and Abishai went to the army by night; and there lay Saul sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the army lay around him. Then said Abishai to David, "God has given your enemy into your hand this day; now therefore let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice."

But David said to Abishai, "Do not destroy him; for who can put forth his hand against The Lord's anointed, and be guiltless?" And David said, "As The Lord lives, The Lord will smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should put forth my hand against The Lord'S anointed; but take now the spear that is at his head, and the jar of water, and let us go." (1 Samuel 26:7-11 RSV)

After having made his escape, David made clear the reason for the raid - to prove to Saul that David was not the king's enemy. David called out to Saul, and to Abner who had failed to protect the king. Once again "repentant" Saul gave his worthless word to stop trying to kill David.

"Then David went over to the other side, and stood afar off on the top of the mountain, with a great space between them; and David called to the army, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, "Will you not answer, Abner?" Then Abner answered, "Who are you that calls to the king?" And David said to Abner, "Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy the king your lord. This thing that you have done is not good. As The Lord lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, The Lord'S anointed. And now see where the king's spear is, and the jar of water that was at his head." (1 Samuel 26:13-16 RSV)

"Then Saul said, "I have done wrong; return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day; behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly." (1 Samuel 26:21 RSV)

1 Samuel Chapter 27

David knew that he would never be safe as long as Saul reigned, but he also was unable to do anything about it because, as king, Saul was still "The Lord's anointed." David then decided to settle in Philistine territory where he could at least defend himself freely.


"And David said in his heart, "I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul; there is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines; then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand." So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. [see Gath of the Philistines]. And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal's widow. And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he sought for him no more." (1 Samuel 27:1-4 RSV)

The Philistines accepted David into their territory as a matter of political and military expedience. They knew that they couldn't defeat David, so at least this way he would not be an adversary to them.

"So that day Achish gave him Ziklag; therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. And the number of the days that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months." (1 Samuel 27:6-7 RSV)

From there, David raided the surrounding territories, including some in Judah that had been treacherous to David while he was there on the run.

"Now David and his men went up, and made raids upon the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites; for these were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, but took away the sheep, the oxen, the asses, the camels, and the garments, and came back to Achish.

When Achish asked, "Against whom have you made a raid today?" David would say, "Against the Negeb of Judah," or "Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites," or, "Against the Negeb of the Kenites." And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, thinking, "Lest they should tell about us, and say, 'So David has done.'" Such was his custom all the while he dwelt in the country of the Philistines." (1 Samuel 27:8-11 RSV)

1 Samuel Chapter 28

The Lord (see YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD) had long before commanded the Israelites not to involve themselves with any form of sorcery e.g. "any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer ... whoever does these things is an abomination to The Lord" (Deuteronomy 18:10-12 RSV). Faced with a major battle with the Philistines from Mount Gilboa, Saul, who didn't obey The Lord's Word when it was given to him (and so it was no longer given to him), sought a witch.


"The Philistines assembled, and came and encamped at Shunem; and Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of The Lord, The Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim [see Urim And Thummim], or by Prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, "Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her." (1 Samuel 28:4-7 RSV)

Although the dead are dead (see What Happens When You Die?), Saul was given what seemed to be a message from dead Samuel. However it happened, the message given to Saul was accurate - Saul's disobedience to The Lord was the source of Saul's problems, and that Saul himself was about to die.

"And Samuel said, "Why then do you ask me, since The Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you as He spoke by me; for The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of The Lord, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore The Lord has done this thing to you this day.

Moreover The Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines." (1 Samuel 28:16-19 RSV)

Fact Finder: How was Abishai (mentioned above in 1 Samuel 26:7-11) related to King David?
See Abishai

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