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1 Samuel 29-31, 2 Samuel 1-2

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

1 Samuel Chapter 29

David (see King David) had been driven out of Israel by a corrupt-minded king of Israel, Saul. David had no where to go, except out of Israel. It was, in effect, Saul's decision, not David's, that David found himself allied with the Philistines, potentially against Israel.

Jezreel

"Now the Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek; and the Israelites were encamped by the fountain which is in Jezreel. As The Lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish, the commanders of the Philistines said, "What are these Hebrews doing here?" " And Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, "Is not this David, the servant of Saul, king of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years, and since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day." (1 Samuel 29:1-4 RSV)

It was a valid question, although David did not desert. No one had been more loyal to Israel than David; unfortunately Israel had not been loyal to David. But what was David going to do? He was a part of a large battle formation of Philistines that was about to engage the army of Israel. The Philistine commanders may have been correct in what they thought David was going to do at the opportune time.

"But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him; and the commanders of the Philistines said to him, "Send the man back, that he may return to the place to which you have assigned him; he shall not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become an adversary to us. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here?" (1 Samuel 29:4 RSV)

No one, but The Lord, knows what David was intending to do. As ordered, David and his men left the Philistine battle group and returned to Philistine territory.

"So David set out with his men early in the morning, to return to the land of the Philistines. But the Philistines went up to Jezreel. " (1 Samuel 29:4 RSV)

1 Samuel Chapter 30

Upon his return to Ziklag, David found that while he was away the Amalekites had attacked and looted the city of everything and everyone, including David's wives.

Burning Of The City

"Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid upon the Negeb and upon Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag, and burned it with fire, and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great; they killed no one, but carried them off, and went their way. And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept, until they had no more strength to weep. David's two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel." (1 Samuel 30:1-5 RSV)

Among David's army was Abiathar the priest, who had survived the massacre at Nob (see Doeg the Edomite). David inquired of The Lord through the Levite (see Levites).

"And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, "Bring me the ephod." So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. And David inquired of The Lord, "Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?" He answered him, "Pursue; for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue." (1 Samuel 30:7-8 RSV)

With The Lord's guidance, David recovered everything and everyone.

"And David smote them from twilight until the evening of the next day; and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken; and David rescued his two wives. Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken; David brought back all." (1 Samuel 30:17-19 RSV)

1 Samuel Chapter 31

In the meantime, the Philistine army, minus David, encountered the army of Israel, and King Saul, near Mount Gilboa. It would not be a good day for Israel.

Mount Gilboa

"Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchishua, the sons of Saul." (1 Samuel 31:1-2 RSV)

Saul himself died from the battle.

"The battle pressed hard upon Saul, and the archers found him; and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and make sport of me." But his armor-bearer would not; for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword, and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword, and died with him. Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together." (1 Samuel 31:3-6 RSV)

2 Samuel Chapter 1

When David heard of the death of Saul, he did not celebrate. He mourned.

Mourning

"After the death of Saul, when David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag; and on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul's camp, with his clothes rent and earth upon his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and did obeisance." (2 Samuel 1:1-2 RSV)

"Then David took hold of his clothes, and rent them; and so did all the men who were with him; and they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of The Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword." (2 Samuel 1:11-12 RSV)

David's "How are the mighty fallen" became a famous lament.

"And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said: "Thy glory, O Israel, is slain upon thy high places! How are the mighty fallen!" (2 Samuel 1:17-19 RSV)

2 Samuel Chapter 2

The death of King Saul strengthened David's political position, but it did not settle it. The Lord told David to make Hebron his capital, for the time being (see David's Capital During The Civil War).

Hebron

"After this David inquired of The Lord, "Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?" And The Lord said to him, "Go up." David said, "To which shall I go up?" And he said, "To Hebron." So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David brought up his men who were with him, every one with his household; and they dwelt in the towns of Hebron." (2 Samuel 2:1-4 RSV)

Although Judah recognized David as their king, the rest of Israel, those loyal to Saul (i.e. the officials and high-ranking military commanders who depended on continuing Saul's regime) appointed Saul's son Ish-bosheth as their king of Israel. It set the stage for civil war (see the Fact Finder question below).

"Now Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, had taken Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim; and he made him king over Gilead and the Ashurites and Jezreel and Ephraim and Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months." (2 Samuel 2:8-11 RSV)

Fact Finder: How was the civil war between the house of David and the house of Saul finally settled?
See The Israelite Monarchy - The Civil War


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