Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (23:1-6) Revelation, Fear, and Victory!

Wouldn’t it be great if you could inquire of the Lord — and He would answer you directly? David learns of the Philistine’s attacking the people of Keilah and looting their threshing floors. David asks the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”

The Lord clearly responds, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” (vv. 1-2).

But David’s men are fearful. They say, “Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!” (v. 3). Apparently they had not heard the Lord’s voice in telling them to attack the Philistines.

David condescends to his men and inquires a second time of the Lord. The Lord repeats His command: “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” (v. 4).

David and his men obey, fight the Philistines, inflict heavy losses on them, and save the people of Keilah (v. 5). Obeying the Lord is always the right choice!

But how did David know what to do?  [I’ve used several commentaries to help with the rest of this post]. We are  told parenthetically: “Now Abiathar son of Ahimelek had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.” (v. 6). One commentator says that in his fright and flight Abiathar came down with the ephod in his hand. Not the linen ephod on his back which the priests in common wore, but the ephod with the Urim and Thummim in his hand. It is likely that this wasn’t just any ephod; this was the ephod of the High Priest, which had the breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:15) attached to it (Exodus 28:28). The breastplate had in it a pouch with two stones, known as the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). When David inquired of the LORD, he probably asked Abiathar to use the Urim and Thummim.

How did the priest use the Urim and Thummim to inquire of the LORD? The names Urim and Thummim mean “Lights and Perfections.” We aren’t sure what they were or how they were used. Most think they were a pair of stones, one light and another dark, and each stone indicated a “yes” or “no” from God. The idea is that High Priest would ask God a question that could be answered with a “yes” or a “no,” reach into the breastplate, and pull out the stone indicating God’s answer. This ephod, with the Urim and Thummim, was more helpful to David than a thousand soldiers, because it helped him discern the will of God.

Many Christians today would consider the Urim and Thummim as crude tools of discernment; sort of an Old Testament “Magic 8-Ball.” In fact, using the Urim and Thummim was superior to the tools many Christians today use: relying purely on feeling, or on outward appearances, or simply using no discernment at all. The key to the effectiveness of the Urim and Thummim was that God’s Word gave them. In seeking God through the Urim and Thummim, one was really going back to God’s Word for guidance, because it was the word of God that commanded their place and allowed their use. Today, if we have the same focus on God’s Word, He will guide us also. One old preacher was asked to explain the Urim and Thummim. He said, “Well, this is how I understand it. When I need to know God’s will, I get out my Bible and I do a lot of usin’ and thummin’ through my Bible, and God always speaks to me.” More Christians would know God’s will if they did more usin’ and thummin’!

Go, and attack the Philistines, and save Keliah: By all outward appearance, this was a crazy thing to do. First, David had 400 men whose had thin resumes and bad credit reports (everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him, 1 Samuel 22:2); not exactly a regular army! Second, David had enough trouble with Saul, and he didn’t need to add trouble from the Philistines – one enemy is usually enough! Third, this would bring David wide open out before King Saul, and expose him to that enemy also. This was a dangerous course of action!

Then why do it at all? David had two great reasons: the command of God, and the need of the people. David was willing to spend himself, to endanger himself, so that he obey the command of God, and meet the need of the people.

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Posted by on December 15, 2018 in I Samuel 23


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Thinking about . . . Decisions! (Time for a Great Commercial)

Rather than following the crowd in crossing a crocodile-infested stream, two wildebeests discuss their best options!  This kind of dangerous crossing actually happens every year with hungry crocodiles and hippos waiting for lunch.  How convenient (in this commercial) is a bridge that these two stars decide to take instead!

Decision-making.  We make thousands of decisions every day.  Some good.  Some not so good.  For believers, we can’t always escape the risks of the choices we make.  But sometimes, just sometimes, God provides a bridge for us to cross to avoid unnecessary danger.  Looking for any bridges today?

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Posted by on December 14, 2018 in decisions


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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (chapter 22) Safety . . . and the Unspeakable!

David escapes and assembles an “army” of all those who were “in distress or in debt or discontented” (v. 2)! His family comes to David and he gets permission from the king of Moab for his family to stay there “until I learn what God will do for me” (v. 3).

The prophet Gad advises David not to stay in the stronghold in Mizpah but to go to the land of Judah.

Saul learns that David and his men had been discovered and, in his paranoia, chastises the men of Benjamin for their alleged conspiracy against him and his son Jonathan for his friendship with David. Saul thinks David is lying in wait for him (v. 8).

Doeg rats out Ahimelek for praying for David and for giving him provisions and Goliath’s sword. Saul summons Ahimelek and all the men of his family. Saul accuses Ahimelek of conspiracy and Ahimelek defends David. (vv. 14-15).

Commanding his guards to kill the priests of the Lord, they refuse. Saul commands Doeg to slaughter 85 priests and he annihilates the town of Nob (women, children, animals) (v. 19).

Abiathar, one of Ahimelek’s sons, escapes and reports the tragedy to David. David feels he is responsible for the whole family’s death. He then invites Abiathar to stay with him and guarantees his safety (v. 23).

Some takeaways for me:
1. God cares about the three D’s: those “in distress or in debt or discontented”! And He can make an army out of them!
2. There are some incredibly evil people in this world. There are Doegs who will do despicable things! We should not be shocked at the inhumanity and depravity of man.
3. Somehow God’s sovereignty is intimately involved in all this. He detained Doeg who then does the unspeakable. And God allows the slaughter of the 85 priests and the annihilation of the town of Nob.

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Posted by on December 13, 2018 in I Samuel 22


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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (chapter 21) Lies and Insanity!

David goes to Ahimelek the priest who asks him why he is alone. David lies and says he is on a mission for the king. He asks for five loaves of bread or “what you can find.” (vv. 1-3).

Ahimelek has only consecrated bread which he offers if the soldiers have kept themselves from women. David says they have and that his men keep their bodies “holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” (v. 5). Ahimelek gives David the consecrated bread.

One of Saul’s servants (Doeg) was there that day, “detained before the Lord” (v. 7). David lies a second time, saying he had no weapon “because the king’s mission was urgent” (v. 8). David winds up taking the sword of Goliath with him (vv. 8-9).

Amazingly, David flees from Saul to Gath — the birthplace of Goliath! He goes to the king of Gath, Achish, whose servants say, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land, the one they sing about?” (v. 11).

David becomes very afraid of Achish so he pretended to be insane! Achish’s response is classic: “Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?” (v. 15).

Achish’s quota of madmen is full!

Some takeaways for me:
1. Even the closest to God’s heart sometimes resort to lying (as David does — three times! — in this passage). That, of course, does not make lying right.
2. God has His plan. He detains one of Saul’s servants so that Doeg can report David’s whereabouts to Saul.
3. David’s decision to flee to Gath — the home of Goliath — defies explanation. But that was the choice that he made.
4. Sometimes God blesses human ingenuity. David’s acting skills are put to the test when he has to pretend to be crazy!

David is imperfect. And the Bible describes him, warts and all. Thank the Lord for the unvarnished truth of His Word!

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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in I Samuel 21


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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (chapter 20) Murderous Jealousy and Friendship!

[Our text is a bit long this morning!]

Jonathan doesn’t believe that his father Saul is trying to kill David. David is convinced that “there is only a step between me and death” (v. 3).

David comes up with a plan for Jonathan to lie to his father about David’s hiding in the field. Jonathan asks David to show kindness to himself and his family. They make a covenant, a covenant out of love (“because he loved him as he loved himself”- v. 17).

Jonathan’s lie about David being ordered by his brother to observe a sacrifice (v. 29) in Bethlehem isn’t believed by Saul who tries to kill his own son who defends David (v. 33)!

Jonathan leaves the feast in “fierce anger,” grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David (v. 34).

The three-arrow-plan is enacted; David is informed of Saul’s threat. Jonathan and David weep together. Their sworn friendship is reaffirmed. David leaves and Jonathan returns to town.

Some takeaways for me:
1. Isn’t it true that for each of us, “there is only a step between [us] and death”?
2. The genuine love and friendship between Jonathan and David is admirable (and sadly perverted by the gay community). Oh, to have a friend like that! [Oh, to be a friend like that!].
3. Saul’s jealousy and murderous heart causes him to try to kill his own son Jonathan! We must never underestimate the evil power of our sinful nature!
4. There is no despair in either Jonathan or David’s heart about the sovereign power of the Lord. But they make human decisions to remove David from the wicked intentions of King Saul.

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Posted by on December 11, 2018 in I Samuel 20


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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (chapter 19) Friendship, Rescue, and Sovereignty

It’s good to have a good friend, isn’t it? Especially if your good friend’s father is the King of Israel and he wants to kill you! Jonathan knows that Saul wants David dead and seeks to intervene by asking his father, “Why would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?” (v. 5).

Saul swears that he will not kill David, and once more David is able to serve in Saul’s court. David has a great victory over the Philistine forces. “But an evil spirit from the Lord came on Saul” and David barely escapes being pinned to the wall by Saul’s spear (v. 10).

Saul sends a hit squad to David’s home to kill him in the morning, but David is warned by Michal his wife (v. 11). She puts an idol in David’s bed, saying that David is ill. Saul asks that David be brought to him on his bed of sickness, and Michal’s ruse is discovered (v. 17). She lies and says that David threatened her.

David flees to Samuel telling him all that Saul had done. Saul is informed that David is at Ramah and he sends men to capture David. But there is a group of prophets there prophesying with Samuel as their leader. We read that “the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men, and they also prophesied” (v. 20). This happens to three groups of soldiers sent by Saul.

Finally, Saul goes himself, “but the Spirit of God came even on him, and he walked along prophesying” (v. 23). We read, “He stripped off his garments, and he too prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay naked all that day and all that night.” (v. 24). We are then told, “This is why people say, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’”

Some takeaways for me:
1. God uses people sometimes to protect His people. He uses Jonathan’s friendship and Michal’s creativity to keep Saul from killing David.
2. Saul’s anger and jealousy do not respond to reason. People are not always reasonable.
3. God can send even evil spirits to do His will. In Saul’s case, this evil spirit assists Saul in his hatred of David and his wanting David dead!
4. In the final analysis, God is sovereign! Saul uses three groups of soldiers to capture David, but each is overcome by a spirit of prophecy. And even Saul, when he goes himself, prophesies and lies naked for 24 hours!

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Posted by on December 10, 2018 in I Samuel 19


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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (18:20-30) Grossness, Humility, and Jealousy!

Sometimes the Bible can be quite gross, don’t you think? But life can be gross! The story in the second half of I Samuel 18 involves Philistine foreskins! Really.

In his manipulative paranoia, Saul wants David dead. So he learns that his daughter Michal is in love with David and he promises her to David. Saul’s motive was simple: “so she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him” (v. 21).

This provides a second opportunity for David to become Saul’s son-in-law. Saul uses his attendants to try to persuade David to agree to this marriage, and David humbly replies, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known” (v. 23).

Saul offers David his daughter. The only bride price that he wants in return is 100 Philistine foreskins. Saul’s plan was to have David be killed by the Philistines [this will be plan “B” for David’s getting rid of Uriah later in 2 Samuel].

David takes his men, goes out, and brings back two hundred Philistine foreskins! And they counted out the full number before Saul (v. 27). Gross.

Saul gives his daughter Michal to David, realizing “that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David” (v. 28). This entire episode furthered Saul’s fear of David, causing him to remain David’s enemy the rest of his days (v. 29).

David’s fame grew as he had more success over the Philistine warriors than the rest of Saul’s officers. And David’s name became well known (v. 30).

Some takeaways for me:
1. The Bible is realistic. It does not sugarcoat realities such as war in all its grossness.
2. God sees our motives and looks at our hearts. Saul’s jealousy and hatred cause him to manipulate his own daughter’s love for David. We dare not underestimate our talent for pursuing our wicked agendas.
3. David’s humility is refreshing. How does he lose that godly view of himself when he becomes king? What was the process?
4. Having the Lord “with” us does not mean that we won’t have enemies or face opposition.

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Posted by on December 9, 2018 in I Samuel 18


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