Israel’s First King

An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of 1 Samuel

www.easyenglish.info

Helen Pocock

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

This commentary has been through Advanced Theological Checking.

 

Introduction to 1 and 2 Samuel

The books of 1 and 2 Samuel used to be one book. The writer wrote the book in the *Hebrew language. Many years later, men translated the Bible into the Greek language (the language of the *New Testament). These men divided this book into two parts. The name of the book comes from the first important person in this book. He was Samuel the *prophet. But Samuel did not write the book. He died before the end of it.

We do not know who wrote the book. The author lived after King Solomon had died in about 930 BC (930 years Before Christ). After Solomon died, the country of *Israel divided into two countries, *Israel and *Judah. The country of *Judah included the *tribes of *Judah and Benjamin (see 1 Kings 12:1-24). In 1 and 2 Samuel the author often refers to *Judah as a country.

In those days, the kings and leaders employed writers. They wrote about the events in their country. The *prophets also wrote accounts of events. 2 Samuel 1:18; 1 Kings 11:41; 14:19, 29; 1 Chronicles 27:24; 29:29 all refer to these writers and their books. The writer of 1 and 2 Samuel probably got most of his information from these accounts.

The book of 1 Samuel records a major change from the time of the judges to *Israel’s first king. The judges had led the *Israelites for about 350 years after the death of Joshua. During this time the *Israelites called their leaders ‘judges’. Samuel was the last of the judges. He was also a *prophet and a priest. Samuel *anointed Saul, the first king of *Israel. But Saul did not obey God. So, God chose another king, David, who would obey him. 1 Samuel ends with the death of Saul. The book of 2 Samuel records the life of David as king.

Chapter 1

Elkanah and his family go to Shiloh

v1 There was a man whose name was Elkanah. He lived in the town of Ramathaim. This town was in the hills in the country of Ephraim. Elkanah was the son of Jeroham. Jeroham was the son of Elihu. Elihu was the son of Tohu. Tohu was the son of Zuph. Zuph came from the *tribe of Ephraim. v2 Elkanah had 2 wives. The name of one wife was Hannah. And the name of the other wife was Peninnah. Peninnah had children but Hannah did not have any children.

The town of Ramathaim also had the name Ramathaim-zophim or Ramah. It was about 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the main town in the country of *Israel. There were many towns in the Bible. We do not know where every town was. This is because some of them now have a different name. Also, enemies destroyed many towns. The book of 1 Samuel describes events that happened about 3000 years ago. Many things have changed since then.

There is a list of Elkanah’s family in verse 1. This probably means that he was quite an important man. He had two wives. In the ancient world, many men had more than one wife. A man wanted children, especially a son, to continue his family name. So, if his wife could not have children, he sometimes had a second wife. A woman who could not have children felt shame. Other people said that she was a failure. Genesis 2:24 shows that God wanted men to have only one wife. When a man had more than one wife, usually there was trouble between his wives.

v3 Every year, Elkanah left Ramathaim and went to the town of Shiloh. He went there to *worship. He gave *sacrifices to the most powerful *Lord. Hophni and Phinehas were the priests to the *Lord at Shiloh. Eli was their father. He was the chief priest. v4 Elkanah gave his *sacrifices to God. Then he gave a share of the meat to Peninnah and her sons and daughters. v5 But Elkanah always gave a double share of the meat to Hannah. Elkanah loved Hannah. But God had prevented her from having children.

v6 Peninnah would annoy and upset Hannah on purpose. She did this because God had not given Hannah any children. v7 This happened every year when they went to the house of the *Lord in Shiloh. Peninnah would upset Hannah until she cried. Then Hannah would not eat anything. v8 Elkanah asked Hannah, ‘Why are you crying and not eating? Why are you sad?’ He said, ‘I am better to you than ten sons’.

*Israelite men had to go and give *sacrifices to God at three particular times a year (Exodus 23:14-17; Deuteronomy 12:5-7). They went to ‘the house of the *Lord’. This was a building or *temple in Shiloh. The *Israelites met God there and offered *sacrifices to him. Shiloh was about 24 kilometres (15 miles) east of Ramah.

‘The all-powerful *Lord’. This is the first time that the Bible calls God by this name. It means that God is the ruler of everything that he made. The *Lord made the world and all the people. He also made the *angels and the stars.

Elkanah and his family *worshipped and gave their *sacrifices to God. The priests burned part of the animal. This was how they gave that part of the animal to God. Then the priests could eat some meat from some of the *offerings. Afterwards the people could eat the rest of the meat. This shows that God wanted this to be a happy time for the people. Peninnah was proud that she had many children. She *worshipped God. Then she was unkind and cruel to Hannah. Peninnah did this every year and made Hannah very sad. God does not want people to behave like this.

Elkanah loved Hannah although she could not have a son for him. ‘I am better to you than ten sons’. This meant that Elkanah loved Hannah very much. But he did not understand how sad she felt. A woman feels pain in her heart if she cannot have children. Elkanah’s love was not enough. Hannah was desperate for a son.

Some women in the *Old Testament could not have children. They believed that God had prevented it. In Deuteronomy 7:12-14, God told the *Israelites to obey his laws. God said that they must obey him. Then they would have children.

Hannah and Eli

v9 One day they were at Shiloh. They had finished eating and drinking. Hannah got up. Eli the priest was next to the house of the *Lord. Eli sat on a chair by the doorway of the *temple. v10 Hannah was very sad. She cried and prayed to the *Lord. v11 She made a promise to God. She prayed, ‘You are the most powerful *Lord. See how sad I am. I am your servant. Remember me and do not forget me. If you give me a son, I will give him back to you for all of his life. No one will ever cut his hair off’.

v12 Hannah kept praying to the *Lord. Eli watched her mouth moving. v13 Hannah was praying in her spirit. Her lips moved but Eli could not hear her voice. He thought that she had drunk too much wine. v14 He said to her, ‘Stop drinking so much. Throw away your wine’. v15 Hannah said to Eli, ‘No, I have not been drinking wine or strong drink. I have trouble deep in my heart. I told the *Lord all about my problems. v16 Please do not think that I am a wicked woman. I have been praying here because I am suffering. And I am very sad’.

v17 Eli answered Hannah and said, ‘You can go and have peace. May the God of *Israel give you what you have asked him for’. v18 Hannah said, ‘May I always please you’. Then Hannah went away and ate something. She was not sad now.

Hannah was desperate when she prayed. But she did not pray in a selfish way. She wanted a son so that she could give him to God.

‘No one will ever cut his hair off’. This is a mark of the Nazirite promise (Numbers 6:1-21). The person promised to give all his life to God for a definite time, maybe months or years. Then he lived separate from ordinary life. He let his hair grow long. This showed that he had made the Nazirite promise. Hannah asked God for a son. She made this promise on his behalf. It was very unusual for someone to be a Nazirite for all of his life.

Hannah prayed in a humble way as a servant to God. She felt that God had forgotten her. But she knew that God was all-powerful. God was the only person who could help her. And she knew that. Hannah did not pray aloud. But God heard her as she prayed in her spirit. In those days, people did not say silent prayers. They prayed aloud. (This happens in many countries today.) Eli the priest watched Hannah. He thought that she had drunk too much wine. Many *Israelites did not know that God was holy. The sons of Eli were priests. But in 1 Samuel 2-3, we see that they were wicked. Eli may have seen people who behaved badly in the *temple. Eli spoke to Hannah. Then he realised that she was a good woman. She trusted God. So Eli was kind to her. In the *Old Testament, the priest spoke on behalf of God. Eli gave Hannah peace from God. Then he prayed that God would answer her prayer. We do not know whether Hannah had told Eli her request.

‘May I always please you’. Hannah said this to show respect to Eli and to God. Now Hannah ate and was not sad. She trusted God to answer her prayer.

v19 Elkanah and his family got up early the next morning. They *worshipped God. Then they went home to Ramah. Elkanah had sex with his wife Hannah. God remembered her. v20 Hannah discovered that she was expecting a baby. She gave birth to a son. She called him Samuel. She said, ‘His name is Samuel because I asked the *Lord for him’.

‘God remembered her’ means that God answered her prayer. It does not mean that he had forgotten her. Sometimes we have troubles for a long time. We think that God has forgotten us. But, in Isaiah 49:15, God says, ‘I will not forget you’. In the *Hebrew language the name Samuel sounds like the words ‘God has heard’. God heard and answered Hannah’s prayer. That is why she chose this name.

Hannah gives Samuel to God

v21 Every year Elkanah went to Shiloh to give *sacrifices. He kept the promise that he had made to God. His family went too. v22 This time Hannah did not go. She said, ‘I will not go until the boy is old enough to eat proper food. When he is old enough I will take him to the house of the *Lord at Shiloh. I will give him to the *Lord and he will live there for ever’. v23 Elkanah said to Hannah, ‘You must do what you think is right. Stay here until the boy is able to eat proper food. May the *Lord help you do this’. So, Hannah stayed at home and looked after her son.

v24 When Samuel was old enough to eat proper food Hannah took him to Shiloh. She took a male cow that was three years old. She also took a large bag of flour and a leather bag full of wine. Samuel was still young. v25 They killed the male cow for the *sacrifice. Then Hannah brought Samuel to Eli. v26 Hannah spoke to Eli. ‘Master, I am the woman that you saw standing here. I was praying to the *Lord. v27 I prayed for this child and the *Lord answered me. The *Lord gave me what I asked him for. v28 Now I give this child back to the *Lord. He will belong to the *Lord all of his life’. And Samuel *worshipped the *Lord there.

We do not know what promise Elkanah made to God. But he kept his promise. Hannah did not return to the house of the *Lord in Shiloh until she took Samuel there. A woman fed her baby with milk from her breast for about three years. The baby depended on her completely during this time. Samuel could eat proper food when he was old enough. Then the priests would be able to look after him. Hannah stayed at home with Samuel until this time. Elkanah knew that this was wise. Samuel was still young when Hannah took him to Shiloh. She kept her promise to God. She did not try to delay it for a long time. The male cow was for a *sacrifice to God. The bag of flour was about 22 litres. Hannah may have made bread from the flour. Then she gave the bread to God. Leviticus 1-7 describes the *sacrifices and gifts that people had to give to God. They carried wine in leather bags. They did not have bottles in those days. Jesus referred to this in Matthew 9:17. They made the leather bag from the stomach of a sheep. Many people went to the house of the *Lord. Eli may not have remembered Hannah. So, she explained why she was giving her young son to God.

Chapter 2

Hannah’s prayer

v1 Hannah prayed and said,

‘I am very happy when I think about the *Lord.

          The *Lord has made me very strong.

          I can speak against my enemies.

          I am very glad because you, *Lord, have saved me.

v2      No one else is holy like the *Lord.

          There is no other God except you.

          There is no rock like our God.

v3      Do not continue your loud boast.

          Do not speak proud words.

          The *Lord is a God who knows everything.

          And he judges what people do.

v4      The bows of strong soldiers break.

          But weak people become strong.

v5      The people who had plenty of food now have to work to get food.

          But the people who were hungry are not hungry any more.

          The woman who could not have any children now has seven.

          But the woman who had many children is now very weak.

v6      The *Lord sends death and he makes people alive again.

          He sends people to the grave and he raises them up again.

v7      The *Lord makes some people poor and he makes other people rich.

          He makes some people humble and he makes other people great.

v8      The *Lord raises up the poor people from the dust.

          He lifts up the people from the rubbish pile who need help.

          He lets poor people be friends with princes.

          And he puts poor people in places of honour.

          The foundations of the earth belong to the *Lord.

           He built the world on them.

v9      He protects the people who are loyal to him.

          But wicked people will be silent in the darkness.

          Men will not be successful just because they are strong.

v10    The *Lord will destroy his enemies.

          When God is against them, it will sound like a noisy storm in heaven.

          The *Lord will judge all the earth.

          He will give power to his king.

          He will *anoint a king and make him strong’.

v11 Then Elkanah went to his home at Ramah. But Samuel stayed in Shiloh. He served God with Eli the priest.

Hannah prayed a prayer that was full of praises to God. It is like a poem. Hannah may have made it up herself. Or it might be a prayer that already existed. It starts with personal praise. Then it shows that God rules the whole world. Many parts of this prayer are similar to Mary’s prayer. Mary prayed when she was expecting the baby Jesus (Luke 1:46-55).

Hannah was very happy to have a son. But God, not her son, made her most happy (verse 1). Hannah felt shame when she had no children. God saved her from this shame. She could now speak against Peninnah who had been unkind for many years. God gave Hannah courage and he made her strong. Hannah tells how special God is (verse 2). There is no one else like God. The Bible often uses picture language to describe God. A ‘rock’ means that God is strong and firm. A rock is a strong base for a house. This shows that people can depend on God.

‘Loud boast’ means to speak in a proud way so that everyone can hear (verse 3). This is how Peninnah spoke to Hannah. But God sees everything. He often changes situations. He helps the people who cannot help themselves (verses 4-5). ‘The woman who could not have any children now has seven’ (verse 5). This phrase means that God completely answered Hannah’s prayer. ‘Seven’ can also mean ‘many’. In verse 21, we read that Hannah had 5 more children.

‘The rubbish pile’ (verse 8) was the place where people threw their rubbish. It was outside the city or town. It was a dusty place and had a bad smell. Very poor people did not own anything. So, they went to the rubbish pile to look for food and clothes.

‘The foundations of the earth’. The people thought that God made the physical earth in this way. A foundation is the solid base for a building. This sentence is also picture language. It means that God makes everything firm. And he controls all things. Because God can control the earth, he can also protect his people (verses 9-10). ‘Silent in the darkness’ refers to death. In the end, God destroys his enemies. The people who trust God will succeed.

At this time, *Israel did not have a king. So the part of Hannah’s prayer at the end of verse 10 is a *prophecy. The *Israelites realised that this referred to a future king. They knew that it was the custom to *anoint kings (Judges 9:15). The *Israelites expected God to give them an ideal king. Samuel *anointed Saul as the first king of *Israel. Later Samuel *anointed David as king. This verse refers first to King David. It also refers to Jesus. The *Hebrew word for *anoint is ‘Messiah’. Jesus was the ideal king, the ‘Messiah’, that God promised in the *Old Testament.

Although Samuel was only a young boy, his parents left him with Eli the priest. Samuel helped Eli and did the housework in the *temple. This is how he served God.

Eli’s wicked sons

v12 Now the sons of Eli were wicked men. They did not know God.

v13 People brought *sacrifices to Shiloh. And this is how these priests behaved. First, they boiled the meat in a pot. Then a servant of the priest came to the pot. He had a fork that had 3 points. v14 He pushed the fork into the pot or pan. Whatever came out on the fork belonged to the priest. They did this to all the *Israelites when they came to Shiloh. v15 Often, the servant of the priest came to the people before they had burned the fat on the *sacrifice. The servant said, ‘Give the priest some meat to bake. He will not accept boiled meat from you; he will only accept raw meat’. v16 Sometimes, the person said, ‘You must burn the fat first. Then you can take what you want’. The servant would reply, ‘No. Give me the meat now or I will seize it from you’.

v17 The *Lord saw what the young men did. They did not show respect for the *sacrifices that people gave to the *Lord. The *Lord thought that their *sin was very bad.

The priests served God. This was their job. They did not have any land that they could farm. The ordinary people had to give God one tenth of everything that they had. The Bible calls this a ‘tithe’. God gave most of this food to the priests and *Levites (Numbers 18:21-28). They could also eat certain parts of the *sacrifices (Leviticus 7:28-36). The sons of Eli were priests. But they were wicked men. They did not do what God commanded. They did not understand God or care about him. They were selfish and took what they wanted to eat. They even used force. They did not respect the *sacrifices. They did not respect the people or give honour to God. Eli’s sons did not know God. But God knew them and he was not happy with them.

Samuel at Shiloh

v18 But Samuel served the *Lord. He was a young boy. He wore a *linen *ephod. v19 Every year Samuel’s mother made him a little coat. She took it to him when she went to Shiloh. She and her husband went there every year to give the *sacrifices. v20 Then Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife. He said, ‘Hannah prayed for a son and then gave him back to the *Lord. May the *Lord give you and Hannah children to take the place of Samuel’. Then they went to their own home. v21 The *Lord was kind to Hannah. She had three more sons and two daughters. The boy Samuel grew up in the house of the *Lord.

v22 Now Eli was very old. He heard about everything that his sons did to all the *Israelites. Women served at the entrance of the house of the *Lord. Eli’s sons had sex with them. v23 Eli said to his sons, ‘Why do you do these evil things? People have told me what you do. v24 No, my sons. The *Lord’s people are spreading a bad report about you. v25 If you do something wicked to another person, God can help you. But if you act in a wicked way towards the *Lord, no one can help you’. Eli’s sons did not listen to him because the *Lord planned to kill them.

v26 The boy Samuel continued to grow bigger. And he continued to please the *Lord and people.

The priests wore special clothes when they served God. An ‘*ephod’ was like a coat. Samuel wore a simple *ephod. ‘*Linen’ is a material like cotton. It is a very good quality material. The chief priest had a *linen *ephod (Exodus 28:6). Hannah did not forget her son. She cared for him although he lived in Shiloh. Every year she made him a new coat with the best quality material. Samuel always had something to wear, as he grew bigger. Hannah gave her son to God. Then God blessed Hannah with more than she had asked for. God gave her five more children.

These verses contrast Hannah’s son and Eli’s sons. Samuel learned all about the work that Eli did at the house of the *Lord. Samuel started serving God when he was very young. He continued to do this all his life. Eli probably trained his sons as priests when they were young. They continued to be priests when they were older. But they behaved as wicked men. They did not know God (verse 12). So, they did not do the things that pleased God. They did not keep the law. They did not honour their father (Exodus 20:12).

God was pleased with Samuel. He was not pleased with Eli’s sons. God wanted good priests not wicked priests. God is holy. He wants his people to be holy too (Leviticus 11:44-45). In verse 25, Eli warned his sons that God would deal with them. They had not obeyed God, so God punished them.

The *prophecy against Eli’s family

v27 A man of God came and spoke to Eli. This is what he said. ‘The *Lord says, “A long time ago your family *ancestors lived in the country of Egypt. They were slaves to the king of Egypt. I clearly showed myself to your *ancestor Aaron. v28 I chose him and his family from all of the *tribes in *Israel. I chose them to be priests. They go up to my *altar and burn incense. They can wear the special *ephod. I also let them eat part of the *sacrifices and *burnt offerings that the *Israelites give. v29 I commanded my people to give these *sacrifices and *offerings to me. Why do you want them for yourself? Eli, why, do you give more honour to your sons than to me? You eat all the best parts of the *offerings that the *Israelites give to me. You have become fat”.

v30 Because of what you have done, the *Lord God of *Israel says this to you. “I promised that your family, and your *ancestor’s family, would serve me as priests for ever”. But the *Lord says, “This will not happen now. If people give me honour, I will give them honour. But if people think that I am worth nothing then I will give them no honour. v31 The time will come soon when you will die. Also, I will kill the young men in your family. No one in your family will ever grow old.

v32 You will see trouble in the house of the *Lord. Although I will do good things for the *Israelites, there will never be an old man in your family. v33 I will not completely cut off your family from serving at my *altar. However, you will cry and be sad. All your family will die when they are young. v34 Hophni and Phinehas, your two sons, will die on the same day. That will be the proof that I have spoken the truth.

v35 I will choose a priest who will be loyal to me. He will do everything that I want him to do. I will make his family continue. They will always serve the one that I *anoint. v36 Everyone in your family who continues to live will bow down to this priest. They will appeal to him for food and money. ‘Please let me help the priests so I can have some food to eat’, they will say”.’

‘Man of God’ is another name for a *prophet. A *prophet hears God and speaks for him. We do not know the name of this *prophet. However, he came with a very important message about future events.

First, God reminded Eli that God chose Aaron and his family as priests. ‘*ancestors’ are the members of someone’s family who lived a long time ago, even hundreds of years ago. Then God spoke about the work that the priests did. And he spoke about the food that he provided for them. The ‘altar’ was like a wooden table. It had a metal cover all over it. The priests offered the *sacrifices to God on the altar. The priests had to burn some of the *sacrifices. These are the ‘*burnt offerings’. Incense is a substance that the priests burned. Its smoke smelled sweet. The ‘special *ephod’ is probably the *ephod that the high priest wore. There is more detail about it in Exodus, chapters 28-29.

Eli allowed his sons to behave in the wrong way as priests. In verses 13-16, they were not satisfied with the pieces of meat that God allowed them to have (Leviticus 7:28-36). Verse 22 says that they had wrong sex. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 says that a father should discipline his son. If his son refused, the leaders of the town should judge that son. Then the people of the town should kill the son. God wanted evil removed from among the *Israelites. But Eli was greedy too and he became fat.

God chose Aaron’s family to be priests for ever. But they had to obey God and give him honour. Here, God warned Eli. God gave Eli this last opportunity to confess his *sins. He wanted Eli to change his behaviour. Eli and his sons did not obey God, so God punished them. Their punishment was severe. God wanted to remove all wicked priests from their family for ever.

The words from the man of God came true. Hophni and Phinehas both died on the same day. Eli died on that day too (1 Samuel 4). King Saul killed many of the priests in Eli’s family in chapter 22. Then King Solomon removed a priest called Abiathar in 1 Kings 2:26-27, 35. Zadok was the priest instead of him.

‘You will see trouble in the house of the *Lord’ (verse 32). The first trouble happened in chapter 4.

God never changed his decision about Eli’s family. But God did good things for all the other *Israelites. Verse 36 is like part of Hannah’s prayer in verse 5. Eli and his sons were fat with all their food, but their family would be hungry in the end.

The ‘priest who will be loyal’ (verse 35) refers to Samuel and to Zadok. ‘My *anointed one’ refers to the same person as in 2:10. If one person fails to obey God, God will call someone else. God will always complete his purposes in the end.

Chapter 3

The *Lord calls Samuel

v1 The boy Samuel served the *Lord. Eli the priest led him. In those days, it was rare for the *Lord to speak directly to people. Also, he did not give many *visions.

v2 Eli now had bad eye-sight and he was nearly blind. One night, he was asleep in his usual place. v3 Samuel was asleep in bed in the house of the *Lord. The *ark was there too. It was not yet dawn and the lamp was still burning. v4 Then the *Lord called Samuel. Samuel said, ‘Here I am’. v5 He ran to Eli and said, ‘You called me. Here I am’. But Eli said, ‘I did not call you. Go back to bed’. So Samuel went back to bed. v6 Again the *Lord said, ‘Samuel’. Samuel went to Eli and said, ‘You called me. Here I am’. Eli answered, ‘My son, I did not call you. Go back to bed’.

v7 Samuel did not know the *Lord yet. The *Lord had not spoken directly to him. v8 Then the *Lord called Samuel for the third time. Samuel got up, went to Eli and said, ‘You called me. Here I am’. Then Eli realised that the *Lord was calling the boy. v9 So Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go back to bed. If he calls you again, you must say, “Speak, *Lord. I am your servant and I am listening”.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his bed.

This chapter describes the first time that God spoke to Samuel. This is the start of his work as a *prophet of God. In the days of Moses and Joshua, the *Lord often spoke to the leaders of the *Israelites. But after the days of Joshua, the people did not always *worship the *Lord with their spirit. Instead, they often *worshipped foreign *gods. Even the priests were wicked, so God did not speak to them. A vision is like a dream but the person is awake. It is one way that God speaks to people.

Samuel had grown. He was a young boy now, not a little child. Samuel probably did more work in the house of the *Lord because Eli could not see very well. The ‘ark’ was a wooden box that had gold all over the outside and inside of it. It contained the ten commandments (laws) that the *Lord gave to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20 and 25:10-22). Another name for the ark is ‘the ark of the covenant’. The ‘covenant’ is the agreement that God made with Abraham. God said that he would bless Abraham and his family for ever (Genesis 12:1-3 and 15:1-21). The ark was holy. It was in the house of the *Lord on behalf of God. God separated the ark from the people. The people could not go near the ark because of their *sin (Leviticus 16).

The lamp was also in the house of the *Lord (Exodus 25:31-40). It needed oil to burn. The priest had to light it every evening. Samuel slept in the house of the *Lord. He had to make sure that the lamp did not go out until the morning (Leviticus 24:1-4).

Samuel served in the house of the *Lord. But this was the first time that the *Lord spoke to him. Samuel heard the *Lord’s voice but he thought it was Eli. It was rare for the *Lord to speak directly to people in those days. We do not know whether Eli had ever heard the *Lord’s voice. But he taught Samuel the proper way to reply to the *Lord.

v10 The *Lord came and stood there. He called Samuel as he had done before. He said, ‘Samuel, Samuel’. Samuel said, ‘I am your servant and I am listening’.

v11 This is what the *Lord said to Samuel. ‘I am going to do something among the *Israelite people. It will shock everyone who hears about it. v12 I will do everything to Eli and his family that I have said. I will start at the beginning and go on to the end. v13 I told Eli that I would punish his family for ever. Eli knew that his sons were wicked. He knew that they did wicked things against me. But he did not stop them. v14 So I made a very serious decision. I said to Eli’s family, “I will never forgive you even if you give *sacrifices and *offerings. You will always be guilty”.’

v15 Samuel lay down until the morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the *Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli about the *vision. v16 But Eli called Samuel and said, ‘Samuel, my son’. Samuel answered, ‘Here I am’. v17 Eli asked, ‘What did the *Lord say to you? You must tell me. Do not keep it a secret or God will punish you. You must tell me everything that he said to you’. v18 So Samuel told Eli everything. He did not keep any of it a secret. Then Eli said, ‘He is the *Lord. He will do what is right’.

v19 As Samuel grew up, the *Lord was with him. The *Lord made sure that all of Samuel’s messages from him came true. v20 All the people who lived in *Israel knew that Samuel was a true *prophet from the *Lord. They knew this from the north of the country to the south. v21 The *Lord continued to appear at Shiloh. He showed himself to Samuel and spoke to him.

Samuel obeyed Eli. Samuel heard the *Lord and saw him too. The *Lord spoke to the boy Samuel who gave the message to the priest. It was a very serious message for a young boy to give to an old priest. In chapter 2, God had warned Eli about what he was going to do. But Eli did not act on God’s warning. Eli did not confess his *sin and obey God. So God could not forgive him. Verse 14 is a very serious verse. ‘I will never forgive you’. All through the Bible, God forgives people. In the *New Testament, Jesus died on the cross. Now he forgives everyone who confesses his or her wicked ways. But God said that he would never forgive Eli and his family. They would always be guilty, even when they died. God punished them.

Samuel was afraid to tell Eli but he did not hide from him. Eli gave a strong warning to Samuel so that he told the truth. The *Lord is a judge. He decides what is right and wrong. He is holy and fair. Eli had *sinned. He accepted the *Lord’s judgement without complaining.

Everyone in the country of *Israel knew about Samuel. People recognised him as a true *prophet from the *Lord. Everything that Samuel said came true. In Deuteronomy 18:21-22, this is the test for a true *prophet. Verse 1 said that it was rare for the *Lord to speak directly to people. Now the *Lord knew that Samuel would obey him. So the *Lord ‘showed himself’ to Samuel. He showed Samuel what he was like. So, Samuel knew God more and understood him better.

Chapter 4

The *Philistines steal the *ark of God

v1 When Samuel spoke, all the *Israelites listened to him.

Now the *Israelites went out to fight against the *Philistine nation. The *Israelites had their camp at a place called Ebenezer. The *Philistines camped at the town of Aphek. v2 The *Philistines went out to have a battle with the *Israelites. As the battle spread, the *Philistines defeated the *Israelites. The *Philistines killed about 4000 *Israelites in the battle. v3 The *Israelite soldiers went back to their camp. The leaders of *Israel asked, ‘Why did the *Lord let the *Philistines defeat us today? Let us bring the *ark of the covenant here from Shiloh. We will take it into battle with us. Then God will save us from our enemies’.

v4 So the people sent men to Shiloh and they brought back the *ark of the covenant. The most powerful *Lord appears between the cherubim (*angels) on the *ark. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the *ark of the covenant of God. v5 The men brought the *ark of the covenant of the *Lord into the camp. The *Israelites gave a great shout of joy that made the ground shake. v6 The *Philistines heard all the shouting. They asked, ‘Why is all this shouting happening in the *Israelite camp?’

Then the *Philistines found out that the *ark of the Lord had come into the *Israelite camp. v7 They were afraid. They said, ‘A *god has come into the camp. We are in trouble. Nothing like this has happened before. v8 This will be terrible for us. No one can save us from these powerful *gods. They sent terrible troubles on the Egyptians and killed them in the desert. v9 Have courage, *Philistines. Be strong men. In the past, the *Israelites were our slaves. Now you must fight like men or we will become their slaves’.

v10 So the *Philistines fought hard and defeated them. The *Israelites ran back to their own tents. This was a great defeat for them. The *Philistines killed 30 000 *Israelite soldiers. v11 The *Philistines stole the *ark of God. Also, Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s two sons, died.

The *Philistines were *Israel’s main enemy at this time. They lived in 5 towns near the Mediterranean Sea. The *Philistines trained their army well. They wanted to defeat the nations who lived round them. They were more skilled than these nations, especially in the way that they used iron. The *Philistines had many *gods but their main *god was Dagon. The country that we now call Palestine gets its name from the *Philistines.

The town of Aphek was only about 40 kilometres (25 miles) to the west of Shiloh. The *Israelites were afraid that the *Philistines would attack Shiloh. The *ark of God was in Shiloh. Ebenezer was probably 3 kilometres (2 miles) to the east of Aphek. The *Israelites had not trained their army very much. So it was quite easy for the *Philistines to defeat them. The *Lord allowed the *Philistines to defeat them in the first battle. The leaders of *Israel knew that the *Lord let it happen. But they did not understand why. In the past, God gave them success when they fought their enemies. But God gave the *Israelites success only when they obeyed him. The leaders had forgotten that.

The *Israelites knew that God sometimes appeared to the priests. He appeared between the cherubim on the top of the *ark. We do not know what the ‘cherubim’ looked like. Bible teachers believe that cherubim are like *angels. Exodus 25:17-22 says that they had two wings. The cherubim were gold and were on the gold lid of the *ark. The *Israelites knew that they would win the battle if God was with them. This had happened in the past (Numbers 10:33-36; Joshua 3:11-14; 6:6-20).

The *Philistines believed that their *gods lived in the *idols. So they thought that the God of *Israel lived in the *ark (verse 7). The *Philistines knew what God had done in the time of Moses, about 350 years ago. They were afraid of his power (verse 8). Then the *Philistines remembered that they had beaten the *Israelites. This happened in the book of Judges. In those days, only soldiers fought in battles. Soldiers did not fight ordinary people. When soldiers won a battle, they could rule the defeated nation. The *Philistines did not want to become slaves of the *Israelites.

The two wicked priests, Hophni and Phinehas, went to look after the *ark. The *Israelites in the camp were happy when they saw the *ark. They expected the *Lord to give them success. But people cannot make God do what they want. They did not win the battle. Verses 10-11 describe the terrible things that happened.

Eli dies

v12 That day a man from the *tribe of Benjamin ran from the battle to Shiloh. He had torn his clothes and put dust on his head. He did that to show how sad he was. v13 Eli was by the side of the road when the man arrived in Shiloh. Eli was sitting on his chair waiting for news. He was worried about the *ark of God. The man of Benjamin came into the town. He told the people what had happened. All the people cried aloud.

v14 Eli heard the people crying. He asked, ‘What is all this noise about?’ The man quickly went over to tell Eli. v15 Eli was now 98 years old and he was blind. v16 The man of Benjamin said, ‘I have come from the battle. I ran here from the battle today’. Eli asked, ‘What happened, my son?’

v17 The man who brought the news said, ‘The *Israelites ran away from the *Philistines. The *Philistines killed many of the *Israelite soldiers. Both your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead. The *Philistines took the *ark of God’.

v18 Eli was sitting next to the gate. When the man mentioned the *ark of God, Eli fell back off his chair. Eli broke his neck and died when he fell. This happened because he was old and fat. He had led the people of *Israel for 40 years.

The man who brought the message ran at least 32 kilometres (20 miles) to Shiloh. The battle was in the flat valley but Shiloh was in the mountains. So most of the way he ran up hills. ‘He had torn his clothes and put dust on his head’. *Israelite people behaved in this way when they were very, very sad. Eli was waiting for news from the battle. It was dangerous to take the *ark into the battle. God had not told them to do it. Eli was worried about the *ark of God. Everyone knew that the man of Benjamin had bad news. But Eli was blind so he could not see the man. But he heard the people crying.

Eli served God as a priest all his adult life. He knew God although his sons did not. In verse 16 Eli asked, ‘What happened, my son?’ The man was not his real son. An old man sometimes speaks this way to a young man. All the news in verse 17 was very bad. Hophni and Phinehas died on the same day. The *prophecy from God in 2:27-36 had come true. But when Eli heard about the *ark he fell and died. This shows how much he cared about the *ark. He was fat because he ate the best pieces of meat with his wicked sons (2:29).

Eli led the people of *Israel for 40 years. The word ‘led’ means ‘judged’. When people had big arguments, Eli acted as a judge. He used God’s law to decide who was right or wrong. After Joshua’s time, the *Israelites called their leaders ‘judges’. So, Eli was a leader and not just a priest. Eli and Samuel were the last two judges before *Israel had a king.

The *glory has left *Israel

v19 Phinehas had a wife. She was expecting a baby. It was nearly time for the baby to be born. She heard that *Philistines had taken away the *ark of God. She also heard that Phinehas and Eli were dead. This news made her start to give birth to her baby. But she had a very difficult time. v20 In fact she was dying. Some women helped her to give birth. Just before she died, they said, ‘Do not be afraid. You have had a son’. However, she did not answer or give them attention.

v21 She named the boy Ichabod. She said, ‘The *glory has left *Israel’. She said this because the *Philistines took the *ark of God. Also because Eli and her husband were dead. v22 She said, ‘The *glory has left *Israel because the *Philistines took the *ark of God’.

The wife of Phinehas had a shock at the bad news. She was very sad that the *Philistines stole the *ark. The birth of a son is good news. She should have been happy. But she thought more about the *ark of God than about her son. She would not talk to the women who helped her. She believed that God had gone from *Israel too. So she called her son ‘Ichabod’. His name means ‘no *glory’. The *glory of God shows that God is present. *Glory is the power and greatness of God. The wife of Phinehas died after her baby was born. Another person in Eli’s family had now died when they were young. The Bible does not tell us anything about Ichabod’s life.

The *Philistines probably ruined Shiloh after they won the battle. Also, they probably destroyed the house of the *Lord. The *ark of God never went back to Shiloh. So Shiloh was no longer an important place where people *worshipped God.

Chapter 5

The *ark of God causes trouble for the *Philistines

v1 When the *Philistines stole the *ark of God they took it from Ebenezer to the town of Ashdod. v2 They carried it into the *temple of their *god. The name of their *god was Dagon. They put the *ark next to the *idol of Dagon. v3 The next morning the people of Ashdod got up early and went to their *temple. They saw that Dagon had fallen down in front of the *ark of the Lord. He lay with his face touching the ground. So, they picked up Dagon and put him back in his place. v4 They got up early the next morning and went to the *temple of Dagon. Again, they found that Dagon had fallen down in front of the *ark of the Lord. He lay with his face touching the ground. His head and his hands had broken off. They were lying in the *temple doorway. Only his body was not broken. v5 Dagon’s priests and other people still go to the *temple at Ashdod. But since this happened no one will step on the doorway of Dagon’s *temple.

The *Philistines stole the *ark. They believed that they were stealing the God of *Israel too. They were very happy to have the *ark. But by the end of the chapter, they wanted to return it. They discovered that the God of *Israel is different from other *gods. He is very powerful. He does not live in the *ark.

Ashdod is about 48 kilometres (30 miles) south of where they had their battle. Every time the *Philistines won a battle, they stole the figures of the *gods of that nation. They put them in Dagon’s *temple. This showed that Dagon was more powerful than the other *gods. The Bible calls these figures ‘*idols’. The *temple was a building. People went to the *temple to praise Dagon. The *Philistines took the *ark of the Lord and put it in Dagon’s *temple. In the morning, Dagon was in front of the *ark, not next to it. He had fallen down in front of the *ark of the Lord. He lay with his face touching the ground (verses 4 and 5). Sometimes people do this in front of a king. This is how they give him honour. They show that the king is more powerful than they are. (People often *worshipped God in this way too.)

The *Philistines put Dagon back in his place. The figure of Dagon was probably on a high table. This made him look powerful and important. The next day he was lying in front of the *ark again. This was not an accident as it happened twice. But this time Dagon was broken. In those days, when men won a battle, they often cut off their enemies’ heads and hands. The *Philistines won the battle with the *Israelites. But God showed the *Philistines that he is more powerful than Dagon. Philippians 2:10-11 says that one day everyone will bend down to Jesus. They will admit that he is the most important God. Everyone will give honour to Jesus.

v6 The *Lord punished the people of Ashdod and their neighbours. They were very frightened. God made them suffer with a disease that gave them *tumours. v7 The men from Ashdod saw what was happening. They said, ‘The *ark of God must not stay here with us. The God of *Israel is punishing us and punishing Dagon our *god’. v8 So they called the *Philistine kings together. They asked the kings, ‘What should we do with the *ark of the God of *Israel?’

The kings answered, ‘Take the *ark of the God of *Israel to Gath’. So the men moved it to the *Philistine town of Gath.

v9 After they had moved the *ark to Gath, God punished the people in Gath. He sent great terror to them. Old and young people suffered with disease and *tumours. v10 So the people sent the *ark of God to the *Philistine town of Ekron.

When the *ark of God came into Ekron the people in the town shouted. They said, ‘They have brought the *ark of the God of *Israel to us. It will kill us. It will kill the people who live here’. v11 So they called the *Philistine kings together. The people from Ekron said to them, ‘Send away the *ark of the God of *Israel. Send it back to where it should be. If you do not do this, it will kill us. And it will kill all our people’. All the people in the town had terror because God was punishing them. v12 Many people died and the rest of the people had *tumours. So, the people of the town of Ekron cried aloud to heaven.

God punished the people everywhere that the *ark of God went. A ‘*tumour’ is a type of spot or lump. It grows very big in your body or under your skin. We do not know what disease the *Philistines had. We do not know where they had the *tumours. In 6:4-5, it says that there were also rats. A rat is an animal like a big mouse. Rats eat the food that people store. Rats spread diseases. In 4:6-8 the *Philistines remembered what the God of *Israel did in the time of Moses. Now God was punishing them. Everyone was frightened. The people in Ekron were so frightened that they prayed to God in heaven instead of to their own *gods.

Chapter 6

The *Philistines return the *ark of God to *Israel

v1 The *Philistines had the *ark of the Lord in their country for 7 months. v2 Then they called for their priests and men who work magic. The *Philistines asked them, ‘What shall we do with the *ark of the Lord? Tell us how to send it back to its home’.

v3 The priests answered, ‘Send the *ark of God back to *Israel. However, you must not send it back without an *offering. You must send an *offering to God because you are guilty. Then you will get well. You will learn why God punished you’.

v4 The *Philistines asked, ‘What *offering should we sent to God?’

The priests and men who work magic replied, ‘You should send 5 models of *tumours and 5 models of *rats. Make them from gold. You should make 5 models of each because you have 5 rulers. The disease has affected your rulers as well as your people. v5 Make models of the *tumours and the *rats that are destroying your country. And give honour to the God of *Israel. Maybe then he will stop punishing you and your *gods. v6 Do not be like the people from the country of Egypt and Pharaoh their king. They would not change their decision and obey God. God punished them greatly until they let the *Israelites leave Egypt.

v7 You must make a new cart. Get two cows that have just given birth to baby cows. You must use cows that no one has ever tied to a cart before. Tie them to the cart. Then take their baby cows away from them. v8 Put the *ark of the Lord on the cart. Put the gold models in a box. These are your *offerings to God because you are guilty. Put the box next to the *ark on the cart. Then send the cart away. v9 But keep watching the cart. The *ark came from *Israel. The cart may go to the town of Beth Shemesh in *Israel. If so, this shows that the *Lord sent this great disease. If the cart does not go there, then the *Lord has not punished us. We shall know that our disease happened by chance’.

The *Philistines now knew that the *ark belonged to the God of *Israel (verse 2). They stole the *ark but they did not steal the God of *Israel. God had caused them trouble. Now they wanted to send the *ark back to *Israel. But they needed to do it in the proper way. They wanted to stop any more trouble. They did not know how to do this. So, they asked their priests and men who work magic. These were the experts of their religion.

Verses 3-6 answer the question ‘What shall we do with the *ark?’ First, the *Philistines had to confess that they were guilty. God’s punishment was killing their people. They wanted to send the *ark back. But they did not know how to stop God’s punishment. They made models of the *tumours and the *rats. They sent them to God and confessed that they were guilty. They agreed that the God of *Israel was more powerful than their *god. Perhaps the *Philistines believed that the real *tumours and *rats would go away with the models. The *Philistines had 5 main towns (see verse 17). Each town had a ruler. The *ark went to only 3 towns, but all the *Philistines were guilty. So they made models for each town.

The priests and men of magic knew that the God of *Israel was powerful. They remembered how he had punished the people of Egypt. When they did not obey him, God punished them more. The *Philistines were afraid and wanted to honour God.

Verses 7-9 explain how the *Philistines sent the *ark back home. They did not want someone to take the *ark directly to *Israel. Instead, they wanted God to direct it. They were afraid of God. But they were not certain that their troubles came from him. So they wanted to find out. When a cow gives birth, she does not want to leave her baby cow. So, if the cows went away, God sent them. The town of Beth Shemesh was the *Israelite town that was nearest to the *Philistines.

v10 So the *Philistines did this. They took two cows that had just given birth. They tied them to a cart. They took away their baby cows and put the baby cows in a building. v11 They put the *ark of God on the cart. Then they put the box next to the *ark. The box contained the gold models of the *rats and the *tumours. v12 The cows went straight towards Beth Shemesh. They kept on the road and did not turn to the right or the left. All the way, they made a lot of noise. The *Philistine rulers followed them all the way to the edge of Beth Shemesh.

v13 The people of Beth Shemesh were in the valley harvesting their wheat. They looked and saw the *ark of the Lord. They were very happy. v14-15 The cows pulled the cart into a field. The field belonged to Joshua who lived in Beth Shemesh. The cows stopped next to a large rock. The *Levites took the *ark of the Lord off the cart. They put the *ark on the large rock. They also put the box, which contained the gold models, on the rock. The people from Beth Shemesh cut up the wooden cart and made a fire with it. Then they killed the cows. They burnt them on the fire as an *offering to the *Lord. That day they offered whole cows as *burnt offerings. They gave *sacrifices to the *Lord. v16 When the 5 *Philistine rulers saw this, they returned to Ekron.

v17 The *Philistines were guilty. So they sent the gold models of the *tumours as a gift to the *Lord. They sent one for each of their 5 towns. The names of these towns are Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. v18 The *Philistines also sent 5 gold models of *rats. They made one model for each of the 5 towns and the 5 rulers. Each town had walls round it to protect it. Each town included the country villages round it. The large rock that the *Israelites put the *ark on is still there. It is in the field that belongs to Joshua from Beth Shemesh.

v19 But some of the men from Beth Shemesh looked inside the *ark. Therefore, God killed 70 of them. The people were very sad because God punished so many men. v20 The men of Beth Shemesh said, ‘When God is present, people can not remain in his company. God is a holy God. Where can we send the *ark to from here?’

v21 So they sent people to Kiriath Jearim with a message. They said, ‘The *Philistines have returned the *ark of the Lord. Come and get the *ark from us. Take it to your town’.

Chapter 7

v1 So men came from Kiriath Jearim to fetch the *ark of the Lord. They took it to the house that belonged to Abinadab. His house was on a hill. Eleazar was his son. They *consecrated Eleazar so that he could guard the *ark of the Lord.

The cows pulled the cart straight back to *Israel. So the *Philistines knew that God had punished them. The cows made a loud noise all the way, because they wanted to return to their baby cows. Cows that have not pulled a cart before can not pull it straight. So God made them go straight to *Israel. The *Philistine rulers followed the cart. They saw that it went right to Beth Shemesh. The *ark and their gifts to God arrived in *Israel. The *Philistine rulers watched the *Israelites give their *sacrifice. Then they went back to give this news to the *Philistines.

The wheat harvest was in the months of May and June. Many people in the town helped with the harvest. They saw the *ark of the Lord arrive. They stopped working. Everyone joined in the *sacrifices and they praised God. A ‘Levite’ is a man from the *tribe of Levi. In Deuteronomy 10:8-9 God says that Levites should carry the *ark of God. Levites helped in the house of the *Lord but they were not priests. Many Levites lived in Beth Shemesh.

The men from Beth Shemesh learned about God. God was as dangerous to the *Israelites as he was to the *Philistines. God was ‘dangerous’ because he is holy. Everyone has to obey him and give him honour. To touch the *ark was like touching God. People who *sin cannot touch anything holy. However, some *Israelites wanted to see inside the *ark. Numbers 4:20 says that no one can look at the holy things in the *ark. If they did, they would die. The men who looked in the *ark did not obey God. They died because God killed them. God was teaching the *Israelites about the true nature of *sin. Everyone became afraid of God. They wanted to send the *ark away. God had punished the Philistines. Perhaps the *Israelites were afraid that God would punish them too.

Kiriath Jearim was about 24 kilometres (15 miles) from Beth Shemesh. The men from Beth Shemesh were too afraid to take the *ark there. Instead, they sent a message to the men from Kiriath Jearim. We do not know anything about Abinadab or Eleazar. We do not know why the *ark went to their house. But they knew that they had to guard it in the proper way.

The *Lord saves the *Israelites from the *Philistines

v2 The *ark stayed at Kiriath Jearim for long time. For 20 years the *Israelites were sad. They wanted to follow the *Lord again. v3 Then Samuel said to all the *Israelites, ‘If you follow the *Lord, you must do it with all your spirit. You must remove all your foreign *gods and *idols of Ashtoreth. You must give your lives completely to the *Lord. You must serve only him. Then he will save you from the *Philistines’. v4 So the *Israelites removed all their *idols of the *gods Baal and Ashtoreth. They served only the *Lord.

v5 Then Samuel said, ‘Meet together at the town of Mizpah. I will pray to the *Lord for you’. v6 So they all met at Mizpah. They got water from the ground and poured it out in front of the *Lord. They did not eat that day. They prayed to the *Lord and confessed, ‘We have *sinned against the *Lord’. Samuel ruled the *Israelites at Mizpah.

The *ark stayed at Abinadab’s house until king David took it to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). The *Israelites were sad because the *Philistines had killed so many *Israelites. God had also killed some *Israelites (6:19). A long time ago, God helped them to win their battles. Verse 3 shows the reason why he did not help them now. The *Israelites did not obey the law. The law said that they must *worship only the God of *Israel (Exodus 20:3). Instead, they also *worshipped foreign *gods and *idols. God blessed the *Israelites when they obeyed him. He punished them when they did not obey him. Leviticus 26 explains this.

The *Israelites *worshipped the *gods Baal and Ashtoreth. These were the 2 main *gods in the country of Canaan. Canaan was the land that God had given to the *Israelites (Genesis 17:8; Joshua 14:1). We now call this country *Israel. But the *Israelites had not defeated all the Canaanite people. This is what they believed about their *gods. Baal was a male *god. He was the son of the *Philistine *god Dagon. He was the *god of *thunder and rain. He made the ground able to produce plenty of food. Ashtoreth was the goddess (female *god) of love and war and fertility. ‘Fertility’ means that people and animals have many babies. It also means that crops produce a big harvest. One way that people *worshipped these *gods was by wrong acts of sex. This was against the law of the *Lord of *Israel.

The *Israelites wanted to follow the *Lord again. Samuel told them to remove all their *idols. They had to stop their wrong behaviour. They must not follow other *gods. Samuel said that they had to follow the *Lord with all their spirit. The *Israelites had to love and trust the *Lord. They should not follow him just because they wanted success. They had to change their lives completely. So, they obeyed Samuel and changed their lives. They proved that they really wanted to follow the *Lord. The word in the Bible for this change of spirit and of life is ‘repentance’.

They could not meet together at Shiloh because the *Philistines had ruined the town. Mizpah is about 24 kilometres (15 miles) south of Shiloh. ‘They got water from the ground and poured it out in front of the *Lord’ (verse 6). ‘In front of the *Lord’ probably means in front of the *altar where they gave *sacrifices. This may be a picture way to show that God forgave them. We wash things clean with water. God ‘washed away’ their *sins when they confessed them to him. They did not eat that day because they were very sad about their *sin. Samuel was a priest because he came from the *tribe of Levi (1 Chronicles 6:33-38). Samuel was also a *prophet because God spoke to him (chapter 3; 4:1). This day he also became the leader of the *Israelites. In verse 6, ‘ruled’ also means ‘judged’ (see notes on 4:18). So, Samuel led the people as the judges did in the book of Judges. He was their last leader before God gave them a king.

v7 The *Philistines heard that the *Israelites were meeting at Mizpah. So the *Philistines rulers went there to attack them. When the *Israelites heard about this, they were afraid of the *Philistines. v8 The *Israelites said to Samuel, ‘Pray to the *Lord our God for us and do not stop. Ask him to save us from the *Philistines’. v9 So Samuel gave a lamb (young sheep) as a whole *burnt offering to the *Lord. He prayed to the *Lord. Samuel asked him to help the *Israelites. The *Lord answered his prayer.

v10 While Samuel gave the *burnt offering to the *Lord, the *Philistines moved nearer. They were ready to attack *Israel. But the *Lord made loud *thunder come from heaven against the *Philistines. He confused and frightened them. They started to run away. v11 The *Israelite men came out from Mizpah. They chased after the *Philistines to a place below Beth Car. And they killed them along the way.

v12 After this Samuel took a stone and put it up between Mizpah and Shen. He called the stone Ebenezer. He said, ‘The *Lord has helped us all this way’. v13 So the *Israelites defeated the *Philistines. The *Philistines did not attack the land of *Israel again.

The *Lord was against the *Philistines all the time that Samuel was alive. v14 Earlier, the *Philistines had seized towns from the *Israelites. But the *Israelites won them back. These towns were from Ekron to Gath. Also there was peace between the *Israelites and the Amorite people.

v15 Samuel continued to be the ruler of the *Israelites all his life. v16 Every year he went to the towns of Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpah. He ruled the people in those places. v17 But Samuel always went back to his home at Ramah. He ruled the *Israelites. And he built an *altar to the *Lord at Ramah.

The *Philistines probably thought that the *Israelites were planning to attack them. So the *Philistines sent their army to Mizpah. The *Israelites were afraid because the *Philistines had beaten them in the past. Also, the *Israelites had not trained their soldiers to fight like a proper army. But this time they trusted the *Lord. They knew that only he could save them. The *Lord answered Samuel’s prayer as he gave the *burnt offering. In these times, people thought that their *gods ruled the weather. But the *Lord rules the weather. Thunder is the noise that comes with a storm and lightning. Dagon was the *god of thunder. So the *Philistines were very afraid when they heard the loud thunder. They were confused so they ran away. It was easy for the *Israelite men to fight and kill the *Philistines.

Ebenezer means ‘stone of help’ or ‘stone of the helper’. Samuel put up this stone to honour the *Lord. It also reminded the *Israelites that the *Lord helped them in the battle. Now that the *Israelites followed the *Lord with all their spirit, they were successful in their battles. The *Lord was against the *Philistines. They had seized many towns in *Israel. The *Lord helped the *Israelites to get them back. Verse 13 probably means that the *Philistines did not attack *Israel again for a long time. The Amorite people lived in Canaan. They lived in the hills on both sides of the river Jordan. Sometimes they joined the *Philistines to fight with them. Now the *Israelites and Amorites probably made a peace contract.

Samuel ruled the *Israelites from his home town of Ramah. But each year he went on a 50-mile journey to 3 other important towns. He helped as a judge in their legal arguments.

Chapter 8

A big change happened in the nation of *Israel. This chapter tells us how it started.

The nation of *Israel began with Abraham and Sarah and their only son Isaac (Genesis chapters 12, 15-18, 21-22). Abraham’s grandson Jacob went to live in the country of Egypt. He took 70 children and grandchildren with him (Genesis 46). 430 years later (Exodus 12:40) all the *Israelites left Egypt. In Numbers 1:1-50 they counted all the men over 20 years old. There were more than 600 000. Most of the men probably had a wife and children. So there may have been more than 2 000 000 *Israelites. God did what he had promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:1-6.

The *Israelites left Egypt. God chose Moses as their leader. When Moses died, God chose Joshua as their leader. Then Joshua died. God gave them ‘judges’ as their leaders. But during all this time, God was their king. He ruled them. God knew that the *Israelites would ask for a king one day. So, God told them what their king should be like (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).

Gideon was one of the judges. The *Israelites wanted him, his son and his grandson to rule over them like a king. But Gideon said that God would rule over them (Judges 8:22-23). Now the *Israelites asked again for a king.

The *Israelites ask for a king

v1 When Samuel was old he appointed his sons as leaders in *Israel. v2 His first son was Joel and his second son was Abijah. They were leaders in the town of Beersheba. v3 But Samuel’s sons did not live a good life like Samuel. They tried to get money in ways that were not honest. They accepted money in secret to make wrong judgements.

v4 So the leaders of *Israel met together and went to Samuel at Ramah. v5 They said to Samuel, ‘You are old. Your sons do not live a good life as you do. Give us a king who will rule over us. The other nations have a king. We want one too’.

v6 Samuel was not pleased that the leaders asked for a king. So he prayed to the *Lord. v7 The *Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to everything that the people say to you. They have not refused to have you as their leader. Instead, they have refused to have me as their king. v8 Today they are doing what they have always done. I brought them out of the country of Egypt. But they left me and *worshipped other *gods. Now they are doing the same to you. v9 Listen to the people but warn them. Tell them what their kings will do to them’.

At least 20 years had passed since the battle at Mizpah in chapter 7. The *Israelites were happy with Samuel as their leader. But he was about 65-70 years old now. They did not know who would lead them in the future. Samuel still led the *Israelites from Ramah. But his sons led the people who lived in the south of the land. The town of Beersheba is about 112 kilometres (70 miles) south of Ramah. Joel and Abijah were not good leaders. They wanted to get money rather than make fair decisions. They did not help the people. The *Jewish law did not allow leaders to accept money for wrong judgements (Deuteronomy 16:18-20). Eli the priest had 2 sons who lived a bad life. The result was that the nation of *Israel became wicked. Now Samuel had 2 sons who lived a bad life. Perhaps the leaders were worried that their nation would become wicked again.

The leaders asked Samuel for a king. They said that they wanted to be like the other nations. But the real reason is in verse 20. They wanted a man to rule them instead of God. God ruled them but they could not see him. They wanted a leader that everyone could see. They should have asked for a good leader who trusted God. The *Israelites had left God many times in the past. God had chosen them and saved them from their enemies. They were happy for a while. Then they left God and *worshipped other *gods.

The *Israelites liked Samuel. But they wanted to replace him with a king. They did not really refuse Samuel as their leader. Instead, they refused God as their king. Samuel knew this and he was not pleased. Samuel did the right thing when he prayed to the *Lord. God told Samuel to warn the people. Perhaps they would change their decision if they heard all the bad things about kings.

v10 Samuel spoke to the people who asked him for a king. He told them what the *Lord had said. v11 Samuel said, ‘The king will rule over you. And this is what he will do. He will take your sons and make them into his soldiers. They will serve with his horses and *chariots. They will run in front of his *chariots. v12 The king will make some of your sons lead thousands of soldiers. Other sons will lead groups of 50 soldiers. The king will make some of your sons plough his ground. Then they will have to harvest his crops. Other sons will have to make *weapons for war and equipment for the *chariots. v13 The king will take your daughters. They will make perfume. They will also cook and bake for him. v14 The king will take your best fields. He will take the best land where you grow grapes and olives. He will give all these to his officers. v15 Then he will take a tenth part of all your grain and grapes. He will give this to his officers and servants. v16 He will take your male and female servants. He will take your best cows and *donkeys. He will use them for his own work. v17 He will take a tenth part of the total number of your sheep. And he will make you into his slaves too. v18 When all this happens you will cry out to the *Lord. But the *Lord will not answer you then’.

v19 But the people would not listen to Samuel. They said, ‘No. We want a king to rule us. v20 We want to be like all the other nations with a king to rule us. He will lead us when we go to war. He will fight our battles’.

v21 Samuel listened to all that the people said. Then he went and told the *Lord. v22 The *Lord said, ‘You must listen to them. You must give them a king’.

Then Samuel told the people of *Israel, ‘Go back to your own towns’.

Verse 20 tells us the real reason why the *Israelites wanted a king. They wanted a king to fight against their enemies. They wanted a king to lead them to war. But God led them when they went to war. They always won their battles when they trusted God. A human king can not promise that he will always win wars. But the *Israelites often forgot God because they could not see him.

Samuel warned them what a human king would do to them. He saw what the kings of other nations did. A *chariot is like a cart. One or two horses pulled it along. The army used *chariots when they went to war. Three or four men stood in the *chariot. One man controlled the horses. The other men fought with swords, arrows or other *weapons. Many times Samuel said ‘he will take’ and ‘he will make’. A king would take a lot for himself and his friends and servants. He would take all the best things. He would take people and animals. He would take crops and land. The people would have pay taxes to him. This would be hard for them. Sometimes they could only grow enough food to feed themselves. The people of *Israel already had to give a tenth part of their animals and crops to the priests (Deuteronomy 14:22-29).

Samuel knew that the king would demand all these things. This would make the people unhappy. Samuel warned them of the disadvantages. But the people could only think of the advantages. They would not change their decision. This was not the best for them. But God gave them what they asked for. However, in the future, God would not help them when they complained. They would get what they deserved. In verse 22, the *Lord said to Samuel ‘You must give them a king’. This does not mean that Samuel chose the king. God chose the king. Then the people went home to wait for their king.

Perfume (verse 13) is a liquid that smells nice. People put it on their bodies so that they smell pleasant.

Grapes (verse 14) are fruit that people make into wine.

Olives (verse 14) are fruit that contain oil. People press them hard to get the oil out.

Chapter 9

Saul looks for his father’s *donkeys

v1 Kish was an important man from the *tribe of Benjamin. Kish was the son of Abiel. Abiel was the son of Zeror. Zeror was the son of Becorath. Becorath was the son of Aphiah. Aphiah came from the *tribe of Benjamin. v2 Kish had a son whose name was Saul. He was a good and handsome young man. No other *Israelite was as good as Saul. He was much taller than all the other people.

We do not know how long the people had to wait for their king. God chose Saul to be king. Saul was much taller than other men. He would look good when he led an army to war. This is what the *Israelites wanted. So, this is what God gave them. These verses describe Saul and his family. ‘An important man’ means that Kish had a lot of wealth and power. We do not know how much Saul loved and obeyed God at this time.

v3 Kish owned a lot of *donkeys. One day the *donkeys wandered away. No one could find them. Kish said to Saul, ‘Go and look for the *donkeys. Take one of the servants with you when you go’. v4 So Saul and the servant went to the hills in the country of Ephraim. They also went to Shalisha and the area near that place. But they did not find the *donkeys there. Then they went to the district of Shaalim. The *donkeys were not there. The people from the *tribe of Benjamin owned a large area of land. So, Saul and the servant went and searched all through this land. They still did not find the *donkeys.

v5 They reached the area of Zuph. Saul said to his servant, ‘Let us go back home now. My father was worried about the *donkeys. But he will start to worry about us if we do not go back now’.

v6 The servant replied, ‘There is a man of God in this town. People respect him because everything that he says comes true. We should go there now. Perhaps he will tell us where to find the *donkeys’.

v7 Saul said to his servant, ‘If we go to visit this man we must give him a present. But we do not have a present. We do not even have any food. What can we give him?’

v8 The servant answered, ‘I have a small piece of silver. I will give it to the man of God. Then he will tell us which way we should go’. v9 (Sometimes a man from *Israel wanted to ask God something. This is what he said to other people. ‘Come with me. We shall go to the seer’. We now call this man a *prophet. But in the past, the *Israelites called him a ‘seer’.)

v10 Saul said to his servant, ‘That is good. Let us visit this man of God’. So, they went to the town where he was.

v11 They went up the hill to the town. Some young women came out of the town to get some water. Saul and his servant said, ‘Is the seer here?’

v12 They said, ‘Yes, he is here. He is just ahead of you. You must hurry. He came to the town today because the people have a *sacrifice. They will *sacrifice at the place of *worship. v13 When you go into the town you will find the seer. He is going to the place of *worship. The people will not start to eat until he comes. The seer has to bless the *sacrifice first. Then the guests will eat. You will be able to find the seer if you go now’.

The *donkeys that Kish owned were valuable. They may have wandered away as they looked for fresh grass. Saul and his servant spent 3 days looking for the *donkeys (verse 20). We do not know the exact places where Saul went. Many of those areas have different names now. Many Bible teachers think that ‘this town’ (verse 6) refers to Ramah. It was Samuel’s home town. He probably had been away to rule in other towns. Then he came home for the *sacrifice. Chapter 7:15-17 explains this. Saul’s servant knew about Samuel. But Saul did not know about Samuel. Saul wanted to go home. But his servant wanted to ask the man of God for help first. His servant trusted the man of God because his words came true (3:19).

‘Seer’ is a different name for a *prophet. It means ‘someone who can see’. ‘See’ means to understand. The *prophets understood what God said. And they spoke God’s word to the people. Sometimes God told them about the future. Sometimes he answered people’s questions. When people went to a *prophet, they gave him a gift. This is how the *prophets earned their wages. People had not invented coins yet. So, they paid with gold and silver or food. Sometimes they paid with objects that they made.

In those days, people built towns on hills. They fetched water from the valley below the town. The young women did this job.

The *Philistines had destroyed the house of the *Lord at Shiloh. The *ark was at Abinadab’s house. The *Israelites did not have a central place where they *worshipped the *Lord. So Samuel had built an *altar to the *Lord at Ramah. The *altar was outside the town, but on a hill near to it. They called this the ‘high place’. In the *Old Testament we often read that people offered *sacrifices on the top of a hill. The false religions also had ‘high places’. But people went there to *worship *idols. The *sacrifice in verse 12 was probably the same as in 1:3-4. It was an *offering to say ‘thank-you’ to the *Lord. Samuel was the *Israelite leader. He was also a priest. People would not eat the meal until Samuel blessed the *sacrifice.

Saul meets Samuel

v14 Saul and the servant went up to the town. As they went into the town, Samuel came towards them. He was going to the place of *worship. v15 God had spoken to Samuel the previous day. God said, v16 ‘Tomorrow I will send a man to you. He comes from the land of Benjamin. He will arrive at about this time of day. *Anoint him as the leader over my people of *Israel. He will save my people from the *Philistines. I have seen the way that my people suffered. I heard them cry out for help’.

v17 Samuel saw Saul. God said to Samuel, ‘Here is the man I told you about. He will rule my people’.

v18 Samuel was near the entrance gate of the town. Saul approached him and said, ‘Please tell me where the seer’s house is’.

v19 Samuel said, ‘I am the seer. You must go ahead of me to the place of *worship. I want both of you to eat with me today. Tomorrow morning I will answer all your questions. Then you can go home. v20 Do not worry about the *donkeys that you lost three days ago. Someone has found them. Do you know what all the people of *Israel want? They want you and your father’s family’.

v21 Saul answered, ‘I belong to the *tribe of Benjamin. It is the smallest *tribe in the nation of *Israel. And my family group is the least important group in the *tribe of Benjamin. Why have you said all this to me?’

v22 Then Samuel took Saul and his servant into a hall. He made them sit in the most important place. Samuel had invited about 30 men to the meal. v23 Samuel spoke to the cook. He said, ‘Please bring me the piece of meat that I gave you. I told you to keep it separate’.

v24 So the cook took the leg of meat and put it down in front of Saul. Samuel said to Saul, ‘I kept this piece of meat for you. Eat it because this is a special occasion. When I first invited the guests, I kept this piece of meat for you’. So, Saul ate with Samuel that day.

v25 They left the place of *worship and went into the town. Samuel took Saul on to the roof of his house. They talked together on the roof. v26 They got up at dawn the next day. Saul was on the roof of the house. Samuel called up to him. He said, ‘Get up and get ready to leave. I will send you on your journey’. Saul got ready to leave. Saul and Samuel went out into the street. v27 They walked down to the edge of the town. Samuel said, ‘Tell your servant to go on ahead of us. But you must stay, as I have a message from God for you’.

God told Samuel about Saul. He told Samuel the day before Saul came to the town. God planned that they would meet. Saul and his servant arrived at the town at just the right time. They met Samuel.

God saw how the *Philistines kept attacking the *Israelites. He knew that the *Israelites were not happy. So he chose Saul as their leader. ‘Anoint’ means to put oil on a person. This shows that God has chosen them to do a special job. He makes them able to do that job. In the *Old Testament, they *anointed the house of the *Lord and the priests. This showed that they were holy (Exodus 30:22-33). They also *anointed the kings. God told Samuel that Saul would ‘lead’ and ‘rule’ God’s people. ‘Lead’ means to govern and be their leader. ‘Rule’ means to control the people. Saul would also save them from their enemies. God did not say that Saul was their king. God was still their king.

Saul went to Samuel to ask about the *donkeys. Samuel knew about the *donkeys before Saul asked him. Saul knew that the people had asked Samuel for a king. Samuel said to Saul, ‘They want you and your father’s family’ (verse 20). Samuel meant that Saul would be the king. Saul probably understood what Samuel said. But Saul was surprised. After this, Samuel dealt with Saul as a man who deserves honour. He made Saul sit in the most important place. Then he gave him the special piece of meat. The priest usually ate this meat (Leviticus 7:34). The ‘hall’ was probably a small building at the place of *worship.

The *Israelites built houses with flat roofs. They often slept on the roof in the summer. Sometimes they built a small room on the roof. Their guests slept in this room. The stairs up to the roof were on the outside of the house. Saul stayed at Samuel’s house that night. Samuel did not explain anything to Saul until the morning (verse 19). Then he spoke to Saul in private.

Chapter 10

Samuel *anoints Saul

v1 Then Samuel took a jar of oil and poured the oil over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul. He said, ‘The *Lord has *anointed you as the leader of the people that he owns. v2 After you leave me today you will meet two men. They will be near Rachel’s grave at Zelzah. This is in the country that belongs to the *tribe of Benjamin. The men will say, “Someone has found the *donkeys that you have been looking for. Your father has stopped thinking about his *donkeys. Now he is worried about you. He keeps asking, ‘What shall I do about my son?’ ”

v3 Then you will go on from there until you reach the big tree at Tabor. Three men will meet you there. They are going to the town of Bethel to *worship God. One man will carry three young goats. Another man will have three loaves of bread. The other man will have a leather bag full of wine. v4 They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread. You must accept the bread. v5 Then you must go to the place of *worship at the town of Gibeah. There is a *Philistine camp there. When you arrive, you will meet a group of *prophets. They will come down from the place of *worship. They will be playing music on their instruments: *harps, tambourines, flutes and lyres. And they will be *prophesying. v6 The Spirit of the *Lord will take control of you. You will *prophesy too. You will become a different person. v7 When all these things happen, do whatever you need to do. God is with you.

v8 Go ahead of me to the town of Gilgal. I will certainly come down to you there and give *burnt sacrifices and friendship *offerings. You must wait for 7 days. Then I will come and tell you what to do’.

Samuel *anointed Saul in private first. He told Saul that God had *anointed him as leader. Men did not choose Saul, God chose him. In verses 17-25, all the *Israelites saw that God chose Saul. Then in 11:1-15 the *Israelites gave honour to Saul in public. The phrase ‘the people that he (God) owns’ (verse 1) refers to the people of *Israel. These people belonged to God. God was their king. The people did not belong to Saul. Saul was a leader under God’s rule. Samuel kissed Saul. This showed respect for him as ruler.

Saul was probably very surprised by what Samuel said to him. He needed evidence to prove that Samuel’s words were true. So, Samuel told him about three things that would happen on his way home. This would show him that God had especially chosen him. We do not know where Zelzah (verse 2) and Tabor (verse 3) were. And we do not know whether they were towns or just an area of land. Rachel was Jacob’s wife. She died when she gave birth to their son Benjamin (Genesis 35:16-20). The *tribe of Benjamin are the people who came from the family of Benjamin.

The first event showed that Samuel’s words about the *donkeys were true. Saul did not have to think about the *donkeys any more. The second event showed that he was a very important person. The three men had food for the priest. But they gave some of it to Saul instead.

The third event happened at Samuel’s home town. The *Philistines kept attacking the land of *Israel. They had a camp at Gibeah. But in 9:16 God said that the king would save his people from the *Philistines. The group of *prophets (verse 5) was different to single *prophets. The single *prophets listened to what God said and told people God’s words. The groups of *prophets usually lived together near places of *worship. They ‘*prophesied’ when the Spirit of *God took control of them. This means that they played instruments and they sang. They shouted and danced with great excitement. They may have looked as if they were out of control. Harps and lyres are instruments with strings. Tambourines make a sound when you shake them. Flutes are instruments that you blow into.

v9 Saul left Samuel and went on his journey. As Saul left, God gave him a new character. And everything happened just as Samuel had said that it would. v10 They arrived at Gibeah and a group of *prophets met them. The Spirit of God took control of Saul. He *prophesied with the *prophets. v11 There were some people who had known Saul for a long time. They saw him *prophesying. They said, ‘What has happened to the son of Kish? Has Saul really become a *prophet?’

v12 A man who lived there asked, ‘Who is the leader of these *prophets?’ Now there is this famous phrase ‘Has Saul really become a *prophet?’ This is when it started. v13 When Saul stopped *prophesying he went up to the place of *worship.

v14 Saul’s uncle asked Saul and his servant, ‘Where have you been?’ Saul said, ‘We were looking for the *donkeys. We could not find them so we went and visited Samuel’.

v15 Saul’s uncle said, ‘What did Samuel say to you’.

v16 Saul said, ‘He told us that someone had found the *donkeys’. But Saul did not tell his uncle that Samuel had *anointed him as king.

These events showed Saul that Samuel’s words were true. Everything happened just as he said it would. This proved that God was with Saul. Saul could not change himself but the Spirit of *God changed him. Then he had to do what God told him.

The groups of *prophets had had to learn to *prophesy. So people were surprised when Saul started to *prophesy. They knew that no one had trained him. He had not behaved like this before. In verse 10, the ‘Spirit of God’ means the Holy Spirit. The phrase ‘he *prophesied’ means that Saul behaved like a *prophet. It does not mean that he became a real *prophet. The same thing happened to Saul in 19:24. But it did not affect the way that he behaved afterwards. The Holy Spirit only changed Saul’s outer behaviour. The Holy Spirit did not enter Saul in the way that he entered people in *New Testament times.

Many people did not like the groups of *prophets. The *prophets behaved in strange ways. Perhaps people thought that a bad thing had happened to Saul. Perhaps they did not want him to join with the *prophets. In verse 12 the question ‘Who is the leader of these *prophets?’ was an insult. It meant ‘We do not know their leader so these *prophets are not important’. The people had no respect for the *prophets. And the people had no respect for Saul when he behaved like the *prophets.

In Acts 2, some people insulted the disciples (people who followed Jesus) when the Holy Spirit came. The people thought that the disciples had drunk too much wine. 1 Corinthians 2:14 refers to a person who does not have the Holy Spirit. This person cannot understand what the Holy Spirit does.

Saul’s uncle did not know that Kish had lost his *donkeys. Saul told his uncle only part of what Samuel had said to him. Saul kept everything else a secret.

Saul becomes the first king of *Israel

v17 Samuel sent a message to all the people of *Israel. He told them to meet with the *Lord at Mizpah. v18 He said to them, ‘This is a message from the *Lord, the God of *Israel. The *Lord says, “I led you *Israelites out from the country of Egypt. I saved you from Egypt’s control. And from the control of other nations that gave you trouble”. v19 The *Lord saves you from all your troubles and difficult situations. Now you have refused to accept the *Lord your God. You said, “No. We want a king to rule us”. So, come and stand in front of God. Stand together in your *tribes and as families’.

v20 Each *tribe went forward. God chose the *tribe of Benjamin. v21 Each family group from the *tribe of Benjamin went forward. And God chose the family group of Matri. Then God chose Saul, son of Kish, from the family of Matri. They looked for Saul but no one could find him. v22 So they asked the *Lord, ‘Has Saul come here yet?’ And the *Lord said, ‘Yes, but he is hiding among the luggage’.

v23 So they ran to Saul and brought him out. When Saul stood with the people, you could see his head above everyone else’s head. v24 Samuel said to all the people, ‘Here is the man that God has chosen. There is no one else among the people as good as he is’. Then the people shouted, ‘May the king live for a long time’.

v25 Samuel explained to the people all the duties and rights of a king. He wrote them in a book. He put the book in the holy place. Then Samuel told the people to go to their own homes. v26 Saul went to his home at Gibeah. A group of brave men went with him. The men went with Saul because God gave them the desire. v27 There were some other men who caused trouble. They said, ‘We do not think that this man can save us’. They did not approve of Saul. They did not bring him any gifts. But Saul said nothing.

In chapter 8 the *Israelites went to Samuel and asked him for a king. God said that he would give them a king. So Samuel sent the people home. Now Samuel called the people together again and gave them their king. We do not know whether there was a short or a long time between these two meetings.

First, Samuel reminded the *Israelites that they refused the *Lord as their king. Samuel did not declare Saul as their king. Instead, the people saw that God chose Saul. We do not know how this happened. In the *Old Testament, the priests used the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). We do not know what these were. However, they were a definite way that God told the priest his decision. They involved a choice. This contrasts with the messages of the *prophets which could be true or false. Each *tribe had thousands of people. Probably the leader of each *tribe went forward. In verse 19, ‘stand in front of God’ may mean that they stood in front of an *altar at Mizpah. Each family group had hundreds of people in it. God was able to choose Saul even when Saul was not there.

Saul knew that God had chosen him but Saul hid. Perhaps he was afraid and did not want to be king. But when the people saw their king, they were very happy. They thought that Saul would be a good king. The *Israelites had never had a king before. So Samuel had to explain about the king. The king was not to be like the kings of the nations round *Israel. A king had duties. God expected him to do particular things. He had to lead the people the proper way. The king also had rights. He could tell the people to do things for him. God also had rules for a king. He gave these rules to Moses in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. The ‘holy place’ (verse 25) was the place of *worship. It may have been a building. When Samuel finished all this, the people went home.

God was kind to Saul. He gave Saul a group of brave men to help him. They stayed with him at Gibeah. But a few people did not like Saul. They wanted to make trouble. They refused the man that God chose. This often happens, even now, when God chooses someone for a job. Saul behaved the right way. He said nothing.

Chapter 11

Saul rescues the town of Jabesh

v1 Nahash was an *Ammonite. He went with his army to seize the town of Jabesh in the country of Gilead. They surrounded Jabesh. The people from Jabesh said, ‘Make a contract with us and we will accept you as our ruler’. v2 Nahash said, ‘I will make a contract with you. But I will pull out the right eye of every person in your town. Then you will have shame among the people of *Israel’. v3 The rulers of Jabesh said to him, ‘Wait for 7 days. We will send a message to all the people in *Israel. We will ask them to rescue us. If no-one comes to rescue us, we will let you be our ruler’.

An ‘Ammonite’ was a person from the *tribe or country of Ammon. The Ammonites had attacked *Israel in the past (read Judges 3:13; 11:4-32). When an army attacked a town, the soldiers often killed all the people in that town. The people who came from Jabesh could not fight and win against the Ammonites. They wanted to give in and let Nahash rule them. But if Nahash pulled out their right eyes, they would not be able to fight very well. In those days, many men fought with bows and arrows. They needed two eyes so that they could aim their arrows straight. The people from Jabesh did not want to have this shame. So they asked the *Israelites to help them. Nahash probably thought that his army was strong enough to fight the *Israelites.

v4 The men took the message to the town of Gibeah. Saul lived in this town. When they told the people the news, the people started to cry aloud. v5 Saul had been in his field. Now he was coming home with his *oxen. He heard the people crying. He said, ‘What has happened? Why are the people crying?’ They told Saul what the men from Jabesh had said. v6 When Saul heard the news the Spirit of God took control of him in a powerful way. Saul became very angry. v7 He killed two of his *oxen. He cut them into pieces. He gave the pieces to the men from Jabesh. He told the men to take the pieces to all the towns that were in *Israel. The men said, ‘Everyone must follow Saul and Samuel into battle. Someone will cut up your *oxen like this if you do not follow’. The people were afraid of the *Lord. So all the men came together as one group. v8 They met together with Saul at the town of Bezek. There were 300 000 men from the country of *Israel. There were 30 000 men from the country of *Judah.

v9 Saul spoke to the men who had brought the news from Jabesh. He told them to go back to Jabesh and tell the people this message. ‘Someone will rescue you. It will happen tomorrow before midday’. So, the men went and told the message. All the people in Jabesh were very happy. v10 The men of Jabesh went and spoke to Nahash. They said, ‘Tomorrow we will come out to you. Then you can do anything that you want with us’.

v11 The next day Saul divided his soldiers into three groups. At dawn, they attacked the *Ammonite army. The *Israelite soldiers killed and defeated them by midday. Some of the *Ammonite soldiers escaped and scattered. Each man ran off by himself.

Saul was the king of *Israel now but he still worked in his fields. Saul was angry when he heard about the *Ammonite attack on Jabesh. The Spirit of God gave him power to rescue the town and the people. The Spirit of God gives power to people for the special job that God gives them. Without this power, they cannot do the job. *Israel did not have an army. Saul required every man in *Israel to fight. He warned them to frighten them. But the people were not afraid of Saul. They were afraid of the *Lord. Saul was a strong leader because God gave him the power. The men came from many different towns but they were a united group. They met at Bezek. Bezek was about 16 kilometres (10 miles) away from Jabesh.

In verse 8, a ‘thousand’ is the name for a large group of men. The group has a maximum of 1000 men, but there may be fewer men. So there were 300 large groups of men from *Israel and 30 groups from *Judah. This verse shows that the writer of 1 Samuel wrote it after the days of king Solomon. *Israel was one country during the rule of Saul, David and Solomon. When Solomon died, *Israel divided into *Judah and *Israel (1 Kings 12).

The people in Jabesh heard that Saul and his army would rescue them. They were very happy now. In verse 10, ‘we will come out to you’ has two meanings. Nahash thought that the people from Jabesh would give in to him. But the people meant that they would go and fight him. The *Ammonites were not ready for the attack. ‘The next day’ (verse 11) meant after sunset. The *Israelite day ended at sunset. Their new day started in the evening (Genesis 1:3). The *Israelites defeated the *Ammonites. Only a few of the *Ammonite soldiers escaped.

v12 The people of *Israel said, ‘Some men said, “We do not think that this man can save us”. Where are those men? Bring them to us and we will kill them’.

v13 Saul said, ‘No. The *Lord rescued the people of *Israel today. You must not kill these men’.

v14 Samuel said, ‘We will all go to the town of Gilgal. Then we will declare again that Saul is our king’. v15 So everyone went to Gilgal. They went to the holy place. They declared that Saul was king. They gave peace *offerings to the *Lord. Saul and all the *Israelites had a special party because they were happy.

In 10:27, some men did not think that Saul could save the *Israelites. At Jabesh, Saul proved that he could. This proved that he was a good leader. In verse 13, Saul was not proud. He knew that God had rescued the people. Saul was wise. He did not punish those who opposed his authority. Instead, Samuel had a special meeting. Everyone declared that Saul was king. This time no-one opposed him. The *Israelites were happy with God and happy with Saul. The Bible sometimes calls the ‘peace *offering’ (verse 15) the ‘fellowship’ or ‘friendship’ *offering. The people gave *offerings to the *Lord. Then they ate part of the *offerings together. You can read about this *offering in Leviticus 3 and 7:11-21. This was probably the same *offering as in 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 9.

People declared Saul as king on three different occasions. This way, Samuel helped the people to accept Saul as king. First, Samuel *anointed him with oil in 10:1. This was a private time with just Saul and Samuel. The second time was a public event. God chose Saul from all of the *Israelites (10:17-25). But some people opposed Saul. The third time was in 11:14-15. This time all the *Israelites went to the holy place. Everyone knew then that God gave Saul the power to be their king.

Chapter 12

Samuel speaks to all the *Israelites for the last time

v1 Samuel said to all the *Israelites, ‘I have done everything that you wanted me to do. I have given you a king to rule you. v2 Now you have a king to lead you. I am old and my hair is grey. My sons are here with you. I have been your leader from the days when I was young until now. v3 Here I am. I have not done any wrong things. If I have, you must accuse me to the *Lord and his *anointed king. I did not steal anyone’s *ox or *donkey. I did not hurt anyone because I had not been honest. I saw the wrong things that people did. But I never accepted money to pretend that I did not see them. However, if I have done any of these things, I will give you what I have taken’.

v4 The *Israelites answered, ‘You have always been honest. You have not hurt any of us. You have not taken anything from anyone’.

v5 Samuel said to the *Israelites, ‘The *Lord is a witness of what you have said today. The *Lord’s *anointed king is also a witness of this: You said that I am innocent’.

They replied, ‘He is a witness’.

All the *Israelites now accepted Saul as their king. Samuel had led them for a long time. He had been a good leader. Samuel had even given them the king that they wanted. Samuel was honest. He was fair. The people could trust him. He did not take anything from them. All the *Israelites agreed with this. In chapter 8, Samuel had warned them that a king would take a lot from them. Perhaps Samuel wanted the king to hear how he should lead the people. God had chosen Samuel to lead the *Israelites. Samuel led the *Israelites in the way that God wanted. Then God chose and *anointed Saul as king. Now Samuel wanted Saul to lead the *Israelites in God’s way. Samuel was still the priest. The people could still trust Samuel to lead them as a good priest.

In verse 5, the people said ‘He is a witness’. ‘He’ could refer to the *Lord or to the king as the witness.

v6 Then Samuel said to all the people, ‘The *Lord chose Moses and Aaron. The *Lord brought all the *Israelites out from the country of Egypt. v7 You must stand up now because I will judge you. I will remind you about all the good things that God did. God did these things for you and for your families who lived many years ago. v8 Jacob and his family went to the country of Egypt. About four centuries later the people from the family of Jacob (the *Israelites) asked the *Lord to help them. The *Lord sent Moses and Aaron. They brought the *Israelites, your family, out from the country of Egypt. They brought them into this place.

v9 But the *Israelites forgot the *Lord their God. Sisera led an army from the town of Hazor. He fought against the *Israelites. The *Philistines and the king of Moab also fought against the *Israelites. The *Lord allowed these enemies to win. They made the *Israelites become their slaves. v10 Then the *Israelites called out to the *Lord. They said, “We have *sinned. We left the *Lord and served the Baals and Ashtoreths. Save us from our enemies and we will serve you”. v11 So the *Lord sent Gideon, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel. The *Lord saved you from all your enemies. Then you lived in safety.

v12 But then you saw that Nahash, who was the king of the *Ammonites, was coming to attack you. So you said to me, “No. We want a king to rule us”. However, the *Lord your God was your king. v13 Now here is the king that you chose. He is the one that you asked for. The *Lord has made him your king. v14 You should fear the *Lord and serve him. You must obey the *Lord. You must not oppose his commands. You and the king who rules you must follow the *Lord. v15 You might not obey the *Lord. You might oppose his commands. If you do, he will oppose you. He will do to you what he did to the *Israelites in the past’.

You can read about Jacob in the *Old Testament book of Genesis. His birth is in chapter 25. He went to Egypt in chapter 46. The account of Moses and Aaron is in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. The book of Joshua describes how the *Israelites came into the land where they now lived. The events in verses 9-11 are in the book of Judges. The *Israelites asked for a king in 1 Samuel 8. But the account of the attack by Nahash is not until chapter 11. In the past, Nahash had probably attacked other countries that were near *Israel. Perhaps the *Israelites thought that Nahash would attack them in the future.

In these verses, Samuel spoke as a *prophet. The *Israelites knew a lot about what had happened to them in the past. In verses 6-11, Samuel reminded them again. God had given them all that they needed. He had rescued them from all their enemies. Samuel reminded them that God had chosen leaders for them. These leaders led them in the battles. The *Israelites had success and won their battles. Then Samuel reminded the *Israelites that they had often stopped *worshipping God. Instead, they *worshipped *idols. So God let their enemies defeat them.

The *Israelites’ main *sin is in verse 9, ‘they forgot the *Lord their God’. God wanted the *Israelites to *worship only him. He was their king. When they *worshipped the *Lord, their life was good. When they *worshipped other *gods, their enemies won the battles. But when the *Israelites started to *worship the *Lord again, the *Lord helped them.

In verses 12-15, Samuel reminds the *Israelites that they refused the *Lord as their king. Instead, they wanted a man as their king. But the *Lord was still their king. The *Israelites had to obey the *Lord. Their king had to obey the *Lord. In verse 15, Samuel warns the *Israelites not to oppose the *Lord. When they did this in the past, the *Lord punished them. If they do it in the future, the *Lord will punish them again.

v16 Now stand still. See the great thing that the *Lord will to do. v17 It is time for the wheat harvest now. I will pray. The *Lord will send *thunder and rain. Then you will know that you did an evil thing against the *Lord. You asked for a king.

v18 Samuel prayed to the *Lord. That day the *Lord sent *thunder and rain. All the people were afraid of the *Lord and of Samuel. v19 All the people said to Samuel, ‘We are your servants. Pray to the *Lord your God for us. Do not let us die. We have *sinned many times in the past. Now we have *sinned because we asked for a king’.

v20 Samuel said, ‘Do not be afraid. It is true that you have *sinned. But do not turn away from the *Lord. Serve the *Lord with all of your spirit. v21 Do not *worship *idols. They cannot help you. They cannot save you. They have no use. v22 The *Lord does not change his decisions. He decided to make you his own people. He will not leave you. v23 As for me, I will not stop praying for you. I will *sin against the *Lord if I stop. I will teach you the good and the right things to do. v24 You must give the *Lord honour. You must serve him with all your spirit. Remember the wonderful things that he did for you. v25 But if you continue to *sin against God he will remove you and your king’.

The wheat harvest is in the dry season. There is no rain or *thunder in this season. (In 7:10-11 God sent *thunder to frighten the *Philistines.) The *Israelites were very frightened when God sent the rain and *thunder in the dry season. The storm was the way that God spoke to the *Israelites. They realised that they had *sinned. They were afraid that God would kill them. But Samuel knew that God loved the *Israelites. God chose them as his special people. The *Israelites were afraid of God. But Samuel did not want them to turn away from God because of their fear. The people could not change what they had done. But Samuel encouraged them to live the right way in the future. The *Lord had been very kind to them in the past. He would be kind to them in the future, if they obeyed him. But if they did not obey the *Lord, he would remove them. The *Lord wanted his people to serve and *worship only him.

One of Samuel’s duties as a priest was to pray to God. Samuel knew that this was very important. He said that he would *sin against God if he did not pray for the *Israelites. He also had to teach the people the right way to behave. Samuel had done both these things while he led the people. Samuel obeyed God. And he had to continue this work.

Chapter 13

Jonathan attacks the *Philistines

v1 Saul was 30 years old when he became king. He was the king of *Israel for 42 years. v2 Saul chose 3000 men from *Israel. 2000 men stayed with him at Michmash. This place was in the mountains of Bethel. 1000 men stayed with his son Jonathan. They stayed in the town of Gibeah. Gibeah was in the land that belonged to the *tribe of Benjamin. Saul sent the rest of the men home. v3 Some of the *Philistine army camped at Geba. Jonathan attacked them. The rest of the *Philistines heard about it. Saul said, ‘All the *Israelites must hear about this’. So Saul sent men out to every place in the land of *Israel. They had to blow trumpets to call the men to war. v4 All the people in *Israel heard the news. They heard that Saul had attacked the *Philistines. They heard that the *Philistines hated the *Israelites now. So the people came to Saul at Gilgal.

Verse 1 in the old *Hebrew texts says, ‘Saul was years old when he became king’. The person who wrote it left out Saul’s age. We do not know how old Saul was but many Bible teachers think that he was between 30 and 40 years old.

The *Israelites came from 12 different *tribes. They did not have an army. When people had attacked them in the past, all the men left their work. Then they went to fight. For example, this happened in chapter 11. Saul decided to train and pay a proper army. He chose the men that he wanted. He sent the rest of the men home. Jonathan was Saul’s oldest son (14:49).

Geba was about 6 kilometres (4 miles) north of Gibeah. Michmash was only 3 kilometres (2 miles) north of Geba. Small groups of *Philistine soldiers camped in many places in the land of *Israel. They watched the *Israelites. Later the *Philistines attacked the *Israelites. But the *Philistines could gather their main army quickly if the *Israelites attacked them. Jonathan attacked the small camp of *Philistines at Geba. The *Philistines were angry. This started a major battle. The *Israelites now needed more men to fight in this battle. A trumpet was an instrument that they blew into. In the *Old Testament the *Israelites gathered when they heard the trumpet. This was how news travelled quickly round the country. This time the trumpet called people together for war. Saul was at Gilgal where the *Israelites had made him king in 1 Samuel 11:14-15. Gilgal was about 18 kilometres (11 miles) from Geba.

Saul gives the *burnt offering to God

v5 The *Philistines gathered to fight the *Israelites. The *Philistines had 3000 *chariots and 6000 men who rode in the *chariots. They had many thousands of soldiers. There were so many soldiers that no-one could count them. The *Philistines camped at the town of Michmash which was east of Beth Aven. v6 The *Israelites saw the *Philistine army. The *Israelites knew that they were in a difficult situation. Some of them went and hid in caves and bushes. They also hid among the rocks, in holes in the ground and in wells. v7 Some of the *Israelites even crossed to the other side of the river Jordan. They went into the land of Gad and Gilead.

Saul stayed at Gilgal. All the people with him were so afraid that they trembled. v8 Samuel had told Saul to wait for him. Saul waited for 7 days as Samuel had told him. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal. The men with Saul began to leave him. v9 So Saul said, ‘Bring the *burnt offering and the friendship *offerings to me’. Saul offered the *burnt offering to God. v10 Samuel arrived just as he finished. Saul went to greet Samuel.

v11 Samuel asked, ‘What have you done?’

Saul replied, ‘The soldiers were leaving me. You said you would be here at a particular time. But you did not arrive at that time. The *Philistines were gathering at Michmash. v12 I thought that they would come and attack me at Gilgal. But I had not asked God to help me. So I thought that I ought to offer the *burnt offering’.

v13 Samuel said, ‘You have behaved in a foolish way. You have not obeyed the command of the *Lord your God. You should have obeyed the *Lord. Then the *Lord would have let you and your family rule over the *Israelites for ever. v14 But this will not happen because you did not obey the *Lord. Instead, the *Lord will find the kind of man that he wants. The *Lord will make this man the ruler of his people, the *Israelites’.

Saul and his army left Michmash and went to Gilgal. So the main *Philistine army came to Michmash. The *Philistines had many *chariots. The *Philistine army was so large that no one could count all the soldiers. The *Israelite soldiers saw this and became very frightened. Some of them hid. Some ran more than 24 kilometres (15 miles) to the river Jordan. They did not want the *Philistines to kill them. In 1 Samuel 10:8, Samuel had told Saul to go to Gilgal and wait for him. Samuel said, ‘I will certainly come down to you there and give *burnt sacrifices and friendship *offerings. You must wait for 7 days. Then I will come and tell you what to do’.

Before a battle the priest gave *sacrifices to God and prayed. He listened to God. And he told the people what God had said. God told them how to fight. He told them how to win the battle. The *Israelites trusted God to help them. Saul waited for 7 days but Samuel did not arrive. Perhaps Samuel was testing Saul to see if Saul would trust God. Saul became frightened. He could have asked God to help. Only the priest should offer the *burnt offering. Saul saw that his soldiers were leaving. So he went against Samuel’s instruction. Saul did not trust God’s word that Samuel the *prophet had spoken. Saul did not obey God. Instead, Saul did what he thought was right. This is *sin. Saul *sinned in this way several times while he was king.

Verses 11-12 show that Saul had been afraid of the situation. That is why he acted. In verse 13 ‘foolish’ means guilty of wrong behaviour. In 1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel said that it is better to obey God than to *sacrifice to him. The *Israelites wanted a king to lead them. They wanted to be like other nations. They wanted a king to fight their battles. God gave them what they wanted. But King Saul did not trust God. Usually the present king’s son became the next king. And this continued for many years. The king’s son learned how to be king by watching his father. God did not want another king like Saul. God wanted his special people, the *Israelites, to have a good king. In chapter 16, we read how God chose the next king.

v15 Samuel left Gilgal. He went to the town of Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. Saul counted the men who were with him. There were 600 men.

v16 Saul, his son Jonathan and the men who were with them were in the town of Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. The *Philistines camped at Michmash. v17 They sent out three groups of men to make attacks. One group went towards Ophrah in the land of Shual. v18 The second group went towards the town of Beth Horon. The third group went to the border of the land. There they could see across the Valley of Zeboim towards the desert.

v19 There were no *blacksmiths in the land of *Israel. The *Philistines had said, ‘If the *Israelites have *blacksmiths they will be able to make swords or *spears’. v20 The *Israelites used ploughs, hoes, axes and sickles on their farm land. These tools got blunt. So they had to take them to the *Philistines’ *blacksmiths who made them sharp again. v21 The *Israelites had to pay 8 grams of silver to have each plough and hoe made sharp again. They paid 4 grams of silver for each axe, sickle and *ox-goad.

v22 When the battle started only Saul and Jonathan had a sword and *spear. The other soldiers did not have any swords or *spears.

Saul’s army was very small now. Saul and Jonathan joined together so that all the *Israelites fought as one army. But the *Philistine army divided into 3 groups. This was a common way for an army to attack. Each group went in a different direction. Ophrah was in the north. Beth Horon was in the west. The valley of Zeboim was in the south east. But the Bible does not say how far they went.

Saul became king more than 3000 years ago. At that time, people were learning how to make tools from iron. People used to make tools from wood and stone. Then they learned how to make metal called *bronze. But iron was better because it was much stronger. And iron tools stayed sharp for a long time. A ‘*blacksmith’ was a man who made iron tools. He also made blunt tools sharp again.

The tools in verses 20-21 were farm tools. A farmer used a hoe to get weeds out of the ground. A sickle was like a large curved knife. A farmer used it to cut down his grain. An *ox-goad was a long stick with a sharp metal point. The *ox pulled a plough. If the *ox stopped, the farmer pushed the goad into the *ox’s bottom. That made the *ox start to walk again. The *Philistines were skilled at making iron tools. They sold the tools to the people who lived near them, including the *Israelites. But the *Philistines did not teach anyone how to become *blacksmiths. Therefore, everyone had to go to the *Philistines when their tools became blunt. The *Philistines charged a very high price to make the tools sharp again. No one had invented money yet, so people paid with pieces of silver.

The *Philistines controlled the *Israelites in this way. The *Philistines knew that the *Israelites could not make swords or spears. A spear is like a large arrow that a soldier throws. Only Saul and Jonathan had a sword and spear. The other soldiers probably had bows and arrows. The *Philistines had a very large army. They had swords, spears and *chariots. And they knew that this was a disadvantage for the *Israelites.

Jonathan attacks the *Philistines

v23 A group of *Philistine soldiers went to the narrow road in the mountains at Michmash.

Chapter 14

v1 A young man carried Jonathan’s *armour. Jonathan was Saul’s son. One day, Jonathan said to the young man, ‘Let us go across to the *Philistine camp on the other side’. But Jonathan did not tell his father. v2 Saul had camped under a pomegranate tree at Migron near Gibeah. There were about 600 men with Saul. v3 Ahijah was with Saul. He wore an *ephod. Ahijah was the son of Ahitub. Ahitub was Ichabod’s brother. Ichabod was the son of Phinehas and the grandson of Eli. Eli was the priest of the *Lord in Shiloh. No one knew that Jonathan had left.

v4 Jonathan had to go along the narrow road in the mountains at Michmash. There was a high cliff on both sides of the road. The name of the cliff on one side was ‘Bozez’. The name of the other cliff was ‘Seneh’. v5 One cliff was on the north side of the road, near Michmash. The other cliff was on the south side, near Geba.

v6 Jonathan spoke to the young man who carried his *armour. ‘Let us go to the camp of those *heathen *Philistines. Perhaps the *Lord will help us. The *Lord can give us success whether there are many of us or just a few of us’.

v7 The young man said, ‘You do what you think is right. I am here to help you’.

v8 Jonathan said, ‘We will go across and let the *Philistines see us. v9 They may tell us to wait for them because they will come across to us. If they say this, we will stay here. v10 But they may tell us to go to them. If so, this means that God will give us success in the battle. So we will go to them’.

v11 Jonathan and his young man went where the *Philistines could see them. The *Philistines said, ‘Look at the *Hebrews. They are coming out of the holes where they were hiding’. v12 The *Philistines shouted to Jonathan and his young man, ‘Come up here to us. We want to tell you something’.

Jonathan said, ‘Follow me. The *Lord has given *Israel success in this battle’.

v13 Jonathan climbed up the cliff using his hands and feet. His young man climbed up just behind him. Jonathan attacked the *Philistines and knocked them down. The young man followed behind Jonathan and killed the *Philistines. v14 Jonathan and his young man killed about 20 men in a small area. This was their first attack.

v15 All the *Philistine soldiers became frightened and confused. This happened to the soldiers in the camp and to those who had gone out to attack. The ground shook. God sent fear.

v16 Saul was at Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. Some of Saul’s soldiers were watching the *Philistines. They saw that the *Philistines were running away in different directions. v17 Saul said to his army, ‘Count the soldiers. Find out who is missing’. They counted the soldiers. Jonathan and the young man who carried his *armour were not there.

v18 Saul said to Ahijah the priest, ‘Bring the *ark of God here’. At that time, the *ark of God was with the *Israelites. v19 Saul spoke to the priest. At the same time the *Philistine army became more confused. Saul said to the priest, ‘Take your hand away’.

v20 Then Saul and all his men went to fight the *Philistines. They found that the *Philistines were completely confused. They were so confused that they were fighting each other. v21 In the past, some of the *Israelites had joined with the *Philistines. These *Israelites had stayed in the *Philistine camp. Now they went back to the *Israelite army with Saul and Jonathan. v22 Many *Israelites had hidden in the mountains in the land of Ephraim. Now they heard that the *Philistine soldiers were running away. So these *Israelites joined the battle and chased the *Philistines. v23 They fought all the way to Beth Aven and beyond it. That day the *Lord rescued the people of *Israel.

The events of this chapter show that Saul was not a wise king. It shows that Jonathan was braver than Saul. Also, Jonathan trusted the *Lord more than Saul did (compare verses 6, 9 and 10 with verses 18-19). In those days, it was the custom for leaders to have meetings under special trees (see 22:6 and Judges 4:5). Today, in many hot countries, people meet in the shade of a large tree. The tree in verse 1 was a type of fruit tree. ‘Pomegranate’ is the name of its fruit. Saul was probably planning what to do next. Samuel had left Saul (13:15). But Saul had a priest from Eli’s family. God had judged Eli’s family (2:27-36 and 3:11-14) but they were still priests. An *ephod was the special coat that the priest wore. The priest had the ‘*Urim and Thummim’ in the front part of the *ephod. The priests used them to know God’s decisions (Exodus 28:6-30). Saul had not yet asked God what to do.

Jonathan decided to attack the *Philistines. We do not know why he did not tell his father. The road to Michmash went over the mountains. The *Israelite army had to go along this road to attack the *Philistines. The *Philistines defended this road to keep their army safe from their enemies. Some of the *Philistines stood on the top of the cliff. They could easily attack anyone on the road below. The cliffs had names. ‘Bozez’ meant ‘shining’ because the sun shone on it all day. ’Seneh’ meant ‘sharp’ because sharp bushes grew on it. The *Israelite army was very small. The *Philistine army was huge and had horses and *chariots. In a battle, some soldiers wore *armour. *Armour was special clothes that protected the soldiers from arrows and stones, *spears and swords. A soldier had a helmet (hat) to protect his head. He protected his body with a breastplate (a jacket with no sleeves). Sometimes he had *armour to protect his legs. People made *armour from metal or thick leather. Some soldiers had *shields. A *shield is a large piece of metal or hard leather that they held in front of their bodies. A soldier did not wear his *armour until the battle started. So someone carried his *armour to the battle for him. The soldier chose a man that he trusted.

In verse 6, the ‘*heathen’ means that the *Philistines did not believe in the true God of *Israel. Jonathan trusted the *Lord. He knew that the *Lord gave success. Verses 8-11 describe the way that Jonathan discovered God’s direction. Jonathan and his young man climbed up the cliff and surprised the *Philistines. They killed the small group of *Philistines that were on the top of the cliff. Then God sent fear to all the *Philistine army. A group of Saul’s soldiers was only 5 kilometres (3-4 miles) away. They saw the *Philistines scatter. Saul did not know that Jonathan, with God’s help, caused this.

Someone had brought the *ark of God from Kiriath Jearim (7:1) to be with Saul’s army. Saul had probably asked Ahijah the priest for God’s direction. Ahijah was going to use the *Urim and Thummim in the front of his *ephod. But Saul heard the situation change. He said to Ahijah, ‘Take your hand away’. This means that Saul did not want God’s answer. Instead, he did what he thought was right. God confused the *Philistines so that they fought each other. Many men from Saul’s army had hidden (13:2-7). Now they joined Saul again. Other *Israelites had not been loyal to *Israel. They probably joined the *Philistines so that the *Philistines did not kill them. Now these men saw that the *Israelites were killing the *Philistines. So they went back to fight with Saul.

Jonathan, Saul and the army fought the *Philistines. But they won because the *Lord rescued them (verse 23). Exodus 14:30 uses the same words. Then, God led the *Israelites out of the land of Egypt and across the Red Sea.

Jonathan ate honey

v24 The men of *Israel were miserable that day. Saul had made a promise for all the men. He had said, ‘I will not allow anyone to eat any food before this evening. Or before I have finished defeating my enemies. If anyone eats, I will punish him’. So none of Saul’s army ate any food. v25 The *Israelite army went into a forest. There was honey on the ground. v26 The men saw all the honey in the forest. But none of them ate the honey because they were afraid of Saul’s promise. v27 But Jonathan had not heard what his father said. He put the end of his stick into the honey. He ate the honey. Then he felt better. v28 One of the soldiers told Jonathan, ‘Your father made a promise for all the soldiers. He will punish any man who eats anything today. That is why all the men are weak’.

v29 Jonathan said, ‘My father has made trouble for the country. I feel so much better because I ate some of the honey. v30 The men took food from their enemies today. It would have been much better if they had eaten some of it. They would have been able to kill many more *Philistines’.

v31 That day the *Israelites defeated the *Philistines. They fought them all the way from Michmash to Aijalon. Afterwards the *Israelites were extremely tired. v32 They took sheep, cows and young cows from the *Philistines. The *Israelites were so hungry that they killed the animals on the ground. Then they ate the animals with the blood still in them. v33 Someone said to Saul, ‘Look at the people. They are *sinning against the *Lord. They are eating the meat with blood still in it’.

Saul said, ‘You have *sinned. Bring a large stone over here’.

v34 Then Saul said, ‘Go to the men. Tell them that each man must bring his cows and sheep here. They must kill and eat the animals here. Do not *sin against the *Lord. Do not eat meat with the blood still in it’.

So, every man took his animals there and killed them. v35 Then Saul built an *altar to the *Lord. It was the first *altar that Saul had built.

v36 Saul said, ‘We will go and attack the *Philistines tonight until dawn. We will steal everything that they have. And we will kill all of them’.

The men answered, ‘You do what you think is best’.

But the priest said, ‘We should ask God first’.

v37 Saul asked God, ‘Shall I attack the *Philistines? Will you make us successful in the battle?’ But God did not answer Saul that day.

v38 So Saul said to all the leaders of his army, ‘Come here. Let us find out who has *sinned today. v39 The *Lord lives and rescues *Israel. And even if my son Jonathan has *sinned, he must die’. But no one in the army spoke.

v40 Saul said to all the *Israelites, ‘You stand on this side. My son Jonathan and I will stand on the other side’.

The men answered, ‘You do what you think is best’.

v41 Then Saul prayed to the *Lord, the God of *Israel. He said, ‘Give me the right answer’. God picked Saul and Jonathan. The rest of the men were innocent. v42 Saul said, ‘Who is guilty, Jonathan or me?’ God picked Jonathan.

v43 Saul said to Jonathan, ‘Tell me what you have done’.

Jonathan told him, ‘I only ate a little honey from the end of my stick. Must I die now?’

v44 Saul said, ‘Jonathan, may God give me a severe punishment if you do not die’.

v45 But the soldiers said to Saul, ‘Jonathan had great success for *Israel. He will not have to die. We promise by the living God that he will not lose even one hair on his head. God helped Jonathan in this battle today’. So, the men rescued Jonathan and he did not have to die.

v46 Then Saul stopped fighting the *Philistines. The *Philistines went back to their own land.

When an army fights a battle, the soldiers need a lot of energy. The men must be strong, not weak. Saul made a foolish promise in verse 24. The result was that the men of *Israel were tired, hungry and weak. They were so afraid of Saul’s promise that they would not even eat honey. Jonathan did not know about Saul’s promise. He ate the honey and felt much stronger. The *Israelites could eat again in the evening. They were so hungry that they forgot God’s laws. In the *Old Testament (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10-14 and Deuteronomy 12:23-24), God told the people not to eat meat with blood still in it. He said that the life of the animal was in its blood. Saul stopped their *sin. He knew that the *Israelites must obey God. If they did not, God would be against them.

Verse 35 ‘It was the first *altar that Saul had built’. Saul had been king for a few years. So, this probably shows that he was not very interested in religion. He did not build the *altar so that he could *worship God. He built it because the men had *sinned.

Saul wanted to finish the battle with the *Philistines now. An army does not usually fight at night. So Saul’s attack would surprise the *Philistines. They would not be ready to fight. So, Saul thought that he would win. The priest reminded Saul to ask God first. But God did not answer. Saul thought that he knew the reason. Someone had *sinned. Then Saul made another foolish promise. In verse 39 he said, ‘Even if my son Jonathan has *sinned he must die’. Verses 41 and 42 say ‘God picked’. This probably happened as the priest used the *Urim and Thummim. Saul was going to kill his own son. Saul had to keep the promise that he had made to God. But the men in the army knew that God helped Jonathan in the battle. They did not let Saul kill him. That day, Saul showed that he was not a wise king. The *Philistines had a huge army but God had sent fear to them (verse 15). So they went back to their own land.

Saul fights *Israel’s enemies

v47 When Saul became king of *Israel, he fought against all of *Israel’s enemies. He fought people from the countries of Moab, Ammon and Edom. He fought the kings from the country of Zobah. He also fought the *Philistines. Wherever Saul went, he defeated *Israel’s enemies. v48 He fought the *Amalekites and defeated them. Saul saved the *Israelites from all the people who had robbed them.

v49 Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua. Merab was Saul’s oldest daughter. Michal was his youngest daughter. v50 The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam. She was the daughter of Ahimaaz. Abner was the leader of Saul’s army. Abner was the son of Ner. Ner was Saul’s uncle. v51 Saul’s father was Kish. Kish and Ner were sons of Abiel.

v52 Saul fought hard against the *Philistines during all of his life. Whenever Saul found a strong man or a brave man, he made the man join his army.

In chapter 8, the *Israelites asked for a king. They wanted a king to lead them in their battles (verses 19-20). God gave the people the king that they wanted. Saul fought all the enemies of *Israel. Ammon and Moab were two countries that were east of *Israel. Edom and Amalek were countries that were south of *Israel. The *Philistines were in the land on the west of *Israel. Zobah was in the north. The countries round *Israel had robbed *Israel’s land and its towns. God gave Saul success in his battles and saved *Israel. The *Philistines continued to fight the *Israelites. Saul always needed a good army to fight them. So, Saul made all the strong and brave men join his army. Samuel had warned the *Israelites about that in 8:11-12.

1 Chronicles 8:33 says that Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Malki-Shua, Abinadab and Esh-Baal (also named Ish-Bosheth). Ishvi was probably another name for Abinadab (see 1 Chronicles 10:2). So Esh-Baal was probably born after the time of 1 Samuel 14.

Chapter 15

God refuses Saul as king

v1 Samuel said to Saul, ‘The *Lord sent me to *anoint you as king over his people, the *Israelites. Now listen to this message from the *Lord. v2 This is what the most powerful *Lord says. “The *Israelites came out of the country of Egypt and went to the country of Canaan. But the *Amalekites tried to stop them. So I will punish the *Amalekites. v3 Go and attack the *Amalekites. Completely destroy everything that lives. Do not save anything. Kill the men and women, children and babies. Kill their cows and sheep. Kill their camels and *donkeys”.’

v4 So Saul called his army together. They met at Telaim. There were 200 000 soldiers and 10 000 men from the *tribe of *Judah. v5 Saul and his army went to a town in the country of Amalek. They waited in a valley. v6 Saul warned the people from the Kenite *tribe, ‘Go away. Leave the *Amalekites. I will destroy the *Amalekites. I do not want to destroy you. You were kind to the *Israelites when they came out from the country of Egypt’. So the Kenites left the *Amalekites.

v7 Then Saul attacked and defeated the *Amalekites. He fought them all the way from Havilah to Shur, which is east of Egypt. v8 Saul seized Agag alive. Agag was king of the *Amalekites. Saul killed all the people with his sword. v9 But Saul and his army let Agag live. They did not kill the best old and young sheep or the fat cows. They let all the good animals live. They did not want to destroy them. But they destroyed all the animals that were weak and worth nothing.

v10 Then the *Lord spoke to Samuel, v11 ‘I am sorry that I made Saul king. He has stopped following me. He has not obeyed my commands’. Samuel was very sad. He prayed aloud to the *Lord all that night.

Verse 2 ‘The most powerful *Lord’ (see 1:3). God is the ruler of everything that he made. God is the true captain of the *Israelite army. God made their army successful.

The *Amalekites lived in the land that was between southern *Israel and the country of Egypt. They did not build many towns. Instead, they lived in tents. They wandered about the land. They attacked the *Israelites and other nations. The *Amalekites stole animals and crops from the farms in those nations. You can read how the *Amalekites tried to stop the *Israelites in Exodus 17:8-16. So God said that he would destroy the *Amalekites completely (Exodus 17:14 and Deuteronomy 25:17-19). This was God’s war. God is holy. The *Amalekites were evil (verse 18). They had opposed God. So God decided to ‘completely destroy’ them. God did not always do this with *Israel’s enemies. (God did it with the town of Jericho in Joshua 6.) God gave very clear commands in verse 3. He said, ‘Do not save anything’. No one could misunderstand what God meant.

The Kenites probably lived near or with the *Amalekites. They had not opposed God. Some of the Kenites lived with the *Israelites (Judges 1:16). Saul did not want to kill them by mistake.

God gave Saul success in this battle. In many battles, God let the *Israelite army keep the animals or goods that they seized. Sometimes Saul and his army seized the king and put him in prison. This showed other nations that the *Israelites had the most powerful leader. But this time God wanted to punish the *Amalekites. Saul did not understand God’s purpose. Saul did not obey God’s clear commands. Instead, Saul did what he thought was right. God had given the *Israelites the type of king that they wanted. God wanted the king of the *Israelites to follow and obey him. He wanted a king that he could trust. God wanted the king to love him. He wanted the king to give him honour. But Saul did not behave like this. God was sad that Saul had not obeyed him. Samuel was very sad about this too.

v12 Samuel got up early the next morning. He went to meet Saul. Someone told Samuel, ‘Saul went to the town of Carmel. He put up a column to give himself honour. Then he went to the town of Gilgal’.

v13 Samuel went to find Saul. Saul said to Samuel, ‘May the *Lord bless you. I have obeyed the *Lord’s commands’.

v14 But Samuel said, ‘Why can I hear the voices of sheep and cows?’

v15 Saul answered, ‘The soldiers took them from the *Amalekites. They saved the best sheep and cows. They will *sacrifice them to the *Lord your God. We destroyed all the other animals’.

v16 Samuel said to Saul, ‘Stop talking. I will tell you what the *Lord said to me last night’.

Saul said, ‘Tell me’.

v17 Samuel said, ‘In the past you thought that you were not an important person. Now you are the leader of all of the *Israelite *tribes. God *anointed you as king of *Israel. v18 The *Lord gave you a task. He said to you, “Go and destroy the *Amalekites. They are evil people. Fight against them until they are all dead”. v19 Why did you not obey the *Lord? Why did you keep the best things? Why did you do what God said was wrong?’

v20 Saul said, ‘I did obey the *Lord. I did what the *Lord told me to do. I destroyed all the *Amalekites. I brought back Agag their king. v21 The soldiers did not kill the best sheep and cows. They brought them to *sacrifice to the *Lord your God at Gilgal’.

v22 But Samuel replied,

‘Is the *Lord most pleased when people give him *offerings and *sacrifices? Or is he most pleased when people obey him?

The *Lord is most pleased when people hear and obey him. This is better than when they *sacrifice the best sheep to him.

v23 You *sin if you refuse to obey the *Lord. This *sin is as bad as doing evil magic.

Pride is a *sin which is as bad as *worshipping *idols.

You refused to do what the *Lord commanded. Now the *Lord has refused you as king’.

In chapters 10 and 11, we see that Saul was a humble man. But Saul became proud. He was proud of his success in the battle. He did not give God honour. Saul probably made the column from stone. Everyone who saw it would give Saul honour.

In verse 13 Saul said, ‘I have obeyed the *Lord’s commands’. But this was not true. Saul had not obeyed all the commands. Perhaps he told a lie on purpose. Or perhaps he thought that he had obeyed enough. When Samuel demanded an answer, Saul blamed the soldiers (verses 15 and 21). Saul gave an excuse. He said that the soldiers wanted to *sacrifice the animals to God. In fact, the soldiers probably wanted to keep the animals for themselves. Saul led the army. He should have commanded the men to kill all the animals. Saul used the phrase, ‘the *Lord your God’. He did not say, ‘the *Lord our God’. Saul knew that he did not follow God now. He did not follow him as he used to. God had commanded the *Israelites to give him *offerings and *sacrifices (Leviticus 1-7). This was how God forgave their *sins. But God cannot forgive a person who refuses to obey him. If a person did not obey God, their *sacrifice had no value.

When a person does not obey God, they *sin. The Bible calls this *sin ‘rebellion’. Verse 23 gives us a very serious warning. Evil magic comes from the devil. Rebellion is as bad as evil magic. People who *worship *idols do not give honour to God. They think that the *idol is better than God. A proud person thinks that he is the best person. He gives honour to himself. He does not give honour to God or *worship him.

v24 Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have *sinned. I did not obey the *Lord’s command or your words. I was afraid of the people. I did what they wanted. v25 Now I appeal to you. Please forgive my *sin. Come back with me so that I may *worship the *Lord’.

v26 But Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not go back with you. You refused the *Lord’s command. Now the *Lord refuses you as king of *Israel’.

v27 Samuel turned away from Saul and left. But Saul seized the edge of Samuel’s coat and it tore. v28 Samuel said to him, ‘The *Lord has torn the *kingdom of *Israel from you today. He has given it to one of your neighbours who is better than you. v29 The *Lord is the *glory of *Israel. He does not lie. He does not change his decision. He is not like a man who changes his decision’.

v30 Saul replied, ‘I have *sinned. But please give me honour in front of the leaders and people of *Israel. Come back with me so that I can *worship the *Lord your God’. v31 So Samuel went back with Saul. Saul *worshipped the *Lord.

v32 Then Samuel said, ‘Bring Agag, king of the *Amalekites, to me’.

Agag was still in chains when he came to Samuel. But Agag thought, ‘I do not think that I will have the bitter pain of death now’.

v33 But Samuel said, ‘You have killed many people. Now some mothers do not have any children that are still alive. Now your mother will have no children’. And Samuel cut Agag into pieces in front of the *altar at Gilgal.

v34 Then Samuel left Gilgal and went to his home in Ramah. But Saul went to his home in Gibeah. v35 During the rest of his life Samuel never saw Saul again. But Samuel was very sad about Saul. And the *Lord was very sorry that he had made Saul king of *Israel.

At last, Saul confessed that he had *sinned. But he did not realise that God would not change his decision. So, Samuel had to repeat what God had said. Saul *sinned because he was afraid of the people. So, he did what they said instead of what God commanded. This was a foolish way to behave. The way to become wise is to fear the *Lord (Proverbs 9:10). This ‘fear’ means to respect the *Lord. And to obey him and give him honour.

Verses 27-28 are like picture language. Saul had turned away from following the *Lord. The *Lord did not want the *Israelites to turn away from him too. The ‘*kingdom’ means the people and the land that Saul ruled as king. The new king of a country is usually the son of the previous king. But God took his authority away from Saul. God gave it to one of Saul’s ‘neighbours’, not to one of his family. This man was David. David was better than Saul was because David obeyed the *Lord.

‘The *Lord is the *glory of *Israel’. This means that the *Lord lives for ever. This emphasises that God is not like people. He has very different qualities from theirs. Saul realised then that nothing could change God’s decision. Saul did not want Samuel to leave him. Saul said that he wanted to *worship the *Lord. But Saul really wanted Samuel to give him honour. Saul wanted the people to think that nothing had changed. Samuel changed his decision the second time that Saul asked. He went back with Saul. Saul *worshipped the *Lord. But Samuel did the job that Saul should have done. He killed Agag. Agag thought that he would not have to die. But Samuel punished Agag because he had killed so many people.

After this, Samuel left Saul. They lived only 16 kilometres (10 miles) apart. Samuel never went to visit Saul again because God had refused him as king. Samuel was as sad about Saul as if he had died. And the *Lord was sad about the first king of *Israel too. Saul continued to rule *Israel until he died many years later. But from this day, Saul had many problems. And he was not a good leader.

Chapter 16

Samuel *anoints David

v1 The *Lord said to Samuel, ‘You should not continue to be sad about Saul. I do not accept him as the king of *Israel now. Fill your jar with oil and go. I am sending you to a man whose name is Jesse. He lives in the town of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king’.

v2 But Samuel said, ‘If I go, Saul will hear about it. He will kill me’.

The *Lord said, ‘Take a young cow with you. Tell the people that you have come to give a *sacrifice to the *Lord. v3 Invite Jesse to the *sacrifice. I will tell you what to do. I will show you the person that you must *anoint’.

v4 Samuel did what the *Lord told him to do. He arrived at Bethlehem. The leaders of that town went to meet Samuel. The leaders trembled because they were afraid of Samuel. They asked him, ‘Have you come for a peaceful visit?’

v5 Samuel replied, ‘Yes. I have come to offer a *sacrifice to the *Lord. *Consecrate yourself. Then come to the *sacrifice with me’. Samuel *consecrated Jesse and his sons. Then Samuel invited them to the *sacrifice.

The *Lord did not allow Samuel to be sad about Saul for a long time. God had now chosen a new king. Jesse was the grandson of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 4:17-22). Samuel went from his home in Ramah to Jesse’s town of Bethlehem. The road went past Gibeah where Saul lived. Saul knew that God would choose a new king to replace him. Samuel was afraid that Saul would be jealous about the new king. And Saul might be angry enough to kill Samuel. So the *Lord told Samuel to give a *sacrifice to him. Samuel could then tell people the truth. But he did not tell them the main reason for his visit. Samuel trusted God and obeyed him.

The leaders of Bethlehem were afraid of Samuel because he was a *prophet. He spoke words from God. He went to towns as a judge (7:15-17). But this was a peaceful visit.

‘Consecrate yourself’. ‘Consecrate’ means to ‘make holy’. They had to separate themselves from things that made them not holy. (Leviticus explains what these things were.) Then they washed and put clean clothes on. This showed that they had made themselves holy. God is holy. He wants his people to be holy. (In Exodus 19 the *Israelites had to *consecrate themselves before God gave Moses the 10 laws.)

v6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Jesse’s son Eliab. Samuel thought, ‘I am sure that the *Lord has chosen this man’.

v7 But the *Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at how handsome or tall Eliab is. I have not chosen him. The *Lord does not look at people the way that other people look. People look at the outside of a person. But the *Lord looks at their spirit’.

v8 Then Jesse called to his son Abinadab. Jesse told him to walk past Samuel. But Samuel said, ‘The *Lord has not chosen this man’. v9 Jesse told his son Shammah to walk past Samuel. But Samuel said, ‘The *Lord has not chosen this man’. v10 Jesse made 7 of his sons walk past Samuel. But Samuel said, ‘The *Lord has not chosen any of these men’. v11 Samuel asked Jesse, ‘Do you have any more sons?’

Jesse answered, ‘I have one more son. He is the youngest. He is looking after the sheep’.

Samuel said, ‘Tell him to come here. We will not sit down to eat until he arrives’.

v12 So Jesse sent for him and took him to Samuel. This young man was handsome and healthy. He had beautiful eyes.

The *Lord said to Samuel, ‘I have chosen this man. Go and *anoint him’.

v13 The name of the young man was David. Samuel took the jar that was full of oil. He *anointed David by pouring the oil over him. Samuel did this in front of David’s brothers. The Spirit of the *Lord came on David in a powerful way that day and stayed ever since then. After this, Samuel went back to Ramah.

Verse 7 is very important. It shows us that God does not behave like us. God sees what people are like inside, in their spirit (1 Kings 8:39; Psalm 139; Luke 16:15; John 2:25). He knows about each person’s character. He knows whether they will trust and obey him. This is most important to God. Samuel thought that God would choose Eliab because he was handsome and tall. People like handsome men. And the *Israelite army would look good with a tall strong king as leader. But Saul was tall and handsome (9:1-2) and he was not a good king.

Samuel listened to God. God said that he had chosen one of Jesse’s sons. But God did not choose any of the sons who walked past Samuel. Jesse had not invited his youngest son to the *sacrifice. Perhaps Jesse thought that he was too young to come. But Samuel had to see Jesse’s youngest son David. He looked handsome, but God saw that he had a good spirit too. Samuel obeyed God. He *anointed David with oil. David’s brothers saw this. But we do not know if anyone else from Bethlehem was there. The Spirit of the *Lord came on David that day. The *Hebrew word means that the Spirit ‘rushed’ on David with power. In Acts 2:1-4, the Holy Spirit sounded like strong wind as he came from heaven. In the *Old Testament the Spirit of the *Lord (the Holy Spirit) came on people for a particular job. The Spirit also left people when they did not obey God. But the Spirit of the *Lord did not leave David.

Samuel went back to his home at Ramah. He had completed the task that God gave to him. The writer mentions Samuel only once more (at the end of chapter 19) before his death in 25:1.

David is a very important person. We read more about his life than about the life of anyone else in the Bible, except for Jesus. The account of David continues in the rest of 1 Samuel. It goes through all of 2 Samuel and finishes with David’s death in 1 Kings 2:10. David was a *shepherd. David looked after his father’s sheep. David wrote Psalm 23. He described God as a *shepherd. This is picture language for how God cared for David. Jesus said ‘I am the good *shepherd’ (John 10:11-16). Ezekiel 34 and 1 Peter 5:1-4 call leaders ‘*shepherds’ and God’s people ‘sheep’. David understood how God wanted him to lead the *Israelites.

v14 But the Spirit of the *Lord had left Saul. The *Lord sent an evil spirit to Saul. It made him afraid and made him have troubles. v15 Saul’s servants said to him, ‘We know that God sent an evil spirit to give you troubles. v16 If you command us we will go. We will look for a man who can play a *harp. When the evil spirit comes from God, this man can play his *harp. Then you will feel better’.

v17 So Saul said to his servants, ‘Find someone who can play a *harp well. Bring him to me’.

v18 One of the servants said, ‘Jesse lives in Jerusalem. He has a son who plays well. His son is a strong, brave soldier. He is wise when he speaks. He is handsome. The *Lord is with him’.

v19 So Saul sent men to Jesse with a message. Saul said, ‘Send your son David to me, the son who looks after the sheep’. v20 So Jesse got some loaves of bread, a leather bag that was full of wine, and a young goat. He loaded them onto the back of a *donkey. He sent them to Saul with his son David.

v21 David came to Saul. He began to serve Saul. Saul loved David. David became one of the men who carried Saul’s *armour. v22 Saul sent a message to Jesse. He said, ‘David pleases me very much. Let him stay and serve me’.

v23 So, when the evil spirit came from God to Saul, David played his *harp. Then the evil spirit would leave Saul. And Saul would feel better.

Saul continued to rule the *Israelites until he died many years later. But the Spirit of the *Lord left Saul because God did not accept him as king now. Verse 14 shows that God can control evil spirits. He sent the evil spirit to Saul to punish him with troubles. And Saul started to become ill in his mind. He sometimes got afraid, depressed or jealous. Later he tried to kill David several times. Saul’s servants knew why this had happened to him. They also knew that music could help people feel calm and happy again. A harp is a musical instrument. The Bible also calls it a ‘lyre’. It has many strings. Genesis 4:2 mentions a lyre.

David must have fought in some of the battles that Saul had led in the past. The other men saw that David had a good character. They knew that the *Lord was with him. (This happened before the Spirit of the *Lord came on him in power.) Saul invited David into the king’s house. In those days, it was a custom to give gifts to a king. So Jesse sent David with gifts of food and wine. Saul did not know that God had chosen David as the next king. God had *anointed David as king. However, David became Saul’s servant.

David served Saul as a skilled musician. David played his *harp when the evil spirit came to Saul. As David played, the evil spirit left. It may have left because of the music or because of the Spirit of the *Lord on David. Saul loved David and depended on him. Later David carried Saul’s *armour to the battles. That showed how much Saul trusted David.

Chapter 17

David and Goliath

v1 The *Philistines gathered their army ready for a battle. They met at Sucoh in the land of *Judah. They camped in the area of Ephes Dammim that was between the towns of Sucoh and Azekah. v2 Saul and the *Israelites gathered in the Valley of Elah. They camped there and got ready to fight the *Philistines. v3 The *Philistines were on one side of the hill. The *Israelites were on the other side of the hill. The valley was between them.

v4 The *Philistines had a soldier who was a champion. He came from the town of Gath. His name was Goliath. He was about 3 metres (more than 9 feet) tall. v5 He wore a *bronze *helmet on his head. His *armour included a coat made of *bronze. It weighed about 57 kilos (about 125 pounds). v6 He wrapped pieces of *bronze round the front of each leg. He had a *bronze javelin (type of sword) which he had tied to his back. v7 The handle of his *spear was very thick. He had an iron point on his *spear. It weighed about 7 kilos (about 15 pounds). A man carried Goliath’s *shield and walked in front of him.

v8 Goliath stood and shouted to the *Israelite soldiers. He said, ‘Why have you got ready for a battle? I am a *Philistine. You are Saul’s servants. You must choose one of your soldiers. Send him down to fight me. v9 If he can kill me then the *Philistines will become your slaves. I will fight this man. If I kill him, the *Israelites will become our slaves’. v10 Then Goliath said again, ‘I dare to oppose the army of *Israel. Send one of your men and we will fight together’. v11 Saul and the *Israelites heard what Goliath said. They were very scared.

Sucoh is about 27 kilometres (17 miles) south west of Jerusalem. The land belonged to the *Israelites but the *Philistines were attacking it. This time the *Philistines did not fight with all of their army. They did not want the *Israelites to kill any of their soldiers. Instead, they wanted an *Israelite soldier who was a champion to fight against Goliath. Goliath was a *Philistine soldier who was their champion. The *Philistines were certain that they would win. Goliath was a very tall man. He had very strong *armour to protect him. (You can read about *armour in chapter 14.) A ‘javelin’ is like an arrow but much bigger and stronger. A soldier throws it at his enemy. Goliath’s *spear had an iron point. Iron is stronger than *bronze. When Goliath opposed the army of *Israel, he also opposed the God of *Israel.

Saul was a tall man (9:2). He was a strong soldier. In chapter 11, the Holy Spirit had made Saul strong to fight the *Ammonites. But Saul did not trust God now. He was afraid of Goliath. Saul was not a good leader for the *Israelite army.

v12 David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was an Ephrathite. He came from the town of Bethlehem which was in the land of *Judah. Jesse had 8 sons. When Saul was king, Jesse was an old man. v13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had gone to the war with Saul. Eliab was his oldest son. Abinadab was Jesse’s second son. Shammah was his third son. v14 David was his youngest son. Jesse’s three oldest sons were with Saul. v15 Sometimes David was with Saul. But sometimes he had to go back to Bethlehem. He went back to look after his father’s sheep.

v16 Goliath called to the *Israelites every morning and evening for 40 days.

v17 One day Jesse said to his son David, ‘Here are 10 kilos (22 pounds) of grain which I have cooked, and 10 loaves of bread. Take these quickly to your brothers in the army camp. v18 Take these 10 cheeses to the officer who leads their group. Find out whether your brothers are well. Bring me back news about them. v19 Your brothers are with Saul and the *Israelite army. They are in the Valley of Elah. They are fighting against the *Philistines’.

v20 So David got up early the next morning. He left the sheep with another *shepherd. He took the food. He did what Jesse had told him to do. David reached the *Israelite camp. The army was just going out to its battle positions. They shouted their war cry as they went. v21 The *Israelite and *Philistine armies stood in their positions ready for the battle. They stood and looked towards each other across the valley. v22 David left all his things with the officer who kept the army supplies. David ran to the *Israelite army. He greeted his brothers. v23 While David talked to his brothers Goliath, the *Philistine champion, came forward. Goliath shouted things against the *Israelites as usual. David heard what he said. v24 When the *Israelites saw Goliath they were very frightened. They ran away.

Ephrathah is another name for Bethlehem. ‘*Judah’ is the land that belongs to the *tribe of *Judah. Jesse was too old to fight in the army. But 3 of his sons were in Saul’s army. When David was with Saul, David played his *harp. When Saul did not need him, David went back to Bethlehem.

Jesse’s sons had been with Saul for at least 6 weeks. Jesse wanted to know whether they were safe. He also wanted to know whether the battle was going well. So, he sent David with some food for them. First, David got another *shepherd to look after his sheep. Then he went to find his brothers. Goliath insulted the *Israelite army twice a day for 40 days. Every day the *Israelites got ready for a battle. They shouted their war cry as they went out. They hoped that this would frighten their enemy. Also it should have made the *Israelites feel brave. But every day they saw Goliath and were afraid. They ran away. David arrived at the *Israelites’ camp and heard Goliath shouting to them.

v25 The *Israelites said, ‘Look at this man. He keeps shouting insults at us. King Saul will give a lot of money to the man who kills Goliath. The king will also let this man marry the king’s daughter. The family of that man’s father will not have to pay taxes in *Israel’.

v26 David said to the men who were standing near him, ‘If a man kills Goliath that man will remove the shame from *Israel. What reward will he get? Goliath is just a *heathen *Philistine. He should not insult the army of the living God’.

v27 The men told David what they had been saying. They said, ‘This will be done for the man who kills Goliath’.

v28 Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard David speaking with the men. Eliab was angry with David and asked him, ‘Why have you come here? Who is looking after the few sheep that you have in the desert? I know that you are proud and wicked. I think that you came here just to watch the battle’.

v29 David said, ‘What have I done wrong? I just asked a question’. v30 So David went and asked other people the same question. All the men gave the same answer. v31 Some of the men had heard what David said. They went and told Saul. Saul sent for David.

v32 David said to Saul, ‘I am your servant. Do not be depressed about Goliath. I will go and fight him’.

v33 Saul replied, ‘You cannot go and fight Goliath. You are only a boy. Goliath has been a strong soldier all of his life’.

v34 But David said, ‘I have looked after my father’s sheep. Sometimes a lion or a bear came and stole a sheep. v35 I chased the lion or bear and attacked it. I rescued the sheep from its mouth. When the lion or bear started to attack me, I seized its fur. Then I hit it and killed it. v36 I, your servant, have killed lions and bears. And I will do the same to this *heathen *Philistine. He has insulted the army of the living God. v37 The *Lord has saved me from the lions and bears. He will save me from this *Philistine’.

Saul said to David, ‘Go, and may the *Lord be with you’. v38 Saul put his own clothes on David. He put his *bronze *helmet on David’s head. Then he dressed David with his *armour. v39 David put the sword onto the *armour. He tried to walk but he was not used to the *armour.

David said to Saul, ‘I can not wear all this *armour. I am not used to it’. So David took it all off.

v40 David picked up his *shepherd’s stick. He went to the stream. He took 5 smooth stones from the stream and put them in his bag. He had his sling in his hand. Then he went to meet the *Philistine.

v41 Goliath approached David. A man walked in front of Goliath and carried his *shield. Goliath looked at David. v42 He saw that David was a handsome young man with brown skin. This disgusted Goliath. v43 He said to David, ‘Why have you come with a stick? Do you think that I am a dog?’ Then he asked his *gods to send evil on David. v44 Then Goliath said, ‘Come here. I will feed the birds and wild animals with your body’.

v45 David said, ‘You have come to fight me with a sword, a *spear and a javelin (a type of sword). But I come to fight you in the name of the *Lord who is most powerful. You have insulted the God of *Israel’s army. v46 Today the *Lord will hand you over to me. I will hit you and cut off your head. Today I will feed the birds and wild animals with the bodies of the *Philistine army. Then the whole world will know that there is a God in *Israel. v47 The *Lord does not need swords and *spears to save his people. Everyone here will soon realise that. The *Lord will win the battle. He will give us the power over you’.

v48 Goliath started to move nearer to David to attack him. David ran quickly to meet him. v49 David took a stone from his bag. He put the stone into the sling and threw it. The stone hit Goliath just above his eyes. It went right into his head. Goliath fell with his face on the ground.

v50 So David defeated the *Philistines by using a sling and a stone. David did not have a sword but he killed Goliath. v51 David ran and stood next to him. He took Goliath’s sword out of its holder. Then he killed Goliath and cut off his head with the sword. The *Philistines ran away when they saw that Goliath was dead. v52 The men of *Israel and *Judah shouted. They chased after the *Philistines all the way to the entrance of the town of Gath. And they chased them to the gates of the town of Ekron. They killed the *Philistines. They left their bodies on the road to Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron. v53 The *Israelites returned when they had chased the *Philistines. Then the *Israelites went and robbed the *Philistine camp. v54 David took Goliath’s head into Jerusalem. He put Goliath’s *armour into his own tent.

Saul wanted a man to kill Goliath. That man would save *Israel. Saul offered a big reward. First, he offered a lot of money. Then the man could marry Saul’s daughter. In this nation, a father chose whom his daughter married. Saul would be happy to have a brave man in his family. The reward was not just for the brave man. It was for his family too. They would not have to pay taxes in *Israel. The *Hebrew word means that the family would be ‘free’. This can also mean that they did not have to serve the king.

The *Israelite soldiers knew the reward for the man who killed Goliath. David did not know this so he had to ask. David did not want honour for himself. He wanted honour for the living God. ‘Heathen *Philistine’ means that the *Philistines did not *worship the one true, living God. They *worshipped false *gods and *idols (including Dagon). David did not want *Israel to have shame. He did not like it when Goliath insulted the God of *Israel. Eliab was angry with David and insulted him. Perhaps he was jealous of David. Eliab was afraid of Goliath but David was not afraid of him. David was young but he was brave. He protected his father’s sheep. He did not like it when wild animals stole the sheep. God had helped him to kill fierce lions and bears. He knew that God would help him to kill Goliath. David insulted Goliath when he called him a ‘*heathen *Philistine’.

No one in the army of *Israel would fight Goliath. So Saul let David fight him. Saul gave David his *armour to protect him. But David was not used to wearing *armour. Instead, David trusted God to protect him. The battle was not really between David and Goliath. The battle was between Goliath’s *gods and the God of *Israel. Someone insulted a person if he called him ‘a dog’. Goliath thought that David was insulting him. Goliath did not know the power of *Israel’s God. He thought that no one could defeat him. Goliath thought that his *armour and his strength would protect him. David was confident. The ‘name of the *Lord’ (verse 45) is another way to refer to the *Lord himself. (See Exodus 3:13-15.) David knew the power of his God. He also knew that this was the *Lord’s battle, not his. He told this to Goliath. David gave the honour to God.

David could see where Goliath’s *helmet did not protect him. So David took just his *shepherd’s stick, bag and a sling. A *shepherd used his stick to fight wild animals. A ‘sling’ was a piece of material with a string on each side. David put the stone in the material and held the two pieces of string. He swung this round fast. Then he let go of one piece of string. The stone went through the air very fast. David could attack Goliath before he got too close. David was an expert with a sling. He was very accurate. He had probably often practised while he looked after the sheep. The stone hit Goliath. It made him unconscious and he fell forward. David did not have a sword of his own. So he used Goliath’s sword to cut off his head. The *Philistines saw the power of *Israel’s God. They ran away. But they did not become slaves to the *Israelites as Goliath had said in verse 9. The *Israelites killed many *Philistines as they ran home.

After a battle, the soldiers robbed the enemy that they had defeated. This was the soldier’s reward. David took Goliath’s *armour as his reward. In 1 Samuel 21:9, the priest had Goliath’s sword. Perhaps David gave the sword to the *Lord because the *Lord won the battle. In those days, the leader of the army that won a battle cut off the head of their enemy’s leader. This was the prize for the winner. It made the army who lost the battle feel humble. Verse 54 does not say when David took Goliath’s head to Jerusalem. The people from the Jebusite *tribe lived in Jerusalem at this time. Perhaps David took Goliath’s head there to warn them. (David attacked Jerusalem many years later. (See 2 Samuel 5.)

v55 Saul had watched David as he went out to fight Goliath. Abner was in command of Saul’s army. Saul said to Abner, ‘Abner, whose son is that young man?’

Abner replied, ‘My great king, I do not know’.

v56 The king said, ‘Find out whose son he is’.

v57 David returned after he had killed Goliath. Abner brought David to Saul. David was still holding Goliath’s head.

v58 Saul asked him, ‘Young man, who is your father?’

David answered, ‘I am the son of your servant Jesse who comes from Bethlehem’.

Saul now had to keep his promise. David could claim Saul’s daughter for his wife. And Jesse’s family would be free from the king’s taxes and service. David had played his music to Saul. So Saul knew David. Now Saul wanted to know more about David’s father. Saul’s daughter would become part of Jesse’s family.

Chapter 18

v1 David finished talking with Saul. Jonathan, Saul’s son, became a very close friend with David. Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself. v2 Saul kept David with him from that day. He did not let David go home to his father’s house. v3 Jonathan loved David so much that he made a special agreement with him. v4 Jonathan was wearing a coat. He took the coat off and gave it to David. He also gave David his *armour, including his sword, his bow and his belt. v5 David did whatever Saul asked him to do. And he was successful. So Saul made David an officer in his army. This pleased all of Saul’s officers and people.

The events of these verses happened over a period. Saul was happy with David because he was successful over the *Philistines. David did not go back to look after his father’s sheep any more. Instead, he lived with Saul and his family. David and Saul’s son Jonathan became good friends. Their friendship was much stronger than normal. In chapter 20, this friendship saved David’s life.

The name for the ‘special agreement’ in verse 3 was a ‘covenant’. This was a promise that they made in front of God. Therefore, they could never break this promise. They had to be loyal to each other and to their children (see 20:42).

Jonathan was the king’s son. When a king died, his son became king. In verse 4, Jonathan’s coat was his royal coat. He gave it to David. This showed that David would become king instead of Jonathan. Jonathan was not jealous of David. He even gave David his *armour. Jonathan’s *armour protected his life. But he believed that David’s life was more important than his was. Jonathan was not selfish. He was a true friend and was willing to die for David. This shows how much he loved David.

David was successful because God gave him success. Everyone liked David. They were pleased that he led Saul’s army.

Saul becomes jealous of David

v6 After David had killed Goliath, he and the soldiers returned home. Women came out from all the towns in *Israel to meet king Saul. The women sang songs of joy and danced. They played musical instruments too. v7 This is what they sang as they danced;

          ‘Saul has killed thousands of his enemies.

          And David has killed tens of thousands of his enemies’.

v8 Saul did not like this song. He became very angry. He thought, ‘The women say that David has killed tens of thousands of men. But they say that I have only killed thousands of men. Perhaps they will want David as their king’. v9 Saul became jealous of David from that day.

v10 The next day an evil spirit from the *Lord took sudden control of Saul. He behaved like a mad man in his house. David played his *harp as he usually did. But Saul had a *spear in his hand. v11 Saul threw the *spear. He tried to pin David to the wall. But David escaped from him twice.

v12 Saul was afraid of David. The *Lord was with David. But the *Lord had left Saul. v13 So Saul sent David away from him. He made David the leader of 1000 soldiers. David led them in battle. v14 David had success in everything because the *Lord was with him. v15 Saul saw that David had great success. Saul became more afraid of him. v16 All the *Israelites loved David because he was a good leader.

From this time on, Saul’s relationship with David became bad. Saul tried to kill David many times in the years ahead. But David always gave Saul honour as king and never hurt him. Saul was not a confident man. He was afraid of what other people thought about him (15:24, 30). In those days, when an army had success in a battle, the women came to meet the men. The women were proud that the men had success. They were happy that the men were still alive. So they sang and danced. They also praised the leaders of the army. Saul was the most important leader so they put his name first. But they said that David had killed ‘tens of thousands’ of his enemies. The women were not comparing Saul and David. Their song was like a poem that praised both leaders. *Hebrew poetry (poetry of the *Israelite people) used numbers to emphasise something. Usually the numbers were not exact. Deuteronomy 32:30 and Psalm 91:7 are examples of this. What the women really meant was, ‘Saul and David have killed many thousands of their enemies’. But Saul was afraid that David was more popular than he was. Saul knew that God had chosen a new king (15:28). Saul still wanted to be the king.

Saul became jealous of David. He was angry enough with David to kill him. In Genesis chapter 4, Cain became jealous of his brother Abel and killed him. In the *New Testament, Jesus warns us that anger is like murder (Matthew 5:21-22). This time when the evil spirit controlled Saul, David’s music did not make Saul calm. Instead, Saul twice tried to kill David. Verse 12 says that Saul was afraid of David. In fact, Saul was afraid of the *Lord who protected David. Saul had known the *Lord’s success and protection in the past. But the *Lord had left him. Saul was afraid that everyone would leave him and follow David. Saul did not want to see David so he sent him away. Saul hoped that David would die in his battles. But God gave David more success and he became more popular. This made Saul more afraid.

David marries Saul’s daughter

v17 Saul said to David, ‘Here is my oldest daughter Merab. I will let you marry her. But you must be a brave soldier and fight the *Lord’s battles’. Saul thought to himself, ‘I will not have to kill David. The *Philistines will do that’.

v18 But David said to Saul, ‘I, my family and my father’s *tribe are not very important in *Israel. I can not become the king’s son-in-law’. v19 The time came for Merab to marry David. Instead, Saul gave her to Adriel from Meholah as his wife.

v20 Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David. When Saul heard about this, he was very pleased. v21 He thought, ‘I will let David marry her. She will be a trap for him. Then the *Philistines will defeat him’. So Saul said to David, ‘Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law’.

v22 Saul told his servants to talk to David in private and say, ‘The king is pleased with you. His servants like you. You should be his son-in-law now’.

v23 Saul’s servants said this to David. But David said, ‘It is a great honour to become the king’s son-in-law. But I am poor. I am not an important person’.

v24 Saul’s servants told Saul what David had said. v25 Saul said, ‘Tell David this. The king does not want him to pay money for his bride. He can pay for his bride with the foreskins of 100 dead *Philistines. This will punish Saul’s enemies’. Saul planned all this. He thought that the *Philistines would kill David.

v26 Saul’s servants told David these things. David was pleased that he would become the king’s son-in-law. They arranged a date for the wedding. v27 Before this date David and his men went and killed 200 *Philistines. He brought all their foreskins to Saul. David could become the king’s son-in-law. So, Saul had to let David marry his daughter Michal.

v28 Saul realised that the *Lord was with David. He knew that his daughter Michal loved David. v29 Saul became more afraid of him. Saul was David’s enemy for the rest of his life.

v30 The *Philistine army leaders continued to go and fight the *Israelites. In every battle, David had more success than Saul’s other army leaders. So David became famous.

Saul had not yet kept his promise to the man who killed Goliath (17:25). Now, he offered his daughter to David as his wife. But Saul did not do it as David’s reward. Saul said that he wanted a brave son-in-law. Instead, he wanted the *Philistines to kill David. It was a very great honour to marry the king’s daughter. David was not part of a royal family. He looked after sheep. He had earned this reward but he was a humble man. Saul accepted what David said and gave his daughter to another man. (2 Samuel 21:8-9 says that Adriel and Merab had 5 sons.)

David had a second chance to marry one of Saul’s daughters. And Saul saw this as another chance to kill David. Saul sent his servants to persuade David to marry Michal. Although Saul had tried to kill David, David wanted to become his son-in-law. Michal loved David. David repeated that he was not an important person. But he also said, ‘I am poor’. In this country, a woman was valuable to her father because she did work. So a man had to pay money to the father of his new wife. This is still a custom in some countries today. The man had to pay more money if his wife came from an important family. Saul did not want money. He wanted David to kill 100 *Philistines before the wedding. This time Saul was certain that the *Philistines would kill David. But David killed twice as many *Philistines as Saul had asked. He brought their foreskins to Saul as evidence. A foreskin is the loose piece of skin at the end of a man’s sex part. So David married Michal.

Saul became more and more afraid. The *Lord was with David. He gave him more success than any other leader. Saul’s son and daughter (Jonathan and Michal) both loved David. All the *Israelites loved David too (verse 16). Saul never started to follow God again. He did not admit that he had *sinned. Instead, he became more jealous and more afraid. He never had peace from God. Verse 29 says that Saul was David’s enemy for the rest of his life. However, David was never Saul’s enemy. He always gave Saul honour.

Chapter 19

Saul tries to kill David

v1 Saul told his son Jonathan and all his servants to kill David. Jonathan liked David very much. v2 So he warned David, ‘My father Saul is trying to kill you. Be careful tomorrow morning. Hide in a secret place and stay there. v3 I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are hiding. I will talk to him about you. Then I will tell you what I find out’.

v4 Jonathan spoke to his father Saul. Jonathan said good things about David. Jonathan said, ‘The king should not do anything that is wrong to his servant David. David has not done anything that is wrong to you. And he has been a great help to you. v5 David risked his life when he killed Goliath the *Philistine. The *Lord had a great success for *Israel. You saw it and you were happy. Why do you want to do wrong to an innocent man? There is no reason for you to kill him’.

v6 Saul listened to Jonathan. Then Saul made a promise in the *Lord’s name. Saul said that he would not kill David. v7 So Jonathan called to David. He told David everything that they had said. Jonathan took David to Saul. David served the king as he had done in the past.

In the past, Saul tried to kill David in a secret way. Now, Saul hated David so much that he even told other people to kill him. Jonathan was wise. He told David to hide from Saul. Jonathan spoke to his father Saul and tried to stop him. Jonathan was more loyal to David than to his father. Jonathan reminded his father about the great things that David had done. He praised David. Jonathan wanted his father to think in a sensible way. He did not want his father to kill David. Saul listened to Jonathan. Saul realised that he was wrong. Saul made a serious promise to God. And he allowed David to live. So David went and served Saul again.

v8 The war with the *Philistines started again. David went and fought the *Philistines. He completely defeated them so that they ran away.

v9 But an evil spirit from the *Lord came and took control of Saul. Saul was sitting in his house. He had a *spear in his hand. David was playing his *harp. v10 Saul tried to push his *spear through David and into the wall behind him. David moved out of the way. Saul’s *spear went into the wall. David ran away that night.

v11 Saul sent some of his servants to watch David’s house. Saul told them to kill David in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him. She said, ‘You must go away tonight or someone will kill you tomorrow’. v12 So Michal helped David to get out through a window. He ran away and escaped. v13 Then Michal got an *idol from their house and laid it on the bed. She put hair from a goat on the *idol’s head. Then she put a cover over it.

v14 Saul sent some men to get David. Michal told them that David was ill. v15 Saul sent the men back to David and said, ‘Bring David to me on his bed so that I can kill him’. v16 The men went back to David’s house. They found the *idol on the bed. It had goat’s hair on its head.

v17 Saul said to Michal, ‘Why did you lie to me? You let my enemy go away. He has escaped’.

Michal replied, ‘David asked me to help him. He said that he would kill me if I did not help him’.

v18 David ran away and escaped. He went to visit Samuel at Ramah. David told Samuel everything that Saul had done to him. Then David and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there.

Saul did not keep his promise to God. Saul tried to kill David again. David escaped again. But this time he never went back to serve Saul. David had to stay away from Saul for the rest of Saul’s life. David could never trust Saul again. The events of verses 8-9 are similar to 18:6-11. Saul was jealous because God gave David success.

Verses 11-17 show that Michal was more loyal to her husband David than to her father Saul. Michal saved David’s life. Saul’s servants watched the door of David’s house. So, David had to get out of a window where the servants could not see him. The window was probably on the first floor of their house. So, Michal had to help David get down to the ground. Michal had an *idol in her house. This shows that *Israelites *worshipped other *gods as well as the *Lord. However, the Bible does not say that David ever *worshipped *idols. Michal made the *idol look like a person in the bed. God’s laws say that it is wrong to lie (Leviticus 19:11) and wrong to murder (Exodus 20:13). Michal thought that it was best to protect David. But to do that she had to tell a lie. This gave David more time to run away from Saul. In verse 17, Michal lied again. Perhaps she was afraid that Saul might kill her too.

David needed someone to help him now. He trusted Samuel so he went to visit him at Ramah. It took David about an hour to walk there.

v19 Saul heard that David was in Naioth in Ramah. v20 So Saul sent men to seize David. When the men arrived, they saw a group of *prophets. Samuel was their leader. They were all *prophesying. Then the Spirit of God came and controlled Saul’s men. They started to *prophesy too. v21 When Saul heard about this he sent more men. But they *prophesied too. So Saul sent a third group of men. These men also *prophesied. v22 Then Saul himself went to Ramah. He went as far as the large well at Secu. He asked the people, ‘Where are David and Samuel?’ The people replied, ‘They are at Naioth in Ramah’.

v23 Saul went to Naioth in Ramah. The Spirit of God came and controlled even Saul. He continued to *prophesy until he came to Naioth. v24 Then he took off his clothes and *prophesied in front of Samuel. He lay naked all that day and all that night. The people said, ‘Has Saul really become a *prophet?’

Samuel and his *prophets did not live in the main part of the town of Ramah. ‘Naioth’ means ‘tents’. So they probably lived at the edge of the town. In those days, *prophets often lived together. An older *prophet led them and taught them. Saul sent three different groups of men to seize David. The Spirit of God came and controlled all the men. ‘They started to *prophesy’ means that they behaved like the other *prophets. They probably showed a lot of emotion and spoke in strange ways. Then Saul decided to go himself to get David. But Saul could not find his way. When he got to Ramah, the Spirit of God controlled him too. Saul could not kill David. Instead, he behaved like the *prophets. Saul took off his clothes, including his royal coat. The people saw what happened to him. But they knew that he was not a real *prophet. (Compare verse 24 with 10:12.)

The Spirit of God first came on Saul just after Samuel *anointed him as king (1 Samuel 10:9-13). This showed that God had chosen him to be the king of *Israel. But this time, the Spirit of God controlled Saul to stop him killing the future king of *Israel.

Chapter 20

Jonathan helps David

v1 Then David ran away from Naioth at Ramah. He went to Jonathan and asked him, ‘What have I done? What is my crime? What have I done wrong to your father? Why is he trying to kill me?’

v2 Jonathan replied, ‘No. You will not die. My father tells me everything that he does, even the little things. So he would not hide this from me. This can not be true’.

v3 But David answered, ‘Your father knows that you like me. He decided not to tell you. He knew that you would be very unhappy. I promise that I have told you the truth. I think that I will soon be dead’.

v4 Jonathan said to David, ‘I will do anything that you want me to’.

v5 David said, ‘Tomorrow we have a special meal because of the new moon. I ought to go and eat this meal with the king. Instead, I will go and hide in the fields. I will stay there until the third evening. v6 Your father might notice that I am not at the meal. If he does, you say, “David asked me to let him go to his home in Bethlehem. His whole family offer a *sacrifice at this time every year”. v7 If your father says, “That is good”, then I know that I am safe. But he may become angry. Then you will know that he wants to hurt me. v8 Jonathan, please be loyal and kind to me, your servant. God knows about the agreement that you made with me. If I am guilty of *sin, you can kill me yourself. Do not let your father kill me’.

v9 Jonathan said, ‘No, this will not happen. I will find out if my father wants to kill you. If he does, I will warn you’.

v10 David said, ‘If your father gets angry tomorrow, who will tell me?’

v11 Jonathan said, ‘Let us go out into the fields’. So they went there together.

v12 Then Jonathan said to David, ‘I make this promise to you and to the *Lord, the God of *Israel. Tomorrow or the next day I will find out how my father feels. If he likes you, I will send someone to tell you. v13 But my father may intend to hurt you. I promise that I will let you know this. Then I will send you away so that you are safe. May the *Lord be with you as he has been with my father. v14 The *Lord is kind to me. Please be kind to me too while I am alive. Do not let me die. v15 The *Lord will destroy all your enemies in the world. But please continue to be kind to all my family’.

v16 So Jonathan made an agreement with David. He said, ‘May the *Lord make David’s enemies responsible for what they have done’. v17 Again Jonathan asked David to promise that he loved him. Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself.

In 19:1-7, Saul wanted to kill David. Jonathan spoke to Saul and Saul changed his decision. David went back to serve Saul again. So, when David came to Jonathan this time, Jonathan did not believe David. Jonathan trusted Saul, his father. Jonathan was sure that David would be safe with Saul. In the past, Saul had told Jonathan everything. But Saul knew that Jonathan and David were good friends. This time Saul did not tell Jonathan that he wanted to kill David. David and Jonathan made a plan.

Numbers 10:10; 28:11-15 tell us about the special *offerings at the time of the new moon. Saul had a special meal for three nights at this time. Saul expected all his servants to go to the meals. The important people sat in special places at the table. People would notice if David’s seat was empty. David pretended that he had gone back to his family home in Bethlehem. (People used to *sacrifice at Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:3) until the *Philistines destroyed the town.) If Saul liked David, Saul would be happy about that. If he did not like David, Saul would be angry.

Jonathan, as son of the king, had power to hurt David. But Jonathan had made a promise with David (18:3-4). David reminded Jonathan about this promise. And he asked Jonathan to be loyal and kind. David deserved to die if he had not been loyal to Saul. David wanted Jonathan, rather than Saul, to kill him. But David had been loyal to Saul. Saul wanted to kill David only because he was jealous of David.

‘May the *Lord be with you as he has been with my father’ (verse 13). Jonathan knew that David would be the next king (see the notes on 18:3-4). Jonathan saw that the *Lord had given Saul success in the past. Jonathan wanted the *Lord to give David success too. In the future, David would become king. People would think that Saul’s family was David’s enemy. If a new king came from a different family, he usually killed the old king’s family. In verse 14 Jonathan asked David to be kind to him when David became king. When Jonathan referred to David’s ‘enemies’ (verses 14, 15), he knew that this would include his own father.

In verses 8, 14 and 15, the word ‘kind’ is a very strong word. It means to promise to give loyal love. It refers to the way that God promises to show his loyal love to us. David and Jonathan’s love for each other was like God’s love.

v18 Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Tomorrow we will have the special meal because of the new moon. No one will be sitting in your chair. People will see that you are not there. v19 Go back to the place where you hid at the beginning of this trouble. Go there the day after tomorrow. Go in the evening. Wait by the rock of Ezel. v20 I will shoot three arrows by the side of it. I will pretend that I am shooting at a certain mark. v21 Then I will send a boy to find the arrows. If you are not in danger I will say to him, “The arrows are near to you. Bring them here”. This means that you are safe. You can come out from the place where you have been hiding. v22 But I may say to the boy, “Look, the arrows are beyond you”. This means that you must go. The *Lord has sent you away. v23 Always remember the agreement that we made. The *Lord will make sure that we keep this promise’.

v24 So David hid in the field. The time came for the special meal because of the new moon. The king sat down to eat the meal. v25 He sat by the wall in his usual place. Jonathan sat opposite him. Abner sat next to Saul. David’s seat was empty. v26 Saul did not say anything about it that day. Saul thought, ‘I expect something has happened to David. Perhaps he is not clean’. v27 The next day was the second day of the month. David’s seat was still empty at the meal. So Saul said to Jonathan, ‘Why has the son of Jesse not come to the meal? He did not come yesterday or today’.

v28 Jonathan answered, ‘David asked me to let him go to Bethlehem. v29 He said, “Let me go. My family is having a *sacrifice in the town. My brother told me that I must be there. If you are my friend let me go and visit my relatives”. That is why David has not come to eat with the king’.

v30 Saul became very angry with Jonathan. Saul said, ‘You are wicked and you do not obey. I know that you are David’s friend. You have brought shame to yourself and to your mother. v31 You will never be king while David is alive. You will never rule the people. Go and get David now. He must die’.

v32 Jonathan said, ‘Why must David die? What has he done wrong?’ v33 But Saul threw a *spear at Jonathan and tried to kill him. So, Jonathan knew that his father really wanted to kill David. v34 Jonathan was very angry. He got up from the table. He did not eat anything on that second day of the month. He was very unhappy because Saul had not given David honour.

Jonathan had to find a secret way to give David the news. Jonathan probably often practised with his bow and arrows. He wanted to become more accurate when he fought battles. Jonathan took a boy who went to find all the arrows. But he did not want the boy to know about David. The boy would not suspect that Jonathan’s message was for someone else. David had to wait near a big rock. The name ‘Ezel’ means ‘to go away’. Jonathan expected that David would be safe. If he was not safe, Jonathan knew that David had to leave. The *Lord, not Jonathan, would send him away. Also, the *Lord would help David to keep his promise to Jonathan. 2 Samuel 9 and 21:7 describe when this happened.

Verse 25 says that Saul ‘sat by the wall’. The king always sat in the most important place. Abner was the son of Saul’s uncle and the leader of Saul’s army (1 Samuel 14:50 and 17:55). He was very important so he sat next to the king. David should have gone to this special meal instead of going to visit his family. The *Israelites had to be ‘clean’ when they *sacrificed or had a special meal (Leviticus 7:20-21). This means more than clean clothes or a clean body. Leviticus chapters 11-15 describe what made a person not clean.

In verse 27, Saul called David ‘the son of Jesse’. He probably said this to insult David.

In verses 30-33 Saul was very angry with Jonathan. The *Hebrew words that Saul used were insulting and not polite. Saul was angry because Jonathan was David’s friend. And Saul knew that David would be king instead of Jonathan. In chapter 15 God refused Saul as king because Saul did not obey him. Therefore, Jonathan would not become king after Saul. But Saul wanted Jonathan to be the next king. So Saul was trying to kill David. Then Saul became so angry with Jonathan that he tried to kill him too. Jonathan was angry about this. Jonathan realised that David was not safe near Saul. And Jonathan was sad about how his father had dealt with David.

v35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field to meet David. Jonathan took a young boy with him. v36 He said to the boy, ‘Run and find the arrows that I shoot’. As the boy ran, Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. v37 The boy reached the place where the arrow landed. Jonathan shouted to him, ‘The arrow is beyond you’. v38 Then he shouted, ‘Hurry up. Go quickly. Do not stop’. The boy picked up the arrow and brought it back to Jonathan. v39 (The boy did not know what this meant. Only Jonathan and David knew.) v40 Then Jonathan gave his bow and arrow back to the boy and said, ‘Go and take them back to town’.

v41 So the boy left. David came out from the south side of the rock. He kneeled in front of Jonathan and put his face down on the ground. He did this three times. Then David and Jonathan kissed each other and cried together. But David cried the most.

v42 Jonathan said to David, ‘Go and God will give you peace. We promised the *Lord that we would always be friends. The *Lord will make sure that my family and your family will always keep this promise’. Then David left. Jonathan went back to the town.

Jonathan knew that he had to get the news to David quickly. Jonathan shouted, ‘Hurry up. Go quickly. Do not stop’. This message was for David, not the boy. Saul would certainly kill David if he did not leave that place. Jonathan wanted to see David so he sent the boy away. First, David greeted Jonathan as the king’s son. David gave respect and honour to him. Verse 41 describes how David did that. Then David and Jonathan greeted each other as friends. They loved each other. They were very sad that they had to separate. David was most sad. He had to run away to save his life. In verse 42 ‘peace’ includes safety (see verses 7, 14 and 21). Jonathan knew that God would keep David safe. They talked again about the promise that they had each made to the *Lord. The promise was for them, and for their families. David and Jonathan trusted God with this promise whatever might happen in the future. David and Jonathan met only once more before Jonathan died (23:16-18).

Chapter 21

David goes to the town of Nob

v1 David went and visited Ahimelech the priest. He lived in the town of Nob. Ahimelech trembled when he went to meet David. Ahimelech asked David, ‘Why are you alone? Why did you come here by yourself?’

v2 David answered, ‘The king has given me a special job to do. He gave me these instructions, “Do not tell anyone where I have sent you. Do not tell them what I have told you to do”. And I have sent my men to meet me at a certain place. v3 Now, do you have anything available? Give me 5 loaves of bread or anything else that you have’.

v4 The priest answered David, ‘I do not have any ordinary bread. I only have some special holy bread. You can have it only if your men have not had sex with women’.

v5 David replied, ‘We have not been near women since we started our journey. The young men always keep themselves holy even when we have an ordinary journey. So they will certainly be holy today’. v6 So the priest gave David the special holy bread because he did not have any other bread. Every day the priest went to the holy place where God appeared. The priest replaced the old bread with some hot, fresh bread.

v7 One of Saul’s servants happened to be there that day. He had to remain near the place where the *Lord appeared for a longer time than usual. His name was Doeg. He came from the country of Edom. He was Saul’s chief *shepherd.

v8 David asked Ahimelech, ‘Do you have a sword or *spear that I could have? The king’s business was so important that I left without a sword or any *weapons’.

v9 Ahimelech answered, ‘The sword that belonged to Goliath the *Philistine is here. He is the man that you killed in the valley of Elah. We wrapped the sword in a cloth and put it behind the *ephod. If you want it, you may take it. We do not have any other sword except that one’.

David said, ‘Give it to me. There is no sword as good as that one’.

Jonathan returned to his home, which was at Gibeah. David went 3 kilometres (2 miles) to the town of Nob. The priests now lived in Nob (22:19) because the *Philistines had destroyed Shiloh. Chapter 7:1 tells us that the *ark of the Lord was in the town of Kiriath Jearim. But the tent where people met with the *Lord was now in Nob. David went to Nob because he needed food and *weapons. Usually Saul sent out David with soldiers, food and *weapons. David did not want the priest to suspect anything. So David lied to him.

Ahimelech was the main priest at that time. He was the grandson of Eli the priest (1:9). In verse 1, his body shook because he was afraid to meet David. He probably thought that David came with authority from King Saul. David told him that Saul had given him a secret job to do. Ahimelech believed all that David said. The only bread that Ahimelech had came from the tent of the *Lord. Leviticus 24:5-9 tells you more about this. Only the priests could eat it because they were clean and holy. But David needed food immediately. In verse 2, David refers to his men. But we do not know which men were with him at this time. Later (22:1-2), David had many men who stayed with him.

Verses 4-5 do not suggest that sex is something bad or dirty. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 says that a man and his wife should have sex together. But in those days, when people went to the house of the *Lord, they had to be clean in a special way. In the *Old Testament, especially in Leviticus, God gave particular laws about how to be clean for the ceremonies. Leviticus 15:18 describes the law that Ahimelech applied here. These laws reminded people that God was holy. David said that he and his men were clean and holy in this way. Jesus refers to this incident in Luke 6:1-11. He said that we should save a life rather than obey the ceremony laws.

David probably knew that Goliath’s sword was in the house of the *Lord. The priests put it there to give God honour. They put it behind the *ephod that the chief priest wore. God had given David success when he killed Goliath. David was very happy to have that sword again.

In the middle of this account, the writer mentions Doeg. He causes trouble in the next chapter.

David goes to the town of Gath

v10 David escaped from Saul that day. He went to Achish who was the king of the town of Gath. v11 But the servants of King Achish said to him, ‘This man is David, the king of the *Israelites. He is the man that the people sing about when they dance. The people sing, “Saul has killed thousands of people, but David has killed tens of thousands of people”.’

v12 David became very serious. He thought about what the servants said. Then he became very afraid of Achish, king of Gath. v13 When David was near the king or his servants, David pretended to be crazy. He acted like a mad man. He scratched the doors of the gate. He did not swallow the water in his mouth but he let it go all down his beard.

v14 Achish said to his servants, ‘Look at that man. He behaves like a mad man. Why did you bring him to me? v15 I have enough mad men already. I do not need to see another mad man. And I do not want this man to come into my house’.

David left Nob quickly. Perhaps he suspected that Doeg would take information back to Saul. David then went about 50 kilometres (31 miles) to the *Philistine town of Gath. It was one of the 5 main *Philistine towns. The *ark of the Lord went to Gath in 5:8-9. Goliath came from Gath (17:4). Soldiers sometimes left their own army and went to the enemy army. Perhaps that army paid them more or gave them better food. David hoped that no one would recognise him. But the servants of King Achish knew who he was. They knew about David’s fame. The servants called him, ‘king of the *Israelites’. Perhaps they meant that he was the most famous leader in *Israel.

David became very afraid. He was an important enemy of the *Philistines. He knew that King Achish might kill him. David had to escape. So, David pretended that he was a mad man. A ‘mad man’ is someone who is ill in his mind. He behaves in strange ways. People are often afraid of such people. Perhaps that is why Achish sent David away. David wrote Psalm 34 to describe this event.

Later, in chapter 27, David went back to Achish.

Chapter 22

David at Adullam and Mizpah

v1 David left Gath and went to a cave near Adullam. His brothers and his father’s family discovered where he had gone. So they all went to visit him. v2 Many people who had troubles went to David. People who had debts or who were not content also went to him. About 400 people went to David and he became their leader.

v3 David then went to the town of Mizpah in the country of Moab. David said to the king of Moab, ‘Please let my father and mother stay with you for a short time. I need to learn what God will do for me’. v4 So David left his parents with the king of Moab. They stayed with the king all the time that David hid in the safe place.

v5 Gad the *prophet said to David, ‘Do not stay in the safe place. Go to the land of *Judah’. So, David left the safe place and went to the forest at Hereth.

David’s family was from the town of Bethlehem (16:1) in the country that belonged to the *tribe of *Judah. Adullam was half way between Gath and Bethlehem. So, David was now returning to his home area. There were some caves near Adullam. People who had no home used to live in the caves. Many people went to David. Perhaps the people who had debts and troubles wanted to escape from the leaders of their towns. Perhaps other people opposed Saul as their king. All these men trusted David. He trained them to become a small army. This army never attacked Saul or the *Israelites. They were loyal to David.

David’s family left Bethlehem. They did not want Saul to kill them. David obeyed the law of God that is in Exodus 20:12, ‘Give honour to your father and mother’. He could not protect his parents so he sent them to a safe place. David’s great grandmother Ruth came from Moab (Ruth 4:17). So, the king of Moab kept David’s parents safe from Saul. We do not know where Mizpah was. But we believe that it was the royal town.

David ‘hid in the safe place’. This often referred to a cave up in a cliff. Or it referred to a town that people guarded very well. Verse 5 shows that this safe place was not in *Judah. David and his men had to keep hiding in different places. When David wrote some of the Psalms he described God as a ‘safe place’ (for example Psalms 18:2; 37:39; 144:2). David trusted God and God kept him safe. Men tried to kill David but God protected him.

Gad, who was a *prophet, now came and joined David. Gad spoke God’s words and directed David. (Samuel had done this for Saul in the past.) Later, Gad wrote about the events that happened while David was king (1 Chronicles 29:29). Gad also decided how people should *worship in the house of the *Lord (2 Chronicles 29:25). In 2 Samuel 24:11-25 Gad had to oppose David when he *sinned. Now Gad told David to go back to the country of *Judah. David and his men could easily hide in a forest.

Saul kills Ahimelech’s family at Nob

v6 Then Saul heard that someone had found David and his men. Saul was sitting under the large tree on the hill near Gibeah. He was holding a *spear. All his officers surrounded him. v7 Saul said to them, ‘Men from the *tribe of Benjamin, listen to me and understand what I say. The son of Jesse will not give you fields and vineyards. He will not make you officers of men in his army. v8 So why have you made plans against me? No one tells me when my son makes a special promise with the son of Jesse. No one cares about me. No one tells me that one of my servants wants to kill me now. And my son has encouraged him’.

v9 But Doeg, from the country of Edom, was standing with Saul’s officers. Doeg said, ‘I saw the son of Jesse. He came to the town of Nob and visited Ahimelech who is the son of Ahitub. v10 Ahimelech asked the *Lord what David should do. Then he gave David some food and the sword that belonged to Goliath the *Philistine’.

v11 Then king Saul sent for the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub and all his relatives. They were all priests and they lived in the town of Nob. They all came to the king. v12 Saul said, ‘Listen to me, son of Ahitub’.

Ahimelech answered, ‘Yes, master’.

v13 Saul said to him, ‘Why are you and the son of Jesse plotting against me? You gave him bread and a sword. You prayed to God for him. He opposes me. Now he is even waiting to attack me’.

v14 Ahimelech answered, ‘David is the most loyal servant that you have. He is your son-in-law. He is the captain of the men who guard you. Everyone in your family gives him honour.

v15 I have prayed to God for David many times in the past. This was not the first time. King Saul, do not accuse me or my family. We know nothing about what is happening’.

v16 King Saul said, ‘Ahimelech, you and all your relatives must die’.

v17 Then the king gave orders to the officers who guarded him, ‘Go and kill the priests of the *Lord. They are supporting David. They knew that he was escaping from me. But they did not tell me’.

But the king’s officers refused to kill the priests of the *Lord.

v18 So the king commanded Doeg, ‘Go and kill the priests’. So, Doeg the Edomite went and killed the priests. He killed 85 priests who wore the *linen *ephod. v19 He also killed all the people in the town of Nob, which was the town of the priests. He killed the men and women, children and babies. He also killed the cows, *donkeys and sheep.

v20 But Abiathar escaped. He was a son of Ahimelech (who was the son of Ahitub). Abiathar ran away and joined David. v21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the *Lord. v22 David said to him, ‘When I went to the town of Nob, Doeg the Edomite was there too. I knew that he would tell Saul about me. I am responsible that he killed your father’s family. v23 Stay here with me. Do not be afraid. Saul wants to kill you and he wants to kill me too. You will be safe with me’.

Saul was sitting in the shade of a big tree. (This is similar to 14:2.) The name of this type of tree was a ‘tamarisk’ tree. Saul’s officers surrounded him. They protected and served him. Saul’s family and his officers came from the *tribe of Benjamin. But Saul did not know whom he could trust. He held a *spear so that he was ready to attack anyone. He did not trust even his own son. David was a popular person. Saul was probably afraid that some of his men might join David. Saul reminded his men that he had given them gifts of land. The plants in a ‘vineyard’ have fruit that people make into wine. Saul had given these gifts to his loyal men. Sometimes a king bought men’s friendship with gifts. Saul had also made the men leaders. David came from the *tribe of *Judah. If David became king he would probably choose leaders from the *tribe of *Judah and not from Benjamin. Saul called David ‘the son of Jesse’. He said this to insult David. However, Saul also called David ‘one of my servants’. Saul imagined that David wanted to kill him. In fact, Saul had tried to kill David several times.

Doeg told Saul what he had seen. Perhaps Doeg hoped that Saul would give him a reward. So, Saul wanted to talk to Ahimelech and all his relatives. Ahimelech was not afraid to meet Saul. He did not know that there was trouble. Ahimelech believed that David was still serving Saul. He also knew that David was a loyal member of Saul’s family. Ahimelech had an innocent conscience. But Saul thought that the priests had supported David instead of him. A king has great authority. People have to obey the king’s commands. But Saul’s officers refused to kill the priests. They would not hurt the men who served the *Lord. The officers had more respect for the *Lord than Saul had.

Doeg did not *worship the *Lord. The people of Edom *worshipped other *gods. So Doeg obeyed the king’s command. When the priests served the *Lord they wore a simple *ephod. *Linen is a material like cotton. Doeg killed all the priests. Then he killed everyone in the priests’ town. He even killed all their animals. Doeg’s action contrasts with Saul and the *Amalekites in 15:9. Saul refused to kill all the *Amalekites and their animals. However, Saul now uses his power to kill the priests of the *Lord. This act completed what God said in 3:11-13. David wrote Psalm 52 about Doeg and this event.

The *Lord saved one priest who could continue to serve him. Abiathar knew that he had to escape from Saul. So he went to David. He took the special *ephod with him (23:6). David now had a *prophet and a priest with him. The *Lord gave his messages to a *prophet. And the priest could give *sacrifices and ask the *Lord for his directions. Saul did not have any priests of the *Lord to help him now. Saul had killed all the other priests. But David felt responsible for this. So David now wanted to protect Abiathar. God had kept David safe from Saul. So, David knew that God would keep Abiathar safe too.

Chapter 23

David saves the town of Keilah

v1 Someone told David that the *Philistines were attacking the town of Keilah. And they were stealing the grain when the *Israelites had just harvested it. v2 So David asked the *Lord, ‘Shall I go and attack these *Philistines?’

The *Lord answered him, ‘Go and attack the *Philistines. Save Keilah’.

v3 But David’s men said to him, ‘We are afraid here in *Judah. We will be more afraid if we go and attack the *Philistine army at Keilah’.

v4 So David asked the *Lord again. The *Lord answered, ‘Go to Keilah. I will help you to defeat the *Philistines’. v5 So David and his men went to Keilah. They fought the *Philistines and killed many of them. Also, they took all their animals. So David saved the people of Keilah. v6 (When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech ran away he came to David at Keilah. And he brought the *ephod with him.)

The town of Keilah was about 29 kilometres (18 miles) south-west of Jerusalem. And it was about 5 kilometres (3 miles) from the cave of Adullam (22:1). Keilah was in the country of *Judah. King Saul and his army should have been fighting the *Philistines here. But Saul spent most of his time trying to catch David. David was a leader in Saul’s army. David had often attacked the *Philistines and saved *Israelite towns. He now wanted to save Keilah. But he did not do anything until he had asked God. David knew that only God could give him success. Abiathar the priest had joined David and had brought the *ephod with him from Nob (21:9). This was the special *ephod for the chief priest. He wore it when he wanted to know what Gods’ decision was (see Exodus 28).

God had told David’s men to attack the *Philistines. But the men were afraid. The *Philistines were good soldiers. Their army was large. David wanted to be certain that he should attack. So David asked God a second time. God said that he would help David. So David and his men attacked and defeated the *Philistines. The *Philistines may have used animals to carry the men’s bags. Or perhaps *Philistines stole these animals in earlier battles. The end of verse 5 says, ‘David saved the people of Keilah’. This does not mean that David did it on his own. It means David and his men. The writer often uses just a leader’s name to refer to the leader and his group.

Saul chases David

v7 Someone told Saul that David was now at Keilah. Saul said, ‘God has handed over David to me. David has gone into a town that has a strong gate. He can not escape’. v8 So Saul sent for all his soldiers. They prepared to go to Keilah and attack David and his men.

v9 David heard that Saul was preparing to attack him. David said to Abiathar, ‘Bring the *ephod here’. v10 David prayed, ‘*Lord, you are the God of *Israel. I have heard that Saul is preparing to come to Keilah. He intends to destroy this town because I am here. v11 Will the people of Keilah hand me over to Saul? Is Saul really going to come here? *Lord, God of *Israel, I am your servant so please tell me’.

The *Lord answered, ‘Saul will come’.

v12 David asked the *Lord again, ‘Will the people in Keilah hand me over to Saul?’

And the *Lord said, ‘They will’.

v13 So David and his 600 men left Keilah. They had to keep moving from one place to another. Saul heard that David had escaped from Keilah. So Saul did not go there.

v14 David stayed in the safe places in the desert. He also stayed in the hills in the wild country at Ziph. Saul looked for David every day. But God did not hand over David to Saul.

v15 David was at Horesh in the wild country at Ziph. While he was there, he heard that Saul was coming to kill him. v16 Jonathan, Saul’s son, went to visit David at Horesh. He encouraged David to be strong, as he trusted God. v17 Jonathan said to David, ‘Do not be afraid. My father will not hurt you. My father knows that you will be the next king of *Israel. I will be next in rank to you’. v18 Jonathan and David made a promise together with the *Lord. Then Jonathan went home. David stayed at Horesh.

Many *Israelites trusted Saul. They told him where David went. The *Israelites who liked David warned him about Saul. Saul thought that God was helping him to catch David. But these verses show that God helped David, not Saul.

The town of Keilah had a wall round it. The only way to go in and out of the town was through a gate. The gate was very big and strong. Saul thought that he could trap David inside the town. Saul’s army would surround the town. David would not be able to escape. Saul wanted to catch David so much that he would have destroyed the whole town. Before David acted, he asked God for his decision. David called himself God’s servant. A servant obeys his master. David wanted to obey God. David did not want Saul to kill the people of another town. David did not want to be responsible for the death of more innocent people. David asked God two questions. But God only answered one. So David had to ask the other question again. God’s replies were very short. So David and his men left Keilah. They had saved Keilah from the *Philistines. David hoped that the people of Keilah would protect them. But Saul was the king. The people had to obey him. They did not want Saul to destroy their town.

More men had joined David. He now had 600 men with him. Again, David and his men had to find somewhere else to hide from Saul. They went further to the south. Few people lived in this part of *Judah. They were up in the mountains where few plants grew. It was not easy to live in this wild country. Saul did not go to Keilah. But every day Saul and his men searched for David. God protected David from Saul. David was probably afraid. He did not know how he would ever become the king of *Israel. However, Jonathan found David. Jonathan helped David to trust God more. Jonathan knew that Saul would not be able to hurt David. Jonathan also knew that David would be the next king. Saul knew this too but he could not agree with God’s decision. Jonathan knew that David would trust him as a leader. Verse 18 does not tell us what promise Jonathan and David made. It was a serious promise because they made it with God, not just to each other. This is the last meeting that the Bible records between David and Jonathan.

v19 Some people from Ziph went to visit Saul at Gibeah. They said to Saul, ‘David is hiding in our land. He is on the hill at Hakilah. He is in the safe places at Horesh on that hill. These are south of Jeshimon. v20 Now, King Saul, you may come to our land at any time. It is our duty to hand over David to you’.

v21 Saul replied, ‘The *Lord will bless you because you are helping me. v22 Go back and make sure about David. Go and find where he usually stays. Find the people who have seen him there. I have heard that David is very clever. v23 Find all the places where he hides. Then come back. Tell me everything that you have discovered. Then I will come with you. I will find David if he is still in this area. I will search in the whole land of *Judah for him’.

v24 So the people returned to Ziph ahead of Saul. David and his men were in the desert of Maon. This was a desert area south of Jeshimon. v25 Saul and his men started to search for David. David heard about this. He and his men stayed in the desert of Maon and went to a great rock. Saul heard about this. He and his men went to the desert of Maon to follow David.

v26 Saul and his men were going along one side of the mountain. David and his men were on the other side of the mountain. They were trying to escape from Saul. Saul and his army were getting closer to David and his men. They were nearly close enough to catch David and his men. v27 But a man came and gave this message to Saul, ‘Come quickly. The *Philistines are attacking our land’. v28 So Saul stopped chasing David. Instead, Saul went to fight the *Philistines. People call this place Sela Hammahlekoth. (This means ‘the rock where they separated, or escaped’.) v29 David left that place and lived in the safe places at En Gedi.

The area of Ziph was in David’s home country of *Judah. But many people in Ziph wanted to help Saul, not David. They knew where David was hiding. In verse 21 Saul said, ‘The *Lord will bless you’. This phrase was a normal greeting. It does not mean that Saul really trusted God. David had already escaped from Saul. This time Saul wanted to know the exact place where David and his men had hidden. Saul and his men were not familiar with this part of *Israel. So, Saul sent the local men back to Ziph to search the area first. This time Saul found David. Saul and his men nearly caught David and his men. But God used the *Philistine attack to save David from Saul again. The name of this mountain (‘rock’) reminded people of how God saved David. (This was the same rock as in verse 25.) David and his men had to move to a new place. En Gedi is near the Dead Sea. It was a very hot place but there was a good supply of fresh water.

Chapter 24

David refuses to kill Saul

v1 When Saul had finished fighting the *Philistines he returned home. Someone told him that David was in the desert at En Gedi. v2 So Saul chose 3000 of the best soldiers in *Israel. They went to look for David and his men near Wild Goat Rocks.

v3 Saul came to the sheep pens that were close to the road. There was a cave near to these pens. Saul went into the cave to use the cave as a toilet. David and his men were sitting right at the back of this cave. v4 The men said to David, ‘This is the day that the *Lord spoke about. The *Lord said to you, “I will give your enemy to you. Then you can do to him whatever you think is right”.’ David walked up behind Saul. David was so quiet that Saul did not hear him. David cut off a small piece of material from Saul’s royal coat.

v5 Later, David felt guilty that he had cut a piece of material off Saul’s coat. v6 David said to his men, ‘May the *Lord stop me from doing anything wrong to my master, Saul. The *Lord *anointed him as king. I must never do anything to oppose Saul. The *Lord has *anointed him as king’. v7 David spoke like this to stop his men. He did not let them attack Saul. Saul left the cave and continued on his journey.

Saul’s war with the *Philistines saved David’s life. But Saul did not stop chasing David. David had only 600 men. David had not trained them as soldiers. Saul had 5 times more men than David. All Saul’s men were expert soldiers. But God was protecting David. David probably heard that Saul was coming to find him. So David and his men hid in a cave. There are very big caves in this part of the country. David and his 600 men could easily hide in these caves. They could talk and Saul could not hear them. David wrote Psalms 57 and 142 to describe his time in the cave.

Saul did not know that he had gone into his enemy’s cave. David’s men thought that David would kill Saul. The men reminded David of a promise from God (verse 4). The Bible does not record this promise anywhere else. We do not know when God said this to David. David knew that God had *anointed Saul as king. David gave honour to Saul. Therefore, David would not hurt Saul in any way. He would not let his men hurt Saul. David knew that if he opposed Saul then he also opposed God. Romans 13:1-3 tells us that only God can give authority to leaders. Although Samuel had *anointed David as king, David trusted God. David did not make himself king. He waited for God’s right time. Saul wore the special royal coat. This showed that he was the king. David felt guilty after he cut the royal coat. Perhaps he considered that this was like attacking the king.

v8 Then David went out of the cave and shouted to Saul, ‘My master and king’. Saul looked behind him. David went down onto his knees. He bent down so that his face was on the ground. v9 David said to Saul, ‘Why do you listen to the people who say, “David wants to hurt you”? v10 Today the *Lord gave me power to hurt you in the cave. Some of my men wanted me to kill you. But I pitied you. I said, “I will not hurt my master because the *Lord has *anointed him as king”. v11 Look, my father. I have a small piece of your coat. I cut this off the corner of your royal coat but I did not kill you. Please realise that I have not *sinned against you. I will not hurt you. I have done nothing wrong to you. But you are chasing me so that you can kill me. v12 The *Lord will be the judge. He will decide which one of us has behaved in the wrong way. And may the *Lord punish you because you have done wrong things to me. But I will not do anything to hurt you. v13 You know that people often say this, “Evil people do evil things”. But I am not opposing you. v14 Who have you come to fight? Who are you are chasing? Do you think that I am like a dead dog or a little insect? v15 The *Lord will be the judge. He will decide which one of us has behaved in the wrong way. May the *Lord see what I have done. May he show that I am right. And may he save me from you’.

v16 When David stopped speaking Saul asked, ‘Is that really you, David my son?’ Then Saul started to cry aloud. v17 Saul said, ‘You are a better man than I am. You have been good to me. But I have behaved in a bad way to you. v18 You have told me all the good things that you did to me. The *Lord handed me over to you, but you did not kill me. v19 If a person finds his enemy he does not let him go away. He does not let him be safe. The *Lord will reward you because you were good to me today. v20 Now I know that you will be the king of *Israel. You will rule all the people in *Israel. v21 Please promise the *Lord that you will not kill all my children and their families. Make sure that people do not forget my family’s name’.

v22 So David made this promise to Saul. Saul went home. But David and his men returned to the safe place.

Saul left the cave. He was not aware of what had happened. David took a risk when he shouted to Saul. Saul and his men could have run back and caught David and his men. David respected Saul when he called him ‘my master and king’. David gave Saul honour when he bent right down to the ground. David showed Saul the piece of material. David proved that many of Saul’s men had lied to him about David. David explained what had happened in the cave. This showed that David was not Saul’s enemy. David said that he was innocent. God is the judge. God will punish the guilty person. In verse 11, David calls Saul ‘my father’. David had married Saul’s daughter Michal (18:27) so David was part of Saul’s family. Also, this greeting showed that David respected Saul as king.

In verse 14, David probably meant that he was not an important person. Therefore, Saul would not gain anything if he caught David. But David’s questions may also mean, ‘You think that I am not important. But do you know who I really am?’ Verse 20 shows that Saul knew. He knew who David really was.

In verse 16, Saul replied to David and called him ‘my son’. This time Saul did not insult David as ‘the son of Jesse’ (22:8). Saul could hardly believe that this really was David. Now Saul realised that David was not his enemy. Saul cried because he felt guilty. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies’. Saul had been David’s enemy. But David had been good to Saul.

In verse 20, Saul knew that David would become king after him. David was the man that Samuel spoke about. He said that he was better than Saul (15:28). Saul knew that his son Jonathan would not become king. But Saul also knew that a king from a different family usually killed the previous king’s family (20:14-15). The new king wanted his son and grandsons to be king after him. In verse 21 Saul said, ‘Please promise the *Lord’. Saul knew that David would keep his promise to the *Lord. David made this promise and in the future, he kept it.

Although Saul seemed to care about David, David could not trust him. David and his men returned to the safe place. They did not go home with Saul.

Chapter 25

Samuel the *prophet dies

v1 Samuel died. All the *Israelites met together and were very sad. Then they buried Samuel in his home town of Ramah.

Samuel had been a very important leader of the *Israelites. The *Israelites trusted him as a leader and a *prophet. They were very sad when he died. Samuel led them during a time of great change. He had *anointed Saul as the first king of *Israel. Then he *anointed David as the king that God chose. Samuel did not see David become king. But in 24:20, Saul had agreed that David would be the next king.

Nabal insults David

David went down to the desert of Maon. v2-3 A very rich man lived at Maon. His name was Nabal. He came from the family of Caleb. His wife’s name was Abigail. Nabal owned land near the town of Carmel. He had 1000 goats and 3000 sheep. He was cutting the wool off his sheep at Carmel. Abigail was a beautiful and intelligent woman. But Nabal was a cruel and wicked man.

v4 David was in the desert. He heard that Nabal was cutting the wool off his sheep. v5 So David sent 10 young men to the town of Carmel. He told them to find Nabal and give him David’s greetings. v6 David told the young men to say, ‘David sends you his greetings. He wants you to have peace. He wants your family to have peace. He wants everything you own to have peace. v7 David heard that you were cutting the wool off your sheep. The men who look after your sheep have been with us. We did not hurt them. We did not steal anything from them when they were at Carmel. v8 Your servants will tell you this if you ask them. We have come on the day when you have a special meal. So, please be kind to David’s young men. And please give them, and your son David, whatever you can’.

v9 David’s men arrived at Carmel and gave the message to Nabal. They waited for Nabal to reply. v10 Nabal answered David’s young men, ‘I do not know who David is. I have never heard of this son of Jesse. Many slaves run away from their masters these days. v11 I have bread and water. And I have killed some animals. But this is all for the men who are cutting the wool off my sheep. I am not going to give this to men that I do not know’.

David and his 600 men lived in the southern part of the country of *Judah. There were many hills and mountains there. People called the land a desert because it was dry. There was not much rain in that area. Not many people lived there because they could not grow crops on the land. Only grass and small plants grew in this area. The people who lived there kept sheep and goats. Each year the farmers cut the wool off their animals. They sold the wool and paid their servants. Everyone was happy at this time. They usually had a party with plenty of food and drink.

David and his men had to find water and food every day. They could not plant their own crops because they had to keep moving to different places. Verses 7 and 16 show that they protected Nabal’s men and animals in the desert. David and his men probably protected other people’s animals too. Enemies from countries near to *Judah often came and stole from the *Israelites. The farmers usually paid David and his men with food.

This story is about a wicked man and his good wife. Nabal came from the family of Caleb. Caleb was an *Israelite who left the country of Egypt with Moses. Only Caleb and Joshua went in to the land that God had promised to the *Israelites (Numbers 14-15 and Joshua 14:6-15). Carmel is a town near the town of Hebron (Caleb’s town). Saul went to Carmel in 15:12.

David sent his young men to Nabal on the day that he had his special meal. David hoped that Nabal would be generous. The greeting in verse 6 is a typical *Israelite greeting. In verse 8, David calls himself ‘your son David’. This means that David had been like a servant to Nabal. David gave Nabal honour because he was an important man. But Nabal insulted David. Nabal did not greet David’s men quickly. Nabal pretended that he did not know David. But everyone who lived in the country of *Judah knew who David was. Verse 10 shows that Nabal knew about David. He knew that David was the son of Jesse. Here, Nabal used the name ‘son of Jesse’ as an insult (as Saul did in 20:27 and 22:13). Nabal knew that David had been one of Saul’s servants. However, he described David as a bad slave who had run away. Nabal had prepared food for his servants but he was selfish.

v12 David’s men returned to David. They told him all that Nabal had said. v13 David said to his men, ‘Go and get your swords’. So, they got their swords and put them onto their belts. David got his sword too. About 400 men went with David. About 200 men stayed with their supplies.

v14 One of Nabal’s servants spoke to Abigail (Nabal’s wife). He said, ‘David sent some of his men from the desert to greet our master. But our master insulted them. v15 These men were very good to us. They did not hurt us. They did not steal anything from us while we were out in the fields. v16 They protected us while we cared for the sheep. They protected us during the daytime and at night. v17 Please think about this and decide what to do. Terrible trouble is coming to our master and his family. Our master is such a wicked man. He will not listen to anyone’.

v18 Abigail quickly got some food. She got 200 loaves of bread, 2 big jugs of wine, 5 sheep that she had cooked. She also got 15 kilograms (about 7 pounds) of grain that she had cooked, 100 bundles of raisins and 200 round packs of figs. She loaded all this onto some *donkeys. v19 She said to her servants, ‘You go first and I will follow you’. But she did not tell her husband Nabal.

v20 Abigail rode her *donkey along the valley in the mountain. She saw David and his men as they came down the valley towards her. v21 David had just said, ‘I do not know why I protected Nabal’s property in the desert. We did not steal anything from him. We were good to him, but he has been bad to us. v22 I will certainly go and kill all the men in Nabal’s family by tomorrow morning’.

This story shows that David was not a perfect man. David was angry with Nabal. David had protected Nabal’s men and animals in the desert. But Nabal had not been generous to David and his men. So David went to punish Nabal and his family. David was a man who felt natural anger. But his reaction to Nabal contrasts with his reaction to king Saul. David was angry and wanted to kill Nabal. If David ever felt natural anger towards Saul, he controlled it. David would not hurt Saul because God had *anointed him.

Nabal’s servants knew that David would be angry. They knew that Nabal was a wicked man. They were afraid that something bad would happen. Nabal would not listen to them, so they spoke to Abigail. Abigail was an intelligent woman (verses 2-3). She acted quickly. She knew that David and his men deserved to share Nabal’s food. Abigail was generous. She took enough food for a good meal for David and his men. Raisins and figs are types of fruit that the sun has dried. They are sweet and give people energy. Abigail was a wise woman. She did not tell Nabal what she was doing. She knew that he would have stopped her. Abigail sent her servants ahead with the food. Perhaps she thought that she would be safer behind her servants.

v23 When Abigail saw David she quickly got off her *donkey. She kneeled in front of David and her face touched the ground. v24 She kneeled right in front of his feet. She said to David, ‘My master, let me take the blame. I am your servant. Please listen to what I say. v25 Please do not think about that wicked man Nabal. His name means fool and he is a fool. I, your servant, did not see the young men that you sent. v26 Now the *Lord has stopped you from punishing your enemies and killing them. You have enemies and many people who want to hurt you. But they will receive their punishment just as Nabal will. I know that this will certainly happen. v27 My master, please accept this present that I have brought for you and your men. v28 Please forgive me for what I have done wrong. I know that the *Lord will always choose someone from your family as the king. The *Lord will do this because you always fight his battles. And you do not do anything evil in your life. v29 Someone may chase you and try to kill you. But the *Lord your God will always protect you. The *Lord will throw your enemies away like someone throws away a stone. v30 One day the *Lord will do all the good things that he has promised to you. He will make you the leader of the *Israelites. v31 When this happens you will not feel guilty about anything. You have not killed innocent people. And you have not tried to punish people yourself. When the *Lord gives you success, please remember me’.

v32 David said to Abigail, ‘I praise the *Lord God of *Israel. He sent you to meet me today. v33 The *Lord bless you for your wise advice and for what you did. You stopped me from punishing and killing people today. v34 The *Lord stopped me from hurting you. You came quickly to meet me. Otherwise, I certainly would have killed all of Nabal’s men by the morning’.

v35 David accepted Abigail’s present. He said to her, ‘Go home and do not worry. I will do what you said’.

David was probably very surprised to see Abigail with her servants, *donkeys and all the food. Abigail acted quickly again. She had to stop 400 angry men before they killed anyone. Abigail behaved in a humble way when she bent down on her knees. She gave David great respect and honour when she spoke to him. Abigail agreed that Nabal was wicked. But she appealed to David not to behave in the wrong way. She did not use her gift of food to persuade David. Instead she reminded him to trust the *Lord. The *Lord would protect David. And the *Lord would deal with David’s enemies, including Nabal. Abigail knew that David would be king of *Israel. She did not want him to be guilty about anything. In verse 31 Abigail said, ‘When the *Lord gives you success, please remember me’. These words are similar to Joseph’s in Genesis 40:14.

David knew that God had sent Abigail to him. He accepted her wise advice and her present. David and his men got their meal. David trusted the *Lord to deal with Saul. But David nearly made a mistake because of his wrong anger. The result of this would have been serious. God was kind to David and saved him. Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:17-21 say that God will deal with every wrong act. We must never punish people who hurt us. Instead, we must do good things to them. We should trust the *Lord who is a fair judge.

Nabal dies

v36 Abigail went back home to Nabal. He had prepared a huge meal. It was good enough for a king to eat. He had drunk too much wine. He was in a good mood. So Abigail did not tell him anything until the next morning. v37 The next morning Nabal was sensible again. So Abigail told him all that had she had done. Nabal’s heart failed and he became like a stone. v38 About 10 days later the *Lord made Nabal die.

v39 David heard that Nabal had died. David said, ‘I praise the *Lord. Nabal insulted me but the *Lord defended me. The *Lord stopped me from doing the wrong thing. And now he has punished Nabal’.

Then David sent a message to Abigail. He asked her to marry him. v40 David’s servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, ‘David has sent us to you. We must take you to David so that he can marry you’.

v41 Abigail kneeled down and her face touched the ground. She said, ‘I am his servant. I will wash the feet of David’s servants’. v42 Abigail quickly got onto a *donkey and went with David’s men. She took 5 young girls with her. They were her servants. Abigail became David’s wife.

v43 David had married Ahinoam from the town of Jezreel. So David now had two wives. v44 Saul’s daughter Michal used to be David’s wife. But Saul had given her to Paltiel as his wife. Paltiel was the son of Laish who came from the town of Gallim.

Nabal had prepared a huge meal. He did not notice that Abigail had taken some of his food. Abigail could not speak to Nabal that night. He was not sensible because he had drunk too much wine. In the morning, Nabal had a shock when he listened to Abigail. Verse 37 says, ‘Nabal’s heart failed’. This means that he lost his courage. Exodus 15:16 says that God’s enemies will be as still as a stone. This may be picture language for death. Nabal died because the *Lord punished him. Psalm 112:5; Proverbs 11:25; 22:9 show that God blesses generous people. Nabal was not generous. God did not bless him. But Abigail was generous. David ‘remembered’ her (verse 31) and he married her. Abigail gave David honour. She wanted to serve him and his servants too.

Genesis 2:24 shows that God wants a man to have one wife. In those days, it was common for men to have more than one wife. This is still common in some countries today. In the *Old Testament, men who had more than one wife often had trouble in their family. When David left Saul, David had to live apart from his wife Michal. So Saul found another husband for her. In verse 43, Jezreel is a town near Carmel. Ahinoam was the mother of David’s first son, Amnon (2 Samuel 3:2).

Chapter 26

David again refuses to kill Saul

v1 Some men from Ziph went to visit Saul at Gibeah. They said, ‘David is hiding on the hill of Hakilah which is opposite Jeshimon’.

v2 So Saul went to the desert of Ziph to search for David. Saul chose 3000 *Israelite men to go with him. v3 Saul and his men camped next to the road on the hill of Hakilah. This was opposite Jeshimon. But David stayed in the desert. Then David heard that Saul had followed him there. v4 So David sent some men to see if this was true. They discovered that Saul was at Hakilah.

v5 David went to the place where Saul was camping. Saul was asleep in the middle of the camp. The army was round him. Abner, who was the son of Ner, was the leader of Saul’s army. He was asleep too.

v6 David spoke to Ahimelech and Abishai. Ahimelech came from the Hittite *tribe. Abishai was Joab’s brother and Zeruiah was their mother. David said, ‘Will one of you come down into Saul’s camp with me?’

Abishai said, ‘I will come with you’.

v7 So David and Abishai went into Saul’s camp that night. Saul was asleep in the middle of the camp. He had put his *spear into the ground near his head. Abner and the army were asleep round Saul. v8 Abishai said to David, ‘Tonight God has given your enemy to you. I will push the *spear right through Saul and into the ground under him. I will only have to do it once to kill him. I will not need to do it twice’.

v9 But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not kill Saul. The *Lord *anointed Saul as king. The person who kills Saul will be guilty. v10 I know that the *Lord himself will kill Saul. Saul will die either in a natural way or in a battle. v11 The *Lord *anointed Saul so I will certainly not hurt him. Take the *spear and the jug of water that is near Saul’s head. Then we will leave’.

v12 So David took the *spear and the jug of water that was near Saul’s head. Then they left. No one saw them. No one knew what had happened. No one woke up. The *Lord had made the men stay asleep.

This chapter is similar to the account in chapter 24. It shows how Saul kept changing his attitude towards David. Again, Saul and his army went to find David and his men and to kill them. It was stupid that Saul took so many soldiers to hunt for one man. But this time David went to find Saul before Saul found him. God allowed Abishai to tempt David. God was testing David. He had another chance to kill Saul but he refused.

David went to Saul’s camp at night. He took only one man with him. The Bible does not mention this Ahimelech anywhere else, except in verse 6. The Hittite *tribe lived in *Israel among the *Israelites. Zeruiah (verse 6) was David’s older sister (1 Chronicles 2:16). Therefore, Abishai was David’s nephew. Abishai and Joab become important leaders later when David became king (2 Samuel). Abner led Saul’s army. He was Saul’s cousin (14:50-51). Abner should have protected Saul. But that night, God made everyone in Saul’s army go to sleep. And God made them stay asleep until David and Abishai had left Saul’s camp.

David and Abishai went into the centre of Saul’s camp, right up to Saul himself. Abishai was a strong soldier and wanted to kill Saul. Abishai knew that he could kill Saul with just one strike of Saul’s own *spear. Abner should have used this *spear to protect Saul against his enemies. Verse 8 reminds us of how Saul tried to kill David. Saul threw a *spear at David. Saul wanted the *spear to go through David and into the wall behind him (18:10-11). Again, David refused to kill Saul. David would not hurt the king that the *Lord had *anointed. Abigail had reminded David that the *Lord would punish his enemies (25:29). And David had just seen how the *Lord punished Nabal. David knew that God would punish Saul too. Saul might become ill and die (as Nabal did). Or he might die in a battle. Either way, God would do it. David would not touch Saul. He would not even touch his royal coat this time. Instead David took Saul’s *spear and jug of water.

v13 David and Abishai went across the valley to the other side of the hill. David went to the top of the hill. He was far away from Saul’s camp. v14 David shouted to Saul’s army. He shouted to Abner, who was the son of Ner, ‘Abner, can you hear me?’

Abner replied, ‘Who is shouting to the king? Who are you?’

v15 David replied to Abner, ‘Are you really a great man in *Israel? You should have protected your master, the king. Someone came into your camp to kill your master the king. v16 You have failed as a guard. I know that you and your men ought to die. The *Lord *anointed Saul as king. You have not protected him. The king’s *spear and water jug were near his head. Where are they now?’

v17 Saul recognised David’s voice. Saul said, ‘Is that you David, my son?’

David answered, ‘Yes my master and king. I am David’. v18 David also said, ‘Why are you chasing me, my master? What have I done? Have I done something that is wicked? v19 My master and king, please listen to me. Has the *Lord made you angry with me? If so, let us give him an *offering so that he will change his decision. Or have men made you angry with me? If so, then may the *Lord send bad things to them. They have made me leave the land that the *Lord God gave me. They want me to go and *worship other *gods. v20 Do not let me die far away from the *ark of the Lord. The king of *Israel is searching for a little insect! You are hunting for just one bird in the mountains!’

v21 Then Saul said, ‘I have *sinned. Come back, David, my son. You respected my life today. I will never hurt you again. I have behaved like a fool. I have done something terrible’.

v22 David said, ‘Here is your *spear. Send one of your young men over here to get it. v23 The *Lord rewards every loyal person when they behave in the right way. The *Lord gave you to me today. But I would not hurt the king that the *Lord *anointed. v24 I respected your life today. I pray that the *Lord will respect my life. And that he will save me from all trouble’.

v25 Then Saul said to David, ‘The *Lord bless you, my son. You will do great things and be successful’.

So David continued on his journey. Saul returned home.

David went a safe distance from Saul’s camp. But he was near enough for Saul’s men to hear him shout. It was probably still dark so no one could see David. Abner failed to protect King Saul. A guard who sleeps on duty deserves to die. Abner was not a great man now. He did not answer David.

Saul recognised David’s voice. He called David his son. David called Saul his master and king. But this time he did not call Saul his father (compare with 24:11, 16). Perhaps David was more certain that he would become king. David demanded some answers from Saul. But David knew the answers. Saul’s wicked actions came from *sin in his heart (Matthew 12:33-37).

David could not go to the *ark of the Lord while Saul chased him. So David could not give *sacrifices and *worship the *Lord in the proper way. David did not want to die far away from his land and from the God of *Israel. In verse 20, David tried to persuade Saul not to chase him. Saul was not being sensible. He was wasting his time and energy on David.

Saul confessed that he had *sinned (verse 21). He was sincere when he said that. He did not chase David again. But David did not go back with Saul. In verse 24, David said that he had respected Saul’s life. But he did not ask Saul to respect his life. Instead David prayed for the *Lord to respect his life. David trusted the *Lord to save him. Saul asked the *Lord to bless David as they parted. This was the last time that David and Saul saw each other. We do not know whether anyone went to get Saul’s *spear from David.

Chapter 27

David lives with the *Philistines

v1 Then David thought, ‘I am sure that Saul will kill me one day. But I have a good idea. I will go to the country of the *Philistines and escape from Saul. He will stop searching for me in the country of *Israel. Then I will escape from Saul’.

v2 So David and his 600 men left *Israel. They went to Achish, who was the son of Maoch. Achish was the king of the town of Gath. v3 David, his men, and their families lived in Gath with Achish. David had his two wives with him. One wife was Ahinoam. She came from the town of Jezreel. His other wife was Abigail, the widow of Nabal. She came from the town of Carmel. v4 Saul heard that David had run away to Gath. So Saul stopped looking for him.

v5 Then David said to Achish, ‘Are you happy with me? If so, please let me have a town in the country where I can live. I do not need to live in the royal town with you’.

v6 That day King Achish gave David the town of Ziklag. Ziklag has belonged to the kings of *Judah since that day. v7 David lived in the country of the *Philistines for one year and four months.

v8 During that time David and his men attacked the *tribes of the Geshurites, Girzites and *Amalekites. These people had been living in the area for a very long time. Their land went down as far as the wild area of Shur and the country of Egypt. v9 When David attacked them, he killed all the men and women. But he took all their sheep, cows, *donkeys, camels and their clothes. Then he went back to Achish.

v10 Achish asked David, ‘Which place did you go and attack today?’ Sometimes David would tell him that he had gone to the Negev of *Judah. Other times David told him that he went to the land of the *tribe of Jerahmeel or the Kenite *tribe. v11 David would kill everyone in the area. He never took anyone back to the town of Gath. Therefore no one could tell Achish what David had really been doing. v12 Achish trusted David. Achish thought, ‘The *Israelites hate David very much. So David will have to serve me for ever’.

David had escaped from Saul again but he did not trust Saul. David could not continue to hide in the south part of the country of *Judah. He knew that Saul would find him one day. Then Saul would kill him. So David decided to escape to *Israel’s enemies, the *Philistines. David’s plan worked. Saul stopped chasing him. The town of Gath was about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north west of the desert of Ziph. In 21:10-15, David had gone to King Achish at Gath but the visit was not successful. David had to run away from Achish. This time, Achish was happy to have David living in his country. He was not afraid of David. He knew that David was Saul’s enemy. Achish trusted David and even gave him a town of his own.

Ziklag was near the *Philistine border with the country of *Judah. But it was far away from Saul’s town of Gibeah and the 5 main *Philistine towns. Saul fought the *Amalekites in 14:47-48. Chapter 15:6 mentions the Kenite *tribe. Jerahmeel was the son of Hezron, who came from the family of *Judah (1 Chronicles 2:1-9). Joshua 13:2 mentions the people from Geshur.

Achish expected David to fight against the *Israelites. David did not tell Achish the whole truth about his attacks. The ‘Negev of *Judah’ was the name of the southern part of the country of *Judah. Achish thought that the *Israelites hated David. He thought that David would never be able to return to his country. However, ‘Negev’ was also the *Hebrew word for south in general. Here, David attacked the people who were enemies both of the *Philistines and of the *Israelites in *Judah. Therefore the people in *Judah would have been pleased with David. He had been protecting them from these enemies that wanted their land. David attacked towns and villages. He had to kill everyone who lived in these towns and villages. He did not want any of the people to tell Achish the truth. Achish trusted David. But David cheated Achish. David took all the animals and clothes. So, his men and their families had plenty to eat and to wear.

At the beginning of this chapter, David and his men were in a desperate situation. They went to live with *Israel’s enemy so that Saul did not kill them. The Bible says that it is wrong to lie and cheat people. But David only behaved like this to his enemy. (The *Philistines were also the *Lord’s enemies.) David stayed at Ziklag until Saul was dead. Then David went to the town of Hebron and became king (2 Samuel chapters 1 and 2).

Chapter 28

v1 Later, the *Philistines gathered their army to fight the *Israelites. Achish said to David, ‘You must realise that you and your men must join my army’.

v2 David said, ‘Yes, I am your servant. You will see what I can do’.

Achish replied, ‘Good. For the rest of your life you will protect me’.

In those days, if people went to live in a different country, they had to fight in the army of that country. So David and his men had to join the *Philistine army. In verse 2, David’s reply to Achish was not very clear. David knew that he had to join the *Philistines’ army. But he did not want to fight the *Israelites. However, Achish thought that David was loyal to him. The man who protected the king was very important. Achish trusted David to do this job. Kings often have foreign soldiers to protect them. They are afraid that a soldier from their own country might try to become king.

Saul visits a *medium at the town of Endor

v3 Samuel was dead by this time. All the *Israelites had been very sad and had cried. They buried Samuel in his home town of Ramah. There used to be *spiritists and *mediums in *Israel but Saul had removed them.

v4 The *Philistines gathered and camped near the town of Shunem. Saul gathered the *Israelite army and camped at the mountain of Gilboa. v5 Saul saw the *Philistine army. He was afraid and he became full of terror. v6 Saul asked the *Lord what he should do. But the *Lord did not answer him in a dream, or by the *Urim or by a *prophet. v7 So Saul said to his servants, ‘Go. Find a woman who is a *medium. I will go to her. I will ask her what will happen’.

His servants said, ‘There is a *medium at the town of Endor’.

v8 Saul put on ordinary clothes. No one recognised that he was the king. At night, Saul and two of his men went to see the woman. Saul said, ‘Call the spirit of a certain man. Talk to his spirit for me’.

v9 But the woman said, ‘You know what King Saul has done. He has removed all the *spiritists and *mediums from *Israel. Are you trying to catch me so that you can kill me?’

v10 Then Saul made a serious promise to the woman. He said, ‘I promise the *Lord that no one will punish you for this’.

Verse 3 explains why the events of this chapter happened. Samuel, who was the great *prophet of the *Lord, had died. Samuel spoke God’s commands to Saul. *Spiritists and *mediums are people, often women, who try to contact dead people. In those days people believed that a dead person’s spirit lived under the ground. And they thought that some people had power to contact these spirits. In Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:11 God says that the *Israelites must not do this. They had to kill anyone who did this. In verses 9 and 21, ‘removed’ probably means killed. The Spirit of the *Lord was with Saul when he first became king. So he probably removed the *spiritists and *mediums at that time.

Until now the *Philistines had attacked the southern part of the country of *Israel (usually in *Judah). This time they attacked in the north of *Israel. They were trying to take over the whole country. This was a very serious attack. The two armies camped about 24 kilometres (15 miles) apart. The *Israelites were on higher land. They could see the *Philistines in the valley. Saul was afraid (see also 17:11, 24). In 22:6-23:6, Saul killed the priests at Nob. But one priest escaped and took the *ephod (with the *Urim and Thummim) to David. (Read notes on chapter 14 about the *ephod.) So Saul could not ask God for directions with the *ephod and the *Urim. Samuel the *prophet was dead. And God did not speak to Saul in a dream. So Saul could not hear God. The *Israelites had not trusted the *Lord. They wanted a king to lead their army (8:20). Now the king failed to lead them. Many people only pray to God when they are in trouble. But God wants people to confess their *sins. God is patient, but he will not wait for ever. God gave Saul many chances but now he would not speak to him.

Saul was desperate. He knew that Samuel had been a great *prophet. Saul wanted to hear God’s decisions from Samuel again. So Saul went against his own law and the Law of God. Saul’s servants found a *medium that had escaped from Saul’s law. People recognised that Saul was the king. This was because he wore a special royal coat. So he took this coat off before he went to the *medium. He visited her at night. He did not want anyone to see him. Also, *mediums often worked at night. The *medium suspected that the men were trying to catch her. In verse 10 Saul said ‘I promise the *Lord’. This means that he made a serious promise. But Saul was not obeying the law of the *Lord. Saul was wrong to used the *Lord’s name for this promise.

v11 The woman said, ‘Whose spirit do you want me to call?’

Saul replied, ‘Call for Samuel’.

v12 The woman screamed when she saw Samuel. She said to Saul, ‘You did not tell me the truth. You are King Saul’.

v13 King Saul said to her, ‘Do not be afraid. Tell me what you can see’.

She said, ‘I can see a spirit that is coming up from the ground’.

v14 Saul asked, ‘What does he look like?’

She said, ‘An old man is coming up from the ground. He is wearing a coat’.

Saul knew that this was Samuel. Saul knelt down and his face touched the ground.

v15 Samuel said, ‘Why have you disturbed me? Why have you called me back?’

Saul said, ‘I am in great trouble. The *Philistines are fighting against me. God has left me. He will not answer me by the *prophets or in dreams. So I have called for you. Tell me what I should do’.

v16 Samuel said, ‘The *Lord has left you and become your enemy. So why did you call to me? v17 I told you what the *Lord would do. And he has done it. The *Lord has taken the *kingdom away from you. He has given it to David instead. v18 The *Lord has done this to you because you did not obey him. You did not show the *Amalekites that God was very angry with them. v19 The *Lord will hand over *Israel and you to the *Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons will die. The *Lord will also hand over the *Israelite army to the *Philistines’.

v20 Saul immediately fell and he lay flat on the ground. He was afraid because of what Samuel had said. Saul was also very weak because he had eaten nothing all that day and night.

v21 Then the *medium came to Saul. She saw that he was very frightened. She said, ‘I, your servant, have obeyed you. I did what you told me to do. And I risked my life. v22 Please listen to me now. I want to give you some food to eat. Then you will be strong enough to travel’.

v23 Saul refused and said, ‘I will not eat’.

But the *medium and Saul’s two servants kept persuading him. So Saul did what they said. He got up from the ground and sat down on a bed.

v24 The woman had a fat young cow. She quickly went and killed it. Then she got some flour and made some flat bread. v25 She gave the food to Saul and his men and they ate it. They left while it was still night time.

We do not know how the woman called for Samuel. She may have had a *vision of Samuel or she may have seen his spirit. But the Bible says that we must not find out about such things. They are evil. We do not know what had happened. But the woman was afraid of what she saw. The stranger who was in her house was king Saul. Somehow, she knew that. In verse 14 ‘coat’ probably refers to the *prophet’s special coat (15:28). In verse 14, it seems that Saul could not see anything. But he knelt down to give honour to Samuel. Samuel repeated God’s message to Saul. Nothing could change what God had already done. But Samuel added a new message. The next day the *Lord would let the *Philistines defeat the *Israelites. And Saul and his sons would die.

This message made Saul fall on the ground because he was so afraid. He probably had not eaten that day because he was so worried about the *Philistine army. The *medium knew that Saul needed to be strong for his journey. So she quickly prepared a meal. She did not have enough time to let the bread mixture rise. So she made flat bread. Saul and his two men left in secret. It was still dark.

Chapter 29

The *Philistine leaders refuse to have David in their army

v1 The *Philistines gathered their army at the town of Aphek. The *Israelites camped by the water at Jezreel. v2 The *Philistine kings marched out with their soldiers. The soldiers were in groups of 100 men and 1000 men. David and his men were with King Achish at the back of the army. v3 The *Philistine leaders said, ‘Why are these *Israelite men here?’

Achish said, ‘This is David. He used to serve King Saul. But he has been with me for more than a year. I have not found any fault with David since he came to me’.

v4 But the *Philistine leaders were angry with Achish. They said to him, ‘Send David back to the town that you gave him. He cannot go into battle with us. He might become our enemy and start to fight us. Saul would be very pleased with David if he started to kill us. v5 The *Israelites used to dance and sing about David. They sang

          ‘Saul has killed thousands of his enemies.

          And David has killed tens of thousands of his enemies’.

v6 So Achish called David and said, ‘I know as certainly as the *Lord lives that you are loyal. I would be happy to let you fight in this battle with me. Since the day that you came to me, I have never found anything wrong with you. But the other leaders do not trust you. v7 Go back home and have peace. Do not make the other *Philistine leaders unhappy’.

v8 David said, ‘What have I done that is wrong? Have you found any faults in me since I joined you? You are my master, the king. I want to go and fight your enemies’.

v9 Achish said, ‘I know that you are as good as an *angel from God. However, the *Philistine leaders said that you must not go to the battle with us. v10 You and your men must leave early tomorrow morning. Get up and go as soon as it is light’.

v11 So David and his men got up early in the morning. They returned to Ziklag. The *Philistine army went to Jezreel.

The events in this chapter continue from 28:1. The *Israelites were now by the water at Jezreel. This was at the base of the mountain of Gilboa. Achish and the *Philistines had arrived at Aphek. This was 48 kilometres (30 miles) north of the town of Gath. They still had to go 64 kilometres (40 miles) to Shunem (28:4). The *Philistine soldiers marched in order. The king of each town went with his own soldiers. The *Philistine soldiers were not happy to have *Israelite men in their army. Achish trusted David. He believed that he was loyal. But the *Philistine soldiers did not trust David. They remembered that he had killed Goliath and many *Philistines (17:1-18:7). They suspected that David and his men might turn against the *Philistines in the battle. The *Philistines would not take this risk.

Achish and the *Philistines did not *worship the *Lord of the *Israelites. However, Achish used the name of the *Lord in verse 6. Perhaps Achish wanted to convince David that he really trusted him. In verse 9 Achish even says that David is as good as an *angel from God. An *angel comes from God. Achish wanted David to continue to serve him in the future (see 28:2). But Achish would not make his own leaders unhappy. So he sent David and his men back to Ziklag.

In chapter 27 David would not fight against the *Israelites. But in verse 8, he wanted Achish to think that he would. David did not identify who ‘your enemies’ were. He only pretended that he was loyal to Achish. David probably felt relief that he did not have to fight the *Israelites. David got into trouble because he did not trust God enough. But God was kind and saved him from a difficult situation.

Chapter 30

David fights the *Amalekites

v1 David and his men arrived at Ziklag three days later. The *Amalekites had attacked the southern part of the country of *Judah. They had also attacked Ziklag and burned it. v2 They took women and everyone else who was young and old. They took them away but did not kill anyone.

v3 David and his men arrived at Ziklag. They saw that the *Amalekites had burnt the town. They saw that they had destroyed it. The *Amalekites had also taken the men’s wives, sons and daughters. v4 David and his men cried aloud. They kept crying until they were too weak to cry any more. v5 David had two wives. One wife was Ahinoam from Jezreel. The other wife was Abigail. She was the widow of Nabal from Carmel. The *Amalekites had taken both of David’s wives. v6 David was very unhappy because his men wanted to throw stones at him. They wanted to kill him. His men were very angry and sad. The *Amalekites had taken their sons and daughters. But David trusted the *Lord his God and became stronger.

v7 Then David spoke to Abiathar the priest (he was the son of Ahimelech). David said, ‘Bring the *ephod to me’. So Abiathar brought the *ephod to David. v8 David asked the *Lord, ‘Shall I chase the men who attacked our town? Will I catch them?’

The *Lord answered, ‘Chase them and you will certainly catch them. You will rescue your families from them’.

In chapter 15, God had commanded Saul to kill all the *Amalekites. But Saul did not obey God. Now the *Amalekites caused trouble for David. But in this chapter, David shows that he is a good leader. This story also shows how good God was to David.

David and his men had walked about 40 kilometres (25 miles) each day for three days. They arrived home at Ziklag but the *Amalekites had destroyed the town. In 27:8, David had attacked the *Amalekites. Now they had attacked his town while he could not defend it. They took advantage of the *Israelites and *Philistines fighting each other. David and his men saw an empty town. They did not know that their wives and children were still alive. So the men cried and cried. The men were sad. But they also became angry. They blamed David and wanted to kill him. David was sad about his two wives, but he did not become angry. He did not blame the *Lord for this attack. Instead he trusted the *Lord and the *Lord made him stronger.

David did not make his own decision about what he should do. He did not do anything until he had asked the *Lord. Unlike Saul, David had a priest and the *ephod. And the *Lord, who had not answered Saul (28:6), answered David. So, David and his men knew that they would have success.

v9-10 David and his 600 men set off. They arrived at the river Besor. Some of the men were too tired to continue across the valley. So 200 men remained by the river. David and 400 men continued to chase the *Amalekites.

v11 David’s men found an Egyptian man (a man from the country of Egypt) in a field. They took him to David. They gave the man some water to drink and food to eat. v12 They gave him some dry figs and two bundles of raisins. He had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days. So, he felt stronger after he had eaten this food.

v13 David asked the Egyptian, ‘Who is your master? Where do you come from?’

He answered, ‘I come from the country of Egypt. I am a slave of an *Amalekite man. My master left me here three days ago because I was ill. v14 We attacked the southern part of the Kerethites’ land, the land of *Judah and the southern part of Caleb’s land. We burned Ziklag too’.

v15 David said, ‘Can you take me to where these men are now?’

The Egyptian answered, ‘I will do this if you make a promise to God and to me. Promise that you will not kill me. Promise that you will not hand me over to my master’.

v16 So the Egyptian took David to the *Amalekites. The men were lying on the ground. They were eating, drinking and having a party. They were happy because they had taken so many things from the *Philistines and from the people of *Judah. v17 That evening David fought the *Amalekites. The battle continued until the next evening. None of the *Amalekites escaped except for 400 young men. They rode away on their camels. v18 David got back everything that the *Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. v19 Nothing was missing. David brought everyone back, the young and old, the sons and daughters. He also brought back the valuable things and everything that the *Amalekites had taken. v20 David took all the sheep and cows and animals. His men made all these animals go on ahead of them. They said, ‘These animals belong to David’.

The river Besor was a small river that was about 19 kilometres (12 miles) south-west of Ziklag. The men had already had a long journey that day. And some of the men were too tired to continue. So, they stayed by the river and guarded all the baggage (verse 24). The land in this area was wild. It was like a large desert. Very few people lived there. David did not know where to look for the *Amalekites. But David and his men found a man who could help them. He was ill and weak. So they fed him. Raisins and figs are types of fruit that the sun has dried. They are sweet and give people energy. (See also 25:18.) This man was a slave of an *Amalekite man. Verse 15 shows that the slave did not like his master. This Egyptian slave had attacked with the *Amalekites. So he knew where they had been. And he knew where they had gone now.

In verse 14 the Kerethites were a *Philistine *tribe that were loyal to David (2 Samuel 8:18). Caleb’s land was to the south of the town of Hebron.

The *Amalekites were not expecting David to chase them. They thought that he was still with the *Philistines. Usually the *Amalekites sold children and women as slaves. But they had not had enough time to sell the people or goods that they had stolen. Instead, they were still enjoying the food and drink themselves. So David and his men surprised the *Amalekites. David fought them and killed most of them. Verses 17-20 refer to all that David did. He did not do it alone; his 400 men helped him. But this shows that he was a strong leader. David’s men now respected him. And they let David have all the animals. David rescued everything from the *Amalekites. Not one thing was missing. David also brought back everything that the *Amalekites had taken from all the other towns.

v21 David returned to the 200 men who had stayed by the river Besor. These men had been too tired to go with David. David greeted the men at the river valley. v22 But some of the men with David were wicked. They wanted to cause trouble. They said, ‘These men did not come with us. We will not give them any of the things that we have brought back. Each man can have just his wife and children. Then he must go’.

v23 David replied, ‘No, my brothers. You can not do that. The *Lord has given all this to us. The *Lord kept us safe. He gave us success in the battle. v24 No one will agree with what you say. Each person will receive an equal share. Some men stayed with the baggage. Some men fought in the battle. But each person will receive the same amount’. v25 David made this rule as an order. The *Israelites have followed this rule ever since that day.

v26 David arrived at Ziklag with all the goods from the *Amalekites. He sent some of the goods to his friends who were the leaders of *Judah. David sent this message, ‘Here is a present for you. We took these things from the *Lord’s enemies’.

v27-31 David sent some goods to the leaders in all these places:

·  Bethel

·  Ramoth in southern *Judah

·  Jattir

·  Aroer

·  Siphmoth

·  Eshtemoa

·  Racal

·  the towns of the Jerahmeelites

·  the towns of the Kenites

·  Hormah

·  Bor Ashan

·  Athach

·  Hebron

David and his men had lived in many places. So, David sent some of the goods to the people who lived in all these places.

Some of David’s men were wicked. They did not want to share the goods. They had fought the *Amalekites. The men by the river had not fought. The wicked men thought that the men by the river deserved to have only their wife and children. But David reminded them that the *Lord gave them success. They did not have success because they had fought well. The *Lord protected them. The *Lord gave all the goods to them. The tired men had not fought in the battle. But they had protected all the baggage. Each man did valuable work. So each man had an equal reward. This rule reminded the *Israelites that success comes from the *Lord, not from men.

David was a generous man. He could have kept all the goods that he took from the *Amalekites. Instead, he shared them with other leaders in the land of *Judah. The *Amalekites may have attacked these towns too. Perhaps David wanted to return the goods that he had rescued. David lived in southern *Judah when he escaped from Saul. All the towns in verses 27-31 were in this area. David and his men had depended on the people there. The people had probably provided food for David’s men. Maybe they provided shelter too. So, David was generous to the people who had been generous to him. David was a wise leader. His generous gifts showed that he was a good leader. Many people in southern *Judah became his friends. In 2 Samuel 2:1-4 the people of this area were loyal to David. They made him their king.

Chapter 31

Saul and his sons die

v1 The *Philistines fought against the *Israelites on the mountain of Gilboa. The *Israelites ran away and the *Philistines killed many of them. v2 The *Philistines pursued Saul and his sons. They killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. v3 There was a fierce battle near Saul. The men with bows aimed their arrows at Saul and nearly killed him. v4 Saul spoke to the officer who carried his *armour. Saul said, ‘Kill me with your sword. I do not want those *heathen *Philistines to insult me and kill me’. The officer was afraid. He would not do it. So, Saul got his own sword and fell onto the sharp end. v5 The officer saw that Saul was dead. So, the officer fell onto the sharp end of his sword and died with Saul. v6 So Saul, three of his sons and the officer who carried his *armour all died together that day.

v7 *Israelites lived in the Jezreel valley and across the river Jordan. They saw that the *Israelite army had run away. Then they heard that Saul and his sons were dead. So these *Israelites left their towns and ran away. Then the *Philistines came and lived there.

v8 The next day the *Philistines came to take all the valuable things off the dead soldiers. They found the dead bodies of Saul and his three sons on the mountain of Gilboa. v9 They cut off Saul’s head and took off his *armour. Then they sent men through all the land of the *Philistines with the news. These men took the message into the *temples of their *idols and to the *Philistine people. v10 They put Saul’s *armour in the *temple of Ashtoreth. Then they hung Saul’s body on the wall of Beth-shan.

v11 The *Israelites who were in the town of Jabesh Gilead heard what the *Philistines had done to Saul. v12 So the brave men of Jabesh Gilead marched all night until they arrived at Beth-shan. They took the bodies of Saul and his sons off the wall of the town. Then they brought the bodies to Jabesh Gilead and burned them. v13 Then they took the bones and buried them under a large tree at Jabesh Gilead. The men did not eat any food for 7 days.

In this chapter Saul, who was the *Israelite’s first king, dies. But the account of Saul’s death is very short. In 9:16, God told Samuel to *anoint Saul as king. God said, ‘He will save my people from the *Philistines’. But Saul failed to do what God wanted. Now the *Philistines attacked the *Israelites and won. And Saul and his sons died. 1 Samuel 31 and 1 Chronicles 10 give almost the same account.

The account of this attack started in chapter 28. When Saul went to this battle, he was full of fear (verse 5). The *Lord would not answer him (verse 6). Saul knew that the *Philistines would win. And Saul knew that he and his sons would die (verses 18-19). Saul could not encourage his soldiers. Therefore, he could not be a good leader for his army. The result was that the *Israelites ran away. And the *Philistines killed many of them including three of Saul’s sons. In 31:3, Saul was still alive but had bad injuries. He was afraid of what the *Philistines might do to him. In those days, people lost their honour if their enemy killed them. That is what they believed. They had more honour if they killed themselves’. ‘*Heathen *Philistines’ (verse 4) means that they did not *worship the God of the *Israelites. Saul wanted to die but his officer would not kill him. Perhaps the officer respected the *Lord as David did. (David would not hurt the king that God had *anointed. See 24:11 and 26:9.) So Saul killed himself. Then his loyal officer followed Saul’s example.

The army had no leader and the men had run away. The *Israelites who lived near to the battle heard the bad news. The *Israelite army would not be able to protect their towns. So they left before the *Philistines attacked them. Soon, the *Philistines went and lived in all the empty towns in that part of the land of *Israel.

After the battle the *Philistines took all the *weapons and *armour from the dead soldiers. They cut off Saul’s head and put his *armour in the *temple of Ashtoreth. 1 Chronicles 10:10 says that the *Philistines put Saul’s head in the *temple of Dagon. (Chapter 7 explains about Dagon and Ashtoreth.) The *Philistines did this to give honour to their *gods. They believed that their *gods had given them success. Compare this to David and Goliath. David cut off Goliath’s head (17:51). And Goliath’s sword was in the holy place with the priest of the *Lord (21:9). David knew that the *Lord had given him success. The *Lord was greater than the *Philistines’ *gods. So David gave honour to the *Lord. Now, Saul was dead. The *Philistines believed that their *gods had more power than the God of *Israel. But 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 says that the *Lord killed Saul.

Beth-shan was a town about 13 kilometres (8 miles) east of the mountain of Gilboa in the valley of Jezreel (29:1). The town of Jabesh Gilead was about 16 kilometres (10 miles) south east of Beth-shan, on the other side of the river Jordan. When Saul first became king, enemies from the country of Ammon attacked Jabesh Gilead. Saul killed the *Ammonites and saved the town (11:1-11). The *Israelites of Jabesh Gilead were loyal to Saul. Now they saved Saul’s body and his son’s bodies from the *Philistines. They buried them under a special tree in their town. The name of this type of tree was a tamarisk tree. The *Israelites believed that they should bury people in the proper way to give them honour. Many people still believe this today. Later, in 2 Samuel 21:12-14, David moved the bones to Saul’s family grave. The men from Jabesh Gilead did not eat for 7 days. This shows that they were very sad that King Saul was dead.


Word List

altar ~ a table, where the priests burned animals and gave other gifts as a *sacrifice to God or false gods.

Amalekite ~ a person who came from the family of Amalek. Amalek was the grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:12, 16). The Amalekites lived in the land between southern *Israel and the country called Egypt. They were one of *Israel’s enemies.

Ammonite ~ a person who came from the family of Ammon, who was the grandson of Lot (Genesis 19:36-38).

ancestor ~ the members of someone’s family who lived a long time ago, even hundreds of years ago.

angel ~ a servant from God who brings messages from heaven; a holy *being, greater than men and women, who loves God and helps God’s people.

anoint ~ to mark a person with oil to show that God has chosen him for a special job.

ark of the Lord or ark of God ~ the Bible also calls it the ark of the Covenant (or agreement). It was a wooden box with gold all over the outside and inside. It had two gold cherubim (*angels) on the top (see Exodus 25:10-22). The *Israelites kept the ark in the house of the *Lord and only the priest could see it. Sometimes God appeared on the ark and spoke to the priest.

armour ~ special clothes that protected soldiers.

being ~ a person or animal that is alive.

blacksmith ~ a man who made iron tools. He also made blunt tools sharp again.

bronze ~ a type of metal. It is brown. Bronze is not as strong as iron.

burnt offerings and sacrifices ~ animals that the priests killed and burned; an *Israelite’s gift to God.

chariot ~ is like a cart. One or two horses pull it along. Armies used chariots when they went to war.

consecrate ~ to set apart for holy use.

donkey ~ an animal like a small horse. Donkeys can carry heavy loads on their backs. People ride on them.

ephod ~ a special coat that the main priest wore when he served God and prayed to God (Exodus 28). Other priests wore a plain *linen ephod.

glory ~ the power and greatness of God.

gods ~ gods with a small ‘g’ are all the false gods.

harp ~ a musical instrument that has many strings.

heathen ~ the name that the *Israelites gave to the nations (especially the *Philistines) that did not *worship the God of *Israel.

Hebrew ~ the language of the *Israelite people. A Hebrew is an *Israelite person.

helmet ~ a strong hat that a soldier wore to protect his head.

idol ~ an object that people *worship instead of the real God. People make idols from wood, stone or metal. An idol was usually an image of a person, animal or object. Idols are false gods.

Israel ~ the group of people that God chose. Israel is the name of all the people from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Israel is also the name of the land that God gave to the people of Israel.

Israelites ~ the people of *Israel; the people who speak the *Hebrew language.

Jew ~ someone who was born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.

Judah ~ one of the 12 *tribes of *Israel. The land in southern *Israel that belonged to the *tribe of Judah.

kingdom ~ the people and land that a king rules.

Levites ~ men who came from the *tribe of Levi. They worked in the house of the *Lord and they helped the priests. They did not own any land.

linen ~ a type of material that is like cotton. Linen is a very good quality material.

Lord ~ the name of God in the Bible. The special name of God that he announced only to the *Israelites (Genesis 3:13-15). It links God with his covenant (promise) to them.

medium ~ this person (usually a woman) said that she could contact the spirits of dead people.

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible. Writers wrote it after the life of Jesus.

offering ~ a gift for God (or false *gods) from the priest and people; an *Israelite’s gift to God.

Old Testament (OT) ~ the first part of the Bible; the holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.

ox, oxen ~ another name for a cow. Oxen is the plural.

Philistines ~ the *Israelites’ main enemies at that time. They lived on the west side of the country of *Israel.

prophecy ~ the words that a person speaks on God’s behalf.

prophesy ~ to speak on God’s behalf; to tell of things that will happen in the future.

prophet ~ a person who speaks for God. He can sometimes say what will happen in the future.

rat ~ an animal like a big mouse.

sacrifice ~ to give something to God, usually an animal, grain or wine; to ask God to forgive *sins as the priest killed an animal. This sacrifice was a special animal. The priests killed and burned it on the *altar.

shepherd ~ a person who cares for sheep.

shield ~ something that a soldier holds in front of his body to protect him in a battle. People made shields from metal, wood or from hard leather with a wooden edge.

sin ~ when people do things against God or other people; when people do not obey the commands of God; the things that people do that are wrong or evil.

spear ~ a long, thin pole with a sharp metal point at one end. It was like a large arrow. Soldiers threw it in battles.

spiritist ~ a type of *medium.

temple ~ a special building where people went to praise false *gods. Also the building that Solomon built in the town of Jerusalem. The *Israelites went to this temple to *worship the true God.

thunder ~ the loud noise in the sky that happens during a storm and lightning.

tribe ~ a family from one man. The first *Israelites were the 12 sons of Jacob. The family of each son became a tribe.

tumour ~ a type of spot or lump. It grows very big in a person’s body or under his or her skin.

Urim and Thummim ~ two objects that the main priest kept in his *ephod. The priest used those objects to discover God’s decision about a situation.

vision ~ a vision is like a dream but the person is awake. It is one way that God speaks to people.

weapons ~ arms. Objects that people use in a battle to hurt or kill their enemies. These include bows and arrows, swords, *spears and even stones.

worship ~ to thank God and to give him honour, usually with other people. Often, people pray and sing as they worship God. To bend down to God or to a false god to show him honour.

Book List

The Bible Knowledge Commentary ~ IVP

The New Bible Commentary ~ IVP

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (on CD ROM)

Joyce Baldwin ~ 1 and 2 Samuel ~ Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries

The New Bible Dictionary ~ IVP

Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon

Gesenius ~ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament ~ Baker

New Bible Atlas ~ IVP

Collins Cobuild English Dictionary

For the computer ~ Logos Bible Software 2.1

 

© 1999-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

August 2002

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