Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 1 Samuel- Chapter 31

1 Samuel 31

-The final chapter in this saga between the initial king of Israel, Saul, and the man after God’s own heart who would begin the eternal spiritual Kingdom of Israel, David, plays out with the death of King Saul. The Philistines were fighting the Israelites as the action picks up with the Israelis fleeing from their counterparts and being slain on Mount Gilboa. Saul was overtaken in the conflict along with his sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-shua. The three sons were killed in the malaise, and the battle went heavy against Saul, just as Samuel had prophesied from the grave (1 Samuel 28:1-25). Now it was Saul who would fall. The Philistine archers hit him and badly wounded him. The king commanded his armor bearer to draw his sword and finish him off, but in fear the servant could not bring himself to kill the king even in a merciful situation. Therefore, seeing that all hope was lost and that his enemies would make sport of him and pierce him through anyway, he took his sword and fell on it committing suicide in his waning moments. When the armor bearer saw this happen, he too lost all desire to live and fell on his sword as well. Thus they died together, the king, the armor bearer, and Saul’s three sons, on that day (1 Samuel 31:1-6). David had treated his king with the utmost respect and loyalty with no part in the demise. Soon it would be his kingdom in Israel. God had made a way and kept David’s character in tact through every twist and turn to fulfill his call and anointing.

-When the men of Israel saw what was going on from the other side of the valley beyond the Jordan to the east, they abandoned their cities and fled. Therefore, the Philistines came and lived in them immediately. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain for spoil, they found the corpse of Saul along with his three sons. They taunted Israel in their victory by cutting off the head of the former king and stripped him of his weapons sending them throughout their land in jubilation to their idols and people. God was mocked by these pagans, and Saul’s weapons were put in the temple of Ashtaroth. Not only that, but they fastened the king’s body to the wall of a major thoroughfare city, Beth-shan, for full and gruesome display of the vanquished. At this point, some valiant men of Jabesh-gilead who had heard the terrible news of what the Philistines had done to Saul arose and walked all night to take back the body of their fallen leader and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. Once confiscated, they came to Jabesh and burned the flesh of the deceased. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree that was there in Jabesh. After that, they fasted for seven days. This is how the book of 1 Samuel concludes (1 Samuel 31:7-13).

-*Application* This untimely death of Israel’s king was not just a physical death, but the destruction of an ideal. Israel’s whim to have a king who could save them and solve all their troubles was burst and destroyed, like the army of Israel on Mount Gilboa. Israel’s real issue was not their form of government, as we will see later with the kingdom of David, but the sinfulness and double-mindedness of their king. Spurts of religious conviction were not enough to establish Saul, nor will it be for us. Real spirituality takes surrender to the Holy Spirit through the work of Jesus Christ by faith and a lifetime of dedicated-consistent obedience. Over time, our lives will show the fruit on Christ’s righteousness in us. Day by day we give our lives away as God’s power becomes more and more prominent. Continual-abiding growth is His desire for us (John 3:30).

Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 31:6

Monday, July 18, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 1 Samuel- Chapter 30

1 Samuel 30

-On the third day after his departure from Achish, David returned to an awful sight in Ziklag where his family and all his men’s families were staying. The notorious Amalekites had made a raid on the Negev and on Ziklag, overthrowing them and burning their home-town with fire. They had taken captive the women and all who were in Ziklag, both small and great. Thankfully though, they had killed no one in this raid. But, they were carried away as the Amalekites’ property. When David and his men came to the city and realized what had happened, all they could initially do was lift their voices in anguish, weeping until there was no strength left in them to cry any more. Among the captives were David’s two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail. Not only this, but David became greatly distressed because his own men began talk of stoning him. All the people were embittered. It was understandable when they thought that they had lost everything including their families. It was a low point in the life of this future king, a point of testing. But, David did something incredible, which is an inspiration to us all. The text says he “strengthened himself in the LORD his God (1 Samuel 30:1-6).”

-Next, in a display of wisdom he inquired of Abiathar the priest to bring him the ephod. Abiathar obliged so that David could inquire of the LORD on this matter. He asked God if he should pursue this raiding band of evil men and overtake them. God told him plainly to go and that he would overtake them. Further, God promised that all the captives would be rescued safely. Therefore, David took off with his 600 men. They came to the brook Besor. At that place, 200 of his men were too exhausted to cross the brook, and they remained behind as David and the 400 stronger men continued their pursuit. Providentially, they found an Egyptian in the field. He was brought to David and was given bread and water. His spirit revived when he partook of a piece of fig cake and a cluster of raisins. He had been without food or water for three days, so he was more than likely near death when they found this informer. After inquiring as to who he was and where he was from, David’s party found out that he was a servant of an Amalekite who was left behind three days ago sick along the way. He told them of the raids on the Negev of the Cherethites, and on that which belonged to Judah, and on that Negev that belonged to Caleb. Then he told them of burning Ziklag with fire. Upon hearing this, David wanted to know if he could bring him and his men down to find this band of marauders. After being asked to swear to God on this Egyptian’s safety from his masters or David’s men, he agreed to bring them down to their enemies’ camp. When David and his men found them, they were spread out all over the land, eating and drinking and dancing because of all the great spoil that they had taken from the Philistines and Judah. David wasted no time. He and his men slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening of the next day, and none of them escaped except for 400 who fled riding off on camels. So David, with the strong help of the LORD, recovered ALL that the Amalekites had taken. His two wives were rescued, and nothing was missing, small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that they had taken for themselves including sheep and cattle. David brought it ALL back as his own spoil (1 Samuel 30:7-20)!

-Upon their return, David and his congregation came upon the 200 men at the brook Besor. They went out to meet David and all those with him and greeted them warmly. But some wicked and worthless men in David’s warrior clan spoke up and did not want any of these who had been left behind to have any of the spoil that they had gained except for their wives and children. They were acting greedily and wanted them to depart from the clan. But David had other ideas. He stated, “You must not do so, my brothers, with what the LORD has given us, who has kept us and delivered into our hand the band that came against us. And who will listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike (1 Samuel 30:21-24).” This ordinance and statute remained as a standard in Israel from that day forward (1 Samuel 30:25). In fact, David showed great generosity with gifts to all those in the region where he and his men were accustomed to going in their days of being fugitives from King Saul (1 Samuel 30:26-31).

-*Application* Leadership has many faces and seasons as we can see here in the text today. Sometimes our low points can radically change to incredible times of blessing when we strengthen ourselves in the LORD, even when no one seems to be on our side. Keep inquiring of the LORD, be patient with people who are fallen and need guidance. Be a person of integrity. Be valiant. Be generous and not greedy. Continue to trust God in the difficult times. This is who David was, and who we can be as well.

Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 30:6

Friday, July 15, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 1 Samuel- Chapter 29

1 Samuel 29

-The scene shifts back to David, who finds himself proceeding with his men in the rear of the Philistines flanks as they gathered to Aphek. He was with his lord Achish in support, but Divine intervention took place so that he, in integrity, need not raise his hand against his own countrymen. The commanders of the Philistines, who were proceeding on towards the battle by hundreds and by thousands, asked emphatically, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” Achish defended David as being a faithful man who had been at his side for not only days, but years. He found no fault in David from the day he deserted the kingdom of Saul for their nation. However, this did not appease the commanders of the Philistines, and they became angry with Achish over the matter. They desired that David go back to his assigned place by the king with no involvement with the looming battle. They feared that he and his men may become an adversary to them, and favor the kingdom of Israel taking the heads of Philistines when push came to shove. They no doubt remembered Goliath’s death and all the victories this warrior of Yahweh had accomplished over their people as they recalled the infamous refrain concerning David’s prowess, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands (1 Samuel 29:1-5).”

-So, Achish summoned David and told him that even though he had been completely upright in all his activities with his Philistine neighbors in their war pursuits, which pleased the king, the lords would not accept his participation in this particular fight. He told David to “return” and “go in peace” so that no further disunity occur on the Philistine side. David did not understand their position asking, “But what have I done?” He recounted his faithfulness to his lord in his time of distress against his enemies. But Achish lugubriously replied, “I know that you are pleasing in my sight, like an angel of God; nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He must not go up with us to the battle.’” He then told him to arise early in the morning with his men when there was sunlight so that they could depart. David complied that next morning to return to the land of the Philistines back to the south and west. Meanwhile, the Philistines continued on up to the Jezreel for the decisive battle in King Saul’s life (1 Samuel 29:6-11).

-*Application* What I believe we should see from this passage is how the LORD rewards our faithfulness and works things out when we act with integrity. His Divine Hand is upon everything in our lives when we surrender to His will and go His way as followers in the Kingdom of Heaven. We must allow circumstances to play out in our own lives with authenticity and uprightness, even when there seems to be conflict and contradiction. We must be persons of our word, and live in subjection to God’s authority for what He wants us to do in every situation. It’s not always easy, but it works. Trust the Sovereign.

Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 29:9

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 1 Samuel- Chapter 28

1 Samuel 28

-“Now it came about in those days that the Philistines gathered their armed camps for war, to fight against Israel.” They may have found a new boldness in the fact that David had seemingly joined ranks with their cause, and decided to threaten the ranks of God’s people on this occasion. Achish wanted David to know without a doubt that he would be going out with this king in the camp along with his mighty men of valor. David was put in a precarious spot now. Either refuse Achish and reveal his disloyalty, which could put his own men in danger, or fight against his beloved Israel for whom he was predestined to lead in the near future as king. Thankfully, he was able to navigate the situation as the Philistine warriors discerningly distrusted him for joining them in the fight (see 1 Samuel 29:1-11). David pledged his loyalty to Achish nonetheless, and the king made him his bodyguard for life (1 Samuel 28:1-2).

-Meanwhile, the text reminds us that Samuel was dead, being lamented vigorously by his people in Israel and buried in Ramah. Saul had removed all of the mediums and spiritists from the land, which was a commendable thing (Deuteronomy 18:9-14, Exodus 22:18), but his heart still turned to this detestable occultic practice in his distress. The Philistines gathered together and came to camp in Shunem, while Saul gathered his troops from Israel together and camped in Gilboa. When Saul saw the camp of his pagan enemy, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. Saul initially inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him, “either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets.” After this futility, he decided to summon a female medium so that he could inquire of her. His servants knew of such a woman in En-dor, which was just northwest of where they camped at Mount Gilboa and just south of the Sea of Galilee. The king disguised himself putting on other clothes than the king’s wardrobe. Then, he along with two men went to her for some advice concerning his mounting predicament. They came to her at night asking her to conjure up a specific person from the side of the deceased. At first the woman baulked at the idea stating plainly that the king, Saul, whom she did not realize was this inquirer, had outlawed her practice. She felt like they were laying a snare for her so that they could put her to death. But, Saul swore to her by the LORD’s life that no punishment would come upon her for this thing. At last the woman consented, and she asked who he wanted to bring up from the dead. Samuel was who Saul wanted to hear from. When Samuel was then summoned, a force more powerful than her normal demonic activity emerged, and she cried out with a loud voice, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul.” Saul reassured her not to be afraid, but to tell him what she observed from the other side. She stated, “I see a divine being coming up out of the earth.” Saul wanted to know his form, and she told him that it was an old man coming up wrapped in a robe. By now Saul somehow knew this was Samuel. He bowed his face to the ground and paid homage (1 Samuel 28:3-14).

-There is now a mind- blowing conversation between the living Saul and the departed from earth Samuel. Samuel begins, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am greatly distressed; for the Philistines are waging war against me, and God has departed from me and no longer answers me, either through prophets or by dreams; therefore, I have called you, that you may make known to me what I should do.” Samuel replied, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has departed from you and has become your adversary?” Then Samuel verified the word of the LORD given through him while he was alive on the earth, “The LORD has done accordingly as He spoke through me; for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, to David.” Then, he continued his rebuke from the other side, “As you did not obey the LORD and did not execute His fierce wrath on Amalek, so the LORD has done this thing to you this day.” Then he emphatically prophesied from the grave, “Moreover the LORD will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Indeed the LORD will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines!” Upon hearing these haunting words, Saul fell immediately full length upon the ground and became very afraid. He had absolutely no strength left in him, since he had not eaten food all day or that night. The medium woman seeing that Saul was completely terrified by what he encountered pleaded for her well-being and beseeched him to eat some food. Initially Saul refused the offer, but his servants joined in with the woman finally convincing him to partake. The woman quickly slaughtered a fattened calf and took flour, kneading it and baking unleavened bread from it. After eating it, Saul arose with his men and went away that night (1 Samuel 28:15-25).

-*Application* What can possibly be said about this incredible chapter of intrigue. God will keep His word no matter what. Even when David had seemingly betrayed his people and gone to the camp of the Philistines, God was at work to fulfill His purposes through the Israelites. We can count on the words of the prophets. They will come to fruition. Also here we see the continued double-mindedness of the wayward King Saul. Though he made a pact to rid the nation of spiritists and mediums, he turned to them when things went awry. He heart did not fully trust in the LORD; therefore, his kingdom was torn from him and given to a better man, David. What then can we take from this? Don’t be double-minded and obey the LORD fully when He asks you to do something in His Name. Of course, we could also contemplate the concept of ghosts and hearing from deceased people. God does not want us to engage in this practice (again see Deuteronomy 18:9-14), so avoid it being content to look to His Spirit and His Word for all your spiritual needs (Spirit and Truth, John 4:23-24).

Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 28:16

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bible Study Notes in 1 Samuel- Chapter 27

1 Samuel 27

-David now says to himself that he would perish at the hand of evil, double-minded King Saul if he were to continue staying in the land of Israel. He concluded that there would be nothing better for him and his 600 men, with their families, than to go in escape to the land of the Philistines, who were the people of God’s mortal enemies. He accurately reasoned that Saul would despair of searching for him in enemy territory thus allowing for the deliverance of his life. So he arose and crossed over to side with Achish, king of Gath, and lived with him in his royal city. When it was told to Saul what David had done, he indeed called off the search for his arch nemesis (1 Samuel 27:1-4).

-After these things, David approached Achish with a petition. If he had found favor in the sight of this king, he desired a place in his country for his people to live so that they did not cramp the royal city with their presence. So Achish generously gave David and his people Ziklag that very day, which continued to be a possession of Israel until the writing of the text (1 Samuel 27:5-6). Therefore, David lived in the country of the Philistines a year and four months. In that time, they went up to the south and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites who had been inhabitants of these lands from ancient times as one comes from Shur even as far as the land of Egypt. David and his men attacked the land and left no one alive, just as God had long ago commanded (Deuteronomy 7:1-2). He took away sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, and clothing as spoil. Then he returned to Achish telling him of his exploits in the land of the Negev. Achish believed now that David was fully committed to his cause, and that he had surely become odious among his own people in Israel. He falsely assumed that David would be his servant forever at this point (1 Samuel 27:7-12).

-*Application* Sometimes in wisdom we must decide to enter the enemies camp for a season when things are so rough in our homeland. We know persecution is real when it gets to this point. I know Christians that feel more comfortable in a bar with heathens than in a cold-religious environment that is sterile, condescending, and callous. When we think of it, wasn’t Jesus doing the same type of thing (Matthew 23, Luke 7:33-35)?

Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 27:7