I’m not quite sure who’s really the paranoid one here, but this set of chapters started to read like a plot line for Game of Thrones.
This chapter covers a battle with the Philistines. They win the day in the first half but then the second half has a lot to do with an oath that Saul had made and it’s effect on the fighting force and his son, Jonathan. It was a little weird to me. It revolves around food and Saul not wanting anyone to eat for some strange reason but his son eats and there are some consequences.
There is a recount of Saul’s sons and daughters, the name of his wife and his lineage at the end.
Samuel tells Saul about a group that they need to go destroy. Kill all of them. It’s a genocide. But they keep the sheep for sacrifice instead of killing all the sheep and oxen too, as they were told to do. Samuel and Saul have a disagreement on what is more pleasing to God. Listening to Him or conducting extra sacrifice?
Saul regrets his actions. God rejects him as king and Samuel tells him so. At this point, he just makes bad judgement calls in misguided efforts to get things done in his own time rather than God’s. He’s able to do what he sets out to do, but doesn’t pay attention whether or not he should do those things. God is not going to keep someone in charge who can’t listen and doesn’t seem to want to.
He leaves at the end of the chapter and it includes that Samuel did not see him again (until the day Samuel died) and that Samuel grieved Saul. The rest of these chapters are before that death, though.
We go back to before Saul died, right after he had gone away. Samuel is sent by God to a home where he anoints the new king. The “Spirit of the Lord” comes to David through this anointing. But Saul is still king, God has to make His new choice of king known before Saul is officially dethroned.
This is one of those chapters where having everything in chronological order would be super helpful. I’m just not sure if this happens at the same time as some other things or not, like which episode with the Philistines we are in. Anyway, Saul has David brought to him, and he likes the kid. So he makes David his armor bearer. There’s also something about a “harmful spirit from the Lord” that “tormented him”. David was the one who continued to play the lyre to get rid of this spirit when it came. It seemed like Saul fell into a bit of a depression, maybe.
David doesn’t seem to be a full-time soldier though as he is mentioned returning to his father’s house at times.
Enter Goliath and the search for a champion.
Apparently they spent 40 days doing this absurd set of things twice a day: they would get up and perform battle cries against each other, Goliath would come out and mock Israel, Israel would look for a champion and then everyone would go to bed. Essentially.
It’s on a visit to his brothers on the battle line that David finally hears of this and goes to the next one, which happens to be on the 40th night. He is informed of a rumor that is confirmed for him that Saul was giving up his daughter to marriage with whoever becomes the champion and wins. Of course, I have fundamental issues with this thought process. I think I’ve addressed them before. Girls are not property, even though they were treated as such back in that time. I get what Saul was trying to do, and you’ll see what he does later, but that doesn’t make it fair or right for the women and girls involved.
David volunteers and he must talk Saul into letting him go. He does so by explaining all the lions and bears he’s killed while tending sheep. Saul is apparently impressed with this. He tries to give David his armor but it doesn’t work out.
Then David goes up against Goliath in the infamous story that most people know.
At the end of the battle there is a part where Abner and Saul are asking who’s son David is, which is strange because Saul seemed to know him pretty well before this. How would he not know that?
David and Jonathon get on as friends and Saul starts sending David about in battle, leading troops. But then some rumors get to Saul that make him unhappy and another spirit comes in and messes some stuff up even though David is playing the lyre that is supposed to make him feel better. He attempts to kill David, it sounds like, but David evades and that’s it.
Next, there’s a mix up with the whole marrying his daughter thing. It’s a political misstep but works out because David and the second daughter fall in love at some point and Saul let’s him marry her even though he’s starting to hate him and that David was supposed to marry the first daughter. He’s starting to send him into battle with bad intentions.
He asks as the “bride-price” the foreskins of the Philistines. When David brings 100 of them back is when they finally get married. I had to cringe at the foreskins. I mean, he cut off their junk. There’s just no eloquent reaction to that.
Saul talks to Jonathon about killing David, but Jonathon doesn’t agree to help. Saul tries it anyway, but David evades twice. His wife, Michal, helps him escape and evade death. Saul sends three sets of guys after David, but every time they figure out where he went, they all start to prophesy. It’s an interesting phenomenon. Especially when it happens to Saul himself when he goes himself to get David, who had been with Samuel the whole time.
This one opens up with a long conversation between Jonathon and David where David knows what’s going on but Jonathon seems to be trying to cover for his father feeling hateful against David.
They set up a ruse so that Jonathon can figure out how much his father really wanted David dead. When it comes out that Saul really does, Jonathon is very upset. They use the appropriate code so that David knows that it is true and can take appropriate measure.
David is on the run for this chapter and at one point gets freaked out and pretends to be crazy.
He “escapes to the cave”. But still somehow amasses an army from the cave of people who were “bitter in soul” and “in distress”and “in debt”. He is discovered there and finds refuge in Moab.
Saul hears about it. He goes on a bit of tirade or hunt that makes him sound a tad bit paranoid. Saul has the whole city of priests killed, because they had seen David and not reported it but helped him, except one guy who escapes. The escapee tells David what happened and David feels guilty even though he wasn’t the one who did anything wrong.
We’ll have to wait until later to see what David decides to do about it all.