Personally, I had no idea that David was on the run from Saul for so long or any idea about what happened to Saul. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard much about Saul at all, really. Not sure why. I mean, it turns out that he was kind of a big deal for a while.
So here we have David listening to God and doing good things while Saul chases him around.
The first part sounded like the plot of a cartoon. Saul uses the bathroom in the very cave that David and his men are hiding in. David gets close enough to Saul to kill him but gets a bad feeling about it and decides not to kill him.
So they talk and part peacefully….
The chapter opens with the death of Samuel but focuses on Abigail. Abigail is a woman who pays homage to David before he comes up against her husband who had just been rude and insulting to him.
Okay, so there’s no specific note in my study Bible that says that David is asking to be paid protection money, but the exchange sure sounds like it. The men were even instructed to remind Nabal, Abigail’s husband, that their servants and livestock had been safe the whole time David’s men were with them. Sounds like David protected them and then asked for some food in exchange for that service, but Nabal not only refuses but gets insulting and rude.
David’s reaction is to arm up with his men and go down there to kill every man but Abigail had already prepared and sent the required payment. She also went behind it and pretty much begs forgiveness for the slight of her husband and is given it. She assessed the situation pretty perfectly all the way around, I have to say, and her actions stopped the slaughter.
She gets home and the husband is drunk and having a party, probably pretty satsified with himself and not knowing what was about to befall him. She decides to leave the argument for later and waits to tell him until the morning. When she does tell him, “his heart died within him” and turns to stone for ten days. Then he dies after “the Lord struck Nabal”.
This, of course, leaves Abigail available and David takes her and Ahinoam as wives. Saul has already given his first wife, Saul’s daughter Michal, away to someone else. Again, issues, but I’ve expalined them already.
David catches up to Saul again and is again given the opportunity to kill Saul while he was unsuspecting, but he doesn’t do it, even reprimanding the guy who should have been standing watch over Saul.
They part again peaceful with mutual blessings. But wasn’t Saul not supposed to be chasing him again? Not good at keeping his word, but this was the whole problem God had with him in the first place as the king. He doesn’t do what he’s told or what he says he’ll do.
David decides to leave Israel after that. Maybe he feels like Saul can’t follow him into another kingdom without raising suspicion from whoever runs that land. Saul is a little reckless, so it could have gone either way, but he does decide not to chase David for real this time.
The rest of the chapter has that they raided a bunch of people but reported to the local king that the raids were against other Israelite settlements. Because he kills everyone and takes their stuff, there’s no one to report to that king that David was not doing what he said. So the king thinks that the Israelites won’t like David because he raids them, so he wasn’t worried about David. He also apparently thinks that the Israelites will hate him because he’s raiding them (but he isn’t) and that “he shall always be my servant”. Poor duped king.
Saul goes to a medium, who is an unnamed woman. He lies about who he is at first, but he wants to talk to Samuel, so the jig is up as soon as Samuel is summoned from the dead. Yeah, for real. At which point, Samuel chastises him again for not having listened to God before and lets him know that he will die the next day and so will his sons, and that the whole army will fall to the Philistines after that.
The wording makes the whole afterlife thing seem suspect. Samuel says:
Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me.
So where is Samuel? He was “brought up”. Yeah, up. That means he was down. Down where? He was a prophet and was dead. Is the afterlife “below”? It’s just suspect. Also, that Saul and his sons will be with Samuel. They who have not listened as well. Is there really only one place to go after death and not two? I mean, we won’t know until we know, but I’m definitely going to have to look out for that as we go along.
Saul freaks out, obviously. Who wouldn’t freak out at this point? Then the medium insists on feeding everyone before they go, especially on that news and Saul leaves.
It’s also worth noting that the medium refers to Samuel as “a god” who comes up before Saul assures her that it’s Samuel.
David gets some undeserved praise from the king he’s been deceiving and is sent away so that he won’t be a part of the battle against his own people. The king insists David not fight with them based on his commander’s insistence.
When they get back home, everything is burned and everyone was taken captive by another group who was taking advantage of the Israelites and Philistines being gone fighting each other.
David goes after them and takes everything back, including his own wives who had been taken. The force had been split, about half were too exhuasted to go on, and there was some conflict when they got back. The guys who continued the fight didn’t want to share with those who couldn’t but David was not about to allow that. He made it a rule forever “until this day”, which is interesting because of the foreshadowing effect.
David also sends some of the spoil to the elders of Judah.
The Philistines fought Israel and had a big win. Saul was so pinned by the battle that he feared being taken alive and “fell on his sword” after having been wounded already. Everyone died, on the same day, just like Samuel’s ghost had said. The other Israelites in the area who were not soldiers fled their cities after this.
The Philistines sent out word that they had won. They also put Saul and his sons’ bodies “on the wall” but the “inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead” weren’t about to leave them up there. They burned the bodies and buried the bones somewhere else.