I dedicate this website to the memory of my dear mother Doris Harmon, seen here in one of her high school pictures.  I expect to see her again.


To my sweet wife Gloria who is a great source of joy to me every day.

The Book Of First Samuel

I Samuel 1:6                                            The Adversary


It should be noted that this book is also called the First Book of Kings and is first in a four book series.  Dr. John Whitcomb states that these books were written for the exiled people to show why they were in such a condition.  By the same token he says that conversely I and II Chronicles were written to encourage the exiled people that God does indeed care for them.

This chapter records the circumstances surrounding the birth of Samuel, the prophet (Acts 13:20) who in turn is probably the scribe who gives us the history of Saul and David prior to his death recorded in 25:1.  Again, he is considered the writer who has preserved the stories of Judges and Ruth though they occurred many years before his birth.

In most cases where there were multiple wives there were problems and this situation is no different.  Some have thought the adversary was Satan and while he may have been involved it seems rather to have been Peninnah who may have felt slighted by Elkanah for the wording is in the feminine gender (v.6).  While plurality of wives was allowed among the Israelites, the principle of one man - one woman is the rule and in the New Testament is set forth as illustrating the relationship between the Lord Jesus and His bride, the Church.  (Admitting, of course, I Cor.7:39).  I know that most Bible students (alias Meateaters) are committed to this concept but it doesn’t hurt to underscore this principle for it seems that the rate of divorce among Christians is exceedingly high these days.

Very few women in our culture would accept the multiple wives concept yet every divorced woman (or man) who marries again accepts the multiplicity of living mates.  Ah, we may think it is different having them one at a time, but I suggest that there is more evident resistence by God to this concept than the former.  In Malachi 2:16 we read that He hates putting away yet there is no such strong reaction on His part to polygamy.  If we accept divorce in the light of Ephesians 5:31 we might just as well accept polygamy - both concepts violate N.T. truth!



I Samuel 2:8                     From the Dunghill to the Throne of Glory


Isn’t it great to know that our adversaries are also God’s, that is, if things with us are as they should be.  Remember, no one can force us out of God’s will.  The way Satan can do it, however, is to put pressure on us which causes us to react in an ungodly manner and that puts us out of God’s will.  So, while he does not have the actual power to force us to do wrong, he knows what human nature will usually do under certain circumstances.  He probably did succeed with Hannah for a time using the second wife.  The text says that she was made to fret (v.6) which is a very strong word like the crashing of thunder, i.e. she was made angry and often anger produces  harsh words.  The sense is to be violently agitated. 

Now, in these first ten verses her words are equally strong, only this time they are uttered in the LORD’s presence and she recognizes that it is He Who is victorious over those that she now sees as His adversaries (v.10).  Let Him thunder upon them all He wants!

Hannah’s enemies were of her own household and must have involved Peninnah’s children for she speaks in the plural and from her husband’s loving word (1:8) it does not include him.  Arrogance and pride characterized their attacks upon her and though she felt so depressed she was ready to die (v.6) she now has been resurrected as it were.  This is the effect of God’s grace upon His child when, being brought low, we yield to God, reckoning ourselves dead to sin and experiencing His quickening.

Now Hannah can rest and rejoice in God’s salvation.  Her beloved son is yielded back to Him.  She speaks of kings and reigns as one, of exaltation of the horn of His anointed.  Though she does not know Him, yet Christ sustains her very life and she senses that as He has triumphed in her case so He will exercise judgement to the very ends of the earth (v.10).

As the poor and beggar is lifted from the dunghill, we too are exalted as our dear sister Hannah and triumphing over our adversaries, the world, the flesh and the devil, are made to inherit with His saints the throne of His glory.



I Samuel 3:1 & 21                           Open Vision Once More


What an encouragement it is to God’s people to have a faithful servant of God to whom

they may look for teaching and example in the ways of Jehovah.  It is all the more a comfort and blessing when times are difficult and good leadership is scarce.  Such were the times in the days about which we now write.  People hesitated to come to Shiloh with their sacrifices because of the callous and risque behavior of Eli’s sons (2:17 and 22).  If that wasn’t enough, their father, the high priest, did nothing to stop their wicked behavior.  There was not the slightest doubt but that a faithful leader was greatly needed.

Into such a bleak scene and all because of a godly mother in Israel the young boy Samuel was thrust, not knowing much at all about a holy God for apparently old Eli was as spiritually blind as he was physically.  In the hands of an old reprobate priest and surrounded with immoral examples, it is well that he had a praying mother.  We praise God for all such!

As he grew, it began to be apparent to the whole nation that a breath of fresh air was finally blowing through the musty and neglected sanctuary.  We too look forward to his leadership as we emerge from the confusion and carnality of historic roller coaster religiosity so prevalent in the days when the judges ruled.

A prophet, nay more like a priest, is recognized by the people as a true man of God by whom Jehovah now reveals Himself.  Praise God for such a man as Samuel!

Thank Him also for good pastors throughout our land to whom the word of the LORD is revealed.  We have one such in our church and I hope you do too.  Pray for him, support him and be thankful every day for men who handle  the word of life by which we behold with unveiled

 faces the “open vision” of Jesus Christ.



I Samuel 4:22                             The Glory Of God is Departed


The whole world came crashing down, or so it must have seemed to the unnamed wife of Phinehas during the dark hour of her sojourn through the valley of the shadow of death.  Oh that she could have known the company of One Who might have calmed her fears (Psalm 23:4) but an unfaithful husband had not taught her much about Him and now the false priest lay dead on a Philistine battlefield.

Dimness of vision had gradually settled upon old Eli and as it did there came a blind rationalism upon Israel that confused the ark of the covenant with the glorious God Whom it was intended that it represent (v.3).  Was Jehovah now the prisoner of the Philistines?  True they now had in their clutches one red hot potato but its name was not Elohim or El Shaddai or El Elyon.  He was perhaps standing off among the hills having them in derision enjoying the thoughts of the games He was about to play with them.

 But back in the birthing chamber an expectant mother bows herself in pain.  She hears the tidings of multiple family deaths and of the capture of the ark just as she is told while in the throes of her own demise the she has a son.

Somehow it seemed a complete contradiction to bring forth life at such an hour of death and defeat.  There is no honor at such a time as this, and as she said those words which in Hebrew came out as Ichabod, it is said that the attending nurses thought she referred to the loss of husband and father-in-law but she was able, before passing thru death’s portal, to make clear that she referred to the ark being lost to the enemy and henceforth the child’s name spoke of the fact that the glory of God is departed from Israel.



I Samuel 5:4                                        No Fish Story - This


What a fascinating chapter!  Captured by the Philistines, the Ark of the Covenant, the Ark of Elohim of Israel is first placed in the house of the fish-god Dagon.  The elders of the city, Ashdod, thinking that they had increased their god-potential by its presence awoke on the morrow finding, to their great surprise and chagrin, that the idol they worshiped was prostrate before the Ark.  Dismissing the occurrence as simply a curious event, in all probability, they repositioned their merman deity.  The next day the idol was fallen in front of the Ark again only this time both hands and its head were detached!

My curiosity is aroused.  How do you think this operation was accomplished?  Often our God uses angels to do His bidding. Perhaps He put this job up for bids.  Perhaps some angel had a reward coming.  I think probably that such events may have raised special interest in heaven.  Wanted, an angel needed to decapitate a fish-god.  No experience necessary – it will be a push over.

In all seriousness, what a privilege to be sent on such an errand by Jehovah.  Not like rolling the stone from the mouth of the tomb, for sure, but a great assignment none the less.  Of course, our God does not need such means when He can speak worlds into existence, nor does He need us to spread the gospel when He could make the stones cry it out, but certainly He does use means and angels are a part of His plans.  Each of us has a guardian angel and it will be indeed fascinating for us to learn what they may have done to protect us who are “heirs of salvation” (Heb.1:14).  Just this week it was suggested in a devotional guide my wife and I were reading that we may one day have an opportunity to thank them for their faithful service.  It was a new thought to me and it helped to bring the reality of eternity a bit closer. As far as the scenario above being somewhat of a possibility, I suggest you read II Chronicles 18:18 - 21.



I Samuel 6:12                                  “Lowing as They Went”


It certainly would seem from this story that our LORD has a great sense of humor.  Can you just imagine the discussion at the special conference of the Philistine lords called to decide what to do about the Ark of the Covenant?  Talk about weapons of mass destruction!  “Have the people in your city been smitten with hemorrhoids?”  “Can you religious leaders and prognosticators help us with this problem that must take precedence over global warming?”  “Yes, we have the exact spiritual and scientific answer.  We must make some golden hemorrhoids. Let us bring in the medical profession to find out what they look like etc, etc .”  What a wacky bunch!

On the other hand the Philistines did have one thing right.  The children of the world are often wiser in their generation than the children of light (Luke 16:8).  They believed that one way to determine whether Jehovah was involved in a matter would be to make it so that chance had no part in it.  We often seek the Lord’s will the other way.  If the car dealer has a red Buick with air and I can get it for x dollars, I will take it that He wants me to have it.  We rarely chose to make it so hard that only He could do it because we are afraid He won’t and we really want that red Buick.

Someone once said, “If there is a cross in it, then God is in it.”  In other words, if there are two ways to go, take the way that goes against the grain to be safe.  God knows your heart and He won’t let you make a mistake but if you choose the easy way, the natural way, there is no way to tell if you have done right just because things turn out right.  Jonah could have thought– “It must be God’s will to go to Tarshish since there is a boat waiting here that is going that way.”

The Philistines didn’t leave the matter to chance.  They knew that it was against nature for those cows to leave their young to haul that cart and the lowing of the lonesome mamas, proved the point.

Mama, how about offering your son or daughter to the LORD for missionary service?  Say, “Lord, keep him home if it is not your will.”



I Samuel 7:12                                               Ebenezer


Don’t you wish you could have know Samuel? He, apparently, was such a good man and at the moment I cannot think of anything negative that is recorded of him in so many words as we find is true of most biblical characters. Some things may be inferred as we shall see from tomorrow’s chapter, but that’s tomorrow and this is today. Today let us just enjoy some fellowship with our dear dear brother Sam Benelkan.

This man was a judge in Israel for his whole lifetime, in fact, as we know, even his earliest years were spent serving the Lord. This chapter is an introduction to the extent and nature of his career. It was characterized by his zeal for Jehovah as he championed successfully the cause of God and truth (v.3&4). He was a man of prayer following the example of his godly mother (v.5) and like the sacrificial lamb his life seemed like a whole burnt offering (v.9), an example we should follow (Rom.12:1).

We cannot begin to imagine the feeling of being completely delivered from an enemy like the Philistines but during Samuel’s life Israel experienced having this dreaded pestilential foe held at bay by Jehovah’s hand (v.13). Spiritually, however, we can experience a similar victory over the flesh on much the same basis, viz. confession of sin (v.6); identification with the lamb (v.9); victory over the enemy; and our Savior still lives (v.13).

I don’t think I like the person who changed the word Ebenezer for “sign of victory” and every time I sing Come Thou Fount, I want to change it back. Robert Robinson (1735-1790) who wrote those words would probably agree and he might also like us to sing the whole song as he wrote it. Do your Best!


Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;Streams of mercy, never ceasing,Call for songs of loudest praise.Teach me some melodious sonnet,Sung by flaming tongues above.Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,Mount of Thy redeeming love.


Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,Till released from flesh and sin,Yet from what I do inherit,Here Thy praises I’ll begin;Here I raise my Ebenezer;Here by Thy great help I’ve come;And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,Safely to arrive at home.


Jesus sought me when a stranger,Wandering from the fold of God;He, to rescue me from danger,Interposed His precious blood;How His kindness yet pursues meMortal tongue can never tell,Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose meI cannot proclaim it well.


O to grace how great a debtorDaily I’m constrained to be!Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,Prone to leave the God I love;Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,Seal it for Thy courts above.


O that day when freed from sinning,I shall see Thy lovely face;Clothed then in blood washed linenHow I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,Take my ransomed soul away;Send thine angels now to carryMe to realms of endless day.



I Samuel 8:3                                     Fathers and Their Sons


Yesterday we attempted to give Samuel a last name. Ben always means “son of” and the rest of the word is a shortened version of his father’s name which is certainly one of the richest of Hebrew names. “El” of course means “God” and often formed a part ot Jewish names as either a prefix or suffix (Samuel being an example of the later). The word kanah is the same as the Greek form of Cana in Galilee and may have indicated Elkanah’s birthplace but more probably the overriding sense of the word’s meaning which the lexicon gives as obtained. It is the same as Eve saying “I have gotten a man from the LORD.” To be God- obtained could mean that God has obtained a good man to serve Him or could have reflected the same attitude as Eve on the part of his parents. I like to think that names are very often prophetic as indeed they were in many cases (Jacob).

I say this word is rich for honestly I could preach an hour on Elkanah’s name. The word contains a three fold element of creation, redemption and sanctification and implies ownership through purchase (hence- obtained). It is a picture word and technically means “erect” (Strong’s Hebrew Lex. #7069). The town of Cana got its name from erect canes that grew in that area.

This may be a bit hard to follow, but let’s try. God erected an upright man (created)- he fell; God purchased him (redeemed) and by implication He has obtained a two-fold right to own him. That much is clearly indicated in the Lexicon. At the wedding in Cana, Jesus provided the best wine (Life - theme of John) for those who had none (“they have no wine” -blood -life) as His first miracle. Those who have resurrection life have the best life (the word has the sense of standing - erect). Perhaps it is a bit farfetched, but I tend to think that God will one day show us all kinds of lessons that we have missed along the way due to the dullness of our minds (Heb.5:11). For example, who would have thought that Jesus was talking about His body when He spoke of the temple being raised in three days if He hadn’t pointed out the connection?

Something else to think about. We are never introduced to Samuel’s wife. Since Samuel was such a good man, could it have been the influence of his wife that caused Joel and Abiah to turn out so badly? God certainly allowed it to happen but what was the cause? What do you think?



I Samuel 9:6                                        An Honorable Man


In these next twenty?three chapters our subject will primarily have to do with Saul the first king of Israel. Samuel will be seen from time to time until we reach chapter twenty?five which records his death. David begins to share the stage with Saul at chapter sixteen and the last sixteen chapters will be taken up with the conflict between them.

The matter of Israel having a king had been anticipated long before by God (Deut.17:14?20) and though Samuel didn’t like the idea very well (8:6) Jehovah had reassured him telling him that the people were not rejecting him but were rejecting the LORD from reigning over them. Though this was difficult for Samuel, the LORD was used to it by this time.

The people wanted a man to fight their battles which certainly proved their lack of trust in Jehovah but God graciously acquiesced and gave them Saul who was a handsome man and strikingly tall (v.2). This chapter tells the story of how God brought Saul and Samuel together. He has a wonderful way of doing such things and we can just imagine that those lost asses of Kish had cowboy angels for a few days while He was directing Saul’s steps to meet the Seer, one’s of God’s most choice servants.

Seers were also hearers, in fact this is how we all should be. We want to see our way. Shall I go this way or that? The secret of the Seer was that the LORD had his ear and he was used to hearing that still small voice. Isaiah 30:21 puts it this way, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying, this is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left.”

Most pastors too are honorable men who can be a great help when we might be seeking guidance. Let us not fail to utilize such a valuable resource when seeking to know the mind of the LORD in a matter. Note some of the verses in Proverbs about counsel, esp. 20:5 (12:15; 15:22; 19:20; 20:18; 27:9).



I Samuel 10:24                                        A Chosen Man


I think I am about to take an unpopular position. The question concerns whether Saul is a believer or not. Now, if the question is whether he is a Christian or not, the answer is a resounding No! There were no Christians until Christ died and no one was ever called one until Acts 11:26 reports the initial use of the term. Most if not all meateaters know that, however, even some of us fall for the question of how many clean animals Moses brought into the Ark, was it 2 or 7? Of course, the answer is neither.

So let’s get the question right before we try for a right answer. Was he a believer? In the O.T. by what process did a believer become an unbeliever? Just how tightly do we have this issue pinned down?

Certainly this chapter indicates conclusively that Saul was chosen of God (v.24), that the Holy Spirit came upon him (v.10), that he had been given “another heart” (v.9) and could be thought of as a new man (v.6). He gathered good men around him whose hearts God had touched and evil men despised him. Wouldn’t you say at this point that Saul had quite a lot going for him?

Remember, the O.T. is like a picture book and in it we are shown many types and shadows portraying N.T. truth (I Cor.10:11). The kings of Judah as well as the prophets and priests picture for us our Lord Jesus (David for example) and us as kings and priests identified with Him. Saul was almost as bad as Solomon. Frankly I am embarrassed by both of them, aren’t you? In fact David as an adulterer and murderer makes Saul’s sins not look quite so bad when we get right down to it.

I guess when all is said and done, we are all a disgusting bunch of sinners and apart from the grace of God we are rotten and deserve hell. If David by grace was a man after God’s own heart, perhaps we can find something good to say about Saul. What he really is, I think, is a great picture (type) of a sensual backslidden Christian who, making it into heaven purely by grace, and seeing his works completely burned up at the judgment seat will be welcomed by a God Who forgave David and Solomon and just maybe has also forgiven Saul.



I Samuel 11:15                                   For Now – Rejoicing


The Ammonites may have reasoned that they could safely attack and subjugate the men of Jabesh-gilead because of the past history of these people.  It may be remembered that Jabesh-gilead was the one tribe that had refused to answer the call to punish the Benjamites for their callous attitude toward the Levite in Judges 19 whose concubine was abused and murdered in Gibeah.  Since an oath had been made to put to death any who were uncooperative and since wives were needed for 600 Benjamites, the men of J.-g. had been slain and the virgins saved to meet this need.  Saul might have justified a refusal to help these people whose reputation doubtless was still tarnished.

To his credit Saul, acting in concert with the Holy Spirit, agreed to come to the aid of these who had thrown themselves in desperation upon their compatriots’ good graces.  He won a great victory thus reassuring the people of the seeming rightness of their choice and getting the new regime off to a good start.  Starting well and ending well are two different things as we, unfortunately, shall soon see.

We may speculate that it was in return for the favor done them by the new king that the men of Jabesh-gilead risked their lives at a later date (31:12) to salvage what was left of Saul and sons when the Philistines got through with them at Gilboa.  They tenderly removed their bodies from the wall at Bethshan and after cremating them, buried them under a tamarisk tree back home.

As we close this favorable chapter, however, Saul is very much alive and well and again, to his credit, is still making good moves.  The people wanted vengeance on the despicable crowd (10:27) that had resisted Saul’s elevation but he magnanimously forgave them, a further tribute to a man who needs all the favor that he can get before the turning of the tide.



I Samuel 12:23                                           God Forbid


I have just noticed, did you, that Samuel ends his final appeal to Israel by telling them that if they do wickedly they will be consumed “both you and your king” and this he affirmed (v.22) that Jehovah would never forsake His people.  His very name was at stake.  Of course it is a familiar scenario and one with which we, as dispensationalists, are very familiar.  He may consume them, but they are still His people!  Obviously, to be consumed is a judgement that does not mean “I am through with you forever” as our covenant friends believe is now the case with national Israel in the grand scheme of eschatology.  Again we refer to such sweeping statements as that found in Jeremiah 31:33-37 and summed up in Jeremiah 30:11 (46:28).  “For I am with thee, saith the LORD to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations wither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.”  See also Ezekiel 20:13-14.

Significantly this provision includes their king and so, however he fails, like the nation, for he was and is part of it, may still be accepted.  Dare we (N.T. believers) limit the grace of God when we know that we are accepted because of being “accepted in the beloved” (Eph.1:6)?

Someone will say, “but look at all the despicable things Saul did to David,” and I have to agree that it would have worn my patience out if I were the judge, but then I think of things my fellow Christians have done to me and said about me yet I expect to see them in heaven and they have the Spirit of God living in them never to leave them like He did Saul and David.

“God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for (them).  Right?  Right!  (Matthew 5:44).



I Samuel 13:14                                   After His Own Heart


There is a textual problem with the beginning of this chapter and there seems to be very little agreement among the commentaries as to the explanation. I have chosen to include a note from Barnes to illustrate the problem since his comments are a bit more concise than the others:??

The text of this verse, omitted by the Septuagint, is held to be corrupt, and the numerals denoting Saul s age at his accession as well as the duration of his reign, are thought to be omitted or faulty. Saul may have been about 30 at his accession, and have reigned some 32 years, since we know that his grandson Mephibosheth was five years old at Saul s; {#2Sa 4:4} and 32 added to the seven and a half years between the death of Saul and that of Ishbosheth, makes up the 40 years assigned to Saul s dynasty in #Ac 13:21.

Since Jonathan, Saul’s son, appears in the narrative as full grown and yet our introduction to his father in chapter nine shows him to be just a young man himself, there is evidently a block of time that has been omitted, perhaps between the anointing of Saul and when he actually became king as we know was the case with David. Where would you put it?

There seems to be a connection between 10:8 where Samuel told Saul to wait for him to come to Gilgal seven days and here where he becomes impatient taking matters into his own hands. We do not know but that a priest may have actually officiated at Saul’s request, and performed the desired sacrifice prior to Samuel’s appearance, but he had definitely done something  foolishly  relating to Jehovah’s distinct command.

The announcement that his kingdom would not continue as a result of his rash actions probably indicates that there was more to this problem than meets the eye. Reference to the securing as a  captain over his people  one who would be  a man after his own heart  signals the fact that as to this criterion Saul just did not measure up. Head and shoulders above his fellows he might be, but inside he lacked what it takes to please God.

People may have a high estimation of our qualifications as parents, marriage partners, or Christian workers, but how do we really measure up in God’s sight, He that sees the heart?



I Samuel 14:6                                      By Many or By Few


Those unfamiliar with the story might tend to think ill of Jehovah for being so hard on Saul in our last chapter but in time we will see that side of Saul that will display itself all to soon that was indicative of what God saw in his heart.

But first, let us rejoice rather over the character of his son Jonathan who begins to surpass his father in qualities of leadership. His second incursion into Philistine territory shows tremendous courage as well as uncomplicated trust in the LORD which resulted in providing Israel with a glorious victory. We just need to know that He is with us and the rest is academic. One with God is a majority.

It was distressing to Saul’s men to have a leader so rash and self willed as he had shown himself to be this day and even the LORD seemed displeased with him (v.37). Twice the people had tolerated his decisions.  Do what seemeth good unto thee  they said. Perhaps while hiding out these past days they had taken time to reflect on just what kind of king they had chosen for themselves. They seemed unwilling to argue with ignorance, or was it arrogance, that is, until it reached the point where the champion of the day was going to be slain by his own father because he had inadvertently eaten a bit of honey against the prohibitions of the king? a rather stupid measure as became evident (v.32).  So the people rescued Jonathan that he died not.

Note the attitude of Jonathan’s armorbearer who recognized the validity of his master’s classic statement (v.6). Do what your heart tells you is right and my heart is with you.

We find out what is right through the Word of God and when specific guidance is needed we are to wait on the Lord for it. But once we know it we must do it with all our heart and not be concerned about the difficulties. The way of the cross is never easy.



I Samuel 15:22                       “To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice”


Let us think of Saul as a picture of a carnal Christian, one who is what Paul would classify as being under the control of the flesh.  To enhance the picture think of Amalek as the very embodiment of the old nature, Israel’s enemy from the earliest days of his delivery from Egypt (v.2).  In fact there is a definite relationship between one of Jehovah’s names  (Nissi-- my banner) and His statement of continual warfare with Amalek until his name be put out of remembrance under heaven.  This was written in a special book by Moses with the LORD’s instructions that it be rehearsed “in the ears of Joshua” (Exodus 17:13-16).

It is most interesting that Jehovah chose this time and this man to utterly destroy this sworn enemy and how Saul handles it is significant.  His failure and the further events of this episode should be a forceful lesson to each of us as believers and particularly to those chosen to serve.

GOD HATES THE FLESH! To let any of it survive the reckoning process (Rom.6:11) is absolute disobedience.  How blatant the failure is seen here in these animals being brought back for sacrifice!  Listen to these serious Scriptural words.  God sees disobedience as rebellionand equates it with witchcraft.

This failure on the part of Saul confirmed to him the loss of his throne.  Check the end of the story in II Samuel 1:6-16 to see that  the crown was actually lifted from his head by an Amalekite who slew him and in turn was slain by David with much the same zeal as motivated Samuel when he slew Agag (v.33).     One very important point in all of this is the fact that a believer who is under the control of the flesh is capable of most anything that an unbeliever might do.  The difference is that the N.T. Christian may have  Holy Spirit warnings to “get right.”  In fact Saul had numerous checks on his despicable actions when he seemed to repent for a time (v.31).  (See also 19:24; 24:20; 26:21&25).  Let us ask the Lord for grace to walk in the Spirit lest we also be guilty of fulfilling the lust of the flesh.  Galatians 5:16



I Samuel 16:7                                   After God’s Own Heart


We might wonder what the LORD saw in Eliab’s heart or Abinadab’s, Shammah’s or the other boys until He came to David.  Exactly what was He looking for?  Whatever it was He apparently did not see it in the first seven.  In fact, we might assume that in His omniscience He had inspected every heart in Israel until, along with the proper conditions He found what He was looking for, “a man after mine own heart which shall fulfill all my will” (Acts 13:22).  I wonder for what reason He would have rejected me?  Oh LORD, let me be a man after your own heart.

As we shall see, David was not a perfect man and he would fail, not just once, but many times, so what exactly was it that Jehovah looked for?  I think perhaps Jonathan came close and it was what caused such a bond  between them later.

As we spend time in this great story let us be alert to see if we can understand what it was that the Sovereign God of the universe searched for and found in this eighth son of Jessie, a lad that was temporarily overlooked until called for by the prophet. 

According to the narrative no one really knew what exactly was happening here except Samuel which was probably for the best under the circumstances (v.2) and it would be some time before David himself would know what was happening.

It was not long, however, before things began to happen that brought David into a situation where he was providentially brought to the attention of King Saul.  The king was having difficulties (Note the word evilhas a broad application and could possibly refer to a melancholy state caused by the LORD or something more serious  allowed by Him) and we are introduced along with Saul to some of David’s talents and attributes.

Isn't it something how that servant just happened to know about him – it reminds me of the story of Ruth (2:3).



I Samuel 17:47                             “The Battle is the LORD’s”


Awesome to say the least!  What a great children’s story – what a great anybody’s story.  How many times have you read it?  Read it again.  Please don’t say, “Oh I have read that story many times, I know it by heart - so I’ll just read the devotional this time.”  The reason?  Because it is the  word of God and it feeds the soul.  Read it as if you are doing so for the very first time and I promise you, in 58 verses there will surely be something that will strike you as a new thought.

As I read it, my new thought was this: there is nothing so spectacular about what David did and he would have been the first to tell you so.  It was not half so scary as taking on that lion or bear.  I imagine he took one look at Goliath and seeing that broad forehead, evidently unprotected, made up his mind exactly what measures he would take.  It was not nearly as singular that he was a marksman with a slingshot as that he was a skilled musician on the harp at his age.  Now I think that was unusual but to sling a stone accurately to David was as common as falling off a log, as they say.  Besides, did we not read just 23 chapters back about that elite corp of left-handed Benjamites numbering 700 which “ could sling stones at a hair breadth and not miss.  We see young guys on skate boards or skis whose practiced skills are much more spectacular.  Now if Goliath’s four sons had come charging out about the time David was taking off his head with his own huge sword and David had  cleaned all of them with those extra stones he carried in his shepherd’s pouch, that would be coming close we must admit.  In II Samuel 21: 16-22 he is credited with getting them all later with help.

What we must not miss here is the fact that David did what he did in the name of the LORD (v.45) and gave Him all the glory (v.47).   This is what we all should do as it says in 1 Cor.10:31, “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  We say he had great faith but so did a host of others like Jonathan who was not named in Hebrews eleven but who also like David “waxed valiant in fight” and “turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (v.34).



I Samuel 18:30                                         Wise Behavior


We cringe at the actions of Saul as he fluctuates back and forth between favor and enmity.  His undulating spirituality is typical of a person operating in the flesh.  Up and down, first hot then cold so like charismatic believers that I have known.  There was Gary who got saved as far as we could tell and went to Bible school.  When he came home he “prophesied.”  We loaned him hymn books so he could conduct preaching services and he complained that there weren’t enough of them.  He buttoned-holed people on the street to witness to them.  Later he quit Bible school and loaned us his commentaries.  One night in a drunken stupor he came with false accusations and wanted his books back.  Later he was killed on a railroad crossing.  I do expect to see him in heaven.

Yes, several times Saul tried to kill David.  He put him on the front lines hoping the Philistines would do it for him (v.17).   So did David to Uriah and his plans succeeded.

Whatever there was about Saul’s daughter Michal he cleverly used his own flesh and blood to ensnare David.  At this point it appears that she really did love him.

The dowry requirement was another of Saul’s attempts on David’s life but David succeeded and in fact doubled the tally.

Four times we are told in this chapter that David behaved himself wisely thus certainly making this the theme.  It behooves us all to do as much.  I know a young man who started a new job just a week ago.  Already he has received a raise and has had important responsibilities given to him.  I am sure it is because he behaves himself wisely.  That is what Joseph did in prison and Daniel did in captivity, Naaman’s maid, Paul’s nephew etc.,etc.  To Christian young people it should come easy if the heart is right.



I Samuel 19:24                          Don’t Believe What “They” Say


In spite of the affirmation to his son, David’s dear friend, that he would not harm him which brought on a bit of respite, it was not long before, gripped by evil compulsion, Saul once again renewed his violence against the object of his unreasonable hatred.  Fleeing from his house with his wife Michal’s aid, David seeks the counsel and solace of the old prophet Samuel and together they make their way to Naioth, a get away, where there was evidently a school of the prophets.  It may have been here while he enjoyed the fellowship of God’s venerable servant that he composed the 59th Psalm.

Saul, however, was consumed with his lust to capture and kill David and certainly had he not been protected by the invisible shield of God’s providence his father-in-law would have succeeded, but we have God for our defense and on the morning after his escape David could sing aloud of His mercy (Ps.59:15).

Sending, three different times, groups of his men to capture David, Saul’s “messengers” ended up under the influence of the Holy Spirit agreeing with the resident prophets set under Samuel and joining them as they sang or spoke messages from God.  Failing to achieve any results Saul came himself to Naioth and too fell under the same supernatural influence causing him to strip off his kingly garments along with his armor.  No doubt the words forced from his lips like in the case of Balaam, were such as testified of David’s innocense and God’s displeasure at Saul’s turbulent attacks upon him.  At any rate, the spell controlled him long enough for David to escape.

It was a good thing for Saul that Samuel did not have the same turn of mind as Elijah in I Kings 1:9-15.  Such a display of God’s displeasure could give Naioth a bad reputation and it was quite easy sometimes for these inexperienced theologues to get strange ideas in their heads (II Ki.2:16).



I Samuel 20:3                                           “But a Step”


These words of David bring several thoughts to mind.  We would say, especially from our perspective, not to worry, for either Saul is a pretty poor shot with the javelin or else Someone must be watching out for your welfare.  Before long David will be writing one of his famous songs and telling us what to do when our world turns sour but now it is our turn to tell him.

David, you must trust the LORD at all times.  He will be a refuge for you.  Right now Saul imagines mischief against you but take heart and rest for the angel of the LORD is camping around  about you and He will deliver you.  If you seek the LORD you need not fear what any man can do to you.  You have been anointed for a purpose and you know that you are hated without a cause so don’t fret.  Just commit your way unto the LORD and trust Him for He will not leave you in Saul’s hand.*

You may have wondered where David got all of those wonderful thoughts of his, but know you know.

As to the matter of there being “but a step between me and death,” all of us could say the same thing.  “Boast not thyself of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Prov.27:1) is said for the benefit of all of us.  Life in the twenty-first century is very dangerous especially if you go anywhere in a car.  Just think of the fact that great numbers of those we meet on the highway are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  Many are troubled in their minds about domestic situations.  Most are selfish, depraved, lost sinners.  These “heady high-minded lovers of pleasure” are enemies of God and He may bring life crashing down around them at any time.  I for one am glad that my times are in His hands.  Watch out, don’t trip on that rug at the top of the stairs, the life you save may be your own!

 * (Read Psalms 33,34,35,37 and 62).



I Samuel 21:10                                       For Fear of Saul


I wonder why David felt he had to lie to Ahimelech and why Ahimelech was afraid, seemingly, because David was alone.  Perhaps if David had been truthful with the priest he and David might have been able to keep his presence there a secret which would then not have occasioned the massacre of the inhabitants of Nob including eighty-five priests (22:18&19).

Certainly in this chapter we are dismayed to find that our hero of so many great battles indeed has clay feet.  It seems that fear was the basis for his dissembling.  It may likewise be the cause of much failure in the Christian’s life.  “The fear of man bringeth a snare” Prov.29:25 says and it surely did in the case before us.  How many of us are afraid of what people will think of us or say to us if we were to be truthful with them?  Some are afraid to give a testimony because they may make a mistake or not find the right words.

The Bible tells us plainly that perfect love casts out fear.  So where do we start in dealing with this problem?  Obviously, if we are honest with ourselves, we know we should not be afraid of doing those things that God expects us to do, so let us begin by confessing it as sin then reckoning ourselves to be dead to it (for Christ died for all of our sins and Paul affirms in Romans 6:1 that we should therefore not continue to practice what has logically and effectively been destroyed) and alive to victory over it.  Let us take by faith that victory.  Do it again and again until the mental habit becomes as established as that which it is replacing has been.


                                             Are you afraid to speak lest you stumble?

                                                 A failure may help make us humble.

                                          The Lord knows we have far too much pride.

                                                Start there - for to that, also, we died.

 We always have to start where we are.



I Samuel 22:23                                           “Fear Not”


A study of verse two seems to yield the suggestion that the men in David’s band of guerrillas were those who also along with him had reason to seek redress.  Their distress was due to pressure of one kind or another, with some actually being embittered by their circumstances (discontented) and having among them also those who were eager to retrieve their honor perhaps or whatever else, by Saul, they like David had been bereft.  (The Hebrew here has more the sense of their being creditors rather than debtors, if I understand it correctly.)  These four hundred apparently saw in David a champion of their cause and, of course, among them were some of his own family.

David saw as his first responsibility the security of his aged parents to whom keeping up with a notorious outlaw, as he had now become, was unthinkable.  After depositing them in Moab, perhaps with relatives for his great grandmother was of this nation, and being instructed by the prophet Gad who had joined him, he headed back to the land of Judah.

Thus the peaceful poet and prospective king is launched precipitously into a vagabond existence pursued by an enemy whose ferocity and determination is seen in the horrible massacre at Nob.  How quickly life had changed for him.  One minute he was a privileged figure in the king’s court, given the king’s own daughter to be his wife and extolled by the singing women of the land as the  great deliverer.  Now all has changed.

Let us take stock.  In the midst of present difficulties, he has one who is none other than the king’s son who is the lover of his soul.  The prophet Gad came from Samuel’s school to guide him  in the way and lo, here comes Abiathar the priest. More are joining his band so it could be worse and before it’s over it will be, but we know what lies ahead for him, don’t we and so we can say, “cheer up, David, the best is yet to come!”

Here sing –Jesus Lover of My Soul by Charles Wesley.      



I Samuel 23:16                       David’s Hand Strengthened in God


In spite of the disloyalty to David of the Keilahites it is obvious that Jehovah was intent on delivering them from the harassment of the Philistines.  David could have easily dismissed their plight as being deserved for he probably suspected their affinity for Saul’s cause, at it later proved.  Yet God had brought David back to Judah perhaps for the very purpose of aiding these ungrateful citizens over which David would one day be king and even now felt a responsibility to assist in their distress.

This is a great chapter for those believers who have need of guidance for we see in the quick and clear responses to David’s plea the indication that our Father would often have us know His certain will.  The commentator Adam Clarke believes that Abiather arrived in David’s camp as the story begins rather than later as it would seem from verse six and the reason is that he brought with him the ephod which all authorities agree involved the Urim and Thummim.  If it were not present when David first asked for guidance in verses two and four we would wonder how God would have conveyed such specific answers.  We see the ephod being utilized later in verses nine through twelve and while we do not know exactly how it worked, it is evident both here and on other occasions that very specific guidance was obtained through its consultation.

When David thus depended wholly on the LORD, how wonderfully He took care of him.  He won the victory at Keilah, he captured lots of cattle which must have helped him feed his 600 men, he was delivered several times out of Saul’s hands, he had a great meeting with his friend Jonathan which “strengthened his hand in God” and he was providentially on the other side of the Rock of Division from Saul’s army when the news of the threat from the Philistines recalled the army to its base.

It was David who penned God’s promise “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye” (Psalm 32:8).



I Samuel 24:6                             “The Anointed of the LORD”


The honor David had for Saul in spite of all the latter did to try him is a great lesson for us.  Saul was the king of the land and until God, Who had made him so, Himself removed him, David was not about to take matters in his own hands.  His unusual magnanimity in this case provides a wonderful example.

Providentially Saul chose to rest in the very cave where David and his men were sequestered.  Of course his men thought certainly that this was the moment David was waiting for and that God had arranged for him to be avenged of his adversary.  David drew his sword, swinging it skillfully toward his arch enemy but instead of his usual dead eye accuracy he missed, to the surprise of his men who were close enough to observe, or so they must have thought.  But no, as he later explained it was a deliberate stroke but though it fell short of regicide was regretted almost as much and the symbolism of the raised sword struck deeply into the loyal heart of the young prevenient king.

Saul was the LORD’s anointed and even riper feelings about the matter were yet to be displayed as, at David’s command the Amalekite who lifted his sword in supposed mercy, was slain (II Sam.1:16).

In loftiness of spirit, disdaining meanness and revenge, a great heart is displayed giving us a look, through the darkened mirror, at the loving kindness and tender mercies of our transcendent Lord  Jesus.

And are we not commanded to be like-minded?  Both Peter and Paul, in a day when bloody tyrants reigned at Rome, gave instructions to “honor the king” (I Peter 2:17 and Romans 13:7).



I Samuel 25:25                                   “Nabal is His Name”


I feel sorry for women who are married to men that don’t appreciate them and this is a good opportunity to say something about it and about those of us who do.  Just yesterday I read what Dr. Thomas Chalmers said about his wife.  He was a special pastor and college president in Scotland (1780-1847) and I have spent an hour trying to find his commendation but was unsuccessful. It made me think, however, how often I have read similar accolades and in my own experience have thought about the special women that are married to friends of mine who are pastors and  missionaries.  I praise God for all of these godly wives and include my own.

How on earth this smart attractive woman got tangled up with that good for nothing Nabal who personified the remarkable name his parents saddled him with is a question for which we all would like to know the answer.  Just yesterday a pastor shared how his daughter had the wool pulled over her eyes and within a couple of years she is a sad disillusioned divorcee.  I knew of a dear lady who lived with a Nabalistic drunken churl for many years.  He burned her clothes to keep her from leaving him.  In this case he got saved and I heard them lamentedly tell their story.  Mel Trotter stole the booties off his dead child in its casket to buy booze.  He got saved and started a Rescue Mission.  There are many sad stories out there and many dear wives have suffered untold agony at the hands of selfish sons of Belial like Nabal.  My own mother was one of them.

Abigail was just such a quality individual who had made the best of having a drunken fool for a husband and we can rejoice with her about the way things turned out by the grace of God.  It has a fairy tale ending and we can well imagine that she not only made David a good wife but helped

to console  him when he learned about the final loss of Michal.  I know, I know, he was a polygamist but we don’t hear God condemning him for it so I guess I won’t.



I Samuel 26:20                                       Voice of the Flea


Considering all that Saul had done to David we might be tempted to think that given a second opportunity to avenge himself he was foolish not to have taken it.  Even to again have stumbled upon such a chance as this could have easily been taken as providential.  Abishai, Joab’s brother, and  later to be catalogued as one of the mightiest of David’s brave men, was more than willing to take the dirty business off his hands had David but given him a slight nod.  But no, it would not end here for Saul and David’s great lament for his enemy (II Samuel 1:17- 27) showed what it really means to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.”  It is such who really bear indeed the family likeness (Matthew 5:44 & 45) and it is this dear man, who, after God’s own heart, shows us how it  is done.  I know a man in Christ who also suffered at the hands of another for many years and was enabled to return good for evil.  God’s grace is indeed sufficient.

This story should, however, makes us examine carefully how easily perhaps we jump to conclusions when seeking to determine God’s will.  I am sure I have erred many times when it only seemed by circumstances that a thing I wished very much to do was opened unto me.  Perhaps it is at such times that God tests the integrity of our desire to please Him rather than ourselves.  It might have taken Abishai some years to reach the place where he could be thankful for David’s intervention, when his heart would beat in tune with his heavenly Father like that of his great leader.

As to why David went into such a place of danger, sadly he knew through spies (v.4) that the hoped for truce that looked so promising at Engedi was not holding and, no thanks to the Ziphites,  Saul was again on the warpath against him.  It had seemingly worked once to touch a soft place in his heart (24:16) perhaps a second time might do the trick.  With sincere words of deep emotional appeal, David tried to reach him and perhaps he did.

Does one touch God’s anointed when he turns his back on his brothers and leaves a church over issues that have been never brought a tear to his eye?  Love never fails!



I Samuel 27:1                                         Nothing Better?


I believe we must conclude from this chapter that David suffered a severe lapse of trust at this  point in his career.  In his defense we need to remind ourselves that this is written in the Old Testament when believers experienced the ministry of the Holy Spirit in an altogether different fashion than we do today.  David himself said “take not thy holy spirit from me” (Ps.51:11) and we do not know what it was like when and if He did.  Perhaps David suffered from time to time a kind of depression much as Saul did only to a lesser degree.

Most of us have our spiritual ups and downs and usually it is the case that those who have really great highs are also the ones who experience deeper lows.  We do not all have the same kind of temperament and few of us can compare with the man we meet in so many of the Psalms when it comes to flights of imagination or ecstasy (Ps.29).  On the other hand how many men do you know who would use such words as David does to describe the depths of his despair (Psalm 38: 1-10)?

Certainly we cannot excuse him for the action he takes at this time.  It was sinful and wrong.  He took his eyes off the LORD and failed to trust Him especially in the light of what Saul had said to him (24:19-22 and 26:25).  Then too, his lies and deception with regard to Achish were inexcusable.  This man would never have reason to believe anything David might tell him about the glory and power and salvation of his God.

We must let this and other of David’s failures be lessons to show us the failure in our own lives and may we deal with all such by quickly confessing our sin and reckoning ourselves dead to it, yield our bodies to the LORD (Romans 6:11-13).



I Samuel 28:7                                      The Witch of Endor


There are several interesting thoughts associated with the story in today’s chapter.  How could it be that a medium would be able to actually bring Samuel back from the dead?  I think most Bible teachers are agreed that ordinarily she couldn’t but that Jehovah did it for His own purpose.  It does seem that the witch was surprised when she saw Samuel and the sight of him caused her to see through Saul’s disguise (v.12).   She had good reason to be upset seeing that Saul had supposedly done a sweep ridding the land of all such as she.  Now, here is the king of the land in a super sting operation and she is caught in the crunch, or so she feared.  Saul, admitting his hypocrisy, hastens to assure her not to be afraid, that he is really seeking a post-mortem interview with the old prophet.

And lo, here he is or is it a demon in disguise as, surprisingly, many dependable commentators maintain?  You will have to make up your own mind after carefully studying the text.  Personally, I would have a problem with the integrity of the Scriptures in drawing such a conclusion because I would expect the Holy Spirit to let us know if it was a demon speaking.  Instead, it clearly says several times that it was Samuel (vs.14-20) and furthermore it is hard to feature a demon preaching the truth to Saul.

I have to say that in studying verse 19 I have had to rethink a position formerly held, that the statement,  “tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me,” is a further indication of Saul’s salvation.  The word “tomorrow” must be evaluated for the events recorded in the remainder of this chapter will not allow it to be taken literally since all indications are that it would be several days before Saul’s death.  Even so, there may be significance to the statement that Saul and his sons would be with him (in Abraham’s bosom).  Certainly that would be true of Jonathan.  (The Septuagint version simply says that Saul and his sons would fall.)

What do you think?        



I Samuel 29 & 30                                Spoiling the Spoilers



This is a first!  We are doing two chapters together.  Chapter 29 is very short, only eleven verses but it is not so much its length as it is its content that inspires such innovation.  We have already dealt with the sinful actions of David which only continue here in disgraceful attitudes and the details recorded really need those of the next chapter to complete the narrative of his misadventures.  What a mess he has made for himself and he continues his deception until God in His grace gets him off the hook.

It is an awful thing to have to admit that the Philistine princes had more discernment than David but so it goes (Luke 16:8).

Chapter 30 has to be about the grace of God.  Since David is such a great example of so many Bible truths, I suppose the story before us is necessary in order that He may exemplify the fact that though we often are unfaithful, God cannot deny Himself (II Tim.2:13).  In an other case He repented his failures but only after being faced with his sin by Nathan the prophet.

The amazing fact here is the way Jehovah so specifically answered David’s prayer when his wives and those of all his men, having been captured by the Amalekites, were all preserved and this in spite of the fact that when he had previously invaded them (27:9) he had annihilated everyone to keep word of his escapades from getting back to the Philistine king, Achish.  We must remember, however, how seemingly compulsive was God’s antagonism toward these particular enemies (Exodus 17:14-16; Num.24:20; Deut.25:17-19; I Sam.15: 2&3, 33).

David, as God had said, “recovered all”and in his thankfulness he shared the spoil not only with the two hundred men who had tarried “by the stuff” but with all the many people who had been his helpers during these days of flight and forage.

We must not forget our friends who have helped us on our way and what they need the most is our prayers.  Especially pastors of those places where we are “wont to haunt.”



I Samuel 31:1                                  “Slain in Mount Gilboa”


Back in 24:2 Saul had 3,000 “chosen men out of all Israel” and in 28:4 it is said that “he gathered all Israel together” as he prepared to go up against the amassed forces of the Philistines in Aphek.  We would assume, in spite of this, that Saul’s army was greatly outnumbered which wouldn’t matter if it weren’t  for the fact that the somber voice from the grave had reiterated the woeful warning that he could not depend on any help from Jehovah.  He had departed from Saul who was now completely on his own (28:16) and to make it worse Jehovah was now on the other side.  Israel couldn’t win and the Philistines couldn’t lose and it wouldn’t be long before Saul and three of his sons would be in Sheol according to Samuel (v.19).   That is greater odds than the lottery! 

If Saul hadn’t been foolishly pursuing a dead dog, a partridge and a flea he might have had 600 of the “finest kind” at his side which would have helped a lot and, of course, if he had only been obedient in the matter of the Amelekites then Jehovah would probably have been on his side too and one or two of his fighting men could have chased a thousand soldiers of the opposing force.  Unfortunately this time around the Philistines didn’t need a Goliath and Israel didn’t have a David.  What a sad note on which to end this book!

In the first chapter of II Samuel we will discuss the question of how Saul died but the important point is clearly made in I Chron.10:14 that the LORD “slew him” and that his death was directly occasioned by two great transgressions, his failure to obey the word of God and his enquiring counsel of a familiar spirit.

We are warned that we may be misled by false prophets and the spirit of antichrist if we are not careful to obey the word, (I Tim.4:1; I Jn.4:1; and II Jn.7).  Neo-evangelicalism is leading believers away from the word and the ecumenical spirit between evangelicals and Roman Catholics and Pentecostalists is growing stronger every day.  How this is weakening the church we may soon sadly discover.  Let us pray for discernment and obey the word on the clear teaching of separation (Rom.16:17-19, and many others).