Summary of A Land and a Kingdom

2 Samuel.
Samuel Books.
Ruth.
Judges.
Joshua.
First Samuel.
Second Samuel.
2 Kings.
1 Kings.

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2 Samuel

SECOND SAMUEL.

In the Hebrew there was no break in the book. Samuel was one book. David had been patient and waited for the Lord’s timing. This was written by the prophets Nathan and Gad. Nathan spoke to King David on a number of occasions. The central message is “Be sure that your sins will find you out.” It also teaches patience. Patience is a virtue for which special grace is given. “I will wait upon the Lord.” God is always ready to forgive but sin and punishment go together. David is a man after God’s heart but he still had to struggle to hold onto God. His life is like an ordinary life. He has a relationship with God but stumbles from time to time. He never gives up but despite the stumbles he presses on to the goal of knowing God better. After First Samuel life goes on. One chapter has closed but another opens. The struggle with Saul has closed with Saul’s death. This happened only 24 hours after visiting the witch of Endor. A new situation opens up for David as King of Israel. What has happened in the past shapes a man’s life today. What a man does today shapes his future. Today is the day of salvation. Ch 2 v 1. “What shall I do now?” A man cannot dwell on the past experiences, particularly if they have been a disappointment. Learn from it and move on into the next situation. David did not rejoice in the death of his enemy. He paid respect to Saul as well as to Jonathan. How does a man respond to the difficulties in life? He can respond in the area of his will or his emotions. If he relies on his emotions, he will be driven by them. If a man does not feel like praying, he will not pray. If, however, he relies on his will, he will pray even when he does not feel like it.

Life had changed for David. He was no longer a shepherd boy. He was a King. Some people will still have regarded him as a shepherd boy. Jesus had the same problem. “Isn’t he the son of Joseph?” Some will say to a believer: “Who is he to tell us what to do? He is not an ordained man. He does not have a degree.” Life has changed. People try to mould other people into their image. God wants to mould a man into the image of His Son. Other people enter a man’s life and bring new situations. There may be a new member of the family, new neighbours or new colleagues at work. They bring new pressures to bear. The enemy may be at work through them. Perhaps one is a Doeg, the Edomite.

CHAPTER 1.
v 9. Euthanasia. When is it right to take a life? Saul seemed to have no future. The Amalekite did not think that it was serious to finish Saul off. Perhaps he had an eye to collecting some loot. But God might have intervened to save him. Was this providence or did Saul and the Amalekite take over the reigns from God? David was genuinely distressed at the news of the death of his enemy Saul. Is a man distressed when his enemies fall or does he rejoice and say: “It serves them right?” While man was His enemy, Christ died for him. Jesus had compassion for man while he was in darkness and perhaps taking His name in vain. Was David correct to kill the Amalekite? Where does that leave the doctor who takes life, even if he is sincere in his attempt to ease the pain of the patient? “Your own mouth has testified against you.” A man condemns himself by his refusal to acknowledge the need of a saviour. There is a physical picture of the enemy taking ground. The enemy is encroaching on the land. A man should be distraught at the damage being inflicted on his children, the babies who are denied a birth and the young people being destroyed by drugs. David had compassion for Saul. Did he recognise that the battle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual powers and principalities? Then David can see the enemy at work and feel compassion for Saul. There were glimpses of the man Saul and then the enemy seems to take over and drive him to destroy David. Death is so serious it is not right to dredge up the past sins.
v 20. David did not want the enemy to hear about Saul’s death so that they might gloat. Obadiah v 12.
v 21. The land mourns and withers. Isaiah ch 23.

Grief is demonstrated in this chapter. v 5. David cannot really accept it – he is in denial. v 12. David shows grief. v 14. There is anger. v 26. Depression.

CHAPTER 2.
When a man needs advice from the Lord as to his future, keep it simple saint. K I S S. David just asked the Lord a couple of questions. There was no fancy language. David was crowned King of Judah at Hebron. He that will rule with meekness will not rise with violence. David had to win the hearts of the whole people. David was clearly the Lord’s anointed. It might have been expected that all Israel would accept him. But no! There is a resistance in the heart of man to the counsel of God. Few readily accept the invitation from the Lord. Rebellious man appointed his own king against David, the Lord’s anointed.

v 6. David remembered the promise of the Lord and repeated it. A man should want to behave as the Lord would behave in the same situation, so that he is truly His ambassador. “I will honour those who honour me.” 1 Sam ch 2 v 30. David made an approach to those who supported his adversary.
v 8. There was division between the House of Israel and the House of Judah. A kingdom divided will fall. The result was fighting.
v 12. Death followed. All are losers when there is a dispute. There seemed to be no point to the swordplay. Twelve young men died needlessly. Was there a spirit of division at work? There may be in nations as well as in families and in businesses. There was an attempt to settle it by the ways of the World – single combat – a mock dual. The play became serious and had serious consequences. If a man is careless, he can be drawn into situations with bad results, which he did not contemplate at the outset. Never underestimate the enemy. Satan works wiles. However it began, it ended in blood. Pride and enmity ended in death. The wages of sin is death. Blessed are the peacemakers. Real peace is hard to make. Joab’s brother pursued Abner and died as a result. Asahel was single minded in his pursuit of the enemy. Was it right to tackle him on his own? Did he mean to kill Asahel? Force never solves any problem in the long term. It leaves a legacy of bitterness.
v 24. Abner and Joab declared a truce. During a time of civil war everyone loses. Was Joab influenced by David’s attitude? A man has an influence on others and should set an example to younger people.

CHAPTER 3. Honest motives. God works out His purpose – despite men.

v 1. Feuds tend to last a long time. One act of aggression leads to another and so on.
v 2. David had several wives. This was cultural and not Biblical. It is the same in many African countries, where the Church has to teach the Biblical principle of one wife only. It takes time to work it through a whole generation.
v 8. Abner responded in a hostile way to criticism. He did not have the grace to admit that he was wrong or the patience to walk away from the criticism. His response suggests that he is guilty. His response is to get even and make life difficult for his enemy. Abner frightened Ishbosheth. The harem of a king passed to his heir, which makes Abner’s action tantamount to a claim to the throne.
v 10. Dan to Beer-sheba – from one end of the country to another. Abner invoked the Bible and the Word of God in his defence. He took the name of the Lord in vain. He was not so concerned for the Word of God earlier when he opposed David. Now it suited his purposes to change his stance. He used David to hurt Ishbotheth.
v 13. Was it right for David to bargain for his wife? Is a man guilty of bargaining instead of doing the right thing? God was giving David the Kingdom as He had promised and David was busy adding to the promise by seeking the return of his wife. David may have thought that if he were back with Michal, the daughter of Saul, it would endear him to the followers of Saul. Was he thinking of the good of Michal or just his own benefit? Deut ch 24 v 4. A man is not to take back a wife after she has married another man. David broke the moral law for a possible advantage in the eyes of other men. Does a man fear God or men? Appointing an elder for fear of men is breaking the law of God. Does a man mix faith and selfish pursuits together? Who is sorry for Paltiel? He was caught up in the sin. People get caught up in the sin of others.
v 21. Was Abner honest in his dealings with David? Did he really seek David’s good? Was David gullible?
v 22. Joab still harboured a grudge against Abner for the events of chapter 2. He let his grudge colour his judgement and his loyalty to his king. He accused Abner of deceit. Perhaps he was right. He would not accept David’s decision. Getting even with Abner was uppermost in his mind. Where was grace and mercy? Joab murdered Abner for the death of Joab’s brother Asahel. David was not involved in the murder. He protested his innocence. Did David suspect that Joab would seek to get even with Abner?
v 29. David pronounced a curse on Joab and his family. A man should be careful that he never places a curse on another man. Everything David did pleased the people. Even so David did not pass judgement on Joab. Should he not have sentenced him to death? Despite a public declaration of his innocence, the taint of murder remained with David all his life. God was working out His purposes, despite all the intrigue and dishonesty of the various parties.

What are a man’s motives when he does good? Is it to receive the praise of men? When a man modifies a fee, is it to get more business or because he wants to help the client? £9.99. Is this honest? If a man befriends someone, is it to take him away from someone else or is it out of genuine concern for that person? When the manager picks the team, is it for the good of the team or because he hopes to get a favour from the one selected?

CHAPTER 4.
Wrong thinking. The two bandits thought that David must think the same way as they did. They thought that David would be pleased about the death of Ishbotheth. They could not have been more wrong. A man tends to think that others think the same way as they do. Unsaved man has a different set of values. It is unwise to assume that others think the same way. Ask people: “What do you think? How do you see the situation? I see it this way.” That may save a war. In the Middle East there are two different sets of value – Jew and Arab – each based on different Scriptures – the Bible and the Koran. What were their motives? Did they hope for a reward? With David growing in popularity, their days were numbered. Were they trying to work themselves into favour with David? Did they not know the reputation of David? Did David go too far in his treatment of the two bandits? Genesis ch 9 v 6.

CHAPTER 5.
God brought the leaders to David. He did not have to go and force them into submission. David was 30 years old when he began to reign. Ezekiel and Jesus were also 30 when they started their public ministries. They were neither too young to be immature nor too old to be weak. His reign started at Hebron and then he went to Jerusalem.

v 6. The Jebusites mocked David. “The blind and lame will defeat you.”
v 12. David realised that the reason why God had made David King was to bless His people Israel. David was to be the instrument of blessing to others – the people of Israel. Believers are appointed children of God in order to be a blessing to others. Even so David took more concubines and had more children. Do believers receive blessings from the Lord and continue to act in the ways of the World?
v 19. The enemy was back. He does not give a man a lot of peace. David enquired of the Lord. “Shall I go out to battle or shall I stay at home?” He received a clear answer. The enemy came back again. David asked the Lord again. He did not presume that the previous answer applied this time also. He received an answer but this time his tactics were to be different. The battle is the Lord’s. A man’s strategy need not be the same each time. God is all-wise. Consult Him.

CHAPTER 6.
There were rules for carrying the Ark. Num ch 4 v 15. Priests were to carry it. Then it would not be in danger of falling, as it was when carried by a cart and animals. God has rules for a purpose. When His purpose is not obvious to a man, the man ought still to obey them, since God is all-wise. If a man breaks the rules, he dies. The wages of sin is death. David did not keep the rules. What are the rules for a man, which lead to spiritual death when broken? “Do not neglect to meet together.” A single believer will inevitably die spiritually sooner or later. Uzzah died.

v 5. All kinds of musical instruments. Nothing about just an organ since the days of the Church.
v 10. It seemed too difficult for David and he gave up. Sometimes it seems too difficult for a man and he gives up. The only answer is to get back to the Lord, ask for forgiveness and start serving and obeying Him again.
v 12. Obededom got the blessing for having the presence of the Lord at his house and David became jealous. Make others jealous of God’s blessing. Obedience brings blessings.
v 14. David danced before the Lord.
v 16. Michal was embarrassed by David’s actions. A child of God is sometimes embarrassed by the actions of other believers? But her embarrassment was due to bitterness. Deut ch 24 v 4. She still resented David for taking her from her husband Paltiel. Was she right to resent David? David had sinned and she suffered. Both were wrong. David had other wives. Michal was alone and without children. That was a disgrace in Israel. There was no joy for Michal. The result was a family row and an argument. “I am better than your father.” Should David perhaps have said: “This is how I see it.” It would have left room for a discussion of the way forward. A man cannot always agree with everyone but the Scripture tells a man to live at peace with others when at all possible. Rom ch 12 v 18.

CHAPTER 7.
David was concerned for the reputation of the Lord. David lived in a palace, while God lived in a tent. David wanted to do something about it. God’s church is broken down. Haggai ch 1 v 4. Nathan agreed with David and told him to go ahead. God spoke to Nathan and told Nathan that he was wrong – that was not what God wanted. Does a man advise others without consulting God? He dare not do that. God was quite content to live in a tent. Assumptions are made sometimes that God wants to do certain things, without even consulting Him?

God may speak to a man through another man. God spoke to David through Nathan the prophet. God made a covenant with David. A covenant is made between a superior and an inferior. God was the superior and David the inferior. The covenant was both conditional and unconditional. It was to do with the reign of Christ as King of David. It was conditional in the sense that disobedience would result in punishment. It was unconditional in the sense that, even if there were disobedience, the covenant would not be abolished. God would never break the covenant, even if David and his successors broke it. A man has the opportunity to break the new covenant but God will never cast him off. Jesus was born at Bethlehem – the birthplace of David.

There are 4 elements in the covenant. 1. The promise of a dynasty. 2. The promise of a kingdom to rule over, including land and people. 3. The promise of regal authority. 4. The promise that the house of Israel would last forever. Christ was the goal of this covenant. Luke ch 1 v 31-34. v 13 and v 16 is the promise for ever.

v 12. Solomon was a strong man and the Kingdom of Israel was at its zenith during his reign. Solomon was to build the Lord a temple and not David because David had spilled much blood. 1 Chron ch 22 v 7-11 explains. David was a man of war. David drew up the plans but Solomon built it. 1 Chron ch 28 v 11.
v 18. David’s response. He sat down with the Lord. “Who am I that you have done this? You know me inside out. God, you did it all.” It is all grace. David prayed the declaration by God into being” If that is what you want, then that is what I want.” So let it be. David yielded to the will of God. He could have disagreed with God and refused to go along with His plans.
v 25. David accepted God’s will for him.
v 27. David prayed in boldness. Accept what God has given, even if He is taking it away from others. That is His will. God promised it. David accepted it. It was a difficult thing for Nathan to tell David. Samuel had a difficult message to tell Eli.

CHAPTER 8.
v 1. David defeated his long-time enemies the Philistines. A man may have to overcome sins, which have been in his life for a long time.
v 14. God was with David as he built up the Kingdom. It is a physical picture to teach the spiritual truth that God seeks to build up the Kingdom of God – the rule of God in the hearts of men. David administered justice amongst warring people.

CHAPTER 9. David set his mind to show kindness to Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan. He was crippled in both feet and much in need of kindness. Jesus shows kindness to those in need. Mat ch 9 v 12. The sick need the doctor Jesus.

CHAPTER 10. David sent ambassadors to his neighbours. v 4. Hanus inflicted shame on David’s ambassadors by shaving off half of their beards and cutting their clothes at the hip. Believers are ambassadors for Christ. 2 Cor ch 5 v 20. The enemy delights on inflicting shame on them to discredit their Lord. The enemies of David joined forces against David. David used all his experience to defeat his enemies. For each believer there is a spiritual battle. Demonic spirits, which fight each other, join forces to attack a believer. The believer has to fight with the Word of God to put his enemies to flight.

CHAPTER 11. This is a sorry story of the man David, who is described as a man after God’s heart. David falls to temptation and commits adultery with Bathsheba and ends up killing Uriah the Hittite. David already had wives and a considerable harem. He was fifty years old at the time. Therefore to take the wife of a one of his best soldiers was all the more inexcusable. There are not degrees of adultery. Sin is sin. One mistake leads to another. One sin leads to another. David should have been away at the war leading his troops but he stayed behind. An idle mind often leads a man to waste time and leads him into trouble. Idleness gives great advantage to the tempter. How often do children with nothing to do get into trouble? David had a wandering eye. Bathsheba made sure that it wandered in her direction. What was she thinking about, bathing on the roof in full view of the King and maybe others? It is not a sin to be tempted but it is a sin to yield to the temptation. If believers let the Devil have an open door, they can expect trouble. How many say: “I never thought that it could happen to me.” It may be boring to play safe but it helps believers to keep safe. There is a real warning in this story.

In the incident with Bathsheba David broke almost all Ten Commandments in one day. He coveted another man’s life. He lied. He committed adultery. To cover the original sin of adultery David tried to get Uriah the Hittite to break his principles. The Hittites were the military power in Canaan when the Children of Israel entered Canaan. Uriah came from a fine military tradition. David wanted Uriah to have intercourse with his wife. That was forbidden during a time of war. Then the child might appear to be Uriah’s. He made Uriah drunk in order to manipulate him. Is it worse to rob a man of his mind than his money? If this plot had worked, would Uriah have lived anyway? David could have been open to blackmail from Bathsheba or Uriah, if Uriah had found out. David arranged for Uriah’s death and involved Joab in his crime. David asked Joab to arrange for Uriah to be sent to the most dangerous part of the battlefield. David’s hope that Uriah would be killed was fulfilled. Others died as a result. There would probably have been something of a reward for Joab. Sin loves a companion. David invited Joab to be his companion. This was David – a man after God’s heart?

CHAPTER 12. God sent Nathan the prophet to challenge David to repent of his sin. Nathan told him a simple story of a greedy king and concluded in v 7 “You are that man.” David understood the message and said in v 13: “I have sinned against God.” It was brave of Nathan to speak forth the message of God to the King. It could have cost Nathan his life. Regret is when a man is sorry for himself about the consequences of his sin. It focuses on self. Remorse is when a man is sorry for another for the consequences of his sin. It focuses on the other man. Repentance is when a man is sorry to God for the consequences of his sin. It focuses on God. Despite the repentance the child died. There are always consequences for sin.
v 23. David says that he will go to the child in eternity but the child will not come to him during David’s time on Earth. This suggests that an unborn child will be with God in eternity.

CHAPTER 13. Amnon was the oldest son and would have been king. He had everything. James asks why a man fights. “You want and do not have and so you take.” Amnon turned to his crafty friend. It is important to seek advice from someone who is trustworthy. Temptation is often followed by bad advice. Today the advice is: “If it feels good, do it.“ Nike. The advice was to play a game and pretend. Sin always promises more than it can deliver. His father had not disciplined his children. The Government is supposed to protect the vulnerable members of society. David seemed blind to the deception. What was he thinking about? It is not healthy to be alone in a house with a person of the opposite sex. Even if nothing happens, the enemy can ask questions, which give a false impression. There is no point in being angry after the event. As with abortions, it is better to be angry before it happens. v 20. Absolom had been nursing and rehearsing for two years, waiting for his opportunity for revenge. Here was a dysfunctional royal family. The death of his son. The rape of his daughter and the murder of his first born son. David did not have a good record. Absolom fled out of guilt. When a man sins he runs from God. Sin is simply not worth it. There is nothing good to be said for it. It brings nothing but misery in the long run. John ch 10 v 10. Satan is at work destroying the family. There is a saying that how a man conducts his private life is his own business. History records that it very soon becomes the business of others. It may be years later but eventually the individual loses credibility. A man’s sins will find him out. The enemy is aware of the sins and delights to expose them, robbing the individual of public respect.

CHAPTER 14. Trials and difficulties may be brought from God to forge character. Temptation and bad advice may come from the enemy to trip a man up. This chapter is a parable about the grace of God. God uses Joab as His servant to bring the sinner Absolom into a relationship again with the King – his father. If God’s grace is excluded there will be nothing left worthwhile in this World. David like Jesus had a compassionate heart and longed to help. The woman begged for help. David got the point of Nathan’s story. It was an illustration to put David on the spot. v 14. God devises many ways to bring the sinner to Himself. He clothed Adam and put a mark on Cain. Why bring Absolom back without seeing the King? God calls the sinner but there is a mystery in this. The sinner has to do something to want an audience with the King – God. It is the grace of God, which gives the faith to believe. On one side of the door to Heaven are the words – “Enter all who may.” On the other side of the door are the words – “I knew you before the foundation of the World.” Absolom asked, knocked and sought to the extent of doing anything to gain Joab’s attention – like setting fire to his field. Sadly Absolom had not repented. It was his pride in his hair, which eventually killed him when he was caught in the tree. This is a picture of the length God goes to in order to bring back one sinner. The evangelist may call to the sinner. The pastor may minister to the sinner. The teacher may teach the sinner. All are used to bring the sinner into a relationship with God.

CHAPTER 15. Satan used Absolom to steal the hearts of the people away from the King. v 5. How quickly they forgot all that David had done for the people, rescuing them from the enemy. Many people are used by Satan to devise schemes to steal people away from Jesus. How quickly the nation forgets what Jesus has done for them as individuals and as a nation. Absolom set out to become the champion of the people promising to give them what they want. Politicians prepare their policies on the basis of what the people want to hear, rather than what is right for the nation. Television gives the people what they want to see, so that the advertisers will target them with adverts. Absolom sought to establish a base at Hebron, but it was only a steppingstone towards his main objective – Jerusalem.
v 10. The Jebusite spirit was at work. An enemy had done this thing. Gen ch 6 v 4. The men of renown were popular with the people. A man should never operate outside of his calling and anointing. Absolom assumed the role of king and priest offering sacrifices. He built up a following. Why did people follow him? Were they looking for favours and position? Why do people join cults? Are they looking for power over others?
v 11. Most of the people did not know what was going on in the inner circle. They were used as a cover for the conspiracy. Each man is responsible for his own actions and will answer on the day of judgement.

David did not want the people to suffer. If he had fought to defend the city many lives would have been lost. Jerusalem has been under civil strife to the present day. It was a time to retreat and regroup. The people watched as David left Jerusalem in humility. By his action he was asking the people – choose this day whom you will serve. It was not a situation of his choosing or to his liking. In this World sometimes things happen unexpectedly. A man may wonder why is it happening and what God is doing. Ahithophel had been a trusted adviser of David. What causes a man to shift his allegiance to another? David had been betrayed by friends. Ahithophel, like Judas, eventually committed suicide. Satan used each of them for his purposes and then destroyed them. The picture of David leaving is like the scene as Jesus in humility left the city of Jerusalem bruised and seemingly defeated. He also challenged the people by His presence – Whom will you serve? It was at the same place 1,000 years later.
v 19. Ittai was a mercenary who had joined the service of David during his days in Gath. His intention to remain with David is like Ruth ch 1 v 16. It is a challenge to the believer to follow Jesus even when the going gets difficult. Ittai chose the narrow path. The test of friendship is to be loyal in times of adversity.
v 25. David asked his men to take the Word of God – the ark of the covenant – back to the city. It was now up to God as to whether or not He would save the city. The believer must do what God calls him to do but ultimately the battle is the Lord’s
v 32. David asked Hushai to go back into the world of Absolom in Jerusalem to watch what was happening and to report. The believer is called to be in the World but not part of it and to watch and pray. This is authority to frustrate the work of the enemy. There is no need to stand back and allow the enemy to carry out his plans unopposed.

Sometimes the men of God seem to have teemed up with the enemy and support a non-biblical position. It has to be acknowledged that it was David’s polygamy, which brought about this situation. v 16. David left ten of his young wives behind. How many wives did he have altogether? It is the World’s lust for power and the following of false gods, which brought about the need for Jesus to lay down His life. David still showed concern and compassion for Absolom. v 33. “Do good to your enemies.”

CHAPTERS 16-18.

David had been betrayed by his son and his closest friend. Jesus had nowhere to lay His head. The grandson of Saul wanted David’s kingdom. His men were exhausted in the desert. The man who slew Goliath and saved the nation was now destitute. Who could have imagined that it would turn out like this? Shimei was controlled by the Jebusite spirit in attacking David when he was already down and attempting to finish him off. He accused and criticised David when he could hardly answer back. “Give up. It is not worth it.” These are Satan’s words. It was the last straw to break the camel’s back. Being a servant of God does not lead to an easy life. Quite the reverse. David paid heavily for his sins. Hushai David’s man in counter intelligence reported back to David. Find out what is happening in the enemy camp and attack their weakness. Absolom fulfilled the prophecy concerning David’s wives being seduced in daylight before the people. When Ahithothel betrayed the Lord’s anointed he gave bad advice and then depression overwhelmed him. He committed suicide like Judas. David was heartbroken over his son despite all his rebellion against him. At the end of the day all that mattered to David was this – is my son safe? A Church can have a great building and wonderful programmes but are there people being saved?

CHAPTER 19. David was grief stricken about Absolom. Perhaps Joab was insensitive but it had to be said. The people needed leadership, while David was lamenting the situation. Joab realised that the moment would be lost unless David grasped the situation. “Awake Deborah.” There are times when it is essential to be real and realise what needs to be done to put matters right. Firm leadership is necessary and the leader does not have time to mourn his personal circumstances. When circumstances have overwhelmed a man and it all appears to be going wrong, it is a good time to wake up and deal positively with the situation. Individuals came to meet with David. He dealt with their different needs. David showed compassion, concern and understanding for each one. v 16-24. Shimei repented and the king accepted it. Forgiveness is available to all, if they want it.
Joab brought the rebel to justice but was seeking emotional revenge. Sheba had stirred up the enemies of David. Satan delights to stir up the enemies of a believer and bring them against him. David had done so much for Mephibosheth and he responded with trust, devotion and abandonment to the king. The challenge is this: How will a man meet the King- King Jesus? He may come at a time when a man thinks He will not come.

CHAPTER 20. Sheba was a troublemaker. Joab had been replaced because he had killed Absolom. Joab resented the discipline of being replaced and killed his successor. Politicians are often inclined to stab others in the back because of jealousy. David is seen as one who prefers to deal with outside forces rather than internal conflicts.

CHAPTER 21.
David faced three major problems in his latter years. Famine – warfare – plague.
There was a major problem. Famine. When blood is spilled there is a curse on the land. Genesis ch 4 v 11. What did David do? He sought the Lord. What is the cause of the problem? Ask the Lord a simple question. Jesus speaks plainly to a man. Should a man not speak plainly to Him? God told David the cause. There was a curse from earlier times, because of what Saul had done. Saul had broken a covenant. In Joshua ch 9 the Gibeonites had asked for protection from Joshua. They had deceived Joshua. That did not matter. What mattered was that Joshua had sworn an oath to protect these people and he did not dare go back on his word. Recompense is part of the Gospel. David realised that the famine would continue until he put things right. Sometimes there is a legacy of ill will in a family or in a town. Something must be done before things will be put right and the Holy Spirit is free to work in that place. Time does not wear out the guilt of a man. A curse is lifted by a word of forgiveness. They did not want money or revenge but justice. They were very fair – fairer than the Hebrews. David was prepared to do anything to put matters right. It was so important. Is a man prepared to do anything to get back to God? David promised seven lives to make matters right. Was it fair that seven should die? Was it fair that Jesus should die? There is a price to pay for sin. Often the sin of one man affects others. They were hanged as a sacrifice. Those who are hanged on a tree are cursed. Deut ch 21 v 23. Justice demands a penalty. David had given an oath to Jonathan and could not solve one problem by creating another. After the matter was put right, the blessings began to flow again.

God is slow to anger. The punishment in the nation or town may be due to sin a long time ago. “The sins of the father are visited to the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”

Rizpah shamed David into doing the right thing by Saul and Jonathan. David as King had not done the proper thing by Saul and Jonathan. Things have to be done right.

v 15. The enemy is never far away. The Palestinians have always hated Israel. David stood his ground and did not flee. His physical strength had gone in view of his age but though weak he was prepared to take them on. God honoured his intentions and provided another to fight the giant. v 16. David was a hero when he killed Goliath. Now he did not have the faith he once had. Faith is for each situation. Was he too weak spiritually or physically? Gath is still in existence and still a source of hatred towards Israel. There is a spiritual principality lingering in Gath. The Hebrews never fulfilled the plan of God to rid the whole land of its former people and their friendly demons.

CHAPTER 22. This Psalm of David is repeated in Psalm 18. The picture David presents is of God as a rock. Rocks are places where people can hide and as such they are a refuge. They also provide stability and security. The wise man built his house on a rock for stability. Situations become unstable where the Word of God is not central to the people. A man needs a safe place to live. A baby needs the womb of the mother to be a safe place, where there is no threat of abortion. A fellowship should be a safe place where there is no criticism – only grace and encouragement. David had enemies. They were real enemies. Sometimes only God can help a man, when his friends are unable to do so. v 5. David had times of great difficulty. The light of God helps a man to understand what is happening to him in the spiritual realm.
v 47-50. David acknowledges that all his successes were of God’s doing. However as God has been good to His children so He is terrible to those who oppose Him. v 8. A man ought to respect the wrath of God and make sure that he is not under that wrath.

CHAPTER 23. David prepared to die well and put everything in order. A man can only speak from his own experience. David’s mighty men worked until they were ready to drop. They fought the physical enemy. This teaches that believers ought to be equally committed to fight the spiritual enemies of mankind. Others came and picked up the booty. People benefit by way of blessing when the spiritual enemies are defeated. The men were devoted to the King and risked their lives for him. This encouraged the people to worship the Lord. The genius of leadership is to bring the very best out of the followers.
v 8 speaks of David’s mighty men.
1. Killed 800 people. It was the power of God. It was impossible without God. You can do the unthinkable with God. Think the unthinkable.
2. He fought so hard that the sword stuck in his hand. The sword is the word of God. Hold the word of God in your hand and never let it go. Pray for the city and challenge the Church.
3. He stood when all the others had fled.

CHAPTER 24. David numbered the people. Was David concerned with quantity rather than quality? God is always after quality of life. Integrity, honesty and concern for others. What motivated David to take a census? Was it the Lord or was it Satan, under permission from God? Whose voice is a man hearing when he has a word? Was David relying more on the strength of men than the power of God? Joab, who was no great advertisement for integrity, challenged David. Sometimes others see a man’s faults when he does not see them himself. He said: “Why does the King delight in such things?” But David overruled his objection. Is a man open to criticism by others when it is for his good or is he blind to his sins? Later in v 10 David’s conscience began to trouble him. He repented. This is the aspect, which pleased the Lord. He admitted his foolishness and confessed it. Although he had repented, it was not an end to the consequences of the sin. God spoke to David through the prophet Gad. “Think this over and let me know.” That is so like God speaking to a man. God is persuasive and positive. Sometimes there are difficult decisions to be made with no easy solution to the problem. When there is a predicament there are no obvious solutions and usually someone has to suffer. v 14. It is better to fall into the hands of the Lord than into the hands of the enemy. God is known for showing mercy. Others do not have a record like that. David had repented. Although sometimes he limped David persevered to the end. Blessed are those who persevere to the end. Jesus said that. 70,000 died as a result of God’s punishment for David’s sin. Who can fathom the justice of God or His mercy? Were many of these innocent? It seems that God changed His mind. Why? Was He moved by the petitions of His people? Surely He did not make a mistake.

v 17. David owned up to his responsibility. “It was my sin. Do not punish the others.” Many people suffer for the sins and poor leadership of the leaders of the nations. What would stop the plague – the punishment? Worship turns the heart of the Lord. Man was designed to worship God. Araunah offered to give precious tools and cattle for the worship. Sacrifice is costly. It is not true sacrifice, if it does not cost anything. David was the one who had to make the sacrifice. He had to pay for the materials for the sacrifice, otherwise it was not a sacrifice by him. Tithing is a costly business. A man cannot get by on the sacrifice of others. A man’s relationship with God is a personal one. Why do some prosper in the work of the Lord and others do not seem to grow? Is it dependant on what happens in the secret places?

God will use any circumstances to bring a man to the place He wants him to be in. He has a plan for each life and will lead each man into that purpose. Jer ch 29 v 11. David faced a plague and many deaths before he bowed the knee to the Lord. Perhaps some who are wandering are being brought to the place of real repentance. Chapter 23 v 1-7 were the last words of David. He had persevered to the end. With his last words he was found praising the Lord.

Samuel Books

SAMUEL. The book in broad outline.
Samuel as Priest, Prophet and Judge. Chapters 1-7.
There was a transitional period between the Judges and the Kingdom. There is emphasis on the importance of the family in religion. Eli the priest is a tragic picture of a godless professional man doing spiritual work. God blesses those who are, like Hannah, disadvantaged. The child is in answer to prayer. There is the importance of an outside enemy – the Philistines – an instrument of judgement.

Saul as King. Chapters 8-14.
Deut ch 17 foretells the King. The people wanted a king, to be like other peoples. Ch 8 v 5. They wanted him as a status symbol and as a leader in battle. Saul was God’s choice. It was a good appointment from a human point of view. He was anointed by God. ch 10 v 1. Ch 12 v 7. God had done a great thing for the people. God delivered the people out of the hands of their enemy. Ch 14 v 48. There is an emphasis on prayer. Samuel was a great man of prayer.

David the King. 1 Sam ch 15 – 2 Sam ch 8.David was King in the sight of God before the crown passed. 1 Sam ch 16 v 13-14. David still had respect for Saul.

There is a general reference to God’s past acts for His people. God is the saviour time after time, leading up to Christ as the ultimate saviour. The Philistines were well aware of God’s hardening of the heart of Pharaoh in Egypt. 1 Sam ch 6 v 6. Moses and Samuel stood in the same spiritual succession. God’s dealings through them and David was consistent. David had obviously meditated on the Book of Deuteronomy. The enemies were constant in their harassment of Israel. Permanent rest is only in Christ. Samuel is linked to the past. The Judges were the shepherds of Israel.

The Books are also linked to the future. The whole Bible looks both forwards and backwards. The Books deal with the role of the Prophet, Priest and King. Moses was the nearest to fulfilling all three offices. Samuel develops the three offices. Samuel brought in an era of prophecy. Gad and Nathan prophesy to David. Even the King came under the authority of the Word of God. Samuel was a Levite. Levites were scattered throughout the tribes. For Eli’s sons, a godly father, holy surroundings and a job in religion were not enough to keep them from sin. Leaders take responsibility for the behaviour of the flock. Planning without prayer leads to powerless action. Wherever Samuel went he reminded the people of a righteous God who expected right behaviour. Samuel warned the people of the danger of having a king. Other nations had problems with their king.

Jerusalem. David established Jerusalem as the capital. David felt that God ought to have a worthy place for worship. God’s people are pilgrims moving on with God. The tabernacle was a better symbol than the temple. Mount Moriah was a place of mighty works for God. Isaac was as a sacrifice there by Abraham. Apart from the Philistines the time was quiet militarily. Egypt was in decline. In Asia, nations were busy securing their borders. Alliance rather than conquest was the order of the day. The Philistines were not Semites. They had come from Crete, pushed out by the Greeks. They had 5 cities – Ashdod, Gath, Ekron, Ashkelon and Gaza – a confederation of city states.

The social background and related factors.
1. The Family. The family is important in God’s dealing with man. The family tended to work together at the same job. It was largely a family society. Saul was looking for his father’s donkeys. David looked after his father’s sheep. There was a distinct tendency for a king to put his family into military posts in the kingdom. This was understandable. Family members could be trusted. Abner was Saul’s cousin. 1 Sam ch 14 v 49-50. Childlessness was held to be a disgrace. 1 Sam ch 2 v 32.
2. Agriculture. The towns were small. Agriculture was the basis of the economy. Walls were built round the towns. The ass was used for transport – the oxen for ploughing. Horses were first referred to in 2 Sam ch 15 v 1. Sheep were the mainstay of the economy. 2 Sam ch 19 v 33f. Social life was connected with an agricultural background. There were feasts at harvest time.
3. Towns. Walls were a protection against invaders. Gates were locked at night. Watchmen on the walls were important. 2 Sam ch 18 v 24f. Caves and tombs were an alternative way of being safe. 1 Sam ch 13 v 6-7. David hid in the cave of Adullah. Civil law disputes were taken to the gates of the city where an elder sat to dispense justice. 1 Sam ch 19 v 13. People came from all over to consult and get justice from the man at the gate. 2 Sam ch 15 v 1-5. There were squares with markets and people were hanged by the Philistines in the squares. People slept on the roofs of the houses on hot nights. Before the kingdom was established there was a loose confederation of tribes held together by loyalty to the Lord. The tribe was vital. Judges ch 12 tells of strife between two tribes.

Community Organisation. Before the kingdom was established there were judges appointed from tribal elders. This provided a type of continuity. Other nations had something similar. Gen ch 50 v 7. The Hebrew slaves had elders. Ex ch 3 v 16. The elders of Israel were specially respected men.
1 Sam ch 8 v 4-5. They proposed the king. Deut ch 19 v 12 provided for city elders. Hospitality was important. In ch 10 Samuel kissed the king as an act of homage. Grief seems to have been expressed openly and without any embarrassment. Walking barefoot and fasting. 1 Sam ch 25 v 1. People sang to one another with musical instruments. David played the lyre. A Psalm was used to praise God.

Hannah. She had single-mindedness and a consuming passion for a child. Many women wanted to give birth to the Messiah. Gen ch 3 v 15. She wanted a child for natural reasons and for the glory of God. She was prayerful and submissive to the will of the Lord. She poured out her soul in deep passion. Surrogate motherhood is not the answer to childlessness. Prayer is. Hannah was grateful and expressed her gratitude in the name of her son. 1 Sam ch 1 v 24. She probably prayed for him all her life. Hannah was God-centred. She knew that God was aware of the destinies of men. She saw His purpose in establishing His kingdom. Her Psalm is similar to Mary’s Magnificat – Luke ch 1 v 46-56.

Eli. 1 Sam chs 1-4. Eli was both judge and priest. He belonged to the period of the judges. Some judges were also military men. As priest he pronounced the blessing of peace on Hannah. Ch 1 v 17. Priests were also teachers. Ch 1 v 12f. Eli’s weakness was his sons. Ch 3 v 13. The sons were worthless. Their sins were grievous and they showed a total lack of reverence. God must come first. They were immoral and were scoffers. Eli’s rebuke was feeble. He actually rebuked Hannah more severely than his own sons. He should have removed them from the priesthood. Ch 2 v 29. He honoured his sons above God. By participating in the sins of his sons, he brought judgement on himself. He produced a wrong attitude on the part of the people. Ch 4 v 3f. Later he acquiesced humbly in Samuel’s rebuke 1 Sam ch 3 v 18. Eli brought Samuel up better than he did his own sons.

While there was a communal religion, Samuel stresses personal faith in God. Ch 3 v 7. Samuel grew in stature with men and with God. Samuel was regarded as a mouthpiece of God. His theology was thoroughly Biblical, and he was diligent in instructing the people. Ch 9 v 6. When Samuel said something it always came true. He was a man of prayer and a man of honour. He honoured God and was feared by the people. God honoured Samuel. 1 Sam ch 2 v 30 and 1 Sam ch 7 v 13. No one had a complaint against Samuel. Very few could ask such a question in public. Yet Samuel was a man with faults. He felt slighted when the people asked for a king. His sons did not follow his ways. He was liable to judge after the flesh.

SAUL is one of the most tragic characters of Old Testament history. He was wealthy, tall and handsome. Before he was disobedient, he was sensitive, thoughtful, humble and generous to his enemies. He had a deep feeling for his people. God gave him another heart and Saul gave glory to God in a great victory. Ch 11 v 13. In several ways Saul fell into sin and from the kingdom.
1. His offering of sacrifice. Ch 13 v 8. There is some sympathy for Saul but God had spoken and the Word of God cannot be changed, however right it may seem to man. e.g. Church leadership. A delay may be God testing man’s obedience. It was for the priest to offer the sacrifice. Saul rushed his fences and would not wait upon the Lord. Obedience is primary. Saul knew that he was guilty.
2. Saul made a rash oath, which had consequences. Ch 14. Saul made the soldiers fast when they needed strength. The only fast day was the Day of Atonement.
3. Saul failed to slay Amalek – Agag. Ch 15. War with the Amalekites had gone on from generation to generation. They were totally opposed to Israel. Saul disobeyed God. He had not interpreted God’s word correctly. The principle of the sacrificial system was to give God the best and not the second best. v 12. Saul put up a monument to himself. He blamed the people. The leader cannot blame the people. Leadership is his responsibility. He was trying to present a good picture of himself. The human heart evades responsibility for sin.
4. The replacement of Saul with David. Ch 16.
After his fall Saul’s character deteriorated. Saul should have answered the challenge of Goliath in faith. Yet he allowed a young boy to do his work. He became jealous of David, because David showed him up by behaving as the king ought to behave. Saul’s love for David turned to bitter hatred. A strong emotion can turn into the opposite e. g love to divorce. A couple who once loved deeply can hate each other intensely. Saul ended up trying to destroy David.

Saul is influenced by evil spirits on a number of occasions – he threw his spear at David. Then he began to use craft and cunning. He bribed David with his daughter, if he killed some Philistines.
1 Sam ch 18 v 11. God protected David. Saul’s sin was all the worse, since he saw that God was with David. Saul was fighting against God and he tried to get support within his family to kill David. The sinner delights in involving others in his sin. He feels less guilty. Instead of killing the Amalekites Saul killed the priests at Nob. Only the providence of the Lord saved David from Saul in the wilderness. Saul was temporarily moved when David spared his life, but not for long. His emotions were touched but not his will. David overcame the temptation to kill Saul when he was asleep. Saul became deeply suspicious of others. People think that others will behave as they would. Saul was not trustworthy and came to believe that he could not trust others. He even suspected the priests of providing weapons to David.

Saul refused to accept his rejection by God. He suffered from a delusion in this respect. In the end he even consulted a witch at Endor. Ch 28. Previously he had put all witches out of the land in obedience to God’s word in Deut ch 18. Sin is utterly irrational. Every sinner knows that he will never get away with it in the end. Even the Devil knows it, but he keeps on trying. It was quite unusual for God to allow Samuel to speak from beyond the grave. Saul’s final sin was to commit suicide. Life is a gift from God. A man has no right to take it. Saul continued to become worse. Unbelief and disobedience go together.

DAVID.
More space is given to David than to anyone else, even Moses. He is not perfect but he displays a distinct stamp of Godliness not seen in any previous king. David was to be a royal line. He was the germ of a hope in a Messiah. David was not even considered by his father Jesse as a candidate for king. So often the least likely is chosen by God to confound the wise. He had a simple trust in God. God had delivered him from wild beasts. He was prayerful and sought guidance. He had a respect for Saul as God’s anointed king. He even lamented over him, despite Saul having tried to kill him. He was a good illustration of loving his enemy. He was prepared to accept punishment for his sin with Bathsheba and was resigned to the judgement of God. David was an attractive character. Some hated him and displayed jealousy. He was highly respected by the priests. The people wept when he left Jerusalem.

David had a tender conscience. David felt deeply responsible for the death of the priests. 1 Sam ch 20 v 22. There was deep gratitude towards Abigail for keeping him from blood letting. He was open to the prophecy of Nathan and offered no excuses. He hated God’s enemies and displayed righteous anger on God’s behalf. He mourned for Absolom. 2 Sam ch 18 v 33. He had a concern for others. He was not aloof, despite being King. He reminds us of Moses in Ex ch 32 v 32 and Paul when he said: “Blot me out.” Rom ch 9 v 3. He had respect for his enemies. 2 Sam ch 3 v 1f. He was concerned for truth. Truth is a primary virtue. If man cannot depend on what someone says as true all else crumbles. David’s word was his bond.
David’s faults. At the high point of his moral life he was overtaken by fear. 1 Sam ch 26. By going to Gath he put himself into a situation of compromise. Sometimes man has to retrace his steps. He had many wives. He fell to temptation with Bathsheba when he was at a point of strength. He no longer needed to prove his ability as a military leader. Satan can attack at the points of strength. A lack of a quite time may open up the door to temptation. Fornication is bad enough but adultery is worse. This led to more serious sins – lying and murder. He involved others in the murder of Urriah.

David’s dealing with his family was not what it should have been. 2 Sam ch 13 v 7. He should have known what his son Ammon was like. He failed to act decisively as a father. He walked away from the problem. 2 Sam ch 19 v 24-30. It is always easier to keep quiet but it only lets the problem grow, as things go from bad to worse. David numbered the people, looking for quantity rather than for quality. 2 Sam ch 24. God allowed it. Even evil acts minister to the purposes of God.

David in 1 Sam ch 11 v 14 – ch 12 v 24. Gilgal was a place with a deep sense of history. It was where the people were circumcised and Joshua had his base of operations on entering the land. Joshua allocated territory there. It was a reminder of God’s deliverance from Egypt. It was fitting that a new era of Israel’s life should begin there. Sometimes it is good to go back to where it all started in the spiritual life. Samuel’s conscience was clear and was able to ask who could convict him of sin. He did not delight in the rejoicing of the people. Samuel recites the history of God’s salvation. Remember what God has done for you. The people had forgotten the Lord. Samuel pointed out that it was a sin to ask for a king. “Harken” means to hear and obey. Deut ch 18 v 18-19. Samuel delivers the same message in 1 Sam ch 12 v 14-15. Samuel asked God to confirm that what he was saying was from God and not from him. The great rejoicing turned to great fear of the Lord.

2 Sam ch 7 is a very important chapter. Many Messianic Psalms are based on it. Stephen refers to it in Acts ch 7. Hebrews ch 1 refers to it. David desired to build a temple. He felt it inappropriate that he should be in a house of cedar while God lived in a tent. The tabernacle was for a nomadic people. Now that civilisation had advanced there was a need for a more permanent dwelling place for God. But God’s people were to be missionary people – always on the move. He was not to be tied down to a building. Ultimately the temple was to be in the hearts of men. God had planted the people in the land, which was to be permanent on Earth as long as they obeyed Him.

Israel is spoken of collectively as God’s son. “Ephraim is my first born son.” Israel was offered special protection as a son. The whole destiny of Israel is summed up in Jesus. David recognised the promises and realised that God had given him a revelation of Himself. He knew that God would do it in the days, which lay ahead. David sang a song of salvation in 2 Sam ch 22. It is written by one, who knows God. Faith grows as it considers its object. It does not grow when it considers itself. Although God is changeless, He deals differently with different people. Eastern people like symbolism.

David’s qualities. He was God-centred. He wanted to build a temple for God. The faith and obedience of David. He did not kill Saul. He prayed a lot. He loved his enemies. He was honest. He was an attractive person. He had respect for God’s anointed. He showed a quest for truth. He sought God’s will and was brave in facing Goliath.

Saul by contrast, despite a good start in life and the privilege of being King, was disobedient, concerned for his own image, jealous of David, lacked trust of others, took matters into his own hands, tried to kill David, fought against David after David had been chosen by God, rushed his fences and consulted with the witches of Endor.

6 lessons from Samuel.
1. Worldliness. The people of Israel wanted a king like the other people.
2. God’s purpose. It is part of an ongoing story.
3. Messianic. Samuel and David point to the Messiah.
4. Light and darkness in the contrast between David and Saul.
5. Trusting God brings success: self-reliance leads to failure.
6. God blesses obedience and trust.

Ruth

The Book of Ruth.

The theme of the book is rest through redemption and grace. It is believed that the book was written by Samuel. It covers a period of 10 years. It is the only book in the Bible devoted entirely to a woman. Moab was on the Eastern side of the Dead Sea, about 50 miles to the East. Ch 1 v 16 is a beautiful verse. Ruth was a Gentile – a non-believer. The Moabite, shut out by law, is admitted by grace. She is a type of Gentile sinner. Boaz is a type of Christ. He is a kinsman – redeemer. Jesus is the kinsman of believers in that He left Heaven and identified with man’s human nature. Jesus is the redeemer, because He loved man so much. He was rich. He has a name above every name. Boaz is Lord of the Harvest. He takes notice of and shows kindness and favour to one outside of the family of believers.

While Judges shows the depth to which the Jewish people could sink, Ruth shows the way a non-Jew – and a woman – could rise to a place of blessing by following the Lord. It was always the intention of God to reach out to the Gentile World through the Jewish people. Ruth is an important person in this plan. This is a story without any great moralising. Whereas other books show God in His dealings with nations and rulers, this shows that He cares for individuals and no one is beyond His personal concern. God cares for those who put their trust in Him. Ch 2 v 12 is the key verse. Ruth is identified as a forebear of David. It was written after the time of David. 1 Sam does not mention David’s ancestry but Ruth is mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy. It points to the Gentiles coming into the blessings of God.

The book of Ruth is a quiet tale of ordinary life in sharp contrast to the war and strife of Judges. Many people lived such ordinary lives. Life has to go on. It is helpful to include an everyday story of country people to which people could identify. Religion was at a low ebb. Ruth makes it clear that personal faith in God can be strong even though others do not follow. God is concerned with everyday matters. He orders the circumstances of daily life. The faith of a Moabite girl and her love for her Mother in law is woven into God’s plan of salvation for mankind. King David is descended from Ruth, and from the line of David comes the Messiah. The blood of Ruth ran in the veins of Jesus. Lot’s incestuous son called Moab was the father of the Moabites. Gen ch 19 v 37. This confirms that God can rescue anyone out of a seemingly hopeless situation.

Rest. The condition of unmarried women in the East was a dangerous one. Only in the house of a husband can she find rest. Ruth had no husband. There were little prospects for her, if Boaz had not taken the initiative. It is a physical picture of the spiritual truth that a man’s position outside of Christ was hopeless, if God had not taken the initiative to send Jesus to die for the sins of men. Ruth found rest through redemption and union with her redeemer. For a man there is no hope of rest except in union with his redeemer. Ruth also had to do something. She had to make a claim in the approved manner. “Ask and you will receive.” Ruth and Boaz enter into a relationship. Life is all about relationships. The relationship with God is what really matters. Things have to be done properly. A man has to work to live – by the sweat of his brow.

CHAPTER 1. Naomi had permitted her sons to marry heathen wives. This was a sin. Psalm 32 v 4. The practice of marrying within the household of faith was well established. Abraham insisted that Isaac marry one of his own kind. Gen ch 24 v 3. Isaac wanted a wife for Jacob. Gen ch 28 v 1. Esau defied his parents by marrying outside of the family. Gen ch 28 v 6-9. Ephrath is a name for Bethlehem. Deut ch 25 v 5. The younger brother was to marry the widow of the elder brother. Naomi was too old to have other sons. v 20. Mara means bitter. Ex ch 6 v 3. God honoured Ruth’s decision to identify with the God of Naomi. As she turned her back on her old life, God opened up a purpose, which she could never have imagined. God gives the very best to those who leave the choice to Him. It is the choices a man makes, which make up his character. Who is man? He is the total of his experiences in life and his responses to them. In Hebrew the word for loyalty and love are almost the same. Love that is not loyal is not true. God’s covenant love for His people Israel means that He holds fast to them whatever the circumstances.

CHAPTER 2. The gleanings. Leviticus ch 19 v 9-10. There was a command to leave part of the crop round the edges of the field to feed the poor. This was God’s provision for the poor. Some countries have a State benefit system so that no one should go hungry. A man has a responsibility to look after the disadvantaged in society. This is not so in many developing countries. James ch 1 v 27. True religion is to look after the fatherless and widows. Boaz took an undeserved interest in Ruth. Jesus died while men were yet sinners.
v 3. By chance? A coincidence is when God wants to remain anonymous. Providence. God makes the sun to shine on the righteous and the unrighteous. v 14-16. Boaz went the second mile. God loves a generous giver. Boaz was generous. Ruth worked hard. This is a good combination – the grace of God and endeavour by man. There is no limit to God’s goodness.
v 11. Ruth established a good reputation and it was noticed. 1 Sam ch 2 v 30. “I will honour those who honour me.” In v 12 Ruth is identified as a forebear of David. It points to the Gentiles coming within the blessings of God. Paul might well have referred to it in Romans, since that is his theme of the Gospel going to the non-Jews.

CHAPTER 3. Ruth claimed her right. “Ask and you will receive.” Ruth displayed simple obedience to an unknown custom. A woman could not propose marriage but she could let her views be known by warming the feet of a man. v 11. A good reputation is worth a lot. The people all knew about it. It was a cultural and not a Biblical injunction. Boaz did what was right by the custom of his people. It may be morally right to obey a custom, if disobeying offends others. Psalm 37 v 5. Jesus told the Disciples to wait in Jerusalem. It is necessary sometimes to wait and let God carry out the next part of His master plan. Does anyone find it easy to wait?

CHAPTER 4. The city gate was the place for important business. The elders acted as witnesses.
Perez. Gen ch 38 v 12-30. When God steps in, the ordinary events of life take on extraordinary significance. The mother of Boaz was Rahab the prostitute. The child Obed was the grandfather of King David. Genesis ch 1 v 2-16. Another birth took place in Bethlehem. The next of kin had first opportunity to buy Elimelech’s land. Lev ch 25 v 25. Redemption. Was the next of kin married so that he could not marry Ruth? Deut ch 25 v 6, 7 and 9. Elimelech had a son whose inheritance would be defeated by a child born to his union with Ruth. Presumably Boaz was not married. A blessing came to Boaz for doing the right thing in the sight of God. v 13. God enabled her to conceive. Is God totally in control of creation and conception? The sex of each child is determines by God. Nothing is left to chance. After wars more male babies are born than female babies to redress the balance between male and female. Each person has to make decisions and live with the results. The romance between Ruth and Boaz is a perfect picture of the marriage between Christ and the Gentile bride.

Judges

JUDGES.

Judges covers the period between the death of Joshua and the rise of Samuel. It was a time of transition when the scattered tribes of Israel were held together by their common faith. Loyalty to God meant a strong united nation. Turning to the gods around them brought weakness and division. There is an ongoing story of the conquest of the Land. However, the people fell away from the Lord. Ch 2 v 11.

The central theme is the proneness of the believer to wander from God. The results of such spiritual falling away are listed. At the same time the grace of God towards His people in providing for their backsliding is evident. The book was probably written by Samuel. He records the repeated departures of the people from the ways of God. The period of the book covers 450 years. During that time the falling away was in relation to approximately 100 years. The other 350 years found the people hanging onto God. Even so 100 years were too many for the Lord. God viewed these occasions seriously. The behaviour of Israel is a picture of the perpetual proneness of the human heart to wander from God. The judges were the rulers who figured prominently during the period until Samuel came on the scene to lead the people. Israel was intended to be a theocracy, looking to God for guidance in every area of national life. Each judge did not necessarily rule over the whole area of Israel.

Chapter 1 v 19. Chariots of iron probably dates the book around 1050 B. C. In 1280 B. C. the Hittites and the Egyptians came to an agreement on their borders with each other, leaving Judea and Samaria relatively free from the influence of the super powers. The Philistines had sought to invade Egypt from the sea but were repelled and moved round the coast to Egypt. This is part of God’s grace, providence and sovereignty

Chapter 2 v 1. This is an appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament. For the believer the failure to drive out sin leaves Satan with a foothold in which to go to work. It takes time to eradicate all sins in the life of a believer. Failure to have an ongoing attack on sin leaves the way open for sins to get a strong grip and lead a person away from God. This applies in particular to besetting sins. The provision of judges was an act of grace by the Lord to help the people. Good leadership is also an act of grace. Good leadership will help believers to learn and work for the Lord and encourage them to worship in a regular and meaningful way.

v 2. God viewed the occasions of their sin seriously. Prosperity was due entirely to obedience to God. Adversity is due to disobedience and rebellion against the will of God and His covenant requirements. The history of Israel then and now bears that out. The record is one of a cycle – apostasy – oppression – repentance – deliverance by a judge – followed by apostasy as soon as the judge died. Strong leadership is required for believers today to encourage, challenge and rebuke in order to preserve the allegiance of the people to the Lord.

v 22. God leaves difficulties in order to test His people. 1 Pet ch 1 v 6. Welcome these difficulties as allowed by God for His purpose of developing character. If God did everything for His children, they would never grow. A wise parent has to let his children encounter difficulties or else they never grow up into responsible adults. Spoiled children lack maturity.

This chapter points the finger at the apostasy of Israel. There are cycles of leaving the Lord and repenting and returning. Each time a judge was sent, the people responded. The message is clear that Israel’s survival depends on her loyalty to God. Disloyalty always ends in disaster. God is always ready to save His people. He is committed to them.

Ch 4 v 21 is a picture of the way a believer should be thorough in dealing with evil. Kill it.

Ch 6 speaks of the efforts of the enemy to destroy all a man’s works. God may allow this to challenge the believer to fight back. The enemy is a defeated foe but only as long as the believer fights in the strength of the Lord. v 6. Satan had done a good job in destroying the crop. When God wants to do a work, He operates through a man. That man has to be available to God and not relying on his own strength. Gideon had to start with his own family situation and destroy the worship of false gods. v 25. This was a dangerous line to take. v 30. Gideon was under threat. v 36. Gideon sought a sign.

Ch 7. God reduced the numbers in order that He would get all the glory. None of the glory would go to the soldiers or Gideon.

Ch 8. v 35 shows how ungrateful the human heart is. Later in ch 9 v 5 all 70 of his sons were killed.

Ch 10. When the Israelites left the Lord and worshipped Baal, He permitted the Philistines to torment them. Without the protection of the Holy Spirit, any believer is vulnerable to the taunts of the enemy.
v 12. God has never failed to come to the help of His people when they called.

Ch 13. Samson was yet another man called by God to lead the people. He ruled for 20 years. He was far from perfect and made a lot of mistakes. He even spent a night with a prostitute. No leader is perfect. It is a wonder that God uses any leader. Gaza is still an area where the enemy holds territory. His involvement with women was his undoing. Delilah nagged Samson until he gave away his secret.

Ch 17. This story indicates the lack of power when religion is mixed with superstition. This is typical of Catholicism around the World. One of the most telling verses is in ch 17 v 6. It is repeated in ch 21 v 25. When there was no leader, the people did all that was right in their own eyes. When the absolute authority of the Word of God is abandoned, there is no absolute to hold society together. Religion is the glue, which holds a society together. The breakdown of authority has disastrous consequences when men become a law unto themselves, setting their own standards of permissiveness.

Ch 18 gives a picture of the people of God unprepared for attack. As in the Western World in the twenty first century the people have been persuaded that Satan does not exist and they have no fear of him. When the enemy has deceived the people into believing that he does not exist, he is able to enter freely and do his works of robbing, destruction and death.

Ch 19 is a story like that of Sodom. It seems that homosexuality is worse in the eyes of God than rape. When the people of God depart from His ways, they are usually worse morally than the pagan people around them.

Ch 21 v 6. There was sadness when some of the people of God fall into apostasy and sin.

Gideon. Samson and the Levite. God uses the most uncompromising people to lead the nation. Nowhere is their behaviour commended. He used them because of their faith and despite their morals. This shows that there is hope for sinful man. Moral weakness on the part of Samson robbed him of his spiritual strength.

Judges ch 21 v 25. How does a man live in a society without fixed standards and values? Society is becoming more secular and pagan. When everyone is doing what is right in his own eyes, how do believers keep their eyes on doing what is right in God’s eyes? The Western World is experiencing an enormous moral crisis. There is a flood of immorality and amorality. As a result of television programmes being imported by most countries of the World, the Western World is exporting its immorality. After Joshua died the people took their eyes off the Lord and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.

The message revolves round the faithfulness of the covenant-keeping God and the unfaithfulness of the covenant-breaking people. God kept His promise because of His love for His people by providing a series of judges to rule Israel. The Israelites had not driven out all the peoples of the land as instructed in Deut ch 7. These peoples were a snare to Israel, just as God had warned them.

The second-generation syndrome. The second generation has a natural tendency to accept the status quo and to lose the vision of the first generation. Too often theirs is a second hand experience. This operates in the spiritual as well as the physical realm. “My father was a great Christian.” The greatest battle a man fights is with himself. He knows the facts but it is not from personal experience. He knows about God but does not know Him personally. It is being lukewarm and showing complacency and apathy. He has heard it all before. He is familiar with the facts. Hate is not the enemy of love. Apathy is. To be complacent in the face of Calvary is the greatest possible rejection of God.

1. The new generation were satisfied with the status quo and saw no need to change it. They felt that they had done enough. Satan encourages a man to accept the situation.
2. They took God’s blessings for granted and did not acknowledge Him. Where were the sacrifice of praise and the sacrifice of thanks? They became man-centred.
3. They neglected God’s word. There was no reference to study of the Scriptures. Ritual and tradition took over. A man can only speak from his own experience and not that of others. A man cannot stand still in his spiritual walk. He either advances or perishes. Society can only advance when someone cares enough to bring about change.

The story of Israel in Judges is about sin, servitude, supplication, salvation and spiral downward. Israel’s sin was all the greater because of the extent of the grace she had known. Canaanite religion was based on the concept of sympathetic worship. A man worships his god by behaving as he does. The Canaanites engaged in temple prostitution, fertility rites, drunken sexual orgies of the most debased variety, idolatry, snake-worship, homosexuality and even human sacrifice. The Israelites chose the cheap immoral gods of Canaan and rejected the eternal God of love. The anger of the Lord burned against them. He found it revolting. The people fell into servitude.

Deborah. There are 3 kinds of people in the World. Those who watch what is happening, those who make things happen and those who scratch their heads and ask; “What is happening?” The genius of leadership is the ability to get men to do what they do not want to do and to like doing it. Deborah’s leadership:-
1. She saw a need and was committed to doing something. Ch 5 v 6-7.
2. She enlisted help. ch 4 v 6.
3. She motivated help. ch 4 v 6-9.
4. She developed a plan. ch 4 v 6-7.

Gideon. Ch 6 v 25-32.
1. Baal must go before Midian, the enemy, can go.
2. God’s altar cannot be built until Baal’s altar is destroyed.
3. The place to start is in a man’s own backyard – his mind.
The Philistines gained a stranglehold on the Israelites and slowly choked them to death by assimilation. It was spiritual and cultural seduction. Apathy played into their hands. Samson was to live a life of separation as dedication to the Lord. His strength came from separation. This enabled Samson to achieve the purpose God had for his life. However Samson squandered the resources God had given him. Samson was a product of his age – an age when everyone did what was right in his own eyes. His great weakness was women. He was drawn to them sexually. He rejected the authority of his parents. He should have married a Hebrew girl. He was undisciplined. He did whatever came into his mind. Samson’s problem was sex but for others it is money or status or family or experience.
On the brighter side Samson was committed to fight for freedom for God for His people.
Temptation. Three principles from the life of Samson.
1. Moral compromise always makes a man vulnerable. Personal purity is crucial for believers.
2. Temptations come to man in attractive packages.
3. Temptations come when a man chooses the wrong company.
When a man toys with temptation, it traps him. He is called to flee from it and not to fight it.
Self-confidence blinds a man to reality. Samson thought hat the Lord would always get him out of trouble. However, at some point the Lord left him.

Chapters 17 and 18. Three kinds of spiritual junk food.
1. Micah was guilty of self-made religion – a man-made comfortable god.
2. Self-seeking promotion by the man of God is a denial of the providence of God.
3. Dan had a desire for a life of ease. The danger is for a man to carve out for himself a quiet island of peace. There he can live in affluence and forget about the needy World outside – the enemies of the Gospel and the radical claims of Jesus on his life. To do that will involve serving an idol. A man becomes what he consumes physically and spiritually.

Today is a time when a thick moral fog has settled on Western society. The old moral landmarks have been obliterated. No one seems to know right from wrong. People are groping for direction. There are real dangers when each man does what is right in his own eyes and does not rely on what God sees for society. No sin was ever committed, which affected one person only. Any sin ripples into society. The root of all sin is a weak conception of holiness.
1. The basis of moral behaviour is of critical importance.
2. Ethical relativism is degrading and dehumanising.
3. Theology and morality cannot be separated.
4. The only alternative to moral fog is a personal dynamic faith in Jesus.
5. A man must not only know God’s answers but must internalise His values.

Joshua

JOSHUA.

The Message is: “The faithfulness of God is declared and demonstrated.” Joshua wrote the Book about a military campaign led by him. It is an aggressive book bearing the same relation to the five books of Moses as the book of Acts does to the four Gospels. Man has heard the news – now let him put it into action. Faith without works is dead.

1. God promised the Land – now He proves that He is trustworthy.
2. To enjoy God’s promises a man must appropriate them – act on the promise to receive the reward.
3. God’s horror and hatred of sin. The Canaanites were so much in sin that God’s flaming sword of justice had to be unsheathed. There is a limit to God’s patience.
4. The spiritual message is that all sins must be rooted out – one by one. No sin must be left.

God gives man a physical picture in order to teach him spiritual truths. The conquest of Canaan is a physical picture to teach a man about the need to conquer the spiritual enemies so that the man can enter into all God has promised him. The Conquest started about 1240 B. C. Joshua and Caleb of the spies were the only ones who did not doubt God and they alone survived the wandering in the wilderness. God wanted them to have all the Land just as He wants believers to have all the promises. Partial success is not in God’s thinking. He plans total success. However, success depends on keeping the whole Law of Moses. Do not be afraid or discouraged. It did not happen all at once but the plan moved steadfastly towards the goal. The people did not occupy the land easily but had to struggle all the way. There is a battle with sin.

In 1927 an earth tremor made the clay walls at Adam collapse and the Jordan was dammed up for 21 hours at Adam, just upstream from the crossing point. When attacking, be sensible and send out spies to assess the extent of the problem. When the spies went to Rahab the King knew of the visit. The enemy always knows what believers do and will make it difficult for them. The people of Canaan were all terrified of the Lord’s people. They had heard what God did to the Egyptian army.

Believers should testify about what God has done for them – how He saved them and made life better for them, so that others will know what a great and caring God He is. Ch 4 v 24.

Achan’s defiance. God’s purposes require absolute obedience. The disobedience of one person affects all the people of God. Overall there was success and fulfilment of God’s purposes but during the success there were individual mistakes and problems. As soon as there is a spiritual high or success believers should look out for an attack of the enemy to catch them off guard. Joshua was defeated at Ai. He was too casual. Fight every battle with all the resources available. Sin led to the defeat. Believers cannot have sin and Jesus. Ch 7 v 10. The enemy will come together to conspire against the believer. Ch 9 v 2.

When the Gibeonites deceived Joshua the people did not consult the Lord about it and they made a mistake. Those who stand with God’s people can expect to be attacked also like the Gibeonites. e.g. the Lebanese today. Ch 10 v 4. One by one Joshua defeated his enemies.

God gave Israel the Land He had promised. He kept all His promises. Success follows obedience. Anger follows disobedience. The people protested: “We would never leave the Lord to serve other gods.” But they did.

Joshua means “Jahweh is salvation.” The Greek is Jesus. Joshua is a type of Jesus. Both Joshua and Jesus led the people of God into the Promised Land. Both interceded for the people when they went astray. Both led the people to victory over the forces of evil. The military campaign typifies the warfare of the spirit. The Canaanites represent a man’s lusts, besetting sins and spiritual enemies and in the record of the conquest a man discovers the secret of an all-conquering life. Stones were erected. It is good to look back at special events in life. A man must never rely on his own good judgement or common sense when making a big decision for the Lord. He should consult the Lord and ascertain His will. Although Joshua had general control there were still Canaanite cities, which Israel did not capture until the time of David. Not all the enemies were driven out initially.

There are four themes:
1. God has gone on and delivered a Saviour and has restored the Children of Israel to the Land a second time. He intends to go the whole way with each of His children and make them like Jesus. Despite a man’s mistakes God’s purposes will not be frustrated.

2. It was not easy to take the Land. Joshua fought his way in inch by inch. It is not easy to become holy. It takes real effort. A man has to take the promises and make them come true and move the mountains by prayer, acting on the promises.

3. God’s horror and hatred of sin has been manifested down through the ages. He hated it so much that it cost Jesus His life. Sin breaks that precious relationship, friendship and fellowship with God. Only God can bridge that gap.

4. All sin in the Land had to go. Adulterers were stoned. That showed how serious it was. Ananias and Saphira died due to their sin. Fear killed them. Fear releases chemicals in the brain, which can cause a heart attack. It was holiness or nothing. There can be no half measures. A man is invited to deal with a Holy God and not with a god of his imagination.

There are issues involved in this book about the conquest of a land, which touch lives and faith today. It is about a new beginning for the people of God. Some believers need a new beginning in their Christian walk. Today is the first day of the rest of their life. Some have been too negative and have been waiting for things to happen. The old leader has died and a new leader has been appointed. He must do it as directed by the Lord. Given the unique personality of Joshua, it will be done in a different way.

Joshua was born in slavery in Egypt. He had come a long way and seen a lot. A man learns by sheer experience in life and there is no substitute for experience. Joshua was a man of God. Joshua had seen the great things God had done and Joshua believed in God to do it again. Joshua was a general and a man with exceptional military skills. He trusted the Lord for victory. Joshua knew that God was big enough for all the battles, which lay ahead. He served a long apprenticeship and waited for his day to come. Moses had trained Joshua for leadership. It is dangerous to spiritualise the very land, which the people were to occupy. God sets the boundaries of the nations and selected this land for this people. The Land is at the centre of the Earth and the centre of the nations. God chose this land to be the stage on which the great drama of redemption and salvation would be presented. The Land has never been the same when the Jewish people were not in the land. The Jewish people have never been the same when they were out of the land. There is a place for each man. It is important to be in the right place at the right time.

The four geographic locations seen in the history of Israel illustrate four spiritual experiences.
1. Egypt was the place of death and bondage, from which Israel was delivered.
2. The wilderness experience of Israel depicts believers, who live in disobedience and unbelief and do not enter into the rest and riches of the inheritance of Christ.
3. Canaan represents the Christian life as it ought to be – conflict and victory, faith and obedience, spiritual riches and rest. New enemies are conquered by faith. There is an ongoing battle as a man meets and conquers one enemy after another.
4. Babylon is where the nation endured seventy years of captivity, because they disobeyed God and worshipped the idols of the pagan nations around them. Everything Israel did brought either glory or disgrace to the name of their God. This challenges the believer as to where he stands in his spiritual life. Is he living in Egypt, the wilderness, Canaan or Babylon?

CHAPTER 1. As a leader Joshua was commissioned by God ch 1 v 1-2. H e knew that God had chosen him. Joshua was encouraged by certain promises from God. ch 1 v 3-6. God promised that Israel would enter the land. God promised that Joshua would have victory over his enemies. God promised Joshua that He would be with Joshua. ch 1 v 5. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” This is the same promise God gives His people today. God also promised Joshua that He would divide the land as an inheritance for the conquering tribes. ch 1 v 6. A committee decision is no substitute for the clear commandment of God. The book of Joshua records the fulfilment of these three promises. The very word that God speaks has in it the power of fulfilment, if a man will but trust and obey. God gives immense promises to believers today. Like Joshua they must act upon the promises and step out in faith, not doubting.

Joshua ch 22 highlights the believers who, having done their bit for the Lord, head for home and do what they want to do. They are borderline believers. They helped their brothers for a while, but when the task was finished they returned home to the ways of the World. Other believers are affected by the obedience or otherwise by believers of the promises, which God has given to them.

CHAPTER 2. Rahab was an ungodly Gentile prostitute, who worshipped pagan gods and sold her body for money. Yet she was one of the ancestors of Jesus. God is not too fussy. He will use anyone who will bow the knee. Rahab would have been killed, if the king had known that she was a traitor. She exercised faith by harbouring the spies. She lied to protect the spies. God does not condone her lie but believers should not expect too much of a new convert. Despite her salvation, she was still a sinner. She may have had limited knowledge of the living God. Her faith was based on facts and not feelings. She knew enough to call out to be saved physically. Her words make it clear that the Canaanites knew all about the crossing of the Red Sea and God’s deliverance of His people from a tyrant. As a leader Joshua knew the importance of surveying the scene and being aware of the enemy activity and the need for a strategy.

CHAPTER 3. God saved believers to make soldiers of them so that they might move forward by faith and claim their inheritance in Christ. Salvation is only the beginning. Unbelief says: “Let us go back to where it is safe.” Faith says: “Let us go on to where God is working.” Num ch 14 v 1-4. Faith always leads to action. It is those who do the words of Jesus who are true believers. Since sin is pictured as defilement, God has to cleanse His children before they can truly follow Him. The crossing of the Red Sea pictures the believer being delivered from the bondage of sin and claiming the inheritance in Jesus. Believers never stand still in the Christian life. They either move forward or backwards. The leader has the responsibility to lead. Joshua gave the command to move forward. Being a leader does not make the person superior. He is simply the one given the special task of leading. It does increase the responsibility on that person to lead in accordance with the instructions of the Lord as prompted by the Holy Spirit. Baal controlled the floods, rivers etc. It was appropriate that God should be seen as greater than Baal at this time. If a man does not have time for God in times of trouble, then he does not have time for God at all and has no faith.
v 4 indicates that the Lord is about to lead them into a new experience in their lives. God performs miracles not to show off but to reveal His awesome power.

CHAPTER 4. The monument at Gilgal in the depths of the river reminded the people that their old life was buried and they were now ready to walk in newness of life in obedience to God. The monument on the other side was to be a reminder of what God had done for His people. It is good for a believer to look back over his spiritual life and remember the high points and the great things God has done in him and through him. It encourages the believer to believe that He will do things again, even though he is going through a difficult time at present. The true servant of God is elevated in the midst of the people and carries a huge responsibility as God’s representative.

CHAPTER 5. However, God’s people must be prepared before they can be trusted with victory. The men had to undergo painful surgery before they could go on. Circumcision reminded the people that their bodies belonged to God. The Jewish people would be surrounded by pagan peoples who had immoral practices. They would be tempted to compromise with their enemies. The operation on the body was a symbol of the spiritual operation on the heart. Religious rites are never a substitute for faith in Christ. God had temporarily suspended His covenant with the people, because of their rebellion at Kadesh Barnea. God easily took the people out of Egypt but it was difficult for Him to take Egypt out of the people. It was time to re-establish the covenant and to ensure that the people would not look back to Egypt but forward to Canaan.

After a believer has experienced an exciting victory of faith, God often permits him to be tested to ensure that pride has not crept in. He needs to be sure that He can rely entirely on his obedience to Him. It was so with Joshua. Jesus appeared to Joshua at a time when he needed the Lord. There was no guarantee of victory unless the Lord had spoken. There is a sequence – humble worship, a holy walk and Heavenly warfare. Joshua was now preparing for the first attack in Canaan. Perhaps the Lord knew that he needed a special boost of confidence and faith and came to him just at the right time. The leader must be absolutely sure that he is in step with the Lord’s will.

CHAPTER 6. The Christian life involves challenge and conflict whether believers like it or not. Their enemies are constantly waging war against them and trying to keep them from claiming their inheritance in Jesus. The nations in Canaan were united in their opposition to Joshua. The main theme of the Bible is God’s holy warfare against Satan and sin. If a man eliminates the militant side of Christian faith, then he must abandon the cross, for it was on the cross that Jesus won the victory over sin and Satan. Col ch 2 v 13 – 15. The Christian warfare is not against flesh and blood but against enemies in the spiritual realm.

In the Scriptures the number 7 represents completeness and perfection. The root of the word means to be full or to be satisfied. God is never in a hurry. He knows what He is doing and His timing is perfect. Believers need to keep in step with God. Sometimes silence from Heaven is a test of a man’s patience and self-control. The section of the wall of Jericho, in which Rahab’s house was located, did not fall down. Jericho is the oldest fortified city in the World. Sometimes God asks His children to do things, which they cannot understand with their minds. Often the purpose becomes clear at a later date but not necessarily. It disturbs some people that God commanded every living thing in Jericho to be killed. Is God not a God of mercy? The civilisation in Canaan was unspeakably wicked. God did not want His people to be contaminated by such people. The people of the land had been given plenty opportunity to repent and turn to the Lord, as Rahab had done. God had patiently endured the wickedness of the Canaanites and waited for their repentance for over 400 years, while the Hebrews were in Egypt. But they would not. Never think of the Canaanites as a helpless, ignorant people who knew nothing about the true God. They were guilty of wilfully rebelling against God, despite all the light, which had been shed upon them. The burning of Jericho, like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a picture of the judgement of God, which will fall on all who reject the truth. This was not the slaughter of the innocent but the judgement of God on an evil society, which had long resisted God’s grace and truth. Joshua declared a curse on Jericho and anyone who sought to rebuild the city. 1 Kings ch 6 v 34 brought the fulfilment. The first land given to the P.L.O by Israel in recent times was the land around Jericho. The enemy was seeking to take back from God what He had taken away because of their sin.

CHAPTER 7. After victory at Jericho came defeat at Ai, a town with a population of about 12,000. In life a man experiences peaks of victory and valleys of disappointment. Never estimate the damage, which one person can do outside the will of God. Paul was correct to put out those who taught heresy. They can do so much damage. 1 Cor ch 5. Any weakness or infection in the human body can cause weakness and infection in other parts of the body. So it is with the body of Christ. One sinner destroys much good. Eccles ch 9 v 18. Achan’s mistake was that he looked at the spoils a second time. The first glance of a man might tell him that a woman is attractive. It is the second look, which is dangerous and allows his imagination to get to work and lead him into sin. Mat ch 6 v 27-30. The imagination is the womb in which desire is conceived and from which sin and death are eventually born. Gen ch 6 v 5. The thoughts and imaginations were only evil continuously. What life does to a man depends on what life finds in him. A man does not always know the condition of his heart. Jer ch 17 v 9. On the other hand Joshua’s concern was for the reputation of the Lord. Achan should have known that nobody can hide from God. Adam and Eve tried it and failed. It must have been frightening for Achan and his immediate family to watch the accusing finger of God pointing closer and closer. The death of Achan and his family was certainly a dramatic warning to the nation not to take the Word of God lightly.

CHAPTER 8. The worst mistake a believer can make is not to try again. The victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings. Discouragement over the past and fear of the future are two reactions, which often accompany failure. God always gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him. When believers run ahead of the Lord, they usually rob themselves and hurt others. God changes His leaders, lest believers start trusting flesh and blood instead of the Lord and He changes His methods, lest they start depending on their personal experience instead of His divine promises. It is so important that believers seek God’s will for each undertaking, so that they do not depend on past victories. Tradition is the faith of the dead. Christian leaders must seek the mind of the Lord in their planning. Joshua restated the law of God in the land of promise. If the people wanted to share in the conquest, they had to submit to the law of Israel’s God. God’s people today stand in a valley between two mountains – Calvary, where Jesus died for the sins of man and Olivet, where Jesus will return to Earth in power and glory.

CHAPTER 9. The enemies were not about to give up without a fight. The City States of Canaan were not always friendly towards one another but when faced with a common enemy they ganged up together against Israel. It is the same today in the Middle East. The enemy even knows how to use the Word of God for his own advantage, so God’s people must be alert. Determined is one way of describing the enemy spirits. Friends and family will gang up against the believer, without even knowing why they are doing it. The Gibeonites had also heard about the Hebrews and their God. But they did not put their trust in God. Satan tried another tactic and caught Joshua off guard. It is one of the wiles of the Devil, when people seem to be agreeing with believers but really their heart is hard against God. Joshua was impetuous and did not take time to consult the Lord. He walked by sight and not by faith. Believers today are living in enemy territory and must constantly exercise caution. Listening to the enemy and not to God will always lead a believer into trouble. If a believer makes a mistake, he should admit it and then make the mistake work for him. Joshua did that. God overruled the mistake and used it to give victory over the five kings. Success as a believer depends on seeing victory, despite mistakes, where other people only see defeat. Once Joshua had given his word, he dared not break it, even though circumstances had been hidden from him. A man’s word should be his bond, even when he does not know everything he might have known. It is up to him to find out before making an oath and giving his word. The Gibeonites had cheated and lied but when faced with disaster called on the name of the Lord – Joshua – to save them. This is a picture of fallen mankind.

CHAPTER 10. Joshua called on the Lord to help in his battle with the enemy and the Lord caused time to stand still for one period of 24 hours. Scientists have recently found from their investigations that time is 24 hours out. If God could not perform the miracle in Joshua’s day, then He could not perform any miracle and is imprisoned in His own creation, unable to use or suspend the very laws He built into it.

Joshua won a vital victory. The five kings were placed face down with the officers putting their feet on the necks of the kings. This is a picture of Psalm 110 v 1. The Lord’s enemies are only a footstool for His feet. The conclusion proves that God can overrule a man’s mistakes, if they admit them and see how to turn the situation to the Lord’s advantage. 1 John ch 5 v 4. The rooting out of the enemies of Israel is a picture of the duty of believers to root out every sin in their lives. It is a spiritual battle. The enemy means to put believers to death spiritually as well as emotionally and physically. It is common for a family to join forces against a person who becomes a believer. In Islam the convert is as good as dead so far as his family is concerned.

CHAPTER 11. It took 7 years of war to subdue the land and destroy the enemies of Israel. What could a believer achieve in a campaign of 7 years to overcome the sins in his life? He needs a strategy and a systematic campaign. All the kings combined to fight the new people of God. Satan will mobilise all his troops to defeat the believer. At the end of the campaign the inheritance was shared out. The inheritance of the believer is available, provided the believer is seeking his inheritance. The same thing happened when Israel entered the land again at the end of World War II. All the Arab nations ganged up on the Jewish people to drive them into the sea and off the political map of the World.

CHAPTERS 12 – 19. The inheritance was divided according to the decision of the Lord. So too will the inheritance of all believers. Certain areas proved harder than others to overcome. In particular the Philistines held onto Gaza and the five cities – from where Goliath came – and the Jebusites held on to Jerusalem until David captured the city.

CHAPTER 20. The Lord provided cities of refuge to protect against revenge killing. There was no police force. The members of the family of the person killed could meat out justice. If a person killed another, he could flee to a city of refuge and there seek protection. The cities of refuge were for foreigners also. God is a God of justice. So every good thing promised by the Lord came to pass. Believers are never too old to make new conquests of faith for the Lord. There is no word “retiral” found in the Scriptures. The older generation must provide for the younger ones, not only materially but also spiritually. Since the people did not have their own copies of the Scriptures, it was vital for the Levites to identify with the people and explain the law to them. The Levites were placed strategically, so that no one was far from a Levite.

CHAPTER 22. When the fighting had died down, what then? v 5. Continue to obey all the commands of the Lord. It is easy to forget the Lord’s Word when things are going well. It seemed to those on the West bank of the Jordan that the two and a half tribes on the East bank of the Jordan had built an altar of rebellion against the Lord. Like Achan before, the rebellion of one part of the body would bring forth the wrath of God on them all. The memory of what Achan did was very much in the minds of the people.
v 20. The departing people on the East bank denied that they had built an altar of rebellion.
v 24. Their brothers accepted their explanation and departed happy. Was this misunderstanding between the two peoples a work of the enemy? He loves to cause division. It nearly worked. Prov ch 18 v 13. It was wisdom to send a delegation to find out all the facts before action was taken. It appeared to be an act of rebellion. The Danites and Reubenites had faithfully served the Lord and fulfilled their promise to help their brothers, before returning to their homes. It was the Lord’s mission and He would reward them. Joshua discharged the men and allowed them to go home. He commended them. He discharged them. He admonished them to serve the Lord. Then he blessed them. They were now to enter into His rest. Rest means not just relaxation but victory and security. When believers take Jesus’ yoke of discipleship, they find that deeper rest. They are within the will of God and at peace with Him.

Egypt was the place of bondage. The wilderness was the place where the people did not enter into God’s blessings. Canaan was to be the place of rest. The East bank was a borderline place, where the people were close to the people of the World and in danger of being lured away back into the World. The decision had been made by sight – a good land for cattle and sheep – and not by faith. This is a picture of borderline believers – those who have experienced blessings but prefer to live on the border, outside God’s place of blessing and with one foot in the World. Much was made of their concern for their children. What had been the main motivation? It was their cattle and prosperity. The heart is deceitful. Jer ch 17 v 19. What had appeared a good motive may have covered up the true motive. They had made the Jordan the dividing line. They had crossed back over the Jordan. History suggests that this was a decision based on Worldly wisdom and not the wisdom of God. 1 Chron ch 5 v 25-26. Surrounded by heathen peoples and separated from their brothers across the river they quickly fell into idolatry and were eventually taken by the Assyrians. Peace is such a precious jewel that a man should give anything for it – except truth. It seems that the truth of the matter is that the two and a half tribes were living out-with the will of God and suffered for it.

CHAPTER 23. Joshua knew that his time was short. He wanted to challenge the people to serve the Lord all their days and warned them of the consequences of falling away and worshipping other gods. There was still work to be done and sins to be eradicated in their lives. To stop waging the war on sin allows the sins to flood back in. How quickly that can happen. To compromise with the World opens the floodgates. Give the Devil an inch and he will take a mile. Joshua invited the people to review the history of their lives and see what the Lord had done for them. It is good to recall personal salvation and to count the blessings. God had never failed in the past and would not fail in the future. History is His story. A man needs to know the Word of God in order to know the one who spoke these words. God had kept all His promises and had every right to expect the people to keep all His commandments. The greatest challenge for the believer is to be in the World and yet not be a part of it. The erosion would be a gradual process, often for good motives – such as to understand other people and their gods. Joshua warns the people of the dangers, which lie ahead as a result of disobedience. Snares, traps, scourges and thorns all invoke the idea of pain. The final danger is removal from the good land given to them.

CHAPTER 24. It was at Shechem that God gave the promise to Abraham. Jacob built an altar there. The history of the Jewish people was an act of grace from beginning to end. God came to Abraham. John ch 15 v 16. “I chose you.” God delivered Israel. He gave them the land for which they did not work and cities, which they did not build. As soon as the Jews began to take their blessings for granted they began to fall away from the Lord. A grateful heart is a strong defence against the Devil’s temptations. There can be no neutrality. It is a case of making a conscious decision day after day. Joshua knew that man is incurably religious. Everybody must worship someone or something, whether they realise it or not. Devotion can melt away unless encouraged. There is a fine tightrope to be walked. Sadly the people of Joshua’s generation failed to keep their promise to teach their children to fear and serve the Lord.

What of Joshua the man? God prepared him for the task, which lay ahead of him. God prepares the man for the task and the task for the man and therefore accomplishes what He plans to do. A prepared servant for a prepared task is God’s approach to ministry. God used Joshua’s experience of suffering in Egypt to make him a man sensitive to others. Suffering comes before glory. This was true of Jesus. Suffering can make people bitter, but when mixed with faith it can be used to build godly character. Joshua submitted to authority in Moses. Joshua could give orders because he had learned to take orders. He was a servant. He had learned patience in the wilderness experience. Sometimes a man thinks that a certain course of action is a waste of time. God can use every experience for His glory. Leaders need to learn how to wait on the Lord’s timing.

What it means to be a leader can only be learned on the battlefield and not in a seminar. Joshua walked with God. He had courage – defined as the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death. Any kind of leadership involves risks and it demands moral courage. Sometimes it takes more courage for a leader to face his own people than to face the enemy on the battlefield. Joshua had a plan and followed it. It takes planning and strategy to do the work of the Lord successfully. He did not quit, even when he had made a mistake. A good leader learns from his mistakes. He never has failures – only learning experiences. True leaders do not demand respect – they command it. Joshua had authority and stature

Real leaders do not use people to build their authority. They use their authority to build people. Joshua was concerned for the future. He was burdened for the future of his people. He glorified God. What does a man learn of God’s grace? God was gracious to delay His judgements for centuries before bringing the Children of Israel into the Land. Gen ch 15 v 16. God was gracious to send reports into the Land so that the people could fear and, like Rahab, turn to the Lord. God was gracious in wiping out the filthy religion of the Canaanites so that Jewish boys and girls could grow up in a land where the Lord was honoured and worshipped.

1 Samuel

FIRST SAMUEL.

The books of Samuel cover the history of Israel from the period of the Judges to the close of the reign of King David. Samuel was ordained by God to deliver Israel when its national situation appeared hopeless. It was the Lord who took the initiative in the situation. Samuel is the first to hold down the role of prophet, priest and judge or king. He was a forerunner of the Messiah. The theme of the books is: “Faithfulness to God brings success in spiritual terms. Disobedience brings disaster.” Ch 2 v 30. The books of Samuel cover the most successful period of Israel’s history, when the nation was at the zenith of its power under King David. The books show the purpose of God being worked out in the nation and the enemy is at work trying to foil the purposes of God and steal and kill, using the Philistines to be a thorn in the flesh of the nation of Israel.

1 SAMUEL CHAPTER 1.
v 2. Elkanah had two wives. This was one of the ways of the World. Others had two wives. Because it is in the Bible does not mean that it is right anymore than it was right when Abraham told a lie. Bigamy is illegal in most countries. Serial polygamy is the same as bigamy – several wives, one after the other. Does man conform to the ways of the World?
v 3. Elkanah went to worship despite his bigamy. That would be totally unacceptable today but does a man worship while there are other areas in his life, which are unacceptable to God? Is there bitterness towards another believer? Do believers have unpaid bills?
v 5. The Lord had sealed her womb. Who gives children? Eccles ch 11 v 5. It was a disgrace for a woman to be childless in Israel. Abortion was probably unheard of in these days. It is not so today. One consequence of abortion is often the inability to conceive.
v 6. The one who was blessed was taunting the one who was not blessed. Man cannot work out the providence of God. Sometimes a testimony of the blessings of God is hurtful to other believers, who have not received a similar blessing for no apparent reason. One may be blessed with a job, which appears miraculous, while another is still looking for work. One may be healed while another desperately seeks healing but does not receive it. Satan needs fertile soil in which to sow his deadly seeds. Hannah’s disappointment was fertile ground to allow Penninah to taunt Hannah.
v 7. Bullying had consequences. One of these was tears and an eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa is not new. Despair hovered over Hannah. “Give up. Stop eating.” Satan’s deadly darts were hitting Hannaiah.
v 8. Elkanah was insensitive to Hannah. “Cheer up!” He did not seem perturbed that she was not eating. Jesus had great compassion for those who were hurting. Parents today seem to show little interest. Who can help?
v 11. In prayer, be honest with God. Those who lose their life will find it. She was prepared to give her only son away to God. She talked it over with God. Isaiah ch 1 v 18. God delights to reason things out together. That is one aspect of faith – believing that God is listening and able to help.
v 12. It is easy to misconstrue a situation. It takes time and perception to understand the complexity of a situation and get to the truth. Eli the priest failed to take time to understand the problem.
v 15. “I am a woman sorely troubled.” Faith needs a crisis to walk on. She petitioned for what she wanted. “You do not receive because you do not ask.” She had faith to believe that God was going to answer her prayer. Even though Eli’s blessing seemed to have been given with little thought, Hannah believed it was a word from the Lord. Her faith brought forth what she desired.
v 20. The prayer was answered by God.
v 23. Was Elkanah casual about the future of the child? Perhaps he did not really believe that the child was a specific answer to prayer. Only the one who has exercised faith really believes that the Lord has spoken.
v 28. Hannah was true to her promise to God. It was a real sacrifice. Even the child, which she laid at God’s disposal, was a real sacrifice. She put God first in her life, even before her family. In ch 2 v 21 she was blessed with more children. She did not know that when she sacrificed the first child to God.

CHAPTER 2.
v 1 There is a pattern of praise in verses 1-10. God is in control and knows it all. “I laugh at my enemies, because God has helped me.”
v 5. The barren woman has 7 children. In Scripture 7 is the perfect number.
v 9. God protects the lives of faithful people. A man’s success is not due to his own efforts alone.
v 12. Eli’s sons were evil men. God has no grandchildren. They had no regard for the Lord. Eli should have removed them from the priesthood. Perhaps they should never have been appointed. Instead Eli honoured his sons above God.
v 20. Hannah gave God her son and God gave her 5 more children. In Scripture 5 is the number for grace. God had been gracious to Hannah. Give to God and He will give back. It is not a question of giving to get but God does enjoy giving and honouring.
v 24. The sons would not listen to their father. It is worse for believers to sin knowingly, especially in public, thereby bringing dishonour to God. If a man sins against the Lord, He will lightly esteem him.
v 27. It is good to remember what God has done.
v 29. Yet the Lord permitted them to continue to act as priests. Why did the people not complain and seek their removal? Many in Churches tolerate ungodly activity on the part of their leaders to avoid trouble.
v 30. “I will honour those who honour me” Those who despise the Lord, He will lightly esteem.
v 31. Judgement and mercy. A disaster for Eli but God raised up a new priest. Disobedience of God leads to disaster. There was a heavy price to pay for disobedience. God will use someone else.

CHAPTER 3.
v 1. Messages from God were rare in these days. What about today? How does a man know that God has spoken today? A man must be sure or else he is in danger of making God out to be a liar, putting words in His mouth, which He has not spoken. That was Moses’ problem, when he struck the rock in disobedience to the instruction of God and in doing so misrepresented Him. This led to Moses not being allowed into the Promised Land. Num ch 20 v 12. Eli was a little slow to realise it. Maybe he assumed that God would not speak to a child, if He was not speaking to Eli. Pride? God operates in the realm of a man’s expectations. “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Are believers expecting God to speak to them?
v 7. Samuel did not yet know the Lord. Acts ch 19 v 2. Who is listening for God to speak? The small still voice is drowned out in the constant noise of music and television. Is there silence at any time? Even in shops there is constant background music. There is also the noise of traffic and now the constant interruption by mobile phones.
v 8. Eli perceived that it was the Lord who was calling Samuel. A man needs perception to see the spiritual hand of God at work.
v 11. God does some shocking things. Many claim that God is a God of love and would never send anyone to Hell. He had warned Eli several times. Eli did not restrain the blasphemy of his sons. What are believers doing to restrain blasphemy of others? Blasphemy is present in public life and in entertainment. How long will God refrain from acting to protect the honour of His name? Samuel was young to handle such a message.
v 14. The wound was too deep to heal. There comes a time when God says: “Enough is enough.” Nahum ch 3 v 19. God is slow to anger, but when He is angry, it is awesome. He simmers for a long time, like a pot of milk coming to the boil before it finally overflows.
v 15. Samuel was afraid to tell Eli what he had heard from God. It is difficult to tell others that they are destined for Hell, unless they turn to God.
v 16. Eli was brave to hear it. Are believers prepared to face the truth, even if it hurts or do they keep God at a distance? Eli knew that it was coming and was not surprised by the message. The unbeliever must have some inkling that he cannot live a life ignoring all the blessings he has received and not have to reap what he has sown.
v 19. As Samuel grew, God was with him. God wants young people to follow Jesus. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” Eccles ch 12 v 1. There was an anointing on the life of Samuel.
v 21. Samuel established a track record. He proved himself over a period of time and people knew where to go. Then God began to speak through Samuel. Like Jesus Samuel grew in favour with men and with God.

CHAPTER 4. Samuel welded the theocracy together. God wants a theocracy, not a democracy or a dictatorship.
v 1. There were always enemies of Israel. People are always waiting to trip up believers, if they step outside the will of God. Satan is interested in making life difficult for believers. He will use the people closest to them – their neighbours.
v 3. As long as God was with them they could win. Did they use the presence of God as a charm? Sometimes believers use God as a charm – they feel something bad will happen, because they have not prayed that day. At least the Israelites were conscious of God’s involvement in their lives. Today when there are floods or storms, does anyone bring God into the situation? Do they ask: “Why did God let it happen?” Do people today ask why disasters and tragedies occur and wonder if they have offended God?
v 4. They allowed Eli’s two sons to accompany the ark. Was that wise? Should non-believers, or believers who are in disobedience, be allowed to serve in the Church? The sons should have been out because of their sin. Eli should have sacked them.
v 8. The Philistines were aware of the reputation of the God of Israel. They knew of the great deeds of God in Egypt. One of the reasons for God doing miracles is to prove that He is at work, so that the non-believers will be made aware of God and have respect for Him.
v 9. The enemy redoubled his efforts. Battle was joined. The Philistines recognised the power of the Hebrew God, who had destroyed Egypt. Jesus said that when He is raised up He will draw men to Himself. The enemy recognised the presence of God in the midst of His people. Was it significant that the sons of Eli accompanied the ark into battle? They were discredited and should never have been given a prominent place in the proceedings. If believers allow discredited clergymen prominence in the public arena, can they expect to prevail against the enemy? When believers step out for God, their enemy will not necessarily take it lying down.
v 10. Eli’s two sons were slain as prophesied by God. Eli was overcome by the news. What he had feared had come upon him. Shock led to a fall and Eli’s neck was broken.
v 21. Ichabod was born, but his mother died in childbirth. The name means “without glory”. The glory of Israel had departed. When someone falls away into sin or apostasy, the glory of the Lord has departed from that person. There are too many Ichabods! The weight of grief was too much for the wife of Phinehas to bear. Jesus wept with sheer disappointment over the lack of response in Jerusalem. Mat ch 23 v 37. Never underestimate the influence of disappointments in life. Without a vision the people perish. When vision and dreams are shattered, there are serious consequences.

CHAPTER 5.
God can manage very well on His own without any help. The Holy Spirit moved across the face of the Earth before there were any humans on the Earth. God works with man but can do without man. The local people thought of gods as territorial. They thought that the god of Israel was limited to acting within the land of Israel. Dagon was one of the gods of the Philistines. He is still worshipped in Ashdod today by the Palestinians. God demonstrated His power over the false god in the territory of Dagon. Still the Philistines did not bow the knee to the real God. Isaiah ch 19 v 1. The idols of Egypt tremble. The hearts of the Egyptians were filled with fear. When the living Jesus returns, every knee will bow. All false gods shall be exposed as worthless. When people worship false gods, there is a danger that the real God will strike them down. The National Lottery may hit a crisis. v 10. Fear gripped the people of Gath. What grief could have been avoided, if the people had bowed to the real God at an earlier time.
v 6. The Philistines were no longer ignorant about God and judgement came upon them in the form of cancer. They decided to shut God out of their sight. People do that today. They do not want to be reminded about Jesus. There is no curiosity when the name of Jesus is mentioned. There is a hardness of heart and a deliberate silence or hostility. Cancer continues to spread in the Western World. Aids is a judgement of God on the homosexual community and the promiscuous community.
v 8. Worse still. They conspired together about it. They called a conference to discuss the matter. They acted like the Pharisees and the Saduccees. They had their differences on other matters but in this respect they were united in wanting rid of the presence of God. The religious leaders will not listen to the evangelical message. Pride is too strong.
v 9. The men of Ashdod passed the buck to Gath. Then the people of Gath suffered in a similar way. No one seeks after God. No one wants to deal with sin.
v 10. Ekron did not want it either. No one wants to hear about the message of the Gospel, willingly. Romans ch 3 v 11. No one seeks after God.
v 11. The World outside of God concluded: “Keep your God. We do not want anything to do with Him. Leave us alone to do our own thing.” There were all kinds of disease, because the people rejected the presence of God amongst them. Forty per cent of diseases today are due to stress or anxiety in society, which has rejected the living Jesus. 124 times Jesus commanded: “Do not be anxious.” People are trying every means possible to get rid of the diseases but they cannot. Disease means “not at ease” with God.

CHAPTER 6.
v 2. False religions try to buy their gods off with an offering. They assumed that the real God could be bought off in this way. The error of religion is that it scales down its gods to a level they can understand. A man’s offering should not be a bribe to God but an offering to help God extend His Kingdom.
v 5. “Perhaps He will stop persecuting you.” This was mere superstition but there was no assurance. Many go to Church out of a sense of duty hoping that they will be accepted into Heaven when they die, but there is no true worship.
v 9. Superstition. Read the signs and interpret them. A coincidence is when God wants to remain anonymous. There is no question of chance or fate. God was in control of the events, even when it seemed that He was not involved. Grace pervades every aspect of life.
v 18. The rock was still there when the book was written, but because it is the living Word of God it is still there today. It is written in the present tense.
v 19. God killed 70 men because they looked into the Ark. God was too hot to handle even by His own people. This word is powerful. The people begged others to take it away. Even the people of Israel wanted rid of the presence of God. Perhaps they had become used to living without reference to His Word. The modern day meaning is that the Word of God and the things of God must not be treated lightly. Man is not entitled to sniff at the things of God. When God speaks, He means exactly what He says and it cannot be adjusted to take account of modern opinions.

CHAPTER 7.
v 3. Samuel said that, if the people really wanted to get back to God, the idols had to go first. “You cannot have sin and Jesus.” How badly does a man want to know God? Until sin was dealt with, it seemed that God had abandoned His people. He was just waiting for their response to His Word. An idol is anything, however worthwhile in itself, which comes first in a man’s life. Whatever people think about, talk about and spend their money on is an idol, if it is more important to them than the Lord. If the family is what people want to talk most about, then it is an idol.
v 4. They repented and then fasted for a day. They took their sins seriously.
v 7. Just as they were putting their house in order, the enemy attacked. Satan will always seek to destroy a new work of God or a new Christian. He tried to kill the baby Jesus. This is the Girgashite spirit at work trying to stop growth in the lives of the people. When in trouble, go to a more experienced believer for support. Do not try to fight it alone. Samuel interceded for the people. Jesus ever intercedes for believers.
v 10. Samuel beseeched God and He acted by throwing the enemy into confusion. However, the Israelites still had to fight physically. A man cannot sit back and expect God to act alone. When men are really serious about God, the Holy Spirit will protect them. God knows the intentions of a man’s heart and knows if that man is serious about Him or if his motives are focused on himself.
v 13. If believers stand up against the enemy, he will withdraw. “Resist the enemy and he will flee from you.” James ch 4 v 7. This is a physical picture to teach a man a spiritual truth.
v 14. The same struggle is going on today as towns change hands from Israeli to Palestinian and in reverse. The Amorites are the spirit behind speech, which blasphemes God. When Israel was strong the Amorites were silenced and lived in peace. If a believer is strong in his faith, the enemies will not criticise him. However, if he is uncertain the enemy will rejoice to trip him up and expose his uncertainty.

CHAPTER 8.
v 2. Even Samuel for all his godly ways did not have sons who loved the Lord. All that Samuel had built up was disintegrating. This is often the situation when a person sells his business or a leader leaves a Church. Over the span of history empires rise and fall all within the plan and purpose of God. There are times when a man cannot work out the providence of God.
v 5. The Children of Israel just wanted to be like the other peoples and have a king. God wanted a theocracy. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in the heart of man. God wants a personal relationship with man, whereby each man lives his life in obedience to God’s will. A man gets tired of the struggle and wants to be like other people. Some just want to go to Church – sing a few praises, hear a good and interesting talk and go home to watch television – just like the other people. They do not want to stand out.
v 6. Samuel was disappointed in the response of the people. He knew the Lord and what the Lord wanted.
v 7. It was not Samuel’s burden. “Let them go. I shall not force them. It is their decision. It is not you, Samuel, they have rejected but God.” Often Church leaders are disappointed by the response of the people and feel rejected.
v 9. God told Samuel to let them go and choose a king but to warn them as to what the King would do to them. This is again a physical picture to teach a spiritual truth.
v 11. The consequences for Israel were frightening. They would end up in bondage to their king. If believers go back into the World, they will become slaves of the very power from which they were delivered. The old sins will re-emerge. Also when man chooses to live under a democracy the government will impose taxes for their grand schemes. Most politicians do not have the real interests of the people at heart and even if they are sincere, they lack the wisdom and the power to carry out policies, which are in step with God. They seek the approval of the electorate, most of whom are not believers.
v 18. When Israel cried out to God for help, He would not listen. He did listen in Egypt, but not the second time. If believers fall into apostasy and deliberately crucify the Lord Jesus afresh, it is impossible to call them back to repentance a second time. They are still saved but cannot get back into a living relationship with God. Heb ch 6 v 4. This is a severe warning to all believers. They may even lose their salvation, if they throw away the gift of eternal life. Jesus promises that He will never reject believers but they still have free will to reject the way of life, which He has opened up for them.
v 19. Surely the people would listen. No! They insisted on their own way and had a king. A man is responsible for the consequences, if he disobeys the will of God.

CHAPTER 9.
v 1-2. In the eyes of the World physical appearance is important. Saul had presence. A very small person would be unacceptable. The cartoonists would destroy his physical appearance. It is not so in the Kingdom of God.
v 6. Do people today consider that a man of God might have something worthwhile to say? In many countries political leaders never think of consulting the Church. It used to be different.
v 7. A man cannot approach God without an offering. Some will not go to Church because they do not have clothes, which are acceptable to other members. The believer is seeking to serve his fellow men and does not expect payment for his help.
v 8. The servant was even less genuine. Either it did not matter or it did. If it did not matter, there was no need of money. If it did matter, then what he had was an insult.
v 9. “Seer” was a Biblical word. Now it means a pagan person. Many Biblical words have been stolen by Satan. e.g. Gay! Christian!
v 13. This verse “He has just gone up the hill to feast – the guests cannot eat until He arrives and blesses the food” may have been the Word of God to Jesus when He fed the 5,000 in Mat ch 14 v 19. Jesus may have heard this word and known that He would bless the food and the people would eat. As Jesus obeyed the Word in faith the food multiplied.
v 16. Was this a coincidence? God knows everything and is in control. How did God speak to Samuel? Exodus ch 3 v 7 & 9.
v 21. It sounds as if Saul had an inferiority complex. Samuel tells Saul that he now owns the wealth of Israel. Saul is unable to accept the word from the prophet.
v 27. People slept on the flat roof of the house, where it was cooler.

CHAPTER 10.
The prophecy foretold exactly what would happen before it happened. It happened exactly as had been foretold.
v 6. God acts in a different way each time. A man cannot determine how God will act in a given situation.
v 9. Saul received a new attitude. The Holy Spirit had come upon him.
v 11. Logically and humanly speaking it was not at all likely that God would speak through Saul in light of his home situation. (With a father like his?) His parents were not godly. Man cannot tie God down. God is sovereign. There is an element of sheer mystery why God saves a person whose family has shown no interest in the things of God.
v 16. It was not wise to tell his uncle about the spiritual matter. It was like casting a pearl before a swine. Some things are best left unsaid. Watch out for friends or relatives spearing for information in order to cast doubt on the Word of God. The uncle would not believe. He was clearly sceptical. Sometimes in innocence believers tell family, thinking that they will be sympathetic. They are not. Because they are closest, they can be used to make life difficult. Satan will always use those who are closest to achieve his purposes.
v 21. The matter was decided by lots. Even so Saul was chosen. God can pick the winner in a lottery, if He wishes.
v 22. Saul was hiding among the baggage of life. Sometimes a man’s spiritual direction is lost because his life is cluttered with baggage and worldly interests. A man can be busy with little detailed matters, when God wants to speak to him about a big matter.
v 27. Saul did not receive universal respect or support. Some supported him, while others despised him. The ways of the World are not totally successful. Did God use Saul as King temporarily until David was old enough to be used as a theocratic King? God may use a believer in a dying Church situation to teach him lessons for the future. In that way he learns from the mistakes of others. This may be an answer to the age-old question: “Why did God let that happen to me?”

CHAPTER 11.
Gen ch 19 v 38. The incestuous baby of Lot’s younger daughter Benammi was the ancestor of the Ammonites. Is it any surprise that they were enemies of Israel? What power was behind such a mean streak as would wish to gouge out the eyes of their neighbours? The Ammonites were bullies. It seems unthinkable that men could carry out such atrocities against fellow human beings. It has happened down through the centuries and has happened as recently at 2003 in Congo. Without the grace of God a man can quickly descend to being a beast. Satan demands a high price for allegiance to him.
v 6. Saul exercised righteous anger. It is acceptable to be angry, if the anger is on behalf of another who is facing injustice. Jesus was angry on behalf of His Father, when He found the Temple being used as a den of thieves. The Spirit of God came upon Saul. Believers ought to be angry when they see Satan robbing people blind and stealing their integrity and innocence. There are times to take a stand on behalf of injustice and the oppressed.
v 11. Did the Ammonites deserve their death? They planned to hurt the people of Jabesh, without a shred of mercy. “As you do to others so it will be done to you.” This is a Biblical principle – in Obadiah.
v 12. Look how well the King chosen by the people had done. They were right and Samuel was wrong. The enemies of God are quick to show that they do not need God and can manage by themselves. Many people claim: “I am a good person.” Saul had experienced the power of the Holy Spirit and stood against this claim, exercising mercy to his enemies. He has started his rule well. Would he continue to do so?

CHAPTER 12.
v 3. “Of what sin do you convict me?” What a challenge to present to the people! There is an echo in Jesus’ claim. Is that the reputation believers should have? Or could people accuse them of many things, which would leave them ashamed? It is one reason why people in leadership in public life are afraid to speak out on moral issues. They know there are people who could remind them of things from their past and call them hypocrites.
v 7. It is good from time to time just to let God remind a man from His Word of all the blessings He has poured out on him, lest he assumes that he has done something worthwhile. It is all grace from beginning to end. Count the blessings one by one and be amazed at what the Lord has done.
v 14. The monarchy was an acceptable form of rule as long as the king and the people followed the precepts of the Lord.
v 15. If a man feels the hand of God heavy upon him as a child of God, perhaps it is because he has drifted away and stopped following His commandments.
v 19. There is a danger that new sins enter into the life of a believer. Things he did not do previously come into his life. The ways of the World are constantly coming into his experience. Paul warns against doctrines of demons – new teaching, previously unheard of and even believers are taken in by it. It was bad enough being apathetic to God’s Word but now there has been added the sin of following a new false teaching e.g. ecumenism.
v 22. One reason that God does not abandon His people is out of consideration for His name and reputation. If God has given a burden to pray for someone, is it a sin to stop praying for that person?
v 23 suggests that it is.
v 24 is a solemn word of warning. To continue to sin in the light of the wondrous grace of God may lead to spiritual as well as physical destruction.

CHAPTER 13.
v 3. The Israelites attacked and had success. The enemy regrouped and came at Israel in large numbers causing fear to spread throughout the Israeli army. This is a physical picture of the believer who is moving forward spiritually only to meet stern resistance from Satan. Fear was the first evil spirit to confront man. When Adam sinned he was afraid. Fear entered his personality. Saul lost his nerve and made the sacrifice himself instead of waiting until the priest arrived. Saul had taken matters into his own hands without looking to the Lord for guidance and waiting on His timing.
v 14. The Lord wants a man who will obey Him. Saul failed the test.
v 19. Why were there no Israeli blacksmiths? That put the Israelis at a huge disadvantage. The enemy had control over a vital area of life. Saul should have invested in blacksmiths at the beginning of his reign to ensure that there were skills amongst his own people and that they did not need to rely on the enemy. Believers should ensure that they develop skills e.g. in marriage guidance and counselling as well as a healing ministry, so that they do not have to rely on advice from the World in such areas. Perhaps believers ought to run their own schools to educate their children on a Biblical basis and not rely on a state system. If there is a time of persecution and people of the World do not want to associate with believers, who will repair the motor vehicles or extract teeth? It is one thing to rely on the World when things are going well but when persecution comes the believers will be isolated.

CHAPTER 14.
v 1. Jonathan did what he thought best but did not consult Saul who was the leader of the army. As a result no one knew what Jonathan was doing. This could have had disastrous consequences but Jonathan was sure that God was with them and the earthquake at the right moment seems to have confirmed that Jonathan was right.
v 23. The Lord saved Israel that day.
v 24. Saul made an unwise command and Jonathan fell foul of the rules through ignorance. Sometimes Church leaders make rules, which lack wisdom, and without informing the members. Then when the members break the rules they are chastised. This amounts to spiritual abuse. Jonathan felt stronger for eating and proved the lack of wisdom of Saul.
v 39. Saul made another foolish decision, which endangered the life of Jonathan. Herod also made a foolish decision, which led to the death of John the Baptist.
v 44. The situation developed and Jonathan was due to die. Dan ch 6 v 9. King Darius also made a foolish law and was bound by it. The rules can override common sense and the Word of God. Even believers can be afraid to lose face and admit their errors and sins. However the people rescued Jonathan by opposing the King’s decision.
v 52. During the reign of Saul there was constant battle between Israel and the Philistines. Whenever Saul found a brave strong man he conscripted him into the army. Church leaders should be on the lookout for believers, who are strong and capable in their fight against the enemy. Some leaders may perceive such men as a threat to their leadership.

CHAPTER 15.
God rejected Saul. God had been with Saul, as long as he obeyed the Lord. The relationship was fading on the part of Saul. Then came a specific disobedience by Saul. God had been against the Amalekites. Exodus ch 17 v 8-14. The time was up for the Amalekites. Just like Nineveh, there comes a time when God says: “Enough is enough.” It may not be obvious to man but God decides and that is that. God had decided to punish the Amalekites. They had had ample opportunity to repent. Haman was an Amalekite. Esther ch 3 v 1.
v 1. Ex ch 17 v 8-14. Amalek was a nomadic tribe of the Sinai Peninsula and the Negev, who resisted the Israelites as intruders.
v 3. Would God really destroy a whole nation? Their time was up. Many nations in the World appear to be God-forsaken.
v 6. The Kenites lived among the Amalekites. Saul warned them to get out from among them, lest they be destroyed with them. A believer should watch the company he keeps, lest he be destroyed with them. Many young men are killed in car accidents. Do not get into a car, if the driver has been drinking. The Kenites were decent people and took the advice. Children ought to take the advice of their parents, even though not believers. It may be the common grace of God seeking their good.
v 9. King Saul disobeyed. He kept the best and did not kill the king as instructed. Saul seems to have consulted the people. God expressed sorrow at having made Saul king. Did God make a mistake, since He knows the end from the beginning? God never makes mistakes or errors of judgement. This verse places a huge responsibility on any leader to be obedient.
v 11. Saul failed again. God was sorry. God has feelings too, even though man tends to forget that.
v 15. Is Saul guilty of self-deception? He justifies himself in his own eyes.
v 21. The people and Saul had interpreted the command of the Lord to suit themselves. It was not what God told them to do. It may have seemed right to them but it did not please God. No amount of good works will please God. Only obedience to His Word is pleasing to Him. If a man is commanded by God to do something, he should not listen to the people who would tell him otherwise. Many believers fear men rather than God.
v 22. God desires obedience to His Word above all else, especially by religious institutions.
v 23. Rebellion equals witchcraft. Stubbornness equals idol worship. “You are out of a job.”
v 24. Saul tried hard but feared the people more than he revered God. Many leaders are afraid of what people will think or say. They would rather face the people in disobedience to God than face God in obedience and have to live with what the people are saying.
v 25. Saul was sorry and asked for forgiveness. However, on this occasion it was too late. He had gone too far. There was a time when his disobedience was too great to overlook. That is a dangerous thing to do. Saul presumed on God to the effect that God would accept an apology and things could be as before. Samson made the same mistake when he flirted with sin and women.
v 26. Too late!
v 27. The tearing of the robe is a good illustration. Saul could not hold on to God, once God had decided to move away from Saul.
v 28. This was an acted parable. The Kingdom was torn from Saul, just as the robe was torn.
v 29. God is not a man like men. God will not lie or repent. He is God and not a man. A man should never assume that God thinks as he does. God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts. His ways are not man’s ways.
v 30. Even in his disgrace, God through Samuel, was gracious. There was still a place for Saul, but not as king of Israel.
v 32. Samuel cut Agag to pieces. Agag thought that he had charmed his way out of trouble with God. Many think that they will get away with it, if they do their best. Agag came cheerfully to Samuel. Samuel hewed Agag to pieces. As he had sown, so he reaped. Samuel still grieved over Saul. God takes no pleasure in those who will not repent.
v 33. Evil has to be stamped out. Where there are false gods a man must obliterate them. Samuel was a man of God who obeyed, even though it seemed hard. He had learned as a child to obey God, regardless of his own reputation.
v 35. God has feelings and expressed His sorrow. Samuel and Saul parted company.

CHAPTER 16.
v 2. Even Samuel was afraid of Saul. Here was the man of God, who had served the Lord from a small child and yet he experienced fear. Which believer has never experienced fear?
v 4. Samuel had a reputation after his dealing with Agag. The people were afraid that he might be on a similar mission.
v 5. A big decision for Samuel. He had to be in the right frame of mind. If a man has a big decision to make, he too has to be in the right frame of mind. He did not tell others what the Lord had told him to do. Keep quiet. Too many people talk too much. It spoils the impact, if there is too much pre-match hype. Acts ch 13 v 22. God knew that David would obey Him. Obedience matters to God.
v 7. This is a famous verse. While man judges by outward appearance, God looks on the heart. Only God knows what is on the heart – whether a man is serving Him out of love or out of an ego trip. Isaiah ch 55 v 8. Appearance and image is so important in the World. It is not so with God.
v 8. How did God speak to him – intuition or an audible voice?
v 11. Jesse never even thought of David. He was a son too. This is a case of rejection. It must have been hurtful to David to be passed over by his own father. Humanly speaking he was passed over – but God saw him. Many who do not succeed in the World are not given an opportunity – but God. David was the eighth son of Jesse. In Scripture 8 is the number for a new beginning. There were 8 people in the ark. The scriptural number for Jesus is 8. Jesus is the new man. God began a new thing through His Son.
v 13. Oil is associated with the Holy Spirit – a symbol. David is a type of Christ. Jesus rose from shepherd to King of kings. He is David’s greater son. Jesus was nothing in the eyes of the World. He had no degree, no family fortune and no position. God chose Him. Men ignored Him. The Spirit descended on David and on Jesus.
v 14. The Spirit left Saul. God sent an evil spirit. Did God send it or allow it to come? 2 Cor ch 12 v 7. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a messenger from Satan to save him from pride. Pride is deadly. God will go to any lengths to make a man holy and useful. It is dangerous to reject the Holy Spirit. That opens a man to being attacked by evil spirits.
v 16. Praise drives away evil spirits. The evil spirits cannot stand the praise of Jesus.
v 18. David’s reputation was established. Can people say that of believers? Prov ch 22 v 29.
v 21. It is a strange paradox that Saul loved David and at the same time saw David as a threat to him.
v 23. Praise is vital. God is enthroned on the praises of His people.

CHAPTER 17.
v 3. There was a valley between God’s people and the enemies of God. The rich man and Lazarus. There is a chasm between man and God. Jesus said that a man is either for Him or against Him. There is no fence to sit on or middle ground to occupy.
v 4. Goliath. The enemy chose the tactics. This was a clever move. They had the advantage in height but perhaps not in numerical strength. Why did Israel not say: “This is not acceptable.” In disputes a man should watch out that the opposition does not catch him off guard and steal an advantage on him. One side had to have the taller man. In disputes the one with most money has the advantage. An individual cannot afford to go to court with a large company or a nationalised industry. A man should choose to fight on the truth of the Word of God. In this instance God had given the land to Israel and not to the Philistines.
v 10. Goliath defied God’s people. The Israelites were afraid.
v 16. Goliath challenged Israel for forty days. The number forty stands for either judgement or a time of testing. Goliath tested Saul. This was not a situation of Saul’s choosing or to his liking. He hid in his tent. In life a man often faces situations, which are not of his choosing or to his liking, but he has to deal with them or else the enemy gains the upper hand.
v 17. Coincidence. God anonymously arranged for David to be at the battlefront and he arrived just when Goliath spoke. A coincidence is when God wants to remain anonymous.
v 23. Another coincidence.
v 24. The men fled in fear. Was there an intimidating spirit behind Goliath? The people who had lived in Canaan were seen by the Israelites as giants. Deut ch 7 v 7.
v 25. The men were impressed by prizes and were induced to fight Goliath on the basis of a wife and free taxes. Has anything changed?
v 26. By contrast, David was concerned for the honour of God. His reputation was at stake. Are believers to serve God because they might have a prize or gift or personal respect? Nearly all ommercial decisions are now based on this fact. Isaiah ch 65 v 11. Should believers rather be guided by integrity and principle?
v 28. David got the same reply from the other soldiers. They were dead to the spiritual and moral perception of David, blinded by their greed. The men could not even believe that David would be guided by anything other than greed. Why would a person act if there were nothing in it for them? This was beyond their understanding. Work overtime to finish the job for nothing? What about the pride of doing a job well? Tithing becomes a ridiculous idea. “Giving to people who do not deserve anything at my expense?” Attitude is what distinguishes God’s people from the rest in the World.
v 29. Jealousy of David’s brothers. Gen ch 37 v 4. Joseph’s brothers were the same. Jesus faced the same hostility. Believers do also. “Who do you think you are to speak to me about Hell?”
v 31. Finally the soldiers realised that this young man was serious.
v 33. It was an impossible contest BUT for God. The “buts” in the Bible are so vital. Faith saw a way through. Not by might but by my Spirit. It was beyond Saul’s comprehension that David could tackle Goliath.
v 34. David’s faith fed on facts. He had experienced God’s presence with him before and had killed a bear and a lion.
v 36. David’s motivation was zeal for the Lord. His zeal for God was what drove him on to tackle Goliath.
v 37. David put his trust in God. Saul tried the ways of the World – armour. The politicians throw money at the problems. The educationalists try education. Society tries punishments to curb crime. Jesus calls for a change of heart. Take God at His Word. It proved useless. Put on the shield of faith – Eph ch 6 v 15. This verse may have been the Word of God, which came to Daniel when he was on the way to the den of lions. By believing the word Daniel exercised faith and was able to call on angels to shut the moths of the lions.
v 40. David picked up 5 stones. In Scripture 5 is the number for grace. David relied on the grace of God to defeat Goliath.
v 44. The World mocks God and believers. Where is your power? Who is your God? Goliath cursed David and his gods. Just get on with the job and let the facts speak for themselves. “If any man would boast.” – Jer ch 9 v 23. Did David think on these verses? No! They had not been written by that time.
v 45. David took God’s name. There is power in the name of Jesus. A man may not take the name of the Lord in vain but can take it and use it in praise, worship and tackling the enemy. God spoke and it happened. David spoke and it happened. Believers are told to speak to the mountain. Mark ch 11 v 23.
v 47. The battle is the Lord’s. He does not need human beings. It is a privilege if He is prepared to use them at all.
v 48. David took the initiative. He caught Goliath off guard. If believers take the Word of God properly they will catch others off guard and put them on the spot. They will not know how to respond and will be silenced. Bring the name of Jesus into a conversation and all will go quiet. The result was that the enemy fled. Israel pursued. When believers put the enemy to flight they should go after him and finish him off. Do not let him off the hook. This is a physical manifestation of a spiritual reality. The Philistines were not so brave now. Satan only pretends to roar like a lion. Satan is toothless but if believers let him, he will frighten them to death. It is easy to serve God when things are going well. The days are coming when for some it will be more difficult.
v 55. What is the family situation? Is he from a wealthy family? What does it matter what the family background is? David exercised faith in God. His actions spoke volumes. He did not need to explain it. Was the family situation because of the intended wedding to Saul’s daughter? Did Saul assume that David would claim the prize? Why had Saul forgotten who David was? Ch 16 v 19. Saul knew of Jesse. Had Saul’s unstable mental condition led to forgetfulness? Loss of memory is a by-product of stress.

CHAPTER 18.
There was rapid promotion for David. After David had defeated Goliath, he struck up a friendship with Jonathan. David was popular with the people. Saul fell from popularity. Saul became increasingly jealous of David and sought to kill him. This is how far a man can fall. Saul knew that the Lord was with David and he became David’s enemy continually. Unsaved man is an enemy in spiritual terms with the saved man. Saul becomes devious and David’s friends help to deliver him from Saul. There is a real struggle in Saul.
v 7. Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands. Immediately jealousy arose within the heart of Saul. Jealousy can lead to murder. A spirit of murder controlled Saul and led him to throw a spear at David.
v 14. David prospered because the Lord was with him. This only increased the jealousy of Saul.
v 17. Saul planned David’s death at the hands of the Philistines. However David exceeded all of Saul’s expectations and finally married Michal. David became more famous throughout the land and Saul’s jealousy and hatred increased.

CHAPTER 19.
Saul’s jealousy of David reached its full extent when he urged even his son Jonathan to assassinate David. Jonathan was put in a difficult position. He had to choose between supporting his father or his friend and he had also to obey his conscience. There are times when, if a man remains silent, he is disobeying his conscience. Jonathan played the role of peacemaker. This can be a dangerous role to play at times.
v 10. Things appeared to be normal again but the enemy was still at large. If the sin is not properly dealt with, it is still crouching at the door of a man’s life. Gen ch 4 v 7. No wonder David regularly referred to his enemies in the Psalms. He spoke from personal experience.
v 11. Michal helped David escape but when confronted by her father she easily lied and implicated David in her lie. What were her true motives? Did she really love David and seek his good or was she keeping in with her father? Sometimes it is necessary to examine a man’s motives.
v 23. What was happening here? David had taken lodging with a school of prophets. In seeking to destroy the Lord’s anointed, the soldiers and then Saul himself fell under the power of the Spirit of God. It had happened before to Saul in 1 Sam ch 10 v 10-12. God gives man free will but ultimately neither man nor the Devil can thwart the purpose of God. Saul took off his kingly clothes and took part in the worship of God.

CHAPTER 20.
David was in no doubt as to Saul’s intentions. Jonathan could hardly believe it.
v 16-17. This is a Biblical example of the kind of committed friendship between two children of God. How many children of God are as committed to one another as David and Jonathan were?
v 28-29. Jonathan lied to protect David. Lying is never justified. It is important to cultivate honest answers to difficult questions. Even Jonathan who is regarded as a picture of faithfulness was not perfect. Lying is the natural consequence of a desire to protect a man’s own safety.
v 30 –31. Saul did not have a proper understanding of the ways of God and that God has mercy on whom He will have mercy and has a purpose, which is not always known to a man. Ex ch 33 v 19. Saul desired that the family of Saul would continue the dynasty of the kings of Israel. For David to be king and not Jonathan was a slight on the honour of the family. Yet Saul himself was a nobody chosen by God out of His sheer mercy. Finally Jonathan saw the real jealousy of his father towards David when it boiled over in his direction.

CHAPTER 21.
v 4. Mat ch 12 v 4. Jesus refers to this passage in Mat ch 12. Jesus often referred to the Old Testament Scriptures to prove His point. 1. Human need takes precedence over ceremonial regulations. 2. Priests in the Temple worked on the Sabbath by offering the prescribed sacrifices. If they broke the Sabbath law, so could the disciples of Jesus who served the greater Temple, namely the Kingdom of God. Helping someone in need on the Sabbath is acceptable in the sight of God, rather than observance of the law. Mercy is preferred to sacrifice. Attitude is the key.

David was now a fugitive from Saul. He needed food and weapons. This shows the lengths to which he was driven. He lied and deceived in order to survive but this is no approval of his lying. In his difficulties he was drawn into sin – tempted by a desperate situation. One moment he was a national hero but now he was a fugitive and alone. David lied to the Priest. A man is tempted to tell a lie to save himself in a difficulty or when he is under great discouragement.
v 4. Had the men kept themselves from women? That was important. Why? If man is on the Lord’s business he must be self-disciplined and single-minded. It seems that men were having sexual intercourse outside of marriage. There is reference to women but not their wives. But David lied here also. There were no men.
v 7. Doeg was an Edomite. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau and were the constant and determined enemies of Israel. The book of Obadiah tells the story of their hostility towards Israel. Saul should not have had an enemy on his staff. He had been prosyletised but still bore the ancient enmity to the Jews. He turned out to be a spy against David and the priest. He overheard David’s story and told Saul. “Be sure that your sins will find out.” Ch 22 v 9. If man sins, he opens himself to the enemy’s taunts. “You call yourself a believer and you do that?” When a man sins, the man himself knows. The Lord knows and the enemy knows. The Devil is the accuser of the believers. Holiness is the only sure protection against the enemy.
v 9. The sword of Goliath would be an encouragement to David in his struggle with his situation. Experiences are facts on which a man can draw strength. “I did it once. I can do it again.” David had given it back to God. Now in his distress it stood him in good stead.
v 11. David had established a reputation among other people. He was so discouraged by the pursuit of Saul that he sought safety in the land of the enemies. How many believers are so discouraged that they throw their energies into worldly activities? Sometimes the people of God find greater comfort from the people of the World than the people of the Church. It is common for outlaws of a nation to be sheltered by the enemies of a nation, who are seeking to gain some advantage over their enemies.
v 12. Was David being wise as a serpent or was he guilty of lying again to save his life? David was afraid. Where was the conqueror of Goliath? Like Elijah, who fled from Jezebel, faith turned to fear. David lied again. No wonder so many Psalms seek forgiveness.

CHAPTER 22.
v 2. God was starting a new work under David. The number 8 stands for a new beginning. There were 8 in the ark. David was the eighth son of Jesse. Whom did God gather to support David in the work? Those who were in distress, those who were in debt and those who were discontented. This is not what a man might choose, but God will take anyone who is not satisfied with his life and use him in His work. God begins to work at a man’s extremity. The Church is called sinners anonymous. David was to weld this untrained band into an effective fighting unit.
v 3. David made provision for his parents. Honour your father and mother. David had Moabite blood in his veins from Ruth. Ruth ch 1 v 4.
v 7. Saul is sorry for himself. He is having a pity party, developing his paranoia. As the spirit of self-pity came over Saul, he was joined by the spirit of bitterness in Doeg. Ch 21 v 7. Doeg was waiting his moment to get at David. The enemy is patient and waits until there is a moment when he can do his deadliest work. The enemy is at work – passing on gossip to the detriment of everyone. The enemy stirs up trouble.
v 13. Saul is so one-eyed that he cannot see any good intention on the part of the priest. Ahimelech was deceived by David. David had told him lies. He thought that he was doing the right thing. Surely Saul could have shown mercy and given him the benefit of the doubt. Are believers at times too quick to pass judgement without knowing the whole circumstances?
v 14. Ahimelech pleaded his innocence. He was innocent. But Saul was so determined to get at David that his judgement was clouded by hatred of David. Is a man’s mind so made up at times that he cannot see the other person’s point of view or the truth?
v 17. God demands justice. It was not just that Ahimelech should die. His family was to die with him. That was even more unfair. The soldiers refused to kill the priest. Do believers take a stand for justice when people are falsely accused?
v 18. Once again the enemy is delighted to do the dirty work. The enemy hates believers and delights to bring them harm. They should never underestimate the enemy. Then he wiped out the town of Nob. When the enemy is on the loose, innocent people are caught up in the carnage. In Bosnia as in all war zones around the World the women and children are caught up in the destruction. Of the 30 wars in recent years 28 were instigated by Islam.
v 22. David accepted personal responsibility. He should have known when he saw Doeg that the priests would be in danger. Many look for an excuse when they are caught out. Adam claimed that it was Eve, who caused him to sin. David promised to look after and protect Abiathar. When a man sees the orphans does he accept personal responsibility for them?

CHAPTER 23.
David had been through a deep valley – a low point in his life. Each man goes through such wilderness seasons – testing times – even Jesus Christ had many of these from the very beginning. Had David learned a lesson? Do not run away. Do not run to the enemy. Do not run from the land to Moab. Even though David was under attack from the enemy he could still be used by God to do good to others. This is a story about fighting the enemy. The enemy is taking ground – marriage – children – drugs – drink – whatever. He comes to destroy the people. Should believers go on the attack or let them get away with it? It is the fault of the people. David first asked the Lord. “Shall we go on the attack?” The Lord left David in no doubt.
v 4 – God reassured David and when David went out to fight he was victorious. Saul thought things would go otherwise and that this was his opportunity to capture David. The enemy seldom gives up.
v 8. David was in a crisis. He was inside a walled city and Saul was coming to enclose him. He consulted God. Faith needs a crisis to walk on.
v 10. David wanted simple answers to simple questions. “Ask and you will receive.” “Shall we go out?” When the enemy comes back at believers, they should trust the Lord to protect them. It was understandable that the men of Keilah were wary of becoming involved. They knew what had happened to Ahimelech and the people of Nob. On the other hand they had received grace from the Lord through David and his men, who had saved them from the Philistines. Many people are blessed by God through believers and yet do not support them when the time of testing comes.
v 12. If a believer is not sure if he can rely on a particular person or if that person shares the same vision, then he should ask the Lord and expect an answer.
v 16. God sent Jonathan to encourage David in his faith in God. Times were difficult. David had done the right thing by the people of Keilah. He might have expected a time of peace and blessing. Jonathan suddenly appeared in order to encourage an embattled and discouraged man. Encourage means – “to strengthen the hand of”. Jonathan came at the right moment with the right words. He addressed the fears and promoted courage. “Do not be afraid – my father will not succeed – in spite of all his efforts.” Jonathan had a confidence in God’s designation of David as the next king – of this he had an assurance – and he knew that no one could thwart the purposes of God. Like Barnabas Jonathan was an encourager. It was actions by him rather than words.
v 19. The enemy used another method of attack. The people of Ziph – the neighbours, who seemed friendly, were actually hostile to David’s men. Trust no one but the Lord. “You might as well enjoy the battle or else it will be a misery.” The enemy is thorough in his work of destruction. “Tell me about his movements – the routes he takes – his hiding places – be specific about where he goes and when.” This is like King Herod and the wise men.
v 26 The chase was exciting and dramatic – imagine this from a helicopter.
v 27. Just when all seemed lost God intervened and used the Philistines to bring David safety. When things seem impossible, God is still in control. Help can come from an unexpected source. Sometimes God tests a man to see if his faith will hold in difficulties.

CHAPTER 24.
What a coincidence that Saul went into the very cave where David and his men were hiding. Life is full of coincidences. It looks as if David’s men are quoting Scripture to advise David. Go and kill Saul. That is their advice. “This is your opportunity to get your own back” David was able to creep up so close to Saul that he cut off a part of his cloak or skirt without Saul noticing it. Not an easy thing to do in the dark.
David felt a sense of guilt. It was not that he had killed Saul but he had shown how smart he was. This was still the Lord’s anointed. The men would willingly, with the slightest encouragement from David, have killed Saul. David used his position of influence to prevent them doing that.
The enemy is relentless. He never gives up. There is a desire to get even. That is of the flesh. Jesus did not try to get even with His enemies. 1 Peter ch 1 v 6. He left it to God.
A man does not have to kill people to get even. He needs only destroy their character by making sure that others hear about their bad points. Gossip. Run them down with words. “Do good to your enemies” is the rule in the Kingdom of God. “Kill them” is the rule in the ways of the World. “Kill off your competitors.” God did not design man to compete with others but to complete others.
v 8. David promised to show mercy to Saul. In this way David was a man after God’s heart. He showed mercy to someone who did not deserve it. Was David guilty of smugness? Did David want to prove to Saul that they should not be fighting but should leave the future in the hands of God?
v 9-11. An apologia. State the case with confidence. “This is how I see it.” This leaves room for disagreement without falling out with the other person. The enemy has no answer but Goliath will try to catch a man off guard.
v 14. Let God judge between men. Believers should not be suing one another in the courts of the World. They should not be scoring points off one another trying to prove that they are better than one another. That is the Lord’s business. “Take the plank out of your own eye first.” Politicians should let God judge as to which policies are just and fair and not take matters into their own hands by attacking the opposition party and rubbishing their members and their leaders. Gossip is taking the matter into a man’s own hands and criticising others. A man does not know where others stand before God and what burdens they have to bear and he has no right to criticise them. God is the judge of all the Earth.
v 19. “Love your enemy.” There is a great contrast in Saul. One moment he was in a rage trying to kill David. The next he was reasonable and generous. The old nature and the new nature lived within him.
Saul had been diverted from his pursuit of David by the attack of the Philistines. However, as soon as that attack was over, Saul was back on the trail of David. The enemy never lets up. He may leave a man for a while but he will be back. Satan left Jesus for a season.

CHAPTER 25.
David is a man after God’s heart. Is this so in this chapter?
v 1-13. David asked for support in a humble fashion. He pled his case. He was a King and a general. He was entitled to demand but merely asked. He comes across as the suffering servant. God is entitled to demand but will not force a man to obey Him. The man refused. David resolved to kill him. Was David right or wrong? The response of Nabal was churlish. Nabal was not the kind of man worth knowing – he was a bigoted stubborn greedy grumpy man – and he was married to Abigail – who had beauty and brains. He was crude and rude – she was smart and caring. The two could not have been more different. He loved his money and was not willing to part with it. David had played a part in protecting him, otherwise he would not have had as much in the first place. A man’s wealth is due to grace. God is entitled to some of it back. He is actually entitled to all of it back but asks for a tenth. Man is a steward and not an owner.
v 21. There are elements of a suzereignty treaty. The greater is entitled to support from the lesser.
David had protected the man from the Philistines. David decided on revenge without consulting the Lord. He fell to temptation. In the previous chapter David consulted God before killing Saul. How quickly believers forget the lessons from the past. They may do the will of the Lord one day and forget the next. David graciously accepted the petition of Abigail. David showed mercy when asked. In this way he was a man after God’s heart. How quick God is to show mercy when asked. He was entitled to condemn but chose not to.
v 39. Nabal insulted David. He had saved the man, yet Nabal insulted him. This was the same with Jesus. People insult Him, even though Jesus died to save them from their sins. People use the name of Jesus as a curse. Who is this Jesus? “Is he not the son of Joseph?” Everyone must have known who David was. He had defeated Goliath and saved the nations from the Philistines.

Abigail played the part of the peacemaker and was blessed as a result. She graciously defended her husband. She did not run him down even though he deserved it. David listened to Abigail and had humility to accept her rebuke – as from the Lord. Do believers have humility to accept a rebuke from the Lord from any quarter or are they too proud? “No one is going to tell me what to do!” David copied the ways of the World in relation to several wives. Do believers copy the ways of the World at times? Nabal brought judgement on himself. God dealt with him. Did God kill him or did he die as a result of the guilt and shame in his body? Was it a heart attack? Fear can kill. The wages of sin is death.

CHAPTER 26.
This is a re-run of chapter 24. Why is it in the Word of God? The men of Ziph once again told Saul about David. They told tales about David with a view to bringing him down. The enemy never gives up. Would Saul have pursued David if the Ziphites had not told Saul? They stirred it up. Watch out for people who stir up trouble. Proverbs ch 6 v 19. One of the things the Lord hates is people who stir up trouble between friends. This is a repeat of the report by Doeg the Edomite. Was God testing David a second time to see if he really was committed to the ways of God? Saul had apologised to David in chapter 24 but once again he was on the warpath and out to get David. The enemy is at work watching for an opportunity to cause distress for the believer. David had in his army Ahimelech a Hittite. This man would have a fine military tradition.

Jealousy can lead to murder as Joseph found out, when the jealousy of his brothers almost led to his death. The situation does not change until there is repentance. Regret or remorse is not effective. Only repentance releases the power of the Holy Spirit to change the situation. Saul was sorry but was not repentant. Tale-bearers also need to repent. It is not their business. Their report is motivated by hatred of David.
v 12. A deep sleep from the Lord had fallen on them. The same words were used in Gen ch 2 v 21. Is it a supernatural sleep? God put Adam to sleep, without anaesthetic. Even the guards were asleep. David seemed assured of God’s protection as he ventured into the camp. David declined to kill Saul, preferring his conscience to his advantage. “Who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed.” There should be no criticism of church leaders. The sleep came to an end and they woke up with a shout from the distance. Was it the fallen nature in David when he taunted Abner and ridiculed him? He did not need to say anything. Abner’s failure was obvious to all.
v 19. David proclaimed a curse because Saul had acted on the impulse of the flesh and not in accordance with the will of God. Saul was defying the purpose of God. David had been driven by Saul from his own land and religion and faced temptation to worship false gods. Had he not been a person of determination, he would have fallen to temptation. Do Church leaders drive out believers, or discourage them. They then face temptation to worship false gods? Sometimes Church leaders are afraid to allow a member to outgrow them in knowledge or experience. “If a member who is unpaid can preach as well as the leader, why do the members need to pay the leader?” That thought may go through the mind of a leader.
There is a contrast between David and Jesus. David hid from Saul. Jesus never hid. David did not pray at times. Jesus prayed regularly. David was disobedient at times. Jesus never disobeyed His Father. David was not always prepared to wait for God to move. Jesus waited upon God’s timing.
v 21. Saul appeared to repent and invited David to return. Was David wise to refuse? Saul was unreliable. People may show remorse but do they really mean it? Is it being foolish to take them back? Or is it being gracious? David again committed the matter to God to decide between them. It appears that Saul and David parted friends. This was the last time they met. Rom ch 12 v 18. As far as possible be at peace with all men.

CHAPTER 27.
There is always danger of defeat after victory. After Jericho came Ai. There is an enemy who never gives up. Is there a time to retreat from the enemy? Retreat is not the same as defeat. David received better treatment with the Philistines than he did from the King of Israel. That is a sad statement. It was unbelief to accept that he would die at the hands of Saul. In v 1 David acted out of despair and discouragement. The Jebusite spirit was at work. He thought to himself instead of allowing God to speak through His Word. However it was not within the will of God. David was to be king of Israel and should have stayed in Israel. But God did not say when he would be king. By letting discouragement and despair influence his judgement he moved out-with the will of God and slipped back into the World. He allowed negative thinking into his mind. His life was now governed by fear. Fear always hinders the progress of the servants of God. The fear of Saul controlled David’s actions. The fear of failure fathers failure. “That which I have feared has come upon me” Job ch 3 v 25. David, who had fought and defeated the lion and the bear and Goliath, fell to discouragement. It is easy to be critical of David. After 16 years of being pursued by Saul, David had had enough. He was ground down by the enemy. David was distracted and doubting. There are times when a believer cannot see the way ahead and is called to stand and not give up. The pressure to give up is real. David thought that he would feel better away from the battle situation. Israel today is so tired of the battle with Islam that they are desperate for peace. But a peace treaty will not end the battle. It is so dangerous to rely on feelings. David became vague and secretive. David actually went to Gath – the home of Goliath. He bowed his knee to the enemy. David thought that he could be anonymous. However, David was supporting the enemy. It is often said of a young person that he has fallen into bad company. This is not true. A man chooses his company – for good or evil. There is a danger that disaffected believers lend their support to the World rather than the Kingdom of God, just because it is less hard. Even though he was in enemy territory David made space for himself and had his own place – Ziglag. He wanted out of the limelight. He was tired of the pressure. In this chapter David reached his lowest point when he was rewarded for serving the enemies of the Lord. It is interesting that the Dead Sea is the lowest point of the surface of the Earth. Is this a physical picture of the spiritual reality? David ended up wiping out the enemies of the Philistines.

The Bible shows the people of God as they are with sin in their lives. Here is the man who is commended as a man after God’s heart. Yet at this point David had lost sight of God. He was not in tune with God. Communion with God ceased. David was no longer the sweet singer of Israel – but the butcher of the south. It seems that not one of his 600 men came forward to give him counsel and advice. Achish concluded that he had trapped David forever. David was honoured by the Philistines for his achievements. The people of the World had drawn David right away from the Lord. Did this amount to a situation, which is described in Hebrews ch 6 v 4. There is no place where any of the Psalms was written at this time unless in Psalm 43. The Psalmist was gloomy and discouraged. Perhaps this was written by David after he had been restored, realising how low he had once been during the years when He had lived among the Philistines. The word “hope” means intense expectation – like a woman who is pregnant. A pregnant woman is not just wishing for a baby – she is expecting – and that is the meaning of hope – assurance that it is real and it is going to happen.
v 4. There is always false security in the enemy camp. David was welcomed, fed, clothed and housed. The World will welcome a believer and offer its glittering treasures.
v 8. These people were common enemies of Israel and the Philistines. So Achish was pleased with David. This area of land had never been taken by Joshua, when the Israelites entered the land. In his space David was able to serve the Lord despite his disobedience but David told lies to Achish.
v 12. This reveals what the king really had in mind for David.

CHAPTER 28.
The Philistines were the enemies of Israel. What was David doing discussing the matter with the Philistines? Had he not defeated the Philistines by killing Goliath? Here he is fighting with them against Israel. David had refused to lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed, yet he was joining forces with the enemy of Israel. David is shown in a bad light. Are believers sometimes on the enemy’s side and not on God’s side. Saul had put the mediums and wizards out of the land of Israel. Deut ch 18 v 10. Saul faced the Philistines and he trembled. He had no David now to help him, because he had driven David away. Believers cannot afford to fall out with anyone. They never know when the situation will change and they will need them. At the end of the day family are the ones a man should be able to rely on. Saul turned to God. Too late! Saul had forfeited the right to seek the help of the Lord. People often pray in desperate circumstances. Too late! They should have thanked God in times of blessing. A man should build the house when the weather is good and not when the storms of life are upon him. Saul was desperate and turned in the last resort to a medium. Where else was he to turn? He had put them out of the land. He knew this was wrong.
v 8. The heart is deceptive. Saul disguised himself. Divination was strictly forbidden. The only door to the supernatural, which is allowed to a man, is by faith. All other doors to the occult – the hidden things – are dangerous. Saul was disguised but the woman – the spirit – knew who he was. The woman got Saul to take the Lord’s name in vain. Saul was in the hands of the enemy. The woman then realised that it was Saul. The spirit in her knew before she did – the same spirit, which had planted the idea in Saul’s mind at the outset. The spirit suggested that man sins and then goes about arranging it all. The Devil does not know the future. He states it and then tries to arrange it.
v 15. Was it Samuel or a spirit pretending to be Samuel? The real Samuel would have been worshipping the Lord and could not come back. Saul was convinced that it was Samuel. He should have known better. He wanted Samuel so badly that he believed that it was him. There was a condition of the mind.
v 16-18. Appears to be the truth. Was v 19 also the truth? The Devil is the father of lies. “That which I have feared has come upon me.” It served Saul right for listening to a medium.
v 20. Fear gripped Saul. Through the medium grace is shown to Saul, despite his terrible sin.

CHAPTER 29.
The Philistine lords had more sense than David. He was not to be allowed to fight with them. They did not trust David. Often non-believers have more common sense than believers. God had to use people outside of Israel to persuade David not to fight against Israel. What was David thinking about? When a man is in the wrong place others notice him. Even the enemy does not want believers fighting on their side. One way or another David was not allowed to fight against the Lord’s anointed. The king explained that David was all right but the commander of the Philistine army insisted that David was dismissed. David is delivered but God is showing what can happen when a man takes his eyes off God and looks elsewhere. Psalm 43 v 5. 1 John 4 v 18 and 2 Timothy ch 1v 7. A man has to place his hope in God and in Jesus.

CHAPTER 30.
As soon as David’s back was turned, the enemy was back at him. David returned to Ziklag in the south where he had spent some 16 months living as a fugitive – and raiding some of the nomadic tribes, which had lived there since ancient times. This time the enemy took his wives and belongings. The enemy will steal all a man has. It was the actions of the Philistine lords, which prevented David from attacking Israel and which also meant that he returned home – just in time. Grace often operates through non-believers.
v 4. This was a real crisis. They wept aloud – and their sadness and sorrow was real and deep.
v 6. The men blamed David – they had lost confidence in his leadership. It was David who took them away from their lucrative raiding – to march with the Philistine army – and see what had happened as soon as his back was turned. They want to stone David.

David’s leadership was under attack and the men blamed him for their losses. How fickle a crowd can be. Calvary! People will follow so far until the going gets rough. They were all distressed but David drew near to God. It had been a long time since David had done this. David faced a crisis and faith needs a crisis to walk on. There was no apparent solution to his problems. He had only God to whom he could turn in his darkest hour – yet again. Saul was against him. The men were against him. The wives were gone. The Philistines were against him. Only God was left on David’s side. The women would probably have been sold into slavery. This still goes on today in parts of the World. It had been a long time since this has happened. He asked Abiathar the priest for help and counsel. When there is internal strife, it is policy to turn on the enemy. David did not resort to this tactic without first seeking God’s advice. David set off and he went on even though some of the army gave up. If God gives a man a task, carry on even if some fall away.
v 11. Providence. God led them to the slave. Coincidence. David was gracious to the slave. He remembered that his people had been slaves once also in Egypt. Men had to be fit to travel and fight with David – 200 were too exhausted – “I will have to do the job with only 400 then.” The enemy were drunk and revelling in their spoils and David attacked and gained an amazing victory and rescued everyone and everything, which had been taken away.

The same rebellious men, who wanted to stone David earlier, were not prepared to share the loot with those who stayed behind. “We did all the work. Why should they benefit?” It is similar to the parable of the vineyard. David was gracious to those who stayed behind. In this way David had a heart after God. Grace does not need to be equal. The 400 had received grace. Surely they could share with the less fortunate. The others had not rebelled, but had just been too weak. God had been gracious to the 400 or else there would have been nothing to share out in the first place. “Do you begrudge my generosity?”
v 23 – David replied: “ No, my brothers. Believers are all part of the one team. What we have has been given to us by the LORD. We did not do all this all by ourselves.” These exhausted 200 have looked after the goods here – back room boys are needed as well as front line fighters. All share alike in Israel. One plants a seed and another waters it.

David even sent some of these riches to Judah – these places had been of help and service to David in the past. This has been a most positive and healthy crisis! A crisis can break or make a man – it all depends upon how he reacts and responds. David had found in God more than strength. He had compassion upon the 200 – and upon the discarded Egyptian – meeting his needs in the middle of his own crisis – and this man became a source of information for David’s next victory. Time spent in the wilderness is a repeated theme in the Bible – a time of formation and learning and trusting – and exploring a relationship with God. Moses, Jesus and Paul have all been there. A man learns more from the wilderness experience than from the mountain top experience.

CHAPTER 31.
The Philistines took over and moved in, stealing the land promised to the Jews. It is happening today. Saul had rebelled against God. His life ended in suicide. He entered Heaven imbued with his own blood.
Saul’s first act when he was made king was to deliver the men of Jabesh-gilead. Ch 11 v 9. The men returned the favour. Rotten though Saul was at the end, no one deserves to be hung up on a wall like a piece of meat. The false god Dagan is mentioned in Judges ch 16 v 33. Samson dealt with him.
Saul had begun life as King so well but had thrown away his crown. The King is not above the law of God. It all started when Saul did not obey God and kill Agag. There may still be sins in the life of a believer, which have never been dealt with? There are sins, which are comfort zones and treated like pets. Saul blamed others for his problems and did not repent. Repentance is accepting personal responsibility for sins. The sins of the father were visited on the sons and all three of his sons died with Saul. Pride, jealousy and envy had taken a grip on Saul’s life. Reputation is what men think of a man. Character is when God looks at a man. Saul could have done so well, if he had let David and Jonathan help him in his administration. Too many leaders feel that they can manage on their own and exclude members of the congregation, who could contribute to the work of the ministry. Saul started well. Ch 10 v 1-2. The Spirit was upon him. v 6. Saul received a gift of prophecy. v 9-11. Saul was for a time King and prophet. He tried to be priest as well. Ch 13 v 13. But Saul turned back from obeying God. Ch 15 v 10-11.

For Israel as well as for David it looked like the end. But God was still at work. It seemed like the enemy had won. This was the case when Jesus died. Help came from an unexpected source. Hold on! David was still alive and available. If he had been by Saul’s side David would have died also. To be deeply involved with a Church, which is dying, may lead to the death of all the members. There is a time to stand back and a time to be involved. God’s plan will succeed despite sin and Satan’s wiles.

2 Samuel

This was written by the prophets Nathan and Gad. Nathan spoke to King David on a number of occasions. The central message is “Be sure that your sins will find you out.” It also teaches patience. Patience is a virtue for which special grace is given. “I will wait upon the Lord.” God is always ready to forgive but sin and punishment go together. David is a man after God’s heart but he still had to struggle to hold onto God. His life is like an ordinary life. He has a relationship with God but stumbles from time to time. He never gives up but despite the stumbles he presses on to the goal of knowing God better. After First Samuel life goes on. One chapter has closed but another opens. The struggle with Saul has closed with Saul’s death. This happened only 24 hours after visiting the witch of Endor. A new situation opens up for David as King of Israel. What has happened in the past shapes a man’s life today. What a man does today shapes his future. Today is the day of salvation. Ch 2 v 1. “What shall I do now?” Man cannot dwell on the past experience, particularly if it has been a disappointment. Learn from it and move on into the next situation. David did not rejoice in the death of his enemy. He paid respect to Saul as well as to Jonathan. How does man respond to the difficulties in life? He can respond in the area of his will or his emotions. If he relies on his emotions, he will be driven by them. If a man does not feel like praying he will not pray. If, however, he relies on his will, he will pray even when he does not feel like it.

 

Life has changed for David. He is no longer a shepherd boy. He is a King. Some people will still have regarded him as a shepherd boy. Jesus had the same problem. “Isn’t he the son of Joseph?” Some will say to a believer: “Who is he to tell us what to do? He is not an ordained man. He does not have a degree.” Life has changed. People try to mould people into their image. God wants to mould man into the image of His Son. Other people enter life and bring new situations – a new family or neighbours – colleagues at work. They bring pressure to bear on him. The enemy may be at work through them. Perhaps one is a Doeg, the Edomite. In the Hebrew there was no break in the book. Samuel was one book. David had been patient and waited for the Lord’s timing.

 

CHAPTER 1.

v 9. Euthanasia. When is it right to take a life? Saul seemed to have no future. The Amalekite did not think that it was serious to finish Saul off. Perhaps he had an eye to collecting some loot. But God might have intervened to save him. Was this providence or did Saul and the Amalekite take over the reigns from God? David was genuinely distressed at the news of the death of his enemy Saul. Is man distressed when his enemies fall or does he rejoice and say: “It serves them right?” While man was His enemy, Christ died for man. Jesus had compassion for man while he was in darkness and perhaps taking His name in vain. Was David correct to kill the Amalekite? Where does that leave the doctor who takes life, even if he is sincere in his attempt to ease the pain of the patient? “Your own mouth has testified against you.” Man condemns himself by his refusal to acknowledge the need of a saviour. There is a physical picture of the enemy taking ground. The enemy is encroaching on the land. Man should be distraught at the damage being inflicted on his children, the babies who are denied a birth, the young people being destroyed by drugs. David had compassion for Saul. Did he recognise that the battle is not against flesh and blood but spiritual powers and principalities? Then David can see the enemy at work and feel compassion for Saul. There were glimpses of the man Saul and then the enemy seems to take over and drive him to destroy David. Death is so serious it is not right to dredge up the past sins.

 

v 20. David did not want the enemy to hear about Saul’s death so that they might gloat. Obadiah v 12.

 

v 21. The land mourns and withers. Isaiah ch 23.

 

Grief is demonstrated in this chapter. v 5. David cannot really accept it – denial. v 12. David shows grief. v 14. There is anger. v 26. Depression.

 

CHAPTER 2.

When man needs advice from the Lord as to his future, keep it simple saint. K I S S. David just asked the Lord a couple of questions. There was no fancy language. David was crowned King of Judah at Hebron. He that will rule with meekness will not rise with violence. David had to win the hearts of the whole people. David was clearly the Lord’s anointed. We might have expected all Israel to accept him. But no! There is a resistance in the heart of man to the counsel of God. Few readily accept the invitation from the Lord. Rebellious man appointed his own king against David, the Lord’s anointed.

 

v 6. David remembered the promise of the Lord and repeated it. Man should want to behave as the Lord would behave in the same situation, so that he is truly His ambassador. “I will honour those who honour me.” 1 Sam ch 2 v 30. David made an approach to those who supported his adversary.

 

v 8. There was division between the House of Israel and the House of Judah. A kingdom divided will fall. The result was fighting.

v 12. Death followed. All are losers when there is a dispute. There seemed to be no point to the sword-play. Twelve young men died needlessly. Was there a spirit of division at work? There may be such a spirit at work in nations as well as in families and in businesses. There was an attempt to settle it by the ways of the World – single combat – a mock dual. The play became serious and had serious consequences. If man is careless, he can be drawn into situations with bad results, which he did not contemplate at the outset. Never underestimate the enemy. He works wiles. However it began, it ended in blood. Pride and enmity ended in death. The wages of sin is death. Blessed are the peacemakers. Real peace is hard to make. Joab’s brother pursued Abner and died as a result. Asahel was single minded in his pursuit of the enemy. Was it right to tackle him on his own? Did he mean to kill Asahel? Force never solves any problem in the long term. It leaves a legacy of bitterness.

 

v 24. Abner and Joab declare a truce. During a time of civil was everyone loses. Was Joab influenced by David’s attitude. Man has an influence on others. Man should set an example to younger people.

 

CHAPTER 3. Honest motives. God works out His purpose – despite men.

 

v 1. Feuds tend to last a long time. One act of aggression leads to another and so on.

 

v 2. David had several wives. This was cultural and not Biblical. It is the same in many African countries, where the Church has to teach the Biblical principle of one wife only. It takes time to work it through a whole generation.

 

v 8. Abner responded in a hostile way to criticism. He did not have the grace to admit that he was wrong or the patience to walk away from the criticism. His response suggests that he is guilty. His response is to get even and make life difficult for his enemy. Abner frightened Ishbosheth. The harem of a king passed to his heir, which makes Abner’s action tantamount to a claim to the throne.

 

v 10. Dan to Beer-sheba – from one end of the country to another. Abner invoked the Bible and the Word of God in his defence. He took the name of the Lord in vain. He was not so concerned for the Word of God earlier when he opposed David. Now it suited his purposes to change his stance. He used David to hurt Ishbotheth.

 

v 13. Was it right for David to bargain for his wife? Is man guilty of bargaining instead of doing the right thing? God was giving David the Kingdom as He had promised and David was busy adding to the promise by seeking a return of his wife. David may have thought that if he was back with Michal, the daughter of Saul, it would endear him to the followers of Saul. Was he thinking of the good of Michal or just his own benefit? Deut ch 24 v 4. A man is not to take back a wife after she has married another man. David broke the moral law for a possible advantage in the eyes of other men. Does man fear God or men? Appointing an elder for fear of men is breaking the law of God. Does man mix faith and selfish pursuits together? Who is sorry for Paltiel? He was caught up in the sin. People get caught up in the sin of others.

 

v 21. Was Abner honest in his dealings with David? Did he really seek David’s good? Was David gullible?

 

v 22. Joab still harboured a grudge against Abner for the events of chapter 2. He let his grudge colour his judgement and his loyalty to his king. He accused Abner of deceit. Perhaps he was right. He would not accept David’s decision. Getting even with Abner was uppermost in his mind. Where was grace and mercy? Joab murdered Abner for the death of Joab’s brother Asahel. David was not involved in the murder. He protested his innocence. Did David suspect that Joab would seek to get even with Abner?

 

v 29. David pronounced a curse on Joab and his family. A man should be careful that he never places a curse on another person. Everything David did pleased the people. Even so David did not pass judgement on Joab. Should he not have sentenced him to death? Despite a public declaration of his innocence, the taint of murder remained with David all his life. God was working out His purposes, despite all the intrigue and dishonesty of the various parties.

 

What are man’s motives when he does good? Is it to receive the praise of men. When man modifies a fee, is it to get more business or because he wants to help our client? £9.99. Is this honest? If man befriends someone, is it to take them away from someone else or is it out of genuine concern for that person? When man picks the team, is it for the good of the team or because he hopes to get a favour from the one selected?

 

CHAPTER 4.

Wrong thinking. The two bandits thought that David must think the same way as they did. They thought that David would be pleased about the death of Ishbotheth. They could not have been more wrong. Man tends to think that others think the same way as they do. Unsaved man has a different set of values. It is unwise to assume that others think the same way. Ask people: “What do you think? How do you see the situation? I see it this way.” That may save a war. In the Middle East there are two different sets of value – Jew and Arab – each based on different Scriptures – the Bible and the Koran. What were their motives? Did they hope for a reward? With David growing in popularity, their days were numbered. Were they trying to work themselves into favour with David? Did they not know the reputation of David? Did David go too far in his treatment of the two bandits? Genesis ch 9 v 6.

 

CHAPTER 5.

God brought the leaders to David. He did not have to go and force them into submission. David was 30 years old when he began to reign. Ezekiel and Jesus were also 30 when they started their public ministries. They were not too young to be immature, nor too old to be weak. His reign started at Hebron and then he went to Jerusalem.

 

v 6. The Jebusites mocked David. “The blind and lame will defeat you.” This is one of the tactics of the Jebusite spirit.

 

v12. David realised that the reason why God had made David King was to bless His people Israel. David was to be the instrument of blessing to others – the people of Israel. Believers are appointed children of God in order to be a blessing to others. Even so David took more concubines and had more children. Do believers receive blessings from the Lord and continue to act in the ways of the World?

 

v 19. The enemy was back. He does not give man a lot of peace. David enquired of the Lord. “Shall I go out to battle or shall I stay at home?” He received a clear answer. The enemy came back again. David asked the Lord again. He did not presume that the previous answer applied this time also. He received an answer but this time his tactics were to be different. The battle is the Lord’s. Man’s strategy need not be the same each time. God is all-wise. Consult Him.

 

CHAPTER 6.

There were rules for carrying the Ark. Num ch 4 v 15. Priests were to carry it. Then it would not be in danger of falling, as it was when carried by a cart and animals. God has rules for a purpose. When His purpose is not obvious to man, he ought still to obey them, since God is all-wise. If he breaks the rules, he dies. The wages of sin is death. David did not keep the rules. What are the rules for man, which lead to spiritual death when broken? “Do not neglect to meet together.” A single Christian will inevitably die spiritually. Uzzah died.

 

v 5. All kinds of musical instruments. Nothing about just an organ since the days of the Church.

 

v 10. It seemed too difficult for David and he gave up. Sometimes it seems too difficult for man and he gives up. The only answer is to get back to the Lord, ask for forgiveness and start serving and obeying Him again.

 

v 12. Obededom got the blessing for having the presence of the Lord at his house and David became jealous. Make others jealous of God’s blessing. Obedience brings blessings.

 

v 14. David danced before the Lord.

 

v 16. Michal was embarrassed by David’s actions. A child of God is sometimes embarrassed by the actions of other believers? But her embarrassment was due to bitterness. Deut ch 24 v 4. She still resented David for taking her from her husband Paltiel. Was she right to resent David? David had sinned and she suffered. Both were wrong. David had other wives. Michal was alone and without children. That was a disgrace in Israel. There was no joy for Michal. The result was a family row and a disagreement. “I am better than your father.” Should David have said: “This is how I see it.” It would have left room for a discussion of the way forward. Man cannot always agree with everyone but the Scripture tells man to live at peace with others when at all possible. Rom ch 12 v 18.

 

CHAPTER 7.

David was concerned for the reputation of the Lord. David lived in a palace, while God lived in a tent. David wanted to do something about it. God’s church is broken down. Haggai ch 1 v 4. Nathan agreed with David and told him to go ahead. God spoke to Nathan and told Nathan that he was wrong – that was not what God wanted. Does man advise others without consulting God? He dare not do that. God was quite content to live in a tent. Assumptions are made sometimes that God wants to do certain things, without even consulting Him?

 

God may speak to a person through another person. God spoke to David through Nathan the prophet. God made a covenant with David. A Covenant is made between a superior and an inferior. God was the superior and David the inferior. The covenant was both conditional and unconditional. It was to do with the reign of Christ as King of David. It was conditional in the sense that disobedience would result in punishment. It was unconditional in the sense that, even if there were disobedience, the covenant would not be abolished. God would never break the covenant, even if David and his successors broke it. Man has the opportunity to break the new covenant but God will never cast him off. Jesus was born in the birthplace of David – Bethlehem.

 

There are 4 elements in the covenant. 1. The promise of a dynasty. 2. The promise of a kingdom to rule over, including land and people. 3. The promise of regal authority. 4. The promise that the house of Israel would last forever. Christ was the goal of this covenant. Luke ch 1 v 31-34. v 13 and v 16 is the promise for ever.

 

v 12. Solomon was a strong man and the Kingdom of Israel was at its zenith during his reign. Solomon was to build the Lord a temple and not David because David had spilled much blood. 1 Chron ch 22 v 7-11 explains. David was a man of war. David drew up the plans but Solomon built it. 1 Chron ch 28 v 11.

 

v 18. David’s response. He sat down with the Lord. “Who am I that you have done this? You know me inside out. God, you did it all.” It is all grace. David prayed the declaration by God into being” If that is what you want, then that is what I want.” So let it be. David yielded to the will of God. He could have disagreed with God and refused to go along with His plans. v 25. David accepted God’s will for him.

v 27. David prayed in boldness. Accept what God has given, even if He is taking it away from others. That is His will. God promised it. David accepted it. It was a difficult thing for Nathan to tell David. Samuel had a difficult message to tell Eli.

 

CHAPTER 13. Amnon was the oldest son and would have been king. He had everything. James asks Why do you fight? “You want and do not have and so you take.” Amnon turned to his crafty friend. It is important to seek advice from someone who is trustworthy. Temptation is often followed by bad advice. Today the advice is: “If it feels good, do it.“ Nike. The advice was to play a game and pretend. Sin always promises more than it can deliver. His father had not disciplined his children. The Government is supposed to protect the vulnerable members of society. David seemed blind to the deception. What was he thinking about? It is not healthy to be alone in a house with a person of the opposite sex. Even if nothing happens, the enemy can ask questions, which give a false impression. There is no point in being angry after the event. As with abortions, it is better to be angry before it happens. v 20. Absolom had been nursing and rehearsing for two years, waiting for his opportunity for revenge. Here was a dysfunctional royal family. The death of his son. The rape of his daughter and the murder of his first born son. Not a good record. Absolom fled out of guilt. When man sins he runs from God. Sin is simply not worth it. There is nothing good to be said for it. It brings nothing but misery in the long run. John ch 10 v 10. Satan is at work destroying the family. There is a saying that how a man conducts his private life is his own business. History records that it very soon becomes the business of others. It may be years later but eventually the individual loses credibility. A man’s sins will find him out. The enemy is aware of the sins and delights to expose them, robbing the individual of public respect.

 

CHAPTER 14. Trials and difficulties may be brought from God to forge character. Temptation and bad advice may come from the enemy to trip man up. This chapter is a parable about the grace of God. God uses Joab as His servant to bring the sinner Absolom into a relationship again with the King – his father. If God’s grace is excluded there will be nothing left worthwhile in this World. David like Jesus had a compassionate heart and longed to help. The woman begs for help. David got the point of Nathan’s story. It was an illustration to put David on the spot. v 14. God devises many ways to bring the sinner to Himself. He clothed Adam and put a mark on Cain. Why bring Absolom back without seeing the King? God calls the sinner but there is a mystery in this. The sinner has to do something to want an audience with the King – God. It is the grace of God, which gives the faith to believe. On one side of the door to heaven are the words – “Enter all who may.” On the other side of the door are the words – “I knew you before the foundation of the World.” Absolom asked, knocked and sought to the extent of doing anything to gain Joab’s attention – like setting fire to his field. Sadly Absolom had not repented. It was his pride in his hair, which eventually killed him when he was caught in the tree. This is a picture of the length God goes to in order to bring back one sinner. The evangelist may call to the sinner. The pastor may minister to the sinner. The teacher may teach the sinner. All are used to bring the sinner into a relationship with God.

 

CHAPTER 15. Satan used Absolom to steal the hearts of the people away from the King. v 5. How quickly they forgot all that David had done for the people, rescuing them from the enemy. Many people are used by Satan to devise schemes to steal people away from Jesus. How quickly the nation forgets what Jesus has done for them as individuals and as a nation. Absolom set out to become the champion of the people promising to give them what they want. Politicians prepare their policies on the basis of what the people want to hear, rather than what is right for the nation. Television gives the people what they want to see, so that the advertisers will target them with adverts. Absolom sought to establish a base at Hebron, but it was only a stepping-stone towards his main objective – Jerusalem. v 10. The Jebusite spirit was at work. An enemy has done this thing. Gen ch 6 v 4. The men of renown were popular with the people. Man should never operate outside of his calling and anointing. Absolom assumed the role of king and priest offering sacrifices. He built up a following. Why did people follow him? Were they looking for favours and position? Why do people join cults. Are they looking for power over others? v 11. Most of the people did not know what was going on in the inner circle. They were used as a cover for the conspiracy. Each man is responsible for his own actions and will answer on the day of judgement.

 

David did not want the people to suffer. Had he fought to defend the city many lives would have been lost. The city has been under civil strife to the present day. It was a time to retreat and regroup. The people watched as David left Jerusalem in humility. By his action he was asking the people – choose this day whom you will serve. It was not a situation of his choosing or to his liking. In this World sometimes things happen unexpectedly. Man may wonder why is it happening and what God is doing. Ahithophel had been a trusted adviser of David. What causes a man to shift his allegiance to another? David had been betrayed by friends. Ahithophel, like Judas, eventually committed suicide. Satan used each of them for his purposes and then destroyed them. The picture of David leaving is like the scene as Jesus in humility left the city of Jerusalem bruised and seemingly defeated. He also challenged the people by His presence – Whom will you serve? It was at the same place 1000 years later.

 

v 19. Ittai was a mercenary who had joined the service of David during his days in Gath. His intention to remain with David is like Ruth ch 1 v 16. It is a challenge to the believer to follow Jesus even when the going gets difficult. Ittai chose the narrow path. The test of friendship is to be loyal in times of adversity.

v 25. David asked his to take the Word of God – the ark of the covenant – back to the city. It was now up to God as to whether or not He would save the city. The believer must do what God calls him to do but ultimately the battle is the Lord’s

v 32. David asked Hushai to go back into the world of Absolom in Jerusalem to watch what was happening and to report. The believer is called to be in the World but not part of it and to watch and pray. This is authority to frustrate the work of the enemy. There is no need to stand back and allow the enemy to carry out his plans unopposed.

 

Sometimes the men of God seem to have teemed up with the enemy and support a non-biblical position. It has to be acknowledged that it was David’s polygamy, which brought about this situation. v 16. David left ten of his young wives behind. How many wives did he have altogether? It is the World’s lust for power and the following of false gods, which brought about the need for Jesus to lay down His life. David still showed concern and compassion for Absolom. v 33. Do good to your enemies.

 

CHAPTERS 16-18.

 

David had been betrayed by his son and his closest friend. Jesus had nowhere to lay His head. The grandson of Saul wanted David’s kingdom. His men were exhausted in the desert. The man who slew Goliath and saved the nation was now destitute. Who could have imagined that it would turn out like this? Shimei was controlled by the Jebusite spirit attacking David when he was already down attempting to finish him off. He accused and criticised David when he could hardly answer back. “Give up. It is not worth it.” These are Satan’s words. It was the last straw to break the camel’s back. Being a servant of God does not lead to an easy life. Quite the reverse. David paid heavily for his sins. Hushai David’s man in counter intelligence reported back to David. Find out what is happening in the enemy camp and attack their weakness. Absolom fulfilled the prophecy concerning David’s wives being seduced in daylight before the people. When Ahithothel betrayed the Lord’s anointed he gave bad advice and then depression overwhelmed him. He committed suicide like Judas. David was heart broken over his son despite all his rebellion against him. At the end of the day all that mattered to David was this – is my son safe? A Church can have a great building and wonderful programmes but are there people being saved?

 

CHAPTER 19. David was grief stricken about Absolom. Perhaps Joab was insensitive but it had to be said. The people needed leadership, while David was lamenting the situation. Joab realised that the moment would be lost unless David grasped the situation. “Awake Deborah.” Firm leadership is necessary and the leader does not have time to mourn his personal circumstances. When circumstances have overwhelmed man and it all appears to be going wrong, it is a good time to wake up and deal positively with the situation. Individuals come to meet with David. He deals with their different needs. David shows compassion, concern and understanding of each one. v 16-24. Shimei repents and the king accepts it. Forgiveness is available to all if they want it.

Joab brings the rebel to justice but was seeking emotional revenge. Sheba had stirred up the enemies of David. Satan delights to stir up the enemies of a believer and bring them against him. David had done so much for Mephibosheth and he responds with trust, devotion and abandonment to the king. The challenge is this: How will man meet the King- King Jesus. He may come at a time when man thinks He will not come.

 

CHAPTER 20. Sheba is a troublemaker. Joab had been replaced because he had killed Absolom. Joab resented the discipline of being replaced and killed his successor. Politicians are often inclined to stab others in the back because of jealousy. David is seen as one who prefers to deal with outside forces rather than internal conflicts.

 

CHAPTER 21.

David faced three major problems in his latter years. Famine – warfare – plague.

There was a major problem. Famine. When blood is spilled there is a curse on the land. Genesis ch 4 v 11. What did David do? He sought the Lord. What is the cause of the problem? Ask the Lord a simple question. Jesus speaks plainly to us. Should man not speak plainly to Him? God told David the cause. There was a curse from earlier times, because of what Saul had done. Saul had broken a covenant. In Joshua ch 9 we learn that the Gibeonites had asked for protection from Joshua. They had deceived Joshua. That did not matter. What mattered was that Joshua had sworn an oath to protect these people and he did not dare go back on his word. Recompense is part of the Gospel. David realised that the famine would continue until he put things right. Sometimes there is a legacy of ill will in a family or in a town. Something must be done before things will be put right and the Holy Spirit is free to work in that place. Time does not wear out the guilt of man. A curse is lifted by a word of forgiveness. They did not want money or revenge but justice. They were very fair – fairer than the Hebrews. David was prepared to do anything to put matters right. It was so important. Is man prepared to do anything to get back to God? David promised seven lives to make matters right. Was it fair that seven should die? Was it fair that Jesus should die? There is a price to pay for sin. Often the sin of one person affects others. They were hanged as a sacrifice. Those who are hanged on a tree are cursed. Deut ch 21 v 23. Justice demands a penalty. David had given an oath to Jonathan and could not solve one problem by creating another. After the matter was put right, the blessings began to flow again.

 

God is slow to anger. The punishment in the nation or town may be due to sin a long time ago. “The sins of the father are visited to the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”

 

Rizpah shamed David into doing the right thing by Saul and Jonathan. David as King had not done the proper thing by Saul and Jonathan. Things have to be done right.

 

v 15. The enemy is never far away. The Palestinians have always hated Israel. David stood his ground and did not flee. His physical strength had gone in view of his age but though weak he was prepared to take them on. God honoured his intentions and provided another to fight the giant. v 16. David was a hero when he killed Goliath. Now he did not have the faith he once had. Faith is for each situation. Was he too weak spiritually or physically? Gath is still in existence and still a source of hatred towards Israel. There is a spiritual principality lingering in Gath. The Hebrews never fulfilled the plan of God to rid the whole land of its former people and their friendly demons.

 

CHAPTER 22. This psalm of David is repeated in Psalm 18. The picture David presents is of God as a rock. Rocks are places where people can hide and as such they are a refuge. They also provide stability and security. The wise man built his house on a rock for stability. Situations become unstable where the Word of God is not central to the people. Man needs a safe place to live. A baby needs the womb of the mother to be a safe place, where there is no threat of abortion. A fellowship should be a safe place where there is no criticism – only grace and encouragement. David had enemies. They were real enemies. Sometimes only God can help a man, when his friends are unable to do so.

v 5. David had times of great difficulty. The light of God helps a man to understand what is happening to him in the spiritual realm.

v 47-50. David acknowledges that all his successes were of God’s doing. However as God has been good to His children so He is terrible to those who oppose Him.

v 8. Man ought to respect the wrath of God and make sure that he is not under that wrath.

 

 

CHAPTER 23. David prepared to die well and put everything in order. A man can only speak from his own experience. David’s mighty men worked until they were ready to drop. They fought the physical enemy. This teaches that believers ought to be equally committed to fight the spiritual enemies of mankind. Others came and picked up the booty. People benefit by way of blessing when the spiritual enemies are defeated. The men were devoted to the King and risked their lives for him. This encouraged the people to worship the Lord. The genius of leadership is to bring the very best out of the followers.

 

CHAPTER 24. David numbered the people Was he concerned with quantity rather than quality? God is always after quality of life. Integrity, honesty and concern for others. What motivated David to take a census? Was it the Lord or was it Satan, under permission from God? Whose voice is man hearing when he has a word? Was David relying more on the strength of men than the power of God? Joab, who was no great advertisement for integrity, challenged David. Sometimes others see man’s faults when he does not see them. He said: “Why does the King delight in such things?” But David overruled his objection. Is man open to criticism by others when it is for his good or is he blind to his sins? Later in v 10 David’s conscience began to trouble him. He repented. This is the aspect, which pleased the Lord. He admitted his foolishness and confessed it. Although he had repented, it was not an end to the consequences of the sin. God spoke to David through the prophet Gad. “Think this over and let me know.” Isn’t that just like God speaking to man? He is persuasive and positive. Sometimes there are difficult decisions to be made with no easy solution to the problem. When there is a predicament there are no obvious solutions and usually someone has to suffer.

v 14. It is better to fall into the hand of the Lord than into the hands of the enemy. God is known for showing mercy. Others do not have a record like that. David had repented. Although he limped on sometimes David persevered to the end. Blessed are those who persevere to the end. Jesus said that. 70,000 died as a result of God’s punishment for David’s sin. Who can fathom the justice of God or His mercy? Were many of these innocent? It seems that God changed His mind. Why? Was He moved by the petitions of His people? Certainly God did not make a mistake.

 

v 17. David owned up to his responsibility. “It was my sin. Do not punish the others.” Many people suffer for the sins and poor leadership of the leaders of the nations. What would stop the plague – the punishment? Worship turns the heart of the Lord. Man was designed to worship God. Araunah offered to give precious tools and cattle for the worship. Sacrifice is costly. It is not true sacrifice if it does not cost anything. David was the one who had to make the sacrifice. He had to pay for the materials for sacrifice, otherwise it was not a sacrifice by him. Tithing is a costly business. Man cannot get by on the sacrifice of others. Man’s relationship with God is a personal one. Why do some prosper in the work of the Lord and others do not seem to grow? Is it dependant on what happen in the secret places?

 

God will use any circumstances to bring man to the place He wants him to be in. He has a plan for each life and will lead man into that purpose. David faced a plague and many deaths before he bowed the knee to the Lord. Perhaps some who are wandering are being brought to the place of real repentance. Chapter 23 v 1-7 were the last words of David. He had persevered to the end. With his last words he was found praising the Lord.

 

2 Kings

2 KINGS.

1 Kings ch 19 v 19-21. “So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was ploughing, with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” And he returned from following him, and took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah, and ministered to him.”

And so it was that Elisha was selected to become the assistant, student, and eventual successor of Elijah. Together, they formed one of the most miracle-filled ministries in the Bible.

Chapter 1.
Ahaziah was sick. He sent a messenger to Baalzebub of Ekron to make enquires. The angel of the Lord (Jesus) told Elijah to tell Ahaziah that he would not recover but would die in his bed. When this message reached Ahaziah he knew that it had come from Elijah. This shows that there was a vestige of knowledge about God in the land. Ahazariah sent men to capture Elijah. When they arrived Elijah called on fire from Heaven to destroy them and that is what happened. That happened a second time but when the third approach came to Elijah the Angel of the Lord told Elijah to go to Azariah. Why did the Angel of the Lord allow the first and second group of men to die but not the third group? God has mercy on whom He will have mercy. There are times when there is no human explanation. Humanists seek an explanation for everything. God is sovereign. Elijah went to Azariah and delivered the word from God to him. He died.

Chapter 2.
v 11 Little is written of Elisha during the few years between the time of his calling, until Elijah’s curious departure in a “chariot of fire”.
Jehoram came to the throne. Elijah seemed to know that he was about to be called home and told Elisha this. Elisha was determined to go along with Elijah. There were students of Elijah at various places. Was Elijah testing Elisha as to his faithfulness? Elisha desired twice the power of Elijah. That was a big request. God encourages His disciples to be bold. Elisha saw Elijah going up to Heaven on a chariot of fire. God permitted him to see that. Within a few days Elisha carried out two miracles – crossing the River Jordan on dry ground and purifying the water at Jericho. Elisha had seen Elijah opening the River and he believed that he could do the same. It is good to hear testimony. It stimulates possibilities in the minds of believers. The students did not believe the miracle that Elijah had gone to Heaven and set out to look for him. Elisha did not seem to be in doubt. James ch 1 v 8. A double-minded man is not commended.

v 15 (2 Kings 2:9), Having inherited a “double portion of Elijah’s spirit”, which was actually the Holy Spirit of God, Elisha became the new leader of the company of the Prophets
v 19-22. After Elijah’s departure, Elisha went to Jericho where he miraculously transformed a poisoned water supply into a clean spring
v 23-25. From Jericho, Elisha travelled to Bethel where he was accosted by a large gang of youths. Elisha called down a curse on his attackers, and 42 of them were mauled by 2 bears that then came out of the woods. Forty two boys called out to Elisha and mocked him. It was embarrassing for a Jewish man to be bald. These young men knew all about Elijah and Elisha so they were in effect mocking God. Forty two in the Scripture is the number for Satan. So they were demonically inspired to mock the man of God. Elisha cursed them and two she bears came out of the woods and killed them. It is dangerous to mock God and His Word and His people both Israel and the Church and His Land of Israel. The Amorite spirit is behind mocking and criticism.

A few of the other recorded miracles by Elisha:
Ch 3 v 9-20. A supply of water when Jehoram’s army was suffering from thirst.
Ch 4 v 1-7. Increasing the poor widow’s supply of oil.
Ch 4 v 18-27. Restoring to life the son of the woman of Shunem.
Ch 4 v 42-44. The multiplication of 20 loaves of bread into enough to feed 100 men. Was it v 43 which spoke to Jesus before he blessed the loaves and fishes and fed the crowd of 5,000 men?
Ch 5 v 1-27. Elisha cured Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy.
Ch 6 v 1-7. Elisha made an iron axhead float in the waters of the Jordan.
Ch 6 v 24-ch 7 v 2. During the worst of the siege of Samaria by the king of Syria, and of the starvation of the people, Elisha prophesied that relief would soon come, which it did.
Ch 8 v 1-6. Elisha foretold a famine on the land thereby saving the life of the Shunamite woman and her family.
Ch 8 7-15. At Damascus, Elisha carried out the command that had been given to Elijah to anoint Hazael king over Syria. He then directed one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Israel, instead of Ahab. Thus the three commands given to Elijah were all eventually accomplished through one or both of them.
Ch 13 v 14-25. Elisha died in his own house of an unspecified illness. It is interesting to note that the man who once had the powers to cure sickness and raise the dead, himself had to actually suffer through a terminal illness when his own time came. Many believers suffer and die in this way. Joash, the grandson of Jehu, upon seeing that Elijah was about to die, uttered the same words that Elisha uttered when Elijah was taken away: “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!”
Ch 13 v 20-21. About a year after Elisha died a dead man was hastily buried in Elisha’s tomb. As soon as the body touched Elisha’s bones the man came back to life.

Ch 17. v 13. God sent prophets to both Israel and Judah time and again but neither would listen to God speaking through the prophets. v 17. The people even burned their own children to death on the altars of Molech and consulted fortune tellers. As a consequence Israel was carried off to Assyria.

Ch 20. Hezekiah became sick. Isaiah came to tell him that he would die. When Hezekiah called out to God, God relented and added 15 years to his life. This was done for the glory of God’s own name. The shadow on the sundial moved backwards as proof that God has healed him. Some of Hezekiah’s own sons would be made eunuchs.

Ch 21. This records the evil practices of Manasseh. It was the sins of Manasseh, which caused the Children of Israel to be sent to Babylon. (Jeremiah ch 15 v 4)

Ch 23. This records the contrasting good works of Josiah who (v 24) exterminated the witches and wizards in Judah. He proved to be the best of the kings of Judah.

Ch 24. Babylon conquered Judah. Nebuchadnezzar himself turned up to supervise the siege. Only the poorest and least skilled were left in Judah. Judah was exiled from the land.

Ch 25. Zedekiah had to watch as his sons were killed and then his eyes were put out. Torture and cruelty has gone on ever since then.
Elisha’s ministry covered a period of about 60 years (892-832 B.C.), through the reigns of Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Joash, kings of Israel.

1 Kings

FIRST KINGS.

The two books of Kings cover the period from the end of David’s life to the captivity of Judah into Babylon – a period of 400 years. Jeremiah may have written them. The purpose is to show that God’s people can only survive in the World in obedience to His Word. Noah survived only by total obedience to the Word of God concerning the ark. He selects some incidents from the life of the nation to teach the moral and spiritual results of obedience and sin.

Solomon features as the successor of King David. Solomon started life so well. Ch 3 v 3 and 9. God gave him wisdom. Ch 4 v 20 and 29. Solomon built the first temple, which was a magnificent building. God made a covenant with Solomon Ch 9 v 1-9. His wisdom was renowned. He could have followed in David’s footsteps but Solomon disobeyed the word of God regarding the king of Israel in 3 ways as foretold in Deut ch 17 v 14-17. 1. He married many foreign women (700) and began to worship their false gods. 1 Kings Ch 11. 2. He raised forced labour. 1 Kings Ch 5 v 13. 3. He purchased horses and chariots from Egypt. 1 Kings ch 10 v 28-9. As a result God raised up two enemies against Solomon – Hadad and Rezon – and said that He would divide the kingdom after his death.

The 10 northern tribes broke away and were known as Israel. The other two were known as Judah.
Solomon’s two sons fought each other. Like his father, Solomon did not discipline his children – with disastrous consequences. 1 Tim ch 3 v 4. The divided kingdom would ultimately fall.

The two kingdoms were ruled over a period of time by a succession of kings – some good, like Josiah but most of them bad kings, who led the people into idolatry. Eventually the Northern Kingdom of Israel was defeated by Assyria. 2 Kings ch 17. In v 24 the Assyrians placed leading people in Israel, now known as Samaria to run the country.

Sadly Judah did not learn the lesson from the capture of Israel. One of the worst kings – Manasseh introduced child sacrifice to Molech into the nation. 2 Kings ch 21 v 1-9. Jer ch 15 v 4 confirms that this was the final act of rebellion, which brought Judah into captivity. There is a limit to God’s grace for nations and individuals. It stands as a severe warning to all believers.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon captured Judah in 586 B. C. 2 Kings ch 24 v 10 – 17. The chief men of the land were taken into captivity, including Daniel and Ezekiel. Jeremiah stayed in Judah.

Throughout the period of the kings, God sent the prophets to warn the people of impending judgement. Some preached to the people – Isaiah, Micah, Habakkuk, Jeremiah and Zephaniah. Some, like Elijah challenged the king. King Ahab stole a vineyard from Naboth and Jezebel – Ahab’s wife encouraged him to take the vineyard and to kill Naboth. Elijah was sent by God to tell Ahab that the dogs would lick his blood after his death. 1 Kings ch 21. Elijah passed the mantle to Elisha.

It is a sad account of a strong, united kingdom under wise leadership reduced to mass deportation to Babylon. If God did not spare the Jews because of their sins, will the nations of the World escape?

CHAPTER 1. The provision of Abishag is not a principle but a practical step to meet a specific problem. It was not a sexual matter but one of caring. Despite being a man after God’s heart, David had never disciplined his sons and they behaved abominably towards him in his later life. He had joined the “no smacking” lobby and he paid a high price for it. There is a danger of a man being so busy serving the Lord that he does not spend time training his children. All his good work is undone.

Adonijah exalted himself and had ideas of grandeur. David had been indecisive and left a vacuum. The right of succession according to the law of the land fell to Adonijah as the eldest. David had not informed him that the custom was not to be followed. Accordingly Adonijah was not entirely at fault. The action by Adonijah led to division. Adonijah tested the waters by sacrificing and waiting to see what response there would be. There was a spirit of division in the land. People took sides, perhaps for personal gain. Eventually Adonijah feared Solomon. By holding the horns of the altar Adonijah was appealing for sanctuary until his case was heard in court. When man does wrong he allows the enemy to bring fear on him. Fear was the first evil spirit to manifest itself after Adam sinned. God came to speak to him and Adam was afraid. Throughout history kings and politicians have executed or removed those whom they feared might rise against them.

Nathan was alert to the problem and intervened. David had been negligent by not making a will. This caused a lot of trouble. Sometimes a man needs to be coerced into making a decision. God is waiting. Nathan was a watchman and alert to the problem and intervened. The man of God is the one with spiritual insight to tackle the problems of society before they develop into crisis. He reminded David of his promise to Bathsheba that Solomon was to succeed him. The preacher is entitled to call on the people to honour their vows to God in baptism and marriage and in relation to the bringing up of their children. A man dare not take his vows to God lightly. Nathan was the one used to bring David to a decision he should have made before this occasion. Even in his old age David responded swiftly to the call of God on his life. He made the right decision, when it was brought to his attention by Nathan on behalf of God.

CHAPTER 2. David acknowledged that he was about to die. It will happen to every person and each one should be ready to face His maker. David gave sound advice to Solomon. What better advice could any father give his son but to obey the whole law of God. David gives Solomon some instructions to settle old scores with various people. Adonijah plotted against Solomon.
v 17. If he had married Abishag, Adonijah may have had a claim on the throne in preference to Solomon on the ground that he had married David’s last wife. Solomon spotted the danger. Why did Bathsheba not realise this when she agreed to ask Solomon? What was she thinking about when she bathed in view of David? Was she not thinking again of the seriousness of the request? It is important that a man thinks though the consequences of every decision he makes. The enemy can easily rob a man if he is not diligent and wise. Solomon sought out and killed all potential rivals.

CHAPTER 3. Despite the fact that Solomon was clearly in disobedience in at least two ways, God offered him anything he wanted. That is a comfort to those who are serving the Lord but are not yet overcoming sin in every area of their life. Solomon asked for wisdom. How many believers would ask for that gift? Because Solomon asked for what pleased the Lord instead of something for himself, God answered his request. He even added what Solomon did not ask for. Mat ch 6 v 33. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these shall be added to you. At once the wisdom of Solomon was shown in relation to the disputed child. The World badly needs to see the wisdom of God at work in society. Solomon made a peace treaty with Egypt and secured the alliance by the political marriage with Pharaoh’s daughter. Solomon attempted to secure peace on the World’s terms but disobeyed God in the process. Compromise with the truth is a dangerous game to play.

CHAPTER 4. Solomon was at the peak of his career as king. 12 is the number in the Scriptures for government. The Apostles had to appoint a twelfth person to take the place of Judas. There was peace in the land from Dan to Beersheba. At no time since then has Israel occupied all of the land promised to them by God. Many rulers in the World do not rule wisely and offend minority groups and opposition parties. v 34. The word of the Lord went out from Jerusalem to the rest of the World.

CHAPTER 5. Solomon lived at peace with everyone. He traded and prosperity followed. v 3. Because David had shed much blood he was not permitted by God to build the temple. Solomon did that. There may be areas where a believer cannot work because of sin in his life or in the family line. One believer may prepare the ground and a later believer will reap a harvest. It is all the work of God. God only asks for obedience.
v 13. Samuel warned that, if the people insisted on having a king like the other people, the king would one day conscript their sons. 1 Sam ch 8 v 11. Here is Solomon doing that very thing.

CHAPTER 6. A period of 480 years had elapsed since the Hebrews left Egypt. God is working out His purposes in time. Time is significant to God. It took seven years to build the temple. v 11. God confirmed the promise He had made to David. A huge amount of detail was given by God for the building of the Temple. Every detail was of importance to God. It took 30,000 Hebrew and 150,000 Canaanites seven years of forced labour to build the Temple.

CHAPTER 7. Is it significant that Solomon spent seven years building God’s house and thirteen years building his own? 13 is the number for rebellion in the Scriptures. Gen ch 14 v 4. How much attention does a man pay to his own life and finances and how little to the Kingdom of God?

CHAPTER 8. At the Feast of Tabernacles the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the newly built temple. Tabernacles was a feast to emphasise that God lived with His people. Jesus was probably born at the Feast of Tabernacles. John ch 1 v 14 says “The Word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us.” v 10-11. The glory of the Lord filled the temple. It is a demonstration that God had moved into His home on Earth. The contrast is in Ezekiel chapter 8 when the Lord left the Temple, driven out by the sins of the people. The key to success is repentance and prayer. v 41-42. The purpose of God was always that the Jewish people would live in fellowship with God and the peoples of the lands around would see this and come to worship Him.

CHAPTER 9. v 3. God placed His name in Jerusalem forever. However there was a warning that the future of the city was related to the holiness of the people. There is a repeat of Deut ch 28. There will be blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Even the Temple was not beyond the consequences of the sins of the people. v 13. Solomon had not acted in fairness towards Hiram. A believer must always do the right thing towards the non-believer. Initially Solomon conscripted only those from the conquered people of Canaan and not from his own people. The people God had said were to be wiped out had not been entirely wiped out. The Kingdom of Israel expanded and there was a shipyard on the Red Sea coast.

CHAPTER 10. The Queen of Sheba with all her wealth came to inquire about the wisdom of Solomon. Sheba is the area of eastern Yemen today. v 7. The Lord gave Solomon the right answers to all her questions. If only the World inquired of the Children of God for advice. Perhaps the people of the World do not see the glory of God reflected in the people of God. Eventually Solomon became the wealthiest man in the World.
v 23. How incredibly rich the World would be without sin. However Solomon was dealing again with Egypt. v 28. This was forbidden by God in Deut ch 17 v 16-17.

CHAPTER 11. Like Adam it seems inconceivable that Solomon, who was so greatly blessed by God, should turn away from God and positively worship false gods. He dealt with Egypt and then married many foreign women. It is a clear warning to believers that, if they marry a non-believer, it will be very difficult to sustain a walk with God. God made it clear that He would tear the Kingdom away from Solomon and He did so after Solomon’s death. There had been no persecution of Solomon nor any discouragement or disappointment. He simply disobeyed God. In exercising punishment God raised up two of Solomon’s enemies against him. Had Solomon been obedient this would not have happened. God also raised up Jeroboam to be the king of the 10 Northern tribes.

CHAPTER 12. Some strange things happen but the overall plan of God is being fulfilled. v 13. Rehoboam refused the advice of the old men and accepted the advice of the young men. It is a serious mistake for the Church to turn to the advice of young men and to ignore the advice of older men who have years of experience. The World is dismissing older men and turning to young men. The Church in following the ways of the World in this respect. The World is doing it for money. It is cheaper to employ young men and pay off the older men with larger salaries. Although it was the purpose of God to divide the kingdom, He did not approve of the people worshipping the calf idols at Dan and Bethel. It was too much trouble for the people to go up to Jerusalem. God’s word concerning Jerusalem and the Temple had not changed.

CHAPTER 13. A strange tale of two prophets. A prophet was a holy man, drawn aside into close fellowship with God and one who knew the mind of the Lord. Both prophets prophesy correctly. The one from Judah was disobedient and died swiftly as a result. The one from Bethel lied to the one from Judah. The king was in rebellion against the Word of the Lord through the prophet from Judah and suffered a paralysis of his arm. Despite being healed and the sudden death of the prophet from Judah the king did not repent and turn from his evil ways of appointing as priests men who were not qualified. There were rules for the appointment of priests as there are rules for the appointment of Church leaders. In some Churches these rules are being broken freely. This passage is a solemn warning to those who are prophets or leaders in the Church today. They need to know God’s requirements for their role in the Church and must be obedient.

CHAPTER 14. Jeroboam in trying to deceive the prophet was attempting to deceive God and obtain healing for his son. A man cannot hide anything from God, who in this instance told His prophet of the deception.
v 11. The answer is solemn news. God had been merciful to Jeroboam and brought swift judgement on the household of Jeroboam. The future for the whole of the Northern Kingdom of Israel was bleak.
v 15-16. The danger of worshipping false gods is clear. The situation was no better in Judah. Even homosexuality was widespread. The people there had become depraved. The King of Egypt came and took away the precious things from Jerusalem. The enemy will steal the precious gifts of believers, if they fall into sin. They may lose their confidence before God, their reputation before men and the spiritual gifts given them by God. A Church or a single believer without the Holy Spirit is a sad sight in relation to the people of the World, who by common grace are often better-qualified and cleverer than believers.

CHAPTER 15. Asa was a king who did right in the eyes of God, despite what his father Abijam and his grand mother Maacah did. Ezekiel ch 18 v 2. The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge. It is difficult for children to walk in the ways of the Lord, if their natural parents and family are hostile to the Word of God. Asa is commended for doing right in the eyes of the Lord. Nadab is contrasted with Asa. As leader he made the people to sin. When the government of the land passes laws contrary to the Word of God, they make the people to sin, e.g. the Abortion Act of 1967.

CHAPTER 16. There is a succession of ungodly kings, people blessed financially and with a position. They chose to elevate themselves rather than God. Eventually Ahab became King of Israel. He was the worst of them all. He did not consider it important that he should marry Jezebel. Jezebel was a Canaanite – a descendant of Canaan, the son of Ham. The Canaanites were the traders of the area but their morality was very loose. With their trading went polytheistic worship of many gods. Jezebel a fervent worshipper of all sorts of gods including Baal. Baal they believed was the god responsible for bringing the rain and fertility. Temple prostitutes were a prominent feature of the Canaanite worship. The Canaanite rituals were principally magical rites designed to bully the gods into making the Earth fertile year by year. This was the whole reasoning behind sexual intercourse, which the farmer would have with a temple prostitute. It was hoped that the gods would do the same among themselves and thus produce more fruitful crops. However ridiculous that seems, that is what they believed. Ahab married Jezebel knowing that. Joshua had pronounced a curse on anyone who would rebuild the city of Jericho. Joshua ch 6 v 26. Hiel ignored the warning and suffered the loss of two sons. It is a dangerous thing to ignore the warnings of the Lord in His Word. Deut ch 18 v 19. “I will deal personally with anyone who will not listen to Jesus and pay attention to His messages from God.”

CHAPTER 17. Elijah demonstrated that God cannot be mocked. A man relies on God’s grace for his very breath and his food. If a man defies Him as Ahab did, sooner or later there will be serious repercussions. The land of Israel was always dependant on God sending the rains at the right times. It could not rely on a mighty river such as the Nile or the Euphrates. There is an impression that all of the people were aware of God, whether or not they worshipped Him. In many parts of the World people have no idea at all about God. Their minds are empty of thoughts of God. Elijah believed the Word of God that the widow would feed him. Faith is believing the Word even when there is no evidence that it will happen. The widow also believed and obeyed the prophet. v 18. There is a belief that suffering is directly related to sin. Often it seems unfair that one who has obeyed God should suffer, while the unrighteous are blessed. It is not possible to work out the providence of God. “Our ways are not His ways.” There is an impression that Elijah did miracles on a daily basis. This is not so. There are only 5 recorded by Elijah and 12 by Elisha. There does not seem to have been specific faith on the part of Elijah in response to a Word from God but the prayer of a righteous man prevails much. Jas ch 5 v 16. God heard and answered the prayer of Elijah.

CHAPTER 18. Even when there was no rain the mountain streams held water in small pools near the source of the streams. That would be where Obadiah would find the water. Obadiah would have been killed by Ahab, if he had told him that he had met Elijah and Elijah did not turn up to meet the king. Obadiah had to trust Elijah that Elijah would do as he had said. Elijah’s word was his bond. Does a man stand by his word in all circumstances? Ahab blamed Elijah for the lack of rain. Elijah said it was Ahab’s sin, which had brought it about. It is easy for a man to blame others, including Satan and God rather than face the consequences of his own sin. It was time for the people to make up their minds as to whom they followed. v 28. The followers of Baal cut themselves with knives. Some Muslims do that today. v 40. Many people cut their bodies when they have tattoos on their bodies. There is a solemn warning to the worshippers of false gods. The wrath of God was unleashed on that occasion and they all died.

CHAPTER 19. Elijah the great and mighty man of God ran away from a woman due to fear. Elijah had been used by God to take ground from the enemy. It is hardly surprising that the enemy should fight back. Jezebel was probably possessed by several spirits and a demon of fear overshadowed Elijah. When a person is used by the Holy Spirit it is natural that he should be physically drained and as such is open to a quick spiritual attack. Fear in v 3 is followed by despair in v 4. God had not departed from Elijah. He provided all his needs to protect him. A little pride had entered Elijah’s life. “I am the only one left.” Not so! God said that there were 7,000 left. In scripture 7 is the perfect number and 10x10x10 is the complete number. There were many others who had not bowed the knee to Baal but who were not so prominent in the life of the nation. It is not right to judge. God knows who is really for Him.

CHAPTER 20. The Devil comes to rob, kill and destroy. Benhadad gathered together many of the enemies of Israel for the attack. It looked as if, because the Spirit had left Ahab, the enemy could take what they liked. It is a surprise that the Lord sent a prophet to Ahab, despite all his sinfulness. As a result Israel defeated the Syrians. The people thought of gods as territorial gods. The Syrians thought that the God of Israel was located in the hills but would be powerless, if they fought on the plains. God proved them wrong to show to Ahab that He was The God. God gave Benhadad into Ahab’s hands but he spared his life and agreed terms with Benhadad. There is a similarity with Deut ch 7 v 2 and 1 Sam ch 15 v 9. This is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. Sin must be uprooted and utterly destroyed or it will eat away at the spiritual life of the individual or nation. Song of Solomon ch 2 v 15. “The little foxes eat away at the shoots of the vine and spoil the plants so that there is no fruit.”

CHAPTER 21. Naboth refused to sell the vineyard because it had been his father’s and was precious to him. Ahab had inherited the kingdom of Israel. Did Naboth’s decision touch Ahab’s conscience? Esau sold his birthright for food. Ahab had no need of the vineyard. It was pride and arrogance, which led him to want it. Jealousy can lead to murder. Joseph’s brothers planned the same thing. Jezebel was consumed with hatred for the Israeli people. It is not clear if this incident took place after the events of Chapter 20. If they did, then it is the more disgraceful. Those who show no mercy shall receive no mercy. There was a limited response by Ahab and further mercy shown to him. The wicked influence of Jezebel and later her daughter Athaliah, both of whom introduced and advanced the worship of Baal in Israel and Judah, staggers the imagination.

CHAPTER 22. It is true that the two kings of Judah and Israel were brothers and should defend the Promised Land. Ahab was prepared to go ahead on the advice of pagan prophets. Jehoshaphat insisted on hearing from a real prophet. This is a picture of truth versus lies. Micaiah is speaking the truth. v 15 seems to be sarcasm. Micaiah was not prophesying success but failure. The false prophets do not like it any more than Ahab does. God defended the honest king and struck down the deceitful king Ahab, despite Ahab’s deception, which might have led to the death of Jehoshaphat. The word of the Lord through Micaiah came true. How vital it is in making any serious decision to consult the Lord.