Friday, July 29, 2011

1 Samuel 24:1-7

1 After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” 2 So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.

3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7 With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.

Questions to consider:

  • How many people does Saul bring with him to find David?
  • Does he find David?
  • What do David's followers advise him to do?
  • How does David feel about the situation?
  • Why is he so distressed?

Possibilities for prayer:

We've previously looked at the way in which Jonathan, Saul's son, is immensely loyal to his friend David. But here we see something even more surprising--David's loyalty to Saul. Saul. The man who has been trying to kill him for really no reason at all. Here, David cuts off a corner of Saul's robe and feels guilty for that, sees it as a sort of betrayal to this man who is his king and has been his master. In our lives, our loyalties are often shifting. Someone hurts us and we choose to no longer care for him. They upset us, and we take their numbers out of our phones. We could take a lesson from David, a man who exemplifies true loyalty. Let's ask that God would make us loyal people, willing to forgive and forget, and able to love in a complete and true way.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

1 Samuel 23:14-29

14 David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.

15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. 16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenant before the LORD. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.

19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 20 Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.”

21 Saul replied, “The LORD bless you for your concern for me. 22 Go and get more information. Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty. 23 Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah.”

24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maon, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David.

26 Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.” 28 Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth.29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.

Questions to consider:

  • Who prevents Saul from finding David?
  • What does Jonathan say to encourage David?
  • What disrupts Saul's pursuit of David?

Possibilities for prayer:

One of the things that strikes me about this passage is the way we read that "God did not give David into [Saul's] hands."

I know that we believe in a God who is all powerful and all knowing, but sometimes, statements like these confuse me when I think about the fact that we all free will too. Maybe these kinds of things (or others!) confuse you as you read through the Bible. Today, let's take some time to ask God to give us wisdom and insight to understand his message for us as we read through the Bible. Let's ask that we wouldn't be distracted by things that would keep us from growing into greater knowledge of him, but that we would push into the harder questions, seeking God's voice and answers to our questions.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

1 Samuel 23:1-13

1 When David was told, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,” 2 he inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”

The LORD answered him, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.”

3 But David’s men said to him, “Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!”

4 Once again David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” 5 So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah. 6 (Now Abiathar son of Ahimelek had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.)

7 Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, “God has delivered him into my hands, for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars.” 8 And Saul called up all his forces for battle, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men.

9 When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.” 10 David said, “LORD, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me. 11 Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? LORD, God of Israel, tell your servant.”

And the LORD said, “He will.”

12 Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?”

And the LORD said, “They will.”

13 So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there.

Questions to consider:

  • What is David's response to news about a Philistine attack?
  • What does God advise David to do?
  • Who finds out about David's attack?
  • What does David do when he finds out that Saul has a new plot to kill him?

Possibilities for prayer:

At this point in the story, it's hard to find something bad to say about David. Here we see an excellent example of a man who seeks God before he takes any action. He asks God if he should go into battle. He asks God if Saul will attack, and if he'll be in danger. And not only does David seek God, but God responds. David's questions do not go unanswered and David takes the action that is required given God's response. Today, let's ask God to make us people who seek God in everything that we do, and that we would be people willing to wait for God's response before we take any action.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

1 Samuel 22:6-23

6 Now Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. And Saul was seated, spear in hand, under the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, with all his officials standing at his side. 7 He said to them, “Listen, men of Benjamin! Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make all of you commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? 8 Is that why you have all conspired against me? No one tells me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is concerned about me or tells me that my son has incited my servant to lie in wait for me, as he does today.”

9 But Doeg the Edomite, who was standing with Saul’s officials, said, “I saw the son of Jesse come to Ahimelek son of Ahitub at Nob. 10 Ahimelek inquired of the LORD for him; he also gave him provisions and the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

11 Then the king sent for the priest Ahimelek son of Ahitub and all the men of his family, who were the priests at Nob, and they all came to the king. 12 Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.”

“Yes, my lord,” he answered.

13 Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword and inquiring of God for him, so that he has rebelled against me and lies in wait for me, as he does today?”

14 Ahimelek answered the king, “Who of all your servants is as loyal as David, the king’s son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard and highly respected in your household? 15 Was that day the first time I inquired of God for him? Of course not! Let not the king accuse your servant or any of his father’s family, for your servant knows nothing at all about this whole affair.”

16 But the king said, “You will surely die, Ahimelek, you and your whole family.”

17 Then the king ordered the guards at his side: “Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.”

But the king’s officials were unwilling to raise a hand to strike the priests of the LORD.

18 The king then ordered Doeg, “You turn and strike down the priests.” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19 He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.

20 But one son of Ahimelek son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David. 21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family. 23 Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to take your life is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.”

Questions to consider:

  • How does Saul respond to news of David's discovery?
  • Who does he call in to question?
  • What does Saul ask his guards to do? Do they obey him?
  • Who ends up killing the priests? How many does he kill?
  • What do you think of Saul at this point?
  • Who escapes the slaughter? Where does he go? How is he received?

Possibilities for prayer:

At the end of this passage we see in David a man of compassion. He feels responsible for the deaths of Abiathar's family, even though there was not really anything he could have done to save them or protect them. He welcomes Abiathar without question, and readily offers him compassion. David is a man with many problems, but he is able to step outside of his own concerns and fears to offer another person compassion and solace.

How many times are we able to do the same thing? It is so easy to get caught up in the struggles of our own lives that we are unable to see beyond ourselves in order to love and care for those around us. Let's ask that God would give us the strength and the grace to see beyond our own concerns and love well those that God has placed in our lives.

Monday, July 25, 2011

1 Samuel 22:1-5

1 David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. 2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.

3 From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” 4 So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.

5 But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.

Questions to consider:

  • How do you think David's family heard about his escape?
  • Where did they go when they heard about it?
  • What kind of people came to join David? What role did he take among them?
  • Who tells David to leave Moab?
  • What does he do?

Possibilities for prayer:

In the midst for fleeing for his life, David is able to be surrounded by his family, at least for a time. I'm glad he received that comfort! Then we see him becoming a leader among people who are discontented with Saul's rule. Even on the run for his very life, we see the way in which God has positioned him to be a leader of the people. It seems that this might be a good lesson for us--God has a way of working his purposes out, even when the things of this world go crazy around us. Today, let's ask that God might use us to be tools of bringing about his purposes, rather than part of the "craziness" that works against such things.

Friday, July 22, 2011

1 Samuel 21

1 David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?”

2 David answered Ahimelek the priest, “The king sent me on a mission and said to me, ‘No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.’ As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. 3 Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.”

4 But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women.”

5 David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” 6 So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the LORD and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.

7 Now one of Saul’s servants was there that day, detained before the LORD; he was Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief shepherd.

8 David asked Ahimelek, “Don’t you have a spear or a sword here? I haven’t brought my sword or any other weapon, because the king’s mission was urgent.”

9 The priest replied, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one.”

David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”

10 That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:

“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”

12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

14 Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? 15 Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”

Questions to consider:

  • Where does David go?
  • What does he ask for?
  • Whose sword does he receive?
  • Why do you think he acts like a madman while he is near Achish?

Possibilities for prayer:

Poor David. The king that he once loyally served, and who he probably would have called a friend, is now seeking his death. David wisely doesn't reveal this information to the priest he encounters, and is slyly able to get some food while he is on the run from Saul. While we generally don't want to condone lying (which is certainly what David does), we can see the way God is in even this situation, protecting David and giving him the wisdom to evade capture or alert the priest that anything is wrong. Wisdom is something that we can always ask God for more of, so let's do that today!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

1 Samuel 20:30-42

30 Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”

32 “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David.

34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.

35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, 36 and he said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, “Isn’t the arrow beyond you?” 38 Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. 39 (The boy knew nothing about all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, “Go, carry them back to town.”

41 After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most.

42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.

Questions to consider:

  • How does Saul respond to Jonathan's answer about David's location?
  • What statement does he make about Jonathan's kingdom?
  • What message does Jonathan convey to David when he goes into the field? How?
  • How is the meeting between David and Jonathan?

Possibilities for prayer:

Once more we are able to see the love that exists between David and Jonathan. Jonathan bravely faces his father, who, in his current state, is just as likely to kill him as treat him as a son. We talked a little bit about the loyalty that Jonathan has to David yesterday, and it's still pretty impressive. Jonathan is able to recognize that his father's behavior is unwarranted and chooses to protect his dearest friend rather than side with his father.

While we are not likely to encounter this exact situation, there may be a time when we are forced to make difficult choices like Jonathan did. Let's ask that when those situations arise in our own lives we would take the wise and God-honoring path.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

1 Samuel 20:12-29

12 Then Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the LORD, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the LORD deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the LORD be with you as he has been with my father. 14 But show me unfailing kindness like the LORD’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the LORD has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.”

16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.

18 Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon feast. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. 20 I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. 21 Then I will send a boy and say, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,’ then come, because, as surely as the LORD lives, you are safe; there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then you must go, because the LORD has sent you away. 23 And about the matter you and I discussed—remember, the LORD is witness between you and me forever.”

24 So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon feast came, the king sat down to eat. 25 He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan, and Abner sat next to Saul, but David’s place was empty. 26 Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, “Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean—surely he is unclean.” 27 But the next day, the second day of the month, David’s place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?”

28 Jonathan answered, “David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”

Questions to consider:

  • Does Jonathan want to help David?
  • What is his plan?
  • Does Saul notice David's absence?
  • Where is David during this time?

Possibilities for prayer:

Again we see an excellent model of friendship between Jonathan and David. Jonathan vows to tell David truthfully what his father's plans are toward him, and even comes up with a plan to find out what is in Saul's well as a means of communicating that to David. In Jonathan we see the characteristic of loyalty, a loyalty that isn't even challenged by the familial relationship he has with Saul. I wonder if we have the same kind of loyalty to our friends that David and Jonathan had with each other. Let's ask that God would make us loyal friends, and show us what this deep kind of love for the people in our lives could look like today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

1 Samuel 20:1-11

1 Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to take my life?”

2 “Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without letting me know. Why would he hide this from me? It isn’t so!”

3 But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.”

4 Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”

5 So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon feast, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. 6 If your father misses me at all, tell him, ‘David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown, because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.’ 7 If he says, ‘Very well,’ then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure that he is determined to harm me. 8 As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the LORD. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?”

9 “Never!” Jonathan said. “If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn’t I tell you?”

10 David asked, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?”

11 “Come,” Jonathan said, “let’s go out into the field.” So they went there together.

Questions to consider:

  • Does David understand why Saul is trying to kill him?
  • Whose counsel does David seek?
  • What is his friend's response?
  • What does David ask this friend to do?

Possibilities for prayer:

David is in a very difficult situation. The king is trying to kill him, and he honestly doesn't know why. He takes a great risk in seeking out Jonathan, the king's own son, and asking him for help and advice. But Jonathan is a true friend, and able to be trusted. Let's ask that God would surround us with people like Jonathan, people who are true friends that we can always confidently approach for wisdom or help.

Monday, July 18, 2011

1 Samuel 19:9-24

9 But an evil spirit from the LORD came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.

11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13 Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head.

14 When Saul sent the men to capture David, Michal said, “He is ill.”

15 Then Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, “Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him.” 16 But when the men entered, there was the idol in the bed, and at the head was some goats’ hair.

17 Saul said to Michal, “Why did you deceive me like this and send my enemy away so that he escaped?”

Michal told him, “He said to me, ‘Let me get away. Why should I kill you?’”

18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. 19 Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; 20 so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men, and they also prophesied. 21 Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Seku. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?”

“Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said.

23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even on him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. 24 He stripped off his garments, and he too prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay naked all that day and all that night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

Questions to consider:

  • What do you think it means that "an evil spirit" from the Lord came on Saul?
  • What does Saul do after his first attempt to kill David fails?
  • How Michal respond to Saul's attempt to kill her husband?
  • How does Saul feel about Michal's deception?
  • What happens to the men that Saul sends to capture David?
  • What happens to Saul when he goes himself to capture David?

Possibilities for prayer:

I like the way in which God intervenes in Saul's final attempts at capturing David. Three sets of men are overcome by the Spirit of the Lord, and when Saul decides that the only way his mission will be accomplished is if he does it himself, he is also overcome by the same Spirit. God protects David from Saul's attempts to kill him, and he does so in a way that could only be from God.

Today, let's reflect on ways we have seen God protect us, ways in which God has come through in times and situations in which only God could intervene. Take some time to thank God for that protection and intervention.

Friday, July 15, 2011

1 Samuel 19:1-8

1 Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David 2 and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. 3 I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I’ll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out.”

4 Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. 5 He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The LORD won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?”

6 Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: “As surely as the LORD lives, David will not be put to death.”

7 So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation. He brought him to Saul, and David was with Saul as before.

8 Once more war broke out, and David went out and fought the Philistines. He struck them with such force that they fled before him.

Questions to consider:

  • Who warned David about Saul's plan?
  • What argument does he make against Saul's plan to kill David?
  • Why did David go to fight the Philistines again?

Possibilities for prayer:

Here we can see the value of a true friend. Jonathan braves the possible wrath of his father in order to see his friend David protected. Let's ask that God would make us great and loyal friends much like the example we see in Jonathan here. Ask that God would show you how to be the best friend you can be, even when that becomes difficult or uncomfortable.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1 Samuel 18:20-30

20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 “I will give her to him,” he thought, “so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” So Saul said to David, “Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.”

22 Then Saul ordered his attendants: “Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law.’”

23 They repeated these words to David. But David said, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.”

24 When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, 25 Saul replied, “Say to David, ‘The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.’” Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.

26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.

28 When Saul realized that the LORD was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.

30 The Philistine commanders continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known.

Questions to consider:

  • Why does Saul like the idea of Michal marrying David?
  • What is Saul's plan?
  • When Saul realizes that Michal really loves David, what is his response?
  • How does David fare in battle?

Possibilities for prayer:

God's hand is clearly on David's life. While Saul asks David kill a hundred Philistines as a bride price for his daughter, all the while hoping that this will mean an end to David's life. But this is not in God's plan for David. David does not fear battle, does not fear for his life or think highly of himself. Let's ask that God would be making us into people that do not fear, much as David was a person who lacked fear due to the confidence he has in God.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

1 Samuel 18:1-19

1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

5 Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.

6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. 7 As they danced, they sang:

“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”

8 Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” 9 And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.

10 The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

12 Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with David but had departed from Saul. 13 So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. 14 In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him. 15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.

17 Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the LORD.” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!”

18 But David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?” 19 So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.

Questions to consider:

  • How does Saul receive David?
  • Does David please Saul?
  • What happens that begins to change their relationship?
  • What response does Saul have to David's successes?
  • Why does Saul try to convince David to marry his daughter?
  • How does David respond?

Possibilities for prayer:

One of the things that I find really tragic about this book is the way in which we see a transformation in Saul that is not for the better. The "original" Saul that we see is a man of many godly characteristics. The man we have just read about is a man who is insecure and possibly insane.

Let's today ask that we would be always open to transformation in a positive way from God, and that God would protect us from anything or anyone that would work to prevent God's good work in our lives from reaching completion.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

1 Samuel 17:34-58

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.

55 As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is that young man?”

Abner replied, “As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know.”

56 The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.”

57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head.

58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him.

David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”

Possibilities for prayer:

  • What does David tell Saul to convince him that he can fight Goliath?
  • Does Saul approve of this plan?
  • What does Saul give David to help him in the fight against Goliath?
  • What does David choose to use instead?
  • How does David fight Goliath?
  • Is he victorious?
  • How does Saul respond to David's success?

Questions to consider:

Yesterday we saw the way in which David was courageous enough to offer to challenge Goliath, and today we read about the way in which David actually faces the Philistine soldier. He is confident of his imminent victory, but not because he believes that he is such an excellent warrior in his own strength; instead, he is confident that God will serve as the source of his strength and grant him the victory over this challenger. Today, let's ask that God would grant us confidence in God's ability to use us and work through us, much in the way that David did as he faced Goliath.

Monday, July 11, 2011

1 Samuel 17:20-33

20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family line from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked those standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are little more than a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

Questions to consider:

  • Where is David coming from?
  • Who is David checking on?
  • What does David think about Goliath?
  • How does David's older brother respond to David's presence at the battle camp?
  • When David returns to Saul, what does he tell him?

Possibilities for prayer:

In this passage we see David at the ready to defend his nation and his God. David, who has been little more than a shepherd or musician until this point, offers to take on the challenger daily shouting out insults to the people of Israel--the man who is later described as a giant, and who was feared by all the Israelite soldiers. David is clearly a man of great courage, an attribute we have been spending a great deal of time talking about and thinking about over the past weeks at ECV. Let's ask today that God would give us the courage to do something a little bit crazy for him--maybe you have an idea of what that is, or maybe you need to ask God what that "crazy" thing is that God is calling you into.

Friday, July 8, 2011

1 Samuel 17:1-19

1 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

Questions to consider:

Possibilities for prayer:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

1 Samuel 16:14-23

14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.”

19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

Questions to consider:

  • What happened when the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul?
  • What relief was there for Saul?
  • Who was able to provide that relief?
  • Why is the person who came to play the lyre for Saul notable?

Possibilities for prayer:

We just met David, the boy that God has chosen to become the next leader of the people of Israel. Already we see the way in which he serves the people around him, bringing relief to people who are in pain. This must have been a rather awkward situation for David, but he fulfills his duty with grace. Today, let's ask that God would make us servants of the people around us, able to bring relief and joy into the lives of the people we encounter.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

1 Samuel 16:1-13

1 The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

4 Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”

5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came on David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.

Questions to consider:

  • What does God ask Samuel at the beginning of this passage?
  • What does God want Samuel to do?
  • Why is Samuel afraid to do that?
  • Who does Samuel think that God has chosen as the new king?
  • Who does God actually choose?
  • What happens to David after the annointing?

Possibilities for prayer:

"The Lord does not look at the things human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance, but Lord looks at the heart."

My guess is that you've heard this very popular verse before. We, as people, are often so confused about the things that are truly important, and this verse is just another example of the way in which we mess that up. As God was looking for someone to rule over His people, His concern was not what that person would look like. The new king's height, weight, or even strength were not the biggest consideration for a great leader. God was seeking someone who would love and serve GOD, and be willing to follow God's direction. When God looks at us, my guess is that He's still seeking the same things. Instead of caring about hair or eye color, God is looking for a heart that is genuinely seeking after Him. Let's ask that God would give us hearts that would please Him, and that God would find the good things that He seeks within us.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

1 Samuel 15:24-35

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD.”

26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!”

27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”

30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God.” 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD.

32 Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.”

Agag came to him in chains. And he thought, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”

33 But Samuel said,

“As your sword has made women childless,
so will your mother be childless among women.”

And Samuel put Agag to death before the LORD at Gilgal.

34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Questions to consider:

  • What is Saul's response to Samuel's news?
  • Does Samuel tell Saul that he can have a second chance?
  • What metaphor does Samuel give Saul when Samuel's robe is torn?
  • What does Saul ask Samuel to do for him?
  • Who does Saul put to death?

Possibilities for prayer:

It must have been difficult for Saul to receive this news from Samuel, and perhaps a bit surprising. He recognizes that he sinned, but he probably wasn't expecting that this disobedience would cost him his kingship. What's pretty impressive is that in the midst of this Saul still desires to worship God, and asks Samuel to go with him so that he can do that.

I don't know about you, but when I get bad news, my first response is not always a desire to worship God. Maybe I'll pray and ask for God's provision or for the situation to be turned around, but worship likely doesn't come immediately to mind. Let's ask that God would give us this quality that we see in Saul, the ability to desire to worship God in the midst of difficult times.

Monday, July 4, 2011

1 Samuel 15:13-23

13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.”

14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”

15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”

“Tell me,” Saul replied.

17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”

20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied:

“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has rejected you as king.”

Questions to consider:

  • Who did the people of Israel destroy?
  • What was Saul supposed to do to these people?
  • What did Saul do incorrectly?
  • What message does Samuel convey to Saul about his behavior?

Possibilities for prayer:

We are reminded of the fact that Saul started out as someone who was not very important in his own eyes or the eyes of others. But with God's blessing and provision, he became the king of a nation. While it's not likely that we are going to become literal kings or queens (especially not in the US...), with God as our advocate and leader we can do things that we would never have thought possible. Take some time to thank God for being your advocate, and to dedicate yourself to following God's guidance and direction.

Friday, July 1, 2011

1 Samuel 15:1-12

1 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

4 So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. 5 Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. 6 Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.

7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.

10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.

12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”

Questions to consider:

  • Who is the messenger sent by God?
  • What people group did Saul attack?
  • Why did God that it was regrettable that Saul had been made king?
  • What was Samuel's response to this information?
  • For whom did Saul set up a monument?

Possibilities for prayer:

We have seen throughout this book the way in which God has been the champion of the people of Israel, seeking their victory and their protection, and here again we see God looking out for the interests of His people. We are also considered God's people so, let's take some time to think of the ways that we have seen God protect us, and be grateful for that!