My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Wednesday, August 31, 2005

2 Samuel 21

Gibeonites avenged

Summary:
There was a great famine in the land because the wrongs done against the Gibeonites by Saul had not been righted. Saul had decimated the Gibeonites, so in payment, David had to give seven of Saul's household for the Gibeonites to kill. David spared Mephibosheth.

When the seven were killed, one of the women of Saul's household exposed herself on a hill and mourned for days. When David saw this he took the bones of Saul and Jonathan form Jabesh Gilead and buried them properly. Then the famine ended.

There were many battles with the Philistines, and four of the descendants of Raphi were killed. One of them had six fingers and toes on each hand or foot. On came very close to killing David when he was exhausted, but Abishai saved him.

Key verse:
14. God answered prayer in behalf of the land.

My thoughts:
The Gibeonites were pretty darn lucky to get a treaty with Israel. Their relationship with Israel is truly unique.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

2 Samuel 20

Sheba's rebellion

Summary:
A Benjamnite called Sheba denounced David and drew together an army from Israel.

David got a man called Amasa to summon the men of Judah, but he took too long to do so. So he got Joab and Abishai to lead his men in pursuit of Sheba, so that Sheba would not find fortified cities.

On the way, Amasa crossed Joab, and Joab stabbed Amasa as he greet him and he died.

Sheba was at a city called Abel Beth Maacah, and Joab laid seige to the city. However, a woman called out to Joab and told him not to destroy part of Israel's inheritance. Instead she offered to bring Joab Sheba's head, which Joab agreed to. So Joab went home with Sheba's head.

Key verse:
20. "Far be it from me!" Joab replied, "Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy!..."

My thoughts:
David just doesn't seem to be able to get away from rebellions and insurrections. Here again we see a opposition between David and 'Israel'.

Monday, August 29, 2005

2 Samuel 19

David returns to Jerusalem

Summary:
After the battle all of David's men mourned for Absalom. Joab was angry at David, saying that he had insulted his own men by grieving for Absalom, whilst showing contempt for his own men.

Meanwhile, the people of Judah called on David to return, and most of Israel agreed. David forgave Shimei and Mephibosheth who had wrong him. He tried to reward Barzillai, who had supported him, but he was old, and thought the reward was wasted resources.

There was a small argument between Judah and Israel as to who had the larger claim over David.

Key verse:
6. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead.

My thoughts:
We can already see factions within Israel. There is Israel, and there is Judah, and they have disagreements. Ther are unified under David, but they will not be unified forever.

I find it interesting how often the name 'Israel' is used with negative connotations. It seems that David is the enemy of Israel more often than not.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

2 Samuel 18

The battle of the forest of Ephraim

Summary:
David organised his army for Absalom's coming confrontation. He said that he would fight with his men, but his men urged him not to. David ordered the men not to kill Absalom.

So at the forests of Ephraim David's army fought Absalom's army. David's army killed many, and Israel fled. Absalom managed to get himself stuck in a tree. The man who found him did not kill him, but told Joab. Joab became angry, despite the fact that the man had done what David asked, and Joab killed Absalom, who was still hanging from the tree.

Absalom had no sons. All he left was a statue.

Joab recognised that David would not be happy, so he sent a Cushite to give message to David, but the priest's son begged to go too, and Joab let him. The priest's son ran the fastest, and got to David first, telling him that Israel had been defeated. It was the Cushite who told David that Absalom was dead. And David mourned.

Key verse:
33. O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!

My thoughts:
David never fails to mourn for his enemies. No matter how bad they have been to him, David never wants anyone in his family, or anyone anointed by God to be hurt. We are part of God's family, and in the same way, though we rebel against him, he loves us and wants the best for us.

Well, David has won this battle. For some time Absalom had more power than David, but David has come out on top.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

2 Samuel 17

Hushai 'advises' Absalom

Summary:
Ahithophel advised Absalom that he should go and attack David now, but Hushai, David's friend, said that that would be foolish, and that David was too smart for that. Instead he suggested that Absalom wait and build up more of an army from the people of Israel. Hushai then told the priests to tell David to continue to flee across the river.

The messengers almost got caught by Absalom, but hid, then managed to get the message to David. So David and his men crossed the Jordan.

Ahithophel hung himself because his advice had not been heeded.

As David continued to Mahanaim past the Jordan, Absalom followed over the river, and stayed in Gilead.

Key verse:
15. Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel to do such and such, but I have advised them to do so and so.

My thoughts:
David is ultimately saved by sending Hushai to give Absalom bad advice. David is still in great danger though.

Friday, August 26, 2005

2 Samuel 16

David in flight

Summary:
Ziba, the master of Mephibosheth, Saul's grandson, greeted David with supplies. David asked about Mephibosheth, and Ziba said he had staying in Jerusalem in the belief that Saul's dynasty could take power again. David, on hearing this, gave all Mephibosheth's possessions to Ziba.

Another Saul supporter yelled at David and his men and threw stones at them at Bahurim. He yelled that David was being repaid for his violence against Saul's house. David's men offered to kill the man, but David was quite stoic about it. He accepted that the words might be from God.

Meanwhile, Hushai, David's friend, arrived at Jerusalem and pretended to pledge his support for Absalom. Ahithophel, David's old advisor who had joined Absalom, recommened that Absalom sleep with David's concubines. So he did.

Key verse:
12. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.

My thoughts:
I love how David never assumes that he knows best. He is being cursed by a Saul supporter, but he accepts that he may be speaking some truth, and he intends to learn from it.

David's plan for Hushai is getting into place. He now has someone close to him working in Absalom's inner circle.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

2 Samuel 15

Absalom's conspiracy

My thoughts:
Absalom grew in power in Jerusalem. He won people over to his, and convinced Israelite visitors that David was incompetent. After some time, Absalom asked David if he could go worship God in Hebron. As he left Jerusalem, Absalom sent messages throughout Israel called on people to declare his as king.

David heard about this and left Jerusalem with some of his supported and family. He was with the priests and they made some sacrifices before returning to ark back to Jerusalem. He sent Hushai as a spy to frustrate Absalom's advisors. Meanwhile, Absalom was entering Jerusalem.

Key verse:
13. "The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom."

My thoughts:
David fled to delay conflict with Absalom. At the moment he is almost conceeding to Absalom. David has left Jerusalem and will not now return until Absalom is dead.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

2 Samuel 14

Absalom returns

Summary:
Joab wanted Absalom to return to Jerusalem, so he got a woman to go before David, pretending to be in mourning. She told David that her husband was dead, and that one of her two sons had killed the other. She had one son left, and she asked David to pass a law so that no-one could kill her only son as revenge. David thought this was a good idea.

The woman then revealed that she had been sent by Joab, and she said that David should recall Absalom back to Jerusalem under the same logic. So David called Absalom back.

Absalom did well in Jerusalem, but was not allowed to see the king. After two years he tried to get Joab to arrange a meeting, but Joab ignored him. So Absalom set fire to Joab's field to get his attention. Then Joab sorted it out, and Absalom went to David, and David blessed him.

Key verse:
14. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.

My thoughts:
Here the woman presents a God, who is very similar to the God of Luke 15 - the prodigal son parable. God's nature has always been a saving nature. The God who created and creates is the God who saves. This is evident in today's key verse.

David is happy to forgive

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

2 Samuel 13

Amnon vs. Absalom

Summary:
Amnon, one of David's son, fell in love with his brother, Absalom's sister, Tamar. He asked his friend Jonadab how he should get Tamar, and Jonadab told him to act sick, and then request Tamar to make a special meal for him. So Amnon did this, and raped his sister Tamar, who was a virgin.

Absalom heard that Amnon had done this, and hated him, but did nothing. David was furious

Then two years later Absalom invited the king's court to a banquet, but David polited declined. Absalom then asked just for Amnon to come, which David agreed to, and sent the rest of his sons too. When Amnon was drunk at the banquet, Absalom's men killed him, and Absalom fled Geshur.

David got confused and thought all his sons had been killed, but it was only Amnon. But he was still pretty gutted anyway.

Key verse:
22. Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad

My thoughts:
Absalom let his anger brood, and ultimately it led to murder. Amnon's sin was heinous, however violent revenge was not the solution. This will start a rift between Absalom and his father that never heals, as Absalom later seeks power.

Monday, August 22, 2005

2 Samuel 12

Nathan challenged David

Summary:
God sent the prophet Nathan to David, and he told David a story of a rich man with many sheep, and a poor man with just one, whom he loved. The rich man needed to eat a sheep, but instead of taking one of his own, he took the poor man's.

David was angry at the rich man, but the Nathan said that David was that rich man. He had taken Bathsheba and killed her husband. Nathan told David that there would be violence in his family because of this, and that someone else would sleep with David's wives in broad daylight. Bathsheba's son would also die.

When that son became ill, David pleaded with God and fasted, but the son still died, and David stopped fasting.

Bathsheba gave birth to another son, Solomon.

Meanwhile, Joab took over Rabbah, the Ammonite capital.

Key verse:
9. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes?

My thoughts:
No-one escapes God's judgement, not even the king. David pays the price for what he did. Nathan's use of a parable is interesting, as it seems to be a very Jewish way of making a point. Obviously, Jesus used many parables.

David implies in verse 23 that David's eternal destination will be the same as the dead child's. If this is 'heaven', then it seems to show that babies get to go to 'heaven'. However, it is more likely to be congruent with the earlier Jewish concept of Sheol, the place of the dead. It seems that in very early Jewish tradition, there was little concept of 'salvation' in terms of determining one's eternal destination. Salvation was intrisically tied to physical things.

My Bit:
W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N We're the best! Forget all the rest! The name is Wellington!

Wellington College was my school, and I went to this party briefly. I managed to be there with the guy who forced the first ambulance to come (though it didn't count, because he had walked about 200m away from the party).

Sunday, August 21, 2005

2 Samuel 11

David's prying eyes

Summary:
David had sent Joab out to war with the Ammonites, but he stayed in Jerusalem. He was walking around when he saw a beautiful woman - Bathsheba - bathing. David summoned her and slept with her, despite the fact that she was married to Uriah, and she became pregnant.

When David heard that Bathsheba was pregnant he called Uriah back from the battle lines where he was fighting. He left him go home for one night in the hope that he would sleep with his wife, and the child could be passed off as Uriah's. But Uriah slept in the palace's doorway, unwilling to sleep in a house when God's ark and all the fighting men slept in tents.

So David tried again, but got him drunk this time. But it still didn't work. So David told Joab to put Uriah in the front line and to withdraw from him in battle. They did this, and Uriah was killed, and David was told this.

Bathsheba bore a son, but God was not happy.

Key verse:
27. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

My thoughts:
Even when we are God's children, like David, we can still really annoy him. David did so many things wrong here. Firstly, he was not out with his army, secondly, he opened himself to temptation, then he acted on it, then he tried to lie about it, then he murdered a man.

Just like Moses, David is now a murderer. God is constantly using imperfect people throughout the old testament.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

2 Samuel 10

The Ammonites and Arameans defeated

Summary:
When David heard that the king of the Ammonites had died, he sent men with condolences, because he had been good to him. However, the new king of the Ammonites did not trust David's intent, and sent David's men away, humiliated. David heard of this.

The Ammonites realised that they had offended David, and so they got together and army with the Arameans to fight against David. David sent an army with Joab to meet them.

Joab found himself surrounded. The Arameans on one side, and the Ammonites on the other. So he spilt his army into two, fighting on both fronts. He won, and they ran away. The Arameans regrouped after they fled, and David himself took an army out and destroyed them. The defeat drove a rift between the Arameans and the Ammonites.

Key verse:
12. Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.

My thoughts:
Joab's confession here (the key verse) is him admitting that they can only do their best, and beyond that it's in God's hand. I think we need to trust God more. We need to know when we've done our part, and then expect God to do his, because he is faithful.

Friday, August 19, 2005

2 Samuel 9

David blesses Jonathan family

Summary:
David looked for someone still alive from the household of Saul to show kindness to on account of Jonathan. He found, Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan who had survived, but was crippled in both feet.

David gave Mephibosheth everything his grandfather Saul had had, and he ate at the king's table the rest of his life in Jerusalem.

Saul's old servant, Ziba, became Mephibosheth's servant.

Key verse:
1. Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?

My thoughts:
It's nice to know that David shows kindness to less fortunate people, and does not judge people (as cursed by God, for example) if they are disabled.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

2 Samuel 8

David's victories

Summary:
David subdued the Philistines and the Moabites and the Edomites. He waged a war against a northern king, Hadadezer, and beat him and his allies. He had garrisons right up to Damascus. David took a lot of gold and silver from the surrounding nations and dedicated it to God.

David ruled well. Joab was his commander, and Zadok and Ahimelech, son of Abiatar, were the priests.

Key verse:
15. David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people.

Summary:
The priest Zadok became quite symbollically important is later Jewish thought as the correct order of priesthood. The Sadducees were named after him, and 'sons of Zadok' becomes a common term for the priesthood, particularly noticeable in the writing of the Essene Qumran community (Dead Sea Scrolls).

The jist of this chapter, however, is that David is a good successful king.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

2 Samuel 7

Building God's house

Summary:
David was settled in his palace, when he realised that he lived in a palace, whilst God's ark lived in a tent. Nathan the prophet supported him in this concern.

God came to Nathan and told him to tell David that he would not build God's house, but that his son would. God will bless David, and his family, and he will be suceeded by a great king from his offspring who will build God's house.

David praised God for the favour he had received, and for God's promise. He charged God to make sure his house got built.

Key verse:
13-14. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son.

My thoughts:
This chapter is in anticipation of the temple being built, which will become the centre of Jewish faith and worship of Yahweh. Notice God's only minor concern of the lack of quality of his dwelling place. He's not too worried about physical things.

The passage predicting David's offspring is first-and-foremost a prophecy about Solomon, but it is also at the same time a prophecy about Jesus in the light of his new revalation

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

2 Samuel 6

David dances

Summary:
David started to bring the ark of God to his city, but on the way, one of the people carrying the ark on poles touched the ark, and God killed him. David was angry with God and left the ark at a man's house instead.

God blessed that man's household greatly, and when David heard this, he decided to finally bring the ark to Jerusalem. As they brought it to Jerusalem, they performed many sacrificed, and David danced without wearing much.

Michal, his wife, saw him and was angry. When David had returned home from setting up the ark in a tent, and the subsequent offerings, his wife was waiting for him. She accused David of being vulgar, but he said it was all for God.

Michal didn't have any more children.

Key verse;
22. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.

My thoughts:
It can seem unjustified that God killed a man, just for touching the ark. It is a matter of holiness, however it still seems unfair. We can, however, take comfort in that fact that David too found it unfair, and he didn't see it inappropriate to be angry with God for what had happened. God respects sincerity in our feelings and opinions. David in the Psalms is a typical example of this.

David here completely puts his pride aside and embarrasses himself and others around him in his worship. In western, rich, individualistic society we are very caught up with ourselves. We have a lot of ego - a lot of pride. I think David teaches us an important lesson in self-humiliation for God. People may judge us, but ultimately people's opinions count for nothing compared to what God thinks.

I know I am a constant source of humiliation and embarrassment for my friends. But that's probably for other reasons...

Monday, August 15, 2005

2 Samuel 5

David takes Jerusalem

Summary:
The leaders of Israel came to David and made him king of all Israel.

After living in Hebron seven years, David finally attacked Jerusalem, where the Jebusite's lived, and took it, called it the 'City of David'. A palace was built for him there, and he had many more sons in Jerusalem, including Solomon.

Hearing he was king, the Philistines came to attack David, but with God's help, David destroyed them. David also defeated a second horde of Philistines by sneaking up behind them.

Key verse:
10. And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.

My thoughts:
Ah Jerusalem. This is the first time it has truly been in Jewish hands. This event was some three-thousand years ago, but the Jewish people still hold that city. Opinion is obviously divided as to who should have that land now, but the Jewish claim to Jerusalem stems back to this one event in 2 Samuel 5.

Now we enter David's reign proper. He is king of all Israel, and is ruling from Jerusalem. He is one of only two biblical kings to do so, despite it being the ideal of a monarchy in Israel.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

2 Samuel 4

Ish-Bosheth killed

Summary:
Ish-Bosheth became afraid when he heard that Abner had been killed, and all Israel knew his fear. Two of his commanders killed him when he was on his bed, and took his head to David.

David reminded them of the man who had brought news of Saul's death, expecting him to be happy. David was angry that they had killed an innocent unarmed man, and had the two commanders killed at Hebron

Key verse:
10. when a man told me, 'Saul is dead,' and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news!

My thoughts:
People don't understand David. They keep on thinking that killing will make him happy, but David has more respect for humanity, and especially his enemies. For him, the ends do not justify the immoral means, and as Christians we should follow that example.

But at least Ish-Bosheth is out of the way now.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

2 Samuel 3

Abner changes sides

Summary:
David's house grew stronger against Saul's. The war lasted a long time. David had many sons from many wives, including Absalom. Ahinoam was his firstborn.

Ish-Bosheth accused Abner of sleeping with Saul's concubine, which Abner denied. He was insulted, and started working against Ish-Bosheth, and started working for David. Abner started trying to hand Israel over to David. David agreed to make a pact, provided that his wife Michal was returned to him. Abner made this happen (Paltiel was gutted).

Joab returned to David after a raid, and heard that David had sent Abner away in peace. Joab told David that he had been deceived. Behind David's back, Joab called Abner back and killed him, avenging his brother's death.

David heard this and cursed Joab's family, and demanded that he mourn for Abner. They had a large funeral for Abner, and buried him at Hebron. All Israel knew that David was innocent.

Key verse:
1. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.

My thoughts:
Despite his bad record, Abner genuinely becomes a hero in this narrative. Without Abner, Saul's house does not last much longer.

I quite like this as a self-contained story, with lots of double-crossing and going behind people's backs.

Friday, August 12, 2005

2 Samuel 2

A civil war for power

Summary:
David asked God if he should return to Judah, and God told him to go to Hebron. He was anointed as king over Judah there. He heard that Jabesh Gilead had buried Saul, and he thanked them for that and asked them to rally in support behind him.

Meanwhile, Abner, Saul's commander, had taken Ish-Bosheth, one of Saul's sons, and had made him king over the rest of Israel, including Gilead. He ruled for two years, whereas David ruled from Hebron for seven years. David's men, led by Joab, met Abner's men at Gideon, where they took aside twelve men each to battle one another. David's men won. David's men defeated and chased away Abner's men.

Abner killed his first pursuer, who was Joab's brother. So Joab and his other brother continued to chase Abner til the evening, when both parties decided to stop. Joab returned home. David's men had killed many more than Abner's men.

Key verse:
4. Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

My thoughts:
We often have a very clean view of history. One person comes into power straight after another, and they have absolute power. History, in reality, is much more messy. Here Israel is already divided, but only temporarily. Ish-Boseth's name is forgotten in history, despite him being the second king of Israel with David.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

2 Samuel 1

David hears of Saul's death

Summary:
An escaped Amalekite came to David and reported that Saul and Jonathan had died. He told David that Saul was about to die, so he killed him instead, at Saul's request. David and his men tore their clothes and mourned.

David asked the man why he had not been afraid to kill God's anointed. David had the man killed for killing God's anointed.

David sang a song lamenting Saul and Jonathan death.

Key verse:
23. Saul and Jonathan—

in life they were loved and gracious,
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.

My thoughts:
This disagrees with the previous chapter, saying that Saul killed himself, so it is difficult to know precisely what happened. David is greaty in praise of Saul, despite his shortcomings. Saul had always seen the Lord as his God, and had stopped Israel worshipping any other, unlike later kings.

Somewhat controversially, I think this chapter says something about euthanasia. David (the good-guy) did not see Saul's impending death and his desire to be killed as legitimate reason to kill him. I would be inclined to agree with David.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

1 Samuel 31

The death of Saul

Summary:
The Philistines attacked, and routed the Israelites. Three of Saul's sons were killed, including Jonathan. Saul himself was injured by an arrow. Saul told his armour-bearer to kill him, so that he wasn't killed by a Philistine, but the armour-bearer was scared. So Saul killed himself. His armour bearer did the same.

The Philistines occupied much of Israel, and took the bodies of Saul and his sons, and hung them from a wall. The people of Jabesh Gilead heard of this, and took them down and cremated them.

Key verse:
6. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

My thoughts:
This is God's judgement on Saul's dynasty. No only has he died in the shame of suicide, but his family is decimated, and will never rule Israel again.

Saul's life is a tradegy, and this is its climax. It is the tale of an almost Shakespearean demise of the King.

David's close friend, Jonathan, also died. Though David and Jonathan are always associated together, David lives most of his life after the death of Jonathan.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

1 Samuel 30

David kicks some Amalekite ass

Summary:
So David return to his town, Ziklag, only to find that it had been pillaged by the Amalekites. They had taken everything, including David's wives. Some of David's men blamed him, but David got the ephod from Abiathar and asked God whether he should chase the Amalekites. God said he should.

So David and his men went to find the Amalekites, though many became tied and stayed behind. David's men found an Egyptian, who was a slave, who had been left by the Amalekites. He led them to the Amalekites.

David's men killed or chased off the Amalekites, and took all their wives and stuff back as plunder. David shared this plunder with all, even those who had not come, because they were exhausted. HE also sent parts of the plunder all throughout Israel and Judah.

Key verse:
6. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

My thoughts:
David does not do much without consulting God first. He recognises that if God is not with him, it's not even worth trying. The Bible is very clear in showing that all victory ultimately is a gift from God, not a product of human ability.

Monday, August 08, 2005

1 Samuel 29

David refused position fighting against Israel

Summary:
The other Philistine leaders saw David and his men marching with them, and they complained, saying that the hebrews could turn against them. Achish defended David, but in the end told David to leave. David declared that he had done nothing wrong, but did leave.

Key verse:
7. Turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.

My thoughts:
Ultimately this avoids the awkward situation of David fighting against God's people Israel.

My Bit:
Notice the new links on the right ----->
I had fun compiling these. Let me know if you find any more good ones. I'll keep looking over time.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

1 Samuel 28

Saul and the Witch of Endor

Summary:
The Philistines came together to fight Israel, and David was with the Philistines.

Samuel was dead, and Saul inquired of God about the amassing Philistines. But he got nothing from God, so he decided to seek a medium. Saul had expelled all the mediums and spiritists, so he disguised himself and went to a witch at Endor. Saul asked her to summon Samuel.

Once Samuel was summoned the woman realised that it was Saul. Samuel was angry that Saul had done this. Samuel told Saul that he would be badly beaten by the Philistines. Saul refused to eat, but did so after much urging.

Key verse:
17. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David.

My thoughts:
I have used the standard NIV title for this chapter. I think it's cool. Sounds like a Harry Potter novel or something.

This chapter raising some interesting theological points. First, it must be made clear that it was bad thing to use a medium, despite the fact that it worked. It shows that that the early Hebrews had an appreciation of an existence after death (not an obvious early old testament belief). It also shows that supernatural things may happen that are against God's will. We should not be surprised at this, as we constantly see natural things happening which are against God's will.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

1 Samuel 27

David amongst the Philistines

Summary:
David realised that Saul would eventually kill him if he stayed in Israel. So he went and lived in Gath of th Philistines under their king, Achish. He went with his family, and his six hundred men.

After a while, David asked for a place to live from Achish, instead of living under his feet. So the king gave David and his men a town. They would go out raiding Canaanites each day, but they would tell the king of Gath that they were raiding Israelites. Achish trusted David a lot.

Key verse:
1. One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul.

My thoughts:
Dubious morals from David here, as he lies to Achish.

Friday, August 05, 2005

1 Samuel 26

David spares Saul again

Summary:
Saul found out where David was again, and took his army, including his commander, Abner, with him. David found out that Saul had come. He saw that Saul was resting unprotected, so he took his mate, Abishai, and went over to Saul's camp. Abishai told David to kill Saul, but David refused, and just took his jug and spear. Then David returned to his side.

From there he yelled out to Abner, that he had taken Saul's stuff, and that Abner had failed to protect him. Saul heard David's voice. David pleaded his innocence, Saul pleaded his guilt. Someone came to get Saul's stuff back, and David and Saul went separate ways.

Key verse:
25. May you be blessed, my son David; you will do great things and surely triumph.

My thoughts:
Here David is willing to let God take Saul if He has judged Saul, rather than let himself be the agent. This contrasts with the last chapter, where David was fast to be the agent of God's judgement. Ther difference is, as David clearly states, that Saul is God's anointed, and it would be foolish to go against God's anointed.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

1 Samuel 25

David gets another wife

Summary:
Samuel died, and Israel mourned.

David was near a wealthy but mean man, Nabal, whose intelligent wife was called Abigail. David's men had been protecting Nabal's borders and livestock in the fields, and so David sent some men to greet Nabal and ask for some supplies. Nabal refused and insulted David.

So David told his men to get their swords, and they marched down to Nabal's land. Meanwhile, Abigail heard what was going on, and quickly pulled together a caravan of supplies for David, and she went out to meet him. She offered them to David, saying how foolish Nabal was, and how great David was. David spared Nabal.

When Abigail told Nabal what she had done, Nabal's heart failed, and he died ten days later.

David took Abigail as his wife, along with Ahinoam - a wife he already had. Saul had given David's wife, Michal, to someone else.

Key verse:
39. [God] has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal's wrongdoing down on his own head.

My thoughts:
I think reading this passage presents us with some interesting thoughts of morality. I think David went through similar thought patterns. To start with, we think that David is a little unjustified in going down to kill Nabal and his men. Had David gone ahead with it, we would have struggled to justify the violence of the biblical hero, David. However, when Nabal dies of natural (read 'divinely-enacted') causes, we do not see it as unjust. What would have been the difference if David had done it at God's command?

Maybe we accept God's authority against our intuition when humans have no role in bearing God's authority. However, when humans are the agent, we are much more willing to question the ethics of an action. I mean, how do we know that what a person says is from God actually is?

Yeah... David's a polygamist. Rich people were back then. It was never God's ideal, but you know, **** happens.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

1 Samuel 24

Saul and David meet face to face

Summary:
David and his men were hiding deep in a cave, and Saul returned from fighting the Philistines. By chance, Saul chose to pee in the front of David's cave. Despite the opportunity, David refused to kill God's anointed king, and instead he cut of some of his robe without him noticing, which he felt pretty guilty about in itself.

David then called out to Saul, his king. He declared his innocence, and his respect for Saul as God's anointed, shown in that he had not killed him.

Saul was humbled, and asked David not to cut off his family when he became king. David accepted, and they went separate ways.

Key verses:
10. I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the Lord's anointed.

13. 'From evildoers come evil deeds,' so my hand will not touch you.

My thoughts:
David is showing true Christian love here. He recognising that revenge is not justified, and that evil should not be repayed with evil, but with love. He also shows a deep understanding of God's anointing. The Hebrew for this anointing is the word from which 'Messiah' is derived. Despite his sins and rejection of God's will, Saul is still God's anointing, and David does not seem himself in a position to challenge that whilst Saul remains alive.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

1 Samuel 23

God looks after David

Summary:
David heard that the town Keilah was under attack by the Philistines, so he asked God whether he should go help them. God said yes, so David convinced his men to go down with him, and they saved Keilah.

Saul heard that David was at Keilah, and was happy that David had cornered himself. David heard that Saul had heard, and so he asked God is the people of Keilah would hand him over. God said they would, so David left and fled to the desert, where Jonathan met him and encouraged him.

Saul sent forth spies to find David, finding that he was at the desert of Moan. So Saul went there to find him. David's men were running around one side of the mountain, away from Saul's men on the others. But a messenger came to Saul, telling him that the Philistines were attacking, so Saul broke off the pursuit to attack the Philistines.

Key verse:
17. 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.

My thoughts:
Here David is saved by God's direct intervention and guidance. God is looking out for David, and will bring him success. Even Saul knows this, but he is still fighting it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

1 Samuel 22

Saul kills the priests

Summary:
David fled to a cave in Adullam, where his family and many other numbering four hundred joined him. David took his family to Moab, and left them there, as he returned to Judah, and the prophet Gad's advice.

One of Saul's men had seen David with Ahimelech, and he told Saul about it. Saul went down to Nob, and questioned Ahimelech. Ahimelech truthfully declared his ignorance, but Saul had him and all his family and all the priests killed. However, his son, Abiathar escaped and joined David.

Key verse:
15. 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.

My thoughts:
It is important that Abiathar survived, so that the priestly line from Aaron is maintained. The fact that the priests side with David shows the favour rested on David. Ideally, Israel should run under two main authorities, the King, and the High Priest. Both of these should be working in unity. This ideal is shown in the first century BCE by the Essenes who were waiting for two Messiahs. One in the line of David - a king, and another in the line of Aaron - a priest. In this chapter, we see both of these authorities working together, even though David is not yet king. In contrast, Saul is killing the priests. Jesus, as Messiah, fulfilled both the priestly role, and the kingly role.