Chapter 9: 1 Samuel
1Sam:1:5: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.
1Sam:1:6: And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.
According to this, God had purposely punished Hannah by making her barren. No reason is given for this punishment. This violates God's promise to keep all barrenness out of Israel:
Deut:7:14: Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.
1Sam:1:10: And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.
1Sam:1:11: And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
Hannah struck a bargain with God: if he would remove his curse from her so that she could have a son, she would dedicate her son to God. God evidently liked this plan of a mere mortal more than his own plan of leaving Hannah barren.
Hannah had a son and she named him Samuel. This and the following book in the Bible are named after him. However, he actually plays only a minor role in the first book, and is dead before the second book begins. Better titles for these books would probably be Saul and David, respectively.
1Sam:2:13: And the priests' custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;
1Sam:2:14: And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.
1Sam:2:15: Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.
1Sam:2:16: And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.
1Sam:2:22: Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Here we learn of just how special God's "chosen people" really were. For here we have a glimpse into the dealings, not of the common people, but of the elite: the priests of Israel. We learn that they stole the very fat of the sacrifices from God (by force if necessary), and that they had sex with women at the very door of the tabernacle! Once again this leads us to question what justice there was in the genocide of the Canaanites. Could they have been any worse than the Israelites?
1Sam:2:25: If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.
This tells us that these men ignored Eli, not out of stubbornness, but because God had planned to "slay them". In other words, God ensured that he would have a good reason to kill them by making sure they continued in their sinful ways. Where was their free will?
1Sam:4:3: And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
1Sam:4:4: So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
1Sam:4:5: And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.
1Sam:4:6: And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp.
1Sam:4:7: And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.
1Sam:4:8: Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.
But the magic ark did not save the Israelites.
1Sam:4:10: And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
1Sam:4:11: And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.
Later, we shall read of Uzzah, who merely touched the ark. For this impertinence God immediately zapped him (2 Sam. 6:6-7). Uzzah was an Israelite attempting to protect the ark from damage. But here we read of the enemies of Israel capturing the ark with their heathen hands and taking it into enemy territory! These two accounts are certainly inconsistent.
1Sam:5:9: And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.
Instead of immediately zapping the Philistine men who first touched the ark, God waited until it was brought into various Philistine cities, and then smote all of the innocent men in each city with either death or hemorrhoids ("emerods")!
1Sam:6:2: And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.
1Sam:6:3: And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.
1Sam:6:4: Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
1Sam:6:5: Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
Remember when Aaron's sons offered incense that had not been prescribed by God? God zapped them (Lev. 10:1-2). But here, the Philistines made an offering of golden mice and hemorrhoids, and God seemed okay with their offering! This is very inconsistent.
In reality, this is just another classic example of sympathetic magic. The Philistines made golden images of what was afflicting them, just as the Israelites had made a bronze image of a serpent when serpents were afflicting them (Num. 21:6-9).
The Philistines realized that the God of Israel was far more trouble than he was worth. They wisely decided to return the ark to the Israelites. They put it on a cart and sent it to Beth-shemesh.
1Sam:6:13: And they of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.
1Sam:6:14: And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Beth-shemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the LORD.
1Sam:6:15: And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD.
One would think that this would be the "happy ending" to the story, but God decided to kill the people who had received his ark back into Israel and who were offering him sacrifices!
1Sam:6:19: And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.
Another act of justice by the "God of love." The innocent people of Beth-Shemesh, who had rejoiced at the return of God's holy ark, were quickly reduced to lamentations by their God's insatiable appetite for blood.
1Sam:8:21: And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.
If God was omnipresent and omniscient, why would Samuel need to tell him what the people had said?
1Sam:9:2: And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.
We have seen how the common people of Israel behaved. We have seen how the priests -- the elite of God's chosen people -- behaved. But now we shall see the behavior of Saul: the Israelite which the Bible describes as the 'most good'.
1Sam:10:6: And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
1Sam:10:9: And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
What happened to "free will"? We are told that God gave Saul another heart and turned him into another man! If Saul had already been so good (as 1 Sam 9:2 claims he was), why would God need to alter his personality? If God had no qualms about doing this, it seems to me that his efforts would've been better spent on improving the Israelites who were not as good as Saul.
In any case, the Bible tells us that Saul started out as the 'most good' Israelite, and then God improved upon him. So, we can rest assured that all of Saul's actions from that point on were of the very best, and can serve as sterling examples of goodness for us.
1Sam:11:1: Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabesh-gilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee.
How could there be men in Jabesh-gilead? The Israelites themselves had murdered every last one of them back in the book of Judges:
Judg:21:10: And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children.
Judg:21:11: And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.
1Sam:11:6: And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.
1Sam:11:7: And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.
As Saul's first action as king of Israel, "he took some oxen, and hewed then in pieces." His second action was to threaten to do the same to all of the oxen in Israel. Thus he coerced the Israelites into enlisting in a war against the Ammonites. Since we know that Saul was the 'most good' Israelite whom God had given a new heart, and upon whom "the Spirit of God" had just come, we know these actions must represent the ultimate moral example for us.
This says that "the fear of the LORD fell on the people," but it seems more likely that it was the fear of losing their oxen.
1Sam:13:11: And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
1Sam:13:12: Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
1Sam:13:13: And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
1Sam:13:14: But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
Saul offered a burnt offering to God so that God would help him in his war against the Philistines. Samuel told Saul that this was a foolish thing to do, and that God would punish him for it by giving the kingdom to "a man after his own heart".
You will recall that, in a similar circumstance, Jephthah had made a burnt offering to God for help in his war against the Ammonites (Judges 11). God did not punish Jephthah for that action. In fact, God rewarded Jephthah with victory over the Ammonites, and the Bible elsewhere honors Jephthah as a man of faith for whom the world was not worthy (Heb. 11:32, 38). So why was God displeased with Saul's sacrifice? The only difference I can see is that Saul offered a burnt animal, whereas Jephthah offered his burnt daughter!
Since we were told (back in 1 Sam. 10:9) that God had given Saul "a new heart," how could it be that God was now dissatisfied with Saul's heart and sought elsewhere for "a man after his own heart"? Was he looking for someone who would offer him human sacrifices?
1Sam:14:24: And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.
1Sam:14:25: And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.
1Sam:14:26: And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath.
1Sam:14:27: But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened.
1Sam:14:43: Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.
1Sam:14:44: And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
1Sam:14:45: And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.
Saul, whom God had given a "new heart," was ready to murder his own son for breaking a foolish vow that he had not even been aware of! Saul knew something was wrong when God refused to speak to him, and drawing lots (the outcome of which he believed God controlled), he determined that some action of his son's was the cause of God's reticence (1 Sam. 14:37-42).
So it would appear that God, as well as Saul, believed that Jonathan should be murdered for having eaten some honey. But in this instance the common people proved more righteous than both their God and their king! They put their collective foot down and stopped this travesty of justice. Evidently God learned a lesson in ethics from them since he didn't zap Jonathan and no more was said about the honey-eating affair.
1Sam:15:2: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
1Sam:15:3: Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
When these words were supposedly spoken by God, it was more than 200 years after the Israelites had escaped from Egypt. The individual Amalekites who had fought to protect their homeland from the invading horde of Israelites were long dead. Their children were long dead. Their grandchildren were long dead. Their great-grandchildren were long dead. Their nearest descendants still living at that time would've been their great-great-grandchildren. At least four generations of Amalekites had come and gone before God chose the fifth generation for punishment. Furthermore, the fifth generation would've been middle-aged by this time: "Infants and sucklings" would've been at least sixth generation. This exceeds God's promise to punish up to the third and fourth generation (Ex. 20:5).
Today this would be equivalent to the United States declaring war on the Native Americans for having fought to defend their homeland from the invading Europeans over 200 years ago. If today the U.S. military were to launch massive attacks on the "Indian Reservations" throughout the country, slaughtering all of the men, women, children, babies, and animals it could find, who would not call this unspeakably evil? Yet when we find the very same actions described in the "Holy Bible" we say that they were somehow justified. Let me clue-in Bible-defenders: murdering babies (even your enemy's babies) is never justified. It could never have been justified, and it never will be justified. This means that the God of the Bible was not a just God; he was a fiend: pure evil personified.
1Sam:15:7: And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
1Sam:15:8: And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
1Sam:15:9: But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the
sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
1Sam:15:10: Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,
1Sam:15:11: It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.
God, who cannot repent according to Numbers 23:19, repented having made Saul king of Israel.
The "God of love" was disappointed in Saul the baby-killer for not having killed Agag and all the animals dwelling in the Amalekite's land, as God had commanded.
God had evidently not done a very thorough job when he gave Saul a "new heart" and made him a "new man" (1 Sam. 10:6,9). Saul continued to show some hesitation at killing everything in sight!
1Sam:15:28: And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.
Earlier we were told that Saul was the most good Israelite. Then God improved him by giving him a new heart and making him a new man. How then could it be that there was someone better than Saul?
1Sam:15:29: And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.
Again we are told that God ("the Strength of Israel") cannot lie or repent. But just 18 verses ago we read where God "repented"! Both of these verses cannot be true. Since God was disappointed in Saul and sought to replace him, it is obvious that he did in fact repent having made Saul king.
1Sam:15:32: Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.
1Sam:15:33: And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
So God's prophet carried out the bloody deed which God's appointed king failed to do (possibly through some slight remnant of a conscience).
1Sam:15:35: And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Six verses ago we were told that God "will not lie nor repent". Here we are told that God "repented". If we believe one of the verses we cannot believe the other.
1Sam:16:7: But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
If the Lord "looketh on the heart," rather than judging someone by their outward appearance and height, why had he chosen Saul? Saul, you'll recall, was the tallest man in Israel (1 Sam 9:2). However, Saul proved a bad choice as he repeatedly disappointed God.
1Sam:16:13: Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
David was chosen as king by God based on the quality of his heart. In addition, we are told that "the spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward." So, David's subsequent actions in the Bible can serve as a sterling example for us of how God would like us all to behave.
1Sam:16:14: But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.
1Sam:16:15: And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
In Christianity's definition of God, one of his fundamental attributes is that he is "all good." So how could God have an "evil spirit"? How could an "all good" being purposely send an "evil spirit" to trouble someone? What would be his motivation for doing so? If God was displeased with Saul for not having killed everything in sight, then why didn't God just transfer his attention to David and leave Saul alone? Why torture the poor guy?
1Sam:16:18: Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.
1Sam:16:19: Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.
1Sam:16:20: And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul.
1Sam:16:21: And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.
1Sam:16:22: And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight.
1Sam:16:23: And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.
David had already been anointed as king by Samuel prior to this incident (back in verse 13). Yet instead of taking on kingly duties, he served as harp-player and armor-bearer to the deposed king Saul!
If God sent an evil spirit to trouble Saul, how could any man chase the spirit away? How could Almighty God's purpose be thwarted by a man with a harp? Are we to imagine that this spirit of God's couldn't stand the sound of harp music (which the Bible's book of Revelation assures us is played day and night in heaven where God dwells)?
Notice here that David is described as "a mighty valiant man, and a man of war".
1Sam:17:13: And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah.
1Sam:17:14: And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul.
1Sam:17:15: But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem.
1Sam:17:16: And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.
1Sam:17:17: And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren;
1Sam:17:18: And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.
Here we see David as the youngest son of Jesse: too young to go to war. He was left home to tend the sheep. His only connection with warfare was to deliver lunch to his brothers at the battle.
1Sam:17:28: And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
David's older brother chastised him for even wanting to see the battle. This is hardly what one would say to "a mighty valiant man, and a man of war"!
1Sam:17:32: And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
1Sam:17:33: And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.
Having boasted about killing a lion with his bare hands, David claimed that he could kill the Philistines' champion Goliath. But note what Saul said to him: "thou art but a youth"! What a strange thing to say to "a mighty valiant man, and a man of war"!
David convinced Saul to let him fight Goliath. But notice the description of David when he first met Goliath:
1Sam:17:42: And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.
But none of these comments about David's youth are as strange as what Saul said after David had killed Goliath:
1Sam:17:55: And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell.
1Sam:17:56: And the king said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling is.
1Sam:17:57: And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand.
1Sam:17:58: And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.
In the previous chapter Saul had sent two messages to David's father Jesse concerning David. David had played the harp for Saul when God sent his evil spirit to trouble him and Saul had appointed David his armor bearer. Unless Saul had suffered from amnesia in the interim, it made no sense for him to ask "whose son is this youth?" And, again, since David was "a mighty valiant man," (1 Sam 16:18) it made no sense to refer to him as a youth.
Although this account in 1 Samuel tells us that David killed the Philistine giant Goliath, elsewhere in the Bible we are told that this was not done by David, but rather by Elhanan during David's reign (2 Sam. 21:19 -- the words "brother of" in this passage seem to be an attempt by the translators of the King James version to harmonize the two accounts; these words are dropped as spurious in most translations.) Most Biblical scholars agree that it is more likely that Elhanan was the one who killed Goliath, and later tradition came to credit the deed to David.
1Sam:18:10: And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand.
1Sam:18:11: And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.
1Sam:18:12: And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.
1Sam:18:13: Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.
1Sam:18:14: And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him.
If David was behaving himself so wisely, why had he "avoided out of the presence" of Saul twice? If someone were to throw a javelin at me with intent to kill, I would be wise enough not to go back and give him a second opportunity. I would leave once and for all.
Then again, we must remember that David had already been anointed as king by God's prophet Samuel (1 Sam. 16:13). As far as God was concerned, David was king. It's hard to comprehend why God allowed Saul to continue to rule and to make murderous attacks upon king David.
God's dealings with Saul at this point are also difficult to make out. We are told that an evil spirit from God came upon him. Yet while this evil spirit was upon him he was able to "prophesy". Elsewhere in the Bible, prophesy is considered a "gift" from God (Rom. 12:6). So was God sending Saul gifts at the same time as he was sending an evil spirit to trouble him? Yet we are told that the LORD "was departed from Saul." How then could a spirit (good or evil) from God be "upon Saul", and how could he prophesy?
1Sam:18:5: And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants.
1Sam:18:6: And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.
1Sam:18:7: And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
1Sam:18:8: And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?
1Sam:18:16: But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
Saul (whom God had chosen above all other Israelites and had given a new heart and made a new man) was envious of the adulation the people paid to David. So Saul hatched a plot to get David killed:
1Sam:18:17: And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD's battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.
1Sam:18:23: And Saul's servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king's son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?
How could David possibly say "I amů lightly esteemed" (1 Sam. 18:23)? It was the high esteem in which he was held by the people which drove Saul to his scheme. To top it off, David had already been anointed king by God's prophet Samuel (1 Sam. 16:13)! How could he honestly pass himself off as being unworthy of being the king's son-in-law when he knew that he himself was actually the true king?
Finally, how could the new-hearted, new-man Saul, whom God had chosen above all others to rule Israel, possibly plot to kill David?
1Sam:18:25: And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.
1Sam:18:26: And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son in law: and the days were not expired.
1Sam:18:27: Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.
This must have been one of the bloodiest dowries in history. But David forgot all of his reluctance to wed Saul's daughter once Saul gave him an excuse for mass murder. David eagerly accepted the challenge and delivered twice as many foreskins of dead Philistines than Saul had requested in payment for his daughter.
Are we are to believe that the man who thought up this transaction, and the man who carried it out were hand-picked by God as the best of the Israelites, and were both men who had been touched by God's spirit? If we were not reading of such things in the "Holy Bible", but rather in a book about some barbaric, primitive tribe, we would be quick to condemn such actions as the atrocities of men whose sense of morality had gone wildly astray.
1Sam:19:6: And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the LORD liveth, he shall not be slain.
Jonathan helped Saul come to his senses and give up on the idea of killing David. All may have been well from that point on, except for what happened next:
1Sam:19:9: And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand.
1Sam:19:10: And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.
If only God had not sent his evil spirit upon Saul, peace might've been maintained. I can't help wondering why David, who was supposedly so wise, kept playing to a javelin-toting audience in a bad mood. Maybe he should've hired a bouncer to check all javelins at the door.
1Sam:20:32: And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?
1Sam:20:33: And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.
Here Saul attempted to murder his own son! God could sure pick them, couldn't he?
1Sam:20:41: And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.
Elsewhere, the Bible tells us that David and Jonathan loved each other more than they loved women:
2Sam:1:26: I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
Here, we are told that they kissed each other and wept with one another until David "exceeded" (what this phrase might entail I leave to the reader's imagination). I don't want to be misconstrued as saying that there is anything wrong with such actions. Nor do I want to descend to stereotypes. But I would point out that many conservative right-wing Christians would tend to view some of these actions of David's as those more in line with a homosexual and/or effeminate man than with the macho image usually assumed for David as a "mighty valiant man of war".
1Sam:21:1: Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?
1Sam:21:2: And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place.
Here, David lied to God's priest. The king had certainly not sent him on any business; the king was seeking him to kill him!
1Sam:21:3: Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present.
What right did David have to demand that the priest feed him?
1Sam:21:4: And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.
1Sam:21:5: And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.
1Sam:21:6: So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.
The bread that David demanded from the priest was the sacred bread offered to God in the temple. Was it against the Mosaic Law for David and his men to take and eat this bread? The answer to this question comes from Jesus himself:
Mt:12:3: But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
Mt:12:4: How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
Jesus stated unequivocally that is was not lawful for David to have taken and eaten this bread. What do we call taking something that does not lawfully belong to us? Isn't it known as "stealing"? Aren't those who perform such actions called "thieves"?
Remember: David was to serve as our prime Biblical example of moral conduct. He was the best of the best: hand-picked by God as even superior to God's first choice of Saul. So, here we have learned important Biblical precepts of morality: lying, stealing, and breaking God's law!
1Sam:25:5: And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name:
1Sam:25:6: And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast.
1Sam:25:7: And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel.
1Sam:25:8: Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.
David evidently believed that he had displayed a remarkable level of virtue by restraining himself from stealing from Nabal's shepherds. He felt that such restraint deserved a reward from Nabal, and he sent his men to collect this reward. Today we call such dealings a "protection racket". In a protection racket, the victim is offered protection in exchange for a payoff. The "protection" is in reality protection from the group receiving the payoff. Here, David had already "protected" Nabal's shepherds by not stealing from them, and now he was demanding his payoff. I wonder if organized crime got the idea for their protection racket schemes by reading the Bible. In any case, such schemes certainly can be justified as ethical practices according to the Bible.
Nabal chose not to give in to coercion, and sent David's men packing. Who can guess what David did next?
1Sam:25:13: And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff.
David decided to wage war against this man who had stood up to him! He armed 400 men of war to attack Nabal!
1Sam:25:21: Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good.
Here we learn that virtue is not its own reward. David said that if he did not receive a reward from Nabal, then his refraining from stealing from him was "in vain".
1Sam:25:22: So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
David intended to kill, not just Nabal (the only one who had "wronged" him), but every man in any way connected with Nabal!
The phrase "Any that pisseth against the wall" appears frequently throughout the Bible: it is the Bible's demeaning way of referring to men! This is just as belittling as if women were referred to as "anyone that squatteth to piss".
Nabal's wife, Abigail, interceded. She brought food to David and talked him out of killing anyone, lest he suffer from bloodguilt. David then revealed that he meant to kill more than just the men:
1Sam:25:34: For in very deed, as the LORD God of Israel liveth, which hath kept me back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
Abigail and David both implied that God himself would "take care" of Nabal, so that Davidwouldn't have to dirty his hands. They were right:
1Sam:25:38: And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.
1Sam:25:39: And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the LORD hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head, And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife.
So God was in evident agreement with David's protection racket.
You'll recall that David was already married to Michal, Saul's daughter. But this didn't prevent him from taking Abigail as a second wife. But this evidently still wasn't enough for him:
1Sam:25:43: David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives.
Since David is our role model, we now see that polygamy has the stamp of approval from the Bible.
Once again Saul began hunting David down. Incredibly, David fled to the land of the Philistines, where he had killed so many -- and he was welcomed with open arms by king Achish!
For this incredible act of forgiveness and generosity on the part of the Philistines, David reciprocated by inflicting mass murder upon them:
1Sam:27:9: And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and returned, and came to Achish.
1Sam:27:10: And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road to day? And David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites.
1Sam:27:11: And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines.
1Sam:27:12: And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant for ever.
David lied to Achish. David claimed that he had been waging war against his own countrymen. In fact, it was Achish's countrymen that David had been killing. But David took care to kill absolutely everyone in the villages and towns he massacred, so no witnesses were left alive. Evidently the Philistines never got suspicious during the 16 months that David dwelt amongst them and entire villages kept turning up dead! This was in spite of the fact that David was notorious for having "killed his ten thousands" of Philistines! It's hard to believe that anyone could have been that stupid, much less an entire nation of people!
Thanks to the sterling Biblical example of David, we now know how to behave when we are guests in a foreign country: lie, steal, and commit serial murders on a grand scale!
The Philistines made war upon the Israelites. Saul asked God what to do, but God didn't answer. So Saul engaged the services of a witch to call up the dead Samuel:
1Sam:28:14: And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.
1Sam:28:15: And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
Samuel was dead. How could he speak with Saul? Jesus said that no one had gone to heaven yet (John 3:13). Yet Samuel is depicted as having a conscious life after death. Was God's loyal prophet in hell?
1Sam:28:16: Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
1Sam:28:17: And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David:
1Sam:28:18: Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.
1Sam:28:19: Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.
If God had decided not to answer Saul, and so keep the future from him, how could a mere man and a witch circumvent God's will and force God's dead prophet to prophesy? Are witches more powerful than God?
As Samuel predicted, the Philistines waged war against the Israelites (which shouldn't have been a big surprise). Saul was wounded and committed suicide:
1Sam:31:4: Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
But later we are told that Saul did not commit suicide: he asked an Amalakite to kill him, and the Amalakite obliged, as the man himself later reported to David:
2Sam:1:6: And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.
2Sam:1:7: And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here am I.
2Sam:1:8: And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
2Sam:1:9: And he said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.
2Sam:1:10: So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.
So, did Saul fall on his own sword, or did an Amalekite kill him?
1Sam:31:11: And when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;
1Sam:31:12: All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the WCS2 of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.
Where did "all the valiant men" of Jabesh-gilead come from? All the men of Jabesh-Gilead had been killed by the Israelites some time ago:
Judg:21:10: And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children.
Judg:21:11: And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.
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