bNotes – Book of 1 Samuel

bNotes – Book of 1 Samuel


Author: Possibly Samuel, but also Nathan and Gad
Written during the time of the last judge, Samuel
The two priests in Shiloh were Hophni and Phinehas, sons of Eli, who was the high priest.
“Lord of Heaven’s Armies” was used when speaking of God.
Samuel was born to Elkanah and Hannah, whom she prayed for by telling God that is she was ever able to bear a son, he would be dedicated as a Nazirite.
After “several” years, Samuel was presented to Eli and Shiloh to begin his life as a Nazirite. (See 1 Samuel 1:24-28) Some scholars believe Samuel was three when he went to live in the Temple of the Lord in Shiloh.
Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinhas, were wicked. They stole meat from the offerings before they were presented to the Lord and seduced the young women serving in the Temple. They had no regard for anyone but themselves – and Eli knew this, but turned a blind eye. Then “a man of God” gave Eli a message from the Lord saying that one day his entire family (possibly speaking of all Levites?) who were dedicated to be the Lord’s priests forever, would soon be stripped of that right and a curse was laid out, saying they’d die before their times. The Lord also said that in order to demonstrate that this would come true, both of Eli’s sons would die on the same day. (See 1 Samuel 27-34)
Communication with God was rare during the time of the Judges because most people, including the priests, had turned from Him. However, as Samuel lay in his room one night, God spoke to him about future plans to wipe out Eli and his family for their wicked ways. When Samuel told Eli about this, Eli understood and awaited God’s wrath. From then on, the whole of Israel knew that God was once again speaking to them through the prophet Samuel. (See 1 Samuel 3)
During this time, the Philistines emerged as Israel’s greatest enemy. They continually pressed inland from their coastal homes and attacked the Israelites. At some point, the people had the idea to bring the Ark of the Covenant into battle with them to ensure victory. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests, agreed and men took the Ark from Shiloh into their camp across from the Philistine army, who were then afraid, but motivated to fight even harder. And they did, killing 30,000 Israelites, killing Hophni and Phinehad, and capturing the Ark. (See 1 Samuel 4:1-11) Wasn’t touching the Ark supposed to instantly kill someone? The high priest could only approach it once a year, and that was with his special ephod on. Maybe God only inhabited the tent once a year at the time of the official yearly sacrifices, that they could take it the other 364 days and it be no problem. However, it was also thought that God’s presence rested between the two cherubim on the Ark at all times.
When Eli heard this news, he fell off his seat and broke his neck, dying at the age of 98. He had judged Israel for 40 years. When the wife of Phinehas, who was about to give birth to a child, heard this, she died in childbirth, but not before naming her son Ichabod which meant “Where is the glory?” because at the loss of her husband, father-in-law and the Ark, she felt Israel was doomed forever. (See 1 Samuel 4:12-22)
The Philistines took the Ark into the temple of Dagon in the town of Ashdod. They placed it beside a statue of Dagon – their chief god and one thought responsible for the rain and bountiful harvests – but the next morning the statue had been mysteriously knocked over with “his face to the ground in front of the Ark of the Lord.” It happened again the next day as well, but this time, “his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left in tact.” (See 1 Samuel 5:1-5)
After this happened, a plague of tumors and rats began to strike the people of Ashdod. So the Ark was moved to Gath, but there a plague of tumors began as well. So the Ark was moved to Ekron, but again, the plague struck the town. The Philistines knew that them having the Ark had angered the God of Israel and begged their leaders to return it. (See 1 Samuel 5:6-12) The plague of tumors is thought by scholars to have possibly been the bubonic plague.
The leaders, priests and diviners of Philistine figured the best solution to end God’s wrath was to send a guilt offering to Him of five golden tumors and five golden rats – to represent the five rulers of Philistine and their cities. Not all their cities were impacted because not all at one time housed the Ark, but this was more of a preventative measure. They hitched a wagon carrying these offerings and the Ark of the Covenant to two newly-mothered cows and let it go, testing to see if it would make its way out of their lands back towards Israel. If it did, despite the mother cows’natural instincts to care for their new babies, then the Philistines would be assured that it was Yahweh, the God of Israel, Who’s hand had sent the plague. The wagon rolled into Beth-shemesh in Israel territory into a field of a man named Joshua and stopped beside a large rock. People broke up the wood of the wagon and killed the cows, offering several sacrifices to the Lord. But, 70 men were killed, taking the brunt of God’s anger at Israel, for looking inside the Ark and defiling it by touching it and using it as a tool which got it stolen in the first place. The people of the area got scared and sent messengers out to seek a new home for it. (See 1 Samuel 6) Seems fitting that the glory of God would roll into the field of a man named Joshua (Yeshua) and next to a “large rock.” Jesus is the known as the Rock.
Twenty or so years later, in a prayer amongst the people at Mizpah, Samuel became Israel’s next judge. He has the people fast and pray for the Lord’s forgiveness. As they did, the Philistines prepared to attack, but Samuel prayed to God for protection, and God answered by confusing the Philistines and making them easy pickings for the Israelites.
When Samuel got older, he tested out his sons, Joel and Abijah, as judges in Beersheba, but they were greedy for money and the people soon rejected them. Instead, they wanted a king like the other countries around them. Samuel took the request to God, who knew the people were rejecting Him, but allowed Samuel to find a human king. But, first He told Samuel to warn them about what a king would demand of them, yet they didn’t care. (See 1 Samuel 8 )
Saul and his servant were searching for his father’s lost donkeys when he wondered into the town of Rapah, were Samuel had been told by God to greet and honor Saul.
Like Gideon said he was weakest person from the weakest clan of the tribe of Manasseh, Saul replied that he was from the least important family in the small tribe of Benjamin when Samuel told him that God had spoken to him, saying He had chosen Saul to be the “focus of all Israel’s hopes.” (See 1 Samuel 9:19-21) However, unlike Gideon, Saul was from a wealthy and influential family. Gideon had faith, but lacked courage. Saul didn’t necessarily have either. Scholars say his selfishness was spurred on by an inferiority complex.
Samuel invited Saul and his servant to stay the night, and in the morning, Samuel anointed Saul’s head with olive oil and appointed him the ruler over all of Israel per God’s instruction. Additionally, he mentioned that two men near the tomb of Rachel would tell him that the donkeys had been found and that his father was worried about him. Then, other signs were prophesied by Samuel to Saul that were to come to pass on his way home. He would become a new man and was to wait seven days at Gilgal for Samuel so that he may receive further instructions and that they may make burnt offerings to the Lord together. (See 1 Samuel 10:1-8)
“Is even Saul a prophet?” A saying that originated when people saw Saul prophesying in the streets. It was a remark at the worldly Saul somehow becoming religious overnight. Disbelief, of sorts. (See 1 Samuel 10:12)
Even though God had selected Saul to be Israel’s first king, He had Samuel cast lots just to show the tribes everything was on the up and up and that Samuel, himself, wasn’t actually making the choice. Obviously, Saul would end up being chosen. The lots selected the tribe of Benjamin, then the family of the Matrites, then Saul. (See 1 Samuel 10:20-21)
Saul was born to a worldly family and when he began prophesying, people asked, “How did the son of Kish become a prophet?” (1 Samuel 10:11) Saul had a group of men instantly become his followers “whose hearts God had touched.” (1 Samuel 11:26) Those chosen for tasks will be mocked for the backgrounds, but be given helpers to accomplish things.
“Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him. Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you – they are totally useless!” (See 1 Samuel 12:20-21)
The Philistines were closing in. Saul was probably nervous and his pride was getting in the way. Saul then jumped the gun and went against the Law, not waiting for Samuel to burn the offerings to God at Gilgal for him as a priest should, Samuel told him that his reign would soon be over. Saul demonstrated impatience and a lack of respect for God’s Law. Samuel told Saul that if he had waited, his kingdom would have been established over Israel forever. But, since he didn’t, the Lord had appointed a new man, one after His own heart, to be king. A reference to David, whom Saul did not yet know. (1 Samuel 13:7-14)
Jonathan, Saul’s son, was a wise and brave leader, however he wasn’t in charge. However, that didn’t stop him and his armor-bearer from sneaking up on the Philistine camp, and at the sign from God, attacking them. God then caused an earthquake and the Philistine army began to panic and run every which direction. Even the Israelite deserters who had been drafted into the enemy’s ranks returned to help Saul and Jonathan fight. The faith that God would deliver them from harm and defeat their enemies was powerfully evident in Jonathan’s actions, but his father, Saul, was lacking in trust in the Lord. This is why he is recorded as being a poor leader. (1 Samuel 14:1-23)
One day, Samuel came to Saul with a message from the “Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” He was told to “settle accounts” with the Amalekites by completely destroying everything they had: men, women, kids, babies, sheep, goats, cows, camels…everything. (See 1 Samuel 15:1-3) However, when Saul began to wipe them out, he spared and captured Agag, king of the Amalekites, and kept the best sheep and other things for himself, instead of killing or burning them. God then told Samuel He was sorry He ever made Saul king. (See 1 Samuel 15:10) God was saying this because He messed up – He can’t mess up! Saul needed to be king in order to lay the groundwork for David’s reign. However, God knew what Saul would do, but still didn’t like that it had to be done.
Samuel found Saul after the Amalekites had been destroyed and told him that God was not pleased. Saul didn’t see his disobedience as ignoring God, rather doing what He said another way. He said he was going to sacrifice the sheep and things to the Lord. But, Saul said that’s not what God asked. He continued with:
“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
Your burnt offerings and sacrifices,
Or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
And submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
And stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
He has rejected you as king.” – 1 Samuel 15:22-23
Samuel killed king Agag of the Amalekites by cutting him to pieces before the Lord at Gilgal. (See 1 Samuel 15:32-33) Then he and Saul went their separate ways. Samuel never again met with Saul after those days. (See 1 Samuel 15:34-35)
The Lord spoke to Samuel and told him to go the Bethlehem to find a man named Jesse. He would then be told which of Jesse’s sons to anoint as the next king. When Samuel got there, he saw what must have been a strapping young man named Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” (1 Samuel 16:1-6) However, the Lord replied with…
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (See 1 Samuel 16:7)
Samuel looked at all of Jesse’s seven present sons, but none were selected by the Lord. He then asked if Jesse had anymore sons to which he replied, “There is still the youngest. But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” When David arrived, he “was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.” (1 Samuel 16:11-12) Although looks weren’t important, it just so happened that David was handsome anyway. As far as being “dark,” that could mean two things: either his skin was deeply tanned from working in the sun all day everyday, or he was actually dark-skinned like many in the Middle East.
The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on David that day and had since left Saul. Further, Saul was now being tormented by a spirit causing depression and fear. One of his servants told him about a man in Bethlehem who could play the harp to soothe Saul’s mind. That man happened to be David. Saul sent for him and soon began to take to David, making him his armor bearer. (See 1 Samuel 16:14-23)
One day the Philistines mobilized and set to attack Israel. Both sides camped out on either side of a valley, waiting for the other to attack first. Goliath, a giant who was reported being between 6 ¾’ to 9’ tall, was the Philistine champion. His “coat of mail,” or chain mail armor weighted 125 pounds. His spear was “as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam” and the spearhead weighed 15 pounds. For forty days he taunted the Israelite army saying, “Why are you all coming out to fight? I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me!” (See 1 Samuel 17:1-9)
David’s father sent him with a basket of roasted grain and cheese to give to his brothers on the battlefield. When he got there, he was just in time to hear another one of Goliath’s taunts to the Israelites. The men began to run away and David asked, “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” Nobody really answered that, but told him that Saul was offering his daughter and no more taxes to the person who killed Goliath. (See 1 Samuel 17:17-27)
Saul heard that David was asking about the reward, so he summoned him. There, David offered to kill Goliath, but Saul told him he was no match. David then told the king about times where he’s rescued lambs from lions and bears and killed them with clubs and his bare hands. He sword he’d do the same thing to Goliath for defying God. He said, “The Lord who rescued him from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (See 1 Samuel 17:32-37)
Saul finally agreed and gave David his armor and helmet, but David was not comfortable in them. Instead, he picked up 5 smooth stones from a nearby stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. He then marched with his shepherd’s staff and sling towards the Valley of Elah. When Goliath saw him, he said, “I am a dog. That you come at me with a stick?” He then cursed David to his gods. Then, he yelled, “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” (See 1 Samuel 17:41-44)
David replied to Goliath, “You come at me with sword, spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies – the God of the armies of Israel, who you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (See 1 Samuel 17:45-47)
Goliath advanced towards David, who ran out to meet him. He grabbed a stone from his bag and hurled it at Goliath with his sling, hitting him in the forehead, where “the stone sank in.” Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground dead. David rushed over, grabbed Goliath’s sword, and cut his head off as he vowed he would. (See 1 Samuel 17:48-51)
David held on to Goliath’s head and stored the giant’s armor in his tent. (1 Samuel 17:54)
In 1 Samuel 17:55-56, why did Saul ask Abner, the commander of his army, who David was the son of after he slew Goliath if David was already Saul’s armor bearer who he came to love him “very much?” Before he was brought into the kingdom, Saul‘s servant said David was the son of Jesse. Plus, as armor bearer of a warlord king, wouldn‘t there have been ample time for Saul to know a lot about David and his family since they would‘ve been side-by-side most of the war time? (See 1 Samuel 16:14-23) Some scholars believe that perhaps David didn’t spend as much time as one would think with Saul since he primarily played the harp for the king only when he was tormented and the fact that David spent time at home on in the fields with his father. Other theories suggest that Saul might not have recognized David due to his mental condition. Still others say that since the reward for killing Goliath was marriage to one of Saul’s daughters, the king finally took a keen interest in who this David guy was.
“Saul killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” was a chant by the people when the Israelites returned home from defeating Goliath and the Philistines. This made Saul and jealous of David. He even feared the people would try to make David the next king. The next day as David was playing the harp, Saul went mad and tried to kill him with a spear twice. Because the Lord was with David in everything, even avoiding the spear two times, Saul sent him away to be commander over 1000 men, whom he led into many victories. (See 1 Samuel 18:7-16)
Saul wanted David to be killed in a battle with the Philistines. He set up a plan where he was sure he’d get that. He offered his daughter, Merab, as reward for killing the giant – but first David had to prove himself in battle (again?) where he hoped David would be slain – but David turned it down because he did not think he was worthy of marrying royalty. Saul wasn’t deterred. He then offered another daughter, Michal, who was smitten with David, and he with her. David was going to refuse again, on account of him being poor and not having the “bride price” for her, but Saul made him a deal. 100 Philistine foreskins and he could marry her. David was delighted and before his time limit was up, he had killed 200 Philistines and got married. Saul then came to fear and hate David the rest of his life. (See 1 Samuel 18:17-29)
While on the run from Saul, David sought momentary refuge with the priest Ahimelech, who gave him Holy Bread and the sword of Goliath. (See 1 Samuel 21:1-9)
For this, Saul ordered Doeg the Edomite to kill Ahimelech and all 84 other priests with him who were “allies and conspirators with David.” From there, Doeg went to the town of Nob and killed the priest’s families – men, women, children and livestock. Only one man survived, Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech, who escaped to tell David what had happened. (See 1 Samuel 22:11-23)
Saul mobilized his army to overtake David and his 600 men at Keilah, but upon seeking the Lord’s guidance, he did not choose to fight, but instead fled into the wilderness. From there, he moved about, always staying a few steps ahead of Saul, even speaking with Jonathan who told him, “Don’t be afraid. My father will never find you! You are going to be king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware!” (See 1 Samuel 23:1-18) This statement only serves to further prove the validity and truth of the Bible. This is most likely the last time David and Jonathan ever saw each other, yet Jonathan seemed to think he’d serve in David’s kingdom in the future. Remember, the Bible is real history, not a make believe story. If someone was making all this up, if the Bible was fiction, why even bother writing “and I will be next to you” in there? If it wasn’t really said, it doesn’t bear mentioning. The writer wasn’t trying to stir up emotion or build-up some rising action that culminates in a sad ending of “oh, and he never got to fulfill his dreams…”
In a cave in the wilderness of En-gedi, Saul stepped into a cave to relieve himself. Little did he know, at the back of that cave stood David as his men. Saul was ripe for the picking. David’s men thought it was a sign from God that they should kill Saul and David crept up and cut off a piece of his robe (presumably laying around near Saul as he went to the restroom.) But, in that moment, David felt guilty for cutting the robe and thinking about killing Saul, so he persuaded his men to stand down. As Saul exited the cave, David called out to him and held up the piece of robe, showing the king that he had spared his life that day to illustrate that he wished no harm upon him. Saul realized the error of his ways and proclaimed that David would be a better king than he ever was, because he repaid him “good for evil.” Saul had David swear that he would not destroy Saul’s line of descendants once he was crowned king, and they went their separate ways. (See 1 Samuel 24)
Around this time, Samuel, the judge and prophet, died and was buried at his house in Ramah. (See 1 Samuel 25:1)
A man named Nabal, wealthy land-owning husband of Abigail, was approached by David’s men is search of supplies and replenishment. It was sheep-shearing season, which apparently coincided with a celebration of some sort, so David, who had been protecting Nabal’s shepherds while he was in the wilderness of Moan, thought the landowner would oblige his request. However, Nabal snubbed David and sent his men away in haste. This didn’t go over well with David who armed himself and 400 of his men and set out to kill Nabal. Abigail was warned of this and quickly send out servants to meet David with 200 loaves of bread, 2 wineskins full of wine, five freshly slaughtered sheep, almost a bushel of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 fig cakes. She sent them on ahead and promised to follow shortly – all this with Nabal unaware. Soon Abigail met David on the road and persuaded him to spare Nabal. David marveled at the woman’s way with words and sent her on her way in peace. The next day, Abigail told Nabal of what happened, about David almost killing him, and he had a heart attack anyway, dying 10 days later. (See 1 Samuel 25:2-38)
After Nabal’s death, David married Abigail. Around the same time, he also married Ahinoam from Jeezreel. He added two wives, but lost his current wife, Michal, daughter of Saul, who was given away by the king to another man from Gallim named Palti, son of Laish. (See 1 Samuel 25:39-44)
Again, Saul set out to kill David. This time, some people came from Ziph and told Saul that David and his 600 were hiding on the hill of Hakilah, overlooking Jeshimon. Saul loaded up 3000 of Israel’s elite troops and headed to out to kill David. However, as it happens, David was given a head’s up about this and sent out spies to find Saul’s camp. When they did, he and Abishai, son of Zeruiah, walked right passed the sleeping circle of men guarding Saul and the commander of his army, Abner, son of Ner, and grabbed Saul’s water jug and spear that were right by his head. Nobody woke up because the Lord had put them all in a deep sleep. When David and Abishai were up on a ridge at a safe distance, he called out to Abner, waking him up and showing Saul’s spear and jug. He was seemingly hoping to cause both doubt in Abner at his ability to protect as well as doubt in Saul about Abner’s protection abilities. David then once again asked Saul why he was hunting him, also showing that the king’s life could easily have been taken should David had pleased. Once again, David repaid Saul’s evil with kindness. (See 1 Samuel 26)
Finally tired of being hunted, David, his wives and his 600 men moved to the Philistine town of Gath (where Goliath was from.) He stayed with King Achish, son of Moach. After a time, David asked to be moved to the country and he was given the town of Ziklag. While he was there for one year and four months, he and his men raided the nearby camps of the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. He killed everyone in those villages and when asked at times by Achish who he raided , he would always say, “Against the south of Judah, the Jerahmeelites, and the Kenites.” Since no one was ever left alive in the places David raided, King Achish never knew the truth and felt that Israel must hate David for killing so many of his own people that he‘d have to serve in Philistine forever. (See 1 Samuel 27)
The Philistines, led partly by King Achish of Gath, were gearing up to attack Saul and Israel once again. Saul saw their armies and got scared. He had previously banned all mediums and those people who consult the dead throughout all of Israel, but he now found himself in a predicament. Samuel was dead and the Lord was no longer helping him, so he broke his own law and consulted a medium, a witch, in Endor. He asked her to bring Samuel before them so he could ask what to do about the coming battle. The medium call forth Samuel, but when she saw him, she was overwhelmed by the power used through her – something she had never experienced in her previous dealings. She also knew that Saul had tricked her, but no matter, God had actually brought Samuel back to give a final message to Saul: he, his sons and Israel will all fall the next day. Strangely, the medium then turned into a homemaker of sorts, following Mosaic protocol and feeding a distraught and exhausted Saul and his men, nursing him back to health before his trip back. (See 1 Samuel 28)
Odd that a pagan King Achish of Gath would say to David, “I swear by the Lord that you have been a trustworthy ally.” (1 Samuel 29:6) or “As far as I’m concerned, you’re as perfect as an angel of God” (1 Samuel 29:9) Perhaps, as is it thought, the Philistines worshiped God along with other man-made gods. Mediums were thought to do this as well to have a “well-rounded” business. It is possible for individuals to not worship the same as the larger groups they run in do. Plus, some people outside of Israel surely worshiped God without being part of the “Chosen.” Rahab is an example of that.
David was marching with the Philistines against Saul – in order to not blow his cover – but God intervened by having the Philistine commanders upset that David might turn on them in battle. As such, David and his 600 men were told to go back to Ziklag. When they did, they noticed that the Amalekites had raided their town, taking all the women and children with them, as well as all the goods. David and his 600 went after them, stopping at the brook Besor where 200 of his men were too tired to continue. Around that time, they found an Egyptian man, an Amalekite slave, left for dead. They gave him food and drink and he lead David and his healthy 400 men – 200 stayed behind to guard the equipment – to the Amalekite camp where they slaughtered all but 400 men who escaped on camels. They recovered all the women and children, as well as the goods. Nothing was missing. When they got back to the brook Besor, the 400 men who fought didn’t want to give the 200 men who stayed behind anything, but David said “share and share alike.” That rule became a decree throughout Israel soon after, saying that men who went to war and those who stayed behind to protect the cities would have equal share in the spoils. (See 1 Samuel 30)
During this time, the Philistine attacked Israel and three of Saul’s sons were killed: Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkishua. Then Saul was badly wounded by archers and called out for his armor bearer to kill him before the Philistines got a chance to torture him. The armor bearer refused, so Saul took out his sword and killed himself. The armor bearer realizing this, did the same. The next day, as the Philistines looted the bodies, they discovered Saul and his sons, stripped the bodies, beheaded Saul and hung up their bodies on the wall of the town of Beth-shan. In the night, however, “mighty warriors” from Jabesh-gilead traveled to Beth-shan and recovered the bodies. They burned them and buried the bones beneath “the tamarisk tree at Jabesh” and fasted for seven days. (See 1 Samuel 31) Samuel, when brought back by the medium, declared that Saul and his sons would be with him (in Abraham’s bosom.) These infers that although a horrible act of selfishness and despair, suicide, itself, does not damn one to hell. If Saul was truly to go where Samuel was, then this must be true. Samuel was certainly not destined for eternal separation from God.
/ bNotes

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