1 Samuel

Introduction

1.      Originally was one book with 2 Samuel.  The division occurred with the translation of the Septuagint in the 2nd century BC.  The Hebrew Bible did not adopt this division until the 16th century AD.

2.      The two Samuels together cover a period of about 125 years, from the birth of Samuel, through Saul, to the death of David (1140 – 1015 BC).

3.      It was written after the division of the kingdom (1 Samuel 27:6) but there is no allusion to the decline of either the Northern Kingdom or of Judah.

4.      The history recorded in Chronicles begins with David’s reign, so overlaps only 2 Samuel (and Kings), but not 1 Samuel.

1 Samuel 1

1.      Samuel’s father was an Ephraimite.  However, he was not from the tribe of Ephraim.  This genealogy agrees with that given in 1 Chronicles 6:26, showing that he was a Levite from the sons of Kohath.  Therefore, Samuel was qualified to be a priest.  The sons of Kohath were entrusted with moving the Tabernacle (Numbers 4).  Samuel’s grandson was Heman (1 Chronicles 6:33), who was a Temple singer and who wrote Psalm.88.

2.      Two wives.  See Exodus 21:10 and Deuteronomy 21:15.

3.      Shiloh.  The tabernacle was at Shiloh for much of the period of the Judges (Judges 18:31).

5.      Double portion.  A sign of honor.

11.    No razor.  Nazirite vow.  Numbers 6:5.

21.    Vow.  As a Levite, Elkanah would receive tithes from the Israelites in his area.  He must then make a tithe of the tithes to the High Priest (Numbers 18:26-32).

24.    A reference in 2 Maccabees 7:28 indicates that weaning took place around the age of 3.  But the practice at this time, 1000 years earlier, is unknown.

1 Samuel 2

1.      Hannah’s song.  Built on contrasting parallels.  Many have found specific applications, but none are given.

11.    Others served at the Tabernacle and Temple continuously, including women (1 Samuel 2:22, Exodus 38:8), so help to raise Samuel was available to the elderly Eli.

13.    Specific portions of the sacrifice belonged to the priests (Leviticus 7:8, 29-34.)

15.    Portions were taken before the fat had been burned on the altar.

18.    The High Priest wore an ephod (Exodus 28:6-30) with gold and jewels.  From 1 Samuel 22:18, perhaps all the priests wore a linen ephod as a sign of office.  David wore one when he danced before the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:14).

25.    Hardening as a punishment.  See Exodus 4:21 and several times in Exodus 7 through 14.  See also Romans 9:18, 11:7, 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:14; Hebrews 3:8-15.

32.    Eli’s grandson Ahitub became High Priest after Eli, but the office lost most of its significance because the nation turned to Samuel, and because the Ark of the Covenant was gone.  Ahitub was succeeded by Ahijah (Ahimelech), who was succeeded by Abiathar.  He was deposed by Solomon and replaced by Zadok, who was of a different branch of Aaron’s family.  All died at relatively young ages.

1 Samuel 3

1.      In most of Israel’s history, visions were infrequent.  They came in flurries, in one lifetime or two.  Sometimes, bad times brought prophets, but in other bad times, it did not.

3.      The seven-branched lampstand was to burn continually (Leviticus 24:2), being trimmed and filled at twilight and in the morning.  Apparently, they were allowing the lamps to burn out in the night.  The word used for Samuel’s sleeping place was neither the Holy Place not the Most Holy Place, but a word for the tabernacle in general.  The reference to the Ark is more likely a reminder that it had not yet been taken, and that Samuel was near to it.  Quarters for the priests were arranged around the outside of the central tent.

7.      Samuel had not received much instruction in the Law because it had fallen into disuse.  Neither did Samuel recognize the voice of the Lord as he would later in life.

10.    “The Lord came and stood and called as at the other times…”  Each time, the Lord was present near Samuel.

11.    “tingle” – in horror.  See 2 Kings 21:12, Jeremiah 19:3

12.    See 1 Samuel 2:27-36.

13.    Eli tried to control his sons (1 Samuel 2:22-25), but apparently not hard enough to spare Eli.

14.    No sufficient sacrifice was left.  See Hebrews 10:26.

18.    Eli heard the same message from two people.  He is resigned to the judgment of God.

19.    Samuel had other prophetic utterances in his youth.

1 Samuel 4

1.      The place was not named Ebenezer until 20 years later when Samuel built a monument there to commemorate another victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:12).  This location is disputed, probably in the central part of Israel, south of Shiloh.  There were multiple towns named Aphek.

3.      The elders have taken a pagan view of their god, supposing that (1) their god is located in a place, and (2) that their god can be manipulated by transportation to a location.  Prayer and/or repentance did not seem to have been in their minds.

4.      The Lord communicated with the people from the Most Holy Place, from between the cherubs on the lid of the ark.

8.      The history of Israel is well known to their enemies.  If it were only ethnic boasting, the Philistines would not have been caused to fear by it.

18.    The deaths of his sons had been prophesied.  Eli reacted to the loss of the ark.

20.    Phineas’ wife died as a result of the childbirth.  There is no example of the birthing process being figuratively called “death.”

21.    Ichabod is not mentioned again.

1 Samuel 5

1.      Ashdod was one of the 5 major cities of the Philistines.

2.      On an Assyrian monument commemorating a victory over the Philistines, Dagon is shown as half man, half fish.    However, a Persian monument depict Dagon as a grain god.

4.      Much has been made of these few words concerning how Dagon lay.  Some claim that falling on his face was an attitude of worship.  Some claim that the head and hands were not broken off upon impact but cut off miraculously.

5.      “Until this day.”  The Philistines were a significant problem even to the time of the Babylonian captivity.

6.      These tumors are exactly described by the Hebrew word as hemorrhoids.  The ravaging, as is later revealed, had to do with a plague of mice, either eating the crops or the stored grain.

7.      Whatever the exact nature of the events, the priests of Dagon understood that the Ark had something to do with it.

9.      Apparently, they thought that moving the Ark to a new place would stop the problem.  Perhaps they thought that the Temple of Dagon had something to do with it.

1 Samuel 6

1.      The transportation and discussion required 7 months.

4.      A common offering among pagans was a symbol of the bodily part or calamity that had been healed.

6.      The story of the Exodus from 400 years earlier was believable to them.

7.      The method of returning the Ark was designed to test if these calamities had really come from Jehovah or if they had been by chance (see verse 9).  Milk cows would normally walk toward the barn where the calves were being kept.  If they went the other way, then it was a sign.  Also, they used cows which had not been used as draft animals, so they would not begin to trudge down the road out of force of habit.

14.    The Law does not contain any regulations concerning how to receive the Ark back after capture.  Sacrificing the cows seemed appropriate.  Apparently, they made some attempt to handle it correctly by getting the local Levites.  However, technically, Israelites were not supposed to sacrifice anywhere other than the Tabernacle (Leviticus 17:8-9).  And only certain Levites were to handle the Ark (Numbers 4:5-20).

19.    But some treated the Ark as a curiosity rather than a sacred article.  They died for looking in it.  The number 50,070 is disputed.  Josephus says 70 men.  The number itself is written 70;50,000, which is not proper form. The only things that were supposed to be in the Ark were the Tablets Moses carved up on the mountain (Exodus 25:16, Deuteronomy 10:2, 1Kings 8:9).  The ancient rabbis understood that the men looked into the ark, but the language does not demand it.  The sentence could also mean than they were only looking at it, which is also forbidden.

1 Samuel 7

1.      The history of Abinadab and Eleazar are unknown.  So, it can only be assumed that they were from the proper family to handle the storage of the Ark.

2.      The mention of 20 years may relate to the next scene rather than the time that the Ark remained in the house of Abinadab.  Saul called for the Ark in 1 Samuel 14:18, but when David finally brought the Ark back to the Tabernacle 60 years later, it was still with the house of Abinadab (2 Samuel 6:2).

3.      The previous loss in battle to the Philistines apparently gave the Philistines control of a significant part of Israel which continued for the next 20 years.  Worship of Baal and Ashteroth (male and female gods of Mesopotamia, Syria, and sometimes Egypt) was a problem, and perhaps had been a problem long before the battle.

5.      Mizpah is in the highlands between Benjamin and Ephraim, which would be near to the lowlands occupied by the Philistines.

6.      Pouring out water was symbolic for pouring out their hearts (see Psalm 52:15 and Lamentations 2:19).  This fasting could have been voluntary, or could have been on Yom Kippur, the only commanded fast day, and the one day the Ark was to be visited.  Samuel acted as a judge.  Exactly what he did is not known.  Some have supposed that he meted out punishment to individuals, others suggests censure, others suggest absolution, others suggest that he acted as an intercessor.  But no conclusion can be reached for lack of information.

10.    God confused the Philistine army with thunder and put them into retreat before the Israelites attacked.

12.    This event is the background of “Now I raise my Ebenezer.”

13.    The Philistines did try to reclaim parts of Israel several times, particularly just before and during the reign of Saul.  But the statement is true that the Philistines had no more great success against Israel during Samuel’s lifetime.

1 Samuel 8

1.      Samuel’s tenure as a judge from the time of Eli to the time of Saul is covered in a very few verses.

3.      Samuel’s sons were no better than Eli’s.

5.      Although asking for a king in order to be like their neighbors was disappointing to God, the history of the quality of the judges makes the request understandable.

7.      God predicted that they would make this request four hundred years earlier, as recorded in Deuteronomy 17:14-20.  Rules for kings had already been written in the Law.

10.    Samuel prepares the people for all the bad things that kings bring, even good kings.

15.    A tenth of gross income was already due to the local Levite.  With a king, another tenth would go for the upkeep of the government.  In many surrounding countries, the tax for the king was 30%.

1 Samuel 9

1.      Beginning of the story of Saul.

4.      At this time, Saul had a grown son, since, in 1 Samuel 13:2 when he becomes king, his son becomes a general.  He traveled perhaps 15 miles in each direction from home, starting north and ending to the south.

8.      The gypsy tradition of requiring silver to tell the future comes from this verse.

11.    The slope is the defensive mound upon which walled cities were built.  However, since they were elevated, water had to transported daily from the valley into the city.  In many places, that became the job of the young women.  In cities with strong central governments, slaves were assigned that task, using donkeys and large urns, forming a continuous circuit of water bearers, dropping their loads into the city cistern all day long.  The cisterns would be large enough to supply the city for an extended siege.

12.    Israelites were not supposed to sacrifice anywhere other than the Tabernacle (Leviticus 17:8-9).  Either Samuel was going along with a custom contrary to the Law, or he had received some exception, perhaps due to the separation of the Ark from the Tabernacle.  It is more likely that it was just a bad custom, since God has not been prone to exceptions.

15.    When Samuel was young, the Lord spoke to him in a voice that Samuel thought was someone calling him from another room (1 Samuel 3).  How God spoke to him after that is not given.  But, the method was sufficient to impart specific details, not just impressions.

16.    The time elapsed since the Lord told Samuel that a king should be appointed (1 Samuel 8) is not given.

17.    God’s selection for king was revealed very specifically, not in general terms.

21.    Samuel shows some humility.

1 Samuel 10

1.      Samuel’s anointing of Saul was private, almost secret.  David was also anointed and appointed by Samuel with oil (1 Samuel 16:13).  Elisha did the same to Jehu (2 Kings 9:3) and Hazael (1 Kings 9:15).  Priests were also anointed to office (Exodus 28:41).  The Tabernacle furnishings were also anointed (Exodus 30:25).  But, the oil used for priests and the Tabernacle was not to be used for any other purpose (Exodus 30:31).  Solomon was anointed king, but by command of David, not God (1 Kings 1:34), although Solomon considered it a divine appointment (2 Chronicles 6:42).  Joash (2 Kings 11:12) and  Josiah (2 Kings 23:30) were similarly anointed.  Anointing with oil was also for comfort or healing (2 Chronicles 28:15, Psalm 23:5, Psalm 45:7, Ezekiel 16:9, Matthew 6:17, Mark 14:8, James 5:14).

2.      Rachel’s tomb is between Bethlehem and Bethel (Genesis 35:16).

3.      Sacrifices were going on in several locations simultaneously, so they could not have all been at the Tabernacle.

5.      Another simultaneous location of worship.  Instruments are mentioned in a positive way in connection with Israelite worship (1 Chronicles 13:8, 1 Chronicles 16:19-22, Psalm 33:2, Psalm 43:4) although this instance has too many other things wrong to imply an endorsement from God.

6.      This appears to against Saul’s will (see verse 9).  Being changed into another man presupposed that there was a need for the change.  The duration of the change is not given.  Since Saul had many episodes of poor behavior in the future, it would be unlikely that this change was for the rest of his life, causing him to be a worse sinner than otherwise expected.  More likely, he was changed for the duration of this incident, when he prophesied, until verse 9 to verse 13.

8.      This time of waiting was not immediately, but in the near future.  The trip to Gilgal is announced in 1 Samuel 11:14.  The seven days of waiting is recorded in 1 Samuel 13:8.

11.    This behavior was considered unusual for Saul, perhaps an indication of the change caused by God in his heart.

12.    The prophets did not inherit their office or somewhat odd behavior, but rather obtained it from God.  Saul’s previous behavior was attributed to his upbringing.  Whether good or bad, he was probably like his father.  This new behavior was obviously from some other source.  The proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets,” would be used to describe unusual godly behavior, meaning that God could evoke a drastic change in any reprobate; just look at Saul.

16.    Surely the matter of prophesying came to the attention of Saul’s family in a reasonably short time.  The location was within 15 miles of home.

17.    Note that the gathering was at Mizpah.  Saul was told to wait for Samuel at Gilgal (10:8), so it must have been clear to Saul that this waiting time was yet future.

18.    This meeting at Mizpah was to be for the purpose of selecting the king previously promised (8:10-22).  The time since that announcement is not given.

20.    The casting of lots was used several times in Israelite history: for selecting the Yom Kippur scapegoat (Leviticus 16:8), for dividing the Promised Land among the tribes (Numbers 26:55, 33:54; Joshua 14-21), to determine who had taken some of the spoils of Jericho (Joshua 7:14), to determine the duties of the priests (Nehemiah 10:34), to select the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:1).  Lots were described as being cast into the lap (Proverbs 16:33).  The sailors cast lots to determine that Jonah was the source of their problems (Jonah 1:7).

22.    Saul’s timidity is remarkable since he already knew that he would be chosen.

25.    The ordinances of the king were already in the Law (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).  Apparently, Samuel re-wrote that part for special emphasis.  Usually, placing something before the Lord meant to place it before the Most Holy Place (outside the curtain) where the Ark was.  However, the Ark is at the house of Abinadab and the Tabernacle was elsewhere.  The last place the Tabernacle was located was Shiloh.  The High Priest seems to still be located there in 1 Samuel 14.  But in 1 Samuel 21, it is in Nob.

26.    Saul did not take over control of the national government immediately.  Perhaps a big event was needed to get things started.  No national government was in place at the time, so there was no structure of which to take command.  The means by which God “touched” these men is not given.  Although a miraculous event could be supposed (as in 10:9-10), but being touched by the Word of God as delivered through Samuel would be more in keeping with the contrast in the next verse.

27.    Apparently, others did give gifts to Saul as a sign of acceptance.  These are described as gifts, not tithes or taxes.

1 Samuel 11

1.      The Ammonites had been granted this territory by God (Deuteronomy 2:19).  However, the Ammonites had lost it to the Amorites.  The Israelites took the land from the Amorites.  The judge, Jephthah saw no reason to give it back (Judges 11:12-33).  The Ammonites tried to reclaim the land by force several times after this, as well.

2.      A right-handed swordsman required a right eye to properly use a shield.  A right-handed archer required the use of the right eye.  The Benjamin was famous for a preponderance of left-handed warriors, but such were rare among the other tribes.

4.      Apparently, the Ammonites were considered too strong to be attacked despite their exposed position as a besieging army.  On the other hand, the Ammonites did not consider themselves strong enough to take the city by storm, and would rather not have to besiege it for years.  So, this odd compromise was reached where messengers were allowed to pass through the battle lines.  The Ammonites must not have thought anyone would respond.

5.      Saul was neither acting as king nor receiving significant tithes.  He was farming.

6.      This action by Saul was motivated by the Holy Spirit, either by telling Saul that he should do this, or by forcing him to do it (as in 10:10).

7.      Saul could invoke the endorsement of Samuel rightly because of the Spirit of God.  Otherwise, this would have been presumptuous.  The people feared God, not Saul or Samuel, so they must have believed that Saul’s message was from above.

8.      The nation had never been split up into Judah and Israel before, so this is probably an anachronism from the time of the writer, the Divided Kingdom period.  This army represented only a fraction of the total possible army.  When David numbered the fighting men a generation later, there were 1.3 million (2 Samuel 24:9).

9.        The distance was perhaps 30 to 40 miles, so the army could have made the trip in one day, but would probably not be in any condition to fight.  More likely, the message meant that the army followed the messengers by one day.

10.    This apparent surrender was probably designed to keep the Ammonites occupied and confident as Saul arranged his attack.  The inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead must have had considerable confidence in their unproved king.

13.    Saul will not always be so gracious.  Perhaps this is the new heart God gave him.  David made a similar gesture in 2 Samuel 19:22, although David later told Solomon to wreak vengeance on those he had pardoned.

15.    This must not have been the occasion Samuel had meant in 1 Samuel 10:8, since there is no waiting involved.  The 7-day wait is in 13:8.  Making Saul king “before the Lord” may mean that the Tabernacle was in Gilgal.  But, not necessarily, since Samuel was in the habit of sacrificing at several places and the Ark was not with the Tabernacle.  They renewed the kingdom that had begun in 10:24.

1 Samuel 12

1.      Samuel gave a speech as he went into semi-retirement.  He would continue to advise and reprove Saul occasionally, but he withdrew from being the leader of the nation.

9.      Sisera’s story is in Judges 4.  He was defeated under the judgeship of Deborah.

11.    Bedan is not mentioned elsewhere.  The Syrian Old Testament has Barak, Deborah’s general.  Jerubaal is Gideon from Judges 6-8.  He received this nickname when he tore down an altar of Baal (Judges 6:30-32), meaning “Let Baal contend against him.”  When he tore down that altar, the people expected Baal to strike him, but nothing happened, so Baal’s followers lost confidence in their god and declined to fight against Gideon.  Jephthah’s judgeship is recorded in Judges 11-12.  Samuel put himself in the same category as the judges who had rescued Israel over the previous 400 years.

17.    The wheat harvest is in late May and early June.  Rain is uncommon in Israel from April to October.  Thunder and rain on command would not likely be a coincidence.

22.    God had a plan for Israel as promised to Abraham, that the Messiah would come through that people.  So, essentially, God was stuck with them.  If they forsook Him, He could not walk away and leave them to their own evil devices as with the other nations.  But neither could He seem to endorse their evil by protecting them and rewarding them for bad behavior.  So, God had to bring disasters on them to wake them up.  This pattern is repeated throughout the period of the Judges and will continue through the Monarchy, the Babylonian Captivity, and the Restoration.

23.    Samuel retired from his political leadership role, but remained as their spiritual leader.

25.    Over the next several centuries, the people often forgot about this “if.”

1 Samuel 13

1.      The current Hebrew text must be corrupt at this point, since, literally, it reads, “Saul was a year old when he began to reign and he reigned two years over Israel.”  Obviously, Saul was more than a year old, and he could not possibly have conducted all of the wars ascribed to him in a two year period.  Several translators have tried to interpret this text as it stands, suggesting that Saul was like a year old child (innocent), and that he reigned two years before this verse.  However, other translators find that those suggestions have no linguistic support.  It is far more likely that the numbers, written as single characters, fell out of the text at a very early date.  The most popular (although not necessarily correct) numbers to insert give Saul the age of 40 and set his reign at thirty two years.  The age is conjectured to be 40 because Jonathan is old enough to be a general and Saul’s reign lasted a long time.  The length of the reign does not necessarily have to end in a two, since the same process which caused the correct number to fall out could have resulted in an incorrect number being copied.  Acts 13:21 says that Saul reigned 40 years, but that could be a rounded number.  Also, Ishbosheth, Saul’s successor, is not mentioned among the sons of Saul at the beginning of his reign, yet Ishbosheth is 40 years old when he begins to reign after Saul’s death.  The suggestion is made that Ishbosheth was, therefore, born after Saul began to reign.  However, the author lived well after the time of Saul, so the birth year of Ishbosheth would not affect when Ishbosheth would be included in the list of Saul’s sons.

3.      The news that Jonathan had triumphed at Geba was spread by Saul for two reasons: to advertise the success of the monarchy, and to prepare the people for a larger war.

4.      This is the gathering at Gilgal at which Saul was to wait for Samuel seven days (10:8).

5.      Many reputable scholars have suspected that the number of chariots is an error, perhaps actually 3,000.  However, these numbers are not absolutely impossible as with Saul’s age and length of reign as in verse 1.  Normally, the number of horsemen should be larger than the number of chariots.  But, the Philistines were people of the plains, so their preferred style as the chariot.  Chariots typically held more than one occupant (one to drive, one or more to fight).  Horsemen rode individually.  If Israel could attack Jabesh-Gilead with 330,000 men, then it is not inconceivable that the Philistines could bring the stated number of chariots and horsemen.

6.      Confidence in Saul was not high.

8.      Saul waited the required seven days as Samuel had instructed him.  During the wait, more and more potential Israelite soldiers disappeared into the countryside.  The seventh day must have passed interminably slowly.

9.      Saul had not waited the full seven days.  The language does not require that Saul himself offered the sacrifices, but that he prevailed on priests who were present to do it.  The same words are used of David (2 Samuel 24:25) and Solomon (1 Kings 3:4), and priest did the actual sacrificing in those cases.  The error was not trusting the words of Samuel, the Lord’s prophet.

11.    Saul blamed Samuel for not arriving earlier in the day.

12.    Saul claimed that he did not want to offer the sacrifice, but circumstances beyond his control forced him into it.

13.    Saul’s punishment was that his dynasty would not survive.  Saul was not declared to be personally unworthy to be king until his second transgression (1 Samuel 15:23).  Interestingly, the Messiah was to come from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:9-12).  The other prophecies about the Messiah (descendent of David, Bethlehem, etc.) were not made until later, so God had not restricted Himself at this time.  But, it would have been interesting to see how God would be able to get a descendent of Saul from the tribe of Judah to be the ruler of the eternal kingdom.

14.    This description is clearly applied to David in Acts 13:22.

15.    Saul had had 3,000 men with him in verse 2, then had assembled many more.  Only 600 remained.  The purpose of the premature sacrifice had been to prevent the dispersal of the army.  It does not seem to have worked.

19.    The working of iron (steel) was kept as a national secret among the Philistines.  Archeologically, this is known as the Bronze Age, when weapons were made of bronze.  A steel sword held its edge much longer.  Bronze swords tended to break if struck sharply.  Steel did not.  Steel armor has also been recovered in this area.  Bronze weapons could not pierce it.

1 Samuel 14

3.      Ahitub must have been Ichabod’s older brother.  The tabernacle is (still?) at Shiloh, although the Ark is at the house of Abinidab.

6.      Jonathan showed considerably more trust in God than his father.

10.    The reason that Jonathan believed that this would be a sign is not given.  It is unlikely that he invented it himself, since God is not prone to being manipulated.  Perhaps God had communicated this to him by some means, either by vision or by prophet.

13.    Although Jonathan traveled through hills and crags to reach the Philistines, the Philistines own position was elevated, probably on the opposite side of the valley.  Thus, Jonathan had to go “up” to them.

14.    “Half a furrow in an acre of land” is a measure of distance, not area.  If an acre is taken to be square, then a furrow on an acre would be a little less than 209 feet.  Half a furrow would be a little over 100 feet.  So, it appears that the Philistines abandoned their outpost and retreated before Jonathan and his armor bearer, being slaughtered one or two at a time over a distance of about 100 feet as Jonathan overtook them.

15.    Great fear gripped the Philistines at the news that two Hebrews had managed to overrun an outpost.  This seems to have been compounded by an earthquake.

16.    Saul’s forces had shrunk even further.

18.    Saul was about to make the same mistake as Hophni and Phineas.  Whether Ahijah would have consented to make the mistake of his grandfather is unknown.  However, the heart of Saul was revealed to still consider the worship of God to be a military tool.

21.    The Hebrews serving in the Philistine army may have been slaves, but more likely were soldiers serving voluntarily after their own regions had been taken over.

22.    Saul’s army swelled quickly with turncoat Hebrews from the Philistine army and deserters from the previous chapter.  This could not have been a well organized group.

23.    The unlikely character of Saul’s army was successful because the Lord delivered them.

24.    Not being professional soldiers, Saul’s warriors were likely to quit whenever they felt like it.  Note that Saul does not invoke the name of God as a reason to fight.

26.    They also must have feared that some of their fellow warriors might report them if they ate.

29.    Jonathan disagreed with his father in public.

32.    Israelites were forbidden to eat undrained meat (Leviticus 17:10-14, 19:26, Deuteronomy 12:16).  The greediness probably would have happened anyway, but the hunger of the people may have contributed to its extremity and the lack of a great victory.

33.    The stone was to be used as an altar so that the sacrifices could be properly drained.

36.    Finally someone suggested that God should play some role.  Inquiries were by prophet or by the two stones on the ephod of the High Priest, the Urim and Thummim (1 Samuel 28:6, Numbers 27:21, Exodus 28:30, Leviticus 8:8, Deuteronomy 33:8).

43.    Jonathan did not speak up until the lot pointed him out.

44.    Saul had not been king very long, but was already proficient at exercising his ego.

49.    Ishvi was another name for Abinidab (1 Samuel 31:2, 1 Chronicles 8:33, 9:39).

50.    Abner will remain the general until the time of David.

1 Samuel 15

2.      The Amelekites fought Israel in the wilderness.  As a result, God cursed them (Exodus 17:8-16).

4.      The army is smaller than the one that went against Jabesh-Gilead (11:8).

6.      The Kenites were among the Palestinians of that day (Genesis 15:19).  Moses’ in-laws were Kenites (Judges 1:16), so they became unofficial Israelites.  Saul told them to leave lest they be mistaken for the other Palestinians, the Amelekites.

9.      A significant number of soldiers failed to carry out Samuel’s order due to Saul’s example.  Note that they made an effort to soothe their consciences by giving to God what was unimportant to them.

11.    For this failure, Saul is rejected as king by God (15:26), yet he retains the throne for quite a few years.  After the first failure, Saul’s punishment was the removal of his dynasty.(13:14).  This injunction really has not more impact than the first.  The first implied that God had rejected Saul.  This confirms it.  But the nature of that rejection is unclear.

12.    There are several places called Carmel, the most famous of which is far to the north on the Mediterranean coast.  This Carmel is more likely the one in southern Judah, since that place is on the way from Amelek to Gilgal.

13.    Saul also believes that his efforts have fulfilled the command of God (see also verse 20).

15.    Note that Saul again makes excuses.  Enough Amelekites survived to allow the nation to rise again to fight Israel (1 Samuel 27:8, 30:1, 2 Samuel 8:12).  They were finally wiped out in Hezekiah’s time (1 Chronicles 4:43).

20.    Saul based his excuse on a re-definition of “utterly destroyed.”

21.    Saul blamed the people under his command for taking forbidden booty with the excuse that they intended to give it to God later.

22.    The ideas of this poem or song are repeated in Psalm 40:6-8, Psalm 51:16-17, Isaiah 1:11-15, and Micah 6:6-8.

31.    Samuel did not go back with Saul so as to appear to endorse him, but rather after him.

32.    Samuel carried out what Saul still had not accomplished even after being reproved.

35.    If God can regret something, then He does not allow Himself to know everything that is to happen.  Some things are a surprise.

1 Samuel 16

1.      Saul was also anointed with oil (1 Samuel 10:1).

2.      Samuel’s fear was justified.  He had already told Saul that another was to be selected (1 Samuel 15:28).  The people would be likely to believe Samuel  rather than Saul if the economy slowed.  The Lord’s instructions to Samuel were not a lie, but a convenient truth.  Note God’s tacit endorsement of sacrifices at places other than the Tabernacle (or the Ark of the Covenant) as is commanded in Leviticus 17:8-9.

4.      Samuel had been the bearer of bad news recently, so the question was understandable.

5.      The nature of this consecration or sanctification is not given.  Perhaps this was a call to become ceremonially clean before the feast washing both clothes and body the day before. (Leviticus15:8, 22:7, Numbers 19:19, et al)

10.    Jesse had eight sons (1 Samuel 17:12), David being the youngest.

12.    The term translated “ruddy” was used to describe reddish hair, which was highly esteemed among the dark-haired Semites.

13.    The Spirit of the Lord apparently did not control David’s every move, since he made some colossal blunders.  However, David did write many inspired poems or songs which are preserved in the Psalms.  What Samuel said at this time is not recorded.  Since Saul does not seem to know for several years that David is his chosen successor, Samuel must have been silent or vague.  Since being anointed with oil by a prophet certainly must have meant something, the other guests may have merely assumed that David was being anointed as a student of the prophets.  Since everyone knew that Samuel’s sons were corrupt (1 Samuel 8:3), perhaps the people were looking for the successor to Samuel as a prophet .

14.    Obviously, the Spirit of the Lord did not control Saul all the time either, although on at least one occasion the Spirit had taken control of Saul’s mind and body (1 Samuel 10:10).  At this point, after being rejected by God and as his successor was anointed, Saul not only lost the available assistance from the Spirit of God, but also gained an evil spirit.  This spirit is not likely to have any more control than the good spirit.  Some have found it troublesome that the text reads, “An evil spirit from the Lord.”  But God has been known to send afflictions of many sorts on those who needed it.   God can use an evil spirit as well as a foreign army.

15.    The source of Saul’s sudden turn for the worse was obvious to some of those around him.  Perhaps Samuel had given a hint.

16.    Early music therapy.

18.    David was probably about 20 years old at this time.  Only a young friend could describe one so young as “a mighty man of valor, a warrior.”  Perhaps his young friend knew of David’s encounters with lions and bears (1 Samuel 17:34-36).  The description, “the Lord is with him,” may have come partly from Samuel’s anointing.

21.    Providentially, David obtained training in the tasks of a king by being in Saul’s court.  An armor-bearer had different functions in different battles.  For a king, the armor bearer may only hold the flag or keep track of the king’s helmet.  In some battles, an armor-bearer would hold a very large shield while the warrior used both hands to wield a very heavy sword.  At other times, the armor bearer carried extra swords, since the bronze ones of the day often shattered.

23.    Perhaps God sent that spirit when Saul departed particularly far from Him; or perhaps God sent that spirit when David needed training for being king; or perhaps the spirit just came and went.

1 Samuel 17

1.      The Philistine army had not been broken in the previous defeat.  As Jonathan had noted (1Samuel 14:30), the slaughter had not been great.

4.      Gath, one of the five major cities of the Philistines, had been known 300 years earlier as the home of the remaining Anakim (Joshua 11:22).  Joshua had eliminated the giants who lived around Hebron, but left some in the Philistine cities.  Goliath was 9 feet 9 inches tall (taking the cubit to be exactly 18 inches and the span to be half that).  Scholars who use a more precise cubit set his height at 9 feet 6 inches.  Warriors of great height are not unknown.  In the Roman era, one was ten feet 3 inches.  A Jewish warrior in the same period was over 10 feet tall.  Several warriors of this size are recorded in European history as well.  A champion from each side sometimes fought to determine the outcome of the potential battle.  However, the system had several flaws.  The battle sometimes happened anyway.  Even it the losers surrendered, the victory would not be as complete since the losing army would still be alive.  So, most times, the battle of the champions was only a preliminary to a bigger battle, despite the claims of verse 9, as evidenced by verse 52.

5.      Five thousand shekels was about 122 pounds.

7.      Six hundred shekels was about 14 pounds.  If he could throw this shot-put-like spear well, the momentum and the iron tip could easily pierce an opponent’s bronze armor.

15.    David had charge over his father’s sheep.  He was able to go back and forth to Saul because he had assistants (verse 20).

16.    The two armies waited on either side of the valley 40 days.  They both “drew up in battle array” (verse 21) daily, but nothing happened other than Goliath’s challenge.  Apparently, neither general thought he had a sufficient advantage to press the fight.

17.    Soldiers had to be supplied from home.  This was not the standing army which was fed by Saul, but the volunteers.

18.    The volunteers also were responsible for paying their officers, who probably were a part of the regular army.

25.    To be “free in Israel” was to be exempt from taxation.

28.    David’s brother accuses him of speaking big words as a bystander rather than a participant.

30.    But David continued to incite and encourage the Israelites, a small group at a time.

33.    Goliath was a professional soldier.

36.    David claims to have the strength, courage, and skill to kill Goliath.  Since this single combat was without rules, David would have a chance if he avoided Goliath’s strengths in the military arts.

37.    The reasoning behind David’s confidence is not given.  However, since the Spirit of God came upon him mightily in 16:13, it is likely that God revealed His wishes to David by some miraculous means, rather than David just guessing.

39.    Saul was a head taller than most Israelites (9:2), but David was not particularly tall (16:7).  Neither the armor not the weapons were David’s size.  And David was not trained to use them.

40.    Accuracy with a sling was a valued skill (Judges 20:16), especially for a shepherd but also for a soldier.  The reason for selecting five stones is not given.

41.    A belated note on shield-bearers:  Although David was Saul’s armor bearer. he was tending sheep during this war.  While an individual warrior might have a real shield bearer beside whom he fought regularly, one in high position might have several, and never go int obattle.  For example, Joab, David’s general, had ten armor bearers (2 Samuel 18:15).  An armor bearer to a king was certainly one of many.  David’s job as armor bearer was to play the harp when the king was melancholy.

44.    Homer’s hero, Hector, used this same line in the Illiad.

46.    David gives notice that this battle of champions will not end the conflict.

49.    Assuming that Goliath had a helmet, this was a remarkable shot.  It would be necessary for David to come close so that Goliath would not have reflexes sufficient to deflect the stone.

51.    Displaying the head of a fallen enemy was the custom of the time.  Lacking photographs, this was positive evidence of victory.  When the Philistines saw the Ark of the Covenant come onto the battlefield in 4:6-9, they were given the bravery of desperation: fight or be enslaved.  Here, that logic escaped them, so they retreated and suffered great losses.

52.    The Philistines were driven back all the way to their major cities.

54.    The fortress of Jerusalem was still controlled by the Jebusites, although the Benjamites lived in the surrounding countryside (Judges 1:8, 21).  Displaying Goliath’s head at that place may have been a warning to the Jebusites.  Goliath’s sword eventually went to the Tabernacle, where it reappears at Nob (21:9).

55.    Saul’s question is not literal.  He knew his harpist and had written to his father (16:19).  Saul was close enough to David before the battle to speak with him.  Saul’s question is both a figure of speech and rhetorical.  Abner, it seems, had not taken the time to get to know the hired help.  But the general should have been aware of the military potential.

1 Samuel 18

1.      Jonathan had shown similar courage (14:13) and was not jealous that another should be the agent of victory.

2.      David probably got to go home occasionally, but most of his time was now with the king’s court.

5.      David was a popular leader, which is unusual for a young person suddenly thrust into a position of leadership over many others more experienced.

8.      Saul did not share his son’s temperament.

10.    Perhaps the severity of the evil spirit’s torment was related to the depth of Saul’s sin.

11.    Twice?  And he tried again in 19:10.

12.    It is not clear how Saul knew that the Lord was with David.

13.    Being exiled from the throne room gave David furthe rexperiences which would help him as the future king.

17.    David used later used this same line of thinking, except that David did not leave the death of Uriah to the skill of the enemy.

18.    Although this sounds to us as though David declined, this was the Middle Eastern way of humbly accepting, as is evident from the next verse.  However, a dowry was expected by the party which gained more from the marriage.  So, in this case, David would have to buy his bride (see verse 25) rather than receiving a dowry.

19.    Nothing further is known of Adriel.  Giving a daughter in marriage to a skilled general helped to prevent military coups.  If the king pressed the issue, the groom had no choice.

21.    Since the king could do anything, he had no embarrassment about bringing up the son-in-law subject again within a short period of time.

23.    David used the humility angle again to remain neutral.

25.    Scalping seems more civilized.  Nevertheless, this method of counting the fallen was more appropriate for Israelites.  This dowry was an extension of the previous idea to get David killed in battle.

27.    David’s men were more loyal than Uriah’s.  For good measure, he brought double the asking price.

1 Samuel 19

1.      Saul’s attempts to kill David have progressed from fits of rage, to encouraging military misfortune, to, now, outright assassination.  Jonathan continues to be the best man in the royal family.

5.      Jonathan spoke straightforwardly, a courageous thing considering his father’s temper.

6.      The reasonable plea was granted, although the value of this king’s promise may be suspect.

10.    David decided that the third time was enough.

11.    Michal seems to have the temperament of Jonathan.  Later, things will not go so well between them.  Psalm 59 is said to describe this period.

13.    This is another illustration of the bad condition of Israelite religion in this period.  Prophets sacrificing in many locations rather than one, the Ark was not with the Tabernacle, and the people asked for a king.  Here, the king’s daughter has a life-sized idol in her living quarters.

17.    Michal claimed that David threatened her life if she did not help with the deception.  No punishment is mentioned, so perhaps the lie was accepted.

18.    Escaping to Samuel seems reasonable considering Samuel’s history.

20.    Involuntary prophecy had been used previously.  When Balaam was hired to prophesy against Israel, his intended curses came out as blessings.  Saul prophesied involuntarily in 10:10 as a part of Samuel’s proof that he spoke for God.  Here, two groups of soldiers are turned back in by involuntary prophesying (20-21).  Then Saul himself was overcome (23-24).  The public must have been invited to the king’s embarrassment, since the story spread.

1 Samuel 20

1.      There seems to be some question whether Saul’s attempts on David’s life were due to conscious thought or due to a fit of insanity.  However, the evil spirit from the Lord is said only to have terrorized him, not made violently insane.  The observers perhaps were attributing too much of Saul’s behavior to the evil spirit.  But if the evil spirit were from God, it would not force Saul to do evil (although Saul was forced to go good: prophesy).

5.      New moon feasts are mentioned in Numbers 10:10 and 28:11-15.

6.      Again, this sacrifice should be at the Tabernacle.  And David asked Jonathan to lie for him.

15.    Jonathan seems to recognize that David will become king and that he himself will not.  So he solicits this vow from David.  It was customary, when a new dynasty began, that all the male members of the previous dynasty were executed to prevent a counter-coup.  David kept this promise (2 Samuel 9:7).

26.    Although there is no specific Law that one must be clean to participate in a New Moon feast, it is reasonable that this was the practice, since that feast was of religious significance.

29.    Perhaps David’s oldest brother was head of the family although Jesse was still alive.

30.    Saul sees through Jonathan’s excuse and compared his loyalty to David to adultery.

31.    Jonathan’s supposition which prompted the vow of verse 15 is here confirmed.

1 Samuel 21

2.      This lie from David will contribute to the deaths of several priests (22:9-19), as acknowledged by David (22:22).

4.      The consecrated bread was from the table of showbread .  Only priests could eat that bread (Leviticus 24:9), and only after it had sat on the table for 7 days covered with frankincense, when it was replaced by fresh bread (verse 6).  The question about women was an uncleanness issue.  Sexual intercourse made one unclean until evening.  Being soldiers, it would seem more likely that they had touched something dead.  Jesus uses this scene as an example in Matthew 12:4.  The reference in Mark 2:26 says this occurred in the time of Abiathar the high priest.  He was the son of Ahimelech who became High Priest only days after this event due to the massacre of his family by Saul.  Ahimelech was only a small character in history.  Abiathar had a much larger impact.  Thus, Mark’s words are not in error; it was in the time of Abiathar who very shortly became High Priest.

7.      Edomites were descendants of Esau, not a part of Israel.

8.      David had left in such a hurry that he was without weapons.  His excuse is wearing thin.

10.    Perhaps it was not best to take the sword of Goliath to Gath.  Perhaps he hoped that he would be welcomed because he was fleeing from King Saul.

13.    People of many cultures have been slow to interfere with the ravings of the insane.  Several frontiersmen used the same ploy because the Plains Indians considered the insane as protected by God.  Although no reference is made to the practice of the Philistines, the assumption can be made that David knew that they were likely to let a mad man alone.

1 Samuel 22

1.      David’s relatives would need to leave Bethlehem to avoid the wrath of Saul.

2.      Other malcontents joined David for various reasons.  This sounds like the beginnings of America.

3.      David could get an audience with a king due to his exploits as a general in Saul’s army and because his paternal grandmother, Ruth, was from Moab.

5.      The stronghold where David first stayed was probably in Moab.  Gad encouraged him to return to Judah, which also contains much wilderness in which to hide.  Gad is identified in 1 Chronicles 21:9 as David’s seer, who was with David until the last of his life and wrote a book called the Acts of David (1 Chronicles 29:29).

8.      Saul figured out that Jonathan had warned David.  He also suspected that David would try to assassinate him.  People often attribute to others motives they themselves have.

14.    Ahimelech certainly was caught unawares.  If he had suspected that David was opposed to Saul, he likely would have fled, knowing that Saul would kill him for aiding his enemy.  Ahimelech protests that David was certainly not an assassin, but the king’s loyal subject.

15.    Ahimelech uses the traditional Hebrew style of stating the obvious backwards, meaning that this was not the first time he had inquired of the Lord for David, but rather had been doing it routinely and Saul should have been aware of that.

17.    Saul maintains that the priests were in collusion with David and orders their execution.  But the soldiers are unwilling to kill a priest, especially when the case against them is obviously false.

18.    Doeg, being an Edomite, would have no qualms about killing priests of Jehovah, since he apparently worshipped other gods.

19.    Saul further exacted revenge for David’s escape by wiping out the whole town at which the Tabernacle was located.  The disposition of the Tabernacle itself is not given.  After this slaughter, there would have been a shortage of priests to maintain the daily sacrifices, lamp trimming, and incense burning.  However, the tent did survive (1 Chronicles 21:29).

20.    Abiathar will remain David’s intermediary to God through out his wilderness experience and through part of his reign.  But, eventually, he fell into disfavor after he sided with Adonijah during one of the many palace coups.

22.    David immediately recognized that his lie to Ahimelech had cost the priest his life.  Had he been truthful, at least Ahimelech would have known not to go to Saul unarmed and in a group.

1 Samuel 23

1.      Although the exact location of Keilah is unknown, it is in the lowlands of Judah (Joshua 15:44) and is probably near the Philistine frontier.

2.      David’s approach to war is different that Saul’s.

7.      Saul still had some loyal subjects in Judah in order to gather this intelligence.

11.    And God knew that the people of Keilah would turn David over to the king, whether due to cowardice or loyalty to the king.  So, David and his men left the area.

16.    Saul and his army could not catch up with David and his men, but Jonathan had no trouble.  Jonathan also understood that, having heard Samuel’s proclamations in 1 Samuel 13:13-14 and 15:23.

20.    Obviously, David was not entirely popular, even in Judah, yet.

27.    The Philistines seized on the opportunity to invade because Saul had the military occupied with pursuing David in circles in the wilderness.

1 Samuel 24

3.      The Hebraism, “cover his feet,” is also used in Judges 3:24.  David and his men were concealed further inside the cave.

4.      Whether David’s men knew of an actual prophecy or not is uncertain.  Perhaps they were misapplying something Gad had said about another enemy.  David did not agree, so the report of a prophecy must have been false.  Saul probably had laid his cloak aside, making it reasonably easy for David to creep in and cut off a piece unobserved.

6.      David held God’s appointments in high regard, leaving the termination of those appointments to His doing.  These words were not only remorse, but also to keep his men from killing the king.

12.    David repeated his allegiance in the hearing of both his own men and Saul’s.

20.    Saul repented of his pursuit of David and announced what had previously made him angry, that David would be the next king.

21.    Saul requested the same promise that Jonathan did, that Saul’s family not be executed when David takes the throne.

1 Samuel 25

2.      This Carmel is not the one in the northern part of the country on which Elijah had his famous due with the prophets of Baal, but rather a place in the south, in the Judean wilderness.

3.      Nabal probably was not his given name, since it means “fool.”  However, in 25:25, his wife reports that he really is what this name implies.  Caleb won the region around Hebron by defeating the giants (Joshua 14:12).

8.      David is asking for protection money, politely.  However, the hazards to the desert shepherd were many.  Marauding Arabs and other renegades often troubled the people of this region, as will be seen in the next few chapters.  There were no law enforcement organizations.

10.    Nabal insults David by comparing him to a runaway slave.

11.    David’s men were not from among the notable families, but rather had been described as malcontents (22:2).

13.    Not only did David expect to be compensated for his protection of the Judean wilderness, but also Jewish custom demanded that those who were harvesting share liberally with others.

17.    The servants relate the events of the time to Abigail in hopes of averting an attack.

22.    David’s intentions were drastic.  The Hebraism, “who urinates against the wall,” means “males” (see also 1 Kings 14:10, 1 Kings 21:21, and 2 Kings 9:8).

25.    Abigail pleads her case, implying that, if she had been present, that David would have received supplies.

30.    The news that David would be the next king had spread.

31.    Abigail pleads that if David kills all of Nabal’s family, it will haunt him.

33.    David repents of attempting to take action without the Lord’s direction.

39.    David attributes Nabal’s death to the action of God (as verse 38 says).

40.    No one seems to be concerned about waiting very long for re-marriage after a husband’s death.

43.    Multiple wives were acceptable in this society.  The Law provided some structure to the practice (Deuteronomy 21:15, Exodus 21:10).

44.    Saul could do this legally by granting Michal a divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1), although no mention is made of a woman initiating such a proceeding.  Further, if Saul did divorce them, going back to David later might not be proper (Deuteronomy 24:2).  However, Ish-bosheth, Saul’s grandson, did send Michal back to David (2 Samuel 3:14) while her second husband was still alive.  David eventually collected seven wives (1 Chronicles 3:1-5) plus concubines.

1 Samuel 26

1.      Even after protecting the people of the Judean wilderness for some time, and even though Saul had announced that he knew that David would be the next king, David was not universally popular.

6.      Abishai was David’s nephew (1 Chronicles 2:16).  He became a general during David’s reign along with his more famous brother, Joab.

9.      David again declines to assassinate a king who had been appointed by God.

12.    In the cave in chapter 24, David did not seem to receive any miraculous help.  But on this occasion, they were able to obtain the spear and jug because God had caused all the people in Saul’s camp to sleep heavily.

19.    David likens his banishment to being forced to become a pagan.  He is cut off from the tabernacle.

21.    Saul repents of pursuing David for the third time.  This was their last meeting, although David never felt safe enough to return to the mainstream of Israel during Saul’s remaining reign.

1 Samuel 27

1.      David apparently had no direct message from God as to his safety from Saul.  So, David determined than his best course was to spend the remainder of Saul’s days in the camp of his enemy.

2.      In chapter 21, David had to feign insanity to escape Gath.  Here, he is apparently welcome, perhaps because Saul has forged David’s credentials by pursuing him.

6.      Ziklag was one of the cities given to Simeon (Joshua 19:5).  To be given a city meant to be granted the right to collect and use the tax money.

7.      David and his 600 men plundered the Bedouin for 16 months.

10.    David lied about his military exploits, naming Israelite territory as his targets.  Instead, he raided the enemies of Israel to the south, leaving no survivors, and therefore no witnesses.

12.    Achish was thoroughly deceived.

1 Samuel 28

2.      David’s deceit was so convincing that Achish was certain of his loyalty.  In the next chapter, other Philistine commanders will not be so confident.

3.      Saul had done some good, especially during Samuel’s life, in removing many pagan practitioners.  The significance of this statement will become evident in the next verses.

6.      Saul many times neglected to seek the Word of the Lord.  This time, although he remembered probably because of his fear, none of his three usual methods yielded results.  This indicates that sometimes God gave dreams to Saul.   The Urim was one of the stones on the High Priests ephod (Exodus 28:30).

7.      Saul’s religious concepts were revealed in this seeking after a witch.  As will be revealed later, evil powers were real, not just superstition.

10.    Saul invokes the name of the Lord in his promise to a witch.

12.    Some commentators claim that this witch had no real power, but was a surprised as anyone that this worked.  The text does not seem to read that way.  Until Jesus established His kingdom, Satan had power on this earth, as evidenced by the demon possession of Jesus day.  But when Jesus established His kingdom, the power of Satan was curtailed.  This seems to have occurred with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (Revelation 20:1-6, Daniel 9:24-27, Matthew 24:15, Zechariah 13:2).  This explains why Satan can be prowling like a lion in 1 Peter 5:8, written well before 70 AD, yet no demon possession exists today.

15.    This confirms that the Samuel really came back, that the vision was not a fake by the witch.

16.    It is unclear whether this witch had the power to summon Samuel, or if God played along in order to finally answer Saul’s questions.

19.    When Samuel says, “Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me,” certainly he means in death, rather than in the presence of God.

24.    Saul was finally convinced to eat.  The description of the location of the calf was probably literal, since animals were generally keep inside the enclosure of the dwelling, either in stalls on one side, or on the first floor of a two story home.

1 Samuel 29

3.      Achish mentions that David had been in his territory for years.

4.      The Philistine generals don’t trust David.  They see this as an opportunity for David to get back on Saul’s good side.

8.      David played his deception to the end.

1 Samuel 30

1.      The Amalekites (whom Saul was to have annihilated) saw an opportunity for a quick profit while the Philistine army was away fighting Israel in the north.

2.      The Amalekites apparently raided purely for profit rather than revenge.  David had killed everyone in the villages he raided, some of which were Amalekite.

6.      David’s collection of malcontents were short on loyalty and/or confidence.  David, however, turned to God for help (verse 8).

8.      This kind of advance information surely would instill confidence in David.

10.    These men had traveled about 100 miles in a period of three days since leaving the Philistines in the Valley of Jezreel.

15.    Perhaps this Egyptian believed that David would keep his word,  or perhaps it was just his only choice.

17.    Saul had been ordered to exterminate the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:2-3), but had failed to finish the job (15:9), for which failure God rejected Saul (15:26).  They were not completely destroyed until the time of Hezekiah, nearly three centuries later (1 Chronicles 4:41-43).

20.    Not only did they recover what the Amalekites had taken, but also what the Amalekites had possessed.  It was customary for each soldier to present a tenth of his personal spoils of war to his commander.   In armies with several layers of command, each layer passed on a tenth.  This seems to be a larger portion of the Amalekite possessions being presented to David, perhaps because they were so happy to have their own possessions back.

22.    David’s men have already been described as malcontents (22:2).  Their lack of generosity was carried to the extent that they did not want to give back the recovered possessions of their fellow soldiers (beyond wives and children).

24.    This saying, made law in the next verse, became a peculiarity of Israel for many centuries.  The idea had been demonstrated before (Numbers 31:24).  It illustrates the spirit of unity among the chosen people, that all jobs are of equal value in the Lord’s work.

26.    David used this large quantity of spoil to ingratiate himself with the elders of Judah.  In this beginning of his campaign for the throne of Judah (and later Israel), he demonstrated to the elders that, as king, he would profit them handsomely by his skill in war.

1 Samuel 31

4.      Saul wished to avoid the common practices of the day which usually befell captured monarchs.  In general, they were humiliated in the worst imaginable ways with torture and disfigurement, but kept alive for future sport.  This practice is recorded on monuments from a thousand years before Saul, and the practice continues today in several areas of the world.

7.      With no Israelite army to protect the cities from the victorious Philistines, the people of that region abandoned their homes.  The extent of this exile is generalized, but probably included the Valley of Jezreel, and some of the region of the Sea of Galilee.

8.      The Philistines soldiers were better disciplined than the Israelites had been in the past.  They waited until the next day to claim the booty, instead of letting a substantial portion of Saul’s army escape (1 Samuel 15:19).

9.      David had behaved similarly with the body and weapons of Goliath (17:54, 21:9).

11.    Jabesh-Gilead was the city which was being besieged by the Ammonites which Saul rescued more than 30 years earlier (1 Samuel 11:1-13).  Despite the great danger and Saul’s mediocre performance in the previous several years, these men must have felt a debt of honor.

12.    Some have suggested that this burning was connected to the burning connected with certain violations of the Law (Leviticus 20:14, 21:9), but the very actions of the men of Jabesh-Gilead show that to be an incorrect association.  One could just as well associate this burning with the burning of leftovers from sacrificial meals (Exodus 12:10, 29:34).  Likely this burning was more a matter of practicality.

13.    Fasting was a traditional sign of mourning (Judges 20:26, 1 Samuel 7:6, et al)