As we come to the end of 1 Samuel we must remember that 1 & 2 Samuel were originally one book and split into two books. The split did not occur until the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. Even though we are coming to the end of the first book we are not coming to the end of the pictures and teachings in this book. As we read through these final chapters, please keep in mind the lens that we have seen throughout the book. We have seen pictures of the rise of the anointed. We have been seeing pictures that foreshadow what will happen to Jesus, the Lord’s anointed, as seen through the life of David, the anointed king. But we are seeing some of the final pictures of David’s life on the run as preparations are made for David to take his rightful place on the throne.
David Runs (27:1-12)
We are given an interesting insight into the thinking of David in chapter 27. He believes that Saul is going to kill him if he stays in the wilderness. David has spent a long time in the wilderness but it has not been safe to be there. Even though Saul claims to no longer seek David’s life, Saul constantly changes his mind and hunts him again. Therefore, David determines that the only way to preserve his life is to go back to the Philistines, causing Saul to tire of looking for him in Israel. So David and his 600 men go back to Achish, the king of Gath. The last time David tried to hide in Gath, the Philistines recognized David and they were afraid of him. So David pretended to have gone insane until he was able to leave Gath (21:10-15). David goes back to Gath and lives with Achish and when Saul hears about this, Saul no longer pursues David (27:4).
When David comes to Gath he asks Achish to give him one of the country towns. “For why should your servant dwelling the royal city with you?” (27:5). So Achish gives him Ziklag. Ziklag was supposed to be a city of Judah (Joshua 15:31). But now it is given to David and notice verse 6. Now Ziklag will remain as a city belong to the kings of Judah. What we are seeing is David expanding the borders of the kingdom. The Lord is revealing to us that this action is showing that David will complete the conquest of the land. The anointed is going to expand the borders of the kingdom. Further, David has success against the Canaanites. He goes up against Geshurities, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. David is pictured as finishing the task of driving out the Canaanites, as if he is the new Joshua. David is also driving out the Amalekites, finishing the task that Saul failed at. Thus, David is pictured as the rightful king of Israel who will conquered God’s enemies and finish the work given to him. Notice in verse 9 that David is utterly destroying these enemy nations, what Saul was unwilling to do and the people of Israel were unable to do. David, the Lord’s anointed, will finish the incomplete work. This is the picture of the anointed. When Jesus comes, he will finish the Lord’s work and complete the conquest so that the whole earth belongs to the king. Now David made it sound like he was wiping out some of portions of Israel in these battles when he was actually carrying out the Lord’s will and driving out Israel’s enemies (27:10-12). David wiped them out so that no one would tell Achish who David was attacking. But this is also God’s will as we have seen in Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua that these lands were to be conquered for Israel.
Saul Seeks Help (28:1-25)
Now the time arises when the Philistines gather their armies to fight against Israel. Achish calls for David and his men to fight along side of the Philistines against Israel. David gives a veiled answer in verse 2. “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.” David sounds like he will be a great fighter for the Philistines. But we are left to wonder if this will actually be the case. Will the anointed fight against his own people and destroy Israel? We are not going to know the answer to this for David. But there is another important picture of the anointed. Will the Lord’s anointed come and fight against Israel? YES! Jesus said he would come against Israel in Matthew 24 and in Matthew 26:64. The anointed will fight against any of God’s enemies, completely the work of subjugating the world to the Lord.
With the Philistines gathering their forces to fight against Israel, Saul is nervous. At this point in time, Saul has no way to know the will of the Lord. Samuel is dead, which we are reminded of in 1 Samuel 28:3. Also remember that Saul has cut off the priesthood of Eli when he killed the priests of Nob. Only one priest survived and he went with David with the ephod. So the Philistines are assembling against Saul and, when Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart greatly trembled (28:5). Saul tries to inquire of the Lord directly, but the Lord is not answering him. The Lord is not speaking to Saul or sending prophets to him. We saw the Lord refuse to answer Saul back in 14:37. So Saul becomes desperate and asks for a medium to consult. Saul knows this is a sin. In fact, Saul had removed all the mediums from the land (28:3), which was the will of the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:9-13). Saul is told about a medium at En-dor. He disguises himself and goes at night to see her. Saul asks her to consult a spirit for him. She responds that he is trying to get her killed because Saul has killed all who are mediums. Saul makes an oath that no punishment will come upon her for doing this. There is some irony regarding what Saul is doing because Samuel told Saul, “Rebellion is like the sin of divination” (15:23). The rebellion of Saul is complete as he goes to a medium.
Now it is important to have a picture of what this would have looked like. We cannot use our cultural background for this event. This is not a crystal ball or tarot cards or something like that. In that time these medium had a pit to conjure up spirits from the underworld. They would lower a sacrifice into the pit and then look for a spirit to rise out of the pit. You will notice that this is what happens here. Saul asks for the medium to conjure the spirit of Samuel. So she does her thing and she cries out. When she sees Samuel, this causes her to know that the disguised man is actually Saul. She describes a ghostly figure coming out of the earth, an old man wearing a robe. Saul immediately understands that this is Samuel. Saul bows down and Samuel asks why Saul has disturbed him. Saul tells Samuel about the situation with the Philistines and says that, “God has turned away from me and answers me no more” (28:15). Samuel responds that Saul has answered his own question. The Lord has turned away from you. Why are you asking me about it (28:16)? Verses 17-19 are the key to this section. The Lord has done to you has he spoke by me because you did not obey the Lord’s voice. The point is simple: the Lord is faithful and he keeps his word. But the chilling words of verse 19: Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Just like Eli and his sons dying on the same day, Saul and his sons are also going to die on the same day.
David Rejected (29:1-11)
Meanwhile, the Philistines are gathering at Aphek. Aphek is an ominous locations because the last time we saw this place was when the Philistines wiped out the Israelites with Eli and his sons dying on that day (4:1). So we are setting up for what Samuel just declared to Saul. But before going into battle, the Philistines refuse to go into battle with David. They are afraid that David will turn against them in the midst of the battle (29:4). Achish proclaims David’s blamelessness and then sends him back to Philistia. Here is our third picture of the anointed: a Gentile is proclaiming the blamelessness of the anointed. We see Pilate do this toward Jesus, proclaiming before the people that Jesus has done nothing wrong and nothing worthy of death. But Pilate was unable to sway the masses just as Achish was unable to sway the Philistines (29:3).
David’s Victory (30:1-31)
In chapter 30 we learn that while David and his men were away, the Amalekites attacked Ziklag, the town where the families of David and his men lived. The Amalekites set fire to the city and captured the women and all who lived there. David’s pain is so great that he has no strength left in him (30:4). His men speaking stoning David because they were bitter in their souls (30:6). David is paralleled to Moses at this moment where his people are ready to revolt and kill him. But David took his strength in the Lord (30:6). David is contrasted with Saul. David inquires of the Lord and the Lord answers him. This is what we see in verses 7-11. David inquires of the Lord and the Lord tells him to pursue the Amalekites. So they pursue the Amalekites as the Lord directed. Along the way they encounter an Egyptian who had not had food or water for three days. So David gives him food and water and his spirit is revived. David takes this man from death and brings him to life. This is our fourth picture of the anointed who comes to those who are dead and bring them life and revival.
The Egyptian gives David information on where the Amalekites are. So they attack the Amalekites and none of them escaped from his hand. David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken. Nothing was missing (30:18-19). Further, he captured all the spoils from this victory. So David recovers the captives and claims the spoils of victory. Now David had left 200 of his 600 men behind because they had been too exhausted to follow (30:21). Some of the wicked and worthless men do not think these 200 men should share in the spoils because they did not help in the fight (30:22). But David rejects this. If you belong to David, you enjoy the victory whether you contribute much or little. Everyone is given an equal portion because they belong to David (30:25). Amazingly, David even shares the spoils with the people of Judah (30:26-31).
The Picture of the Anointed
In our series and throughout this lesson we have repeated seen pictures of the anointed. We have seen what he will do and what will happen to him. The most important picture we see of the anointed is this scene regarding the Amalekites. David conquers his enemies and shares the spoils with his men and with Israel. This is the point that the apostle Paul makes about the victory achieved in Christ.
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” (Ephesians 4:7–8 NRSV)
We receive the grace of God as Christ’s gift to us as shown by the fact that Jesus came and conquered his enemies. Jesus has conquered Satan, sin, and death and the spoils of victory include the grace of God given to us (cf. Hebrews 2:14-15). Paul lists other spoils of victory that we have received which include apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). The point is that Jesus has won a victory for us and gives the spoils of victory as a gift to us. This is why Paul would describe the grace of God as a gift given to us.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:4–9 ESV)
The victory in Jesus means we get the gifts of grace. The anointed will conquer and give gifts to his people. He will give gifts to Israel. He will be the king that we need.
What we are to see in these chapters is the faithfulness of God. God keeps his word and keeps his promises. We see the Lord turning away from the rebellious and disobedient. Saul cannot understand why the Lord will not answer him. But Samuel tells him that the answer to this is quite easy. Saul continues to disobey the Lord (1 Samuel 28:17). Why would you expect blessings from the Lord when you are living in rebellion to the Lord? Saul somehow thinks God should still be with him. He has turned God into a magic 8 ball. When I want an answer, God should answer me, without regard to how I am living. We see this important truth declared in the New Testament also. Remember that we see the apostle Peter telling husbands that your prayers will be hindered when you are not living with your wife in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7). In short, how can you expect God to be with you, answer you, and bless you when you are not living your life the way God has told you to live? We cannot live a life of disobedience toward God and think that God is for us or that he will help us in this life.
We also see the faithfulness of the Lord to be with his anointed and those who belong to him. God told David that he would be successful against the Amalekites. David and his men believed the word of the Lord and were given the victory. God is faithful to those who belong to him. But faithfulness does not mean avoiding suffering. David was crushed by what happened to him. They lost their homes, burned by fire by the Amalekites. Their families were taken captive. They cried until they had no more strength to cry (30:4). They greatly embittered by what happened (30:6). God’s faithfulness does not mean that we will not experience great pain or great loss. But look at 1 Samuel 30:6. “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” David turned to the Lord and the Lord was with him and carried him through.
Now our big picture is before us. The Lord is faithful to his anointed, Jesus. God has conquered Satan, sin, and death through his anointed one, Jesus. God rescued with anointed, Jesus, from death, raising him from the dead. The promise of grace is given to those who will turn from their sins and love the Lord with all their heart. The gift of grace from the victory accomplished in Jesus is available to you. It is the gift that we need because Jesus will put all enemies under his feet. The faithfulness of the Lord means that this will also happen.
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:24–26 ESV)
We can either believe the promise of God’s grace as a gift given to us who believe or be destroyed by God’s promise to put all of his enemies under his feet. Oh, victory in Jesus, my savior forever! He sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood! He loved me, err I knew him, and all my love is due him. He plunged me to victory beneath his redeeming blood.