1 Samuel 31 tells us how the Philistines attacked Israel and were victorious, ending both King Saul and his sons’ lives – Saul’s sons in the battle and Saul by his own hand. Saul’s tragic life ended in a sad and lonely death, having refused to turn away from his mad pursuit of David and having failed to turn away from his sin. Saul’s death came about according to the Lord’s own warning to him, but even this did not deter him from this course of action. Saul’s death stands in stark contrast to the death of Jesus, the true King, whose death was not senseless and sad, but secured the salvation of the people of God and brings them real and eternal hope.
1 Samuel 30:1-31 tells how, when David returned to Ziklag, he and his men found a calamitous situation. All their houses had been burned to the ground, their goods stolen and their wives and children captured. His men soon began to talk of a mutiny. David, however, found strength in God, sought and obtained His direction, saw God’s sovereign hand providing his needs, and, after all was returned, even became a channel of His grace. Even on his his worst day from the bottom of the pit, David proved that God was near and would not let him go. Jesus went to the bottom of that pit to save His people on the cross – the fullness of grace to the undeserving.
When David entered the service of the Philistine King, seeking relief from the mad pursuing King Saul, he placed himself into a real ‘Catch 22′ situation’ with no way out. God, however, had other ideas, and, as is told in 1 Samuel 29:1-11, through the unrest in the Philistine camp and the orders of the Philistine King and His own intervening hand, God rescued his servant from a terrible spot. David had to learn, however, that his own poor choices brought all this upon his own head and yet, at the same time, be assured that God held him in the palm of His hand and would not let him go.
1 Samuel 28:3-25 is one of the more difficult passages from the Old Testament, but it is clear that the chapter records how Saul, desperately needing advice about an impending war, consulted a medium who made contact with the recently dead Samuel. The fact that Saul did this shows how far he had slipped from grace. Having rejected God and His Word, Saul had nothing left to cling to. He refused to listen to God, so God stopped speaking to him, illustrating the biblical principle that we reap what we sow, which, in this case again, was to his further demise.
1 Samuel 27:1-28:2 tells us how David under extreme duress, when considering what to do next, made some ‘pressure cooker’ decisions that were all backward steps. Fleeing across the border to the land of the Philistines, he was granted refuge, but ended up in hotter water – enlisted as the King’s personal bodyguard and engaged to fight his own people Israel. David not only forgot some things he should have remembered, but he also failed to keep a strong grip on God and lost sight of the need to persevere.
In 1 Samuel 26:1-25, David and his men had a second opportunity to kill King Saul and end David’s life on the run, but it was David who showed kindness to Saul and spared his life. By that act and by his speech that followed, it seems that David had begun to grow in his understanding of God’s providence, his own sin and his own unimportance. Also, by these actions, David mirrored Jesus who entered the enemy’s camp and won a great victory over sin and death.
1 Samuel 25:1-44 tells the story of Nabal the ungrateful who wanted to repay good with evil, David the vengeful who wanted to repay evil with evil and Abigail the peaceful who overcame evil with good. In fact in a wonderful way, by her offering and her actions, Abigail points us to the Lord Jesus Christ who placed himself under God’s wrath that those who believe may be spared it.
1 Samuel 24:1-22 tells us how David, while taking refuge in a cave from King Saul, had the perfect opportunity to launch a surprise attack upon Saul and put an end to his life on the run. But despite encouragement from his men to do this, David resisted the temptation and refused to kill the Lord’s anointed King. Taking revenge is never the Lord’s way of achieving his will.
1 Samuel 23:16-29 tells how David, after escaping once more from King Saul, found a hideout in the desert, only to be betrayed by the local people and have to take flight again from Saul’s rage. However, in this difficult situation, David’s was ‘strengthened in God’ by a visit from his loyal friend Jonathan which encouraged him. The ministry of encouragement is vital and not beyond any seek to serve and build up the people of the Lord.
1 Samuel 23:1-15 tells us how, David, after taking refuge from King Saul in a forest in Israel, was faced with the dilemma of helping out some of his fellow country men fight the Philistines or remain in his safe place away from the mad King. David sought guidance from God and helped rescue the people of Keilah and then, again guided by God, fled from Saul to another safe place. The world is still ruled by men who act as unpredictably as Saul, but those who place themselves in the centre of God’s will shall always be kept by the Lord.