So David had become a Philistine vassal and, although still supported Israel through duplicitous means, he was now in corner and was headed to war with Israel. God saved him by having the Philistine commanders boot him back to his home base.
When he arrived the entire city had been carried off, including everyone's wives and children-including David's two wives. Everyone mourned and many wanted to stone David for this turn of events.
David finally did the right thing for once since joining the Philistines, and sought God's will. God said, "Pursue and you will save them all."
So they pursued and found a young Amalekite (Egyptian) wo told them where his people had gone. They slaughtered the Amalekites and got back everything that had been taken, large and small. Some men had become exhausted on the way to the battle and stayed behind. Some of those who went to battle wanted to keep the spoils from those who stopped on the way. David made a rule that everyone got an equal share, even if they only stayed with the baggage. Which became long-standing law.
Then David went back to the burned out homebase city the Amaleks destroyed, Ziklag. From there he sent spolis to all of the cities in Judah and Israel where he used to roam.
It did not end well for Saul. The Philistines beat them in battle and caused them to flee. Then the Philistines killed all of Saul's sons. Then their archers pierced him on Mount Gilboa. He wanted his armor bearer to kill him to prevent torture, but his armor bearer was too afraid, so Saul fell on his sword. Then the armor bearer fell on his own sword. The Philistines then found his body, cut off his head and sent to around like the Stanley Cup trophy, captured his weapons, and posted his body on a wall. All and all a very bad ending for Israel's first King.
I had always thought that Saul fell on his sword for a noble reason. I thought that's where the phase came from. That's not true. He did it for a practical reason, but still about himself and not his people or a greater cause. There is no reference that he cried out to God. He tried to enlist him armor bearer and then he took matters into his own hands. I wonder what God would have done if Saul had ever been able to repent and seek the Lord for who He is.
The men of Jabesh-gilead stepped in and took the bodies of Saul and his men from the wall and burned, buried, and fasted in grief over them. This was because Saul had spared them. I see this as God making sure the King of His people did not end in final humiliation.
Chapter 30 Wiersbe Commentary
Note: I generally read a chapter and take my own notes, digging into anything that caught my attention; and then I read and take notes on anything interesting from the Wiresbe Be series of commentaries, or any other outside resources.
Wiersbe theorizes that God allowed the Amalekites to kidnap the families, take the booty, and burn the city as a message to David to get his butt home. The people and booty were recovered, which is a major miracle; but the city was burned. "You can't stay here."
Wiersbe also points out that the cities where David send portions of his booty were cities who had helped to hide his when Saul sought him. As well as to reconnect after being away.
Chapter 31 Wiersbe Commentary
Wiresbe frequently says that I Samuel is a book about man's king and it does not end well; while II Samuel is a book about God's King.
Wiersbe points out that Saul lost his crown in the worst way. We have been given a crown as well and have choices about how to use that crown. Chasing imagined enemies all over our "kingdom" or seeking God's will and destroying His enemies?
Dear, Heavenly Father,
Both of these men sinned, going their own way and taking the other lives around them with them away from You. Both of them let their emotions and circumstances get the best of them. However, when Saul finally reached out for you, you were silent; until you let Samuel speak from the grave. And when David reached for the ephod in grief, you were there with an answer.
I know I fail you. I know I sin and seek my own way. And I know I try and get you to do what I want. I am so sorry. It looks so bad when I see it in others; but I want to excuse myself. But there is no excuse for self. Only destruction. Saul shows that so clearly. David genuinely wanted to do what you wanted. He didn't even assume that he should try and rescue his wives without first consulting you. I get the impression he knew he had blown it and didn't want to compound the sin by seeking his own way, even when it was as simple as, can I go get my family back.
Please, Lord, when I slip away, or run away, please bring me back to a desire for Your will and not my own.
I never want to lose you or to be spit out. I know that you love me and will make a way for me as a good, good Father. I love you and long to walk in Your will. Amen
I Samuel Closing Thoughts Wiersbe Commentary
Wiersbe goes back to the beginning of the season to track the story.
- Joshua's death
- division and selfishness (Doing right in one's own eyes)
- Spiritual bonds of the people weaken
- Sin increases
- Judges aren't enough- they now want a king to unify them and help them win military battles (even though they had both under God)
- They get their last judge: Samuel born to Hannah, a Godly woman
- Samuel was born a priest; but would have to act as prophet and judge to this generation