As David and his men pursue their enemy to recover their wives and children (and everything else that was stolen), Saul and his armies go to war with their enemies as well. The contrast is staggering.
The Redefined Student Ministry is studying the life of David in January and February, but it’s impossible to talk about everything in just seven meetings. We’ll have to skip some stuff from one week to the next, so we’re covering all the in-between stuff here on the blog. Read on!
In chapter 30, David is desperate. His wives and children have been kidnapped by their enemies. His village has been plundered. The men in his army are so grief-stricken that they’re talking about killing him. What is his response?
But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. (1 Sam 30:6b)
Then, David asked God for advice. Should he pursue the enemy? How would the battle go? God answers, and David obeys.
In chapter 28, Saul is desperate. The Philistine army has gathered against him, and Saul is not confident about their chances. He asks God for advice, but God does not answer—because Saul’s record of disobedience and his consistently hard heart have forced God to remove His presence from Saul. So Saul consults a witch, against God’s law.
(Pro tip: When you pray and do not hear from God: wait, repent, try again. Sin is not the correct response.)
David catches up with his enemy, defeats them, and recovers everything and everyone that was taken—plus much more that they plunder from the defeated army.
Saul’s battle does not go so well. Just as Samuel foretold, three of Saul’s sons are killed, and then Saul himself dies on the battlefield:
The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armorbearer,
“Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.” But his armorbearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it. (1 Sam 31:3-4)
The King is Dead
No matter what you think of King Saul, the death of a king is a tragedy to a nation. The death of a king and his three sons is devastating. The oldest, Jonathan, was like a brother to David—the one who saved him from Saul’s rage on more than one occasion. No matter how much we could look forward to David finally becoming king … it’s a dark day.
When the Philistines realized their victory, they beheaded Saul and his sons, stripped their royal armor, and hung all four bodies on the wall of their city. A gruesome display of victory, but not an uncommon one. Some of the brave men from a town called Jabesh Gilead (which Saul had saved in the early years of his reign) travelled more than ten miles through the night to take the bodies down and give them a proper burial.
And the author ends 1 Samuel here. If the life of David were a movie, it would have to be at least two films (maybe even a trilogy), and one of those movies would definitely end here. The king is dead. Jonathan is dead. Israel is defeated. David is living in the land of their enemies. Where do we go from here?
Alexis is an Associate Editor and Researcher by day, and a Redefined Ministry Servant by night. When she’s not in front of a keyboard (which is almost never), she likes playing with her toddler, reading, and eating too much Indian food.