1 Samuel 30-31 - Skip Heitzig
Calvary Church is dedicated to doctrine. And we want you to experience the life change that comes from knowing God's word and applying it to your life. So we explain the Bible verse by verse, every chapter, every book. This is Expound.
Did you bring one of these with you?
OK, if you did, let me see it. So hold that up in the air. Yeah, hold that up. Now that's a picture. I see iPads. Yeah, kind of.
OK, awesome, awesome, awesome. Still counts. [LAUGHS] Turn, in your Bibles, to the book of 1 Samuel, chapter 30-- we're going to finish that book tonight. I think this is the 18th Bible study in that book, our trek through the scripture. Glad that you come out on Wednesday nights-- joy to see you trusting that the Lord will-- already has and will continue to minister to your heart, give answers to your questions, encourage you in your faith, build you up, make you strong, make you bold in this dark and trying time in which we live.
1 Samuel, chapter 30-- as we end this book tonight, we look at a series of contrasts. The book begins, it opens up, in the tabernacle. It ends in tragedy. It opens up in worship, as Elkanah and Hannah make their yearly trek to that tabernacle to worship the Lord. So it opens up on a high note, a note of worship. But it ends not in worship, but woe-- tragedy
It begins with the birth of a prophet. It ends with the death of a politician. It begins as God hears the prayer of a woman. It ends as God refuses to hear the prayer of a king.
All of that, though, is preparatory for the next in line on the throne, whom we have already met and will fully meet in his kingdom in the next book of Samuel. But we won't go through that next week. We'll be in 1 Corinthians. But it's all in preparation for the reign of King David, Israel's most Important king, the man after God's own heart. The one that the prophet Samuel told Saul that the Lord is going to tear the kingdom from you and give it to somebody better than you, your neighbor. That is David.
Although David was called a man after God's own heart, and although David is technically better than Saul, one thing we notice and have noticed about David is he was not perfect. As we have noted over and over again in this study, even the best of men are men at best. David, a man after God's own heart, was still a man. And sometimes he was after God's heart. Sometimes he wasn't.
Now, the overall read of David's life, the overarching theme of his life, is a man after God's own heart. But one of the reasons we get so encouraged when we read the life of David is we see his failures, his foibles, his failings.
One of the things we have noted already is that David is on the wrong side. He has left Israel. He's joined forces with the Philistines. He's occupying one of their southern strongholds, a little outpost border town known as Ziklag. And he marches with them to go to battle against Israel, against King Saul.
Now, he won't go to battle. We already saw that he gets turned back by the Philistine lords. The lords of the Philistines said, we don't want David in this battle. We're fighting his old master. We're fighting his father-in-law, Saul. He's an opportunist. In the heat of the battle, David might switch sides and fight for Saul, against us, which he may have.
But the fact that David, for 14 months, I would say, has backslid-- he's gone and joined the other side. He is on the wrong side. He's on the side of the Philistines as this battle begins. He pretended that he was serving the interests of the Philistines when he would do these raids down south. If you remember a couple of weeks ago, we noted that David made these raids against the enemies of Judah.
And so he was strengthening his future kingdom by getting rid of the little foxes that spoil the grapes, the little enemies that would be perplexing to him later on. But he lied and told King Achish, the Philistine leader, that he was raiding the cities of Judah, which he wasn't. He was actually helping Judah by getting some of the enemies down at the border down south. So he's on the wrong side, and he is pretending to serve the interests of the enemy.
I wonder if you have tried serving the Lord, some of you, from the wrong side. You're saved, but you're so close to the edge in your worldly activity. And even though Jesus said, no man can serve two masters, he's going to love one and hate the other, there are some Christians who try it anyway. They try to serve two masters.
I would put it this way. They sail so close to the lake of fire that their sails get singed. Yeah, they have enough of Christ to be saved, because all you need to do to be saved is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, and you shall be saved. They're saved by faith. So they have enough of Christ to be saved, but they also have enough of the world to be miserable while they're in Christ.
They're not joyful. There's no abundant life. There's no moving ahead and growing stronger. They're saved but just sort of biding their time on their way to heaven-- really on the wrong side.
Now, when I meet somebody like that and I say, you could do better. You could walk closer to the Lord than you are. Sometimes the believer will have an excuse. It goes something like this. Well, you have to be relevant. And you can't be weird. You can't, like, go overboard. You have to be enough like the world that it wouldn't be awkward so that the world will think you're as cool as they are. Then they'll listen to you.
No, they won't. The world won't listen to you if you're just like them. What do you have to offer them if you're just like them? What difference do you have that would attract them to your Jesus, your lifestyle of repentance and faith.
If the world wants somebody like them, they have plenty of choices. That lifestyle's everywhere. You can look in any direction. You want to be different enough from them, and it is that difference and the joy in that difference that you have that will attract them.
When I first gave my life to the Lord, and I told my friends, I'm not going to do that anymore, I'm not going to take that substance any longer, I'm not going to go to those events any longer-- why? I'm a Christian. Oh, man. They just thought you just sort of signed your death warrant. No more fun for you. It's over.
And I didn't just, like, try. But I just think I legitimately was so satisfied in my walk with the Lord that, for some of them, they saw the difference, and they were interested. What do you have that we don't have? You seem to be carefree, and you seem to be joyful. You seem to have purpose. Why? What is it?
But back to our-- let's circle back to our text at hand. David is on the wrong side. And he has gone up to battle. He has turned back from the battle. The lords of the Philistines say we don't want him. So the king says, David, go back home. Go back to Ziklag. Go back to that little border town that I gave you to inhabit.
But we discover something has happened along the way. Now, what happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, so they-- he and his 600 guys went up to join the battle. I think, by God's grace, they were not allowed to join the battle. So they turned back home.
On the third day, it was a three-day journey to go up north from down south, that the Amalekites had invaded the south and Ziklag and attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great. They did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way. So David and his men came to the city. There it was, burned with fire, and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive.
Let me refresh your memory. Back when the children of Israel left Egypt, they didn't get very far. They were on their way to the new land, the Promised Land. And on the way, shortly after leaving Egypt, they had passed an area called Rephidim. And they were on their way journeying toward the Holy Land, the Promised Land, and a group attacked them called the Amalekites.
The Amalekites attacked the stragglers at the rear, the people who were physically weak, the older people-- hassled, harassed, and killed some of them. So a battle ensued, and Moses stood on top of a mountain, and he raised his hands during this battle. Joshua was leading the battle, and Moses raised his hands up in the air and it says, when Moses' hands were raised up in the air, that the children of Israel prevail. When Moses put his hands down, what happened? The Amalekites prevailed.
So Moses put his hands up, you know? But after a while, they get tired. He goes, oh, man, oh, I got to put those up again. We're losing. So he had to hold his hands up. Well, it's awfully difficult to do that. So they put him on a rock and sat him down. and Aaron on one side and Hur on the other side lifted his hands.
So they won the battle. But God said to Moses, Moses, remember the Amalekites, because one day, you're going to need to settle the score with the Amalekites and utterly obliterate them, because of what they have done, because if you don't, you will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
So time went on. And we come to the time of Samuel. And one day, the Lord spoke to the prophet Samuel and said, go to King Saul and tell him now is the day that I talked about to Moses, to settle the score with Amalek. This is the day when you wipe out this vile nation. I'm going to use you as my rod of judgment, my instrument of judgment.
So Saul goes out to battle, chapter 15 in 1 Samuel, fights the Amalekites, comes back. Samuel is there waiting for him, and King Saul acts all spiritual. Hey, praise God, brother. I'm paraphrasing a little bit.
Blessed are you of the Lord, he said. For I have done all that the Lord has told me to do, praise God. So he just poured on the spiritual talk.
Samuel had discernment and said, if you've done all that God called you to do, why do I hear the bleeding of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen in my ear? Didn't the Lord give you a command to obliterate not just every one but every thing of the Amalekites? You brought back their animals. He goes, oh, well, these people that I'm with-- you can't trust the help these days. So they made me bring them back, and they did it to sacrifice to the Lord, your God.
So without retelling the story, since we already have, it was an incomplete obedience. He didn't completely do his job. He kept the king alive. Samuel put the king to death, the prophet did. But obviously, there's still a whole lot of Amalekites running around because-- here he said, I did all that the Lord said. Really? Then why are the Amalekites burning cities if there's that many of them? Now, there's going to be so many of them that 400 will escape in this battle alone. So there's a whole bunch.
So we're told in verse 5, and David-- two wives-- Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, Abigail, the widow of Nabal, the Carmelite-- had been taken captive. Then David was greatly distressed. For the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. David was really at probably the lowest point of his whole life, or at least one of the lowest points of his whole life.
14 months, he was in Philistine country. No recorded psalm was written during the time he spent in the land of the Philistines. He hasn't been talking to the Lord. He's not on terms of obedience with the Lord. Now, things are about to turn around, and they turn around when David is distressed.
I mean, it's so obvious, right? This happens all the time. This happens every day. We forget to call on the Lord. We stray away from Him. But it's so interesting. As soon as we're in distress, that gets our attention. We become praying people when we are distressed people. And David will start to call on the Lord.
He's distressed because, think of it, his own nation is against him. Saul has turned his army and the people of Israel against David. David flees to the Philistine country. The Philistine country, the enemies of David, the Philistines, even hate him. The lords of the Philistines said, we don't want this guy with us. So he's rejected by Saul, rejected by his nation, he's rejected by the Philistines.
Now his own men are ready to kill him, stone him, because they signed up for this grand adventure to go with David and fight with the Philistines. And as they go, they come back and they think their wives and children are dead. They're not, but they think it's over. They burned our city, everything we own. They've taken everything. It's your fault, David.
So when it says David is distressed, it's a very strong word. When I read it I think of something Corrie ten Boom once said. Of course, Corrie ten Boom, you know her story. She was in World War II. She suffered. Her family hid Jews. She suffered in concentration camps.
So she knew what suffering-- she knew what distress was like. And she had a little saying that is classic. She said, look around, and be perplexed. Look within, and be distressed, or some say, depressed. Look to Jesus, be at rest.
So this distressing situation is going to turn David to look up toward the Lord. He's been looking inward. He's been looking around. He hasn't been really looking at God. But now things are going to turn. And it could be that you have just made a series of wrong turns in your life. You are where you are because you made a series of choices. And now you look back, go wrong choice, wrong choice, wrong turn.
And sometimes you can get so distressed, so perplexed, so depressed, because of the series the string of wrong choices, and nothing comforts you. No pastor, no words, no sermon, no counselor, no church helps. Only God can help.
So I love this next part of the verse. Verse 6 says, but David strengthened himself in the Lord, his God. Now things are turning. Now the restoration is coming. 14 months, he's been in Philistine country. For 18 months, hasn't written a psalm. 14 months, I don't think he's called upon the Lord. He's about to. He strengthens his heart in the Lord.
How do you do that? Well, I'm glad you asked. You don't have to turn there, but you can write it down and look at it later. In a couple of the psalms, there's some great examples. One of them is Psalm 42. So listen, David says, as the deer pants for the water brook, so pants my soul for you, oh, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God.
How many of you are familiar with that? Right? We love that verse. We sing that song, or we used to. My tears have been my food day and night when they continually say to me, where is your God? So he's being didactive. He's telling his story.
But then watch this. He says, why are you cast down, oh, my soul. He's talking to himself. He's strengthening himself in the Lord. Why are you cast down, oh, my soul. Hey, soul in there, why so bummed out? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.
And remember, let's contrast Saul and David. Saul has sought a medium, because God wasn't talking to him. How different David is now after 14 months of not really talking to God, but now he is. Now he's calling upon the Lord. And he's strengthening himself, saying trust in God. Trust in God. But David strengthened himself in the Lord, his God.
Then David said to Abiathar, the priest, Ahimelech's son, please bring the ephod here to me. And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. Why did he want the ephod? Because there were two stones in it, an Urim and a Thummim, the black and the white stone. That's how the priest would ascertain the will of God as prescribed in the law of Moses.
Now, remember what it said about Saul, we read it last week that the Lord wasn't speaking to Saul by prophet, or by Urim, it says. And the reason God wasn't speaking to King Saul by Urim is Saul had killed all of the priests in Nob. And the last priest, the guy with the ephod, escaped. And his name was Abiathar. So he ran away from King Saul, and he found David, and he has been with David. David knows he's got the Urim and Thummim in the ephod. So he says, hey, bring that baby over here. Let's find out what the Lord wants.
So verse 8-- so David inquired of Yahweh, of the Lord, saying, shall I pursue this troop that is the Amalekites? Shall I overtake them? He answered him, pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and, without fail, recover all. So David went, he and the 600 men who were with him, and came to the brook Besor, or Bess-or, where those stayed who were left behind.
Now, I told you, Ziklag is way, way down south. It's a border town. And Besor was a brook that goes into the Mediterranean Sea. It still flows into the sea. And that really marked the southern border of Judah, the end of the Promised Land down south. So he's way down south.
He did not want King Achish looking over his shoulder. He wanted autonomy to do what he wanted to do. So he chose this out-of-the-way town. But because he went away for a few days, the Amalekites saw the weakness, came in, stole the plunder. So David pursued them.
But notice, 200 stayed behind. They're just tuckered out. They're tired. They've been on a march up north. ' They took the same march back down south. Some of them were stronger than the others.
So it says, then they found an Egyptian in the field. Now, just watch this. They found an Egyptian in the field and brought him to David. And they gave him bread, and he ate. And they let him drink water. And he gave-- they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. So when he had eaten, his strength came back to him, for he had eaten no bread or drunk any water for three days and three nights.
Then David said to him, to whom do you belong? And where are you from? And he said, I'm a young man from Egypt, servant of an Amalekite. And my master left me behind because, three days ago, I fell sick.
So that lets you in on how the Amalekites value life. If you have a sick servant, just let them die. Leave him for dead. Leave him in the wilderness till he just sort of dies and rots. This Egyptian servant was left by the Amalekites.
And then verse 14-- we made an invasion of the southern area of the Cherethites, in the territory which belongs to Judah, and of the southern area of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag with fire. So here's what I want you to notice. David finally turns back to the Lord, finally goes, you know, enough is enough.
I'm so distressed I'm going to encourage myself in the Lord, and I'm going to seek the Lord. I'm going to bring that ephod and Urim and Thummim. And I'm going to pray. I'm going to get God's direction. Now, he should have done that earlier. He probably would not have gone to Philistine country. But he's doing it.
And after he prays, he just happens to find an Egyptian. It looks like a coincidence. It's not miraculous. I mean, it's coincidental. He just sees this Egyptian servant out there, and he goes, well, I could get information. Strengthen the guy. Let's interrogate him.
So after prayer, he finds an Egyptian. The Egyptian will be the king-- or the key to David recovering what was lost. Now, here's what I want you to see. This is called providence. Here is a beautiful example of God providentially working in response to David's prayer. David asked for God's will. God gives not give him a neon sign that says, my will this way, turn right, next intersection-- turn right, turn left.
It's very natural. It is supernaturally natural. He just finds an Egyptian. Now chances are, if you were in that same area today, if you were wandering in the Sinai Desert, I bet you could find a young Egyptian. So there's nothing out of the ordinary about it, except this Egyptian at that time happened to work for the Amalekites and will give information to David that will help him recover.
So often, when God reveals his will to you, he doesn't give you a sign. He doesn't provide a miracle. I know some radio and TV ministries say, trust God for your daily miracle. And sometimes God gives miracles. I'm not dissing that.
But there is a big difference between the miraculous and the providential. So a miracle is walking on water. That's a miracle, because water cannot support the weight of a human being walking upright unless that weight is displaced. If you adequately displace that weight, the water can float you. But if you just try to walk on it, won't happen. The only way you could walk on water would be a miracle.
A resurrection from the dead-- that's a miracle, because we have lived long enough by now that we know that everybody dies. And corpses, once dead, don't resuscitate. There are exceptions to that, of course, in history. But by and large, the only way for somebody dead to live would be a resurrection. And that would be miraculous.
But providence is different. And usually God moves and directs us naturally, supernaturally, providentially, through providence. He puts things together. You just happen to find an Egyptian. And you give him a little food and water, and you get some information from him. And pretty soon, you get your land back. But that's providence.
So I've told you this quote time and time again over the years. I'm going to bring it out again. But it's by John Nelson Darby. It says this. He said this. "God's ways are behind the scenes, but He moves all the scenes that He is behind."
So God is sort of, like, backstage, but He has a way to move the scenes in your life and edit the tape so you just, oh, here's an Egyptian. I'll put him in David's path, and David will interrogate him. And this is how I will direct him. But it is in response to David turning to God and seeking the Lord's will. Naturally, supernaturally, providentially, God is moving.
So he said, yeah, we burned Ziklag with fire. So David said to him, can you take me down to this troop? Can you show me where these people are? And he said, swear to me by God that you will neither kill me nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this troop. Sure, if you let me live, and you don't give me back to the guy who left me for dead, I'll show you where. I'll give you the info.
So when he had brought him down, there they were, spread out over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing. They're just-- they're partying, because they got a huge haul, because of all the great spoil which they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.
And David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day-- so a couple of days worth of fighting. Not a man of them escaped except for 100 young men who rode on camels and fled. I don't know. I just-- I get tickled by that verse. It says, nobody escaped, except for 400.
400 is, like, as big as your army, David, because 200 stayed behind. But yeah, nobody got away-- just those 400 guys. And they got away because they rode on camels. Now, can I just-- this is a good example. In that part of the world, they depend upon the camel.
And you might think, oh, a camel, man, that's so slow. Do you know that a camel at full gallop can go 40 miles an hour? Do you know that a racehorse-- a racehorse-- goes between 40 and 44 miles per hour? So camels can move.
And they can live off of very little. They can drink-- and they don't-- and by the way, they can drink up to 50 gallons, 52 gallons, in 3 minutes. And they won't have to drink again for another 15 days. So they're amazing creatures. So they-- without doing a Bible, study on camels, they--
--they saved the Amalekites that day.
So David recovered all the Amalekites had carried away. And David rescued his two wives, and nothing of theirs was lacking. Either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them, David recovered it all. And that was because he turned back to God, and God providentially, naturally, supernaturally, directed him to the Egyptian who was a servant of the Amalekite, brought him to the Amalekites' camp, took it all back.
David took the flocks, the herds which they had driven before, those other livestock, and said this is David's spoil. Now, David came to the 200 men who had been so weary they could not follow David, whom they also made to stay at the brook Besor. So they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And I like this. When David came near the people, he greeted them.
I just-- I don't want to make too much of it. But I get a little insight into David's character, especially when you contrast what some of the people in his army are about to say, David sees that these 200 men-- they're just, we can't go any further, man. We just got to stop right here and rest, and you guys go fight. David comes up to them and greets them.
I mean, he's a leader. He's an encourager. He has people skills. It's friendly contact with other people. But watch this. Then all the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David answered and said, because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil which we have recovered except for every man's wife and children that they may lead them away and depart.
Remember the kind of people that David attracted. You remember their description? Everyone who was in debt, everyone who is distressed, everybody who's mad. So he had a surly, burly group of guys. They wanted to kill David. They don't want to give these people any slack. They're not diplomats. They're fighters. They're street kids.
And David said, my brethren-- verse 23-- my brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us. See, he-- now his heart is turning back to the Lord. He has prayed. He has watched God's providence. He knows the Lord's hand is in this.
You shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us. For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies. They shall share alike.
And so it was, from that day forward, he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day. It became something David, with executive privilege, signed into law. If you stay back with the stuff, stay back with the supplies, you will share in the same spoils of war as those that go out.
Now, this really isn't unique to David. The men had forgotten that because these aren't Bible men. David had, I think, a little bit of biblical knowledge. He knew the law, certainly. This is something that the Lord said in the Book of Numbers to Moses. I'll read you the text in Numbers 31. You could jot that down and look at it later.
The Lord spoke to Moses-- this is on a particular battle with the Midianites-- count up the plunder that was taken, both of man and beast, you and Eleazar the priests and the chief fathers of the congregation, and divide the plunder into two parts between those who took part in the war, who went out to battle, and all the congregation.
So yes, on one hand, David was being great gracious. But on the other hand, David was just acting in harmony with what was already revealed in the law of Moses. It was a precedent set way back in the time of Moses. David brings it out and re-establishes it once again.
And I think it's a good rule. I think it's a good thing to remember. And I think it's a good principle when it comes to the church. There are some people who are called to the mission field. They're called to leave their home, leave their comfort zone, and go to a foreign country. And whenever we have missionaries that we have sent out come visit us, we introduce them to you, usually on Wednesday nights, let them say a few words.
But they couldn't go to the battle unless they were sent to the battle. There are goers, and there are senders. And we have supplies they don't have. And we can stay back with the stuff, with the supplies, and use some of the supplies to send them to war. We can use some of our finances and say, look, I don't feel called to that country that would be very difficult to live in but you have a heart for. I'm glad you have a heart for it. But I'll support you.
What's great about the economy of God-- and we get some insight into that here, by the way, in the New Testament, as well-- is that God says, you share and share alike in the eternal rewards. Now, how do I know this is a New Testament? Well, because in the Book of Philippians, Paul wrote to the Philippian Church, and they had supported Paul's ministry. And at the very end of the Book of Philippians, he says, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well in that you shared in my distress.
Now, you Philippians know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving, but you only. You guys financially supported me as I went out on the mission field. For even in Thessalonica, you did send aid-- that's financial aid-- once and again, so twice, for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.
Do you hear that? That gives us insight into how God keeps the books. He goes, look, you supported me. And it's not like I am looking for financial help as much as I'm looking for your eternal reward. Or as he puts it, I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. And in the Greek language, that refers to interest that is marked on the credit side of a ledger when somebody keeps the books. It will be credited to your account.
So get this. Paul would go out and preach. People would get saved. God in heaven would credit that not just to Paul's account but to the Thessalonians account because they supported him. So every time you support a missionary on the mission field, and they come to Christ, or you support some evangelistic effort, and people get saved, God remembers that and marks that you have given to that. And that goes to your account.
So don't be surprised in heaven if a whole bunch of people seek you out and say, thank you. Thank me for what? Well, you supported that guy, and that guy went over and talked to my family, and that family talked to me. And I'm in heaven because you did that. That fruit would abound to your account.
Something else this teaches us-- we should look to support fruitful ministry. It's not like, well, you know, they keep begging for money every week, say, we're going to shut down unless you give your love gift this week. God needs your money. I need your money.
I typically won't support that. But I will support somebody that I see fruit, I see results. When I see people who are out there, and souls are being saved, I'll invest in that, because I want that mark to my account. I don't want to put on life support what is a ministry God may want to end. So I would rather support something that I see as fruitful.
I mean, Paul the Apostle-- who wouldn't want to support that? I'll support Paul any day. Paul is going somewhere? I'll give to that. So you want to find something that is fruitful.
So back to our story. So he who stays back shares with those who go to war. They shall share alike. So it was. That day forward, it was a statute in Israel. Now, when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord.
Now, get this-- to those who were in Bethel, to those who were in Ramoth of the south, to those who were in Jattir, to those who were in Aroer, to those who were in Siphmoth, to those who were in Eshetemoa, to those who are in Rakal, to those who are in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, those who are in the cities of the Kenites, those who were in Hormah, those who were in all these other hard name, hard name, hard name.
Verse 31-- those who were in Hebron, and to the places where David himself and the men were accustomed to roam-- so let me just give you a little insight, before we finish out the book, on this. David-- this is an exercise in diplomacy David had been in Judah before he spent 14 months in the Philistine country. When he was in Judah, remember he was going from place to place, hiding here and there? Evidently, he is sending spoil from the Amalekite victory to those people to thank them with financial remuneration for all the years they hid him and the places they kept him safe so that he could be on the run from King Saul.
And I do see a principle, and it's a principle found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 16, where Jesus talks about an unjust steward, the Parable of the Unjust Steward. But as he gets to the parable, Jesus said, therefore, make friends using unrighteous mammon. Remember that principle? It's an odd parable, and most people don't understand what it means.
But Jesus was saying, be wise in your use of finances, because you could send it for the future, and people will welcome you into heavenly habitations. That is, same principle-- use your finances for eternal purposes, the unrighteousness of mammon to make friends that would last an eternity. So he sent them these gifts to all those probably because of their relationship with David in the past.
Now we end the book. Chapter 31 takes us back to the battle scene once again, the battle scene that David almost joined, the battle scene that David almost fought in with the Philistines against Israel. He didn't, so we're back to that battle. So the Philistines fought against Israel. And the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa.
If you come with us to Israel, we'll stand at the foot of Mount Gilboa. We'll look across the valley, because Mount Gilboa was also where Gideon was with the Israelite army against the Midianites in Judges, chapter 7. But there's a mountain just above that little valley, and it's a kind of a rounded hill, Mount Gilboa. It's a range of mountains that goes around to a particular city that will be mentioned here in a few verses.
But on one occasion when I went to Israel-- it was the only time I had this opportunity-- we flew in a helicopter from Jerusalem to the north, because we were meeting with people for support of an ambulance company that was taking care of a terrorist problem. But I remember the pilot taking us right over Mount Gilboa, and looking down and imagining the scene with Saul and Jonathan and his other sons and the people of Israel fighting this fierce battle in that foothill among those trees.
So they fell slain on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines followed hard after Saul and his sons, and the Philistines killed Jonathan. It's a heartbreak to read that. Jonathan was such a wonderful friend to David. It was Jonathan who knew that David would be the next king, even though, in antiquity, Jonathan should be the next in line to be the king. He knew that David was called by God, and he was content to just serve David. He said, I'll be next to you. But that will never materialize, because here we see Jonathan is killed, that one who encouraged David in the Lord.
So Jonathan, Abinadab-- that's another son-- and Malchishua, all sons-- now the battle became intense against Saul. And the archers hit him. So he was struck with an arrow. He was severely wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor bearer, draw your sword and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.
But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore, Saul took a sword and fell on it-- took his own sword out, leaned against it, committed suicide. And when his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword and died with him.
Now, we don't know for sure, but let me throw something out, because it is according to Jewish tradition. According to Jewish tradition, the armor bearer of Saul in this battle was a guy named Doeg the Edomite. Does that ring a bell? A few chapters back, it was Doeg the Edomite who killed those 85 priests at Nob.
And because of that, we don't know for sure. That's just a guess. If that's the case, then the very sword that Doeg used to kill the priests of the Lord was the very sword that killed him. But again, we don't know for sure. It's just tradition. So his armor bearer fell and his sword, died with him. So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and all his men died together that same day.
I can't underscore how tragic this is. This is the end of Saul's life. He's dying. He's outnumbered. He's in battle. You would think that just maybe, given his background, given how he started, there may at least, at the end, especially after what happened with the Witch of Endor, he might just give out a prayer of repentance, sorrow, godly sorrow, words of repentance. God, I'm sorry. Please help.
But there's none of that. There's no utterance of remorse. There's no prayer of repentance. The only thing Saul is concerned about is how it looks when he dies. It is so Saul. It's like, you know, I know I'm dying, but do I look good?
It's all about appearance. It's all about image, even to the very end.
Now go back in your mind, because we studied 1 Samuel together. Remember back in chapter 15, after the whole Amalekite fiasco where he didn't obey the Lord. And when Samuel said, God has torn the kingdom from you. He's going to give it to somebody else, and he was he was turning to go away. And Saul had grabbed his robe to bring him back. Samuel said, look, dude, hands off. The Lord's rejected you. It's over.
Saul said to Samuel, I've sinned. But honor me in front of the people. OK, I've blown it. You're right. But at least make a good show of it right now. Just turn around and support me in this. Smile. So he was always concerned about how he looked, about his image. Now, even at his death, it's like, yeah, I'm dying. But how do I look?
Sadly, this reminds me of somebody else who was a very infamous leader who died and was concerned about how he looked. And his name was Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler, it is purported, died in a bunker. He knew he was surrounded by the enemies.
He did not want the enemies to discover his body, so he was in a bunker with his wife Eva Braun. Eva Braun and he had been married, like, a day. I think she was his wife by one day. She was given cyanide to eat, and she died by poisoning. He put a gun in his mouth and shot himself in the head but had instructed his troops to then put gasoline on the bodies and burn them so the enemies would find no trace when they entered the bunker.
That's why there's been so many theories about his death, because he wanted to make sure the enemies would not be able to discover that. And so it would just look good for him when he died. That's what he was concerned with.
When the men of Israel-- verse 7-- were on the other side of the valley, and those who were on the other side of the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities and fled. And the Philistines came and dwelt in them. So it came to pass the next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa.
Now, I've got I got to throw something in because, otherwise it won't be in your mind for months, because we're going to be in 1 Corinthians. But if we were to follow the story into the very next book-- the very next book is called what?
2 Samuel, so 2 Samuel, chapter 1, we get some more insight. A young Amalekite runs to David, and said, Saul is dead. He goes, how do you know? He goes, because I killed him. What do you mean you killed him? Yeah, he had fallen on his sword, like it says in our chapter. But because he still wasn't dead after he had fallen, he still had life in him, Saul looked up at the Amalekite and said, thrust me through. Kill me. So I killed him.
So isn't it interesting, the very people that saw refused to eradicate, the Amalekites, according to the word of the Lord, from the hand of Moses even, is the very one who made sure he had his last breath. He died by the Amalekite he did not eradicate. Now, Amalek is a type of the flesh. And I won't get into it too much, but when you don't attack the enemy that could undo you, it's coming after you to take your life.
The Bible talks about the flesh. And just like God said to Moses, Amalek is going to be your enemy till-- in perpetuity, in every generation. When it comes to the flesh, we are told to make no compromise. We're told to crucify the flesh. Make no deal with it. Get rid of it. End it. Stop that behavior. And the Amalekite will take his life. That's the other part of the story that's not told in this chapter. We have to get to the next chapter. But we won't tonight.
And so they came to pass. The next day, the Philistines came to strip the slain-- verse 8. They found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. And they cut off his head, stripped off his armor, and sent word throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim in the temple of their idols and among the people. Then they put his armor in the Temple of the Ashtaroths. And they fastened his body to the wall of Beit She'an.
I do encourage you, if you can, to come on a tour to Israel, because one day we will spend half a day in Beit She'an. Beit She'an, in the New Testament times, is called the Decapolis, and it's the principal city of the Decapolis. And you'll walk through the streets of Beit She'an. You'll walk through two main streets, and one street is called the Cardo Maximus. The other one is called the Cardo Minimus. Or it's like Main Street and First.
And there's an intersection. And there was an earthquake, so a lot of the buildings had fallen. But they have reconstructed some of the pillars from 2,000 years ago. You'll walk through the New Testament city. And as you walk through the New Testament city on the Cardo Maximus, you'll look up, and you'll see a hill in the immediate distance, right in front of you.
And that hill are the remains of the Old Testament Beit She'an. So you can look up and see a portion of the wall from the Old Testament city. And every time I do, I imagine Saul's body hung from that parapet from that wall. That's what they did. They took his head off. They strapped his body and that of his sons on Beit She'an.
When the inhabitants-- verse 11-- of Jabesh-Gilead-- that's only 13 miles away to the east, 13 miles to the east across the Jordan River was Jabesh-Gilead. When the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and traveled all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beit She'an. And they came to Jabesh and burned them there.
Why did the men of Jabesh-Gilead do this? Because Saul saved their bacon. OK, I'm jogging your memory now. Back when Saul began his reign in chapter 11, it says that Nahash the Ammonite came across and threatened the men of Jabesh-Gilead. And the men of Jabesh-Gilead said, tell us what you want, man. Make a covenant with us.
So Nahash the Ammonite said, OK, I'll make a covenant with you. I get to take the right eye of every one of your inhabitants. I'm going to poke your eye out. And so the Gileadites said, well, we have to think about that one. That doesn't sound like a great deal to us, so give us a few days to mull it over.
So in the meantime, they went down and told Saul. Saul mounted an army and attacked the Ammonites and pushed Nahash and the Ammonites away, defeated them. So the people of Jabesh-Gilead were so happy, and Saul was their hero. They never forgot that.
So now that Saul is dead, and his body is only 13 miles away, they gave it an honorable burial. They came and took their bones and buried them under the Tamarisk tree at Jabesh and fasted for seven days. Thus ends the book. Thus ends the life and the career of King Saul. King Saul was king four decades, 40 years.
But listen, at the end of 40 years, Israel had gained nothing. They got no more land. They didn't spread in any direction like will happen during the reigns of both David and Solomon. It just was sort of stagnant. For 40 years, nothing really happened-- gained no ground.
You may want to ask yourself, when you die-- and you will, unless the Lord comes back. When you die, how far will you have gone from where you started? Saul went nowhere. From where he started to where he ended, he went nowhere.
When you die, at the end of your life, will you have grown and impacted the lives of people around you? Or will you have just stayed your ground? It's a good question.
Saul could have ended differently. He could have ended well. He began well. He ended poorly. And remember what he said. He admitted in chapter 26-- he gave his own nine-word autobiography, said, indeed I have played the fool, and I have erred exceedingly. I think the people of Jabesh-Gilead could have put that on his tombstone. Here's the admission of the king. I have played the fool and erred exceedingly.
So when you die, how far will you have gone from where you began? Will you have taken land? Will you have expanded your life? Will you have blessed the lives of others?
Quick question as we close-- what could Saul have done differently that he didn't do? I'll give you a few things. Number one, he could have taken sin seriously. He didn't. He marginalized his sin. He blamed others for it. It's their fault-- if they would have done this.
Twice he was rebuked by the prophet. Twice he admitted that he sinned. But in both cases, he did nothing at all, no change. So he didn't take sin all that seriously, because he didn't change from it. He could have taken a more seriously.
Number two, he could have placed character above reputation. He was concerned about reputation. How do I look? Hey, I'm dying. How do I look when I die? Hey, I've sinned, but honor me now. That's reputation. Reputation is what people notice when they look at you. It's who you are when people look at you. That's your reputation.
Your character is who you are when nobody's looking. And when you have a fear of the Lord, you put character over reputation. Saul could have taken sin seriously. Saul could have put character over reputation.
Third thing I think he could have done is he could have taken advantage of friendships. He had he could have been buddies with Samuel the Prophet. That's a good influence. To be forthcoming with a person like that would have gone a long way. His son Jonathan would have been his biggest advocate if he had been humble.
David loved him and was loyal to him. He could have bounced things off David. He could have taken advantage of friendship. But he isolated himself. And remember what it says in Proverbs 18, a man who isolates himself rages against all wise judgment-- seeks his own judgment, his own involvement.
So Saul's life comes to an end. We don't know when our life is going to come to an end. So every day, every Bible study, every meeting like this, is a chance for us to mull things over and to make choices. And the best choice to make is always the choice with eternity in mind, right? The long game, the final judgment-- always make choices with that in mind.
I hear that there's a cathedral in Milan, Italy. There are three entrances and exits to this cathedral, marked by three archways. And over one archway it says, all that pleases is but for a moment. Over the other archway it says, all that troubles is but for a moment. But over the center arch, it says only that which is eternal is really important-- something to that effect. All that troubles will pass. All that pleases will pass. The only thing that is important is that which is eternal.
Saul could have lived that way. But his own admission-- I played the fool. I've erred exceedingly. Father, we take these lessons to heart. We are but men and women. And as we have noted, even the best men are men at best. Even the best women are women at best.
We're flesh. We are frail. We are weak. You know our frame. You know that we're dust. But Lord, what you can do, pouring the oil of your spirit into this simple clay, making us your tool, your instrument, it can be great. It can be powerful.
Lord, you give us incredible power in the volition that we have, the ability to make choices, personal choices. Some of us are making choices even today and even tonight that will be meted out and executed in the days ahead. And the choices that we make, the steps that we go down, will determine where we are going to end up in a few months or a year or two.
Because of that, Lord, we want to close by asking for your wisdom. Some of us are even distressed, like David. And we need our heart, our soul, to be strengthened in the Lord, our God, to make choices that please you; to place character, who we are when nobody's looking, above reputation, who we are when everybody's looking; to consider the fear of the Lord; to not isolate ourselves but to place around us good, honest people.
Lord, I finally want to close, again, for those who are in the throes of making an eternal choice, some have walked away from you. Some aren't even following you yet. Some here have not surrendered their lives to Christ. Or they need to come back because they've taken so many wrong turns that it's been months since they've called upon you or asked for your advice and wisdom. Bring them to Yourself, Lord. Help them. Buy Your spirit, help them to make the right eternal choice.
So as we close this book, as we close this study, our heads are bowed. Our eyes are closed. Are you here tonight, but you've not given your life to Christ? You've watched me do this before, but you still have held back, held on, and haven't surrendered. Now's the time for you to let go and say, yes, Lord, come into my life. Take my life. Forgive me of my sins. Give me a new start.
Or you need to come back to him because you've wandered. You've gone astray. If that describes anyone here, I want you just to slip your hand up in the air as we close the service, just so I can acknowledge your hand. Then I'll let you put it down. I'll pray for you before we close this service. Just raise your hand up. God bless you to my left, toward the back, and over here to my left. Thank you for that.
Who else? Just raise it up. Yes, sir. Anyone else? Raise your hand up. You're in great company for that to happen. It's the perfect time for that to happen. Who else? Anyone else? Put it up so I can see it. If you're in the balcony, raise it up.
In the Family Room, God bless you. Father, You know not just the hands. But You know the lives and how You love each one so passionately. I pray, Lord, You will convince them so there will be a total surrender and that You will radically change these hearts, these lives, make them new. Put Your joy, the joy of salvation, within these lives as we rejoice in Jesus' name. Amen.
Let's all stand to our feet. We're going to close in a song. And I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hand to get up from where you're standing. Find the nearest aisle, and come and stand right up here on either side of this communion table. I'm going to lead you in a moment when you come in a prayer to receive Christ. Just come and stand right up here in the front.
If you're in the Family Room, there is a door in the front to your right. Just go through the door through the hallway and end up right here. If you're outside, and you need to come, raise your hand. A pastor will bring you in here. But come and stand right up here. God bless you.
Again, if you raised your hand, we're not doing this to embarrass anyone. We're doing this to encourage everyone who comes. So if you raised your hand, come on. Come on. Stand right up here.
[MUSIC - "NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS"]
I saw hands in the back, in the middle, on the side. We're going to wait for you to come. But you come now, come and stand right up here.
(SINGING) Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh, how precious is the flow that makes me white--
--(SINGING) as snow. Oh, no other fount--
Stand right up here.
--(SINGING) fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
So glad you've come. I saw more hands. We're just going to wait for you.
We think it's important that you make this step. We do.
Jesus-- I'm not trying to throw a guilt trip-- Jesus died for you publicly. He wants you to live for him publicly. Get up and make a stand. Say I'm going to follow Jesus tonight.
(SINGING) What can wash--
Glad you have all come.
--(SINGING) away my sin.
Come stand right up here.
(SINGING) Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
It does something to a person when he's willing to make a public stand for Christ-- does something inside the individual.
(SINGING) Nothing but the blood.
Those of you who have come, I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to ask you now to pray this prayer out loud after me. Say these words out loud. Say them from your heart. Say them to the Lord. Say, Lord, I give you my life.
Lord, I give you my life.
I know I'm a sinner.
I know I'm a sinner.
I believe in Jesus.
I believe in Jesus.
That he died for me.
That he died for me.
That he shed his blood for my sin.
That he shed his blood for my sin.
And that he rose again.
And that he rose again.
I turn from my past.
I turn from my past.
I turn to Jesus as my Savior.
I turn to Jesus as my Savior.
I want to follow Him as Lord.
I want to follow Him as Lord.
In His name I pray.
In His name I pray.
Welcome to God's family.
You're surrounded by a whole bunch of imperfect people who have all been saved the same way, by faith. So if you've come forward, you see Matt right over here? Let's follow Matt, this way. Some of our counselors are going to be with you. They want to give you something as you have come forward. God bless you. So glad you're here. Next week, 1 Corinthians 1.
For more resources from Calvary Church and Skip Heitzig, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us from this teaching in our series Expound.