Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1. We have been reading between 1 Samuel and Psalms in the last few days. For background information on these or any other books in the Bible, go to http://www.biblestudytools.com/nlt/
1 Samuel 20-21
Questions & Observations
Q. (1 Samuel 20:3): God was with David when he faced Goliath. He showed no fear. But, now, in the face of Saul, he is scared and wants to run. Why is he not confident like he was with Goliath?
A. David did not fear Goliath because he knew that God was displeased by Goliath’s blaspheming, and desired a brave warrior to conquer in His name. My suspicion is that God told David to run from Saul in this case because the time was not right for David to challenge the king. He will get his chance.
Q. (20:5-23) This whole scheme on both parts, Saul’s and David’s, sounds deceptive. Is David’s deception of Saul OK in God’s eyes: he’s breaking the “do not lie” Commandment. At first, it seems that David and Jonathan are leaving God out of their plan. In verses 11-17, Jonathan refers to God several times, but it sounds like he’s assuming he can command God.
A. David is asking Jonathan to lie to his father, and there certainly could have been a way for Jonathan to find out his father’s motives without lying to him. I’m not going to try and defend the action itself. But I think that these men were concerned that Saul was getting a little crazy regarding David, and so perhaps they were really convinced that deceiving the king was the best course of action to prevent David’s murder or repercussions to Jonathan. I don’t think that David is trying to control God, but rather that he is trusting God to tell him when to “move” if you will. In this case, God appeared to be telling him that it would be best to get out of town for a while.
O. (20:26): I enjoy seeing this verse because it takes away the mixed emotions I had about the Israelites being ceremonially unclean and cast out until they were clean. This tells us that anyone, including someone with the respect of David, can become unclean. It was nothing uncommon. When I read the verses about the Israelites traveling with the Tabernacle and all of the rules that went with it, I would think that it would be unfair for someone, for no fault of their own, to be prohibited from taking part in a sacrifice because he or she was ceremonially unclean. We don’t need to rehash all of that again. Rob told us that it was a way of respect for God and a way to keep germs at bay, maintaining a healthier camp.
O. (20:30-31): And there’s the king’s answer to David’s question if Saul wants to kill David.
Q. (20:41,42): Is there anything wrong here with David bowing to Jonathan. This friendship is truly deep. Maybe too deep, where it takes the place of God? Verse 42 shows their shared reverence for God.
A. David and Jonathan both appear to have good relationships with God, and it appears there was nothing to fear about their relationship replacing their walk with God. David is bowing to show his thanks to Jonathan for saving his life and out of respect for him as the prince of the nation.
Q. (21:1-15): I have questions here, but I think they may be answered in subsequent verses. I would think that the Bread of Presence would not be up for grabs. I take it was for David to eat? He obviously wanted a weapon to protect himself. But, why did he seek King Achish?
A. The bread was for David and his men. Technically, the bread was not “up for grabs” because the men were not priests, but as the story points out, they didn’t have any other food, so the bread was God’s provision for them. This story will actually come up again, in the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 12), and Jesus will discuss the ethics of the situation.
We don’t know exactly why David went to Achish specifically, since it appears he was a Philistine king. It may have been the closest kingdom in proximity to Israel, so it may have been as simple as a distance consideration. He actually won’t stay there long, and you might recognize were he goes next.
Q. (Psalm 34:7,9): Can you explain having “the fear” of God?
A. Sure. I would say that the “fear of God” in this context is a proper understanding of the relationship between God and ourselves. God loves us and cares for our needs, but we must never forget that God is set apart from us, and we must be respectful of Him.
If we would (crudely) compare God to a loving but firm parent, we can get just a glimpse of the concept. A parent who truly loves a child does not only provide for the needs of the child, but also must dole out discipline when needed, as we have seen God do to this point in the story … and that will continue. You don’t want your child to live in paralyzing fear of you — that is ultimately unhelpful and will push the child away. But, you SHOULD desire that your child know who is in charge (you), and in that regard, a reasonable level of respect/fear is important for a good parent-child relationship. That, I think is at the heart of what God desires us to understand about fearing Him. If we do not show proper reverence/fear for God, we are more likely to make poor and sinful decisions, such as the ones Saul is making and many others will follow. But by starting our walk with God in right relationship with Him, He will guide us in right relationship. Watch for more verses, especially in the Psalms, that continue the thinking on this concept of fearing God.
Q. (Psalm 34:12,13): Since I have become more aware of being judgmental, it has really helped me. Judging is to be left up to God. But, so many times it’s hard to do. For instance, I work with young children. We see some of them who are tired or don’t get enough food packed in their lunch among other things. And, it’s very easy to make judgments of the parents based on the children’s condition. When we do finally mention something to the parents to say the kid needs more food or maybe a little more nutritious stuff and less snack food, we either find out the reasons why and are enlightened, the parents are appreciative and make the appropriate changes, or we look like a fool for assuming we know more than they do. So, when should we make judgments and act on them and when should we leave them to God?
A. I would say one of the hardest things to do in life is discern when to act and when to leave it to God, so there’s not going to be a cut and dry answer to this question. Sorry! I would say that generally you should lean in to God and ask for His guidance on when the time is to speak, or to keep silent (Ecclesiastes 3:7). If you lean in to God and trust His Spirit to guide you, I believe that you will be able to make more informed decisions about judgment verses waiting on God. That doesn’t mean you’ll never confuse the two, but if you are trusting God with the results, you will generally find that He is able to bring good out of situations even when you mess things up.
Q. (Psalm 34:19-22): I am still confused about God being sorrowful for choosing Saul as a king (1 Samuel 15:35). Saul pleads for forgiveness, so why didn’t God give him another chance? Here in Psalms, it says that God will redeem those who serve Him. Saul did conquer Amalekites, he just took the best livestock, when God said to destroy it all. Why didn’t God give him another chance? Maybe God knew Saul’s heart? You may not be able to answer that. I can think that maybe Saul is being used as an example of what happens to people when they disobey the Lord’s commands.
A. Part of what the writer is doing here with Saul’s story is setting up the inevitable comparisons with David, the king who will follow him. The writer clearly desires to make David look good, and part of the way he does so is by showing the comparisons with Saul. Regarding Saul’s seeking forgiveness from God: I think part of the problem is that Saul is very reluctant to take responsibly for his own failings. In the stories we read such as the failure to completely destroy the Amalekites’ livestock, Saul takes almost no responsibility for his personal stake as the leader: he attempts to blame his soldiers and also make excuses for the reason God’s specific commands were not carried out.
To me, Saul got several chances to redeem his rule, and the story certainly does not tell us that Saul was completely unsuccessful as king. He had his moments, but ultimately, he falls short because of his fear, disobedience, and excuses. The king that God desired was to be an EXAMPLE to the entire nation of a right relationship with God, and Saul did not even come close on this scale. Even if God had granted Saul forgiveness and gave him more chances, he was still not being a good leader for his people. That, I think, is ultimately the reason that God rejected him. He did not have the heart of the king God desired.
Please join us again tomorrow as we continue our odyssey through the Bible.