1 Samuel 31

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Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.

Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”

But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them.

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.

11 When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.

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My Thoughts

This is the end for Saul but I have to admit that even though I thought he was a terrible king, I am still left with a sense of wrongness at his death.  Saul probably did the same thing to many Philistines over the years so I should feel nothing for the way he dies. But violence, vengeance, war and the lack of redemption leaves me feeling sad.  If people were left in a world without a loving God would we be reduced to this?  The need for the redemption of Christ is so clear in this story that it makes me look forward to Christmas and what that symbolises for the world.  It also makes me appreciate Nelson Mandela that much more.

1 Samuel 30:16-31

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16 He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and revelling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. 20 He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.”

21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were.22 But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.”

23 David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. 24 Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” 25 David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.

26 When David reached Ziklag, he sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends, saying, “Here is a gift for you from the plunder of the Lord’s enemies.”

27 David sent it to those who were in Bethel, Ramoth Negev and Jattir; 28 to those in Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa 29 and Rakal; to those in the towns of the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites; 30 to those in Hormah, Bor Ashan, Athak 31 and Hebron; and to those in all the other places where he and his men had roamed.

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My Thoughts

After David is sent home from war he discovers that his village has been plundered, all the women and children have been carried off.  So David enquires of the Lord and is told to go after the plunderers.  David and his men catch up with the plundering party and retrieve all of their possessions; it seems that they get a lot more than they originally had.  The part that interests me today is these evil men in David’s camp who don’t feel that they should share the loot with those who were too week to keep up.  This is “the way of the world” the strong will survive at the expense of the weak.  However, David puts an end to it and makes a decree that the spoils of war should be shared.  This is how I know that David is back on the track, he goes against his nature… to grow his own wealth…his inherent greed and he adopts a principle that looks more like the heart of God than the way of the world.  There will always be people with us who are out to advance themselves, to grow their personal wealth and status at the expense of others.  This is something we can learn – the way of God is not the way of man…and our call is to follow His way.

As the world remembers Nelson Mandela I am struck by how famous or popular this man was.  When I think about it he was not famous for the struggle or for his intellect or wealth.  He is famous because against all the odds he did not give into his base human instincts and seek revenge, he did not use his fame, or his status to accumulate personal wealth.  He forgave; he was full of grace and compassion.  He was never too important to stop and speak to children even if it put himself at personal risk… sounds like somebody else we know… seems like the world knows a good thing when they see it.  May his legacy live on in the generations to come.

1 Samuel 30:1-15

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David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”

“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. 10 Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit.

11 They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— 12 part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.

13 David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?”

He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. 14 We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.”

15 David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?”

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My Thoughts

I am back from leave, hope you continued to read ahead… God has been good to us, we have finally returned home with Raphael, yay!  It’s been a long battle, thank you to all of you who prayed with us and kept our hands up when we started losing faith.   Anyway, back to David…or more importantly, David is back.  In the last passage we see that David is actively prevented from going to war against his own people only to find that his home has been raided and all his men’s family and possessions have been carried off.  Imagine what would have happened if they had gone to war, they would not have come home in time to do anything about the raiding.  What I want us to look at in this passage is David’s first response before doing anything is to get the Ephod and speak to God… should I go…will I be successful and Gods answers him. Sometimes we think that we have gone too far but nothing that we have done could be worse than what David and his men have done…but he turns back and communicates with God and God answers.  It reminds me of the scripture that says; nothing can remove us from the love of God.  What a good way to get back into this story… let’s see what happens next tomorrow.