Week 9 starts off with the ark of the covenant being stolen by the Philistines after they defeated Israelites. Among the 30,000 foot soldiers killed in the battle between the Israelites and the Philistines were two of the sons of Eli. Remember, that in week 8 God had vowed to punish them and Eli because of their wickedness. What happened to Eli?
"Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy" (1 Samuel 4:18). The Philistines end up returning the ark to the Israelites because God cursed them with the plague of tumors. Twenty years after the ark is returned Samuel tells the Israelites to "return to the Lord with all you hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among youn, and prepare your heart for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines" (1 Samuel 7:3). And just like that the Israelites are once again delivered from their enemies.
You'd think that by now the Israelites would stop complaining and be grateful for all that God has done for them, but they start to demanding that a king be appointed to rule over them like other nations have. Samuel tries to forewarn them that having a king is not going to be all that they think it is, but as usual the Israelites don't listen and Saul is appointed king. However, Saul's reign as king is short lived because he too turns his back on God claiming that "I have sinned for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people of and obeyed their voice" (1 Samuel 15:24).
One of my favorite verses from the Bible is 1 Samuel 16:7 which says, "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." This is verse is very true. Whether it's friends or a spouse, so many of us are quick to write others off just based on their looks. And often times when we do that we are passing up on the very people God has sent to us in exchange for people that the Devil has placed in our way to get us off track. I definitely try to look more at people's attitudes, actions and listen to their words when it comes to letting them in my circle and establishing relationships.
We also got to read about the story of David and Goliath. Since, God rejected Saul as king, He appoints David to be the next king over the Israelites and His spirit with him. So, when the Philistines decide to that they want to war against the Israelites to reclaim their land, David's father sends him to take supplies and food to his brothers. Well, when he gets to the battle he finds the Israelites pretty much hiding out like chickens because they are scared of the Philistines, who are known to be giants or unusually tall stature.
David tells Saul that he will fight because he's not afraid of the giants. He tells them how as a shepherd he's had to battle lions with his bare hands to save the flock. So, going up against men should be a piece of cake. Talk about faith and courage! I know that I wouldn't have the courage to fight off lions with my bare hands. I think I would have let them just have the sheep they were cornering and move the rest of the heard. And I would have definitely been worried about going up against giants like the Philistines, but since God had already delivered them from the Philistines once before I wouldn't have doubted Him to do it again.
And after David kills the Philistine with just his sling shot and wins the battle for the Israelites, you'd think Saul, who was still king, would have been appreciative. Instead he gets jealous of David because he sees that God's spirit is now with David instead of him and the Israelites all love David now. So, Saul sets out on a mission to kill David, but David flees. Saul's jealousy is so red hot that he even kills priests because they did not tell him that David had fled the city (1 Samuel 22:16-25).
In the end, it's David who ends up sparing Saul's life after David and his men surround Saul in a cave. It's the perfect opportunity for David to kill Saul but he doesn't. Instead, he calls out to Saul and tells him that he could have killed him but didn't. It's then that Saul realizes just how righteous David really is and calls off the hunt for David. Or so he claimed.
David sends out spies and finds out that Saul has not called off the bounty on David's head but instead has doubled back to follow David into the wilderness. I'm sorry but if I was Saul and I knew that God was with David, I would have just stepped down from the thrown and left David alone. In the end, Saul ends up taking his own life after he is fatally wounded in yet another battle against the Philistines. He doesn't want to die from wounds and asked one of his soldiers to kill him.
The soldier declines and Saul is forced to kill himself by falling on his own sword. His sons are also killed in battle. Thus, no heirs from Saul's household are left to battle David for the thrown.
Week 10 Readings
3/4- 2 Samuel 1-4
3/5- 2 Samuel 5-7
3/6- 2 Samuel 8-10
3/7- 2 Samuel 11-12
3/8- 2 Samuel 13-15
3/9- 2 Samuel 16-20
3/10- 2 Samuel 21-24