1 SAMUEL 28:1 – 29:11 and LUKE 19:1–48
1 Sam 28
There is another battle about to take place between the Philistines and Israel. David is with Achish and is presented an opportunity to go out to battle with him against Israel. David alludes to the king about his abilities but it is hard to know how determined he was in going forth to battle against his own. In any case Achish gives David the charge of his life-guards (vs 1-2).
The attention now turns to Saul and Israel as they prepare for yet another battle. He no longer has the luxury of Samuel’s guidance so he now resorts to the seeking out of a witch at Endor. Saul was not receiving any Word from God through the priests or prophets. He was now panicking as the Philistines were gathering against them at Gilboa (vs 4). It is interesting to note that the initial problem seen in Saul is coming out once again. Saul assumed the role of a priest when under pressure of war against the Philistines as seen in 1 Sam 13. He could not wait for Samuel who tarried a bit longer than the appointed time. Saul was losing face before the people so he sought to perform a sacrifice. Here we are again in another battle which is about take place against the Philistines. What does Saul do? He seeks a Word from God through the priests but God was silent. He no longer has Samuel to rely on but he seeks now to justify himself by summoning up Samuel via a witch.
When Saul was rebuked by Samuel in his failure to totally annihilate Amalek it was said to him that “rebellion was as the sin of witchcraft” (1 Sam 15:23). Amazingly, it is a witch that Saul goes after in this hour of crisis. Secondly, it is Samuel that he wants this witch to bring up. When we look at this example we think how foolish it is of Saul to go seeking after a witch, no matter how dire the situation may have been. The seeking after familiar spirits is something that needs to be watched today. We might think that we are immune from such folly.
Balaam was a prophet who had a dualistic ministry. In his seeking to appease Balak he delved into forbidden territory. This may not be so surprising seeing that Balaam can trace his roots to a people known for their dealing in familiar spirits. Balaam obtained his objective by suggesting that Israel mingle with the Midianites resulting in immorality and the corruption of the godly seed. We must also remember that Satan seduced Eve in this area when he focused her attention on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:6). In partaking of the fruit she was delving into a realm of forbidden knowledge. It is God’s intent that His people grow in knowledge; to have an understanding of the times and seasons however it must be on the Lord’s terms. Saul was anointed to be king and had great early success but failed under pressure. He presumed a ministry that was not his simply because Samuel was a bit delayed. The root cause was due to Saul losing respect of the people. He was very people conscious even after being rebuked with regard to Amalek.
1Sa 15:30 Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.
This is what happens if we put people before God; regarding more the opinions of people than those of the Lord. It was Saul who made the ruling concerning the abolishing of witches (vs 3). It is Saul who violates his own law as he seeks to find guidance through a medium. It appears that God allowed Samuel to be brought up to speak to Saul regarding the reason why he was not hearing from God. Saul rightly stated that God departed from him. You get a picture as to how unstable Saul has become seeing that if God had departed from him what would Samuel be able to do? The words from Samuel do not get any better. He reminds Saul that it was due to his disobeying God’s Word regarding the offerings and not destroying Amalek that brought him to where he is now. Finally, the Word is given to him that they will fall to the Philistines and that he and his sons will also fall, losing their lives in the process.
Saul’s eternal judgement has already begun and one can well understand how he would feel after such a weighty proclamation from Samuel. He did recover enough to eat and then depart that night. The Word of the Lord would soon come to pass. Saul is certainly accountable for his own actions but we must never forget that he was a product of the people. In their heart they wanted a king to rule over them like other nations. They too are suffering under the consequences of their actions; choices that were made from an uncircumcised heart.
What are we asking for today? Is it possible that we to may be guilty of similar actions? Do we have the patience and presence of mind to enquire of the Lord on significant matters or do we seek to replicate what other successful churches and organizations are doing? There are many things that can be learned by successful organizations but that does not mean we have to become like them. The ultimate safeguard would be to always seek to please God above people. If we keep His laws and do what He says we will be able to avoid Saul’s fate. It is a tragic end to a man who had promising potential. May we learn from his example!
1 Sam 29
The Philistines were assembling to battle against Israel. David and his men trailed behind Achish which drew the wrath of the other Philistine leaders. They were well aware of David’s prowess and figured that his being with them would not be to their overall advantage. These Philistine leaders were aware of the song that declared David slaying his ten thousands while Saul slew his thousands. That must have been quite a song since it seems everyone was aware of it.
Achish stood behind David and testified of his faithfulness in spite of the fact the other leaders did not want him along. He even mentioned that he could find no fault in him which is exactly what Pilate said about Christ. The Passover Lamb had to be without blemish (Exo 12:5). Here we have a picture of the Lord as seen in the life of David. Achish informed David to return to the land of the Philistines and not participate in the battle. David protested giving the appearance of wanting to go to war against his own. Thankfully the sovereignty of God prevailed. In fact, one must see God in this whole scenario. The battle to come will not bode well for Saul or Israel. Secondly, we will see David’s despair and triumph at Ziklag later to come.
What was really going through the mind of David at this time? Did he really want to go to war against his own? If he did not was it not risky to show himself so bold in wanting to do so? Is it possible that David was truly fed up with Saul and Israel? It seems to be clear that David knew how this would play out. Remember, he saw Saul as God’s anointed so why would he suddenly seek to come up against him and Israel? At the same time he showed himself loyal to Achish. Personally, I feel that God was honouring David and directing him during this period. He is getting ever closer to the time when he would assume the role as king. God appears to be tenderizing and provoking the enemies of Israel to come up against them. David’s initial reign was to be a peaceful one and it looks like the Lord is helping to prepare for that outcome.
Jesus enters and passes through Jericho. A man by the name of Zacchaeus hears about Jesus and makes effort to see who He was. He saw the route that Jesus would take and prepared himself to be visible by climbing a sycamore tree. Zacchaeus was a prominent man in this area. He was a known publican and was very rich. In the last chapter we made mention of those who sought ways to draw the attention of Jesus. Chiefly, it was those who touched Him by Faith. Jesus seeks after the fruit of faith and is moved by those who exhibit it (Luke 18:8).
Zacchaeus captures the attention of Jesus by way of his aggressive actions. He is told to come down and prepare his home for a visitation. The cynical ones in the crowd immediately took issue with what Jesus was doing seeing that He was dealing with a sinner. (This was their perception) I surmise it was an expression of faith that Zacchaeus was demonstrating in capturing the attention of the Lord. He then confesses that he gives to the poor and that he renders four-fold if he is accused of any false accusation. The Lord then states that salvation has come to this man’s home due to his testimony and actions. If this man did not back up his words Jesus would have never made such a declaration. This man was proving his faith by his actions. Jesus then adds that the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (vs 10).
These words were probably meant for those who were observing this scene. Jesus seeks and hungers after faith as seen in the last chapter but He also seeks after those who are lost. There is a quality seen in those who may be known for sin one moment but yet have an ability to respond to truth from their heart. Zacchaeus took an action that spoke something about him. It had to be more than just curiosity. This was confirmed when he expressed his heart to the Lord when in his house.
We have seen the response of one of the sinners on the Cross, a man who was condemned to die. One moment you have a sinner worthy of death only to become candidate for salvation by way of his declaration. Can we believe for Zacchaeus’s to come to the kingdom in our day? We do not see a formalised sinner’s prayer taking place in a church in this account; it’s a salvation based upon faith with works. By no means am I discounting altar call salvations but rather drawing attention to the potential response of sinners as we bear witness of our faith in the public arena.
The Lord then followed up by sharing the account of the Nobleman who distributed ten pounds to ten different servants. They were told to occupy till he returned from his journey. We get a picture of the environment where these servants resided seeing that the Nobleman was despised. They were rebellious in not wanting to be accountable to the nobleman’s authority. It is a similar picture of what was seen with Israel when they were asking for a king. They wanted a king like the other nations, a king who would reign on man’s terms, not God’s. The Lord made this clear when He said that they do not want Him reigning over their hearts (1 Sam 8:7). Out of the ten servants who were given a talent only three are recorded in giving an account. We can assume that the remaining 7 were among those who did not desire the Nobleman to rule over them. In other words, these are people who serve God on their terms. We do well to take note of their end. The nobleman says that those who chose to not be ruled over by him were to be slain (vs 27).
I find it interesting that this account can be paralleled with events surrounding the reign of King Saul. His reign is about to come to a tragic end, an ending that will affect countless people, many of whom chose after a king on their terms. This upcoming battle against the Philistines in 1 Sam 31 will no doubt result in the death of many who chose to not have God reign over their hearts (1 Sam 8:7). God is not mocked and we cannot think that we can just coast along in our Christianity. This warning is for the church today. There is a constant effort in trying to fit God into our agendas and plans. We can say we are Christian’s but if truth be told many would fall into the category of the 7 who chose to not allow the Nobleman (God) to reign over them.
The 3 who did give an account can be likened to the “Called, Chosen and Faithful” (Rev 17:14). Put another way we can say that the 3 divisions of Moses Tabernacle can be seen here as well; the outer court, holy place and holy of holies. By the grace of God we want be brought into the Holy place and beyond.