Thursday, April 03, 2014

1 Samuel 25-27 The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness

From 1 Samuel 25-27


1 Sam 25.1; Story; The Death of Samuel
1 Sam 25.2-44; Story; David and Abigail
1 Sam 26.1-25; Story; David Spares Saul Again
1 Sam 27.1-12; Story; David Flees to the Philistines

Passage and Comments

Saul's pursuit of David continues. As Saul gets closer and closer to David, one night David finds Saul unawares sleeping in a cave. The LORD has put him in a position where he could do away with Saul. But the contrast between David and Saul again shows itself because David refuses to strike the LORD's anointed. Instead he gets evidence he was in the cave and later from hiding calls out to Saul describing the mercy he gave him. Saul recognises Davids righteousness and quits the pursuit (1 Sam 24.1-22).

Soon afterwards Samuel dies, but this will not be the last we hear from him (1 Sam 25.1; cf. 28.1-25).

During this time, David is still travelling comes across the land of a man named Nabal (which means 'fool'). David initially spends his time with his party on the outskirts of Nabal's property. He provides protection for Nabal and does not steal any of Nabal's livestock. David intends to pass through Naples property, so he sends some men to ask permission and perhaps seek some hospitality. Nabal treats David's messengers poorly and when they return to David, he prepares to destroy Nabal. Fortunately Nabal's wife is more diplomatic than her husband and she quickly reconciles with David. Nabal is told but does not care less, he feasts and drinks for a while, until the LORD strikes him dead. David finds out and takes Abigail as his wife (1 Sam 25.2-44).

Saul's peace with David is short lived and he resumes pursuing David so he can kill him. His jealousy it seems runs deep. I feel sorry for Saul. He seems to resist the most important thing, to repent and seek the LORD's mercy and forgiveness.

Once again the LORD presents David with an opportunity to remove Saul. The LORD has put Saul and his party in a deep slumber. David challenges his companions in a spirit of mad adventure to go down amongst the sleeping company.
7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night. And there lay Saul sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head, and Abner and the army lay around him. 8 Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless?” 10 And David said, “As the LORD lives, the LORD will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. 11 The LORD forbid that I should put out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go.” 12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen upon them. (1 Sam 26:7–12)
The LORD has provided David with a weapon. But still he refuses to strike the LORD's anointed. Once again David takes with him evidence of the encounter.

Interestingly David declines the most immediate means of disposing Saul, but leaves it to the LORD in a number of ways.
1) the LORD will strike him, or
2) his day will come to die, or
3) he will go down into battle and perish.
One of these will indeed be the LORD's plan as we will find out tomorrow.
13 Then David went over to the other side and stood far off on the top of the hill, with a great space between them. 14 And David called to the army, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Will you not answer, Abner?” Then Abner answered, “Who are you who calls to the king?” 15 And David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy the king your lord. 16 This thing that you have done is not good. As the LORD lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the LORD’s anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is and the jar of water that was at his head.” (1 Sam 26:13–16)
David gets stuck into Abner, Saul's general, and puts him in a very awkward position.
17 Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” 18 And he said, “Why does my lord pursue after his servant? For what have I done? What evil is on my hands? 19 Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the LORD who has stirred you up against me, may he accept an offering, but if it is men, may they be cursed before the LORD, for they have driven me out this day that I should have no share in the heritage of the LORD, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth away from the presence of the LORD, for the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea like one who hunts a partridge in the mountains.” (1 Sam 26:17–20)
Saul realises it is David. Since David has been found out he questions why Saul still pursues him. He now puts Saul on the spot with two options.
1) If the LORD has a grievance against David and that is why Saul pursues him, then the matter can be resolved if David makes an offering to the LORD thus appeasing Him, or
2) If men (i.e. Saul) have a grievance against David, and not the LORD, then they should be rebuked because they have chased David away from the 'heritage of the LORD'. This is a bit like kicking someone out of church, trying to prevent them from worshipping the LORD, so they instead serving other gods.

Finally David plays himself down, asking why the king hunts someone so insignificant like him.
21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake.” 22 And David answered and said, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and take it. 23 The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the LORD gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the LORD’s anointed. 24 Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the LORD, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them.” So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place. (1 Sam 26:21–25)
Davids remark about the LORD rewarding righteousness and faithfulness is not uncommon in the Old Testament. It assumes some actions please the LORD and some displease him. An aspect of the LORD's role as king is to reward good behaviour as well as punish wickedness. David has a robust conscience and this is what David is hoping for here, that the LORD would save him out of tribulation just as David did Saul.

Story of Israel

More often than not, Israel was punished by the LORD because of her disobedience. David and a handful of other kings are exceptions and did things which pleased the LORD. Unfortunately the majority of Israel and Judah's kings following David kept doing evil in the sight of the LORD and it is safe to assume Israel remained under the judgment of the LORD for hundreds of years.

Story of Jesus

Jesus assumes that Israel is still under judgment. In fact all who do not know and submit to the LORD are under the his judgment. But this is why Jesus came to save them from judgment and bring them into life.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (Jn 5:24)
Once a person hear’s Jesus’ word and believes the Father their life does not end, rather it begins. There will still be a form of judgment where we see the LORD rewarding people for their righteousness and his faithfulness to him. In the scriptures people tended to believe that people could be and were righteous. Sometimes it was a reflection of pride (Lk 18.9-14), at other times its just what people thought (1 Thes 2.10).

Jesus continues;
25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.  (Jn 5:25–29)
Jesus describes the way in which people will escape judgment and come into the resurrection of life. Those who will be given eternal life with God have heard Jesus voice, believed the Father who sent him and done good in response. Jesus is not trying to get people to feel good or bad about themselves, rather Jesus is describing the right response to the grace and kindness he has shown in bringing them to life in the first place.