Study Notes

1Samuel 27:1-29:11


Once again, David has heard Saul swear that he would not harm him. But every time David heard that, it was only a matter of time before Saul was on the warpath again. And David is about to enter a terrible season of his life.

Now, God doesn't attempt to cover up the sin of godly men. Noah got drunk. David committed adultery. Gideon made an idol. Simon Peter denied Christ. Paul argued with Barnabas and split up their ministry. This is one reason that I never read the biographies of great missionaries and ministers of the past. To hear many of these books tell it, once you become a Christian, your life of sin ends and a new, glorious life of sinlessness begins. But I haven't found that to be true in my life. And it's not true in the lives shown to us in the Bible. These chapters will show us a sad side of David, an ungodly side. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last, but it was a sad season that lasted too long in David's life.

27:1 David's Despondency

Instead of talking to God, David is now talking to himself. There is no worse way to make a decision than enter into a conversation with yourself when you are fearful, depressed, or angry.

When you're making decisions based on feelings instead of leadings, on emotions instead of prayers, then you're in the flesh. Paul tells us,

Rom. 7:18 ...I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh...

The right way to do things is to,

Gal. 5:16 ...walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Unfortunately, David has left the mind-set of seeking the Lord. He is seeking counsel in himself, and will pay the price of it for years. He has decided to leave the land of Israel, the land "governed by God," and go into Philistine territory - the land of the flesh, the world, and false gods.

Too many of us have also made decisions in this way. Decisions to leave a marriage, to leave a job, to leave a church. Although at one point, we knew God had brought us into that land, in the flesh we decided to leave it. In our own understanding, we were overwhelmed by the circumstances and decided to bail out. Many people have paid the same price David did - years in the wilderness apart from the Lord.

If you're about to make a decision out of hurt, anger, frustration, or depression, begin to pray. Seek the Lord for guidance and strength.

27:2-7 To The King Of Gath

David, his two wives Akh-ee-NO-am and Abigail, and his 600 men with their families entered Philistine territory and went to meet with Aw-KEESH, the son of Maw-OKE, the king of Gath.

This was not the first time David had come to Gath. Back in chapter 21, David had entered this territory alone. Aw-KEESH's servants knew who David was, the killer of many Philistines, and grabbed him. As they were taking him to Aw-KEESH, he began to act insanely. He scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let saliva run down into his beard. When AW-KEESH saw this, he said,

1Sam. 21:14-15 ..."Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?"

David had escaped with his life that day. But this day was different. With an army of 600 men, he was not going to be grabbed. He was in a position of power. So he asks Aw-KEESH, "May we have one of the cities in the country to live in?" Aw-KEESH gave David Ziklag, a city originally given to the tribe of Judah at the extreme south end (Josh. 15), but now under Philistine control.

27:8-12 David's Raid And Lie

Using Ziklag as his base of operations, David and his men began attacking the inhabitants of nearby cities. These were not Philistines, but Geshurites, Girzites, and the Amalekites. It was typical in those days to capture many prisoners alive and sell them into slavery. This would greatly increase the profitability of their attacks. But to protect their anonymity, they did not leave anyone alive.

When Aw-KEESH saw the spoil of their raiding parties, he asked David who they had attacked. He lied and said, "Against the NEH-gheb of Judah and against the NEH-gheb of the Yer-AKH-meh-al-ites and against the NEH-gheb of the Kenites." Yer-AKH-meh-al was a grandson of Judah, and the Kenites were a people that had showed kindness to Israel when they came up from Egypt. David was claiming to be raiding the Jews and their allies rather than their enemies.

This deceived Aw-KEESH into thinking that David was repulsive to and unwelcome among his people of Israel.

28:1-2 David Becomes Achish's Bodyguard

When the Philistines armed for war against Israel, Aw-KEESH naturally assumed that David would fight on his side. As a matter of fact, Aw-KEESH had become so confident in David's loyalty that he appointed him as his personal bodyguard.

28:3-6 God's Silence Towards Saul

While David seems to have stopped talking to God, God had stopped talking to Saul. In the past, the prophet Samuel had communicated God's heart to the king, but now that Samuel was dead, Saul was at a loss. He knew the king had to be led by the Lord, and the Lord wasn't speaking to him.

Saul needed to hear from God because the Philistines were mounting a massive attack, camping at Shoo-NAME. Israel was taking up a defensive position in Gilboa, and needed direction from the Lord.

It is sad that so many people enter into strife in their lives before they begin to pray. But once you're in a storm, it's too late to learn how to sail a boat. Once you're in a battle, it's too late to learn to use your sword. The disciples, like many of us, had to learn this the hard way.

When Jesus came down from the mount of transfiguration, a man ran up to Him and dropped to his knees. He said,

Matt. 17:15-16 "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic, and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him."

Matt. 17:18-21 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,' and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you. "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."

Jesus had spent the night in prayer and fasting. The disciples had not. Jesus was in training, the disciples were on the couch.

During his lifetime, Saul had not cultivated a relationship with God. Now, he is trying to hear from God in desperation. He'd fall asleep, asking God to give him dreams. None came. He went to the priests, seeking the plan of God by the Urim. No answer. He inquired of the prophets, but they had no word from the Lord for him.

Saul had lived in his sin as long as it was convenient for him, and now he's trying to hear from God. That's not the way for a believer to live. Too many are enjoying their sin, forsaking the conviction and calling of God until they get their fill. They know they'll turn back someday, but not today. That's a dangerous game to play, for you see, a time will come that God will not answer them. During the days of Malachi the prophet, men were divorcing their wives and marrying younger, prettier women. They knew it was a sin, but figured that they'd get divorced, marry the young woman, then repent at the altar. But God doesn't play games like this.

Mal. 2:13-14 "And this is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts {it with} favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?' Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant."

Today is the day to repent, while the Lord is still calling you.

Isa. 55:6-7 Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

Return to the Lord now, not once you've had your fill of sin. It was too late for Saul when he finally sought the Lord.

28:7-10 Saul Seeks A Medium

Saul had only heard from God through Samuel, but now Samuel was dead. Saul's knowledge of God was so weak that he figured he should consult a witch to speak to Samuel from beyond the grave. The Law of God was clear: this was blatant sin.

Exod. 22:18 "You shall not allow a sorceress to live."

Lev. 19:31 ‘Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.'

Lev. 20:6 ‘As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.'

Lev. 20:27 ‘Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their bloodguiltiness is upon them.'

Deut. 18:10-14 "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you {to do} so."

You will never accomplish God's will by doing what is an abomination to the Lord. Yet, there are Christians that believe they are living lives pleasing to God, but read their horoscopes in the daily newspaper. Some who call psychic hotlines. Some use Ouija boards. Others believe that their astrological sign actually shapes their life and personality. Still others believe in ghosts and think that they've heard from dead Aunt Martha during a seance. These things are an abomination to God and ought not to be done!

Notice too the difference between Saul's public and private character. In the view of all Israel,

1Sam. 28:3 ...Saul had removed from the land those who were mediums and spiritists.

But privately, he was seeking one. This is another way that many of us sin. We are publicly very righteous, putting on masks of holiness. But imagine how embarrassed many of us would be if the video rental store gave the church a list of every movie we rented? Imagine how ashamed we'd be if the things we did in private were revealed publicly? The funny thing is, we hide these sins from men, but God sees them all.

Ps. 90:8 Thou hast placed our iniquities before Thee, Our secret {sins} in the light of Thy presence.

Isa. 29:15 Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, And whose deeds are {done} in a dark place, And they say, "Who sees us?" or "Who knows us?"

Publicly, Saul had condemned the mediums. But privately, he was seeking one.

28:11-14 A Samuel Seance

We don't know how the medium did her thing - was it a crystal ball, a meditation chant? We don't need to know. She could have been a trickster - a charlatan who bilked people for money by deception. Many so called psychics and astrologers have been exposed as manipulative frauds. But it is possible that she made her living channeling demons who would disguise themselves as lost loved ones. But when the woman began her black arts, she freaked out because she saw Samuel. This had never happened before - the real guy was arising, coming up from the abode of the dead.

How do I know it was the real Samuel? The Scriptures tell us. Verses 12, 15, and 16 all tell us it was Samuel.

28:15-19 Samuel's Rebuke

Where did Samuel come up from? From Sheol (Hebrew), Hades (Greek). This is where the spirits of people who died went. Jesus described it for us in Luke 16 as a place divided in half and separated by a huge chasm.

One side was called Abraham's Bosom, or Paradise. It was a place of comfort. The other side was a place of burning torment. Those who had been faithful and righteously awaiting the Messiah were in Paradise. Those who had rejected the Lord were in the side of torment.

Samuel was disturbed from his blissful rest by Saul's call. But God was allowing Samuel to arise for a final rebuke of Saul, and to tell him that he and his sons would all be in Sheol tomorrow.

28:20-25 The Medium's Meal

Saul knew that Samuel was telling the truth - God had forsaken him, and he was going to die tomorrow. His strength left him and he was terrified.

29:1-5 David Is Forbidden To Fight

Meanwhile, David and his men were gathering with the Philistines at Af-EEK. (The Israelites were camped at Yiz-reh-ALE.) When the Philistine commanders saw Aw-KEESH followed by David and 600 Israelites, they said, "What are these Hebrews doing here?"

They figured that in the heat of battle, these so-called comrades would turn on them. What better way to be restored to Saul than to fight alongside him in the battle? Hadn't he already killed numerous Philistines?

29:6-11 David Is Sent Home

Aw-KEESH said, "David, I trust you, but the guys won't let you fight with us. You'd better head on back home."

And I honestly don't know what David's motive was here. Was he planning a big deception? Or had he genuinely backslid to the place where he was ready to fight with the Philistines against God's people? Whatever the reason, we are going to see the consequences of this trip in chapter 29.

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