We come to the close of Saul's life and reign as the 1st King of Israel. He ruled for more than 40 years but his reign was a great disappointment. God had chosen Saul but Saul had walked away from God. His life is marked by continual bouts of madness and paranoia. In his death he does not cry out to God in repentance; his sons fall around him, victims of the enemies arrows.
The Amalekites take advantage of the Philistines attack on Israel and on David's absence from Ziklag. They attack and burn David's city and steal all things of value including men, women, children, livestock and other valuables. David and his 600 men return to find all that they love and possess gone. You have perhaps heard me say that I am "better than I deserve." This is a time when David certainly received more than he deserved. He has made his life raiding neighboring cities and putting man, woman and child to the sword. Here we find the Amalekites attacking David's city but showing restraint in destroying human life.
David and his men are in deep mourning at their loss. See what David does.... "David strengthened himself in the Lord." David knows he has to do something and do it quickly, but success will best be gained if he proceeds in God's way. He strengthens himself in the Lord before setting out in pursuit of the Amalekites. How do you suppose he does this? Of course he prays, but he also remembers all that God has already done. He remembers God's faithfulness and remembers the many times that God has preserved him in the past. Such practices will help us to walk boldly as we seek to live the abundant life that God has promised us. Such practices will help us to avoid the pitfalls that the tempter would have us languish in.
As they pursue the Amalekites 200 of the men are too weary to continue, they remain behind. As they approach the Amalekite camp they come upon an Egyptian. they show him kindness with food and water and they ask him "to whom do you belong?" A great question and one that could be asked of us as well. there is probably a sermon in that question. To whom do you belong could be answered in a lot of ways. Who our parents are. Where we were born. Where we were educated. Who we are married to. the nation to which we are citizens. What we do as a vocation. What the angels see us doing. Did you catch the last one? What the angels see us doing when no one else is watching is probably the best evidence regarding to whom we belong. guard your heart, my friends because the angels are watching.
After David and the 400 defeat the Amalekites and rescue all that has been taken from them and more, they return to where they have left their companions. Many of the 400 do not want to share in the spoils but David remembers that he has been treated better than he deserves and he insists that the 200 are treated in the same way. How like God's grace is that! We look forward to receiving the gift of heaven and all that it contains and we will because of God's grace and that he desires to bless us in ways that we have not earned nor do we deserve.
Saul dies in battle and his sons with him. the Philistines nail his body to a wall in a pagan temple in Beth Shan. The people of Jabesh Gilead come to take it down and give him a proper burial. Saul had delivered the people of Jabesh Gilead from the Ammonites years earlier. They remember that kindness and honor the one who had delivered them. David mournes the loss of Saul and Jonathon. Even though this means he will become king, he mourns the loss of God's annointed one. He does not delight in the loss of the King or his great good friend Jonathon. Nor should we delight in the falling even of our enemies. All are children of God, created in the image of God. We should mourn the falling as a lost opportunity to deliver a soul from the clutches of the one who would separate us from the promise of God's eternal love.
We begin tomorrow with more of the great story of David. I hope you are enjoying this trip through the Bible. I pray that God is blessing your faithfulness. Enjoy his creation. Talk to you tomorrow. God Bless You!!