16:1-23 – ‘Samuel did what the Lord commanded’ (4). Real obedience comes from ‘the heart’. It is more than just ‘keeping up appearances’(7). ‘The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart’ – This is something we must never forget!’. ‘It’s the presence of Your Spirit, Lord, we need’ (Songs of Fellowship, 256) – This is the lesson we must learn from the stories of Saul and David. The great difference between the two men is summed up in verses 13-14: ‘the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David… the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul’. David exerted a good influence upon Saul (23). Sadly, however, Saul’s best days were behind him. He was only a shadow of what he could have become if he had chosen to become ‘ a man after God’s own heart’ (13-14). Don’t settle for second best when you can have God’s very best!
17:1-58 – David defeats Goliath. This is not only a story about David and Goliath. It is about the Israelites and the Philistines. It is about ‘God’ and the ‘gods’ (43,46). Victory comes from the Lord. It is given by grace. It is received by faith (47). Notice the contrast between the attitude of Saul – unbelief -and the attitude of David – faith (33,37). Unbelief is all around us. Don’t be pulled into it. Don’t forget God. Remember what He has done for you and thank Him that He will not fail you now (37). Put off the armour provided by men. ‘Put on the whole armour of God’ (38-40; Ephesians 6:11). We will not win the victory if we fight in our own strength. We must draw our strength from the Lord. He helps us. We are ‘strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man’ (Psalm 121:2; 124:8; Ephesians 3:16).
18:1-30 – ‘Loved’ by ‘all Israel and Judah’ (16,28), David was hated by only one man, the most powerful man in the land – Saul (29). Saul was full of envy (7-8), suspicion (9) and violence (10-11). Saul had been proved wrong (17:33,50), and he didn’t like it! David had more success with the women (7), and Saul wasn’t happy about this! The women shouldn’t have been idolizing David. Saul shouldn’t have been seeking glory for himself. The glory belongs to the Lord – not to David, not to Saul, not to anyone else! ‘Saul was David’s enemy continually’ (29). His real argument was with God. ‘The Lord was with David’ (14,28). This didn’t please Saul – ‘Why am I not getting all this blessing? I’m the king!’. If anyone says, I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar… he who loves God should love his brother also’ (1 John 4:20-21).
19:1-24 – Saul was planning to kill David (1). Jonathan warns David and tries to talk some sense into Saul (2,4-5). Saul took Jonathan’s advice – but not for long (6,10)! Thank God that the ‘like father, like son’ rule didn’t apply here! How much more difficult life would have been for David if he had both Saul and Jonathan for enemies! Sin can be a family tradition, passed on from generation to generation. The ‘father’ chooses a self-centred life. The ‘son’ follows in his footsteps. ‘He’s just his father’s son’! You can be your Father’s son: ‘All who receive Christ become children of God’ (John 1:12). Saul was seeking his own glory. Jonathan gave the glory to God (4-5). Let us not seek glory for ourselves (John 5:41,44). Give all the glory to God (Revelation 14: 7:12; Romans 11:36).
20:1-42 – ‘Jonathan loved David as he loved his own soul’ (17). He was ready to die for David (30-33). This is real love and true spiritual fellowship: ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’, ‘If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…’ (John 15:13; 1 John 1:7). Where there is real love for the Lord, there will be depth of fellowship among His people. If our love for the Lord is shallow, our interest in other people will be superficial. Don’t be like Saul – ‘backstabbing’, ‘ready to put the knife in’: ‘Any one who hates his brother is a murderer…’ (1 John 3:15). ‘Let there be love shared among us… brotherly love that is real’ (Mission Praise, 411). God will answer this prayer – if we really mean it and don’t just ‘mouth’ it!
21:1-22:23 – ‘Religion’ is no substitute for compassion (21:3-6; Matthew 12:1-4,7). These were difficult times for David. His life was in great danger. He maintained his trust in the Lord. Looking ahead to the future, he speaks of ‘what God will do for me’ (22:3). Saul did not have the upper hand. God was in control. We wonder about the future – ‘What will it bring?’. With our faith in the Lord, we say, ‘I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future’. We look to the Lord and we say, ‘My times are in Thy hand: My God I wish them there… My times are in Thy hand, whatever they may be… Why should I doubt or fear?… I’ll always trust in Thee’. When life is hard, remember the One who suffered for you: ‘Jesus, the Crucified’ – He is our Guard and Guide’ (Church Hymnary, 680).
23:1-29 – Saul imagined that God was with him in his pursuit of David – ‘God has given him into my hand’ (7). He was wrong – ‘Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand’ (14). We may like to think that God supports us in everything we decide to do. We must, however, be honest before Him and recognize that there can be a great difference between ‘what I want’ and ‘what God wants’. We must learn to choose God’s will rather than our own will (Luke 22:42). We ask, ‘What is God’s will?’. God says, ‘This is the will of God, your sanctification’ (1 Thessalonians 4:3). God wants us to be ‘changed into His likeness’ (2 Corinthians 3:18). He renews our minds, enabling us to live a life that is more truly and more fully in line with His perfect will (Romans 12:2). Do you want your own way – or God’s will?
24:1-22 – Saul recognized that David was a ‘righteous’ man to whom ‘the kingdom’ would be given (17,20). There is a vital connection between godly character and fruitfulness in God’s service. We dare not imagine that we will be fruitful for God if we refuse to give ourselves fully to Him. There is no short cut to God’s blessing which by-passes the dedication of our hearts and lives to Him. We learn this lesson from David. A man, ‘raised up to be king’, he was – first of all – ‘a man after God’s heart’, a man who would ‘do all God’s will’ (Acts 13:22). It was great that Saul recognized David’s righteous character and spiritual potential. It was sad that this made no real difference to the way in which Saul lived His own life. He continued to ‘play the fool’, going his own way rather than God’s way (26:21).
25:1-44 – Forewarned is forearmed. Know where the trouble’s coming from before it hits you and knocks you off your feet. This is the message of verse 25. Nabal was well named – Fool!. He is described as ‘that wicked man’, ‘this ill-natured fellow’, ‘this worthless person’, ‘this man of Belial’. We need to be on our guard with people like this around! In 2 Corinthians 6:15, Paul uses the word, ‘Belial’. It is another name for Satan. It’s hardly any wonder that Nabal was a trouble maker. He was a man of Satan! Be on your guard against Satan. He doesn’t always come ‘as a roaring lion’. Sometimes, he ‘masquerades himself as an angel of light’ (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 11:14). It’s better to be forewarned and forearmed than to have to say, with the benefit of hindsight, ‘I wish I had known then what I know now’!
26:1-25 – Saul and David were very different. David was wise. He had respect for ‘the Lord’s anointed’ (11). This was grounded in ‘the fear of the Lord’ which ‘is the beginning of wisdom’ (Psalm 111:10). Saul ‘played the fool’. He ‘erred exceedingly’, choosing the way of self rather than the way of the Lord (21). This is not only the story of David and Saul. It’s like looking into a mirror. In David and Saul, we see ourselves. We are at the cross-roads. We must choose. God promises blessing – ‘The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness’ (23). This promise is full of challenge. Choose ‘righteousness and faithfulness’. Choose Christ. Keep on choosing Him. ‘O happy day, that fixed my choice on Thee, my Saviour and my God… That vow renewed shall daily hear’ (Mission Praise, 499).
27:1-28:2 – What a difference there is between fear – ‘I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul’ – and faith – ‘The Lord will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine (27:1; 17:37)! These words were spoken by the same man – David. There is a battle going on within each one of us – a battle for faith, a battle against fear. How do we overcome fear? How do we grow strong in faith? – ‘Perfect love casts out fear’. It is God’s love which gives us the victory – ‘We love, because He first loved us’. Strengthened by His love, our faith grows strong, and we say, ‘This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith… Jesus is the Son of God’ (1 John 4:18-19; 5:4-5). ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine’ (Isaiah 43:1). Let faith grow strong and fear be banished!
28:3-25 – Saul sinned against the Lord. He brought God’s judgment upon himself: ‘Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord… the Lord has done this thing to you this day’ (18). ‘Saul disguised himself’’ – he thought he could get away with his sin. He was wrong: ‘Be sure your sin will find you out’ (8; Numbers 32:23). There is no hiding from God – ‘Before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do’. God’s Word warns us: ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’. Do not ‘trample the Son of God under foot, treating His blood as an unholy thing and outraging the Spirit of grace’. Don’t fight against God. You will be the loser! Don’t ‘shrink back’ and be ‘destroyed’. ‘Believe’ and be ‘saved’ (Hebrews 4:13; 10:29-31, 39; Acts 16:30-31).
29:1-30:15 – ‘David was greatly distressed… But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God (30:6). Things are going badly. What do you do? Do you start feeling sorry for yourself? That won’t do any good. God’s Word says, ‘Be strong, and let your heart take courage’ (Psalm 27:14). In times of difficulty, where does your strength come from? – ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield… The Lord is the strength of His people…’ (Psalm 28:7-8). How are we to strengthen ourselves in the Lord our God? We must remind ourselves that God is in control: ‘The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as King for ever’. This is the way in which ‘the Lord gives strength to His people!’. This is the way ‘the Lord blesses His people with peace!’ (Psalm 29:10-11). Let us be strong in the Lord
30:16-31:13 – Here, we have tragedy and triumph – the tragedy of Saul (4), the triumph of the Lord (23). What we are, in ourselves, is tragic – ‘all have sinned… the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 3:23; 6:23). This is not the full story of our life. There’s something else: ‘what the Lord has given us’ – ‘they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus’: ‘the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (23; Romans 3:24; 6:23). This is the triumph of the Lord. It is not something that we achieve for ourselves. ‘This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes’ (Psalm 118:23). We give all the praise and glory to the Lord: ‘Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph. Let us ‘spread the knowledge of Him everywhere’ (2 Corinthians 2:14).