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Lessons from the
Book of 1 Samuel

By Ken Raggio

Samuel and the Kings

1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings contain historical tales of Israel from the time of Eli the High Priest, through the great prophet Samuel, King Saul, King David to King Solomon. One man, Samuel, played a central, preponderant role in Israel for forty years. He anointed King Saul, who ruled forty years, and King David, who also ruled forty years. Many of the richest texts in the Bible are contained here - awe-inspiring stories of how God worked through three generations. A must-read.

1 Samuel 3:4 - "...the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I."

The Lord Had Shut Up Her Womb

It is a hard saying, but sometimes barrenness is of the Lord. Elkanah had two wives. Peninnah had many children. Hannah had none. Peninnah tormented Hannah about her barrenness, but it drove her to her knees in desperate prayer. God eventually gave her a son named Samuel, but she gave him back to the Lord. Samuel grew up in the tabernacle, away from his mother, and became one of the greatest men of God of all times.

1 Samuel 1:6 - "...her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb."

Hannah's Prayer

Hannah was barren, and tormented by that fact. Years went by. In desperation, she went to the tabernacle at Shiloh to pray. She was so sorrowful that Eli the priest accused her of being drunken. But she defended herself and Eli blessed her. She promised God that if He would give her a son, she would consecrate him to the ministry for life. Soon, God gave her a son. Take your sorrows to God in prayer.

1 Samuel 1:20,27 - "...[she] called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD. ...For this child I prayed."

Hannah's Song

Hannah blessed the LORD after the sorrow of her barrenness and the torment of her enemy was lifted. Her song in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 declares the everlasting truth that God ultimately favors the righteous over the wicked, no matter how present conditions appear.

1 Samuel 2:6-9 - "The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. ...He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail."

You Cannot Outgive God

After many years of barrenness and sorrow, God gave Hannah a son. But she had vowed to the LORD that she would "give him unto the LORD all the days of his life." That was an unimaginable sacrifice for a mother, but she kept her vow. One day, while visiting her son, Samuel, at the tabernacle, Eli the priest blessed Hannah and her husband. God gave her five more children. God will remember your faithful, sacrificial giving and reward you gloriously.

1 Samuel 2:21 - "And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters."

Death of Hophni and Phinehas

Eli was the High Priest at the Tabernacle in Shiloh. His sons, Hophni and Phinehas were scandalous, having shameless greed for the offerings, and laying with the women who visited the tabernacle. God sent a messenger to Eli with dreadful judgment. Hophni and Phinehas would die in one day. God would raise up a new high priest (Zadok). Sin cannot prevail indefinitely. God will intervene.

1 Samuel 2:35 - "...I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house."

The Child Samuel

While the child Samuel ministered to the LORD before the High Priest, God awoke him three times in one night to tell him that Eli would soon be judged severely "because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." Samuel feared to show Eli the vision, but Eli pressed him. God has often used a child as mightily as any man. Men, take note! You can be replaced.

1 Samuel 3:18 - "And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good."

Samuel the Prophet

Not just any man can see and know the mind of the LORD. In the days of the Judges, there was "no open vision" in Israel. No particular person had ready understanding of God's doings. But that changed with Samuel. "The LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh" and everybody knew that he was an anointed prophet.

I Samuel 3:19-20 - "...Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD."

Eli Cursed, Ark Taken

The prophecy cursed Eli's household, and said Hophni and Phinehas must die for profaning the priesthood. The Philistines came to war. Israel foolishly took the Ark of the Covenant into battle for protection, but took a beating. 30,000 died. Hophni and Phinehas were killed. The Ark was taken. 98-year-old Eli heard the news, fell over and died. Phinehas' pregnant wife died delivering "Ichabod."

1 Samuel 4:21 - "...she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband."

God versus Idols

Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh, and set it in the house of their god, Dagon. First night, the idol fell over. They stood it up. Second night, it fell and broke into pieces. God killed many Philistines and smote the rest with hemorrhoids. They figured, wisely, that they had better return the Ark. NOBODY will ever get by blaspheming the Holy One of Israel - then or now!

1 Samuel 5:11 - "..[they] said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not."

Philistines Inquire of God

God plagued the Philistines for stealing the Ark of God. They asked, "What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it." On a cart pulled by two cows, they put the ark with a trespass offering. If the cows pulled it unassisted to Bethshemesh, that would prove that God sent the plagues. God speaks to sinners.

1 Samuel 6:12 - "...the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left."


God led the Ark to Bethshemesh atop the Philistines' cart. The Levites unloaded it and then burned the cart and cattle as a sacrifice to the LORD. Sinfully, the men of Bethshemesh looked into the Ark, forcing God to smite over 50,000 people. The survivors sent to Kirjathjearim asking them to come take the Ark away from Bethshemesh. When God comes into your midst, you must reverence His holiness or suffer consequences.

1 Samuel 6:20 - "...the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us?"

Call A Prayer Meeting

The Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, but it was a curse to them. They sent it back on a cart towed by two cows headed straight to Beth-shemesh. Sinfully, the men of Beth-shemesh looked into the Ark and sorely angered the Lord. God slew many Israelites in anger. Samuel called a nation-wide prayer meeting at Mizpeh. They repented, God heard them, and smote the Philistines in their behalf.

1 Samuel 7:5 - "...Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD."

Filthy Lucre

This is a cursed thing among God's people. The money coming into the ministry becomes their great lust. Eli's sons were greedy for the tabernacle offerings. God killed them. Samuel set up his sons as judges in Israel, but they too sinned with the money. This very situation precipitated the people's demand for a king. The judges let them down. Lust for money ruins a lot of otherwise good people and destroys legitimate ministries.

1 Samuel 8:3 - "[Samuel's] sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment."

Israel Gets A King

Samuel's sons were corrupt judges, so Israel's elders demanded a king. Samuel was upset because they would displace God's kingship with a man. He prayed. God gave him a prophetic message. He warned that a king would draft their sons and daughters into his service, and confiscate their flocks, herds, fields and vineyards. They would eventually cry out against his oppression. (That would happen many times - i.e., Rehoboam, Jeroboam). Nevertheless, they insisted on having a king like other nations.

1 Samuel 8:22 - "...the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king."

The Seer

God gave Samuel an open vision of His will for Israel. Israel knew him as their seer. Saul was looking for a seer to help him find his father's lost donkeys. Samuel was looking for a Benjamite whom God had informed him of the very day before. The two came together by divine arrangement. Saul found his donkeys, and Samuel found his king.

1 Samuel 9:18 - "Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house is. And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer:"

God Chooses Saul as King

The LORD told Samuel, "Tomorrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin and you will anoint him to be captain over my people Israel." When Saul arrived, the LORD said, "Behold the man whom I spake to thee of!" God will not always work His will so obviously, but He will always be in control.

1 Samuel 10:1 - "Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?"

Samuel Prophesies to Saul

After anointing Saul, Samuel prophesied signs that would prove God was with him. Two men at Rachel's tomb would tell him that his father's donkeys were found, and that his father sorrowed for him. At Tabor, three men traveling to Bethel would give him two loaves of bread. Past a garrison of Philistines, a company of prophets would prophesy and play instruments. The Spirit of the LORD would come upon him. He would prophesy and be turned into another man. Lesson? God confirms His word with signs!

1 Samuel 10:9 - "...all those signs came to pass that day."

A Kingdom is Born

Samuel called Israel together to inaugurate King Saul, but he could not be found. "Therefore they enquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come hither. And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff." They searched and found him. "See who the LORD has chosen." The people shouted, "God save the King!" Saul was reluctant to serve, but Samuel drafted the first national constitution, and the Kingdom of Israel was born by a divine mandate.

1 Samuel 10:25 - "...Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book."

Righteous Indignation

Saul shrank back from being king, and many in Israel opposed his appointment. That all changed after Ammonites declared war on Jabeshgilead. When Saul heard the threat, righteous indignation from the LORD rose up in him. He took an army to Jabesh and whipped the Ammonites soundly. At Gilgal, Israel made Saul king, and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. God can turn a reluctant participant into a gallant hero, even in the eyes of his detractors.

1 Samuel 11:6 - "...the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly."

The Sin of Prayerlessness

The Prophet Samuel was a hands-on man of God. He worked intimately among the people, making intercession for them, and leading them into the will of God as a nation. Because of Samuel's powerful role, two kings, Saul and David, established the kingdom of Israel, and it became a great nation. He was driven by the belief that it was a sin not to intercede. Oh, how we need that same conviction today! 

1 Samuel 12:23 - "God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you."

If Ye Rebel...

Samuel was deeply disturbed about Israel's untimely demand for a king. He reminded them that God advanced their former leaders - Moses, Aaron, and their judges; but God was always their king. They still wanted an earthly king, so God gave them one, with stern warnings: I will destroy you and your king if you do wickedly. Samuel then called down thunder and rain on them all day - a token demonstration of God's wrath, to make them fear God.

1 Samuel 12:25 - "But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king."

Doing Right Things the Wrong Way

Saul, Jonathan, and 3000 men had smitten a garrison of Philistines. But the Philistines regrouped with 30,000 chariots, 6000 horses, and countless soldiers. Saul prepared to attack them. Samuel was enroute, but Saul impatiently and improperly offered burnt offerings without him. Samuel arrived and rebuked Saul for breaking the law. He prophesied that his kingdom would not pass to his descendants.

1 Samuel 13:13-14 - "...Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, ...for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue."


Jonathan, King Saul's son, was between a rock and a hard place. Huge boulders were on either side, enemies in front of him, and no choice but to retreat or fight. He trusted that God could save either by many or by few. He and his armourbearer put their need before the Lord. The Philistines made the wrong move, signaling to Jonathan that God was with him. Two men took on an entire garrison of soldiers and won.

1 Samuel 14:14 - "And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men."

When Your Action Is A Prayer

Jonathan and his armourbearer sneaked away from Saul into a pass overlooking the Philistines. " may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few." Jonathan would attract their attention. If they called him up, it meant God would deliver them into his hands. The Philistines yelled, "Come up to us!" An earthquake shook. Jonathan and his friend slew twenty men immediately. Before sundown, all Israel fought and won a great victory. Sometimes, actions do the praying.

1 Samuel 14:23 - "...the LORD saved Israel that day."

God Answered Him Not - Ignored Prayer

Saul's early days as king were fraught with bad behavior. At first, he didn't want to be the king. Then he got impatient with Samuel and burned improper sacrifices. Then he would have killed his own son for ignoring a fast. But when Philistines came against him in fury, HE PRAYED! But God would not talk to him. If you want God to answer quickly, behave yourself.

1 Samuel 14:37 - "...Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day."

Israel Rescues Jonathan from Saul

The Philistines terrified Saul. He called a fast, cursing anyone who ate that day. Jonathan was in battle, so did not know. When Saul learned that Jonathan had eaten, he swore by God, "...thou shalt surely die, Jonathan." But justice vanquishes fools and their folly.

1 Samuel 14:45 - "...the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not."

Saul and the Amalekites

God commanded Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites. "Slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." With 210,000 men, Saul smote the city, but captured King Agag and kept the best animals to make sacrifices. God called him stubborn, rebellious and disobedient. That day, God rejected him from being king. Always obey God.

1 Samuel 15:22 - "Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."

Rebellion Is As Witchcraft, Stubbornness As Idolatry

Samuel told Saul that God chose him to lead Israel when he was little in his own sight. But stubborn disobedience ruined him and God rejected him. Samuel called for Agag the Amalekite king, and in front of Saul cut Agag into pieces - doing Saul's unfinished job. Samuel walked out, and never saw Saul again. Stubbornness and rebellion rejects God and His word.

1 Samuel 15:23 - "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king."

I Have Provided Me A King

God took the kingdom from Saul. Samuel said He "hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou." God knew all along that Saul would fail. God was angry at Israel for being impatient for an earthly king. Did God intentionally give them a loser to teach them a lesson? God knew that David would someday rule, but they would not trust Him until that day. Do not be impatient. God has a plan.

1 Samuel 16:1 - "...I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons."

Samuel Prays in Fear

Samuel grieved over Saul's failure, but God rebuked him and ordered him to Bethlehem to pick a king from Jesse's sons. Samuel was afraid Saul would find out. He prayed, "How can I go? ...he will kill me." God instructed him to take a heifer and make a sacrifice. "I will show thee what thou shalt do." Even great men of God like Samuel are sometimes gripped with fear. But prayer is still the answer. God wants you to call on Him.

1 Samuel 16:4 - "And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem."

The LORD Looketh On The Heart

What is in your heart? God looks into your heart to judge you. Your physical looks, your height, or your appearance cannot deceive God. Lots of people look better outside than they do inside, but God is not fooled. Samuel looked for a king among Jesse's boys, but none had the heart God wanted. He went outside and chose their little brother. What does God see in your heart?

1 Samuel 16:7 - "I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."

The Boy David

Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. But Samuel said, "The LORD hath not chosen these. Are here all thy children?" Many years earlier, this child prophet had "ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod." Now he is going to anoint a child king who will soon rule all of Israel - the legendary David.

1 Samuel 16:11 - "And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither."

An Evil Spirit From The LORD

When Samuel saw the ruddy little David, the LORD said "Arise, anoint him. For this is he." Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him king, and "the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward." You are not sovereign. God controls your destiny according to your heart. He guides the righteous by His Spirit, but if you are wicked, God may loosen Satan to totally wreck your destiny. (See 1 Corinthians 5:5.)

1 Samuel 16:14 - "The Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him."

David the Musician

An evil spirit from God troubled King Saul. His servants urged him to call a musician to sooth him. Saul consented, so they recommended David who "is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him." So David came, and Saul loved him greatly. David became his armourbearer. God shrewdly promoted David right into the palace.

1 Samuel 16:23 - "David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him."


For forty days, Goliath stood with the Philistines across a valley from Israel's army, shouting threatenings, insults and dares. Eight to ten feet tall and heavily armored, he dared fight any warrior. The loser's nation must serve the winner's. When David appeared, "the Philistine cursed David by his gods," and said "I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air." In God's name, David killed him instantly. Thus David conquered the Philistines for Israel.

1 Samuel 17:9 - "If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants."

Is There Not A Cause?

Jesse sent David to the battlefront with meals for his three brothers. David heard giant Goliath shouting threats against Israel, and replied, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" David thought somebody should kill Goliath and remove Israel's reproach. His brother rebuked him, but David replied, "Is there not a cause?" Unknowingly, David entered God's hall of fame that day. God promotes brave men with righteous convictions.

1 Samuel 17:31 - "When the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him."

Saul Blesses David

David had already slain a lion and a bear, and knew that with God's help, he would slay Goliath, the noisy enemy of God's people. David told Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine." Kings will gladly bless a true Savior.

1 Samuel 17:37 - "The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee."

This Day Will The LORD Deliver

David prophesied to Goliath, "This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; ...that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands."

1 Samuel 17:57 - "And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand."

In the Name of the LORD of Hosts

David refused Saul's armor - the brass helmet, the coat of mail, the sword. He had no experience with them. He preferred his sling and five smooth stones. But David did not trust his sling. He trusted the LORD of Israel's hosts. That will get you the victory.

1 Samuel 17:45 - "Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied."


Saul's son, Jonathan, saw David kill Goliath and became David's friend that day. Jonathan was also a brave warrior. They were kindred spirits. Our evil, unbelieving generation slanderously accuses them of having a perverse relationship, but the entire Bible opposes that argument. Wicked minds cannot comprehend genuine brotherly love. Jonathan recognized God's anointing on David and was willing to abdicate his own rights to the throne of Israel so David could fulfill God's will.

1 Samuel 18:1 - "The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul."

A Man's Gift

David was a man of war before he played the harp for King Saul. They introduced him as "cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, ...the LORD is with him." Proverbs 18:16 says, "A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men." David had at least two gifts; great talent and great bravery.

1 Samuel 18:5 - "David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people."

Evil Spirits Prophesy

The word "prophesy" means "to bubble forth, to effervesce." Prophecies flow from spirits, holy and unholy. Holy prophecies come from God. Unholy prophecies come from evil spirits. Not all unholy prophecies are false. Some are true, but have evil purposes. Saul prophesied by an evil spirit, while murdering David was on his mind.

1 Samuel 18:10 - "The evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, ...there was a javelin in Saul's hand. And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David."

Saul Could Not Prevent David's Destiny

The women of Israel sang and danced in the streets after David defeated the Philistines. They said, "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." This infuriated and frightened Saul. He plotted to kill David. He snared David by offering his daughter, Michal, in marriage. He required the foreskins of 200 Philistines as her dowry, thinking David would surely die in battle. But Saul could not prevent David's prophetic destiny.

1 Samuel 18:27 - "Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins."

Fleeing to the Man of God

Saul was insanely jealous of David, trying twice to murder him. David fled to the prophet Samuel in Ramah. Saul sent three companies to retrieve David, but the Spirit of God was so strong in the place that nobody could do anything but prophesy. Finally, Saul came. He rent his clothes and prophesied a day and a night. God dwells powerfully among his intercessors.

1 Samuel 19:20 - "When they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied."

The LORD Hath Sent Thee Away

Saul was determined to prevent David from becoming king, but Jonathan knew God was with David. He made covenant with David in exchange for David's blessing once becoming king and then hid David outside town. Jonathan learned of his father's evil intentions during dinnertime. Shooting three arrows as a signal, Jonathan warned David to flee far away. Jonathan knew God was working. Be sensitive to God's plan in your circumstances.

1 Samuel 20:22 - "If I say thus unto the young man, Behold, the arrows are beyond thee; go thy way: for the LORD hath sent thee away."


Ahimelech was the priest at Nob. David fled to him from Saul's assassination attempts. Ahimelech gave David the day-old shewbread, and Goliath's spear for David's protection. But Saul's servant, Doeg, betrayed David to Saul. David escaped, but Saul came and ordered Doeg to kill Ahimelech and all eighty five priests at Nob.

1 Samuel 22:18 - "And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod."

Killed for Praying

Saul hated Ahimelech the priest, partly for praying for David. Saul commanded his footmen to kill Ahimelech, but they refused. Like jealous Cain killing righteous Abel, sin lay at Saul's door. "A certain man ...was there that day, detained before the LORD" - Doeg was at Saul's door, killing 85 priests for him. Like Judas Iscariot, God turns evil men over to their devices, and the righteous suffer.

1 Samuel 22:13 - "Saul said unto [Ahimelech], Why have ye conspired against me, that thou hast given him bread, and a sword, and hast enquired of God for him?"


Exile is a major Bible principle, if not a doctrine. Virtually every major Bible character suffered a period of exile (Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, the Assyrian captivity, the Babylonian captivity, and many other examples). Why does God ordain His people to be separated from home and country? Because sin and righteousness are incompatible, and cannot dwell together. Exile is a reminder of the ongoing war between good and evil. Exile is companion to anointing.

1 Samuel 21:10 - "And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath."

Achish, King of Gath

Fleeing Doeg, David fled to Gath. The king's servants recognized him as the brave king of Israel who people sang and danced about. David feared King Achish was allied with Saul, so he feigned madness, scrabbling and drooling, to disguise himself. Achish ran him out of town. But they met again later and became fast friends. Achish donated Ziklag to David for a hometown. Sometimes, crazy situations can yet turn out for the good.

1 Samuel 21:15 - "Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence?"

"Mighty" Men

From Saul at Jerusalem, to Ahimelech at Nob, to Achish at Gath, David kept running to the cave Adullam. There, his family and friends came to his defense. "Every one that was in distress, debt, and ...discontented." What a motley crew! Whatever God gives you, take them. They became David's mighty men (2 Samuel 23:8).

1 Samuel 22:2 - "Every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men."

Thou Shalt Be In Safeguard

God's anointing on David caused him a lot of trouble, but ultimately, it was his best protection. After Saul killed 85 priests for taking sides with David, only one priest, Abiathar, escaped with his life. David regretted the casualties, but assured Abiathar he would be safe with him. David understood he had a divine destiny that no enemy could change. We should have as much confidence in our place with God.

1 Samuel 22:23 - "Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard."

Will they? Yes, they will.

Philistines attacked a town named Keilah. With his 400 men, David defeated them. But Saul came to Keilah to capture David. Abiathar the priest had the ephod, so David had him enquire of the LORD whether the men of Keilah would betray him to Saul. The LORD said that they would, so David took that warning, and he and his men scattered throughout the countryside. Thank God for His prophetic warnings.

1 Samuel 23:12 - "Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up."

Worthless Blessings

Samuel had pronounced doom on Saul and his kingdom, and anointed David to replace him. Nevertheless, Saul viciously and foolishly pursued David in defiance of God. The Ziphites claimed that they could deliver David into Saul's hands. Saul said, "Blessed be ye of the LORD." But the blessing was worthless. Instead of capturing David, Saul walked directly into David's hands. Nobody can curse what God has blessed, or bless what God has cursed. Remember Balaam.

1 Samuel 24:10 - [David said],"Thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave."

The Skirt of Saul's Robe

God literally delivered Saul into David's hands in a cave in the wilderness of Engedi. While Saul slept, David cut off the skirt of Saul's robe. But he felt guilty about it, and refused to touch God's anointed in any way. After Saul awoke, David showed him what he had done, and reminded him that he could have killed him, but did not. Saul wept and confessed his shame.

1 Samuel 24:20 - "Now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand."

Touch Not God's Anointed

David refused to touch God's anointed, King Saul, even though he was very evil against David. Consequently, God delivered Saul into David's hands, and Saul apologized to David. Immediately thereafter, however, David encountered Nabal, who was churlish, evil, insolent, insulting and railing against David. Amazingly, Nabal had a heart attack and died. Was God quick to avenge David because he had refused to harm Saul? Probably so. Touch not God's anointed.

1 Samuel 25:39 - "When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach."

Bound in the Bundle of Life

David sought food for his men from Nabal, who responded with a vicious verbal assault. David would have killed him, but Nabal's beautiful wife, Abigail, interceded with a generous supply of food and apologies for Nabal's insolence. She prophesied that God would avenge David without his having to shed blood. God killed Nabal and David married Abigail.

1 Samuel 25:29 "The soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling."

God Save Me As I Saved You

Ziphites again revealed David's hideout. Saul pursued with 3000 men. That night, David found Saul and Abner in deep sleep from the LORD. Abishai wanted to kill Saul but David stopped him, refusing to touch God's anointed. Instead, he took Saul's spear and cruise of water. From afar, David taunted Abner for failing to protect Saul. David honored and respected the fallen king. Godly men respect authority.

1 Samuel 26:24 - "As thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD."


After David got the best of Saul in the wilderness of Ziph, Saul promised not to pursue David any more. But David did not trust him. He fled back to Achish at Gath with 600 men. They stayed there sixteen months. David said to Achish, "If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country." Ziklag would be David's headquarters until God took Saul out of the picture.

1 Samuel 27:6 - "Achish gave him Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day."

Consulting Familiar Spirits

Saul faced a terrifying conflict with the Philistines. He sought the LORD, but God would not answer. Samuel was dead. Saul sent for a woman with a familiar spirit. She brought up a spirit appearing to be Samuel. The spirit rebuked Saul, reminding him that the curse was from the LORD. The spirit said Israel would lose the battle. Saul and his sons would die that day. Saul fell out on the floor, terrified. Seeking witches or wizards is an abomination to God.

1 Samuel 28:13 - "The woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth."

David Severs Ties With Achish

While Saul's tenure was ending, David's circumstances were changing too. While fugitive from Saul, David had survived with the help of Achish, King of Gath. But Achish was allied with Philistines who were preparing war against Israel. David was obliged to stand with Achish, but the Philistines knew who David was, and wanted him to get out of there. God was stirring up David's nest, because big changes were coming for him.

1 Samuel 29:4 - "The princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place."


The Amalekites which Saul would not destroy came to haunt David. While David and his men prepared war with Achish, the Amalekites raided Ziklag, capturing the women, children and livestock. When David returned home, he found Ziklag burned to the ground and everyone gone. Abiathar the priest brought the ephod and David called on God. "Shall I pursue after this troop?" God said, "Pursue." An Egyptian led them to their captives. God can enable you to recover all your losses. Seek His instructions.

1 Samuel 30:18-19 - "David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: ...David recovered all."

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When David recovered Ziklag, he recovered huge additional spoils from other cities of Judah and the Philistines. His men wanted it all for themselves, but David spread the wealth throughout Judah, even sharing with the soldiers who stayed home, exhausted from the previous war. Our efforts should be for the good of the entire kingdom of God, not just ourselves.

1 Samuel 30:24-25 - "As his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike. ...he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day."

Saul's Date With Destiny

The Philistines fought hard against Israel. Many were killed. Archers hit Saul, sorely wounding him. He told his armourbearer, "Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not." Saul took his sword and fell on it, but an Amalekite came along and finished him off. The Philistines cut off his head, stole his armour, and flaunted it when they got home. God rules.

1 Samuel 31:6 - "So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together."

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Ken Raggio

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