I Samuel closes with the death of Saul and his two sons at the hands of the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. According to the last chapter of I Samuel, Saul was hit by an arrow by one of the archers of the Philistines. It did not kill him, but it was a bad wound. He felt he was going to die of it, and so he asked his armor bearer to go ahead and kill him because he was afraid that if the Philistines would capture him, that they would torture him, that they would probably mutilate his body and even carry him alive back to the cities of the Philistines, that they might gloat over their victory. The armor bearer was afraid and hesitant to lay his hand upon Saul, and so Saul put his spear out in front of him, and fell upon his spear, and he died.
As we get into chapter 2, we get just a slightly different account of Saul’s death as told by this young man who brought the news to David. There are two possibilities: the first possibility is as Saul fell upon his sword, it is possible that he missed his heart. The idea was to set your sword by your heart, then you throw yourself against it. It could be that he missed his heart and that he still remained alive, and when this young fellow, the Amalekite came by, that he called unto him to come over and finish the job because he did not want to fall into the hands of the Philistines; and the Amalekite finished the job. That is the story the Amalekite told.
However, what probably happened is that this young Amalekite was trying to make himself sort of a hero in David’s eyes: knowing how Saul had been pursuing David, and the rough time that Saul had been giving David, as David actually fled for his life from Saul. He probably figured that David would reward him if he had been the one who had killed Saul. He was definitely looking for a reward. That we get from a further chapter in II Samuel, as David talks about this young Amalekite coming and telling of the death of Saul. He said, “He thought that I would reward him for his story, for what he had done.”
The Amalekites were a fierce nomadic tribe. God said that he had this thing against the Amalekites, and they would be an enemy throughout all the generations: for they had attacked Israel when Israel first came out of Egypt and was coming towards Mount Sinai, they were attacked in the rear by the Amalekites, attacking the elderly people, the feeble; and it was a sneak attack against Israel. Joshua lead the troops of Israel into victory over the Amalekites. As they were getting ready to come into the land of promise, God said to Moses, “When you have settled in the land, and you become strong, and you have peace from your enemies round about; then I want you to go down and settle the score with Amalek. I want you to go down and wipe them out because of their dastardly attack against Israel when you first came out of Egypt.” So, ‘you got a score to settle, in time to come; when you get strong and you are living peacefully in the land.’
So when Saul had established the kingdom, and they were living peaceably in the land, Samuel came to Saul, and said, “The LORD has said that you are to go down and utterly wipe out Amalek. Don’t leave anyone alive. Totally destroy them: all of their animals, everything they have; just utter devastation.” God was bringing His judgment against Amalek, and Saul was to be the instrument of judgment. Saul went down. God gave him victory over the Amalekites. However, he did not obey the command of God. As you remember, he kept some of the animals alive and he let a lot of the people remain alive; so that the Amalekites became a problem to Israel. They, as I said, were nomadic people. They were more or less as Bedouins. In fact, the modern Bedouins are, many of them, sort of descendants of the Amalekites.
After a battle, these people would go into the field of battle to strip the bodies of fallen soldiers: picking up whatever loot they could. They would then sell it. They would sell the swords, the spears, the arrows. They would pick up all of the things that were left in the battle field, and especially when a battle would move on. When you were pursuing the enemy, you wouldn’t have stopped to pick up things; you’re too busy pursuing the enemy. So these people would come on in, and they would strip all of the bodies.
And this Amalekite who came to David with the news of Saul’s death, was no doubt, one of these fellows who moved into the battle field after the battle had moved on, and the Philistines were pursuing the fleeing Israelis down toward the Jordan river: they moved into the area, and this fellow happened to cross king Saul. He recognized him probably because of his stature, his size, and then there was a golden band around his helmet, signifying the king’s crown, and then also his bracelet. And so, he seeing Saul, seeing Saul’s body, stripped it, and probably made up the story that Saul was still alive: figuring that it would sort of elevate him in David’s eyes; and ‘here, he has destroyed David’s enemy,’ and figured that he would get some kind of a reward from David for his bringing the loot to David — and then sort of a double reward for his story of his killing Saul.
Those are the two possibilities. I personally feel that the Amalekite was a liar, but you can’t prove it.
So, chapter one: —
When David went with his men he had left in Ziklag – to join the Philistines in the battle against Israel, [but then rejected by the Philistines lords], when they got back to Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had invaded that area. They had moved in when they saw the guys moving out. They thought, “all right,” and they moved in, and took all the women captive, and all of the cattle, the sheep, and all the children. And they made off with them: planning to sell the women and the children as slaves, and enjoy the loot. When David and his men came back, they found the city of Ziklag like a ghost town. Their wives were gone, their children were gone, all of their cattle, and sheep, and donkeys were gone. And so David pursued after the Amalekites, caught up with them, wiped them out, then got his wives, and the children, and all – and returned back to Ziklag.
Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had been back in Ziklag now for two days; —
Having come back from the slaughter; and of course, bringing all the children and the cattle is probably a slower movement. He caught up with Amalekites in three days, but it was probably eight days or so getting back with all the children.
It came to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes torn, and earth upon his head: —
This is, of course, a cultural way of showing grief. Ashes or dirt on your head, and your clothes ripped: you have a great emotional experience of grief or sorrow. You’d rip your clothes and put ashes on your head, or dirt on your head. Here came this man, dirt on his head, his clothes were torn.
And so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance to David. [He bowed to him] And David said to him, Where have you come from? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel I have escaped. And David said unto him, How went the matter? [David was concerned of course of Israel’s fate knowing that the Philistines are gone up with the tremendous army; and David inquired,] How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people of Israel have fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and are dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.
In spite of the fact that David was pursued by Saul and mistreated, David still highly respected him. But David loved Jonathan. And the news that Saul and Jonathan were, both of them, slain in the battle, hit David very hard. I am certain that David, in a sense, felt a responsibility. Had he been able to have been in battle with them, they probably could have turned the tide against the Philistines.
So David said unto the young man who told him, How do you know that Saul and Jonathan are dead? And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, [That is an unlikely story: he was probably just up there to loot, knowing that the fight was going on] behold, Saul had leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and the horsemen were following hard after him. And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and he called unto me. And I answered, Here am I. And he said unto me, Who are you? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite. He said unto me, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is still whole in me. [“I am not dead. I am in this horrible situation.” He has got an arrow through him, and a sword through him, but he is still living. So he said,] I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after he was fallen: and I took the crown that was on his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and I have brought them hither unto my lord. David took hold on his clothes, and he tore them; and likewise all of the men that were with him: And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they had fallen by the sword. And David said unto the young man that told him, Where are you from? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, I am an Amalekite. And David said unto him, How is it that you were not afraid to stretch forth your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed? And David called one of his young men, and said, Go over there, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died. And David said unto him, Your blood be upon your head; for your mouth has testified against you, saying, I have slain the LORD’s anointed. And David lamented with his lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: —
So we find that David rewarded the guy, but not like he was expecting. David had one of the young men put him to death because he had put his hand against Saul who had been God’s anointed. God had said in His word, “Touch not my anointed, and do my prophet no harm.”
With you — I am quite concerned with what’s happening today: as far as the scandals that have come to some of the national TV personalities who have been broadcasting Christian style of programming. I hardly know where to personally stand in the issues; except that I do feel that it is manifestly wrong to, number 1, beg people for money for the work of God. I don’t think God is broke, and I don’t think God is going to allow His program, His work, to die for a lack of financing. I believe that when God guides, God provides. It is wrong to beg people to give to God.
I think it is doubly wrong if you beg people to give to God, and you use that money to live an extravagant and lavish lifestyle. I think that if you are begging people to give to God, then you ought to live a life style that is very simple. And its manifestly wrong to have huge salaries, and fancy cars, houses in the resort areas. That is wrong. There’s absolutely no justification for that at all. And thus, I believe that God may let a person get by with these things for a time, but ultimately it will catch up with them.
However, I don’t want to be the person who lays my hand against them; per chance, they did have a true anointing of God at one time on their lives.
It is for certain that the anointing had left Saul a long time ago, and yet, David still had a respect for Saul because he had been anointed with oil to be the king over Israel. And so, I believe that even as God can provide for His own programs, that God can also bring down those who become a stumbling block — and God will bring them down.
I don’t think that God has called me as His instrument to bring them down. And so my whole posture in this whole thing has been just to stand back, and I just read the newspapers like you do — and I see what is going on. It is sad, and tragic, and my heart breaks over it. My heart has been breaking for a long time. My heart has been breaking over their lavish life styles. That has hurt me for a long, long time. But now the exposure to the whole world to me is sad and tragic, indeed. It is a very sad indictment against Christianity because it sort of puts a black mark against all of Christianity, because of the things that they were doing.
Second thing — to change gears: we’re shifting, we are going in a different direction now. That’s enough of that. It is interesting, if this young man’s story is true, if he really did find Saul still alive and finished the job, it would, in a sense, be poetic justice because Saul had rebelled against God when God commanded him to utterly wipe out the Amalekites. He left some of them alive, and his failure to obey completely the Word of God cost him his own life. That is, one that he should have wiped out, because of God’s command, ultimately wiped him out.
It comes doubly meaningful, when you realize in the Scriptures, that the Amalekites are a type of our flesh life, or our life after the flesh. Now, we live in a body: and living in a body, we have body appetites. That’s the way we were created. That’s biological, and it’s just part of God’s marvelous creation. However, what God did not intend is that man be ruled by his body appetites. God intended that man be ruled by His Spirit in fellowship with God; and that, really, my life should be ruled over by God. That’s God’s intent and purpose for me, for you: that He is the Lord. That’s what we mean when we say, “Christ is Lord”: it means that He rules over our lives. We are not ruled over by the flesh, but we are ruled over by the Spirit.
The Bible says that if the flesh is ruling over you, then you have what is termed, “the mind of the flesh.” That is what are you thinking about all the time. You are thinking about your body needs: “What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?” Jesus said, “[After all these things do the Gentiles, or the heathen, seek.]” But you are not to seek those things, you are to seek first the kingdom of God: the spiritual things, His righteousness. These other things will be taken care of. Get the right priorities in your life: get God first, the things of the Spirit first; these other things will all fall into line.
But man’s lives are all up-side down today. They’re topsey-turvey today because man is thinking, and scheming, and working to try to satisfy his body appetites. But it is a monster. The more you feed it, the more it grows, the greater the demands! So, you can’t really satisfy your body appetites. It is just a monster that begins to eat you up.
Paul said, “Godliness with contentment is really being rich.” He said, “I have learned, in whatever state I am in, to therewith be content.” A man walking after the Spirit can learn that. You live a contented life because you are not living after the flesh.
Now, this is the problem with some of these evangelists. They got trapped in that living after the flesh life, and it became a monster that ate them up. I am no different, and you are no different than they are. If you start living after the flesh, that monster will eat you up. It grows. You can get in that mode, and I’ll tell you, it will just take over. So, “let he that thinks he stands take he lest he falls.”
There is a danger that any of us could be giving over ourselves to the flesh, develop the mind of the flesh, and be destroyed by the flesh. But that is basically what God is saying when he said, “Go down, and utterly wipe up Amalek.” Totally destroy the flesh. God said to us, “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the desires of it.” God said, “If you by the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, then you will live.” The Bible says, “Know ye that the old man, the nature of the flesh, was crucified with Christ? Therefore reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
It’s important that we take this stand of reckoning the old flesh life to be dead: utterly, completely; -don’t give place to it. But if we, as Saul, rebel against God and leave an area still alive, that area will rise up to destroy us, ultimately. It’s really sort of a “destroy, or be destroyed” kind of thing. That’s what God gave to Saul: the order to destroy completely. When Saul disobeyed, and the prophet met him, he said, “[Don’t you realize] that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft?” Interesting that Saul later turned to witchcraft, isn’t it? But you see it was already in his heart, the rebellion against the Word of God. “It’s as the sin of witchcraft.”
So Saul was slain, perhaps by the hand of the Amalekite. We don’t know if he is telling the truth to David or not, but the Amalekite is ordered to be destroyed by David.
And then, David wrote this lamentation for Saul and Jonathan his son. But then it says, “he also ordered them to teach the children of Judah the use of the bow:”
“There is a time”, it says, “to laugh, and a time to cry; a time to be born, and a time to die”; a time and a place for everything. There is a time and a place for sorrowing and grieving, but then there is a time to quit sorrowing and grieving, and to pick up the pieces and to start over again. It is dangerous when a person, grieving over a loss, sort of becomes inactive, sort of just quits living, sort of just closes the windows and the doors around him, and just sits there and thinks of, “oh, how sad I am; and how horrible are the circumstances of life that it brought me this bereavement, and grief, and sorrow.” People can actually die as the result of their grief over their losses. An important thing, when you are experiencing a loss and the grieving over a loss, is to get busy: do something, develop a new talent, learn a new skill, get involved in a new hobby, keep active, keep busy, keep your mind active and busy; or else you are just going to atrophy.
David said, “Go out and teach your children how to use the bow.” Of course he realized from this battle that the bow and the arrow were going to become a very important instrument of future wars. It was used effectively in this battle against Saul. Saul was slain by the arrow that was shot at a distance. Saul was invincible in hand to hand combat. He is a big guy. “From his sword”, it said, “he didn’t turn back empty.” This guy was tough in hand to hand combat. He had been in many of them and always come out on top. Now he felt prey to the archers.
David could see, from having a keen military mind, he could see that this was going to be revolutionary as far as future wars are concerned. So to prepare them for the future battles, “teach them the use of the bow”; learning from the past, from Saul. Then also, the teaching of the use of the bow was a memorial unto Jonathan, who was an archer. And thus, a very fitting, living memorial as the children would be taught the use of the bow and the arrow; and, of course, we’d remember Jonathan whenever they were using the bow and the arrow.
So David bade them to teach the children of Judah the use of the bow. But here is the lamentation: The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are thy mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath.
Which, of course, was one of the major Philistine cities. The city where David actually found refuge. “Don’t let them know in Gath [that it’s happened.]” Of course, they already knew: they had carried Saul’s head through Gath. They took his head off and carried it through all the Philistine cities so that they could rejoice over their victory.
Publish it not in the streets of Askelon;
You see, when they would come back victorious from war, then the ladies would all come out and they had great celebrations: dances, and jubilation over their victories. You remember when Saul would come through the villages, having come from the victories in war, the ladies would come out with tambourines, and they would dance, and they would sing, “Saul has killed his thousands.” David didn’t want the Philistines to have this kind of a celebration because the people of God had fallen to the Philistines. So,
Don’t publish it in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. Then to the mountain of Gilboa where Saul fell, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anoint with oil.
Now, the interesting thing about this particular portion of David’s lamentation, “let there be no dew or rain”, and let it be sort of barren: as you know, when the Jews began to return to the land of Israel, they began great reforestation projects all over Israel. Hundreds of millions of trees were planted all over Israel. But they have left an area on mount Gilboa without trees. “Let it be barren.” And really, because of this lamentation of David and his declaration, “let it be barren” and all, they won’t plant trees on this northern most portion of mount Gilboa. So that, when you go there today, it is still a barren area. It is, interestingly enough, an area that gets very little rain. It is just geographically positioned so that it gets very little rain, and thus, it is pretty barren on that northern most portion of mount Gilboa. And when you go there today in the tour busses, and you look at it, the tour guides will often read to you this passage of Scripture: as you look at that barren mount Gilboa, they will read this passage of Scripture. And it becomes very graphic, and alive: looking at that barren mountain side.
Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.
Now, there is a question here: you notice that a lot of the words here are italicized: “The shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, — the shield of Saul, — not anointed with oil” : the words — as though they had been added by the translators, which could be an interpretation rather than a translation. There are certain scholars that believe that it’s not a referring to Saul’s being anointed with oil to be king, but with a common practice in battle. In those days they would pour oil on their shields, so that the spears, or whatever that is tossed at them, would slip off more easily. When they would hit the oily shield, they would glance off more readily; and so there is that area of thought.
Notice that the words are italicized in the King James Version. That’s one of the reasons why I like King James: at least you know when they are adding to it. A lot of the new ones, they just add to it, you don’t even know when. But with King James, where they added to the text for clarification, the words that do not appear in the original text, but are additional, are italicized so that you know that they have been added by the translators. So if you just take out the italicized word, you can see where it could possibly just refer to the shield of Saul, rather than Saul’s anointing as king.
From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, Jonathan – an archer, and from the sword of Saul it returned not empty. Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: Joined together in life, joined together in death: father and son: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. And they were a powerful pair. They had been a nemesis to the Philistines for many years. Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, and with other delights, who put ornaments of gold upon your apparel. How are the mighty fallen in the midst of battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
Those from the homosexual community like to take this verse, and suggest that possibly David and Jonathan had a homosexual relationship. Such, to me, is blasphemous. There is no indication of that at all and certainly David could not be declared to be a man after God’s own heart if he had this kind of a relationship with Jonathan, which, according to the Old Testament scriptures, a person involved in such relationships was to be stoned to death. And so I think that that’s utter nonsense, and it’s only people trying to excuse their woeful, sinful ways that would even suggest such a thing.
For the third time within the lamentation, How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished! So the mighty have fallen.
It came to pass after this, that David inquired of the LORD.
Now, you remember, we have pointed out that David’s experience in the land of the Philistines was an experience of backsliding. David did some pretty raunchy things. He is still not out of the woods. David is not a pure man, David is not an innocent man; in fact, David is a pretty guilty man in many areas. So much so, that when David desired to build a house for GOD, GOD said, “Sorry, David: I can’t allow you to build a house for Me. You are too raunchy a character. You have got too much blood on your hands. You are a guilty man, David. I just can’t have you building a house for me. Your son, Solomon, a man of peace, he can build a house for me. But it would be just too inconsistent for you to build a house for me.” So David was not allowed the privilege of building a house for GOD because of his background.
And now, as we pointed out: that when he went down to the land of the Philistines, he had not inquired of the LORD. He wasn’t seeking the guidance or the counsel of GOD. While in the land of the Philistines, there is no mention of his seeking the counsel of God. He just joins with Achish to go fight against Israel. He didn’t seek the LORD of whether or not he should do it. It was not until he came back to Ziklag and found that he had been wiped out: his family, his wives, and the possessions had been ripped off — that he began to seek the LORD again. Tragedy brought him back to seeking God.
Unfortunate, isn’t it, that so many times it takes tragedy to bring us back to GOD? You know, we sort of go our own willful way, we sort of leave God out of it, we sort of strike out on our own and say, “Well, okay GOD: I know how to do it now. Thanks for Your help, but I can make it from here.” We start going out on our own way until we get into a real jam, and then we seek the LORD. The LORD says, “Okay. You want to go on your way? Fine.” And then we get in a real mess, and then we say, “Oh, GOD: why did You allow me to get into this mess?” Isn’t it interesting how we like to blame GOD for everything that has gone wrong, when we’ve really told God, “leave me alone, and lay off, and give me a break, and I will be able to handle it myself”? And then when the mess comes, we say, “GOD: why did You put me in this mess?”
David is now seeking the LORD again. He inquired of the LORD saying,
Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah? He was in the Philistine city of Ziklag. Shall I go back to the cities of Judah? And the LORD said unto him, Go back. David said, Where shall I go? Good. He is learning. Not only do you get the word to go: Where shall I go? The LORD said, Hebron. So David went up to Hebron, with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal’s wife the Carmelite. And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were the ones who had buried Saul.
You remember, the Philistines beheaded Saul, and then they hung his body, and Jonathan’s, on the wall there in Bethshean. The men of Jabeshgilead from across the Jordan river, when they heard of the desecration of their bodies, they came at night, and they got the bodies, and took them back to Jabeshgilead where they cremated them. And then they buried the ashes, the remains. So, it is told David that the men of Jabeshgilead did this heroic action in saving the bodies of Saul and Jonathan from further desecration.
David sent messengers unto the men of Jabeshgilead, and said unto them, Blessed are you of the LORD, for you have showed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him. And now the LORD show kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because you have done this thing. Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, be valiant: for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.
So while he is in Hebron, a city of Judah, the men of Judah came and they anointed David king. You remember that David had been anointed when he was a child. Samuel was sent to the house of Jesse to anoint one of his sons to be the king when GOD rejected Saul from being king over Israel, the result of Saul’s rebellion against God — refusal to obey God’s orders. God said to Samuel, Go and anoint one of the sons of Jesse. Jesse brought in his seven sons, and he said, “Don’t you have any others?” asked Samuel. “Oh, there is just one. He is just a kid in his field watching the sheep”, his dad said. “Call him in.” So, he went over, and whistled, and David came running in: a little sweaty kid came in from watching the sheep. The LORD said, “That’s the one.” And Samuel poured the oil over David’s head and he was anointed the king.
But now the people are recognizing what God has done. It’s interesting how that oftentimes the people are way behind GOD: GOD has done something years in advance, and now the people are finally recognizing God’s anointing upon David, and they anoint him king. When David sends the message to Jabeshgilead, he says, “Hey, you have done a good job. Be valiant, be strong. I recognize what you have done: I requite it to you. Incidentally, Judah has anointed me king.” It was more or less, “Incidentally, they have anointed me king, would you be interested in my reigning over you, also”?
However, Abner, who was the general of Saul’s army, had escaped from the hands of the Philistines. Now if Abner had been doing his job — he was the chief bodyguard of Saul. You see, he should been around Saul when Saul was in trouble. It could be that he was out ahead on the way to the river. But anyhow, he wasn’t there; and he did escape from the Philistines, which means that he was beating a pretty hasty retreat from the battle.
But he was captain of Saul’s host, and he took one of the sons of Saul Ishbosheth, and he brought him to Mahanaim; which is on the other side of Jordan river in the area of Jabeshgilead. And there he made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, over Ephraim, and Benjamin, and over all of Israel.
So, in a sense, the kingdom was divided: David ruling over Judah, and the son of Saul, Ishbosheth, ruling over the remainder of Israel: Abner, being the chief instigator, being the general of the army, had sort of a military takeover and military government set up where Ishbosheth sort of became the figure head king.
So Israel followed after Ishbosheth, where he reigned for two years. But the house of Judah followed after David. And the time that David was the king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
So he didn’t ascend immediately to the throne, but there was a good period of time that he was still living in Hebron as king over Judah.
Now, Abner is a pretty rough guy, and so is Joab. In fact, Joab is a very rough guy. He is David’s chief general – and David had trouble with Joab because he was just a tough, crude, rough guy. Later on, when David was dying and he was turning the kingdom over to his son, Solomon, he said, “Solomon, I want you to take care of Joab. Don’t let his gray head go down to the grave in peace. Execute him. He has been a bad hombre’ all the way along. He has done some bad things. He has murdered some men; so don’t let his gray hairy head, [or “hoary head”: hoary head would be frosted head,] the gray hair go down to the grave in peace.”
So here, Abner, who was the general over the armies of Israel, and Joab, who was over David’s armies, they met at the pool by Gibeon: and they sat down on either side of the pool. And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and entertain us. And Joab said, Let them go for it.
This was sort of a gladiator kind of a thing. “Let the guys, like the gladiators in the arena, let them fight to death: entertain us. We’ll watch them kill each other.”
We say we’ve advanced, but have we? I sometimes question. I have difficulty when some guy can take a high power rifle and just start wiping out people indiscriminately, shooting at everything. So, we say we have advanced so far, but sometimes I wonder. I see Charles Manson and some of these prison interviews, and I just wonder: how far have we advanced? Is it that our laws are more advanced? I don’t know.
But anyhow, the Romans: they had the same kind of gladiator things, they had the sacrifice of the Christians to the lions, and they got some kind of a joy out of watching the lions rip up people, and watching the gladiators kill each other. So this is sort of a presaging all of that, as they said, “Let the guys go down out and fight, entertain us.”
And there arose and went out by number twelve from the tribe of the Benjamin, and twelve of the servants of David. And they caught every one of his fellow by the head, they each grabbed hold of the other guy’s head and they all of them thrust their spears through the other guys; and all twenty four were dead. So they fell down together. Great entertainment! Wherefore the place was the name the field of swords,
And that sort of spurred, then, the whole battle: then they all jump in, you know, and start fighting and wailing away at each other.
There was a very sore battle that day; Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David. And there were three sons of Zeruiah, who was David’s uncle, Joab was actually David’s cousin. And his three cousins Joab, Abishai, and Asahel were there in the battle and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild deer. He was really fleet of foot. And Asahel chased or pursued after Abner; and in going he turned not to the right hand or to the left from following Abner. Abner was running, and Asahel was matching him step for step, just right behind him. And Abner looked behind him and said, Are you Asahel? And he said, I am. And Abner said to him, Turn aside to the right or to the left, and grab hold of one of the young men, and take his armour. Let’s have a fair fight. I will give you a chance. But Asahel would not turn aside from following him. And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn aside from following me: Man, you are bugging me: why should I smite you to the ground? how then should I hold up my face to Joab your brother? Howbeit he refused to turn aside: wherefore Abner with the hinder part of his spear smote him under the fifth rib, caught his heart, and there the spear came out from behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place: it came to pass, as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died they stood still. As the men of David were pursuing, they came to Asahel, they saw him, they were shocked, they just stood there. And Joab and Abishai the brothers were pursuing after Abner: and the sun was going down when they were come to the hill of Ammah, that lies before Giah by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon. And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner, and became one troop, and stood on the top of the hill. Then Abner called to Joab, and said, Shall the sword devour forever? don’t you know that it will be bitterness in the latter end?
“Wake up, man. You are doing foolish things. Let’s not devour each other forever, it is going to just be bitterness in the end.”
How long shall it be, before you order the people back from chasing us? And Joab said, As God lives, unless you had spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone up every one from following his brother. So Joab blew the trumpet, all of Israel stood still, the people of David, they pursued after Israel no more, neither did they fight any more. And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain, they passed over Jordan, they went through all of Bighorn, and they came to Mahanaim. And Joab returned from following Abner: and when he had gathered all the people together, there lacked of David’s servants nineteen men and Asahel. A total of twenty were lost. But the servants of David had killed of Benjamin, and Abner’s men, three hundred and sixty. And they took up Asahel, and buried him in the sepulchre of his father, there in Bethlehem. And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at break of day.
There is where we are going to leave them, and we will take up the study the next time in chapter 3.
This part, of course, is hard to get too inspired over. It’s pretty much history, but gory history at places. There are, however, lessons to be learned. And as we come to these applications, where possible, we will try to point out important lessons for us to learn. It’s a wise man who can learn from the mistakes of others: and grow, and develop his position from learning from history. It’s a fool that just looks at history and doesn’t use the lessons to guide his own life now. And surely in the lesson tonight, we learn how to properly deal with grief. We learn the importance of living after the Spirit. We learn how that following after the flesh is always disastrous, how important it is to maintain a fellowship with God, and seek God in the decision making processes of our lives.
As long as David sought the LORD, and sought the guidance of God, he was doing all right. When he went out on his own, he would strike out every time. True of all of us. If we seek the Lord, God will guide us right. But if we go out on our own, hey, you are just going to strike out. So, how important that we give God the opportunity of guiding our lives. That we inquire of the Lord before venturing out. The Bible says, that if we, Trust in the LORD with all of your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him, ask Him, ask for guidance he shall direct our paths. If you are a child of God, if you are coming with an earnest heart, saying, “God, please show me the right way”, He is not going to lead you down the wrong path, and say, “Oh, Ha Ha Ha. Watch him when they get down there”, you know. Disaster: “Watch that bridge blow up when they are going over it.” No! He is not going to lead you into some disastrous situation. You go into those places when you don’t listen to Him and you think you know better and you disregard His counsel. That’s when you get into trouble. So, In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.
May the Lord be with you. Watch over, and keep you. Bless you in all your ways: and I can’t resist it, aloha! [Chuck goes to Hawaii!]
May the LORD richly bless you, as you continue to study His Word.
Edited & Highlighted from “The Word For Today” Transcription, Pastor Chuck Smith, Tape #7091