The Israelites had the meanest bunch of enemies they had ever seen: the Philistines. They came from the sea around 1100 BC. The Israelites were scared of the Philistines (fear). All they had to do was trust God (faith) and follow his instructions (Torah), and the LORD would take care of Israel’s enemies. The Israelites did not trust God or follow his instructions. They thought their way was better. So God gave them what they wanted:
an impressive king who would lead the Israelites into battle with the Philistines and win
And this king did succeed and win…for a while.
King Saul wasn’t great at following God’s instructions. The LORD would tell Saul something to do and he would do the opposite. He was living up to Israel’s aspirations for him: doing impressive things, but in the wrong way (not God’s way). God doesn’t want his people (especially his leaders) to be impressive, but rather obedient.
King Saul’s disobedience resulted in the crown of kingship no longer staying in his family. It would be passed to a new leader: one who will follow God’s instructions, who is a man after God’s own heart.
You can’t serve God halfway, you’ve got to obey!
God sent Samuel out to pick another king. This king would be the one who would follow God’s heart and not his own. Samuel was led to pick a young man named, David. Samuel anointed David with oil which is a sign that God was choosing David. When David was anointed the Spirit of the LORD came upon him.
The Philistines returned to fight Israel in force. This time they challenged Israel to single combat against their champion Goliath who was pretty tall and fierce. Goliath taunted the Israelites because no one was brave enough to fight him.
And then along comes David to bring food to his brothers. Young David heard Goliath’s taunts to God’s people and to God himself. David, filled with courage and the Holy Spirit, stepped up against Goliath and defeated him!
David’s unlikely victory over Goliath made him an overnight hero!
The rest of 1 Samuel (after chapter 17) is the story of two kings chosen by God duking it out.
King Saul made David a leader of his army and because the Spirit of the LORD was with David, he had great success. Saul started getting jealous of David’s growing accomplishments. Saul’s heart was full of hate toward David. Saul tried many times to kill David, but he was never successful. There were two times when David had the opportunity to kill Saul, but he wouldn’t kill someone God had chosen.
When David was running from King Saul’s many attempts on his life, great men started to run with him: his mighty men. Pretty soon, David had his own army running with him. They even took time to save different cities in Israel when they were attacked by other natives to the land of Canaan.
After about eight years of chasing David around trying to kill him, King Saul and his son, Jonathan (a close friend of David’s), were killed in a battle with the Philistines.
This is where the first book of Samuel ends.
Do you want to be part of God’s rescue plan? Do you want to be one of God’s heroes?
Then we need to learn more about David…