Copyright, John T. Stevenson, 2000

Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek.

And the Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel. When the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. (1 Samuel 4:1-2).

The Philistines had become the dominate force along the Mediterranean coastline in the latter days of the Judges. It is from this group that we derive the name "Palestine."

During the reign of Rameses 3rd of Egypt, this area had experienced a massive wave of migrations. The Sea Peoples had swept down the coast toward Egypt and were only turned away after a terrible battle on the Nile River. One tribe of these Sea Peoples were the Peleset - the Philistines. They had settled on the southeastern coast of the Mediterranean, establishing themselves in five cities on the coastal plain. For years there had been discord between the Philistines in the lowlands and the Israelites who lived in the hills.

Indeed, the reason that the Israelites lived in the hills is because the Philistines had iron chariots and this gave them greater mobility in the lowlands and made them masters of the coastal areas (Judges 1:19). But now, for the first time, the Israelites fight a pitched battle against the Philistines. The result is disastrous.

The place of this battle was known as Ebenezer. The name "Ebenezer" is a compound made up of the joining of two words.

a. Eben is the word for "stone."

b. Ezar is the verb, "to help."

It therefore means "the stone of help." Unfortunately, there was no help for the people of Israel on that day.



When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies."

So the people sent to Shiloh and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts who sits above the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. (1 Samuel 4:3-4).

In light of their defeat, the Israelites determine to bring the ark of the covenant with them into their next battle against the Philistines. They are thinking of it as a good like charm (they had been watching too many Harrison Ford movies). The second battle is another defeat for Israel.

First Battle of Ebenezer

4,000 Israelites killed

Second Battle of Ebenezer

30,000 Israelites killed

The ark is taken

Hophni & Phinehas are killed

When Eli the judge of Israel hears the news that the ark has been taken, he falls backward off his seat, breaks his neck and dies "for he was old and heavy" (Judges 4:18). Eli illustrates the tragedy of a lack of church discipline. He allowed his sons to remain in the priesthood and did not seek to have them removed, in spite of the fact of their continuing sin.

The wife of Phinehas hears the news. She is pregnant and the shock of this tragedy brings on the labor pains. As she dies in childbirth, the women try to console her, telling her that she has given birth to a son. But with her dying breath, she names the child "Ichabod."

And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel," because the ark of God was taken and because of her father-in-law and her husband.

And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken." (1 Samuel 4:21-22).

Note: Ichabod" uses a very rare form of the negative particle found normally only in Ugaritic and Phoenician.



1 Samuel 5 records the travels of the ark of the covenant after it had fallen into the hands of the Philistines.






Idol of Dagon first found on its face.

It is again on its face, this time with head hand hands removed.

People broke out with tumors.



A very great confusion.

The men of the city smitten with tumors.



A very great confusion.

The men who did not die were smitten with tumors.

The ark was considered to be the throne of God. God was described as "the Lord of hosts who sits above the cherubim" (4:4). Since the God of Israel was invisible, His presence could only be determined by the place where He would sit.

"Dagon" was the god of the Philistines. Though the name is similar to , the Hebrew word for "fish," more recent archaeological studies have identified Dagon as a Canaanite deity which had been borrowed by the Philistines. In Ugaritic literature he is the father of Baal. Dagon was the god of grain.

The significance of the idol being found face down before the ark of the Lord is obvious. And when, the following day, the people found the idol again face down and this time with its head and hands removed, it is an obvious indication that Yahweh had defeated Dagon in battle and had removed these battle trophies, much the same way that David would later remove the head of Goliath.

After seven months of passing the ark from city to city, the Philistines determine to send it back home to the land of the Israelites. They do so, sending it back with an offering of five golden tumors and five golden mice (hoping that this would take away the plagues of tumors). They place these along with the ark onto an ark pulled by two cows.

 1. Beth-shemesh.

And the cows took the straight way in the direction of Beth-shemesh; and they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left. And the lords of the Philistines followed them to the border of Beth-shemesh.

Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they raised their eyes and saw the ark and were glad to see it.

And the cart came into the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite and stood there where there was a large stone; and they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. (1 Samuel 6:12-14).

Beth-shemesh is located on the east end of the Sorek Valley, near to where Samson had lived. Its name means "house of the sun." It had been allotted in the days of Joshua to the priests (Joshua 21:16).

These people working out in their fields look up to see a strange procession. A pair of oxen pulling a cart on which rests the throne of God. And behind them come five kings and all of their retainers. It was as though the Lord were leading all of the enemies of Israel in a triumphant parade.

The people of Beth-shemesh respond in worship, taking apart the cart on which the ark was transported and using both the wood and the oxen as a sacrifice to the Lord.

And He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. He struck down all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because the Lord had struck down the people with a great slaughter. (1 Samuel 6:19).

The Philistines had suffered because of the presence of the ark in their cities, but the Israelites were no less immune to the results of a careless treatment of the ark. It is not as though they were ignorant of the importance of the ark. These were Levites. They would have been familiar with the requirements of the Law. They would have known that, in the days in the Wilderness, only the sons of Aaron had been permitted to handle the ark - that even they did not presume to look within the ark, but reverently covered it with a veil each time they were required to move it (Numbers 4:5-20).

The number translated as 50,070 men reads differently in the Hebrew text (literally, 70 men, 50,000 men).

Aside from the fact that there were not this many men in the town of Beth-shemesh, the construction of the Hebrew suggests that this reading might be the result of a textual error, even though this is not apparent from either the Massoretic text or from the Septuagint.

2. Kiriath-jearim.

And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took the ark of the Lord and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord.

And it came about from the day that the ark remained at Kiriath-jearim that the time was long, for it was twenty years; and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. (1 Samuel 7:1-2).

Demoralized by the death of their men, the people of Beth-shemesh sent the ark 10 miles up the road to the town of Kiriath-jearim (only 8 miles from Jerusalem). It is placed into the keeping of Abinadab and his son Eleazar. The ark will remain there until being brought to Jerusalem in the days of David.



Samuel was to be the last judge of Israel. His ministry is one which connects the period of the judges with that of the kings.

1. Call to Repentance.

The capture of the ark had been due to the unfaithfulness of Israel. The spiritual leaders of the nation had turned their hearts away from the Lord and He, in turn, had brought judgment upon the nation.

Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, "if you return to the Lord with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the Lord and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines."

So the sons of Israel removed the Baals and the Ashtaroth and served the Lord alone. (1 Samuel 7:3-4).

It was not only the priests and spiritual leaders of the nation who had been in sin. The Israelites had begun to engage in idol-worship. Samuel calls for repentance. This repentance is threefold:

Jesus pointed out this principle when He said that "no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other" (Matthew 6:24).

2. Victory Over the Philistines.

Now when the Philistines heard that the sons of Israel had gathered to Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the sons of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.

Then the sons of Israel said to Samuel, "Do not cease to cry to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines." (1 Samuel 7:7-8).

What was it that caused the Philistines to attack Israel at this particular time? It was because they heard that the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah. Perhaps they viewed this gathering as a military threat.

Satan always attacks when he sees God's people repenting of their sins. He views this, not as a military threat, but as a spiritual threat.

Samuel also views this as a spiritual battle. And so, he does not prepare the men for battle. He does not beat any plowshares into swords. He does not suggest an armament plan or devise a strategy. Instead, he performs an act of WORSHIP.

Now Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, and the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel.

And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and struck them down as far as below Beth-car. (1 Samuel 7:10-11).

The Lord wins the battle. And He does so in a way that is reminiscent of the days of Joshua. You remember the story. Joshua was fighting an alliance of five kings and he called upon the sun and the moon to stand still and they obeyed him. The Lord sent great hailstones against the enemies of Israel when killed more than were killed in the fighting. And the Israelites pursued their enemies down the descent of Beth-horon.

Now it happens again.

If I had been there prior to the battle, I might have been tempted to say, "Hey guys, I know that God used to do this sort of thing, but times have changed. That was a long time ago in another age and God doesn't do that sort of thing anymore." There is a lesson here. It is that we dare not underestimate the power of God.

3. The Memorial at Ebenezer.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it as far as below Beth-car and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the Lord has helped us." (1 Samuel 7:12).

The word Ebenezer is actually two words in the Hebrew. is the word for "stone." is the verb meaning "to help." It is called this because this was the place where the Lord "helped us".

This does not seem to be the same Ebenezer as the one mentioned in chapter 4:1 and 5:1. That first Ebenezer was located near Aphek (4:1). This Ebenezer is between Mizpah and Shen. That first Ebenezer was a place of defeat. This second Ebenezer is a stone of victory. And so, Samuel establishes it as a memorial.

Memorials are important. They are important because we need to be reminded of those times when the Lord has helped us. We need to be reminded because, when times get tough, we forget.

Do you have any memorials of the faithfulness of God in your life? You ask the Lord to remind you of those times. And then you build a memorial there so that you will never forget.



1. Call for a King.

From the days in the wilderness, God had told the Israelites that one day they would have a king (Deuteronomy 17:14-17). And yet, it had been understood up to this point that GOD was their king. When the Israelites had offered the kingship to Gideon, he had refused, insisting that "the Lord shall rule over you" (Judges 8:23). That all changes when the people of Israel ask Samuel for a king.

And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel.

Now the name of his first-born was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in Beersheba.

His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice. (1 Samuel 8:1-3).

Samuel was the judge of Israel. As Samuel grew older, he was succeeded by his two sons. Their judging was characterized by dishonesty and corruption. They followed after a perversion of justice.

There is a parallel here between Samuel and Eli. They both judged Israel. They both had two sons. Their sons acted wickedly and were rejected.

Perhaps Samuel had learned his parenting skills from Eli. The good news is that he does not seem to have been partaking in their sinful behavior the way in which Eli did. Because his sons were not fit to succeed him, the Israelites perceived a need for a king.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; 5 and they said to him, "Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations." (1 Samuel 8:4-5).

In verse 1, Samuel had appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. Now the elders ask Samuel to appoint a king to judge them. There are several things which ought to be mentioned in defense of Israel's request for a king:

The Lord issues a warning of what it will mean for the Israelites to have a king to reign over them.

They have come and asked the Lord for a king. Before it is all over, they will come and ask God to take their king back (8:18). There is a lesson here. It is that you be careful what you pray for. You might get it.

The career of Saul is set forth in three acts, each of which consists of several parallel scenes.

Act 1

Act 2

Act 3

Scene 1

Saul meets Samuel and is anointed by him (9-10)

Saul meets Samuel and is condemned by him (15).

Saul meets Samuel and his death is foretold (28).

Scene 2

Success in battle with the help of God (11).

Success in battle with the help of David (17-18).

Failure in battle and suicide (31).

Scene 3

Saul's failure before Samuel and Jonathan (13-14).

Saul's failure before David (19-26).

2. The Anointing of Saul.

Saul comes on the scene, not seeking a kingdom or a throne, but looking for some lost donkeys. As they are about to give up on their quest, Saul's servant suggests that they go and inquire from the local Seer about the missing donkeys.

They discuss this plan. Saul is reluctant because they have no gift to give to the Seer. But the servant has a quarter of a shekel of silver. This was not a coin, for coinage would not be invented until the 7th century B.C. This was a weight.

Meanwhile, the Lord had revealed to Samuel that a man was coming from the tribe of Benjamin who would be anointed as the deliverer of the Israelites. Thus, when Saul arrives at the gate of the city, he is met by Samuel who informs him that the donkeys have been found and then proceeds to invite him as the guest of honor to a special dinner.

Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, "Has not the Lord anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?" (1 Samuel 10:1).

Notice the use of the definite article in describing the flask of oil (the Hebrew has the sign of the direct object). This was not merely any old flask. It was THE flask. I think it is possible that this was the flask that contained holy anointing oil of a special recipe which had been used to anoint the tabernacle and the holy things (Exodus 30:22-32).

Thereafter Samuel called the people together to the Lord as Mizpah (1 Samuel 10:17).

Mizpah was the place where the Lord had last delivered the Israelites from the attack of the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:5-11). It had since become one of the regular points along Samuel's traveling circuit (1 Samuel 7:16).

Thus Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot.

Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the Matrite family was taken. And Saul the son of Kish was taken; but when they looked for him, he could not be found.

Therefore he inquired further of the Lord, "Has the man come here yet?" So the Lord said, "Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage."

So they ran and took him from there, and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward.

And Samuel said to all the people, "Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people." So all the people shouted and said, "Long live the king!" (1 Samuel 10:20-24).

There is a touch of irony here. When we first saw Saul, he was being sent to look for missing donkeys. Now it is Saul who is missing and the people go looking for him. They find him hiding by the baggage.

Remember, being a king was not something for which Saul had been seeking. He had come on the scene seeking nothing but a pair of lost donkeys. And now that he is chosen, he is still reluctant to take of the mantle of kingship.

3. The Nature of Saul's Kingship.

And Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant men whose hearts God had touched went with him.

But certain worthless men said, "How can this one deliver us?" And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent. (1 Samuel 10:26-27).

What happened after Saul had been proclaimed the first king of Israel? Did he move into the royal palace? He did not. There was no royal palace into which he could move.

And so, when the celebration was over, there was nothing else for him to do but to return home. When next we see him, he will be at the south end of a northbound team of oxen.

You see, Israel at this time was nothing more than a scattered and disunited collection of tribes. This was not a unified nation. You couldn't even get them to agree on what to eat for lunch. And they also did not agree that Saul should be their new king, no matter what Samuel had told them. But this changed dramatically when Saul led the Israelites to victory in battle.

4. Saul and the Ammonites.

Now Nahash the Ammonite came up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, "Make a covenant with us and we will serve you."

But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, "I will make it with you on this condition, that I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you, thus I will make it a reproach on all Israel."

And the elders of Jabesh said to him, "Let us alone for seven days, that we may send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to deliver us, we will come out to you." (1 Samuel 11:1-3).

There was bad blood between the Ammonites and the Israelites. The Ammonites were descendants of Lot through his incestuous relationship with one of his daughters (the name Ammon - - means "my father"). They occupied the territory north of the Arnon River and east of the Dead Sea.

Now they were back. The city which they were now attacking was Jabesh-gilead. By strange coincidence, this is the same city which had been destroyed by the Israelites for not joining in the punitive attack against the tribe of Benjamin following the incident at Gibeah in which a Levite's concubine was raped and then dismembered (Judges 19-21).

The city had since been rebuilt and re-inhabited. It is now being attacked, not by Israel, but by Ammon. And because of her past history, it seems doubtful that anyone will come to her aid. Except for a man from the tribe of Benjamin - Saul's tribe. And specifically, a man of Gibeah - Saul's city.

Judges 19-21

1 Samuel 11

Takes place when Israel had no king.

Becomes the confirming event of Saul's kingship.

Gibeah becomes a city destined to be destroyed for her sins.

Gibeah becomes the city from which salvation goes forth.

Jabesh-gilead refuses to join in Israel's call for punishment against wicked Gibeah.

Jabesh-gilead is besieged and asks for help from Israel.

Benjamin becomes the object of attack.

Benjamin becomes the leader in this holy war.

Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became very angry.

And he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout the territory of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, "Whoever does not come out after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen." Then the dread of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out as one man.

And he numbered them in Bezek; and the sons of Israel were 300,000, and the men of Judah 30,000. (1 Samuel 11:6-8).

Just as the Israelites had been called to arms against Gibeah by the cutting up of the body of the murdered concubine, so this time two oxen are cut up and their pieces sent throughout the land as a call to arms.

Gibeah which was formerly in need of the heavy hand of punishment has now become the rallying point of salvation for God's people.

Saul moves north to Bezek where he musters his forces in preparation for an attack across the Jordan.

And it happened the next morning that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp at the morning watch, and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it came about that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. (1 Samuel 11:11).

Having assembled at Bezek on the mountains of Gilboa, Saul and his force cross the Jordan River and attack the Ammonites just before sunrise. The result is an overwhelming victory.

It is noteworthy that it would be at this same locale on the mountains of Gilboa that Saul would eventually fight his last battle. And when his body is mutilated and hung up on the wall of the city of Beth-shan, it will be men of Jabesh-gilead who will rescue the body and give it a proper burial.

Flushed with their victory, the people call for the death of those who had originally refused to follow Saul as king. Saul refuses, requiring leniency, pointing out that it is the Lord who has accomplished deliverance.

5. Coronation at Gilgal.

Then Samuel said to the people, "Come and let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there."

So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they also offered sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. (1 Samuel 11:14-15).

Gilgal was located on the western bank of the Jordan River. It was here that Joshua and the Israelites first camped after crossing the Jordan River. They had built a monument here of 12 memorial stones. And it was here that the Israelites had renewed the covenant, circumcising all of the men in the camp.

This was a place of...

Gilgal will be the scene both of Saul's coronation, his rebuke and his ultimate rejection as king.

Saul is the story of a great beginning. But the spiritual life is not limited to beginnings. It is not a sprint. It is, instead, a marathon. Saul had made an excellent beginning. This young man who had come on the scene looking for lost donkeys had instead found himself as the redeemer of Israel and her first king. The tragedy of his story is told in chapters 13-15.

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Jonathan's victory over the Philistines at Geba

Jonathan's victory over the Philistine garrison at Michmash

Saul's victory over the Amalekites

Saul disobeys the law by offering sacrifices

Saul makes an oath of hunger which Jonathan inadvertently disobeys

Saul disobeys God by sparing the life of Agag, king of the Amalekites.

The section comes to a climax when Samuel refuses the company of Saul. When Saul reaches out to detain the prophet, he inadvertently tears his cloak. Samuel retorts, "The Lord has torn the kingdom from you today, and has given it to your neighbor" (1 Samuel 15:28).



1. The Goliath Incident.

The Story of David & Goliath is probably one of the Best known Bible stories, and has been told in Sunday Schools for generations. As such it has perhaps become too familiar, and perhaps as we read it over, we tend to read it through the eyes of a child.

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at Socoh which belongs to Judah, and they camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim.

And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and camped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines.

And the Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them. (1 Samuel 17:1-3).

As you leave the coast land area of Palestine along the Mediterranean and move eastward, the first geographical feature you encounter is a range of low foothills known as the Shephelah. Over the years the streams flowing down from these hills have cut deep gorges known as Wadis. The Valley of Elah is one such Wadi.

Located about 15 miles west of Bethlehem, this Wadi served as a pass from east to west (the stream disappears entirely in the dry season leaving a riverbed of small round stones).

The Philistines held the seacoast plains of Canaan. The Israelites held the mountains. The Shephelah was the contested area between.

Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.

And he had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed in scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze.

He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders.

And the shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him. (1 Samuel 17:4-7).

The name "Goliath" seems to be Indo-European in origin. He is described as having the latest armaments in modern warfare.

This paragraph leaves us with a number of weights and measures.





Distance from the tip of the fingers to the elbow

18 inches


From the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger when the hand is extended

8 inches

Shekel "to weigh"

There is considerable fluctuation as to what constituted a shekel.

4/10's to 3/10's of an ounce

When we put these together, we are presented with the following description:





six cubits and a span

9 feet, 8 inches


5000 shekels of bronze

125 pounds

Head of his Spear

600 shekels of iron

15 pounds

Note: The tallest man in recent recorded history was Robert Wadlow who was 8 feet, 11 inches at the time of his death on July 15, 1940 (he was only 22 years old).

Goliath was the equivalent of a human tank. He looked indestructible. And to even get to him, one would have to get past the large figure-eight shield which was held by his armor bearer.

And he stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, and said to them, "Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me.

"If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us." (1 Samuel 17:8-9).

Warfare in the ancient world was a violent and bloody affair (this is true for war in any age). It was not uncommon for 20 or 30 thousand men to fall in a single battle. Goliath was a part of a highly cultured race. He offers a relatively peaceful alternative. A representative from each of the two warring nations will fight and decide the issue. Instead of thousands falling in battle, only one man shall die.

A young shepherd named David takes up the challenge.

And he took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd's bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:40).

A sling consisted of two long cords tied to a pocket at the center. The slinger would place a stone in the pocket, whirl to ends of the cord and then release one of them, letting the stone fly at its target. I've used a sling before. And I admit that it takes a LOT of practice.

The sling was one of the accepted weapons of the Israelites. It was not dependent upon the ironworks of the Philistines. There had been an entire brigade of 700 slingers from the tribe of Benjamin who could "sling a stone at a hair and not miss" (Judges 20:16).

And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. (1 Samuel 17:49).

The later Greek helmets had a protective prong down the center of the face to stop such assaults. But the Philistine helmets left the face exposed.

Do you remember the incident of the Ark within the Temple of Dagon? There is an interesting similarity with the fall of Dagon and the fall of Goliath.

Ark Versus Dagon

David Versus Goliath

The Ark had been captured by the Philistines and placed in the Temple of Dagon.

Goliath saw in David an easy victory.

Dagon was found face down before the Ark.

Goliath fell on his face.

Dagon was found with his head removed which led to an enduring practice.

David cut off Goliath's head and kept it as a trophy.

Dagon was seen by all to be a dead idol of stone.

The Lord is seen to be the living God (17:26).

2. David the Fugitive.

David's rise to popularity was meteoric in its suddenness. One day he is a simple shepherd and the next he is the hero of Israel who overshadows even the lofty king Saul. It is not long before Saul becomes jealous and David has to flee for his life.

Throughout this period, we continue to see Saul fall short at every turn while David continues to succeed.







David flees from the presence of Saul

David & Jonathan makes a covenant

David flees to Gath

Saul Pursues David

1st Pursuit

2nd Pursuit

3rd Pursuit

David assisted by Michal

David assisted by Ahimelech

David assisted by king of Moab

David encouraged by Jonathan

David cuts Saul's robe

David takes Saul's spear & jug

David assisted by the Lord

David assisted by Circumstances

David assisted by Abigail

David flees to Gath

Saul's court was in Gibeah, a city in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin, about 10-15 miles north of Jerusalem. David flees, first to Nob where he finds refuge at the tabernacle, then later to the cities of the Philistines.

3. The Death of Saul.

So the Philistines gathered together and came and camped in Shunem; and Saul gathered all Israel together and they camped in Gilboa. (1 Samuel 28:5).

Shunem is located in the Valley of Jezreel at the southern foot of Mount Moreh, nine miles east-northeast of Megiddo.

Mount Gilboa is 10 miles to the south on the southeastern edge of the Valley of Jezreel.

Instead of coming up the narrow mountain passes as they had in the past, the Philistines now moved across the wide open plains of Jezreel. Here they could maneuver their chariot corps to full effect. If this military operation was successful, it would result in splitting the land in two.

When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly.

When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. (1 Samuel 28:6-7).

Saul had every reason to fear. The Philistines were big and they had the best in military weaponry and there were a lot of them.

Then Saul said to his servants, "Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her." And his servants said to him, "Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor." (1 Samuel 28:7).

The Hebrew word for Medium is Ob. This is a Hittite loan-word. It originally was used to describe a pit and spoke of the place of departed spirits. It came to be used both of the spirits of the dead as well as of those who were supposedly able to contact those spirits.

The Mosaic Law strictly forbade God's people from consulting mediums. The penalty for such actions was death.

"Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their blood guiltiness is upon them." (Leviticus 20:27).

In accordance with God's law, Saul had ordered that mediums and spiritists be driven from the land. And yet, he now seeks to consult with one. He is directed by his servants to the town of En-dor, located on the northern slope of Little Hermon.

To arrive at Endor from Mount Gilboa would have involved a long 8-mile detour around the Philistine forces. Saul took this route under the cover of night, perhaps for several reasons.

m To escape detection by the Philistines.

m It was traditionally believed that such a seance would only work at night.

The woman of Endor at first refuses to participate. It is not until Saul takes a solemn oath invoking the name of the Lord that she agrees to participate.

Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" And he said, "Bring up Samuel for me."

When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman spoke to Saul, saying, "Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul."

And the king said to her, "Do not be afraid; but what do you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I see a divine being [Elohim] coming up out of the earth."

And he said to her, "What is his form?" And she said, "An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe." And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and did homage. (1 Samuel 28:11-14).

This passage has troubled theologians for hundreds of years. There have been three alternate interpretations offered for this passage.

a. This was truly Samuel speaking from the grave.

This interpretation takes the passage naturally when it says that "the woman saw Samuel" (28:12).

    1. This was a demonic manifestation pretending to be Samuel.

This view was held by Augustine.

c. This was a trick of the woman.

This is perhaps supported by the Septuagint which uses a term in this passage which is also used of ventriloquists.

The reason for the varied interpretation is because people do not care for the implications of what happened - that a seance was actually able to bring back Samuel from the dead. However, this need not be considered as normative. Just because Samuel actually appeared to the medium in this instance does not give credibility to all such mediums.

Indeed, if there is a lesson here, it is that God's people ought to trust in the Lord rather than in other types of spiritual phenomenon. We ought not to delve into horoscopes or fortune telling or Ouija boards, for such activity is following in the footsteps of Saul.

Evidently, only the woman saw the form of Samuel, for Saul asked in verse 14, "What is his form?" and did not realize that it was Samuel until she had given a description of the prophet.

Notice what it was about the description which identified the visionary arrival as Samuel. It was the fact that he was an old man who was "wrapped with a robe" (28:14).

Saul remembered that robe. He could not help but remember how Samuel had predicted the loss of the kingdom and had turned to go and how he, Saul, had grabbed the robe of Samuel and had torn it. He had been told that in just such a manner the kingdom would be torn from his grasp.

And Samuel said, "Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has departed from you and has become your adversary?

"And the Lord has done accordingly as He spoke through me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, to David.

"As you did not obey the Lord and did not execute His fierce wrath of Amalek, so the Lord has done this thing to you this day.

Moreover the Lord will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Indeed the Lord will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines!" (1 Samuel 28:16-19).

While in the past the Lord had delivered Israel FROM the Philistine threat on more than one occasion, now Israel would be delivered by God INTO the hands of the Philistines (verse 19). The words of the prophecy are fulfilled in the battle of the following day.

Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa.

And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua the sons of Saul.

And the battle went heavily against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was badly wounded by the archers.

Then Saul said to his armor bearer, "Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and pierce me through and make sport of me." But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. So Saul took his sword and fell on it.

And when his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword and died with him.

Thus Saul died with his three sons, his armor bearer, and all his men on that day together. (1 Samuel 31:2-6).

The archers served as the field artillery of the ancient world. They could be a deadly arm of the military. When Xenophon was going out to fight the Persians, he was told by one of his scouts, "There are so many archers that when they fire their arrows, they blot out the sun." To which he quipped, "Good! We shall be able to fight in the shade."

As volley after volley of Philistine arrows fell upon the hapless Israelite army, Saul was seriously wounded. The nature of the wound would prevent his escape. And the Philistines were closing in.

Saul knew of the reputation of the Philistines. They had captured Samson and had gouged out his eyes and had made a public spectacle of him. Saul fears the worst. He fears that he will be both tortured and humiliated. And so, he takes his own life.

4. David as King.

And David brought up his men who were with him, each with his household; and they lived in the cities of Hebron.

Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah" (2 Samuel 2:3-4a).

David's kingship is not immediately recognized by all Israel. For the first seven years of his reign, his authority is known only over the tribe of Judah as he uses Hebron as his base of operations. This was the burial place of the patriarchs.

As such, this was the most prestigious city in all of the land of Judah. David had already been anointed by Samuel. Now he is anointed by the men of Judah.

David's First Anointing

David's Second Anointing

Anointed by Samuel.

Anointed by the men of Judah.

Private anointing.

Public anointing.

Signified a promise of future kingship.

Signified a present recognition of kingship.

David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years.

At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah. (2 Samuel 5:4-5).

It has been theorized by modern scholars that the 40 year reigns ascribed to Moses, to Eli, to David and to Solomon are merely to be understood as a long, undetermined number of years. But this passage gives a breakdown of what comprised those forty years.

5. Jerusalem becomes David's Capital.

Up to this time, David had been reigning in Hebron. Hebron was centrally located in Judah and would always be associated with that tribe. If the other tribes were to accept the concept of a unified nation, it would be necessary to have a capital city which had no former associations. Jerusalem was such a city.

Jerusalem was a city of the Jebusites. They had been living here city before the days of Abraham. One of their kings had been Melchizedek, a priest of God. But now it was merely a Canaanite city. The Israelites under Joshua had been unable to drive out the Jebusites (Joshua 15:63). And even though the Israelites had captured and burned Jerusalem early in the days of the Judges (Judges 1:8), the Jebusites had returned to rebuild and refortify their city.

Now the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, and they said to David, "You shall not come in here, but the blind and lame shall turn you away"; thinking, "David cannot enter here." (2 Samuel 5:6).

The old city of Jerusalem was built upon a high ridge and was surrounded on three sides by steep ravines. The old name for the hill was Ophel - literally, "the hump." An approaching enemy would have to climb to the top of the ridge and then would find himself facing high fortifications with no room to maneuver.

Furthermore, Jerusalem had its own internal water supply. A tunnel had been carved into the mountain leading down to a pool which was in turn fed by a natural spring.

The boast of the city was that, even if these fortification were manned by blind and lame, they would be enough to keep out any enemy.

Nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David. (2 Samuel 5:7).

The word "Zion" seems to refer to a "high place" or a "place of protection." The term is rare in the historical books.

And David said on that day, "Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him reach the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul, through the water tunnel." (2 Samuel 5:8a).

Located on the east side of the city is the Gihon Spring. It is the city's only local source of fresh water. Unfortunately, the spring is located at the bottom of the ridge upon which the city was built.

The Jebusites resolved this problem by excavating a tunnel through the bedrock which went beneath the city walls and then down a vertical shaft to the spring.

The shaft was discovered by Captain Charles Warren of the British Engineers in 1867. He and his sergeant entered the Gihon Spring, followed the narrow tunnel into the mountainside, and came upon a vertical shaft rising nearly 40 feet straight up. It was possible for the inhabitants of Jerusalem to stand at the top of the shaft and drop a bucket with a line attached and draw up water.

It is thought that this may have been the route used to capture the city of Jerusalem. David's forces could have crept in through this route to come up inside the city gates.

So David lived in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward. (2 Samuel 5:9).

The "Millo" was the original fortification around which the city was built (the word means "to fill"). Its exact location remains uncertain.



The name "Solomon" is taken from the Hebrew word shalom, meaning "peace." What David had won through warfare, Solomon attempted to hold together through peace. His reign is described in the Bible as being a time of peace and prosperity for Israel.

1. A Time of Peace.

The reign of Solomon saw a remarkable period of peace in that portion of the ancient world.

2. The Extent of Solomon's Rule.

Now Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life. (1 Kings 4:21).

"The River" is used only of large rivers as opposed to the term for smaller streams or wadis. In this case, it refers to the Euphrates.

It was commonplace among ancient empires that when the old king died, the subject nations would withhold tribute and challenge the new king in rebellion. This necessitated repeated punitive expeditions to reinforce the former king's terms and to prove the ability of the new king to enforce his will. Solomon did not have to do this. Instead, God gave to him a peaceful reign.

3. The Prosperity of Solomon's Reign.

So Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon. (1 Kings 4:25).

It was not only Solomon who amassed riches. The people of Israel in his day also enjoyed a great amount of prosperity. The statement that "every man under his vine and his fig tree" became a favorite catch phrase used by the prophets to indicate the ideal conditions prevailing in Messiah's kingdom (Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10). The fact that a man could enjoy the fruit of the vine and the fig tree meant that there was a complete absence of warfare and it ensuing economic disruption.

4. Construction Projects.

Archaeologists have uncovered some of the fortifications of this period. They included a system of double walls entered by a series of double gates overseen by twin towers. The casements of these gates are inset into the city to allow an invader to be virtually surrounded.

Solomon entered into a number of major construction projects, building up the fortifications in Jerusalem as well as at Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer (1 Kings 9:15).


It lay on the road which connected the cities of Beth Horon to the coast. As such, it had served as a border city between Israel and the Philistines.

It had first been conquered by Pharaoh Thutmose 3rd and more recently had been burned by a later Pharaoh.


The major city in the north. It had originally been destroyed by Joshua and later rebuilt.


This ancient city guarded the main road from the Plain of Sharon on the coast to the Valley of Jezreel which intersected the Carmel Range.

Beth Horon

These were two cities which controlled the access to the highlands of Judea from the coastal plain through the Valley of Aijalon

5. Solomon's Temple.

Construction of the Temple began on the fourth year of Solomon's reign (1 Kings 6:1). The building project took seven years and was climaxed with the dedication of the Temple.

Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the Temple.

And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord's house. (2 Chronicles 7:1-2).

In the same way that the Lord had moved into the Tabernacle in the days of Moses, so now His presence was manifested in the Temple.

There are no remains of Solomon's Temple. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. A second temple was rebuilt on this same spot, but that was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Today there stands on that same site the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine.

The completion of the Temple was to mark a high point in the career of Solomon. The later years of his reign were to see a turning away from the Lord.

Contrasting Elements in Solomon's Career

His Early Years

His Later Years

Political Realm

Nation unified and Solomon exalted on the international scene

Tribes rebellious and loss of influence in Egypt, Edom and Syria.

Economic Realm

People willing to donate time and money. Silver "as common as stones."

Heavy taxes and forced labor becomes burdensome.

Social Realm

Focus on building the Temple.

Focus upon other building projects of Solomon.

Spiritual Realm

Dedication to the Lord.

Other gods are worshipped.

Military Realm

Israelite military is exclusively infantry (cavalry not permitted under Mosaic Law).

Large chariot corps developed.



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