The family of Saul (1 Chr 9:39-9:39)

“Ner became the father of Kish. Kish became the father of Saul. Saul became the father of Jonathan, Malchishua, Abinadab, and Eshbaal.”

Now we see the family of Saul that is repeated almost word for word in the previous chapter. The 1st indication of the family of Saul was in 1 Samuel, chapter 14, where only 3 sons were listed, (1) Jonathan, Ishvi, and (2) Malchishua. There is no mention of Saul’s two daughters here. There is hardly any mention of Malchishua except in the listings of the sons of Saul. (3) Abinadab has been added to the list since he was the youngest son that was killed in 1 Samuel, chapter 31. Ishvi has become (4) Eshbaal here and is only mentioned in the 2 lists in this book. Saul’s uncle was also called Ner, while Kish was the father of Saul. Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. There is plenty of information about Jonathan, whose name appears over a 100 times, especially in 1 Samuel, chapters 14-20, as a good friend of David. Of course, Saul is a major figure since his name appears over 370 times.

The generosity of David toward Mephibosheth (2 Sam 9:6-9:13)

“Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David. He fell on his face and did obeisance. David said. ‘Mephibosheth!’ He answered. ‘I am your servant.’ David said to him. ‘Do not be afraid. I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul. You, yourself, shall eat at my table always.’ Mephibosheth did obeisance, and said. ‘What is your servant, that you should look upon a dead dog such as I?’”

Mephibosheth went to David and did obeisance, which is an act of obedience to the king. David told him not to be afraid because he loved his father Jonathan. In fact, he was going to restore all the land of his grandfather to him. Also he would always sit at the dinner table with David. Mephibosheth responded that he was like a dead dog because he was crippled. David thus began to make peace with the family of Saul.

“Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him. ‘All that belonged to Saul and to his entire house I have given to your master’s grandson. You, your sons, and your servants shall till the land for him. You shall bring in the produce, so that your master’s grandson may have food to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table.’ Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king. ‘According to all that my lord the king commands his servant, so your servant will do.’ Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons. Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Mica. All who lived in Ziba’s house became Mephibosheth’s servants. Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem. He always ate at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.”

David called Ziba and told him that he, his sons, and his servants were to till the land that formerly belong to Saul. They were to bring the produce to Saul’s grandson Mephibosheth who was going to be eating at David’s table. This Ziba had 15 sons and 20 servants. I always find it interesting to note that servants have servants. Ziba said okay because he had no other choice. Thus Ziba became Mephibosheth’s servant, even though Mephibosheth always ate at David’s table like he was a son of David. It is difficult to determine Mephibosheth’s age, but he had to be more than 12 years old, since he had a son named Mica.

Michal despises David (2 Sam 6:16-6:16)

“As the ark of Yahweh came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window. She saw King David leaping and dancing before Yahweh. She despised him in her heart.”

Michal, Saul’s daughter who was married to David, saw him leaping and dancing. She despised him because he had broken her marriage to Paltiel. At one time she had actually helped him to escape from her father in 1 Samuel, chapter 19.

Rechab and Baanah kill Ishbaal (2 Sam 4:5-4:8)

“Now the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, set out. About the heat of the day they came to the house of Ishbaal, while he was taking his noonday rest. They came inside the house as though to help with the wheat. The doorkeeper of the house had been cleaning wheat, but she grew drowsy and fell asleep. So Rechab and his brother Baanah slipped in. Now they had come into the house, while Ishbaal was lying on his couch in his bedchamber. They attacked and struck him in the stomach. They killed him. Then they beheaded him. They took his head, and traveled by the way of the Arabah all night long. They brought the head of Ishbaal to David at Hebron. They said to the king. ‘Here is the head of Ishbaal son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life. Yahweh has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring.’”

For no apparent reason, these two raiding captains of Saul set out for the house of Ishbaal. They got into the house while the doorkeeper was dosing off while cleaning wheat. They found Ishbaal taking a nap in his bed chamber. They attacked him, killed him, and then beheaded him. They took the head of Ishbaal to King David. They said that Yahweh had avenged Saul and his whole family for trying to kill David.

The long war (2 Sam 3:1-3:1)

“There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.”

There was a long war between the house of David and the house of Saul. However, this was a zero sum game. David and Joab were growing stronger, while Abner and his folks with Ishbaal were getting weaker.

David sends messengers to the people of Jabesh-gilead (2 Sam 2:4-2:7)

“They told David. ‘It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul.’ David sent messengers to the people of Jabesh-gilead who said to them. ‘May you be blessed by Yahweh, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord and buried him! Now may Yahweh show steadfast love and faithfulness to you! I will reward you because you have done this thing. Therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant. Saul your lord is dead. The house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”

Remember it was the men of Jabesh-gilead who had buried Saul’s body in 1 Samuel, chapter 31. David sent messengers to them to say that they were blessed by Yahweh because they had buried Saul. He was going to reward them. In the meantime the people of Judah had anointed David, the king.

My Understanding of 1 Samuel

Three main figures dominate in 1 Samuel, Samuel himself, Saul, and David. Samuel seems like a nice person. Saul and David are more complicated with some vicious streaks. Both Samuel and Saul die in this book, so that only David will continue into the second book of Samuel.

Originally Samuel was just one book in the Hebrew Bible, but it was divided into two books with the Greek Septuagint translation. In fact, it became 4 books if you count 1 and 2 Kings. This book one tells the story of Samuel and Saul, and then Saul and David.

The composition of this book, like many of the books of the Bible was assumed to be the name of the book, Samuel. There was a belief that Samuel wrote the first twenty-five chapters. Then Nathan the prophet took over. However, more recent studies had shown it more in the Deuteronomy tradition, with an early version from around the 7th and 8th century BCE, but the final version in the 6th century BCE.

There were various oral and written sources for this book. The Samuel narrative and the movement of the ark seem to be one source. There is also a combination of pro-monarchy sources and anti-monarchy sources in the various narratives.

Samuel got a calling from Yahweh. He was the prophetic figure. Samuel had a semi-miraculous birth since he was born to a barren woman named Hannah. She then made him a Nazirite from birth and offered him to the temple at Shiloh, where he grew up under the watchful eye of priest Eli.

Samuel then anointed Saul as the first king, per the instructions of Yahweh. Afterwards, Yahweh was displeased with Saul because he did not carry through on the complete destruction of the Amalekites. Samuel then anointed a young shepherd named David from the house of Jesse in Bethlehem. This too was at the insistence of Yahweh. The two king theory complicated things since Saul was not willing to give up his throne. However, he let David marry his daughter Michal, so that David became the son-in-law of Saul.

Jonathan, the son of Saul, seems to have had an infatuation with David. They became best friends. Saul reminded Jonathan that he would be king and that David was a rival to him. However, Jonathan was willing to be the second in command to David.

Nonetheless, there is a series of continuous battles with the Philistines throughout this work. Occasionally other enemies pop up. David became famous because of his killing of the giant Philistine Goliath. In fact, he ends up with Goliath’s sword. David was also a shepherd and a lyre player.

There was a fight between Saul and David, as Saul was suspicious of him since people were singing about Saul killing 1,000 Philistines but David killing 10,000. Saul has some kind of evil spirit come upon him. He decided to kill David. Jonathan and Michal, the son and daughter of Saul, help David to escape

David then took on some kind of Robin Hood role, as he lived in the forests and wilderness with about 600 men. Saul tried to find him. They finally meet, but both Saul and David reconcile with each other. However, David inexplicitly decided to fight with the Philistines. However, the Philistines were skeptical and would not let him fight with them.

The Philistines finally defeated Saul and his son Jonathan in the battle that they would not let David fight with them. The Philistines killed both of them, but David was not involved in this battle. Thus the end of this first book leaves David all by himself. The second book of Samuel will further follow the exploits of David since both Samuel, Saul, and Jonathan were all dead.

David’s victory at Keilah (1 Sam 23:1-23:14)

“Now they told David. ‘The Philistines are fighting against Keilah. They are robbing the threshing floors.’ David inquired of Yahweh. ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’ Yahweh said to David. ‘Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.’ But David’s men said to him. ‘Look, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more will it be if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?’ Then David inquired of Yahweh again. Yahweh answered him. ‘Yes, go down to Keilah because I will give the Philistines into your hand.’ David and his men went to Keilah. They fought against the Philistines. They brought away their livestock. They dealt them a heavy defeat. Thus David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah.”

Keilah, a city in the plains of Judah, was attacked by the Philistines. David wondered whether he should go to attack them. Yahweh spoke directly to David, something that he had never done to Saul. Yahweh said go and attack. However, David’s men were reluctant to go. Yahweh once again reassured David. They went down and wiped out the Philistines.

“When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand. Now it was told to Saul that David had come to Keilah. Saul said. ‘God has given him into my hand. He has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.’ Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to Abiathar the priest. ‘Bring the ephod here.’ David said. ‘O Yahweh, the God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Yahweh, the God of Israel, I beseech you to tell your servant.’ Yahweh said. ‘He will come down.’ Then David said. ‘Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?’ Yahweh said. ‘They will surrender you.’ Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, set out and left Keilah. They wandered wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but Yahweh did not give him into his hand.”

Then the priest Abiathar came down to Keilah also. Saul heard about the things at Keilah. He was happy that they were in a walled city. David asked Abiathar to bring the holy ephod. This was a priestly covering that was described in Exodus, chapter 28. Then David asked Yahweh directly, was Saul coming to Keilah and would the people of this town give him up. Yahweh’s answer to both was ‘yes.’ David and his men set out for the wilderness in Ziph in the south. Saul called off his expedition to Keilah, but he kept looking for David every day.

Abiathar goes to David (1 Sam 22:20-22:23)

“But one of the sons of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of Yahweh. David said to Abiathar. ‘I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I am responsible for the lives of your father’s house. Stay with me! Do not be afraid. The one who seeks my life seeks your life. You will be safe with me.”

Only one person escaped, Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech, who will later become a high priest. He went to David to tell him what had happened. David said that Doeg was there that day in Nob. He knew that Doeg would tell Saul. David fell that he was responsible for the death of Ahimelech and his family, as well as the priests of Nob. He had in fact lied to them about his secret mission for King Saul. Then he convinced Abiathar to stay with him since they had a common enemy, Saul.

The massacre of Ahimelech with the priests and people of Nob (1 Sam 22:16-22:19)

“The king said. ‘You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all in your father’s house.’ The king said to the guard who stood around him. ‘Turn and kill the priests of Yahweh. Their hand also is with David. They knew that he fled and did not disclose it to me.’ But the servants of the king would not raise their hand to attack the priests of Yahweh. Then the king said to Doeg. ‘You turn and attack the priests.’ Doeg the Edomite turned and attacked the priests. On that day, he killed eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. In Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword men and women, children and infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep. All of them he put to the sword.”

King Saul will have none of these arguments. Ahimelech and all his family shall be killed. Then he told his servants to kill all the priests of Nob. However, none of his servants wanted to kill a priest. Only Doeg the Edomite was willing to kill the 85 priests. Then Saul wanted the whole city of Nob destroyed, men, women, children, and all the animals. This was a very through and cruel massacre.