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Have you ever felt like life began crumbling around you while enduring a loss in what to do and how to move forward? I see a moment in my own life almost as if it were a movie and I'm watching from the outside looking in. Devastated by a loss, I could barely crawl up the stairs to my apartment as my body shook with fierce sobs. Nearly collapsing on the landing, I grasped the large glass case that held an old fire hose, tears falling freely. I felt desperately lonely. I knew God had not abandoned me, yet still felt the sting of one who was completely and utterly deserted.
Saul felt such terror as he watched the Philistines line up for battle that he lost all confidence. The king’s world also seemed to cave in as he realized that he too had suffered a great loss: the loss of confidants. All the men of God he’d once trusted had either died or been chased away by the king himself(once again we see how jealousy has two victims). Because he no longer has this community of God-fearing men around him, Saul had no one to go to with his trepidation.
I knew God hadn't left my side during my time of undoing, but Saul genuinely felt the Lord had turned His back on the once-good-king. Saul’s prayers and hope for conversation or prophetic dreams had fallen flat. “Yet another One to abandon me”, he likely thought.
Not knowing what to do and being as lost as he was, Saul broke his own law and searched out a spiritual medium. Disguising himself, he went to the woman’s residence and convinced her to bring Samuel back from the dead. As Samuel rose through the floor wearing his robes and an annoyed look on his face.
“Why have you called me up from the land of the dead?” he asks Saul.
Saul: I don’t know what to do! The Philistines have gathered against us, and the True God has turned His back on me. He won’t answer me in dreams or by prophecy, so I’ve summoned you for advice.
Samuel: Saul, why do you ask me what to do since you know the Eternal One has turned against you and is now your enemy? He has done to you exactly as He told you through me, for He has wrestled the kingdom away from you in order to give it to your neighbor, David. You did not obey the Eternal One’s orders to be an agent of His wrath on Amalek. That is why He has brought these circumstances upon you today. And that is not all. He will hand you and your kingdom over to the Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons will be where I am. The Eternal One will hand your entire army over to the Philistines.
Hearing Samuel’s news about what would transpire the very next day, Saul fell to the floor. Had he lived in the apartment building like I had in my early 20’s, I don’t think he could have even crawled up those steps. Devastated doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how he felt.
Lying prostrate on this woman’s floor, she could have run out her front door and told everyone what had just occurred. She could have laughed and commented on how his reign began to fall apart the minute his jealousy of David took over. She could have spit on him and told him that his future was well-deserved. She could have just walked away and let him grieve by himself.
But no. She showed Saul with grace, kindness, and hospitality. After numerous attempts to get the king to eat, he finally capitulated as she slaughtered her fattened calf and prepared it, along with bread for Saul and the men who joined him. Serving them, the men ate and left her home that same night. Stomachs full, but hearts likely aching.
Chapters 28 and 29 aren’t actually written in chronological order. Though this next chapter tells us of David and King Achish’s conversation, this is said to have happened first. The writer gives us the story of Saul going to the Witch of Endor as a preface, in an attempt to set up the story for us.
So as you begin reading here in 29, close your eyes and think of the mass of soldiers setting up for war. The sounds. The sights. The dust being kicked up by horses and chariots, as Saul views thousands upon thousands of men prepared to fight.
Knowing there will be much bloodshed of his beloved people, he wanted to talk through the heart of war. He had countless yes-men, but Saul wanted someone of substance that he could talk to. Someone to confide in and strategize with.
Realizing he no longer had this kind of men in his life, he felt so very alone.
As the Philistine king’s protectors, David and his men settled in toward the back, near Achish himself. The king telling David, he will forever be his personal bodyguard probably made David squirm. “This is not a permanent situation”, he probably whispered to himself.
Can you even imagine how David felt, knowing he needed the protection of living in the land of the Philistines…and yet realizing he was going to have to go to war against his own people? His brothers?
The commanders of Achish’s army began murmuring about how this would a most perfect strategy. David could have been fooling them all along! As they fight the Hebrews from the front, David and his men may switch sides and begin attacking from the back! They’ll be surrounded, their king having no protection. They’ll be defeated!
No, decide the commanders. No. David may not fight. Hearing their advice and views, Achish tells David:
Achish (calling to David): As the Eternal One lives, you have been honest with me, and I wish you could march into battle and back at my side. I have found no fault in you before. But the generals—the leaders of my troops—will not have you go with us. 7 Go home now, and go in peace. Don’t do anything to upset them further.
David: What have I done to deserve this? Has your servant done anything since he entered your service to prevent him going out and fighting against my lord the king’s enemies?
Achish: As I see it, you are no more to blame than a messenger of God, but the commanders of my troops have said they will not allow you to go into battle with us.
They left the next morning as soon as it was light. We aren’t told how David actually felt about the king sending him back home to Kiklag. We can speculate though that he breathed a huge sigh of relief as he galloped away from the battle zone as quickly as his horse could take him. Once again, God has spared him of doing something that would hurt his relationship with his beloved country.
By this point, although he hasn’t come right out and said it, David probably knows in his heart that he will one day be king. Enough people have breathed these words into his heart and God was sparking this truth into a flame.
(Read my post on titled, Healing A Heart Of Disappointment + Living In Season Of Wait for another take on 1 Samuel 29)
Because of the New Covenant (when Jesus died on the cross for us), we can no longer lose our salvation because of poor choices. We learned through our study that Saul was a good man and great king for many years...but let cracks form in his relationship with the Heavenly Father.
We don't know where Saul went when he died, only the Great Judge (God) could discern Saul's true heart. But even if we feel like God has turned his back on us, he has NOT. He will NOT. Silence could be for a myriad of reasons like unrepented sin or simply because He wants us to trust Him in every season.
Pray. Search His heart as you examine your own. If life is crumbling around you, find someone to talk to who loves Jesus and can approach the Throne of God alongside you. If you've given your heart to Christ, then never EVER fear that you are too far from Him. Because you're not. He's actually right by your side.
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We conclude our study on 1 Samuel next week!
I just can’t believe it. We’ll wrap up with the last two chapters of this amazing book of the Bible, and learn how events transpire in making David the next king of Israel.