Posts Tagged With: Kingdom of Israel (Samaria)

Samuel’s Legacy seen in the Lives of those that were Influenced by him

The  Master Builder who Left a United Israel.   

The anarchical mess of the sprawling godless tribes of Israel carried on in ignorance of the seismic change in history that was about to take place over the next generation, all of which was precipitated and initiated through the birth of Shmuel ben Elkanah. That blessed child born in Ramathaim Zophim passed away, some think, about a full century after the day of his birth. It was Samuel’s time. The Samuellian era. The last and highest peak of the line of characters known as the Judges. This man was also the first and, to my mind, possibly the highest peak of the prophetic office and gift that ever ministered to the whole of Israel during the period of time in which the Hebrews lived in the land. He had become a one man institution. He was the posthumous pillar that epitomised what was to be the future greatness of Israel. He was treasured and feared by all in his mature years, and sadly missed after his passing.  He was anointed and appointed by God Almighty as His representative in Israel throughout his lifetime. What he left behind him was as unified, Godly and purposeful as it was the opposite of those things at the moment he had been conceived. Even while he homed in and concentrated on the schools of the prophets after his last words with Saul, the very fact that he was alive and moving “in God,” even though it was in the background of Israel’s political and tribal cosmos, Samuel gave the nation comfort, and a brighter vision to look forward to.

There was, of course, the hope of the great charismatic leader of men, David. But he was a man that Judah and Benjamin loved beyond reason, while the northern tribes knew less about.

The ground had been prepared for the Glory of God to return, just as dramatically as it had left when the Philistines had stolen the Ark of the Covenant in the early days of Samuel’s youth. The Ark was indeed safe in Israeli hands and had been after several months of Philistine illicit ownership, but the Hebrews had never had it been returned to the Tabernacle. There is no way we can possibly imagine that it was left in the home of a certain Abinadab, by Samuel’s forgetfulness, or anybody else’s forgetfulness. It was a deliberate act of “neglect.” That is, it was deliberately left there by Samuel. It was symbolic of a new day dawning. Samuel was so busy relating to God, hearing from God and ministering to the people of Israel, as well as judging them, that to trouble himself with the symbol of the God he was relating to seemed almost irrelevant.  The substance of their faith was much more vital than the symbol of the same. Samuel was a man born out of time, with a world view, belief system and spiritual disciplines far ahead of his generation. Samuel was living in his own, “Holy Spirit church age.” All he did was relate to Him who is invisible, in as real a relationship as Peter, James and John had done in the days of Christ’s ministry. Samuel would have been considered a spiritual gargantuan giant no matter what age he had lived in. Samuel was the classic wild, giant, dangerous prophet.

Samuel’s anointing had led him in a different direction than the proscribed national slavery to what had degenerated into a deadened sacrificial system. Samuel was a man of the Spirit all the days of his life. He was worshipping the Lord with abandon before he had received that first prophetic word in his youth. By keeping the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle in a low profile with the people, it meant that he could keep the person of Yahweh Himself in the highest possible highlight. For Samuel, everything was a matter of the Spirit. The input of the prophetic word, and the spread and education of aspiring prophets was changing the face of Israel then, in a way that would have a future impact on the entire planet. Samuel’s lifelong circuit ministry of judging and teaching was a generational, credible call to return to the purity and faith of a life lived in devotion to Yahweh. This, after all, was the basic reason for Israel’s existence on the planet. How great was the force of righteousness within the prophet Samuel, and how magnificent was the working of the anointing that was upon him.

Samuel’s adherence to keeping the most intimate relationship with God and obeying Him as often and as consistently as he did throughout his life meant that the schools of the prophets had time to have become engrafted into the atmosphere of Israel’s culture within his own lifetime. His withdrawal from public and political life meant he could give his whole being to the development and the solidifying of an understanding into the world of prophecy and how it was to be maintained. Who knows what treasures he passed on to influence the future prophets.  The schools blossomed and developed under him, and were to direct the people and rulers of Israel over the next 500 years or so, not that they always listened to them.  Because of the fact that the prophetic Spirit and prophetic schools in Israel ultimately gave us the writing prophets, we could actually say that Samuel is still impacting the world today through them.  The writing prophets have left us a deep rich seam of truth that has not to this day been fully fathomed.

Samuel was the original seed of which all later prophets in Israel were the flower and growth. Sacrifice of animals was never abandoned altogether of course, but the sacrificial activity was brought into subjection to the flow of the Spirit of God and the prophetic word and office.  Samuel had gone quite some distance in tying Israel to Yahweh rather than to the Mosaic system that was attached to their history. The Tabernacle and the corrupted Levitical priesthood had lost the awe and wonder of the manifest presence of God in the infrastructure of that form of worship. Samuel had brought the drifting vessel of Israel, at first floating without a sail or rudder, back into its divine haven in all its proper function, i.e. loving God and walking in the parameters of His law.  The land of Israel was and is Yahweh’s land. The people of Israel were and are God’s nation. The whole of Samuel’s life and mission was to see his beloved nation brought under the umbrella of the terms of that covenant that they had so crassly broken.

Samuel had died while David was still on the run from the demonised and demented first monarch, Saul ben Kish. Yet even with the sorrow of the prophet dying without seeing the unity of one nation happily existing under the rule of a man who was after God’s own heart, the loyalty that was brewing in support of the anointed son of Jesse might possibly have been seen and perceived by the wise old man as a truly God inspired phenomenon. This would have allowed Samuel to die in peace concerning the future of the nation after he had departed to Sheol. Yet, whether he saw the hearts of the people turning towards David or not, I feel sure he would have seen in the Spirit what kind of a giant killing king Jesse’s son was to become. The priesthood may have turned out to be wimpish and retiring, but there was a Lion out of the tribe of Judah that was moving into maturity and position.

Saul was famous for his bravery across the twelve tribes, if only infamous for his demonic illness around the southern tribe of Judah. The bible reads as if it was only the confidantes of Saul’s court and the intimates of David’s friends and family that new of all the attempts on his life made by the son of Kish. Common folk might have turned against Saul had they known of the demonically inspired murderous attempts the sovereign had made time and again.  The giant killing, sweet psalmist of Israel was on the run from Saul for many years, while Samuel was alive, and the king’s hot pursuit of his successor continued until his death at Gilboa. There was indeed a conflict of loyalties in the hearts of the people. What were the Godly population of Judah to do? Follow Saul the present king who was clearly not the man he was when he was crowned? Or, like all the other nations that surrounded them, should they rid the land of an unwanted megalomaniac, dictator of a king and put the revolutionary “new boy on the block,” on the throne? Which way was the right one?

David had undoubtedly been taught well by Samuel. God had put Saul in office. God would remove Saul from office. Whatever human means or circumstances would bring about Saul’s removal from the throne, it was not to be by the hand of any God-fearing Hebrew, especially the man who was destined to succeed him. Because of Samuel’s integrity, morality and his grasp of patience for God to resolve issues, after Samuel’s death, the nation, in particular the people of Judah, waited to see what was about to happen. It was clearly a wait for Saul to die. Nobody in Israel it seems, wanted to touch this “Ark,” this anointed of God. Saul, as it were, was a holy vessel chosen by God, no matter what the outward display of vileness revealed. The resolution of the issue was all about divine intervention and a trust in the character of the Ever Living God, and His direct interaction with the people and concerns of Israel.  The tribe of Judah would have wanted Saul’s removal to happen quickly. I often wonder if the Northern tribes had a clue about Saul’s political intrigues against his own son and the man he had long suspected wanted to, “steal,” his throne. The North–South divide in Israel, from Joshua’s time on, is plain to see. On crossing the Jordan, the major campaign in the south, under Joshua, was nothing but a thorough conquering of Judah’s territory. As the years passed the fighting spirit that was needed for the conquering of Canaan leaked away like sand in a sieve. The book of Joshua reveals an incredible campaign in Judah, then a list of all the area that was not conquered, and a much lesser campaign in the north. The mid lands of Canaan were seemingly ignored.

One cannot but own the idea that the many people of Judah, and Benjamin, if not the rest of the nation, were aware that Saul’s successor had been anointed by Samuel and was waiting “in the wings” to assume the throne. News would have spread, throughout the southern people of Israel, of David’s two opportunities to have slain Saul – opportunities he had refused to seize, explaining his actions with the now famous words; “Touch not the Lord’s anointed.” Not only would the story have spread like wild fire amongst the people of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin, but it would have inspired them to emulate their future king. “If Saul’s successor, the son of Jesse, dare not remove Saul in order to get to the throne, then it would be wrong to override his will, his intention and his Godly motive. Therefore we, his future subjects as well as being Saul’s subjects must support our present king and wait to see what will happen.”  And so the people of Judah “sat back” as it were in respect of the throne and waited for the appropriate moment to acclaim their darling tribal representative as the rightful king.

As for the other tribes, there was a kind of cultural and social chasm once a person went North of Judah and Benjamin. (I referred above also to Simeon, but the land allotted to Simeon was a kind of annexe in the midst of Judah’s land. After a generation or two had passed, it seems Simeon was totally absorbed into Judah and is hardly mentioned again in the Bible.) Probably in ignorance of the details of the heavy story of Saul’s downfall, depression and demonization, there was a kind of nominal, “God save the King!” attitude amongst those northern tribes. There was little knowledge up north to think anything else but good things about Saul. If one pedantically marks the map of Israel and the narrative’s geographical location, while reading both David’s life and Saul’s reign, very little transpired in the northern tribal areas, but when it did, it shows a king who endeared himself to the people. Saul was much loved up north.  Possibly unawares of the court politics and intrigues, some were more than nominal in their support of Saul. Some risked their lives simply to return Saul’s cadaver to the land of Israel for a proper burial and time of mourning, showing an almost religious commitment to Saul even when dead. No matter what they thought of Saul down south, the north truly honoured their first king.

The deep mindset of division between Judah and the rest of the nation, that later split the whole hegemony into two after Solomon died, was already in the psyche of the people. It started as jealousy and was simmering for centuries before Rehoboam the son of Solomon was crass enough, and silly enough, not to soften the tax regime that funded the king’s lifestyle of luxury. It was the genius of David’s ability to join the nation into one that was a major aspect of the glory of his reign. David was anointed with a Spirit of wisdom. During his reign there was a joining of all the twelve tribes. Solomon’s heavy weight of taxes, and having the nation’s young sons and daughters away from their homes during the course of each year, missing farming time and normal home life for the king’s indulgence was tolerated only because of the wisdom and the character of Solomon and the deep love that the whole united hegemony of Israel had for the demised David and his son. Once the untried and untested son of Solomon had blotted his copy book, the amputation of north from south was done deftly and quickly, without any sociological anaesthetic.

The fact that we can see in retrospect that the nation was on the cusp of greatness, has to be understood as the gift of God on Samuel and then David’s life, a gift that was perpetuated with the very different gift of Solomon. It was an anointing of the Spirit of God that was placed on David’s life simultaneous to the horn full of oil that Samuel poured on his head. It was God that directly made David great. It was Samuel that had anointed David when he was but a child. It was Samuel who had mentored David from the period they had together, near the end of Samuel’s life, leaving the future king with wisdom beyond any of his peers. David proved to his own experience that, “Better is one day in the courts of Yahweh,” that is with Samuel, “than a thousand in the schools of men and worldly wisdom.”

Therefore, conceivably with some of the northern tribes knowing far less about the character of David than the people of Judah, Saul still had a staunch following right up to and even after his death. The nation was soundly formed and stabilising, despite the character of their present king. Samuel had led them away from being a family of tribes with only the religious ties of their history to bind them together while living independent existences.  Samuel, under God, had been the human instrument that had put Saul in office, and, to a degree, as far as externals were concerned, Saul was fulfilling his role. The nation was one, with only the political astute minds of a few who could see the Spiritual and social San Andreas Fault line that ran the whole length of the border between Judah/Benjamin together, and the rest of the tribes to their north, as well as the huge fault line that divided Saul’s character and personality.

David must have been a wise and discerning man, whose company other kings and leaders loved even before he was king. During David’s fugitive years, he made both friends and enemies, however, he befriended some of those rulers that reigned in the days of his loneliness, making friendships that were sustained during the years of his kingship. Some of the kings of those nations that surrounded Israel were still his submissive friends once he had ascended to the throne of Israel.

The nation having been propelled forward by the wisdom of Samuel, a prophet who had an ear to God and the people, as well as a mouth to pray with and teach the masses, built a shrine around his burial place. A building still surrounds his tomb today. Israel has an annual celebration of the life of Samuel.

I salute the son of Hannah, and personally seek God for some slight semblance of his characteristics and Spirit.

4 Nebi Samuel

Nebi Samuel

Categories: SAMUEL’S LEGACY SEEN IN THE LIVES OF THOSE THAT WERE INFLUENCED BY HIM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Kingmaker – Prophet and Future King have Quality Time Together.

Minutes of the Meeting?

(1 Samuel 19:18-20:1a)

The most important interview since God spoke to Moses through the burning bush on Sinai! That’s what I think, anyway. David is about to have a time of interaction with Samuel. We enter into, what is for us, an unknown, but truly a very wonderful period of time for David. The number of days this time of refreshing lasted is, alas, indeterminate. But whether it was days, weeks or as long as a full month, it must have been one of the most precious times in the whole of David’s life. It was like minds mingling. It was visionaries together mingling their hearts and anticipations borne of their respective understanding of their faith. It was two men of God running the race of life with unified hearts minds and vision. It was Samuel passing on the baton to the leader of the next generation. It was the elderly prophet who was the divinely anointed kingmaker, sharing his last thoughts with the young royal dynasty maker who was also a prophet. Whether either of them was aware that this would be their only time together … who knows? It was Samuei, saying Good-bye in the late Winter of his life, sharing everything he has with David in the first days of his Spring. This is big. This is a destiny making gathering of two men who were both key in Israel‘s future. Samuel would not only be passing on knowledge by conversation and fellowship, but by impartation of the Spirit with which both of them were so heavily endowed and anointed. I am serious when I assert that this meeting was priceless  and  vital to the future of the nation of Israel and the kingdom of God.

Whatever we know, or hypothesize about their talks together during this period, the important thing was an issue that transcends the agenda of these two great spirits. It was deep fellowship in the Holy Spirit. It was a time of awesome change for Israel. It was transition time into a phase that would impact the entire future of the world, and the summing up of the universe in their far distant future. Jesus Christ is King of Kings because of many things, but the fact that He is the rightful heir to David’s throne is one of the most important. I wonder if Samuel’s prophetic insight allowed him to see that far.

So, in the midst of the emotional and spiritual chaos caused by the king who had reneged on his early submission to the will and plan of God, the two greatest revolutionary thinkers and men of God of their time were destined to meet for a brief few days. Oh! The importance of this “conference!” I am sure that as a conferring and sharing time together it would have had its periods of prayer, of musical praise and worship, as well as prophetic input and lengthy hours of discussion.

The text of scripture tells us plainly; So David fled and escaped and came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. 

David did not go in a relaxed holiday mood.  He “fled.”  He “escaped.” Hear the language of the writer of these scriptures. With all the caves and mountains, the deserts, the cliffs and rock faces near the Dead Sea, even way up North to the city of Dan and beyond, there were so many places where David could have gone, within Israel’s borders, in order to hide from Saul. There were innumerable options of hideouts where he would have been safe from the countless eyes and ears of the spies of the murderous king of Israel.  These were places he assuredly would have years to utilise hereafter, between the “now” and “the people making David their king.” Yet, in his newly arrived adult vulnerability and loneliness, of tormenting persecution and rejection by the king, the young man went straight to Samuel, only two to three miles up the road. A man with the anointing seeks like hearts to fellowship with.

In his purity, to say nothing of angry desperation of mind and motive, the son of Jesse wanted answers. In his heart he wanted God’s take on the circumstances that were seeking to bury him. While he was hated and plotted against by the king, he could not go back to his wife, Saul might kill her. David was aware that murder was nothing to Saul, he had already made attempts to kill him several times. He could not go home to Bethlehem, the evil King might slay all his flesh and blood family. In fact wherever he went, anybody that became his companion, could conceivably be blacklisted and killed by Saul. On top of that, some people that he knew and loved, may submit to the temptation to betray David for any reward that Saul might hand out to those that would help the king rid the world of the person he considered to be his worst “enemy.” Yet, even if he was free to go and tell some of his friends, family or acquaintances about  the true state of their king’s mind and spirit, would he want to kill the hopes of Israel simply for the sake of getting sympathy and support for himself? That was something that we discover in scripture that David would never do.

So, David went looking for Samuel, the man who, under God, was the single tangible causative factor that had brought him to this point. Now, that is wisdom!  He wanted a father’s insight. I mean,  the perspective of the father of the nation. He went to the most informative source that he knew of, of God’s dealings with men, and for that reason, possibly, hopefully,  the safest place on the planet for Israel’s “king elect.” He went alone. It was Samuel who, under God, had anointed Saul to be king. It was the same prophet who, by the same Spirit of God, had anointed David.  He must have answers to this chaotic mess of destinies that were seemingly crossing, clashing, and even cancelling each other. What could the answer be?

Nobody else knew where the sweet psalmist of Israel had gone. David had not seen Samuel since the anointing well over a decade earlier, and being anointed as the next king, while the present king still lived, it was neither sensible nor politic to let it be known in the circles of the royal court of his whereabouts. For those reasons, it does seem almost certain that nobody would have suspected that David had rushed off to the mighty, yet elderly prophet who lived only a couple of miles away from the Naioth – Samuel’s home. After all, hadn’t the prophet retired from public life? Wasn’t he having musical praise and worship together with prophetic pronouncements everyday at Ramah? There was not any reason even for a “rebel” soldier of the king to see Samuel – or so the rest of Israel thought.

David’s first line of intelligence and insight, however,  lived at the Naioth, in Ramah. The songwriting, bear and lion confronting, king in waiting, went running to the arms of the spiritual guardian of a generation. Full of fear, apprehension and lack of understanding concerning his present circumstance, David sat down with the prophet and told him “all” that Saul had perpetrated against him.

Apart from the anointing of David in 1 Samuel 16, this time of discussion, debate and devotion of Prophet  and prospective king, is the only recorded time they ever had together. David went to stay with the prophet for an unknown length of time, yet it was, in God’s plan, one of the most essential inter-actions in the entire history of the Jewish people. That is neither an overstatement or an exaggeration. I am speaking the exact truth.

One can almost sense the tears, the tension and the anger, as well as the confusion emanating from David.  I  read between the lines and hear David plead with a vehement query, issues like; “Father Samuel, Sir, you anointed me and told me I was going to be king of Israel. Since that day everything I touch has been wonderfully used of Yahweh, except with things to do with His Majesty king Saul. He hates me. Even while I sing to soothe his spirit, he is trying to kill me. What am I supposed to do? Will he let me live to become king after him? Can you still tell me that God wants me to be king one day? Would it be right for me to fight against Saul? Surely it cannot be right for me to respond violently towards him? Should I surrender to him? Should I kill him? Help me please! Give me some answers!”

How long was Samuel’s answer to David’s breaking heart and strained  understanding? A day or two? A week? A month? There was definitely no more than a month for this secret convocation of two great hearts and minds.  I say this because immediately after David had to leave Samuel, for reasons we will soon discover, David had a chat with Jonathan. In 1 Samuel 20:5 David says to Jonathan, “Tomorrow is the New Moon festival, and I am supposed to dine with the king.” That quotation surely could not have been spoken if David was absent from Saul for even one previous New moon. This writer is convinced that David’s time with Samuel was no longer than the length of time between two new moons, ie: a calendar month. Other than those maximum limits, the reader’s guess at the minimum time they spent together is as good as mine or anybody else’s.

Street of Prophets, Jerusalem. Looking West

It is amazing that Samuel and Saul lived only 2 or 3 miles apart, yet no dialogue ever took place between them after Samuel had pronounced to Saul that the kingdom was torn from him. The deathly silence betwixt existing king and prophet undoubtedly meant that Samuel would be the last person the king would ask about where David was “hiding.” This writer believes that Saul had no knowledge of the day Samuel anointed David as a little boy. Saul was only wanting rid of David because of his soldiering success and his popularity within the nation. Such success could have suggested to the demented king that the people might rise up against him and make the most popular soldier in Israel their new king. Saul had heard Samuel pronounce the loss of his dynasty. His agony was that he had not the slightest idea when he was to be removed. Would it be by forced abdication? Through death? Would the people of Israel reject him? On top of those tormenting questions, Saul obviously considered anybody who was loved by the people, or more successful than he, to be a threat. He must have looked at many of his warriors and repeated to himself many times  the question; “Could this be the one to replace me?” As time progressed after Samuel’s death, it must have dawned on him that David was the man in line to the throne. That does not mean, however, that Saul ever knew of the anointing of David as a young boy.

This prolonged “summit” meeting between David and Samuel was undoubtedly precious to both parties. Samuel had anointed a young lad. Now, some 15 or more years later, in walks an emotional grown man who informs him, “I am David, the son of Jesse. I am  the boy you anointed in Bethlehem.”  The embraces must have been prolonged. The tears must have been profuse. The greeting must have been emotional.

And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth.  David had known where to find Samuel, even though he was not  directly at home. If the historians are correct Rama (full title Ramathaim Zophim of 1 Samuel 1) was the city of Samuel’s home (Naioth means “home” or “habitation” in Hebrew). Samuel’s home was within the city. It would not be correct to imagine Rama as anything more than what we today would refer to as a walled Hamlet. This statement  of scripture, alone, lets us know fully the heart and mind of Samuel towards the son of Jesse. The most senior leader of the nation, arguably above the king, received his own as well as Saul’s successor into his own home. The elderly yet majestic Samuel took the youthful, undoubtedly confused and traumatised David to his home, and thus to his heart. He had secrets to disclose to the future king. It was a series of secrets that could not be shared with Saul, nor anybody else in the kingdom. The secrets of the Lord were with Samuel, the man who feared Him. He was about to impart some of those secrets to the man that God Himself described as, “a man after His own heart.”

As a “by the way,” for those who insist that the word Naioth here is strictly plural, I see it as meaning that Samuel’s home was possibly surrounded by the homes of all those that were members of Samuel’s school of the prophets. Samuel was ever surrounded by music, praise and prophecy.

There are moments in the narratives of scripture where dialogue was obviously going on, yet the reader is not allowed to know the contents. There was Moses with two forty-day periods up on Sinai. Yes, he returned with the Decalogue, and from his intelligence from the Almighty we believe he wrote the first five books of the Bible on his return. However, surely  eighty days, alone in discussion with the Everlasting All knowing God leaves the imagination to run wild on what was discussed throughout the whole time. Nearly three months alone in the Shekinah glory with God Himself! The very thought of what could have been discussed is incredible.

Centuries later, Peter, James and John, overheard Moses and Elijah discussing Christ’s “exodus” from this life. What treasures would they have shared in the hearing of those three departed, heavenly men? And, believe it or not, the three disciples nearly fell asleep while overhearing their discussion!

The Lord Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, met believers at various times during the forty days between the resurrection and the ascension. What were the “infallible proofs” that Luke talks about, that Christ showed his disciples cum apostles, during those days? Apart from the Great Commission, what transpired between Christ and the group of 500 that saw Him at one time? Where were the other 380 when the day of Pentecost was fully come? Oh! To have overheard some of the dialogue in those days and been able to hear the logistics of Christ’s words and the disciple’s responses.

There is another awesome dialogue, of which we are told nothing. Paul went and stayed with Peter at his home in Jerusalem for two weeks. How infinitely priceless would the transcripts of their conversations be?  Then again, what did Paul preach about every day of the week for three whole years at the school of Tyrranus in Ephesus?  Over a thousand sermons, or thereabouts? Was it all précised in Ephesians?

We could go on. And In the same spirit of hungering for spiritual treasure, I would dearly love to know the depth of conversation between Samuel and David during the time David was staying at the Naioth with the elderly prophet. When they first met in 1 Samuel 16, we are given the impression that no words at all passed between them – probably because of the age of David at the time. If one takes the bear narrative of scripture as the full content of the meeting when the prophet anointed David, Samuel did not even talk to David, neither was David actually named.

But now the two of them were together as grown rational, spiritual men.

Samuel must have somehow expected this meeting. I do not say that Samuel knew David was coming in the circumstances that he arrived in, although that is not beyond the realm of probability. If Samuel knew the entire story behind his first meeting with Saul the day before he arrived into Samuel’s life, I do not find it difficult to assume he knew all about David’s arrival before David arrived on his doorstep. I do say, that because of what transpired between them, Samuel was ready with divinely received information that required a face to face meeting with David, as it was to be shared with David alone, before he, Samuel, was to leave this life.

The ruins of Saul’s fortress

This writer believes firmly that there are some things that David effected when he was king that he could not have known about, nor would he have implemented, if he had not received instruction and wisdom from Samuel on those very issues. And these days at the Naioth were the only opportunity that we know of, where Samuel could have shared them with the future greatly loved king of Israel.

We can piece together from scripture some of the issues they definitely discussed together during this period. There are some things that can be extrapolated intelligently from the biblical text that they probably talked about. There are also some issues that seem logical to suggest that they would have shared together but are here just hypothetically presented. None of these things about which I am referring could have been discussed in David’s innocent youth the day he was anointed in his father’s home at the age of around 10 -12 years old..

The man who was a soldier, earning a king’s respect in battle, who had come knocking on Samuel’s door in confusion, was ready to hear the full blown truth concerning his future. There was no, “pink and fluffy,” talks between Samuel and David. This was a time of rough, tough, “man to man” exchanges, both giving the discussion content “straight from the shoulder.” Samuel would have shared the full picture with David, and left nothing out. Samuel must have expected his time with David to be brief. The dialogue and interaction between Samuel and David was to plant seeds that would build David into the kind of man that was worthy of ruling Israel. I think even the “small talk,” must have been over huge issues. What was discussed was to prepare David for the incredibly hard time that was to be his lot in life for the next 5 years at least, before he was to become king of Israel.

Let’s plough through what I perceive as the agenda of this “Summit Meeting”.


Samuel must have assured David that he would definitely become king of Israel. This is rock sure fact simply because the scripture tells us so. No matter how the demonic rages of Saul ranted against him, David would be king. 1 Chronicles 9 tells us in verses 21 – 23, “So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the LORD; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD through Samuel.” This prospect was still at the very least five years away in the future from these moments that Samuel and David had together. “According to the word of the LORD through Samuel,” some commentators believe, means simply that he could not become king until he was anointed, as per the book that Samuel wrote. That is too weak an interpretation to refer to it as “according to the word of the LORD.”  This writer is confident that it meant that what happened at Hebron was predicted by Samuel. We have nothing in scripture that tells us that Samuel said any such thing apart from the anointing of David before the eyes of his father and his brothers. In retrospect, we of course, are fully aware of what went on when Samuel anointed Jesse’s youngest. But we cannot be sure at all that the family that was present knew what was happening. For this reason, Samuel, logically, must have spoken this word to David during this period at the Naioth. I believe that somewhere in their inter-action Samuel gave David the top most important message:  “David you will be king! The people themselves will anoint you!”

We are not actually told that Samuel said anything all to David in 1 Samuel 16, or to Jesse and his other sons. It was possibly understood to be a king’s anointing. Such anointings as David received with the precious oil, were reserved only for prophets, priests and kings (not that I can find any man being anointed with oil in scripture in order to become a prophet). I am not sure we can be certain that Jesse and his household knew what we know today about how being anointed with oil was reserved for prophets, priests and kings only. However, Jesse was not a Levite, so David could not have been anointed to be a priest. That would make a nonsense of the Mosaic law. They would not have thought of it as being a prophetic anointing, for prophets were rare at the beginning of Samuel’s life, and only increased in number and presence because of Samuel’s drive to initiate the schools of the prophets. Logically, therefore, if they considered it at all, they may have assumed that he was anointed to be king. I have to add, however, the reception David received from his brothers when he brought them food from home and was introduced to the ranting of Goliath, suggest that they had no insight at all as to David’s future, even though they were present when Samuel poured the oil (1 Samuel 17: 28-29). My thesis is that the family just had no idea what Samuel’s anointing of David was all about. It was nothing but the passing of time that educated them about David’s destiny.

It was possibly Samuel’s first major issue after they had got down to business with David at the Naioth. The prophet must have poured into David’s heart the deep and certain assurance of his destiny.

The prophet’s rationale as to the persecution thus far that the king had inflicted upon David would have been hard. It is Samuel who would have taught David to, “Touch not the Lord’s anointed,” and to “Do His prophets no harm.” Saul, David and Samuel were each of them anointed, and each of them had prophesied. We know Samuel was acknowledged as a prophet (Acts 3:24), and so was David (Acts 2:30). Saul had prophesied several times in his life (1 Samuel 10:10 -11. 18:10. 19:23). That is why it was said, “Is Saul also amongst the prophets.” However, we have to add the rider that, all prophets prophesy, but all those that prophesy may not necessarily be prophets.

Receiving his throne after much hardship must have been Samuel’s prophetic word to David. Oh the agony of the hard truth!


Even though the Temple would not be built in either Samuel’s day, nor David’s life time – in fact it was not built until something like 60-70 years in the future after David’s time at Naioth – we are absolutely certain that Samuel talked at great length to David about the Temple that we now refer to, in hindsight, as Solomon’s. This was certainly on Samuel’s agenda. Allow me to explain why I say such a thing.

We know that booty and loot from many successful battles and wars was taken and dedicated for the building project of the temple. 1 Chronicles 26:26-28 states that, “… Shelomoth and his relatives had charge of all the treasures of the dedicated gifts which King David and the heads of the fathers’ households, the commanders of thousands and hundreds, and the commanders of the army, had dedicated. They dedicated part of the spoil won in battles to repair the house of the Lord.  And all that Samuel the seer had dedicated and Saul the son of Kish, Abner the son of Ner and Joab the son of Zeruiah, everyone who had dedicated anything, all of this was in the care of Shelomoth and his relatives” (NASB). The house of the Lord obviously referred to the Tabernacle as well, but I find it hard to believe that the mighty Samuel would even sanction worshipping at the place that was created to house the Ark of the Covenant, whilst for well over half a century the Ark of the Covenant was infamously not there. Samuel had king, kingdom, and a king’s city in mind -as well as a magnificent Temple.

This means that the Temple was, “in the air,” even from Samuel’s day. We are not told of it in the books of Samuel, but the plan was afoot to build a permanent temple of the Lord, and Samuel was the earliest name mentioned in 1 Chronicles 26:26-28. Because the collection of treasure with which to adorn the Temple was obviously done whilst folks were alive, Samuel was collecting the loot from battles for this purpose, and it would seem obvious to assume that Samuel gave the same instruction to Saul as “Saul ben Kish” is on the list of contributors. Samuel must have also passed on the idea to David. Because it is inconceivable that Samuel might have told David when he anointed him as a child, and because we only have two meetings between Samuel and David recorded, we have to deduce that at the second meeting, while they talked together at the Naioth, Samuel shared the idea of any looted treasure being dedicated for a future temple. Because of David’s battles and victories, and the blood on his hands, God did not allow David to actually build the structure during his reign. But David did make sure that the entire facility was prepared for before he died.  In his very last days he passed the plans for the temple over to Solomon. This could only have been in David’s heart through the sharing of hearts and minds with Samuel. I often wonder if it was Samuel that suggested to David that Jebus (now known as Jerusalem) would be the best place for the temple to be built. But that is just a little bit of my own speculation.

Although Samuel and David discussing this issue is extrapolated from the verses that inform us that they planned together the singers for Divine worship that were to be ministering 24/7 around the ark at both “David’s tabernacle” and “the temple that Solomon built,” it presupposes self evidently that it was in the context of building a permanent temple that the loot was gathered and kept safe.

The things dedicated to the temple were the spoils of battle from Samuel, Saul, Abner, Joab and David during a period of between 80 and 100 years or more. That is  prophetically extremely longsighted by Samuel. This is yet another reason why I believe that Samuel is generally underrated as to his importance in Israel’s history.


As we plough through the agenda of the meeting between Samuel and David at the Naioth in Ramah, we need to see that we are touching some of the issues which, to my mind, puts Samuel even above Moses. We are talking about aspects of his ministry of innovation and creativity which changed the spiritual face of Israel over  a couple of hundred years well beyond his life span. The Temple, the music of praise and worship, the abandonment to the Spirit, the desperate imperative of the prophetic word – all these things and more came from and were instituted by Samuel. It was the son of Hannah that received the ideas from heaven, had them fertilised  by the prophetic Spirit that abode on his life, and then brought into manifestation, some of it in his own life, some left for David, and one major item that had to be left for Solomon.

The schools of the prophets were one of the most influential projects that Samuel initiated that went on far beyond his generation, as well as David’s and Solomon’s.

We have quite a few mentions of these schools in the Old Testament. As David settled down for a month or so of fellowship with Samuel, we get the picture of a company of prophets living at Ramah, under the management, leadership, or whatever term one should use, of Samuel. The members of this group I venture to suggest lived in a common home, or homes, in the same vicinity where Samuel had his own house at Ramah (1 Samuel 7:17). I understand that within Ramah was the Naioth. Naioth means home. It is sometimes plural, as here in 1 Samuel 19, giving the impression that the home of the prophetic school, and the home of Samuel, were in the same area, if not in the same block (1 Samuel 19:18).

The detailed origin and history of these schools are lost in obscurity. But logic absolutely demands that it was Samuel who created them. According to 1 Samuel 3:1, before the call of Samuel to his role of prophet, the prophetic word or vision was “very rare in Israel,” and prophecy was not widely heard of at all. It is absolutely certain that these schools- groups – unions of prophets arose during Samuel’s life time under his guardianship. They were seemingly called into existence by the chief prophet of Israel at that time, that could be nobody else but Samuel.

There is, however, uncertainty concerning Samuel’s leadership of, and participation with other such unions in different parts of the land beside the one that conducted its business right under the auspices of Samuel’s physical presence. For instance, in 1 Samuel 10:5 and 10:10, we find a band of prophets, utilising their gift and carrying on with their business at Gibeah, coming down from the sacrificial height there, and descending in order to meet Saul. I hasten to add that the text does not state that this company had its Naioth (home) at Gibeah, although the name of “Gibeah of God” causes this writer to acknowledge the significance of such a possibility as the prophets were active there. If there was a school at Gibeah, I see it as likely that, once Saul’s demonic depressions set in, the school would have uprooted itself and joined the group at Ramah for the physical safety from the king who lived at Gibeah. Once Saul’s demonic anger matured and the whole of the  Israeli public knew he was against Samuel as well as David, any School of the prophets at Gibeah of God would have had to change their country seat.

It is my thesis that both Gad and Nathan turned up later to be with David from out of the ranks of the school of the prophets at the Naioth in Ramah. In fact I am of the  feeling that it was Samuel that seconded Gad to minister to David, after David had left Samuel and Ramah. Gad turns up with David shortly after David left Samuel (1 Samuel 22:5). Gad was David’s prophetic Seer (2 Samuel 24:11) who gave the word of the Lord to David quite often, and sometimes at crucial moments.

Samuel’s tomb

After this reference here in 1 Samuel 19, there is no mention again of these “schools” until the days of Elijah and Elisha. They had by then evolved into the new generic term of “the sons of the prophets” ( 1 Kings 20:35). It seems that they were living in considerable numbers at Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho at least ( 2 Kings 2:3, 2:5. 2:7, 2:15, 4:1, 4:38, 6:1, 9:1).  According to 2 Kings 4:38- 43, about a hundred sons of the prophets sat before Elisha at Gilgal, and took their meals together. The number at Jericho may have been not quite as great; for fifty men of the sons of the prophets went with Elijah and Elisha to the Jordan (2 Kings 2:7, 2:16-17).

These passages tell us that the sons of the prophets also lived in a common house, as it seems to me, they did in their days of their origin at Ramah with Samuel (2 Kings 6:1). A practical point is raised with this observation, namely that only the unmarried could live in a common building. We know of prophets in scripture that were married, and therefore must have lived in houses of their own (2 Kings 4:1).

We have to take note, of course, that it cannot be logically assumed that all the prophets of the time, from Samuel and onwards, were compulsorily initiated into their gift, or office, through attendance at a school  of the prophets, exactly parallel to the fact that not all contemporary ministers of the gospel have necessarily been to Bible College or Theological Seminary.  It is not possible to prove unequivocally that these schooling groups continued uninterruptedly from the days of Samuel down to the times of Elijah and Elisha, yet logical extrapolation strongly suggests it was so. The historical line which can be traced in the influence of prophecy from the time of Samuel on, can only be practically and easily explained from the uninterrupted continuance of these colleges of prophets in training. The huge numbers of prophets, already in the land when Elijah first appeared, points to the existence of such unions as these already in existence ( 1 Kings 18:13). The use of the numbers being in “50’s” is strongly reminiscent of 2 Kings 2.

The darkness of the days of the Judges meant that Samuel was born in a time where prophets and prophecy were very rare. Samuel started the schools, and the written history of Israel screams at us that the Old Testament Hebrew prophets were very strong, very influential and incredibly numerous. They were much more numerous than twelve minor prophets and four major prophets suggest (Jeremiah wrote Lamentations as well as the book we know of as “Jeremiah.” Thus four major prophets).

My own thoughts are that Samuel kept his ear to the ground, as it were, in his ministry circuit throughout his life, talked to many people, and invited those that he discerned had some prophetic gifting, to join him with other like minded people in the dormitory home he had set up in Ramah. These schools were called into existence by chosen instruments of the Lord, such as Samuel, and later Elijah, and Elisha, whom the Lord had called to be mighty prophets, and endowed with a peculiar measure of His Spirit for their particular calling, that they might check the decline of spiritual life in the life of Israel, and bring back the rebellious “to the law and the testimony.” The name “schools of the prophets” is the one which expresses most fully the character of these groups. And we must not think of them as educational institutions like we have today, in which the pupils of the prophets received instruction in prophesying or in theological studies with a certificate at the end. No! No! No! The academic thirst for book knowledge is as far as the east is from the west when considering Eastern life style, and the man Samuel himself. The tuition was solely of the word and the Spirit. In fact there was nothing else to be considered. Hearing accurately from God, and dividing rightly the scriptures that were given by God was the only issue on the table, as far as Samuel was concerned.

Prophesying, and, indeed, being a prophet can neither be taught nor communicated by instruction, but is a gift of God which He communicates according to His free will to whomsoever He wills. And God, more often than not, chooses people that we would not. From the purely human point of view, that choice often seems utterly arbitrary. But God is not arbitrary at all with the moving of His Spirit. The divine impartation of such spiritual matters presupposes a mental and spiritual disposition on the part of the recipients as fitted them to receive it. In short, God looks on the heart. The exercise of the gift required a thorough acquaintance with the law and the earlier revelations of God, which the schools of the prophets must have promoted. It is therefore justly and generally assumed, that the study of the law and of the history of the divine guidance of Israel formed a part of the curriculum of the pupils of the prophets, which also included the cultivation of sacred music and lyricism, and united exercises for the promotion of prophetic inspiration.

That the study of the earlier revelations of God was entered into, may be very safely inferred from the fact that from the time of Samuel onwards the writing of their sacred history formed an essential part of the prophet’s labours. The cultivation of sacred music and poetry may be inferred partly from the fact that, 1 Samuel 10:5 informs us  that musicians walked in front of the prophesying prophets, playing as they went along, and partly also from the fact that sacred music not only received a fresh impulse from David, who stood in close relation to the association of prophets at Ramah during this period of time with Samuel, but was also raised by him when he was king, into an integral part of public worship. Music was by no means cultivated merely that the sons of the prophets might employ it in connection with their inspiration and prophecy, but also as means of awakening the human spirit as well as emotions of the soul after God, and of lifting up the spirit of God, and so preparing it for the reception of divine revelation (2 Kings 3:15). We are forced to include, among the spiritual exercises that took place in the schools, prophesying in companies, as at Gibeah and Ramah (1 Samuel 10:5 and 19:20).

We cannot but see the prophet Samuel as the major seminal instigating genius of this “movement” of the Spirit of God. The time of Samuel, and the very character of the man creates a radical turning-point in the development of the Old Testament history and theology, as well as in the kingdom of God overall. While Samuel was still a boy priest, learning his craft as a prophet, and how to hear God, the judgment of the Almighty fell upon the sanctuary, profaned by the shameful conduct of the priests, the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas. The Tabernacle was made bereft of the ark of the covenant, and ceased in consequence to be the scene of the gracious presence of God in Israel. National worship, it seems, insanely, carried on in the Tabernacle with no Ark within. Ridiculous in the extreme!

The mission fell upon Samuel, as prophet of the Lord, to found a new house for the spiritual life which he had ignited, by calling and gathering together those who had been awakened by the word of God that he taught. This gathering of likeminded  souls was not for the promotion of their own prophetic inclinations under his direction, but also for joining with him in the spread of the fear of God and obedience to the covenant. A true prophet has an all round ministry of presenting truth to people. This means that they would have been preaching prophets.

I believe Samuel’s casual attitude to getting the Ark of the Covenant back to the Tabernacle as a solid indication of his forward thinking. The Ark, though sacred and real in its carrying of the divine presence, was still only a symbol. The spirit of God  moving in the prophetically inclined men of Israel was the substance of which the Ark was a shadow.  Though he was a Levite, Samuel was also a prophet, and his prophetic roll was master over his Levitical priestly understanding.

Samuel knew the need  for  1. Prophetic input in everything that king and country did. And  2.Once the monarchy in Israel was allowed to reach its peak, a king’s city with a permanent temple would be required in which to house the Ark of the Covenant for the purposes of holding the nation together.

But just as, in the days of Samuel, it was the fall of the legal sanctuary and priesthood which created the necessity for the founding of the schools of the prophets; so in the times of Elijah and Elisha, in the northern kingdom of the ten tribes, it was the utter absence of any sanctuary of Jehovah which led these two prophets to support and sustain groups of prophets, and so furnish true worshippers of Jehovah with places and personnel of edification, as a substitute for what the righteous in the kingdom of Judah possessed via the prophets, the temple and the Levitical priesthood. Samuel, to my understanding was much more far sighted prophetically than even Elijah or Elisha.

There was a higher reason still, which must not be overlooked in our examination of these groups, and their importance in relation to the kingdom of Israel. We learn that those disciples under Samuel were found prophesying (1 Samuel 10:10. 19:20), and that they were seized by the Spirit of God in order to facilitate their prophecy. We also discover that the Divine Spirit which moved them, exerted a powerful influence upon all who came into contact with them (ie: with Saul and his messengers).  We need to declare that the Holy Spirit thinks and moves regardless of any human crisis or need, and always inspires people according to His eternal purpose. What I mean by this, is that over and above the sociological imperatives as explained above, there was God working out His purpose at His pleasure. God does things at His initiative and time. He moves in a manner that is not caused by, or required by any sociological phenomena that complicates the human situation. God pours out His Spirit when He says it is time. If God responds to human societal phenomena, that is His divine prerogative, but I feel as I write, that it is not quite correct to suggest that God moved, like a knee jerk reaction, simply because man turned away from Godliness at that time.

The music that precipitates the outpouring of prophecy amongst the prophets, which then flowed over Saul, and even Saul’s messengers that he later sent to Ramah to find David, is a fabulous biblical introduction to the concept of the Spirit of God being poured out, presupposing a group reception of the outpoured Spirit. The move of the Spirit in this manner is always in a group.

Consequently the founding of schools of the prophets is to be regarded as an operation of divine grace, which is generally observed to be manifested with all the greater power where sin mightily abounds. It was by no means an accidental circumstance that these groups are only met with in the times of Samuel and of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. These times resembled one another in the fact, that in both of them idolatry had gained the upper hand; though, at the same time, there were some respects in which they differed essentially from one another. In the time of Samuel the people did not manifest the same hostility to the prophets as in the time of Elijah. The darkness of the days of the Judges brought a light out of that very same darkness – that light was Samuel. The darkness that infiltrated Israel during the days of Ahab and Jezebel also brought great light out of the belly of that darkness-namely Elijah leading to Elisha.

Samuel stood at the head of the nation as judge even during the reign of Saul; and after the rejection of the latter, he still stood so high in authority and esteem, that Saul never ventured to attack the prophet even in his royal madness. In the circumstances of Samuel, what had to be done was to bring the nation to a recognition of its apostasy, to foster the new life which was just awakening, and later to remove whatever hindrances might be placed in its way by the monarchy. After he was gone, the schools of the prophets would continue, following the footsteps of their master, Samuel.

I believe Samuel, if not by word, definitely by example, would have impacted David in a very positive manner towards supporting the schools of the prophets.


The Levitical worship and sacrificial system was done in silence. Only the crackling of the fire, and the groans of the animals being sacrificed could have been heard. The worshippers were not even encouraged to confess their sins by word of mouth, but merely to lean with their hands on the head of the animal that was to be sacrificed. The introduction of music for worship was undoubtedly utilised as early as Moses’ sister Miriam after the crossing of the Red Sea. To use music as a norm for inspiration and public worship, however, is not seen in scripture until Samuel’s reference to the group of prophets that would meet Saul after his anointing, and when David played before Saul while he prophesied.

It seems to this writer as a definite extrapolation from the book of psalms, and the intense musical work rota that David instigated in Jerusalem, that the doctrine, the atmosphere  and the absolute imperative of musical praise and worship was discussed between Samuel and David during the days of David’s brief touch down at the Naioth. David was already known as a fine musician, so what we are suggesting may actually have already been an aspect of David’s understanding of the spiritual life. But Samuel’s utility of music to inspire the prophetic would obviously have impacted David. The son of Jesse must have already perceived this truth during his playing for, and singing to king Saul (1 Samuel 18:10).

David’s love of music was profound. He wrote songs, and sang them under a heavenly anointing of freedom and deliverance. Saul’s calm may have been only temporary after David sang and played the harp to him, so we cannot claim that Saul was delivered from the demon that pursued and clung to him, but it pacified Saul, and caused the demon to a dormant state at least. However, David’s songs of praise and worship were undoubtedly one of the contributing factors in  the soup of what created Israel’s halcyon days under his reign and Solomon’s as king. Samuel must have impressed the need for music in public worship upon the future monarch. When one realises the role that corporate musical worship played in David’s days, and in the early days of the temple, one cannot but see the hand of Samuel at work in David’s thinking. I perceive this as a self evident fact. When David set up the worship in Jerusalem, there was worship with music 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That is difficult to comprehend as normal practice. I know many churches that have held a “praise-a-thon” for a day or 2. I know one church that had praise and worship for three days without a stop. But most of these events that I have heard of were attempting to raise funds for one project or another. But to have a full band playing, with prophetic singers, on shift work that activated a rota that was without end is to my mind, phenomenal. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, without any time off for feast days or Bank Holidays! It is a difficult thing to image. Samuel, however, imaged it, and David happily implemented it after he brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.

It was Samuel that had a revelation of how music that was sung from the heart, with words not only addressed to God Himself, but declaring truths about the person of Yahweh, would break through from the physical and carnal into the spiritual and the invisible releasing the blessing and power of God. The prophetic Spirit that came upon  the schools of the prophets, was entered into by this very means.

The first time we hear of the Schools of the prophets is significant. The  Principle of First Mention is a sharp point of observation for many Bible scholars. The principle states that the first time any subject, or doctrine, or practice is mentioned in scripture, it has, contained in that first mention, many aspects that comprehensively explain the meaning of that issue whenever it is mentioned throughout the rest of scripture. We hear of the schools of the prophets initially in 1 Samuel 10:5.

The text recounts how that Saul, soon after his anointing by Samuel would meet a procession, or group of prophets coming down from the peak of the hill at the place that Samuel refers to as “Gibeah of God.” Surely this was the Gibeah from which Saul was domiciled. Saul would see them with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps leading the group, and those following would be prophesying. The Spirit of the Lord that was on the group would come upon Saul as he approached them.

Why is this significant?

  • It tells us that even though the word of the Lord was rare in the early childhood of Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1), after years of circuiting around Israel, preaching, teaching, prophesying and judging, the ministry of Samuel had birthed not only a hunger for God and the prophetic, but a whole generation of prophets that were being trained under the mentoring hand of Samuel. 
  • Music was an essential and integral part of the prophetic movement that was beginning to blossom. This was no, “Instant Result” manifestation, but the fruit of a long hard period of ministry that had taken time to grow roots and be planted. Everything big starts little. This group of prophets at Gibeah was the first fruits of Samuel’s vision. Though they are not mentioned again until the days of Elijah and Elisha some 120 or more years later, it is this writer’s conclusion that the schools of the prophets continued for years even beyond Elisha. The  contagion of the prophetic that was sown through these schools probably led to the likes of Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah, and even Jeremiah. Isaiah himself had a school of prophets, referred to as his “disciples.”  Not that these giants of the prophetic  world necessarily attended a school of the prophets, but by their presence in the land they released something of the Spirit of God that caused a hunger and a passion amongst true believers for the secret things of God, and the prophetic word from heaven. Music of a certain kind causes the Spirit of God to move, and the prophetic spirit of man to rise up and receive Him. That is the thing to search for. 
  • The Tambourines being present suggest that the music was somewhat lively and rhythmic. We are not talking of whispered, slow songs of devotion. The suggestion is that the music was quite wild. Where translations use the word “Shigganoth” for some of the psalms of scripture, the Hebrew translation of the word plainly suggests it being what twenty first language refers to as “Rock and Roll.” Check for yourself. 
  • The word used for”prophets” here is “Nabi’m.” Foundationally, and etymologically meaning to be in a trance and speaking from the impact of that trance. 
  • The fact that Saul caught the “atmosphere” of the prophetic was basically a statement from God that he wanted the prophetic gift to be spread to many. It was God’s desire from the very start of things, to pour out His Spirit on all flesh, that they may prophesy, and have visions. It could not properly be done until the resurrection of Christ, and the pouring forth of the Spirit in Acts 2. It has not been properly fulfilled to this day.

The building of, and the work within the Tabernacle, and later the Temple was strongly on Samuel’s agenda with David. 1 Chronicles 9 is a brief genealogy of some of the tribes of Israel, as well as a list of people who were appointed to work at the “Tabernacle.” The singers listed, however, all lived in Jerusalem. This presupposes that the arrangement was made, in Samuel’s day, between David and Samuel, that these families of trained and worshipful singers would be the backbone of the perpetual worship that was instigated in Jerusalem around David’s Tabernacle, to where the Ark of the Covenant was brought in David’s reign (2 Samuel 6). These people, and their families, were installed into office, and were fully functioning worshippers ready for when the Temple was built. How did they get these jobs? In what way were they qualified? Under whose authority were they called to worship? 1 Chronicles 9:22 says, “These were enrolled by genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer appointed in their office of trust.” So we know that David and Samuel shared on this issue.


The picture is plain concerning the worship that was conducted within the school of the prophets, both from 1 Samuel 10, and 1 Samuel 19. The music was being played before the prophets, that is, in their presence, but it is clearly connected that the music, the tambourine, and the inferred rhythmic response, or dance somehow facilitated an open heart and mind to receive the prophetic words. Samuel was the overseer of this practice as witnessed by Saul himself and the messengers he later sent to bring David into the courts of Saul’s “justice.”

Surely the majority of modern Christianity, with the dead restraint of the sobriety of western Christianity would deride this practice as an occult practice.  I have even heard one preacher say, “It smacks of the demon worshipping witches and wizards of Haiti playing demonic, heavily rhythmic music for incredibly long periods of time, dancing and jumping until they leave normal consciousness and move into a trance like altered state.” It leaves us with a problem that needs addressing to explain.

  • The music, the lyrics and the rhythm of the tambourine were clearly and definitely not demonically directioned. The music must have been God directioned, ie: sung towards God. The rhythm was to encourage a release of the human spirit, and when the lyrics glorified God and expressed the desires of the human heart to praise Him and worship Him, somehow the Spirit of God met with them. It was the dynamic of things in Samuel’s day, and it is the dynamic of things today. This writer is sure such a status quo has always been so. 
  • The inference is made by many commentators, that on the two occasions Saul entered “into the fray” of what was happening with the schools of the prophets, Saul seemed to prophecy, as it were, against his will. Nowhere in the scripture is it mentioned that Saul’s own will was overridden. I have an alternative answer.  Saul was wanting the blessing of God. On both occasions that he mingled with the prophets school, or entered into the geographic location of their activity, the Spirit of God that was upon the prophets came upon Saul, and so he willfully, spontaneously decided to submit to the anointing of the Spirit of God that came upon him. When the Spirit of God is poured out on a group, geography is part of the equation – vicinity is important.  The outpouring presupposes a geographical parameter.                                                                                                                                                                
  • Even within the release of New Testament Christianity, people who did not know what to expect, when receiving the Holy Spirit reacted in a manner that would, by normal parameters, be called strange. In Acts 2, the whole initial motivation of Peter’s sermon was to counter the charge that they were all drunk, as well as speaking in languages that they did not know. They were doing things , and acting in a way that was not in accordance with their normal modus operandi, nevertheless it cannot be said that it was against their will. 
  • Without precedence and foreknowledge of what it meant to, “receive the Holy Spirit,” in Acts 8, Peter and John laid their hands on Christians in Samaria, and although it is not stated whether they spoke in tongues, prophesied, or acted as if they were drunk, something visibly and tangibly took place, so much so that Simon Magus offered money so that he could lay hands on people and get the same response as when Peter and John ministered. Whatever happened could not possibly have been what they expected. 
  • Again, in Acts 19 when Paul baptised and laid hands on “about twelve” disciples in Ephesus they all spoke with tongues and prophesied. It could not have been what they expected, but this does not necessarily suggest it was against their will. 
  • On all those three occasions, people who had no previous experience of “what to expect,” even though they were hungry for more of God, were all immediately thrown into an expression – an experience – that they gladly submitted to, no matter how much their response was unlike their normal modus operandi. I believe this is what happened with Saul in 1 Samuel 10 at Gibeah and  1 Samuel 19 at Ramah. 
  • The moving of the Holy Spirit upon an individual causes phenomena in a unique and life changing way. Unbelieving people, or even Christian people, who do not encourage or entertain the supernatural breaking into the act of worshipping Christ and His Father, shy away from such things. Yet, Samuel was now a seasoned prophet, a man of character, depth and profound Godliness. From the understanding of the situation  of the music, the rhythm  and the prophesying, it was Samuel himself that had instigated the whole thing. When Saul came looking for David in 1 Samuel 19, he obviously entered into a meeting of the prophets where there was music, rhythm, dance and prophecy. Both times Saul stripped off his outer garments. This certainly suggests active and exertive dancing and movement. And Samuel was overseeing, undoubtedly with approval, the whole scene. It is the character of Samuel and his “stamp of approval” that demands this to be a legitimate practice. 
  • What is strange is that nowhere in the whole life of Samuel are we given any suggestion that the music, the dance and the stripping of the clothes, was done by Samuel himself, in fact we gain quite an opposite picture. Samuel’s interaction with Yahweh always  seems calm and very conversational, especially in his first receipt of a prophetic word in 1 Samuel 3, when God calls and the boy Samuel thinks that it is Eli speaking. 
  • My explanation of that phenomena is to assert that Samuel was a Holy Spirit “Carrier.” What do I mean by this? I mean that the gift of God that sat upon Samuel was so powerful and rich, that some way, in a manner not unlike Peter’s shadow falling on people who were ill and their receiving healing, Samuel’s praying, anointing and speaking were things that released the Holy Spirit to whoever was receiving  from him. 
  • The gift of God that sat upon Samuel was so phenomenally supernatural that while he could relax and smile at his prophetic scholars, something was imparted to their spirits that released them into the realms of the prophetic. 
  • In the world of the medical there is such a phenomenon as a “disease carrier.” This is a person who carries a virus, perhaps even one that could kill, yet the carrier has no symptoms at all. However, if that carrier mixes with other people, the disease he carries could be transmitted in the natural way. If we talk about the anointing and power of God, Samuel was a carrier. He obviously could impart something of that prophetic anointing that would have in its DNA the requirement for music, dance and rhythm to manifest the full parameters of what had been imparted by him. 
  • Our point is to explain how Saul entered into the prophetic umbrella that was shed abroad by Samuel’s gift onto the school of the prophets that were under his pastoral care.  In 1 Samuel 19, Saul prophesied, and was stopped in his tracks as far as the primary purpose of his visit was concerned. He came looking for David. He arrived and was somehow impacted by the Spirit of God. He danced and stripped off his outer garments. Supposedly exhausted, he lay naked on his back all night long and prophesied. No trance is presupposed. Saul’s heart was open for what happened. Saul was among the prophets.  
  • This is called, in the Hebrew, Nabism. A Nabi is a prophet. The people created a proverb, “ Is Saul also among the “Nabi?” This break out of the Spirit of God was initiated under the authority of Samuel the ultimate Nabi. 1 Samuel 3:20 tells us that all Israel acknowledged that Samuel was Nabi. So Nabism was not necessarily restricted to the dancing, frenzied like schools of the Nabi’m. (1 Chronicles 29:29 also refers to Samuel as a seer. All seers are prophets. Not all prophets are seers.)

This is so important in order for people to grasp the impact of prophets  and prophecy on Israel. Samuel initiated a move that was to increase over  several generations. This prophetic move came out of a dark period, ie: the days of the Judges. Remember that Samuel was the very last of the Judges.  It was at the very time when the disorganized charismatic leadership of the nation (ie: the Judges) was beginning to give way to a new era in which, to start with, men of princely and prophetic dignity were confirmed in their position by a method of popular elective support, and by arrangement with the elders of the people. First Samuel, then Saul, then David. This new phenomenon of Nabism also emerged from among the spiritual charismatics of the time.   What we are seeing here is the earliest form of the prophetic, referred to by all academics as nabism.  It at once attracted attention, and evoked criticism as well as enthusiasm, as it still does today. Where one person detects only heathen, demonic  frenzy, another sees the stirring of the very Spirit of God belonging to the essence of true worship as God desired. I am definitely among the latter.

The peculiar feature  of it, that really needs to be understood, is that of the group prophesying together in something that seems to the scripture reader, as an ecstatic experience.  Though ecstatic experiences were already familiar among the seers, these were things of which the earliest worship for Yahweh knew nothing.  The passage in which a group of prophets, is mentioned for the first time in Israelite history also notes that this band was coming down from the place of sacrifice (1 Sam. 10.5).  Furthermore, cultic places are later recorded a sites of the prophetic guilds e.g. Jericho (2 Kings 2.5). Gilgal (2 Kings 4.38) Ramah (1 Sam. 19.18).

It needs to be noted, for the clarity of thinking of many who struggle with this phenomena in scripture, that  occultic  excitation with the aid of narcotics or physical self-torture was always completely and totally anathema and unknown to Israelite custom, and always has been.  On the other hand, there was one well-attested element of Israelite worship ceremony, which could easily, and legitimately turn into ecstasy, and that was “the sacred dance.”  It is clear, moreover, that dance  in worship was practised by the nabi’m with particular abandon, and that music and song played a great part in heightening and enlivening its intensity. To add to this,  there is plenty of evidence in the Old Testament that the cultic dance was accompanied by inspired hymnody (2 Sam. 6.5 30.29; Psalms. 25.6. 118.27). Note also, as a side line, that Peter had fallen into a trance in Acts chapter 10 when he received a startling revelation that impacted the entire church.

A state of ecstasy enabled many to impart information in the name of Yahweh in a way which revealed the presence of a higher kind of knowledge – I mean prophecy.  This demonstrated that frenzy was not merely dissolution of normal consciousness, but an endowment of a  higher power, ie: the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  The prophet/nabi became the preacher par excellence, not only as a man who raised the acts of praising and calling upon God to the deepest depth, but as the prophet cum spokesman empowered by God to reveal His hidden will.   They demonstrated, what was considered the loftiest worship of Yahweh, in virtue of which the nabi’ becomes the man in whom the word of Yahweh flows.  (1 Sam 28.6; 2 Sam. 16.23, where “to seek a word from God” is equivalent “to enquire of the prophets.” (1 Kings 17.24; Hosea 12.11)

These are the basic features of the earliest dynamics of the biblical prophets.  It is impossible to render the issue under any general religious category, classifying it in terms of “physical versus moral,” “Godly or ungodly,” “right or wrong,” or even,  “psychic or spiritual.”  The decisive factor in any assessment of this practice must rather be its position in the totality of the particular relationship with the word of God to Israel, and the volume of its contribution, or lack of it, to the kingdom of God within the kingdom of Israel.  The scary thing, of course, to the Levites and the people as a whole, is that the prophets arrived without a certificate of achievement from anybody. All had to judge within themselves, “Is this a prophet or not? Is what has been said from heaven, or not?”


Finally, I think Samuel would have at least shown David the book he wrote concerning how kings should behave. In 1 Samuel 8 the prophet warned the people what a king would do. Verses 11-18 are a list of a king’s prerogatives that was intended, I believe, to scare them off wanting a king.  He declared that a king would do the following:

  1. He will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.
  2. He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties,
  3. He will take some to plough his fields and to reap his harvests, and to make for him his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.
  4. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.
  5. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.
  6. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.
  7. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to do his work.
  8. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.

I am sure that he would have encouraged David to avoid these things that would cause unrest in the land of promise.

Samuel and David must have talked until their mouths were dry about the issues above, and other stuff that we have not touched upon. The spiritual father of the nation would have poured as much of himself into David as his spiritual son could take. Their fellowship in God, and the inspiration they brought to each other must have been immense. The two of them must have wished they could be together for  years to fathom the depths of what they had in common through the Spirit of God.

The fellowship gave them a sense of eternal destiny. How long would these glorious days of revelation and teaching go on. Perhaps it could last for the rest of Samuel’s life.

How long? How long? What is it that could separate them?


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Categories: 1 Samuel 19:18- 20:1a, Dance, Kingmaker Prophet and future king have quality time together, Schools of the prophets, The sacred dance, The Temple | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Passing of the years and the Seeming Silence of the Prophet.

Samuel “secretly” working on his most cherished vision.

(1 Samuel 16:15-19:17)

The years rolled by. As far as we know Samuel never crossed David’s path throughout his puberty, adolescence, teens and early twenties. Samuel’s life was clearly in danger from Saul. Saul was now a dangerous man to be with, or to cross. We know from the biblical account that David’s life was more and more wrapped up in the presence and activity of serving King Saul. As soon as he hit his twentieth birthday, David was an officer in Saul’s army. Nobody could serve in Israel’s army until they were 20 years old. My thoughts are that David was anointed by Samuel between 10-12 years of age. An anointing that facilitated David to kill bears and lions between 12-15. Anointed to kill Goliath circa 15. Anointed to carry Saul’s armour and sing prophetically in order to soothe his soul and spirit betwixt 15-20 years of age. Anointed to fight the battles of the kingdom of Israel from 20 – 23/25 years of age.
If Samuel had sought out David during the passing of those years, which consist of I Samuel 16:15 through to 1 Samuel 19:17, David’s, as well as Samuel’s life would have been in mortal danger from the demonised King Saul (David was in danger anyway simply by being with Saul). Samuel, I am sure, was bravest of the brave when it came to endangering his life for God, but Saul’s inner response to having been told that he was to lose the kingdom, as well as the animosity towards him who had been chosen to succeed him, meant that Samuel and David must have been on Saul’s “Most Wanted” list. Thankfully for both future king and present prophet, it seems that Saul was too fearful and confused to do anything about his fears and animosity in this direction. Or was it just that God withheld his hand towards David and Samuel. There are those who fight for God, and there are those that God fights for. David and Samuel being held in the hollow of Yahweh’s palm were as safe as safe could be, no matter how many chases Saul troubled himself with to get hold of David..
No matter what the evils were that the king had perpetrated (and was still perpetrating), Samuel’s deep knowledge of all things spiritual knew that the day he poured oil on Saul’s head, the son of Kish had become a new man. Something had happened that made Saul almost untouchable. It’s a spiritual principle that rules in the heavens. “Touch not the Lord’s anointed, and do His prophets no harm.” And Godly, or godless, holy or utterly unholy, Saul was the Lord’s anointed. Nothing could undo that fact. That anointing was more important before the throne and the angels of heaven, than it was to the people of Israel. The anointing meant that he was to be left alone, no matter how bad or wicked he became. If he was unfit for office, or divine use, it was God’s prerogative to remove him, nobody else’s.  It was Samuel, I am sure, that taught David the principle not to touch the Lord’s anointed. When he actually imparted that principle to David, ie: at what point of time, we shall negotiate a little later.
The book that we call 1 Samuel covers a period of around 115 years. It gives us, as we have discovered, the personal history of Samuel, who was the last of the judges, and the first of the national writing prophets in the land of Canaan – that is Israel, although he did not write as the major or minor prophets wrote. This ninth book of the Bible records and teaches us the moral failure of the priesthood under Eli, and of the Judges, especially in Samuel’s failed attempt to make the office of Judge hereditary. In his office as a prophet to the nation, Samuel was faithful, and in him begins the line of what we refer to as the prophets to the nation in the nation. That is one of the reasons why Peter referred to him as the first prophet in Acts 3:24.  From Samuel on, in the history of Israel, the prophet, not the priest is the conspicuous person, in the context of the story and guidance of the nation.
Through study and meditation, I have discovered that many times in the biblical narrative, we are caught out concerning the truth of people’s ages at certain points of the story line. No Hollywood film or artist’s illustration that I have ever seen shows Sarah as 90 years old when she delivers Isaac. They normally use a mature actress with a little grey added to her hair, but I have never seen anybody that looks 90 as old as Sarah was. No film or book illustration that I have ever seen has shown the fact that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all three alive together for fifteen years. The last fifteen years of Abraham’s days were the first fifteen years of Jacob’s life. Now a story that covers those fifteen years  would be a  classic.  Did you know Jacob was 77 years old when he first left home to go to see his uncle “for a few days?” Some of these kind of things concerning ages and places in the bible I find to be an utter fascinating revelation that causes the concept of what I read to change in my mind’s eye. Did you know that Samuel lived about 2 miles from Saul? One could see Gibeah of Saul from Ramathaim Zophim, and vica verca. How often would both Samuel and Saul stand on the ramparts of their respective homes, and gaze over the land, and wonder what the other was doing!
When it comes to Samuel’s days, intermingled with Saul, David, Jonathan and all the moments of drama in his life, we have only a few concrete dates, or ages to hang on to, to assist us piecing the story together with “joined up writing,” and imaging what age the players in the drama were at any point of time. I spend many hours stringing the facts and theories together, studying what the academics and biblical professors say about them, and then coming to my own conclusions. So follow me as I push the envelope out on a few issues.
David started to be king of Judah when he was 30 years old, anointed at Hebron three days after Saul had died on Mount Gilboa. That is the first unmoveable fact that is set in concrete (2 Samuel 1:2. 2 Samuel 2:4. 2 Samuel 5:4). He became king of all Israel when he was 33, and died when he was 70 (1 Kings 2: 10-12). Those facts we cannot mess around with. They are inviolable, as it were, as plain as plain could be in the biblical text.
I believe Saul reigned for forty years because of what Acts 13:21 says. I am fully aware of the issues with 1 Samuel 13:1 in some translations of the Bible, but I leave my readers to read what Martin Anstey says about that verse and the Hebrew scrolls, and how the NIV handles it, and I personally count the matter settled. I choose not to discuss it in these pages. If we accept that the actual number of years of Saul’s reign was 40 as the apostle Paul preached in Pisidian Antioch, or 42 as the NIV states it in 1 Samuel 13, the larger chronological questions are answered, or at least made easier.
From Saul’s 40 year reign, we understand then, that David must have been born around the tenth year of Saul’s reign.
From this I cannot but conclude that there must have been a considerable age gap between David and Jonathan. Why? Because Jonathan was serving in Saul’s army really early on in his father’s reign, before David had been born, and nobody could serve in the armies of Israel until they were at least 20 (1 Samuel 13:2). If Jonathan was in the army as Saul started his reign, that means Saul was old enough to have a son who was at least twenty when his reign started. Many academics assume from this that Saul was around 40 when he became king, informing us, therefore, that he died around 80 years of age.
Jesse had seven (1 Chronicles 2:13-17) or eight (1 Samuel 16:10) sons. 1 Samuel 16:10 tells us that there were seven sons as well as David. 1 Chronicles 2:13-17 tells us that there were seven sons of Jesse (all named) including David. The important thing to note is that when they are introduced to us in scripture, the eldest three are already in Saul’s army (1 Samuel 17:13). This tells us that the eldest three had to be over twenty years of age. The absolute youngest the third son could have been was 20 (Numbers 1:3). Of course, it’s possible he was older.  This leaves the remaining 4 or 5 sons under 20. Jesse had two daughters as well, Zeruiah and Abigail, and we are told that David was the youngest.
Assuming Jesse’s wife had a child every year in succession, this means that David must have been around 13 or 14 when 1 Samuel 17 took place (ie: the slaying of Goliath).
I am under no illusion to think that the slaying of Goliath happened days, weeks or even months after his anointing by Samuel. I suggest that  a couple of years at the very least passed between 1 Samuel 16:13 and 1 Samuel 17:17. If David had been Bar-Mitzvah’d when Samuel turned up to anoint him, I have no doubt at all, he would have been introduced to Samuel along with the other older siblings when the prophet turned up at Bethlehem in 1 Samuel 16.
Therefore, I assert that David must have been somewhere between ten and possibly twelve years old when Samuel turned up with a rams horn full of especially fragrant anointing oil, to tell him that he would one day be king of Israel. No wonder Jesse didn’t invite him in while “grown-up” business was being discussed. A youngster of that age would have been out of his depth socially.
Samuel must have identified with the mind of God, as well as with the child David, on this issue, having been of a similar age when God first called him and birthed him into the prophetic ministry with a particularly harsh message for Eli. He must have smiled from ear to ear when he looked into David’s eyes for the first time. He couldn’t have failed to have remembered his own calling so many years earlier. I find it a strange fascination that, as far as 1 Samuel 16 tells us, or rather doesn’t tell us, it seems Samuel anointed the shepherd boy and left without even knowing the boy’s name.
I hasten to add that my statements here are merely as intelligent an extrapolation as I can make of it all, but what I am saying seems logical when considering the biblical facts, and then the aspects of the biblical story. So, I surmise that when Goliath issued his challenges against Saul’s army that included David’s three oldest brothers, David could have been any age between 12 and 15. He could not have been older than 15, as he was the youngest son of 8 sons, and no one could go in the army younger than 20, and only the eldest three were old enough to be enlisted as far as the biblical account informs us. I believe all of Jesse’s sons would have been in the army if they had all passed twenty years of age.


The passage from 1 Samuel 16:14 through to 16:23 is clearly out of synch with a straightforward chronology in the text. It was inserted I believe because 16:13 tells us how the Spirit of the Lord clothed David with power at the moment that Samuel had anointed him, and the writer immediately hastens to contrast how that the same Spirit had departed from Saul just as He had come upon David. To add deeper significance to the fact of one having the Spirit come upon him, and the other having the Spirit depart, the writer added that the account of David being seconded to sing and play for king Saul in order to soothe his troubled mind. The point being, that the “king to be” was the minister of peace and tranquillity to the troubled mind of the king that was in office. But David is not a lad as he is in 1 Samuel 16:12-13, and as he is in 1 Samuel 17. In 1 Samuel 16:18, at a point of time in the chronology when David’s anointing was probably only known by his family, David is described as a full grown adult, and a bit of a macho man by any standards. One of Saul’s servants said to the tormented king, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skillful in playing, and a mighty warrior, and a man of battle, and skillful in speech, and a man of form. And Yahweh is with him”. In other words, the kingliness of David was surfacing and being noticed even by the king’s servants who had an eye to see. All this – and there was possibly another 15 years to roll by before Saul’s death and David’s becoming king.
All this leads me to believe, in my mental image of the story that David was about 10-12 when anointed by Samuel whom the ancient rabbinical writings theorise was in his mid sixties at the time. David was circa 15 when he defeated Goliath. That was the day when David first met king Saul. It was from the time that his first interview with Saul was ended that David and Jonathan met. If my extrapolations are correct David would have been 15 while Jonathan would have been somewhere around 45, if not older (This suggestion is based on the conclusion that if Jonathan was a soldier when his father took the throne, he must have been at least 20 years old. Ten years later David was born, suggesting Jonathan was at least 30 at the time that Jesse’s youngest was born. From that extrapolation, when David was 15 years old, Jonathan must have been at the very least 45.).  So the age old artist’s impressions of two similarly aged young men forming a friendship has to be a complete anomaly when seen in the light of the big picture. Hollywood and book illustrations eat your heart out. Why don’t they just stick to the reality of the inspired text?
What follows, after Goliath’s slaying in 1 Samuel 17 is David’s rise to fame and glory.  David must have been twenty years old before he started doing valiant things in the army, as per 1 Samuel 18:5. He was quickly promoted, and just as quickly became a famous hero of the people. The ladies of Israel sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, David his tens of thousands.” And that is where David’s problems started.
Actually, they were Saul’s problems internally, not David’s. But the king’s internal fears and hang-ups were turned around and pointed towards David. The king who would have been around 70 years old at this point of time, was demonically jealous of the soldier who was around 20 years old. Saul was neurotic in his thoughts about David, that having won the heart of the people, “What more can he (David) get but the kingdom?”  Those words clearly suggest that he knew nothing of the anointing of Samuel in Bethlehem. Goodness knows what his responses would have been if he had actually known that David had been truly anointed by Samuel as the king to follow after him.

Samuel was still in the Naioth, in Ramah, living only a couple of miles away from Gibeah of Saul. As far as we know from scripture, he never approached Saul, and Saul never approached him. Life went on for them both in completely different directions. Surely Saul received reports of Samuel’s health and activities, and probably vica versa. But they never met throughout those years. What a strange situation. How badly did Saul need a word from God, but the Spirit of God having left him, also left him without Samuel’s mentoring or prophetic input. 

What of Samuel’s age at this point? It’s guesswork mostly. One ancient Rabbi in particular, considered an authority in Jewish circles, reckons that Samuel was around 49 when Saul was made king aged 40. We simply don’t have the data to pinpoint Samuel’s birth or death. My personal opinion, and one guess is as good as another, is that Samuel was in his 60’s when Saul was made king, and in his nineties when he died. How do I come to those ideas? Just by reading Jewish Journals and biblical theses of Rabbinical trainees on the internet. It really is a matter of, “You pay your money and you make your choice,” as to the reality of the prophet’s age and stature in the story of Samuel’s long life, apart from the ages of David during his reign. 

One thing I am certain about, is that the ages of the characters in the screenplay of Samuel’s life are in much deeper contrast than normally shown in films, picture bibles, and bible story books.

With David in such a committed friendship with Jonathan, and Saul’s ever deepening jealousy concerning David, it meant that Jonathan was seriously between a rock and a hard place. Jonathan defended David as best as he could with his father.  He also was reluctant to speak against his father, or withdraw his support for him, even though Jonathan must have been aware that he would never be king of Israel after his father’s death. The whole story informs us quite frankly that Jonathan is one of the most noble characters in the whole of scripture. Knowing that David becoming king meant that he would lose what seemed like an inheritance to reign, he still supported and helped his covenanted friend, David, all he could. That makes Jonathan a great man in my thinking.

It was somewhere around this time, or perhaps, after the Goliath episode and before David’s rise to national fame, that Jesse’s son was appointed armour-bearer to Saul (1 Samuel 16:21. As I said above, it may be mentioned in chap. 16, but the actual event is probably later – i.e. “he [later] became one of Saul’s armour-bearers.). Armour- bearers did not have to be twenty, but it kept the men (or boys) that had such posts near the soldiers to allow them to grow in the atmosphere and general mindsets of the armies of Israel.
More years pass by. Saul banishes David from his court, yet makes him commander of a thousand (1 Sam 18:13). It all sounds very strange. Is that acceptance? Or is it rejection? As the jealousy developed Saul hoped David would be killed in battle. The ex shepherd boy of Bethlehem is perhaps 25-28 years old as this takes place. David’s success as a warrior has made Saul offer him the hand of his daughter Michal, “as a snare.” Each time the king spawns a plan to get David killed, he raises the bar of danger for David’s life. Where is Samuel while all this intrigue is infesting the land and ruining the reputation of the king of Israel?  We who read the text of scripture know all about what was going on in Saul’s heart. It took, however, years for the nation as a whole to discover the truth about Saul’s prophetic rejection (1 Sam 18:21).

Imagine the wretchedness of a man who plays games with potential husbands for his own daughters. He promised his daughter to whoever killed Goliath (1 Samuel 17:25. 17:27. 17:30). Saul was untrue to his word. Saul told David that if he served him well and bravely he could marry his daughter Merab (1 Samuel 18:17). Both the scriptures and the responses of the nation affirm that few, if any, were as brave as the anointed future king. Yet at the point when she needed to marry, she was given to another. So, Saul broke his word on a very important issue of honour, twice.

But then Saul understands that his daughter Michal was madly in love with David. He saw this again as a wonderful opportunity to get David killed. He plots and plans, telling David that if he kills a hundred Philistines, cuts off their foreskins, and brings them to Saul as proof of such an act, he could marry Michal. The smug contentment that Saul must have felt when David went out to fullfil such a commission, turned to deep shock, horror and disgust when David walked in with the hideous package.
This plot of treachery by Saul that had so woefully backfired was known amongst his courtiers. So the king became a slave to his own words. He had to give Michal to David (1 Samuel 18:28).
The scripture at this point, very starkly, tells us that David became the king’s enemy for the rest of Saul’s days. Saul was just downright fearful of David for the rest of his life  (1 Samuel 18:29).
David’s success and prosperity increased and expanded. He slew more Philistines and was more victorious than any other army officer in Israel. The people loved him, sang songs about him, and esteemed him highly. In the midst of this Euphoric “David-mania” sweeping the nation, something extremely dark takes place. It is on record that Saul actually asked Jonathan, and all the hangers on at court, to kill David (19:1).
Jonathan, caught between love for his father, as well as David, examined the king about the issue of killing his dearest friend, as well as any motive that Saul might have had for such an act. Jonathan wanted to sort it all out in a place where David could watch. Jonathan seems to have swayed Saul to change his mind. The king agreed  to let David live happily, so Jonathan brought David to be with the king “as he had been before (19:7).” But how long would that togetherness last, we ask?
In between the outbursts and neurotic changes of mind of Saul towards David, now to kill him, now to let him live, now to kill him and now to let him live, the text tells us that David’s courage, strength and victories in battle increased more and more (19:8). It is a striking highlight that the more successful David was, in his role as defender of Israel, the darker was Saul’s response each time. As before in 18:10-11, David was playing his harp to soothe the spirit of the king, whilst Saul was caressing his favourite battle spear. In a wicked, murderous and seriously demonic outburst, he thrust the spear at David. That was the third throw at Jesse’s son, probably with the same javelin each time. We thank God that Saul missed his target.
David fled to his home, where his wife Michal, who obviously knew her father better than David did, told him to run while she, “covered,” for him (19:11-13). How marvellous for David that Michal suggested such a thing.  David escaped without being seen. And when, as per Saul’s instructions, two “hit men” called at David’s house the following morning to kill him, Michal played for time in a very brilliant way. I rather fancy the hit men were a little lacking in astuteness, if not, were a little ESN (Educationally Sub Normal). However, these, “toughies,” not being able to tell the difference between a wooden idol and a man in the bed, worked to David’s advantage. Michal lied ruthlessly to her own father, obviously to save her own life, and much to King Saul’s chagrin, David had successfully fled.
David, at this point, is alone, fearful, and possibly confused. Where can he run to? Who can he speak to? Where can he receive God’s big picture of what is happening to him? How can it be that the anointing to be king over all Israel, had led him into being a pawn in Saul’s mind games of murder?  How could he come to terms with his situation? From whence could he see a light coming out of the darkness? Who else could meet him at his level of anointing, but the prophet who lives at Naioth? So David chose to go looking for the very old Shmuel ben Elkanah. Only time would reveal what a gloriously prudent choice that was.
After one incredible meeting with Samuel, David had been anointed to be king. Fifteen years or so had passed. As far as we know Samuel and David had never met together since. But for those fifteen years, Samuel had been working on what was probably his own most treasured project. And how that project would impact David’s future, and the very life blood of Jewish culture and the Nation of Israel nobody but David could have imagined.

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Categories: 1 Samuel 16:15-19:17, The evil of King Saul, The Passing of the years and the seeming Silence of the Prophet. | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ascendancy of the King on the Descent

The Outward Form that lacked the Inward Power in the Monarchy of King Saul the First.
(1 Samuel 14:47-52)
“So Saul took the kingdom over Israel.”
I beg your pardon!  What are we reading here?
I thought we had only just heard from the mouth of Samuel himself in the plainest of English, eh! …Hebrew that is, that King Saul was rejected!  Out! Ejected! Expelled!  The kingdom was taken from him. Another king is on the way! (Although, knowing the full story – we are aware that the king that succeeded him was not yet born.)

Note the reality.  Saul’s dynasty was to be curtailed because of his disobedience.   As God spoke to Samuel, the prophet used the past tense, for a present reality.  “Yahweh  has chosen a replacement and commanded him to be captain over Yahweh’s people.”  So, literally as Samuel was prophesying to Saul we have the concept introduced to us of another person, a child, not yet born, who was to be a much younger contemporary of Saul, living life to the full with the idea of God’s covenant faithfulness and His never ending Chesed (love) filling his vision, ruling Israel and taking the captaincy over the nation.  Captaincy as all Israeli’s knew, meant kingship.

From our elevated place of historical retrospect, we know that the person we are talking about would be looking after sheep in a field only a few miles away from Saul’s present home fighting off the odd bear and lion after his anointing, and being derided by his older and bigger brothers for being so little, so trivial, so naughty, and not nearly as important as they were.  But David’s birth was still seven years away from that horrific moment at Gilgal.  His elevation into royal circles as well as into the psyche of the nation had not yet even begun with the twinkle in his father’s eye, and would not be properly initiated until Samuel anointed him – I reckon, around the age of 12.  But he had not yet even been conceived in the timeline of our story.

But we jump ahead of ourselves even to mention that story.  Back to the present, and Saul.
So we have the king, with no future, battling on from day to day.  And the Bible says: “Saul took over the kingdom of Israel.”
KingSaulWhether he should have simply stopped and waited for death, which does not seem quite feasible, I am not sure.  Perhaps he understood it fully and clearly as I have just explained it, i.e. “I, Saul, am enjoying the full divine mandate to rule and reign throughout my own lifetime, no matter how short or long that may be, although I am fully aware on the basis of what Samuel the prophet has said, that another man from another family will reign after me.  Then again, that other man may be my son.  In the content of the prophet’s words my son could still reign and the word still be fulfilled.  Yet I know and understand, I am in disgrace before God” There was more light to come however, and that prophetic light would be spoken after further disobedience of Saul.
Although Samuel’s woeful prophecy was said, I am sure, in the full hearing of the three hundred soldiers, who had remained loyal and were still present with Saul as Samuel had arrived for the sacrifice at Gilgal, the king was truthfully and actually still on the throne.  The word would have undoubtedly got round the nation of what had happened at Gilgal.  It would have been a subject not to be brought up in the Kings presence, but constantly seated on the back burner of the national sub-consciousness.  The nation would have known:  “God has chosen another man.”  Saul, knowing that the people knew what Samuel had said, and the people knowing that Saul knew that they knew …. If you get the gist …. was serious grounds for a dose of deep royal depression, if not neurosis – if not total psychosis.
But, for the sake of the narrative, reader, understand:  Saul is still the publicly acknowledged national leader.  He was still the king, the anointed of the eternal, known among the people of Israel as the “son of God.”  Yet, the word of God had announced his fall and his departure. That departure was 37 years away in the future. However, God’s word was to come to pass.
If, objectively, from an impersonal distance, it confused the intellectuals of the nation, imagine the agonising trauma it subjectively permeated the king with.  Rejection by man is distressing enough, but public declaration of rejection by God is more than serious.  Could anybody’s rationale cope with such a dreadful concept in their life?  Is it possible that any human being could live life and carry out their normal work, rest and pleasure while they have forever in their consciousness that not only has God Almighty rejected them, but His verified and confirmed prophet has said so, and the masses know it.
We have the epitome of an illustration of a man in high position having the form of power and kingship, but none of the fullness of majesty of what he should be holding and walking in.  This is sad and we ask, “Could it possibly be any sadder?”  Plod on avid reader!
“So Saul took the kingdom over Israel”.  Saul established himself in the role to which he had been anointed by Samuel.  He grew into the position given him by God.  He took the kingdom, i.e.: with effort and fight, and strain and warfare.  Saul took the kingdom.
“And fought” … The full time military leader with a full time standing army employed them and himself to the full.
And who did they fight?  “… all his enemies on every side.”  Every nation that was bordered onto that tiny plot of real estate we call Israel was an enemy.  Sounds like the modern news reel: and as it was, so it is, and so it will be till the return of Christ.  Every nation that bordered Israel was set against them, and so, with Israel’s new found faith and resource of a physical as well as a spiritual nature, Saul went round chasing off the land of Israel any other ethnic group that attempted to set as much as a tent on the land that God had promised them.
The number of close set neighbours was six.  Saul fought “against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and where ever he turned himself, he vexed them … and the Amalekites” This was no mean feat.  The King James Bible says, “where ever Saul turned he vexed them.” Most commentators agree with Luther’s excellent translation that “wheresover Saul turned he was victorious over them, and inflicted punishment.”  In even plainer English, Lannons’ paraphrase says simply: Saul whipped the lot of them.”
BibleI know it does not sound like a king walking under condemnation, but remember if everybody was judged by the exteriors of life, Hitler was prosperous, Mussolini accomplished what he believed in and Attila the Hun was a winner.  Whether a person is blessed or cursed, that blessing or cursing refers to the end of that person. To be blessed or cursed always refers to where a person finishes, it may or may not refer to the way things are at the present. God looks on the heart.  And that very phrase was not only the rationale uttered by God to Samuel in following God’s instructions to choose a successor to Saul, but common sense dictates that that phrase gives us the very reason why Saul was rejected.
“And he gathered a host, and struck the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.”  The host there mentioned, refers to either the standing army that he was continually recruiting for, or the actual gathering he called together in order to, “whip,” Amalek.  This story of Amalek is shortly to be referred to in greater depth.  We do however have to warn you dear reader of what is to come.
On modern TV, if a programme is about to be shown with doubtful scenes, bad language or sexual activity, or something similar, the viewer is told of them before the opening credits.  This is in order to give you the viewer the moral choice to switch off.
We know you can’t switch off here; this is a blog for goodness sake … and I would not ever advise anybody to miss a chapter in any book, especially my own.  The reader would be frustrated at the lack of continuity.  But we have to state that the following account is as emotionally tragic and filled with horror as anything Hollywood ever produced.
Saul was walking up to his neck, every single day, in insipient death.  No doubt he comforted himself with all his military successes, but what happened in Saul’s heart and the dialogue between Saul and Samuel, was, honestly and candidly, too much for Saul to handle.
If you are prepared, take a glass of cold milk and read on tomorrow’s blog.
Categories: 1 Samuel 14 verses 47 - 52, The ascendancy of the King on the descent. | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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