Day 71 – "God's Outlaw" 1 Samuel 25:1-28:25 Guest Blogger Fr. Alistair
March 11, 2021, 11:04 PM

Day 71 – 1 Samuel 25:1-28:25

God’s Outlaw

If 1 Samuel were a Soap Opera, then today’s chapters leave us on a cliff-hanger!

Samuel, God’s spokesperson and kingmaker, is dead.  David is now an outcast from the court of ‘mad’ King Saul.  David spares Saul’s life a second time, and becomes an outlaw serving a Philistine King, Achish of Gath.  The Philistines gather their ‘forces for war’ against Israel and David and his ‘men’ are assigned as King Achish’s personal bodyguards!  Then Saul, again afraid of the army of the Philistines and with no Samuel to ask for advice, breaks another commandment and consults a necromancer (a medium who calls up the dead).  Samuel, surprisingly, speaks from beyond the grave but, for Saul, his message is bad news - God is now the enemy of Saul and his end is nigh!

Will David fight against the army of Israel?  Will David, even though he spared Saul’s life twice, be the one who kills him or at least be part of the army that defeats the King of Israel? 

We will have to wait till tomorrow to find out!

The transition from a Tribal Confederacy to a Monarchy was never going to be easy.  The transition from a family of brothers held together by a covenant to the LORD to a ‘nation’ under an earthly king was always going to be turbulent.  Samuel was the last of the Judges in Israel, and now that he was dead, who was going to lead the people?  The people decided themselves, ‘We want a king like the other nations.’  God, through both Moses and Joshua, had warned the Israelites not to take on the customs of the nations in the Promised Land, which also meant not subjecting themselves to an earthly king.  God was their king, and he was all they needed.  Even before God granted the people their desire, he warned them, through Samuel, of the dangers of having a king - that eventually they would once more become slaves to a human overlord, just as they had been under Pharoah in Egypt.  But still they wanted a king.

In God’s providence, which seems again and again to be able to work with the worst of human behavior or circumstances and still bring about his will, he chose to give his people a human king.  Sadly, Saul, the first king was a disaster, and now David seems to be another failure becoming an outlaw, a terrorist with a band of fighting men, apparently switching allegiances to suit his cause even if it means fighting Israel itself.

Surveying the Bible stories so far, there appears to be a pattern of the outsider becoming God’s chosen leader.  We saw Joseph telling his brothers, ‘Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people.’ (Gen 50:20).  Moses was a murderer in exile when God spoke to him at the burning bush and called him to lead the people out of bondage in Egypt (Ex 3:1-12).  In the light of these stories the fact that David is acting like an outlaw amongst the enemies of Israel should not really surprise us.  God puts David in a place where he carries out clandestine raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites systematically wiping them out, literally destroying the enemy from within. 

But we are still left with our questions how will God sort out the cliffhanger?

In a few days, we will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.  The young boy Patrick, so the story goes, was captured and taken over to Ireland and became a slave, working with pigs.  Yet in God’s providence he escaped his captors and travelled to France to be ordained.  Later as a bishop he returned to Ireland and preached the gospel to the land that had once enslaved him.  God used his preaching and writings to convert the kings and people of Ireland to Christ.  What was probably, for Patrick, a horrendous experience, God used by putting a love for the people of Ireland upon his heart; a love so strong that it brought him back to its shores, only this time to preach the Good News of Christ.

In our own lives we often find ourselves in difficult circumstances or places.  We may even find ourselves living on the edge of a cliffhanger, asking what is going to happen next?  Yet, God, in his providence continues to work out his purposes.  It is not always easy to find God in these moments or to wait for him to act or to help, but we must trust that he is the one who is in control.  And we must acknowledge that even in our times of despair or stubbornness or folly, God is King of our lives.



Comments

03-13-2021 at 7:38 AM
Helen Smith
Wonderful, thank you!
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