A Year in Movies: 2017

I do really need to get back to reviewing the movies I watch, but in the meantime, here is my look back on movies that came out in 2017. I had to limit this list just to movies that came out this year, or else we'd be here all day! 

In no particular order:. 

  1. Spider-Man: Homecoming: I see every Marvel movie, it's what I do. But even I was hesitant about yet another Spider-Man movie. Despite this, this movie delivers, and the moment in the car with Peter Parker and the Vulture was a truly chilling and tense moment. I wish Tony Stark was a bit better of a mentor figure, but ah well. Still really enjoyed it. (Should actually be a podcast episode coming out about this one in the near future.)
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2: For my full thoughts on this movie, check out the podcast episode about it. But basically a really fun space romp. 
  3. Beauty and the Beast: The live action remake inexplicably doesn't include any of the songs from the stage version (despite using some of the musical themes in the background music) but I still loved it. It will never supersede the original version in my heart, but still an enjoyable movie.
  4. Wonder Woman: I waited my entire life for this movie. It was worth it. I want to watch this movie every day for the rest of my life. Go see it now. For my more nuanced thoughts, check out the podcast on the topic.
  5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Another movie you can check out a podcast for. Overall, I really liked it. I have mediocre (at best) feelings about The Force Awakens, but this is a Star Wars movie I actually want to see again. 
  6. The Lego Batman Movie: The best Batman movie ever made. Hands down. If you like Batman and haven't seen this movie...what are you even doing? Go see it now!
  7. Logan: The perfect example of how a franchise can be used properly to deliver emotional stories that could not be told outside of a franchise. This movie, you guys. It's dark and violent and yet...hopeful. You should see it.
  8. The Boss Baby: Actually really enjoyable! I wasn't expecting to enjoy it and yet I did. It's all about an older brother getting used to the idea he has to share his parents, wrapped in a crazy adventure. It was really fun.
  9. Thor: Ragnorak: I left this movie for last because I love the Thor franchise. I love it. So my expectations for this movie were off the charts. Loki is literally my favorite Marvel character, and I adore Thor. Even with my high expectations, this movie delivered. It was hilarious, but more importantly it used it's villain well to further Thor and Loki's stories. Hela is a direct mirror of them and it's...it's amazing. I'll probably write a whole blogpost about this at some point. 

And that's this year's movies! Did I miss any movies that came out in 2017 that are a must-see?

A Year in Books: 2017

It’s the end of another year! In light of this fact, I thought it might be fun to do a summary post of different books I read. I wish I had kept up writing book reviews, but I can at least give a one sentence blurb for each book/series I read! So here you go! 2017!

Fiction Books Read This Year:

  1. Beauty by Sarah Pinborough: A quick read that is an interesting and dark twist on classic fairytales. 
  2. The Green Rider Series (Green Rider, Rider's First Call, The High King's Tomb, Blackveil, Mirror Sight, and Firebrand) by Kristen Britain. The first three of these books were a re-read for me. I had been hoping to wait until the series had finished and for some reason...I thought it was finished. But it is most definitely not. Firebrand just left me wanting more! This is an epic fantasy series in length and breadth, but starring a female main character who is awesome. I highly recommend this series for it's fun, it's depths, and it's exploration of imperialism and colonialism. And...time travel? Yeah I didn't expect that either but it happened. I am still waiting with anticipation for the next book and hopefully, eventually the conclusion!
  3. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Honestly before I saw the trailer for the TV series, I thought this book was about a mouse? I know, weird misconception. It's most definitely not. I highly recommend this book, even if you've seen the Hulu series. The writing is beautiful, the world terrible, and Offred compelling. Definitely a must read.
  4. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. This is a Middle Grade Fantasy book about a girl who is basically left as a sacrifice for a witch, and about a witch who doesn't understand why a nearby town leaves an infant in the woods once a year. I highly enjoyed this book for it's magic, it's setting (a dystopian fantasy town!), as well as it's compelling characters. Definitely recommend for any younger readers in your town.
  5. A Purely Private Matter by Darcia Wilde. My husband picked this book up for me because it looked like a regency romance meets murder mystery, and that's....basically exactly what it is. Highly enjoyable.
  6. A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer. This book was recommended to me by a good friend and had been sitting on my shelf for a while. A regency romance about a couple who get married for basically monetary reasons and how over time they fall in love. My husband and I both read and enjoyed it.
  7. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. This was a reread of one my favorite books of all time. If you want to hear me gush about this book, for well over an hour, listen to the podcast I guested on where this book was the topic! (Hence the re-read!)
  8. Burning Brightly by Alexa Donne. This book actually hasn't come out yet, but I got the honor of reading the manuscript. This book, you guys, it made me like Jane Eyre. I hate Jane Eyre. All my problems with Jane Eyre this book fixed and made more intriguing and exciting and SPACE. Yes it's Jane Eyre set in space. Amazing. It comes out in May, you must read it!
  9. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Do you like Star Trek or Firefly? Do you like Space shenanigans? Are you looking for a book where you get to know the crew of a little ship really well? Then read this book. Two thumbs up from both me and my husband.
  10. The Raven Cycle (The Raven Boys; The Dream Thieves; Blue Lily, Lily Blue; and The Raven King) by Maggie Stiefvater. This series is like an intense dream sequence that last for four books, and I mean that in the best way possible: intense, dreamy, filled with magic and mystery. One of my favorite things about this book is that it features several boys who are best friends, something I feel like YA books don't do enough. My experience in high school is that boys move in crews, and these Raven Boys are the perfect example of that. Blue--a local girl--gets caught with them and falls a bit in love with all of them. Together they chase an Arthurian type legend, and well, it won't end the way you expect, that I can guarantee. I devoured this series in like three days--including while I was at DragonCon. I literally stayed up too late at DragonCon reading this series. Which...is unheard of. So that's a high recommendation.
  11. The Broken Earth Series (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky) by N.K. Jemisin. I contend that N.K. Jemisn is one of the masters of modern fantasy. Her works are always amazing, and this is no exception. It follows a woman in a world undergoing an apocalypse. This series will give you much to think about.
  12. The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky by Summer Heacock. I don't normally read romance, but this book you guys, it's hilarious. When my husband read it, he literally giggled out loud while reading it several times. It's about a woman who is trying to fix her broken vagina (you read that right) and get her cupcake business of the ground. This book is basically wall to wall shenanigans. If you're looking for a hilarious read, this is the one you want to read.
  13. Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston. It's not a year in my life if I don't read at least one Star Wars book. When I heard that the Clone Wars' Ahsoka was getting her own book and it would cover what she got up to after the end of the series and during the onset of the Empire, I had to read it. If you like Star Wars, this is definitely recommended. 
  14. That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston. After reading her Star Wars novel, I had to read E.K. Johnston's original story, and boy am I glad I did. The story is set in a future where the British Empire never fell. A princess in disguise visits Canada, hoping to experience her coming out in society as a normal girl instead of a princess. Romance! Balls! High Society Tea! All set in a wonderfully diverse future. A heartwarming, adorable romance that resolves itself in a very refreshing way. I'd totally read a sequel about our main characters as they move forward in their lives. (Though sadly I don't think one is forthcoming.) 
  15. Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey. This was a re-read and while Anne McCaffrey's novels don't always hold up like I would like, they still fill my heart with warm memories and nolstagia. I spent my middle school years devouring the Dragonriders of Pern and am hoping to re-read them all in the next year or so.
  16. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. The title is a spoiler and a warning. This bittersweet romance is set in a future where you get a phone call the night before you die, so that you can live your last day to the fullest (so sort of a science fiction/magical realism thing.) Two incredibly different teenage boys get the call, and we follow them on their last day. Despite this not being a love story that is going to end with "they all lived happily ever after" it can at least be said that before they died, they lived.

In total that's 25 books I've read this year. I would have to say my favorites are a tie between The Broken Earth trilogy and They Both Die at the End, but the two are so radically different that I can't pick between them!

Non-Fiction Books Read* This Year:
(I listened to them on audible, but that still counts!)

  1. Torn by Justin Lee. Actually wrote up a review on this very website! Spoiler: I loved it.
  2. The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns. I loved this book, and learned so much. This book asks hard questions and instead of giving trite answers, it dives deep into them, exposing the issues and looking at why ancient people might have written something a certain way, even if it doesn't reflect "factual history" as we imagine it might. Enlightening and engaging, and written in a very readable manner. Also I really wish I had read it before I taught my Middle Schoolers about Moses so I could explain to them how the plagues of Egypt correlate to God defeating the various Egyptian gods!
  3. Love Wins by Rob Bell. I'm gonna be honest, I only read this because I wanted to read the book that caused Rob Bell to fall from grace of the evangelical church. And having read it...I don't get the fuss. Instead of being a hotbed of heresy, it's really just a book that asks questions that we've all asked at some point. It really doesn't have answers. But still a very easy listen, as well as one that makes you think about why you believe what you believe, and makes you confront what parts of "heaven and hell" are Biblical verses Christian culture.
  4. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. This book was not written for me. I'm not a mom, and this book is clearly written for moms--for women who are drowning under the balance of life. Despite that fact that i wasn't this book's intended audience, Hatmaker's voice is so engaging that I couldn't stop listening to it. Hatmaker also confronts parts of our Christianity that are cultural with the idea that if a piece of theology doesn't work for a working single mom in Haiti then it doesn't work, which I think is a concept many in the church could use.
  5. Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue: I really enjoyed the first half of this book that was Mike McHargue's testimony and not so much the second half which was talking about brain science--but that's ultimately because I'm squeamish and any discussions of brain injuries is going to nauseate me--which is no good when you're driving. That said I would still recommend this book--but don't be fooled by the subtitle. This is not a book about using science to prove God. Ultimately it's about how something explainable happened to a man who considered himself an atheist, and how God wouldn't let go of him. 
  6. Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans. A personal exploration of one woman's wanderings through the church and to faith, all presented in the context of the sacraments. Beautifully written with both hilarious and poignant moments. Anyone who has ever questioned the church or their faith or why they do this thing called Christianity will find solace in this book, in knowing that they are not alone. 

Fiction and Non Fiction books, I'm at a grand total of 31 books for the year, which didn't quite meet my goal of 100, but what can you do? And of course this doesn't include the mountains of fan fiction I read this year, which is much harder to quantify and keep track of. 

I plan to start my 2018 on the right foot--reading!--so if you have any book recommendations just leave them in the comments!

Joseph, Jesus' Dad

This month we’re taking a break from the story of King David to discuss Advent. Advent is the part of the Church calendar that is the leadup to Christmas, and ultimately Advent is all about waiting and looking forward: looking forward to Christmas which is essentially looking forward to Jesus.

Last week we discussed how there were centuries of silence between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New, centuries where the Jewish people didn’t hear from God. It probably felt to them as if God had abandoned them. People waited and waited to for God to speak.

And then God broke his silence, by sending an angel to talk to a teenage girl and tell her that she was the chosen one, the one chosen to bring God incarnate into this world and raise him. We talked about how it was a complete turn—the patriarchy of ancient times turned on head by God speaking to a teenage girl instead of some bearded old man, and God telling this girl that she was the favored one.

And Mary took this news with joy, even though being pregnant and not married could mean her death. She trusted God had her back, even if she wasn’t sure her fiancé Joseph would. Today we’re going to study Joseph and see how he responds to Mary’s news.

So please get your Bibles and turn to Matthew 1. I’m actually going to read the first section because it’s a little long and full of crazy names. So please flip to Matthew 1:1-17.

1 An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, 4 and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

If you’ve been paying attention over the last year, then some of these names are familiar. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Ruth, David, these are all people we’ve studied. And some of these people will be people we will study in the next year. The whole point of this section is that it is the genealogy of Jesus, to show that Jesus is of King David’s line, and therefore an heir to that promise we talked about last week, the promise that King David’s line would never end and reign forever.

Alright, now let’s dive into the story. Someone please read Matthew 1:18-19.

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

So Joseph. Joseph is an average dude. He’s not an important man when it comes to wealth and politics. He’s not a man who has studied at the finest schools or has great knowledge. He’s a young carpenter who is looking forward to getting married when his fiancé comes to him and is like “Hey an angel came to me and said I’m going to have a son who will be God and by the way it’s like a miracle pregnancy. I’m still a virgin.”

If you were Joseph what would you think of Mary’s declaration? [Let them answer.]

I would think she’s gone crazy if I was Joseph. It might seem like a desperate excuse by a girl who doesn’t want to get in trouble. Because Joseph would know he’s not the father—he never slept with Mary! So he would think maybe she had an affair, maybe someone raped her, or something, and she’s trying to cover it up, or at least make it more palatable so he would forgive her and marry her so they could hide it or something. I doubt he would think God actually spoke to her, because remember God hadn’t spoken to anyone in centuries. That would be a crazy claim.

But Joseph isn’t a bad person. He doesn’t want to cause Mary harm, he doesn’t want her to be taken into the town square and be stoned for adultery, which remember was a pretty standard punishment back then. So instead he doesn’t want to expose her. He plans to basically break up with her quietly, in a way that will protect her as much as possible. But he can’t marry her, because he’s pretty sure she had an affair. And no one wants to be with someone who cheated on them.

Alright someone please read Matthew 1:20-23.

20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.”

God has Mary’s back, so he’s not going to let Joseph break up with her. So an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and is like “Hey Joseph! Mary didn’t cheat on you. This all part of God’s plan. She’s going to have a son who will be God with us—God walking amongst us and being one of us—and that son is going to save us are. So Mary marry, and it’s all going to work out.”

Now if you were Joseph what would you think about this dream? [Let them answer.]

Well I would think I’d been thinking about Mary too much and her claims, and all that thinking was leading to crazy dreams. I doubt I’d think it was a real angel! Let’s see what Joseph things. Someone read Matthew 1:24-25.

24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son;[a] and he named him Jesus.

Joseph wakes up and he believes everything the angel told him. He obeys God’s command, even though it might seem crazy. He marries Mary but she remains a virgin until after she gives birth to Jesus so that no one can try to claim Joseph might be Jesus’ physical father.

And literally in the book of Matthew verse 25 is all there is about Jesus being born. Just “she had a son and named him Jesus.” Doesn’t that seem to be missing something? Maybe something about shepherds and angels and inns and mangers.

All of that usual Christmas story that we talk about is in the book of Luke, which is also the book where the verses we talked about last week were found. So why is that? Why are Matthew and Luke different? Any ideas? [Let them answer].

Well you guys know the Bible wasn’t written as one big book, right? All the books inside it were written by different people at different time periods. So Matthew and Luke were actually written by guys named Matthew and Luke. Matthew and Luke weren’t there when Jesus was born, so they both had different sources. Luke’s source was Mary. He went and interviewed Mary and got her perspective and wrote it down. Joseph wasn’t Matthew’s source, Joseph would’ve been dead by the time Matthew wrote, but it was important to Matthew to get the story of Jesus’s earthly father—of the man in this story. Why? Well Matthew and Luke wrote for different audiences, that is different people they intended to be reading it.

Matthew was writing for Jewish people. For Jewish people it would be really important to tell them that Jesus is descended from King David. For the Jewish male leaders who were used to reading the very patriarchal Bible it would be more palatable for them for Jesus’s story to come from a more male perspective. Luke on the other hand was writing for a Greek audience, and while the Greek’s were still patriarchal, they would have had less preconceptions when it came to what the Jewish/Christian God may or may not do.

So that is why these stories are different. They both thought it was important to emphasize different parts of Jesus’ birth in order to tell their audiences different things. To Matthew it wasn’t that important to talk about whether or not there was room in the inn and Jesus being born in a manger. For Matthew it was more important to tie everything back to the Old Testament, to mention scripture and prophecy as much as possible, so that his Jewish readers could tie this new story back to what they already knew. And Luke wanted to tell a different story, Mary’s story, and for whatever reason it was more important to him to focus on the actual birth and point out the different aspects that heralded Jesus’ arrival on this planet.

Luke’s story is all good news and amazingness, a joyous night of angels and miracles. But not everyone is happy to hear about the birth of Jesus. I want you guys to turn back to the book of Matthew. Someone please read Matthew 2:1-8.

2 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

Both Matthew and Luke give us time markers to know when this story is taking place. Luke uses a more macro scale, telling us it’s during the time of Caesar Augustus. That would be like saying “something happened during the time of George Washington was president.” It would give a good idea of when something happened. Matthew takes a closer to home approach, by talking about who is king of Israel of that time—though a King of Israel is not a king like David—a king who can do what he wants. Herod would answer to the Romans, because remember during this time Israel was considered part of the Roman Empire, they had been conquered by the Romans. And this is really important to the story.

Rome was pretty happy to let the different peoples in their lands do what they want, within reason. The Romans weren’t the sort of rulers who came in and said “You must worship our gods now or else!” They were more like “Worship whoever you want, as long as you pay taxes and don’t cause civil unrest.”

So these wise men they come from the East—probably from non-Roman lands. They may not know what’s up with the Roman Empire, depending on how far away they come from. They might just come from further east in the Middle East. They may even come as far as China. We have no idea. All we know is that they were traveling for a long time, following the star from Jesus’ birth, trying to find this great person they know most have been born to pay homage to him.

They were looking for a child born to be king, to be a messiah, the next King of Israel. And so of course they went to the current king first.

But when Herod heard about a new king being born, he was very concerned. It says he was frightened and so was all of Jerusalem. Why? Why were they so afraid?

We tend to think of Herod as a very bad guy, and I don’t think that’s necessary a wrong interpretation, but I want to be clear. The fear he was experiencing here is very real. Undoubtedly Herod was afraid of losing his own power as king, but it wouldn’t have been just that. The thing he would most fear is the Romans.

Remember what I said about the Romans not caring what you do as long as you pay taxes and there is no civil unrest? Well, if the Jewish people thought the Messiah was born, what would that mean? A King of the line of David born to Israel, a King blessed by God. This would mean that the Jewish people would want to be independent and free of Roman rule. It would mean—they thought—a rebellion.

Now we know Jesus wasn’t a king like that. He came to be a servant leader, to die for us, not to overthrow the Romans and rule. But the Jewish people of the time didn’t know that. We’ll see that more when we study Jesus and his disciples in the future, how some of them expected Jesus to overthrow the Romans and be free.

And why were the Romans so scary?

The Roman legions were a well-trained, nearly unstoppable military force who had conquered the majority of the land around the Mediterranean. The Romans didn’t just stop Rebellions by talking to people and working things out. They destroyed the rebels and then destroyed the will of any people associated with them—if they let those people live.

They say that when Rome defeated the city of Carthage they burned the city to the ground and then salted the earth, so that nothing else could ever grow there and no city would ever rise up in its place.

When it came to Israel, eventually a Rebellion did happen in around 70 AD. The Jewish people started rebelling against the Romans, wanting to be free and independent again. And how did the Romans respond? The destroyed the Jewish Temple, literally the most holy site in all of Israel. This is why there is no temple in Jerusalem today. The Romans were ruthless in their subjugation of Israel.

So Herod’s fear was not unwarranted. His actions in response were.

He tells the Wise Men that when the find this Messiah child they are to come back and tell him where they found him, so he too can go and worship him. But do we think Herod wants to go worship Jesus?

Yeah, no.

Someone please read Matthew 2:9-12.

9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

So the Wise Men go out and they find Jesus. Now often we depict the Wise Men arriving at the manger, but that is not the case. This would be a year or two after. Jesus is no longer a baby but more o fa toddler. They offer them gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, gifts not meant for a baby but a king. Think of Frankincense as a perfume and myrrh as an oil you would use to anoint a king. These gifts wouldn’t be much use to a baby, but they would be worth quite a bit.

So then the Wise Men finally go to leave but they don’t go back to Herod, because God warns them in a dream not to.

Do you think Herod is going to be happy about this? About knowing a child has been born but not knowing where? Let’s see.

Someone please read Matthew 2:13-18.

13 Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
    wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

Once again an angel appears to Joseph but this time with instructions to flee to Egypt, because Herod is going to be looking for Jesus to destroy him. And Joseph does what any good man would do. He follows God’s orders and protects his family. He leaves the land he’s known his whole life and goes to Egypt, a foreign land he never would have visited before. This is why Joseph was chosen to be Jesus’s earthly father, because God knew he could rely on Joseph to be obedient and protect Jesus.

Herod is not happy that the Wise Men have not come back, so he does the only thing he can think of. He has all the children in and around Bethlehem who are under two killed—hoping he’ll kill Jesus. This is why God told Joseph to leave, letting him escape before Herod could threaten Jesus’s life.

Does this remind you guys of anything else? This talk of Egypt and babies being killed?

[Let them answer]

This is a direct call back to Moses. And there is a reason why Matthew, the Gospel writer who is writing for a Jewish audience emphasizes this story when other Gospels don’t mention it. The story of Moses is one every Jewish reader would be intimately familiar with. With this story Matthew is purposefully making them recall Moses, and put Jesus on at least the same level as Moses if not higher. Luke wouldn’t necessarily tell this story because a Greek or Roman person wouldn’t really know the story of Moses. So they’d just hear this story and think “Ok, well, Herod wanted to kill him. Okay. No big deal.” It wouldn’t tell a Greek or Roman person anything. Whereas it tells a Jewish person, “Hey this new guy, Jesus, is literally the new Moses, but better. He will deliver you, just like Moses delivered you from Egypt, except it’s going to be a million times better and a million times more amazing.”

Alright can someone please read Matthew 2:19-23.

19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20 “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23 There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

Eventually Herod dies, and an angel appears to Joseph in a dream again and tells him to go back to Israel. Because Jesus isn’t supposed to be an Egyptian. Israel is to be his home. But Joseph is afraid to go back to Bethlehem because he’s afraid of the guy who took over after Herod. So he basically takes family and moves to backwoods middle of nowhere Israel: Nazareth.

Again and again the Bible tells us what is important about Joseph. He obeys God, following his commands even when he doesn’t understand them or how they’re possible. He doesn’t understand how Mary could be pregnant, but he trusts God and marries her. He doesn’t know anyone in Egypt, but God tells him to go there so he moves their anyway. Joseph is an obedient and righteous man, who follows God, and does what he has to in order to protect his wife and child. This is why God trusted Joseph to be Jesus’ father, as opposed to any other man on the planet.

And that’s today’s lesson. Next week we’ll do a short Advent lesson and then we’ll have a Christmas party!

Mary: The Mother of Jesus, Version 2

Note: The original version of this lesson is posted here. I gave this lesson again this year as part of my Advent series but I added some updates to reflect the things we'd been going over in the past year. I didn't want to get rid of the old post either even though they're almost identical. So they're both here for reference. :)

We have been going through people of the Bible, as you guys know, for a year now. We started with Abraham, and remember during the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, these men talked to God and followed where he led. This is called the time of the patriarchs, because they were men who led their families and their families were God’s chosen people. If you remember, Jacob had twelve sons who had some troubles between them, and so one of the brother’s ended up sold into slavery in Egypt. This all ended up working out in everyone’s favor because a famine came to Israel, and Jacob and his sons had to go to Egypt to escape. If you remember what happened next, the chosen people didn’t end up leaving Egypt, instead they become slaves, and they were enslaved for 400 years before Moses came along and set them free.

Then we enter the time period where prophets are the ones who speak to God and communicate it to God’s people. For a while these prophets lead Israel as Judges—you may remember Deborah, Gideon, Samson and others before finally the last one to lead Israel was Samuel. Then the people demanded a king and that’s how we got Saul and now finally David. That’s where we ended.

Why am I recapping this? Because all of this is leading up to Jesus. We’re going to study next semester that God makes David a promise. Someone please read 2 Samuel 7:16.

16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me;[c] your throne shall be established forever.

God tells David that his children will rule Israel forever, that his throne will be forever. Forever.

But does Israel exist forever? Is there still a king on the throne in Israel? No. Israel has been conquered and disbanded a number of times. We’re going to see that in the next year in the Bible, as we study more people of the Bible, but King David’s line ends. The kingdom falls.

What does that mean? Does it mean that God broke his promise? [Let them answer, or think about it.]

It means that God’s promise meant something different, something more than David could possibly imagine.

And this brings us to Advent. Does anyone know what advent means? [Let them answer.] It comes from a Latin word: Advenio/Advenire which basically means "to arrive." It’s about an expectation, about waiting for a coming.

The last book of the Old Testament is Malachi. The first book of the New Testament is Matthew. Malachi was the last prophet of Israel. Ever since Malachi, no one has claimed to be a prophet of Israel, claimed to be speaking God’s words to his chosen people.

For all intents and purposes, God went silent.

For 400 years.

The people of Israel were waiting, expecting, something anything, a sign from God, a message, for 400 years. Waiting for something to come. A reinstatement of the throne, for God to deliver on his promise for David’s kingdom to rain forever. A waiting for another prophet, another anything.

In a state of Advent.

We spend Advent ever year looking forward to Christmas, looking forward to what—presents? The fun of Christmas trees and Christmas songs. The days get longer and darker as we look forward to the light of Christmas day. All of this just gives us a small, tiny taste of what these people probably felt, the people of Israel as they waited for something, anything, as a sign from God, for God to deliver on his promise.

And Christmas is the answer. Christmas is the delivery of that promise! Because what did we get on Christmas day?

Yes, Jesus! Jesus is the answer to the silence, the answer to the cry of the Chosen People asking for God to deliver on his promise. Jesus is the final prophet—because not only does he speak God’s words he is God, all of his words are God’s words. Jesus is the final king, the eternal king, of the line of David, to lead his people, to lead the world!

This is what Christmas is about: God’s delivery of his promises.

In light of all of this, we’re going to spend the next two Sundays focusing on Advent through the perspectives of two people: Mary and Joseph. Today we’re going to talk about Mary and next week we’re going to talk about Joseph.

So if you guys would, please turn get your Bibles and turn to Luke 1:26-29.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

So first question. Why do you think Mary was confused by Gabriel's statement?

Well let's look back at what the angel said to Mary. He called her what? [Favored One.] And said "The Lord is with you." Why would this bother her?

Well how would you feel if an angel of the Lord came to you and called you a "favored one." Would you feel that you deserved that?

Well Mary didn't seem to feel like she deserved such a favor.

Can someone keep reading Luke 1:30 - 33?

30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Why do you think angels in the Bible are always telling people to not be afraid?

Yeah they're probably scary looking! I'm going to read to you a couple of Biblical descriptions of angels.

Matthew 28:3

3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.

Ezekiel 1: 4 – 12

4 As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. 5 In the middle of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. 6 Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. 7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: 9 their wings touched one another; each of them moved straight ahead, without turning as they moved. 10 As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; 11 such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. 12 Each moved straight ahead; wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. 

None of these are really pleasant descriptions are they?

There are also descriptions in the Bible of angels who look no different from men, which is why they don't get recognized initially. However, considering Mary was afraid, I think it's safe to say she recognized him as something other.

Alright can someone please read for me Luke 1:34 – 37

34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 

Basically here Mary is saying it is impossible for her to be pregnant. She's a virgin! Virgins don't have babies--unless you're watching that CW show Jane the Virgin, but back then they didn't have things like artificial insemination or other sciency ways of getting women pregnant. Plus Mary would've known if she'd undergone those things too.

The angel basically tells her though that all things are possible with God, he can do whatever he wants. And he references her cousin Elizabeth as proof. Does anyone here know who Elizabeth is?

Other than Mary's cousin.

Let's flip back to Luke 1:5-17

5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

 8 Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10 Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 

Elizabeth is John the Baptist's mother. And her pregnancy was also foretold by the angel Gabriel.

So hearing all of this, what would your response be if you were Mary? I want you to keep in mind that Mary was probably quite young. Probably around 15 or 16. She's about to get married to a really great guy who would be very upset to discover she's pregnant. And back then we're not talking like getting pregnant just means you have to take care of your baby and have people whisper behind your back because your a teenage bride. The punishment for adultry could be severe, like death. So Mary was risking death if Joseph didn't agree to go along with this, which she had no idea if she would .

So what would you say if you were in Mary's shoes?

[Let them answer]

Well let's see what Mary says, can someone read to me Luke 1:38

38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Mary agrees, she says she's is the Lord's bondslave. The English Standard version of the Bible translates this as "let it be" and there is actually a really famous Beatle's song written abou this statement, if you guys know who the Beatles are.

"When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be."

This was not an easy hand to be dealt, to be Jesus' mother. I mean think about all the terrible things Jesus had to endure, and Mary outlived him. She had to watch her son die and be tortured. She didn't know she was agreeing to that then, but she trusted God. And she wasn't just resigned to it, like the Beatles song might imply. Turn a little further to Luke 2:46 - 55. Can someone read that?

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

These verses are often referred to as "The Magnificat." I think it's called that because in the Latin translation of this prayer, the first word is "Magnificat" which is basically the verb in that first sentence there. "My soul exalts." Or in my ESV translation "My soul magnifies."

So this prayer, what is it saying?

She basically spends the entire prayer just talking about how awesome and wonderful God is. She does say one thing about herself in there, verse 48, if we re-read that "for he has looked on this humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed." And I think that's only human. To marvel that God chose her and to be like "woah, people are going to remember my name like forever." Maybe even a little bit of pride, which I think we can allow her. But the other verses are all about how God is awesome. What do you think that says about Mary's character?

That maybe she put God first? And God knew that. That maybe that's why he chose her.

Alright but let's step back a moment here. Did God NEED Jesus to be born of a woman?

There are a few prophecies sure, that imply he'll be born and talk about it. But set that aside--cuz God wrote those prophecies. Could God just snap his fingers and instead have made a fully grown Jesus who went around calling disciples and doing the same thing?

Yeah. So why do you think God chose Jesus to be born of a woman? Why was this part of his grand plan?

Obviously we can never know the mind of God, and we can't really know why he chose this path. But I think it's because if you look over the Old Testament women have sort of gotten a bad wrap. Call it what you will--Eve's curse, the patriarchy, whatever--women in the Bible have not been treated the best. But here we have God telling a woman, the lowest of the low, that she has found favor from God. That she is the favored one.

Jesus was born male and that is important, I think, but I think by having this design, by having God be born of a woman, God is saying that the statement he's making by being incarnate in a male doesn't make women less. Mary was a critical part God chose to include in this story.

God chose to include women in the story, because he views women as important. And there may be times where boys--you're encouraged to devalue women, or girls you may think less of yourself because you are female. But in those times, I want you to remember Mary. Because she was the favored one, and God chose to use her. God views women as valuable, and therefore you should to.

Alright guys, that's it. Next week we're going to talk about Joseph.

David Becomes King of Israel

So last week we talked about how Saul’s reign over Israel came to an end. If you’ll remember Saul hit a really low point. The Philistines were coming after him, he couldn’t reach God and in a desperate act he turned to a medium—which was strictly forbidden by God. He basically dialed a beyond the grave phone call to Samuel to see what was going to happen—because he felt like God wasn’t answering him. Samuel then told him the truth—that Saul was doomed. And lo and behold, in the battle against the Philistines, the Philistines killed Saul’s sons—including Jonathan—and basically defeated the Israelite army. So Saul takes his own life rather than let himself get captured by the Philistines.

David meanwhile wasn’t in this battle, because if you’ll remember during this time he was actually living with the Philistines. But the Philistines didn’t trust him to fight beside them. So when the Philistines went to war, David and his men went back to the Philistine town where they had been living. David comes back to discover his town has been ransacked, so while the Israelites and Philistines are battling, David mounted a successful rescue of the people in his village who had been kidnapped. And that’s where we pick up.

Can someone please read 2 Samuel 1:1-4.

1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. 2 On the third day, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground and did obeisance. 3 David said to him, “Where have you come from?” He said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” 4 David said to him, “How did things go? Tell me!” He answered, “The army fled from the battle, but also many of the army fell and died; and Saul and his son Jonathan also died.”

Saul is dead and David is still hanging out in Ziklag, the Philistine town where he and his men live. Then basically a man shows up—really dirty and basically desperate looking. David asks him from where he has come, and it turns out the man has just come from the Israelite camp. Remember David wasn’t at this battle, so he has no idea what has happened—who has won or who has lived. So he demands the man give him the news. Which he does. Israel has been defeated. Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.

Remember the news of Jonathan being dead is a double whammy. Because Jonathan was Saul’s oldest son and therefore his heir, but Jonathan was also David’s best friend. This is not something David would be happy to hear.

At first David doesn’t believe it, and basically interrogates the man as to how he could possibly know these things. But then the man tells the story of how Saul died and provides proof—he has the crown of Saul, something Saul would never let go, especially not to a random dude. So finally David believes him and he is filled with grief. And the rest of this chapter is basically David expressing that grief. David is sad not only because his friend Jonathan is dead, but also for Saul. Because remember at one point David did work for Saul and thought very highly of him. And yes this all might mean David is king now, but it seems to come at a very terrible price. Not only are Jonathan and Saul dead, but Israel has basically been defeated by the Philistines. This is not good news.

Can someone read 2 Samuel 2:1-7?

2 After this David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” The Lord said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” He said, “To Hebron.” 2 So David went up there, along with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 3 David brought up the men who were with him, every one with his household; and they settled in the towns of Hebron. 4 Then the people of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.

When they told David, “It was the people of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul,” 5 David sent messengers to the people of Jabesh-gilead, and said to them, “May you be blessed by the Lord, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord, and buried him! 6 Now may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you! And I too will reward you because you have done this thing. 7 Therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant; for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”

So David prays to God asking what he should do. Right now he’s still in Ziklag, but he wants to know if he should go back to Israel—specifically the cities of Judah. If you’ll remember, Judah is the tribe that David belongs to. So Judah would be the tribe most likely to welcome him back. And yes God tells him he should go back, specifically to the town of Hebron. So David packs up all his men and their families and they travel to Judah.

When they get there the people anoint him as king over the house of Judah.

Judah which is only one tribe of Israel. That means right now David is just the king of one tribe and not all of Israel.

The people also give David news about where Saul is buried. And David basically thanks them and says God will reward them for their hard work and loyalty.

But why is David only the king of Judah and not all of Israel? Well remember they don’t have fast communication back then so people in other parts of Israel wouldn’t know David is back. But also Saul and Jonathan may be dead, but Saul had more than one son.

Someone please read 2 Samuel 2:8-11.

8 But Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ishbaal[a]son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim. 9 He made him king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and over all Israel. 10 Ishbaal,[b] Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. 11 The time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

So Abner, the commander of Saul’s army finds Ishbaal, who I believe is Saul’s fourth son—as Jonathan and his next two oldest sons all died in the battle with the Philistine. And Abner basically sets Ishbaal in place as king over Israel—which it says he reigns as for two years while the house of Judah follows David.

Right here we have a split Israel. We have Judah vs. the rest of Israel proper. Judah is led by David, while the rest of Israel is led by a son of Saul. This is the first time we have a split kingdom of Israel, with two kings, but it will not be the last.

Now it also says in this section that David is king over Judah for seven years but Ishbaal was only king for two years. The implication here is that David came back to Judah right after Saul’s death and established his kingdom there, while the rest of Israel was still in disarray from the Philistine’s defeat. So for several years it seems the Philistines were in charge and not allowed an Israelite king, and then after five years or so, the Israelites finally managed a king. Now it’s also possible because so many years passed they would know David is king over Judah, but these people wanted a son of Saul—wanted a continuation of their original dynasty that would remind them of Israel’s peaceful days under the young Saul.

But we know God intends David to be king over all Israel so this split kingdom cannot last. Let’s see what happens. Someone please read 2 Samuel 3:1-6.

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

2 Sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; 3 his second, Chileab, of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom son of Maacah, daughter of King Talmai of Geshur; 4 the fourth, Adonijah son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah son of Abital;  5 and the sixth, Ithream, of David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.

6 While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul.

The whole purpose of this little section is to show how David is growing strong and set up a contrast for what is happening with the house of Saul—that is Ishbaal. So while in Judah David is doing well. He’s having multiple sons and who knows how many daughters. That’s not just to show how many kids David has, but back then would be a sign of David’s awesomeness, that God is blessing him with so many strong male heirs. The house of Saul doesn’t seem to be getting along so well.

Ishbaal, Saul’s son, was made king basically only because he had Abner’s loyalty—Abner being Saul’s old buddy and commander. Without Abner’s support Ishbaal would not have been able to get the throne. And it is Abner—now Ishbaal—who is making the house of Saul strong, even though it is Ishbaal who is technically king.

Now we have no support for the idea that Abner was doing this for his own glory. I think Abner was honestly a good friend and loyal follower of Saul, and he was just doing what he thought was best for his old friend. But it seems Ishbaal did not feel so kindly towards Abner and maybe felt as if Abner was a threat to him. Because as soon as he gets a chance, Ishbaal accuses Abner of basically sleeping with one of Saul’s wives. And this makes Abner furious. Because sleeping with one of his dead friend’s wives is just wrong and he didn’t do it. He feels like he’s being betrayed by the very man he helped set up as king. And he’s not entirely wrong. And this is probably the most critical error of Ishbaal’s kingship. Because Abner was the only person keeping him on the throne. And Ishbaal just made him very angry.

Angry enough to start talking to David.

Someone please read 2 Samuel 3:12-16.

12 Abner sent messengers to David at Hebron, saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and I will give you my support to bring all Israel over to you.” 13 He said, “Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you: you shall never appear in my presence unless you bring Saul’s daughter Michal when you come to see me.” 14 Then David sent messengers to Saul’s son Ishbaal, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, to whom I became engaged at the price of one hundred foreskins of the Philistines.” 15 Ishbaal sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. 16 But her husband went with her, weeping as he walked behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So he went back.

Abner sends messages to David and is basically like “I’m read to throw my support in with you, and make you king over all of Israel.” And David is like “Awesome, but…there is one small thing I require. Remember back in the day how Saul gave his daughter Michael to me as a wife? And then when Saul got angry at me he just gave her to someone else? Well I want her back, and you will never step foot in my presence without her.”

And Abner is like “Cool I’ve got that.” But basically has David send a message saying that he wants Michael back to Ishbaal. For whatever reason Ishbaal agrees to give Michael to David—possibly because Abner tells him to as part of his deal with David and possibly because Ishbaal is trying to buy peace between the two kingdoms.

But remember Saul gave Michal to another man, and her new husband is a bit upset about all of this and tries to follow her. But Abner tells him to go back home and Abner is powerful enough and intimidating enough that the man listens.

Someone please read 2 Samuel 3:17-21.

17 Abner sent word to the elders of Israel, saying, “For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. 18 Now then bring it about; for the Lord has promised David: Through my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from all their enemies.” 19 Abner also spoke directly to the Benjaminites; then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin were ready to do.

20 When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 Abner said to David, “Let me go and rally all Israel to my lord the king, in order that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.” So David dismissed Abner, and he went away in peace.

Abner, having provided Michal back to David as they previously agreed upon, then goes in full on pro-David campaign mode. He sends letters to all the elders of Israel basically telling them that he has put his support behind David, that David not Ishbaal is the king God has promised them. He also goes directly to the Benjamites to talk to them. Why would he talk to them personally and not the other clans? Well remember Benjamin was Saul’s tribe. So if any clan was going to hold out against David in support of Ishbaal, it would be the tribe that Isbhaal belongs to. But Abner is so persuasive that basically all of Israel plus Benjamin is ready to say David is their king and forsake Ishbaal.

So Abner goes to David and David throws him a party. And Abner is like “My work isn’t yet done. I’m going to keep rallying people for you, is that cool?” And David is like “Definitely!” So Abner leaves the feast to continue bringing people over to David’s side.

Abner has basically 100% defected at this point and is taking all of Israel with him.

But not everyone—even on David’s side—is happy to see this former enemy come into the fold. Someone please read 2 Samuel 3:22-25.

22 Just then the servants of David arrived with Joab from a raid, bringing much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David at Hebron, for David[a] had dismissed him, and he had gone away in peace. 23 When Joab and all the army that was with him came, it was told Joab, “Abner son of Ner came to the king, and he has dismissed him, and he has gone away in peace.” 24 Then Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Abner came to you; why did you dismiss him, so that he got away? 25 You know that Abner son of Ner came to deceive you, and to learn your comings and goings and to learn all that you are doing.”

Just after Abner leaves a follower of David named Joab shows up, having returned from a battle. And when he hears that David allowed Abner to come to Hebron in peace and then didn’t kill him but instead let him also go in peace, he is furious. Abner is their enemy! Or at least was until very recently. Abner was literally Saul’s right hand man, who has been leading troops against David for years. And Joab just can’t let go of that. He thinks Abner has come to deceive David, that he couldn’t possibly have actually turned his back on the house of Saul, and that it will be David’s downfall to trust Abner.

Now we know that is not the case, because we know Abner is not happy with Ishbaal and has defected. But Joab would only have the second hand word of David that Abner has defected, and if he thinks David has been bamboozled, it makes sense he might try to take matters into his own hands.

Someone please read 2 Samuel 3:26-30.

26 When Joab came out from David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah; but David did not know about it. 27 When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gateway to speak with him privately, and there he stabbed him in the stomach. So he died for shedding the blood of Asahel, Joab’s brother. 28 Afterward, when David heard of it, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever guiltless before the Lord for the blood of Abner son of Ner. 29 May the guilt fall on the head of Joab, and on all his father’s house; and may the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge, or who is leprous, or who holds a spindle, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks food!” 30 So Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.

So Joab leaves David with a plan. He sends messengers after Abner, and maybe the message seems peaceful like he just wants to meet up to talk. We don’t know. All we know is that David didn’t know about it and for whatever reason Abner agrees to meet with Joab. Joab greets Abner as soon as he appears and then is like “come over here where we can talk privately.” And then instead of talking he just stabs him in the stomach, which is a slow and awful way to die but pretty much a death sentence back then.

We also learn here that part of the reason why Joab is so mad is he holds Abner responsible for the death of his brother. So Joab is not just doing what he thinks is necessary to protect the king. This is an act of revenge.

David is furious when he hears of this, and he basically is so mad at Joab that he basically wishes Joab and his entire family would die horrible deaths for the actions of Joab.

David then leads his people in morning for Abner, and they bury him in the city of Hebron. And David is so desolate over Abner’s death that he doesn’t eat. He also tells everyone that a great champion of Israel has died—showing he thinks of Abner as a hero for all of his service to Israel and not as an enemy for following Saul’s orders. All of this convinces the people that Joab didn’t kill Abner on some secret order of David’s, but also words to show people that David is not going to hold against them if they were loyal to Saul. In the new kingdom there will be a place for everyone, and service to Israel will be credited as service to Israel no matter which king it was for.

Meanwhile David is still not king over all Israel yet, because Ishbaal still exists. Why doesn’t David just kill him? Anyone remember? [Let them answer.]

Right David had promised both Jonathan and Saul that he wouldn’t kill any of Saul’s descendants. And David is not going to back down on his word, because he made a covenant with them, that lasts as long as David lives.

So let’s see what happens. Someone please read 2 Samuel 4:5-8.

5 Now the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, set out, and about the heat of the day they came to the house of Ishbaal, while he was taking his noonday rest. 6 They came inside the house as though to take wheat, and they struck him in the stomach; then Rechab and his brother Baanah escaped. 7 Now they had come into the house while he was lying on his couch in his bedchamber; they attacked him, killed him, and beheaded him. Then they took his head and traveled by way of the Arabah all night long. 8 They brought the head of Ishbaal to David at Hebron and said to the king, “Here is the head of Ishbaal, son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life; the Lord has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring.”

So two random dudes Rechab and Baanah—brothers—basically kill Isbhaal. They find him while he’s resting from the heat—taking a nice mid-afternoon nap—and kill him. They also take off his head. Then they escape with his head and take to David like “Haha! Look what we’ve done! We have killed your enemy! Aren’t you so happy with us and going to reward us?”

Do you guys think David is going to be happy with them?

Yeah no.

Someone read 2 Samuel 4:9-12.

9 David answered Rechab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life out of every adversity, 10 when the one who told me, ‘See, Saul is dead,’ thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him at Ziklag—this was the reward I gave him for his news. 11 How much more then, when wicked men have killed a righteous man on his bed in his own house! And now shall I not require his blood at your hand, and destroy you from the earth?” 12 So David commanded the young men, and they killed them; they cut off their hands and feet, and hung their bodies beside the pool at Hebron. But the head of Ishbaal they took and buried in the tomb of Abner at Hebron.

As we predicted, David is angry. He tells them that when the man came to tell him that Saul was dead he also thought he would get rewarded. And instead David killed him. Do they really think David is going to be happy that they killed a man while he was sleeping? So David has the two men put to death and basically hangs them as if they are traitors—because in a way they are. They killed the king of Israel.

You’ll notice if you study history that once people get it in their heads its okay to kill a king, they start thinking they can depose any king, which is definitely not what David wants. But also David didn’t want Saul’s family killed. He had nothing against Ishbaal. And I’m sure David thought he could work something out with Ishbaal eventually. But instead these two guys killed him.

David buries the head of Ishbaal in the same tom bas Abner.

So now the king of Israel is dead and David is the only king remaining.

Someone please read 2 Samuel 5: 1-5.

5 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. 2 For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

Without any other king the people come to David—all the tribes—and are like “you will be our king.” And they do. David is made king over all of Israel. And instead of remaining in Hebron—where it might seem like he is favoring Judah—he sets up his capital in Jerusalem.

And thus after everything, David is finally king of all of Israel, just as God had declared all those years ago when he was just a youngest son who wasn’t even important enough for his father to bring him to meet the prophet Samuel. It’s been a long road, and he’s now king.

But this is not the end of David’s story. It doesn’t end right here with a happily ever after. Things are never going to go smoothly for David, and the drama is not going to end. Because for all that David is a man often called a man after God’s own heart, he is still a man. He is imperfect. And his reign will also be imperfect. So the story of David is, as they say, to be continued.

David vs. Saul, Part 3: The Exciting Conclusion!

Last we saw David and Saul, David had two opportunities to kill Saul. Killing Saul would have been the politically expedient thing for David to do. Saul is after all the person who is trying to hunt down and kill David, and David is the person God has chosen to be the next king of Israel. But did David kill Saul? No.

Why not? Does anyone remember? [Let them answer.]

David didn’t kill Saul, because Saul was the man God chose to be king of Israel. He was God’s anointed. And yes, God had decided Saul was no longer to be king—and David was the man for the job. But the key here was God decided that, not David. And David knew only God—not David—could decide it was time to end Saul’s life.

So instead of killing Saul and making his life easier, David decided to wait on God.

Let’s see how that works out for him. Please go get your Bibles and turn to 1 Samuel 27:1-4.

27 David said in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul; there is nothing better for me than to escape to the land of the Philistines; then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.” 2 So David set out and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to King Achish son of Maoch of Gath. 3 David stayed with Achish at Gath, he and his troops, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow. 4 When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought for him.

Since Saul is still alive, David is still in danger from him, and David is being really angsty about it. He’s basically despairing and thinking Saul is going to kill him one day. So David decides to escape out of Saul’s hands. He gathers all his men and he leaves the country—he goes to the very people that the Israelites have been fighting for generations. The Philistines.

This was probably a very hard decision for David. He probably felt like he was betraying everyone by leaving, but he was no longer safe in his own land and he felt like he had no choice. So he goes into the land of the Philistines.

Let’s not forget that David has killed a number of Philistines. Do you guys think that the Philistines are just going to welcome David with open arms? [Let them answer.]

Well let’s see. Someone please read 1 Samuel 27:5-7.

5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your sight, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, so that I may live there; for why should your servant live in the royal city with you?” 6 So that day Achish gave him Ziklag; therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. 7 The length of time that David lived in the country of the Philistines was one year and four months.

So David goes to the king of the Philistines and is like “Please let me stay in a small town with all my people.” You would think the king would be like “You are an enemy of the Philistines! Why would I give you anything???” But instead the king does in fact give David a small town called Ziklag. Why? Well from this kings perspective his enemy is Saul—the king of the Israelites. And David is also the enemy of Saul. And the enemy of my enemy is my friend, so the Philistine king welcomes David and his people.  

Seems easy, peasy. It’s not. Someone please read 1 Samuel 27:8-12.

8 Now David and his men went up and made raids on the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites; for these were the landed settlements from Telam on the way to Shur and on to the land of Egypt. 9 David struck the land, leaving neither man nor woman alive, but took away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothing, and came back to Achish. 10 When Achish asked, “Against whom have you made a raid today?” David would say, “Against the Negeb of Judah,” or “Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Kenites.” 11 David left neither man nor woman alive to be brought back to Gath, thinking, “They might tell about us, and say, ‘David has done so and so.’” Such was his practice all the time he lived in the country of the Philistines. 12 Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself utterly abhorrent to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”

So David and his men are raiding a whole bunch of people while they stay in this small town. Raids against Geshurites, Girzites, and Amalekites, but you’ll notice none against his own people. He would take stuff—spoils if you will—from the people he raided and he would take a portion of the spoils back to the king of the Philistines. The king would ask him who he was raiding and David would always claim he was raiding Israelites—his own people. It was a lie, but the king didn’t know that. From his perspective, David was raiding his own people which meant he was a true enemy of Israel and he would never be able to go back—so he would always be in Philistine and be loyal to this king.

We know however he’s not attacking his own people.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 28:1-2.

28 In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “You know, of course, that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.” 2 David said to Achish, “Very well, then you shall know what your servant can do.” Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

Once again the Philistines are making ready for war against Israel and the king of Philistine is like, “Of course you and your men will join my army, David!” And David is sort of ambiguous in response he’s like “Well if you take me with you to war, you’ll know what I’m made of.” And the king is like, “Totally! I will make you my bodyguard for life if you are successful at this.”

So David is going to war with the Philistines, against his own people. His choices then are to fight his own people or refuse to and be in the heart of the Philistine army and then the Philistines will turn on him and kill him and his men. What do you think David will do faced with this choice? Fight for the Philistines or the Israelite? [Let them answer.]

We’ll see. But for now the story is going to take a minor turn. We’re going to catch up with what Saul is doing. Someone read 1 Samuel 28:3-7.

3 Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. Saul had expelled the mediums and the wizards from the land. 4 The Philistines assembled, and came and encamped at Shunem. Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6 When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, not by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. 7 Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, so that I may go to her and inquire of her.” His servants said to him, “There is a medium at Endor.”

This section opens with letting us know that Samuel has died. You’ll recall that Samuel was the prophet of God at this time. He was the spiritual and religious leader of Israel, and it was he that God used to anoint Saul and David as king. But Samuel was old and he died. All of Israel mourned.

Now the Bible then tells us that Saul had gotten rid of all the mediums and wizards. Basically he had gotten rid of anyone in the land who thought they might be able to talk to spirits or other gods or the like, as Israel was a land that was all supposed to fall under Judaism. These mediums, wizards, and witches represented people who sought to seek answers not from God but other means. So Saul—under the guidance of Samuel—had expelled them from the land.

But the Philistines were gathering and Samuel was dead, and suddenly Saul was very afraid. How was he supposed to get answers from God without Samuel to talk to God for him? Saul kept trying to ask God himself but God was not answering—probably because Saul was not his chosen one anymore. And so Saul was getting desperate, and in his desperation he looked for another way to get the answers he needed. He sought out a medium.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 28:8-14.

8 So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes and went there, he and two men with him. They came to the woman by night. And he said, “Consult a spirit for me, and bring up for me the one whom I name to you.” 9 The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?” 10 But Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.” 11 Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He answered, “Bring up Samuel for me.” 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!” 13 The king said to her, “Have no fear; what do you see?” The woman said to Saul, “I see a divine being[a] coming up out of the ground.” 14 He said to her, “What is his appearance?” She said, “An old man is coming up; he is wrapped in a robe.” So Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance.

Saul disguised himself to go see this woman, and he went in the night. Because he knew he shouldn’t be talking to her. He asked her to consult a spirit and she was like “You know the king of this land has outlawed what I do, are you trying to trick me?” She’s basically accusing him of being like an undercover cop here. But Saul swore to her that no punishment would come upon her for her actions here—at least no punishment that would come from him.

Then he asks her to basically talk to Samuel for him—remember Samuel is dead. So he’s basically asking her to summon a dead spirit. This is kind of thing is strictly not allowed in the Law. In fact Leviticus 20:6 says, “6 If any turn to mediums and wizards, prostituting themselves to them, I will set my face against them, and will cut them off from the people.” God takes this all very seriously. Turning to a medium or wizard is basically turning your back on God. Saul has never sunk this low before.

So he asks this medium to summon Samuel, which she does and when she does she realizes that it’s Saul who has asked her to do this thing. And he’s like “I need you to do this! Get me Samuel!” So she does.  

Someone read 1 Samuel 28:15-20.

15 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams; so I have summoned you to tell me what I should do.” 16 Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done to you just as he spoke by me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you today. 19 Moreover the Lord will give Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

20 Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel; and there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night.

When Samuel appears he’s like “Why have you disturbed me.” And Saul is all like “OMG Samuel, things are awful. The Philistines are coming, God won’t answer me, and I need you to tell me what to do.” And Samuel is just like “What did you expect? You know God does not support you as king anymore. In fact God is going to give Israel and you into the hands of the Philistine and by this time tomorrow you and all your sons will be dead, like me.”

One can imagine, this is not the happy news that Saul wanted to hear. He is greatly distressed over these words.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 29:1-5.

29 Now the Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, while the Israelites were encamped by the fountain that is in Jezreel. 2 As the lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish, 3 the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of King Saul of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years? Since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day.” 4 But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him; and the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Send the man back, so that he may return to the place that you have assigned to him; he shall not go down with us to battle, or else he may become an adversary to us in the battle. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here? 5 Is this not David, of whom they sing to one another in dances,

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands’?”

Meanwhile David is gathering with the Philistines to go war against his own people. And Philistine nobles are like, “Why are these Israelites here with us to go to war against the Israelites? That seems really stupid.” And the king is like, “Dudes, this is David. He’s been with us for over a year now and he’s an enemy of Saul, and he’s totally going to have our backs!” But the nobles and commanders are like, “This seems like a bad plan. We don’t think they’re going to fight against their own people. We think they’re going to turn on us. After all, isn’t David the one they say has killed ten thousand Philistines? Seems like a bad idea to trust him.”

And well the nobles aren’t wrong.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 29:6-11.

6 Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the Lord lives, you have been honest, and to me it seems right that you should march out and in with me in the campaign; for I have found nothing wrong in you from the day of your coming to me until today. Nevertheless the lords do not approve of you. 7 So go back now; and go peaceably; do nothing to displease the lords of the Philistines.” 8 David said to Achish, “But what have I done? What have you found in your servant from the day I entered your service until now, that I should not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” 9 Achish replied to David, “I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God; nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’ 10 Now then rise early in the morning, you and the servants of your lord who came with you, and go to the place that I appointed for you. As for the evil report, do not take it to heart, for you have done well before me.[a] Start early in the morning, and leave as soon as you have light.” 11 So David set out with his men early in the morning, to return to the land of the Philistines. But the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

The king of the Philistines calls David to him and is like, “David, my man, you have been a good and loyal servant to me and I have found no wrong in you. However, my commanders think it’s a bad idea for you to come with us, so I’m going to let you go back now peacefully.”

And David instead wiping his brow in relief and being like, “you got me out of a really sticky moral situation,” he’s like, “What? I’ve done nothing wrong? It’s kind of unfair that you wouldn’t take me with you!”

And the king is like, “I know, you’ve done nothing wrong but it’s my generals. Don’t worry about what they’re saying, they’re just scared. But you can leave first thing tomorrow morning and all will be well.”

So in the morning, David and his men start to head back to Philistine and the Philistines head on to Israel.

David goes back to Ziklag and has a bit of an adventure that we’re going to mostly skip over. When he gets back to the city he discovers it’s been attacked, and all the women and children have been taken. So instead of fighting Israelites or Philistines, David goes after the raiders to save his people. And he does save them.

Meanwhile, the Philistines have gone to war.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 31:1-3.

31 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and many fell on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchishua, the sons of Saul. 3 The battle pressed hard upon Saul; the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by them.

 As Samuel predicted, the Israelites are losing to the Philistines. The Philistines overtake the army and kill Saul’s sons, including Jonathan. Even Saul gets wounded. The end is near.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 31:4-7.

4 Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and thrust me through with it, so that these uncircumcised may not come and thrust me through, and make sport of me.” But his armor-bearer was unwilling; for he was terrified. So Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. 5 When his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together on the same day. 7 When the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook their towns and fled; and the Philistines came and occupied them.

Saul knows he’s doomed, but he doesn’t want to die at the hand of the Philistines. Because he is an enemy king, and the Philistines won’t just kill him. They will likely torture him to death and then desecrate his body. Saul doesn’t want that, so he turns to his armor-bearer and is like, “Please will you kill me?” The armor-bearer is like, “Are you crazy? No!!! I’m not going to kill you!” So Saul takes his own sword and kills himself.

The armor-bearer when he realizes Saul is dead—that he has failed his duty to protect him and that everything seems doomed—kills himself also. Thus Saul, his sons, and a ton of his men all die on the same die. The Israelites flee and the Philistines occupy Israel.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 31:8-13.

8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 They cut off his head, stripped off his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to carry the good news to the houses of their idols and to the people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of Astarte;[a]and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. 11 But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men set out, traveled all night long, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. They came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

The Philistines are going through the bodies of the people they’ve killed and they discover that Saul and his sons are dead. So they cut of Saul’s head, trip of his armor, and send the news throughout all of Israel that Saul is dead, Israel has fallen. They put his armor and his body on display so everyone can see it and know for a fact that Saul is dead.

However, the Israelites weren’t going to let their king’s body just decompose on the wall so a group of brave men decided to defy the Philistines. They went out and took the body of Saul and his sons down and they burned them.

This…isn’t a happy ending to a story, but it was never going to be. Saul was the first king of Israel—a king who ran away from the idea of being king. And for a while he did okay. But then Saul stopped trusting God. He behaved as if he could be king and priest, and worst of all, when he eventually called a medium, he basically decided he didn’t need God.

And so Saul and his sons died. Israel is in disarray, conquered by the Philistines.

But there is hope. Because David is still out there. And he will be the new king of Israel.

David vs. Saul, Part 2

Last week we took a break from discussing David and Saul’s on-going war to discuss David’s encounter with a woman named Abigail. But today we’re diving right back into the drama.

If you’ll remember Saul had it out for David, mostly because David was a great hero who was getting more praise than Saul was. But Saul also had these intense mood swings, where one minute he’d be trying to kill David and the next he would be embracing David like a son. This made it hard for David to know where he stood with Saul.

But eventually David runs away from the palace for his own safety. If you’ll remember he temporarily took refuge with some priests before going on to meet his men. And when Saul found out he had all those priests killed. Which is not very kingly.

David on the other hand was risking his life to save entire cities from the Philistines while Saul was willing to siege the very same city just to get to David!

So things are heating up in this war between them. You would think, if given the opportunity, David would kill Saul himself or hire some sort of assassin. That would be an easy way to get rid of the Saul problem! But that’s not quite how this goes.

So this next story we’re going to talk about happens just before David encounters Abigail. Please get your Bibles and turn to 1 Samuel 24:1-3.

24 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the wilderness of En-gedi.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to look for David and his men in the direction of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. 3 He came to the sheepfolds beside the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself.[a] Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave.

Saul had been out hunting Philistines and then was basically like “It’s time to hunt down David! So he gathered a large army of men and went searching the wilderness where he knew David was hiding. Saul and his men are out in the wilderness and Saul has to go to the bathroom so he goes into a cave to take care of his business.

Turns out that David and his men are hiding deep inside that very cave. Deep enough that Saul would not be able to see them or know they were there from just entering the front. It was probably a deep cave network.

Okay someone please read 1 Samuel 24:4-7.

4 The men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’” Then David went and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. 5 Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the Lord’s anointed.” 7 So David scolded his men severely and did not permit them to attack Saul. Then Saul got up and left the cave, and went on his way.

David’s men are like “Dude, David! This is the day God has promised you! That he would deliver Saul to you! Cuz Saul is right there using the bathroom and you should just go kill him now!”

So David sneaks up on Saul and without Saul detecting him, he cuts off a corner of Saul’s cloak and goes back to his men.

I’m sure his men are like “What? Why didn’t you kill him? You could have just ended the war right there!” That probably would’ve been the smart thing for David to do, but David wasn’t here just to win a war. David is trying to be God’s man. And he knows it was God who raised Saul up to be king, and it’s not David’s place to kill him. What God has raised up, God should take down, not David.

So instead of Saul dying while he’s going to the bathroom, he finishes up and goes back to join his men, alive to still hunt David.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 24:8-15.

8 Afterwards David also rose up and went out of the cave and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. 9 David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of those who say, ‘David seeks to do you harm’? 10 This very day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you into my hand in the cave; and some urged me to kill you, but I spared[a] you. I said, ‘I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, see the corner of your cloak in my hand; for by the fact that I cut off the corner of your cloak, and did not kill you, you may know for certain that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you are hunting me to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between me and you! May the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the ancient proverb says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you. 14 Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A single flea? 15 May the Lord therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you. May he see to it, and plead my cause, and vindicate me against you.”

As Saul is leaving the cave, David basically chases after him and is like “My king!” And when Saul sees him, David bows and is like, “I could have killed you, but I didn’t. See this piece of cloak I have as proof? Why didn’t I kill you? Because I’m a good person. I haven’t done anything to you, nothing to earn your ire and I’m not going to start now. God can judge between us and what’s happened, and if God decides something should happen to you, fine, but I’m not going to be the one who kills you.”

This is a bold move from David because there is no reason why Saul wouldn’t just kill him on sight, and David basically just told Saul that David won’t kill him. So if Saul attacks him, David probably won’t fight back. This gives Saul a perfect opportunity just to kill David right then and be done with it.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 24:16-22.

16 When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17 He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. 18 Today you have explained how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. 19 For who has ever found an enemy, and sent the enemy safely away? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20 Now I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21 Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not wipe out my name from my father’s house.” 22 So David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home; but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

But instead of killing him Saul is like “Is that you, David? Son, you are a good man—better than me—and you have repaid my awfulness with only good. May God reward you for not killing me.” Then Saul says something crazy, he basically says that he knows David will be king one day and just asks that David not kill his descendants when David inevitably supplants him.

Of course, David has already made that very promise to Jonathan, but Saul doesn’t know that. Instead David just swears again to Saul what he already swore to Jonathan, that one day when he becomes king he won’t kill all of Saul’s sons and their kids. And then Saul and David part ways. As if they’re not enemies.

Do we think this peace is going to last? [Let them answer.]

The next thing that actually happens is David’s encounter with Abigail which we discussed next week. So David is still living in the countryside hiding out. Fast forward then to 1 Samuel 26:1-5.

26 Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “David is in hiding on the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon.” 2 So Saul rose and went down to the Wilderness of Ziph, with three thousand chosen men of Israel, to seek David in the Wilderness of Ziph. 3 Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon beside the road. But David remained in the wilderness. When he learned that Saul had come after him into the wilderness, 4 David sent out spies, and learned that Saul had indeed arrived. 5 Then David set out and came to the place where Saul had encamped; and David saw the place where Saul lay, with Abner son of Ner, the commander of his army. Saul was lying within the encampment, while the army was encamped around him.

Saul thinking well of David obviously doesn’t last, because as soon as he next hears a hint of David’s whereabouts he goes after him. Once again saul grabs all of his men and goes after David, who is still just hiding out in the wilderness. But David’s not stupid so he sends some spies to get the lay of the land. Then David goes out to see Saul for himself and he basically finds where Saul sleeps.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 26:6-8.

6 Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?” Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” 7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night; there Saul lay sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the army lay around him. 8 Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand today; now therefore let me pin him to the ground with one stroke of the spear; I will not strike him twice.”

David turns to one of his guys and is like “Will you go down into the camp with me?” And the guy is basically like “Totally, man, I’d follow you anywhere.” So during the night they sneak up to where Saul sleeps and not a single person in the entire army detects them, not even Saul’s main general Abner. And the guy who went with him is like “Dude, this has got to be God! He’s just delivered Saul to you on a silver platter! Let me kill him! I’ll kill him in one stroke and he won’t even know what hit him.”

Do we think David is going to do it? [Let them answer.]

Let’s see. Someone please read 1 Samuel 26:9-12.

9 But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” 10 David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him down; or his day will come to die; or he will go down into battle and perish. 11 The Lord forbid that I should raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed; but now take the spear that is at his head, and the water jar, and let us go.” 12 So David took the spear that was at Saul’s head and the water jar, and they went away. No one saw it, or knew it, nor did anyone awake; for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.

Once again David does not kill him or let his man kill him. He’s like “God will deal with Saul, that’s not our job. Instead let’s take Saul’s spear and his water bottle so he knows someone was here. And then they sneak out without anyone noticing them.

Alright someone please read 1 Samuel 26:13-16.

13 Then David went over to the other side, and stood on top of a hill far away, with a great distance between them. 14 David called to the army and to Abner son of Ner, saying, “Abner! Will you not answer?” Then Abner replied, “Who are you that calls to the king?” 15 David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy your lord the king. 16 This thing that you have done is not good. As the Lord lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the Lord’s anointed. See now, where is the king’s spear, or the water jar that was at his head?”

So David leaves the camp and is far enough away that they can’t just kill him but still close enough he can sout and he’s basically like “ABNER. DUDE.” And Abner, the general, is like, “Umm….can I help you?’ And David basically taunts him and is like “You failed to keep watch over your king, and I could have killed him in the middle of the night. You have failed at your job, and because of that you deserve to die.”

David is harsh. But it is totally Abner’s job to protect Saul, so David’s not wrong.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 26:17-20.

17 Saul recognized David’s voice, and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” 18 And he added, “Why does my lord pursue his servant? For what have I done? What guilt is on my hands? 19 Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the Lord who has stirred you up against me, may he accept an offering; but if it is mortals, may they be cursed before the Lord, for they have driven me out today from my share in the heritage of the Lord, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now therefore, do not let my blood fall to the ground, away from the presence of the Lord; for the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea, like one who hunts a partridge in the mountains.”

Saul recognizes David’s shouting, and calls out to him. And David once again is like, “My king, I have done nothing wrong. Why do you try to kill me?”

How do you guys think Saul is going to answer this time? Is he once again going to have a sudden change of heart or is he going to be like “Charge, men! And kill the wannabe king?” [Let them answer.]

Let’s see someone please read 1 Samuel 26:21-25.

21 Then Saul said, “I have done wrong; come back, my son David, for I will never harm you again, because my life was precious in your sight today; I have been a fool, and have made a great mistake.” 22 David replied, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord gave you into my hand today, but I would not raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed. 24 As your life was precious today in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he rescue me from all tribulation.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them.” So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.

Once again Saul has a sudden change of heart—or seems to—and is like “I’ve done wrong against you. Obviously I have been wrong about you, and you are loyal and view my life as precious.”

And David is basically like “Send one of your men to recover your stuff, I don’t want to steal from you. God rewards those of us who are righteous and I will not raise a hand against you, and yes I value your life! And I hope God value’s my life as much as I value your life and keeps me safe.”

And Saul praises David again, and is like “You will do great things and be awesome at them.”

And then once again the two go their own separate ways.

Twice David has a chance to kill Saul and twice he doesn’t. David is adamant he won’t. How then will David be king if he won’t kill the man who stands in his way? He’s going to have to wait for God to deal with him, whether that’s by God striking Saul down with a heart attack or using some other method. Or maybe God will just let Saul’s own folly kill him, we’ll see.

But Saul is hard to grasp here. He has these lucid moments where he seems to realize what he’s doing is wrong—like when confronted with the reality of David he can’t help but see David is a good man. But as soon as David is out of his sight, he like creates this unreal image of David as a monstrous threat. Is Saul just losing it in his old age? Maybe. Does he surfer from some sort of mental illness? Maybe. Or sometimes it’s just easier to be mad at people when they’re not around, when you’re not looking at the person and face to face with the reality of them.

How is this all going to end? With a Saul who when face to face with David can’t kill him, and a David who won’t?

Well it remains to be seen. Next time. 😊

Michal and Abigail: Women of Courage

Last week we talked about how David and Saul are at war with each other, and how Saul is basically willing to destroy Israel to get to David. Today we’re still going to talk about this on-going battle but we’re going to change our focus. Instead of focusing on the men, we’re going to focus on two incredibly brave women who were caught in the crossfire of this war and still did what they thought was best.

We’ve talked before about how being a woman in the ancient world was not an easy thing, if anything a woman’s position was precarious, completely dependent on the men in her life. And if they disappeared, she was destitute, not even allowed to earn a living to survive without them. Women needed men to survive, and men did not always treat them kindly. If a woman defied the men in her life—whether a husband or a father, she could risk horrible things happening to her, from being beaten to being disowned and cast out. So for a woman to ever stand up to a father or husband was a braver act than many of us can even imagine.

I want you to keep that in mind as we discuss two women: Michal and Abigail.

First we’ll talk about Michal, and to do that we need to back up to before this whole open war between David and Saul even started. This story takes place during the time period where David still lived in court, and was greatly esteemed by all, except Saul who was beginning to grow jealous of David and was passively trying to plan David’s death.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 18:17-19.

 17 Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife; only be valiant for me and fight the Lord’s battles.” For Saul thought, “I will not raise a hand against him; let the Philistines deal with him.” 18 David said to Saul, “Who am I and who are my kinsfolk, my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” 19 But at the time when Saul’s daughter Merab should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite as a wife.

Because of David’s many victories, Saul basically promised David his eldest daughter in marriage. But Saul was basically trying to get David killed in battle by the Philistines at this point, so he didn’t really think David would actually live to marry Merab. So in the meantime, Saul married Merab off to some other woman.

David for his part, well it’s not like he was in love with Merab or anything. What he cared about was the great honor of becoming son-in-law to the king, basically being related to the king. And in regards to that honor he was humble, and all like “Who am I that I deserve this?”

This is kind of weird for us as modern people because we’d think David would care more about the girl he was marrying than the position that the marriage conferred to him, but that was not the case. Marriage back then wasn’t really about love, and for a king marriage was almost always about alliances and politics.

Alright someone please read 1 Samuel 18:20-23.

20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal loved David. Saul was told, and the thing pleased him. 21 Saul thought, “Let me give her to him that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time,[a] “You shall now be my son-in-law.” 22 Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘See, the king is delighted with you, and all his servants love you; now then, become the king’s son-in-law.’” 23 So Saul’s servants reported these words to David in private. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man and of no repute?”

Saul promised Merab to David, but then he married Merab off to someone else so he still needed to give David a daughter. Turns out his other daughter, Michal, actually loved David. And Saul was like “Great! I’ll give her to David, if David survives my evil scheme, which he won’t! Ha!” So Saul tells David that he’ll be his son-in-law—again—and then he also instructed the servants to tell him private and be like “See the king really loves you” When we all know the king really hate shim. But David is still humble, and like “What did I do to deserve this great honor?”

Someone please read 1 Samuel 18:24-29.

24 The servants of Saul told him, “This is what David said.” 25 Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no marriage present except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged on the king’s enemies.’” Now Saul planned to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. 26 When his servants told David these words, David was well pleased to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, 27 David rose and went, along with his men, and killed one hundred[a] of the Philistines; and David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Saul gave him his daughter Michal as a wife. 28 But when Saul realized that the Lord was with David, and that Saul’s daughter Michal loved him, 29 Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy from that time forward.

So the servants report back to Saul David’s humbleness, and Saul is like “I can use this. He doesn’t think he deserves it? Well I’ll give him a task where he can earn the honor but it’ll be an impossible task and he’ll never succeed and he’ll die and I will never have to worry about stupid David ever again.”

So Saul tells David he has to kill 100 Philistines and bring back proof to earn Michal’s hand in marriage. Then to Saul’s surprise, David does it and lives through it. So Saul really has no choice but to go through with his promise and let him marry Michal. This just makes Saul hate David even more, because Saul realizes God is with David—and that’s what makes David a threat. Not that people think he’s a hero or that people like him, but Saul can see the writing on the wall now that God has chosen David.

Fast forward a bit. David is still at court, and everyone is realizing that Saul wants to kill David. Another successful battle against the Philistines happens, where David comes back victorious and Saul is so mad he wants to kill David. Someone please read 1 Samuel 19:11-17.

11 Saul sent messengers to David’s house to keep watch over him, planning to kill him in the morning. David’s wife Michal told him, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through the window; he fled away and escaped. 13 Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed; she put a net of goats’ hair on its head, and covered it with the clothes. 14 When Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” 15 Then Saul sent the messengers to see David for themselves. He said, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” 16 When the messengers came in, the idol was in the bed, with the covering of goats’ hair on its head. 17 Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me like this, and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go; why should I kill you?’”

Saul sends messengers to basically run a stake out around David’s house, so that in the morning Saul can kill David. But once again, everyone in Saul’s court pretty much knows at this point that Saul wants to kill David, and Michal can see it as well. She basically tells David that he will be killed in the morning if they don’t do something that night. So she helps him escape through the window.

Remember Michal is David’s wife but she’s also Saul’s daughter. Without David there to protect her, she could easily fall under her father’s wrath. But she still hatches this plan to help her husband escape and then she covers for him as long as she can. She basically pulls a Ferris Bueller, and makes it look like there is someone sleeping in the bed. When the messengers come to take him away, she’s just like “HE’s sick!” When Saul demands the messengers see this proof for himself, they of course see that they have been tricked.

Saul goes to his daughter and demands to know why she would side against him and with David. Once again, Michal is in a very precarious position here. Her father has decided her husband is an enemy. Her father is the king of Israel. If she says the wrong thing it could mean her own death.

So she lies and basically says David threatened her life.

Michal saved David’s life here, even though doing so essentially betrayed her father.

Now we’re going to fast forward to talk about another woman who also defied the man in her life. This story takes place while David is in the wilderness, hiding out from Saul.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 25:2-4.

2 There was a man in Maon, whose property was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3 Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was clever and beautiful, but the man was surly and mean; he was a Calebite. 4 David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep.

So the setup here is we have this man named Nabal and he’s married to a woman named Abigail. Nabal is described as surly and mean—and wealthy—while Abigail is described as clever and beautiful. Nabal is also described as a Calebite, which just means he’s a descendent of Caleb. He’s still an Israelite.

David is basically hanging out in the wilderness near here and he hears that Nabal is out in the field shearing his sheep.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 25:5-8.

5 So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. 6 Thus you shall salute him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7 I hear that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing, all the time they were in Carmel. 8 Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your sight; for we have come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

David sends some of his troops down to Nabal, and he tells them exactly what to say to Nabal. They are to great him respectfully. David then implies that his army has been protecting Nabal and his property, and that Nabal should be aware of both this and who David is. And then because it’s a feast day, and Nabal should therefore be feeling generous, David asks the favor of basically food and supplies for his army.

Let’s see how Nabal responds to this request. Someone please read 1 Samuel 25:9-13.

9 When David’s young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David; and then they waited. 10 But Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are breaking away from their masters. 11 Shall I take my bread and my water and the meat that I have butchered for my shearers, and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” 12 So David’s young men turned away, and came back and told him all this. 13 David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every one of them strapped on his sword; David also strapped on his sword; and about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.

When the young men approach Nabal he basically feigns ignorance and is like “David? I don’t know any David. I just see some random strangers who are trying to get a handout. No thank you. You guys go away.”

When the men report this back to David he is furious—like ridiculously angry to the point where he let’s his anger get away with him. Because David knows Nabal should know him, and that they’ve been doing this service of protecting Nabal’s land, and he basically wants to kill Nabal. So he orders his troops to suit up, and readies four hundred men to go down and basically destroy Nabal.

This is not actually a good response to this. David is letting his temper get away from him.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 25:14-20.

14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he shouted insults at them. 15 Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we never missed anything when we were in the fields, as long as we were with them; 16 they were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. 17 Now therefore know this and consider what you should do; for evil has been decided against our master and against all his house; he is so ill-natured that no one can speak to him.”

18 Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs. She loaded them on donkeys 19 and said to her young men, “Go on ahead of me; I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 As she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, David and his men came down toward her; and she met them.

So someone tells Abigail what’s happening, that David came sent men to Nabal and that Nabal basically insulted them. The man reminds Abigail that it was David’s men who protected them and never harmed them, but Nabal is so ill natured that they’re afraid David will do something rash and bring badness upon their house. And while Nabal might deserve it, the rest of them don’t.

Abigail then does what seems reasonable, she wants to placate David and his men. So she packs up food and drinks and animals and loads it all up on some carts for her men to take to David. But she also goes with them.  The Bibel then points out that she did not tell her husband.

She is acting in complete defiance of her husband’s wishes. Sure Nabal didn’t directly tell her to do anything, but she knows what Nabal said to David’s men. She knows Nabal doesn’t want to give David or his men anything. She also knows that’s a stupid decision that puts them all in danger from this army that’s basically sitting on their doorstep. By defying her husband, she might save her people, but possibly at the cost of herself. For when she comes back Nabal might punish her. She knows this. But she does it anyway. Because her people’s lives mean more to her.

But going before David is also dangerous because David may not listen to her. And a lesser man might kill her to exact his vengeance against Nabal. We don’t know if Abigail has met David before, we don’t know if she knows what kind of man he is, so she may have no idea what sort of reception she may receive.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 25:21-22.

21 Now David had said, “Surely it was in vain that I protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; but he has returned me evil for good. 22 God do so to David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.”

Meanwhile David is all angsty, basically despairing that he ever protected these ungrateful people. But because David is a man of action his angst isn’t just words. He’s planning on basically going down to Nabal’s town and killing all the men.

Which isn’t a very nice thing, is it? Sure Nabal isn’t really paying David his due, but killing everyone seems a little bit like an overreaction, doesn’t it?

Alright someone please read 1 Samuel 25:23-31.

23 When Abigail saw David, she hurried and alighted from the donkey, and fell before David on her face, bowing to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “Upon me alone, my lord, be the guilt; please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. 25 My lord, do not take seriously this ill-natured fellow, Nabal; for as his name is, so is he; Nabal[a] is his name, and folly is with him; but I, your servant, did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent.

26 “Now then, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, since the Lord has restrained you from bloodguilt and from taking vengeance with your own hand, now let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be like Nabal. 27 And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28 Please forgive the trespass of your servant; for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord; and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. 29 If anyone should rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living under the care of the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30 When the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you prince over Israel, 31 my lord shall have no cause of grief, or pangs of conscience, for having shed blood without cause or for having saved himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”

Abigail reaches David and basically she begs. She bows to the ground and pleads with him. She admits her husband is stupid, and that she didn’t see the men when they were origianlly sent. So now she comes to beg for her people. She begs him to forgive Nabal because she comes bringing everything David has asked for and more. She also then affirms that she knows he should be king, and that she believes God will make him king, and that when that happens he’ll not want to look back on this and feel guilty or bad.

She begs for the life of every person she is responsible for. Because David is so mad that he actually is planning to go on a murderous rampage through her property.

Let’s see how David reacts to her pleas. Someone please read 1 Samuel 25:32-35.

32 David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! 33 Blessed be your good sense, and blessed be you, who have kept me today from bloodguilt and from avenging myself by my own hand! 34 For as surely as the Lord the God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there would not have been left to Nabal so much as one male.” 35 Then David received from her hand what she had brought him; he said to her, “Go up to your house in peace; see, I have heeded your voice, and I have granted your petition.”

Her words make David realize what he was about to do was more than a little crazy. And he thanks God for sending her to him to stop him from killing everyone, and he thanks God for her—her good sense to defy her husband and come after him. Because if she hadn’t come after him and begged him, his anger would have gotten the better of him and he would have killed all those people.

This is actually something of a character flaw in David, we’re going to see over and over. When he thinks he’s been wrong, or when he thinks something is his, he’s not afraid to take it by force. He doesn’t do this most of the time, but here and in a later story we see it. He gets so wrapped up in what is rightfully his and his rage, that he can’t see the truth right in front of him that what he’s doing is wrong, until someone else points it out to him. In this case, it’s Abigail.

So David tells her to go home in peace, and that he will not harm her or any member of her house—even her no-good husband.

Someone please read 1 Samuel 25:36-38.

 36 Abigail came to Nabal; he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she told him nothing at all until the morning light. 37 In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him; he became like a stone. 38 About ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.

Abigail comes home and Nabal is holding this huge feast, feasting on all the food he wouldn’t give David and his men. When Abigail gets there she sees he’s drunk, so she doesn’t tell him what she did. Possibly because in a drunken state he won’t remember anything she tells him anyway. But also possibly because in a drunken state he might overreact to her words.

So in the morning, she tells him, and he like goes catatonic. Possibly Nabal is an old man, and with the news he has some sort of stroke, we don’t know. We just know that for ten days he basically doesn’t move or do anything. And then he dies.

Now Abigail is left without a husband. We have no idea at this point if she has a son or anything. Nabal was very rich, but his estate won’t go to Abigail, it’ll go to a mail relative unless Abigail has a son to inherit it.

So what is to happen to Abigail?

Someone please read 1 Samuel 25:39-44.

39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord who has judged the case of Nabal’s insult to me, and has kept back his servant from evil; the Lord has returned the evildoing of Nabal upon his own head.” Then David sent and wooed Abigail, to make her his wife. 40 When David’s servants came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.” 41 She rose and bowed down, with her face to the ground, and said, “Your servant is a slave to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” 42 Abigail got up hurriedly and rode away on a donkey; her five maids attended her. She went after the messengers of David and became his wife.

43 David also married Ahinoam of Jezreel; both of them became his wives. 44 Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Palti son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

David hears Nabal is dead and is basically like “Hah! I get it, God! I shouldn’t take vengeance with my own hands because you are more than capable of doing that for me.” And then David is like “Hey that Abigail was pretty awesome. I think I’ll marry her.”

So Abigail becomes one of David’s wives. Which remember she wouldn’t have been able to inherit Nabal’s estate so this is really a best situation for her. Plus her old husband was pretty lame and David is pretty cool. The only downsides are David is still like being hunted down and she’s just one of David’s wives. At this point David has three. And that number is just going to increase.

This whole sage of David vs. Saul can seem like it’s a bunch of dudes doing stuff, but both of these stories illustrate that women are always around, and always affecting outcomes. Even when the Bible doesn’t highlight them. In this case, the Bible gives us insight into these two women and how they changed things. Michal saved David. Abigail saved every man on her property. Both women’s actions put themselves in danger from the men in their lives. Saul could have seen through Michal’s deception and had her killed for betraying him. David could have killed Abigail rather than listened to her. Nabal could have reacted in violence to her defiance of him. But still they acted, because they knew they had to do what was best to protect the people they loved and to do what was right in God’s eyes.