1 & 2 Samuel: Day 19

The Death of Saul

by

Today's Text: 1 Samuel 30:1-31, 1 Samuel 31:1-13, Psalm 56:3-4, Luke 4:18-19

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 30:1-31, 1 Samuel 31:1-13, Psalm 56:3-4, Luke 4:18-19

Yesterday we read about Saul’s moment of desperation. He knew he was facing a mighty battle against the Philistines, and he knew he was facing them alone. He was without Samuel, and he was without the Lord, who had turned away from him after his repeated disobedience. And Saul, who must have been near-crazed with fear, broke his own laws and the law of God by consulting a medium to try to find an answer.

Today, we read about David in a similar situation. The Amalekites had raided the city of Ziklag, burned it, and captured all of the women and children. David and his army returned to Ziklag, but there was nothing left. In fact, they “wept loudly until they had no strength left to weep” (1 Samuel 30:4). That sentence strikes the deepest fear into my own heart, which is rather predisposed to fear and anxiety. I can’t imagine that kind of pain.

And yet David responds with faith. Even though his wives have been captured, his city burned, and his army is threatening to rise up against him to stone him to death—David responds with faith. David is facing a loneliness and uncertainty perhaps even greater than Saul’s before the battle at Mount Gilboa. David has let his people down, the very people God has entrusted him to lead. But 1 Samuel 30:6 tells us, “David found strength in the Lord his God.”

I am humbled by David in this passage. I am convicted by Saul’s impatience and need to control, but I am humbled and inspired by David’s faith and his generosity. His response to trial was to trust the Lord. And his response to great victory was to praise the Lord and share the spoils. David, who knew he would be king, claimed no victory outside of the Lord’s faithfulness.

Even when I do choose the way of David—fragile yet desperately leaning on the Lord because I know only He can sustain me—I often forget His faithfulness when my moment of trial has passed. It is only when I intentionally take time to reflect on the Lord’s guiding, preserving hand that I remember to give thanks and to testify to His goodness.

My prayer today is not only to carry with me the confidence of faith, but to remember to testify to the Lord’s great faithfulness in my life. I can testify to His glory through my worship, His presence through my prayers, and His mercy through my actions toward others. I can testify to His grace in my quickness to forgive and His provision when I am generous.

David’s actions remind me to not only rely on the Lord daily, but to also tell of His great deeds. When I live with gratitude in response to Christ’s love for me, I testify to the gift of His sacrifice on the cross and the unimaginable mercy of the gospel.

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Melanie Rainer is the director of content for JellyTelly, where she writes and edits family spiritual formation resources. She is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, a passionate home baker, and makes her always-messy home with her husband, Price, and their delightful daughter, Ellie, near historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee.

  • “Even when I do choose the way of David—fragile yet desperately leaning on the Lord because I know only He can sustain me—I often forget His faithfulness when my moment of trial has passed.”

    Exactly! That’s me. I pray along with you that we’ll always take time to remember. Because we are such a forgetful, fragile people. And all the more I give praise that God is such a faithful, loving Father! I’d have given up on me eons ago.

  • Kristen Clegs

    Chapter 30 made me think of Job and his response to the loss of everything: I flipped to that book of the Bible and found a quotation, a question that sums up the path along which God wants to lead each of us: “Is it possible that a man or woman can come to love God for Himself alone so that there is a fundamental contentment in life regardless of circumstances?” That’s the kind of love that David had, that Job had, that I want.

  • Melanie, thank you so much for this devotional and especially those last two paragraphs. This list of how we can testify to the Lord’s faithfulness in our life not just through our words, but through our actions. Sometimes it’s hard to speak his name, I have trouble telling others about Him sometimes. But you made me realize that showing his faithfulness and goodness by doing things like being generous and forgiving quickly IS testifying to his goodness, when words don’t work for one reason or the next. What a powerful devotional. Thank you Melanie.

  • Karen From Virginia

    When I feel the end near, I get sad. I really wish Jonathan would have lived. I love his heart.
    Reading this time through I was struck more by the kind of man Jonathan was before meeting David. He had the same spirit as David. He expected God to fight the battle and walked in faith. He really encouraged David and helped him in role.
    I want to emulate these men who trust their God

  • Stacey Cochran

    Saul’s story has always been said to me, even as a child. I always thought if he would have just been obedient and did what God told him, the kingdom would not have been taken from him, and he and his family would not have suffered as they did. But as I have gotten older and more mature in faith, I think why can’t I just be obedient and do what God says? Saul’s story still saddens me, but I can learn from it.

  • Yesterday my friend and I were supposed to fly to Barcelona. So many strange things had happened up until that point. Like a couple months ago, I was looking to buy an additional swimsuit, and something told me I wouldn’t be needing it. Don’t buy it. And afterwards, I told another friend I had a funny feeling this trip wasn’t going to happen. I don’t own a real tv, so I don’t see the news often. But just as I was coming in from getting my money exchange, the tv in my apartment’s lobby said : breaking news – attack in Barcelona. It had literally just happened. I checked my phone and there were only two news stories that had been published about it. Had I not walked into the lobby at that precise time, I would have gotten on my flight which was in a few hours because I likely would not have know. In my heart I knew I wasn’t supposed to go. It was an inner knowing. I knew if I got in a car to the airport, I would regret it. That it was the WRONG decision. Something said, call your mom, and I did so immediately. She told me not to go. But I felt so bad for my friend. She had been looking forward to it for months. Not only that, we had spent so much money on the flights and deposits. Then I heard something say, who do you worship? Your money? Your friend? Or your God? Clearly, especially after this study, I knew I had to follow my gut which was very clear. Don’t go. And I told my friend and she has been a bit nasty with me ever since. But today I woke up with peace because I KNOW I made the right choice. And all these other details don’t really matter. I returned to the study of David and Abigail. I had JUST READ IT that morning. We talked about her discernment and quick action. I had one hour to decide whether I was going to start traveling to the airport and with Abigail as an example, I decided to stand on faith even though my friend didn’t understand and called me a fool.

    I share this story because in the comments people often ask how do they know the Lord is speaking to them. I believe he tries to make it as clear as possible. I had the discernment a couple of months ago. Then seeing the tv in the lobby at just the right second. The voice that said call your mom! The people who encouraged me to listen to my gut. It’s an inner knowing. We can’t try to logic our way out of it because the information me we have is limited.

    My prayer is the one that I saw in the comments yesterday. That I have a pure heart towards my friend. Currently I’m finding it difficult because of her lack of concern for the people of Spain and our safety. Right now, all I’m hearing from her is “me me me me me.” But I’m praying for a miracle. I pray I can have a pure heart towards her.

    Love you all! Please pray for Spain and please pray the hearts of all terrorists. Please pray they are transformed and made new in love.

    • Lehua K.

      Thank you for sharing. Your story really touched me – especially the part where God asked you who do you worship? I have to learn that a “good deal” money-wise isn’t always the best deal and God’s plan for me, and to get so bent about it like I have lately is to worship money over Him. Such a powerful reminder on what I need to change – thank you. Praying for you and your friend, as well as those affected in Spain.

    • Karen From Virginia

      Love your testimony of God’s faithful leading. You are right. God is speaking but we have to choose to tune our hearts to hear.

  • Like Melanie wrote, I think it’s so interesting how Saul and David are foils to each other, and that can still be seen in these last two chapters. David could’ve panicked when he realized his wives and everyone else was gone and taken matters into his own hands, but he didn’t. He consulted God, and God was faithful to deliver back what had been taken. Saul, on the other hand, didn’t consult God when he was severely injured and decided to kill himself. One of these men is an example of a faith-filled life, and one is an example of a self-filled life. I definitely want to remember everything we’ve learned about David’s example!

    • aprilinsydney

      I had a similar thought about the restoration – what man took away, God restored.

  • GramsieSue

    I am so thankful and blessed by this group of women. A few days ago someone posted :”When I feel the darkness of resentment, pain, and anger begin to creep in…I can pray ‘Lord, give me a pure heart towards her.'” And I was able to pray that prayer yesterday before I had to be faced with a certain woman who seems to delight in pushing my buttons. I was able to walk in with confidence…the “confidence of faith”. And having covered us in prayer before our interaction, God went before me and paved the way. There was no negativity. We had a pleasant conversation and she was actually helpful. I left that place feeling so Blessed! Praising Jesus! So ladies, continue posting. You never know how you may be blessing someone else! ❤️

  • I too enjoy SRT. I love how us women can come here not only comment but encourage one another in prayer. I’m so grateful for all of YOU!

  • I love She Reads Truth and I love you women. You all in the different places and spaces of your hearts and lives enourage and reach out and truth tell. Thank you. I thank God for these studies and for this community.

  • EarlyBird

    Did I miss something? David and Jonathan had made covenants between them, but then is killed in the battle along with his brothers. What happened there? Help me piece that together please.

    • Rebekah

      Jonathan was killed by the Philistines, not by David’s men… the people David was fighting against was a different group of people. If you read ahead in 2 Samuel 1, you can see David’s respond to the news of Saul and his sons bein killed.

    • DebbieinAZ

      Later on you will see that David stood true to his covenant.

    • EarlyBird

      OK thanks for the clarity, ladies! I’ll take a second look and then read on! Blessings on you. I’m SO enjoying SRT!

  • The Lord is my strength in all things!! Amen, i love this devotional.

  • Before the Lord poured his Spirit out in Acts 2, Israelites did things like cast lots (acts 1:26) or consult the ephod in the OT. When I was in college, I would be frozen in indecision because I was so afraid of making the wrong one. Now, however, I realize that God opens doors that no man can shut, and closes doors no man can open. So my husband and I take this approach of confidence now in our decision making. We truly saw this at work this summer. We put our house on the market, although we weren’t sure if we were supposed to sell or not. Finally, 10 minutes before we got a really great offer on the house, we found out that my husband’s job was only funded part time. So we knew that we didn’t need to sell yet, and took our house off the market. It was a very difficult few weeks, but last Wednesday, my husband got offered full time employment again.

    I hope this story encourages you and your husband to keep pursuing the Lord, and know he will open the right doors for you. His plan is the best one, and though we don’t know it in advance, we can rest and trust in his promises to “never leave us or forsake us” and to never leave us as orphans. Hope this encourages you!

  • There are times when I could really use an ephod to discern God’s will as David did. It would be so much easier to have God say to go and do something and you will be successful. It isn’t that clear for me and I am often left wondering if it is God’s leading or my own idea. I would like to think that if God did tell me clearly to do something and I would be successful that I would charge right off and do it. But, would I? I dont’ know. My husband and I have been talking recently about whether God is leading us in a certain direction or not. I have pondered something said earlier in this study about how God doesn’t just ask once and leave it. He continues to call us as He called Samuel. I like that Melanie said to ‘carry with us the confidence of faith’. Trusting our Lord and walking with confidence of faith is so powerful.

    • Abby

      I meant to reply to you in my comment above!

    • Terri

      I’ve felt this way more times than I can count! In April, we began to feel uneasy about my husband’s job– feeling like his position might be abolished in a big company overturn, so I began to pray for God to “guide our path.” Over and over, I prayed those words.
      Early one morning at the end of April, I was praying that prayer as my husband’s phone rang, letting him know his job had been abolished and that we would be getting a large severance! We had been stuck in a job my husband hated, in town we disliked for 4 years because of that job, and now we were going to be free of them both! I knew God would direct our steps, and bring us to the place we would love, and provide us with a job that my husband would enjoy because it’s all I’d been praying for!
      The very next morning, my husband was called for an interview across the country. He got the job, we packed up and headed on our journey– all the while praying for God to help us make the right decisions. (1/2)

      • Terri

        We found the perfect house, but housing is so expensive here that we needed to use his severance to put down 20% to make the mortgage reasonable– and almost to the exact dollar, the down payment was the severance amount that we had been blessed with.
        As all of these things fell into place, there’s no denying that God was faithful to us and guided our path! We are over the moon excited about where we live now, and I feel so at peace knowing that we are supposed to be here! There’s no other explanation for it!
        Pray that prayer, and watch God work!

      • aprilinsydney

        Amazing testimony!!! This is exactly how we ended up in Australia (from the UK).

    • Beth L

      God shows us His will with several steps:

      1. God gives us an idea or desire. (Example of King David) 1 Cronicles 28:2
      2. His will will never go against His Word. Prov. 3:5-6
      3. He always says to seek wise counsel. Prov. 11:14; 20:18; 24:6
      4. He can lead through circumstances open/ close doors, but the Devil can manipulate circumstances too. Acts 16:6-10; 1 Thess. 2:18
      5. He will give us a peace, but be careful because we can convince ourselves that the happiness we are feeling from something WE want is peace. Philippians 4:6-7
      6. God will always confirm His will with His Word. 1 Cronicles 17:4, 7, 11-12; John 16:13

      • Beth L.

        P.S. We will not know what His Word says (#2) if we aren’t in it daily and in prayer.

  • “When I live with gratitude in response to Christ’s love for me, I testify to the gift of his sacrifice on the cross and the unimaginable mercy of the gospel.”

    Goodness I feel like I’ve truly been learning this over the last 6 months. When I live like this my actions are different, my words are different, my reactions are different and my family and those around me see a different Jess. They don’t see me, they see the Holy one who has given me freedom and changed my heart!
    I pray that more of my actions would reflect a David response versus a Saul response.

  • churchmouse

    I cannot “carry the confidence of faith” unless I daily come to Him to hear from Him – through His Word and in prayer. Therein lies the Truth which empowers me throughout the day, come what may. The worship music is on even at this early hour. It is Matt Redman’s “Blessed be the Name.” I have no confidence in myself but every confidence in Him. When I am weak, He is strong. Whether blessing or suffering, I choose to say… Blessed be His name. It is not easy. It is with tears sometimes flowing hard. It is sometimes without understanding, my mind confused. I always have the choice. I take the deepest breath and whisper “I trust You” and I whisper it again and again and again…. As long as it takes until it becomes an anthem shouted.

  • aprilinsydney

    The penny has dropped.

    Quite a few readings ago I commented that the penny hadn’t yet dropped for me with regards to how do you know if it’s God at work. Some of you were kind enough to share insight and encouragement. Thank you. I think, after this reading, I now have a better understanding.

    I have realised that with regards to my job/career, I am Saul. Six years ago we moved to Australia and my life changed dramatically. I have not regularly worked in the last six years — not for lack of trying on my part. But every time I have joined an organisation it has, for one reason or another, not worked out (sometimes spectacularly so). I now believe none of them were necessarily God’s idea. It was just me taking matters into my own hands, trying to preserve my position as an independent, employed money-earner — you know, capable, competent, valued. I have scrambled for something to do, whether it be work or study (I also started postgrads in Law and Human Rights). I have sulked, moped, cried and felt incredibly desperate, useless and without value.

    God is clearly wanting to do something else in me, in my life, but I have been resistant to Him. Like Saul, I have tried to preserve the status quo; I have tried to keep my stature, my place in society. I have acted out of fear and uncertainty, out of anxiety and ego.

    The Bible says the Lord has plans to prosper me, not to harm me — but I have been too busy making my own plans out of fear and desperation to hear what those plans are. When I have been conspiring to make my own plans, I should have been trusting in the Lord, his plans and his provision for my life.

    I have the feeling His plans are going to be wildly different from anything I have done before now; I’d be lying if I said the idea of stepping out of my comfort zone and into the unknown didn’t scare the bejeezus out of me. I’m terrified! But if the choice is between Saul and David, I can wholeheartedly say I would rather follow David’s example.

    • Kathy

      Praying for you!

    • JessMC

      I remember your post and love that you updated. Praise Him for bringing a little more clarity! I pray the Lord will meet you in a new and fresh way as you wait in anticipation for what He will do in this new season.

    • churchmouse

      Your self reflection is admirable! I’m confident that your previous positions, though less fulfilling than you had hoped, are nevertheless preparation for what God has yet for you. He does not waste our past experiences. They are foundation stones for what He is about to build. We don’t always recognize it or appreciate it except in hindsight. Square your shoulders. Inhale. Exhale. Your journey continues with a beautiful recommitment to let Him lead. Keep me posted! I want to travel alongside, if only in my prayers. God speed.

    • Kelly R Smith

      Your thoughts and reflections encourage me toward faith! I struggle with trying to take things in my own hands instead of waiting on God to act on my behalf. I’m sitting with you, arm in arm, believing God for good things!

    • Jenn

      Wow thank you so much for sharing that. I often sit and wonder is this what God wants me to be doing? It isn’t always easy to decipher. Prayers for you and for what God has in store for you.

      • aprilinsydney

        No, it isn’t easy to decipher… I was reflecting further and realised it’s not necessarily whether I work or not, but why — the motivation. My heart. It hasn’t been in the right place (e.g. Fear, instead of trusting God). I hope the same things for you – clarity, discernement, direction in all you do.

  • aprilinsydney

    YES!: “I am convicted by Saul’s impatience and need to control, but I am humbled by David’s faith and his generosity.”

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