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Assassination Attempt (1 Samuel 19; Psalm 59) November 3

As we study through the historical stories contained in these Bible readings, let's remember to look for the guidance to make our present lives more Christ-like. All of these passages of Scripture were given under inspiration of God's Holy Spirit for our edification, to teach us lessons and provide examples.

In the same foolish way that Satan tries to remove God from his throne, Saul, knowing that God is with David, launches an open conspiracy to destroy David. God has provided an ally in Jonathan, which affords David some needed protection. Jonathan gives his father some very sound advice, which is actually heeded by the easily persuaded Saul (verses 4-6). A good relationship between Saul and David is restored when Jonathan points out that what David had done was good for the whole country. But as soon as David wins another battle against the Philistines, Saul's jealous nature reappears. God allowed a willing evil spirit to agitate Saul's already volatile envy.

Michal, Saul's daughter, loves David and is protective of him (18:20; 19:11-17). David escapes and goes to Ramah to seek counsel of Samuel, whom we haven't read about for a while.

Samuel presides over a group of prophets (verse 20). Recall that when Saul was first anointed, he fell in with a group of prophets, who were also musicians, as Samuel said he would (10:5-11). In both cases, the original King James has "company of the prophets." Samuel had judged Israel in a circuit—from the towns of Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpah yet always returning to Ramah (7:15-17). As noted in the highlights for 1 Samuel 10, the prophet Elijah later presides over an association known as "the sons of the prophets," located in Gilgal, Bethel and Jericho (see 2 Kings 2). These are often referred to by commentators as the schools of the prophets, training centers of prophetic ministry. It seems likely, as the commentators also surmise, that Samuel founded these schools and that his circuit was connected with them.

This is evidence that God's desire has always been that His ministry be well educated. While Christ's original 12 apostles were "uneducated and untrained men" according to the standards of the day (Acts 4:13), they were in fact educated through the instruction they received from Christ, the role model of His life, constant study of Scripture, their Spirit-guided discussions and regular thoughtful meditation.

With David in Samuel's care, God intervened in the situation so that all those who were sent against David were overcome and, surprisingly, began to do something completely incongruous to their intention—prophesy. Even Saul, when he came to see for himself, began to prophesy—provoking a similar reaction to the one he received when he prophesied when first anointed (1 Samuel 19:24; compare 10:11). "Naked," says Barnes' Notes, means without his robe and other outer robes, leaving only his shirt (1997, note on 19:24).

The superscription of Psalm 59 says that it was written upon the occasion of Saul sending assassins to stake out David's house and kill him—the event recorded in 1 Samuel 19. There are times in an individual's life when emotionally and psychologically he is "on top of the world," and there are times when a person is in "survival mode," just trying to keep it all together. Both emotional states afford opportunities to draw closer to God. When times are wonderful and prosperous, we draw nearer in our relationship to God by giving Him the credit and thanks for all He has done in our lives. But when the days are dark and our strength fails and it seems as though we won't make it, we cry out to Almighty God for sorely needed help.

In Psalm 59, David is in "survival" mode. He isn't thinking, "God will make me king." Instead, he is wondering how he will survive another day. When David flees for his life, his prayer is for deliverance from his enemies. He remembers that God is our Savior and he prays in Psalm 59 to be saved. He knows the vast mercy and power of God.

When times seem darkest, Christians can be confident that God is yet working through circumstances for their good (Romans 8:28).

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