Thru the Bible – Day 86

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Day 86 – Thru the Bible

Today we wrap up First Samuel and continue Psalms.

1 Samuel 28 & 29 – A person’s true character is often most evident when the person is under great pressure. The looming Philistine battle with which chapter 28 begins puts both David and Saul under great pressure. Saul is terrified and, having ignored or rejected the word of the Lord all his life, he now seeks it in desperation. When God remains silent, however, instead of asking what in his life may have caused this, Saul turns to a medium, specifically a necromancer. Saul is not concerned with repentance or a relationship with God, but only with rescue.

David, too, is in an untenable position. About to be drawn into battle on the side of the Philistines, he is saved from having to raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed only by providential rescue through the agency of suspicious Philistines (29:3–6).

God is not, however, an impersonal power to be accessed at will, as Saul’s sad tale illustrates. How far Saul has fallen! His royal career began with a special meal prepared by Samuel, after which Saul went forth to become king. Now he eats his last meal, prepared by a witch, and goes forth to certain death. A lifetime of dishonoring (“underweighting”) God can lead only to ruin.

By contrast, David, though flawed and sometimes failing, honors God by living in genuine relationship with Him, and in return God gives him weight and rescues him (29:6–11).

Without a relationship like David had with God, how is one, like Saul, without God and without hope in the world? Hint: Ephesians 2:12.

On the other hand, what is promised to this who love God? Hint: Romans 8:28.


1 Samuel 30 & 31 – The contrast between David and Saul continues to the end of Saul’s life. In chapter 30, David is in peril of his life at the hands of his own men, but he “strengthens himself in the Lord his God” (30:6). In chapter 31, Saul is also in peril of his life—at the hands of the Philistines—and he finds no strength. Wounded, he is terrified that “these uncircumcised” will come and torture him, and so he asks his armor-bearer to run him through. When the latter refuses, Saul falls on his own sword (31:4).

The habits of a lifetime show themselves in extreme circumstances. From an early age, David was convinced that even a giant among the “uncircumcised Philistines” was no match for his big God (17:26). Through the encouragement of a faithful friend like Jonathan, David had developed the habit of finding strength in God.

Saul, by contrast, had developed the habit of thinking little of God and regularly giving more weight to circumstances. This meant that he vacillated between overwhelming fear and overweening pride, depending on the circumstances. Threats from “uncircumcised Philistines” held little fear for David but literally scared Saul to death.

What is the magnificent truth of the gospel regarding all other fear when we fear God (to give Him ultimate weight)? Hint: Romans 8:35–39.


Psalm 86 – God’s self-revelation to Moses in Exodus 34:6–7 is the north star of the Bible (Neh. 9:17; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2) and the refrain of the Psalter (Ps. 103:8; 145:8). Setting his gaze on this divine mercy that defines who the Lord is, the Believer will find hope when he prays from the depths (86:15).

David catalogs promises to be claimed. First, he begs God to answer, because the Lord is inclined toward the “poor and needy” (Luke 4:18). Then he asks for preservation, because God guards the loyal (Luke 12:8). Finally, he pleads for mercy, joy, and a hearing, because God answers importunate prayer (Luke 18:1–8).

David’s boldness in prayer is further explained by the fact that his God not only makes promises but is sovereignly powerful to fulfill them.

Where does the Gospel say grace truth and the answer to all these prayers are found? Hint: John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 1:20.


What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?


Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.

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