Saul's Disobedience and Rejection
15 1 Samuel said to Saul, "God sent me to anoint you king over his people, Israel. Now, listen again to what God says. 2 This is the God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaking: 3 Here's what you are to do: Go to war against Amalek. Put everything connected with Amalek under a holy ban. And no exceptions! This is to be total destruction - men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys - the works.'" 4 Saul called the army together at Telaim and prepared them to go to war - two hundred companies of infantry from Israel and another ten companies from Judah. 5 Saul marched to Amalek City and hid in the canyon. 6 Then Saul got word to the Kenites: "Get out of here while you can. Evacuate the city right now or you'll get lumped in with the Amalekites. I'm warning you because you showed real kindness to the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt." And they did. The Kenites evacuated the place. 7 Then Saul went after Amalek, from the canyon all the way to Shur near the Egyptian border. 8 He captured Agag, king of Amalek, alive. Everyone else was killed under the terms of the holy ban. 9 Saul and the army made an exception for Agag, and for the choice sheep and cattle. They didn't include them under the terms of the holy ban. But all the rest, which nobody wanted anyway, they destroyed as decreed by the holy ban.
10 Then God spoke to Samuel: 11 "I'm sorry I ever made Saul king. He's turned his back on me. He refuses to do what I tell him." 12 He got up early in the morning to confront Saul but was told, "Saul's gone. He went to Carmel to set up a victory monument in his own honor, and then was headed for Gilgal." By the time Samuel caught up with him, Saul had just finished an act of worship, having used Amalekite plunder for the burnt offerings sacrificed to God. 13 As Samuel came close, Saul called out, "God's blessings on you! I accomplished God's plan to the letter!" 14 Samuel said, "So what's this I'm hearing - this bleating of sheep, this mooing of cattle?" 15 "Only some Amalekite loot," said Saul. "The soldiers saved back a few of the choice cattle and sheep to offer up in sacrifice to God. But everything else we destroyed under the holy ban." 16 "Enough!" interrupted Samuel. "Let me tell you what God told me last night." Saul said, "Go ahead. Tell me." 17 And Samuel told him. "When you started out in this, you were nothing - and you knew it. Then God put you at the head of Israel - made you king over Israel. 18 Then God sent you off to do a job for him, ordering you, 'Go and put those sinners, the Amalekites, under a holy ban. Go to war against them until you have totally wiped them out.' 19 So why did you not obey God? Why did you grab all this loot? Why, with God's eyes on you all the time, did you brazenly carry out this evil?" 20 Saul defended himself. "What are you talking about? I did obey God. I did the job God set for me. I brought in King Agag and destroyed the Amalekites under the terms of the holy ban. 21 So the soldiers saved back a few choice sheep and cattle from the holy ban for sacrifice to God at Gilgal - what's wrong with that?" 22 Then Samuel said, Do you think all God wants are sacrifices - empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. 23 Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult. Getting self-important around God is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors. Because you said No to God's command, he says No to your kingship.
24 Saul gave in and confessed, "I've sinned. I've trampled roughshod over God's Word and your instructions. I cared more about pleasing the people. I let them tell me what to do. 25 Oh, absolve me of my sin! Take my hand and lead me to the altar so I can worship God!" 26 But Samuel refused: "No, I can't come alongside you in this. You rejected God's command. Now God has rejected you as king over Israel." 27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul grabbed at his priestly robe and a piece tore off. 28 Samuel said, "God has just now torn the kingdom from you, and handed it over to your neighbor, a better man than you are. 29 Israel's God-of-Glory doesn't deceive and he doesn't dither. He says what he means and means what he says." 30 Saul tried again, "I have sinned. But don't abandon me! Support me with your presence before the leaders and the people. Come alongside me as I go back to worship God." 31 Samuel did. He went back with him. And Saul went to his knees before God and worshiped.
32 Then Samuel said, "Present King Agag of Amalek to me." Agag came, dragging his feet, muttering that he'd be better off dead. 33 Samuel said, "Just as your sword made many a woman childless, so your mother will be childless among those women!" And Samuel cut Agag down in the presence of God right there in Gilgal. 34 Samuel left immediately for Ramah and Saul went home to Gibeah. 35 Samuel never laid eyes on Saul again in this life, although he grieved long and deeply over him. But God was sorry he had ever made Saul king in the first place.
David Anointed King
16 1 God addressed Samuel: "So, how long are you going to mope over Saul? You know I've rejected him as king over Israel. Fill your flask with anointing oil and get going. I'm sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I've spotted the very king I want among his sons." 2 "I can't do that," said Samuel. "Saul will hear about it and kill me." 3 Make sure Jesse gets invited. I'll let you know what to do next. I'll point out the one you are to anoint." 4 Samuel did what God told him. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the town fathers greeted him, but apprehensively. "Is there something wrong?" 5 "Nothing's wrong. I've come to sacrifice this heifer and lead you in the worship of God. Prepare yourselves, be consecrated, and join me in worship." He made sure Jesse and his sons were also consecrated and called to worship.
6 When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, "Here he is! God's anointed!" 7 But God told Samuel, "Looks aren't everything. Don't be impressed with his looks and stature. I've already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart." 8 Jesse then called up Abinadab and presented him to Samuel. Samuel said, "This man isn't God's choice either." 9 Next Jesse presented Shammah. Samuel said, "No, this man isn't either." 10 Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel. Samuel was blunt with Jesse, "God hasn't chosen any of these." 11 Then he asked Jesse, "Is this it? Are there no more sons?" "Well, yes, there's the runt. But he's out tending the sheep." Samuel ordered Jesse, "Go get him. We're not moving from this spot until he's here." 12 Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health - bright-eyed, good-looking. God said, "Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one." 13 Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life. Samuel left and went home to Ramah.
David Plays the Harp for Saul
14 At that very moment the Spirit of God left Saul and in its place a black mood sent by God settled on him. He was terrified. 15 Saul's advisors said, "This awful tormenting depression from God is making your life miserable. 16 O master, let us help. Let us look for someone who can play the harp. When the black mood from God moves in, he'll play his music and you'll feel better." 17 Saul told his servants, "Go ahead. Find me someone who can play well and bring him to me." 18 One of the young men spoke up, "I know someone. I've seen him myself: the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, an excellent musician. He's also courageous, of age, well-spoken, and good-looking. And God is with him." 19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse requesting, "Send your son David to me, the one who tends the sheep." 20 Jesse took a donkey, loaded it with a couple of loaves of bread, a flask of wine, and a young goat, and sent his son David with it to Saul. 21 David came to Saul and stood before him. Saul liked him immediately and made him his right-hand man. 22 Saul sent word back to Jesse: "Thank you. David will stay here. He's just the one I was looking for. I'm very impressed by him." 23 After that, whenever the bad depression from God tormented Saul, David got out his harp and played. That would calm Saul down, and he would feel better as the moodiness lifted.
David Kills Goliath
17 1 The Philistines drew up their troops for battle. They deployed them at Socoh in Judah, and set up camp between Socoh and Azekah at Ephes Dammim. 2 Saul and the Israelites came together, camped at Oak Valley, and spread out their troops in battle readiness for the Philistines. 3 The Philistines were on one hill, the Israelites on the opposing hill, with the valley between them. 4 A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open, Goliath from Gath. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and was dressed in armor - 126 pounds of it! 6 He wore bronze shin guards and carried a bronze sword. 7 His spear was like a fence rail - the spear tip alone weighed over fifteen pounds. His shield bearer walked ahead of him. 8 Goliath stood there and called out to the Israelite troops, "Why bother using your whole army? Am I not Philistine enough for you? And you're all committed to Saul, aren't you? So pick your best fighter and pit him against me. 9 If he gets the upper hand and kills me, the Philistines will all become your slaves. But if I get the upper hand and kill him, you'll all become our slaves and serve us. 10 I challenge the troops of Israel this day. Give me a man. Let us fight it out together!" 11 When Saul and his troops heard the Philistine's challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope.
12 Enter David. He was the son of Jesse the Ephrathite from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse, the father of eight sons, was himself too old to join Saul's army. 13 Jesse's three older sons had followed Saul to war. The names of the three sons who had joined up with Saul were Eliab, the firstborn; next, Abinadab; and third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest son. While his three oldest brothers went to war with Saul, David went back and forth from attending to Saul to tending his father's sheep in Bethlehem. 15 16 Each morning and evening for forty days, Goliath took his stand and made his speech. 17 One day, Jesse told David his son, "Take this sack of cracked wheat and these ten loaves of bread and run them down to your brothers in the camp. 18 And take these ten wedges of cheese to the captain of their division. Check in on your brothers to see whether they are getting along all right, and let me know how they're doing 19 - Saul and your brothers, and all the Israelites in their war with the Philistines in the Oak Valley." 20 David was up at the crack of dawn and, having arranged for someone to tend his flock, took the food and was on his way just as Jesse had directed him. He arrived at the camp just as the army was moving into battle formation, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines moved into position, facing each other, battle-ready. 22 David left his bundles of food in the care of a sentry, ran to the troops who were deployed, and greeted his brothers. 23 While they were talking together, the Philistine champion, Goliath of Gath, stepped out from the front lines of the Philistines, and gave his usual challenge. David heard him. 24 The Israelites, to a man, fell back the moment they saw the giant - totally frightened. 25 The talk among the troops was, "Have you ever seen anything like this, this man openly and defiantly challenging Israel? The man who kills the giant will have it made. The king will give him a huge reward, offer his daughter as a bride, and give his entire family a free ride." 26 David, who was talking to the men standing around him, asked, "What's in it for the man who kills that Philistine and gets rid of this ugly blot on Israel's honor? Who does he think he is, anyway, this uncircumcised Philistine, taunting the armies of God-Alive?" 27 They told him what everyone was saying about what the king would do for the man who killed the Philistine. 28 Eliab, his older brother, heard David fraternizing with the men and lost his temper: "What are you doing here! Why aren't you minding your own business, tending that scrawny flock of sheep? I know what you're up to. You've come down here to see the sights, hoping for a ringside seat at a bloody battle!" 29 "What is it with you?" replied David. "All I did was ask a question." 30 Ignoring his brother, he turned to someone else, asked the same question, and got the same answer as before.
31 The things David was saying were picked up and reported to Saul. Saul sent for him. 32 "Master," said David, "don't give up hope. I'm ready to go and fight this Philistine." 33 Saul answered David, "You can't go and fight this Philistine. You're too young and inexperienced - and he's been at this fighting business since before you were born." 34 David said, "I've been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I'd go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I'd grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. 36 Lion or bear, it made no difference - I killed it. And I'll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive. 37 God, who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine." Saul said, "Go. And God help you!" 38 Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. 39 David tried to walk but he could hardly budge. David told Saul, "I can't even move with all this stuff on me. I'm not used to this." And he took it all off.
40 Then David took his shepherd's staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd's pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath. 41 As the Philistine paced back and forth, his shield bearer in front of him, he noticed David. 42 He took one look down on him and sneered - a mere youngster, apple-cheeked and peach-fuzzed. 43 The Philistine ridiculed David. "Am I a dog that you come after me with a stick?" And he cursed him by his gods. 44 "Come on," said the Philistine. "I'll make roadkill of you for the buzzards. I'll turn you into a tasty morsel for the field mice." 45 David answered, "You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel's troops, whom you curse and mock. 46 This very day God is handing you over to me. I'm about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there's an extraordinary God in Israel. 47 And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn't save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God - he's handing you to us on a platter!"
48 That roused the Philistine, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. 49 David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply. The Philistine crashed, facedown in the dirt. 50 That's how David beat the Philistine - with a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. No sword for David! 51 Then David ran up to the Philistine and stood over him, pulled the giant's sword from its sheath, and finished the job by cutting off his head. When the Philistines saw that their great champion was dead, they scattered, running for their lives. 52 The men of Israel and Judah were up on their feet, shouting! They chased the Philistines all the way to the outskirts of Gath and the gates of Ekron. 53 Wounded Philistines were strewn along the Shaaraim road all the way to Gath and Ekron. After chasing the Philistines, the Israelites came back and looted their camp. 54 David took the Philistine's head and brought it to Jerusalem. But the giant's weapons he placed in his own tent. 55 When Saul saw David go out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, "Tell me about this young man's family." Abner said, "For the life of me, O King, I don't know." 56 The king said, "Well, find out the lineage of this raw youth." 57 As soon as David came back from killing the Philistine, Abner brought him, the Philistine's head still in his hand, straight to Saul. 58 Saul asked him, "Young man, whose son are you?" "I'm the son of your servant Jesse," said David, "the one who lives in Bethlehem."