1 Samuel 28-31 The Message Bible

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28 1  During this time the Philistines mustered their troops to make war on Israel. Achish said to David, "You can count on this: You're marching with my troops, you and your men." 2  And David said, "Good! Now you'll see for yourself what I can do!" "Great!" said Achish. "I'm making you my personal bodyguard - for life!" Saul Prayed, but God Didn't Answer

Saul and the Medium at En-dor

3  Samuel was now dead. All Israel had mourned his death and buried him in Ramah, his hometown. Saul had long since cleaned out all those who held seances with the dead. 4  The Philistines had mustered their troops and camped at Shunem. Saul had assembled all Israel and camped at Gilboa. 5  But when Saul saw the Philistine troops, he shook in his boots, scared to death. 6  Saul prayed to God, but God didn't answer - neither by dream nor by sign nor by prophet.

7  So Saul ordered his officials, "Find me someone who can call up spirits so I may go and seek counsel from those spirits." His servants said, "There's a witch at Endor." 8  Saul disguised himself by putting on different clothes. Then, taking two men with him, he went under the cover of night to the woman and said, "I want you to consult a ghost for me. Call up the person I name." 9  The woman said, "Just hold on now! You know what Saul did, how he swept the country clean of mediums. Why are you trying to trap me and get me killed?" 10  Saul swore solemnly, "As God lives, you won't get in any trouble for this." 11  The woman said, "So whom do you want me to bring up?" "Samuel. Bring me Samuel." 12  When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out loudly to Saul, "Why did you lie to me? You're Saul!" 13  The king told her, "You have nothing to fear . . . but what do you see?" "I see a spirit ascending from the underground." 14  "And what does he look like?" Saul asked. "An old man ascending, robed like a priest." Saul knew it was Samuel. He fell down, face to the ground, and worshiped.

15  Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by calling me up?" "Because I'm in deep trouble," said Saul. "The Philistines are making war against me and God has deserted me - he doesn't answer me any more, either by prophet or by dream. And so I'm calling on you to tell me what to do." 16  "Why ask me?" said Samuel. "God has turned away from you and is now on the side of your neighbor. 17  God has done exactly what he told you through me - ripped the kingdom right out of your hands and given it to your neighbor. 18  It's because you did not obey God, refused to carry out his seething judgment on Amalek, that God does to you what he is doing today. 19  Worse yet, God is turning Israel, along with you, over to the Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. And, yes, indeed, God is giving Israel's army up to the Philistines."

20  Saul dropped to the ground, felled like a tree, terrified by Samuel's words. There wasn't an ounce of strength left in him - he'd eaten nothing all day and all night. 21  The woman, realizing that he was in deep shock, said to him, "Listen to me. I did what you asked me to do, put my life in your hands in doing it, carried out your instructions to the letter. 22  It's your turn to do what I tell you: Let me give you some food. Eat it. It will give you strength so you can get on your way." 23  He refused. "I'm not eating anything." 24  The woman moved swiftly. She butchered a grain-fed calf she had, and took some flour, kneaded it, and baked some flat bread. 25  Then she served it all up for Saul and his servants. After dining handsomely, they got up from the table and were on their way that same night.

The Philistines Distrust David

29 1  The Philistines mustered all their troops at Aphek. Meanwhile Israel had made camp at the spring at Jezreel. 2  As the Philistine warlords marched forward by regiments and divisions, David and his men were bringing up the rear with Achish. 3  The Philistine officers said, "What business do these Hebrews have being here?" Achish answered the officers, "Don't you recognize David, ex-servant of King Saul of Israel? He's been with me a long time. I've found nothing to be suspicious of, nothing to complain about, from the day he defected from Saul until now." 4  Angry with Achish, the Philistine officers said, "Send this man back to where he came from. Let him stick to his normal duties. He's not going into battle with us. He'd switch sides in the middle of the fight! What better chance to get back in favor with his master than by stabbing us in the back! 5  Isn't this the same David they celebrate at their parties, singing, Saul kills by the thousand, David by the ten thousand!"

6  So Achish had to send for David and tell him, "As God lives, you've been a trusty ally - excellent in all the ways you have worked with me, beyond reproach in the ways you have conducted yourself. But the warlords don't see it that way. 7  So it's best that you leave peacefully, now. It's not worth it, displeasing the Philistine warlords." 8  "But what have I done?" said David. "Have you had a single cause for complaint from the day I joined up with you until now? Why can't I fight against the enemies of my master the king?" 9  "I agree," said Achish. "You're a good man - as far as I'm concerned, God's angel! But the Philistine officers were emphatic: 'He's not to go with us into battle.' 10  So get an early start, you and the men who came with you. As soon as you have light enough to travel, go." 11  David rose early, he and his men, and by daybreak they were on their way back to Philistine country. The Philistines went on to Jezreel.

David Defeats the Amalekites

30 1  Three days later, David and his men arrived back in Ziklag. Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They tore Ziklag to pieces and then burned it down. 2  They captured all the women, young and old. They didn't kill anyone, but drove them like a herd of cattle. 3  By the time David and his men entered the village, it had been burned to the ground, and their wives, sons, and daughters all taken prisoner. 4  David and his men burst out in loud wails - wept and wept until they were exhausted with weeping. 5  David's two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail widow of Nabal of Carmel, had been taken prisoner along with the rest. 6  And suddenly David was in even worse trouble. There was talk among the men, bitter over the loss of their families, of stoning him.

7  He ordered Abiathar the priest, son of Ahimelech, "Bring me the Ephod so I can consult God." Abiathar brought it to David. 8  Then David prayed to God, "Shall I go after these raiders? Can I catch them?" The answer came, "Go after them! Yes, you'll catch them! Yes, you'll make the rescue!" 9  David went, he and the six hundred men with him. They arrived at the Brook Besor, where some of them dropped out. 10  David and four hundred men kept up the pursuit, but two hundred of them were too fatigued to cross the Brook Besor, and stayed there. 11  Some who went on came across an Egyptian in a field and took him to David. They gave him bread and he ate. And he drank some water. 12  They gave him a piece of fig cake and a couple of raisin muffins. Life began to revive in him. He hadn't eaten or drunk a thing for three days and nights! 13  David said to him, "Who do you belong to? Where are you from?" 14  We had raided the Negev of the Kerethites, of Judah, and of Caleb. Ziklag we burned." 15  David asked him, "Can you take us to the raiders?" "Promise me by God," he said, "that you won't kill me or turn me over to my old master, and I'll take you straight to the raiders." 16  He led David to them. They were scattered all over the place, eating and drinking, gorging themselves on all the loot they had plundered from Philistia and Judah. 17  David pounced. He fought them from before sunrise until evening of the next day. None got away except for four hundred of the younger men who escaped by riding off on camels. 18  David rescued everything the Amalekites had taken. And he rescued his two wives! 19  Nothing and no one was missing - young or old, son or daughter, plunder or whatever. David recovered the whole lot. 20  He herded the sheep and cattle before them, and they all shouted, "David's plunder!"

21  Then David came to the two hundred who had been too tired to continue with him and had dropped out at the Brook Besor. They came out to welcome David and his band. As he came near he called out, "Success!" 22  But all the mean-spirited men who had marched with David, the rabble element, objected: "They didn't help in the rescue, they don't get any of the plunder we recovered. Each man can have his wife and children, but that's it. Take them and go!" 23  "Families don't do this sort of thing! Oh no, my brothers!" said David as he broke up the argument. "You can't act this way with what God gave us! God kept us safe. He handed over the raiders who attacked us. 24  Who would ever listen to this kind of talk? The share of the one who stays with the gear is the share of the one who fights - equal shares. Share and share alike!" 25  From that day on, David made that the rule in Israel - and it still is. 26  On returning to Ziklag, David sent portions of the plunder to the elders of Judah, his neighbors, with a note saying, "A gift from the plunder of God's enemies!" 27  He sent them to the elders in Bethel, Ramoth Negev, Jattir, 28  Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, 29  Racal, Jerahmeelite cities, Kenite cities, 30  Hormah, Bor Ashan, Athach, 31  and Hebron, along with a number of other places David and his men went to from time to time.

The Death of Saul and His Sons

31 1  The Philistines made war on Israel. The men of Israel were in full retreat from the Philistines, falling left and right, wounded on Mount Gilboa. 2  The Philistines caught up with Saul and his sons. They killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki-Shua, Saul's sons. 3  The battle was hot and heavy around Saul. The archers got his range and wounded him badly. 4  Saul said to his weapon bearer, "Draw your sword and put me out of my misery, lest these pagan pigs come and make a game out of killing me." 5  When the weapon bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. 6  So Saul, his three sons, and his weapon bearer - the men closest to him - died together that day. 7  When the Israelites in the valley opposite and those on the other side of the Jordan saw that their army was in full retreat and that Saul and his sons were dead, they left their cities and ran for their lives. The Philistines moved in and occupied the sites.

8  The next day, when the Philistines came to rob the dead, they found Saul and his three sons dead on Mount Gilboa. 9  They cut off Saul's head and stripped off his armor. Then they spread the good news all through Philistine country in the shrines of their idols and among the people. 10  They displayed his armor in the shrine of the Ashtoreth. They nailed his corpse to the wall at Beth Shan. 11  The people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul. 12  Their valiant men sprang into action. They traveled all night, took the corpses of Saul and his three sons from the wall at Beth Shan, and carried them back to Jabesh and burned off the flesh. 13  They then buried the bones under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted in mourning for seven days.

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