This article is part of a series of Bible passages, which together are mainly about how the Bible says the Jewish race developed and were given laws, how they settled in ancient Israel, and how it says God sometimes punished them for disobeying his commands, which led to them changing their ways.
This is Part 4 (of 8) in Section 7: "The First Centuries In The Promised Land".
Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
1 Samuel chapter 14 (GWT)
47 When Saul had taken over the kingdom of Israel, he fought against his enemies on every side--against Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he was victorious. 48 He acted forcefully and defeated Amalek. He rescued Israel from the enemies who looted their possessions.
1 Samuel chapter 15 (TEV)
1 Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one whom the Lord sent to anoint you king of his people Israel. Now listen to what the Lord Almighty says. 2 He is going to punish the people of Amalek because their ancestors opposed the Israelites when they were coming from Egypt. 3 Go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Don't leave a thing; kill all the men, women, children, and babies; the cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys."
Since this passage seems particularly offensive, here's a link to an article which may give some insights into why this command was given, describing how the Amalekites apparently survived by raiding Israel on an ongoing basis, and including the reasons why it would have been more merciful to kill the women and children than it would have been to leave them to a potentially worse fate in the deserts where they lived:
4 Saul called his forces together and inspected them at Telem: there were 200,000 soldiers from Israel and 10,000 from Judah. 5 Then he and his men went to the city of Amalek and waited in ambush in a dry riverbed. 6 He sent a warning to the Kenites, a people whose ancestors had been kind to the Israelites when they came from Egypt: "Go away and leave the Amalekites, so that I won't kill you along with them." So the Kenites left. 7 Saul defeated the Amalekites, fighting all the way from Havilah to Shur, east of Egypt; 8 he captured King Agag of Amalek alive and killed all the people. 9 But Saul and his men spared Agag's life and did not kill the best sheep and cattle, the best calves and lambs, or anything else that was good; they destroyed only what was useless or worthless.
10 The Lord said to Samuel, 11 "I am sorry that I made Saul king; he has turned away from me and disobeyed my commands."
Samuel was angry, and all night long he pleaded with the Lord. 12 Early the following morning he went off to find Saul. He heard that Saul had gone to the town of Carmel, where he had built a monument to himself, and then had gone on to Gilgal.
13 Samuel went up to Saul, who greeted him, saying, "The Lord bless you, Samuel! I have obeyed the Lord's command."
14 Samuel asked, "Why, then, do I hear cattle mooing and sheep bleating?"
15 Saul answered, "My men took them from the Amalekites. They kept the best sheep and cattle to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have destroyed completely."
16 "Stop," Samuel ordered, "and I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night."
"Tell me," Saul said.
17 Samuel answered, "Even though you consider yourself of no importance, you are the leader of the tribes of Israel. The Lord anointed you king of Israel, 18 and he sent you out with orders to destroy those wicked people of Amalek. He told you to fight until you had killed them all. 19 Why, then, did you not obey him? Why did you rush to grab the loot, and so do what displeases the Lord?"
20 "I did obey the Lord," Saul replied. "I went out as he told me to, brought back King Agag, and killed all the Amalekites. 21 But my men did not kill the best sheep and cattle that they captured; instead, they brought them here to Gilgal to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord your God."
22 Samuel said, "Which does the Lord prefer: obedience or offerings and sacrifices? It is better to obey him than to sacrifice the best sheep to him. 23 Rebellion against him is as bad as witchcraft, and arrogance is as sinful as idolatry. Because you rejected the Lord's command, he has rejected you as king."
24 "Yes, I have sinned," Saul replied. "I disobeyed the Lord's command and your instructions. I was afraid of my men and did what they wanted. 25 But now I beg you, forgive my sin and go back with me, so that I can worship the Lord."
26 "I will not go back with you," Samuel answered. "You rejected the Lord's command, and he has rejected you as king of Israel."
27 Then Samuel turned to leave, but Saul caught hold of his cloak, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, "The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel away from you today and given it to someone who is a better man than you. 29 Israel's majestic God does not lie or change his mind. He is not a human being-he does not change his mind."
30 "I have sinned," Saul replied. "But at least show me respect in front of the leaders of my people and all of Israel. Go back with me so that I can worship the Lord your God."
31 So Samuel went back with him, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
32 "Bring King Agag here to me," Samuel ordered.
Agag came to him, trembling with fear, thinking to himself, "What a bitter thing it is to die!" 33 Samuel said, "As your sword has made many mothers childless, so now your mother will become childless." And he cut Agag to pieces in front of the altar in Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel went to Ramah, and King Saul went home to Gibeah. 35 As long as Samuel lived, he never again saw the king; but he grieved over him. The Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king of Israel.
1 Samuel chapter 16 (NLT)
1 Finally, the LORD said to Samuel, "You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel. Now fill your horn with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my new king."
2 But Samuel asked, "How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me."
"Take a heifer with you," the LORD replied, "and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the LORD. 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me."
4 So Samuel did as the LORD instructed him. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the leaders of the town became afraid. "What's wrong?" they asked. "Do you come in peace?"
5 "Yes," Samuel replied. "I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice." Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them, too.
6 When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, "Surely this is the LORD's anointed!" 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person's thoughts and intentions."
8 Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, "This is not the one the LORD has chosen."
9 Next Jesse summoned Shammah, but Samuel said, "Neither is this the one the LORD has chosen."
10 In the same way all seven of Jesse's sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen any of these." 11 Then Samuel asked, "Are these all the sons you have?"
"There is still the youngest," Jesse replied. "But he's out in the fields watching the sheep."
"Send for him at once," Samuel said. "We will not sit down to eat until he arrives."
12 So Jesse sent for him. He was ruddy and handsome, with pleasant eyes. And the LORD said, "This is the one; anoint him."
13 So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the olive oil he had brought and poured it on David's head. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.
14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear. 15 Some of Saul's servants suggested a remedy. "It is clear that a spirit from God is tormenting you," they said. 16 "Let us find a good musician to play the harp for you whenever the tormenting spirit is bothering you. The harp music will quiet you, and you will soon be well again."
17 "All right," Saul said. "Find me someone who plays well and bring him here."
18 One of the servants said to Saul, "The son of Jesse is a talented harp player. Not only that; he is brave and strong and has good judgment. He is also a fine-looking young man, and the LORD is with him."
19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse to say, "Send me your son David, the shepherd." 20 Jesse responded by sending David to Saul, along with a young goat and a donkey loaded down with food and wine.
21 So David went to Saul and served him. Saul liked David very much, and David became one of Saul's armor bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse asking, "Please let David join my staff, for I am very pleased with him."
23 And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away.
1 Samuel chapter 17 (TEV)
1 The Philistines gathered for battle in Socoh, a town in Judah; they camped at a place called Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in Elah Valley, where they got ready to fight the Philistines. 3 The Philistines lined up on one hill and the Israelites on another, with a valley between them.
4 A man named Goliath, from the city of Gath, came out from the Philistine camp to challenge the Israelites. He was over nine feet tall 5 and wore bronze armor that weighed about 125 pounds and a bronze helmet. 6 His legs were also protected by bronze armor, and he carried a bronze javelin slung over his shoulder. 7 His spear was as thick as the bar on a weaver's loom, and its iron head weighed about fifteen pounds. A soldier walked in front of him carrying his shield. 8 Goliath stood and shouted at the Israelites, "What are you doing there, lined up for battle? I am a Philistine, you slaves of Saul! Choose one of your men to fight me. 9 If he wins and kills me, we will be your slaves; but if I win and kill him, you will be our slaves. 10 Here and now I challenge the Israelite army. I dare you to pick someone to fight me!"
11 When Saul and his men heard this, they were terrified.
12 David was the son of Jesse, who was an Ephrathite from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and at the time Saul was king, he was already a very old man. 13 His three oldest sons had gone with Saul to war. The oldest was Eliab, the next was Abinadab, and the third was Shammah. 14 David was the youngest son, and while the three oldest brothers stayed with Saul, 15 David would go back to Bethlehem from time to time, to take care of his father's sheep.16 Goliath challenged the Israelites every morning and evening for forty days. 17 One day Jesse said to David, "Take a half-bushel of this roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and hurry with them to your brothers in the camp. 18 And take these ten cheeses to the commanding officer. Find out how your brothers are getting along and bring back something to show that you saw them and that they are well. 19 King Saul, your brothers, and all the other Israelites are in Elah Valley fighting the Philistines."
20 David got up early the next morning, left someone else in charge of the sheep, took the food, and went as Jesse had told him to. He arrived at the camp just as the Israelites were going out to their battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 The Philistine and the Israelite armies took positions for battle, facing each other. 22 David left the food with the officer in charge of the supplies, ran to the battle line, went to his brothers, and asked how they were getting along. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath came forward and challenged the Israelites as he had done before. And David heard him.
24 When the Israelites saw Goliath, they ran away in terror. 25 "Look at him!" they said to each other. "Listen to his challenge! King Saul has promised to give a big reward to the man who kills him; the king will also give him his daughter to marry and will not require his father's family to pay taxes."
26 David asked the men who were near him, "What will the man get who kills this Philistine and frees Israel from this disgrace? After all, who is this heathen Philistine to defy the army of the living God?" 27 They told him what would be done for the man who killed Goliath. 28 Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard David talking to the men. He became angry with David and said, "What are you doing here? Who is taking care of those sheep of yours out there in the wilderness? You smart aleck, you! You just came to watch the fighting!"
29 "Now what have I done?" David asked. "Can't I even ask a question?" 30 He turned to another man and asked him the same question, and every time he asked, he got the same answer.
31 Some men heard what David had said, and they told Saul, who sent for him. 32 David said to Saul, "Your Majesty, no one should be afraid of this Philistine! I will go and fight him." 33 "No," answered Saul. "How could you fight him? You're just a boy, and he has been a soldier all his life!" 34 "Your Majesty," David said, "I take care of my father's sheep. Any time a lion or a bear carries off a lamb, 35 I go after it, attack it, and rescue the lamb. And if the lion or bear turns on me, I grab it by the throat and beat it to death. 36 I have killed lions and bears, and I will do the same to this heathen Philistine, who has defied the army of the living God. 37 The Lord has saved me from lions and bears; he will save me from this Philistine."
"All right," Saul answered. "Go, and the Lord be with you." 38 He gave his own armor to David for him to wear: a bronze helmet, which he put on David's head, and a coat of armor.
39 David strapped Saul's sword over the armor and tried to walk, but he couldn't, because he wasn't used to wearing them. "I can't fight with all this," he said to Saul. "I'm not used to it." So he took it all off.
40 He took his shepherd's stick and then picked up five smooth stones from the stream and put them in his bag. With his sling ready, he went out to meet Goliath. 41 The Philistine started walking toward David, with his shield bearer walking in front of him. He kept coming closer, 42 and when he got a good look at David, he was filled with scorn for him because he was just a nice, good-looking boy. 43 He said to David, "What's that stick for? Do you think I'm a dog?" And he called down curses from his god on David. 44 "Come on," he challenged David, "and I will give your body to the birds and animals to eat." 45 David answered, "You are coming against me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the Israelite armies, which you have defied. 46 This very day the Lord will put you in my power; I will defeat you and cut off your head. And I will give the bodies of the Philistine soldiers to the birds and animals to eat. Then the whole world will know that Israel has a God, 47 and everyone here will see that the Lord does not need swords or spears to save his people. He is victorious in battle, and he will put all of you in our power."
48 Goliath started walking toward David again, and David ran quickly toward the Philistine battle line to fight him. 49 He reached into his bag and took out a stone, which he slung at Goliath. It hit him on the forehead and broke his skull, and Goliath fell face downward on the ground. 50 And so, without a sword, David defeated and killed Goliath with a sling and a stone! 51 He ran to him, stood over him, took Goliath's sword out of its sheath, and cut off his head and killed him.
When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they ran away. 52 The men of Israel and Judah shouted and ran after them, pursuing them all the way to Gath and to the gates of Ekron. The Philistines fell wounded all along the road that leads to Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron.
53 When the Israelites came back from pursuing the Philistines, they looted their camp. 54 David got Goliath's head and took it to Jerusalem, but he kept Goliath's weapons in his own tent.
55 When Saul saw David going out to fight Goliath, he asked Abner, the commander of his army, "Abner, whose son is he?"
"I have no idea, Your Majesty," Abner answered.
56 "Then go and find out," Saul ordered.
57 So when David returned to camp after killing Goliath, Abner took him to Saul. David was still carrying Goliath's head. 58 Saul asked him, "Young man, whose son are you?"
"I am the son of your servant Jesse from Bethlehem," David answered.
1 Samuel chapter 18 (NIV)
1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house. 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
5 Whatever Saul sent him to do, David did it so successfully that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the people, and Saul's officers as well.
6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes. 7 As they danced, they sang:
"Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands."
8 Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. "They have credited David with tens of thousands," he thought, "but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?" 9 And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
10 The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, "I'll pin David to the wall." But David eluded him twice.
12 Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with David but had left Saul. 13 So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. 14 In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him. 15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.
17 Saul said to David, "Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the LORD ." For Saul said to himself, "I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!" 18 But David said to Saul, "Who am I, and what is my family or my father's clan in Israel, that I should become the king's son-in-law?" 19 So when the time came for Merab, Saul's daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.
20 Now Saul's daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 "I will give her to him," he thought, "so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him." So Saul said to David, "Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law."
22 Then Saul ordered his attendants: "Speak to David privately and say, 'Look, the king is pleased with you, and his attendants all like you; now become his son-in-law.' "
23 They repeated these words to David. But David said, "Do you think it is a small matter to become the king's son-in-law? I'm only a poor man and little known."
24 When Saul's servants told him what David had said, 25 Saul replied, "Say to David, 'The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.' " Saul's plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.
26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king's son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David and his men went out and killed two hundred Philistines. He brought their foreskins and presented the full number to the king so that he might become the king's son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.
28 When Saul realized that the LORD was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.
30 The Philistine commanders continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with more success than the rest of Saul's officers, and his name became well known.
1 Samuel chapter 19 (TEV)
1 Saul told his son Jonathan and all his officials that he planned to kill David. But Jonathan was very fond of David, 2 and so he told him, "My father is trying to kill you. Please be careful tomorrow morning; hide in some secret place and stay there. 3 I will go and stand by my father in the field where you are hiding, and I will speak to him about you. If I find out anything, I will let you know."
1 Samuel chapter 19 (GWT)
4 So Jonathan spoke well of David to his father Saul. "You should not commit a sin against your servant David," he said. "He hasn't sinned against you. Instead, he has done some very fine things for you: 5 He risked his life and killed the Philistine Goliath, and the LORD gave all Israel a great victory. When you saw it, you rejoiced. Why then should you sin by shedding David's innocent blood for no reason?"
6 Saul listened to Jonathan, and he promised, "I solemnly swear, as the LORD lives, he will not be killed."
7 Jonathan told David all of this. Then Jonathan took David to Saul. So David was returned to his former status in Saul's court.
8 When war broke out again, David went to fight the Philistines. He defeated them so decisively that they fled from him.
9 Then an evil spirit from the LORD came over Saul while he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. David was strumming a tune. 10 Saul tried to nail David to the wall with his spear. But David dodged it, and Saul's spear struck the wall. David fled, escaping [from Saul] that night.
11 Saul sent messengers to watch David's house and kill him in the morning. But Michal, David's wife, advised him, "If you don't save yourself tonight, you'll be dead tomorrow!" 12 So Michal lowered David through a window, and he ran away to escape. 13 Then Michal took some idols, laid them in the bed, put a goat-hair blanket at its head, and covered the idols with a garment. 14 When Saul sent messengers to get David, Michal said, "He's sick." 15 Then Saul sent the messengers back to see David themselves. Saul told them, "Bring him here to me in his bed so that I can kill him." 16 The messengers came, and there in the bed were the idols with the goat-hair blanket at its head.
17 Saul asked Michal, "Why did you betray me by sending my enemy away so that he could escape?"
Michal answered, "He told me, 'Let me go! Why should I kill you?'"
18 David escaped and went to Samuel at Ramah. He told Samuel everything Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to the pastures and lived there.
Psalm 143 (NLT)
1 A psalm of David.
Hear my prayer, O LORD;
listen to my plea!
Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.
2 Don't bring your servant to trial!
Compared to you, no one is perfect.
3 My enemy has chased me.
He has knocked me to the ground.
He forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.
4 I am losing all hope;
I am paralyzed with fear.
5 I remember the days of old.
I ponder all your great works.
I think about what you have done.
6 I reach out for you.
I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.
7 Come quickly, LORD, and answer me,
for my depression deepens.
Don't turn away from me,
or I will die.
8 Let me hear of your unfailing love to me in the morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for I have come to you in prayer.
9 Save me from my enemies, LORD;
I run to you to hide me.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing.
11 For the glory of your name, O LORD, save me.
In your righteousness, bring me out of this distress.
12 In your unfailing love, cut off all my enemies
and destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.
You may have been offended by the gruesomeness of some of the Bible passages here. But the Bible indicates that in ideal circumstances, God prefers people to live in peace. To find out more about the way Christians and ordinary people are instructed to behave as far as it depends on them, visit:
What The Bible Says About Violence, Anger, Jealousy, Arguments, And Living In Peace With Each Other.
The next file in this section (Part 5), is entitled: "David on the Run from King Saul".
If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.
Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).Other initials: