Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
Since the beginning of the first family, there have been problems with anger. As human beings we are capable of great joy and feelings of happiness! On the flip side of that, we are equally as capable of great anger and sadness! Cain becomes so angry that he kills his brother and commits the first murder. Human beings did not even make it through one generation without someone trying to kill someone else. In Genesis 4, we find Lamech (not Noah's father). He is the great-great-great-grandson of Cain. He tells his wives, you had better listen to me! He tells them he has killed a man that wounded him! A young man who was really just a boy, had dared to hit him! It looks like he wanted his wives to know what would happen if they ever crossed him? What an attitude! He learned how to handle conflict from Cain and he was proud of it! Not to worry though, he nor his family made it past the flood.
In Numbers 20, Moses is told to take the people to the Rock and get them water. This time instead of striking the Rock, he is told to speak to the Rock. Moses becomes so angry with the people that he strikes the Rock not once but twice! Here's some food for thought so you can go back and take a look at it when you get a chance. Did you know that anger wasn't just a problem for one man that day? It was a problem for two men! I believe they had been talking and had worked each other up into an angry state of mind. Moses and Aaron had just lost their sister when the people of Israel approached both of them and accused them of trying to kill the rest of the people! There's no water, so God sends Moses and Aaron with the rod that was kept in the Tabernacle (the same one that was used in Egypt) and were commanded to take the people to a rock there in Kadesh where God would give them water. (This is not the same rock that he struck in Rephidim.) Moses is very fearful! He stands up, a very angry man and says, “‘Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?’” (Num. 20:10) “We”? We always hear about Moses not being able to enter the Promised Land but because of this episode of anger, neither of them could enter the Promised Land. Anger grows when two or more are angry together! (What is interesting is that Aaron still may have went in spite of the calf incident?) Until he got mad about the wrong things.
In fact, right after this in Numbers 20, we see that Esau's anger against Jacob was so destructive that it had been passed down through the generations for well over 500 years! When Moses sends a letter to Edom and requests permission to come through the land of Edom on their way to the Promised Land, Edom absolutely refuses to help them! They even gathered an army to fight Israel to keep them from crossing their territory. The people of Edom were direct descendants of Esau. (“Were” because God destroyed them over this festering anger they had toward Israel.)
There are many more examples in the Scriptures of anger gone wrong. But we need to know that it is not always wrong to get angry about something! Just remember what the Scriptures do say; “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:26). But, King Saul’s anger grew and grew against David until it consumed him. Why? Where did the uncontrolled anger come from?
Here is a little something extra: According to psychologists today, anger is a secondary emotion. That means that there is always some other negative emotion first and then it turns into anger. For example: have you ever had someone scare you as joke only to find yourself becoming angry and it seems like you can’t stop yourself from becoming angry at the person or group? Have you ever been embarrassed and after a few moments or minutes you become angry about it? Psychologists also tell us that fear is the number one cause of anger! It can be other negative emotions, but if you think about it, all negative emotions may actually come from fear! How about Hate? Why hate? What are you really afraid of? Jealousy? Why be jealous? What do you really fear? That you will not have or do what they have or do? It’s good food for thought when we stop to think about what our true motivations are for some of the things we do... Hopefully we will better understand this after this study.
At the conclusion of this lesson, students should understand that fear is something we all face, but that it is something that we can choose to respond to in an appropriate way. Students will better understand the difference between a heart driven by fear and a heart driven by faith!
Intro: At Samuel's last encounter with Saul (while Samuel was still alive), things were not going well between them. Saul had rejected the words of the Lord and Samuel told Saul “‘...the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.’” (1 Sam. 15:26) We would do well to remember that when we live for the Lord, as Samuel was doing, our relationships with people who do not live for Him will be damaged! That is not unexpected. Samuel and Saul’s relationship had been a close one. But after this encounter, their relationship was unrepairable unless Samuel was willing to disobey the Lord and become more like Saul. Thankfully, he was not!
Saul had been the best that Israel had to offer! A young man that had developed into a courageous, brave king with a forgiving heart! Now he was a man who had changed. His courage was replaced with fear and bravery was replaced with cowardness. (One example: Saul would not face the giant himself! 1 Sam. 17) Now, on top of everything else, he had lost his biggest supporter and best friend - Samuel. “Then Samuel went to Ramah, but Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.” (1 Sam. 15:34-35)
His rejection of the Lord had major repercussions including the worst thing that could have happened… 1 Sam. 16:14 says, “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul...”! What could have been worse than that? I can't imagine anything happening to cause more despair and hopelessness than having the Spirit of the Lord depart from my heart! And then to make matters worse it says, “...an evil spirit from the Lord terrorized him.” We, as believers, do not have to worry about the Lord departing from our hearts! “The fear of the Lord leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.” (Prov. 19:23) We trust in the Lord Almighty and Him alone do we fear! "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mat. 10:28) A reverent fear of our Holy God is a healthy thing.
Remember what happened in the Garden back in Genesis 3? “Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.’ And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:9-12) This may actually be the first time anyone became angry! I have looked at this and it is hard to tell what Adam’s emotions were like, but I think he became angry at Eve for offering the fruit to him and with the new sinful nature he had... You know! The one like your’s and mine! He became angry and blamed the whole thing on Eve! Take a look at the process: Adam is offered the fruit (tempted) by Eve and Adam makes the choice to disobey! What does he become then? Another first! He became afraid! “‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid…’” Fear leads to anger. Not sure you agree? Keep reading!
Later in his reign, Saul was a man consumed by anger! It looks like it begins back in 1 Sam. 18. And it begins with the fear of loss. After a battle with the Philistines as King Saul and David were returning with the army, some women from Israel came out and began to dance and sing as they passed by. They sang, “‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.’” (1 Sam. 18:7) Verse 8 tells us that Saul became very angry! The negative emotion that Saul had that eventually turned into unbridled anger was fear! It was the fear of the loss of his kingdom to David. “‘Next they’ll be making him their king!’” (v. 8 NLT) You have to wonder if Saul had been hearing rumors about Samuel anointing David as the next king of Israel or at least that the people would love to see David become King of Israel? Saul’s fear began to turn into jealousy and then into outright anger. This is a vicious circle for anyone! The longer this went on, the more Saul’s fears would become paralyzing! “Saul fell full length on the ground, paralyzed with fright because of Samuel’s words.” (1 Sam. 28:20 NLT) As we read on, we will realize that that anger becomes rage and will become fully out of control. Now we begin to understand more fully just how Saul's Kingdom fell into economic chaos and was found almost weaponless when the enemy finally attacks and there are only two swords. Saul was blinded by anger and hate. He could not rule because of his need for revenge!
The lesson to learn here may be, that without the Spirit of the Lord present in the hearts of people, there is only fearfulness. It is no wonder that unsaved people often treat other people the way they do! What is the bigger puzzlement is that so many people who claim to be Christians treat others the same way lost people do? If Saul’s fear and anger was really a sign of the Holy Spirit being withdrawn from him, then what does that say about so many who claim to be born-again believers, but act just like the rest of the world? I have to ask myself: “Do I ever do that”? The answer is... “yes”.
Why do I do that? Because inside me there are two natures? The old and the new! One that follows the flesh and one that follows God! One is the dead human spirit that resulted from sin and the other is the Living Holy Spirit that has moved into me! And you have both of them too if you know Jesus as your Savior? We will study them in greater detail as we move through the Chronological Bible Study together. But, Saul and David are great examples of the two natures living inside of us. One nature is fearful and leads to anger and the other nature is a heart after God's Own heart because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. But like Saul and David, we must choose which nature we will obey. The Apostle Paul speaks of this war within us many times. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” (Gal. 5:16-17 NLT)
Where did Saul’s anger come from? Fear! “‘Next they’ll be making him their king!’” And it grew until it had consumed the man that he was…
1 Sam. 16:14: “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord terrorized him.” The word for “terrorized” in the NASB is “troubled” in the KJV, “torment” in the CSB (HCSB) and the Orthodox Jewish Bible says, “terrified and overwhelmed”.
The Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon gives us the definition of the Hebrew word that is used here: Ba`ath - to terrify, startle, fall upon, dismay, be overtaken by sudden terror… The NLT puts it this way; “the Lord sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear”
Not all depression or anxiety is caused by anger. And certainly all depression is not caused by sin. And, not all anger is bad! The Lord tells us in Ephesians 4:26 that when we get angry, do not sin! Do not let that anger grow and fester into full blown sin! That is what destroyed King Saul! Often anger, depression or anxiety are kept inside someone and no one around them knows the truth. At least not until it finally erupts in one form or another. Fear and unbridled anger will destroy Saul! It can destroy us as well! That is why the Lord allows us to vent our frustrations to Him! He never tires of hearing from us. Especially when we are hurting! And He will always do what is best for us! (Matt. 6:26) Also, remember that He puts people in our life to help too! You are never alone! It looks like that is how Saul felt! Alone! He even feels as if Jonathan has rejected him because of his friendship with David.
When fear is dominating the mind of someone instead of faith then anger can definitely become depression and despair. Fear can then also become full blown anxiety! Panic attacks! It is very obvious to anyone who has experienced these (and probably everyone else) to see that is what was happening to Saul! If you have ever experienced depression and/or anxiety attacks, you know that it not only makes you feel bad but it takes away your ability to think and make decisions correctly. To everyone around you, you seem to have changed but they are not sure why? Saul changes! He becomes fearful (which is different from anxiety), angry, depressed and finally is having panic attacks! It is then that he became foolish in his actions (the King of the Ammonites, the sacrifice when Samuel was late…) and those foolish decisions caused him to give into jealousy, bitterness, anger and hate even more! “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check.” (Prov. 29:11 HCSB)
One foolish decision is found in 1 Sam. 18:12-15 (NLT): “Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul. Finally, Saul sent him away and appointed him commander over 1,000 men, and David faithfully led his troops into battle. David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him. When Saul recognized this, he became even more afraid of him.” Saul put him in this position hoping that one of two things would happen. Either that David would fail in his duties of overseeing 1,000 men or that David would be killed in battle leading those 1,000 men. It is likely that Saul sent him out to battle with less men than he actually needed, yet God was with David and David had victory anyway! That's probably why the people cheered and sang about David so much! David and Saul handled fear and anger in two different ways!
Everyone experiences fear! Even David! Psalm 56:3-4: “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” - David - when he was seized by the Philistines as he fled from king Saul.
I love how the NLT puts it: “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?”
Psalm 56 is written while David is running from Saul. David is tired, emotionally exhausted, physically drained and scared! He is most likely in Gath with the Philistines. He knows that in a personal battle with King Saul he would lose! Not because he was not able to win, but because he could not take his sword and kill the king! As he actually proved several times, he would not raise a hand against God's anointed. I believe that David is not only fearful for himself and for his men, but that he is also fearful for what may happen to King Saul. That is the kind of man that David had become. David wants people to know the truth of the situation in Psalm 56. He repeats the refrain about his fear in verses 9-11 (NLT). “This I know: God is on my side! I praise God for what he has promised; yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?” But this time he repeats the reminder of God's promises to himself, twice! David is clearly stating that he is afraid and he reminds himself that God is in control!
Fear is built into us! God made it that way. And He had good reason to do so. If we had no fear of jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, we would probably do it! The Lord gives us the ability to use our fears to survive! To make good decisions! He also made us with the ability to decide that we will not be driven by our fears, but rather to choose to be driven by our faith. That does not mean that we will not have fear, it means that we will trust in God even when we are afraid. Courage is not taking action in the absence of fear. Courage is taking action by faith in the face of fear!
Even when David is full of anxiety, he can make statements like those in Psalm 23! That even though he may pass through the valley of the shadow of death, he will not fear any evil! So, it sounds like he had conquered fear! That is, until we read the next part of that Psalm… for You (God) are with me! He speaks of God's rod, His staff, being a comfort to him. Not because he expects to be punished with it, but because he expects to be protected by it.
So, how does David handle fear? He makes a request of God! “O God, have mercy on me...” (Psalm 56:1 NLT). He controls his fear with prayer and thoughts of the mercy of the Lord! It is David’s faith that we see in the scriptures. That is the man after God’s Own heart! A man living by faith, not by fear.
Application - Connecting it to Jesus…
The True Heart of David is Revealed! 2 Sam. 1
We have several glimpses of David's heart when he has the opportunity to kill Saul more than once! And each time he refuses to carry out any act of violence or revenge against the king whom David viewed as God's anointed. We see glimpses of David's heart in his caring for his men and in the songs that he wrote.
But the true heart of David is fully revealed just after the death of King Saul and David's best friend, Jonathan. When he hears of Saul’s death, he still holds a reverence for the king who had tried to take his life so many time! There is an Amalekite that tells a suspicious story, which may not be true, about how he helped Saul commit suicide. When David becomes convinced that Saul is dead, the Scriptures tell us, “David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s army and the nation of Israel, because they had died by the sword that day.” (2 Sam 1:11-12 NLT)
“Then David composed a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan, and he commanded that it be taught to the people of Judah. It is known as the Song of the Bow…” (2 Sam. 1:17-18 NLT). David's heart is broken over what has happened. David begins his lament with the words, “‘Your beauty, O Israel, is slain on your high places!’” (2 Sam. 1:19) David mourns for one who would have killed him if the opportunity would have arisen. He holds no grudge! Fear of Saul has not turned into anger or hatred! David's heart is a heart after God’s own heart! Full of grace! Underserved favor! And that is what David is showing Saul! “‘How have the mighty fallen!’” David says! David’s laments for Saul and Jonathan!
David’s true heart is seen in the fact that he did not immediately place the crown on his own head!
David did not run straight back to Jerusalem to begin the coronation process! Remember that he had already been anointed as king by Samuel several years before! Yet he did not use the situation for his own personal gain! He did not celebrate over the death of his enemy! In fact, it looks like he does not see Saul as his enemy at all.
God also gives grace to Saul! I believe he will be with us in heaven! Why? Because of God’s undeserved forgiveness. I know some may disagree, but the proof is in the Scripture! After Samuel had died, Saul inquires of a medium at Endor! Samuel is allowed by the Lord to return and talk with Saul. In their conversation, Samuel makes this comment, “‘Moreover the Lord will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.’” (1 Sam. 28:19). To be with Samuel does not imply that they will be in the fiery pit of hell, but rather that they will be with Samuel in the Bosom of Abraham. The same place Jesus calls paradise when speaking to the thief on the cross. (We will study that more in later lessons!)
Like David mourned for Saul, Jesus mourned for Jerusalem! On the day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem it says, “But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. “‘How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.’” (Luke 19:41-42 NLT) Later that week Jesus again lamented and said, “‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Mat. 23:37-39) The people of Jerusalem were about to crucify Him and He could have merely placed the crown upon His head and proclaimed Himself King! But He followed the Father's will and gave Himself for us upon the cross.
It looks to me like Saul and David are used by God to paint a picture of the rejection of the True King by the people of Israel. David is a picture of the grace of God while Saul is a picture of rejection of God’s Word that led to fear, then anger and then destruction. Let us learn the lesson of Saul and David! There are two ways to handle fear! Saul’s way and David’s way! Which one will you choose?
What Have You Learned?
Here's the list of Bible readings that you can be reading the week before this lesson:
Monday, 1 SAMUEL 26:1-27:7, 1 CHRONICLES 12:1-7, 1 SAMUEL 27:8-12
Tuesday, 1 SAMUEL 28:1-29:11, 1 CHRONICLES 12:19 PSALM 56
Wednesday, 1 SAMUEL 30:1-31, 1 CHRONICLES 12:20-22
Thursday, 1 SAMUEL 31:1-13, 1 CHRONICLES 10:1-14, 1 CHRONICLES 9:40-44,
2 SAMUEL 4:4
Friday, 2 SAMUEL 1:1-27
Saturday, 2 SAMUEL 2:1-3:5, 1 CHRONICLES 3:1-4
Sunday, 2 SAMUEL 23:8-17, 1 CHRONICLES 11:10-19
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