Study Guide

1 Samuel Competition

Competition

But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb. {worthy: or, double} And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb. {provoked: Heb. angered} And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat. {when...: or, from the time that she, etc: Heb. from her going up}. (1 Samuel 1:5-7, KJV)

But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. (1 Samuel 1:5-7, NRSV)

In 1 Samuel, Hannah has to endure the taunts of her rival wife because Hannah can't have children. This is taking Mean Girls to a whole new level here folks. We don't think they wore pink on Wednesdays.

And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. {arrogancy: Heb. hard} The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed. (1 Samuel 2:1-10, KJV)

Hannah prayed and said, "My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory. "There is no Holy One like the LORD, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and on them he has set the world. "He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. The LORD! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed." (1 Samuel 2:1-10, NRSV)

The Bible records different songs written by women. One of the most of famous ones is Deborah's Song from Judges 5. 1 Samuel 2 contains Hannah's Song. In the chapter, Hannah praises God for his greatness, which reminds us a lot of Mary's Song in Luke 1:46-55. Hannah's song is about the underdog winning, which nicely foreshadows David's triumph over Goliath.

When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. {the stump...: or, the fishy part} Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day. (1 Samuel 5:2-5, KJV)

Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and placed it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off upon the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not step on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day. (1 Samuel 5:2-5, NRSV)

The Israelites did not have an idol of their God, but they did have the Ark of the Covenant. The Philistines captured the Ark in battle so the Philistines were feeling pretty mighty about themselves. They probably believed that their god Dagon was stronger than the God of Israel. After all, it looks like he proved to be the stronger god in a fight. They couldn't have been more wrong. God showed that he was superior to Dagon in every way. When the God of Israel got through with Dagon, his priests would not even go back to his temple. Now that's what we call a real smack down.

And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. (1 Samuel 17:8-10, KJV)

He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, "Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us." And the Philistine said, "Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together." (1 Samuel 17:8-10, NRSV)

In these verses, Goliath proposes a battle of champions. He'll represent the Philistines and the Israelites must choose their own champion. The loser and his people will become servants to the winner and his army. Goliath is not only calling out an Israelite champion, he's also calling out the Israelite God. He believes that the god of the Philistines is more powerful than the God of Israel. He's about to learn his lesson. And his head will definitely be hurting when the information hits its mark in the form of a rock.

And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: {lamb: or, kid} And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. (1 Samuel 17:33-37, KJV)

Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth." But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God." David said, "The LORD, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine." So Saul said to David, "Go, and may the LORD be with you!" (1 Samuel 17:33-37, NRSV)

When David arrives on the scene to fight Goliath, he's just a young guy. What kind of fighting experience could he possibly have? When Saul questions him, he tells the king about killing a lion and a bear. Saul seems satisfied with his answer and allows him to fight Goliath. Of course, did he really have a choice? Was anyone else volunteering? And now that we think of it, why didn't Saul step up and fight Goliath? The Bible talks about him being the tallest Israelite. Guess he didn't want to put his head on the chopping block. Best to send the child… wait a second…

And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. {deliver...: Heb. shut thee up} And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands. (1 Samuel 17:44-47, KJV)

The Philistine said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field." But David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD's and he will give you into our hand." (1 Samuel 17:44-47, NRSV)

Oh Biblical trash talk, how we love you. We've really downgraded the level we trash talk now. Before it's all "feast on your flesh" this and "feed you to the crows" that. Now it's "your mom" and "I'm rubber and you're glue." Oh well, some things really do fade with time.

And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. {Philistine: or, Philistines} {instruments...: Heb. three stringed instruments} And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? {displeased him: Heb. was evil in his eyes} And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. (1 Samuel 18:6-9, KJV)

As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they made merry, "Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands." Saul was very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom?" So Saul eyed David from that day on. (1 Samuel 18:6-9, NRSV)

How terrible would it be to walk into a room and having people cheer for you only to then realize they're cheering for the person behind you. Not only are you embarrassed, but pretty mad considering you're obviously better than the person behind you. We do feel bad for Saul sometimes. Well, that's until he tries to kill David with a spear. Good feelings gone.

And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son in law: and the days were not expired. {expired: Heb. fulfilled} Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. (1 Samuel 18:25-27, KJV)

Then Saul said, "Thus shall you say to David, 'The king desires no marriage present except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged on the king's enemies.'" Now Saul planned to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. When his servants told David these words, David was well pleased to be the king's son-in-law. Before the time had expired, David rose and went, along with his men, and killed one hundred of the Philistines; and David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king's son-in-law. Saul gave him his daughter Michal as a wife. (1 Samuel 18:25-27, NRSV)

Just when you think that Saul couldn't make any stranger choices, he has to go and ask David for some foreskins. We know this reads strange, but to the Israelite population, an uncircumcised male was a big deal. We have to give David credit though. Not only does he complete Saul's task, thereby still winning in competition of awesomeness, but he does it with a smile. What a guy.

Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds; That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day? {sheweth...: Heb. uncovereth mine ear}. (1 Samuel 22:7-8, KJV)

Saul said to his servants who stood around him, "Hear now, you Benjaminites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? Is that why all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a league with the son of Jesse, none of you is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as he is doing today." (1 Samuel 22:7-8, NRSV)

Saul definitely has the advantage over David in acquiring allies. He can give them fields and vineyards and make them leaders in the army. Hey, why not bribe people instead of being a great leader who inspires others to follow you? In contrast, David is left with all of the discontent, down on their luck, and in debt men. And yet David is winning because he has an ally in Saul's son Jonathan, and because he's got charisma in spades.

And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily. {Saul's...: Heb. the robe which was Saul's} And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt. (1 Samuel 24:4-5, KJV)

The men of David said to him, "Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.'" Then David went and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul's cloak. Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul's cloak. (1 Samuel 24:4-5, NRSV)

Have you ever done something then instantly regretted it? We certainly have. In David's case, it's taking a bit of Saul's robe. This might not seem like a big deal to us, but Saul is the king and David respects that. It's nice to know that David isn't interested in winning his competition with Saul by treachery.

The LORD render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the LORD delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the LORD'S anointed. And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation. Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place. (1 Samuel 26:23-25, KJV)

The LORD rewards everyone for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the LORD gave you into my hand today, but I would not raise my hand against the LORD's anointed. As your life was precious today in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the LORD, and may he rescue me from all tribulation." Then Saul said to David, "Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them." So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place. (1 Samuel 26:23-25, NRSV)

David has yet another chance to kill Saul, but ultimately decides to let him go again. This is a sign to us that David is a man of true and fair sportsmanship. Sadly, we can't say the same for Saul who still plots to kill David.

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