David hiding from King Saul
David hiding from King SaulAfter David killed the Philistine champion warrior, Goliath, Israel fell in love with its new hero. King Saul did not. Not in the long haul. He eventually grew so jealous that he wanted to kill David. But Saul's oldest son, Jonathan, was David's best friend. And he warned David when it was time to run. Here's the first part of the story, as it begins in 1 Samuel 19.
SAUL PLANS TO KILL DAVID1Saul wanted to kill David. So he discussed it with his officials and with his son Jonathan, who was David’s good friend. 2Jonathan told David. “My father Saul is looking for a way to kill you. Hide somewhere until tomorrow morning and stay alert. 3I’ll take a walk with my father in the field and will try to talk him out of doing this to you. I’ll let you know what he says.” 4Jonathan bragged up David to his father, King Saul. He said, “The king shouldn’t do anything wrong to David. He hasn’t done anything wrong to you. Everything he has done was to help you, not hurt you. 5He risked his life when he fought the Philistine champion. The LORD gave Israel a huge victory that day. You saw it. You cheered it. So, why would you murder this innocent man?” 6Saul took his son’s advice. And he promised, “As sure as the LORD lives, I’ll not kill David.” 7Jonathan told David about it and then brought him to Saul. David resumed his duties for the king.
SAUL THROWS A SPEAR AT DAVID AGAIN8War broke out again between Israel and the Philistines. David launched a crushing attack, and the Philistines ran away like before. 9Then a dark and depressing spirit got the best of Saul. David played music to calm the king, who sat with a spear in his hand. 10Saul threw the spear at David, who managed to dodge it. The spear lodged in the wall, and David left, escaping into the night.
MICHAL HELPS DAVID ESCAPE11Saul sent guards to watch David’s house that night. Saul wanted to kill him in the morning. David’s wife Michal told her husband, “If you don’t get away from here tonight, you’ll be killed in the morning.” 12Michal helped David escape down a high window. That’s how he got away. 13Michal took the statue of an idol and put it in their bed. She covered it with David’s clothes and some blankets. And she topped the idol’s head with goat hair... The story continues until Philistines kill Saul and most of his sons in a battle. Jonathan dies there, too (1 Samuel 31).
David hides from King Saul
Ramah to Bethlehem to anoint David king
Map of Ramah to Bethlehem to anoint David king of IsraelSamuel had a trip to make, from his hometown of Ramah, north of Jerusalem, to Bethlehem, a half-day's walk south. Here's part of the story, from 1 Samuel 16.
Story behind the mapThe LORD asked Samuel, “Why are you still mourning Saul? I fired him. He’s not the king anymore. What’s it going to take to get you past this? Put some olive oil in a container, an animal horn. Take it with you to Bethlehem. I want you to meet Jesse and his sons who live there. I have picked one of Jesse’s sons as king.” Samuel said, “If Saul hears about this, he’ll kill me.” But the LORD said, “Take a calf with you. Tell people you’ve come to offer a sacrifice to the LORD. Invite Jesse and his sons to the sacrificial meal. I’ll show you what to do. You’re going to use that olive oil to anoint the one I have chosen as king.” Samuel did what the LORD said. He went to Bethlehem. City leaders were afraid to ask why he came there. Shaking with fear they said, “Did you come in peace?” Samuel said, “Yes. I came to sacrifice this calf to the LORD. Ritually cleanse yourselves for worship and you can join me.” Samuel invited Jesse and his sons to the meal and led them through their cleansing rituals.
Sizing up Jesse's boysWhen Jesse and his boys arrived, Samuel was impressed by Jesse’s son Eliab. Samuel thought, “He has to be the one the LORD picked.” The LORD told Samuel, “Don’t judge this man by how good he looks or how tall he is. I didn’t pick him. I don’t judge people like humans do. They judge by what they can see on the outside. The LORD judges by what’s on the inside—the heart with its character, integrity, and courage."
Map of Samuel's world
Map of Samuel's worldGod picks three longshot characters to star in the stories of 1 Samuel, which we track on 3D-style maps customized for each Bible chapter. Those three men—Samuel, Saul, and David—are longshots in the sense that if God ever bets on a horserace, he’ll pick the one with the worst odds. It seems God likes to win big. And he likes to make a splash that people will notice. These stories are action dramas about the morphing of Israel’s 12 tribes into one united nation under God.
Mapping Samuel's storyIt all begins with Samuel as a longshot baby born to an infertile woman. Once he’s able to eat solid food, his mother gives him back to God. She takes him to the worship center, where he’s raised by Eli, a priest who did a bad job raising his own two sons. They grew up to become corrupt priests. But somehow, Samuel grew into a wonderful priest and prophet.
Tracking SaulIsrael’s first king, Saul, was a shy donkey herder until Samuel anointed him king—a job Saul didn’t want. When Samuel called in Israel’s tribal leaders and announced Saul as king, Saul wasn’t there. He was hiding among the baggage of the travelers. It seems a fair guess he was hanging with the donkeys who had hauled the baggage. King Saul made two huge mistakes. He disobeyed God’s strict orders. And he got insanely jealous of David’s popularity. He seemed to devote more time to hunting David than to preparing for the threat of Philistines living next door, along the coastland. David never showed any desire to kill Saul. Philistines killed him and three of his sons.
Tracking DavidThe Goliath Killer was the last son of nine—the runt of a shepherd’s family at a time when shepherds had only one way to go on the social ladder. Up. When the famous prophet and priest Samuel came to meet the family so he could anoint a future king, David’s dad called in all his sons but David. The youngest stayed with the livestock until Samuel insisted on meeting him, too. By the last chapter in the book, Samuel and Saul are dead. So, David is no longer a refugee on the run from the king. He’s an experienced raider of non-Israelite towns. And he shares the livestock he takes with his friends and the leaders of his own tribe of Judah. That sets him up for the story that continues in 2 Samuel, when those friends will crown him king of Judah. Other tribes will follow later, to make him king of all Israel.
ONE BOOK SPLIT IN TWOFirst and Second Samuel were written as one book. But it was too long to fit on a single scroll. So, when Jewish scholars translated it into the international language of the day, Greek, in the decades before Jesus was born, they split it into two books. They did the same with the books of Kings and Chronicles. The story begins here, in 1 Samuel 1. So do the Bible maps of Samuel's world. To compare the story to other Bible versions, try Bible Gateway.
Map of Samuel's route as a traveling judge
Map Samuel's circuitous court route
Judge of IsraelMapping the story of Samuel: “Samuel led Israel and settled legal disputes throughout his life. He judged cases in year-long cycles, traveling from Bethel, to Gilgal, to Mizpah. The fourth stop of the year was his hometown, Ramah.” (1 Samuel 7:15-17). The Bible's book of Judges reports the stories of heroic leaders of Israel rising up to meet a challenge, usually raiders. They include Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. It's surprising to many that Samuel is considered the last of Israel's "judges," even though he's not mentioned in the book of Judges. But he was one of the few leaders of Israel who was actually a court judge who adjudicated legal cases. He traveled a three-town circuit in central Israel before retreating to his nearby hometown. Philistines stopped invading Israel and attacking them. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, God kept the Philistines in check. Israel recaptured two Philistine cities and the surrounding land that the Philistines had taken from them: Ekron and Gath. Israelites lived peacefully alongside their Amorite neighbors in the land. The story continues with the Israelites asking Samuel to give them a king like other nations, 1 Samuel 8. For other Bible versions, see Bible Gateway.
Samuel's circuitous court route
Map Persian province of Judah
Map of the Persian province of Judah After the Jewish nation of Judah fell to Babylonian invaders in 586, many survivors lived in exile. Some returned 50 years later, when Persians freed them. It was only a partial freedom. The Jews lived for the next 200 years as a tiny province of Persia: Yehud, which is translated "Judah" or "Judea." It was roughly a 40-mile-wide square plug of ground (60 km), in territory that became known as Palestine. The Jewish province included Jerusalem and beyond, into what are now central parts of Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories. Jerusalem is where Jews sacrificed animals to God. So when the Jews returned, they built a new temple and later restored some of the walls around the city, but not to the larger size it was before the defeat.
Map of Judah as a Persian province