Reflections From 1 SAMUEL 25-31: “A TALE OF TWO KINGS—Part 2”

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            The Christian author Gene Edwards wrote, “A Tale of Two Kings” where the lives of King Saul and David are considered and with penetrating insight the author calls the reader to careful self-reflection.  Undoubtedly he used portions from these texts to peer into the souls of two men that are instructing believers today in how and how not to approach life.

First, the man after God’s own heart is depicted as a fierce warrior (25:2-38; 27:8-11; 30:1-20) whose skill in battle was nothing to be trifled with.  David, unlike Saul, understood authority and those in such places are to be revered even if they are wicked.  This is clearly witnessed when David stays his weapon from murdering King Saul—opportunities that repeatedly presented themselves to him (26:8-25).  Thus, David was a fierce warrior who understood authority but could also demonstrate a reasonable tender heart when properly approached (25:18-35).  Too often, leaders are harsh, not patient nor reasonable and those under their care suffer deeply.

Second, David also understood (unlike King Saul) that the kingship comes from God, not from man’s strength.  This is evident when the Amalekites raided the Negev and Ziklag:

“Then it happened when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negev and on Ziklag, and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire; and they took captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great, without killing anyone, and carried them off and went their way. When David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep.Now David’s two wives had been taken captive, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his GodThen David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Please bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?” And He said to him, “Pursue, for you will surely overtake them, and you will surely rescue all.”  (1 Sam. 30:1-8)

How did he strengthen himself in the LORD?  I think the man after God’s own heart recounted God’s acts in redemptive history and trusted in God’s promise to him of being king over Israel (Ps.18:2; Rom.4:20).  Thus, David with his actions would sing with us today, “When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay.  On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

Unfortunately Saul’s account is much different, much sadder and much more difficult to bear.  First, Saul, unlike David, was a man after his own heart, not God’s. Because of this, Saul’s pride caused him to lose his mind (E.g., see Dan.4 where Nebuchadnezzar goes mad because of pride), to turn on those who were most loyal to him, which resulted in God’s word of promise—his kingship is removed (1 Sam.28:6-25; 31:6).

Second, Saul’s life reminds us that greatness will be absolutely diminished because of pride.  God said, “…to obey is better than sacrifice”, but Saul did not get it, he did not understand.  His pride blinded him to God’s word.  Thus, he did not do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God.  But David did.  Why?  Ultimately I think it’s because David was God’s choice, not the people’s selection.  Ponder this.


Reflections From 1 SAMUEL 22-24: “A TALE OF TWO KINGS—Part 1”


The trials of David continue to unfold as he hides from King Saul in caves and forests (22:1-5).  In chapter 22 a turn of events reveals the type of man David was:


“So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard of it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him. (Vv.1-2)

 There was a quality of character and leadership that David possessed that even in the worst of times his brothers (who once despised him) came to him for direction and hope.  David gathered unto himself (I think by God’s doing) people that were also like him: distressed, indebted and discontented.  How ironic that David would be surrounded by people who could relate to his plight, but it seems that God will often do that for us so that we don’t lose heart in the battles of life.   

            Saul’s madness once again manifests as he has the priests of Nob killed because they helped David in his hour of need.  When Ahimelech inquires of Saul and recounts David’s faithfulness it only leads to his death (22:11-19):

11 Then the king sent someone to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s household, the priests who were in Nob; and all of them came to the king. 12 Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.” And he answered, “Here I am, my lord.” 13 Saul then said to him, “Why have you and the son of Jesse conspired against me, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, so that he would rise up against me by lying in ambush as it is this day?”   14 Then Ahimelech answered the king and said, “And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, even the king’s son-in-law, who is captain over your guard, and is honored in your house? 15 Did I just begin to inquire of God for him today? Far be it from me! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any of the household of my father, for your servant knows nothing at all of this whole affair.” 16 But the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s household!” 17 And the king said to the guards who were attending him, “Turn around and put the priests of the Lord to death, because their hand also is with David and because they knew that he was fleeing and did not reveal it to me.” But the servants of the king were not willing to put forth their hands to attack the priests of the Lord. 18 Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn around and attack the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned around and attacked the priests, and he killed that day eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19 And he struck Nob the city of the priests with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and infants; also oxen, donkeys, and sheep he struck with the edge of the sword.”     

This type of madness reveals not only that God had taken the kingdom from Saul but also that his thirst for righteous blood demanded to be satisfied.  Even though David is fleeing from Saul, he nevertheless makes time to ask God whether or not to help Keilah from being plundered by the Philistines (23:1-12).  The term for prayer used here is “David inquired of the LORD” as to which actions to take.

The text does not say to us that God used an audible voice, but what else could it be when the text reads, “And the LORD answered…and the LORD said” when speaking to David?  Assuredly, David was clear and acted accordingly.  This was intercessory prayer.  Ironically, the very people David rescued here from the Philistines would be the same people that would turn him over to King Saul given the opportunity.

What we see here is that David asks for direction from God concerning battle strategy and it’s granted, David asks if a people will either betray him or protect him and God answers him.  When sovereigns inquire of the LORD, answers often come.  What Saul however does not seem to get is that unless the LORD deliver David into his hands, he won’t be successful.

Perhaps the most revealing account between these two kings is where Saul’s thirst for David’s blood remains unquenched, but David stays his opportunity to kill Saul (24:1-9).  David knew he had done nothing wrong toward Saul but he also knew that God is the one who exalts leaders and removes them ultimately.  The text reads;

10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’

The difference between David and Saul: the latter is merciless and mad; the former is merciful and sober.  When rulers reject God’s ways, they meander in a degree of madness that blinds their judgment.  This section ends with Saul’s confession and plea to David which are moving and sobering:

20 Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. 21 So now swear to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s household.” 22 David swore to Saul. And Saul went to his home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

Saul’s confession reveals that he knew what he was doing was wrong but he couldn’t help himself (again, I think it’s because God’s favor was no longer on him).  Nevertheless, he pleads for David to be gracious to his house in spite of Saul’s wickedness and his request is granted.  This love/hate relationship is somewhat sick but also reveals the human condition that even when our enemies desire our harm, we can by God’s spirit truly bless them.  David’s dealings with Saul instruct believers on how to trust God with our enemies and treat them nevertheless with mercy.  Astounding!




            These chapters unfold to us the colorful and painful account of two distinct kings.  On the one hand, Saul, is trying to hold onto that which God has removed from him—the kingdom.  On the other hand, David desires to be a faithful subject to the king—he’s not trying to overthrow Saul and take what’s rightly his by God’s command (the throne).

In chapter 18 we see David welcomed into the house of Saul.  The king’s son, Jonathan is taken by the person of David such that the text says; “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David…Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself” (18:1-3). Moreover, when the women sang of Saul’s exploits compared to David’s it was obvious the young man was the people’s choice, not King Saul; “Saul has slain his thousands, David his ten thousands” (18:7).  Thus, David’s popularity boiled over Saul’s jealousy and rage such that he would never trust David (18:9)

What occurs next is baffling, troubling and often denied by professing believers regarding God’s way of accomplishing his purposes.  The text reads:

10 Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul’s hand. 11 Saul hurled the spear for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David escaped from his presence twice.  12 Now Saul was afraid of David, for the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. 13 Therefore Saul removed him from his presence and appointed him as his commander of a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. 14 David was prospering in all his ways for the Lord was with him.15 When Saul saw that he was prospering greatly, he dreaded him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, and he went out and came in before them.  (18:10-16)

Here, we are told that God, not Satan, sent an evil spirit on Saul that essentially drove the king mad.  The kingdom had already been removed from Saul (15:35-16:7), it was only a matter of time for that to materialize.  In God’s providential plan to exalt David, Saul’s madness and spear would be used to teach David to trust in the LORD and show Saul he was no longer God’s man.

There were at least four other murderous attempts by Saul toward David but these would fail (18:17-19:12) for he had favor with Saul’s house (Michal Saul’s daughter and Jonathan his son).  Again, in chapter 19 the text re-iterates the origin of Saul’s madness and rage:

Now there was an evil spirit from the Lord on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand, and David was playing the harp with his hand. 10 Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, so that he stuck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.”      

The author is making it clear that these horrible turn of events are coming ultimately from God’s hands, not Satan’s.  God ordains his purposes which are often hidden from us.  David could have cursed God and died, but instead he chose to trust the LORD.  In chapters 20-21, the text reveals Saul’s incessant desire to murder David, Jonathan’s determination to save David, and David’s survival skills through deception and manipulation.

Much can be considered here, yet the core which must not be overlooked is that God is always working things out through the drama of human history where our choices are significant but never ultimate.  Kings come and go but this King was chosen by God for he was a man after His own heart (frail as he was, nevertheless a godly man).

Often, God will use our enemies to sanctify us on the journey of faith, often it will be difficult to bear but He is present to help, frequently it will be a puzzle to us but not to Him, commonly it will frustrate us but He is working all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.  May we trust the God who is there when our souls demand answers and none are forthcoming.



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            This chapter is perhaps one of the most loved and least understood in all of the Bible by both believers and non-believers alike.  It’s the story of David and Goliath, the underdog facing insurmountable odds for success.  It’s a story of courage under fire where the dream is truly impossible to attain.  It’s a story of a boy coming of age in battle demonstrating his mettle.  The above is true.  It’s more than just a story, but one that happened in space time history.  But this story rather than primarily focusing on the characters, the observant reader will note that it’s about the very present Author.

The story unfolds with the Philistine armies set in battle array in Socoh and across the valley Saul and Israel were camped in the valley of Elah.  Goliath, a nine foot specimen of a man, a fierce warrior and ominous presence taunted Saul and Israel’s army’s to come and fight him for forty days (1-7)

He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, “Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you 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 become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.” 10 Again the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

Like the scene in the movie “Troy” where one kings’ star warrior challenges the opposing kings’ champion fighter to determine who’s king will be served, so also in this account the same obtains.  But unlike the figure of Achilles—known for his fierce battle skills, David—the son of Jesse—the shepherd youth comes forth as the unexpected and unknown hero—or so it seems (Vv.12-19).

After a month of Goliath’s taunts David comes on the scene and inquires what the problem is, what the reward for killing Goliath is and then takes on the challenge (Vv.20-25).  It seems that for Eliab his brother, David was a despicable nuisance and perhaps sibling rivalry’s obtained growing up (Vv.26-30).  It seems however that David understood something Saul and Israel had forgotten—they were God’s covenant people, the Philistines were not:

“Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” (V.26)

To be circumcised in Israel hearkened back to the God of the fathers who fought many battles for Israel and would continue to do so even that day.  He is Yahweh, the God of the covenant who overthrew Egypt’s mighty armies and is unchanging.  So David recalls Israel’s historical past but recalls his as well.  This youth, the shepherd boy going up against this seasoned warrior, gives a brief biography that’s telling:

32 David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”

God had been preparing David for this fight for many years and through many difficult trials.  It was in said crucible that David the youth learned to trust in the God of Creation and the Covenant.  Thus, this situation would be no different; instead of killing a lion and bear who threatened David’s sheep, he would be killing the elite warrior who for forty days had been threatening and terrorizing his people Israel.

Goliath came out with full battle armor and sword, but David with five stones and a sling.  After Goliath’s many taunts and scorn, David replies with a promise of his doom based on the status and purpose of Yahweh:

45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”  48 Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.49 And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground.  50 Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand.51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

David went from being an obscure youth to the champion of Israel, but little did he know what trials his faith in God and courage would bring into his life (Vv.52-58).

David had a relationship with God that was vibrant, not static.  He walked with God from his youth and when the time came he glorified the God of heaven, the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.  The thrust of this account is not that we need heroes; that underdogs can have their day; that courage requires one to be in battle; etc.  I think God through the Holy Spirit is saying to his people even today that regardless of the opposition (be it great or small) you can trust that I’ll be there to deliver you according to my purposes for the glory of my name so that the nations will know there’s a God in Israel who has ultimately revealed himself in Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

May a youth movement be raised up in these last days LORD who will dare to walk with you and not be distracted with the Goliaths of our day, may they so be filled with an understanding of your word that when the time to act in righteousness arises, they don’t back down but trust in your presence to deliver according to your purposes, not theirs.  And may those saints who have walked with you for years, who have lost a passion for your kingdom, find the fire of heaven they once imbibed to glory of your matchless name!




As I read these four chapters my attention kept coming to King Saul’s disposition as a man and a leader of God’s people.  First, Saul did not understand the limits of his authority.  This is evident when he chooses to sacrifice offerings to the LORD which is only the duty of Samuel the prophet (13:9-14).  God calls Saul “foolish” because he did not heed the commandment given (13:13) but took matters into his own hands.  He, unlike David, was not a man after God’s own heart—one whose disposition is to love and live according to God’s inscripturated self-disclosure (13:14).

  Second, Saul put confidence in people rather than in God.  The king here has a lapse of faith and disobedience results (13:11-12).  Unlike Jonathan his son, who understood that victory in battle did not come from people or the performance of religious duties, but it came from the LORD (14:6-23), Saul did not get this.  In fact, it was Saul’s fear of people rather than fear of God that proved to be his snare.  To lead as God demands will usually result in angering the crowds / creatures, not the Creator.

Third, Saul was rash in making decisions.  Rash oaths are impulsive decisions made on the spot that increase the burden of leading and a tendency we should guard against.  Saul’s rashness to speak and to act clouded his judgement and often proved detrimental to Israel (14:24-52).  Again, disobedience to God’s word is the downfall of any leader (15:1-29) and Saul’s story is a sad example of said negligence.  Obedience that pleases God is never partial, but absolute (15:20-21).

Who can be totally obedient? For even David, the man after God’s own heart had horrible lapses of faith!  David’s son, Jesus of Nazareth perfectly obeyed.  As such, he is not only the true reigning king, but our assurance of acceptance before a holy God.  That is, because of his obedience, I’m to walk as he did who gave the Spirit to comfort and guide me in His ways.

Fourth, Saul did not delight in obeying God.  The text says, “…to obey is better than sacrifice…” (15:22) and is a loaded truth claim.  Essentially it’s telling God’s people that ritual apart from adherence to His revelation of how He’s to be worshipped and what is to be done, is greater than “mere” acts of religious actions.  Here again, God is exalting and showing the primacy of His word compared to “all other things”.  It’s God’s word that created everything, sustains everything and that gives His people light in their darkness—especially to his leaders.

May God’s word ever be our delight which always leads us to You LORD of heaven and earth, the source of all that is.




These sections of I Samuel present to us the life of Saul, his lineage, choosing, and final exaltation (9:1-2, 15-10:1-27).  This timid, tall, dark and handsome Benjamite fellow was God’s choice for ruling the people (9:21).

His looks or lack of courage could not stay God’s hand of power to change Saul into a useful vessel, when the Spirit of the LORD came upon him (10:5-6, 17-11:7).  When God moved in this man’s life, his frailties were turned into strength.  Not only did Saul prophecy (an activity normally reserved solely for prophets), but when the time required, his timidity turned into ferocity.

In Scripture, God delights to take our weaknesses and demonstrate his power in and through them so that we will learn to rely on his power and not our own strength.  This strength comes from fearing the LORD, a message Israel’s forefathers heard and mostly disobeyed, and now the king is being reminded of:

“If you will fear the Lord and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the Lord, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. 15 If you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.(12:14-15)

God loves his people and in the covenant, loyalty is central to flourishing.  When disloyalty occurs, it’s called adultery (I.e., spiritual), for it involves going after and worshipping the futile false gods of the surrounding nations (12:16-22, 24-25), rather than the LORD of creation.

By asking for a king Israel sinned (this act was evil in the LORD’s sight because rather than being ruled by Him, they preferred to be ruled by mere man in order to be like the surrounding nations 12:20), yet Samuel the prophet still encouraged the people to repent and to serve the LORD with all their heart (12:20-21).  What we worship rules us; what/who we obey becomes our master.  The apostle Paul said that people are either, slaves of God or to sin, the former bringing life, the latter ending in death (Rom.6).        

Nevertheless, even though Israel is weak God still promises not to abandon His people not on account of their value (even though they are precious image bearers), but because of God’s great name whose pleasure it is to make Israel His own:

“For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.”  (12:22)

I’m overwhelmed with how I can relate to Israel in their penchant bent to go astray.  The word then as is now, is the LORD’s!  It is our life, and to despise it is to embrace death.  Jesus summoned up the matter:

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  (Jn.17:3)

All of the Old Testament narratives and prophetic messages culminate in John’s text for the purpose of God’s design from eternity past was to have a people for Himself to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph.1:1-14).  Thus, to reject God as the only true God is akin to rejecting His kingship over us also.  It is only through His Spirit indwelling us that we gladly welcome His reign into our lives.

My heart is both burdened and gladdened.  It rejoices to see youngsters make professions of commitment to Christ Jesus the Lord by becoming church members and publicly declaring to live in community under the King’s rulership. Yet, there’s much sorrow when I see other youngsters leaning toward the kingdom of heaven but choosing to stray away from it.  This grief calls for weeping accompanied by intercessory prayer.  This was Samuel’s attitude and must be ours:

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.24 Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.”  (12:23-25) 

Not only should we continue to pray for those going astray, but we must also instruct them in the ways of the LORD lest they continue to go astray and die in their rebellion.

In the home husbands and wives need to come together and intercede on behalf of their straying children, continuously instructing even the most recalcitrant child, understanding that this can only be accomplished through God’s power and wisdom.  If we cease to pray for those who have gone astray (or are lost), we give God a vote of no confidence.  In essence, we indict God of not being faithful to care for broken lost people but we know that the cross of Christ puts that lie forever to rest.

LORD, teach us to submit to your Kingship in word and deed, remind us that in our weakness your power is made perfect, and keep our hearts receptive to your ways when ours want to rule.



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There’s a biblical theme revealed through the Ark of the Covenant being placed in the temple of Dagon in Ashdod as a result of the Philistines defeating  Israel in battle (4:10-11).  The theme, “God is to be worshipped as he demands and those who refuse to comply –die!”  This theme culminates in Paul’s confession of Jesus that, “…every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of God the Father” (Phil.2:5-11)

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.    

The glory of God ultimately tabernacled in the person of his son, the Ark of the Covenant a foreshadowing of such, belonged to Israel and was to be in Israel not in some pagan temple (5:1-8; 4:22).  God is to be worshipped very specifically and never to be treated tritely for he is the Holy One (6:20).  Both the Philistines and the Israelites were dealt the death blow because of their irreverent ways toward the LORD God (5:11-12; 6:19)

11 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, so that it will not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly confusion throughout the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 12 And the men who did not die were smitten with tumors and the cry of the city went up to heaven.”

Not only is God to be worshipped in a certain way, he does not play favorites with family members if they are negligent with their duties as was the case with Samuel’s sons Joel and Abijah in Samuel 8:1-3:

And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in Beersheba. His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.

Their wickedness prodded Israel to ask for a king to be placed in Israel like all the other nations.  Like a polluted stream is a ruler that takes bribes and perverts justice and thus these sons polluted Israel with their wickedness.

Some hold that the God of the Old Testament (more accurately it’s the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets) is unapproachable, angry and not merciful while the God of the New Testament is approachable, calm and full of mercy.  But that notion is false for both “Testaments” unfold the theme of God being very specific in how he is to be worshipped (Jn.4:21-26; Rev.).  Moreover, those who neglect his son will be eternally condemned (Rev.20:11-15; 21:1-8).

In our 21st century pluralistic religious climate God has revealed his word to us but if we twist it to mean something it does not (E.g., all religions are basically teaching the same thing, and all roads lead to heaven) than what awaits is not  total mercy and grace but just wrath.  Why?  Because God has spoken!