The United Kingdom of Israel:
Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King
Lesson 8 David Eludes Saul in the Wilderness
First Book of Samuel 23:1—24:22
This online supplemental material coordinates with the lesson on pages 50–54 of The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King.
Welcome to our study of the united kingdom of Israel. We invite groups and individuals doing this 28-lesson Turning to God’s Word Catholic Bible study to take advantage of our supplemental online study pages. The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King has been granted an imprimatur and can be purchased from our website shop. If you have a question for one of our authors, click on the “ask us your question” button on any supplemental page.
let’s review—First Book of Samuel 20:1—22:23
In Lesson 7, “The Priest Ahimelech Helps David Flee from Saul,” it has become clear that Saul indeed wants David dead. David goes to Nob, where the priest Ahimelech provides David with food and a weapon. The encounter between David and Ahimelech is observed by one of Saul’s henchmen, Doeg the Edomite. David goes on to Gath, where he pretends to be mad in order to avoid problems with the Philistines. David then moves on to Adullam, where he’s joined by relatives and men who have an axe to grind with the way Saul is ruling. From Adullam, David goes to Moab to seek asylum for his parents. He’s counseled by the prophet Gad to move his base of operations to Judah. Saul continues to seek to kill David. Doeg the Edomite tells Saul that David was aided by the priests at Nob. Saul orders all the priests at Nob to be murdered. Since Saul’s own servants refuse to slay the priests, Doeg the Edomite does. He also goes to Nob and slays the priests’ families and kills all of their livestock. Abiathar, one of the priests, escapes and flees to David, who vows to protect him.
map notes—Keilah, Jeshimon, the Rock of Escape & Wildcats’ Rocks
Keilah, the town David liberated from the Philistines, is in the southern part of territory allotted to the tribe of Judah. Saul continues to plot against David, planning to besiege Keilah. After being warned by the LORD, David and his men flee to nearby hill country and wilderness areas also located within the territory occupied by Judah. Jeshimon, a name that means desert, refers to the Wilderness of Ziph near the Dead Sea. The Rock of Escape is thought to have been located at Maon. Wildgoats’ Rocks were in the Wilderness of En-Gedi. All of these places are in territory allotted by God to the tribe of Judah. Click on the image to enlarge the map, which appears on page 53 of The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King.
WHAT DO YOU THINK about the king’s responsibility to the people?
Take a few minutes to read “The King Gets to Decide What Is Right” on page 54 of The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King.
? Consider why it is that the LORD allows his anointed kings to make decisions that affect the well-being of all the people.
? Prior to establishing the monarchy, who primarily was responsible for making important decisions?
? How did the decision-making process work?
? What are some potential downfalls of that decision-making process?
? What are some potential downfalls of the process that allows the king to have final say in all major decisions?
? Who has the primary decision-making role in your life?
? What are the pros and cons of this system?
watch the video—does David need to inquire of the LORD?
In the First Book of Samuel 23:2 and 23:4, David twice turns to the LORD for guidance about whether to fight the Philistines attacking Keilah. In the video overview for this lesson, Matthew discusses the anointed king’s responsibility to defend God’s people against military threats. We regret that there’s been a delay in editing the video for this lesson. Your study leader will let you know when it becomes available.
read the Catechism—spiritual direction can aid in discernment
“David Practices Discernment” on page 53 of The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King addresses how it is that David goes about asking the LORD for counsel. Church teaching in paragraph 2690 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church links Christian discernment to prayer.
2690 The Holy Spirit gives to certain of the faithful the gifts of wisdom, faith and discernment for the sake of this common good which is prayer (spiritual direction). Men and women so endowed are true servants of the living tradition of prayer:
According to St. John of the Cross, the person wishing to advance toward perfection should “take care into whose hands he entrusts himself, for as the master is, so will the disciple be, and as the father is so will be the son.” And further: “In addition to being learned and discreet, a director should be experienced …. If the spiritual director has no experience of the spiritual life, he will be incapable of leading into it the souls whom God is calling to it, and he will not even understand them.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK about the practice of discernment?
? Compare the way in which David discerns the best course of action with the way that Saul does. What do you think is the single most important difference between the two men?
? What experience do you have turning to God for help in distinguishing the proper course of action when faced with difficult decisions?
? What do you think separates true discernment from the spiritual equivalent of flipping a coin?
? What expectations about God’s response to your concerns might be an unspoken part of your requests for guidance?
? What is one decision that you sincerely would like God’s help in making?
ex libris—books about spiritual direction
Two of the best books we’ve come across that discuss the practical ins and outs of discernment are Spiritual Passages by Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., and Seeking Spiritual Direction by Thomas Dubay, S.M. Both authors have written other excellent books as well, but people interested in learning more about spiritual direction may find these two titles particularly helpful.
judgment belongs to the LORD
In the First Book of Samuel 24:15, David asks that the LORD be the judge between him and Saul. This echoes a strong judgment theme that’s woven throughout the Scriptures. In this particular case, David is indicating a high level of confidence in his own behavior. Based on your general knowledge of Scripture, what are some other biblical situations involving judgment? What can you identify as common to those situations in which one reasonably might expect a favorable outcome? What lesson can Christians learn about leaving issues of judgment to the LORD?
pray the Psalms—several obvious connections to this lesson
There’s scholarly dispute about whether David wrote Psalm 142, but the first verse identifies this Psalm as a prayer of David when he was in the cave. At the very least we can consider it to have been inspired by the situation described in the twenty-fourth chapter of the First Book of Samuel. Psalm 105:14–15 seems to describe with unusual accuracy the reason behind David’s determination not to harm anyone who has been anointed by God. And Psalm 18:3 compares the LORD to a rock of refuge or a protective fortress, echoing the idea behind David’s flight from Saul into the wilderness of Maon. Learn more about the Psalms by viewing a sample lesson from the Turning to God’s Word Catholic Bible study Sing a New Psalm: Communicating with God Through the Prayers of the Church. Psalm 142 is included in our study of the prayers for Sunday First Vespers (Week I).
you could look it up—rocks are symbols of stability & protection
The Rock of Escape and Wildgoats’ Rocks are prominent geographic locations in this section of the First Book of Samuel. In the New Testament, Peter is renamed Rock, and the cornerstone of the Church is an important concept. Learn more about the word rock by reading Lost in Translation, an online column in which Turning to God’s Word author Matthew Phelps helps readers connect with ancient ideas expressed in the original Scriptures. New entries are posted on Tuesdays. If you’d like to receive Matthew’s comments about biblical languages by email each week, there’s a sign-up form next to the searchable archives.
another reference to David’s heart
The First Book of Samuel 24:5 reports that David’s heart struck him after he had cut off part of Saul’s robe. This once again points to the reason David has been chosen by God to rule the descendants of Jacob—David is a man after God’s own heart. In many ways, therefore, David can be compared to God in that, like God, David desires righteousness in his heart. The ancients understood the heart as the embodiment of everything that makes up a person’s character. In the New Testament, Jesus addresses this idea in teaching recorded in the Gospel According to Luke 6:45: “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
what’s behind Saul’s dangerous attitude?
It’s easy to think ill of Saul, but at least part of his problem has to be related to confusion over his role as king. Saul is the first king to rule the descendants of Jacob, so he has no precedent other than the LORD to look to as a model for how he should behave. The LORD is divine, and this makes it very difficult for ordinary men and women to imagine imitating God. Neighboring kings and rulers are viewed as gods or as having some kind of special connection with gods. For the descendants of Jacob, it should be unfathomable even to contemplate the idea of viewing a mortal as a god. How do you suppose it is that Saul developed the habit of relying on his own strength rather than trusting in God?
WHAT DO YOU THINK about Christians’ call to kingship?
While all Christians are called to share in Christ’s threefold office of priest, prophet, and king, very little attention is paid to how humanity is to connect with the idea of kingship.
? What advantage do you think that Christians have over Saul when attempting to imitate divine rule?
? Over what are Christians called to reign?
? What about the image of a king might present-day Christians find appealing?
? What might present-day Christians find difficult to understand about the connection between religion and royalty?
? What do you think is meant by the term royal priesthood, which Catholics regularly hear in the liturgy of the Mass?
close with Bible-based prayer related to this lesson
Many of our Catholic study groups like to conclude their discussions with a prayer based on the scriptural focus of their lesson. If you’re uncomfortable composing your own Bible-based prayers, you can follow our four easy steps. If you prefer, you can use the following short prayer based on the First Book of Samuel 23:1—24:22.
O God, from the beginning of Creation
men and women have desired to know
how to distinguish good from evil.
When David chose not to harm Saul because
of Saul’s position as God’s anointed ruler,
Saul acknowledged David’s righteousness before God.
Give us the courage to match our actions
to the faith that we profess in your Son, Jesus Christ,
who by the example of his sorrowful Passion
taught us to love our enemies. Amen.
Lesson 9 David & Abigail; David Again Spares Saul’s Life, the First Book of Samuel 25:1—27:12
Lesson 7 The Priest Ahimelech Helps David Flee from Saul, the First Book of Samuel 20:1—22:23
our videos coordinate with the biblical text
The Scripture ranges for the videos that accompany this Catholic Bible study match the Scripture ranges for the sets of questions in The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King. You can follow along with the video as Matthew discusses Lesson 8, “David Eludes Saul in the Wilderness,” on pages 50–54 of the study book. (Some mobile devices may only open the video overview for Lesson 8 at the beginning.) We regret that there’s been a delay in editing the video for this lesson. Your study leader will let you know when it becomes available.
Question 1 First Book of Samuel 23:1–5
Question 2 First Book of Samuel 23:6–14
Question 3 First Book of Samuel 23:15–18
Question 4 First Book of Samuel 23:19–24
Question 5 First Book of Samuel 23:25–29
Question 6 First Book of Samuel 24:1–3
Question 7 First Book of Samuel 24:4–7
Question 8 First Book of Samuel 24:8–11
Question 9 First Book of Samuel 24:12–15
Question 10 First Book of Samuel 24:16–22
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Thank you for your interest in The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King. A wealth of information about beginning a Turning to God’s Word individual or group Bible study can be found on this website at start a Bible study. Tami, Matthew, and I are available to answer your questions about Turning to God’s Word and to offer support. You may use this email to contact us directly. —Jennifer