The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament – David

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.  1 Samuel 16:13 (KJV, bold added)

The word here for “came upon” is tsȃlach.  It seems that the Holy Spirit stayed with him and did not depart.  If we substitute the main uses of the word of tsȃlach; God prospered David all of his life, and it is not a problem to see that blessing throughout his life.

At first, it bothered me that the Holy Spirit is mentioned just six times in connection with David, but He is mentioned less with Moses!  Then I realized that it is in perfect harmony with the Holy Spirit.  His primary purpose is to bring attention to Jesus, not Himself.  So even though David, the writer, was led by the Spirit; the Spirit had him write about Jesus in the Psalms.

Below are the six verses that directly connect David and the Spirit.  I put them into a timeline in David’s life, even though the middle four do not have a defined time stamp in reference to the others.  Read the whole reference so that the verses are in context, I think they will show growth in knowing and understanding the importance of the Spirit in David’s walk with God.

  • 1 Samuel 16: 13 (the coming upon)
  • Psalm 139: 7 (a song of praise and thanks) To put this into after he acted crazy to escape the Philistines when he was hiding from Saul.
  • Psalm 51: 11 (Bathsheba and his cries for the Spirit to not leave him like He did Saul)
  • Psalm 143: 10 (a cry for mercy) If I would guess where/when this was written; I would put this during the time when David was running from Absalom after he crossed the Jordan near Lo Debar.
  • 1 Chronicles 28: 12 (plans for the Temple)
  • 2 Samuel 23: 2 (last words)

When you read about David’s life; we tend to think he was anointed by Samuel and then went to work for Saul right away.  If there was a gap then his ability to kill the lion and the bear compares very well to that of Samson, when the Spirit came upon him.

Samuel and His Accomplishments

The Prophet Samuel who was raised by Eli, the priest of God, is a foundational person in the spiritual life of Israel.  He is the key spiritual figure between Moses and the prophets Elijah and Elisha.  His story is found in 1 Samuel chapters 1 through 25. Most people have heard at least one sermon about him and the references probably came from 1 Samuel: 1 -3; they are used a lot in meetings where young people are the target audience.  While studying his role in the anointing of the first two kings of Israel, Saul, and David, it became apparent just how important he really was to Israel.

We are not told how old he was in chapter 4 when Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas all die on the same day.  Nothing is mentioned of him until 1 Samuel 7: 3 when he is calling Israel to repent.  Verse two gives us a time stamp of twenty years that the ark was in Kiriath Jearim.  Why had it not been returned to Shiloh?

A possible reason is that there was no priest who was of age to carry on the proper worship at the Tabernacle or “Temple.”  Phinehas had sons (4:20 and 14:3) but who trained them in their duties as a priest?  I will guess that Samuel either did the training or at least had a hand in doing it; after all, he studied under Eli.  There needed to be an Aaronic priest to serve before the Ark, Samuel was from Ephraim. (Side note – If I was writing this as a novel the Benjamite in 4:12 would have King Saul’s father, Kish.)

While at Mizpah, where Samuel was leading Israel in their return to God, the Philistines attacked trying to keep them in slavery.  Samuel’s leadership was being put to the test and his response is a true act of faith.  He orders the people to continue in their “crying out to God” and he offers a sacrifice.  God responds to this “faith action” with thunder, “loud thunder” that caused the defeat of the enemy.  (I will assume there was a storm with lightning, but what if God just spoke at the enemy and they heard it as thunder.)

The next time reference is Chapter 8:1 and all it says is that Samuel is “old.”  This and the fact that Nahash the Ammonite king was threatening Israel (12:12) made the people think a “king” would be better.  The remaining years of Samuel’s life were spent in hearing about Saul chasing around after David trying to kill him.

The final reference to Samuel in the Book of Samuel is in chapter 28 after he is dead.  Saul breakers his own decree and the Law of God and consults a witch/medium.  Samuel comes “back” and rebukes Saul once more.

The other mentions of Samuel’s life and deeds are found in 1 and 2 Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 9:22 he and David assigned gatekeepers.  I could think that David just added or continued to what Samuel did since Samuel would have been dead when David got around to doing this.

In 1 Chronicles 26: 28 the things that Samuel had dedicated for the “Temple” were brought in when Solomon had finished the building.  So it seems that Samuel was honoring God with offerings even when the Ark was still in the Tent.

1 Chronicles 29: 29 states that Samuel was a writer/historian.  Other people probably took his work and that of other historians and wrote the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.  I have done parallel studies of these books and combined them into one manuscript.   

2 Chronicles 35: 18 mentions that Samuel was the last leader to celebrate Passover correctly.  He did his best to get Israel to honor God as described in the Law of Moses.

There is still more post to come from the study of the anointing of the first two kings, but I have developed a new appreciation for Samuel and his place in the Bible and the spiritual history of Israel.

Work of His Hands

The work of His hands.  cropped-flowers-1.jpg

A comforting idea that is in poems, sermons, and song is that we are “the works of God’s hands.”  Job and David both used this beautiful idea in their writings, but with two different perspectives. We will start with Job.

In Job 10:3 Job is answering one of his tormentors, Bildad, in his third discourse of his book.  Job’s bitterness is evident in this discourse; it is directed at Bildad and God.  (Job 9:33, part of the discourse, is a plea for the work of Jesus as being an arbitrator.)  The end of verse three is still directed at God and says, “While you (God) smile on the schemes of the wicked.(NIV)”  If we look at the original words we find the word “work” with slightly different meanings.  The word work in Job is ygiya it carries the idea of hard toiling/labor.  This fits in with the general tone of how Job is viewing himself and his relationship with God at that moment in his life. It is not pretty and Job is upset.

David uses the phrase in Psalm 138:8.  David uses a different word for work, his is maaseh and it still means work or labor but Vine’s Dictionary says it has to do with farming, artisans working, or the work of praising God.  It has a positive context as compared to ygiya. This fits very well with Psalm 138 and its overall upbeat message.

Even though the general tone of Psalm 138 is positive I can’t help but think it was written at a time when David needed to encourage himself. (ex. After Bathsheba, when he was on the run from Absalom, or when Ziklag was burned.)  It seems he is reminding himself and God of things that he has done and has happened. So the last line of verse eight with the word “abandon” in it puzzled me; it is the reason I think it was written during a time of duress.  It speaks to David’s plea not to be left alone at this time.

“The work of God’s hand.” Two men both referring to themselves as God’s handiwork, but I believe both from a different mindset.

Hero and Horror – Making of a King

It took nine pages in my Bible. Six chapters, 1 Samuel 18 to 23, tell the story of David’s David052rise from being a hero to the Most Wanted List then to acting like a King.


This journey is marked with great drama and powerful emotions. Here are some of the action words or ideas that can be found in these six chapters: joy, galled, anger, betrayal, fear, bold rescues, grief, love, friendship, daring escapes, fiend insanity, ruthless pursuit, murder, and jealousy.   Michal, Saul’s youngest daughter, is a big part of this drama. She “loved” David but Saul knew he could use her as a snare to kill him. She helped David make a daring escape but I find it interesting that she never tried to flee Saul and go to David’s side. I believe that since David was a songwriter he used the things in his life to be the inspiration for his songs. I could attribute fifteen psalms to this time of drama.


The story of Keilah is the story of David starting to act like a king. In the time it is set with the Feast because a harvest was happening, which is what the Philistines were after – the grain. Keilah must have been an important city because it had “bars and gates” and a population big enough to “hand David over” to Saul. On most maps, David’s hideout is only a few miles from the city. To compare Saul and David here is appropriate; David went to the city and liberated it from the enemy but the Bible never mentions Saul going there to check on the population.


In Chapter 23 we see David growing as a leader and David’s men learning to trust him as a leader. There is a difference between saying someone is your leader and then actually following him into battle. David’s habit of asking God for directions is mentioned at least five times in this story. It would seem that David had a prophet named Gad and after the victory in Keilah the priest of God named Abiathar and Aaron’s Breastplate (the ephod) to give Heaven sent answers.

David gained much knowledge and help from his willingness to free Keilah.

  • He found out that just because God had you do something it does not mean the people will be thankful, the citizens of Keilah would have turned him over to Saul.
  • David learned that you follow God just because He says to do it. This will lead to God’s bragging on you and not praise from men.
  • David learned to keep his options open and to ask more than one time for directions.
  • On the practical side, he picked up 200 more men, the Philistine’s supplies, and a new enemy.


David’s new enemy was the Ziphities. They were descendants of Caleb and a leading clan in Judah. They were going to turn David over to Saul even though David rescued Keilah. The reason could have been many but jealousy and fear of losing prominence within the Tribe of Judah possible were factors. David penned Psalm 54 over this incident and with phrases like, “Let evil recoil on those who slander me” verse 6 (NIV); it is clear there was no love loss. The word Ziph deals with flowing asphalt. This was found around the Dead Sea and brings to memory its trapping ability when Bera’s men fled in Genesis 14:10 and fell into tar pits.


He is a priest (Aaron’s family) and a member of the house of Eli (1 Samuel 2:30). He was faithful to David during his life but did not agree with Solomon as king. He sided with Adonijah so Solomon removed him and his family from being a priest (1 Kings 2:22). It is possible that his family being killed was going on at the same time as David rescuing Keilah; compare 1 Samuel 22:20 with 23:6.

Take Away

For me, the BIG thing in this story is that David, acting independent of Saul, showed compassion and concern for the people of Israel. This is the first recorded time that he did what a king would have done, save a city.

Lo Debar – Another Look

Lo Debar, I have a feeling that it has become a symbol of hope and that God can turn things around in as long as it takes to ask a question.  Lo Debar holds the love of a true friendship and the strength of a promise kept but also has a darker side of greed, fear, and poor communication.  The characters in this story have strong messages to teach us if we will listen. (see A Place Called Lo Debar)

David’s life before he killed the giant sets the stage for Lo Debar.  The time he spent in the wilderness keeping sheep and singing praise to God allowed him to have a realDavid052 friendship.  C. S. Lewis in Membership said, ”We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy; and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”  David had those so when Jonathan decided that they should be friends David was ready.  David means “loving” and Jonathan means “Jehovah-given.

The question of why did David even have to ask if Jonathan had a son puzzled me until I added ages and years together.  The last time David saw David007Jonathan alive was in 1 Samuel 23:16, while David is hiding at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph and Mephibosheth (probably), was not born yet.  There was also the oath he gave to Saul in 1 Samuel 24: 22 not to kill off his family when he became king.  So the question in 2 Samuel 9:1 is valid because he would not have known about Mephibosheth.  But the lack of communication by Jonathan to the family about the covenant of friendship and the oath that Saul had with David caused a little five-year-old boy to be crippled as panic set in and the royal household flees in fear. (It seemed to be common practice to kill off everyone including servants of a royal family back in that age so I am sure the fear was real.)  The poor communication or fear carried to other parts of the family because David had to find Ziba, a servant, instead of his wife, Michal, the aunt of Jonathan’s child, to tell him Mephibosheth existed and was alive.

I am not fussing at Jonathan because he was in a really bad spot.  His crazy father wanted to kill his covenant friend and the family servants had already proven they could not be trusted, so speaking about David was probably not a good idea.  But it would appear that he had a plan for his family in case something happened to him.  I don’t think it was an accident that Mephibosheth was “found” living at Makir son of Ammiel’s house.  Jonathan and possibly Saul must have trusted his man and his family to hide and protect the royal grandchild and eventually find a wife for Mephibosheth.  Remember he also brought supplies to David as he ran from Absalom.

In studying Jonathan I found something that I have no idea what it means but it was interesting. As I said Jonathan means “Jehovah-given” and there are two forms of it used in the Bible they are number 3083 and 3129 in the Strong’s Concordance.  3083 is used when it deals with Jonathan and David plus two times in 1 Samuel 14: 6+8 where he was relying on God for direction to attack the Philistines.  3129 is used when it deals with Jonathan and his father Saul.

God has a sense of humor and likes to hide things in scripture like Makir son of Ammiel: Makir means “salesman or brought” and Ammiel means “people of God.” The Makir meaning shines out in the Absalom story because he brought a lot of goods to David almost as if he were a salesman.  But he must have been important in Lo Debar because he hid Mephibosheth for at least twelve years, paid for his care, and picked his wife and no one turned them over to David. ( see Why Hide a Grandson There)

Ziba, Saul’s chief servant, is the dark side of this tale and may have worked for the family but with friends like him who needs enemies.  You have to wonder if Ziba, which means, “stationed” is the servant with Saul in 1 Samuel 9?  I took the “stationed” or “to be stationed” as he was the one assigned to Saul by God.  He seems to have done fairly well for himself because he had 15 sons and 20 servants, which was a sign of wealth.  I believe he was protecting his interest in telling David where Mephibosheth was living, he could have been hoping that David would kill Mephibosheth and the land of Saul would legally become his.  So in 2 Samuel 16:1-4 when he was lying about Mephibosheth’s actions he was still trying to get the land and get rid of Mephibosheth.  David seems to have seen this in 2 Samuel 19:24 when he orders the land split between them.

Saul, which means “asked”, is also part of this story.  A lot of adjectives could be assigned to him because he is the poster boy for good going bad but the one that I settled on was selfish. His “self” pops up throughout his whole story and finally leads to a crippled child hiding in fear from the man who would be his best friend.

Mephibosheth, which means “dispeller of shame”, I am sure has been the center of many sermons and he should be because it is a beautiful story.  Think about how he got to Lo Debar.  The news comes that his father is dead; his nurse (not his mother) drops him breaking both feet as he is rushed many miles from home and left with someone he barely knows.  He has no family, apparently, the only one who knows where he is, is a servant who wants his inheritance and all this five-year-old boy has to go on is stories and rumors about his father and grandfather.  Then one day a military David060unit takes him from the only house he remembers and brings him to the man he has been told to fear for at least twelve years.  Once there he finds out he is rich and will eat at the king’s table for the rest of his life.  Yeah, he should have a few sermons preached about him.

Did you notice that David did not answer Mephibosheth’s question of “why should you take notice of me?” Mephibosheth would have seen the end of David’s years and all of the trouble with his kids but he also would have seen the Temple built and Israel become a world power.  You would take for granted that Solomon just continued David’s covenant of friendship and he ate at the king’s table for life.

The great thing that I found in finishing his story is that Mephibosheth’s tale did not end with him.  In 1 Chronicles 8:34 – 40 and in 9:35 – 44 they list his family for several generations and record them as being warriors, so they fought for the kings of Judah for many years.  This is for a grandchild of a disposed of a king who would have normally been killed; friendship is a great thing. In Chronicles, he is listed as Merib-Baal, which is a tribute to Gideon who also has connections to the Lo Debar/Manasseh area.

These final two connections are questionable so study them for yourself and you decide.  Esther in Esther 2:5 is listed as being from the Tribe of Benjamin descended from Kish.  There are two Kish’s in the tribe of Benjamin but none of the names line up with Mephibosheth.  The other possible family member is Zimri who was king of Israel for seven days.  There is a Zimri listed in Mephibosheth’s family line that would have been alive about that time but there is less proof for that than for Esther so let your imaginations go wild with the possibilities.

This “other” look at Lo Debar, Mephibosheth, David, and Jonathan has been a great study I hope you have enjoyed it.

The artwork is from