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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of SouthPointe Bible Fellowship in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the May 26 reading. Select here for a new reading date:

BibleTrack Summary: May 26
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I Samuel 28-31; Psalm 18  Listen Podcast       


Is David going to fight against Israelites? (I Samuel 28:1-2)

1 And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said unto David, Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men.
2 And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do. And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.

David is certainly in a predicament here. King Achish is under the impression that David has been attacking Hebrews in southern Judah back in I Samuel 27:1-12 (see notes), when he had actually been attacking non-Hebrew communities. For that reason, he thinks David is loyal to the Philistines. The Philistine King Achish invites David to participate in his campaign against the Jews. David answers Achish on his invitation to battle with an ambiguous answer when he says in verse 2, "Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do." What does that mean? Achish takes this reply to mean that David is saying, "I'm in!" The rest of this story unfolds in chapter 29 (see below).

There's a very humorous side to this deceit. King Achish appoints David to be his bodyguard, or as he said in verse 2, "Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever." Ahhhh...keep this Philistine's head...David has had some experience with that. Remember...he kept Goliath's head (a Philistine) for quite some time back in I Samuel 17 (see notes)...AFTER HE HAD CUT IT OFF!

God won't talk to Saul, but a witch will (I Samuel 28:3-25)

3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.
4 And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.
5 And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.
6 And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
7 Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.
8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.
9 And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?
10 And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.
11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.
15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
16 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
17 And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David:
18 Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.
19 Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.
20 Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night.
21 And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled, and said unto him, Behold, thine handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have hearkened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me.
22 Now therefore, I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee; and eat, that thou mayest have strength, when thou goest on thy way.
23 But he refused, and said, I will not eat. But his servants, together with the woman, compelled him; and he hearkened unto their voice. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed.
24 And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof:
25 And she brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that night.

Here come the Philistines! What to do? God's not on speaking terms with Saul, so Saul consults a witch. He had to travel to find one, because he had expelled them from Israel just like God had commanded in Leviticus 19:31 (see notes), Leviticus 20:6-7 (see notes) and Deuteronomy 18:10-12 (see notes). She's in Endor, about 12 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee where, presumably, she felt was far enough away from Judea to be safe. Saul and his men are only about 3 miles or so from there in Gilboa. We see in verse 10 that she's a little bit hesitant to talk with him, but he gives her an oath that he won't harm her. I wonder if she's familiar with his track record on keeping oaths, but she assists him anyway. Although...she claims she had no idea her client was Saul until she went into her trance.

This passage is a bit of a stumper for Bible scholars. Does this witch actually bring up Samuel to speak with Saul (a witchcraft practice known as "necromancy"), or does she just appear to do so? Verse 14 indicates that Saul himself did not see Samuel, but just the witch. Secondly, is the historical information (verses 17-18) she gives Saul (supposedly coming from Samuel) common knowledge? Yes, I think so. However, she did not give him good prophetic news (verse 19). She told him he would fail against the Philistines and that he and his three boys would die in the effort. Whoa! That happened just as she said. Lucky guess? So, did she actually raise Samuel from the dead to speak through her to Saul? The author of the Book of Samuel seems to report it as such. The text never suggests that the witch did not actually communicate with Samuel. There's even a reference to the afterlife in verse 19 when Samuel is quoted as saying, "to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me." Just as I said, this passage is a stumper.

Now...if you're the kind of person who really needs to get to the bottom of this witch incident, consider these questions/possibilities that have been tossed around by various Bible scholars for centuries:

Through the centuries, scholars have taken adamant positions that do a disservice to the wording of the actual text in an attempt to make this passage fit nicely into our God paradigm. Therefore, it seems best to not doubt the presentation of facts here and accept that God can manifest the dead in any way he chooses.

Incidentally, I Chronicles 10:13 (see notes) lists Saul's visit to the witch as one of the contributing factors to his death along with his disobedience to God in that sacrifice incident in I Samuel 15 (see notes). Interestingly enough, the witch even refers to Saul's disobedience regarding the King of Amalek (verse 18) going all the way back to I Samuel 15 (see notes). That's the passage where it was declared that Saul's reign would end.

There are some strong verses regarding the afterlife in verses 13-19. If the witch is to be believed here, she saw "gods ascending out of the earth." We know from other passages that those who died in the Old Testament were held in "hades" (see article entitled "Paradise Relocated" by clicking here). She saw Samuel ascend "out of the earth" to speak with her. And then you have the message to Saul in verse 19, " morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me..." From that we see that Saul is to dwell in the very same place with Samuel. That, of course, assumes that you accept the word of a witch per the discussion earlier.

David bluffs Achish (I Samuel 29)

1 Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel.
2 And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by thousands: but David and his men passed on in the rereward with Achish.
3 Then said the princes of the Philistines, What do these Hebrews here? And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines, Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath been with me these days, or these years, and I have found no fault in him since he fell unto me unto this day?
4 And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? should it not be with the heads of these men?
5 Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?
6 Then Achish called David, and said unto him, Surely, as the LORD liveth, thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in with me in the host is good in my sight: for I have not found evil in thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day: nevertheless the lords favour thee not.
7 Wherefore now return, and go in peace, that thou displease not the lords of the Philistines.
8 And David said unto Achish, But what have I done? and what hast thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king?
9 And Achish answered and said to David, I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God: notwithstanding the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle.
10 Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master’s servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.
11 So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

Now it's back to the story line that was developing in the first two verses of chapter 28 (see above). So, what would David have done if Achish had called his bluff? He had already privately, but absolutely stated that he would not slay Saul. It's a moot point; the commanders of the army of Achish were suspicious of David's reputation for slaying Philistines and would have no participation from David in a campaign against Israel; they were suspicious of David's loyalties. They recall the Philistine-slaying song (verse 5) the Jewish women sang back in I Samuel 18:7 (see notes) "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." David certainly talks like he's ready to rumble there in verse 8 against his own people, but Achish sends him back home - must keep his generals in the field happy. We can only conjecture that this is exactly the way David thought this ordeal would unfold.

David's wives are captured (I Samuel 30:1-15)

1 And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;
2 And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.
3 So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.
4 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.
5 And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.
6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
7 And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David.
8 And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.
9 So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed.
10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.
11 And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water;
12 And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.
13 And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick.
14 We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.
15 And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company? And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this company.

Battle is a tough business! While David and his army of 600 are out, the Amalekites come and capture the women and children of Ziklag, their city (the city allocated to them by King Achish). It's funny how a crowd can turn on you so quickly; the people wanted to stone David for allowing this to happen. And to make things worse, they had captured David's two wives as well. Everybody sat down and just cried. After a good cry, David asks the priest (Abiathar) to bring him the ephod, a sacred vestment originally designed for the high priest (Exodus 28:4, see notes).

After going through a little ritual utilizing the ephod to determine God's will, David is assured by God that he can overtake and defeat the Amalekites who had just raided them. Incidentally, the ephod also contained the Urim and Thummim. These are a little mysterious to us, but they were used from time to time to discern God's will. See the special note on this found in Exodus 28. On their pursuit, they find one of the Amalekites' abandoned Egyptian slaves (because of illness) and get some inside information on their enemy.

David gets his wives back...and everybody else too (I Samuel 30:16-31)

16 And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah.
17 And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled.
18 And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives.
19 And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.
20 And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave before those other cattle, and said, This is David’s spoil.
21 And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them.
22 Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart.
23 Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand.
24 For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.
25 And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.
26 And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the LORD;
27 To them which were in Bethel, and to them which were in south Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir,
28 And to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa,
29 And to them which were in Rachal, and to them which were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, and to them which were in the cities of the Kenites,
30 And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chorashan, and to them which were in Athach,
31 And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt.

After locating the Amalekites who had raided his town, David and his men cut the Amalekite celebration short and thoroughly rout them - get everybody and everything back. Only 400 Amalekites escape. David has his wives back again and returns to Ziklag where David insists they share the booty with everyone, even those who did not participate in the campaign. As a matter of fact, David made a new statute that day: People who stay back with "the stuff" enjoy the distribution of booty just like those who fight the battle. They had learned the hard way that staying back with "the stuff" is an important part of not losing your "stuff" in the first place. We see here that not all of David's soldiers were noble in verse 22 when some of them are referred to as "the wicked men and men of Belial." The KJV word "Belial" is a transliteration of the Hebrew word which simply means "worthless and evil." It's not really the name of a god as it may appear. "Men of Belial" is simply an expression which indicates they were in a depraved state.

In verses 26 to 31, David sends parts of the spoils taken from the Amalekites to the elders of Judah, thus expressing his gratitude for their help when he roamed through their territory. This gesture might very well serve to gain their support in the future. All places mentioned were situated in the area of Hebron and Beersheba.

Saul and his sons are killed (I Samuel 31)

1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa.
2 And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul’s sons.
3 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.
4 Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.
6 So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.
7 And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and they that were on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.
8 And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa.
9 And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.
10 And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.
11 And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;
12 All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.
13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

Meanwhile, back with the Philistines, they find Saul and his sons, overtake them and kill them, scattering the Israelites in their path. Well, technically Saul took his own life after being mortally wounded by the archers. They subsequently cut Saul's head off, take his armor back to their temple and put it on display. And to top it all off, they nail his body to the wall in Bethshan. Remember? Bethshan is close to the city, Jabesh, where Saul made his debut as king 40 years earlier (I Samuel 11, see notes). Well, those folks are still grateful to Saul and covertly conduct a salvage mission in Bethshan, take Saul's body, burn it and retrieve his bones for burial back in Jabesh. Here's the picture: After 40 years of kingship, Saul is dead along with all of his possible heirs (Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua) to the throne. I wonder who will be King of Israel now? By the way, Saul never controlled the entire land possession that God gave Israel upon entering the promise land in Genesis 15:18 (see notes). He was a warrior king who led the military for his entire reign.

It is important to realize here that Saul was anointed king and accepted by the people as their means for defeating the Philistines. It was there in Jabeshgilead back in I Samuel 11 (see notes) where he began this mission 40 years earlier. Ironically, Saul's death in this chapter puts Israel back into virtually the same position from which they had sought deliverance through their appointment of King Saul. Moreover, his bones end up at the very same place where he launched his first campaign, Jabeshgilead.

Incidentally, the Amalekite who reports Saul's death to David lies about the circumstances of his death in II Samuel 1:1-16 (see notes).

A prayer of thanksgiving (Psalm 18)

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: And he said,

David cites his relationship with Jehovah (1-3)

1 I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.
3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

David recounts God’s deliverance (4-19)

4 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.
5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
7 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.
8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.
10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
12 At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.
13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.
14 Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.
15 Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.
16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.
18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.
19 He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

David explains why God delivered him (20-30)

20 The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.
23 I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.
24 Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.
25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;
26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.
27 For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.
28 For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.
29 For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.
30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

David writes more about the victory (31-48)

31 For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?
32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
33 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.
34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.
36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.
37 I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.
38 I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.
39 For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.
40 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.
41 They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.
42 Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.
43 Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.
44 As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.
45 The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.
46 The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.
47 It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.
48 He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

David's praise goes to God (49-50)

49 Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.
50 Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.

Although the introduction to this Psalm mentions Saul by name, we see that this is the same prayer of thanksgiving we read in II Samuel 22 (see notes). This prayer was written by David and used again by David after Absalom had died (with a little help) followed by a series of battles against the Philistines and others.

Note that David gives complete credit to Jehovah for his victories in these battles against his enemies. It would be difficult for one to take an anti-war position based upon scripture - actually...impossible - especially in the light of verse 47, "It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me."

Also notice that David is completely convinced that his faithfulness to God is the reason why he has prevailed. In verse 50 he acknowledges his anointed position as king.

For commentary on another passage, click here.

Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner