1. ROYALTY DEVOURED BY ENVY
a. Explain the results of king Saul’s neglect of his leadership duties—and the depths of evil to which he sank. 1 Samuel 28:1 (first part), 5–7.
“While the king and his councillors were planning for the capture of David, the affairs of the nation were being mismanaged and neglected. . . . By following the dictates of Satan, Saul was himself hastening the very result which, with unsanctified ability, he was endeavoring to avert.”—The SDA Bible Commentary, [E. G. White Comments], vol. 2, p. 1019.
“[Saul] has forsaken God, and at length seeks one who has made a covenant with death and an agreement with hell, for knowledge.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4A, p. 84.
b. How do we know it was a deception of Satan that enticed the king to his ruin? 1 Samuel 28:8, 11, 13–20; Job 7:9.
“It was not God’s holy prophet that came forth in the spell of a sorcerer’s incantation. Samuel was not present in that haunt of evil spirits. That supernatural appearance was produced solely by the power of Satan. He could as easily assume the form of Samuel as he could assume that of an angel of light, when he tempted Christ in the wilderness.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 679.
2. THE THRONE VACATED
a. What finally killed king Saul? 1 Samuel 31:1–6; 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14.
“All through his course of rebellion Saul had been flattered and deceived by Satan. It is the tempter’s work to belittle sin, to make the path of transgression easy and inviting, to blind the mind to the warnings and threatenings of the Lord. Satan, by his bewitching power, had led Saul to justify himself in defiance of Samuel’s reproofs and warnings. But now, in his extremity, he turned upon him, presenting the enormity of his sin and the hopelessness of pardon, that he might goad him to desperation. Nothing could have been better chosen to destroy his courage and confuse his judgment, or to drive him to despair and self-destruction. . . .
“By consulting that spirit of darkness Saul had destroyed himself.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 680, 681.
“Saul knew that in this last act, of consulting the witch of Endor, he cut the last shred which held him to God. . . . The cup of his iniquity was full.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4A, p. 85.
b. What clear prohibition does God give against supposed communication with the dead (necromancy)? Deuteronomy 18:10–12; Leviticus 20:27.
c. What should we learn from the way David responded to Saul’s death? 2 Samuel 1:4, 11, 12, 17–21; Matthew 5:43–45.
“David’s grief at the death of Saul was sincere and deep, evincing the generosity of a noble nature. He did not exult in the fall of his enemy. The obstacle that had barred his access to the throne of Israel was removed, but at this he did not rejoice. Death had obliterated the remembrance of Saul’s distrust and cruelty, and now nothing in his history was thought of but that which was noble and kingly. The name of Saul was linked with that of Jonathan, whose friendship had been so true and so unselfish.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 695, 696.
3. GRACIOUSNESS TOWARD ENEMIES
a. Relate David’s activities after his period of mourning. 2 Samuel 2:1–7.
b. Who was Abner, and how did he cause David problems? 2 Samuel 2:8–11.
“The circumstances under which Abner was placed served to develop his real character and showed him to be ambitious and unprincipled. He had been intimately associated with Saul and had been influenced by the spirit of the king to despise the man whom God had chosen to reign over Israel. His hatred had been increased by the cutting rebuke that David had given him at the time when the cruse of water and the spear of the king had been taken from the side of Saul as he slept in the camp. . . . [1 Samuel 26:15, 16 quoted.] This reproof had rankled in his breast, and he determined to carry out his revengeful purpose and create division in Israel, whereby he himself might be exalted.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 698, 699.
c. How was the throne settled—and how did David touch the hearts of Israel by his nobility toward another who had been a foe? 2 Samuel 3:1, 30–37.
“David’s magnanimous recognition of one who had been his bitter enemy won the confidence and admiration of all Israel. . . .
“[Abner] had persistently opposed the king of God’s appointment, in the expectation of securing honor to himself. . . . Had he succeeded in his purpose, his talents and ambition, his great influence and want of godliness, would have endangered the throne of David and the peace and prosperity of the nation.”—Ibid., p.700.
d. How did David react to the actions of some who wished to gain his favor by slaying Saul’s son, Ishbosheth, his potential rival? 2 Samuel 4:5, 6, 9–12.
“David, whose throne God Himself had established, and whom God had delivered from his adversaries, did not desire the aid of treachery to establish his power.”—Ibid., p.701.
4. LESSONS LEARNED
a. How did David, through the character he had developed, receive the support of all Israel? 2 Samuel 5:1–5, 10; Luke 14:11 (last part).
“Through the providence of God the way had been opened for [David] to come to the throne. He had no personal ambition to gratify, for he had not sought the honor to which he had been brought.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 701.
“[David’s] firmness, humility, love of justice, and decision of character, qualified him to carry out the high purposes of God. . . .
“His religious character was sincere and fervent. It was while David was thus true to God, and possessing these exalted traits of character, that God calls him a man after His own heart.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4A, pp. 85, 86.
b. How did David plan to acknowledge God’s supremacy? 2 Samuel 6:1, 2.
c. What happened to Uzzah, and why? 2 Samuel 6:3–7; Numbers 4:15; 7:6–9.
“The fate of Uzzah was a divine judgment upon the violation of a most explicit command. Through Moses the Lord had given special instruction concerning the transportation of the ark. . . . In the bringing of the ark from Kirjath-jearim there had been a direct and inexcusable disregard of the Lord’s directions.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 705.
“Upon Uzzah rested the greater guilt of presumption. Transgression of God’s law had lessened his sense of its sacredness, and with unconfessed sins upon him he had, in face of the divine prohibition, presumed to touch the symbol of God’s presence. God can accept no partial obedience, no lax way of treating His commandments. By the judgment upon Uzzah He designed to impress upon all Israel the importance of giving strict heed to His requirements. Thus the death of that one man, by leading the people to repentance, might prevent the necessity of inflicting judgment upon thousands.”—Ibid., p.706.
5. AVOIDING PRESUMPTION
a. What warnings must we heed against the bold and prideful human tendency to various forms of presumption? Acts 17:30, 31; James 4:17.
“David and his people had assembled to perform a sacred work, and they had engaged in it with glad and willing hearts; but the Lord could not accept the service, because it was not performed in accordance with His directions. The Philistines, who had not a knowledge of God’s law, had placed the ark upon a cart when they returned it to Israel, and the Lord accepted the effort which they made. But the Israelites had in their hands a plain statement of the will of God in all these matters, and their neglect of these instructions was dishonoring to God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 705, 706.
“It is not enough to have good intentions; it is not enough to do what a man thinks is right or what the minister tells him is right. His soul’s salvation is at stake, and he should search the Scriptures for himself.”—The Great Controversy, p. 598.
“The Lord has not placed any one of His human agencies under the dictation and control of those who are themselves but erring mortals. . . . [God] will judge those who assume this authority. They have somewhat of the same spirit that led Uzzah to lay his hand on the ark to steady it, as though God was not able to care for His sacred symbols. Far less of man’s power and authority should be exercised toward God’s human agencies. Brethren, leave God to rule.”—Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 347, 348.
“God manages His own work, and woe to the man who puts his hand to the ark of God.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, p. 114.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Trace the downfall of King Saul.
2. How can I become more like David when he heard the news of Saul’s death?
3. How can I become more like David as he related to Abner and Ishbosheth?
4. What could cause me to be in spiritual danger as Uzzah was?
5. Name some ways in which I might be guilty of the sin of Uzzah today.