The Monarchy

 Saul, David and Solomon


Following an earnest prayer to God and intercession by the priest Eli, Hannah, who had been barren, conceives and gives birth to Samuel. Her son is dedicated to God and sent to serve with Eli. In time, Eli’s sons’ abuse their positions as priests. Eli’s failure to do anything about this will eventually bring about their downfall. God is with Samuel and as Samuel grows, all Israel come to know he is established as a prophet to the Lord.

After a failed battle with the Philistines, the ark is taken to the Israeli camp in support of their campaign. But the ark is captured by the Philistines, and Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas are killed in the process. The news of their death causes Eli, by now an elderly and heavy man, to fall from his seat and break his neck.

The captured ark is taken to Ashdod and placed beside their idol Dagon. The next two mornings, Dagon is found on his face before the ark, putting fear into the people of Ashdod, so they move the ark to another town. The same happens at Gaza, Askelon, Gath and Ekron. The ark is consequently returned by delivering it to the borders of Bethshemesh from where it is taken to Abinidab’s house. There it remains for twenty years in the care of his son Eleazar.

Samuel gets agreement from the people to turn away from idolatry. Meanwhile, the Philistines set out to attack the Israelites, but are hampered by God with a great storm and are defeated. Now subdued, the Philistines do not move against Israel during the rest of Samuel’s life, and cities taken by the Philistines are restored to them.

Samuel now judges Israel whilst doing a circuit of Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpeth, returning to his home at Ramah.

Saul

In his old age, Samuel makes his sons Joel and Abiah judges over Israel, but they are corrupt. Consequently, the people insist on having a king to judge over them and to fight their battles. With God’s approval, Saul is chosen and anointed by Samuel in preparation. Saul is then given another heart by God. Samuel gathers the people at Mizpeth and announces Saul as their king, after which Saul returns to his home at Gibeah.

There is a battle with the Ammonites in which the Israelites, led by Saul, are victors. This seals Saul’s position as king, and Samuel passes authority to him.

Two years later, Saul takes it upon himself to carry out some priestly duties prior to a battle with the Philistines, which is unlawful. He then later fails to utterly destroy the Amalekites and their property as instructed by God. As a result of these acts of disobedience, God, now repenting of having made Saul king, instructs Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint Jesse’s youngest son David to later succeed Saul as king over Israel. From this point, the Spirit of God is with David, but has departed from Saul, and David becomes his harp player to help him deal with this from time to time. David is also Saul’s armour bearer.

When Philistine and Israel are again at war, David steps up to the challenge from Goliath, a giant of a Philistine, to settle the battle in a one-to-one combat. David defeats Goliath with a single sling shot and cuts off his head with Goliath’s own sword. The Philistines flee and are pursued and defeated by Saul’s army. David is now put in charge of an army, is successful in battle and wins the admiration of the people. This provokes Saul’s anger which results in a failed attempt to kill him with a javelin. David is given greater army responsibilities and enjoys more success and greater admiration. He is given Saul’s daughter Michal as his wife, and is successful in yet another battle. Saul realises God is with David and becomes David’s enemy.

From this point, David spends much time effectively in exile whilst Saul pursues him with the intent to kill him.

David flees to see Samuel, has an emotional meeting with Saul’s son Jonathan, is later joined by his relations, then by four hundred men and becomes their captain. He travels on to Mizpeth where he obtains permission from the king for his parents to stay there.

Later, when Saul is pursuing David, he spends a night sleeping in a cave. This gives David the opportunity to kill him, but he chooses to simply cut off the skirt of his robe, enabling him to later prove to Saul he is not his enemy.

Soon after, Samuel dies and is buried in his house at Ramah. David then goes to the wilderness of Paran.

On a later occasion, when Saul is again pursuing David, David has another opportunity to kill Saul at night. This time he takes Saul’s spear and a cruse lying near his head, to again prove his innocence. Convinced, Saul returns home.

Prior to another battle with the Philistines, Saul seeks answers from God, but none are forthcoming. He then resorts to the help of the witch of Endor who calls upon Samuel, only to learn that he and his sons will die the next day at the hand of the Philistines, and Israel will be defeated.

When the Philistines are gathered at Apkek to do battle with the Israelites, David and his men have to return to Ziklag. Here he finds the city burnt and all their wives, sons and daughters carried off by the Amalekites. They come across a young man left behind by the Amalekites because he was sick, who agrees to lead them to the Amalekites. They find them celebrating their victories and attack and kill them all, except for four hundred young men who escape on camels. Everyone of their brethren are recovered, including David’s two wives.

 In the battle against the Philistines many are slain, including Saul’s sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malchishua. Saul is wounded by an archer and asks his armour bearer to put a sword to him, but he refuses and Saul takes his own life rather than die at the hands of a Philistine.

With their king dead, his army flees and several cities are taken and inhabited by the Philistines.

David

David goes to live in Hebron, taking all his men, and is anointed king of Judah. Nevertheless, wars continue between the house of Saul and the house of David, but with David growing ever stronger and the house of Saul growing ever weaker.

During this time, David has six sons by six wives, the third of whom is Absalom.

Abner makes a treaty with David in which he would be actively involved in bringing all Israel under David’s reign. Eventually, all the tribes of Israel come to Hebron, accept David as their leader and anoint him king over all Israel. David is thirty years old when he first becomes king. He had reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and is to reign over all Israel and Judah for a further thirty three years.

David goes to Jerusalem and first takes the stronghold of Zion, then Jerusalem is later taken by Joab. Here David builds his house, takes more wives and concubines and increases his offspring.

The Philistines, hearing David is now king over all Israel and all the more of a threat to them, come to fight him on two occasions, but are defeated.

David takes thirty thousand men and fetches the ark from Baal of Judah, but an incident along the way discourages him and the ark is left at Obededom’s house. There it remains for three months before it is finally taken to Jerusalem with great joy.

David wants to build a temple, but the honour is denied him by God and allotted to his successor. God promises David that the establishment of David’s throne and kingdom will be forever.

After having had some rest from his enemies, David again has to deal with them. He is victorious over the Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Edomites and others. During these victories much spoil is taken, including brass and gold that will later be used in the construction of the temple. Also, many gifts are brought to David.  

With all his enemies subdued, and having established his principal officers under him, David now reigns peacefully over all Israel and administers judgement and justice to all his people.

For the sake of his covenant with Jonathan, David sends for Jonathan’s lame son Mephibosheth and restores all his grandfather’s land due to him that was lost during Ishbosheth’s rebellion. From that time on, Mephibosheth is always to eat at David’s table as one of his own sons.

One evening, David commits adultery with Bathsheba and conspires to have her husband Uriah killed in battle. He is reproved by Nathan and bitterly repents. Bathsheba has conceived, but the child becomes sick and dies.

David’s son Amnon falls in love with his brother Absalom’s sister Tamar and contrives to have sex with her. His advances cause Tamar much grief. David gets to know about it but does not punish Amnon.

After two years, Absalom is able to set up a situation that enables him to murder Amnon. Absolum then flees to Geshur where he remains for three years.

With Joab’s help, Absalom is able to return to Jerusalem, but is not reconciled to his father for two years. Absalom rebels against his father, and over an extended period gains the support of the people and conspires to become king. David flees over Jordan for the sake of the safety of his household and the city. Absalom pursues David but is defeated by David’s army and killed by Joab. After he expresses considerable grief over Absalom, David is encouraged to return to Jerusalem. There is a further revolt from Israel against Judah under Sheba the Benjamite, but this is quelled by Joab. Sheba is executed and Israel’s allegiance returns to Judah.

David makes atonement for Saul’s slaughter of the Gibeonites.

On four occasions the Philistines go to war with the Israelites, each time having a son of a giant (of the nephilim) challenging David. On each occasion, because of his age, another goes to David’s aid and kills the giant.

David’s eldest son Adonijah attempts to usurp the throne with Joab’s help. This is prevented by Nathan getting Bathsheba to bring the matter to David’s attention. David announces Solomon as his successor and orders Nathan and Zadock to anoint him. Adonijah is pardoned by Solomon on the promise of good behaviour.

David orders a census of all Israel which takes nine months, but it transpires that his motive for doing so was sinful, an act for which he is punished by God.

David declares the site of the threshing floor of Ornan as being the place where the temple is to be built. He makes abundant preparations for craftsmen and materials, then tells Solomon that it will be his responsibility to build the temple and that God will be with him in his task.

David assigns the Levites’ their various temple duties and organises Israel’s civil government. The government is formally passed to Solomon and he is given the design and instructions for building the temple. Solomon is then anointed by David and made king for the second time, then all Israel submit themselves to Solomon. David now charges Solomon to walk in the ways of God and gives him instructions concerning particular persons he should show favour to, or execute justice on.

David passes away after reigning over Israel for forty years, seven years in Hebron and thirty three years in Jerusalem.

Solomon

Solomon soon establishes his authority as king by dealing with certain individuals as instructed by his father. He then makes an alliance with Egypt by marrying the Pharaoh’s daughter

God appears to Solomon in a dream and offers him anything he desires. Because of his young age, Solomon asks for an understanding heart to judge his people. This is granted along with the addition of riches and honour. Wisdom is quickly demonstrated when he judges a case between two harlots arguing over who is the mother of a baby. All Israel hears of this judgement and respect Solomon, for they can see the wisdom of God is in him.

God’s promise of riches and honour is soon realised and the extent of Solomon’s wisdom and fame becomes recognised by all nations around him. Solomon is to speak three thousand proverbs and composes one thousand and five songs. People are sent by kings from all nations to hear his wisdom and knowledge first hand.

After securing the assistance of King Hiram, work on building the temple begins. It takes seven years for the work to be completed. The ark is then brought into the temple and placed in the most holy place, which is then filled with the glory of God.

Solomon had imposed taxes on the people to help fund the temple and his other building works, but this levy also pays for places that Solomon now builds or repairs.

Solomon maintains a standing army and builds a navy. With this navy he is able to trade and bring great riches to his kingdom.

Hearing of Solomon’s greatness and wisdom, and not believing it, the Queen of Sheba visits Solomon and there is an exchange of extravagant gifts.

Year after year, people come to hear Solomon’s wisdom, known to be from God, and bring him presents. His riches continue to grow and he amasses an army of chariots and horsemen.

Solomon has seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, as well as princesses. In his old age, some of these women begin to turn his heart away from God, leading him to worship other gods and build places for his wives to worship them. For this evil, God tells Solomon his kingdom will be taken from him, not in his time for the sake of his father David, but in his son’s time. So God raises adversaries against Solomon in Hadad, Rezon, and in the person of Jeroboam, who receives a prophecy that he will rule ten tribes of Israel. Solomon gets to know of this and seeks to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam goes into exile until Solomon’s death.

Solomon had reigned for forty years in Israel when he dies, and is buried in Zion.

It is probably towards the end of his life that he wrote Ecclesiastes and ‘Song of Solomon’

He is succeeded by his son Rehoboam.