Understanding the violent age the OT occurred in

Understanding the violent age the OT occurred in September 22, 2014

I thought it was high time I returned to the long running series of posts about leadership lessons from I and II Samuel.

Sometimes as you read Scripture you come to a chapter that at first glance it is hard to get comfort, a teaching, or instruction from.

1 Samuel 27 is one such chapter.  In it we see one of the Bible’s leading heroes running away, allying himself with God’s enemies, ingratiating himself by raiding other villages and leaving nobody alive, and convincing God’s enemies that he had made himself to be a stench in the nostrils of the Israelis.

What can we learn from that example?

Here in the West we live in a time of peace. The world in which David existed is alien to us. It seems to me this chapter has a goal of demonstrating this to us. David lived during a time of kill or be killed. A hostile world where there was insufficient food to feed everyone and where women and children left alive would have quickly died without the support of their men.

None of this is to excuse David’s actions. The Bible here passes no comment on whether what he did was right or not. Rather, we should realize that when we come to the Bible we are coming to an alien world. As leaders we are sometimes overfamiliar with its stories. We live in a generation where these stories are not known. We have a responsibility to build a bridge from our world into this one to help people understand.

Of course such hostile environments do exist today, just not at the moment in the West.

Peace is something we take for granted. As I read this passage I found myself freshly grateful that I do not live in the kind of world David did. We need to realize, however, just how fallen mankind is. Sadly even our civilization is only skin deep. We speak about “cut-throat” businessmen, for example. They may be unlikely to actually murder, but the hostility is the same.

Without God, this world has no hope and will descend into violence and chaos.

God seeks to bring order and peace to our world. Why not spend a few moments praying for parts of the World where these kinds of stories would be only too familiar, even today.

We are commanded to pray for peace.

We must never take it for granted.

Here are some of the earlier posts in this series, which draw out truths we can easily apply to today:

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  • David Kemball-Cook


    You cite the story of David, in which God did not tell him to do the things he did, which we today might call evil. In this sense, you have chosen the easier type of story to comment on.

    But what do we say about the other incidents in the OT where God specifically commands the Israelites to slaughter everyone, including the woman and children (eg Num 31, Josh 6, 1 Sam 15)?

    You said “God seeks to bring order and peace to our world.” I don’t disagree, but I wonder what kind of peace Israelites’ victims were getting.