Lesson 89: 1 Samuel 25–31
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“Lesson 89: 1 Samuel 25–31,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 89,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 89

1 Samuel 25–31


While fleeing from Saul, David’s men sought supplies from a wealthy man named Nabal. Nabal insulted David’s men and refused to help them. David intended to slay Nabal and his servants, but Nabal’s wife, Abigail, interceded and calmed David, who spared Nabal’s life. David spared Saul’s life again and fled to Philistine territory. When Saul was unable to receive guidance from the Lord, he sought help from the witch of Endor. The Amalekites attacked the Philistine kingdom where David had fled, but David’s army repelled the attack. Three of Saul’s sons were killed in battle with the Philistines, and Saul took his own life.

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Samuel 25

Abigail calms David and saves her husband, Nabal, and the men of their household

Line up several dominoes in a row. (You could also do this activity with other objects, such as hymnbooks.) Ask a student to push down the first domino so it tips over the other dominoes.

  • How might the effect of the first domino falling relate to the good choices we make in our lives?

Invite students to look for a principle as they study 1 Samuel 25 that relates to the effects their good choices have on the people around them.

Summarize 1 Samuel 25:1 by explaining that Samuel the prophet died and all the Israelites gathered to mourn his loss. After Samuel’s funeral, David and his men went into the wilderness.

Invite a student to read 1 Samuel 25:2–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for who David encountered in the wilderness.

  • What kind of person was Nabal? (After students respond, you may want to point out that verse 3, footnote a, describes Nabal as being “rude, rough, [or] ‘hard.’”)

Summarize 1 Samuel 25:4–9 by explaining that when David learned that the wealthy Nabal was nearby shearing his sheep, David sent 10 servants to request supplies for his men.

Invite a student to read 1 Samuel 25:10–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Nabal responded to David’s servants.

  • How did Nabal respond to David’s servants?

  • How did David respond to Nabal’s insult?

Summarize 1 Samuel 25:14–17 by explaining that one of Nabal’s servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, how her husband had mistreated David’s men. The servant also told Abigail how David and his men had provided protection to Nabal’s servants and had never tried to take any of Nabal’s animals.

Invite students to read 1 Samuel 25:18–19 silently, looking for what Abigail chose to do after she learned about her husband’s actions.

  • What did Abigail do when she heard the news?

Summarize 1 Samuel 25:20–31 by explaining that when Abigail found David in the wilderness, she bowed before him and humbly asked him to spare her household despite the iniquities of her husband.

  • What can these actions teach us about Abigail’s character?

Invite a student to read 1 Samuel 25:32–34 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for how David responded to Abigail. (Note: The phrase “any that pisseth against the wall” is a cultural expression used to mean “all males.”)

  • When Abigail chose to make peace with David, what were the positive results for her and her husband? for her entire household?

  • What principle does this account illustrate about the potential influence of one person’s righteous choice? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Our righteous choices can bless not only us but also others around us.)

Ask students to explain how Abigail’s action relates to the effect the first domino had on the other dominoes.

Invite students to think about a time when they were blessed because one of their peers made a righteous choice. Ask several students to share their experiences with the class. Consider sharing a personal experience as well.

Encourage students to make righteous choices, and challenge them to look for blessings that come to others because of those righteous choices.

Summarize 1 Samuel 25:36–44 by explaining that Nabal died shortly after he found out that Abigail had made peace with David. After Nabal’s death, David sent for Abigail and the two were married.

1 Samuel 26–27

David spares Saul’s life again

Summarize 1 Samuel 26–27 by explaining that King Saul took 3,000 men into the wilderness to find and kill David. When Saul and his men were asleep in their camp one night, David and one of his servants went to where Saul was sleeping. David’s servant wanted to kill Saul, but David refused. Later, when King Saul discovered that David had spared his life again, he said he would no longer seek David’s life. David did not believe Saul, so he moved his family to live among the Philistines.

1 Samuel 28

Saul seeks direction from the witch of Endor

Line up another row of dominoes. Ask a different student to push down the first domino so it tips over the other dominoes in the row. Remind students that earlier we discussed how these dominoes could illustrate the effects of righteous choices.

  • How might the effect of these dominoes represent poor choices?

After one or two students respond, invite students as they study 1 Samuel 28 to look for a principle that relates to the effects our poor choices can have.

Explain that in 1 Samuel 28:1–5 we learn that the king of the Philistines wanted David to go with him to war against Israel.

Ask a student to read 1 Samuel 28:5–6 aloud. Invite the class to follow along and look for how Saul felt when he saw the Philistines and what happened when he asked the Lord for help.

  • Why do you think the Lord did not answer Saul?

  • Why can our disobedience make it difficult to receive personal revelation and answers to our prayers?

  • What can we learn from this account about what happens to us when we disobey God? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: When we willfully disobey God, we separate ourselves from His strength and guidance. Write this principle on the board.)

Ask students what major decisions they will have to make in the next few years. Write their responses on the board.

  • Why might it be important for you to have God’s strength and guidance in your life as you face those decisions?

  • If you had been one of King Saul’s advisers, what would you have told him he should do to receive answers to his prayers?

Invite students to read 1 Samuel 28:7–10 silently, looking for what Saul did when he received no answer from God. Explain that the phrase “hath got a familiar spirit” in verse 7 refers to a person who claimed to be able to speak with the dead.

  • What did Saul choose to do when he did not receive answers from God? (Instead of being obedient to the Lord and continuing to seek and strive to be worthy of revelation, Saul chose to turn to wicked sources. By seeking out the woman from Endor, Saul broke God’s command not to turn to those with familiar spirits [see Leviticus 19:31].)

Summarize 1 Samuel 28:11–25 by explaining that the woman Saul went to see claimed that she had called the prophet Samuel from the dead to speak to Saul. She told Saul that he and his sons would be killed the next day in battle with the Philistines. Explain that, despite what she said, it is not possible for a person like this woman to be able to summon the spirits of the Lord’s departed servants. She either pretended to see Samuel or was under the influence of evil powers when she delivered her message to Saul (see Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:107–8).

1 Samuel 29–31

The Lord directs David to save his people from the Amalekites

Direct students’ attention to the list of major decisions on the board.

  • What are some of the positive consequences that might come from making righteous decisions? What are some of the negative consequences that might come from making unrighteous decisions?

Summarize 1 Samuel 29:1–11; 30:1–3 by explaining that David and his men were with the armies of the Philistines as they went to fight the Israelites. Several Philistine leaders did not want David and his men in the battle, so the king commanded David and his men to return to the land of the Philistines. When they returned, they found that their city had been destroyed by the Amalekites and that their families had been taken captive.

Invite students to read 1 Samuel 30:4 silently, looking for how David and his men responded. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite a student to read 1 Samuel 30:6–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what David did during this time of tragedy. Explain that the phrase “encouraged himself in the Lord his God” meant that he trusted in the Lord (see verse 6, footnote a). Also explain that the breastplate of the high priest, which held the Urim and Thummim, was attached to the ephod (part of the dress of the high priest; see Exodus 28:26–30). These were divinely approved instruments of revelation. David had asked the high priest to bring the ephod so David could inquire of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim.

  • Why do you think David was blessed with the Lord’s direction but King Saul was not?

  • What principle can this account teach us about inviting the Lord to direct our lives? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: When we are faithful, we invite the Lord to direct our lives.)

Invite a few students to share an experience they have had when they felt that the Lord directed their lives.

Summarize 1 Samuel 30:9–31; 31:1–13 by explaining that David and his army conquered the Amalekites and rescued their families. David then shared the enemy’s supplies with his people. In the meantime, the Philistines went to battle against the Israelites. Three of Saul’s sons were killed. Saul was badly wounded, and when he feared he would be killed in battle by the Philistines, he took his own life.

Ask students to consider what effect the choices they are making now will have on them and the people around them. Encourage them to make righteous choices so they can be directed by the Lord.

Commentary and Background Information

1 Samuel 28:15–20. Witch of Endor

“The account in 1 Sam. 28:5–20 of the prophet being brought back from the dead by the witch of Endor, at King Saul’s request, presents a problem. It is certain that a witch or other medium cannot by any means available to her bring up a prophet from the world of spirits. We may confidently be assured that if Samuel was present on that occasion, it was not due to conjuring of the witch. Either Samuel came in spite of and not because of the witch, or some other spirit came impersonating him” (Bible Dictionary, “Samuel”).

President Joseph Fielding Smith gave further insight into what happened during King Saul’s experience with the witch of Endor:

“The Witch of Endor … instead of being a prophetess of the Lord, was a woman who practiced necromancy; that is, communication or pretended communication with the spirits of the dead; but she was led by a familiar spirit. In other words, she was a spiritual medium, similar to those modern professors of the art, who claim to be under the control of some departed notable, and through him or her to be able to communicate with the dead. It should be observed that in the séance with the king of Israel, Saul did not see Samuel or anybody but the medium or witch. She declared that she saw an old man coming up and that he was covered with a mantle. It was she who told Saul what Samuel was purported to have said. Saul ‘perceived that it was Samuel’ through what the witch stated to him. The conversation that ensued between Samuel and Saul was conducted through the medium. All of this could have taken place entirely without the presence of the prophet Samuel. The woman, under the influence of her familiar spirit, could have given to Saul the message supposed to have come from Samuel, in the same way that messages from the dead are pretended to be given to the living by spiritual mediums of the latter days, who, as in the case under consideration, perform their work at night or under cover of darkness.

“It is beyond rational belief that such persons could at any period in ancient or modern times, invoke the spirits of departed servants or handmaidens of the Lord. They are not at the beck and call of witches, wizards, diviners, or necromancers. Pitiable indeed would be the condition of spirits in paradise if they were under any such control. They would not be at rest, nor be able to enjoy that liberty from the troubles and labors of earthly life which is essential to their happiness, but be in a condition of bondage, subject to the will and whims of persons who know not God and whose lives and aims are of the earth, earthy” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:107–8).