“Unit 18: Day 3, 1 Samuel 25–31,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 18: Day 3,” Old Testament Study Guide
Chapters 25–31 of 1 Samuel continue the account of David’s flight from the jealous king Saul and conclude with Saul’s death. While in the wilderness, David’s men asked a wealthy man named Nabal for supplies. 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. After continuing in the wilderness, David spared Saul’s life again and fled to Philistine territory. When Saul was unable to receive guidance from the Lord, he sought for help in the war with the Philistines from the witch of Endor. The Amalekites attacked the part of the Philistine kingdom where David and his army had fled with their families. David and his army rescued their families and conquered the Amalekites. Three of Saul’s sons were killed in battle with the Philistines, and Saul took his own life.
Have you ever lined up a row of dominoes and watched how tipping the first domino over onto the next creates a reaction among all of the dominoes that eventually affects the last domino in the line? How might the effect of the first domino falling relate to good choices we make in our lives?
As you study 1 Samuel 25, look for a principle that relates to the effects your good choices have on those around you.
In 1 Samuel 25:1 we learn that Samuel the prophet died and all the Israelites gathered to mourn his loss. After Samuel was buried, David and his men went into the wilderness. A man named Nabal was also in the wilderness at that time, shearing his sheep.
Read 1 Samuel 25:2–3, and write a short description of Nabal:
In 1 Samuel 25:4–9 we discover that David learned that the wealthy Nabal was nearby shearing his sheep, so he sent 10 servants to request supplies for his men.
In 1 Samuel 25:14–17 we learn 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.
Read 1 Samuel 25:18–19, looking for what Abigail chose to do after she learned about her husband’s rudeness toward David’s men.
In 1 Samuel 25:20–31 we learn that when Abigail found David in the wilderness, she bowed before him and asked that he accept the food she had brought and that he put the blame for her husband’s behavior on her. She also asked David to forgive her and to not seek revenge against her household. What can these actions teach us about Abigail’s character? How are Abigail’s actions similar to what the Savior did for all of us?
Did you notice how Abigail’s actions brought positive results to her and her household, as well as to David? From Abigail’s example we learn that our righteous choices can bless not only us but also others around us.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How were Abigail’s actions like the first domino that starts the line of dominoes falling?
How have you been blessed because your peers chose to make righteous choices?
Make a commitment to yourself to make righteous choices, and look for blessings that are passed on to others because of those righteous choices.
In 1 Samuel 25:36–44 we learn 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. This is another instance when the Lord approved plural marriage during Old Testament times (see D&C 132:1, 38–39).
In 1 Samuel 26–27 we learn 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 while he was sleeping, but David refused to let him. Later, when King Saul discovered that David had spared his life again, he said he would no longer try to kill David. David did not believe Saul, so he moved his family to live among the Philistines.
Earlier you considered how dominoes could illustrate the effects of righteous choices. How might one unrighteous choice start a series of negative events?
As you study 1 Samuel 28, look for a principle that relates to the effects our poor choices have.
In 1 Samuel 28:1–5 we learn that the king of the Philistines wanted David to go with him to war and to be captain of the bodyguard. The phrase “put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards” in verse 3 refers to how, when Saul was made king, he had banished all those who claimed to have magical powers. Verse 5 relates how Saul was afraid of the Philistines.
Read 1 Samuel 28:6, looking for what happened when Saul prayed.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What prevents unworthy persons like Saul from knowing God’s will?
In previous lessons you learned that Saul had disobeyed God. One principle we can learn from this account is that when we willfully disobey God, we remove ourselves from His strength and guidance. (You might want to write this truth in the margin of your scriptures next to 1 Samuel 28:6.)
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some of the major decisions you will need to make during the next few years?
As you consider these major decisions, why is it critical for you not to lose God’s strength and guidance in your life?
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?
Read 1 Samuel 28:7–10, looking for what Saul did when “the Lord answered him not” (1 Samuel 28:6). (The phrase “hath got a familiar spirit” in verse 7 refers to a person who claimed to be able to speak with the dead, sometimes called a medium or a spiritualist.) Saul chose to turn to wicked sources he had earlier banned from Israel. By seeking out the woman from Endor, Saul broke God’s command not to turn to those with familiar spirits (see Leviticus 19:31).
In 1 Samuel 28:11–25 we learn that the woman Saul consulted claimed that, in compliance with Saul’s request, 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. Despite what she said, though it proved to be true, 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 she was under the influence of evil powers when she delivered her message to Saul.
“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 explained: “It has been suggested that in this instance the Lord sent Samuel in the spirit to communicate with Saul, that he might know of his impending doom; but this view does not seem to harmonize with the statements of the case, made in the scripture which gives the particulars. If the Lord desired to impart this information to Saul, why did he not respond when Saul enquired of him through the legitimate channels of divine communication? Saul had tried them all and failed to obtain an answer. Why should the Lord ignore the means he himself established, and send Samuel, a prophet, to reveal himself to Saul through a forbidden source? Why should he employ one who had a familiar spirit for this purpose, a medium which he had positively condemned by his own law?” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:108–9).
Look back at the list you created in your scripture study journal of the major decisions that you will make during the next few years. Ponder the following questions: 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?
In 1 Samuel 29:1–30:3 we learn that David and his men were with the armies of the Philistines as they marched to do battle with the Israelites. Many of the 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 home, they found that their city had been destroyed by the Amalekites and that their families had been taken captive.
Read 1 Samuel 30:4, looking for how David and his men responded to this tragedy.
Read 1 Samuel 30:6–8, looking for what David did during this time of tragedy.
The breastplate of the high priest, which held the Urim and Thummim, was attached to the ephod (part of the clothing 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, and he obtained an immediate answer.
- To help you compare this account of David seeking direction from the Lord to Saul’s attempt to receive direction in 1 Samuel 28, answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
From David’s experience, what do you learn about receiving answers to questions?
What principle can this account teach us about inviting the Lord to direct our lives?
When have you felt the Lord direct your life? How did this influence you and those around you?
In 1 Samuel 30:9–31:13 we learn that David and his army conquered the Amalekites and rescued their families. David then shared the enemy’s supplies with his people. David’s experience teaches us that when we are faithful, we invite the Lord to direct our lives.
In the meantime, the Philistines went to battle against the Israelites. Three of Saul’s sons were killed, including Jonathan. When Saul feared he would be killed by the Philistines in battle, he took his own life.
“Although it is wrong to take one’s own life, a person who commits suicide may not be responsible for his or her acts. Only God can judge such a matter. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said:
“‘Obviously, we do not know the full circumstances surrounding every suicide. Only the Lord knows all the details, and he it is who will judge our actions here on earth. …’ (“Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not,” Ensign, Oct. 1987, 8)” (Gospel Topics, “Suicide”; LDS.org).
Consider what effect the choices you are making now will have on you and the people around you. Write a goal that will help you make righteous choices so the Lord can direct you.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 1 Samuel 25–31 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: