Read verses 8-12
Q: Why would someone being “anointed king over all Israel” be alarming to the Philistines? How might this signal a change in Israel over the recent past?
A: For a very long time Israel has been divided by various levels of civil war between Saul and David and various tribes as they’ve chosen one side over the other. As an enemy of Israel the Philistines were content to allow Israel to self-destruct. But should Israel become united as a whole under a single leader, the Philistines would have to once again fear that instead of fighting within, Israel could be focused on its real, external enemies. David’s recent success taking Jerusalem might indicate to the Philistines that Israel is ready to turn against them. They might also be concerned about his relationship with Hiram king of Tyre. It looks like Israel is a united, national force again.
Observation: There may be an application here that before a true spiritual leader can lead God’s people out against the true enemies of God, that all the internal issues of personal faithfulness must first be resolved within the body of Christ.
Q: Is there anything significant about the fact that the Philistines attacked “in the valley of Rephaim”?
A: “Rephaim” is the name of the former giants who lived in the land, the last of which was King Og. (Dt. 3:11) It paints the picture of the Philistines as being a kind of larger-than-life enemy overwhelming in size and spiritual influence.
Q: If the Philistines are the known and established enemy of God’s people, and they’re attacking God’s people in their own land, why would David have to ask God if he should go up against them?
A: God chooses the tool He will use to execute judgment for sin. He did this time and again during the past several hundred years during the times of the Judges. David knows that if there is an issue of sin or God’s judgment at work, that it must first be reconciled to God before proceeding.
For instance, if Joshua had done this prior to the battle of Ai, he would most certainly learned that sin had caused Israel to fall out of favor with God before learning so through their humiliating defeat.
Q: So why does David follow up with specifically inquiring, “And will You give them into my hand?”
A: The first question is really a spiritual inquiry to establish the nation’s relationship with God; the second establishes whether or not there are personal spiritual issues outstanding between David and God.
Application: Just because a given situation is the very biblical definition of “evil” does not automatically mean we are to enter into it without first establishing that we ourselves are spiritually reconciled and prepared fully in accordance with God’s Word and ways. What happens when backslidden or unfaithful Christians take up a cause without first being reconciled spiritually?
Q: What does David’s renaming of the battle site indicate about the greater spiritual issues at work?
A: David recognizes that “God has broken through my enemies by my hand”.
Application: Good spiritual leaders always defer the credit to God the True Source of victory.
Q: What is particularly ironic that the Philistines “abandoned their idols”?
A: At one time it was Israel who, without consulting God and taking matters into their own hands, went out against the Philistines and lost the Ark of the Covenant to them. Now, finally in alignment with God’s will, it is the Philistines who have lost their idols to Israel.
Q: What is also ironic about what happened to the Philistines idols versus the Ark of the Covenant?
A: The Ark of the Covenant, something belonging to and representing the One True God, could not be kept by the Philistines and had to be returned intact; the Philistines’ idols, representations of their false and powerless gods, were destroyed. The earthly event is a representation of the greater spiritual, heavenly reality.
Application: In reality, although leaders of God’s people engage in a host of earthly activities, they are actually tied to greater, spiritual issues. Such leaders are an extension of what God is doing, not an independent enterprise of their own.