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A New Light Dawns!




   As composed by Dr. Bob Holt MD on 11-9-2014, the day after Pastor Erin Miller preached her sermon on David's experience at Nob and the Cave of Adullam on 11-8-2014.   At the Foster SDA Church in Asheville, North Carolina.  Her subject will follow on the next page after this one.


    Pastor Erin Miller was the acting Chief Pastor at Foster Memorial Church (SDA) for more than a year before Pastor Bryan Aalborg was chosen for that position. More recently she served as a chaplain and is currently the Principle of an Adventist Church School. Several of her own children attend that school which may partly explain why she chose that position.  I have displayed several more of Pastor Miller's sermons on this website over the years since the year 2000, and used this photo of a movie star look-alike which I will display again here.

In a humorous introduction to Pastor Miller's sermon, our announcer told us that we must all sit quietly, and no one would be allowed to go to the bathroom during the service, women and girls must be wearing dresses or skirts that reached to 2 inches below our knees, we would all be tested afterwards on what was said by now Principal Miller, and the results of this test would be made a part of our permanent record as a church member.

This was, of course, laughable in a church, Foster Church, in which a certain large percen-tage of adult church members always wear blue jeans, and dresses and skirts are rare.

   Erin Miller reminded the congregation at Foster Church how much we all dislike waiting for things to happen, and how distressed we sometimes become when things don't happen in our lives exactly at the time and place we are hoping and planning for them to happen.  Then she quoted David on this subject and reminded us that David had to wait for a long time after the Prophet Samuel anointed him as a youth in Bethlehem as God's choice to be the next king of Israel and Judah.   In the meanwhile David was chosen by King Saul to play music on a harp (actually a much simpler instrument, the lyre) when Saul was vexed by an evil spirit.  This was after David had his famous confrontation with the Philistine giant Goliath of Gath, in which David was victorious, using only a few stones from a slingshot to bring down this giant, and take possession of his sword.

   1 Samuel 16:14 "But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him."

   17 "And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.  19 Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep."

   21 "And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armour-bearer. 23 And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: and Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him."

    1 Samuel 18:6 "And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and shouting, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.  7 And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands."

    8 "And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what else can he have more but the kingdom?   9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward."

    10 "And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times; and there was a javelin in Saul's hand.  11 And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it.  And David avoided out of his presence twice."

     Now all of this background history I have related to you here from Bible texts was not given in any detail by Erin Miller in her sermon -- she assumed we, her congregation, knew all this -- and went right to the subject of her sermon which was David's flight to the Cave of Adullam and his stop at Nob to visit God's tabernacle and the priests there, and what happened as a consequence of that visit.  Then on to her main subject or example, the Cave of Adullam Experience, which I will get to here next.

      Here I'll discuss subjects that Erin as a Bible Student and Minister knows are dangerous  with dwelling too long or looking too critically at.  But I'm not in her position.  I am not an employee of either Foster Church nor of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, but instead the author and Web-master of this Web Page specifically dedicated to religious controversy of the type Pastor Erin Miller is trying to avoid.

     So on this page I'll discuss these questions, and others!  These being -- Where does the contest with Goliath really fit in this history?  Why is God sending an evil spirit to torment Saul, and then allowing David to make it go away? And why is Saul able to prophesy when possessed by this evil spirit?  Are God's spirits "good" when they don't prophesy, and EVIL if they do make accurate prophesies?     



It's a lovely story, beloved by children of all ages, and by people of every religion, monotheistic or otherwise BUT --

Where's the Ethical Lesson?

Where does it really FIT in the real HISTORY of King Saul and his successor, King David of Judah (and perhaps Israel)?

Did David REALLY kill the giant Goliath, or did one of David's MIGHTY MEN really kill this giant at another time and at another place?

A discussion is warranted about jerky editing of stories that only marginally fit together for unclear purposes by unknown authors and editors!


   Where's the ethical lesson?

    I think we need to overlook the usual reason given in church schools and Sunday schools that David overcoming Goliath with a well-placed shot of a stone from a sling-shot proves that if you're fighting God's battles, heaven will help you win -- and choose to emphasize the more universal appeal and application that even against overwhelming superiority, it's possible for a dedicated small person with great courage to win over a slower giant who would usually flatten him or her almost effortlessly. 

    It gives HOPE to those who may indeed win if they persist, whether their cause may be perceived as good or bad.  Thus the INTIFADA, in which Palestinian youth with stones threw them at Israelis in tanks.  Not just once, but for several years, gaining much world attention and some support.   And a lone Chinese youth in Tiananmen Square stopped, momentarily at least, a mighty column of tanks driven by one of the largest armies in the world.

  Where does this story fit in a true historical account of the life of King Saul, and his eventual successor, King David?

      Looked at critically, as I'm about to do now, but Erin Miller wisely avoided doing -- The sequence is more like a comedy of errors and irreconcilable poor reporting than it is like anything that really happened!  Let's try to put things in their proper sequence or order, and we fall on our face right away, and resolve one issue to only find ourselves in a deeper hole a few verses later.

     The story seems to begin in 1 Samuel 16:1 in which God is upset with King Saul and decides to replace him with David. In verse 2 Samuel is fearful of what will happen when Saul finds out, and the Lord tells him how to fool Saul into thinking he has other business."

   God, in this and many other Old Testament stories, has no ethical problems with telling whatever lies that need to be told to accomplish what God needs to do, or at least has decided to do -- and indeed in this case is instructing his prophet Samuel how to go about deceiving Saul.  On the other hand He, God, has a right to be upset with Saul for not killing a king that God wanted to have killed. This disparity about acceptable behavior for God, as comparable with acceptable behavior for humans, permeates this literature.

   1 Samuel 16:3 God, to Samuel "--call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee. " Jesse's sons are paraded before Samuel, none of them meeting God's approval until Jesse sends for David, his youngest, who is out tending sheep.  The most menial and unimportant job of that day and age.  And whiling away those long and boring hours, it seems, by writing little songs called "Psalms" and playing them on his lyre or harp.

    We assume that David is a young teenager at this point, or maybe even younger -- there's that song many of you have heard -- "Only a boy named David, only a little boy --" But David grows up fast in these stories -- in a fast but disconnected and very jerky way."

    1 Samuel 16:11 "And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and behold, he keepeth the sheep.  And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come thither."  (The excuse God had authorized was this "feast" that had no purpose, but to which all the elders of Bethlehem were invited.)

    12 "And he sent, and brought him in.  Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to.  And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he."

    13 "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.  So Samuel rose up and went to Ramah."

     Not a word more here about any explanation to all the gathered elders of Bethlehem by Samuel about what this "anointing" really meant, or that they must keep it a secret, or that Saul ever heard about it, or even that David went back to herding sheep as if nothing had happened to him.   Big disconnect here.  Lost opportunity to make a credible story about this strange feast.   Boy not yet a man goes back to tending sheep but now WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD directing and empowering him to accomplish God's purpose -- which is to destroy in every way possible the disobedient King Saul!

    14 "But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him."  (Big clumsy jerk in the story here -- the author has what to him appears to be a theme, a story line -- but it's what's happening to the Spirit of God, not what's happening in the life of David and maybe also in the life of Saul in real time -- TIME means nothing much to God, and evidently not much either to the unknown author or authors of the Book of 1 Samuel.  Which brings us to my next proposed subject --

Did David REALLY kill the giant Goliath, or did one of David's MIGHTY MEN really kill this giant at another time and at another place?

   I have a habit or perhaps hobby of picking up strange books in odd places, and I encountered one that was written by a German critic who was shocking his readers with the proposal that David never really killed Goliath but took credit for it later.  The smoking gun for this bit of deceit, wrote this author, was the events described  in two other locations in the Bible, most likely by two other possibly more reliable "historians" than the author of 1 Samuel.

    2 Samuel 21:15 "Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines; and David waxed faint.  16 And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David."

    17 "But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him.  Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel." As this later account by another author proceeds, other giants are mentioned --  Saph, and another giant with six fingers and six toes on each side, 24 digits in all. And most provocative -- verse 19, that relates -- "And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam."

     Interestingly, the duplicate history found in 1 Chronicles 20:5 again mentions the brother of Goliath the Gittite, and names him Lahmi.  In this account, the part about David's servants not letting David fight any more in these battles is omitted. And the name of Ishbibenob, the Philistine that almost overpowered David does not appear either!

     My modern author I mentioned suggests that these variations cause him to believe that the 1 Samuel version of David's single-handed confrontation with Goliath is to build up the reputation of David as a hero, and is transposed from real events later in his reign, and allows him to take credit for what someone else, in this case Elhanan the Bethlehemite, did.  Making this Goliath's brother, not Goliath himself, is a trick used to cover up this bit of deception.

     MY OWN COMMENT IS THIS: Such a substitution would go a long ways towards explaining why the author of 1 Samuel has been so awkward in placing this story where it doesn't seem to belong.

     In 1 Samuel 16:14-23, David is chosen by Saul to play his harp to drive away Saul's evil spirit.  In verse 18, he's described, not as a child or youth but as a "mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters".  But by verse 23, Saul is throwing a javelin at him."

     Chapter 17 begins the sequence we know so well from Church School.  David has become a little boy or teenager once again. When he brings food to his warrior brothers, 17:28, the eldest, Eliab, jeers at  him, saying, "Why comest thou down hither?  and with whom has thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle."

    In 1 Samuel 17:57,58, Abner, Saul's captain and leader of his army brings David to meet Saul with David carrying the head of Goliath, and Saul says unto him, "Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite."  Saul here seems to have complete forgetfulness or no knowledge at all that this was the same person, David, his "harpist", that he was throwing spears at previously, in chapter 16.

     In chapter 18, by verse 6, Saul has a new reason to start throwing spears at David, his jealousy because the women and girls of Israel and Judah consider David to be a better soldier and bigger national hero than King Saul.

     And by chapter 22, David has fled to the Cave of Adullam, where his brothers who were jeering at him and belittling his military prowess before the Goliath episode are willing to follow him as their leader, along with 400 discontented men from all over Israel.


The Cave of Adullam




On November 8, 2014 Pastor Erin Miller of the Foster Seventh-day Adventist Church recognized some similarities of her fellow church members with the 400 persons who gathered to meet the fleeing David at the Cave of Adullam.

For Dr. Bob Holt's account--

Click Here!

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