David: The Illustrated Novel by Michael Hicks Thompson

Purchase DAVID: THE ILLUSTRATED NOVEL from amazon.com


More about David


First and Second Samuel by Walter Brueggmann

Help explorefaith. Purchase Walter Brueggmann's FIRST AND SECOND SAMUEL from amazon.com.


Preparing for Sunday

Preparing for Sunday

Use this online tool to access Sunday scripture readings, related reflections and prayer prompts at your convenience


More Old Testament Resources

The Unlikely Chosen

Help explorefaith when you purchase THE UNLIKELY CHOSEN or any other spiritual resource from Church Publishing, Inc., our Partner in Ministry.


Drowning in Despair

The Witch of Endor by Adam ShawSo Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes and went there, he and two men with him. They came to the woman by night. And he said, "Consult a spirit for me, and bring up for me the one whom I name to you." The woman said to him, "Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?"  But Saul swore to her by the Lord, "As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing." Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" He answered, "Bring up Samuel for me."—1 Samuel 28: 8-11

He has fallen from an unprecedented height. Saul, the first king of Israel and God’s anointed, is now reduced to dressing in disguise, sneaking behind enemy lines and seeking out a witch as his only means to finding direction and solace. Yet the ghost of Samuel, who the witch is able to conjure and who Saul desperately wants as an ally, conveys the same message that Samuel delivered in his lifetime. Saul has not followed the ways of Yahweh, and the consequences will be his death and his army's devastation.

What lessons can we abstract from this strange and perplexing account? Possibly most pertinent is the reminder that desperation does not foster good choices. Saul is looking to access God’s messenger Samuel through magical measures he himself outlawed during saner times.  In his book First and Second Samuel, Walter Brueggemann offers a telling description of the fallen Saul. “He acts finally like a person with a diagnosed terminal illness. First that person may try all the clinics and experts; when nothing avails, the fearful one may turn to any possible treatment, any available quack. When approved medicine will not heal, try any faint hope. So Saul, when approved religion will not reassure, goes elsewhere (v 7): against the religion of Samuel, against the prohibition of Deuteronomy, against his own royal edict. His decision to seek help from a medium is a measure of his moral exhaustion, his despairing faith, his failed life.”

This is a cautionary episode. We are reminded of the despair that often comes with regret, the inevitability of consequences that may seem harsh and unfair, and the difficulty of making good choices when we feel abandoned, alone and utterly forsaken. Perhaps the most important lesson here is one of restraint. We are warned that how we act does make a difference. Our integrity, our righteousness, our good character are worth protecting and cultivating by means of a constant and ongoing relationship with the holy. Our lives really do matter. Placing our heart and soul in God’s loving hands is really our only hope for circumventing the “moral exhaustion” and “failing faith” that can sink us completely.

To be a spiritual person today is to strive for goodness, not things—to believe that honesty, integrity and dignity matter more than anything else. The goal of the spiritual person is to strive for goodness because ultimately, in Judaism, God is good. Yes, God is love. Yes, God is compassion. But God is good first. That's the highest image of God whose principal demand is ethical behavior. That's ethical monotheism. Judaism believes in one God whose principal demand is ethical behavior. That's the leap of faith we take.

Rabbi Micah Greenstein
Jewish Spirituality

O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous, you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God. —Psalm 7:9


To become whole in God means aligning our lives with God through such things as seeing the world and ourselves through God’s eyes; forgiving others even when the pain of hurt and betrayal sticks in the throat like hard, dry clay; not judging others even when their behavior makes our heartbeat quicken and our breath shorten; having the courage to face evil and overcome its power with the goodness that is foolhardy in the eyes of the world; staying in the place of unconditional love even when love seems imprudent and so difficult as to make us want to run away.

Renée Miller
Living an Authentic Life

"It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result."

 — Mahatma Gandhi

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? —Micah 6:8


The great lesson Lewis is trying to smuggle into our minds (camouflaged in humor to get around all the defenses erected by Screwtape and his cohorts) is the essential Christian doctrine—what he called elsewhere “mere” Christianity. Chiefly, it is that God is very much alive, that He loves us in ways we do not understand, and that He wants us to act from our own wills in accordance with His.

Richard Sandor
Memorizing The Screwtape Letters

We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts.
— Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Gracious God, I so easily fall prey to patterns of behavior that separate me from you and others. I want to do the right thing, the good thing, the loving thing, but temptation stalks the rim of my life like a prowling animal. Before I know it, I’ve fallen into its grasp and begun the downward spiral into what is less than full life. Help me, Lord, to see when temptation is trying to cleverly captivate me. Give me the strength and fortitude to make choices for health and spiritual wholeness. Keep me faithful in my love for you and faithful to the wonder of being given the gift of life. I ask this for the sake of your love. 

—A Prayer for Facing Temptation
Prayers for Living

Guilt, like stress, can also have positive results. Guilt can often act as our conscience and our guide. It can influence us to "Do the right thing." It can make us realize we have behaved badly. It can make us feel remorse or sadness when we have acted in ways that hurt others. It may remind us to be good to family and friends, neighbors, strangers and the less fortunate. It can spur us to offer an apology or to make amends for our actions. It may act as a deterrent from acting one way while encouraging us to act another. It can create or foster feelings of sympathy and empathy. Guilt can actually make us better, more sensitive individuals.

Earle Donleson
The Positives and Negatives of Guilt

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."

C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous, you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God. —Psalm 7:9