Soon after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven, Jews from all over the world came to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of Pentecost. It was during this pivotal gathering that the Holy Spirit first came upon believers in a very visible way, and Peter preached a message that led 3,000 people to become followers of Jesus.
When Israel first settled in Canaan, they operated as a coalition of twelve tribes with no single ruler, though from time to time local leaders would rise up as needed to face certain threats (Judges 2-16). Beginning with Saul, however, the twelve tribes of Israel united under a single king in order to be more like the nations around them (1 Samuel 8). Saul was effective in fighting Israel’s nearby enemies, such as the Philistines and the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11; 13-14). Over time, however, Saul proved unfaithful to the Lord (1 Samuel 15), so the Lord chose a young man named David to replace him (1 Samuel 16). Initially David reigned over only his native tribe of Judah (2 Samuel 2-4), but eventually all the Israelites tribes united under his rule (2 Samuel 5:1-5; 1 Chronicles 11:1-3). For the remainder of his reign David fought war after war with the nations surrounding Israel, and he expanded Israel’s kingdom as far north as Zobah and as far south as the Red Sea (2 Samuel 8-10; 1 Chronicles 18-19). Though David’s son Absalom attempted to set himself up as king and David’s son Adonijah attempted to make himself David’s successor, David passed on the kingship to Solomon, his son by Bathsheba (2 Samuel 15-19; 1 Kings 1). Solomon proved to be an able leader as well, annexing the nation of Hamath and expanding Israel’s territory to the great Euphrates River (2 Chronicles 8). Solomon’s dominion over this vast territory gave him control over the very strategic and lucrative land routes that passed through the region, making him very wealthy and powerful (1 Kings 10; 2 Chronicles 9).
The Babylonians destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of the Lord in 586 B.C. and exiled many Judeans to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 36:17-21; Jeremiah 39:1-10; 52:1-30). Several decades later (539 B.C.), King Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon and declared that the Judean exiles were free to return to Judah and rebuild the Temple (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4). A small portion of the exiles did return and rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:5-6:15; Nehemiah 7:5-65), but it wasn’t until about 444 B.C. that they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah. The work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls is recorded in Nehemiah 3, and it appears that the rebuilt walls did not include the western hill that had been enclosed under Hezekiah’s leadership hundreds of years earlier. The walls surrounding that area were rebuilt during the Maccabean era.
When the Philistines prepared for battle near the strategically located Valley of Elah, the Israelites assembled on the other side of the valley to face them. After the Philistines’ champion Goliath had challenged the Israelites for forty days to select a champion to fight him, young David, who had already been anointed as the next king of Israel by the prophet Samuel, slew him with a stone from his sling. The terrified Philistines fled, and the Israelites chased them as far as Gath and Ekron.
(Numbered events in narrative correspond to numbered events on maps.)
1) After David defeated Goliath and came to serve Saul at the royal court in Gibeah, he continued to demonstrate himself as an able commander and grew in favor with the people, and he developed a deep friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan. At the same time, however, Saul grew jealous of David’s success and eventually sought to kill him (1 Samuel 16-18), 2) so David fled to the prophet Samuel at Ramah (1 Samuel 19). 3) Later David returned to Gibeah, and Jonathan warned him that Saul was determined to kill him (1 Samuel 20), 4) so David fled to the priestly town of Nob. There the priest Ahimelech gave him food and the sword of Goliath (1 Samuel 21:1-9). 5) David then sought asylum in Gath and pretended to be insane to avoid suspicion from the king of Gath (1 Samuel 21:10-15). 6) David later left Gath and lived in a cave at Adullam. There many family members and discontented people joined his small army (1 Samuel 22:1-2). 7) Then David took his parents to Moab, where he placed them in the care of the king of Moab (1 Samuel 22:3-4). 8) After this David stayed for a while in The Stronghold, which may have been the fortress of Masada (1 Samuel 22:4), 9) and then the Lord told him to go to the Forest of Hereth, and the priest Abiathar eventually joined him there (1 Samuel 22 4:5). 10) Then the Lord told David to rescue the town of Keilah, and David stayed in the town after this (1 Samuel 23:1-12). 11) Later David stayed in various strongholds in the Wilderness of Ziph (1 Samuel 23:13-23). 12) While he was in the Wilderness of Maon, David narrowly escaped capture by Saul (1 Samuel 23:24-28; see also 1 Samuel 26:1-4), 13) and soon after this he moved to the strongholds of En-gedi, where he spared Saul’s life (1 Samuel 23:29-24:22; see also 1 Samuel 26:5-25). 14) David went back to The Stronghold (1 Samuel 24:23) 15) and then to the Wilderness of Maon, where he married a woman named Abigail after her husband died (1 Samuel 25:1-44). Eventually David returned to Gath (1 Samuel 27).