Now in the study last we came to the place where Saul was anointed king over Israel. We remember at the time of his anointing that he was hiding in the stuff. So as Samuel got ready to present, you know, the trumpet fanfare and all, “And now you’re king,” and the curtains opened kind of a thing, there’s nobody there.
So Samuel said, “Lord what’s going on? We got the right man? Is this the right day?”
The Lord said, “He’s over hiding in the stuff.” So they went over and got him, and brought Saul before the people, and all the people joined together in a cry, “God save the king.” But there were some men who were objecting to Saul’s reign, the children of Belial.
Now the children of Belial are usually the evil men, Belial being a term for Satan, the children of the Devil. They were saying that, “Shall Saul rule over us?” They were creating a little undercurrent against Saul’s reign. Now Saul returned to his home and just went back to his work of farming.
When the king of the Ammonites came against the Israeli settlement of Jabeshgilead. So he demanded that they surrender, or when he came against them they volunteered some kind of a tribute. What must we do to be your servants? He said, Let all of the men pluck out their right eyes, and put them in a basket to be a reproach against all Israel. Then we’ll be your servants. They said, Well give us seven days to think about that: So they sent to Saul and they told him the demands that this fellow was making, the king of the Ammonites was making against them. So Saul took the oxen that he was plowing with; and he cut them up into pieces, and sent them throughout Israel, and said, And so shall the man’s oxen be cut up who doesn’t come and follow me in battle. [In other words, it was a call to battle, “If you don’t come, when we get back we’re going to cut your oxen all up.”] So the men of Israel gathered together with Saul some three hundred thousand, plus another thirty thousand from the tribe of Judah. So they came down and they sent a message back to the men of Jabeshgilead, and said, Don’t worry help is on the way. So the seventh day the men of Jabeshgilead sent a message out to the king of the Ammonites, and said, We’re going to fight instead of pluck out our right eyes. About this time Saul’s first contingent arrives and he began to smite them, then the second contingent moved in, and the third contingent and they utterly wiped out all of this invading force that had come against them, they were thoroughly defeated until there weren’t two men left together (11:1-11).
Just really decimated the troops. And God gave unto Saul a great victory. It really was the thing that sort of catapulted him into the real position of king. This is what the people were looking for, a man who would go out and lead their armies into battle against their enemies and all. So when this great victory was given to Saul over their enemies, then
The people said, Where are those guys that said, Who is Saul that he should reign? bring them out, and we’re going to wipe them out. And Saul said, [Wait a minute no, no, no let’s not have any recriminations] God has wrought salvation for Israel today. [And let’s rejoice in the victory of God, and let’s not have any recriminations] (11:12-13).
Now this is Saul at the beginning of his reign, and at the beginning of his reign he does show many marvelous characteristics. Among those, that of humility. In reality when Samuel first met Saul and said, “Behold the man upon whom is all the eyes upon or, the desire of Israel.”
Saul said, “Hey, you can’t mean me. I’m from the tribe of Benjamin one of the little tribes. My dad’s family is nothing. You surely can’t mean me.” There was a real humility manifested in this fellow Saul.
When Samuel laid out the fact that he was to be the king and all, when he got home and his uncle said, “What took you so long?”
He said, “Oh man we really got lost.”
He said, “We finally ended up with Samuel.”
And he said, “Oh, what did Samuel tell you?”
He said, “He told us that the donkeys had come home.”
But he didn’t bother, you know, he didn’t say to his uncle, “He told me I was going to be king” and this kind of stuff. I mean there was none of that. There seemed to be a true humility.
It is tragic that as the story progresses of the life of Saul, one of the bad characteristics of his later life is the lack of humility. This spiritual pride, this more than, just plain pride that took over in his life. Starting out a very humble man, but as time progressed he became a very proud man. But in this particular case here, the men were ready to go out and wipe out these guys who had spoken against him. He said, “Oh no. God has wrought salvation in Israel and thus there’ll be no recrimination.” So here is still right at the beginning, signs of real good qualities of humility.
So all of the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul the king before the Lord; and they sacrificed the sacrifices of peace offerings; and Saul and the men of Israel rejoiced greatly (11:15).
So there was a reconfirmation. But this was really, “Hey, this is the fellow. This is the man.” And now the general acknowledgment of Saul as king.
Now in the twelfth chapter Samuel is now sort of stepping down because they have now proclaimed the king. So his career as the judge over Israel has pretty much come to an end, as the reigns of government are now turned over from the theocracy, Samuel the judge speaking for God to the people, now to a monarchy where Saul is ruling. So Samuel is stepping down. This is more or less his farewell speech to the people. He is going to go into pretty much political obscurity after this point. He’s going to step into the background. He will be dealing not with the people; he will be dealing with Saul and with individuals, but no longer the public figure in leading Israel. So this is his last, final speech to Israel in chapter twelve.
Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in that you have asked that I should set a king over you. And now, behold, the king is walking there before you: and I am old, I’m gray-haired; and my sons are with you: and I have walked with you from my childhood to this day (12:1-2).
So you do remember that he started out his career extremely early. As soon as he was weaned he was a public figure. He was there in the place of worship. The people who would gather for worship saw this little boy year by year as he grew and as he developed. They recognized that God’s hand was upon this young man. He just sort of naturally grew into the position of leadership and judge over Israel.
Now [He declares] here I am: and I want you to witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? whose donkey have I taken? [“Who have I defrauded?”] who have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind my eyes? tell me and I will restore it (12:3).
In other words, he is declaring his innocency before the people. “Look, I didn’t take from you at all. I didn’t take from you your oxen, your donkeys. I didn’t accept bribes. I’ve not oppressed you. If anyone feels that I’ve oppressed you, anyone feels I’ve defrauded, step forward, and I will pay.” Really Samuel did have a very beautiful and remarkable career as the judge of Israel. Extremely outstanding person.
So they answered, You haven’t defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither have you taken anything from us. And he said unto them, The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand. And they answered, God is witness (12:4-5).
“If you swear God is witness, I’ve not taken anything from you.” “That’s right, we swear to that.
So Samuel said unto the people, [Rehearsing now their history a little bit.] It is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron, and they brought your fathers out of the land of Egypt. Now stand still, for a minute that I might reason with you before the Lord of all the righteous acts which the Lord did to you and your fathers (12:6-7).
Now he is seeking now to justify God. He’s justified himself; “Look I’ve taken nothing.”
“Now I want to show you that the Lord is also clean, that the Lord has treated you right. That He has never mistreated you or your fathers. That which the Lord has done has been fair and just.”
When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried to the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, and they brought your fathers out of Egypt, and made them to dwell in this place. And when your fathers forgot the Lord their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, who was the captain of the host of Hazor, and then into the hand of the Philistines, and then into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and we have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve you. And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you dwelled safely. And when you saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, you said unto me, No; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king (12:8-12).
“Now I want you to acknowledge this that God was fair and just. Your father Jacob went down to Egypt, and there your fathers were oppressed. They cried unto God, God sent Moses and Aaron who brought them out of Egypt, and to this place. But when your fathers began to forsake God, then they were forsaken of God. It was only after they had forsaken God that their enemies came in and began to oppress them. But they cried unto God, and God sent deliverers.” these various judges.
He names some of the judges that God used as the deliverer, finally Himself. But now you are faced with another crisis and rather than crying out unto God for His deliverance, you are now asking for a king. In thus doing, you are rejecting God from being king. So you are going from a theocracy, a people governed by God, to a monarchy, people governed by an earthly king.
Now therefore behold the king that you have chosen, and you have desired. [“Here he is, take a look at him.”] and, behold, the Lord has set a king over you. If you will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against his commandment, then shall both you and the king that reigns over you continue following the Lord your God: But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, and you rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you, as it was against your fathers.
Now I want you to stand and see this great thing, which the Lord is going to do before your eyes. Today is the day of the wheat harvest. I’m going to call unto the Lord, and he’s going to send thunder and rain; that you might perceive and know that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for a king. So Samuel called unto the Lord; the Lord sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil thing, to ask us a king. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: you have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain (12:13-21).
So Samuel says, “Look you’ve done an evil thing in asking for a king. That you might know how wicked it is, God’s going to show you a wonder. I’m going to ask God to send thunder and rain upon your wheat harvest.”
There in the sight of the people God sent thunder and rain. So as the thunder began to clap around them, and the rain began to fall, they said, “Oh we’ve sinned, we’ve done wickedly. Pray that God not destroy us.”
Now it is interesting, they aren’t really repenting. The repentance means a change, a true repentance they would’ve said, “Oh get rid of Saul. We’ll let God serve us or reign over us. We’ll serve God.” That would’ve been repentance. But theirs is, “Oh we’re sorry, but we still want our king.”
Now there is a difference between sorrow and repentance. The Lord requires repentance from sin, not just a sorrow for sin. So often we have a sorrow because of the consequences of our sin, but we go on doing it. God wants repentance, that is a turning away from the evil in our lives. God requires repentance.
So they said, “Pray that we will not die.”
Samuel said to them, “You’re not going to die, but just make sure that you don’t quit serving the Lord, for if you do, you’re going to start serving other gods, vain things, which cannot profit or deliver.”
Now he declared this because he knew the nature of man. You’ve got to serve somebody. If you are not serving God, you’re going to be serving some vain thing that really can’t help you or deliver you, that is really no profit to you. We look around the world today and we see the vain things that men are worshiping or serving. But you cannot serve God and mammon. They are mutually exclusive. If you forsake serving the Lord, because you’ve got to serve somebody, you’re going to start serving vain things, which when your time of trouble and peril arises, they’ll not be able to profit you or to deliver you.
But if you serve the Lord he will not forsake you for his great name’s sake; because it has pleased the Lord to make you his people (12:22).
“Now for God’s reasons He’s pleased to make you His people. If you’ll just serve Him, He will not forsake you.”
Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and right way (12:23):
Now here Samuel brings up something that to me is quite interesting. They said, when they realized their wickedness, they said, “Pray for us that we not die.” In response to that Samuel said, “As for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.” In other words, not praying is sinful. Not praying is sinning against the Lord. “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.”
Now if God has commanded us to pray one for another, then our failure to pray for one another is disobedient to the command of God, and disobedience to God’s command is sin. The Lord has told us we are to pray one for another. Therefore we are all of us required to pray for each other. God forbid that we should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for one another. Oh, that we would realize the awful sin of prayerlessness in our lives. That not to pray, not to spend time in prayer with the Lord is actually sinning against the Lord. It’s sinning against His commands to us.
Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things he has done for you. [Just consider the wonderful things God has done for you, and then serve Him with all your heart.] But if you continue in wickedness, just know you’re going to be consumed, both you and your king (12:24-25).
Now Saul reigned for one year over Israel; and in the second year of his reign, He chose three thousand men of Israel; and he took two thousand under his command in Michmash and a thousand were given to Jonathan under his command the son of Saul in Gibeah: and the rest of the people he sent to their own tents. And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear. And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal (13:1-4).
So Jonathan was out wiping out the Philistines and Saul was around blowing the trumpet, and taking the glory and announcing that he had smitten the Philistines so that the Israelites heard that Saul had smitten the Philistines with a great slaughter.
Now the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, [They really gathered the whole army.] thirty thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, and people like the sand of the sea were in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven. And when the men of Israel saw that they were there sort of trapped, (for the people were distressed) then the people started hiding in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in the mountain tops, and in the pits. And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. For Saul, was down there in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling (13:5-7).
I mean this was a tremendous formidable force of the Philistines that had come against them. People were hiding. Some were actually deserting, crossing Jordan going over to the other side to Gad, to Gilead, and those that were with Saul were trembling.
And he waited for seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: [for Samuel said, I’ll meet you there in Gilgal in seven days.] And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and a peace offering. And he offered the burnt offering. And it came to pass that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him that he might greet him. And Samuel said, What have you done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days that were appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore I said, The Philistines will come now upon me to Gilgal, and I have made supplication to the Lord: so I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God which he commanded thee: for now he would have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever (13:8-13).
In other words, He would have made it the dynasty of Saul.
Now Samuel is straightforward. “What have you done?”
“Oh, I forced myself.” and gave all of his excuses.
He said, “You have done foolishly in that you have not obeyed the commandment of the Lord.”
Anytime you deliberately, willfully disobey the commandment of God, you are doing foolishly. God’s ways are best. God’s ways are right, and for me to presume that I can do, or improve on God’s ways is sheer folly. If I think I can improve my position by disobeying God, that’s sheer folly. So the prophet laid it out to him, “You have done foolishly in that you have not obeyed the commandment of the Lord. For the Lord would’ve established your kingdom for ever upon Israel.”
But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his own people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee (13:14).
So here is Saul’s rejection by God as the continuing king. God is now searching out a man to take his place.
And Samuel arose, and went from Gilgal to Gibeah there among the tribe of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men (13:15).
Now you remember there are thirty thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen and Philistines, like the sands of the sea. Saul has six thousand or six hundred that haven’t deserted him.
And spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: and one company turned unto the way that leads to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual: And another company turned by way of Bethhoron: and another company turned to the way of the border that looks to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness. Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel (13:17-19):
Thought that was interesting in searching for my heritage. So at this time, interestingly enough, the Jews had not yet developed any forging kind of processes, or iron, the development of iron implements, although the Philistines and all the people of the land around them had entered into the Iron Age. The Hebrews had not yet really developed the capacity for smelting and all, and they had not yet themselves entered into the Iron Age. In fact, when they wanted to sharpen their picks, or their hoes or their farm implements, they had to go down to the Philistines to have them sharpened because they really didn’t have any blacksmiths in Israel at this particular time. By the time of Solomon they began to really develop in these skills. In fact, they were highly developed by the time of Solomon. But at this time they had not yet developed these skills. Actually the Philistines had deliberately kept them from developing these skills because they didn’t want them making swords and really being able to create real fighting implements.
So all the Israelites had to go down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, or coulter, or the axe, or the mattock. And yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: only Saul and Jonathan had spears (13:20-22).
Now that’s not a very well-equipped army against the thirty thousand chariots and the horsemen. “Guys all you’ve got are sticks; fashion a club or something.” But you’re going out against guys with shields, and spears and swords and all, and so you’ve got a small army and surely you are mismatched in equipment and all, hopelessly mismatched. There’s absolutely no way that you can go out against this highly developed army with their superior weapons and superior numbers and hope to have any kind of victory. You’ve got six hundred men with clubs and sticks, and you’re facing an army that can’t even be counted with spears, swords, shields.
Which introduces chapter fourteen, which is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.
Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man that bear his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison on the other side. But he did not tell his father. And Saul tarried in the uttermost parts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men; And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas (14:1-3),
And so forth, it gives these guys in background. You don’t remember them anyhow, let me just tell you the story.
Jonathan the son of Saul woke up early one morning. He got to thinking, no one else was awake yet. He got to thinking “You know, there’s a whole army of the Philistines over there. Maybe God wants to give Israel the victory over that army of the Philistines today. Now if the Lord wants to give the victory to Israel over those Philistines, He doesn’t need a whole army. He can give the victory to one man as well as six hundred or to two. It really doesn’t make any difference to God whether we have a huge army, or whether we just have a few if God wants to give the victory to Israel.”
He was just lying there thinking about these kinds of wild thoughts. “After all God is great, and the greatness and the power of God, He doesn’t need a whole army, He can give the victory to just two men.”
So he woke up his armorbearer. He said, “I’ve been thinking about something really weird and wild, I want to pass it by you. I’ve been thinking if God wants to give the victory to Israel today over the Philistines, He doesn’t need the whole army. He can give the victory to just a couple guys. Why don’t we go over there and see if God wants to give the victory to Israel today.” Talk about a venture in faith. I love ‘em.
So he and the armourbearer dressed quietly and they slipped out of camp while everybody else was still sleeping. Jonathan on the way towards the Philistines said, “Now we want to make sure God’s in this thing.”
“So when we get near the garrison of the Philistines, when the centurions spot us, if they say, ‘Hey you fellas come up here we’ll show you a thing or two.’ Then we’ll know that God wants to give the victory to Israel, and we’ll go at them. But if they say, ‘Wait you guys, we’re going to come down and show you a thing or two.’ Then we’ll know that God doesn’t want to give the victory to Israel and we’ll get out of here as fast as we can.”
So as they got over near the garrison of the Philistines, and the centurion spotted these two guys coming, they said, “Look at those stupid fools coming right up here to the camp. Hey you guys come up here, we’ll show you a thing or two.”
John said, “All right man let’s go.”
It said, “They started climbing with their hands and feet,” really just scrambling up that hill to get into the camp of the Philistines. Man, they jumped right in the middle of the garrison. Jonathan started knocking the guys over, and his armourbearer was running them through. About a half acre of ground, they wiped out twenty of the Philistines and the rest of the guys began waking up, they were all discomfitted. They began to swing at each other. They began to run and flee, and over on the other side of the valley old Saul finally woke up, and he rubbed his eyes, and he looked across, and he saw the Philistines all running. He saw the battles going on. He saw two guys in the middle just really wiping them out.
He said, “Number off quick who’s missing?” They numbered off, and they said, “It’s Jonathan and his armourbearer.”
Now Saul at this point makes a foolish statement. Saul said, “Let the man be cursed who eats anything today before God has avenged Saul of all of his enemies.” Now the man, who was so humble to begin with, is now beginning to manifest some real pride. “Saul of all of his enemies, God curse any man who eats anything today before Saul is avenged of all of his enemies.” A foolish curse and vow.
So the men with Saul began to pursue the Philistines. All day long the Philistines were in disarray and retreating. As they were running through the woods, there was a honeycomb, and it was dripping honey down to the ground. Old Jonathan running through took his spear and put out the end of it and began to eat the honey, and he was revived, he was refreshed. Actually he’d been chasing Philistines all day and he was just about shot physically, and honey is such a quick energy source. Just it zings right into your system. He was refreshed, and took off again chasing the Philistines. God gave a great victory to Israel that day over the Philistines.
But I like the philosophy of Jonathan. I like the daring. I like the venture in faith. “Who knows what God wants to do today. If God wants to do something, He doesn’t need a whole army. He can do it with one as well as a thousand. Let’s see what God wants to do. Let’s venture out and find out what God might want to do today.” I love those kinds of days when you just sort of venture out to see what God might want to do.
Now as the troops gathered together, and sort of surveying the victory. Saul said, “Let’s chase them tonight. We’ve got them on the run, let’s go after them tonight and wipe them out completely.” So they called the priests there and they said, “Inquire of the Lord shall we chase them”. There was no answers from God.
So Saul said, “All right who ate today?” Figured that someone had broken his vow because God wasn’t answering by the priests. So none of the men would say anything. He said, “If it is even Jonathan my son, surely he shall be put to death.”
So he said, “You guys all stand over there. Jonathan and I will stand here. And God give us a perfect lot.” They cast lots, and it fell on Jonathan and Saul. So they cast lots again and it fell on Jonathan.
Saul said, “What did you do?”
He said, “Well, dad I really didn’t know that you had made that curse and I was running through the woods, and I saw this honeycomb dripping honey. I was famished and I was about wiped out, so I took and ate some of the honey.”
He said, “My soul was revived.”
He said, “Dad, it wasn’t very smart for you not to let these guys eat. Had you let them eat of the spoils today, they would’ve had enough strength, we would’ve continued to pursue and totally wiped out the Philistines. Wasn’t so smart, dad, the thing that you said.”
Saul said, “Put him to death.”
At this point the men stepped in and said, “Oh no way. For he has wrought, or fought with God today. No man’s going to touch him, no man will lay his hand upon him.” I like the statement, “For he hath wrought with God this day.” So the people rescued Jonathan and he wasn’t killed by his father.
So we see now there’s a bit of madness beginning to enter this man. Started out such a beautiful way. Started out with such tremendous potential and possibilities. But pride entered in. We see now the pride developing. This man again who had such a marvelous potential is gradually deteriorating before our very eyes, as he begins to exalt himself and turn from God.
Now as we get into chapter fifteen,
Samuel came to Saul, and said, The Lord sent me to anoint you to be king over his people, over Israel: now hearken unto the voice of the words of the Lord (15:1).
Now he has shown a pattern of disobedience up to this point. He has become self-willed, doing his own thing. So the prophet is coming and warning him. This to me is very significant, because God does seek to warn us from our self-willed path of destruction. God doesn’t just let you trip off into the path of destruction, without coming and giving you fair warning, oftentimes, repeated warnings.
The Bible said, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck”(Proverbs 29:1). So God is faithful and God comes and He warns you, “Hey the path you’re choosing, the way of self-will is destroying you. Don’t do it.” Now listen to God, pay attention, obey the voice of the Lord.
So Samuel is coming with a warning for him and telling him of a mission that God is sending him on. “Now hearken to the voice of the words of the Lord.”
For the Lord said, I remember the Amaleks that when you were trying to come into the land, they withstood you. And therefore God wants you to go down and utterly wipe out the Amaleks; every man, woman, child, animal. [Don’t take anything back alive, utterly slay everything] (15:2-3).
In order that God might be avenged against the Amaleks. Now you think, “Oh that’s a horrible command of God.” You would think so until historically you would study the practices and all of the Amaleks. They were so corrupt. They were going to wipe out themselves. God was just ordering really the eradication of a cancer within the society. They were like mad dogs. If you don’t destroy them, they’re going to hurt innocent people. So God ordered the utter destruction of the Amaleks.
Now another factor here is that the Amaleks are always a type of the flesh in the Scripture. The Amalek’s being a type of the flesh; God is ordering the utter destruction of the flesh. “Wipe it out completely, don’t give any place for the flesh.”
The Bible says, “to fulfill the desires thereof. Crucify the old man, the old nature. If you by the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, put it to death” (Romans 8:13). God says, “don’t give place for it, utterly wipe it out.”
Now Saul went down with the armies, and God gave victory over the Amaleks. However, they saw some of the cattle and some of the sheep were really good stock, and so they set them aside. He spared the king alive, but the sickly sheep, the sickly cows they really hacked them to pieces, didn’t give them a chance. That which was sickly and that which is not so good, they just utterly destroyed that, but the good, the healthy, the strong, they preserved them.
Now whatever this is, it is disobedience to the command of God. It is again another opportunity for Saul to redeem himself in obeying the command of the Lord. But it is disobedient, his failure to utterly wipe out the Amaleks, all of their cattle, and all of their sheep and so forth.
Now as we progress in history, and we’re going to go into the time machine now, and we’re going to go ahead in history a few hundred years. The story that is familiar with many of you, all of you have read the Bible, how that when Ester was chosen queen in Persia, there was one man in the kingdom of Persia that was seeking to destroy all the Jews because he could not stand this Jew “Mordecai”, who refused to bow to him. He had such a hatred for this man, he perpetrated a scheme whereby all of the Jews were to be wiped out and he had the king sign a decree that on a given day, all the Jews would be wiped out in all the kingdom of Persia.
This wicked man’s name was Haman. Now soon the Jews are going to have, I think March second, the feast of Purim. The feast of Purim is in celebration of God’s delivering them from the hand of this wicked “Haman”.
Now in Israel, it is like Halloween almost, in that the little children dress in costumes. The boys dress in the costumes of the villain Haman, ugly mask, and their costumes. The little girls dress up like Ester, and all the little girls are so beautiful, and of course they have their masks and their little wands and everything else. It is like a Halloween. They’ll gather together and they have a sort of a party actually. They have the cookies and so forth, the Haman’s hat, cookies, and all of this, and it’s quite a thing over there. It’s actually a Holiday, the feast of Purim.
But the thing I want to point out is the nationality of Haman. He was a descendant of the king of the Amaleks, “Agag”. He was an Agagite. A descendant from Agag, so that Saul failing to completely obey God, almost cost Israel its whole national existence later on because he failed to completely obey the command of God. It almost cost the Jews in later history their very existence. This Haman the Agagite almost wiped them out completely.
Which if you do not bring your flesh to the cross, if you do not mortify the deeds of the flesh, if you seek to make allowances and tolerances, and say, “Well, that’s a pretty good part of me, it isn’t too bad,” your flesh will come back to destroy you. We must bring the old man to the cross. We must not give place to the flesh to fulfill its desires. We must reckon the old man to be dead, and failure to do so can create real problems down the line. Your flesh will come back to haunt you and it will come back to destroy your relationship with God. God wants you to bring your flesh to the cross and there reckon the flesh, the old man to be dead.
Saul failed to obey the command of God keeping the best cattle and sheep and so forth. So as he came back with the spoils of war. Old Samuel, who is now an old man, can’t see very well, he comes out to meet Saul.
And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said to him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord (15:13).
Liar. But notice the spiritual language. “Blessed be thou of the Lord.” Now a lot of people can use spiritual jargon, but it really doesn’t mean anything. They go around saying, “Oh, praise the Lord. Oh bless God.” while they’re picking your pocket.
That’s right. There’s a young boy in Israel. He meets us always at the—he’s an Arab boy, and he meets us always when we’re coming down the path of the Mount of Olives. “Oh, Christians. America. Oh praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah, hallelujah. Oh, Christians from California? Oh yes. Brother, brother.” Watch out. Your wallet or your pen or something will be gone after his embrace. “Praise God. Hallelujah.” “Fat wallet, praise the Lord.” Spiritual jargon, it doesn’t prove anything. You can be a crook and use spiritual language. Often it is used as a disguise. “Blessed be thou of the Lord: I’ve done everything, I’ve performed all the Lord commanded me.”
Oh Samuel was not deceived, he said,
[If you’ve done everything that the Lord commanded you,] then what means the bleating of the sheep, and the lowing of the cows that I hear? [“Don’t give me that business.”] And Saul said, Oh they brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed (15:14-15).
Now again remember Saul has developed a pattern of making excuses. When faced with his wrong, rather than repenting, when he offered the sacrifices in disobedience to God and Samuel called him for it, he said, “Oh, the people, you know, they were scattered and I forced myself. It was because of the people.” Now again faced “What do you mean that you’ve done everything? If you have, how come I hear the sheep and the cattle?”
“Oh well, the people, they kept the best. They brought them back to sacrifice.” Religious excuses are the most damnable of all.
And Samuel said unto Saul, [Just wait a minute pal,] I’m going to tell you what the Lord said to me tonight. [And Saul said,] Say on. And Samuel said, When you were little in your own sight, you were made the head over the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed you to be king over Israel? And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, [Notice the sinners, the Amalekites.] and fight against them until they be consumed. Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but you did fly upon the spoil, and you did evil in the sight of the Lord? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yes, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and I’ve gone the way which the Lord sent me, and I’ve brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites (15:16-20).
He was lying; he was not repenting. But you see when he was little in his own sight, there was a difference then, but now he’s become puffed up. Pride has filled his life and it’s about to destroy him.
Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice, and to hearken to God is better than the fat of rams [which is burned in the sacrifices] (15:22).
Flimsy excuse. God isn’t interested in the sacrifices from a disobedient heart and life. God would much rather you obey Him than offer sacrifices. Many times people are giving to God in order to cover their feelings of guilt. Giving to God is not a sign necessarily of great spirituality. People can feel very guilty, “Oh, I’m going to make a sacrifice unto God” because they feel so guilty for their disobedience. God would rather have your obedience than your sacrifice. “To hearken to the voice of God is better than to offer the fat of rams upon the altar.”
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry (15:23).
In other words, if you’re rebelling against God, that’s just as bad as if you were into witchcraft. If you have a stubborn spirit, you’re no better off than the person who is worshiping an idol. This business of rebellion and stubbornness is something that God is not pleased with in our lives. Rebellion is just as bad as witchcraft. Stubbornness is just as bad as idolatry.
And because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king. [The official rejection, “That’s it God has rejected your kingship”] And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: [But notice it isn’t a full repentance.] because [he said] I feared the people, and obeyed their voice (15:23-24).
Oh, he didn’t fear the people. Again he’s just offering a lame excuse for his disobedience. God would rather have just a straight, frank confession. “God, I blew it. I was wrong. I sinned. God, I’m sorry, I repent.” God wants—there’s no sign of repentance in this at all. Some people think it’s cute to say, “Oh, I’m a sinner.” That isn’t repentance, it’s only a declaration of a blasphemous truth. “Oh, I sinned.” Doesn’t make anything out of you, forsaking the sin is what is important. Turning from the sin, the repentance is what God is seeking.
Now therefore, [he said] I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that we might worship the Lord. And Samuel said to Saul, I will not return with you: for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being the king over Israel. And Samuel turned to go away, and he grabbed hold of him, and tore his coat. And Samuel said unto him, The Lord has torn the kingdom from you this day, and has given it to a neighbour that is better than you are. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent (15:25-29).
Now the “Strength of Israel”, here being a reference to God. Notice, “The Strength of Israel will not lie or repent.” Now in Numbers we read, “For God is not a man that He should repent. Hath He not spoken? Shall He not make it good?” But in just a few verses we’re going to read where he says, “God repented that He made you king.” How come this kind of a dichotomy? “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent, for He is not a man that He should repent.”
Then Saul again said, I have sinned, yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, [In other words, “Make me look good in front of the people, I’ve sinned.”] and before Israel, turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord thy God. [Notice not the Lord my God, the Lord thy God.] So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshiped the Lord. Then said Samuel, Bring hither Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is passed. And Samuel said, As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal. Then Samuel went back to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah. And Samuel came no more to see Saul til the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel (15:30-35).
So God there “the Strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent.” Then what does it mean it repented the Lord that He made Saul king over Israel? There is always a difficulty in expressing God and the characteristics of God and the actions of God in human language, but all we have is human language.
Now God has characteristics, abilities, that we have no human language for, for we have no way of experiencing these things. I cannot even think how God thinks, because He knows everything. How does He even think when He knows everything to begin with? Now how can I even express the way that God thinks? How can I express the actions of God? I can only express them with human terms, as they appear to be from my human standpoint, but yet I am bound with human language.
Now I’m certain that there is a vocabulary of heaven that is far broader, and capable of expressing these things in languages, that if we heard it, we wouldn’t know it because we have nothing that will equal it in human experience. So we are seeking to describe now an action of God, and that is the action of turning away His favor from Saul, the change of God’s attitude towards Saul.
Now the word “repent,” meaning change, God is changing now His attitude towards Saul. We have only one word to describe that change, “repent.” But yet we have just read in a true sense, “God is not a man that He lies, or repents.” But yet we have this human language barrier. So we have to express the activities of God with human language. The only word we have to express this particular action of God’s obvious change in attitude towards Saul, the only word we have to express this obvious change is “repent.” Yet because it is God’s action, it isn’t a “repentance” as we think of repent in our human minds. But it is the only vocabulary word that we have to express this change of attitude, so we use the word. But it isn’t “repent” in the same way that a man repents from his decisions or his doings. I hope I’ve helped you. I don’t know.
So God said to Samuel, How long are you going to mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from being the king, or reigning over Israel? [This change of attitude, “I’ve rejected him, now how long are you going to mourn?”] fill your horn with oil, and go, and I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided a king from among his sons. And Samuel said, Lord if Saul hears I’ve gone down to anoint someone else to be king, he’ll kill me (16:1-2).
Now that shows you how far Saul has strayed from the Lord, and the things of the Lord, he would actually kill the prophet of God. Samuel realized this, “This guy is really gone off the deep end. Lord if he hears I’m going to go down and anoint another king, he’s going to kill me.”
And the Lord said, Well take with you a heifer, and [if they say, Where are you going?] just say, I’m going to offer a sacrifice. And then invite Jesse and his sons to come to the sacrifice. So Samuel came down to the house of Jesse, [and he said to Jesse] Jesse said to him, Have you come peaceably? And he said, Yes, I’ve come peaceably: I’ve come to sacrifice to the Lord: so sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, called them to the sacrifice. And it came to pass, when the first son came in, Eliab, [he was a good-looking fellow,] and Samuel thought, Oh surely this good looking fellow is the one the Lord has chosen. [“This is God’s choice.”] And God spoke to Samuel, and said, Don’t look on the outward appearance, [because I don’t judge as men judge; men judge from the outward appearance. God said, I judge the heart. So don’t judge from just the outward appearance, I’m judging the hearts. Eliab is not the one.”] For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward, God looks on the heart. So he called his next son Abinadab, the Lord said, [Nope.] And so he called Shammah. And the Lord said, [Nope.] And he made all seven sons to pass before Samuel. And the Lord said no to all of them. [Samuel said, “Uh oh, what’s going on here?”] Do you have any more sons? is that all? He said, Well the other one’s just a little boy, he’s out watching the sheep. Samuel said, Call him in. [And as David came in with the smell of the sheep and the fields upon him, as a little boy,] the Lord spoke to Samuel, now he was ruddy, [Had a good tan.] but withal he had a beautiful face, and he was just good looking. And the Lord said, Arise, and anoint him: for this is the one. And Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers: and the spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose, and went back to Ramah (16:2-13).
So here’s the anointing of David to be king over Israel. Now Saul was still on the throne, though David is now God’s anointed and God’s choice for king, still Saul is on the throne. We’re going to notice in the next few chapters that Saul is now going to do his very best by force to hang on to that which is no longer rightfully his. In a true, rightful sense, David is king. He’s been anointed king. The anointing of God and the power of His Spirit and the anointing is resting upon David as king; however, Saul is still on the throne. Saul is going to try to drive David out of the kingdom by force, the kingdom which is now rightfully his.
There’s the sequel to this. Jesus through His death upon the cross has redeemed the world back to God and is now the rightful King, God’s choice and God’s anointed. However, Satan is still upon the throne and Satan is doing his best to hold by force, that which is no longer rightfully his, doing his best to hold back the kingdom of God from the earth. But Jesus Christ is the rightful King, and we can claim His victory, and we can force the enemy off of His territory. But the enemy is stubborn. He only yields when he must; thus, your prayers must be specific.
Instead of “God save the world,” you’ve got to bring individuals before God, specific individuals, and say, “Lord, You died that You might reign as King in their lives, and they’re being held by the power of Satan and the power of darkness, but Jesus has defeated the powers of the enemy.
Colossians, chapter two, “He triumphed over these principalities and powers, through His cross making an open display of His victory.”
“Therefore, I claim the victory of Jesus Christ in this life, and I come against the power of Satan that is holding them captive. I come against the powers of darkness that have blinded their eyes to the truth. In Jesus’ name, release them from this blindness, from the prejudice that Satan has poisoned their minds against the Lord.” I can set them free from this power of Satan that they might have a freedom of choice.
Why do not men choose Christ? Because Satan has so controlled their mind and holds them under his grip so that they cannot have a free choice. They are actually being held captives by Satan who has taken them captive, even against their wills. The god of this world has blinded their eyes that they cannot see the truth, so my prayer has to be directed towards the enemy. Claiming the victory of Christ in that life, and claiming Christ’s victory until I see them set free from the blinding influence of Satan so that they can make a free choice. Any man when he can actually look at it with a free choice, without all the poison and prejudice that Satan has planted in their mind, would surely choose Jesus Christ. Only a fool would reject Him. So it is mine to bring them from the power and the captivity of Satan and set them free from this binding force, in order that they might make their choice for the true King. I can deliver people out of the power of darkness through prayer, this great spiritual weapon that God has made available to us.
But Satan is stubborn, he only yields when he must; therefore, your prayers have to be specific. He will counterattack as soon as you drive him off of his territory, he’ll counterattack and try and take it back. Therefore, prayers must be persisted in, even after you begin to see the first signs of victory. Many times we make a mistake, we say, “Oh, look they went forward. Oh praise the Lord. Now who are we going to work on?” We’re no longer praying and holding that ground against the enemy, but Satan’s going to counterattack and going to try and take back the territory from which he’s been driven. Therefore we’ve got to hold it in prayer.
We are in a real warfare. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers,” (Ephesians 6:12) these forces of darkness. But though there is a tremendous battle that is going on between the forces of darkness and the forces of light, yet there is a decided victory already determined there at the cross, and it is ours to bring the victory of the cross into lives and into situations though prayer.
But Satan, as Saul, seeks to hold onto that which is no longer rightfully his. But when you come against him in the authority of the name of Jesus, he has to yield because he was defeated. But he is a brassy, stubborn guy. He’ll come in where he has no business being. He’ll take hold of that which he has no business having. Therefore, you have to deal with him very firmly in prayer. Not give place to him, not give him a place at all, but claim. Lay claim to the victories of Christ. You can have real victory in your life, you can bring victory to the lives of others around you through prayer.
So David was anointed to be king over Israel. Now at this particular point, we have an interesting Scripture, difficult to understand, verse fourteen,
But the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him (16:14).
What does that mean “an evil spirit from the Lord?” Well, I guess it means an evil spirit from the Lord, but that is difficult for us to reconcile in our minds.
Now I don’t want you all to get up and leave in a huff because I say something that may sound very radical. But I am convinced that in a unique and unusual kind of a way, Satan is actually serving God. He is serving purposes of God. If it were not for Satan then we would have no power of choice. If we had no power of choice, then God wouldn’t know if you really loved Him or not.
Satan could not exist unless God allowed him to exist, and the very fact that God allows him to exist means that he must be serving a purpose for God, otherwise there would be no reason of having Satan around at all. If he were not serving a purpose of God then God surely wouldn’t allow him his freedom today. But because he is serving a purpose of God, in order that you might be tested, in order that your love for God might indeed be a love of free choice, God has allowed Satan the liberty for he serves a purpose of God.
So in a broad sense all of creation is still serving the purposes of God. Even Satan, in his rebellion, for God has a purpose in that. You see, to give us the power of choice, and yet if there is no choice to make, what value is it to have a power of choice? “Here choose what book you want out of my hand.”
“Well there is no choice.”
In order to exercise choice there has to be the opposing side. So God has allowed Satan’s rebellion, has allowed Satan to go on, has allowed Satan the freedom, has allowed Satan the freedom to come and to tempt you and to hassle you, and to work on you, and to make it difficult for you to serve God. So that as you serve God, it is because of choice of serving God in spite of the obstacles, in spite of the difficulties. “God, I do love You.” My love for God is more or less proved by my choice to love Him in spite of the difficulty and obstacles that are placed in my way. Thus, God is assured that my love is genuine and my love for Him is true.
If I would say to my son, “Stay in the backyard while I go downtown.” and I go out and chain him to the big tree. When I get home, I go in the backyard and unlock him and say, “Aha, I’m proud of my boy; he’s obedient to his dad. Stayed right there in the backyard. Good boy.” Proud father.
My neighbors say, “You should’ve heard him cursing and screaming trying to get free.” He had no choice. There has to be the open door, the possibility, the opportunity to disobey in order that obedience is meaningful.
God wants from you meaningful love. Therefore, the choice must be given. Thus “an evil spirit from the Lord” or God allowed, perhaps, if that fits you better, an evil spirit to come, the spirit of the Lord.
Now I am convinced when the Spirit of God departs from your life, the door is open for evil spirits to really come. So an evil spirit allowed by the Lord, at least, came and began to harass Saul. The Spirit of God departed from him. What a sad time in a person’s life when God’s Spirit departs from his life. “And an evil spirit began to move in, and it troubled him.”
And Saul’s servants said, You need to find someone that’s skillful of playing the harp, and when you get in these bad moods, [Then of course, that’s actually what it was, he’d get mean, get sullen, and when these sullen mean streaks come on you,] then let him play on the harp skillfully, and let the beautiful music soothe you. And Saul said, Provide me a skillful harp player. And one of the servants said, I’ve seen a son of Jesse, he is a skillful player, he is a valiant man, a man of war, prudent in matters, he’s a beautiful person, and the Lord is with him. [These qualifications of David capped off by “the Lord is with him”, I love that.] Wherefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and he said, Send David your son, which is with the sheep. And Jesse took a donkey that was laden with bread, a bottle of wine, a young goat, and he sent them by David his son to Saul. And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer (16:15-21).
Actually, David had a great admiration for Saul. Of course just a young boy, and he was at that hero age, and Saul, big, tall, handsome fellow became sort of a hero in David’s eyes. David always respected Saul right to his death and even after his death. David never lost his respect for this man.
And Saul said to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he has found favour in my sight. And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took the harp, and he played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him (16:22-23).
Now how long this went on we are not told. But this beautiful relationship was soon to be shattered as we get into chapter seventeen. Because of the time, we’ll wait until next week and we’ll start with chapter seventeen next Sunday night.
Shall we stand? Listen in next week, same time, same station a continuation. Again may God grant to you a special blessing to you tonight as you drive home. May the Lord be with you even as He was with David. May your heart and life be open to the things of God’s Spirit, and may you have blessed communion with the Lord through the week. May God bless you especially for the sacrifices that you have made to gather together in obedience to His command, of not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together in these last days. May the strength of the Lord, and the joy of the Lord be your portion for this week, as you walk in beautiful fellowship with Him.