Flyover of 1 Samuel
1st & 2nd Samuel Lesson #002
February 10, 2015
Open your Bibles with me to 1 Samuel. Tonight we are going to do a flyover of 1 Samuel. I had given serious consideration to doing a flyover of both 1 & 2 Samuel. 2 Samuel has 24 chapters. 1 Samuel has 31 chapters. That’s 55 chapters. I didn’t think y’all could listen fast enough. I know you can’t write fast enough, but you certainly can’t listen fast enough. So that meant that by about 15 minutes into it everybody would be in about the second or third stage of anesthesia. So I’m just going to cover 1 Samuel and we’ll do a flyover of 1 Samuel. Now if you want the short version it’s real easy. It’s Samuel, Saul, David. You got that? Let’s close in prayer (laughter.) Okay, that’s the quick version but then we need to go down a little bit below that to see what is covered in each of those sections. Here’s a chart. This is it for the visuals tonight. I think this gives you the basic overview. You have Samuel who is God’s provision for Israel, and God is preparing Israel. As we open 1 Samuel, He is preparing Israel for their oppression by the Philistines by bringing about a tremendous change. What we see here is how God controls history. He controls history covertly, not overtly. He doesn’t show up on the scene. He controls it from behind the scenes. Now in the Old Testament (OT) where it’s clearly in an age where we have an incomplete canon. And so there’s direct revelation and direct guidance given to prophets and to leaders of Israel. But this is not normative. It is unique to those leaders. Samuel gets direct revelation from God. He channeled it to Saul. He told Saul. Saul didn’t get direct communication from God. David also received direct communication from God as a leader in Israel. But this was not normative. These kinds of direct communication from God are direct revelation in the OT. A lot of times you will hear people who think that this is normal. It was never normal. It was only through a very restriction of people, leaders, priests, prophets, kings, writers of Scripture, and it wasn’t all the time.
There were times when God did not speak and did not give revelation. We see that in our opening section in the first eight chapters. We’re told when we get to 1 Samuel 3 that God has been silent for some time and this dream, this vision, this revelation that comes to Samuel, his first prophecy in 1 Samuel 3, is new. This has not happened in recent history in Israel; and so that not only authenticates Samuel in his new role as a prophet, but it also awakens the people to the fact that God is doing something new. This is very similar to what happens at the end of the OT period when the OT revelation ceases and God is silent. There’s a period of silence from the close of the OT canon, approximately 440–430 B.C. For over 400 years there’s silence from God. From about 430 B.C. or so up until the time that Gabriel announces to Zechariah that his barren wife Elizabeth is going to give birth to a baby who will be the forerunner of the Messiah. So that period where God was silent and the only time you knew anything from God was if you picked up His Word and read the Word.
So we look at this first section. The key person is Samuel. The focus in these eight chapters, as I said a minute ago, is that God prepares to deliver Israel by a great change. Now one of the things I want you to note as we go through this: I’ll be developing an outline as we go through 1 Samuel, but I try to write my major points as far down into the details of the text as I can with God as the subject because especially in the OT in historical or narrative literature in the stories, who’s the hero? In a good story there’s always a hero and there’s always the enemy. Who’s the hero in the Bible? The hero is always God. This is one of the things I always have a little pet peeve about when you look at your study Bibles. You look at Bible Knowledge Commentary* and they give you an outline. They always phrase the outlines in terms of, for example, at the beginning of 1 Samuel 1 it would be something about the family of Elkanah. It would be something about Hannah. Making those individuals the subject of those sections. But they’re not the subject of the section because they are not the hero in the section. The real hero all the way through is God.
God is the one working, so I try to make these major divisions that way. The first section is that God prepares to deliver Israel by a great change. There’s a preparation that takes place in these first eight chapters, and this change agent is going to be this new prophet who is a prophet, priest and judge: the greatest of all the judges, the first of all the prophets. There hasn’t been a prophet since Moses, the first of all the prophets, and also a priest. He is in that sense a type of Christ. There’s a certain parallel. Christ is Prophet, Priest and King. Samuel was prophet, priest and judge. Then we are going to see that this period is very much like the period in Judges and not unlike modern contemporary society because it’s based upon a rejection of God as the absolute ruler of the universe, the Sovereign God Who created the Heavens and the Earth, and it’s replaced by everybody doing what’s right in their own eyes. It is a time of rank moral relativism and ignorance: not only an ignorance of the Mosaic Law, but a rejection and an abuse of the Mosaic Law by the very priests that are established by the Mosaic Law. That’s the family of Eli and his two rebellious perverse sons.
So by the time we get to the end of Samuel, we see that the people haven’t responded. They haven’t changed. They are still rejecting God. The main verse, key verse for Judges was what? “There was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes,” Judges 21:25. That is a double entendre. That there is no king in Israel means that not only was there not a king like Saul or David, but at that point in the theocracy, God was supposed to be the King and they had rejected God. Because they had rejected God and God’s absolutes, they were mired in moral relativism. What happens when we come to 1 Samuel 8 is Israel rejects this whole theocratic idea, and they want to have a king like every other king. 1 Samuel 8 is probably the best, most significant chapter on political theory that you have in the Bible along with one or two sections out of Deuteronomy.
In 1 Samuel 9 God is going to give the people what they want. It’s a reminder of Psalm 106:15 where commenting upon the lust of the Exodus generation for meat the writer of Psalm 106 says, “God gave them their request but sent leanness to their soul.” God is going to answer their request for king. What we’ll see is that the request wasn’t wrong. Their motive and their desire, what they wanted to get out of it, were wrong. They wanted to have a king like everybody else. They wanted to be like everybody else. That is a motto that is being engraved more and more deeply on the evangelical church of today. They want to have a culture in their church that is like that outside in the world so that the unbeliever in the world or the carnal Christian who’s in the world can come into the church and feel comfortable.
But the reality is that when an unbeliever comes into the church, they shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable by people who are self-righteous and who look at them and don’t talk to them or communicate the idea that they have to change a lot of things before they can become acceptable to God. That’s completely wrong. That’s arrogance and that’s legalism. But as the Word of God is taught with grace and love, they should become more and more uncomfortable as God the Holy Spirit convicts them of their unrighteousness and of their need for a Savior. And they are going to have one or two responses. They are either going to be negative, in which case they are going to react with hostility and anger and resentment, or they are going to be just as thankful as they can be that they have heard the wonderful message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So what has happened in Israel is that they have succumbed to the pressure of the world, and as we saw at the end of Judges, they have out Canaanited the Canaanites. They had out Philistined the Philistines. They have out perverted the perversions of all the nations around them so that they don’t look any different. At the end of the book of Judges, they don’t look any different from anybody else in the world. And sadly that is true about the church today. See, this is a sermon inside the whole message. That’s the sad point about the church and about a lot of Christians. It may be true about some of us. Our lives and how we react to adversity and difficulty and heartache and challenges in our life doesn’t look any different from the guy down the street who doesn’t have a clue who God is or who Jesus Christ is. Our lives are to be a visible testimony on how we react to disappointment; how we react to heartache; how we react to loss, to failure, should be different. How we react to other people. How we react to people who don’t like us. We are to love one another as Christ loves the church. That should be our greatest apologetic, our greatest non-verbal defense of Christianity.
Israel is that way, and what do they say? We want to have a king like everybody else. So God says, okay, I’ll give you a king like everybody else. You are going to have the same kind of lousy leadership that everybody else has, and I’m going to give you exactly the kind of person everybody else has. So we’re going to pick a king that is the best looking king. He’s going to be head and shoulders taller than everybody else. He’s going to be handsome; in fact in 1 Samuel 9 twice it mentions the fact that Saul is a handsome king. He is physically attractive. He’s the kind of guy that if you were going to pick somebody to run for president that’s who you would pick. There is a story about Warren G. Harding. Y’all love Warren G. Harding. Everybody here remembers Warren G. Harding. That’s your favorite president. Some people know that there were some good things about Warren G. Harding. He didn’t do much, which is the role of the federal government, not to do much, to keep their hands off of people.
But Warren G. Harding was picked for a very superficial reason. He was the first presidential candidate after women got to vote. He was picked because he looked attractive. He was handsome. He would appeal to the women voters. That’s one of the factors that went into selecting him. See, people are just superficial. We want somebody who’s going to look good. That’s why they picked John F. Kennedy instead of Richard Nixon after the debates in 1960 because Nixon didn’t “look good” on television. He had that “5 o’clock shadow”. We are very superficial. It fits with an existential framework. We are more concerned about appearance than substance. We want the president to look good and to sound good and to be articulate. The president may be brilliant, but if he stumbles over words and he can’t give a speech without a verbal blunders, then he can’t be president. He may be the best president in the world, but we reject him for various superficial reasons.
So Saul is picked for superficial reasons, and it is interesting when we look at 1 Samuel 9. The first thing we see happening is that his dad Kish has lost some donkeys. Saul is sent out to find the donkeys, and he can’t do it. He is incompetent. He goes three days. He can’t find his “ass” with both hands, or nine of them. He’s at a total loss. Now in Israel the picture throughout the Bible that is given of a good king is that he’s a good shepherd. He can take care of the flocks and the cattle and goats and everything. Saul can’t do that. He’s at an absolute loss. So the first picture that we see of Saul is that he is incompetent as a leader. The first picture we see of David is what? Usually it was the youngest in the family who went out to take care of the sheep. It was the grunt work, and so David was sent out to take care of the sheep. And he did a fabulous job. He was highly responsible. He was effective. He protected the sheep. There is an intended contrast there between Saul and David. Saul is a failure. He comes from the tribe of Benjamin, a tribe that has been a spiritual failure throughout the book of Judges.
David comes from the tribe of Judah, which is a tribe that is large and has been successful, and it is expected to produce leadership. So Saul is picked for all the wrong reasons, but God is the One who ultimately selected Him. Here’s the principle: we get the leader we deserve. Think about that. Start with the president and say, “this is the president this country deserves”, and just work it down from there, okay? That’s about all I need to say, but you get the point. We get the leader that reflects the values of the country. Now it doesn’t reflect everybody’s values. I don’t think it reflects the majority, but it’s a slim majority. And not all of them vote and not all of them go to the polls, not all of them pay attention to politics. We have a lot of Christians who think that that’s wrong to pay attention to politics. That’s sad because part of every Christian’s job is that we are to do everything to the glory of God. Everything, and that involves our citizenship responsibilities, which includes voting.
So under Saul you have some great pictures. Saul, as we’ll see when we study Saul, is a type of Satan. Now I think Saul was a believer for a number of reasons which we’ll get into. It says that he changes into a new man in 1 Samuel 10. Also when Samuel comes back, God allows him to return from the dead. The only person in history that has come back without resurrection from the dead. Others have come back through resurrection, but Samuel was not resurrected. He was allowed to return as a vision and to show up for the witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28. And in the things that Samuel said to Saul, “today you will be with me in Sheol, not across the gulf in the other side, but with me in Sheol.” That indicates again that Saul was saved. But Saul is used in a literary sense as a type of Satan, just as David is a type of the Messiah. As Saul persecutes David, that is a picture of what is going on in this Church Age between the anointing, as it were, of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Cross, when He establishes the sacrifice for the New Covenant. Between that event and His Second Coming, is analogous to the period in David’s life between his anointing and his being crowned as king.
When David was anointed as king, God didn’t remove Saul from being king. When Jesus cut the New Covenant on the Cross, Satan did not stop being the prince and power of the world; he didn’t stop being the god of this age; he still had control. Just as David had to deal with the opposition from Saul because he was living in Saul’s world; and Saul tried to kill him sixteen times over the course of those probably 10-12 years. David had to submit to his authority because he was the king. That’s not part of the typology, but he followed that persecution. In the same way we as a Church are going to be persecuted because we’re living in the devil’s world, and we have to bide our time until the Lord comes back and establishes His Kingdom.
We see from 1 Samuel 9–15 the rise of Saul, the establishment of his kingdom, the expansion of the kingdom of Israel under Saul’s military prowess; and then his spiritual decline, his disobedience to God. And at the same time in 1 Samuel 15, God rejects Saul from being king, but at that point doesn’t remove him from the throne, although He says He takes his kingdom from him. That doesn’t mean that he’s removed from being king. It means he’s not going to have a dynasty, that his son Jonathan is not going to be the heir. Saul will lose the kingdom. In 1 Samuel 16 Samuel anointed David as the king, and we see David’s rise during that period, from 1 Samuel 16–31, as the period basically when David is on the outs with Saul and is being persecuted. Then in 1 Samuel 31 the Philistines give a massive defeat to Saul’s army. Saul and his sons all die. Saul is so severely wounded that in order to protect himself from the abuse and the torture of the Philistines, he fell on his sword, committed suicide; and then his body was desecrated by the Philistines. His head was posted on the wall at Bet Shean.
It was up to the men of Jabesh Gilead coming form across the Jordan to come and to treat his body with respect and to bury him. That ends 1 Samuel, and it’s at the beginning of second Samuel that David hears the news, and that David then in 2 Samuel 2 is finally crowned king, but only of Judah and Hebron. He is the king there for 7 years before he unites the kingdom and the descendants of Saul give their allegiance to David. So that’s the second level of the flyover. So the simple level was Samuel, Saul, David. Now you’ve got it! Now we’ve gone through another level. Now we are going to drill down just a little bit further to see some of the details in each one of these particular sections. The first section again is that God prepares to deliver Israel by a great change. The old order is going to end. The order of the theocracy is going to be brought to a conclusion, and God is going to shift to something that has always been part of the plan, which was to have a king.
You go back to Deuteronomy 18, and there is instruction in the Law as to how frequently the king should read the Law. Everyday he should read it and make his own copy. The assumption there in Deuteronomy 18 is that the kings will do this. Well there was no basis yet in the Law or in Israel yet for a king. But it anticipated that there would be a king in the future. So it wasn’t that God wasn’t going to give them a king. He was. Now that king that God was going to provide for them was Plan A: David. But since the people were carnal, they jumped the gun and they wanted to have a king like everybody else, so God went to Plan B and said, okay, you want a king like everybody else? I’ll give you an ungodly king, an irresponsible king, a self-centered king, a king that is going to raise your taxes, and a king that is going to destroy your economy, and a king that is going to destroy the spiritual life in the country. I’ll give you that kind of a king because that’s what you want. So that’s what you are going to get.
We are going to see this transition. For the people to appreciate David they had to first learn the negative. Saul is a lesson in the negative. Samuel comes along, and at the very beginning of the book, we see this situation of spiritual darkness, spiritual confusion in Israel. We focus on a family, a specific individual in Ramathaim Zophim in the mountains of Ephraim. This is about 18–20 miles north of Jerusalem in the area today. It is part of the West Bank. We have this man Elkanah. It gives his genealogy there. He has two wives, which is not advocated by the Mosaic Law. You’ll often hear people talk about how the Bible accepts polygamy. It never gives a positive spin to polygamy. It always presents it as a problem. It is a problem here because you have these two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Hannah is the wife that Elkanah loves. He gives her a double portion, but God has closed her womb. She’s barren; she can’t have a child. This just makes her life miserable because she’s being persecuted by Peninnah.
Hannah goes to the Lord and takes her grief and her sorrow and sadness to Shiloh. We’ll learn a little bit about Shiloh or šīlō in Hebrew, the location of the tabernacle. There she prays and, she makes a vow to God that if God would allow her to become pregnant, she will dedicate the child to God. And while she is there praying she meets Eli. We are introduced to Eli the high priest, and he is a corpulent, lazy, abusive priest to the people, and his sons are worse. But we will get to him more when we get to 1 Samuel 3. We learn a little bit about the family of Elkanah, that they are focused on the LORD. They go to the tabernacle on a regular basis. They bring significant sacrifices, which shows that there is some wealth to the family of Elkanah. God answers Hannah’s prayer, and she becomes pregnant. We’re told that she keeps the child Samuel until he is weaned. That may surprise you, but in some Middle Eastern cultures a child will not be weaned until they are five or six years of age.
The first time I taught through this passage I was in my first church, and the lady who played the piano was about 35 years old and I found out afterwards she didn’t wean one of her children until he was old enough to understand why she wasn’t going to give him milk anymore. This is not unusual. In our modern society it is, but in an agrarian rural culture, which Israel was, it wasn’t unusual at all. Samuel was probably not a year and a half or two years old when she dropped him off at the tabernacle. He was probably four or five or six years of age even at the outset.
Then we have a wonderful prayer from Hannah, a prayer of gratitude to God. I want you to notice a couple of things. It focuses on the Lord, 1 Samuel 2:2 “No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none beside You, nor is there any rock like our God.” Now that is a great verse to memorize. It’s a great verse to use in prayer. It’s a great verse to be reminded about in times of difficulty because there is no source of stability greater than a rock and there is no rock greater than God.
“No one is holy like the Lord, there is none beside You, nor is there any rock like our God,” 1 Samuel 2:2. Then in this she also recognizes the key issue in this section is that God is the one Who is bringing life out of death. In 1 Samuel 2:6 she says, “The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and He brings up.” God is looking at the culture of Israel as a dead culture, a spiritually dead culture. What is God going to do? He is going to bring life where there is death. They begin in the death of paganism at the beginning and they are alive spiritually as the prototype of the Messiah. David becomes king when we get into 2 Samuel. So this foreshadows that. Another great line in this hymn is the end of 1 Samuel 2:8c, “For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s.” Ken Follett took a line from that for one of his novels. It’s a great historical novel, The Pillars of the Earth.
Then we see at the end of 2 Samuel 2:9, “For by strength no man shall prevail.” And that is one of the points that God is demonstrating here. Israel has been trying to do it their own way all along, and they failed. That is the same thing that is true for us. Then in 1 Samuel 2:10a notice, “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them.” How did Hannah have this insight? Tremendous insight, that through this child the order is going to change, and this is going to lead to the Messiah. For she says, “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them.” That’s reminiscent from Psalm 2 that the Lord and His Anointed will fight and destroy the rulers of the nations. It goes on to say that “the Lord will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His King,” 1 Samuel 2:10d.
Now if this isn’t a Messianic passage I don’t know what is. But notice how it also recognizes that God’s plan is for Israel to have a king. He will give strength through His king and exalt the horn of His anointed,” 1 Samuel 2:10d-e. That’s the first section. I’m spending a lot of time on this. Then Elkanah goes to his house. The child is left at the tabernacle. We’re introduced to the two wicked sons of Eli, who are about as spiritually depressed and degenerate and apostate as they can possibly be. They are spiritually raping the people, demanding that they pay for sacrifices and they are even demanding that the women who came to worship would prostitute themselves to them. So they are just as abusive as they can be towards the people. They are abusive leaders and abusive shepherds. They are contrasted to both Hannah in terms of God’s blessing upon them, as well as to Samuel.
I want you to know three times we have this statement at the end of 1 Samuel 2:21, “Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the Lord.” Then in 1 Samuel 2:26, “The child Samuel grew in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men.” Does that remind anybody of anything? Luke 2:52, speaking of young Jesus. He “grew in wisdom and stature.” That’s the only difference, “wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.” So this is definitely making a statement that Samuel is a prototype or type of the Messiah. Then if you look at 1 Samuel 3:19 we read again, “So Samuel grew and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” That means that Samuel didn’t say foolish things. If he prophesied, it always came to pass; that God honored Samuel because Samuel put the Lord first.
Now we get to 1 Samuel 3. We see Samuel as a young boy who’s sleeping inside the tabernacle. At the very beginning of the chapter, 1 Samuel 3:1, we read that “the Word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.” There’s no revelation from God taking place at all. He’s silent. But now He begins to speak to Samuel. It is so unusual that Samuel doesn’t realize what’s going on for a while. In 1 Samuel 3:7 it says “Samuel did not yet know the Lord.” That means it doesn’t have anything to do with salvation. It just means he hasn’t been communicating with God yet. And then the Lord calls to Samuel and gives him a prophecy in 1 Samuel 3:10–11: “Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” Then the Lord said to Samuel: “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.”
This is the core announcement in 1 Samuel 1–8 where God is announcing the shift that is going to take place. “In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile,” that’s a good word, not politically correct (PC), but it’s a good word; “and he did not restrain them.” We have a few people in our government who are vile. That would be a good word for some people to use. “And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever,” 1 Samuel 3:12–14. This goes back to a promise that God had made to another Phinehas. The two sons of Eli were Hopni and Phinehas actually. Phinehas is the grandson of Aaron, the son of Eleazar.
There was a promise that was made in Numbers 25:13 that God entered into a peace covenant, a covenant of the priesthood, with that Phinehas saying that the priesthood will never depart form your house. Well Eli wasn’t from the line of Phinehas. So God is now going to bring judgment against the house of Eli and eventually shift things over to the line that descends to the house of Zadok, which is why you have Zadokite priests in charge of the temple in the future Millennial Kingdom.
Then we come to 1 Samuel 4 where God is part of instituting this change. God is so irritated. That is an anthropopathism at Israel, judging them, that God removes Himself, in an interesting set of circumstances, from Israel. He has Himself captured in battle, at the battle of Aphek. This is such an overwhelming defeat for Israel that it results in the death of Hopni and Phinehas; and when Eli hears the news he falls over dead. His neck is broken, and he dies in 1 Samuel 4:18, for we are told “the man was old and heavy.” That’s another fatty in the Bible. He has judged Israel for 40 years. His daughter-in-law, who is the wife of Phinehas, is pregnant; and when she gave birth, they named the son Ichabod (ik-ê-bahd). Habod is the Hebrew word for glory. When you prefix it with an aleph, that means “no”. There is “no glory.” The glory has departed. That’s what Ichabod means, “no glory.”
Then we run through I think one of the funniest chapters in the Bible. One thing I learned years ago translating Samuel is that the writer of Samuel is extremely earthy in his language. He has great humor here. He pokes fun. There are a lot of puns in the Hebrew. There are a lot of little jabs at other religions, and this is one of them. God is no respecter of other religions. That is something we need to understand. God is not PC (politically correct). God does not respect the Mormons. God does not respect Islam. God does not respect the Buddhists. God does not respect the atheists. He says the atheists are fools and everybody else are idolaters and they’re idiots. Then He makes fun of them. Here we have a situation with the Philistines where they’ve captured the ark, and they have to figure out some place to put it. So they are going to show the superiority of their god to Israel’s God. So they’re going to put the ark in the temple of Dagon.
The next morning they go in, and this big statue to the fish god Dagon is lying down bowing down to the ark. So they say, okay, and they put him back up and the next day they go back in there, and now he’s fallen down, but his head and the palms of his hands have been broken off. It is showing that God is the One who is in control. Then God gave everybody hemorrhoids or tumors or something extremely uncomfortable so that they couldn’t sit down for a while. I have no idea what this looked like. In order to appease God, the Philistines’ idea was that if you made something that looked like the problem was, then that would somehow appease the god. So they made golden hemorrhoids! That’s got to be the only time in the English language where that adjective is applied to hemorrhoids.
Eventually, after the ark migrates they say, “uh-uh, we don’t want Him anymore; send Him over to Gath. We don’t want Him anymore; send Him to Ekron. We don’t want Him anymore send Him some place else.” Finally they decided they were going to send Him back after seven months. They’ve been visited with every plague in the world, and mice. Not only with the hemorrhoidsor tumors, or whatever they were, and the mice – and they just stick the ark on a cart, and they hook up a couple of milk cows, those are cows that have never been yoked, and hope that it will find its way back to Israel. Of course, God is in control, so they do. They come to Beth Shemesh, and the cart stops. So the people of Beth Shemesh make… – see this is what happens with paganism. You don’t understand the truth of God’s Word, so you mix things up, and it’s always bad. It’s always bad to compromise and to conflate things.
They have a superstitious view of the ark, but they are ignorant of the Law. They look inside the ark, and that’s going to end up getting 50,000 of them killed, because they’ve treated God with disrespect. But then they understand that they should do something respectful, so they take the wood from the cart and they split it and they offer the cows as burnt offerings. What we learn from this is if you are half right, you are all wrong, and the results are disastrous. Then in 1 Samuel 7 people at Beth Shemesh don’t want the ark either. Beth Shemesh is now the Arab village that is called Abu Gosh. If you have been to Israel with me, the last night that we are there, we go to Abu Gosh and we have a big dinner, a going away dinner, at an Arab restaurant in Abu Gosh. That is where it is located, about maybe 15 miles from Jerusalem.
They go to Kirjath Jearim and this is where the ark stays for a while. Then we are told in the rest of 1 Samuel 7 about how great Samuel is as the leader. He is the one who is the leader of Israel and he warns them in 1 Samuel 7:3, and this comes right out of Deuteronomy. 1 Samuel 7: 3, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” It’s not a matter of increasing your military budget. It’s not a matter of getting new technology, because what we learn is that the Philistines wouldn’t let them have iron, so they had an inferior military technology. It is not a matter of learning a new strategy. It’s a matter spiritually. Spiritual truth is the ultimate causative factor in everything personally and in the history of the world. You can’t measure that in a laboratory.
I am so tired of hearing Christians talk about various economic theories and legal theories and all these other things that are measured in the laboratory by social science. The one thing it leaves out is the spiritual factor; and the spiritual factor is it doesn’t matter how right your theory might be. If you’re not in right relationship with God, your country is going to go right down the tubes. It will get flushed by God. It doesn’t matter how good everything else may be. As we face the beginning of this next election cycle it doesn’t matter who gets elected to be in the White House the next time. It doesn’t matter what this congress is going to do because the culture hasn’t changed. And until the culture changes, everything else is camouflage. Everything else is just cosmetics.
Then we get into the end of this section, 1 Samuel 8. The people reject God, and they tell Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:6, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. Now Samuel would have been a little irritated. If he was normal, he would take that as rejection, and so God counsels him. This is biblical counseling. 1 Samuel 8:7a, “And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people’.” I am sure Samuel is saying wait a minute, what Lord? That is why the Lord repeated it again in 1 Samuel 8:9, “Now therefore, heed their voice.” 1 Samuel 8:7b, “Listen to the voice of the people and all that they say to you for they have not rejected you.” Pay attention to this. They haven’t rejected you; they have rejected Me, God says.
Remember this, when you are witnessing to people or you are talking to people in your family or people at work and you are presenting the gospel and you are taking about things, and they reject you and they think you are crazy and they think you’re nuts and they think you are some kind of religious fanatic. They are not rejecting you. Don’t take it personally. That’s what God said to expect. They are rejecting God. It’s not you. You’re just the messenger. So learn to relax a little. God says, “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” It is ultimately a theological issue. He then warns the people starting in 1 Samuel 8:10 of what’s going to happen when you get a king. He’s going to increase the bureaucracy; he’s going to raise taxes; he’s going to get involved in foreign wars; he’s going to draft your young men into the army and they are going to lose their lives on the battlefield in foreign battles.
1 Samuel 8:19, “Nevertheless the people said no, but we will have a king over us that we also may be like all the nations and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” We want to be like every other carnal idiot on the planet. So Saul is chosen to be king. God anoints him. God chooses him. There is no mistake. We are told he’s a Benjaminite in 1 Samuel 9:1–2. He’s choice, bahur. This is the same word that is used for election. He is choice. That means that he is a prime candidate. He is the best. He’s choice. He’s handsome. He’s choice in the sense that he looks the role. His name was Saul, from the shoulder upward he was taller than most of the people. But he’s spiritually dull because when they’re looking for these donkeys, and they’re camping out, his servant says well look, in this city nearby there’s a man of God.
Saul didn’t have a clue. Ramah, which is where Samuel was, isn’t that far from Gibeon where Saul was from, just less then 10 miles. Saul is totally ignorant of Samuel, totally ignorant of spiritual things. It shows where his priorities are. So he said to his servant, let’s go find him and when they do find Samuel, a little later on Samuel says, well this whole thing is all about you because God’s already told me that you’re coming. 1 Samuel 9:16 he said God told me yesterday that “tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may deliver, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.” So God is going to work through Saul and Saul will accomplish some things.
Now in 1 Samuel 10 Saul is anointed, and then there are going to be some miraculous things that happen. This authenticates Samuel’s choice. See, God doesn’t do things in private and stop there. Whenever God does something in private and Samuel anointed Saul in private, God always authenticates it objectively in public. That’s why when you get into some of these churches where people are always talking about well God said this to me and God said that to me… God doesn’t say anything to you in private that He doesn’t authenticate objectively in public. So that means that 99.9% all the way to 100 % is wrong. Those claims are all wrong 100% because they don’t fit the biblical pattern, and its all subjectivity. It has nothing to do with truth. But what we see is that Saul’s first flaw is exposed, starting in 1 Samuel 10:9–16. Even though all this has happened, and God has worked in Saul’s life, Samuel has anointed him and told him that the kingdom was going to be given to him. When Saul gets home and talks to his uncle, who asks him in 1 Samuel 10:15 what did Samuel tell you? Saul says, well he told us that the donkeys had been found, but he doesn’t say anything about the fact that he’s been anointed king, or the kingdom has been given to him, or anything about the spiritual things that went on.
That shows where his priorities are. He wants to be sort of a covert believer. He doesn’t really want to make this important. Then in the rest of the chapter he is proclaimed king in Mizpah. Then we start seeing some things happen that indicate that he is the messiah. A messiah is someone who will defend and deliver Israel. A messiah is one who’d be authenticated by miracles, and yet there’s the hint of something negative coming at the end of 1 Samuel 10:26–27. After Saul has been anointed and crowned, he goes home to Gibeah. Some of the warriors go with him “whose hearts God had touched.” See this is just another indication that God is supportive of Saul at this point; and Saul is a believer, and the people around him are believers. “But there were some rebels who said, ‘How can this man save us?’ So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.” This is where you say uh-oh, there are problems at home.
In 1 Samuel 11, Nahash the Ammonite invades and goes against Jabesh Gilead. This is the opportunity for Saul to come out and to defeat Nahash, defeat the Ammonites and to protect Israel, and that is what takes place. In 1 Samuel 12 we have another one of those great chapters related to the spiritual life of Israel, and Samuel warns the people about what they are going to get with Saul. He tells them that he’s listened to them. He gave them a king. God directed him to them, but he says here’s the issue. The issue is you have to repent toward God, or it won’t work. You have to be obedient towards God. In 1 Samuel 11:14–15 he says “If you fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandments of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.” This is foreshadowing because in a couple of chapters Saul is the one who is going to be disobedient.
The key principle is repeated again in 1 Samuel 12:24–25, “Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.” Then we have another example of Saul’s arrogance in 1 Samuel 13. A couple of years later there’s another battle with the Philistines called Michmash. This is going to be fun and interesting, and boy do we have to spend some map time on this when we get to Samuel 13–14. But he is told to wait, to take the army of the Lord there and wait at Michmash and not do anything until Samuel comes. They waited seven days in 1 Samuel 13:8, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal. The people were beginning to scatter and go home. Saul got impatient and he said bring me a burnt offering and he offered the burnt offering. He didn’t have the right to do that. He was a king. He wasn’t a priest and this indicates again his arrogance, his disobedience to the Law, and this foreshadows what is just about to happen.
Then we have an interesting scenario in the rest of that chapter and in 1 Samuel 14 where Saul makes his foolish oath and says that as they go into battle nobody can eat, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening.” That’s in 1 Samuel 14:24. He says anyone who eats during the day I will take his life. Of course Jonathan is not present. Jonathan eats. He eats some honey during the day and Saul later on discovers this and is going to have Jonathan executed, but the people rebel and won’t let Saul do that. Then at the end we have sort of a summary statement about his establishing sovereignty over Israel in 1 Samuel 14:47, and fighting against all their enemies and unifying the country. In 1 Samuel 14:48, “And he gathered an army and attacked the Amalekites.” This is the historic enemy of Israel. And in 1 Samuel 15 God told him that he was to attack Amalek and utterly destroy. This is in 1 Samuel 15:3, “utterly destroy all that they have… and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”
They had a couple of 100,000 sheep and about 10,000 camels and donkeys. The people get together. They killed everybody and everything but the best cattle, the best sheep, and they didn’t kill Agag. If you’ve ever see the movie “King David” with Richard Gere, Richard Gere plays David, and Edward Woodward played King Saul. Denis Quilley played Samuel. Samuel comes into the tent, and Saul is there and Samuel says, “What’s that bleating I hear!” And Edward Woodward just played that perfectly. He gives all the rationalizations. Then Agag walks in and Samuel takes one look at him and he’s standing right next to Saul, and in one slick smooth move he pulls Saul’s sword out of its scabbard and takes Agag’s head clean off and then puts the sword back in – just a beautiful choreographed move. But that’s exactly what happens in the text. Samuel comes in, and he is angry at Saul because he’s disobeyed God, and Samuel executes Agag, which was what God’s original command would be; and then he confronts Saul with it.
1 Samuel 15:19 he says “Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?” That disobedience might seem good. It might seem so harsh to take the life of everybody and kill all. I mean, we could sell the cattle and the camels and the sheep and the goats and get some good money for that. You could come up with a lot of rationales, but Samuel says no that is evil. Then in 1 Samuel 15:22 he says “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?” The issue is obedience. It’s not the sacrifices. He says “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” A principle we’ve stated many times in the OT. Then mark this down. You should have this underlined. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” If you are rebellious to God, you’re into demonism. Period.
You don’t have to be dealing with a Ouija board. You don’t have to be dealing with tarot cards. You don’t have to be reading your astrology. You don’t have to be going down to the First Church of Satan. You just have to be rebellious towards God and you’re already into demonology. You’re already in demonism. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” By stubbornness that means the refusal to repent. “And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry because you have rejected the word of the Lord. He also has rejected you from being king,” 1 Samuel 15:23. “But Samuel said to Saul” in 1 Samuel 15:26, “I will not return with you for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
1 Samuel 15:28–29, then Samuel turns. Saul grabs the edge off the edge of his robe and it tears off and Samuel turns around and says, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today; and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the strength of Israel will not lie nor relent.” Now that’s a great verse to memorize. The strength of Israel is God. “The strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man that He should relent.” Now we get into 1 Samuel 16. Samuel is sent to anoint David and he does. David is out with the sheep though. God just says go to Jesse, have a sacrifice ready, and one of his sons will be the one that I’ll tell you you will anoint. He looks at all of them and he says none of those are the ones that God said to anoint. Jesse said oh yeah, there’s one other kid. He’s out with the sheep. He’s not going to amount to much. Samuel said bring him in and they brought him in, and God said this is the one. So Samuel anointed David.
The next thing we see in the rest of 1 Samuel 16 is that Saul is now experiencing his demonization. He is out of fellowship, and he is being oppressed by demons. He is not demon possessed; he’s just demon influenced in a severe way. The distressing spirit is always upon him, but never in him. We see him bring David in, and David plays the lyre, and this calms Saul down. In 1 Samuel 17, David defeats Goliath. Everybody knows that story. That is an indication of his messianic purpose. He delivers Israel from their enemies. Then what we see in 1 Samuel 18–23 is Saul attempting to kill David again and again and again and again. That summarizes it. Sixteen times Saul tries to kill David. A couple of times David catches Saul alone, but refuses to do anything. There are tremendous lessons here about authority, because it’s not just the fact that David refuses to kill Saul, but he refuses to let anybody do anything toward Saul. When you get to 2 Samuel 1, an Amalekite is going to take credit for killing Saul, and David says, are you an Amalekite? Yep. Second time, did you kill Saul? Yep. Off with your head. David executes him because he killed Saul.
Was it God’s will for Saul to be killed? Yes. Was it God’s will for the Israelite army to be defeated at Mt. Gilboa? Yes. Was it man’s responsibility to touch the Lord’s anointed? No. There’s a great lesson there. As we go through that last part we are going to see the cycles as David is constantly chased. And finally Saul goes into full born spiritual perversion, and he is so concerned about whether he is going to survive that he goes to a medium, the witch at Endor, to see if he is going to survive; and that’s when God allows this necromancer, the witch at Endor, to actually call Samuel up from the grave. It has never happened to her before. She’s faked it all these years, and when the real thing happens, she is scared to death. She realizes that Saul is who he is because he’s been disguised. She recognizes who he is, and she is scared to death; but Samuel confirms Saul is going to be defeated. He won’t survive the next day.
Then we see how God protects David, because David gets to buddy up with his enemy the Philistines, but he never goes against Israel. He has to leave the country because of Saul’s persecution but he never goes against God or against the Israelites. He just has to get somewhere where he can be safe. The message is the gospel that the only hope is God’s grace. God’s Messiah is the One who delivers Israel from the depravity and the corruption of their sin. It is God’s Messiah Jesus Christ who delivers us from sin by His death on the Cross. Samuel is a gospel. It is the good news of how God delivers us from the depravity and corruption and perversion of sin. And it only comes through grace through His Messiah, which ultimately is Jesus Christ who died for our sins.
* John F Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty (Victor Books, 1985).