1 Samuel 1-31 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight 1SAM01
The Bible From 30,000 Feet-- Soaring Through the Scripture From Genesis to Revelation.
Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of 1 Samuel. The books of Samuel and Kings and Chronicles form a new period in history that last 575 years. The are books of transition.
And 1 Samuel is the first of the first and second books-- 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles. In the Hebrew Bible, it was simply the Books of Samuel, the Books of Kings, and the Books of Chronicles.
Interestingly, in the Greek version-- this is just all extra, added information. It's a bonus. It's for free. In the Septuagint version, 1 and 2 Samuel is 1 Kings and 2 Kings. And 1 Kings and 2 Kings is 3 Kings and 4 Kings. So in our Bibles, it's 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, and 2 Chronicles. It begins around 1100 BC and stretches all the way to the Babylonian captivity.
Now, we'll be talking a little bit about those dates and that time later on. What's important for you to know is that, essentially, this will cover almost to the very end of Old Testament history.
Once they go into captivity and then they return from captivity-- and that's the books of Ezra and Nehemiah-- Esther is thrown in there somewhere-- when they return, there's 400 years of silence. And then God speaks again afresh in the New Testament. So we're beginning a march in 1 Samuel to the end of 2 Chronicles which takes us all the way to the Babylonian captivity.
Somebody once said that there's three types of leaders. There's those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who have no idea what's happening.
We find all three of those types of leaders in the book of 1 Samuel. And we find those three types of leaders in four distinct people-- Eli, Samuel, Saul, and David. Those are the four big pillars that this book really is centered around-- Eli, Samuel, Saul, and David.
So it's the story of a priest, a prophet, a politician, and a poet. And you know, preachers like to alliterate things. So these are handles you can grab a hold of for memory.
The key concept of this book, as I see it, is influence. Influence-- good or bad influence. Sometimes you can have tremendous power and be a wonderful, awesome influence. At other times, you can have lots of power and you can be the worst example to the people that you are called to lead.
So we're going to look at the role of a prophet, the ruin of a priest, the rule of a politician, and the rise of a poet. Now, because we're at 30,000 feet and you can see how many chapters are in this book-- 31-- we can't be afforded the same type of pace we had last time in the Book of Ruth with only four chapters. We could almost read the whole thing. And we didn't even do that.
So we are, again, at cruising altitude. We are, again, at 30,000 feet. And we're just going to notice the landscape. And I'm going to break it down for you in terms of the most memorable things to look at.
Now, many will regard Samuel as the last judge in the period of judges. And they call him that for a good reason. The book of 1 Samuel says that he judged Israel for 40 years. So he could be classified as a judge. But more than that, he is called also in this book a "seer." And a "seer" was the old name, this book tells us, for a prophet.
So when Samuel emerges on the scene, God calls him to be a prophetic voice to the nation. So you can look at him as the last judge and the first prophet, technically, in terms of the prophets that emerge on the land.
The book opens with a couple-- a guy by the name of Elkanah and his wife, Hannah. Actually, he has two wives. So you can just see that this is shortly after the period of judges. There are problems, even in this family. Any man that thinks he can please two women is absolutely insane.
He has two wives. And he is unable to please them. One is named Hannah. And she really occupies the main thrust of the early chapter of chapter 1 and even chapter 2 of this book.
They are infertile. Peninnah, the other wife, can bear. But Hannah is infertile. And because of that, she is in deep grief. And in her grief, she does the right thing, man. She talks to the Lord about it. And the Lord opens up her womb. And so we come to the role of a prophet when we look here.
I'm going to take you to chapter 1, verse 20. I'm not going to begin in verse 1. God answers the prayer of Hannah. Verse 20, "it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name 'Shmuel,'" that's the Hebrew pronunciation-- "Samuel," as we say it, "saying, 'Because I have asked for him from the Lord.'"
She names the baby after a circumstance at the baby's birth. She feels that this is a direct answer to prayer. She asked God for a child. God gave her this child. So she calls the child "God Hears," "Shmuel," or "God Answers." God has answered my prayer.
I'm going to look at you and call you by name your whole life. I'm going to say, hey, God Answers, come over here. Hey, God Hears, it's time for dinner. So she will be reminded of the answered prayer every time that name is called.
Well, she goes to the tabernacle where she had prayed and tells the priest that is presiding over the tabernacle by the name of Eli in those days, in verse 27, "For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him."
Now, from the birth of Samuel, the judge/profit to the death of Saul is 94 years. So in this book, we're covering about a hundred-year period.
She goes back home with the child, weans the child till the child is between three and five years of age. But notice this. "Therefore," verse 28, "I have lent him to the Lord," she says. "I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he shall be lent to the Lord. And so they worshiped the Lord there."
Now, that's a strange phrase, right. Here's my kid. I'm going to lend him to God. Because truth be told, God lent the child to you. He's really not yours. You're a steward over that child. But each child, I believe, is a special creation of God. And we see ourselves as parents, as stewards, for a period of time to help shape.
But she says to Eli, here's my son. I'm going to lend him to God. It's a strange phrase. What it means is, I am irrevocably giving him over to the service of the Lord. And essentially, she drops him off at the tabernacle from a very young age to be a priest in training, or a prophet in training, or a seer in training. He is to remain in the tabernacle and be exposed to the rules, the principles, the values of God. She is giving her child to the Lord.
Now, sometimes we use this verse when we do baby dedications, that these parents are lending this child in hopes that this child will walk and serve the Lord all the days of his or her life.
Hannah's greatest desire was that her child follow God's call for his life. Hannah's greatest desire was not, number one, go to the best schools; number two, get the best possible education and be the smartest in the class; number three, make varsity volleyball or basketball. None of that. She was focused primarily-- not that those things are bad-- primarily on a spiritual value, a spiritual emphasis-- to serve the Lord all the days of his life.
Somebody once said, kids are the only earthly possession you can take with you to heaven. And so we think of, how can I train this child to walk hard after the ways of the Lord? So that's the role of a prophet. He's emerging from this point on.
Now, interspersed with the role of a prophet comes the ruin of a priest. I told you his name. We've already read about him in terms of this conversation she is having with him. His name is Eli. He is serving as the priest of the tabernacle.
Now, Eli was an interesting guy-- a good guy, a godly guy, but very passive as a parent. Because his own kids who will serve in the tabernacle as priests with him will do some pretty gnarly things. And all he will do is say, why did you do that? He won't put a stop to it. He won't kick them out of the priesthood. He just asked a lame question without any follow-through response. So he's very, very passive.
Chapter 2 verse 12, it says, "Now the sons of Eli were corrupt. They did not know the Lord." Now, just mark that. They're on staff in God's house. And they don't know the Lord.
Some people think, well, if you go to church, you're a Christian, right? And that just sort of automatically happens. I come to church, therefore I must be a Christian. Well, you can go to a garage and you will not become an automobile.
Going to a place of anything doesn't make you necessarily what that thing is all about or specializing in. In fact, I would say that Christian hangouts, like churches, are sometimes more dangerous. Because they're sometimes filled with people who think, that's all I have to do, is just attend and listen and sing, and I'm right with God.
I say that it's dangerous for this reason. Think of it in terms of spiritual warfare. Think of what I'm about to say in terms of spiritual warfare.
The upper room in Jerusalem-- Jesus had His Last Supper with His disciples in-- I know you've often read the passage and gone, man, that would have been so cool to be a part of the Last Supper. Probably the upper room was the most dangerous room in all of Jerusalem that night, because Satan was there at that supper. It said when the supper was ended, Satan entered Judas. So he was there all along, ready to get to somebody who was that close to Jesus Christ.
Well, Eli's sons-- by the way, they're named Hophni and Phinehas-- they're immoral. And they're immoral with the tabernacle itself because young women would come to the tabernacle. He'd be checking them out instead of worshipping God. And then he would lay with them-- that is, have sexual relations with them-- somewhere near the door of the tabernacle.
He will find out-- Eli will find out-- ask the question, why do you do it? But make no remediary act at all. Not only that, but they become corrupt with the sacrifices that people are bringing. That's also mentioned in this book.
So in the midst of all that corruption that's going on-- that's mentioned about in verse 22, by the way, of chapter 2-- in the midst of all that, God calls a prophet. God called Samuel to be a prophet, chapter 3, verse 1. Hears the call. "Then the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days."
It's a remarkable passage. I have underlined this in my-- I'd say bible-- my bibles that I have had over the years. I always underline this verse. It's insightful. It says, "The word of the Lord was rare in those days. And there was no widespread revelation."
God wasn't speaking much in those days. And for a good reason-- people were not listening much in those days. God had nothing more to say to a people that wouldn't hear what he had to say. Everyone is doing right in his own eyes-- last verse of Judges tells us. That's their MO.
So I think that's how God works. If you don't want to hear His voice, God has nothing more to say to you. If God gave you a directive, God gave you a revelation, God gave you His word, and you're not about obeying that, why should He speak anything more to you, until you say, OK, I'm going to do that. I'm going to agree with that. I'm going to get in line with that principle.
So, "The word of the Lord was rare in those days. There was no widespread revelation." I am intrigued by that verse, because I think this verse could be said about many pulpits, even in our own country. "The word of God was rare. There was no widespread revelation." This is why Paul told a young Timothy years later, preach the word. Be ready in season and out of season.
I believe-- my opinion-- is that most contemporary preaching is marked by a lack of confidence in scripture. Scripture isn't preach. It's not, thus says the Lord, here is the word of the Lord. It's just cool, clever sayings and my opinions about life. And I'm not interested in any preacher's opinion. I don't come to a church to hear a preacher's opinion or a clever, witty saying. I want to hear a sure word from the Lord.
Well, unfortunately, many become embarrassed by the Bible. But the Bible says, about the Bible, this. Hebrews 4, "The word of God is living and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword. It is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart," that little section ends.
I think that the modern church has become more fascinated with technology rather than theology. And I think we need to get back to good theological, through-the-Bible, doctrinal preaching to strengthen believers, especially in this day and age.
So having said that, Samuel is young. And not like the rest of the people who are not listening to the word of the Lord, Samuel is. He's all ears.
So three times, the Lord calls him. And it's funny how He calls them. He calls him like this. Samuel. And He wakes him up out of a sleep. Samuel gets up out of his sleep and goes to Eli the priest, who goes, what do you want? Eli goes, [FEIGNS A YAWN] what are you talking about, what do I want? He said, well, you called my name. He goes, I didn't call your name. Go back to bed.
So he goes back to bed. When he falls asleep, God interrupts his sleep. Samuel. He wakes up again, goes to Eli. Same thing-- go back to bed.
Third time it happens-- after the third time, verse 9, "Therefore Eli said to Samuel, 'Go lie down. And it shall be, if He calls you,'" He, meaning this is God speaking. It's not me. It's God. "'If He calls you, that you must say, speak, Lord. Your servant hears.'"
I love this. It's sort of like saying, well, pick up the phone, dummy.
If God's calling you from Heaven, pick up the phone. Sometimes God calls us, and we don't wait long enough to get an answer. We pray about something. And then, well, what did God say? I don't know. I didn't, like, hang around to, like, wait for it.
Now, I'm not saying that God will always say something. And certainly don't expect an audible sound out of Heaven. But the Lord can, on occasion, speak to you.
Just yesterday-- and I don't need to tell you the example of my own personal life-- but I felt the Lord spoke. And He happened to speak of very important scripture about something I was wrestling over and dealing with, with another person. The Lord spoke as clear as day in my mind an answer to that. And it was so good for me to hear it. And it just hit the nail right on the head.
So "Speak, Lord, your servant hears." Tell God that. Answer the phone. "So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood and called, as at other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!'" And Samuel, you can just picture the kid getting up out of bed, smile on his face. Here goes, I'm answering the phone. "Speak, Lord. Your servant hears."
Now, something just to make a note of. God calls him three times, but does not reveal His will until the fourth time. Gets his attention. And then He tells him the revelation after he says, "Speak, Lord, your servant hears."
Let that be an encouragement to you. If you pray about something, don't just do it once. Jesus said ask. Continue to ask. It's in the continual tense. Ask, seek, knock. Keep coming. Keep asking.
Paul the Apostle had what he called in 2 Corinthians, 12, a thorn in the flesh-- a messenger of Satan, he said, to buffet me. He said three times I pleaded with the Lord that He would take it from me. Three times. And then the Lord told him, my grace is sufficient for you. So, man, keep knocking. Keep seeking. Keep praying.
Down to verse 19, it says, "So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of His words fall to the ground." That is remain unfulfilled. God made good on the word that He gave to this seer/prophet/judge.
Verse 20, "All Israel from Dan," way up north, "to Beersheba," that's way down south-- the length and breadth of the country. "All Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a profit of the Lord."
By the time we get to chapter 4 and chapters 4 through 7, reveal a crisis in the land. There is a transition going on in leadership. We're going to see the transition take place here. There's a crisis going on in the land. And the crisis is an invasion. It's an incursion of the Philistines, who have migrated and settled along and just inland from the sea coast of Israel. The Philistines are occupying the land. And so because of the crisis, you're going to see the people demand a leader-- I mean, a leader like other nations have.
Now, just to backup on the Philistines, you read about them a lot, especially in these books of the Bible. They were, at one period of Jewish history, the most prevalent enemy to the Jews in the land.
The Philistines originally started from the islands out in the Aegean Sea. They then took over parts of Asia Minor-- modern-day Turkey. But then-- and that's what speaks to this text-- they decided to leave and migrate along the Mediterranean coast, beginning down in Egypt and then going up north. And north from Egypt is the land of Israel.
And the Old Testament says there were five cities-- five principal cities-- that were Philistine cities-- Ashkelon, a coastal city, Ashdod, Gath, Gaza, and Ekron. Those are the five stronghold cities of the Philistines.
Well, they invade the land. Israel has a hard time fighting them off. And eventually the Philistines capture probably the most sacred relic the Jews had-- the Ark. The Ark of the Covenant was stolen and apprehended by the Philistines and kept under their watch.
Now, when Eli the priest heard about this, he's 85 years old. He falls over on the stool he's setting, breaks his neck, and dies. The last thing he heard is that the Ark has been captured. Falls over dead.
Not only that, but one of his son's wives is about ready to deliver a baby. And she delivers the baby in hearing the news-- she went into labor-- and called the son Ichabod, which is a word that means "the glory has departed." Because the glory of God, as embodied in the Ark-- that sacred relic-- had been taken by the Philistines.
So she birthed a son named Ichabod. Now at this point, as things are getting worse with the Philistines, the people of Israel want a change-- a change in leadership. And it's their desire that marks this transition to a new era for Israel-- the monarchy-- the United Monarchy.
120 years of Israel being ruled by a single king. And you know the names of those three kings-- not "We Three Kings Of Orient Are." The three kings of the Old Testament-- Saul, David, and Solomon-- formed a United Monarchy-- 120-year reign of this family of kings.
So follow the transition so far in all of the Bible. When God established the people of Israel, they were under a theocracy. God ruled. God gave His word. People obeyed, or should have obeyed. They didn't obey.
So it went from a theocracy to an anarchy. Every man did what was right in his own eyes. Now the anarchy has gotten so bad and there's no real central leader, so it will go from theocracy to anarchy, now to monarchy for 120 years of rule.
Chapter 8, verse 4. "Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah." The priest is dead. Everybody respects this guy. He hears from God. He sees the future. He's their last judge. "And they said to him, 'Look, you are old.'" Polite group of people, aren't they?
"You're old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." There's a leadership vacuum, and they're feeling it. And they want a king to be like everybody else in the world.
Verse 6. "But the thing displease Samuel when they said, 'Give us a king to judge us.' So Samuel prayed to the Lord." I think Samuel took this personally. He's God's representative. And he felt like, man, that must hurt God. I mean, it sure hurts me.
He just got so bummed out at this and didn't know, really, what to do. But what he did was the right thing. He prayed. He felt so down and so low when he heard and he saw the response of the people of Israel in not wanting to be unique, but wanting to be like the world, that he took it to prayer.
So mark that. Next time somebody says something to you that causes your heart to sink, do the right thing with that. Don't tell your neighbor. Tell your Lord. Tell Him all about it. Pour out your heart to Him. He does that.
Verse 7. "The Lord said to Samuel, 'Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you. For they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day-- with which they have forsaken me and served other gods-- so they are doing to you also.'"
Give them what they want. Do exactly what they're asking for. Now, why would God tell him that? And it's a good question. In fact, it begs another question. Was a king-- an earthly king-- was a king the plan of God?
Now, it's a trick question, because I'm going to answer that by saying no and yes. No, in that ideally, God wanted to reign over them directly-- theocratic kingdom. By the way, that will happen one day. We call it the Millennial Kingdom-- the 1,000-year reign of Christ on Earth. That'll happen. That's God's original intent-- a theocracy.
But God also knew that isn't going to happen with sinful people. And so, yes, a king-- an earthly king-- was God's will. Because in Genesis 49, as Jacob's on his deathbed, he says this. The scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh, messiah, comes. So God anticipated a rulership-- a scepter. A scepter is what kings hold. It is their emblem of authority. God knew that.
Not only that, but in Deuteronomy 17, God says through Moses to the people of Israel, and when you come into the land which I am giving you and you ask for a king to be over you, like all the other nations-- so God isn't in Heaven, going, [GASPS] I can't believe they said that.
God was saying, yeah, right on time. And when you ask for a king to rule over you to be like other nations, Deuteronomy 17, be sure, God said-- be sure to appoint over you a king whom the Lord your God chooses.
So yes, a king was God's plan. But everything was wrong about this king at this time. What do I mean? Number one, it was the wrong tribe. Saul becomes the king. He's from the tribe of Benjamin. The prophecy is the scepter will not depart from Judah. It's the scepter of Judah, the rulership of Judah. Number two, it was wrong timing. If they had just waited 10 years, that's when David comes on the scene and will become king.
So it was the wrong tribe. It was the wrong timing. And it's the wrong terms. They want it for the wrong reason-- the worst motive. We want to be like everybody else. Not, we want to be the unique people of God. We don't want to stand out like a sore thumb. We want to blend in, like all the other nations.
So chapters 9 through 15, Saul is highlighted. Let's call this third, then, the rule of a politician. That's the third section of the Book of 1 Samuel. The rule of a politician.
Saul becomes the first king. He's a horrible king. He's a lousy leader. He starts well. You know the story. How does he end? Well? Poorly.
He starts right, in humility. Chapter 9, verse 21 tells us, "And Saul answered and said," when he's getting picked to be the king, "Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?"
He's going, oh, man. I can't be the king. I'm like the worst pick. I'm from a little tribe. I'm not noteworthy. You might have your wires crossed. Now, mark this. Mark well his beginning. He's humble. That will change. It does not last very long.
Let me just sort of sum up what I see in the next few chapters so we have time to get through the book. He made several mistakes. Number one, he was arrogant. Saul was arrogant.
The Philistines invaded the land. They were to go to battle. And Samuel tells Saul, before you do, let me come to where you are and offer a sacrifice before the Lord, then go into battle.
Well, Samuel didn't come when Saul thought he should come. So he just whips out the animal, puts it on the altar. And he does the role of a priest himself and offers the sacrifice. When Samuel comes, he says, man, what are you doing? You're not a priest. You're a king. You transgress roles.
But I want you to notice a mark of his arrogance. In chapter 13, verse 3 it says, "And Jonathan," this is Saul's son, "attacked the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, 'Let the Hebrews hear!'"
So I want you to see what's happening. His son invades, but his dad blows the trumpet. He's tooting his own horn, literally. He's blowing his horn. He's saying, look what we did. He really didn't do anything but watch so far.
But now this is a mark of this man. He can't stand to see anyone around him upstage him. So he took credit for it. Pride always destroys what God builds. If God is building something in you and starting to use you, and you start to go, wow, I'm amazed that God would even choose me. The foolish things of this world that confound the wise. God wants to use me. Why am I honored? Wow.
That's awesome. Keep that. Keep doing that. It's when you start getting full of yourself and thinking that it's because of you rather than in spite of you that God is using you, that's when you're in trouble. See, the truth is, God picked you because you're a good case study to show Himself off. It's like, yeah, if I use you, then people are going to have to say, that was God.
That's how God operates. Don't ever think that God looked at you and stopped and pondered at your awesomeness and said, one day, oh my stars, I can't pass this guy or gal up. They're just too anointed, too good. And God just said, [CLICKS TONGUE] least likely-- perfect specimen for me to showcase my glory.
At first, he was small in his own eyes. But he gets big. Pride is always a problem. It was the first sin. The first sin. I'm not talking Adam and Eve. I'm talking Lucifer in Heaven. He lifted himself up above God, and God put him down.
I've always loved the story about the woodpecker who was pecking away at a tree. And then lightning struck the tree as soon as he flew away. And he looked back, and he noticed the lightning had split the tree in half. And the woodpecker said to his buddy, look what I just did.
Well, truth is, all he did is narrowly escape his own death by flying away. But that lightning split the tree.
So he was arrogant, number one. Number two, Saul was indifferent. On one battle, he reduces the army to 600 men. And Saul is sitting under a tree watching things happen.
Jonathan, once again, Jonathan, his son, isn't a guy to sit under trees. Jonathan says to his armor bearer, hey, buddy, come here. Let's go down to the garrison of the Philistines. And let's see if perhaps the Lord will deliver the entire army of the Philistines into the hands of you and me alone. Just two against the army. What do you say?
Now, what would you say? Uh, you might want to get another armor bearer.
I'm thinking of changing positions and working for another dude. But he says, man, if that's in your heart, let's go for it. So I love that.
Chapter 14, verse 6, "Jonathan said, 'Maybe the Lord will work for us, for nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.'" Now in the meantime, as they're winning the battle-- two against an army-- in the meantime, Saul the king gives the stupidest order any general could ever give to his troops. You can't eat a thing until we win the battle.
No food. No energy. No protein. Nothing. Win the battle first, then we can eat. Anybody who eats, I'm going to kill. How would you like to have a general like that? How'd you like to work for a leader like that? Well, Jonathan was gone. He didn't hear about it.
What he did, Jonathan, in this whole episode of winning the battle, is take some honey that he sees, grabs some, eats it, gets the energy that you would get from that kind of rush of sugar. But his dad finds out.
Chapter 14, verse 43, "Saul said to Jonathan, 'Tell me what you have done.'" OK, I'll do what I've done. I did what you didn't do. I won the battle. Me and my armor bearer-- alone, hello.
But listen to his dad. "'Tell me what you have done.' And Jonathan told him and said, I only tasted a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand." When Saul, his dad, hears this, he goes, sorry, rule's a rule. Going to have to kill you. Seriously. He was about to kill him.
Verse 45, "But the people said to Saul, 'Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.' And so the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die."
Can you see Saul revealing his true colors here? And the colors here is that he hates to see others around him, even his son, honored. He wants to have all the glory, all the accolades. So he was arrogant. He was indifferent. Third, Saul was disobedient.
By the time we get to chapter 15, a war is on with the Amalekites, another raiding band of people that were creating problems for the Israelites. God gives an order that all the Amalekites are to be obliterated, all the animals are to be obliterated-- everything.
Saul goes to battle, does not obey the Lord. By the way, I just want to mention that for a moment-- talk a little bit about that. What happens with the Amalekites, Israel wiping them out, you're going to read some of these things in the Old Testament. We've already noticed them.
It seems and sounds to our ears strange for a God of love. You've heard people say, how could a God of love allow that or command that? What kind of a butcher is God? How unjust is that?
Well, what happened in this instance, and in others, is what we would designate as a just war. A just war is something that Augustine, one of the early church fathers, gave several principles for. What is just for a nation when considering warfare? What criteria do they have to meet? And often, a list of those was a biblical list.
So some would say, well, this is a harsh treatment of these Amalekites. Why would God allow that? Listen. This is like extreme surgery. You go to a doctor. And the doctor says, we have discovered cancer in your right leg. And it's so advanced. And we have no way to stop it. The only thing we can do to save your life is to cut your right leg off.
Now, if you were to, at that point, turn to him and say doctor, what kind of a doctor are you? Who do you think you are? What right do you have? Where did you get your medical degree? He would say, I'm a good doctor. I'm trying to save your life. If you don't want me to save your life, it's going to take your life.
The Amalekites were like an aggressive cancer. And if you are wondering, why would God want them wiped out, understand this. They weren't wiped out. Saul disobeyed.
And now follow this story forward to the Book of Esther. And it says that there was a guy in the land of Persia called Haman who was an Agagite. You know what an Agagite is? A descendant of--
Agag was the King of the Amalekites. And he was one of the people that Saul spared. So now almost the entire nation of the Jews would be wiped out by an Agagite because Saul didn't want to obey God's command and kill Agag, the Amalekite.
Chapter 15, verse 13, "Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him," so now it's like a showdown. So you just picture, here's King Saul and the army. Over here on that horizon is Samuel the prophet. And they're just sort of walking toward each other, walking toward each other. Now they meet.
"And Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, 'Blessed are you of the Lord!'" Ooh, that sounds good. I'd say hire this guy on my staff, he's so spiritual. "I have performed the commandment of the Lord." He had the right talk.
"Samuel said to him, 'What then is this bleating of the sheep in my years and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?'" Yeah, don't I remember saying that God said kill even all the animals? Don't take any spoils. And you are saying, oh, praise God. Brother, I've done everything God our Father wanted us to do. Really? Why do I hear sheep and cows if you've obeyed God's voice?
"And Saul said, 'They,'" he's pointing now to them, this army. "They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God. And the rest we have utterly destroyed." Oh, wait till God smells that sheep burning. It's the best mutton he's ever smelled.
"Then Samuel said to Saul, 'Be quiet!'" I love Samuel. He's a man's man. Not, well, that's how you feel. That's not how I see it. Be quiet! Zip it! Stop talking. "'And I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.' And he said to him," gulp, "'Speak on.'"
Go down in verse 22. "So Samuel said, 'Has the Lord great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He,'" the Lord, "'has rejected you from being king.'"
Would you let this serve as a warning? We are so quick, as soon as anybody mentions God, to say, oh, they love the Lord. They follow God. They're believers.
And we especially like to do this with famous people-- our heroes, our sports heroes, musical figures. They mentioned God, "spirit in the sky" or something generic is that, and go, must be believers. We just want them to believe. And so we let them join the family of God by almost any kind of admission that God exists. We have to be careful, because this man, Saul, has all the right talk. He has no walk whatsoever.
Verse 35, "Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul, and the Lord regretted that he made him king over Israel." Now enter David, and we get to the fourth section of this book-- the rise of a poet.
If I were to sum it up thus far, including this point, I would do this. Samuel is dejected. Saul is rejected. God has selected the next in line.
Samuel the prophet's all dejected. He's bummed out. Oh, man. The first king, Saul, is rejected. But God has selected David, a man after his own heart. God is never without a plan.
Chapter 16, verse 1. "Now the Lord said to Samuel, 'How long will you mourn for Saul? Seeing that I have rejected him from reigning over Israel, fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided myself a king among his sons.'"
I love this. God is never without a plan. God is never out of control. God never sweats. He never panics. God rules the universe with his feet up. That's how confident He is.
Samuel-- not so much. He's going, what are we going to do? God says, what are you doing crying for this guy so long for? I've got somebody picked out. Don't sweat it.
You remember the story in Isaiah, chapter 6, King Uzziah had been on the throne for 52 years. He was a good king, brought many reforms to the land. He died. And when he died, people were wondering, now what? Who's going to rule? Who's going to be in charge? The king is not on the throne. Uzziah is not on the throne. We need the right guy on the throne. It's what we do every four years with elections.
We panic if the person we voted for didn't get voted in. So it says, Chapter 6 of Isaiah, in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on the throne. Uzziah may be off the throne. God is not. He's on his throne in Heaven. And the train of his robe, Isaiah said, filled the temple. He saw a vision of the glory of God.
I think sometimes we see a vacancy in office or a leader falling or a church folding or a movement fading, and we begin to panic. God's not panicked. God's got it all perfectly under control.
Now, here's what's cool. God selects a shepherd boy in the house of Jesse named David. He's out watching sheep. He's not even included in the lineup when Samuel goes to pick out a king.
How is God going to take a shepherd with absolutely no experience at all, except for hunting down wolves with stones and caring for a few sheep and looking up and writing cool poems and songs and stuff? How is he going to get him ready to roll a nation?
Fun plan God has in mind. God has to somehow get him into the palace so he can be an intern, which is effectively what God does. God uses Saul and his paranoia to get David, who's a skilled musician and songwriter, into the palace.
Verse 22, "Then Saul sent to Jesse saying, 'Please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.'" Saul is temperamental-- mostly temper, very little mental.
And he's volatile in his moods. He has incredible mood swings. And he has discovered that if he can tune in to the right station or have the right podcast on, the right music will sooth him. He hears that David is this skilled musician. So he thought, I'll bring David into the palace, bing. Let him hang around me, bing. And eventually, David will become Saul's armor bearer. So he'll be able to king it pretty soon.
Verse 23, "So it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul," that's the spirit that God sent him to torment him, "that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him."
Now, keep in mind, by this time, David's in the palace. He has already heard the words of Jesse the seer tell him, you're anointed as the next king. Knowing he's the next king, David is in the presence of the king and never tries to upstage him. Never tries to self-promote. Never says, oh, by the way, did you know that Samuel was checking me out, and that I'm like the next king, because you're like a failure? Never, ever brought it up.
In fact, he wouldn't even touch God's anointed throughout the rest of the story. He's a skilled musician who comes to play for Saul. He becomes a palace intern. He becomes the armor bearer of the king and then, eventually, the king.
Now, you're going to discover something else about Saul again. You're going to see something you've already noticed, but again. Insecure people cannot stand efficient people around them or under them. They try to punish them. They don't want to promote them.
So what happens in Chapter 17 is the whole incident with Goliath. Goliath is a mammoth dude, fighting the children of Israel, the Philistines against the Israelites. David comes on the scene. I don't have to tell you the story. You could say it tonight in your sleep you know it so well. So David defeats Goliath. The people write a song. And the people sing it out in the streets.
Chapter 18, verse 6. "So it happened as they were coming home," that is the king and his entourage from the battle. "And when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul with his tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments.
So the women sang as they dance and said," here's the lyrics of the song, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his 10 thousands." I don't know how the song went. (SINGING) David has slain, or Saul has slain his thousands. David his tens of thousands. I don't know.
I'm just kind of trying to make up a tune here. But it was a tune-- probably a catchy tune. But Saul heard the lyrics, and his heart dropped, and he becomes very, very jealous.
So you've heard about pin the tail on the donkey. This is pin the spear on the musician. He's trying to kill the worship leader now. So later on, David is playing-- verse 11, "And Saul cast the spear," threw it at David, "for he said, 'I will pin David to the wall!' But David escaped his presence twice.
Now, chapter 18 through the end of the book is Saul's hatred-- attack after attack after attack on young David. And you'll see the contrast between King Saul as a leader and the next king, David, as a leader.
This is the time of the year, Christmas time, when we bring out the Dr. Seuss book, A Grinch Stole Christmas. And you remember that one of the attributes of the Grinch-- the personality attributes-- is he hated to see other people having fun. He hated people enjoying themselves. He hated it so much that when he saw people enjoying themselves, he'd bite himself.
That's Saul. He's the Grinch. And he just he's destroying himself seeing things happen around him that he hasn't caused. So for the next 14 years, David flees. He's a fugitive. He is going from place to place. Here's what I want you to know about those years.
14 years-- being chased from place to place, no place to call his home. During the next 14 years, David writes some of the best stuff ever-- the stuff that you and I love to read, the stuff that comforts our soul. So many of the psalms were written during the next 14 years.
Here's a running list-- Psalm 18, Psalm 34, Psalm 52, Psalm 54, Psalm 56, Psalm 57, Psalm 63, Psalm 124, Psalm 138, Psalm 142. All those psalms have background in this era.
Did you know that some of the world's best music came from some of the world's worst times and people's worst times? Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, "The music of the sanctuary is in no small degree indebted to the trials of the saints. Affliction is the tuner of the harps of sanctified songsters."
So thank you, Lord, that David went through 14 years of trials, right. Because he, by those trials, wrote those psalms that have comforted countless of God's people throughout history.
Chapter 21, David flees to a town called Nob-- N-O-B-- and to a town called Gath, one of the Philistines strongholds, in disguise there, incognito. Chapter 22, he flees to a cave called the Cave of Adullam. Chapter 23, a little town called Keilah. And chapter 24, En Gedi, down by the Dead Sea. Many of these places we show you when we go to Israel.
Chapter 26, verse 21, "Then Saul said," "Then Saul said," "Then Saul said." I'm just emphasizing this because I want you to see what Saul said. "Then Saul said, 'I have sinned.'" Phew. Finally, the guy can admit it.
He says to David, "Return, my son, David, for I will harm you no more, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Indeed, I have played the fool and erred exceedingly."
Sounds good. Great confession. No follow-through on this, though. Perfect words to say. Yes, he's right. He has sinned. But he never backs it up.
What is 2 Corinthians 7 tell us? Godly sorrow produces repentance. Godly sorrow. I know a lot of people when they get busted, they go to jail, they get found out about a certain sin, oh, they weep, they cry. [FEIGNING CRYING] I have sinned. But there is no life change. Godly sorrow produces repentance.
G. Campbell Morgan said this. "'I have played the fool and erred exceedingly.' These words form the whole story of man." That's the history of humanity. "I have played the fool and erred exceedingly," nine words that form the autobiography of King Saul.
A tragic admission, a warning statement to all of us. You don't want to end up at the end of your life saying, I could have been a powerful instrument in God's hands. I could have been used by God. You don't want to end with that kind of regret.
Chapter 28 to 31 is the final showdown. Let's breeze through it quickly. The Philistines again attack Israel. Saul is desperate by this time. God is isn't speaking to him. He has nothing more to say to him because Saul is not receiving it.
So Saul's final step downward-- final step of rebellion-- was demonic. Since he hadn't heard from God, he goes to inquire of a medium. Verse 6, "And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did on answer him, either by dreams," like he had with Joseph, or "by Urim," like he had to the high priest before him, "or by the prophets.
Then Saul said to his servants, 'Find me a woman who is a medium.'" Ah, a medium. Mediums weren't allowed in Israel. God said, make sure there are no mediums in the land. Evidently, Saul didn't really care about that fine print.
Knowing there was a medium, he said, "'Find a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.' And his servant said to him, 'In fact, there is a woman who is a medium,'" a spiritist, "'at En Dor.'"
Now, I don't want to keep plugging Israel. But next time you're there with us and we're standing on Mount Precipice outside of Nazareth and we look over the Valley of Armageddon, Valley of Jezreel, you can look at the very edge of a hill right to your left, and you can see the village of En Dor to this day, occupied. That's where he ended up.
Chapter 31 is the end. They go a little distance from there to mount Gilboa. And it's the final battle between the Philistines and Israel.
Verse 2, "Then the Philistines followed hard after Saul and his sons. And the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul's sons. The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him. He was secretly wounded by the archers.
And then Saul said to his armor bearer, 'Draw your sword and thrust me through what it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.' But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore, Saul took a sword and fell on it." He committed suicide.
Verse 6, "So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and all his men died together that same day." When the Philistines find him the next day, they take Saul and his sons-- decapitate them, take his armor, string the bodies up on the walls of the Old Testament town called Beth Shean so that it would be a tribute not only to their ingenuity, but also to their own god.
But this story goes on to say that the men from across the Jordan River of Jabesh-Gilead found the bodies, gave them a decent burial. Let's end there. We've come to the end of the book.
As we close, I want you to consider what Saul could have changed to not end up like this. What could he have done? Number one, he could have taken sin more seriously. Don't you think? He made a lot of excuses for his sin. He kept blaming others for it. He never dwelt with it.
Twice when he is rebuked-- we only saw once where he admitted it-- but twice in the book he admits, I sinned. It's a good admission. Now what? What are you going to do with that? So he could have taken sin more seriously.
Number two, he could have placed character over reputation-- two different issues. Reputation is what people think you are. Character is who you really are. Or put it this way, reputation is what people see. Character is who you are when nobody sees. Is there integrity or not?
He placed reputation over character. Even when he's dying, he doesn't want to look bad. Come on, kill me now. Just let me lie just like this. Go ahead. He's so concerned about image even at the point of death.
Number three, he could have taken advantage of friendships. Think of the people around his life. There was Samuel, who heard from God from a young age, who had like a direct line to Heaven. God called his name. Get to know that guy. Be friends with that person. Let what he's got rub off onto you.
He could have taken advantage of David, a man after God's own heart. I mean, if you're the king, shouldn't you think, well, what did God see in you? Who are you? Let me get to know you better. Especially since David was so loyal to him every time he was chased. He could have taken advantage of his son's friendship, Jonathan. He loved his father. But Saul would have none of it.
Proverbs 18 says, "A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire. He rages against all wise judgment." If you have a tendency to alienate and isolate and not really show who you are to people, I worry about you. I'm afraid for you.
A man who isolates himself, seeks his own desire, you're only doing that because you don't want to be accountable and have to change your behavior. And you will rage against all wise judgment. One of the best things for you is to get to be friends with people who will be honest with you so that you can grow.
Father, we've covered 31 chapters from this altitude. We've been able to notice four people very distinctly in this flyover. We have seen a burgeoning prophet by the name of Samuel, the answer to a barren woman's prayer, a miraculous birth. We've
Then considered a priest called by you, anointed by you, but weak in character and not able to curtail the behavior of his children to any degree who were serving in a holy place. We've been able to consider a politician, one who acted like a quintessential politician-- so full of himself, wanting to take all the glory.
But then, Lord, a poet-- a young boy named David, an unlikely one. Saul knew he was unlikely. But David was just a shepherd boy, and he knew his weaknesses. He knew his shortcomings. But because he loved you and sought you, he is called by you a man after my own heart.
Lord, I pray that we will leave from here tonight with the desire to be men and women after your heart, wanting to know what you love, doing it to please you-- wanting to know what you hate so that we can avoid those things. Lord, I pray that we will be an encouragement to people around us by what we say and what we do. In Jesus' name, amen.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible From 30,000 Feet.