|THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE
1 SAMUEL 13:2-14
Series: Kingdom & Exile - Part One
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
August 13, 2017
This morning we are coming to 1 Samuel 13 and a new study for us - Kingdom & Exile - which is the next part of what we’ve been studying since January.
In January we began at the beginning of the Bible - at creation - the beginning of history. In Genesis, God creates… creation. Everything out of nothing. God creates Adam and Eve - humanity - us - in His image. Then Adam - who represents all of us - yet to be born - humans - Adam disobeys God - sins - so that we all fall out of relationship with God. Meaning that each of us is born into sin and hopeless separation from God - forever.
Which we see lived out every day in the ugliness of what’s around us and in what each of us personally struggles with. Often that comes with a sense of alienation - from God - from others - from who we were designed to be. Maybe a deep down knowing that “this is not the way it should be.”
We’ve been looking at what God is doing about that. God - Who loves us - how God dealing with what separates us from Him.
We saw God choose Abraham and God making promises to Abraham. Promises about Abraham and Abraham’s descendants. Promises that ultimately point to Jesus and God dealing with what separates us from Him. What God promises to us.
We’ve seen God working through real people in real time in real situations. Isaac - the child of promise. Jacob - the father of the twelve tribes. Joseph - that God uses to preserve and prepare His people in Egypt. Through Moses - the beautiful baby birthed and borne in a bitumen basket bobbing in the bulrushes by the bank - that God uses to deliver His people and teach them about trusting Him.
We saw God use Joshua to lead His people in conquest of the promised land - the land that God gives to His people to dwell in relationship with Him.
Over and over we’re shown that God alone fulfills His promises. God alone is trustworthy. The book of Joshua ends with Joshua challenging God’s people to remain faithful and obedient to God - God alone Who keeps His promises and is worthy of faithful obedience.
Which they didn’t. Right? They trusted themselves - not God. Judges 21:25 summarizes the consequences of that: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was... right in his own eyes.”
Everyone gets to be their own god. And that wasn’t a good thing.
The more things change...
Like Israel back then - we live in a country that condones the murder of children. That allows slavery. That champions moral depravity. Where right can be wrong and wrong can be right. Where violence and fear are ways of life. Recent example: Charlottesville.
Our global society and culture are unraveling at the seams and the future is deeply concerning. These days maybe even nuclear. Think North Korea.
We all get to be our own god. How’s that going?
Which brings us to 1 Samuel 13 and the next part of our study of what God is doing about all that. God’s work of salvation - restoring us to life with Him - and what it means for us to live life with the living God.
In the time of the judges, leadership was a kind of loose tribal confederacy. When the tribal groups were threatened - by some other nation - God would raise up a judge to deal with those situations. Then - for a time - there would be a judge that had some kind of authority recognized by all the tribes. The last of those judges was Samuel.
In Samuel’s day - as Samuel was getting towards the end of his life - the people had heard about the old days - the Exodus - the conquests - about when Samuel was at the high point of his career as judge. When Samuel had judged wisely and subdued the Philistines. But those were things they’d heard about not what they’d experienced first hand for themselves.
What they did know was that Samuel was old and getting really old and that he’d appointed his sons to succeed him - to judge Israel. Which was a huge mistake because Samuel’s sons were complete jerks. They had no respect for God or anyone else. The took bribes. They perverted justice. If there was a criminal way to make money they were in on it. (1 Samuel 8:1-3)
So God’s people have had enough. Things are going from worse to even worser. Samuel’s judgement is questionable. They are deeply concerned about the future. Something has to change.
1 Samuel 8 records the leadership of the people traveling up to Ramah - which is a little town in the hills about 5 miles north of Jerusalem - where Samuel is living. They show up on Samuel’s doorstep and demand that Samuel appoint a king. (1 Samuel 8:4,5)
Three reasons. First: “Samuel you’re older than dirt.” Second: “Your sons are jerks.” Third: “All the other nations have one.” (1 Samuel 8:5)
“Samuel, when other nations ask us, ‘Where’s your king?’ it’s embarrassing. ‘He’s in heaven.’ What kind of answer is that? We’re tired of inviso God. The other nations are talking trash about us. We want to be like everyone else.”
1 Samuel 8:6 records that Samuel goes to God in prayer. Verse 7 records God’s answer: The Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them…”
Let’s be clear. The reason the people are talking to Samuel is because Samuel is the judge. Samuel has the position of leadership. God isn’t even on their radar screen. God’s answer is to the point. “Samuel, this isn’t about you. It’s about their rejecting Me.”
We know what happens next. Right? Saul. The Bible tells us that Saul is a strapping young studly specimen of a man. Stood head and shoulders above everyone else. A mighty man of valor. Good family stock. Probably even had a little dimple on his chin and a twinkle in his eyes. He just looks good. The kind of king the people are looking for.
Saul is the people’s choice. Not God’s choice. God gives His consent for Saul to be king - not His endorsement of Saul. And God warns the people that they’re in for trouble. Because the people’s choice comes as a result of the people trusting themselves and not God.
So at the age of 40 Saul begins to reign. Let the good times roll. Which brings us to 1 Samuel 13 - starting at verse 2. Let’s read together:
Saul chose three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent home, every man to his tent. Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” And all Israel heard it said that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become a stench to the Philistines. And the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.
Saul is mustering troops to go up against the Philistines. 3,000 Israelite men. 2,000 are with him in Michmash in the mountains near Bethel. 1,000 are with his son Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. Saul - apparently confident he has enough men sends everyone else home.
Hopefully the map helps to see where these places are.
The troops under Jonathan go up against the Philistines - attacking and defeating the Philistine garrison at Geba in Benjamin - which is about 5 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Major victory.
Verse 3 tells us that Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land. Which was Saul’s way of rallying the people to join him and take on the Philistines. Verse 4 tells us that when Israel heard the trumpet they rallied to Saul because they thought Saul had defeated the Philistines.
Who gets the credit for Jonathan’s victory? Saul. Which tells us a lot about Saul.
We see this over and over again in the life of Saul. Saul is about... Saul. Saul who is very concerned about taking care of Saul - even at the expense of his own son. Meaning Saul is trusting in himself - not God.
Going on - let’s read together at verse 5: And the Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude. They came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns, and some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
“Stench” translates the Hebrew word “baash” - which has the idea of what dead fish smell like after they’ve been laying around for a few days. Anybody experience that? Not good. Right? Totally offensive - intolerable. What Jonathan did is intolerable.
So the Philistines muster this fearsome fighting force. 30,000 chariots. We know that Philistine chariots had iron fittings that did nasty things to their enemies. They’ve got 30,000 of them. Plus 6,000 mounted troops and an infantry that looks like grains of sand on the beach. It’s a terrifying and formidable force the Philistines bring together at Micmash - where Saul was before he strategically moved to Gigal.
When Israel sees the Philistines setting up camp notice their reaction. They are hiding in the hills and running for the desert. Those staying with Saul - at Gilgal - they’re trembling. Fear and panic is setting in. People are getting ready to bolt.
Going on at verse 8: He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
Gilgal is just north of Jericho in the Jordan River Valley. Gilgal - for God’s people - was a sacred place. Gilgal was where God’s people first camped in the Promised Land. The place where they had set up the 12 memorial stones that they had carried out of the Jordan River. Gilgal was the first place Passover was celebrated in the Promised Land. It was one of three places that Samuel held court. It was the place that Samuel had crowned Saul the king.
Gilgal is where - back in chapter 10 - Samuel had told Saul - wait for me at Gilgal 7 days. I’ll come. I’ll offer sacrifices. Go to Gilgal, wait 7 days, then I’ll come and we’ll ask God’s blessing and find out what God wants to do next. (1 Samuel 10:1-8)
To Saul’s credit he went to Gigal and waited. But 7 days go by. The sun is setting on day #7 and still there’s still no sign of Samuel.
Imagine Saul - this huge - really scary - Philistine army is gathering just a few miles away. The people of Israel are starting to panic. They’re looking for places to hide or run to. If Samuel doesn’t show up they’re gone. Saul is checking his sundial. Still no Samuel.
So Saul is starting to get nervous - fearful. Most of us would. “Samuel said he’d be here. Samuel’s not here. The people are panicking. The Philistines are coming. I need to do something.”
So in verse 9 Saul goes ahead with the offering. And as soon as he finished the offering - wouldn’t you know it - just like he said he would - Samuel shows up.
Saul goes out to meet him. “It’s okay Samuel. I’ve got everything under control.”
Samuel: “What have you done?”
Saul: “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you hadn’t come, and the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I haven’t sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.”
“Forced” in Hebrew is a word that has the idea of using strength to control something - to get it to do what we want it to do. “Forcing” something to go the way we want it to go.
What Saul is saying is “I took control of the situation by my own strength and forced things to go the way I wanted them to go.”
“Use the force Saul.”
Let’s be clear. The offering isn’t about Saul surrendering his heart to God. The offering isn’t about Saul seeking after God and what concerns God. Saul seeking to follow God in what God is going to do about the Philistines. Saul leading the people closer to God - greater trust in God.
Saul is about… Saul. The offering is about Saul taking matters into his own hands because Saul is living in fear of what may happen - not his trust in God. Saul doing the religious God thing in front of the people - looking kingly and in control - giving the appearance of having it all together so the people don’t scatter.
We get this. Right? The temptation to try and keep things together - by our own whit, wisdom, and working - when things are spinning out of control.
When we’ve got innumerable Philistines gathering to tear us apart. Or finances that don’t exist. Or our family is in turmoil. Or we’re facing some long slow illness and death. Or a new semester of school. Or whatever…
When we fall into the trap of thinking that life is about us and our understanding of things - knowing that we don’t have what it takes to force it to keep together - that is a very scary place to be. It is very easy to do the wrong thing by trusting ourselves and not God.
Samuel tells Saul: “You have done foolishly.
In Hebrew the word for “foolishly” means… “foolishly.” Spiritually - morally - irrational. Not good.
Samuel: You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.
Saul’s sin isn’t because - as the king - he was forbidden by God’s law to offer the sacrifice. Kings offered sacrifices. That wasn’t it. Saul’s sin wasn’t that he was afraid. Being afraid is not a sin.
Saul’s sin was because he’d disobeyed God’s word given through the prophet Samuel. Saul forcing things rather than waiting on God’s man and - ultimately - God.
Meaning it is foolishness for us to try to keep it all together thinking that somehow we have what it takes rather than trusting God - His timing - His way of doing what needs to be done.
Verse 14: But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
Which is our introduction to David - God’s choice for king. God removing the kingdom from Saul. God choosing for Himself “a man after His own heart.” Who we know is David.
Processing all that - in thinking through what we can take away with us into where we do life - Three Hearts.
First: Saul’s Heart.
Saul probably didn’t wake up and choose to act foolishly - to disobey God and do what was going to get the kingdom passed on to someone else.
Most of us don’t wake up in the morning thinking, “Gee how can I disobey God and be foolish today.”
But looking at what’s around us it is way to easy to default to fear mode. Fear mode opens up the illusion of control - or that we should be doing something. Ways - like Saul - where we try to take control of our lives.
Some of that can be very subtle. Some pretty obvious. Addictions - porn - food - drugs - alcohol - smoking - addictions that we default to. Our working ourselves to death and the expense of the people we work with or our families or our relationship with God. Sports - recreation - exercise - filling our lives with endless activity so we avoid dealing with reality. Or, the need to be needed - indispensable - even if we’re enabling others and not empowering them.
Being late to things can be a way of trying to tell ourselves that we’re more important than the people we keep waiting. Which is deeply concerning when we’re chronically late to worship gatherings.
The point is that we’re turning to ourselves - trying to cope with and deal with things - to bolster our self-worth - to cover emptiness - loneliness - failure - inadequacy - whatever’s stressing us out - we’re turning to ourselves and not God.
Which is foolishness. No effort on our part - no solution we come up with apart from God is a solution - is ever going to be anything but - at best - a band aid that may work for a time - but doesn’t cure the disease. Ultimately trusting ourselves is foolishness that leads us away from God’s desire for our lives and what He offers us in Jesus.
Second: David’s Heart
Next to Jesus and Moses - there’s more written in Scripture about David than any other person. In Scripture and in history David is more viral than “Gangnam Style.”
Through all that - what God has preserved for us of David’s life - through all that we’re reminded - over and over - we’re reminded that down at the heart level David was a man like us. A man who lived by his passions and at times succumbed to them. Who struggled to live life with the living God and fell short.
And yet, a man that God deeply loves and that God holds up to us an example of what it means to live life with God at the heart level - at the core of who we are.
Twice in Scripture David is called a man after God’s own heart. On both occasions that description is given as the criteria by which God saw David as worthy to be king. (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22)
In contrast to Saul - David’s heart was in sync with God’s heart.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit here. Over the next few Sunday’s we’re going to be looking more in depth at David. But for this morning - thinking together about what that means to have a heart in sync with God’s heart - and contrasting that with Saul who’s heart is in sync with Saul - and looking at what we do know about David - briefly - there are three “S’s” that are helpful.
A heart in sync with God’s heart is Seeking God’s heart.
We see that in David in the passionate ways he brings himself before God in prayer and worship. Just read the Psalms. Right?
To live that way means that our lives are about seeking God. Seeking to understand Him. Seeking to hear His heart - to understand what moves Him - to learn what God is passionate about - what pleases Him. Or, what grieves Him - even our sin - which keeps us from pleasing Him.
We live seeking greater sensitivity to God’s promptings in our heart so that we’ll hear His voice as He speaks to us in His word and through others and in prayer. Sensitivity to God so that we’ll see Him at work and know how He desires to use us. How to trust God and to follow Him into His world.
When God says go - step forward in faith trusting me - we go. When God says stop - get that out of your life - we stop. When God says wait - do this in my way and in my time - we wait.
What’s important to God is important to us. What burden’s God burdens us. What God is passionate about we’re passionate about. What moves God moves us.
Second “S” - a heart in sync with God’s heart is Serving God - alone - not me, myself, and I.
Saul’s offering is about Saul’s stature before the people - not about leading the people towards God. David’s life is about leading God’s people towards God.
The one great goal of the servant is not to bring glory to themselves but to bring glory and honor to the one they serve. The goal of a servant is to make the person he or she serves look better. To make that person successful. To keep that person from failing.
That is a tough reality check question. Isn’t it? Who gets the glory for my life? Who does my life testify of? Is my life point people to God or someplace else? Maybe even towards me?
Seeking - serving - and a heart in sync with God’s heart is Surrendered totally to God.
We’re constantly being bombarded with the message that image is everything. Israel bought the lie and ended up with Saul. Saul bought the lie and ended up with… Saul - and a whole lot less. If we buy that lie we are in serious serious trouble.
God looks past all the outward stuff - the dimpled chin and the manly man good looks - the game face we can put on for Sundays. God looks at the integrity of our heart. There’s no way to fake that. To make a good impression on God when our hearts are full of sin. Either were surrendered to God or we’re not.
One huge example of that is the whole David and Bathsheba debacle and how David gets called out by Nathan and has to come clean in a way that is very public. And David does. And the sin gets dealt with. The integrity of David’s relationship with God is restored.
Can each of us say that? There’s nothing hidden in the closet. Nothing swept under the rug. Even when it comes to the deepest part of who we are - God has complete access. What God wants to clean gets cleaned. When we sin we admit it - come to terms with it - turn from it - and don’t turn back. Our lives are completely surrendered to God.
God is looking for men and women who are deeply spiritual - willing to be passionate about what He is passionate about - that are humble willing servants - who aren’t trying to fake life with God. Men and women who’s from the heart desire is to live completely surrendered to Him.
Third: God’s Heart
The Apostle John writes: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9).
From Genesis to Revelation - what we’ve been studying since January - God working in and through the lives of His people. We’ve seen the sovereign holy God of creation - who always keeps His promises - God our creator - working purposefully - faithfully - patiently - relentless in His love for us. God - knowing even better than we know the depths of our sin and depravity - and all of the ways that we’ve failed Him and are worthy of His condemnation and wrath - eternal punishment.
God knowing all that is relentless in His love for us - even dying, Himself, in our place on the cross - paying our price for our sin - to provide the means of dealing with brokenness and failure and emptiness and woundedness - of dealing with our sin that keeps us separated from Him. So that we might be restored to a right relationship with Him and have life with Him now and forever.
That’s the heart of God made manifest - on display - revealed in Jesus.
Perfect love is complete. It lacks nothing. When we begin to get how completely God loves us - even taking our punishment on Himself - we can begin to let go of our fear. God isn’t out to punish us. God’s desire is to love on us - forever.
Many many years ago - back while I was living in L.A. - there was a time when for the most part things in my life were spinning out of control. Just about everything in my life was falling apart or seemed like it was going to totally crash and burn. Total failure. Ask me later if you want details. But - point being - I was messed up and scared.
While I was going through all that the thought of leaving my apartment made me nauseas. The stress of thinking about going anywhere effected me physically. The fear was so great that it literally made me sick. I could get graphic here. But you get the idea.
My apartment - for the most part - felt safe to me. Everything outside was a dangerous - uncertain - frightening place to be. A huge unknown where anything could happen. I could loose control - physically - mentally - emotionally. And then what would happen to me? I was alone.
It was all I could do - emotionally - mentally - to pull myself together - to force myself to make it to work - to get there and hide in my office. Then someone would say, “Let’s go to lunch.” Going to a restaurant was terrifying. So many people. So many possibilities for disaster.
I would be sitting at a table in a restaurant and I’d have a panic attack. Overwhelming stress. I thought I was going to throw up - pass out - have a heart attack.
Can any of you relate to this? Fear locks us up. Behind physical doors - or doors in our minds.
What was the bottom line of healing was remembering that while I felt alone I wasn’t alone - that Jesus was with me - His presence. That He had it all under control - even death. That the power and ability to live life didn’t come from me - it comes from God.
I would say to myself - over and over again - as I went out into the world - learning to trust God: “God is with you. Jesus loves you. God has it all under control. Trust Him.” Days - weeks - months - years - of repeating those truths - until they began to sink into my heart.
When I face those times of fear and the temptation to try to grab at the illusion of control - what I’ve learned is that the only thing I can do is to start praying - taking everything that I’m feeling and thinking - and bringing it to God in the name of Jesus.
To praise God for who He is - His majesty - His power - His awesome sovereignty. To review God’s past graciousness and mercy - His deliverance. To praise God for all that He - the sovereign God - has done and is doing in my life. God alone is trustworthy.
When we come to God - seeking - serving - surrendered - trusting Him with our lives and circumstances - we’re not just coming to a man - or an idea - or a philosophy - with some wishful thinking and good thoughts. We’re entrusting ourselves to the Almighty - the Sovereign - the Omniscient - God who is enthroned in Heaven - awesome and beyond comprehension - Who deeply loves each one of us.
Who is the greatest ruler on earth compared to God? Who is greater than the Lord of lords and the King of kings? What situation - what wall - is stronger than God? What boss? What spouse? What disease?
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.