|WHAT SAMUEL KNEW
1 SAMUEL 115:13-16:19
Series: Kingdom & Exile - Part Two
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
August 20, 2017
Since January - we’ve been looking at God at work in the lives of real people living in real places in real time as real examples for us of what living life with the living God looks like. God and His work of redemption - God dealing with what separates us from Him - our sin - God’s working which leads to Jesus and the cross and what it means for us to live in relationship with God now and forever.
Last Sunday we began looking at the next step in God’s working through history - the Kingdom in Israel and what leads to the exile of God’s people - Kingdom & Exile. We began with the people’s choice for king… Saul.
God’s people wanted a king. God - allows them their choice for king - Saul. God doesn’t endorse Saul. But God allows for Saul. Saul comes with a warning from God. In choosing Saul you’re rejecting Me and My best will for your lives. There are going to be some not-so-good consequences.
But the people choose Saul. Saul just looks good. He’s a strapping fine young specimen of Hebrew manhood. Stands head and shoulders above everyone else. A mighty man of valor. Good family stock. So Samuel - following Gods’ instructions - Samuel goes ahead and anoints Saul king.
In history - sometimes people choose national leaders that don’t work out so well. Sometimes we make personal choices - based on our wants and our not following after God - sometimes we make personal choices that don’t work out so well.
With King Saul it doesn’t take long for the wheels to fall off the chariot.
Saul is all about... Saul. Not God. Something snaps in Saul. He becomes angry - hateful - mean. During the last years of his rule he looses touch with reality. Literally becomes certifiable - paranoid - psychotic. Ends up committing suicide.
Right after Saul became king he made three major mistakes - huge blunders - that show us where Saul’s heart and mind were at - that set-up where we’re going this morning.
Mistake Number One we looked at last Sunday. Saul was at Gilgal waiting for Samuel - who hasn’t shown up yet. The Philistines - with their ginormous army - are threatening to attack. The people are panicking and starting to scatter. Saul - out of fear for what may happen to Saul - disobeying God - Saul takes control of the situation and decides to offer the offering instead of waiting for Samuel.
Mistake being - Saul - in fear - trusts himself not God. Saul disobeys God. (1 Samuel 13:1-14).
Mistake Number Two: Soon after mistake #1 - in this ongoing conflict with the Philistines - Jonathan - Saul’s son - Jonathan takes 600 men up against a vastly superior Philistine force. Jonathan with these 600 men makes a daring raid into enemy territory that leads to a total rout of the Philistines.
So, Jonathan has the Philistines on the run.
And Saul - who is all about... Saul - Saul in trying to seize the momentum of the battle and grab the glory for himself - as he’s leading from the rear - Saul gives this command: “Until I defeat the Philistines and everyone knows that I’ve won the victory no one eats. You eat. You die.” (1 Samuel 14:24)
Which is a brilliantly dumb command. Because now his troops are fighting and starving at the same time.
Jonathan didn’t hear the command. Jonathan got hungry. Found some honey. Ate some honey. Saul found out about it. So Saul decides to go ahead and execute Jonathan - his son. Saul tells Jonathan - his son, “May God strike me and even kill me if you don’t die for this.” (1 Samuel 14:44 NLT)
If the people hadn’t pleaded for Jonathan’s life Saul would have executed his own son.
Mistake number two - which at best is bad parenting - shows us that Saul is more interested in Saul that even his own son. Ultimately he’s only interested in what people think of him - not what God thinks of him. (1 Samuel 14:1-46)
If we’re more concerned about what others think of us than what God thinks of us it will always lead us into sin.
Mistake Number Three leads us into 1 Samuel 15 and the first part of what we want to get into this morning: What Samuel Knew. (1 Samuel 15:1-35)
Saul’s third strike comes in chapter 15. Three strikes and you’re… out.
In the first part of chapter 15 - God sends Saul to take out the Amalekites. God tells Saul - destroy everything - kill everyone - even the livestock. The Amalekites have had opportunity to repent - to turn towards God. They haven’t. God’s judgment is coming via Saul.
That’s pretty clear cut. Everything is... everything. Right? God’s command: Destroy everything.
But Saul doesn’t do that. Because Saul is all about... Saul.
Saul keeps the good stuff for himself. Captures Agag - the Amalekite king - takes the king - Agag - and the spoils of war - from the Amalekites - takes all that on a kind of victory tour - parading them around Israel - showing everyone how great Saul is - even though it was God who won the victory.
And yet, have you ever been tempted to take credit for something God did? As we get wrapped up in our own little worlds it’s easy to go there. Just saying.
Each of us is collection of atoms that are created and held together by God. Life - salvation - our relationship with God now and forever is because of God. Being part of Christ’s Church is because of God.
God provides for us - even the daily stuff of life. That we’re upright and breathing independently is an act of God. Food on the plate and a roof over our heads and clean water to drink and money to pay the bills is all because of God. Just having hours in a day is because of God.
Maybe God heals us or God leads us through some really difficult situation. Or God uses us in someone’s life. Maybe even to lead them to Jesus. Which is about God - not us.
Way too often we default to “self mode” and think that what God blesses us with or what God is doing in our lives is for whatever purposes we think suits us best or its because we’re clever or we’ve been incredibly faithful that some great blessing or work of God is all about what we did.
We need to not make the mistake Saul made. All of life is because of God and for God’s glory. Never take credit for what God does. To God alone be the glory.
Looking at the map. At the end of the victory tour Saul is up at Mount Carmel building a monument to himself when Samuel shows up. Saul comes out to meet Samuel.
Let’s pick up the text at 1 Samuel 15:13: And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?”
Command of the Lord was what? If it moves, kill it. Everything. So, what’s with the sound of barnyard animals?
Saul - verse 15: Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.”
Verse 17: And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’
Verse 19: Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”
Verse 22: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.”
“Dude - God isn’t about all the sacrifices - all the religious things we do to earn God’s favor that ultimately are about us. God isn’t about the outward stuff of religion. God is about the heart. Saul… Three strikes and you’re… out. God has ruled you out.”
Verse 24: Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.”
“Wow. You’re right. I sinned. I’m confessing it. So if you’ll just pardon me and then come back and worship God with me like we’ve always done then nobody will know that I blew it.”
Have you ever seen a public confession that had nothing to do with repentance and heart level changed behavior? Maybe we’ve even tried that one ourselves.
True - life changing - repentance is turning from sin in a heart level agreement - “That’s sin.” “I sinned.” A total rejection of the sin - nauseating to even think of going back there. And a 180° heart level turn towards God - throwing ourselves on the mercy of God and pursuing Him with everything we are.
God is concerned about our… heart. Otherwise the sacrifice is about us - not God. No matter how many religious things we do for God. Its still about our glory. Not God’s.
Otherwise our repentance is about us - not God. Easing some feelings of guilt or concern about being outed in public. Not about really understanding our sin and our need to be right with God.
Without our heart surrendered totally to God we’re still taking credit for what God has done in Jesus. Because that’s about us - not God.
Who’s Saul concerned about? Saul. Image. What the people think about Saul. Not what God thinks about Saul. There’s no heart level change here.
Verse 26: And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for He is not a man, that He should have regret.”
Verse 30: Then he [Saul] said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the Lord your God.” So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul bowed before the Lord.
Pathetic. Yes? The king - grabbing the robe of Samuel - groveling - begging - even bowing publicly before God. Samuel saw through the charade - the false humility - the concern for his image. But Samuel - maybe in an act of grace - Samuel - not God - relents and leads Saul and the people through the ritual of worship.
Verses 32 to 34 tell us that after the worship Samuel does what Saul should have done by hacking Agag into little pieces. Then Samuel heads home to Ramah never to see Saul again.
The summary of all that comes in verse 35. Let’s read this together: And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.
“The Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel” is Scriptures way of putting into human terms that God is going to respond differently towards His people. He’s seen the sorrowful state of His people and God is going to purposefully respond.
What did Samuel know? Samuel knew that Saul is not qualified to be king. Israel is surrounded by enemies. They’re at war. Godly leadership is needed and Saul is not it.
Samuel mourns. A word in Hebrew [abal] that has the idea of deep sorrowful heart level beyond words grieving for someone who’s died. Saul is just marking time until he dies. The situation is hopeless for Saul - maybe for the nation.
Have you ever been there? Kind of a broken hopeless despair. Watching where sin is taking you or brought you to or someone you love and seemingly there’s no way out. Maybe watching your kids or grand-kids walking away from God. Or a family situation that’s not getting better - probably won’t. Or just looking at the places and nation where we do life.
Thinking about all that God has for us and yet mourning because what’s reality is so far short of that.
Samuel knew - eyes wide open - what was up with Saul and the nation - and he mourned.
The second part of what we need to see here is How God Responded.
God regretted - meaning God is going to respond. God is about to step in big time.
God is about to initiate the monarchy in Israel - the Davidic line of kings leading to Jesus. Which in one sense is the realization of God’s Kingdom in our little time space universe.
The Kingdom of God is where God is King - King of kings and Lord of lords. Potentate of His creation. God’s Kingdom is where and when God’s authority extends to. Meaning there is no where or when that God is not sovereign.
We’ve been seeing this since Genesis 1 - The sovereign God of creation is the god with a plan. Who has a plan? God. God is working purposefully - without deviation - without being caught off guard by the mess we make of things - God is working according to His will and for His glory. Has been - is - will.
What Samuel missed - what we often forget - is that before the sun came up on August 20, 2017 - before this little blue planet was ever pushed into orbit around our sun - before creation was creation - God already had today worked out - even this coming week. God’s got it. He had all of that in His mind. He had each one of us - you - in His mind.
Isaiah 65:24 - God speaking: “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” (NASB)
When does God answer us? Before we call. That’s the way it works in God’s Kingdom for God’s people.
Great quote from Chuck Swindoll: God is never at a loss to know what He’s going to do in our situations. He knows perfectly well what is best for us. Our problem is, we don’t know. And we say to Him, “Lord, if You just tell me, then I’ll be in great shape. Just reveal it to me. Explain Your plan to me, and I’ll count on You.” But that’s not faith. Faith is counting on Him when we do not know what tomorrow holds.” (1)
Isn’t that great? If we knew what was going to happen then that wouldn’t be faith. Faith in what’s seen isn’t faith. Faith is when we have no clue what comes next and we still obey. Trust that God’s got it. Follow God.
God reveals just enough so that we learn that He’s trustworthy. But not enough to rob us of the joy of trusting Him.
Let’s try together: “God reveals just enough so that we learn that He’s trustworthy. But not enough to rob us of the joy of trusting Him.”
God knows exactly what He’s going to do. Even before we cry out He’s already answered.
Look at what God does - God’s plan unfolding - 1 Samuel 16 - verse 1: The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”
God’s the god with a... plan. “Samuel. Pull yourself together. Fill your horn with oil. Go to Bethlehem. When you find Jesse you’ll find the man I’ve already chosen.”
Not the people’s choice. But God’s choice from before creation was creation.
Verse 2: And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.”
Samuel is looking at… Saul. Not God.
Verse 3: And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.”
Another great Swindoll quote: “You don’t have to be smart to be obedient. You don’t have to be clever. All you have to do is obey.” (2)
Just follow God in faith. Which generally works out a whole lot better than when we come up with some clever plan on our own that God would never have thought of by Himself. God just waiting for us to come up with something because God has no clue. Just saying.
God is working to get Samuel back on task. As He often has to do with us. God’s answer: “Take a heifer with you.”
Its almost monosyllabic. “Take a heifer. Invite Jesse. Do the sacrifice. I’ll show you who to anoint.” Pretty simple. Yes?
Verse 4: Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
Samuel grabs the heifer and goes. That’s faith. Just one footstep at a time following God.
Encourage someone with that. Turn to someone and just tell them: “Grab the heifer and go.”
That’s what we need to do - even in the no win scenario.
The elders of Bethlehem come out to meet Samuel - literally quaking in fear. Samuel was a kind of celebrity. Famous. Prophet of God. Judge. With all that’s going on - Saul losing it - enemies all around - Samuel showing up caused quite a stir. “Why is he here in Bethlehem? Something must be up. Something must be wrong.”
Samuel calms their fears. I’m here to offer a sacrifice to God. Consecrate yourselves. What in one sense the consecration is to cover Samuel’s secret mission. Saul is still king. What Samuel is about to do is an act of revolution.
On the other hand - this is obedience. God and Samuel know what’s really going on. Consecration is preparation for entering into God’s presence.
Consecration probably involved ceremonial cleansing. Changing into ritually clean clothing. Maybe some special prayers. Some place along the line the heifer gets sacrificed. All that is preparation for the anointing.
Point being: God is at work here. God’s plan not Samuel’s. We’ve entered into a God moment.
Verse 6: When they came - meaning Jesse and his sons - he - Samuel - looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.”
We know how this goes. Right? Son #1 comes before Samuel. Samuel is probably thinking to himself, “He looks good. Tall - handsome - impressive. He looks so Hebrew. Surely the first born son of Jesse is God’s choice for king.”
Verse 7 - critical verse - verse 7 - let’s read it together: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
God’s already chosen the man after His own heart. And, Eliab isn’t the one.
Verse 8: Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.”
We’ve heard this since we were in Sunday School. So we need to be careful and put ourselves in Samuel’s sandals for moment. Samuel never went to AWANA. He’s just obeying God not knowing the outcome. He’s done the consecration thing. Sacrificed the heifer. He’s watching this parade of Jesse’s sons and just waiting for God to say, “That’s the one.” But the list is getting shorter.
All the prime choices have passed. Samuel is looking at the list. We’re down to numbers six and seven. What’s left is Jesse’s two daughters. This is getting downright uncomfortable. There’s pressure here.
Ever been there? Let’s just call son number 7 “it” and be done with this. Maybe I misunderstood God. Maybe I should pull the trigger on this one.
Obedience and waiting on God in the crucible of real time life is not always easy. Faith and patience. Tough to trust God if we’re looking at a our list or at what’s on the outside of a person or the circumstance we’re in. Much easier if we’re looking at God.
Who’s at work here? The God with a plan. Who knows what’s in the heart? The God with a plan.
Imagine - this afternoon Franklin Graham - or some other well-know Godly person with a well deserved God blessed reputation - asks to come over to your house for lunch. Wouldn’t you bypass Paul’s and wouldn’t you want your family there? Your kids? To meet him? Maybe even to show them off a bit.
Samuel shows up. Does this whole consecration and sacrifice thing. Nine kids are there. One - the youngest son - isn’t even invited by his own father. How does that son feel? What does that say about what Jesse thinks of his son David?
The daughters - the girls - get a higher billing than David. David is out with the other shepherds - hired hands - servants - watching sheep. He’s just a boy - the youngest. We don’t expect a lot from him. Not like Eliab and Abinadab and Shammah and his other brothers. David tends sheep.
Samuel is beginning to see it God’s way - God’s unfolding plan. Its not how old David is or what he looks like or what he does. God’s the god with the plan. God is looking at the heart. “Jesse. Send for David.”
Verse 12: And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
Jesse - the seven sons - the older brothers - the daughters - Samuel - all standing around in this room - and in walks David - this young man that no one expects much of. He stinks of sheep. He’s covered in sweat. He has no clue what he’s walked in to.
The old man - Samuel - gets up - walks over - pours oil on David’s head - it runs down off his head onto his neck and clothes.
This is huge God moment.
What Samuel knew. How God responded - God working His plan. The third part of what we’re looking at is How David Responded.
Josephus - the Jewish historian - says that when Samuel anointed David - “Samuel the aged whispered in his ear the meaning of the symbol, ‘You will be the next king.’” (3)
If you’re David, how do you respond to that?
Verse 14: Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. And Saul's servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.”
What it means that the Lord sent a spirit to torment Saul is a study for another time and it really isn’t the point anyway. What we need to see here is that God has removed His spirit from Saul and that God’s spirit has come upon David. And, when God’s spirit leaves Saul - Saul is tormented - literally “terrified.”
Verse 17: So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.”
Where’s David? “With the sheep.”
How did David respond to Samuel’s anointing - the little whisper in his ear: “You’re going to be the next king.” David’s not at Costco trying on crowns. He’s not posting - tweeting - snapping - or pinning. Hashtag: #KingDavid Unlike Saul, there’s no parade. No new wardrobe.
He’s out pasteurizing sheep. Faithfully doing his job.
Processing all that... Two takeaways to keep us focused and following God.
First: We need to Be Open.
Isn’t it amazing how we can take something so simple and make it so complicated. God’s command to Samuel was, “Take the heifer and go. Just follow Me and I’ll show you who I’ve chosen.”
Sometimes God’s plan may not exactly make sense to us. God’s timing takes into account His eternal purposes not our short term view of things. God sees the whole picture. We don’t
Who has the plan? God. Faith is obediently following God even if we don’t see the plan.
So, we need to be open to God and His plans. Not to make them too complicated by our own cleverness and impatience. Just follow Him each day through life and be open to what He has for us.
Second: We need to Be Ready.
You may think you’re a nobody. Maybe people have told you that all your life until you’ve come to believe it yourself. You’ve always been the youngest - the second fiddle - the one no one expects much of. You may seen yourself as damaged goods - second rate - with no hope of ever being anything else.
You may be cranking away at a seeming meaningless job - endlessly pursuing classes - hanging in there in a tough family situation - living out a mundane existence - whatever - just trying to do life here in the greater Merced metroplex.
One morning David is tending sheep. That evening he’s the anointed king in waiting. Probably didn’t see that one coming.
Afterwards - he’s tending sheep waiting for God to go to the next step. Ready when called to play the harp. Nobody had noticed David... except God.
If God can send Samuel to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem and pick a David out of a field - you can be 100% sure that God can reach into Merced and grab hold of you as well.
We’ve got to not focus on Saul. To not focus on our enemies - who’s against us or adding stress to our lives. To not focus on outward appearances and what we see going on in our lives.
We need to focus on faithfully obeying God right where we are. And being ready - looking for Him to move His plan forward. Because you are somebody and God has a part for you in His plan.
1. Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny
2. Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny
3. Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny
Scripture quotation marked NLT is taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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.