1 SAMUEL 13:1 – 15:35 and LUKE 14:1–35
1 Sam 13
The tensions with the Philistines continued. It is here where we are introduced to Jonathan who defeated a garrison of Philistines at Geba. This stirred up the Philistines to battle. Saul had the trumpet blown to rally Israel to Gilgal. The Philistines responded strongly by bringing forth a mass of chariots and soldiers where they were able to corner Israel. This put Israel in great fear; many hid and some crossed over to the eastern side of Jordan to Gad and Gilead (vs 1-7).
There was a period of seven days where all of Israel, including Saul was in great fear. There was an appointed time for Samuel to come but Saul acted in haste in a matter that would cost him the kingdom. What is now taking place is what the people could not see when they were asking for a king. Saul, who led Israel well his first year, having defeated the Ammonites is now in disobedience to the commandment of the Lord. What was his sin? He took on the role of a priest in presenting the burnt offering unto the Lord (vs 9-10).
The priestly responsibilities were solely given to the Levites; Saul was a Benjamite. What was the primary reason for Saul’s disobedience? It is seen in verse 11 where he states the following; “Because I saw that the people were scattered from me…” Here is the common problem; he was losing the support of the people. He made a decision that pleased the people as opposed to honouring God. The ultimate question a true priest and king must answer is to whom is his ultimate loyalty? Is he concerned more of what people say or what God says? This question generally gets answered when one comes under pressure. It took the threatening positioning of the Philistines to see what was ultimately in Saul’s heart. Anyone can say that they will honor God before people but the true test comes in pressurized situations. Samuel is quick to rebuke Saul for his disobedience (vs 13). Samuel then goes on to establish the qualification of a true king in verse 14.
1Sa 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
Do you remember when God was judging the house of Eli and what was said to him?
1Sa 2:35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
It is a matter of the heart. Simply put, God is after men and women whose heart is after His heart. This is the New Covenant. All of the issues of life come forth from the heart (Pro 4:23). This is the reason why Saul was not to be God’s choice for king. We will see other issues a bit later to further validate this truth. Can we see how someone like Samuel would be needed for such a time? He is a priest, prophet and judge who God is able to use to help facilitate the order of king He is looking for. Where are the Samuel’s today? The schools he established were of high quality as seen when Saul was met by some of the students. They prophesied over him and he in turn began prophesying as well. Saul as king is a product of the people and as such failed when he began to lose them while under pressure. The leaders that God is looking to raise up in these last days must be people of stature who can stand firm; drawing their strength and direction from God. There will be times when they will have to stand against popular opinion in order to do that which is right. The key in being able to do so is the “Fear of the Lord” which should always serve as one of the foundation stones of any leader. A reverential respect and love for God must trump all other concerns as it will help in walking circumspectly and honourably before God.
1 Sam 14
Jonathan, the son of Saul was inspired to go up before the Philistines with his armour bearer. We can presume that the Lord prompted Jonathan to do so seeing that Saul and Israel remained paralyzed before the Philistines. The people of Israel as a whole were not rallying around Saul’s battle cry seeing that he only had about six hundred men with him. He was hiding and in fear. Jonathan speaks to his armour bearer about going and making themselves known to the Philistines. We see a beautiful relationship of trust from his armour bearer seeing that he put his full allegiance with Jonathan (vs 7).
In verses 9-12 Jonathan devises a plan so that he would best know how to proceed. This is wisdom on his part because it allows the Lord to speak into the situation. He must have had a clear revelation that God would be for them seeing that the odds of two men challenging a garrison of the enemy would normally be suicide. You can see why Jonathan and David knitted well together. They had a similar drive within them that took issue with any enemy of God, no matter how formidable their presence. Once the Philistines called for them both to come forward they knew the victory was theirs (vs 13).
You can see God doing His part as fear and trembling began to grip the Philistines (vs 15). Saul then asks for the Ark to be brought so as to enquire what to do but even while doing so the Lord continued to wreak havoc upon their enemy. It is at this time when all of Israel begins to come out from their hiding places so that they can join the battle (vs 22). All it took was one man to hear from God and take a step of faith. This step is taken when all the odds are not in their favor. Once this faith is put into action all others then join in. As we know faith comes by hearing the Word of God. It is not enough to hear but there has to be a putting into motion of that which is being spoken. God is so honoured when one can take Him at His Word. Jonathan had full assurance that God was with him which enabled him to step forward with great courage. God then did His part by thundering mightily and causing great fear to come amongst the Philistines.
The animosity that will later be seen between Saul and David is seen here in similar measure with Jonathan. The king is jealous and enacts a restrictive law regarding the eating of food. He did not allow them to enjoy the spoils of war. Jonathan, not privy to this law partakes of the honeycomb resulting in his eyes being enlightened. Saul, instead of celebrating a great victory now resorts to ordinances which put the people into a state of near starvation. He was even willing to see his son put to death over an ordinance that he was not even aware of. We see here a picture of the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus day. Jesus would heal on the Sabbath but the priests would focus on tradition and ritual with no real genuine love and concern for the people. Saul seems to now be trying to make up for his failure in the previous chapter over the matter of the burnt offering. He is a man who will not be at rest. He is a king who will challenge God’s true anointed one. He is a king who will be driven by envy and an evil spirit. This is the fruit of disobedience; it may not happen right away nonetheless a door has been opened. The primary lesson(s) to be drawn from this example and others throughout 1 Samuel is the condition of our heart. A pure heart, that is what I long for, one that is undivided and wholly set on thee.
1 Sam 15
The Lord now instructs Saul to go to battle against Amalek and to utterly destroy them. This means to destroy everything. Why is the Lord so insistent on total and absolute annihilation? It is due to Amalek’s cup of iniquity becoming ripe. Amalek had been a scourge to Israel going as far back as to the times of Moses. The time has now come for their absolute and total destruction and God was looking for a king who would accommodate His heart. It was time; it was the season when total judgment was to come upon an enemy of God.
Saul did go up against Amalek and destroyed them but he spared their king Agag, and the best of their livestock for offerings (vs 8-9). Saul thought that he faithfully followed through on what the Lord had told him to do. He fully sought to justify himself in thinking that he could parade Agag around as a prized example of his victory in addition to thinking he could appease God by keeping the best of the spoils. This sets up one of the most profound truths that is found in the Word of God. To obey God is better than sacrifice (vs 22).
This needs to be heard today. In the eyes of the natural it appeared that Saul was riding high after his victory against Amalek. This can be likened to when Jesus said “depart from me for I never knew you” (Math 7:22-27). It is those who hear and DO what Jesus says that will have works that will stand. This was a unique moment in God’s calendar; a moment where He looked to totally destroy an enemy of Israel. Their evil and ripeness was now full and God was looking to use Saul to be His arm of judgment.
Saul was victorious but he did not do all that God required. Here he is thinking that he was justified only to find out that God was not pleased. Samuel went on to tell Saul that “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (vs 23). This act will eventually open the door for Saul to dabble in familiar spirits. We are now beginning to see why it was that God did not intend Israel to have Saul reign as their king (1 Sam 8). In His foreknowledge He knew exactly what Saul would do. The amazing and sobering reality is that God consented to the people’s desire for a king. They (Israel) so wanted to be like the other nations. Why did Saul fail in this matter of Amalek? Once again we see it is because of his standing with the people. “I feared the people and obeyed their voice” (vs 24). He evaluated himself on how he was viewed by the people as opposed to how he was viewed by God. We saw this in chapter 13 when the people began to scatter from him in the battle with the Philistines. It is so important whom we seek after for validation. Saul was absolutely convinced that he was in good favor with God after this battle. He did not obey the Word of the Lord. I learned this truth the hard way from a simple work related example which is referred to below:
In my job as a securities and insurance representative I was coming off a rather successful day of writing business. I worked with my manager and before parting for the evening he told me to go visit one client before heading home. I arrived at the home and it appeared to be dark so I assumed that it would not be prudent to go knock on their door seeing it was getting late. I also concluded that it was a good business day so I could just follow up the next day. In the morning when I reported my business my manager asked how it went at that client’s home. I told him what happened and he literally blew up at me. He made clear that I did not do what I was told to do. It did not matter that I had a very good week of business to report; rather he was furious that I did not do what I was told. This lesson gave me a much better understanding of this account with Saul. I may not have been called to go to war with Amalek and slay the king but my actions were no different than Saul. I honestly thought that I would be lauded for my reported business and it turned out otherwise. I paid a big price for that misstep however the lessons learned are priceless.
In verse 32 we see Samuel; the priest finishing the job that Saul was called to do. He took a sword and hacked Agag into pieces. Samuel knew the heart of God and executed it accordingly. This is the primary difference between Samuel and Saul. The heart of Samuel reflected the heart of God and His sentiments while Saul’s heart was after the people. Can we honestly ask this question of ourselves? Whom are we more like, a Samuel or a Saul?
The Lord continues to challenge the mind-sets of those who observed Him. The first account is another incident that takes place on the Sabbath. He is invited to a Pharisee’s house and is now being watched to what He will say or do. He saw a man in need of a healing. Jesus takes the initiative to ask if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath (vs 3). This time they do not answer Him due to how he handled previous matters. He healed the man and made the application of how any of them would rescue or help one of their animals if they were to have fallen into a pit. The Lord had a wonderful way of bringing perspective to situations.
Jesus then addresses a problem that is seen today in verses 7-14. Sometimes as church leaders we put a premium on always being around people of influence. It is true that such people bless and benefit the kingdom of God but we are to primarily focus on people who cannot pay back. This will allow compassion to be fully expressed without seeking to be recognized or recompensed. God honours such people who serve selflessly; people who look after the interests of others. The art of being a people-pleaser is still in existence. It is easy to become consumed as to how we are perceived or how our ministry is perceived by people as opposed to God. The Lord instructs us in learning to take the low place (not in false humility) knowing that God Himself takes note. This kind of person is secure in who they are and are able to serve without hindrance.
The Lord then speaks about an invitation to a feast. Personally, I feel it is a picture of the marriage supper of the lamb which will take place just prior to the 2nd coming of Christ. We need to pay close heed to this parable for the many keys that are presented here. This parable flows well with the previous points that were already covered in this chapter. Essentially a feast is prepared and ready with an invitation being given to different groups of people. One person after another brings forward an excuse in their inability to attend. What are the reasons? First, a person has purchased a property and needs to tend to it, he cannot make it. Second, a person has purchased oxen (machinery) to tend his fields with the need to test them out; he too seeks to be excused. 3) A person just got married with the need to give attention to his spouse and home so he needs to be excused.
Is there anything wrong with buying property? Is there anything wrong with buying livestock or machinery to help with the maintenance of a property? Is there anything wrong in getting married? The answer would be no to all of the above however it never is to serve as an excuse to be removed from such a significant event. What possess the attention of many believers today? It can be their properties, their things and their relationships. These excuses had an element of legitimacy to them but it ended up being a hindrance from the partaking of a special event. Are we overly consumed with such things today in a way that hinders our intimate relationship with God? Are we aware and are we looking forward to some of these end time events? Soon after this parable the Lord speaks on other related matters such as having a love for family more than that of God (vs 25-26). Jesus then goes on to speak on the message of the Cross and the price involved in following after Him (vs 27).
The Lord throughout chapter 14 is trying to get the attention of the believer to truly count the cost in being a disciple. Starting well in our walk with God is good but it is not enough. Jesus is looking for disciples who will finish that which they start. What we see in this chapter are impediments to finishing the race. It can be based on reputation and the people we choose to court favor with instead of looking more to the needs of the poor and those who cannot repay. Another impediment can be the excuses we bring to the table; being caught up in the things of this life which may in the end cause us to miss opportunities such as the marriage feast of the lamb or even the privilege or ruling and reigning in the millennium. May we have ears to hear what the Lord is saying in this hour and to have the grace to be willing to forsake all so as to obtain the greatest prize of all.