1 SAMUEL 10:1 – 12:25 and LUKE 13:22–35
1 Sam 10
Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it upon the head of Saul acknowledging that he indeed will be the appointed leader of God’s people. We then see Samuel moving in an extraordinary anointing as a prophet as he details a sequence of events that both confirms his authority as a prophet and the fact that Saul is to be the initial king of Israel. We must remember that this will be a first for Israel seeing that they have been led by leaders, priests and judges but not kings.
If there was to be any doubt within Saul as to whether he was chosen to be king it would be erased by the exactitude of Samuel’s prophetic words to him. In an earlier commentary we made mention that Samuel went on a circuit to judge, teach and establish schools. In verse 5, Saul will come to a place known as the “hill of God”. Most commentators feel this hill to be Geba; a place where Samuel had one of his schools. It appears that some of the students from this school encountered Saul, singing and worshipping before God in addition to prophesying over him (vs 5). This is one of the benefits of Bible School training; it can be for such times like this. His schools must have had a beautiful flow in the Spirit as they spontaneously spoke over Saul. You also see the stature of Samuel in this account as well. He was a man who heard the voice of God at a very early age (1 Sam 3:4). His ear continued to be trained to hear the voice of the Lord. We must never forget that Samuel was a product of a woman who made a prayer of consecration to God, even before the promise of a son. This woman paid the price of being barren and misunderstood. We rightfully cite the stature of Samuel but we must equally make known the exceptional qualities of Hannah.
Samuel told Saul that he would be turned into another man as the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him (vs 6). The anointing would come in a way that would enable him to function with the needed capacities to reign as a king. He was given a heart that equipped him to rightly govern. This is not a new heart or spirit that Ezekiel speaks of (Eze 36:26) but rather one that that takes him from an unknown from the tribe of Benjamin to the appointed king over all of Israel. This is a momentous occasion.
To further establish his credentials, Saul was seen prophesying among the prophets by people that knew him. Is this really Saul, the son of Kish, is it possible? This is what can happen when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon a person. This should encourage us when we are tasked to a ministry or function of the kingdom. The tendency can be to focus on our limitations seeing ourselves as inadequate of doing that which is required. This can be a good thing as it helps to keep us humble and reliant upon God. On the other hand there is the danger of over-emphasizing our limitations thus prohibiting or limiting God’s Spirit to bringing that needed enablement.
Samuel gives the leaders of Israel a brief reminder in how the Lord brought them out of Egypt and delivered them from the nations that had oppressed them (vs 18). He then reminds them as well that in the matter of asking for a king they were in fact rejecting God. He is going on record to let them know once again that this asking for a king was their initiative so any subsequent fallout would be due to their actions. In spite of this we see God working in such a way where He makes clear that Saul will be the appointed leader. He will be a leader that the people will affirm as well (vs 23-24).
Finally we see that not all men were happy with the development. There were wicked men of Belial, lawless men who felt that this Benjamite would not be in a position to effectively deal with the Philistines, if they were to rebel. Saul paid them no heed which he could have done. Here he exercised wisdom and just let them be.
1 Sam 11
The first test of Saul’s leadership immediately comes into play. A king by the name of Nahash, an Ammonite comes up against Jabesh-gilead. We can assume that he surmised that Israel would be weak seeing that they had just appointed a new king who had no time to assemble an army. He felt emboldened to make strong arrangements with the people of the land seeing their inferior position. The men of Jabesh were willing to serve as tributaries to Nahash which essentially means they would serve under him and pay a tax. This same spirit is still at work today.
The above could be seen as a modern day version of dhimmitude. Nahash agrees to make a covenant with the men of Jabesh-gilead provided that they have their right eyes taken out. What a cruel and horrible judgment. There was a 7 day period that was allowed for the men of Jabesh to circulate amongst the others to seek out a deliverer and to pass along the message throughout the coasts of Israel. It is during this time when the matter is brought to the attention of Saul (vs 4-6). Saul has another experience where the Spirit of God mightily comes upon him. He was filled with anger and rage at the attempts of Nahash to intimidate and threaten. It is a picture of the zeal and anger that the Lord had when He took great indignation of what was taking place with His Father’s house (Mark 11:15-17). It is also a picture of the Spirit of Might, one of the 7 Spirit anointing’s as seen in the Holy Place. It is a supernatural touch that empowers for a specific purpose. It is clear that God Himself is taking issue with this outrageous attempt of Nahash to terrorize Israel. Let’s believe for God to move in such a way against many of the atrocities that we are seeing taking place today against Christians worldwide. God is going to exercise judgement against the Ammonites through Saul.
Saul took a yoke of oxen and had it cut in pieces and sent throughout the coasts of Israel making mention that this would happen to their oxen if they would not enlist in coming after Saul or Samuel in this battle. This is a similar account of when the Levites wife was murdered by the Sodomites in Jud 19:29-30. It was a way of sending a message that a war is at hand. Like in the time of the Judges there was great outrage throughout Israel; the Fear of the Lord came upon them. This act of Saul united Israel in purpose so that they responded immediately and presented themselves for battle. The Lord, through Saul wrought a great and thorough victory against this wicked Nahash and the Ammonites. God clearly demonstrated how a battle was to be fought and won. It is God that empowers but it takes a willing vessel to cooperate. It takes wisdom to lead which Saul did in calling the men of Israel to battle. It was a battle that the Lord took personally. So why could this not be the standard for Israel at all times?
I am calling to mind a personal illustration of something that was experienced while working in the market place. On my first few days of my new position, my sales manager, who was a veteran insurance professional and trainer demonstrated how to obtain sales and do the job. He showed me the ropes and each sale that was made went towards my commission account. He was investing in my success because it would serve his interests as well. My problem was that I became reliant on His doing all the work for me. This was a quick lesson that had to be learned. As Christians, we sometimes never learn that lesson; expecting God to do all the work while we just coast along for the ride. God did this for Israel through the reign of the Judges until such a time He basically let them go. If I would have continued in this over-reliance on my boss I would have soon been out of a job. God moved powerfully on behalf of Saul and Israel; it is a relationship that could have continued.
There is one other matter to address in this chapter. Samuel was very direct on two different occasions regarding Israel’s asking for a king ( 1 Sam 8, 10:19). He told them that it was not yet God’s will for them and that they were in effect rejecting God to be the one who rules over them. The people now use this great victory to chide Samuel in stating as to “who said we should not have a king over us” (vs 12)? It is an audacious comment made to a man who faithfully served on their behalf for a number of years. The people felt affirmed in their belief to have a king and this episode with Nahash and the Ammonites appears to be proof of it.
This is so very dangerous. An initial success after an act of rebellion or the rejecting of counsel can further embolden a person that they are right. This is one of the ways in how churches will divide in the last days. You will often find initial fruit which validates one on their respective path. It is a way in which deception will lead many down the wrong pathway. The people were essentially saying to Samuel, see, you were wrong, was it not a good thing we asked God for a king? Look what He did for us? Do you think your sons would have been able to do this (1 Sam 8:3)?
This example is a severe warning alert as to what will be seen in the last days. Yes, Saul’s start is a very good one and all appears to be going well. The true tests are about to come. God, in His foreknowledge knows the decisions and choices we will make that is why it is imperative to ask for the end of the matter. There are many prominent ministries today who are riding on top of a similar wave as seen here. The success is hard to refute but with many there are underlying concerns. These underlying concerns are often fleshed out in the area of doctrine. Jesus was the world’s best teacher of His day, the world’s best leader of His day, the world’s best healer and miracle worker of His day but He primarily died as a solitary figure. Would His example and model be found acceptable today? Saul was a product of what the people desired and esteemed; he was not God’s choice. I fear that today’s church may be again heading down a similar path.
1 Sam 12
There is something about the latter day words of a great leader that carry such weight and significance. Samuel, fresh off the victory over Nahash and the Ammonites uses this opportunity to give a reflective lesson of God’s history with Israel. We see this on numerous occasions in the Word of God. Samuel first establishes his authority by asking the people if he had ever defrauded or taken advantage of them in any way. It is a key question and it is one that needs to be understood. There was a time during the reign of Nehemiah when there was an internal dispute amongst God’s own people. One group was exploiting another. Nehemiah was able to settle the issue by showing his credentials in never abusing his position, even though he had direct access to kings. He summarised it by saying that “He feared God” (Neh 5:15).
The people gave witness that Samuel was honourable before them in all of his dealings. This heightens his credibility for what he was about to share with them. He presents a quick summary in how God delivered Israel from their time in Egypt under Moses and Aaron (vs 6). He then reminded them that they forgot the Lord and fell into the hands of Sisera, the Philistines and Moab. Do you think that Samuel had awareness that Israel would once again make the same mistake? He recalls how they acknowledged their sin in going the way of Balaam and Ashtoreth; asking for deliverance and experiencing it under leaders such as Gideon, Jephthah and Samuel (vs 11). Now they have a king and this king that they cried out for has delivered them from the hand of the Ammonites. He again reminds them that this king was one that they had chosen.
Here is an interesting account. In spite of the fact that Israel had asked for a king they are given an opportunity to make it work. Samuel exhorted them to fear the Lord, obey His voice, serve Him and not rebel against the commandments of God. If they did so they would continue following the Lord in safety and with blessings (vs 14). Israel is without excuse because now Samuel gives them a clear marker, a reference point of what could be theirs if they wholly follow the Lord. He then warns them as to what will happen if they do not obey His voice. Essentially, what happened in the past with their father’s would happen to them as well. Herein is the mercy of God being displayed. It was clearly stated that Israel rebelled against God in asking for a king, yet God is giving them a promise if they were to obey His voice. The track record of Israel strongly indicated that they would not obey and Samuel knew this would be the case yet he gave them an opportunity. Samuel did all he could do to try and impress upon Israel to wholly follow the Lord.
We are again about to see the mercy of God displayed by way of a strong sign. Samuel called down thunder and rain due to their evil in asking for a king which put great fear into the hearts of the people. This was no ordinary storm, the people feared for their lives. This time they acknowledged their sin in asking for a king which gives them an opportunity to make things right by now following and obeying the Lord. This was God’s mercy to them; it brought them to repentance for an act they never previously acknowledged. Samuel exhorts them to now follow the Lord; He will not forsake His people because He was pleased to choose them (vs 22). Samuel also pledged to keep praying for them and to teach them the right way. Once again, God in His foreknowledge knew what Israel would do. Still, He worked in such a way where they could see their sin, acknowledge it and make a pledge to follow Him, under the newly installed king that they had chosen. Samuel was frustrated that they refused to listen to his counsel yet pledged to continually pray for them and to teach them. As leaders, this is our responsibility; we must not give up on people unless the Lord would clearly speak otherwise. It appears that this chapter reveals a bit of change in how Samuel approached the people. Though knowing what they did was wrong he did everything possible to help them faithfully serve under the newly appointed king. It was said before it needs to be said again; Samuel was truly an outstanding man of God.
Luke 13 – Read day 97 commentary