1 Samuel: The Rise of a King
Open your Bibles if you would to First Samuel. If you're new here this morning, we're going through every book in the Bible. Thankfully, not every book today. But every book, book-by-book and then on the first Sunday of the month, we're going through Colossians, to kind of slow it down a little bit. But I've been doing overviews of the Old Testament. And we're up to First Samuel now.
And the title of the message is “The Rise of a King.” First Samuel is one of those books, that is just packed with so many lessons for us. It is so instructive for us. And it pains me a little bit to have to try and preach all of it, all 31 chapters, in one sermon. But if you'll stay with me for the next three hours, we'll get through it. And I think it'll be a great blessing to you. Let me open up this part of the service in prayer.
Lord, we just pray that you would help us to, to glean from your word, Lord, we want to know you. And First Samuel, and like every book of the Bible, reveals to us some particular way that you've worked among your people. That your sovereign hand has gone out among the world and brought about your plan according to your glory. May that be a great encouragement to us today, Lord. And may you bless the preaching of your word. Amen.
Well, the context of First Samuel is, it was probably written within the first 200 years after King David and it recounts events that led up to Samuel and Saul and David. And if you want an outline of all 31 chapters, it just follows three people: Samuel, Saul, and David. You can see that on your outline there, in the chapter overview in the middle, that'll kind of route you and keep you tied into the text as we're going through things.
First Samuel used to be, First and Second Samuel used to be, combined as one book. But in order to more easily remember the whole thing, before Christ even, they split this book up into two, just as a way to better understand just the vast amount of information that's in there. But all you need to know is that we're going over First Samuel today.
The timing of this… remember we've come through the time of the judges. And that is summarized in that everyone did what was right in their own eyes, right? Kind of like the world, right? We can relate to that it doesn't need a lot of explaining. This is just what was going on. And this is going to be the end of that era. Samuel is the last judge of Israel. And then they're going to ask for a king. So that's kind of what this book talks to us about. And I think we need to keep that in mind as we think through just what Saul had to go through. And David had to go through and later Solomon to wrangle this wild group of Israelites who were the most devote people at times to God, and sometimes they were indistinguishable between people around them.
So the first thing that we're going to go over today is just Samuel. Samuel has some incredible lessons for us really on, on parenting, and also on how do we trust God when the world is falling apart? It sounds familiar, because that happens a lot in the world. And God is sovereign and takes us through these things. But Samuel really brings about the idea that God is involved in our lives in a very specific way. He's not just out there and we just kind of have this vague understanding of an all powerful being, but he is integrally working in our lives. He works in the details and in the specifics. And Samuel really brings this about as we consider the first chapter.
The first couple chapters open up and we see this lady Hannah, who is barren, she can't have any children. And it's a really big deal to her. In those days, they greatly understood the connection between God bringing about the blessing of children being born. We just had another child here born this week to a family in our church, that was number 12 for them. And this cute little baby, Pastor perk I got to go hold the baby, had to convince the entire nursing wing that, yes, clergy could come in, and they had people in suits on the phone and everything. So finally, they were very kind. And they let me go in and see the baby. And, you know, the baby is so tiny, the head is so small, and just little dots and pink and you know, there's the translucency in the skin is going, it's all lights bouncing all over the place. And it's just, it's amazing to see what God brings forth. Well, Hannah in First Samuel longed for that. And so why are we talking about a lady who wants a baby? I thought we were talking about a king. Well, Hannah is going to eventually give birth to the Prophet Samuel.
Look in 1 Samuel 1:20, “And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked for him from the LORD.’” Notice Hannah is not demanding this from the Lord. She's asked this from the Lord. And she also roots her theology of life properly in a God who gives all things. You're familiar with Mary's Magnificat. You know, her great expounding prayer of praise and glory to God when she gave birth. Well, Hannah also has, you could call it Hannah's Magnificat; she just gives incredible praise to God as we'll see here in a few minutes.
Look in 1 Samuel 1:23, Elkanah is her husband, it says, “Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the LORD establish his word.’ So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him.”
Then look in verses 27 and 28 [1 Samuel 1:27-28]. “‘For this child I prayed, and the LORD [that’s Yahweh in the Hebrew text there] has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.’ And he worshiped the LORD there.”
We need to get our mind around this a little bit. Her only son, her only child, she gives back to the Lord. Ladies, can you imagine doing that? There's no promise of future children. There's no promise of a big Quiver-full family. This is just her. She's asked the Lord for this child. And then she willingly, after the child is weaned, I don't know how long that took the text doesn't really say, probably a few years. Right, after the child is weaned and you spend all this time you've got this amazing attachment to this child. She just takes him to the temple, dedicates him to the Lord and leaves him at the temple. She only sees him once a year after this when they go to celebrate the feasts. And the text says she made a little robe for him, it probably just grew a little bit each year. I don't know how she would know if it fit or not. Maybe Samuel was always the kid with the clothes that didn't fit. Maybe you can relate to that. But Hannah was this amazing woman of God. She followed through with her commitment. And she followed through with her life regularly year after year, after that. So she relentlessly just cried out to the Lord. The Lord answered her prayer. And so, she took him to the temple.
Look in 1 Samuel 2:1-2. “And Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.’”
How many times do we sing that, right? “There is no rock like our God.” She says, “my horn is exalted in the LORD.” The horn was a symbol of strength, it was normally on both sides of the altar. And it was this large, powerful symbol that God is in control. So she says, the God that I worship is in control of my life. Well, years later, Hannah would have three more sons and two daughters. So after weaning the child, she gives him to Eli, who is the high priest of the temple.
But friends, what happens when you've got this wonderful plan? You've asked God for this great blessing. God gives it to you. You follow through on your end, and Hannah takes the child to the temple. And then the environment that you thought was going to be perfect for the raising of your children turns out to be awful. That's what happens here with Eli, who is the high priest of the temple whom she gave her child to, and Eli's sons.
Look at 1 Samuel 2:12, this is after she prays and just glorifies the Lord. The text says this, Now the sons of Eli were worthless men.” Alright, the Bible doesn't mince words, they are worthless. It's the same word used for those men who surrounded the house of Lot. And you remember what they wanted to do. So they “were worthless men. They did not know the LORD.”
Wait a minute, these are the priests in the temple. These are the guys who are receiving the sacrifices, receiving the offerings. In those days, they didn't just, you know, give monetary offering. They had food offerings, they had spice offerings, they had all kinds of different offerings, and the priests would take a portion of those things. That's how the priests sustained themselves. They lived off of the offerings of the people. Well, it's this last part of verse 12. That's so striking, that they didn't know the Lord. They didn't love God. These sons loved themselves, and they lived accordingly. Just like coming to church doesn't mean that you're saved. Right? Just like, if you're a pastor, it doesn't mean you're saved. Some great heroes of our faith were pastors for a long time before they got saved.
Before I was saved, I was a deacon in a church. You know one of those good Baptist deacons, the deacon board that runs the church. The pastors are the elders, the deacons are the real leaders. And I had no idea what was going on. But in this church, I wasn't even saved. I just didn't have gigantic, glaring sin in my life and kind of kept things to myself. They thought, wow, let's just make this guy a leader. And I was head of the Mission Board. And found out later I just loved the church, I didn't love the God of the church.
So we need to be careful as we think about what kind of situations, or I guess we should be careful about how a situation can cultivate a person. Right? So here the situation is great, but it's also not what we think because the priests are actually, you know, enemies within and they indulged in sin. Samuel’s older brothers were such worthless men that God Himself would put them to death. God Himself would put them to death. Very encouraging, right? Well, what's encouraging, is that God doesn't put up with sin. The encouraging part is that God offers forgiveness of sin. That's the encouraging part.
Look in verse 26, even amidst all of these things, verse 26, is this shining light in the midst of all this [1 Samuel 2:26], “Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man.”
Sometimes we fall prey to the worldly counsel that says we are victims of our circumstance. That my life is falling apart and because my life is falling apart, I'm falling apart. I lost my job, I've lost everything. And because of that, I just don't know what to do. Well, you might not know what to do. But that doesn't mean that you can't rise up and shine in the midst of what is an incredibly bad situation. Samuel is your example if that's what's going on for you. Samuel’s, older brothers, were committing regular immorality in the temple with people who are coming to the temple. That’s who his brothers were. Not the best example.
And their dad, Eli, though he didn't agree with what the boys did, he was too weak to actually force them to stop. He was just verbally saying, “you need to stop,” but he didn't actually kick them out of the temple, which is what he should have done. Hannah thought she was putting her child into the ideal environment. What's your ideal environment? Right? Hopefully, it's in your home. The second ideal environment should hopefully be in the church, or around Christian friends, right? Some homeschool to kind of have more time to instruct, which is great. Some send to Christian schools, some send to Christian colleges, which is great. But the environment doesn't cultivate your heart. The environment doesn't change your heart. God changes your heart.
Now the environment can have a really bad influence on you, that is true. And you can succumb to bad influences. And that is true. And I don't think you should go and seek those. I just want to test myself. So I'm going out to the bar tonight. Right? That's not what we're say. But what we are saying, is that you can grow in the Lord even when no one else is. You can grow in the Lord in these incredibly tragic circumstantial lifestyles and events because you still have access to God. Nothing can take away your access to God. Right? Ukrainian missionaries know that and they want others to know that. Nothing can take away our access to God. They might take away our access to water unless God miraculously provides that. They might take away our access to food unless God miraculously provides that. They might even take away access to individual family members with each other. But no one can sever the pipeline that we have to God. There's always hope. And the story of Samuel is a shining example.
Look in 1 Samuel 2:35. “And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest [this is God speaking], who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever.” I don't know what you're dealing with today. I don't know what your issues are. We'd probably be all scared if we knew each other's true issues and thoughts, right? We all need help. And we all need that encouragement. But I want you to notice that God has his eyes set on Samuel. And it is God who was going to raise Samuel up, even in this situation. Notice, God didn't change the whole situation, even though he took out, you know, his older brothers. He still left him in the temple with the weak leader, Eli, the great high priests at the time. He didn't change everything about his circumstance, but he still cultivated and raised up this prophet of God.
So in chapter three, the Lord calls Samuel, and this too is very instructive [for] us. It helps us to understand the heart of a man. In chapter three, scholars estimate at this time Samuel is now about 12 years old. Yahweh calls him verbally three different times. So this audible voice, God the Father speaking to Samuel. Samuel is laying down, right? That's what your kids do. It's bedtime. Yes, mommy and they just go lay down, right? That's what, that's what he was doing. And so, he got up and he heard a voice, somebody called him, and so it must be Eli. Right? The temple is closed. It's not public time. So the temple is closed, they live there. And so he thought it was Eli.
“It's not me, son, go lay back down.” And just like your kids, what did he do? He goes and lays back down. And this happens three times. He's listening to Eli. And then Eli finally figures it out, that it is God who is speaking to Samuel. So he tells him the next time you hear this voice say, “Speak Lord, your servant is here,” right? So it says in 1 Samuel 3:7, look there with me if you would, “Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.”
I thought he grew up in the temple. He's 12, he should have been baptized three times by now. Right? What's wrong with this kid? Don't get, that's not the point. He should already know God. He heard instruction, all the time. He was obedient to Eli. This kid was, you can call him the willful child if you want, but he still has a sinful heart. He was the kid who, “Yes, mommy; yes, daddy,” that kind of thing. Right? Even though he had a horrible example, even though you had a weak leader for a father, he was still obedient, and yet he still didn't know the Lord. Why? Why? Because the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
1 Corinthians 2:14 explains this to us, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” Okay, you can be an academic and be an atheist, right? That's not what we're talking about. You can understand the context of a passage and you can understand the syntax, what the words mean, and you can understand all these things, but you cannot understand them spiritually. You cannot, as a dead depraved sinner, rip open your heart and say, “God change me.” Right? You can't do something that honors God without the grace of God at work in your life. That's why it says in verse seven, that he didn't know the Lord. And the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
Even though he didn't reject it, we have no indication that he's rejected the understanding and the teaching of God. Yet he still didn't know God. So God was about to reveal himself to Samuel. And this encounter with God is called a vision. Okay, if you're always wondering, what's a vision, a vision can be when somebody is sleeping, and they have a dream. Sometimes that's called a vision. Paul calls that a vision sometimes in the New Testament, but here this vision of God is God speaking audibly out loud to this boy, this 12 year old.
Now, what do you think God would say the first time he talks to a child? Right? What do you think he's going to say? “How are you doing, Samuel? Are you doing okay with not being by your mom? Not being by your brothers and sisters who were born later? How's it going? It looks kind of rough in the temple. I mean, your older brothers. Sorry, I had to take them out. But are you are you doing okay?” Right, does he say any of that kind of stuff? No, he doesn't. The first time God speaks to Samuel. He declares his ultimate and final judgment on Samuel’s father Eli. Right, his adopted father. That's the first thing he hears from God. “And you need to tell him this, son.” That's pretty impressive. What does that tell us about God? Here's what it tells us. And this is, this is really important. That man serves God, God doesn't serve man. Man serves the purpose of God. God doesn't serve the purpose of man.
We're normally hoping the if God would speak to us in some way, if you want to hear God, by the way, today, just read your Bible. But we are normally hoping God will speak to us and, and just miraculously tell us the most wonderful things to come. The most, the greatest blessings that we could have, “Lord God, please, please triple my salary that I might give more to you,” right? Now we make those prayers. “Lord God, please just pave the way that my life is simple and easy.” Or there's these, these crying out words that we have to God, which are good and right for us to do. But when God speaks, it's to call us to his purpose. That's the purpose of God when he communicates to us, it’s to call you and I to his purpose. And Samuel, once he heard God's purpose, was able then to follow what God said, or to reject it. Samuel as an obedient child, and as an obedient, now servant of God, communicated this judgment of God to his father, Eli, the high priest, as his first act of obedience. That’s pretty hardcore, but that wouldn't be the greatest challenge Samuel would face.
Look in 1 Samuel 3:19-20, “And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba [that’s the south and the north] knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD.”
What's a prophet do? A prophet speaks the words that God gave him, a prophet tells forth, communicates to people, sometimes what will happen in the future, which is what we see here, but always communicates the truth of God's Word to others. So Samuel became known as one who spoke the truth of God's word regardless of whether or not that was pleasant to hear. Parents, if you feel like you'd like a redo, there's always hope. Even if you're not a parent, if you grew up in the most horrible, wretched situation, there's always hope to live for Jesus Christ.
What you need to do is what Samuel did, which is, this is what I know I'm supposed to say and so this is what I'm going to say. When you understand what God requires of you, you simply need to do it. It needs to be so precious and so dear to you, that you're willing to forego the pleasantries from others. Right? Maybe you've got a friend or somebody that you spend a lot of time with. And they just like to talk about sports, right? All day, Saturday, it's college stuff. And all day, Sunday, it's NFL, it's pro sports. And then throughout the week, it's game after game. And there's just no time to talk about things that matter. But you find ways to just interject, “Hey, can I tell you what I did this weekend?” “Sure, as long as it's not about church.” “Well, that's all I want to talk about.” Right? And a true friend, a true person who loves you will want to hear about your weekend, how you learned about God, how you were sharpened, and refined in your faith and you're encouraged, and you're emboldened to live for God.
So Samuel continually did that, that's why he grew. It says [1 Samuel 3:19], “and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” Everything God told Samuel, he communicated.
Well, that takes us through chapter seven. And what you need to know about Samuel, what's so amazing about him, is that under Samuel’s leadership, the people finally, they finally turned back to God. Okay, so there's hundreds of years, 400 years plus, after coming out of Egypt, that they have turned from God and worshipped other gods and you can even read through in these accounts that David's wife, when she tried to hide him, she took a household idol and put it under the bed. Right? So they're not perfect, but they are now following God, except when chapter eight starts.
And now we turn to Saul, Israel's first king. See, when they wanted Saul, the whole idea about this is that they would reject God. And I've got to summarize this for you, but they reject God being their leader, their king. It's not that they wanted a different God, they just wanted somebody else to be their earthly king. Right, they were called out from the nations. But they longed to be like the nations. That's what chapters 8 through 15 reveal. And Saul is there their best bet at this point.
God was with Saul time and again, and it says wherever Saul turned, he defeated his enemies, right. So he did free physically, the people of God from their enemies, over and over and over again. Moses told them, this would happen. Maybe you remember, Deuteronomy 17:14-15 says this, this is Moses speaking summarizing, to the Israelites 400 years before, “When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.”
In other words, put somebody over you who serves the true God. So Moses told them there would come a day when they would reject God as king. And they would ask for a man to be their king. Well, God answered that, even though he said it was evil. God allowed Samuel to anoint the king. And this dynamic plays out here in chapters 8 to 15. And this is, if you want to think through the first 700 to 800 years of history, after the time of Christ, who's in charge? Is that the king or the prophet? Right? Is it the priest or the king? Samuel establishes here, that it's the prophet who's in charge, and the king even needs to obey the Prophet. Okay.
Look at chapter 10 of First Samuel with me, if you would, this is Samuel and he anoints Saul to be king. [1 Samuel 10:1] “Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, ‘Has not the LORD anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the LORD and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the LORD has anointed you to be prince over his heritage.”
Who appointed the king of Israel? Was it Samuel? No, it was the Lord. Not very democratic, was it? God's election is never democratic. God's election is never an independent republic. It's not popular vote or choice by the people, by you and me. God calls whom he will call, and that's always been the case. And we shouldn't get confused by that when we hit the New Testament. So God chose Samuel, and God chose Saul.
And here's an interesting thing that I think we need to understand. Look in 1 Samuel 10:6, Samuel is telling Saul, how he's going to know that God has truly anointed him. And he says this in verse six, “Then the Spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you.”
So a few things are promised here, okay. And this is a different ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament than we have in the New Testament. Right? There's a discontinuity, if you would, between how the Holy Spirit operated in this dispensation. Dispensation means time, then he does in the New Testament. First, the Spirit of Yahweh will come upon him. That's the Holy Spirit. Second, Saul will start prophesying, that's not promised to everyone whom the Holy Spirit comes upon to do their will in the Old Testament, but it is here. And don't miss this third aspect. This is the aspect that is solid as can be, you will be turned into another man. Do you see that? You will be turned into another man, at the end of verse six.
Question, “how long does it take for God to change someone's heart?” How many times have I been asked that question? How many times have you been asked that question, right? A relative, you know, has an experience on a weekend and you know, they say, “wow, you know, I came to Jesus.” Oh, that's great. What are you up to now? “Well, it’s just, it's kind of faded. I don't know. Just me and God, we're good now. But I just kind of do whatever I used to do.” Well, how long should it take for us to see evidence of God's salvation in a person's life?
And here, we're not even talking about salvation. We're talking about just the ministry of the Holy Spirit, having the capability of changing the heart of someone to do his will. Is that okay? Is that okay for God to change a person's heart to do his will? See, your freedom of the will, is your freedom to obey your nature. If you have a sinful nature, you're free to make choices according to your sinful nature. If you want to give a cup of cold water to somebody, and you still have a sinful nature, that's to your own glory, and your own benefit.
If you are a Christian and a believer, alright, if you've turned from your sin, if you've put your faith and trust in the grace of God alone for salvation, and God has given you a new nature, when you give a cup of water to someone, Jesus says, “Whenever you've done this to the least of these, you've done it unto me.” Right, you can now give God glory for even the most simple of acts. But look in verse nine. How long does it take for a God to change a heart? 1 Samuel 10:9, “When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart.” So in the amount of time it takes you to turn around, that's it. That's it. Now you can accept God's work in your life and follow him and live for him, which is the normal fruit of Christian salvation. That's why it says you'll know them by their fruits. You can reject God and we call that sin. But the idea that it takes five years, ten years, to change somebody, to change their heart to see the evidence of salvation in their lives, doesn't stack up with Scripture. The end of verse nine, it says, “And all these signs came to pass that day.” That is the Holy Spirit rushed upon him, Saul started prophesying, he was recognized as prophesying. It was normal words, right? No interpretation at all. Just normal words, the Holy Spirit came upon him and gave those words to others, they understood them. And here he's changed into another man.
But the ministry of the Holy Spirit is different in the Old Testament than it is in the New Testament. In the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” Nowhere does it say David, or Samuel, or Saul, when the Holy Spirit rushed upon them to do different acts, that they were the temple of the Holy Spirit now. The Holy Spirit was indeed influencing them and how they live. Indeed, enabling how they live. But the Holy Spirit didn't indwell in them, as the Holy Spirit does to believers now in the New Testament. How do we know that? How do we know that Old Testament believers were not indwelled by the Holy Spirit? I'll tell you, because the Holy Spirit had to keep rushing on Saul to get him to do things. Right?
When we're saved, when God changes our hearts, and we submitted to God, by grace through faith, our lives were changed. We're given the blessing of the Holy Spirit. Each and every person has been granted a manifestation of the grace of God through the Holy Spirit. Ephesians talks about that, right, every single person, as soon as you're saved, you have the Holy Spirit at work in your life. And we're called to as Ephesians 5:18 says, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, that is, it relates it to being controlled by something. So we are to allow ourselves to be controlled by the Holy Spirit from the inside out.
But in the Old Testament, Saul time and again, had to have the Holy Spirit come back and rush upon him over and over again, to do the will of God. And chapter 11, verse six is another time look there. Here the setting is the Ammonites are attacking, they seem to be a formidable, powerful force. They're unaware that Saul is willing and capable now to lead God's people. And 1 Samuel 11:6 says this, “And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.” Right.
Normally, we don't see the Holy Spirit, rushing upon somebody and causing them to be angry, that doesn't really fit with our neat and tidy understanding, theologically, of God's work in our lives. But here, Saul is angry over the offense, that has happened against God and his people. Righteous anger is being offended when God is offended. It's not that somebody has done something to you. It's that somebody has done something to God. And here Saul is called not to save his own name, but to save God's people. Okay. So, Saul gathers about 330,000 people to come fight. And he leads the people in battle. So they finally get their earthly king, and they finally get what they've asked for.
But unfortunately, Saul starts to make some bad decisions. And it's kind of like trying to understand how Moses made bad decisions to not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. Like he just struck the rock twice, is that really that big of a deal that you change the outcome of the rest of his life? But Saul was the chosen, anointed one of God. And Saul started to do things that showed he only partially wanted to obey God. Have you been there before? Lord, I'm going to do steps one and two, but not three. Not going to go there. Not yet. Right? And God is gracious with us and allows us to grow. But here what we see with Saul is that, because he started to disregard the Lord's direct command on him, as he led God's chosen people, God then rejects Saul.
What were his sins? Well, he sacrificed to God. That was the job of the priests. That was not the job of the king. When you read about in the Psalms that David longs to be in the presence of the Lord, some people think he longs to be in the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was, he wasn't allowed to go in there. Ever. He couldn't lay his eyes, on the very place where the presence of God was said to dwell to take away to push aside the wrath of God, right, to make atonement. He couldn't be there, so he longed to be in God's presence. He knew God's presence dwelt over the Ark of the Covenant, the covenant of God, right? The box that symbolizes that; David longed for that. But that wasn't his job.
Well, Saul didn't think it was that big of a deal. He was supposed to make a sacrifice before they all do the next thing God's called them to do. Samuel doesn't show up, he's the only one that should making the sacrifice. So Saul says, “Huh, I'll do it. I'll go ahead and make the sacrifice. God, we'll just set aside the laws about the Levites and the priests for a time because we got to get this ship moving. We got to make things happen.”
Have you ever been there where you think, you know, if I just tell this one lie, it's really going to help matters. You ever been there? If I just do this one thing, right parents, if I just yell at my kids, instead of speaking a kind gracious word, like Ephesians 4:29-32 says. If I just… then we can get out the door and we can be on time for church. I mean, praise God. That's what we should do. Right? We should be on time for church that's very respectful. We might even sit you know, somewhere past the back row, if we can get there quick enough. So it's not like we don't do this.
But Saul was judged harshly. Look in 1 Samuel 13:14. “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.”
Again, it's the Lord who chooses who is king, and how long or short he rules. God is after full submission of our heart. Now I have friends who, to this day, are as pagan as pagan can be. Who think they're saved because they prayed at one point, and God seemed to answer their prayer the way they asked. Something turned out the way they wanted. So they [think] me and God must be good, because God answered my prayer. And God did this thing. Well, God's answered the prayer of evil prophets as well. And had to have donkeys rebuke them. So we shouldn't be so confident in that. Because God is after the whole heart, God is seeking a man after his own heart, a pure heart, a man of conviction. He didn't say God’s seeking a perfect man, we don't have any of those. Or a perfect woman, we don't have any of those. So he was rejected.
And that takes us to the last section, the rise of Israel's greatest king, chapters 16 to 31. Look in 1 Samuel 16:13-14. This kind of summarizes the whole rest of the book. I can hear that sigh of relief, right. This is a summary. “Then Samuel took the horn of oil.” Remember, the horn is the symbol of strength and power? He “took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers [that is David]. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.” Samuel did his work, he leaves and goes to another city. And [1 Samuel 16:14] “Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul. And a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him.”
That is sad. That [Saul] would have a prophet he could hear. He would have a people he could lead. He had provisions, God gave them success in battle. And towards the end of his life, as you know, he's going to be throwing spears at people who love Him and spears of people who love God, and he's going to just die a sad, painful death out on the battlefield, him and his three sons and all of his men. Because he turned from the Lord, he was not fully committed to following God. And I can't implore you enough, that you have to be all in with God.
Well, chapter 17 is the story of David and Goliath. David is said to be this small, stout kid with pretty eyes. That’s who the most powerful king of Israel was. He wasn't this tall guy, who you know stood head and shoulders above all the rest, that was Saul. So that gives us short people hope, right? That God can use us too.
So David was coming out from the field, he was taking care of sheep. And you know the story, right? There's Goliath, this gigantic man, nine plus feet tall, huge and embarrassing the entire army. The entire army that routed the Ammonites. These are not like unskilled guys. These are warriors. These are men who are willing to give their life in battle. They were so freaked out by seeing Goliath that they were cowering behind the rocks. And you could just picture David walking up, you know, he's probably in his young teens, saying, “Hey, what's going on? How come you guys are hiding over there?”
And then Goliath comes out. And then David doesn't see the problem still. Like he, this Goliath, he's, he's like cursing our God. He's taunting us. Like, you know, what's happening here?
And this is really the turning point in the whole story of Israel, you're either on David's side or not. Okay, you're either on David's side or not. And the whole thrust of Scripture is going to focus on David from this point forward. Okay, all the way through the Messiah, it's going to have this focus on the lineage of the One who would come. On the root of Jesse, on the One who would come and bring salvation. The One on whom the government will rest on his shoulders. This is the point in the story. We have to wait until next, the next sermon (Second Samuel) to hear about the Davidic Covenant, and the explanation of that. But here you see the rise of God's anointed who actually follows God. It's been centuries, since Israel had someone who wasn't a judge who followed God wholly. Not perfectly, but followed God, wholly.
David kills Goliath with a stone, chops his head off. And when he comes to see the king, he's carrying the head. This is one bad little dude. Right? He's probably got you know, the short man, you know how they're always kind of walk around kind of cocky? I don't know. But David's carrying the head of a giant man. And he's like, “here's the head, king.” And then he's like, “Oh, get this guy and let him play the harp for me.” Right? Okay, Saul, we need to work on your leadership here. He sets David over his armies and allows him to go in and out. And what happens is, is that David fulfills God's will for him and wins every single battle that he fights. He doesn't lose a battle.
Later, he would be running for his life from Saul. And yeah I'm summarizing a whole bunch of chapters here, but he would be running for his life from Saul. And on the way out of town, he's heading south, lots of canyons, get on Google Maps and look these things up. There's jagged rocks everywhere, there's thousands of caves, you can see the areas where he was, you can see the mountain ranges where he was on one side and Saul was on the other; running for his life. You can see pictures of these, what it actually looks like, if you haven't been there. And David is victorious. And that really burns Saul, that really burned Saul.
And to make it even worse, Saul’s son Jonathan recognizes the virtue of David and his success under God. And it says his heart was knit to David's. It’s just such a beautiful, God honoring relationship between probably two of the most trained men in the whole land for war. They have this great love for each other, this great friendship, and they both want to serve God. It profits Jonathan nothing because he's going to lose the throne, then it profits David nothing because being close to Jonathan means he might lose his head. Right? So this is a relationship that's not just easy, right? They've got to talk and secret out in the field.
But in 1 Samuel 18:1 it says, “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul [that is, David to Saul], the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” Do you have a friend like that? I mean, they're hard to come by. But do you have a friend like that? Someone that you can love as your own soul. It will take risk. But if you find someone who is just devoted to God, and Jonathan didn't know much about David, except that he, you know, could chop the head off, a guy who’s bigger than him. Right? He didn't really know a whole lot about him. But he knew that he was dead set on following God, no matter the cost.
You see, I think the world needs men and women of conviction. And that's really what the end of First Samuel establishes with the rise of King David, is that he was a man of conviction. When I was going through preaching class, and we were just killing texts, I mean, it was bad. We didn't know how to preach, we didn't know how to explain the Scriptures. You know, it was probably really painful for our professors. Hopefully, it's not so painful now for you guys, maybe, I don't know. But there comes a time, where you just have to go, “I’m all in. I'm not turning back. I'm not any good at this now. But I'm not quitting. I'm going to press on, I'm going to move forward, I'm going to follow God, I'm going to give it whatever I can. I'm going to take my family with me, we're going to pursue Christ with all abandon, and we're going to live for God and God alone.”
In that case, it's learning how to preach, teach, and shepherd and care for the flock and become, you know, the person with the target on your head, spiritually. In your case, it might be the shining light at work, or the shining light in your neighborhood, or the dedicated person of conviction at church. Churches are full of people who are just looking for the entertainment, they're just looking for the ministry driven church, you can see that they've got so many programs, that you can't count them. Where are the people of conviction?
Grace Bible Church, the world needs people of conviction, whether you're over 70, or under 10, or somewhere in between. We need moms who love their children and their husbands, even when it's painful. We need single people who live for God and reject the immorality like Samuel did, when his older brothers were just indulging in it. We need men who will speak up to their sons and say, “Son, you can watch my life because I love Jesus. And when I fall, I'm going to show you what forgiveness and repentance looks like.” We need marriages that are strong and send a strong signal out of the gospel, to the world and to everyone that they talk to. Why do you come to the church you come to? Why do you do the things that you do? Is it because of Jesus? Is it driven by the Word or is there something else?
That is what I love about preaching here. You want the good stuff. You want the meat. You don't want the grisly cheap steak, right? You want the fillet? I can't say that without some kind of accent because my professor who said it always had an accident, “the fillet.” Right? And you don't want boring sermons. You want a little bit of hot sauce in there. Right? You want something to grip on to, to walk out of here with and today it’s, “Are you a person of conviction?” And you are going to come up against trouble. It's no surprise that most new churches fail. Over 70% of them fail. Why? Because it's hard. And Satan aims his guns right at them. Nope, not going to start another light and he just takes it out.
But you're loyal to God and his Word and that's what makes the church work. As each part does what it's called to do, it builds the body up in love. That's Ephesians 4:11-16. The teachers teach, the generous give, the people who encourage encourage, the people who are discerning say, “Hey, watch out for these things.” And the life of the church goes on and on. When we need children's ministry workers, you step up. When we need people to serve in various capacities, you step up and you live your life, the way you're called to live. But I want to encourage you to live out of a deep-seated conviction that is not swayed when the tough times come.
Saul even recognized this in David. Let me close with this. Look in 1 Samuel 24:20, “And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.”
That was after David spared Saul's life, once. Saul tried to take David's life again and David walked into the camp while Saul was sleeping, and the whole army was sleeping. And he took the spear and water jug by the king's head, and then was so bold that he called out to him. He would have been slaughtered if God was not with him. David only had 600 men. At that time, himself and only a couple of men. Saul had 3,000 men pursuing David at that point. He walks among 3,000 men knowing that God would protect him. And he spared Saul's life, because David was a man of conviction.
Sometimes we think, “Ah here's my enemy. It's time to really run them through. Here they are just sitting, they’re ripe for the taking.” But Dave was a man of conviction and God's honor was much more important than his. Like David, we need to give thanks to God in times of trouble and live out of our conviction.
Father God, we want to have the courage that it takes to live for you. We thank you that Lord, you've given us a loving, church body to walk through this life with, to be encouraged by. We each have different gifts, Lord.
I pray, Father, that you would help us to be men and women of conviction. And I pray that you would give us the courage, Lord, to live for you. That you might be glorified in all that we do.
Let's just take a moment right now and pray and ask God to help us to live with that deep conviction.
Lord, I thank you for the time to pray to you, to preach your Word, to enjoy fellowship with these dear people. I thank you Lord for the body of Christ and all that you do. May you help us this day to live for you in your precious Holy Name, Amen.
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