"THE FAILURE OF SAUL! & THE ANOINTING OF DAVID!"
THE NEXT STORY. CHAPTER 19 OF OUR BIBLE STORY BOOK, IS THE STORY OF THE BEGINNING OF THE KINGS OF ISRAEL. Up till this time, they had had no real outstanding king. They'd tried to have kings a few times; they tried to pick this man & that man. They had a few Judges, but no man succeeded in being a real king—because God had not anointed anybody to be king.
1. NO.1, A MAP. WE BEGIN THIS STORY OF THE RISE OF THE KINGS BY TRACING THE WHEREABOUTS OF THE ARK OF THE COVENANT. "Now the Philistines had taken the Ark of God, & brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ashdod‚" which was one of the 5 capital cities of the Philistines. (1Sam.5:1.) Eben-ezer was just north of Jerusalem, not too far from Beth-el. They had taken it & carried it over to Ashdod on the coast. This is Israel stretching north & southward. Over here was Moab & Ammon‚ & up here the 2-1/2 tribes that stayed on this side of the Jordan.
THE PHILISTINES WERE A VERY ADVANCED, CULTURED‚ CIVILISED PEOPLE.—MUCH MORE POWERFUL, WEALTHY & BETTER KNOWN THAN THE POOR JEWISH PEOPLE‚ who lived up in these mountains, in between these 2 seas. Compared to these big powerful people, they were just a small tribe, not very well known & not taken much unto account by the big powers of the world in that day. Every now & then‚ the Philistines figured that they should try & subdue the Jews, make them a conquered people & make them pay taxes. So they'd go up there & have a battle with them.
THE PHILISTINES LIVED DOWN ON THE NICE WELL-WATERED FERTILE COASTAL PLAIN, where they had plenty of crops. Whereas, the Israelites were trying to eke out an existence up there in the mountains. They had some nice fertile valleys up there; it was a land flowing with milk & honey.—But they hadn't really taken all of the land, had they? God's Word said it stretched clear to the sea.
ALL THESE WICKED PHILISTINES WERE LIVING IN HERE. SOMEBODY MUST HAVE FALLEN DOWN ON THE JOB, OR THEY WOULD HAVE DRIVEN OUT THE PHILISTINES A LONG TIME AGO! Remember, they left quite a few of the people that had been there before, & they always gave them trouble. The Lord said, "They'll be thorns in your flesh!" (Num.33:55 & Jud.2:3.) They fell heir to the same sins as the wicked people that were there ahead of them.
NOW THE PHILISTINES HAVE THE ARK OF THE COVENANT IN ASHDOD. That was really tragic for Israel, because that represented the presence of God.
2. HERE WE SEE AN ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPH OF WHERE ASHDOD ONCE STOOD. The glory has departed from Ashdod today—once a great enemy of God's people, now there is nothing left but ruins! God takes care of enemies eventually‚ doesn't He?
HE USES THE ENEMIES OF HIS PEOPLE FOR A LITTLE WHILE, TO PUNISH THEM & afflict them & to child train them & chasten them for their sins. But eventually, after His people have repented & gotten right with the Lord, what's He do to the enemies? He really takes care of them—He wipes them out completely!
HE NEVER WIPES HIS PEOPLE OUT COMPLETELY, DOES HE? If God uses the Russians or the Communists or somebody to kind of trim us down to size & get us humble & make us repent & confess & get right with God‚ it doesn't mean God doesn't love us any more & that God's forsaken us. Even if we should ever become slaves & prisoners &/or killed, God hasn't necessarily completely forsaken us.
JUST FOR A LITTLE TIME, GOD'S WORD SAYS, & HE WILL SAVE A REMNANT OF HIS PEOPLE. When the chastening is over‚ what does He do to the enemies? When the chastening is over & the Antichrist's time is up, why, then the Lord's going to come along & wipe him out!
HERE AT ASHDOD, THE ARK WAS PLACED IN THE TEMPLE OF DAGON. He was a very bad filthy god of these wicked Philistines. The Scripture says, "When they of Ashdod arose early in the morning the next day‚ behold, their idol Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the Ark of Jehovah!" Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
THAT OLD HEATHEN IDOL WAS FLAT ON HIS FACE IN FRONT OF THE ARK! Even if the people did not know enough to bow down, at least‚ God knocked that idol down! They put the idol back up in his place. The next day they found not only that he was fallen flat on his face, but this time he was all busted to smithereens! Old Dagon was gone to pieces! 1Samuel 5.
4. HERE'S THE SITE OF THE ANCIENT PHILISTINE CITY OF GATH, not much to show for it today, is there?—Just a few ruins sticking out of the grounds here & there! God's Word says, "The hand of Jehovah was heavy upon them of Ashdod‚ &
"HE DESTROYED THEM, & SMOTE THEM WITH TUMOURS, EVEN ASHDOD & THE BORDERS THEREOF." (1Sam.5:6.) What do you suppose the Philistines of Ashdod decided to do? They were pretty smart, they got the point! A lot of Christians don't seem to get the point that quick! They got rid of the Ark! They knew there was something behind that God! They believed in all kinds of gods; so they figured, "Well, that God of the Jews is a pretty powerful God! We better get rid of Him!"
THEY CARRIED THE ARK OVER TO GATH, ANOTHER CAPITAL CITY OF THE PHILISTINES. They didn't want to give it back to the Jews, so they figured, "We'll do our dear friends over in Gath a favour & pass it on to them. It's a pretty nice token of our victory over the Jews to have around, but we just as soon not have it here!" That's like a lot of people do, isn't it? If it doesn't do them good, they don't want to get rid of it—they just pass it on to somebody else!
"THE LORD SMOTE THE MEN OF THAT CITY, BOTH SMALL & GREAT." (1Sam.5:9.) Here they didn't park it in the temple; they learned the lesson about that. They didn't want to have their gods destroyed any more, so they moved it around the city. Instead of smiting their gods‚ this time the Lord smote the people themselves!
5. HERE YOU SEE A LITTLE IDEA OF WHERE THESE PLACES ARE ON THE MAP. They sent the Ark of God to Ekron, another capital city of the Philistines. They had 5 great cities: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath & Ekron.
ASHDOD SENT IT TO GATH, & GATH SENDS IT UP TO EKRON. It's getting a little closer to where it belonged, but they weren't quite willing to part with it yet. The Ekronites cried about saying, "`They have brought about the Ark of the God of Israel to slay us & our people!'... There was a deadly destruction throughout the city‚ & the cry of the city went up to heaven!" (1Sam.5:10-12.)
6. THIS IS THE SITE OF ANCIENT EKRON, an actual photograph taken in Israel.
7. BY THIS TIME, THE PHILISTINES SEEMED TO BE RATHER REPENTANT; they held a meeting & decided they were going to see for sure if the Ark was causing all this trouble.
THEY SET IT ON A BRAND NEW CART TO WHICH THEY YOKED 2 MILK KINE, 2 cows that were giving milk to their calves. They penned up the calves so the cows couldn't get to them. Ordinarily a mother will run to her baby, won't she? They knew it would be a miracle if these cows didn't run right straight to their babies, & tote the wagon & the Ark right along with them—maybe even rush so fast‚ they'd bust it up! But what happened?
THEY WENT ON GOD'S OWN COURSE & THEY DRAGGED THE CART TO BETH—SHEMESH! God's Word says the cows were lowing as they went. That always touched my heart‚ the poor cows were going moo, moo; they were mooing for their calves, but they didn't turn aside! They were crying for them‚ but they didn't turn back! That's 1Samuel 6:13-18. Beth-shemesh wasn't far from Ekron. It was kind of a spearhead of Jews sticking out practically into Philistine territory. So being the nearest point, God directed the cows to come up to Beth-shemesh.
WHY DIDN'T GOD DIRECT THEM TO GO UP TO SHILOH, WHERE THE ARK WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE TABERNACLE? The people up there had certainly not proved very good custodians, had they? And they were not very repentant.
8. IT WAS HARVEST TIME AT BETH-SHEMESH. The cows stopped in the field of a fellow by the name of Joshua, & the reapers rejoiced to see the Ark. This fellow Joshua must have been highly honoured by the Lord, to have Him send the Ark there instead of back to Shiloh. This was a border city with a mixed population. Only the Jewish portion recognised the Ark & rejoiced at its coming.
9. HERE'S AN ACTUAL PHOTO OF THE SITE OF BETH-SHEMESH. The curiosity of the Beth–shemites, probably the non–Jewish part, caused them to open the sacred chest. The Jews themselves would certainly have never done that, would they?
SOME OF THESE PHILISTINES, WHO LIVED THERE, RUSHED UP & OPENED THE BOX TO SEE WHAT WAS IN IT. Suddenly 50,000 of them died on the spot! It was a pretty big city in those days.
BECAUSE THEY HAD SINNED, GOD MANIFESTED HIS POWER. He wanted the people to know that you couldn't tinker around with Him & look into His box. God knows what He's doing. Do you think God is fair, He's just? It had its effect!: The people marvelled & said,
"WHO IS ABLE TO STAND BEFORE THIS HOLY LORD GOD OF THE JEWS? This God is powerful! We never had such a powerful God! None of our idols ever had power like that!"
10. THE MAP. THE PHILISTINES HAD BEEN IN POSSESSION OF THE ARK OF GOD FOR 7 MONTHS NOW. The Israelites of Kirjath-jearim were implored to come & take the Ark away from Beth-shemesh. Now it's going toward Shiloh.
11. HERE'S A PHOTO OF KIRJATH-JEARIM. The Ark was brought to Kirjath-jearim & placed in the house of Abinadab on the hill, where it remained for 20 years. They were so scared now, that they were almost afraid to move it!
I GUESS THE LORD WANTED TO SHOW THAT THE PEOPLE WHO HAD TAKEN CARE OF IT NEEDED TO REPENT BEFORE GOD WOULD TRUST THEM WITH IT AGAIN! So He puts His blessing & His presence in the house of Abinadab. Eleazar, the son of Abinadab, was sanctified to keep the Ark until it was finally taken to Jerusalem, in the days of David—when David danced before the Ark‚ as he brought it to Jerusalem.
12. ANOTHER MAP. SAMUEL NOW BECAME A KIND OF CIRCUIT JUDGE. He was a prophet & a judge. First he was at Beth-el, then onto Gilgal, then onto Mizpeh‚ & finally he'd return to his home city of Ramah. He had a circuit that went around like this.
13. WHILE SAMUEL WAS HERE AT MIZPEH ONE TIME, HE CALLED ISRAEL FOR A GREAT PRAYER MEETING, & during this session they were suddenly attacked by the Philistines. Evidently the Philistines thought they were getting together to make war on them & attacked the prayer meeting. Just then a great storm arose & there was thunder & lightning, & they were smitten of God before Israel.
SAMUEL SET UP A STONE HERE IN COMMEMORATION OF THIS EVENT, & he called it, (SINGS:) "Here I raise my Eben-ezer." Remember that old hymn? Now you know what it means by raising your Eben-ezer. When I was a little boy‚ I used to sing that & I'd wonder what in the world does it mean to raise Eben-ezer? Some of these things are kind of hard for children to understand when nobody explains it to them.
HE CALLED THIS PLACE EBEN-EZER & HE RAISED A MONUMENT HERE TO THE VICTORY OF GOD OVER THE ENEMIES OF GOD'S CHILDREN, saying, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." (1Sam.7:12.) He's helped us this far, not that he doubted that God would help them in the future; but he just wanted to remind them, God's always helped us, He's still helping us‚ amen!
14. HERE WE SEE A PHOTO OF BEER-SHEBA. Samuel had 2 sons, Joel & Abiah, & he made them Judges of Beer-sheba. It's kind of a sad thing about some preachers' children. Like Eli's sons‚ they had proven themselves unworthy of this high office.
SOMETIMES PREACHERS RUN AHEAD OF GOD: THEY WANT THEIR KIN TO INHERIT THE SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY. We don't have any record of God telling Eli to make his sons priests‚ nor telling Samuel that he should make his sons priests. But you love your children, you like them to have the blessing of God & to be in service to the Lord.
BUT DON'T JUST PUSH THEM IN UNLESS GOD HIMSELF TELLS THEM & they really yield to God personally, amen! Otherwise, they will just be wicked children in a place where they shouldn't be! That's what happened to Eli's children & to Samuel's children.
ISRAEL BEGAN TO SEE THE NECESSITY FOR A GOVERNMENT WITH AUTHORITY, at least they thought they did, & they asked Samuel for a king. They thought‚ "We like Samuel; he's a good judge, a spiritual man, he loves the Lord. But what if something happens to Samuel, do we want these wicked boys of his judging us?" They looked around at their neighbours‚ the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, & everybody had a king; so they said, "Why shouldn't we have a king?"
THEY WEREN'T WILLING TO TRUST GOD & LET GOD MAKE THE CHOICES! God gave them Samuel; He could give them another prophet, couldn't He! They were demanding a king now—they wanted to be glorious & proud like the rest of the nations of the World!
15. HERE AT GILON SAMUEL RELUCTANTLY CONSENTED, & THE LORD DIRECTED HIM TO SELECT SAUL, the son of Kish, a native of an unnamed village in Benjamin. Tradition points to this particular village, according to Jewish history, now called Gilon, 2 miles west of Bethlehem, in full view of Rachel's tomb‚ as being the place of Saul's residence.
16. HERE'S LOOKING SOUTHWARD FROM RAMAH. SAUL CAME TO RAMAH IN SEARCH OF HIS FATHER'S ASSES, little donkeys, which were lost. Here he met Samuel, the prophet, who told him the animals had returned home already. Saul was a big fellow—he must have been 6–7 feet tall, because God's Word says he was head & shoulders above all of his brethren.
BUT SAUL WAS A VERY MEEK, HUMBLE FELLOW AT THIS TIME. Look how many humble people God picked for kings, outstanding prophets & leaders; how many shepherds: Moses‚ David & different ones, & here's Saul nothing but a keeper of donkeys!
17. SAUL WAS SURPRISED THAT HE'S TO BECOME KING OF ISRAEL. In spite of Saul's protests, Samuel took him to his own home, where about 30 people were waiting; & he made a great dinner for Saul.
THAT NIGHT SAMUEL GAVE SAUL A BED ON THE ROOF OF HIS HOUSE—just like you see here in this picture. To this very day, the roofs of the houses in Palestine are flat‚ & it is the choice place to sleep. I imagine it would be pretty cool up there on the roof. Some people might have thought, "Well‚ that wasn't treating Saul very well‚ to make him sleep on the roof!" They get a picture in their mind of these peaked roofs we have today.
NOT ONLY DID THEY HAVE FLAT ROOFS THAT THEY SLEPT ON, BUT THE BIBLE HAS A LAW THAT THEY HAD TO HAVE A BANNISTER AROUND THE ROOF, a balustrade, so that nobody could fall off & get killed. If anybody fell off the roof & you didn't have a bannister, it was your fault & his blood was on your hands.
THE EVENING MEAL WAS SOMETIMES SERVED ON THE ROOF AFTER SUNSET—a nice cool place to eat. It was most likely that the whole family was sleeping up there, including Samuel‚ during the hot months of the summer. I doubt if they made poor Saul sleep up there all by himself.
18. AS IS THE ORIENTAL CUSTOM, SAMUEL, THE NEXT MORNING, ACCOMPANIED HIS GUEST TO THE EDGE OF THE CITY. On their way, he anointed Saul king of Israel. As Samuel poured the oil from the vial upon his head, he said to Saul, "The Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance." (1Sam.10:1.)
THE PEOPLE INSISTED ON HAVING A KING‚ SO GOD PICKS A KING, the best one He could find them at the time. But He said they were going to have to suffer for it: Kings could be cruel, could pass harsh taxes & make them fight wars & all kinds of things!
IF YOU INSIST ON HAVING SOMETHING THAT ISN'T GOD'S WILL, WILL GOD LET YOU HAVE IT? Sometimes, He'll let you have it! God's Word says, "He gave them the desires of their hearts, but He sent leanness to their souls!" (Ps.106:15.) In other words, they didn't feel the sweet presence of God quite so close—they got away from God.
HE LET THEM GO THEIR OWN WAY, BUT THEY GOT IN TROUBLE FOR IT! Sometimes that's the only way you can let a child find out & learn his lesson, by letting him have his own way. Daddy warned you; you insist, go ahead! That's what He did!
19. SAMUEL GAVE SAUL 3 SIGNS WHICH WERE TO SERVE AS A CONFIRMATION OF HIS DIVINE APPOINTMENT AS KING OF ISRAEL. These all came to pass as the prophet had foretold. Saul came to Gibeah, which became his permanent capital city. He was a Benjamite, so he made the head city of Benjamin, Gibeah, his capital city. It's about 4 miles north of Jerusalem.
20. HERE'S MIZPEH. REMEMBER THE MIZPEH BENEDICTION? This is where it happened. The great prophet Samuel assembled all Israel at Mizpeh in Benjamin—there weren't too many of them in those days. He wanted to get them together & announce that Saul was the king, & have them proclaim him king. "Samuel said, `See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen.’ & all the people shouted & said, `God save the king!'" (1Sam.10:24.) Well, he sure needed saving according to his later history!
21. JABESH-GILEAD WAS OVER ON THE EAST SIDE OF JORDAN. The east—Jordanian Tribes were not there; they were too far away to come for the crowning, but occasion came later for their approval. The Ammonites & Moabites were second cousins of the Jews, but they didn't seem to like the Jewish members of the family.
NAHASH, THE KING OF AMMON, ATTACKED JABESH-GILEAD. When the people asked for terms of peace, they were told that one of the conditions of peace would be that every Israelite must have his right eye put out. The Ammonites gave 7 days to surrender under this offer, or take the consequences after their capture. Now comes the need for a king. Saul's going to be put to use.
22. A MESSENGER WAS DESPATCHED TO SAUL, THE NEW KING, whose demand brought 330,000 men—quite an army! They surprised & nearly annihilated the Ammonites. Those Ammonites weren't expecting quite such a retaliation! They attacked this little bunch of tribes on the east side of Jordan; they thought they really had it made—they didn't realise that now the Israelites were going to start sticking together.
GOD ALLOWED IT FOR A PURPOSE: HE IS GOING TO LET THEM FIGHT A FEW BATTLES NOW & CONQUER THEIR ENEMIES. This united all the Tribes, & they met at Gilgal in the Jordan Valley & they offered great sacrifices to the Lord & a peace offering. God's Word says, "They made Saul king before the Lord & all Israel rejoiced greatly." (1Samuel 11:15.)
GOD DID USE HIM TO A CERTAIN EXTENT: HE AT LEAST UNIFIED THE NATION & started getting them together a little bit‚ & prepared the way for David & Solomon & the great days that followed.
23. HERE'S MICHMASH. SAUL CALLED 2000 MEN TO PROTECT GIBEAH, & 1000 TO BE HEADED BY HIS SON JONATHAN AT GEBA‚ a few miles north. Jonathan routed the small army of Philistines at Geba. Stung by this defeat, the Philistines assembled a great army at Michmash, which so frightened Saul's soldiers that they deserted & went into hiding!
THIS BIG ARMY OF 330,000 MEN WENT & RAN & HID—ALL EXCEPT 600 MEN! They were really scared! God just wanted to show what He could do. He didn't have to have the 330,000 men; He could do without the 329,400. He could even do without the 600!
24. SAUL RETREATED TO GILGAL, WHERE SAMUEL WAS TO MEET HIM IN 7 DAYS & MAKE SACRIFICES. But Saul's men were deserting in such numbers, he didn't wait for the Prophet! He said, "Well, I guess Samuel isn't coming. I'm just going to have to offer up these sacrifices myself. It looks like the Lord's letting us down; not only the Lord, but the preacher too!" Did the Lord tell him to make the sacrifices? No!
SO, HE DISPLEASED THE LORD THERE! It was God's way, at this particular time & place, for the preacher to make the sacrifice; but Saul went ahead & offered up the sacrifices himself! If Saul's heart had been right toward God, as it should have been‚ maybe God would have permitted it.
SAUL WAS A KIND OF REBELLIOUS GUY TO BEGIN WITH‚ & HE WAS ALWAYS RUNNING AHEAD OF GOD! He was always getting in trouble, & the Lord knew that. So‚ his hands were not clean before the Lord to offer the sacrifice. Samuel chastised Saul for it: "The Lord would have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever, but now thy kingdom shall not continue!" (1Sam.13:13-14.) The poor guy had just started being king, & now he gets told that he's not going to be king.
SAMUEL WAS WARNING HIM IN ADVANCE THAT SOME DAY YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE YOUR KINGDOM BECAUSE OF THIS. Not only this, he meant how Saul was going to act from that time on—always disobeying the Lord & always going his own way! It seemed like poor Saul never could do the right thing! He was always getting ahead of God or behind God or out of God's Will!
WHEN HE CALLED SAMUEL'S SPIRIT UP, HE TOLD HIM WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN TO HIM IN THE END. Samuel once said, "Your rebellion is worse than witchcraft‚ & stubbornness as the sin of idolatry!" (1Sam.15:23.) To be rebellious & stubborn is just as bad as witchcraft & worshipping idols! That's pretty bad! So, Samuel denounced poor Saul.
IT WAS MANY YEARS BEFORE HE ACTUALLY LOST THE KINGDOM, because the Lord simply foretold the future & predicted that he would. He had lost out with God because of his disobedience! He was head & shoulders above all of his brethren: In many ways he was a good king—just about as good a king as they could have, in the strength of the flesh!
GOD EVIDENTLY WANTED TO SHOW THEM THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MAN WHO WAS REALLY POWERFULLY ANOINTED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, & ONE WHO WAS TRYING TO GO AHEAD IN HIS OWN STRENGTH! Saul thought he could get along, because he was a smart man, a good leader. He'd rush ahead of God & try to do things without God's help, & time & again he would fail! That seems to be Saul's whole history almost from the beginning of his life to the very end!
HE WAS FOLLOWED BY A KING WHO WAS JUST ALMOST THE OPPOSITE; A MAN WHO ALWAYS WAITED ON GOD & waited till he could get his orders from God! Saul was always running ahead & getting ahead of God, doing things in his own physical strength, his own fleshly strength, & his own human wisdom!
IT'S A GREAT COMPARISON THAT THE LORD MAKES HERE BETWEEN THE TWO. We should remember that! He who tries to do the Master's Work without the Master's power is tackling an impossible job—because you can't possibly lick the Devil!—He's more powerful than you are, without God! But God & you are a majority!
THAT'S THE LESSON THAT SAUL NEVER SEEMED TO LEARN, THAT HE COULD NOT WIN THE BATTLE WITHOUT GOD! Sometimes God would be merciful & give him the victory. But so often, he would lose the victory because of his own pride & failing to give God the thanks, disobeying God & running ahead of God!
THIS WAS A LITTLE FORETASTE & FORECAST OF THE FUTURE BY THE PROPHET SAMUEL‚ who had anointed him to be king on the orders of the Lord. Now he told him, "Some day you are going to lose the kingdom because of your rebellion & your stubbornness, & your insistence on having your own way instead of God's way!"
25. NOW JONATHAN DOES A VERY REMARKABLE THING: He & his armourbearer crossed the gorge of Michmash, entered the Philistine camp & slew 20 men! That wasn't a small task, as you can see by the artist's conception here in the picture. At that moment, there was an earthquake—God was with him! Remember, he said, "Who knows what God might do!"
THOUSANDS OF THE PHILISTINES WERE CAMPED AGAINST THE ISRAELITES. While his father, King Saul, was sitting around wondering what to do & probably making the wrong decision, Jonathan, who did love the Lord & was more inspired than his father, said, "Come on, armourbearer, let's go over & see what we can do to stir up the camp of the Philistines. If God is with us, almost anything can happen!" There it was again: God & even one or two are a majority!
JONATHAN DASHED INTO THE CAMP WITH HIS ARMOURBEARER. The Lord was working with him with an earthquake that really shook them up, & so frightened the opposing army that they fled in disorder, killing each other!
WHEN SAUL GOT THE NEWS OF THE INCIDENT, HE REINFORCED JONATHAN & HE DROVE THE PHILISTINES AS FAR AS AIJALON, & all the deserters returned again to Saul. Remember, Saul had been left with only about 600 men. His men had fled when they heard that the Philistines were gathering. It showed that the Spirit of God was departing from Saul at this time, because the men also departed from him, not having faith in him. Jonathan by the Spirit of God‚ won a great victory!—Just 2 men, Jonathan & his armourbearer, bring victory back to Israel!
26. THE MAP. THE REST OF 1SAMUEL 14 TELLS OF WARS WITH MOAB, AMMON, EDOM, ZOBAH & SO ON; but there are no details, except that "he vexed them". (vs.47.) As far as the world was concerned‚ the Israelites were nothing but a little tribe living up in the hills of Samaria. They'd run down out of the hills & have a big battle with the Philistines or the Moabites or the Amalekites.
THE GREAT POWERS OF THE WORLD, LIKE EGYPT, ASSYRIA & BABYLON, WERE STRUGGLING BACK & FORTH WITH EACH OTHER. THEY HARDLY EVEN CONSIDERED THE ISRAELITES. They hadn't come into the great fore of world history, but they were very important to the Lord. Saul‚ their first king, was giving trouble to their enemies `round about them, stirring up trouble for these great big powers. So, they would march on them & try to put them down.
SAUL IS NOW DIRECTED TO CONSUME THE AMALEKITES, TO JUST ABSOLUTELY WIPE THEM OUT. Although they were second cousins, they were bitter enemies of the Jews, & were idolators & very wicked! They were leading Israel astray. So, the Lord said, "Wipe them out! Don't leave anybody: Men, women or children!" Now to some of you, that seems very strange: What a God, to wipe out everybody!
GOD KNEW THAT EVEN THE CHILDREN WERE GOING TO BE WICKED—just as bad as their parents! He said, "Wipe them all out, the whole bunch. They'll just contaminate you; they'll fill you full of sin & wickedness & lead you astray!"
SAUL SUCCESSFULLY CARRIED OUT THIS DEMAND, BUT HE MADE ONE BIG MISTAKE! As usual, he was always getting ideas of his own. God said, by Samuel, "Wipe them all out, every single one—even their cattle!" (1Sam.15:3.) Maybe their cattle had hoof & mouth disease, & God didn't want that spread in Israel. But do you remember what Saul did? He brought Agag the king back. That was quite a feather in Saul's cap, to have a big king riding in the chariot along with him.
HE'D CONQUERED A WHOLE NATION‚ BUT HE SPARED THE KING—just as proof to show what he had accomplished. Also he said, "Well‚ there's no use in killing all the sheep‚ goats & cows; after all, we could eat a lot of beef steak if we'd keep those cattle—so we'd better just save them!
"THE LORD SURELY DIDN'T MEAN EVERYTHING HE SAID!"—Just like Adam & Eve in the Garden! Remember the Devil said, "Has God said, `You'll surely die'? He doesn't really mean that! God just doesn't want you to have fun!" That's the way the old Devil lies to all of us‚ right!
27. SAUL BROUGHT AGAG THE KING TO GILGAL ALIVE—A THING HE HAD BEEN FORBIDDEN TO DO! He came riding proudly along with Agag in the chariot, the sign of his conquest, & with the cattle & sheep following along behind. He said to the Prophet of God‚ "Behold, I have performed the Word of the Lord!" (1Sam.15:13.) Was he telling the truth? He really hadn't! He had done it partly.
HE HAD DISOBEYED THE LORD! A LOT OF CHRISTIANS THINK THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH THAT! They can obey Him partly, disobey Him partly, & get by with it! Saul didn't get by with it! Samuel answered back & said, "What meaneth this in mine ears, the lowing of the cattle & this bleating of the sheep?" (1Sam.15:14.) Just about the time Saul thought he had it made—he figured he had fooled the prophet & fooled God & fooled the people,
ALL OF A SUDDEN HIS SHEEP BEGAN TO BLEAT & HIS OXEN BEGAN TO LOW! Do you get the point? Watch out! Some day about the time you think God's forgotten about it, & you've got the folks fooled & the preacher fooled, you've obeyed God & everything's fine.—About that time one of your little sheep's going to bleat or one of those oxen's going to low—those hidden sins, & you're going to have problems! There was Agag right in the chariot with him as plain proof, in front of them all, that he was in trouble!
SAUL HAD FAILED, BUT SAMUEL DIDN'T FAIL! Here was a prophet that had guts! Here was a prophet that really had a backbone! I'll never forget the Jewish synagogue I was in, they said,
"THESE CHRISTIANS PREACH A GOD THAT'S ALL MILK-&-WATER & string-for-a-backbone & is never going to punish anybody!"—That sure isn't the kind of a God we preach! He said, "Their God doesn't have any justice. He's nothing but mercy & love, a namby-pamby kind of God!"—the old Rabbi was preaching. Well, I don't blame him‚ because to hear some preachers preach,
YOU WOULD THINK THAT WAS THE WAY GOD WAS: GOD WAS NEVER GOING TO BE TOUGH ON ANYBODY, He's never going to hurt anybody, & everybody is a child of God. That isn't what Jesus said about some of the religious people of His day! He said they were of their father the Devil!—Especially some religious leaders who were leading the people astray! Saul was leading the people astray, but God had anointed him to be king; I think he was saved‚ I think he was a child of God.
BUT HE CERTAINLY GOT IN TROUBLE FOR DISOBEYING GOD, AS EVERY CHILD OF GOD WILL IF THEY DO! Samuel called Saul, he reaffirmed that God had rejected him from being king. The prophet then took a sword himself & he cut Agag's head right off in front of everybody! He slew Agag with his own hand at Gilgal.
SAMUEL THEN RETURNED TO HIS HOME IN RAMAH‚ & HE NEVER SAW KING SAUL AGAIN. That was the last straw, he was fed up with Saul! God's Word tells us, however, that he wept over Saul many times. No doubt, Samuel spent many a night in prayer, weeping over poor Saul—the king that failed God! This is to me one of the saddest stories in the Bible!:
HERE WAS A MAN, ANOINTED OF GOD, CHOSEN OF GOD TO SERVE GOD, BUT HE WAS CAST UPON GOD'S SCRAPHEAP! He was put on the shelf because he just didn't seem to know how to obey God! You can't serve God unless you obey God! Amen! You've got to obey God! You've got to do what God tells you! You can't do what you think is right, no matter how good it is, you cannot say, "Well, I did my best!" Your best isn't good enough!
THE CONSOLIDATED PLANT AT SAN DIEGO‚ CALIFORNIA, USED TO HAVE A BIG BIG SIGN THAT STRETCHED FOR MILES ALONG THE HIGHWAY; IT SAID: "NOTHING SHORT OF RIGHT IS RIGHT!" They were giving advice to their aircraft workers: Don't make any mistakes, because the only way to build an airplane is right! You make one little mistake & down goes the plane. Nothing short of right is right! It's got to be right!
IT REMINDS ME OF A FELLOW THAT WORKED IN THAT PLANT. They installed a new $20,000 aircraft tooling machine. The boss came over & taught him how to use it. Then he left this expert machinist with the machine, & said, "If anything goes wrong‚ I know you're a smart mechanic‚ but don't try to fix this new machine! You're not too familiar with it, we've never had a machine like this before.
"DON'T TRY TO FIX IT YOURSELF! IF ANYTHING HAPPENS, CALL ME!" So, sure enough, the machine broke down. What do you suppose the mechanic did? Of course he called the boss? No! I'm sorry to say he didn't! He thought, "I'm a smart mechanic, I'm going to show the boss how smart I am, & I'll fix this! Then maybe he'll give me a raise & a promotion."
HE TRIED ALRIGHT, & CRASH WENT THE MACHINE! SMASH! And it was almost beyond repair—because he was trying to fix it himself! The boss came running down, & said, "My! What in the thunder's happened down here?" He said to the boss, "I was trying to fix it. I did my best, I did the best I knew how!" He said, "No! You did not do your best! What did I tell you?
"YOUR BEST WAS TO CALL ON ME! NOT TO TRY TO DO IT YOURSELF, but to call on me!" Do you get the point? A lot of folks try to go ahead in their own strength & their own wisdom, & do what they think is God's will & God's work. Then crash! They break down or God's work breaks down‚ & God comes & says, "You know what you should have done? You should have called on Me! You should have asked Me!"
YOUR BEST IS TO WHAT?—JUST TO DO YOUR BEST, IS THAT YOUR BEST? YOUR BEST ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH! It takes God to really do the job! No matter how hard we work, our best is not good enough! It takes God to really do the job right! That's not only true about salvation, that's true about working for the Lord too! Your best, your own human strength is not sufficient. Your own strength is not good enough. It takes more than your strength to do the job!
SAUL DID HIS BEST! HE WAS A GOOD KING, AS FAR AS HUMAN BEINGS GO, HE DID HIS BEST! He tried to do the right job & what he thought was right‚ but his best was not good enough! His best would have been to wait for the prophet, wait for the Voice of God, wait for the will of God! Wait & obey! Wait on the Lord! If you folks can learn that as a lesson tonight, it will be one of the most valuable lessons you ever learn, as far as serving God is concerned.
DON'T RUSH AHEAD IN YOUR OWN STRENGTH & YOUR OWN WISDOM & THINKING YOU KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT! Joshua never seemed to make another mistake in the whole Bible. He was winning all the victories & God was with him. But there was one little insignificant town, & he thought, "I won't even have to ask God about this town, I'll just send up a couple thousand men & they can wipe this place out!" and the enemies licked them!—Because he didn't ask God! Watch out! Ask God because God knows best!—That was Saul's problem all the way through his life!
28. THE NEXT STORY WE'RE GOING TO TAKE UP IS ABOUT A BOY WHO WAS CHOSEN OUT OF THE SHEEPCOTE. God took him to make him a leader & prepare him to be the king. He didn't get to be king for about 24 years after he was chosen when he was 16, until he was about 40.
HE HAD TO GO INTO TRAINING UNDER KING SAUL FOR ABOUT 24 YEARS. Think of that! God had already told Saul he wasn't going to be king, but He let him keep on being king for another 24 years, so that David would learn how to be a king.
29. HERE ARE THE HILLS OF BETHLEHEM, WHERE DAVID USED TO TAKE CARE OF HIS SHEEP. Samuel was so disappointed in Saul that he wept for a long time, because Saul had disappointed the Lord!
THE LORD BADE SAMUEL TO DRY HIS TEARS & GO TO BETHLEHEM, TO THE HOUSE OF JESSE; He said, "I have provided me a king among his sons." (1Sam.16:1.) Somewhere about that terraced hillside you see there‚ Jesse, grandson of Ruth, lived. David was the great-grandson of Ruth, whom we studied awhile ago.
30. HERE'S SAMUEL & THE SONS OF JESSE. It looks like a pretty fine house they had, according to the artist's conception anyhow. Samuel sanctified Jesse & his sons, & they built an altar & offered a sacrifice.
ONE BY ONE THE SONS PASSED BEFORE THE PROPHET‚ UNTIL ALL 7 HAD DONE SO. He said, "The Lord hath not chosen these." (1Sam.16:10.) And enquired if there was another. Jesse informed him that there was one, David, the youngest of them all.
31. HERE IS A SHEPHERD AMONGST HIS SHEEP IN THE FIELD—just as David was, at that moment, in a distant field tending his father's sheep. Many of his experiences as a shepherd were afterward incorporated in his own writings in later years. They say that tending sheep is a lot like taking care of people or being a king‚ because sheep are the only animals in the world that are as dumb as people!
TRADITION INFORMS US THAT THIS IS THE VERY FIELD WHERE DAVID USED TO WORK WITH HIS SHEEP. 1000 years later the angels met some shepherds out here when Jesus was born.
32. SAMUEL SAID TO JESSE, "SEND & FETCH DAVID: For we will not sit down till he come hither." (1Sam.16:11.) They weren't even going to sit down to eat, until he'd finished the work he'd come to do! They sent & brought him hither. It says, "He was ruddy & of beautiful countenance & goodly to look to." In other words, he was a real living doll, girls! The Lord said, "Arise, anoint him: For this is he!" (16:12.)
33. SO SAMUEL ANOINTS DAVID. "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, & anointed him in the midst of his brethren: And the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forth. So Samuel rose up, & went to Ramah." (1Sam.16:13.)
34. HERE DAVID IS THE MUSICIAN. THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD NOW DEPARTED FROM SAUL. At times he was seized with fits of melancholy‚ & it was recommended that music might drive them away. David had already achieved some note as a musician, & accordingly, he was ordered to come into the king's presence. Undoubtedly‚ Saul had not learned of Samuel's mission to Bethlehem.
SAUL WOULDN'T HAVE INVITED HIM & BEEN SO NICE TO HIM‚ IF HE HAD KNOWN THAT HE WAS ANOINTED TO TAKE HIS PLACE & BE THE KING. Somebody had heard about David & had invited him to try to soothe Saul's spirits. He had quite a few spirits, including an evil spirit that was bothering him, because he had forsaken the Lord!
35. HERE YOU SEE DAVID PLAYING HIS HARP BEFORE SAUL. It soothes the monarch. He found favour in his sight & Saul loved him, & made him his armourbearer. That concludes the 19th Chapter in our Bible Story. Next we'll follow the exciting life of David!
Review Questions for Chapter 19.
1. Where did the Philistines first take the Ark of God?
2. What happened to Ashdod?
3. Where was it next taken?
4. What happened at Gath?
5. What was the third place it was taken to?
6. What happened at Ekron?
7. How was it taken from Ekron?
8. Where did the cows go?
9. How was it received at Beth-shemesh?
10. What happened to the curious at Beth-shemesh?
11. In what country are these cities just mentioned?
12. How long had the Ark been in Philistia?
13. Why was the Ark taken to Kirjath-jearim?
14. In whose house was it placed?
15. Who was sanctified to care for it?
16. Who finally took it to Jerusalem?
17. How long afterward?
18. Where did Samuel now live?
19. Who attacked Samuel at Mizpeh?
20. How were they disposed of?
21. Who were the sons of Samuel?
22. Where did they live?
23. Who now asks for a king?
24. Who did Samuel anoint as king?
25. Where did Saul live?
26. Where did Saul take his residence?
27. Where is Gibeah?
28. Did the people confirm Samuel's choice?
30. Who oppressed the Israelites at Jabesh-Gilead?
31. Did Saul defeat Ammon?
32. What mistake did Saul make at Gilgal?
33. Name a son of Saul.
34. Was he a good soldier?
35. Was Saul acceptable to God? Why?
36. Who then did God select?
37. Who anointed David?
38. Where did David live?
39. Who was his father?
40. What was David's occupation?
41. With what was Saul afflicted?
42. What soothed him?
43. Who was called to play music for Saul?
44. Did David please Saul?
45. What position did Saul give to David?