The basic meaning of this passage here is probably to show that Jesse sent his sons in his stead when it came to go to war. The reason is his age and possible infirmity. It names David's three elder brothers who went out to war with King Saul. It may have been policy/law in those days that the head of the house was to go to war, but his age prevented it.
And David was the youngest;
and the three eldest followed Saul.
Now David went to and fro from Saul
to feed his father's sheep at Beth-lehem.
And the Philistine drew near morning and evening,
and presented himself forty days.
(1 Samuel 17:14-16 - ASV)
So this passage gives us the gist of David's activities. He basically had two jobs, one was to serve King Saul (as armor bearer) and the other was to tend to his father's sheep.
So for forty days, in the morning and evening, Goliath went out and faced Israel. Probably waiting for them to send out a person to fight and also probably to utter some more taunts.
David was the youngest and looks to have been reduced here to the roll of 'errand boy' and was told to take food to his brothers and the commander over them. This may have been the way armies were fed in those days, the family or a local may have given food to the soldiers while they waited. Feeding an army of thousands is no easy feat, especially for weeks on end. As it has been observed by others in the past (loosely quoted), Large armies starve and small armies get beaten.
David was also to find out how his brothers were doing and bring back word or some token (take their pledge) that they were OK. This phrase may have another meaning dealing with money or food they may have borrowed while on duty, he would redeem, kind of like paying an IOU.
Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel,
were in the vale of Elah,
fighting with the Philistines.
(1 Samuel 17:19 - ASV)
The last phrase is probably best understood to mean they were drawn and set to battle, not that they had fought yet, though it is not impossible that some small skirmishes or night raids (to steal horses, food etc) transpired while they waited for the main battle.
And David rose up early in the morning,
and left the sheep with a keeper,
and took, and went,
as Jesse had commanded him;
and he came to the place of the wagons,
as the host which was going forth
to the fight shouted for the battle.
(1 Samuel 17:20 - ASV)
David did as his father commanded. Armies in those days would often raise shouts and battle cries in order to both boost morale of their own troops and attempt to frighten troops of the opposing side. Such things were done long after these ancient battles. Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War made clear that once one heard the 'rebel yell', one would never forget it.
And Israel and the Philistines
put the battle in array,
army against army.
And David left his baggage
in the hand of the keeper of the baggage,
and ran to the army, and came
and saluted his brethren.
And as he talked with them, behold,
there came up the champion,
the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name,
out of the ranks of the Philistines,
and spake according to the same words:
and David heard them.
And all the men of Israel,
when they saw the man, fled from him,
and were sore afraid.
(1 Samuel 17:21-24 - ASV)
Upon his arrival, David witnesses first hand Goliath, his words and Israel's reaction to him. Goliath was probably being used as a psychological weapon by the Philistines in order to do exactly what was happening, scare Israel half to death.
And the men of Israel said,David gets the basic situation here and an aspect of it is amplified for us here. Saul has offered a substantial reward for anyone who kills Goliath. First off he gets to marry the King's daughter. This is a very high honor for often such marriages have an effect on the succession. The person who killed Goliath would be linked directly by marriage to the royal family, almost certainly elevating them to the 'nobility'. The idea of making him 'free' is not 100% clear as clearly Jesse's house were not in any kind of servitude. But this probably has the meaning that they would be free from future taxes, service and other obligations that other subjects have.
Have ye seen this man that is come up?
surely to defy Israel is he come up:
and it shall be, that the man who killeth him,
the king will enrich him with great riches,
and will give him his daughter,
and make his father's house free in Israel.
And David spake to the men that stood by him,
saying, What shall be done to the man
that killeth this Philistine,
and taketh away the reproach from Israel?
for who is this uncircumcised Philistine,
that he should defy the armies of the living God?
And the people answered him after this manner,
saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him.
(1 Samuel 17:25-27 - ASV)
David's reply shows remarkable courage and faith, both of which seems to have fled from those who were assembled with the king. David puts the situation in a perspective that puts God at the center of things, rather than the giant. He realizes that this is far less about the army, Goliath and the Philistines, but about God. Goliath was standing in direct opposition to God and David it appears, was the only one who internalized this and stated it openly. Knowing this is one thing, but internalizing it and being ready to act on it is quite another.
This is remarkable - this kid was showing more 'pluck' and courage than Saul and his generals. Why? He had faith in God. He knew his God and knew that God was stronger than the problem that presented itself.
This is how I try and look at my problems, whatever they are. God is bigger than they are. But this requires me to look at them from the kind of perspective that David did, not like Saul and those around him. They were focusing on the problem, not on God - the problem solver.
How do you look at your problems when they appear? Like Saul or like David? Does the devil's roar cause you to shiver and shake or put the steel of faith in your soul? Are you going to run away with a wet spot in your pants or stand firm and fight? It's not always easy and it certainly could not have been easy for David either. He saw exactly the same things that everyone else saw, this giant of a man with rep, ready to make mince-meat of anyone who came against him. But David's reaction was wholly different.
We will continue our look at the book of Samuel, next week, God willing!
Back To Contents
As we see here, the troubles with the Philistines had not gone away. In fact, Saul would always have trouble with them (1 Samuel 14:52). These wars and battles were obviously pretty intense and went beyond just the occasional raid by lightly armed troops, but were with men in full battle array. We are not sure when this battle occurred, but some think it was many years after the anointing of David by Samuel. You can get a feel for the general region this took place from a decent online Bible atlas. The passage clearly indicates that the Philistines had gathered their army inside Judah. These two great armies were gathered together for battle.
And there went out a championNow this guy was huge. Calculations make him over nine feet tall. His chain mail was very heavy and everything about him was clearly most imposing; frightening if you will. For those of you wanting a decent talk about his battle accoutrements, some online Bible commentaries have some decent insights. Clearly this man had a reputation and his whole appearance would only confirm the worst about him as a man of war and a champion.
out of the camp of the Philistines,
named Goliath, of Gath,
whose height was six cubits and a span.
And he had a helmet of brass upon his head,
and he was clad with a coat of mail;
and the weight of the coat
was five thousand shekels of brass.
And he had greaves of brass upon his legs,
and a javelin of brass between his shoulders.
And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam;
and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron:
and his shield-bearer went before him.
(1 Samuel 17:4-7 - ASV)
And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel,
and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array?
am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul?
choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.
If he be able to fight with me, and kill me,
then will we be your servants; but if I prevail against him,
and kill him, then shall ye be our servants,
and serve us.
(1 Samuel 17:8-9 - ASV)
Goliath issues his challenge. This is single combat as they called it back in the middle ages and in antiquity and it was a well known way of settling things. The challenge is clear - if I (Goliath) win, you become our slaves, if you win, we will become yours.
Such calls to combat were not at all uncommon in ancient times and they are often accompanied by some wild boast and/or insult at the one challenged. Often the words were designed to ensure the fight took place. Goliath's appearance was all the boast he needed, it said all that really needed to be said. But this was not really going to be an even fight because Israel, at least as far as we know, had no one anywhere near that height.
And the Philistine said,
I defy the armies of Israel this day;
give me a man, that we may fight together.
(1 Samuel 17:10 - ASV)
Now comes the insult. He defies Israel to send out there man. The word for defy is 2778 in Strong's Hebrew Bible Dictionary.
He was challenging them and mocks Israel in the process. We can only imagine the kinds of other boasts made that are not recorded in scripture. Well, whatever else he may or may not have said, it had the desired effect, Israel was frightened. But again such boasts were designed to do just that; scare, frighten, insult and also to box the other guy in so he has to fight.
And when SaulSo the scene is set for a 'battle of champions'. Who will Israel choose for this? Who has the guts not only to risk his life against this giant of a man, but also be responsible for the fate of the people?
and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine,
they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.
(1 Samuel 17:11 - ASV)
We'll get to that next week, God willing!!
Back To Contents
(bold emphasis mine)
Encouragement. We all need it from time to time and in the above passages, the Lord wanted Moses to encourage Joshua before he was to embark in his most important and difficult task. Anyone who serves the Lord, high or low will from time to time, need encouragement. The Lord knew what was ahead for Joshua and wanted to make sure Moses gave him that positive word of encouragement that he needed.
Brothers, I often need encouragement. Yes, I do and God often gives it to me in unusual ways. Pastors in these times, they need encouragement and so do evangelists, prophets and other workmen in Christ.
As we move into Thanksgiving weekend we should give thanks and I have found that a thankful spirit, one that acknowledges the blessings that God has bestowed upon us can often be a source of encouragement. To humbly give thanks, sing a psalm of praise and keeping to our purpose in Christ. This can help us when we are feeling a little down.
I can remember reading during the pandemic that many people were feeling down and some were depressed. It was very troubling reading such stories.
But I think it is important that we think on positive things, push ahead with what God wants for us and not get ourselves so wrapped up in ourselves that we can no longer keep a decent spiritual perspective. We must encourage ourselves in the Lord, despite what we see around us.
Look.... right now things are not too bad, but what if the economy really takes a dive and people start to lose jobs in large numbers? Is there trouble ahead? When was the last time you took a look at the interest payments on all of that US government debt... I mean just the interest expense for carrying it all? Now I don't dwell on the possibility of trouble ahead, but I do consider it. What happens if things get difficult, with a spouse that is home all day... every day? It may not be so easy to just catch your breath and get a few minutes of true quiet time. It can be hard if a person lives in a big house full of folks who haven't been working for a while who start to get depressed and lash out for no apparent reason.
Yes, when we get depressed and feeling 'down in the dumps' we can often get discouraged. I think Christians should learn to do as David did and call upon the Lord.
In the dayGod can and will encourage us when things get hard. We must learn to really lean on him in those times (and not just say we do). Let us have faith and not 'whine' and thus repel the Lord's good graces towards us. He does not like whiners (murmurers) or those who show an ungrateful spirit.
that I called thou answeredst me,
Thou didst encourage me
with strength in my soul.
(Psalms 138:3 - ASV)
I write this today because the Lord had asked to write something on encouragement. I was not tasked on writing anything long or particularly 'deep', just something that will help some of you who may be having some struggles to be encouraged in these strange and difficult times.
And we exhort you,We are on a journey. A journey to the promised land. A land built by our God and reserved for those who love him. Joshua in many ways is our 'type' in the Old Testament. He was to take the people out of the wilderness and into the promised land. What were God's words to Joshua back then?
brethren, admonish the disorderly,
encourage the fainthearted,
support the weak, be longsuffering
(1 Thessalonians 5:14 - ASV)
(Emphasis mine)Have not I commanded thee?
Be strong and of good courage;
be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed:
for Jehovah thy God is with thee
whithersoever thou goest.
(Joshua 1:9 - ASV)
And Joshua said unto them,
Fear not, nor be dismayed;
be strong and of good courage:
for thus shall Jehovah do
to all your enemies against
whom ye fight.
(Joshua 10:25 - ASV)
In closing let me give you this last passage from a Psalm of David.
Wait for Jehovah: Be strong,
and let thy heart take courage;
Yea, wait thou for Jehovah.
(Psalms 27:14 - ASV)
Brothers, in these times of great uncertainty and trouble, let us stand on the firm foundation of Christ. Come tempest, earthquake, tornado, fire, flood or plague of locusts, we will still be standing in Christ when the smoke clears if we keep our feet planted firmly on the rock of Christ Jesus. This does not mean that a godly person won't get the proverbial smoke in his or her eyes, or have to repair the proverbial barn, after the storm. It does mean that despite it all, God will bring us through it all if we keep faith... a stubborn, determined and relentless faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Back To Contents
And Saul's servants said
Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
Let our lord now command thy servants,
that are before thee, to seek out a man
who is a skilful player on the harp:
and it shall come to pass,
when the evil spirit from God is upon thee,
that he shall play with his hand,
and thou shalt be well.
(1 Samuel 16:15-16 - ASV)
We left off last time and David had been anointed King by Samuel at which point the spirit of God came upon him, mightily. The above passage shifts to the royal court and King Saul, clearly to contrast how the Lord's favor had now been transferred away from Saul. God's spirit was now on David and an evil spirit was now troubling Saul. What is meant here is that God had allowed some kind of evil spirit to come and trouble the King. The nature of his ailment gets revealed slowly as the book progresses, but clearly it was more than just a deep depression. It probably involved fits of melancholy, rage and possibly temporary insanity. His peace of mind was gone and his brain was probably racked with all manner of cares - real and imagined. What this passage seems to indicate was that Saul was oppressed by some kind of demonic spirit that was allowed to come upon him because of his rejection by God. The word translated troubled can also mean to terrify and frighten (1204 in Strong's Hebrew Bible Dictionary - 1890).
As most of you who know the Lord probably know, there is a big difference between demonic oppression and possession. The discussion is an important one and one I will touch on very briefly here. Possession is when a demonic spirit has actual control of a person and dwells within the person's body. Oppression is when those spirits do not indwell or control but can harass, trouble, scare and even bring affliction on people. Saints cannot be possessed of the devil. If this ever happens they are no longer saints for if the devil is in possession of a person, the Holy Spirit is no longer present. The Holy Spirit indwelling a person is a sign of divine ownership (see Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). But saints can be oppressed of the devil and his spiritual agents. The devil can bring in depression, fear, lust, hate and all manner of mental trouble to the saints. But that is not all. He can also afflict us physically as well. The Apostle Paul was so afflicted.
Notice that this was sent from Satan, but God did allow it and even after Paul's insistent supplications, the Lord let the affliction (oppression) stand. We don't know what this was. Many scholars have debated the point but one of the more plausible ones I think was that Paul may have suffered from glaucoma or another eye related ailment and may have been losing his sight (see Galatians 4:13-14; 6:11). But we really cannot be sure of what it was. Only that it was an affliction to Paul and that it was from Satan and that God allowed it for his own purpose.
Saul's affliction, unlike Paul's was due to rank rebellion and his rejection.
Saul's servants saw the King's predicament and decided to find a way to heal him of his mental distress. Music they decided was one way to cure him. Music can have the most healing and calming effect on people. So they ask Saul to get himself a musician who can strum some tunes and sing some songs to him. Back in those days they did not have CD's or streaming music and he could not turn on the right channel on his smartphone to calm him down. No, someone had to come and actually sing the songs.
Saul's court suggests David, who seems to have been known as a musician. He may have been a kind of equivalent of a well known rock star back in his day. Clearly he was known by some in the halls of power for his musical prowess. David was also known for his valor and his courage; the kind of person a King would like to have around. David's acts of courage are not recorded before this point, but one incident with a lion appears to have taken place before this conversation (see 1 Samuel 17:34ff). Moreover, it was clearly known that God was with him.
Messengers are sent and Jesse sends his son to the King with gifts that were probably customary for those of a higher social rank. Remember, Israel had no king until now so there was probably no established procedure as to what to send a reigning king. Out of respect Jesse sends bread, wine and a small goat.
So David finds favor in Saul's eyes and is made his armor bearer or the equivalent in the middle ages, his 'squire'. This would be kind of like his right hand man in battle whose job it usually was to carry, clean and care for the armor of his master. But the text is not 100% positive that it was arms that he bore for the king, though translators have rendered it as such. It could have just been instruments or various other things the king needed. Saul clearly liked David very much and as a consequence got this rank in the kings court.
Saul though he was king, did not order David to his court, he for whatever reason, asked Jesse to allow David to remain at court. This shows a lot of respect for Jesse and his house.
David's playing did indeed sooth the King's fits and the evil spirit or 'black mood' departed Saul when David sang his songs.
One step at at time - This is what I gather from this and some of the preceding passages. One step at at time. David did not rise immediately to the throne. David did not arrive to the King's court with cheering crowds with Saul suddenly falling over dead and the court loudly and enthusiastically proclaiming him King. Nothing of the sort. David may have been anointed King, but that was just the first step. There was a long road ahead for David with many, a great many trials and tribulations.
But David was going to learn much during those years and one of the biggest lessons I think he learned was the power of his faith in God. He only had a promise and Samuel's anointing to say he was to be king. He could have easily dismissed the anointing saying that Samuel was getting old and may have been mistaken. No, the power of God descended on him and it was clearly something David never forgot nor let go of. He would face a murder attempt, exile, many battles and all manner of hardships before he came to the throne.
This is not unlike what many of us will have to face before we are given our white robes and stand before Christ to receive the rewards for deeds done in the body.
Many a trial and tribulation come between the calling and the crowning. It is a lesson we should never forget.
Back To Contents
We left off last time with Samuel arriving in Bethlehem and preparing to anoint a new king, Saul's successor. Jesse and his sons were called to a sacrifice. Here Samuel gets an opportunity to look over Jesse's sons and see whom the Lord would choose. The first he saw was his first born (Eliab - see 1 Chronicles 2:13) the most 'obvious' choice. The last stanza of the verse appears to be words uttered by or thought by Samuel. But Samuel was wrong but he was also not presumptuous. He waited for the Lord's direction.
Here the Lord corrects his prophet and tells him that his standards are quite different from human ones. We tend to look on the outward appearance. The good looks, height... all of those things and in our times, the degree's, the previous posts held (resume), etc. But God has different standards. God is going to look upon the heart, the character of his next King; not that he has the perfect set of 'credentials' by man's standards as men would choose. Let us always remember this, that God see's people from a perspective which we cannot.
Based on this new direction and insight Samuel realized it's one down, more sons to review.
Then Jesse called Abinadab,The above are the second and third born.
and made him pass before Samuel.
And he said, Neither hath Jehovah chosen this.
Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by.
And he said, Neither hath Jehovah chosen this.
(1 Samuel 16:8-9 - ASV)
And Jesse made seven of his sons
to pass before Samuel.
And Samuel said unto Jesse,
Jehovah hath not chosen these.
(1 Samuel 16:10 - ASV)
Let's take a look at Jesse's offspring as recorded in the book of 1 Chronicles.
and Jesse begat his first-born Eliab,
and Abinadab the second,
and Shimea the third,
Nethanel the fourth,
Raddai the fifth,
Ozem the sixth,
David the seventh;
and their sisters were
Zeruiah and Abigail.
And the sons of Zeruiah: Abishai,
and Joab, and Asahel, three.
(1 Chronicles 2:13-16 - ASV)
Jesse had eight sons (1 Samuel 17:12) and one for whatever is missing here and is not mentioned in the Chronicles for the text implies that seven had been shown Samuel before David was shown. We don't know why this was. One son may not have been legitimate or may have had some physical or mental defect that would have precluded him from consideration. Another possibility is that one of them was actually a grandson. What is most interesting is that while Jesse had all of these sons, David was not even considered at first. So it is indeed possible that there was another that for whatever reason, the Chronicler did not include and Samuel makes no mention of.
And Samuel said unto Jesse,So there was yet one more son that Jesse forgot to bring forward and he is then told to go and get him and bring him to the Prophet. David's exclusion clearly shows that his father did not think of him as any kind of 'Kingly material' and by outward appearance and bearing, he may not have been. But God saw something in the character of David that was just what he was looking for.
Are here all thy children?
And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest,
and, behold, he is keeping the sheep.
And Samuel said unto Jesse,
Send and fetch him;
for we will not sit down
till he come hither.
(1 Samuel 16:11 - ASV)
And he sent, and brought him in.The one forgotten about was indeed the chosen one. No one even thought to consider that David was going to be it. No, not even the Prophet. One never knows just whom the Lord will choose for a specific job and David had a big job ahead of him. But his path to the throne was not going to strewn with olive branches, rose petals and gifts of gold and silver. No, it was going to be very difficult.
Now he was ruddy,
and withal of a beautiful countenance,
and goodly to look upon.
And Jehovah said,
Arise, anoint him;
for this is he.
(1 Samuel 16:12 - ASV)
Then Samuel took the horn of oil,David was then anointed king and then God's spirit came down upon him and was with him as the scriptures say, from that day forward. This shows us that God's spirit indwelt at least some saints before the day of Pentecost, when it was given to the Church. It was with David as he was anointed into God's service.
and anointed him in the midst of his brethren:
and the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily
upon David from that day forward.
So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
Now the Spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul,
and an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him.
(1 Samuel 16:13-14 - ASV)
Once this was done, Samuel left Jesse's home and went to Ramah.
Was David's anointing done privately and his brothers did not actually see it? I don't know, perhaps. There is an incident that will come later (17:28) that indicates that either his elder brother Eliab did not know of David's anointing or was jealous of it, since he was the first born. Similar jealousy is also found in the OT, (Genesis 37:4). When God proposes to raise up someone, jealousy often follows. But I think his brothers knew of it and the anointing was done for Jesse and his brothers to witness.
David's journey was just beginning. But as we see, Saul's job was ending and the Lord's spirit left Saul and now an evil Spirit came and vexed him.
This can be the fate of those who rebel against the Lord and sadly, often is. They lose their anointing and then the covering and protection that God gives to his people. Saul had moved from spiritual light into spiritual darkness. Why? He rebelled against God and his commandments. This, the road to apostasy, is often a one way street.
How did the Apostle put it?
For it were better for them
not to have known the way of righteousness,
than, after knowing it,
to turn back from the holy commandment
delivered unto them.
It has happened unto them
according to the true proverb,
The dog turning to his own vomit again,
and the sow that had washed
to wallowing in the mire.
(2 Peter 2:21-22 - ASV)
This is the path that rebellion and apostasy will take a man.
No one is indispensable. Saul was not. He clearly refused to do the thing that God commanded and as a consequence of that, was rejected. God had a replacement in mind, his name was David.
I am not indispensable. Neither is anyone who serves the Lord. God can raise up new people to do our jobs if we refuse to do them properly. The angels that sinned against God long ago? They probably thought they were indispensable. They were not. My point is this - we can be replaced. We are indeed loved by God but are not indispensable. God demands that we get on board with his program, not he with ours. The main sin of the angels is that they rebelled against God and his commandments (see Jude 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4). We must not ever think about doing the same thing. Our usefulness to God is fully dependent on our willingness to obey his voice and do the things he commands, no matter how difficult it is or how little sense such commandments make to our natural mind. This is where Saul failed. It is where you and I can fail as well if we begin to ignore God's words and commandments.
We will continue our look at Samuel, next week God willing!!
Back To Contents
In the last section we saw Saul and Samuel part ways for good. The two would not see each other again. Samuel here seems to have been overburdened with grief over Saul's fall. It may have been that the two had a close friendship, despite their relative offices. Perhaps Samuel looked upon Saul as a kind of adopted son. The text does not make it clear. But Samuel's sorrow over Saul was beginning to annoy the Lord. The way God phrases his statement, it was almost a challenge to Samuel's loyalty to God, kind of like, I rejected him, are you questioning my decision? or 'Why are you whining about him?... - he's no good'. This seems to be the thought here. This was a gentle rebuke to Samuel, but a rebuke it was. The Lord had a job for Samuel to perform. It's to go and anoint another King. This time from the family of Jesse who hails from Bethlehem.
Bethlehem may have been a ways out from Samuel's normal route as circuit judge. The Lord's commandment also had the side effect of giving Samuel something to do. One of the best cures I know for grief is work. Get your mind off of your sorrow, roll up your sleeves and get to work! So Samuel gets both a rebuke and a job to do. I have learned another lesson as well - that being that if God removes someone out of your life, whoever that someone may be, trust God. There is a reason for everything and a good one if you serve the Lord. Much may very well be revealed that was hidden before if we separate and wait on God.
I learned many things during times of grief and shall not forget some hard lessons I learned. But for me to learn them, things had to change. If we keep our eyes on God in times like this, we will learn whatever lesson God wants us to learn and perhaps have our eyes opened up to some things we could not see before. Grief at a loss of a friend, a loved one, someone going off the rails and turning on God? These things happen. We just have to be strong and get some 'grit' and some 'flint' in our inner make up and realize that once the time for grief is over, the time to continue - with relentless determination - our walk with Christ to resume has come. Samuel was a prophet and had a prophets duty to perform. It was time to dry his eyes and get his prophetic accoutrements, his horn of oil and head on to his next job.
If God has separated me from someone and (this is key) I know it's of the Lord, I do myself a really big favor - I don't go back and without being rude or cruel, I make any way for them to come back to me, impossible. I have found that a quick, clean and permanent break is usually best in such circumstances. Apostates (not necessarily backsliders) don't usually come back to the Lord and can only draw me away from the God I serve. I refuse to let memories of what once was cause me to forget the reality of what it is now. The person I once struck hands in friendship with could now be the one who plunges the proverbial 'dagger' into my back. God can separate us from bad people and influences for our own protection and witness.
It is not likely that Samuel knew David or any of Jesse's sons, though he probably was familiar with the family's reputation.
And Samuel said, How can I go?Samuel clearly now realizes how far Saul had fallen. Which begs the question as to why there was so much sorrow over him? God had good reason to reprimand his prophet for here in this, the following passages, this same prophet is concerned that Saul would try and kill him.
if Saul hear it, he will kill me.
And Jehovah said, Take a heifer with thee,
and say, I am come to sacrifice to Jehovah.
And call Jesse to the sacrifice,
and I will show thee what thou shalt do:
and thou shalt anoint unto me him
whom I name unto thee.
(1 Samuel 16:2-3 - ASV)
God gives Samuel a plan. I think this plan was mostly to assuage Samuel's fears. God was not going to allow his servant to be killed while on his way to the task he laid out for him to do. But in bringing a sacrifice with him, he had - I guess we can call it - 'diplomatic cover' and would not be disturbed. Saul would lose any remaining respect in the eyes of the people if he fell upon Samuel on his way to sacrifice to the Lord. Yet going to anoint a new king could be considered treason.
When he arrives, God will show him who is to be King. This is one thing I have always noted about God. He rarely tells us all. He usually tells us just what we need to know on each step of the journey.
And Samuel did thatSamuel did as he was bid by the Lord. But his arrival was not met with a heartfelt greeting, but rather fear. The passage does not state why there was such dread at Samuel's coming. Perhaps it was because such a thing was very unusual in Bethlehem and they thought that if he had arrived, it was to rebuke some great sin or evil. Another possibility, perhaps a bit more plausible was that they had heard of the break between Saul and Samuel and were afraid of getting swept into any kind of political controversy that could entail the King's displeasure or even war. Samuel helps to calm their fears and lets them know that his mission is a peaceful one. He has merely come to sacrifice to the Lord. So Samuel sanctifies Jesse and his sons. All of Jesse's household are called to the sacrifice... but one as we shall see, is not present at first.
which Jehovah spake,
and came to Beth-lehem.
And the elders of the city
came to meet him trembling,
and said, Comest thou peaceably?
And he said, Peaceably;
I am come to sacrifice unto Jehovah:
and come with me to the sacrifice.
And he sanctified Jesse and his sons,
and called them to the sacrifice.
(1 Samuel 16:4-5 - ASV)
We will continue on with Samuel, next week God willing!
Back To Contents
Saul finally ceases to make excuses. He fesses up and admits he has sinned. It took him a while to figure out that excuses were not going to get him anywhere. So he finally confesses. But does does he humble himself or is he is still shifting the blame onto the people?
The passage seems to imply that Saul appears to be concerned about a perceived breach between him and Samuel that would lower his standing with the people, this is why he wants Samuel to return with him. Saul by his own admission was overly concerned with the opinions of the people. Obedience to God fell by the wayside. Often we just have to not be concerned with the opinions of others.
I have learned that being concerned with the opinions of others is a real stumbling block to a good walk with Christ and have learned to be, for the most part, unconcerned with the opinions of others. In fact, I will go you one further - getting the good opinion of let's say the people of ancient Sodom or the average pro-Hitler German in Nazi Germany... these are things we should hold in the lowest regard. I don't want to be highly regarded by murderers, thieves and pedophiles. If those who habitually practice those things don't like me, for the most part, that is a good thing! It may be difficult to live among people like that, but why should I really care? God is with me, even in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation, God will be with me (and you if you serve him faithfully) even when all others fail me.
Be not afraid because of them;
for I am with thee to deliver thee,
(Jeremiah 1:8 - ASV)
And, behold, I am with thee,
and will keep thee, whithersoever thou goest,
and will bring thee again into this land;
for I will not leave thee,
until I have done that which
I have spoken to thee of.
(Genesis 28:15 - ASV)
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith Jehovah;
and be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak,
the high priest; and be strong,
all ye people of the land, saith Jehovah,
and work: for I am with you, saith Jehovah of hosts,
according to the word that I covenanted with you
when ye came out of Egypt,
and my Spirit abode among you: fear ye not.
(Haggai 2:4-5 - ASV)
Do you serve the Lord? Obey his voice and do the things he commands? He is with you. Stop worrying about what your neighbors, friends and co-workers think. I am not saying intentionally offend them or be difficult. No, I am saying that your lifestyle and choices are going to be different than theirs. That is the way it should be. Because of that you are going to face mockery, derision, discrimination and even hate. As Christians, I think we need to develop thick skin and stop worrying about what they think about us.
When you serve the Lord, this is just one of those burdens you are going to have to bear. King Saul should have understood this - that his first duty was not to the people, but to the God who set him upon the throne. He forgot that and fell into the trap of many of those in power - he wanted to be loved by the mob. Such a person will one day be forced to make a choice between the love of the mob or obedience to God. Saul failed this test.
What about today's Church and its leaders?
After doing this site for over 20 years I have leaned one key lesson. That God is with me and that I cannot be too concerned with what others think. If this work is to have any impact at all for the Kingdom, I have to be respectful of others, but never compromise the word of God nor downplay God's standards. Sure, I am likely to anger a lot of people, but that just goes with the territory. As I have heard it said once, that a person who never made an enemy is probably one that never made or accomplished anything of any value. Men who changed the world made a lot of enemies, men who made great inventions made a lot of enemies, men who build and create tend to make enemies. To be a friend of God is to be an enemy of the spirit of this age. There is just no getting around it and those who try have taken the first step on the road to spiritual compromise.
Saul goes on to ask for forgiveness but again, it appears that he actually wanted to be seen with Samuel going to worship the Lord so that no open breach was seen by the people. Saul it just seems was too concerned with 'front' and popularity and it appears to be a key factor in his losing the throne.
And Samuel said unto Saul,
I will not return with thee;
for thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah,
and Jehovah hath rejected thee
from being king over Israel.
(1 Samuel 15:26 - ASV)
Samuel is having none of it. The Lord had rejected Saul and as far as his official position is concerned, Samuel has to publicly declare that rejection. The way to do that was to not be seen with him as he goes to worship. Samuel was not going to do it and makes it clear that Saul has been rejected as King.
And as Samuel turned about to go away,This, a final sign of his rejection is how Samuel's robe was torn when Saul attempted to hang on to it. It is not clear what happened here, but it seems that Saul was trying to hold Samuel with force and in so doing accidentally tore his robe. Samuel lets Saul know that by this act he can take it as a sign of his rejection. Moreover, he can also be assure that God has already chosen a successor.
Saul laid hold upon the skirt of his robe,
and it rent. And Samuel said unto him,
Jehovah hath rent the kingdom of Israel
from thee this day, and hath given it
to a neighbor of thine,
that is better than thou.
(1 Samuel 15:27-28 - ASV)
And also the Strength of Israel
will not lie nor repent;
for he is not a man,
that he should repent.
(1 Samuel 15:29 - ASV)
This is the only time this phrase "the Strength of Israel" is used in the Bible as a name of God. The word for strength is 5331 in Strong's Hebrew Bible Dictionary (1890) and it means splendor, truth or confidence with the idea it being perpetual. In short, Samuel seems to be saying, 'you've got your word of judgment and it isn't going to change'.
Then he said, I have sinned: yet honor me now,Saul confesses his sin but this time, Samuel relents and goes with Saul. This was a powerful symbol for Samuel still was deeply respected in Israel. For Samuel to go away now could lead to serious chaos and uncertainty in a monarchical system that was in its infancy. Samuel perhaps realized that having a King that had lost the confidence of his subjects would not be in anyone's interest. But again, notice that Saul seeks honor - to be seen by the people.
I pray thee, before the elders of my people,
and before Israel, and turn again with me,
that I may worship Jehovah thy God.
So Samuel turned again after Saul;
and Saul worshipped Jehovah.
(1 Samuel 15:30-31 - ASV)
Then said Samuel,
Bring ye hither to me Agag
the king of the Amalekites.
And Agag came unto him
cheerfully. And Agag said,
Surely the bitterness of death is past.
And Samuel said, As thy sword
hath made women childless,
so shall thy mother be childless among women.
And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces
before Jehovah in Gilgal.
(1 Samuel 15:32-33 - ASV)
Saul didn't do his job. Nay - he appears to have refused to to his job. Here the prophet himself accomplished the commandment of the Lord. Agag thought he was going to get off easy and that his life was spared. How wrong he was. It is telling that Samuel carried this out himself. He could not rely on Saul to do it. Sure he could have told him to, but Saul was not dependable and probably would have invented new excuses why he could not do it. Note that Samuel was a prophet, but he also had legal authority as a magistrate (he was the last of Israel's Judges). As a consequence of this Samuel carried out the Lord's commandment. The text seems to indicate that Samuel carried this out on his own with his own sword. This is possible, but it is also possible that it was done by an executioner on Samuel's orders as magistrate.
The two part ways never to see one another again. This is a hard lesson but one I learned. Those whom the Lord rejects we have to pull away from. Don't hang around apostates or false brethren.
We will continue on with the book of 1 Samuel soon, God willing!!
Back To Contents
We left off last time and Saul had claimed that he had fulfilled the commandment of the Lord, which included destroying all of the livestock of the Amalekites (15:3). This whole episode would almost be comic were not the issue and stakes so very, very serious. He was told to kill the animals and yet Samuel hears the bleating of sheep. Samuel may have been old, but he was neither deaf nor stupid. Saul said one thing, and all the evidence said another. Samuel probably had to wonder just how dumb did Saul think he was? Maybe he thought Samuel would overlook his disobedience to the commandment he was given.
Well, that wasn't going to happen. Samuel knew his God and if he did not do his job, he would have been a classic 'after the fact' co-conspirator with Saul. Again, that just wasn't going to happen. Remember, Samuel had spent a long night praying about the situation earlier in this chapter and the Lord had already spoken to Samuel about Saul. What did he say?
"It repenteth meWell, little did Saul know, that Samuel already had a strong divinely given word that he didn't do what he was commanded before he arrived. But this is so typical. God gives men a high position to serve him and then they turn on him. Either through arrogance, weakness of character, temptation or listening to the wrong people, they forget the Lord and rebel against his express commandments. This is what happened to Saul here. He was told what to do and did not do it. Moreover, he lied about it.
that I have set up Saul to be king;
for he is turned back from following me,
and hath not performed my commandments.
And Samuel was wroth; and he cried unto Jehovah all night."
(1 Samuel 15:11 - ASV)
Then Samuel said unto Saul,Samuel here basically runs down the situation to Saul from his rise to the throne and the great honor it was to be elevated above all others in Israel. After all of this, one would think he would be most careful about obeying God's commandments seeing he was of such humble origins. Then Saul reminds him of the commandment he was given to fulfill and to be one of God's instruments on earth to accomplish his will. Then he asks the question, the key question. Why did you disobey? Why did you do evil in God's sight?
Stay, and I will tell thee
what Jehovah hath said to me this night.
And he said unto him, Say on.
And Samuel said, Though thou wast little
in thine own sight, wast thou not made
the head of the tribes of Israel?
And Jehovah anointed thee king over Israel;
and Jehovah sent thee on a journey,
and said, Go, and utterly destroy the
sinners the Amalekites, and fight against
them until they be consumed.
Wherefore then didst thou
not obey the voice of Jehovah,
but didst fly upon the spoil,
and didst that which was evil
in the sight of Jehovah?
(1 Samuel 15:16-19 - ASV)
And Saul said unto Samuel,
Yea, I have obeyed the voice of Jehovah,
and have gone the way which Jehovah sent me
and have brought Agag the king of Amalek,
and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen,
the chief of the devoted things,
to sacrifice unto Jehovah thy God in Gilgal.
(1 Samuel 15:20-21 - ASV)
Now comes the excuses. But Saul starts off by contesting what Samuel had said claiming he did do what he was commanded, but they tries to put off the disobedience onto the people, whom he claims wanted to sacrifice to the Lord. Well, perhaps... perhaps not; the text is not clear other than Saul's mention of this which may have been said merely to justify his disobedience. The key here is that he was told to do one thing and did not do it and now wants to blame someone else. He was King, he could have issued a royal commandment. He was not so shy about issuing commands before when he swore an oath keeping Israel from eating when they were in pursuit of the Philistines. But now when it came to obeying the Lord, he was shy about it.Here is an oft quoted passage of scripture and for good reason. It is a call to obedience, not ritual, not sacrifice but to obedience. There is nothing wrong with ritual or sacrifice as each has their place. But the key here and in any walk with God is obedience, something that Saul had a real problem with.
Also noteworthy is the fact that Saul did not at all appear to be repentant or sorrowful for not having obeyed. No, he was making excuses. One thing I have learned walking with God all of these years - when we mess up, God hears prayers of repentance, not a litany of excuses. You want God to plug up his ears when you pray? Keep on making excuses for your sins and mistakes. Deep in our souls when we make excuses rather than fessing up, we are paving the way for more sins and errors. Why? We will always have an excuse. This is why God is not interested in hearing them but rather will hear prayers of contrition and repentance.
And Samuel said,
Hath Jehovah as great delight
in burnt-offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of Jehovah?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to hearken than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim.
Because thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah,
he hath also rejected thee from being king.
(1 Samuel 15:22-23 - ASV)
But Saul's problem is one that is relevant for today. Obedience. Very few want to actually do what God commands and this is particularly true with many Churches. Some want to wear their robes and priestly vestments and be known as Pastor or Father. Some just want to go and hear the sermon and see the chalice and bread, sing the hymn's, etc., but obeying God? I mean really doing those things he commands? Not all want to do that because it costs. It can really cost. It's hard and as many of you know, the closer you walk with God, the more others will turn away from you. Why?
In many cases with nominal Christians, they have that form of godliness but deny its real power... from such we are commanded to turn away from (2 Timothy 3:5). It is not hard to find pastors and churchmen who go against the express commands of scripture.
So Samuel's words are also for today. God is not interested in you taking communion, raising holy hands in Church or hearing a new message from an evangelist if you aren't doing or going to do as you were commanded. Why bother? Ritual and sacrifice are meaningless if obedience is not present. This is the road to spiritual rejection. You want to become such a reject? This is the lesson plan.
Lesson one - disobey and rebel against the LordDo these things consistently and you will graduate from the school of spiritual rejects.
Lesson two - lie about it.
I also think Saul's whole excuse about a sacrifice was not genuine. It sounded good... 'holy', if you will and he may have thought that would appease Samuel. I think Samuel saw through Saul like a pane of freshly cleaned glass on a bright summer day.
He lets Saul know that God isn't nearly as interested in these things as he is in obedience. Moreover his rebellion is no better than the sin of witchcraft or bowing before an idol. The word used in the - ASV Teraphim is merely a transliteration of the actual Hebrew word (8655 in Strong's Hebrew Bible Dictionary - 1890). It means idols. In short what Samuel seems to be saying is that if Saul had bowed down before the gods of of the Amalekites or Philistines, he could not have done worse by the Lord.
By this act, Saul was to lose his Kingdom.
We will return to Samuel soon, God willing!!
Back To Contents
We left off last time and Saul had been given a commandment. It was to destroy utterly the Amalekites. If you recall, Samuel reminded Saul, who had won many victories, who had placed him on the throne (15:1). So Saul went over to the city of Amalek and laid wait for them. The word for laid wait (verse 5) has the connotation of an ambush. You can find a map of the general area at a decent Bible map site online. Saul was being entrusted with an important task, he was going to be the instrument of God fulfilling his word given back in Deuteronomy (25:19).
Saul pauses a moment and decides to warn the Kenites of what is coming and tells them to get out. Who are the Kenites? The Kenites were related to Moses (see Judges 1:16).
Saul remembered or perhaps was told by Samuel or reminded by some other elders of the former kindness of the Kenites.
The Kenites, it appears from the text, did not need to be told twice. Having witnessed the acts and power of the God of the Israelite's in the past they certainly found it prudent to make haste and get out of the danger area.
And Saul smote the Amalekites,
from Havilah as thou goest to Shur,
that is before Egypt.
(1 Samuel 15:7 - ASV)
The Kenites now departed, Saul could now go in and begin his military campaign. This looks to be a real rout.
So far so good, Saul is executing the Lord's commandment.
And he took Agag
the king of the Amalekites alive,
and utterly destroyed all the people
with the edge of the sword.
(1 Samuel 15:8 - ASV)
Again so far, mostly good with one caveat. He has destroyed the Amalekites all except the king, Agag. Why did he spare him? Perhaps he wanted a ransom for him or was afraid that it would set a bad precedent, killing a King, which Saul was one. In any event, God told Saul to get rid of all of them. Unless Saul completed the task, perhaps later for all Israel to see after perhaps some military 'Triumph' (public spectacle), he was moving into dangerous territory - disobedience.
But Saul and the people spared Agag,
and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen,
and of the fatlings, and the lambs,
and all that was good, and would not
utterly destroy them:
but everything that was vile and refuse,
that they destroyed utterly.
(1 Samuel 15:9 - ASV)
Now we move into the rebellion and disobedience of Saul. He was told to do one thing and decided to do another. This is so typical of so many believers today. God says one thing and then Christians find new 'justifications' for doing the exact opposite of what God clearly commands. This is exactly what Saul did here. Time and again, we see little signs of character flaws in Saul. This one was much more severe - he was given a specific command and he specifically disobeyed much of it.
One may think that Saul was being pitiful and merciful. Hardly, he killed everyone else on God's command, why spare the leader? Moreover, they took the all the livestock as well; those very things they were commanded to destroy, they took for themselves. I can almost hear the justifications for it "This is some choice livestock... it makes no sense to destroy it. Let's keep it and we can fatten our own herds and fill our own homes with these goodly things". They forgot the God who put Saul on the throne (at their insistence for such a King) and the God who led Israel out of Egypt. They owed him something as well, obedience; something they had shown time and again, they were unwilling to honor God with.
No, this was a big sin and something that God was not going to let pass.
Then came the word of JehovahGod knows all. He saw what Saul did and calls one of his most faithful servants, Samuel to tell him just what he thought about Saul's actions. He was sorry he made Saul King. He tells Samuel why, he turned away from following after God and obeying his commandments. This is key. This is key to this passage, the thrust of much of the OT's message and what is mostly wrong with the Western Church today. It is a pattern of turning back from following after God and obeying his commandments, even (and particularly) those we may not personally agree with or fully understand why. Clearly Saul did not agree with getting rid of Agag, and the people did not agree with killing all of that fat, lovely livestock. So they forget the commandments and did whatever it is they wanted to do, contrary to God's wishes... no, command!
unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me
that I have set up Saul to be king;
for he is turned back from following me,
and hath not performed my commandments.
And Samuel was wroth;
and he cried unto Jehovah all night.
(1 Samuel 15:10-11 - ASV)
How many times do Christians do the same thing? I won't cite any specific examples of clear concise commandments in the NT that are not just ignored by Christians today, but openly flouted. It's the King Saul syndrome and it is no less present in our Churches today. You can't get away with it. Churches may think they can, but they can't. The judge, even Jesus Christ notes these things and keep in mind how Christ looked upon the Seven Churches of Asia (Revelation Chapters 1-3). The Lord's warnings are not to be taken lightly nor are his commandments.
Samuel cried out to the Lord all night in prayer. He was angry. It was not clear what his anger was about, but probably that the Lord was so soon going to remove Saul from his place as King. The KJV renders the word grieved rather than wroth. But the word 2734 in Strong's Hebrew Bible Dictionary (1890) seems to have the connotation of being angry, really upset as it can mean to blaze up or burn. No, Saul seems to have been very upset about this whole affair but again, it is not clear where the anger is directed, it could be at Saul, who had previously been warned by Samuel (13:13).
I suspect that Samuel was probably a little frustrated with both as now this whole affair could reflect upon him and his office. He would not be the first prophet who was upset with the Lord (Jonah, Ezekiel). But he was probably also angry with Saul because he was such a... well..., 'knucklehead', for lack of a better word, when it came to obeying God's commandments. He picked and chose when and what to obey, like so many Christians today. Of note here is that Samuel does not appear to be some person that is secretly glad Saul has fallen from the Lord's favor (and whom Samuel was not wild about appointing in the first place). No, hardly. He seems to be most earnestly concerned with Saul and the government of the Kingdom.
But enough is enough and the Lord had had his fill of Saul's inconstancy, indecision and disobedience.
And Samuel rose early
to meet Saul in the morning;
and it was told Samuel, saying,
Saul came to Carmel, and, behold,
he set him up a monument, and turned,
and passed on, and went down to Gilgal.
And Samuel came to Saul; and Saul said unto him,
Blessed be thou of Jehovah:
I have performed the commandment of Jehovah.
(1 Samuel 15:12-13 - ASV)
After a long night in prayer, he got up to meet Saul. Let us keep in mind that Samuel was probably tired from having almost certainly interceded for Saul the previous night in prayer. It seems that Saul had set up some kind of monument. The word is probably best directly translated hand (3027 in Strong's Hebrew Bible Dictionary - 1890). It could mean a direction as in some kind of sign. It's not clear but translators render it some kind of place (KJV) or monument. This was probably done to remember the battle and victory. When Samuel arrives he is greeted by the King. But the blessing he utters is followed by a falsehood, for Saul did not obey the commandment of the Lord, not fully.
I think what is sad here is that Saul disobedience is followed by this falsehood. It shows a serious character flaw - flaws that will (as we shall see) cause him to be rejected as King by the Lord. Truth... this is a key trait in any man or woman who wishes to serve God.
Behold, thou desirest truthWhat is interesting about the above passage is that it is a direct contrast to Saul. This was written by King David after he sinned with Bath-sheba and Nathan came and spoke to him about it. Truth. This is so important. Obedience and truth - they really speak volumes about any persons character. Can their words be trusted? Do they utter lies to hide their own sins, crimes and shortcomings? Such a person will eventually tell bigger lies and cannot and should not be trusted. It was clear that God no longer trusted Saul with the throne. He had to go.
in the inward parts;
And in the hidden part
thou wilt make me
to know wisdom.
(Psalms 51:6 - ASV)
We will get to the next section of Samuel soon, God willing!
Back To Contents
Note: The Bible version usually quoted from on this site is now the American Standard Version, which according to Wikipedia, the Sword Project and various other Bible sites, was published in 1901 and is now in the Public Domain.
Additionally, Bible commentaries and dictionaries mentioned herein are almost always very old (usually published in the 1800's or before). I often reference them with both the common names of the work as well as the original publishing date or the birth and death years of the author. I gravitate to older, more conservative scholarship when studying the bible.
Finally, at times you will find an 'ff' after a referenced verse, this merely means 'and forward' or 'follow forward' for the whole meaning of the text.