A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application
Hannah Gives Birth to Samuel
1:1 There was a man from Ramathaim Zophim, from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah. He was the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 1:2 He had two wives; the name of the first was Hannah and the name of the second was Peninnah. Now Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless.
1:3 Year after year this man would go up from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh. It was there that the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, served as the Lord’s priests. 1:4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he used to give meat portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 1:5 But he would give a double portion to Hannah, because he especially loved her. Now the Lord had not enabled her to have children. 1:6 Her rival wife used to upset her and make her worry, for the Lord had not enabled her to have children. 1:7 Peninnah would behave this way year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the Lord’s house, Peninnah would upset her so that she would weep and refuse to eat. 1:8 Finally her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and not eat? Why are you so sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
1:9 On one occasion in Shiloh, after they had finished eating and drinking, Hannah got up. (Now at the time Eli the priest was sitting in his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple.) 1:10 She was very upset as she prayed to the Lord, and she was weeping uncontrollably. 1:11 She made a vow saying, “O Lord of hosts, if you will look with compassion on the suffering of your female servant, remembering me and not forgetting your servant, and give a male child to your servant, then I will dedicate him to the Lord all the days of his life. His hair will never be cut.”
1:12 As she continued praying to the Lord, Eli was watching her mouth. 1:13 Now Hannah was speaking from her heart. Although her lips were moving, her voice was inaudible. Eli therefore thought she was drunk. 1:14 So he said to her, “How often do you intend to get drunk? Put away your wine!”
1:15 But Hannah replied, “That’s not the way it is, my lord! I am under a great deal of stress. I have drunk neither wine nor beer. Rather, I have poured out my soul to the Lord. 1:16 Don’t consider your servant a wicked woman, for until now I have spoken from my deep pain and anguish.”
1:17 Eli replied, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request that you have asked of him.” 1:18 She said, “May I, your servant, find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and got something to eat. Her face no longer looked sad.
1:19 They got up early the next morning and after worshiping the Lord, they returned to their home at Ramah. Elkanah had marital relations with his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 1:20 After some time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, thinking, “I asked the Lord for him.
Hannah Dedicates Samuel to the Lord
1:21 This man Elkanah went up with all his family to make the yearly sacrifice to the Lord and to keep his vow, 1:22 but Hannah did not go up with them. Instead she told her husband, “Once the boy is weaned, I will bring him and appear before the Lord, and he will remain there from then on.”
1:23 So her husband Elkanah said to her, “Do what you think best. Stay until you have weaned him. May the Lord fulfill his promise.”
So the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him. 1:24 Once she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with three bulls, an ephah of flour, and a container of wine. She brought him to the Lord’s house at Shiloh, even though he was young. 1:25 Once the bull had been slaughtered, they brought the boy to Eli. 1:26 She said, “Just as surely as you are alive, my lord, I am the woman who previously stood here with you in order to pray to the Lord. 1:27 I prayed for this boy, and the Lord has given me the request that I asked of him. 1:28 Now I dedicate him to the Lord. From this time on he is dedicated to the Lord.” Then they worshiped the Lord there.
Hannah Exalts the Lord in Prayer
2:1 Hannah prayed, “My heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is exalted high because of the Lord. I loudly denounce my enemies, for I am happy that you delivered me.
2:2 No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one other than you! There is no rock like our God!
2:3 Don’t keep speaking so arrogantly, letting proud talk come out of your mouth! For the Lord is a God who knows; he evaluates what people do.
2:4 The bows of warriors are shattered, but those who stumble find their strength reinforced.
2:5 Those who are well-fed hire themselves out to earn food, but the hungry no longer lack. Even the barren woman gives birth to seven, but the one with many children withers away.
2:6 The Lord both kills and gives life; he brings down to the grave and raises up.
2:7 The Lord impoverishes and makes wealthy; he humbles and he exalts.
2:8 He lifts the weak from the dust; he raises the poor from the ash heap to seat them with princes and to bestow on them an honored position. The foundations of the earth belong to the Lord, and he has placed the world on them.
2:9 He watches over his holy ones, but the wicked are made speechless in the darkness, for it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails.
2:10 The Lord shatters his adversaries; he thunders against them from the heavens. The Lord executes judgment to the ends of the earth. He will strengthen his king and exalt the power of his anointed one.”
2:11 Then Elkanah went back home to Ramah. But the boy was serving the Lord under the supervision of Eli the priest.
Eli’s Sons Misuse Their Sacred Office
2:12 The sons of Eli were wicked men. They did not recognize the Lord’s authority. 2:13 Now the priests would always treat the people in the following way: Whenever anyone was making a sacrifice, while the meat was boiling, the priest’s attendant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand. 2:14 He would jab it into the basin, kettle, caldron, or pot, and everything that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they used to do to all the Israelites when they came there to Shiloh.
2:15 Even before they burned the fat, the priest’s attendant would come and say to the person who was making the sacrifice, “Hand over some meat for the priest to roast! He won’t take boiled meat from you, but only raw.” 2:16 If the individual said to him, “First let the fat be burned away, and then take for yourself whatever you wish,” he would say, “No! Hand it over right now! If you don’t, I will take it forcibly!”
2:17 The sin of these young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offering with contempt.
2:18 Now Samuel was ministering before the Lord. The boy was dressed in a linen ephod. 2:19 His mother used to make him a small robe and bring it up to him at regular intervals when she would go up with her husband to make the annual sacrifice. 2:20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife saying, “May the Lord raise up for you descendants from this woman to replace the one that she dedicated to the Lord.” Then they would go to their home. 2:21 So the Lord graciously attended to Hannah, and she was able to conceive and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. The boy Samuel grew up at the Lord’s sanctuary.
2:22 Now Eli was very old when he heard about everything that his sons used to do to all the people of Israel and how they used to have sex with the women who were stationed at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 2:23 He said to them, “Why do you behave in this way? For I hear about these evil things from all these people. 2:24 This ought not to be, my sons! For the report that I hear circulating among the Lord’s people is not good. 2:25 If a man sins against a man, one may appeal to God on his behalf. But if a man sins against the Lord, who then will intercede for him?” But Eli’s sons would not listen to their father, for the Lord had decided to kill them.
2:26 Now the boy Samuel was growing up and finding favor both with the Lord and with people.
The Lord Judges the House of Eli
2:27 A man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Did I not plainly reveal myself to your ancestor’s house when they were in Egypt in the house of Pharaoh? 2:28 I chose your ancestor from all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer sacrifice on my altar, to burn incense, and to bear the ephod before me. I gave to your ancestor’s house all the fire offerings made by the Israelites. 2:29 Why are you scorning my sacrifice and my offering that I commanded for my dwelling place? You have honored your sons more than you have me by having made yourselves fat from the best parts of all the offerings of my people Israel.’
2:30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘I really did say that your house and your ancestor’s house would serve me forever.’ But now the Lord says, ‘May it never be! For I will honor those who honor me, but those who despise me will be cursed! 2:31 In fact, days are coming when I will remove your strength and the strength of your father’s house. There will not be an old man in your house! 2:32 You will see trouble in my dwelling place! Israel will experience blessings, but there will not be an old man in your house for all time. 2:33 Any one of you that I do not cut off from my altar, I will cause your eyes to fail and will cause you grief. All of those born to your family will die in the prime of life. 2:34 This will be a confirming sign for you that will be fulfilled through your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: in a single day they both will die! 2:35 Then I will raise up for myself a faithful priest. He will do what is in my heart and soul. I will build for him a secure dynasty and he will serve my chosen one for all time. 2:36 Everyone who remains in your house will come to bow before him for a little money and for a scrap of bread. Each will say, ‘Assign me to a priestly task so I can eat a scrap of bread.’”
Lord, sometimes the sacrifices You ask of us are greater than other times, but at all times Your will for our lives is perfect. May I never doubt Your goodness. You bless those who honor You, and You punish those who misuse the authority You have delegated to them. May I remember to give You all of the praise and walk in Your ways.
Hannah was desperate to bear a child. Her husband’s other wife had children and would taunt her to tears about her infertility.
One day Hannah prayed in Lord’s house, the tabernacle, but this time she was so distraught that she had not eaten and was so overcome with angst that her lips appeared to the priest Eli to inaudibly move, so he accused her of being drunk.
Hannah pleaded her innocence and explained her tribulation, and her just-confessed willingness to give her son to the Lord God’s service if he would give her a son. She promised the Lord that he would fulfill the Nazarite vow of uncut hair and other requirements. Eli recognized her honesty in the matter and assured her that the Lord had heard her and would bless her.
Hannah had a son and when he was still young enough to have just been weaned (could have been as few as 15 months or as long as 5 years but is generally thought to have been about 3 years of age) she brought him to the priest Eli to serve and to be trained in the tabernacle.
Hannah gave great praise to the Lord God for answered prayer. Each year she would bring a new robe for Samuel to wear in his service to the Lord. Eli prayed for her and the Lord gave her three more sons and two daughters.
Eli’s sons abused their authority and position, very brashly and very publicly, they selfishly stole from the offerings.
Eli was an old man when he heard about the sins of his sons. He challenged them as to why they were stealing, and even having sex with women at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, warning them that because of their position their sin was unforgivable – it was against the Lord and not merely a fellow man. They were unrepentant as their hearts were hard. The Lord did not soften their hearts as He had decided to punish them as the Law required.
An angel “a man of God” came to Eli to challenge him for tolerating the sin of his sons. He delivered the Lord God’s curse upon his family and the prophesy that another priest from another family would be raised up to take his place.
Eli was apparently not used to people praying in severe emotional distress and earnest. Hannah remembered to give due praise to the God and the Lord blessed her faithfulness.
Did God allow Hannah to deepen in her desire to bear a child until she would be willing to accept His gift and then return it to Him in only 3 years? The sons of Eli knew the expectations of God and His clearly-stated consequences for a priest who abused his position. Why would they not only violate God’s instructions but do so without any effort at subterfuge?
Hanna's obsession with giving birth to son, even one she would surrender at the age of 3, was driven by worldly pressure - but she became an instrument of God in raising up a new priest for Israel. Because Eli took no action when he learned of their evil deeds he gave the Lord God no tool through which to to deal with his evil sons. He might have punished and then restored them, or miraculously replace them (Eli was old), Eli's inaction resulted in an end to the family line.
When have you negotiated with God in prayer? When have you experienced or observed the Lord’s blessing and given Him praise, directly and expressed it to others? Did He expand His blessing?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a place in your life where He has blessed you and now expects you to return something and to reveal to you a place where you are behaving wrongly before the Lord, or someone over whom you have some authority is doing so.
Today I will prayerfully submit to the Holy Spirit so as to discern which of God's gifts to me are now ready to be returned to Him. Perhaps it is from my Biblical-Christian discipleship, my practical skills education, my restored health, my long-sought employment and income, etc. I will share this with a fellow believer as a testimony. I will confess and repent of my sin, I will seek forgiveness from the Lord (and anyone I have offended), and I will walk toward restoration of my damaged relationships with others and the Lord. If I am in authority (as a parent, teacher, elder, employer, etc.) or I am a peer, I will honor the Lord's New Testament teaching that I am to confront my brother in love when I see them in sin. I will walk alongside my brother through confession, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. If I am in some sort of position of spiritual authority I will not fail to confront sin among those over whom I have authority.
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The Call of Samuel
3:1 Now the boy Samuel continued serving the Lord under Eli’s supervision. Word from the Lord was rare in those days; revelatory visions were infrequent.
3:2 Eli’s eyes had begun to fail, so that he was unable to see well. At that time he was lying down in his place, 3:3 and the lamp of God had not yet been extinguished. Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord as well; the ark of God was also there. 3:4 The Lord called to Samuel, and he replied, “Here I am!” 3:5 Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back and lie down.” So he went back and lay down. 3:6 The Lord again called, “Samuel!” So Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli said, “I didn’t call you, my son. Go back and lie down.”
3:7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord; the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 3:8 Then the Lord called Samuel a third time. So he got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me!” Eli then realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy. 3:9 So Eli said to Samuel, “Go back and lie down. When he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” So Samuel went back and lay down in his place.
3:10 Then the Lord came and stood nearby, calling as he had previously done, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel replied, “Speak, for your servant is listening!” 3:11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Look! I am about to do something in Israel; when anyone hears about it, both of his ears will tingle. 3:12 On that day I will carry out against Eli everything that I spoke about his house – from start to finish! 3:13 You should tell him that I am about to judge his house forever because of the sin that he knew about. For his sons were cursing God, and he did not rebuke them. 3:14 Therefore I swore an oath to the house of Eli, ‘The sin of the house of Eli can never be forgiven by sacrifice or by grain offering.’”
3:15 So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the Lord’s house. But Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about the vision. 3:16 However, Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son!” He replied, “Here I am.” 3:17 Eli said, “What message did he speak to you? Don’t conceal it from me. God will judge you severely if you conceal from me anything that he said to you!”
3:18 So Samuel told him everything. He did not hold back anything from him. Eli said, “The Lord will do what he pleases.” 3:19 Samuel continued to grow, and the Lord was with him. None of his prophecies fell to the ground unfulfilled. 3:20 All Israel from Dan to Beer Sheba realized that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. 3:21 Then the Lord again appeared in Shiloh, for it was in Shiloh that the Lord had revealed himself to Samuel through the word of the Lord.
4:1 Samuel revealed the word of the Lord to all Israel.
The Ark of the Covenant is Lost to the Philistines
Then the Israelites went out to fight the Philistines. They camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines camped at Aphek. 4:2 The Philistines arranged their forces to fight Israel. As the battle spread out, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men in the battle line in the field.
4:3 When the army came back to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why did the Lord let us be defeated today by the Philistines? Let’s take with us the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. When it is with us, it will save us from the hand of our enemies.
4:4 So the army sent to Shiloh, and they took from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts who sits between the cherubim. Now the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 4:5 When the ark of the covenant of the Lord arrived at the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the ground shook.
4:6 When the Philistines heard the sound of the shout, they said, “What is this loud shout in the camp of the Hebrews?” Then they realized that the ark of the Lord had arrived at the camp. 4:7 The Philistines were scared because they thought that gods had come to the camp. They said, “Too bad for us! We’ve never seen anything like this! 4:8 Too bad for us! Who can deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all sorts of plagues in the desert! 4:9 Be strong and act like men, you Philistines, or else you will wind up serving the Hebrews the way they have served you! Act like men and fight!”
4:10 So the Philistines fought. Israel was defeated; they all ran home. The slaughter was very great; thirty thousand foot soldiers fell in battle. 4:11 The ark of God was taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were killed.
4:12 On that day a Benjaminite ran from the battle lines and came to Shiloh. His clothes were torn and dirt was on his head. 4:13 When he arrived in Shiloh, Eli was sitting in his chair watching by the side of the road, for he was very worried about the ark of God. As the man entered the city to give his report, the whole city cried out.
4:14 When Eli heard the outcry, he said, “What is this commotion?” The man quickly came and told Eli. 4:15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes looked straight ahead; he was unable to see.
4:16 The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battle lines! Just today I fled from the battle lines!” Eli asked, “How did things go, my son?” 4:17 The messenger replied, “Israel has fled from the Philistines! The army has suffered a great defeat! Your two sons, Hophni and Phineas, are dead! The ark of God has been captured!”
4:18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward from his chair beside the gate. He broke his neck and died, for he was old and heavy. He had judged Israel for forty years.
4:19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phineas, was pregnant and close to giving birth. When she heard that the ark of God was captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she doubled over and gave birth. But her labor pains were too much for her. 4:20 As she was dying, the women who were there with her said, “Don’t be afraid! You have given birth to a son!” But she did not reply or pay any attention.
4:21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” referring to the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 4:22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, because the ark of God has been captured.”
Lord, You choose those who serve You and You hold them accountable to Your standard. May I always be as ready to serve and careful to avoid sin. Rebellion has consequences, Your children cannot expect blessings from You when they refuse to obey You. May I consider daily how I might be more faithful.
Samuel was old enough for the Lord God to call him into the priesthood and because of the sin of Eli’s sons, and Eli’s failure to correct them, it had cost them any opportunity to continue their family line and service; therefore, there was a need for a replacement.
Samuel had not previously heard the voice of God so when the Lord God called to Him, as He later would Mary, Samuel presumed the voice to be that of Eli. On his third response to Eli the elderly priest realized that the Lord God was calling Samuel and thus instructed him as to how he should respond.
Samuel heard from God His curse upon Eli’s family and at Eli’s insistence shared it with him the next day. Samuel became a priest and prophet of great respect within Israel.
Just as Samuel was stepping into the priesthood, and Eli and sons were about to be literally-terminated by the Lord God, a military conflict started with the Philistines.
The text does not describe the Israelites seeking the Lord God’s will prior to engaging in battle and 4,000 were killed. They retreated and gathered-up Eli’s two evil sons and the Ark of the Covenant and returned to the battle.
The Israelites loudly celebrated the arrival of the ark of God, because they had heard of the past military victories associated with its presence, and the Philistines were initially fearful.
The Philistines were encouraged by their leaders to stand their ground and the result was a huge victory and the death of 30,000 Israelite soldiers. The text added “The ark of God was taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were killed.”
When the report of the defeat, the death of his sons, and the capture of the ark of God was brought to Eli - elderly and overweight – the head priest fell out of his chair and died.
Eli’s daughter-in-law, through the evil son Phineas, also heard the news and as she died in childbirth she named her son Ichabod which meant “The glory has departed from Israel”.
Samuel’s reply to the Lord God echoed that of His faithful servants before and after his time “... Your servant is listening!”
How must Samuel have felt, being compelled to tell the man who had raised and trained him in the priestly service that the Lord God was to kill his sons and end his family line? Why would the Israelites imagine that the corrupt and perverse sons of Eli would bring them good fortune in the military engagement?
Samuel’s faithfulness served as a conduit for the Lord God to renew His presence among His people through prophesy. The loss of the covenant was a symbolic crisis in the world of Israel as they viewed it as a superstitious link to God and therefore as necessary to their well-being.
When have you had to deliver a hard message to someone you cared about? When have you experienced the negative result of poor leadership choices?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where He desires to increase your service as His instrument of blessing to others. The Israelites had a superstitious relationship with the ark of God rather than one based upon a faith-relationship. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you are presuming upon God for His blessing in a superstitious way rather than striving day-to-day to live humbly before Him, praising Him for all good things.
Today I will prayerfully surrender to the Holy Spirit every part of my life so that He may clean me up, teach me up, and lift me up for a new work. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement for my faithfulness in this process. I will remember that all good things come from God, that He owes me nothing, and that He is due my humble obedience every day. I will call upon Him in prayer for those things He has promised to those who are obedient and will give testimony to His faithfulness.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
The Ark Causes Trouble for the Philistines
5:1 Now the Philistines had captured the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 5:2 The Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the temple of Dagon, where they positioned it beside Dagon. 5:3 When the residents of Ashdod got up early the next day, Dagon was lying on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set him back in his place. 5:4 But when they got up early the following day, Dagon was again lying on the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and his two hands were sheared off and were lying at the threshold. Only Dagon’s body was left intact. 5:5 (For this reason, to this very day, neither Dagon’s priests nor anyone else who enters Dagon’s temple step on Dagon’s threshold in Ashdod.)
5:6 The Lord attacked the residents of Ashdod severely, bringing devastation on them. He struck the people of both Ashdod and the surrounding area with sores. 5:7 When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel should not remain with us, for he has attacked both us and our god Dagon!”
5:8 So they assembled all the leaders of the Philistines and asked, “What should we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” They replied, “The ark of the God of Israel should be moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
5:9 But after it had been moved the Lord attacked that city as well, causing a great deal of panic. He struck all the people of that city with sores. 5:10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.
But when the ark of God arrived at Ekron, the residents of Ekron cried out saying, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel here to kill our people!” 5:11 So they assembled all the leaders of the Philistines and said, “Get the ark of the God of Israel out of here! Let it go back to its own place so that it won’t kill us and our people!” The terror of death was throughout the entire city; God was attacking them very severely there. 5:12 The people who did not die were struck with sores; the city’s cry for help went all the way up to heaven.
The Philistines Return the Ark
6:1 When the ark of the Lord had been in the land of the Philistines for seven months, 6:2 the Philistines called the priests and the omen readers, saying, “What should we do with the ark of the Lord? Advise us as to how we should send it back to its place.”
6:3 They replied, “If you are going to send the ark of the God of Israel back, don’t send it away empty. Be sure to return it with a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and you will understand why his hand is not removed from you.” 6:4 They inquired, “What is the guilt offering that we should send to him?”
They replied, “The Philistine leaders number five. So send five gold sores and five gold mice, for it is the same plague that has afflicted both you and your leaders. 6:5 You should make images of the sores and images of the mice that are destroying the land. You should honor the God of Israel. Perhaps he will release his grip on you, your gods, and your land. 6:6 Why harden your hearts like the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When God treated them harshly, didn’t the Egyptians send the Israelites on their way? 6:7 So now go and make a new cart. Get two cows that have calves and that have never had a yoke placed on them. Harness the cows to the cart and take their calves from them back to their stalls. 6:8 Then take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart, and put in a chest beside it the gold objects you are sending to him as a guilt offering. You should then send it on its way. 6:9 But keep an eye on it. If it should go up by the way of its own border to Beth Shemesh, then he has brought this great calamity on us. But if that is not the case, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us; rather, it just happened to us by accident.”
6:10 So the men did as instructed. They took two cows that had calves and harnessed them to a cart; they also removed their calves to their stalls. 6:11 They put the ark of the Lord on the cart, along with the chest, the gold mice, and the images of the sores. 6:12 Then the cows went directly on the road to Beth Shemesh. They went along, mooing as they went; they turned neither to the right nor to the left. The leaders of the Philistines were walking along behind them all the way to the border of Beth Shemesh.
6:13 Now the residents of Beth Shemesh were harvesting wheat in the valley. When they looked up and saw the ark, they were pleased at the sight. 6:14 The cart was coming to the field of Joshua, who was from Beth Shemesh. It paused there near a big stone. Then they cut up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 6:15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the chest that was with it, which contained the gold objects. They placed them near the big stone. At that time the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the Lord. 6:16 The five leaders of the Philistines watched what was happening and then returned to Ekron on the same day.
6:17 These are the gold sores that the Philistines brought as a guilt offering to the Lord – one for each of the following cities: Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. 6:18 The gold mice corresponded in number to all the Philistine cities of the five leaders, from the fortified cities to hamlet villages, to greater Abel, where they positioned the ark of the Lord until this very day in the field of Joshua who was from Beth Shemesh.
6:19 But the Lord struck down some of the people of Beth Shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the Lord; he struck down 50,070 of the men. The people grieved because the Lord had struck the people with a hard blow. 6:20 The residents of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?”
6:21 So they sent messengers to the residents of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down here and take it back home with you.”
7:1 Then the people of Kiriath Jearim came and took the ark of the Lord; they brought it to the house of Abinadab located on the hill. They consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord.
Further Conflict with the Philistines
7:2 It was quite a long time – some twenty years in all – that the ark stayed at Kiriath Jearim. All the people of Israel longed for the Lord. 7:3 Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you are really turning to the Lord with all your hearts, remove from among you the foreign gods and the images of Ashtoreth. Give your hearts to the Lord and serve only him. Then he will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 7:4 So the Israelites removed the Baals and images of Ashtoreth. They served only the Lord.
7:5 Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord on your behalf.” 7:6 After they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. They fasted on that day, and they confessed there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” So Samuel led the people of Israel at Mizpah.
7:7 When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah, the leaders of the Philistines went up against Israel. When the Israelites heard about this, they were afraid of the Philistines. 7:8 The Israelites said to Samuel, “Keep crying out to the Lord our God so that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines!” 7:9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. Samuel cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.
7:10 As Samuel was offering burnt offerings, the Philistines approached to do battle with Israel. But on that day the Lord thundered loudly against the Philistines. He caused them to panic, and they were defeated by Israel. 7:11 Then the men of Israel left Mizpah and chased the Philistines, striking them down all the way to an area below Beth Car.
7:12 Samuel took a stone and placed it between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Up to here the Lord has helped us.” 7:13 So the Philistines were defeated; they did not invade Israel again. The hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
7:14 The cities that the Philistines had captured from Israel were returned to Israel, from Ekron to Gath. Israel also delivered their territory from the control of the Philistines. There was also peace between Israel and the Amorites. 7:15 So Samuel led Israel all the days of his life. 7:16 Year after year he used to travel the circuit of Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah; he used to judge Israel in all of these places. 7:17 Then he would return to Ramah, because his home was there. He also judged Israel there and built an altar to the Lord there.
Lord, Your presence is only where You decide it will be, those who falsely claim Your name do so at risk of terrible consequences. May I always be careful to consult You in prayer and search Your Word with care before asserting Your approval for what I say or do. You bless those who honor You and bring destruction to those who disobey or reject You. May I never lose my sense of awe for You. When we are faithful You love to bless us. May I be careful to keep any sort of idol out of my home and trust You-alone to guide and protect me.
The Philistines had an even more superstitious view of the ark of God than did the Israelites; they believed that when they captured it they not only deprived Israel of their god-in-a-box but that they could transfer His power to their purposes alongside their false god Dagon.
The Lord God first warned them by knocking over the wooden idol of their false god Dagon. Then the next day He knocked it over and placed its head and hands at the threshold to their temple to their false god. When they still failed to recognize their error He struck the whole city with sores – so they moved the ark of God to another city.
The Lord God struck the second city with sores so they moved the ark of God to a third city. The third city protested as they had heard of what had happened to the others but the Lord God struck many there dead and others with sores. They cried out to the Philistine leaders to return the ark of God to Israel and God heard them.
The Philistine leaders consulted their religious leaders as to how they should go about returning the ark of God to the Israelites. They were informed that they needed to return it with an offering to sooth the God of Israel.
They were instructed to make gold images of the sores and the mice that plagued them and to build a cart pulled by never-yoked calves.
They were told to follow rather than lead the calves, if they went to Beth Shemesh it was indeed the Israelite God Who had attacked them, if they went elsewhere then it was not.
The calves went to Beth Shemesh and the Israelites used the wood from the cart for the fire of offering of the calves to the Lord in thanks and the Philistines observed that and then returned home.
After the sacrifice some of the people of Beth Shemesh foolishly looked into the Ark of God and He struck 50,070 of them dead for their sin. They called to their neighbors in Keriath Jearim to come for the ark of God.
The ark of God was moved to Kiriath Jearim and Samuel challenged the people to prove their allegiance to God by removing all of the idols from their homes and communities, which they did, and the Lord God gave them twenty years of peace with the Philistines.
Samuel gathered the people at Mizpah to confess their sins, for a special sacrifice, and so that he could pray for them. The Philistines heard they had gathered and decided to attack.
The people were afraid but Samuel made an offering to the Lord and He gave Israel a great victory over the Philistines such that they gave back to Israel lands they had previously taken and they were unable to prevail against Israel all of the time that Samuel led his people.
The Philistines made the error of thinking that the Lord God was a peer to their false god Dagon. The Philistine religious leaders were not yet convinced that the God of the Israelites had caused their troubles, so they had the ark of God returned as they would any pagan idol. They set up the test of the unguided calves to evaluate if the ark of God was indeed the source of trouble. When the Israelites got rid of their false idols the Lord God blessed them.
How could the Philistines have so quickly forgotten what had happened to them after they captured the ark of God? Is it possible that the Philistines had a wrong understanding of the Lord God because the Israelites behaved in such a contradictory manner to His law and treated Him, and the ark of God, with superstition rather than a holy relationship? Everyone in Israel knew that the ark of God was never to be opened except at the behest of the Lord God and only then by the high priest; why would they have looked into it?
Given the evil that the Philistines had done to Israel and others they had little reason to expect sympathy from anyone. Both the Philistines and the Israelites in Beth Shemesh learned the truth of the all-powerful and Holy God of Israel. Because Samuel was a leader who called the people back to the Lord God they were together blessed by Him for as long as he was their leader.
When have you experienced or observed a non-Christian treating the Lord God like a common pagan idol? When have you experienced or observed the consequence of Christians treating the Lord God carelessly and suffering as a result? Perhaps living sinfully or neglecting time in prayer and in the Word and/or dabbling in false religions? When have you experienced or observed a leader who called a confused and troubled fellowship back into the Word of God and to walking in His ways? What was the result?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you may be carelessly treating the Lord God more like an idol rather than the Holy One with Whom you are blessed to have a relationship and to show you where some sort of idol, or idolatry, may be distracting you from God. It may be laziness or selfishness, greed or lust, a person, a non-Biblical philosophy or organization; anyone or any thing that displaces the Lord God from His rightful place as first in all things at all time in all places.
Today I will prayerfully confess my carelessness in relationship to the Lord God. I will pause and seek His direction in the morning, later again ask for His reflection upon my morning, at noon seek His direction (redirection), and in the evening submit to His review of my day. I will read His word daily to stay connected and praise Him at least once per day to remain humble. I will repent of my carelessness and/or disrespect toward the Lord God. As is appropriate I may consult with one who meets the Biblical definition of an elder to gain clarity. If the solution is obvious from the Word I will get right before the Lord. I will confess the idol or idolatry in my life, ask and receive the forgiveness of the Lord God, repent of (turn away from) it, and partner with a fellow believer to pray in-agreement with one-another for mutual-accountability in resisting idols and/or idolatry in our lives.
Be Specific _________________________________________________
Israel Seeks a King
8:1 In his old age Samuel appointed his sons as judges over Israel. 8:2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second son was Abijah. They were judges in Beer Sheba. 8:3 But his sons did not follow his ways. Instead, they made money dishonestly, accepted bribes, and perverted justice.
8:4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and approached Samuel at Ramah. 8:5 They said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons don’t follow your ways. So now appoint over us a king to lead us, just like all the other nations have.”
8:6 But this request displeased Samuel, for they said, “Give us a king to lead us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. 8:7 The Lord said to Samuel, “Do everything the people request of you. For it is not you that they have rejected, but it is me that they have rejected as their king. 8:8 Just as they have done from the day that I brought them up from Egypt until this very day, they have rejected me and have served other gods. This is what they are also doing to you. 8:9 So now do as they say. But seriously warn them and make them aware of the policies of the king who will rule over them.”
8:10 So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 8:11 He said, “Here are the policies of the king who will rule over you: He will conscript your sons and put them in his chariot forces and in his cavalry; they will run in front of his chariot. 8:12 He will appoint for himself leaders of thousands and leaders of fifties, as well as those who plow his ground, reap his harvest, and make his weapons of war and his chariot equipment. 8:13 He will take your daughters to be ointment makers, cooks, and bakers. 8:14 He will take your best fields and vineyards and give them to his own servants. 8:15 He will demand a tenth of your seed and of the produce of your vineyards and give it to his administrators and his servants. 8:16 He will take your male and female servants, as well as your best cattle and your donkeys, and assign them for his own use. 8:17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will be his servants. 8:18 In that day you will cry out because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord won’t answer you in that day.”
8:19 But the people refused to heed Samuel’s warning. Instead they said, “No! There will be a king over us! 8:20 We will be like all the other nations. Our king will judge us and lead us and fight our battles.”
8:21 So Samuel listened to everything the people said and then reported it to the Lord. 8:22 The Lord said to Samuel, “Do as they say and install a king over them.” Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Each of you go back to his own city.”
Samuel Meets with Saul
9:1 There was a Benjaminite man named Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. He was a prominent person. 9:2 He had a son named Saul, a handsome young man. There was no one among the Israelites more handsome than he was; he stood head and shoulders above all the people.
9:3 The donkeys of Saul’s father Kish wandered off, so Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go look for the donkeys.” 9:4 So Saul crossed through the hill country of Ephraim, passing through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. So they crossed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then he crossed through the land of Benjamin, and still they did not find them.
9:5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come on, let’s head back before my father quits worrying about the donkeys and becomes anxious about us!” 9:6 But the servant said to him, “Look, there is a man of God in this town. He is highly respected. Everything that he says really happens. Now let’s go there. Perhaps he will tell us where we should go from here.” 9:7 So Saul said to his servant, “All right, we can go. But what can we bring the man, since the food in our bags is used up? We have no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?” 9:8 The servant went on to answer Saul, “Look, I happen to have in my hand a quarter shekel of silver. I will give it to the man of God and he will tell us where we should go.” 9:9 (Now it used to be in Israel that whenever someone went to inquire of God he would say, “Come on, let’s go to the seer.” For today’s prophet used to be called a seer.) 9:10 So Saul said to his servant, “That’s a good idea! Come on. Let’s go.” So they went to the town where the man of God was.
9:11 As they were going up the ascent to the town, they met some girls coming out to draw water. They said to them, “Is this where the seer is?” 9:12 They replied, “Yes, straight ahead! But hurry now, for he came to the town today, and the people are making a sacrifice at the high place. 9:13 When you enter the town, you can find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people won’t eat until he arrives, for he must bless the sacrifice. Once that happens, those who have been invited will eat. Now go on up, for this is the time when you can find him!”
9:14 So they went up to the town. As they were heading for the middle of the town, Samuel was coming in their direction to go up to the high place. 9:15 Now the day before Saul arrived, the Lord had told Samuel: 9:16 “At this time tomorrow I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin. You must consecrate him as a leader over my people Israel. He will save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have looked with favor on my people. Their cry has reached me!”
9:17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said, “Here is the man that I told you about! He will rule over my people.” 9:18 As Saul approached Samuel in the middle of the gate, he said, “Please tell me where the seer’s house is.”
9:19 Samuel replied to Saul, “I am the seer! Go up in front of me to the high place! Today you will eat with me and in the morning I will send you away. I will tell you everything that you are thinking. 9:20 Don’t be concerned about the donkeys that you lost three days ago, for they have been found. Whom does all Israel desire? Is it not you, and all your father’s family?”
9:21 Saul replied, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the smallest of Israel’s tribes, and is not my family clan the smallest of all the tribes of Benjamin? Why do you speak to me in this way?”
9:22 Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the room and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited. There were about thirty people present. 9:23 Samuel said to the cook, “Give me the portion of meat that I gave to you – the one I asked you to keep with you.”
9:24 So the cook picked up the leg and brought it and set it in front of Saul. Samuel said, “What was kept is now set before you! Eat, for it has been kept for you for this meeting time, from the time I said, ‘I have invited the people.’” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.
9:25 When they came down from the high place to the town, Samuel spoke with Saul on the roof. 9:26 They got up at dawn and Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Get up, so I can send you on your way.” So Saul got up and the two of them – he and Samuel – went outside. 9:27 While they were going down to the edge of town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us.” So he did. Samuel then said, “You remain here awhile, so I can inform you of God’s message.”
Samuel Anoints Saul
10:1 Then Samuel took a small container of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head. Samuel kissed him and said, “The Lord has chosen you to lead his people Israel! You will rule over the Lord’s people and you will deliver them from the power of the enemies who surround them. This will be your sign that the Lord has chosen you as leader over his inheritance. 10:2 When you leave me today, you will find two men near Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah on Benjamin’s border. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you have gone looking for have been found. Your father is no longer concerned about the donkeys but has become anxious about you two! He is asking, “What should I do about my son?”‘
10:3 “As you continue on from there, you will come to the tall tree of Tabor. At that point three men who are going up to God at Bethel will meet you. One of them will be carrying three young goats, one of them will be carrying three round loaves of bread, and one of them will be carrying a container of wine. 10:4 They will ask you how you’re doing and will give you two loaves of bread. You will accept them. 10:5 Afterward you will go to Gibeah of God, where there are Philistine officials. When you enter the town, you will meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place. They will have harps, tambourines, flutes, and lyres, and they will be prophesying. 10:6 Then the spirit of the Lord will rush upon you and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person.
10:7 “When these signs have taken place, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God will be with you. 10:8 You will go down to Gilgal before me. I am going to join you there to offer burnt offerings and to make peace offerings. You should wait for seven days, until I arrive and tell you what to do.”
Lord, the demandingness of humans to go their own way was the cause of the Fall, and has been an unending rotten-fruit of the Fall. May I be accountable to fellow believers so that I may resist drifting into a demanding and rebellious attitude toward You. You call whomseoever You will and You equip those whom You call. May I be ever ready and willing to serve You however You may direct.
Samuel’s sons were unlike their father, they chose the path of Eli’s evil sons, so there was no apparent successor to Samuel as a combined judge and priest and prophet.
The people demanded a king like the pagan nations around them which made Samuel sad. He went to the Lord God Who declared that the people had been continuously-rebellious and thus He was no longer willing to protect them from their foolish choices.
He instructed Samuel to warn them as to the bad consequences of a human king versus God Himself as their king, which Samuel did, but still they insisted. Samuel agreed to facilitate the appointment of a human king and sent them home.
The Lord God caused Saul to be sent in search of lost donkeys and after three days he stopped at a village to seek directions where he was brought together with Samuel.
Samuel informed him of his calling from God to be king of his people.
Saul was surprised as he was from a small family in a small tribe.
Samuel gave Saul very detailed instructions as to what was to happen and what he, Saul, was to do over the next several days of his journey home.
Samuel also instructed Saul as to the coming of the Holy Spirit upon him, that he would prophesy with the prophets and thus be transformed, and that he would be blessed in all that he did – then to wait on Samuel’s arrival.
A humble, obedient, and wise parent is not always assured of children who will choose to live likewise. The text is silent as to the details of Samuel’s children so it is unclear what were their primary influences. It may be that Samuel was so occupied with his responsibilities as judge, priest, and prophet that he failed to be actively involved with his sons. The Lord God chose Saul and guided him along the way.
After Samuel explained all of the terrible troubles that would accompany a human king why would the people have continued to demand one? Saul should have known of the many times that God had chosen men who were not famous or from great families and tribes, so why would he question Samuel when informed that he had been chosen as the first human King of Israel?
God decided that He had tolerated the arrogance and disrespect of the Israelites long enough and that it was time to allow them to learn the hard way the difference between a human king and the Lord God as King. Samuel sent Saul on a journey of prophesied events to build his faith, then Saul-himself would become the vessel of the Holy Spirit and prophesy, all designed to prepare him to be the first human king – while subservient to the Lord God.
When have you ignored warnings and pursued something despite them? When have you been unexpectedly chosen for a role which you expected would go to another?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life that you are ignoring wise counsel and to reveal to you a journey upon which He is sending you.
Today I will pause and reflect upon the counsel I have received which asked me to reconsider a current activity or a planned future endeavor. I will consult the Word of God, pray, and as is appropriate consult one who is Biblically qualified as an elder for mature and prayerful counsel. I will prayerfully seek clarity as to the journey the Lord has begun, or is about to begin, in my life. It may be related to education or training, beginning or ending a relationship or relationships, it may be separating from some unhealthy worldly influences or joining with others to reach into the world with the Word in order to change a small part of it, it may be freedom from emotional, intellectual, physical, and/or spiritual bondage of some sort. Whatever it is I will agree to see it through with confidence and will seek accountability and prayer support from fellow believers.
Be Specific ________________________________________________
Saul Becomes King
10:9 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed his inmost person. All these signs happened on that very day. 10:10 When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a company of prophets was coming out to meet him. Then the spirit of God rushed upon Saul and he prophesied among them. 10:11 When everyone who had known him previously saw him prophesying with the prophets, the people all asked one another, “What on earth has happened to the son of Kish? Does even Saul belong with the prophets?”
10:12 A man who was from there replied, “And who is their father?” Therefore this became a proverb: “Is even Saul among the prophets?” 10:13 When Saul had finished prophesying, he went to the high place.
10:14 Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, “Where did you go?” Saul replied, “To look for the donkeys. But when we realized they were lost, we went to Samuel.” 10:15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.” 10:16 Saul said to his uncle, “He assured us that the donkeys had been found.” But Saul did not tell him what Samuel had said about the matter of kingship.
10:17 Then Samuel called the people together before the Lord at Mizpah. 10:18 He said to the Israelites, “This is what the Lord God of Israel says, ‘I brought Israel up from Egypt and I delivered you from the power of the Egyptians and from the power of all the kingdoms that oppressed you. 10:19 But today you have rejected your God who saves you from all your trouble and distress. You have said, “No! Appoint a king over us.” Now take your positions before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.’”
10:20 Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. 10:21 Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the family of Matri was chosen by lot. At last Saul son of Kish was chosen by lot. But when they looked for him, he was nowhere to be found. 10:22 So they inquired again of the Lord, “Has the man arrived here yet?” The Lord said, “He has hidden himself among the equipment.”
10:23 So they ran and brought him from there. When he took his position among the people, he stood head and shoulders above them all. 10:24 Then Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the one whom the Lord has chosen? Indeed, there is no one like him among all the people!” All the people shouted out, “Long live the king!”
10:25 Then Samuel talked to the people about how the kingship would work. He wrote it all down on a scroll and set it before the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people away to their homes. 10:26 Even Saul went to his home in Gibeah. With him went some brave men whose hearts God had touched. 10:27 But some wicked men said, “How can this man save us?” They despised him and did not even bring him a gift. But Saul said nothing about it.
Saul Comes to the Aid of Jabesh
11:1 Nahash the Ammonite marched against Jabesh Gilead. All the men of Jabesh Gilead said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us and we will serve you.”
11:2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “The only way I will make a treaty with you is if you let me gouge out the right eye of every one of you and in so doing humiliate all Israel!”
11:3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Leave us alone for seven days so that we can send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. If there is no one who can deliver us, we will come out voluntarily to you.”
11:4 When the messengers went to Gibeah (where Saul lived) and informed the people of these matters, all the people wept loudly. 11:5 Now Saul was walking behind the oxen as he came from the field. Saul asked, “What has happened to the people? Why are they weeping?” So they told him about the men of Jabesh.
11:6 The Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and he became very angry. 11:7 He took a pair of oxen and cut them up. Then he sent the pieces throughout the territory of Israel by the hand of messengers, who said, “Whoever does not go out after Saul and after Samuel should expect this to be done to his oxen!” Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they went out as one army. 11:8 When Saul counted them at Bezek, the Israelites were 300,000 strong and the men of Judah numbered 30,000.
11:9 They said to the messengers who had come, “Here’s what you should say to the men of Jabesh Gilead: ‘Tomorrow deliverance will come to you when the sun is fully up.’” When the messengers went and told the men of Jabesh Gilead, they were happy. 11:10 The men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you and you can do with us whatever you wish.”
11:11 The next day Saul placed the people in three groups. They went to the Ammonite camp during the morning watch and struck them down until the hottest part of the day. The survivors scattered; no two of them remained together.
Saul Is Established as King
11:12 Then the people said to Samuel, “Who were the ones asking, ‘Will Saul reign over us?’ Hand over those men so we may execute them!” 11:13 But Saul said, “No one will be killed on this day. For today the Lord has given Israel a victory!” 11:14 Samuel said to the people, “Come on! Let’s go to Gilgal and renew the kingship there.” 11:15 So all the people went to Gilgal, where they established Saul as king in the Lord’s presence. They offered up peace offerings there in the Lord’s presence. Saul and all the Israelites were very happy.
12:1 Samuel said to all Israel, “I have done everything you requested. I have given you a king. 12:2 Now look! This king walks before you. As for me, I am old and gray, though my sons are here with you. I have walked before you from the time of my youth till the present day. 12:3 Here I am. Bring a charge against me before the Lord and before his chosen king. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I wronged? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I taken a bribe so that I would overlook something? Tell me, and I will return it to you!”
12:4 They replied, “You have not wronged us or oppressed us. You have not taken anything from the hand of anyone.” 12:5 He said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his chosen king is witness this day, that you have not found any reason to accuse me.” They said, “He is witness!”
12:6 Samuel said to the people, “The Lord is the one who chose Moses and Aaron and who brought your ancestors up from the land of Egypt. 12:7 Now take your positions, so I may confront you before the Lord regarding all the Lord’s just actions toward you and your ancestors. 12:8 When Jacob entered Egypt, your ancestors cried out to the Lord. The Lord sent Moses and Aaron, and they led your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place.
12:9 “But they forgot the Lord their God, so he gave them into the hand of Sisera, the general in command of Hazor’s army, and into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. 12:10 Then they cried out to the Lord and admitted, ‘We have sinned, for we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the images of Ashtoreth. Now deliver us from the hand of our enemies so that we may serve you.’ 12:11 So the Lord sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah, and Samuel, and he delivered you from the hand of the enemies all around you, and you were able to live securely.
12:12 “When you saw that King Nahash of the Ammonites was advancing against you, you said to me, ‘No! A king will rule over us’ – even though the Lord your God is your king! 12:13 Now look! Here is the king you have chosen – the one that you asked for! Look, the Lord has given you a king! 12:14 If you fear the Lord, serving him and obeying him and not rebelling against what he says, and if both you and the king who rules over you follow the Lord your God, all will be well. 12:15 But if you don’t obey the Lord and rebel against what the Lord says, the hand of the Lord will be against both you and your king.
12:16 “So now, take your positions and watch this great thing that the Lord is about to do in your sight. 12:17 Is this not the time of the wheat harvest? I will call on the Lord so that he makes it thunder and rain. Realize and see what a great sin you have committed before the Lord by asking for a king for yourselves.”
12:18 So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord made it thunder and rain that day. All the people were very afraid of both the Lord and Samuel. 12:19 All the people said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God on behalf of us – your servants – so we won’t die, for we have added to all our sins by asking for a king.”
12:20 Then Samuel said to the people, “Don’t be afraid. You have indeed sinned. However, don’t turn aside from the Lord. Serve the Lord with all your heart. 12:21 You should not turn aside after empty things that can’t profit and can’t deliver, since they are empty. 12:22 The Lord will not abandon his people because he wants to uphold his great reputation. The Lord was pleased to make you his own people. 12:23 As far as I am concerned, far be it from me to sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you! I will instruct you in the way that is good and upright. 12:24 However, fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. Just look at the great things he has done for you! 12:25 But if you continue to do evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”
Lord, when we are stubborn and demanding You meet us where we are and sometimes you give us what we demand, even though it may prove a difficulty for us. May I not be so demanding and stubborn that You have to discipline me by granting my wrong-headed demands of You. We often create impediments to our relationship with You, often in the form of religious persons, rituals, and man-made traditions. My I be found faithful and resistant to anything that might interfere in the intimate relationship You desire to have with me.
The Lord God fulfilled what He has prophesied through Samuel – as soon as Saul left Samuel He came upon Saul and with the presence of the Holy Spirit transformed him – for a time.
Saul met the prophets and he also, through the same Holy Spirit, did prophesy. People who knew Saul were both amazed and confused.
Saul did not immediately tell anyone of Samuel’s message about him becoming Israel’s first human king, perhaps remembering the ancient story of what had happened to Joseph when he shared an unusual story of earthly authority.
Samuel called the leaders of the tribes together and by lot the tribe of Benjamin was chosen, then a family, and finally Saul. He was hidden among the equipment but when brought forward was taller than the rest and when Samuel declared him the one called by God they all cheered.
Samuel reminded the people what to expect of a human king and then dismissed them. Saul returned home with a few men set apart by the Lord God, but he also heard from a few who doubted him and who refused to give him gifts, but he said nothing about that.
The Ammonites threatened the people of Jabesh Gilead and when Saul heard the Lord God, through the Holy Spirit, made him righteously angry. With his new authority as king he summoned 330,000 fighting men from Israel and Judah and defeated the Ammonites completely.
The people demanded that they be allowed to kill the men who disrespected Saul but he replied that the Lord had given them a great victory and they needed to do no more killing that day.
Samuel called the people together to affirm Saul’s calling and they gave offerings to the Lord God. It is worthy of note that it was not unusual for people to make an offering to God when a new leader was recognized. In some cases, as in Daniel 2:46 there has been confusion by some as to whom the offering was made, but in a righteous circumstance it was always and only to the Lord God. A man or an angel may be treated with honor but never worshiped or sacrificed to as that would make them an idol or a false Messiah.
Samuel challenged the people to show how he had ever wronged them, and they confessed that he had not, so he reminded them of the history of God’s provision up until the time of their demand for a human king in place of the Lord God as their King.
He warned them that both they and their human king were now mutually responsible to submit to the Lord God or else both they and their human king would suffer.
He then asked the Lord God to affirm his relationship with rain and thunder, then they confessed their sin for demanding a king and begged him to pray for them. Samuel assured them of his continued prayers as that was his ministry and it would be a sin to not pray for the people.
When the Lord God calls He equips, and He surely did so with Saul. Samuel remained very troubled that the people demanded a human king and worried that it would become another impediment in their intimacy with the Lord God.
An unusually tall, strong, and handsome man, Saul then was given the presence of the Holy Spirit so as to prophesy and was called as king; so why was he reluctant to tell anyone and at the time of Samuel’s announcement was he “hiding among the equipment”? How intimidated must Saul have been in the presence of Samuel, as well as by Samuel’s charge that he and the people were mutually responsible to live rightly and without rebellion before the Lord God, as the thunder and lightning came?
Samuel again warned the people what to expect of a human king, the one they demanded instead of God-Himself. Samuel convicted the people of their sin by reviewing the history of God’s provision and protection in order to alert them to their need to remain right in His eyes.
When have you experienced or observed a group of people demanding a leader or an action by their leaders that was obviously foolish? What were the consequences? When have you observed a leader being given, or taking, more power than was necessary – displacing the responsibilities of the people? What was the result?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a task for which He has called you and to show you where you may be giving responsibilities to someone in authority that really belong to you.
Today I will prayerfully and humbly accept whatever it is that the Holy Spirit has tasked to me. I will trust Him to provide the strength and wisdom and other resources that I need. I will ask at least one other believer to pray in-agreement for my faithfulness in this task. I will take an inventory of the responsibilities the Lord says are mine and repent of any that I have improperly left to someone in a position of religious authority. It may be expecting a pastor or teacher to provide all of my Bible study, for the corporate gatherings of a fellowship to represent all of my time in prayer and worship, or a counselor or minister to intervene every time there is confusion or conflict – before I follow the Biblical process myself.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Saul Fails the Lord
13:1 Saul was [thirty] years old when he began to reign; he ruled over Israel for [forty] years. 13:2 Saul selected for himself three thousand men from Israel. Two thousand of these were with Saul at Micmash and in the hill country of Bethel; the remaining thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin. He sent all the rest of the people back home.
13:3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost that was at Geba and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul alerted all the land saying, “Let the Hebrews pay attention!” 13:4 All Israel heard this message, “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel is repulsive to the Philistines!” So the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.
13:5 For the battle with Israel the Philistines had amassed 3,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and an army as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven. 13:6 The men of Israel realized they had a problem because their army was hard pressed. So the army hid in caves, thickets, cliffs, strongholds, and cisterns. 13:7 Some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan River to the land of Gad and Gilead. But Saul stayed at Gilgal; the entire army that was with him was terrified. 13:8 He waited for seven days, the time period indicated by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the army began to abandon Saul.
13:9 So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” Then he offered a burnt offering. 13:10 Just when he had finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel appeared on the scene. Saul went out to meet him and to greet him.
13:11 But Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul replied, “When I saw that the army had started to abandon me and that you didn’t come at the appointed time and that the Philistines had assembled at Micmash, 13:12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down on me at Gilgal and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt obligated to offer the burnt offering.”
13:13 Then Samuel said to Saul, “You have made a foolish choice! You have not obeyed the commandment that the Lord your God gave you. Had you done that, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever! 13:14 But now your kingdom will not continue! The Lord has sought out for himself a man who is loyal to him and the Lord has appointed him to be leader over his people, for you have not obeyed what the Lord commanded you.”
13:15 Then Samuel set out and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin. Saul mustered the army that remained with him; there were about six hundred men. 13:16 Saul, his son Jonathan, and the army that remained with them stayed in Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin, while the Philistines camped in Micmash. 13:17 Raiding bands went out from the camp of the Philistines in three groups. One band turned toward the road leading to Ophrah by the land of Shual; 13:18 another band turned toward the road leading to Beth Horon; and yet another band turned toward the road leading to the border that overlooks the valley of Zeboim in the direction of the desert.
13:19 A blacksmith could not be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines had said, “This will prevent the Hebrews from making swords and spears.” 13:20 So all Israel had to go down to the Philistines in order to get their plowshares, cutting instruments, axes, and sickles sharpened. 13:21 They charged two-thirds of a shekel to sharpen plowshares and cutting instruments, and a third of a shekel to sharpen picks and axes, and to set ox goads. 13:22 So on the day of the battle no sword or spear was to be found in the hand of anyone in the army that was with Saul and Jonathan. No one but Saul and his son Jonathan had them.
Jonathan Ignites a Battle
13:23 A garrison of the Philistines had gone out to the pass at Micmash.
14:1 Then one day Jonathan son of Saul said to his armor bearer, “Come on, let’s go over to the Philistine garrison that is opposite us.” But he did not let his father know.
14:2 Now Saul was sitting under a pomegranate tree in Migron, on the outskirts of Gibeah. The army that was with him numbered about six hundred men. 14:3 Now Ahijah was carrying an ephod. He was the son of Ahitub, who was the brother of Ichabod and a son of Phineas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh. The army was unaware that Jonathan had left.
14:4 Now there was a steep cliff on each side of the pass through which Jonathan intended to go to reach the Philistine garrison. One cliff was named Bozez, the other Seneh. 14:5 The cliff to the north was closer to Micmash, the one to the south closer to Geba.
14:6 Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on, let’s go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will intervene for us. Nothing can prevent the Lord from delivering, whether by many or by a few.” 14:7 His armor bearer said to him, “Do everything that is on your mind. Do as you’re inclined. I’m with you all the way!”
14:8 Jonathan replied, “All right! We’ll go over to these men and fight them. 14:9 If they say to us, ‘Stay put until we approach you,’ we will stay right there and not go up to them. 14:10 But if they say, ‘Come up against us,’ we will go up. For in that case the Lord has given them into our hand – it will be a sign to us.”
14:11 When they made themselves known to the Philistine garrison, the Philistines said, “Look! The Hebrews are coming out of the holes in which they hid themselves.” 14:12 Then the men of the garrison said to Jonathan and his armor bearer, “Come on up to us so we can teach you a thing or two!” Then Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come up behind me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel!”
14:13 Jonathan crawled up on his hands and feet, with his armor bearer following behind him. Jonathan struck down the Philistines, while his armor bearer came along behind him and killed them. 14:14 In this initial skirmish Jonathan and his armor bearer struck down about twenty men in an area that measured half an acre.
14:15 Then fear overwhelmed those who were in the camp, those who were in the field, all the army in the garrison, and the raiding bands. They trembled and the ground shook. This fear was caused by God.
14:16 Saul’s watchmen at Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin looked on as the crowd of soldiers seemed to melt away first in one direction and then in another. 14:17 So Saul said to the army that was with him, “Muster the troops and see who is no longer with us.” When they mustered the troops, Jonathan and his armor bearer were not there. 14:18 So Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring near the ephod,” for he was at that time wearing the ephod. 14:19 While Saul spoke to the priest, the panic in the Philistines’ camp was becoming greater and greater. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand!”
14:20 Saul and all the army that was with him assembled and marched into battle, where they found the Philistines in total panic killing one another with their swords. 14:21 The Hebrews who had earlier gone over to the Philistine side joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 14:22 When all the Israelites who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines had fled, they too pursued them in battle. 14:23 So the Lord delivered Israel that day, and the battle shifted over to Beth Aven.
Jonathan Violates Saul’s Oath
14:24 Now the men of Israel were hard pressed that day, for Saul had made the army agree to this oath: “Cursed be the man who eats food before evening! I will get my vengeance on my enemies!” So no one in the army ate anything.
14:25 Now the whole army entered the forest and there was honey on the ground. 14:26 When the army entered the forest, they saw the honey flowing, but no one ate any of it, for the army was afraid of the oath. 14:27 But Jonathan had not heard about the oath his father had made the army take. He extended the end of his staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb. When he ate it, his eyes gleamed. 14:28 Then someone from the army informed him, “Your father put the army under a strict oath saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food today!’ That is why the army is tired.” 14:29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has caused trouble for the land. See how my eyes gleamed when I tasted just a little of this honey. 14:30 Certainly if the army had eaten some of the enemies’ provisions that they came across today, would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”
14:31 On that day the army struck down the Philistines from Micmash to Aijalon, and they became very tired. 14:32 So the army rushed greedily on the plunder, confiscating sheep, cattle, and calves. They slaughtered them right on the ground, and the army ate them blood and all.
14:33 Now it was reported to Saul, “Look, the army is sinning against the Lord by eating even the blood.” He said, “All of you have broken the covenant! Roll a large stone over here to me.” 14:34 Then Saul said, “Scatter out among the army and say to them, ‘Each of you bring to me your ox and sheep and slaughter them in this spot and eat. But don’t sin against the Lord by eating the blood.” So that night each one brought his ox and slaughtered it there. 14:35 Then Saul built an altar for the Lord; it was the first time he had built an altar for the Lord.
14:36 Saul said, “Let’s go down after the Philistines at night; we will rout them until the break of day. We won’t leave any of them alive!” They replied, “Do whatever seems best to you.” But the priest said, “Let’s approach God here.” 14:37 So Saul asked God, “Should I go down after the Philistines? Will you deliver them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day.
14:38 Then Saul said, “All you leaders of the army come here. Find out how this sin occurred today. 14:39 For as surely as the Lord, the deliverer of Israel, lives, even if it turns out to be my own son Jonathan, he will certainly die!” But no one from the army said anything.
14:40 Then he said to all Israel, “You will be on one side, and I and my son Jonathan will be on the other side.” The army replied to Saul, “Do whatever you think is best.”
14:41 Then Saul said, “O Lord God of Israel! If this sin has been committed by me or by my son Jonathan, then, O Lord God of Israel, respond with Urim. But if this sin has been committed by your people Israel, respond with Thummim.” Then Jonathan and Saul were indicated by lot, while the army was exonerated. 14:42 Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan!” Jonathan was indicated by lot.
14:43 So Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” Jonathan told him, “I used the end of the staff that was in my hand to taste a little honey. I must die!” 14:44 Saul said, “God will punish me severely if Jonathan doesn’t die!”
14:45 But the army said to Saul, “Should Jonathan, who won this great victory in Israel, die? May it never be! As surely as the Lord lives, not a single hair of his head will fall to the ground! For it is with the help of God that he has acted today.” So the army rescued Jonathan from death.
14:46 Then Saul stopped chasing the Philistines, and the Philistines went back home. 14:47 After Saul had secured his royal position over Israel, he fought against all their enemies on all sides – the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. In every direction that he turned he was victorious. 14:48 He fought bravely, striking down the Amalekites and delivering Israel from the hand of its enemies.
Members of Saul’s Family
14:49 The sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malki-Shua. He had two daughters; the older one was named Merab and the younger Michal. 14:50 The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz. The name of the general in command of his army was Abner son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. 14:51 Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.
14:52 There was fierce war with the Philistines all the days of Saul. So whenever Saul saw anyone who was a warrior or a brave individual, he would conscript him.
Lord, You set the boundaries and define the rules, we do not get to invent our own definitions of good and evil or right and wrong. May I not drift into the situational ethics and personal- religion practices of the world around me – Your Word is truth. Sometimes human leaders behave foolishly, but Your will is done despite them. May I be ever watchful for opportunities to serve You even with those about me appear immobilized.
While Saul ruled Israel as its human king for 40 years it was an uneasy rule.
His son Jonathan attacked the Philistines which caused them to gather massive forces for battle against a relatively tiny Israelite army of 3,000. While Saul waited day after day for Samuel to come and make an offering to seek God’s blessing the soldiers began to leave in large numbers.
Saul took it upon himself to make the offering, something he knew he was not supposed to do, and when Samuel arrived he informed Saul that in so-doing he had lost the right for his descendants to follow in his place as king.
The Philistines had strategically blocked the Israelites from having their own blacksmith shops in order to force them to buy tools from Philistine blacksmiths, and to deny them the ability to make their own weapons. Only King Saul and his son Jonathan possessed metal spears and swords.
Jonathan continued his impetuous ways, this time setting off to attack a Philistine outpost without consulting Saul. He asked the Lord to affirm His endorsement and received it – while they killed twenty men the Lord God attacked the Philistine army, sending them into a chaotic terror, killing one another.
Saul, hearing of the conflict gathered his forces and attacked, and many Israelites who left him or fallen-in with the Philistines joined in attacking the Philistines as the Lord gave them victory
Like Jonathan, Saul was impulsive, so he made a rule and an oath – none should eat until the Philistines were completely defeated and a curse on the one who does eat. Jonathan did not know and he ate of the honey God had provided and recognized that Saul had blocked the strength God intended to give to the Israelite army through that honey.
The soldiers defeated many Philistines but were exhausted and hungry and killed the captured animals, eating them blood and all. Saul heard of this and was upset that they broke both God’s rule against eating the blood and his prohibition against eating.
Saul then built his first altar and called for the men to bring offerings. He asked the Lord for His Word as to how they should proceed but the Lord did not reply.
Saul challenged the army to confess as to who first ate and after lots it was shown to be Jonathan – he cried out that he must die but the army saw that the victory had really been his through God and would not allow him to be killed. They stopped their attack on the Philistines.
Saul then built up a great army, conscripting every able-bodied young man into the army, and had great success attacking the enemies of Israel on every side.
Jonathan appeared to be somewhat impetuous and to have a closer relationship with the Lord God than did his father, the King.
With all of the history that he knew, and with God’s Holy Spirit having come upon him, why would Saul have been so impatient and impetuous? Did he not remember the story of Gideon, and others, where God reduced the army to make it clear that He was fighting the battle? Why would Saul declare a ban on eating and a curse on the one who did? He knew that the army would get hungry and tired. Was it arrogance or immaturity? There is no evidence in the text that he first consulted God.
For the sake of one military battle Saul sacrificed the future of his descendants as kings. The Lord God used Saul to defeat the enemies of Israel in spite of Saul’s many personal failings.
When have you acted impetuously, intending good, only to make things worse? When have you observed someone in authority carelessly making declarations which turned out to not be wise?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a place where you are seeking circumstances though your limited human eyes instead of trusting Him to be in control and to reveal to you His vision and to reveal to you an opportunity to be used for His purposes even though those in leadership appear to be powerless and trapped.
Today I will slow down and pray, study the Word, reflect upon my circumstances, and pray some more … and then I will be quiet and listen to God. I will trust Him to be in control, I will trust Him to make a way for me, and I will resist the temptation to get out ahead of Him. I will step out in faith and seize the opportunities given to me by the Lord.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Saul Is Rejected as King
15:1 Then Samuel said to Saul, “I was the one the Lord sent to anoint you as king over his people Israel. Now listen to what the Lord says. 15:2 Here is what the Lord of hosts says: ‘I carefully observed how the Amalekites opposed Israel along the way when Israel came up from Egypt. 15:3 So go now and strike down the Amalekites. Destroy everything that they have. Don’t spare them. Put them to death – man, woman, child, infant, ox, sheep, camel, and donkey alike.’”
15:4 So Saul assembled the army and mustered them at Telaim. There were 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah. 15:5 Saul proceeded to the city of Amalek, where he set an ambush in the wadi. 15:6 Saul said to the Kenites, “Go on and leave! Go down from among the Amalekites! Otherwise I will sweep you away with them! After all, you were kind to all the Israelites when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites withdrew from among the Amalekites.
15:7 Then Saul struck down the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, which is next to Egypt. 15:8 He captured King Agag of the Amalekites alive, but he executed all Agag’s people with the sword. 15:9 However, Saul and the army spared Agag, along with the best of the flock, the cattle, the fatlings, and the lambs, as well as everything else that was of value. They were not willing to slaughter them. But they did slaughter everything that was despised and worthless.
15:10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 15:11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned away from me and has not done what I told him to do.” Samuel became angry and he cried out to the Lord all that night.
15:12 Then Samuel got up early to meet Saul the next morning. But Samuel was informed, “Saul has gone to Carmel where he is setting up a monument for himself. Then Samuel left and went down to Gilgal.” 15:13 When Samuel came to him, Saul said to him, “May the Lord bless you! I have done what the Lord said.”
15:14 Samuel replied, “If that is the case, then what is this sound of sheep in my ears and the sound of cattle that I hear?” 15:15 Saul said, “They were brought from the Amalekites; the army spared the best of the flocks and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord our God. But everything else we slaughtered.”
15:16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Wait a minute! Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” Saul said to him, “Tell me.” 15:17 Samuel said, “Is it not true that when you were insignificant in your own eyes, you became head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord chose you as king over Israel. 15:18 The Lord sent you on a campaign saying, ‘Go and exterminate those sinful Amalekites! Fight against them until you have destroyed them.’ 15:19 Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? Instead you have greedily rushed upon the plunder! You have done what is wrong in the Lord’s estimation.”
15:20 Then Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the Lord! I went on the campaign the Lord sent me on. I brought back King Agag of the Amalekites after exterminating the Amalekites. 15:21 But the army took from the plunder some of the sheep and cattle – the best of what was to be slaughtered – to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”
15:22 Then Samuel said,
“Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as he does in obedience?
Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice;
paying attention is better than the fat of rams.
15:23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and presumption is like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”
15:24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have disobeyed what the Lord commanded and what you said as well. For I was afraid of the army, and I followed their wishes. 15:25 Now please forgive my sin! Go back with me so I can worship the Lord.”
15:26 Samuel said to Saul, “I will not go back with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel!”
15:27 When Samuel turned to leave, Saul grabbed the edge of his robe and it tore. 15:28 Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to one of your colleagues who is better than you! 15:29 The Preeminent One of Israel does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.” 15:30 Saul again replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel. Go back with me so I may worship the Lord your God.” 15:31 So Samuel followed Saul back, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
Samuel Puts Agag to Death
15:32 Then Samuel said, “Bring me King Agag of the Amalekites.” So Agag came to him trembling, thinking to himself, “Surely death is bitter!” 15:33 Samuel said, “Just as your sword left women childless, so your mother will be the most bereaved among women!” Then Samuel hacked Agag to pieces there in Gilgal before the Lord.
15:34 Then Samuel went to Ramah, while Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 15:35 Until the day he died Samuel did not see Saul again. Samuel did, however, mourn for Saul, but the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Lord, when You give an instruction You expect it to be obeyed to the letter, no modifications. May I never alter Your Word, for any reason.
The Lord God, through Samuel, gave Saul instructions to obliterate the Amalekites. Saul allowed his army to plunder the best and he also took their king prisoner rather than killing him on the battlefield.
When Samuel was informed of Saul’s disobedience by the Lord God he was upset and immediately sought Saul.
When confronted Saul made excuses but when Samuel shared God’s condemnation of him, and God’s intent to remove him as king, he confessed and begged Samuel to make an offering to God to turn away His wrath. Samuel refused as God had made a final decision.
Saul then asked Samuel to honor him as king and come to make a sacrifice to the Lord God, with no petition for God to alter His plan and Samuel did so. After they had worshiped the Lord Samuel commanded that the Amalekite king be brought to him and he killed him.
Samuel left Saul and though he was sad about and for him he was never with him again; this is perhaps explained by the text “... the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.”
The Lord God was always explicit in His instructions prior to battle, Saul would have had no reason to doubt that he was expected to gather no plunder, nor allow his soldiers to do so, nor to capture rather than kill the other king.
Saul was Israel’s first human king. The judges and prophets, who led them prior to him, had exercised considerable discipline during military conflicts. Why was Saul so weak as a leader in comparison to Moses and Joshua?
When the Lord God declared an end to Saul’s kingship there was no more purpose for Samuel to interact with him, indeed for him to do so might have given Saul false hope, and the people a wrong perspective of Saul’s standing with God.
When have you observed a religious leader behaving in an impetuous and Biblically-improper manner? How did that impact his witness in the community?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you may be making your own small “adjustments” to the Word of God in order to suit your purposes, out of fear of others, a desire to benefit certain others, or for direct personal gain.
Today I will confess and repent of my sin, however small it may seem to me. I will request and accept the Lord God’s forgiveness. I will purge that sin from my life and build an accountability system of prayer and seek a prayer-partner to keep me faithful.
Be Specific _________________________________________________
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.