1 Samuel 19:8-24; Psalm 26 "The Portrait Hall": The Musician in Track Shoes

God’s training of David is one of the most complete studies from the ancient world on leadership modeling. How did God get David ready for the life of leading His people? He took his through a series of difficult experiences that taught him to read people and situations that were critical for his later success. In this study we will see a King-elect musician learning to keep his track shoes handy and eyes open. God uses tough times to train us for great futures!

Seven character traits David learned to possess:

  1. Faithfulness away from the pressure – outside of the palace (19:8).
  2. Faithfulness under the pressure – inside the palace (19:9).
  3. A circumspect view (19:10 “pawtar: saw and bolted out”).
  4. Readiness to retreat when wise (19:10b “noos” to slip out and vanish”)
  5. Reliance on those who cared for him (19:11-17).
  6. Reliance on spiritual mentors (19:18-19).
  7. Reliance on the power of God to solve problems beyond his ability (19:20-24)

HOW? How did David learn to walk this way?

Key Principle: When we focus on God’s purpose and sovereign right to be pleased by us in all things, most problems slip away quickly!

Psalm 26- Seven things David asked God to do:

  1. Vindicate (26:1- shawphat: act as judge). David set the standard as what God thought!
  2. Examine (26:2- baw-khan: examine to determine if really gold). David allowed God to search his real intentions and their value!
  3. Try (26:2b- nawsaw (place in initial assaying value before smelting). David allowed God to establish his priorities in life!
  4. Test (26:2b- tsawraph (to melt with heat to discern purity of). David allowed God to see each facet of the decision making to be sure the ends weren’t justifying the means.
  5. Do not take away soul ..or life! David saw his life as not completed in service of his king and pleaded for more time to live this life and not have his breath “snatched away”!
  6. Redeem me (pawdaw: an admission of guilt and term requesting redemption by paying ransom) David knew not all of his life was without sin, and he asked God to pay what he could not!
  7. Be gracious to me (26:11b- knawnan: to sit as beggar and ask for the undeserved morsel that is so needed). David had no pride before God!

Look at the prerequisite character to ask God for His Divine favor:

  1. walk with integrity (26:1- tome: firm and upright). David walked straight in his life before God and others.
  2. trust without wavering (26:1b- mawad: tottering or shaking). David truly walked as through what God said was true, and he placed all his weight on it!
  3. ever conscious of God’s lovingkindness (26:3- eye on chesed). David’s focus was not on his troubles, but on God’s provision of all, including his troubles!
  4. walk in truth (26:3- walk b’emet). Walked “for sure” according to God’s revealed truth.
  5. not sit with deceitful men (26:4- yawshav show: not dwelling among those whose vision is of no eternal value, empty or desolate).
  6. not walk with pretenders (26:4- awlam: secret keepers: those who are deliberately concealing the truth of who they are).
  7. wash hands in innocence (26:6- from nawkaw: wine that is clear). I receive the blessings of God (food) with no tainted feeling.
  8. stand before the altar with thanks and rejoicing (26:7- mizbeach) stand before God’s place of forgiveness with a sense of thankfulness).
  9. hunger to be with God (26:8- mawown: habitation is the place of your comfort.)
  10. commit to continue in the path walked (26:11- same word for integrity but future tense).

When we focus on God’s purpose and sovereign right to be pleased by us in all things, most problems slip away quickly!

1 Samuel 18 "The Portrait Hall": The Downcast King

Saul was bitten with a snake whose venom was jealousy and deceit. His life, his power, even his decency drained from him. His family found him restless and uncaring. His kingdom started to ebb in their allegiance. Yet Saul resisted God and tried to find a way to fill himself apart from repentance. Do you know someone like Saul?

Jacob Marley (Scrooge’s partner in A Christmas Carol) wore a chain that he carried in the afterlife because of his cold heart. Saul forged a chain, link by link, that led to his own destruction. The first link was an insecurity that led him to jealousy.

Key Principle: The chain that begins with the forging of jealousy ends with self-destruction. Finding my identity in my Lord keeps me from forging other chains of bondage!

Pattern of Chain:

  1. Link One: (18:8a) “Very angry” (khawraw me’od) is literally “really burned” which denote the FEELING BASE of the first forged link.
  1. Link Two: (18:8) “displeased” (ra’ah ayin) is literally “gave him an evil eye toward” which meant the feelings led to a HEART DECEPTION. Verse 9 “suspicion” is another form of “EYED” where Saul began to put intentions in David’s heart.
  1.  Link Three: (18:10) “raved” (vayit’naveh; from nawvaw) is literally to prophesy as in the promise that Samuel made to Saul that he would be “changed” and SPEAK DIFFERENTLY (cp. 1 Sam 10:6).
  1. Link Four: (18:11) “hurled” (vayitool; from tool) is thrown with force, yanked out, etc. In each case it is an EXTREME REACTION that is counter to the normal behavior or character (as when the people tossed Jonah into the deep!).
  1. Link Five: (18:12) “afraid” (yawraw) is an IRRATIONAL FEAR THAT CONFUSES OFFENSIVE BEHAVIOR WITH DEFENSIVENESS (considering Saul was the spear “toss-er” and David the “toss-ee”.
  1. Link Six: (18:12b) “God departed” (sawr from soor) is the DISRUPTION OF THE FLOW OF GOD’S POWER AND BLESSING.
  1. Link Seven: (18:15) “dreaded” is a strange form of (goor) a word that sometimes means to sojourn, be hospitable, to CUB. It is AN ATTEMPT TO GAIN CONTROL by adding some strings into the other’s life (as in the daughter’s offered to wed in 18:16-24).
  1. Link Eight: (18:25) “planned to make…fall” is (khoshev l’hafil) literally to PLAN WAYS TO COLLAPSE OR ABANDON.
  1. Link Nine: (18:29) “more afraid…enemy continually” (awyav col hayomim) is TO BECOME CONTINUALLY HOSTILE TO.

“Rules” of Jealousy:

  1. Jealousy begins with a sense of insecurity about ourselves, and isn’t really about the other guy at all! (1 Samuel 15:26-31; 17:54-58; 18:1).
  1. Jealous and bitter people try desperately to control those around them (18:2).
  1. Jealous and bitter people test the loyalties of others, half hoping they will fail to validate they are no better than themselves (18:5). They miss the relationships that they could have (18:3-4)!
  1. Jealous and bitter people burn with anger when others get credit for things, even if it is deserved. They secretly feel smaller because others appear bigger – the comparison game (18:5-8a).
  1. Jealous and bitter people read their intentions into others hearts (18:8b).
  1. Jealous and bitter people see others through jaded eyes that do not behold the truth (18:9).
  1. Continuing to walk in jealousy and bitterness will bring a dark cloud over the countenance (18:10).
  1. The longer the bitter jealousy lasts in our hearts, the more likely we will lash out rashly at another with pent up anger (18:11).
  1. In the end, our struggle is with God’s purposes, which we believe to be unfair. Our fight is with HIM, not the other guy! (18:12-14).
  1. All the bitter jealousy does is deeply enslave those who allow its control to root within (18:15-16)
  1. It will lead you to become dishonest in your dealings with people (18:17-19).
  1. It will drive you to use others in your quest to end your pain (18:20-30).

Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled”. 

Remember, the chain that begins with the forging of jealousy ends with self-destruction. Finding my identity in my Lord keeps me from forging other chains of bondage!

1 Samuel 18:1-4; 19:1-7; 20:1-20 "The Portrait Hall": The Tie That Binds

Today’s portrait is of two young men, bound with a self made rope of friendship that kept them tied to each other. What worked in their relationship, will work in any that you would forge with another person!

Key Principle: Relationships require deliberate binding and maintenance based on specific Biblical principles!

Right after killing Goliath (18:1ff), David spoke with Saul about his family. Leaving the King, he spent some time with Jonathan.

From that moment, Jonathan built a friendship with David:

1)       Connection: Jonathan’s soul (nephesh) was “knit” together (kawshar: bind or tie) with David (18:1).

2)       Time: Saul wouldn’t let David return, so Jonathan had TIME with David (18:2).

3)       Purpose: Together, they “cut a covenant” or made a binding agreement of goals based on admiration and love (18:3).

4)       Sharing: Jonathan humbled the house of the king and offered David all of the symbols of his princely power (18:4).

5)       Protection: When Saul sought out of jealousy to kill David, Jonathan’s commitment to David became action, and he told David to hide himself (19:1-2).

6)       Defense: Jonathan reasoned with his father to logically defend his friend, and show Saul that he was overtaken in jealousy (19:3-5).

7)       Reconciliation: Jonathan recognized the opportunity to bind together a broken relationship between Saul and David, so he brought them together (19:6,7).

8)       Honesty: Jonathan and David could talk about any problem, and work toward a solution. When David was on the run, he pleaded with Jonathan from his hurt, “What have I done?” (20:1).

9)       Helpfulness: Jonathan believed that Saul would not act against David without first speaking to Jonathan about it (20:2). David was not so confident, and openly asked for Jonathan’s aid in sounding out Saul (20:3-16).

10)   Selflessness: Jonathan honored David and his needs above his own, even though he was a prince. He became selfless and honored what his friend needed.

Relationships require deliberate binding and maintenance based on specific Biblical principles!

1 Samuel 17 "The Portrait Hall": The Shepherd Warrior

David was “a man after God’s own heart” according to the Scripture. His life and troubles have become an inspirational primer for believers for generations. Did David have some quality none of the rest of us have? Was he made with a better connection with God? How can I have a walk like his?

Key Principle: You cannot see faith through fear, nor fear through faith. We must learn HOW to look at the circumstances in front of us!

The Background:

There is an immense statue at the end of the long hall of the Gelleria del Academia in Florence that holds one of the most remarkable and stunning sculptures ever produced. Michelangelo’s “David” stands nearly 18 feet tall, with eyes that are both compassionate and fierce. He holds a sling in his huge hands. It was right to sculpt him in immense proportion, for he was certainly one of the “giants” of the Bible. You stand with him in the presence of greatness. There are some things you should know of David though:

  1. The sculpture took four years to carve from the mass of marble, because the marble piece was flawed when it arrived from the quarry: It is an illustration, that although David was a giant among men, he was literally born with a flaw.
  1. He was the youngest of ten – eight boys and two girls – and likely born very late in Jesse’s life (cp. 1 Sam 17:12). I believe there is ample evidence from the Scripture that he was unplanned, perhaps unwanted, and certainly not highly regarded by his father. He grew up lonely!
  1. Despite his lonely background, God had great plans for this youth. Abraham’s story takes 14 chapters of the Bible, Joseph another 14 chapters, Elijah has but ten. David’s story captures 62 chapters of the text! There is not NT author that referred to a man of the Hebrew Scriptures in more detail, as David is mentioned 60 times!
  1. David possessed a special quality throughout his life. It was not a massive strength, rather it was a deep spiritual sensitivity toward God that ran throughout his life. Note Psalm 18:70-72. Look at the words! They remind us of some of the basic patterns that are developed in life that set a child on a path to please God. 1) a servant’s spirit; 2) faithful in small things; 3) gentle and caring; 4) able to be entrusted with greatness; 5) clean and developed heart for God; 6) skilled and experienced hands!

The Problem (17:1-3)

Eli died, his sons were killed in disobedience. Samuel was aged and his sons lacked the heart to lead the people for God. A king was chosen, but by now God had grown weary of Saul’s instability. Saul had been told of the end of his kingdom (1 Sam. 15:27-28) and the words burned his ears.

When the leader (Saul) was spiritually unstable, the enemy attacked the flock, entering the place of their fruitfulness and taking it away (17:1). The people went out to defend their land, and the sides were drawn (17:2-3).

The Challenge (17:4-39)

 1. The enemy possessed a terrifying weapon (17:4-11).

  • He was in stature over 9 feet tall (stature seemed to impress the people of the time, see the choosing of Saul (1 Sam. 9:2) and with Eliab ben Jesse (1 Sam. 16:6). Since they were clearly geared to be impressed by this, the enemy used it! (17:4).
  • The weapon was well defended and impenetrable – his coat weighed about 125 lbs.- probably David’s total weight! (17:5).
  • He was equipped with protection of the vulnerable areas of his legs, and he possessed two marvelous offensive weapons: a javelin perched on his back and a huge weighted spear (17:6-7).
  • He had a shield bearer that walked before him into battle to carry his shield (17:8).
  • His pride and self assured nature showed in his challenge: “Beat me and we will all serve Saul!” (17:9-11).

 2. Israel stood in dismay for forty days (17:12-31).

 3. God provided encouragement and rescue from an unlikely source. David was not sent to the battle to fight, but to supply his brothers and bring back news (17:12-15).

It is worth stopping here to ask a question: “Had God forgotten David?” Is God aware of where you are and when He will use you? YES, Do the work of a servant and God will call on you at the time of His choosing! Note Isaiah 49:15, “Can a mother forget her nursing infant and not care? They may forget, but I will not! You are inscribed on my palm and your ways, your defense, your care, it is ever in front of Me.” After David was anointed he want back to the FLOCK (1 Sam 16:19). We would have been getting fitted for a crown or getting new business cards, KING ELECT.

  1. The time grew long and there was a need for provisions (17:16-20).

David took the five gallon sack of grain and ten loaves and ten cuts of cheese to the men as instructed. Before he left, he made sure the sheep were tended to, as he met his responsibilities.

  • David came and observed the situation and questioned what he saw (17:21-31).
  1. David is the only one on the scene who reminds the people that God is their God (26).
  2. David suffered the insults of the older brother Eliab, and David did not allow himself to be tied up in the war of words (28,29).

 3. David offered help (17:32-39).

  • David offered but was dismissed as an incapable youth (17:32-33).
  • David responds with stories of what God did through him in the past (17:34-37).

It is worth noting at this point that David’s courage to stand in this incredible moment of testing was forged in his time with the sheep! He was out of sight in solitude, obscurity, monotony, reality and was carefully learning the lessons of becoming a great warrior and king! God uses the mundane to teach the profound lesson. Don’t kick against the “normal” day. DAVID LEARNED TO BE HEROIC WHEN NO ONE ELSE WAS WATCHING!

  • Saul tried to put his armor on David (something God would do later when he made David king of Israel) but David could not wear it (17:38-39). Note here that we need our own lessons in our walk with God. We cannot wear another’s fitted protection.

The Deliverance (17:40-54)

Remember, we cannot see faith through fear, nor fear through faith. We must learn HOW to look at the circumstances in front of us!

A couple observations:

  1. God wants us to get ready to be used in incredible and surprising ways – Be ready!
  2. God’s solutions are often overlooked, but are usually simply and require submission to Him and sensitivity to His leading!
  3. God teaches the profound through the ordinary and often is doing His greatest work in us when we are utterly unaware of the work. David learned to KING IT with the sheep, and awaited 12 years between his anointing and coronation.
  4. Things done to bring a greater testimony to the Lord will receive His special aid and boost! Things done to help us will perish! (17:45-47).

1 Samuel 16:14-23 "The Portrait Hall": High Contrast Kings

Can you tell if someone is walking with God? The truth is, yes! There is a marked difference in many areas of the life of an obedient believer from someone who is not. The hard ones to tell the difference in are the unbelievers and those who know God, but aren’t following Him. Today we will look at a “high contrast” portrait of two men.

Key Principle: The heart shows on the face and in the life. Some think they can hide in hypocrisy but, their disobedience will show!

How Disobedience Shows Itself:

  1. Loss of empowering to do God-given tasks – a deep sense of going through the motions (16:14a).
  2. Opening the door to demonic attacks that will tear you up (16:14b; James 1:13-15, 3:7-8; 1 Peter 5:8). Does God cause the attack? No, but ultimately the one in charge gets the blame (as in Pres. Bush and Abu Ghraib prison).
  3. Change in countenance – others CAN see it. (16:15a).
  4. Open to unbiblical solutions – pragmatic, temporary and sometimes anesthetizing (16:15b-17).

How Obedience Shows Itself:

  1. Discipline to Learn and Grow (16:18a).
  2. Reputation (Testimony) of Character and Stability (16:18b).
  3. Accomplished at Communication – Remember, God is relational; damaged emotionally are often very guarded (16:18b).
  4. Shows in Countenance (16:18b).
  5. Empowered to accomplish what God has called you to do (16:18b; John 15:7-11).
  6. Under authority – takes direction (16:19-20).
  7. Likeability – affable (16:21a).
  8. Often advanced to position of Likeability (16:22).
  9. Effective and helpful (16:23).

Remember, the heart shows on the face and in the life. Obedience in your heart to God makes an impression on your face and life that others will notice!

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 "The Portrait Hall": The Stubborn Prophet

Facing the future can be exciting, intimidating and even scary. Our portrait this morning displays an aging prophet that was upset with what God was allowing in his world. He was not ready to give up the “good ole days” for the future that God was opening. God preserved the record of this struggle, because He knew we would need it!

Key Principle: Following God’s direction means being able to move past our desires to fulfill His desires.

What must we do to move on? Eight decisions we must make:

  1. Take the time to reflect on the experiences of the past, recognizing the benefits of learning through them. God loves a healthy memory! (1 Sam. 15:24-35a; Dt. 6:5-12).

Samuel saw Saul understand all too late that he was walking in disobedience (15:24-25). Truth: God only offered a limited number of chances to obey, and Saul’s insistence on self will caused God to withdraw blessing permanently. Because God saves people does not mean that He doesn’t withdraw blessing from defiant believers!

Though Saul begged, Samuel knew that God was not going to change the penalty (15:26-29). Truth: Mature believers know that God is sovereign and has the right to rule. They may want to see unlimited chances, but God reserves the right to be judge.

Samuel still had a broken heart over Saul, so he went to help him worship and then complete his appointed job and kill Agag (15:30-33). Truth: Even the most mature believers lament what could have been for their disobedient friends and family members. We try to make the best of their lives, but their rebellion limits the options. When possible, we should love and serve them to the best of our abilities.

Samuel couldn’t shake the disappointment and grieved (awbal: deep and sore lamentation) over God’s change from Saul to another (15:34-35). Truth: We cling to memories instead of facing what God wants to do and move forward. We find it hard to move on to what God calls us to because we feel more comfortable with the past. God wants us to trust Him as we move forward.

  1. Accept the fact that some failures occurred, and know that God has a better view of all that happened (1 Sam. 15:35b).

God regretted making Saul king (15:35b).  Truth: God understands that we don’t understand how each piece of the puzzle of our lives fit together. The revelation of regret was designed as part of Samuel’s lesson. God wanted to allow Samuel the opportunity to not take undue responsibility in the tragedy.

  1. Listen to God’s direction for the next step, and get past the past. Remember the importance of complete obedience in God’s work (1 Sam. 16:1).

God spoke words that penetrated Samuel and asked him if he was ready to move on and give up his grieving. God told Samuel to get himself together and go to anoint the son of Jesse (16:1). Truth: There comes a time when delay is nothing more than disobedience and rebellion. We need to be prepared to move on to our next step with God.

  1. Be realistic of the pitfalls of your next plan, and talk constantly to the Lord about the plans (1 Sam. 16:2-3).

Samuel asks, “How can I? If Saul hears, he will kill me!” The Lord said, bring an animal and tell people you come to offer a sacrifice (16:2). God said, “Invite Jesse and I will tell you what to do next.” (16:3). Truth: Follow God and He will show you ways to move around any obstacle that may come up.

  1. Remember, your success comes from the Lord, not from your plans. It is great to plan, but obedience to God’s direction is the key (1 Sam. 16:4-5). You cannot anticipate everything, but God can!

Samuel obeyed and went to Bethlehem. On his way in an elder asked if he came in peace. He said he came to sacrifice and invited the man along with Jesse and his family (16:4-5). Truth: When you follow the Lord’s direction, you allow Him to show you provision at a whole new level!

  1. Don’t fall back into the same traps as you did in the past, rather, celebrate the assurance that comes from a walk with God and obedience! (1 Sam. 16:6-7).

When Samuel saw the oldest of Jesse’s sons, he thought this was the right one. The Lord corrected him and reminded him that outward appearance was not what God saw (16:6-7). Truth: God often takes us through multiple lessons to cover our blind spots!

  1. Don’t forget – God measures things on a different scale. “Important” is what God says it is. His vision is what is important! (1 Sam. 16:7b-10).

Each son was brought by, and each time God indicated to Samuel these were not the choice. (16:8-10). Truth: When we see the blind spots that God points out, we can follow His direction more carefully, and the blessing will be greater.

  1. Observe – When God chooses a man, God provides the empowering to accomplish His will.

Samuel asked, “Is this all of your family?” Jesse replied, “No, one is tending the sheep.” Samuel told them to send for him. When David came in, God told Samuel to anoint David. From that time the Spirit came on David, and Samuel went back to Ramah (16:11-13). Truth: Where God guides, God provides!

Remember, following God’s direction means being able to move past our desires to fulfill His desires.

1 Samuel 15 "The Portrait Hall": The Stammering King and the Warrior Prophet

Our disobedience has consequences that go farther than even we can imagine. We wrestle to follow God and His Word, but literally thousands can be affected by each step of obedience or disobedience. Today we will see a clear example of this sobering truth.

Key Principle: God wants to bless us and those around us, but we give away that blessing when we disobey and we become a tool of God’s enemy.

We hear a lot these days about options. An option is “the act of choosing; choice; the freedom to choose” (Webster’s New Dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus: published by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN., copyright 1984; pg. 499).

  • If I have an extensive educational background and varied work experience, my career options may be more numerous than they would be otherwise. Greater preparation means greater opportunity and varied choices.
  • If I go to purchase a new car, I will have a wide range of options to choose from. I can choose between numerous makes and models, engine sizes and creature comforts. I can choose to drive home in a basic car, or a top of the line luxury car. My options are limited only by my ability to fork over the money to pay for my choices.
  • Life is full of choices. We make an innumerable amount of decisions every day. Not all of them are necessarily life-changing, but choices nonetheless. However, there are many things in life that should not be considered optional. For instance, I can choose not to eat any food for the next three months; but if I want to remain alive, not eating over an extended period of time is not really an option.
  • By the same token, I can choose not to pay any more taxes; but if I value my good name and my personal freedom, not paying taxes isn’t an option that I can afford. Some things in life are simply not optional.
  • Too often in our world, and especially here in the United States, we tend to view almost everything as optional—an either/or situation. But as just stated, there are some things in life that are not optional. Our obedience to God should not be one of those things. Oh, certainly we can choose not to obey God; but that is only an option if one doesn’t place much importance on the will of God, His blessings, and closeness with Him.
  • I want to consider a man today that lived as though obeying God was optional. That attitude, and the rebellion behind it, was his downfall. The man of whom I wish to speak was the first king of Israel—Saul. We will see in the course of this message, not only the disastrous results of Saul’s lack of obedience, but also some pitfalls for we, as Christians, to avoid.

Three Admonitions will help to keep you where you belong:

Admonition #1: Choose a side.

God has a plan that He is working. Failure to follow His Word puts us on the wrong side of the battle, taking cues from the enemy and not fighting for God’s purposes (15:1-7).

God made it clear it was His Word that was at issue:

Samuel reminded Saul that God used him to choose Saul, and Saul must now continue to hear God’s voice through Samuel (15:1). He distinguished between opinion and God’s truth. This wasn’t his idea, it was what the Word of God was, and must be obeyed.

The Word was not new, but a reminder to obey a previously given command.

Samuel said, “The Lord said He wants the Amalekites punished for previous sin, and you must take My people to do the work – eliminating entirely the tribe and all their animals. (15:2-3). God spoke previously twice through Moses and commanded the people to do this because of the unprovoked attack on Israel in the Wilderness (Ex.17:8-16). Later, God commanded Israel to remember this attack when they got established in the land and destroy all the Amalekites (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). This call from Samuel was a reminder of previously commanded obedience! It was a specific and measurable call to obedience.

Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire. Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened. Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him. That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest. His faithful friend understood, for that’s exactly what he did. Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left. But he didn’t move. He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word. With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”

Our Daily Bread.

Saul began to obey, and appears to completely understand the command.

Saul called together and set the troops in ranks. He laid siege to the city and set an ambush in the valley. He warned the Kenite tribes to leave the area and not get caught in the fighting, as they were not under the curse of God. He then attacked and razed the tent city of the tribe. Saul understood the history and call of Samuel’s instruction (15:4-7).

Admonition #2: Look through God’s eyes.

Without God’s view of the battle, we can be pleased with our performance while God is not.

Saul likely had no concept of the total picture of God’s agenda, nor cost of his disobedience.

Saul killed the people as instructed, but did not kill Agag the tribal chief, nor the best of his animals (15:8). Little did Saul know that the enemy of the people of God would use this time to revive the battle between God and Satan in the people. Agag evidently used the time in captivity to procreate and leave a line on the earth that would come back to haunt Israel in the future (Esther 3:1). The delayed obedience nearly cost Israel elimination in the end (15:8-9).

Radio personality Paul Harvey tells the story of how an Eskimo kills a wolf. The account is grisly, yet it offers fresh insight into the consuming, self-destructive nature of sin. “First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blade in the arctic night. So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue, nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his OWN warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more—until the dawn finds him dead in the snow!” It is a fearful thing that people can be “consumed by their own lusts.” Only God’s grace keeps us from the wolf’s fate. Chris T. Zwingelberg.

Saul was pretty satisfied with himself, but never stopped to ask if God was happy with him!

Saul did not return directly to Gilgal to see Samuel, but went to Mt. Carmel to erect a monument to his victory before returning to Samuel. The night before Saul returned, the Lord spoke to Samuel and said, “Saul is finished!” Samuel cried through the night to the Lord. (15:10-12).

Denying one’s sin will not change the facts. Even after two millennia, man still operates on the mistaken idea that if he denies something long enough, it will somehow change the obvious. An Indy 500 race car driver illustrates this idea as follows: “You don’t go look at where it happened,” said Scott Goodyear, who starts 33rd [speaking of race-car drivers who have been killed in crashes at the Indianapolis 500]. “You don’t watch the films of it on television. You don’t deal with it. You pretend it never happened.” The Speedway operation itself encourages this approach. As soon as the track closes the day of an accident, a crew heads out to paint over the spot where the car hit the wall. Through the years, a driver has never been pronounced dead at the racetrack. A trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Racing Museum, located inside the 2.5-mile oval, has no memorial to the 40 drivers who have lost their lives here. Nowhere is there even a mention. Source Unknown.

Admonition #3: Take responsibility or forgo God’s blessing.

God’s judgment is a reflection of the desire we truly have in our lives. We walk without Him, so He withdraws. We ignore His commands, so He removes the corresponding blessings.

When confronted, Saul took no responsibility and stepped into the ‘third person’.

Saul came to Samuel and said, “I did what God commanded!” Samuel said, “If that’s true, why do I hear all these new sheep bleating?” Saul replied, “The people did this for your God!” (15:13-15).

God made clear that He wanted Saul to be blessed with the leadership role.

Samuel then shared God’s view of the work. “Didn’t I raise you up to be King? Didn’t I send you to do something for Me and tell you exactly what I wanted done? Why didn’t you do exactly what I said? (15:16-19). It is never right to do wrong in order to do right. When God says something, that’s exactly what He means.

God didn’t cut Saul from the throne, Saul gave it away.

Saul replied, “I did what you said, I went on the mission and really did a lot of what you said. I brought back the king, and the people brought you some of the animals so you could sacrifice them. Samuel replied: “God wants obedience, not these sacrifices. Your rebellion is as bad a witchcraft, and God has set your rule aside! Saul answered, “I am wrong, I fell to the pressure of the people and sinned! (15:20-24).

In Discipleship Journal, Don McCullough wrote: “John Killinger tells about the manager of a minor league baseball team who was so disgusted with his center fielder’s performance that he ordered him to the dugout and assumed the position himself. The first ball that came into center field took a bad hop and hit the manager in the mouth. The next one was a high fly ball, which he lost in the glare of the sun—until it bounced off his forehead. The third was a hard line drive that he charged with outstretched arms; unfortunately, it flew between his hands and smacked his eye. Furious, he ran back to the dugout, grabbed the center fielder by the uniform, and shouted. ’You idiot! You’ve got center field so messed up that even I can’t do a thing with it!’” (Don McCullough, Discipleship Journal).

How can I be like the one who is better (15:28) and gain the blessing? (cp. Psalm 40:6-10)

  1. Open my ears!
  2. Use my hands!
  3. Fill my heart!
  4. Open my mouth!

    Remember, we give away that blessing when we disobey and we become a tool of God’s enemy.

1 Samuel 14:24-52 "The Portrait Hall": The King with a Big Mouth

Rash promises can get us in trouble! Today we will carefully dissect the anatomy of a mistake and see what can be done to keep us from destroying God’s intended blessings in our lives!

Key Principle: How we think determines what we accomplish. God tells us both WHAT to think like and HOW to accomplish this thinking!

It was God’s intention to bless Israel with the return of control to all the land (cp. 14:23;47). Saul’s incompetence as a king showed he had become a king ”like the other nations” (1 Sam. 8:5). He had three kinds of thinking that are often the cause of our own problems today:

Self-centered thinking:

Saul took personally the infringement of the Philistine army and made the problems of the Kingdom all about him (14:24). The heart of this thinking is not calling upon the Lord for direction, but satisfying some personal need for appeasement, or caring for a personal lust to have attention, etc. James 4:1-10 addresses the heart of the problem. Other person centered thinking must be cultivated:

  1. We feel a need that is left unsatisfied and quickly believe we can fulfill the need by taking what we want from someone else, but only the Lord can fill us. Our self centered way causes death, struggle and pain (4:2a).
  2. We don’t have some of our needs met because we haven’t sought the Lord to meet them and discussed the needs with Him (4:2b).
  3. Sometimes we go through the motions of asking, but only do so for our own selfish reasons – trying to get from God what is not good for us to have (4:3).
  4. We must recalibrate our desires from that which the world offers to satisfy us, for it is directly opposite what God wants us to have (4:4).
  5. God will not share a place in your desires with other gods of your mind. Either we work from the softness of submission, or from the hardness of self sufficiency (4:5).
  6. God offers His special undeserved favor to those who think of others first, and place the needs of others above their felt needs. From that experience of imitating Him, we please Him (4:6; cp. Phil. 2). How? By making three choices:
  • We must deliberately first choose to place ourselves and our desires under the God’s authority in our lives (submit is Gr. ‘upo-tasso: to rank beneath, literally “under” + “to arrange” – James 4:7a).
  • A second choice must also be made – to resist (anti-histaymee: to take my stand against) in a blocked stance against the enemy, and he will not continue to press, but will flee (4:7b).
  • A third choice must also be made. We must choose to draw near (engidzo: to approach) to God by focusing on Him, setting aside sin and self, and with full focus, set to please, praise and know Him! It will take persistence and serious pursuit. It will produce a humble spirit (humble: tapino’o from tapinos- to be low like brush to the ground (James 4:8-10).

Untempered (Unbiblical) thinking:

Saul bound his troops to a “death curse” if they ate, making it difficult to accomplish the total victory over the Philistine armies (14:25-26). This is a direct violation of the “Law of the Balances” in Leviticus 19:16-18, an “eye for an eye”.

Limited thinking:

Jonathan hadn’t heard the command of his father, and there was no provision for special circumstances like that. What about the wounded? Saul thought only of his immediate situation and not the ramifications of what he commanded (14:27). This led to an exhausted army unable to complete the job they were given (14:28-31). We may think we know what is best, but without counsel, careful deliberation and thorough communication, we may make a blunder that will cause God’s intended victory to be elusive!

How we think determines what we accomplish. God tells us both WHAT to think like and HOW to accomplish this thinking!

1 Samuel 13:15-14:23 "The Portrait Hall": The Tiny Army

We live in a time that despises the small things! Victory is not always found in the hands of the biggest group. Sometimes God decides to use the small, the insignificant, to challenge and defeat the big. God doesn’t need size to create strength and impact. He knows how to use the small!

Key Principle: God can do great things through few people and small resources.

What three ingredients were required to bring about victory? (13:15-22)

  1. It would require inordinate Courage: The force was small comparative to the size of the opposition (13:15 cp. 13:5).
  2. The setting required total Commitment: The opposition was near but separated by deep valleys. One side had to commit to raise the army of the other (13:16).
  3. The situation forced a Critical Response: The enemy launched a three pronged attack to cut off the major routes in the country and starve out the army of Saul (13:17-18). Cutting off the supply lines they also removed any ability to make weapons in Israel. This meant the situation was becoming more grave with each day. Israelites could not fight well in close quarters with the enemy (they were slingers and archers but not armed infantry – 13:19-22).

How did victory come about? (14:1-15)

  1. Planning (Reconnaissance): Jonathan took his loyal guard and attempted to spy and perhaps attack a small outpost near to Gibeah, but he did not inform his father (14:1). Saul seemed paralyzed in consultation (14:2-3). Jonathan had to climb down and scale up to the plateau of the fortified garrison (14:4-5).
  1. Proving: Jonathan told his guard, “Let’s go to them and see if God will choose to defeat them through us” and his guard agreed (14:6-7). Jonathan said, “We’ll go and be seen. If they say they will come to us, we will do nothing. If they tell us to come to them (they will think we are too close to hurt them) and we will see God defeat them, and they did (14:8-12).
  1. Performing: Jonathan went in confidence and took them on, defeating twenty or so men and chasing them (14:13-14). God sent a panic to disrupt the Philistines and enforce the tiny attack (14:15).

What weaknesses were exposed in the victory? (14:16-23)

  1. Scattering of the unfaithful: Israel’s men were also scared and some left Saul’s side, forcing him to recount the number left and discover Jonathan’s departure (14:16-17).
  2. Misjudgment of the misguided: Saul told the priest to bring the Ark, but when the confusion ensued, he decided to leave his time listening to the Lord and move with haste for military advantage (14:18-19).
  3. Confusion of the Enemy: Saul arrived to see the Philistines battling internally for control, and Israelites that had sided with Philistine protection came to the side of Saul. The Lord gave Saul’s men victory in the hill country (14:20-23).

1 Samuel 13:1-14 "The Portrait Hall": The King in Priestly Robes

It is easy to forget what God tells us to do when what seems to work is abundantly clear. Saul saw what needed to be done and did it… no matter that God had specifically told him what He wanted done. The cost was forfeiting a greater blessing and use in the hands of God! Today we will discover once again the importance of believing and obeying God. There are career choices that can change life for better or worse. There are academic pursuits that are appealing but the sacrifice of time may be the price to pay. Perhaps the most frustrating dilemma of all is the desire to make something happen now, when God seems to be saying wait.

Key Principle: One of the greatest tests we face in life is the temptation to make things happen according to our desire and schedule.

Four Truths about stepping out without God’s enabling (13:1-7):

1)      IMPOSED:  Sometimes we are moved by a false deadline: Saul was new to his role and had little experience (13:1). Yet, Saul had experienced God’s move in his heart enabling him to be victorious (11:6 and 11:13); and was warned that when he ascended to the throne to wait on the Lord (12:14; 12:21). This time he was NOT moved, but felt he needed to act.

2)      COMPLEX: Without God’s direction, we are self-called saviors: Saul received no prompting by God, but he wanted to fix a problem on his own timing with his own ability. Note: chose “for himself” three thousand. (13:2).

3)       LONELY: Because we do it on our own, we must be self-enabled and self powered: He stepped out and executed a plan without a hint of consulting the Lord on the problem (13:3).

4)       SHARED: We aren’t the only ones that deal with our rashness, and it is unfair: His actions forced everyone around him into a bind of dealing with the implications of his rashness. 1) They were forced to follow him because of the situation! We open the door to the enemy’s work in the lives of all of those around us: The enemy responded with great force (13:5). 2) We force others off their obedience strides to the Lord! The people became oppressed (nawgas: used of taskmasters in Egypt) when the Philistines responded, and they fled their homes and fields. Though called of God to occupy the land, they left what God told them. 3) We push some from where they were and others from a place of peace inside (13:4-7).

NEXT – Stepping out without a call leads to a trail of “touchstones of disobedience” (13:8-12):

1)       We grow more impatient with the response of God and His Word, thinking we must become more proactive (13:8a).

2)       We start looking at the mounting problems and decide God will not act if we don’t (13:8b).

3)       We do God’s will our way, an outward show of religious faith without an inner peace that we are truly seeking Him (13:9).

4)       Because of God’s grace, He sends truth to remind us of the hollow emptiness inside (13:10).

5)       We make plausible excuses for our disobedience:

  • False Need Excuse: Things were falling apart and someone had to act, so I did! (13:11a).
  • God’s Obliviousness Excuse: God (or those whom He was working through) wasn’t getting it together fast enough, so I had to push things along (13:11b).
  • Exterior Pressures Excuse: The dangers had increased and it looked as though we were stuck without God’s protection in the situation (13:11b-12a).
  • “Best I could do” Excuse: I needed the Lord’s blessing on my plan, so I asked Him to work after I made the situation what it needed to be! (13:12b).

Five REFLECTIVE WARNINGS concerning our stepping out (13:13-14):

1)       It is foolish (i.e. self reliant and without God – 13:13a).

2)       It is disobedient to the commands of the Lord that you were fully aware of (13:13b).

3)       It costs you some of the key future blessings He designed for you (13:13b-14a).

4)       It saddens and disappoint God, Who wants someone who is faithful to rely on the relationship with Him (13:14b).

5)       It pulls blessing from us to another, who will fall on their relationship with Him (13:14b).

One of the greatest tests we face in life is the temptation to make things happen according to our desire and schedule. When we do, we cast aside leaning on the Lord for direction and enabling.