This was put together just after I lost my wife, and a personal note is left at p 4
The events of the previous two chapters took place within the first year of Saul's reign. Sadly, this chapter shows us that Saul only had one good year of reign before he became lifted up with his own self, and rebelled against the Lord. He started out with 2,000 men following him (and 1,000 with Jonathan, his son). Saul then got impatient, and offered the sacrifice himself that he was to wait for Samuel. The chapter ends with Saul only having 600 men following him, and they had no weapons, for their enemy had subdued them.
According to Samuel's warning, the people were consumed before their enemies. We are not told where they departed from the Lord; we are only given the results.
Saul chose 3000 men of the victorious army of 11:8-11. 2000 he kept around himself, and 1000 he sent with his son Jonathan. He sent the rest home, an action that does not make much sense. Why did he not send them all home, or why did he not keep them all the Philistines were breathing down his neck, and he needed every hand to confront them. It seems that Saul kept the 2000 as personal body guards, while giving his son 1000 guards.
V. 3, Jonathan smote the garrison that was in Geba. Then v. 4, Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. Did Saul make a league with the Philistines, which they had been forbidden to do; and then they broke the agreement when Jonathan attacked Geba? Israel did something to cause the Philistines to hold them in abomination. Furthermore, Israel had forsaken the Lord in some manner in this chapter.
The ark of God was located at Geba, along with the garrison of Philistines, 10:5.
Note: God's people must keep their word even to the pagans. If an Israelite cannot be trusted, who can? Sadly, I have found not a few times when the unsaved were more trustworthy than Christians.
V. 3, Jonathan makes a successful raid against the garrison, and Saul issues a call to arms. And the Philistines heard of it that is, the defeat of the garrison; this statement implies that there had been an agreement between Saul and the Philistines that Saul broke by sending Jonathan against the garrison.
Jonathan slew the Philistines, but Saul took the credit. Remember when David did the same thing, David got the credit. Saul had better watch out, for he, nor anyone else, can survive on someone else's accomplishments.
Based upon Jonathan's success, Saul attempts to regather the victorious army he had in chapter 11. If he was going to move against the Philistines, he should have done it fresh off the victory against the Ammonites, and after Samuel's message. But the army was sent home, and now it returns with really no heart to fight. Did he send them home so he could make a big splash against the garrison without their help?
No doubt based upon his past victory, Saul moved against the Philistines without first checking with the Lord. And now the Philistines came out in force like a swarm of "supper bees." Because Saul did not check with the Lord, his newly called up army has no heart for battle against such a strong foe.
1 Samuel 8:20, the people wanted a king to go before them into battle, despite the fact that the Lord, under the leadership of Samuel, had given the victory over the Philistines, 7:14. And now a battle with the Philistines is under way, and they have the king they cried out for, yet they hide themselves in every place they can find, 13:6. Some even fled as far as they could from the danger, to the land of Gilead, where the previous victory had been won over the Ammonites.
"Never were the people of Israel so faint-hearted, so sneaking, so very cowardly, as they were now. Never were the people of Israel so faint-hearted, so sneaking, so very cowardly, as they were now." (MH) They had forsaken the Lord as their King, and now their rightful King has forsaken them.
V. 7, and those who followed Saul did so with fear and trembling. However, as we look back, as the people went to battle under the Judges and at the Lord's command, they did so with great confidence.
Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
Certainly, the enemy had a great army, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and Israel was forbidden to have either. But Israel had the Lord God Almighty.
We are not really told where Israel sinned, but we do know from Leviticus 26:15ff., that there was serious sin among them, or they would not have been so fearful of the enemy. I do not think the sin at this point was over Saul, for they had had a great victory under him.
How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up? (Deut. 32:30.)
Saul waited in Gilgal where Samuel had told him to wait. While he was there for seven days, the people fled from him in fear.
V. 8, Samuel had told Saul to wait at Gilgal, and he would come and make the sacrifice, and then tell Saul what he was to do, 10:8. But when Samuel did not show as soon as Saul thought he should, Saul offered the sacrificed. And of course, then Samuel showed up. (Bro Weaver was here in the spring of 2000. Though my wife could not make it to a dinner where he was, I went. I was not there right on time, so Bro Weaver told the folks [Cosby's] that if they would sit down and start eating, I would show up. Sure enough, as soon as they prayed over the meal, I showed up.)
V. 8, the prophet not being there, the people fled, and Saul was fearful. It seems that the people looked to Samuel to assure them of victory they had no confidence in their new king, nor did they have confidence in the Lord.
Note, how many people look to the preacher for their spiritual strength rather than to the Lord through his word and prayer? How many people look to appearances to judge actions? It appeared that the Lord had forsaken them, though the appointed time was not up (7 days).
Though the time appointed had not yet expired, events did not say the Lord was with them: the people scattered, and the enemy was on the move against him. So Saul took matters into his own hands. He made the offering instead of waiting for Samuel.
V. 9, apparently, Saul was going to engage the Philistines without Samuel's advice as to what he should do. Saul was self-sufficient. He may have remembered his first battle and how easy the victory was, so he did not need Samuel now.
He did not send to Samuel to see what Samuel's mind might be nor to see why he was not here yet.
V. 10, of course, he no sooner did what he had been told to wait on Samuel to do than Samuel showed up. Saul tried to act as though everything was in order.
Note how "hardened" Saul was he proceeded as though he did nothing wrong; or he may have indifferent about the whole matter, seeing nothing wrong with what he did. In fact, he seemed to boast of what he had done, and that he no longer needed Samuel.
V. 11, when he met Samuel, Samuel said, "What have you done?"
Saul started giving reasons why he went ahead of the appointed time.
A) I saw the people scattered from me.
The people's fault.
Note the use of worldly means that appeal to the flesh to keep the crowds following a particular man that is, keep the attendance up. "The end justifies the means," but Samuel would not hear of it.
B) Samuel did not show up when Saul thought he should.
C) The Philistines were gathering against him.
The enemy's fault.
One can find many reasons for not waiting on the Lord or for not obeying the word of the Lord, but none of them will hold water.
V. 12, Saul said he feared that because he had not prayed to the Lord that the Philistines would be victorious. Though he knew the word of the Lord told him to wait, he forced himself to disobey the Lord.
Note: Saul professed "piety." The people, no doubt, thought what a great man he was, refusing to go against the Philistines without first praying and sacrificing. His outward appearance was above reproach, for the people probably did not know what Samuel had told him wait.
Hypocrites lay a great stress upon the external performances of religion, thinking thereby to excuse their neglect of the weightier matters of the law. (MH)
Note: Saul blamed the Lord for the distress, and the distress caused him to disobey the Lord Adam said, "It is the woman you gave me, Lord." The Lord, or Samuel, did not move quick enough, so I had to take action."
V. 12, I forced myself. He said he had to force himself to sin. If he had admitted his sin, God would have forgiven him as he did David with his neighbour's wife. Sin blinds one to the facts, or sin leads one to excuse his actions.
Note: Saul said, "I knew better, but circumstances forced me to disobey the word of the Lord." How many people justify their wrong action or lack of action according to the word of God on circumstances, as though circumstances change God's word or mind.
Note: Saul's sin was not in making the offering because David made many of them. The sin was not waiting on the Lord, as Samuel had instructed.
Saul did the same thing after the victory over Amalek he failed to obey the Lord, and Samuel told him,
And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (1 Sam. 15:22.)
I have found that a common malady among people, me included, is that we justify our lack of obedience by our "sacrifice" of time or money.
Most often God waits until the last minute to do what he has said he would do. Usually, we do like Saul, and go ahead without waiting on God. Of course, Christ took our punishment on the cross for this sin instead of having to pay as Saul did, although impatience will still cost us God's blessings.
We are strange people. In everything else that God might tell us to do, we put it off until the very last minute many times we put it off until God deals with us to where we must move. Except when he wants us to wait on him. Then we move right out. Man is bound and detirmined to do just the opposite of what the Lord requires of him.
This is sad here within two short years, Saul had turnned from God, and now he spends 38 more years without the power of God upon him or upon his kingdom. He should have stayed in the field.
Noitce in this illustration how many preachers go to a church, and instead of taking their time and letting God work, they get in a hurry, and move on because they do not see God work as they think he should. They see the people scatter while waiting on God to move, so they go ahead and try to move God.
(4)That when he was charged with disobedience he justified himself in what he had done, and gave no sign at all of repentance for it. It is not sinning that ruins men, but sinning and not repenting, falling and not getting up again. (MH)
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. (Pro. 24:26.)
Thus the failure is not falling, but the failure is not repenting and getting back up and trying again.
For me, July 4, 2000
I cannot stop at this point. I must get back up after the biggest "knockdown" of my life. (Not a knockdown in sin, but in the loss of Carol.) I am very much at "loose ends," but I cannot remain down. I must get up, and continue on with what little I have left in me, doing what little I can in the Lord's service.
I should also mention that it is only by God's sovereign grace that one is able to get up and go again and again. The natural man gets tire of trying over and over, so he easily gives up.
Exodus 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass
before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee;
and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew
mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
BRomans 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Prayer That God might see fit to show mercy to me so that I can get up and go again.
Vv. 13, 14.
Rather than an answer of peace, Samuel had a strong rebuke for Saul.
Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination
to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
Proverbs 21:27 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?
Saul's wicked mind was in believing he could move ahead apart from following the Lord; it involved believing he did not need the Lord. Saul's sacrifice not only did not "count," but it brought more problems upon him than any time in his life.
As we saw in the last chapter, if Saul would have obeyed the commands of the Lord, he would have had the blessings of God. Though he heard Samuel's words back there, they meant nothing to him.
One sin and Saul was dethroned. That seems a little harsh. It seems that Saul had a chance here to repent, but Saul did showed no such inclination. In fact, he did the same thing again in chapter 15. God dethroned him, and justly so.
Note: God in his mercy may give a man unlimited chances, or he may give him none. Regardless, God is righteous and just in all his actions, and no one can say, "What doest thou?" Moreover, there is no little sin, for every sin merits God's displeasure and harsh judgment.
V. 13, Lord help me to wait on you that you might be able to do a work through me. Patience, the most needed virtue, and the most scarce of all. (8/26/84.) July 4, 2000, but I must add, "How much longer is God going to wait?" (Sitting in a motel outside of Disney World waiting for the park to open.)
V. 14, Saul was a man after the people's heart. David was a man after God's heart.
(5.) We are taught hereby how necessary it is that we wait on our God continually. Saul lost his kingdom for want of two or three hours' patience. (MH)
How many time have we come so close to obtaining God's promised blessings, yet miss them by a few moments in time because we could not wait upon the Lord?
Note the Lord rejected Saul because Saul rejected the Lord:
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children
See 15:23 & 26, where I deal with this more in depth.
Here we see the result of Saul's inability to keep the commandment of the LORD, v. 13. Saul felt the pressure to depart from the word of the Lord, and to proceed on his own. And he did. When he did, he left the Lord behind, along with the Lord's protection. And the Lord gave his people over to the power of their enemy, the Philistines.
Samuel had said some strong words to Saul, yet Saul shows no sign of remorse; he makes no effort to humble himself before the Lord, which was the major difference between Saul and David David readily repented when wrong was pointed out to him, e.g., Bathsheba. David was a "man after God's own heart," in that he not only sought to please God, but he readily confessed and forsook sin when confronted with his sins.
Here we see that though Saul started out humble, once he got in power, he changed very dramatically.
Note that the taste of power and/or money will bring out the true character in people, and many times they turn out not to be what they appeared to be this seems especially true of politicians (e.g. Supreme Court Justices), and those we marry (the courting stage brings out the best in people.) Thus we should check with the Lord. These people chose Saul without checking with the Lord, and now they pay the price. Moreover, let this be a warning to us to check out a person who is going into any kind of leadership; the Lord told us what to look for.
V. 15, Samuel leaves Saul with no further words, leaving Saul on his own. Saul chose to go on his own, and now Samuel leaves him to his own devices.
V. 16, Samuel goes to Gibeah, as does Saul. There Saul tries to gather his army to battle the Philistines he could only get 600 men.
Vv. 17, 18, And the spoilers came (the destroying bands). The inability of the king to wait on the Lord robed the king of his boldness to confront the enemy, exposing the people to unrestrained destruction by the enemy, who now freely moves about the land, destroying as they please. See 12:25.
Sin left the people defenseless:
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. (Ps. 127:1.)
Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. (Isa. 42:24.)
Vv. 19-22, they had turned their backs upon the command-word of God the sword of the Spirit, and now they have no literal swords or means of defense. The Lord wanted to be their defense, but they rejected him. Now he has rejected them, and sold them into the hands of their enemies. Nebuchadnezzar, when he conquered the Jews, took care to disarm them. (2 Kings 24:14, Jer. 24:1.)
(2.) How impolitic Saul was, that did not, in the beginning of his reign, set himself to redress this grievance. Samuel's not doing it was very excusable; he fought with other artillery; thunder and lightning, in answer to his prayer, were to him instead of sword and spear; but for Saul, that pretended to be a king like the kings of the nations, to leave his soldiers without swords and spears, and take no care to provide them, especially when he might have done it out of the spoils of the Ammonites whom he conquered in the beginning of his reign, was such a piece of negligence as could by no means be excused. (MH)
Note how unusual that the people wanted to be like the nations around them, hence they demanded a king, but they did not seem to care that they were not armed as were the nations around them. Thus the king could not lead them to battle as the nations around them went to battle. Evidently, all they saw was the "pomp and glory" of a king, but did not consider what all was involved blood and guts.
In their lustful desire for a king to fight their battles, they turned from their true strength in the time of need the Lord God Almighty.
Note that a major priority when the wicked are in authority is to disarm the people. Left defenseless, the people are then easy prey to the enemy the enemy could move about and plunder the otherwise rich country at will. But we should keep in mind that the people disarmed themselves when they turned from the Lord. We can conclude there that every Christian should have at least one gun. (Luke 22:36ff.)
Note how heartless and slothful the people were; they had no spirit to help themselves, allowing the Philistines to take away their arms without protest. There was not a shield or spear seen among 40,000 in Israel. They had no spirit to resist. It is a heartless people who will allow the ungodly to disarm them. Disarmed by faithlessness, they are now literally disarmed.
Note that a goal of a godless civil government is to make the people dependent upon it for their daily existence, vv. 20, 21. Thus the people are kept in bondage.
Note that the people, being disarmed and at the mercy of the enemies of God, had no one to blame but themselves, for Samuel had abundantly warned them, promising victory for faithful obedience to the Lord and terrible oppression for turning from the Lord.
However, Saul and Jonathan were still armed.
1) Did the people actually think that their king could fight their battles for them, as the Lord had done in the past?
2) More than likely, the Lord left arms with only these two to show that victory does not come from human strength; victory comes only from him, and he will deliver the army of the Philistines to one faithful man:
Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. (Zech. 4:6.)