January 4, 2017
1 Samuel 13
1 Samuel 13
Shawn Bumpers / General
1 Samuel / Fear; Foolishness; Obedience and Disobedience; Patience; Sacrifice; War; Worship
Chapters 13-15 focus on Saul’s early reign.
These chapters especially focus on Saul’s relationship to God as well as to God’s prophet, Samuel.
Here we will see Saul making very foolish and unwise decisions.
As early as chapter 16, David will come on the scene.
2 years has passed with Saul as king over Israel and he has begun to establish a standing army.
Over 300,000 men had volunteered to deliver the people of Jabesh-Gilead from Nahash, the Ammonite.
He divided these 3,000 up between himself and his son son, Jonathan.
That Saul had chosen valiant men for a standing army set the Philistines on alert.
The Philistines were the dominant power in the land and had garrisons set up around the land and kept track of the situation.
It wasn’t Saul and the largest army that attacked the garrison of the Philistines in Geba … it was Jonathan.
Between Gibeah and Michmash (meek-MAHS) was Geba.
It is interesting to note that according to 1 Samuel 10:5, we know that the Philistines had a garrison in Gibeah as well as Geba.
Jonathan was a remarkable military leader.
He was victorious, however, this attack was a declaration of war with the Philistines, and they were quick to respond.
Now, Jonathan won this military victory, but who was it that blew the trumpet of victory?
Now, Israel’s army is considerably smaller than the 300,000 that it was at one point.
And not all of them might have been “Israelites” proper.
As long as the Israelites stayed in their weak, defeated “place,” the Philistines were okay with them.
They’d just exact taxes and tribute.
And the same principle is true spiritually in our lives.
Ephesians 6:12 NKJV
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
But our spiritual enemies have the same attitude as the Philistines.
There is yet one more question here in these verses.
That is why Saul chose to call his fellow Israelites “Hebrews” in verse 3.
The Hebrew is ibrim (EYE-ivh-reehm) and was not normally used by Israelites of their own people.
The Philistine forces gathered at Michmash (meek-MAHS).
This was less than 16 miles west of Gilgal.
The Philistines army greatly outnumbered the army of the Israelites at 36,000 with chariots and iron weapons … and they gathered at Michmash.
Back in chapter 10 and verse 8 Samuel told Saul to wait there for 7 days, and that is what Samuel did.
1 Samuel 10:8 NASB95
“And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do.”
1 Samuel 11:14 NASB95
Then Samuel said to the people, “Come and let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.”
But there was no waiting for 7 days … so that could not have been the fulfillment of the prophecy.
But while he waited, his army was diminishing and those who were staying were losing heart.
• Notice with me that verse 6 speaks of the Israelites being fearful and hiding.
• But verse 7 speaks of those crossing over the Jordan as “Hebrews.”
So, Saul is left wondering why Samuel was not showing up.
He’s waited the 7 days, but Samuel had not come and his army was shrinking.
So now, what’s going through Saul’s mind?
But this was the Lord’s way of testing Saul’s faith.
1 Samuel 15:22 NKJV
So Samuel said:
“Has 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 heed than the fat of rams.
Samuel knew Saul had done something wrong.
But Samuel was not looking for reasons or excuses.
Saul’s first deception was when he greeted Samuel as if he had done nothing, expecting Samuel to bless him.
He was playing the hypocrite and acting like he had done nothing wrong.
1 John 1:6 NKJV
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
And so, when confronted by Samuel, he answers him with blame.
And note that Saul says, “I saw.”
It was quite foolish of Saul to think that he could disobey God and get away with it.
And when Samuel says, “You have done foolishly,” it is a stronger phrase than we might think.
Romans 3:8 NKJV
And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.
Romans 14:23 NKJV
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
Saul’s pride, impatience, disobedience, and deception were all seen and judged by the LORD.
Despite all the excuses, all the reasons, all the blaming of someone else, the bottom line is still the bottom line.
God commanded Saul to do something, and Saul did something else.
Samuel announced the crown would eventually be taken from Saul and given to another … we know that to be David.
Saul would continue to be king, but he would not establish a lasting dynasty, and none of his sons would rule after him.
That being said, even if Saul had not sinned, how could his dynasty continue “forever” as it says in verse 13?
But Saul’s sin at Gilgal cost him the dynasty.
We might have expected that Saul would be “impeached” as king right then and there.
God wanted a king with a heart that was right toward Him … a man with a shepherd’s heart.
He found that king of heart in David.
Psalm 78:72 NKJV
So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.
Before we move on, I do want to address something else:
That is this … Men see nothing but Saul’s outward act, and it seems like such a small thing.
• But God saw with how wicked a mind and heart he did this.
• God saw his rebellion against his own conscience.
• God saw Saul’s lack of faith and distrust in His providence.
• God saw contempt of His order and authority.
• God saw the things we can’t see.
But God is merciful.
Saul was a man after Israel’s heart.
But it was more than that.
After all, didn’t David sin also?
Because the issue was bigger than an incident of sin, the issue was being a man after God’s own heart.
Israel had wanted a king that looked the part, with no consideration of his being right with the LORD.
But the LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart: God was looking for this kind of man, and God found this man in an unlikely place.
God is still looking for men and women after His own heart.
When we think of a man after His own heart, many of us think that this is a title reserved for a few “super-spiritual” folks.
If David can have our sins, then we can have his heart.
Saul had failed terribly, but we will read in chapter 14 about Jonathan’s great success.
The next part of our chapter describes the sad condition of the army of Israel, revealing how sorry Saul’s leadership was … and how remarkable Jonathan’s military victory was.
Saul had assembled over 300,000 men to rescue the people of Jabesh Gilead.
Earlier in our chapter he had 3,000.
But now his army numbered only 600.
The difference was not the size of the army, but the strength of the leader’s faith.
But Jonathan knew that the LORD didn’t need great numbers to accomplish His purposes AND that God honored great faith.
With so many troops, the Philistines could raid at will.
They were a fearless, and fearsome army set against Saul and Israel.
Skip down to verse 23 and we see that a fourth detachment went south toward Gibeah to prevent the Israelite army from moving up to Geba.
When you have superior military technology, you want to keep it that way.
The Philistines had superior military technology.
Being a seafaring people, the Philistines traded with the technologically sophisticated cultures to the west, especially the Greeks.
But also, in previous battles it seems that the Philistines had carried away all of Israel’s trained metal workers so that no iron could be forged for weapons.
So, Israel’s army is armed with farming tools … iron, yes, but not too sharp.
The only way the Israelites could ever win was to trust in God for everything!
The Christian army today may resemble Saul’s army at times, and that’s our own fault.
Through His work on the cross, our Lord has defeated every single enemy we face.
As Paul explained in Ephesians 6, we have the best armor and the best weapons … and we have all we need to know about strategy … God’s and our enemies … revealed to us in the Bible.
Ephesians 6:10 NKJV
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
1 Samuel 17:47 NKJV
Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.”