THE STORY CHAPTER 10 - SAMUEL AND SAUL
As we begin the Book of I Samuel, we really enter into the prophetic era in Israel’s history.
Moses prayed in Numbers 11:29, “O that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that His Spirit would be upon all of them.” (NKJV)
1. The Plot
When Samuel comes on the scene, we see the Lord’s desire to bring His leadership more personally and powerfully in the midst of His people. Under Moses, the people waited at the foot of the Mountain as Moses went up to hear from God and deliver His message. But God wanted more; He wanted to be up close and personal.
God’s move to accomplish this begins with a woman named Hannah, who was barren. In her culture, not having children devalued her worth; consequently, she carried shame for her inability to produce a son for her husband. She desperately wanted a son to remove the shame of her barrenness—it was, at this point, all about her needs. Hannah passionately begged the Lord for a child. Through her consistent intercession, however, we see the Lord breaks through. God wants to reveal all through this book, to know, hear, and understand Him and what He wants for our lives. He desires to bless our lives; however, it must be because we are seeking His agenda, not ours. That is the outcome of letting His Lordship be first. Hannah breaks through her agenda to the Lord’s agenda when the Spirit moves her to pray for a child dedicated to the Lord’s service. Both agenda’s involved Hannah having a child; the reason for the child changed. Once Hannah committed to God’s agenda Samuel, whose name means “The Lord has heard me”, is born. Soon after his birth, the floodgate is opened and she has 5 more kids. This was a tremendous act of faith and trust in God and the results were beyond what Hannah ever expected!
2. The Prophetic
Samuel is raised in the tabernacle, ministering before the Lord. Through Samuel we see the birth of the prophetic when he learns how to hear God’s voice. The Bible says that up until Samuel’s time it was rare for anyone to have the Word of the Lord. Through Samuel it will be unleashed. Why is this so important? The beautiful thing about all this is with the increase of prophetic activity (people hearing and speaking for God) there is the increase of God activity of all kinds! We will see God moving on behalf of His people. We also see with the prophetic supernatural change coming in people’s lives. I love the verse in I Samuel 10:6 where it says that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul, he began to prophesy and was changed into a different man!
Something profound happens when we begin to move in the realm of hearing from the Lord and speaking words for the Lord. That is why I wanted to emphasize how to hear from God in my Sunday sermon. If you didn’t get an opportunity to come this weekend, look for it on our website hftw.church this week.
3. The Problem
Samuel is just a great leader; however, as he grows older the elders come to Samuel in Ramah and say to him, “Look you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways.” [I Samuel 8:4] Sadly, Samuel had fallen into the pattern of his mentor Eli who didn’t stay connected with his kids and challenge them to walk in the faith. It is so important that we all stay focused on being a prophet first and foremost in our homes. Now that Samuel doesn’t appear to have a qualified successor, the people demand “Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” This displeases Samuel and the Lord, for a couple of reasons.
First, it is always dangerous when we start taking our cues from the world. Paul said, do not be conformed to the world. All of us remember the peer pressure growing up as teenagers, and conversations like, “But Mom, everybody else is going to that party…” and our Mom saying something like, “If everybody else was jumping off a cliff would that mean you would jump off a cliff?” This is not just a “teen” problem. Even as adults we still can subtly be seduced into the pressure of wanting to follow the crowd, the culture, the messages of the advertisers. You should dress, talk, think, act like the people of the world. You should watch their movies, fight to keep with the Jones,’ have the stuff everybody else has, climb the ladder, be somebody in the eyes of others. I Jn. 2:15 describes the world as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. It’s good for us to regularly take inventory and ask ourselves, who we are trying to be like.
Second, it wasn’t God’s preferred will for them to have a monarchy. Monarchs create a level of management between God and the people. God wanted His agenda and His presence to be as close to the people as possible. He knew the hierarchy of a worldly system of government would lead to a competing agenda; that is, less listening to the prophetic word and direction of God for the nation, more listening to the will of the monarch. Nevertheless, God told Samuel to go ahead, do what the people requested. God sometimes allows what is called “the permissive will of God”. Though it is not His perfect will, He allows us to operate in His permissive will when He sees that the upper story purpose He has can still be accomplished.
4. The Potential
So…Samuel recognized this tall, handsome man named Saul to be the first King of Israel. Saul had tremendous abilities and potential. For a while he followed and fulfilled God’s purpose; however, he had a serious Achille’s heel in his character and a major self-image problem as we will see. The first sign of this is clear at the coronation ceremony. In Samuel chapter 10 Samuel invites the leaders of the tribes together to present and anoint Saul publicly as King. In kind of a ceremonious way he calls the tribes and family leaders out one by one. He gets to the tribe of Benjamin and Samuel was going to call out Saul; however, when he does Saul doesn’t appear. There is an interesting phrase in the KJV, as Saul is nowhere to be found, the Lord tells Samuel in 10:21 that Saul is hiding among the baggage. They have to go find him and bring him out to crown him.
This is such a picture of all of us. As we face the moment of choosing whether to take up our call and mantle many of us find ourselves “hiding behind our baggage.” We become intimidated by the call of God because of unresolved issues in our heart. Additionally, we know to step into God’s calling will mean we need to be accountable. We will have to face up to our insecurities, our questionable reputation, our fears and doubts. God has a strong word here not only for Saul but all of us, “It’s time to come out of your baggage and into your anointing!”
5. The Purpose
In Chapter 11 we see how important this concept is. Nahash, the Ammonite, comes against the people of Israel with a superior force, captures a city, and makes a demand. He insists they sign a peace treaty with the terms being that he gets to poke out the right eye of every man. The idea here is that to fight in battle considering the way you hold a shield, you can’t effectively fight without a right eye. It would make every man worthless for battle. Amazingly, many people were about to settle for this deal! Again, we have a picture of how many people will make horrible compromises with the enemy. How many people do we know, maybe even ourselves, that will settle for horrible bondage rather than face tough issues? Rather than take on the enemy we will stay in our baggage and take on more baggage. We will accept a dysfunctional family, lost purity and integrity, a destroyed relationship with kids, simply because we don’t want to face the tough decisions of conquering the enemy. Nevertheless, we see a positive side in Saul, I Samuel 11:6 (NIV) it says, “When Saul heard this the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger.” Saul divides up an animal carcass and sends it out to the tribes, telling everyone they better join him in taking on this fight or he will do to them what he did to the cow! Motivated, they all come together and defeat the Ammonites!
There is something very profound and powerful here. The Bible does not tell Christians, “Don’t get mad;” instead, it says, “In your anger, do not sin” (Eph. 4:26 NIV). Jesus couldn’t bear seeing the Lord’s house of prayer be turned into a den of thieves; consequently, he chased the money changers out! God wants to lead us to action towards injustice by stirring us to righteous indignation. He wants our sense of outrage at the work of the enemy to be so intense we will refuse to compromise with the enemy. We will say, “enough is enough”. He wants us to declare, “I’m coming out of my baggage. I am taking the anointing and authority of God. I am making a charge against the gates of Hell so that innocent people will not suffer, and God’s glory is honored and protected.”
One of the ways God shows us our calling is by helping us recognize a passion for things that grieve the heart of God; so that we’re moved to do something about it. Like Popeye there comes a point we want to say, “I can’t stands it, I can’t stands it no more.” I wonder what an area is that you see you need to rise up in holy anger and do something?
6. The Presumption
Sadly, things go south with Saul. On two occasions he completely distorts God’s will. First, he is impatient. He refuses to wait for Samuel to come and make a sacrifice; he takes the work that was supposed to be done by Samuel and presumes to do it himself. This is not a good thing!
Second, in Chapter 15, God tells him to execute judgment on Amalek and to utterly wipe out the Amalekites and everything that belongs to them—everything means everything. Instead, Saul takes it in his own hands to keep the king alive—as well as the best of the livestock of sheep and cattle. Then, in an act of pure pride, Saul actually sets up a monument to himself! When Samuel finds out from the Lord what Saul has done, Saul isn’t where he should be; Samuel has to track Saul down to confront him! In I Samuel 15:15 it says, “Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.” Samuel’s response in 15:22-23 is not, “Ok, well, that fine, good job-I see that you had really good intentions…”; no, Samuel is not happy. He responds, “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice…for rebellion is as the sin of divination (witchcraft) and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you as king.” (NIV)
Wow. Saul’s arrogance and disobedience cost him the throne. Here is such an important example for us. First, we see again the incredible capacity the human heart has for self-deception and rationalization. How easy it is for us to convince ourselves that we are doing right and justifying our actions; seeing ourselves as somehow an exception to what clearly God gives as commands and not just suggestions in our lives.
Second, we see the danger of religiosity here, using God-language for self-advancement and for our personal agendas. Saul tries to religiously schmooze Samuel with “The LORD bless you, brother; I’ve got the job done. Look at what a wonderful gift I have for the LORD! Am I not the most spiritual man right now?” In reality, he’d done it “my way” and was trying to justify his actions! Jesus will talk about people who call Him, “Lord, Lord;” but then, don’t do what He commands them! Many people cloak their own will in religious jargon and activity. Many people use God’s name for their agenda. We easily justify our means for worldly goals such as success, numbers, status. God wants us to be happy and successful, so what if we have to take a few shortcuts! Right? No, actually; not ok at all…and, to be perfectly honest, never works out well in the end.
Sadly, Saul was smart, gifted, and competent as a king, but all of this was ultimately of no avail. Saul was not willing to really turn the Lordship of his heart over to God. We must see that God isn’t interested in success and status, He cares most about character, faithfulness, and obedience. God was completely misrepresented by Saul’s actions as a God who is opportunistic, greedy, and filled with man centered agendas. Many people have an incorrect picture of God because people misrepresent Him…just as Saul did. This crossed a line, in which God’s upper story could not be fulfilled through Saul, God would have to remove him and find a man after His own heart.
The message of Saul’s life is sobering and so important. Are we willing to truly be accountable for the motives and agenda of our heart? Are we excusing compromise? Are we covering up personal agendas with God talk? Is our ego really in charge? Are we letting our need to feel important and successful be ahead of a passionate commitment to be obedient and serve God’s agenda for God’s glory?
Jesus showed us the true nature of leadership. He gave up his agenda and comfort for God’s obedience. He laid down all rights to pursue what was expedient and advantageous for his benefit to put God first. That is why God exalted Him.
7. The Promise
May I take a moment to warn you that without honest examination, accountability, and confession of our hearts with a small group of others, we are likely to fall into the same trap as Saul? It is so easy to get off of God’s agenda and on to ours. It is so easy to try and use God for our advantage instead of staying surrendered so God can use us for His advantage? On the other hand, if we are willing to do like Hannah did, and lay down our will for God’s higher agenda, not only will God be glorified but we will be blessed beyond our wildest expectations!