Confession and Consequences
1 Samuel 15:23–35
Samuel Lesson #057
August 2, 2016
“Our Father, it is such a great privilege we have as fallen, sinful, corrupt human beings to be saved by grace. Not on the basis of who we are or what we have done, but according to Your mercy You saved us through the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit. We are saved by the death of Christ on the Cross Who paid the penalty in our place.
Father, we have been given a new life to nourish, to nurture, and to grow. Father, as we do this we are faced with a myriad of challenges in our daily lives related to are we going to apply Your Word to this situation or are we going to live on the basis of the culture, the ideas and values of the people around us responding to peer pressure, or are we going to take the narrow road and walk in terms of Your Word and the Holy Spirit?
Father, as we continue our study in Samuel, help us to understand the lessons that are taught here. The lessons exhibited in the failure of Saul. As we get into David, soon the positive as well as the negative we will learn in his life as well. These lives exhibit the important doctrinal truths for us. We pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen.”
We are in 1 Samuel 15. I want to remind you of what we have been studying in terms of these verses. The central important verses 1 Samuel 15:22–23 are a fulcrum on which the narrative turns. This is going to lead in the last ten verses or so to the announcement that the kingdom will be taken from Saul, although he remains king for another ten years or so. He will have the kingdom and the possibility of a dynasty taken from him because of sin. In this passage we will deal with Saul’s confession but also that there are consequences to sin even with confession.
There are still some things we need to finish in our study of 1 Samuel 15:23, which is one of the most significant verses in the Old Testament, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (divination) and defiance (or insubordination) is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected (repudiated) the word of the LORD, He also has rejected (repudiated) you from being king.”
We started this last time and I went through a group of verses focusing on the role of authority in Scripture. This is not a subject that any of us really likes to be reminded about. There is not a person here who is not a rebel at heart. It is real easy for us to talk about humility and submission to authority when the authority over us is telling us to do something that we like, telling us to do something that we agree with, telling us to do something that is going to benefit us.
But it does not take submission to authority to be able to follow that kind of authority. In fact, if you have an authority over you that you are always in agreement with, and they are always telling you to do what you want to do, you are not being tested in the area of authority. The test of authority comes when the person who is in authority over you is telling you or asking you to do something that you do not really think is wise.
I am not using the word sin or something that is inherently wrong or morally wrong, but something you do not think is the best decision, something that you do not think is a wise decision. Maybe something you do not think is an appropriate decision.
Every one of us has found ourselves in situations in life where we have had a teacher, a coach, a commanding officer in the military, a pastor, a teacher, someone in a position of authority over us, husband, father, parent, who has told us to do things that we do not want to do. We think that person in authority is incompetent, uneducated in the area. We think that they are someone that does not have a clue. We are probably right in all of those areas, but that does not justify insubordination or disobedience.
We may be right. It may be a better course of action to do x, y, and z. If we are in a business environment the course of action that we have may be brilliant. It may make us successful if followed. It may make the company wealthy. But if the boss says to do something else and we know that it is going to be a failure, it does not matter what you think. It does not matter what I think, because that person is the person who makes the decisions.
In many situations in life we are faced with people who are inadequate being put in a position of authority over us. That is where humility comes in. I cannot think of a better example. We have it talked about in Philippians 2:5–11 with the Lord. That He humbled Himself by being obedient to go to the Cross. But let’s flesh that out a little bit. As we are studying in Matthew, in that last week of Christ on the earth, these arrogant, over educated, legalistic, highhanded Pharisees and chief priests who are so impressed with how well they think they know the Scripture, how well they developed this system of application. They know truth better than anybody knows truth.
Jesus is going to submit to them to the point that He is going to be sent to the Cross. That is humility. We think that we are not going to let that so-and-so destroy my life. We are not going to let that so-and-so destroy this company that I am working for. No, Jesus did not think that way, did He?
I am trying to put another spin on what it means to be humble and obedient to a legitimate authority that is over us. Humility is what the Scripture emphasizes. It is not easy. It is not supposed to be easy. If it were easy, being humble would not be a problem. This is where difficulty hits. It hits whether we are a student, an athlete, in the military, whether you are a wife, a child, a husband under the authority of God, under the authority of bosses at work who are telling you how much you need to work. That is the challenge of this whole issue of humility and obedience.
I pointed this out last time in all those verses we looked at, but the question may arise: Are there not exceptions? Is there not some wiggle room here somewhere? That is what everybody wants. I want some sort of justification for why I do not have to obey a commander in chief who is a Marxist slob who is destroying the country. We all have these kinds of thoughts. We cannot go down that road if we are obeying the Word, because the Word is exceptionally clear about these things.
The question is: Is there in the Scripture a legitimate basis for violating authority?
Remember, we have these difficult verses. Sunday morning when I taught in Matthew I taught about the episode where the disciples and the Pharisees and the Herodians came to trap Jesus with the question: Should we pay the tax to Rome?
A lot of people want Jesus to say “No!” because we do not like paying taxes. If I said how many people enjoy paying taxes? I do not think anybody would raise their hand because we do not like paying taxes. When my wife was teaching second graders in school, she would do an economic module for the kids. They would take Monopoly money and she had a system where she would pay them for doing certain things. This would go on for two or three days. They would accumulate their money and then they would come to payday.
On payday she would go around and she would give all the students their money. They would get several hundred or a thousand dollars or more. Some would have a lot and some would have less. Then she would say, now that I have paid you, now you have to pay taxes. Then she would go back and she would start taking money away. Those kids went nuts! It was a great lesson. My wife would start doing the withholding and taking the money. They were in shock!
This is like you and I the first time we got a pay check and we thought it would be a certain amount of money and we looked at it and it was not quite what we thought it would be. We saw this thing called “withholding.” We probably went to our parents and said what is this “withholding”?
We got our first lesson in socialistic economics because we saw that social security was taken out. When you are fourteen or fifteen years old social security is not something you are really concerned about at that point. You would rather keep that money and spend it on whatever pleasures you have at that point.
The Scripture says that we are to pay taxes. Jesus did a wonderful job sidestepping the trap. The point was that Rome was enforcing a horrible system of taxation. It was “tax farming.” I do not know if you know that term, but they would farm the taxing out to various members of the equestrian order. Then they would go into the providences like Judea and hire people. They would say that they needed “this” amount of money. The tax people that they hired, like Levi, who is known to us as Matthew, would go out and he could keep whatever amount he raised over that amount.
This system was really open to tremendous abuse. The people were significantly oppressed. The economy was oppressed because of this excessive taxation. But Jesus did not criticize the tax system of Rome. Jesus said who made the coin? Whose image is on it? Well, render unto Caesar what is his and render unto God what is His. He did not say that this was a horrible unjust system. You do not need to pay all of that tax. That is what everybody wishes that He would say, but that is not what He says because the principle of authority emphasizes the authority of the government even when the government is wrong, not morally, spiritually wrong, but in terms of doing something that is foolish and unwise.
We have these passages like:
Titus 3:1, “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work …”
Romans 13:1, “Let every soul (you are not an exception) be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”
1 Peter 2:13–14, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.”
The phrase “sent by him for the punishment of evildoers” includes police officers and submission to their authority. If a lot of people would keep calm and do what the police officer said to do when they pulled you over on the road, then you would not have a problem. I have learned that by experience. I have never been in a position where I did not do the right thing, but I have never had a problem because I have always done the right thing.
There is an exception in Scripture. The exception in Scripture is when the governing authority is telling you to do something that God specifically prohibits. I had an acquaintance back in high school and college who I heard about later, who went back to some state of Oregon or somewhere at some point. He got in trouble with the IRS because he believed that tax law according to the Constitution should not have a progressive taxation system like we have for income tax. He did not pay it. He said that it is not just, so I am justified in not paying it. Wrong. He got in trouble. You can have an extrapolated principle, but that is not how this works. If God says do not do something and the government says do it, that is what I mean. It has to be specific in black and white.
This is a situation we have in Acts 4 when the Sanhedrin calls Peter and John in and they commanded them, in Acts 4:18 “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” Whether they had the right to do that or not is not what is the issue in the text. Peter and John do not say that the Sanhedrin does not have any right to do that. The Sanhedrin did not have that right, because they were putting themselves in the place of God, but that is not how they argued. They said God told us to do this. You are telling us not to do this. We have to obey God rather than man. That is the bottom line. It was specific.
Jesus told the disciples to proclaim the gospel. They were telling them do not proclaim the gospel. Guess who wins? Jesus wins all the time. They were not saying, well there is this general principle that we ought to be telling people the truth. It is a specific that is stated in the Scripture, a “thou shalt” or a “thou shalt not.” All of this is important.
We are in a situation in our world today where Christians are going to run into more and more conflicts, especially at the workplace. This can come down in a number of different ways. It can come down because you are mandated to follow and support certain social policies that get handed down through human resources. It may not be as big a problem if you are working for a large corporation, but you may be working for the government. You may be working in public education. You may be working for the military. You may be working for the post office.
You may be working in any number of positions, and now that they have recognized and legitimatized same-sex marriage and are pushing the policy of transgender restrooms, you may be put in a position where you may have to validate, verify, and authorize some of this. Well, if you are a Christian you have the right to practice your religion. That is the First Amendment of the Constitution. It is not restricted to just what is inside the four walls of the church.
In fact, there was a recent attempt to force a church to comply with restroom policies under the civil rights law in Iowa from 2007 that was being interpreted at church. Only if it was a religious service could a church just have a male and a female restroom. If that church had other things going on, a private school, a community meeting in their church, that those were not religious activities. In fact, even Sunday morning was excluded from a religious service because in their definition it could not include any meeting open to the public.
The civil rights group was trying to force this church to comply with this and have transgender restrooms. Some of the American Family Association and some other legal groups pointed out a few things and the civil rights group had to back off. But these kinds of things are constantly being brought up, constantly being pushed.
If you were in the military and you have to recognize that somebody has a legitimate claim to be some other sex than the one that is on their birth certificate, then you have to validate that. You have to call them by certain pronouns and run into a lot of silliness. You have to decide how you are going to handle that in the military and in many other situations.
If you are in education, it may be the policy of the school district or the state where you teach that you must teach Darwinian evolution. You may even live in a state where it is prohibited to teach the models of Creation and the models of evolution so that students can make up their minds. There are some states where you cannot do that, and by policy and law you have to teach evolution as if it is fact. As a teacher you have to decide how you are going to do that.
I know that in some school districts in Texas, because of the nature of Texans and the nature of the influence of Christianity here, there are a lot of teachers in districts that technically are supposed to teach evolution, but they never seem to be able to find time to fit that into the schedule because there are so many other things related to science to teach. They never quite get around to it. There are others who find other ways to do it.
What it comes down to is that you have two models that we have in Scripture in the Book of Daniel. You have two situations in Daniel that have to be the pattern for every believer, because Daniel more than any other book teaches us by example of how a believer should live in a corrupt pagan environment. You had these young observant Jewish believers, young boys, who were taken to Babylon. They went through a three or four year indoctrination period of study where they were going to be prepared to be bureaucrats in the Babylonian empire.
These young boys were supposed to eat the food that the Babylonians ate. It was not kosher. They were supposed to imbibe all of the religious ideals of the Babylonian culture. They were to absorb all of the worldview of that pagan culture. In Daniel 1 we are given one situation. In Daniel 3 we are given another situation. In Daniel 6 we are given another situation. Let’s look at these:
Daniel 1 is a diet issue. Daniel prays about it. He goes to Ashpenaz, who is the chief eunuch and says let’s try a little experiment. This is not done out in the open. He is showing a lot of wisdom. He is not going to challenge him in front of everybody. He is not going to put his ego on the line. Daniel goes and he says let’s try this out. Let’s have a little experiment for a couple of weeks. The Jewish boys are going to eat kosher and at the end of two weeks we are going to see who is brighter, who is healthier, who does a better job. At the end of those weeks the Jewish boys who were eating kosher were outperforming all of the others. Ashpenaz says that this is not a bad deal.
One way in which we can approach this is to go to the person in authority and see if we can work out some sort of compromise, some sort of scenario where it is a win–win scenario. You negotiate the deal. This is what happened last year after the Supreme Court ruling related to same-sex marriage.
For example, in North Carolina there were justices that said we are not going to violate our conscience by performing a same-sex marriage. We are Christians. They worked out a deal where the non-Christian judges could come in place of the Christian judges to do that. It all worked out and did okay.
In some other places, for example in Kentucky, you had the judge who was obstinate. He did not want to compromise. I think eventually they did work out a compromise. The county clerk was able to keep her job. Somebody else would do the marriage licenses.
There are some cases where you can work out that compromise and some cases where you cannot work out a compromise. That is Daniel 3. Nebuchadnezzar set up his statute. Everybody has got to worship the statute when the orchestra plays. Everybody bows down to worship the statue except for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, otherwise known as Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, their Hebrew names.
Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, refused to bow down. They said that their God was able to save them, but even if He does not, we are not going to bow down. We are not going to violate our religious beliefs, even if it is expedient to do so, so that we can keep our jobs and everything will run smoothly. We are not going to compromise. Nebuchadnezzar says that he was not going to compromise either. You did not do it so you are going to reap the penalty. You are going to be thrown into the fiery furnace.
Sometimes we are not going to be able to work out or negotiate a deal with the person in authority who wishes to force us to violate our religious beliefs, our biblically held beliefs, and we are going to have to suffer the consequences. We are going to lose our job. We are going to be put in jail. We are going to be thrown in prison. We are going to be martyred. Those are the options.
Next is in Daniel 6 when the advisers to King Darius convince him that he needs to pass a law that will prohibit anyone in the kingdom from making a petition to any human being or even a god during the next thirty days. King Darius signs this into law. It is unbreakable. It is the law of the Meads and the Persians. He has to obey it. The penalty is that if you are caught praying or seeking or beseeching someone other than the king, then you are going to be thrown into a den of lions.
What does Daniel do? Daniel does not throw it in the king’s face. He does not say that he is going to disobey you. He is not arrogant or insubordinate. He does not say that he is going to pray and get on his knees right in front of Darius and make a federal case out of the law right there. He goes home very quietly and in the privacy of his home, fully aware of the fact that the NSA is spying on him (laughter), and he prays.
His accusers bring the evidence before Darius and Darius is forced to arrest him and throw him into the lions’ den. God protects Daniel. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said in Daniel 3:16–18, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Even if our God does not save us we are going to obey Him. That is the principle. It is how we obey the Lord. You do not obey the Lord in some sort of arrogant in-your-face, rebellious mentality. You just very graciously and kindly take your position and take your stand. All of this is part of what is going to be our lives in the coming years. We have to recognize that as the culture shifts more and more into an anti-divine-establishment mode this is going to characterize things.
Since the 1960s we have had this gradual erosion of the biblical conviction that the sexes, while being totally equal in their being, God created them in His image male and female, so that men and women are ontologically equal. Men are not better than women and women are not better than men, but they have different roles, different functions. It is like a football team. The quarterback is not a better human being, is not superior or inferior to the running back. He has talents and skills. The running back has talents and skills. They have different functions. The roles are not interchangeable.
The devil’s lie that has been bought by everybody in this culture, and more Christians, and maybe more than you are willing to admit is that the sexes’ roles are interchangeable. Just because a man can do what a woman can do and a woman can do what a man can do does not mean it is right to do it. Just because a woman has the ability to teach, and she has certain natural rhetorical gifts does not mean that she should get in the pulpit because she does a better job of it and is more entertaining than a man.
There may be a man who is truly gifted by God with the gift of pastor-teacher, but he may not be the most rhetorically stimulating guy in the world. We have some pastors in this city who have incredible natural oratorical skills. They bring thousands of people to listen to them, but it does not have anything to do with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Just because somebody can do it does not mean that it is the right thing to do or that God has gifted them to do it.
But once we buy the lie that men and women are functionally interchangeable, and we bought that lie. Ninety percent of the people in this county, even evangelical Christians bought into that lie by 1980. I was railing against this back when I was in seminary. That because they were buying into this, and they did not understand this distinction that eventually we would be exactly where we are today, where people can determine their own gender and their own sexuality and everything else, because everything is equivalent, everything is interchangeable, and that men are no different than women.
In fact, if you go talk to most of these post-moderns, they firmly believe that there is not even a physical difference between men and women. I mean you can stand butt naked in front of a mirror and they are not going to admit that there are physiological differences between men and women. It makes you really wonder why if there are no physiological differences, since the Olympics started on Friday, why do we have men’s events and women’s events.
It is the irrationality of the liberal anti-god mindset, because that is exactly what this is. As 1 Samuel 15:23, “rebellion is as the sin of divination.” Rebellion is a sin because, as I pointed out last week, it goes back to Satan’s original sin of rebellion against God. What can be more an expression of rebellion against God than to say that like Bruce Jenner, “I am a woman.” God made a mistake. “I am a woman.” There is a woman trapped in this body. God was wrong. It is just a wonder that God does not strike him dead or turn him into a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife. That is exactly the kind of arrogance that is going on here, the kind of rebellion against God that is going on here. We have to recognize that there are these legitimate spheres of authority. When we violate them we are following in the footsteps of Satan. A reminder of these:
These are called divine institutions. They are the laws of establishment. They are for every human being throughout all of history, believer and unbeliever. When they are followed there is stability, success to a degree. It protects the culture to propagate and to grow and to develop.
1. Personal or individual responsibility: God is the authority.
Every individual is responsible and accountable to God and will be held accountable to God at some point in the future, either as a believer at the Judgment Seat of Christ, at the judgment of Old Testament saints, the judgment of Tribulation saints, or at the end of the Millennium at the Great White Throne Judgment.
2. Marriage: The husband is the authority.
Marriage is designed to provide stability in the species for the propagation of the species, and to provide the framework for education.
3. Family: The parents are the authority.
God’s standard is that education take place in the home. The sad thing is that most parents are so busy, or they think they are that they do not have time to educate their children. Public school is simply something secondary. God is not going to say, “well, did your teachers do a good job educating your children?”
When you stand before God’s judgment the question is going to be, did you as a parent fulfill your responsibility to personally see to their education? He is not going to care about the Sunday School teachers. He is not going to care about the public school teachers because the one who is accountable for the training and equipping of the children within the family is the parents. The buck stops with daddy and then mommy. That is the family unit.
Those first three institutions were all established in the Garden of Eden before anyone sinned. Then after sin you needed two more divine institutions:
4. Government: the establishment of governing authorities.
Somebody asked me one time why I had five [divine institutions]? That is because government was established in the Noahic Covenant in Genesis 9, some 200 years before God divided people up according to language. We have to understand that you cannot have the same divine institution that is developed with a 200-year split between these things. The second part of that question was how can you have a government without a nation? I bet anyone here ought to be able to answer that.
You have patriarchal governing authority. You have tribal governing authority. You have city and county governing authorities. You have all kinds of governing authorities that do not involve a national or ethic distinction, but that came in later. These have to be divided because they are clearly distinct, both in time and in function.
5. Nationalism: God is the authority. He sets the boundaries, Acts 17:26. Nations have government, but government is not limited to the role of nations.
1 Samuel 15:23
We look at what we studied last time. We went through the first part of the verse looking at the term “rebellion.”
Rebellion is a standard term. It means to go against a specific legitimate authority.
It is compared to divination, the word qesem, is sometimes translated witchcraft or sorcery, but what it involves in divination is all the different kinds of fortune telling, palmistry, casting of lots, all kinds of different decisions. It is basically using demonism to determine the answers in life. It is trying to contact some spirit in order to do something.
In the Old Testament and in the ancient world you have spiritism and spiritistic worldviews, animism that dominate many of the cultures, polytheism of the Hittites, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the Assyrians, and all of these other groups all had multiple gods that were part of what we would call nature. They were not distinct like the God of the Bible. That is why he is emphasized as the living God. They are part of the creation.
Contacting those gods was a violation. This involved idolatry, which is why you have this kind of idolatry developed. Two passages, Deuteronomy 18:10 and 2 Kings 17:17, even relate this to the sons and daughters who are passed through the fire. They took babies, living babies, and put them on the arms of these idols. Under the arms was a fire pit. It was basically a barbeque pit for immolating these children. They did that.
This kind of horror still happens today. I was reading a section today from a book that was dealing with what happened in India after Pakistan was severed because of the antagonism between the Muslims and the Hindus. About the same time that Israel was going through their war for independence, Pakistan was setup. Part of the description was what they found when they would go into villages that had been part of all this fighting. They found babies that were burned in the fire, open fire pits. They had put the babies into the fire.
This kind of bestiality among human beings still goes on today. If we really knew what was going on by these vile ISIS people we would be sick to our stomachs. It is horrific! They are animals!
This is a comparison:
For rebellion = witchcraft
Stubbornness = iniquity and idolatry
Divination is the attempt to use various secret or occult powers to determine the future.
You are contacting demons. It is done through various things: astrology, various other signs, using dousing sticks, palm reading, reading the liver of a dead animal (hepatoscopy), reading signs of casting arrows (belomancy), consulting the dead (spiritism or necromancy), and all of these kinds of things.
This kind of divination is prohibited numerous places in Scripture: Leviticus 19:26; Leviticus 19:31, “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits…” Leviticus 20:27, “A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death …”
Early in his reign Saul cleansed the land of mediums and spirits, but there is this hint of the occult that is in this passage. By the time we get to 1 Samuel 28 Saul will go to the witch, the medium in Endor. Endor is a small village up in the plain of Megiddo, the Valley of Megiddo. Saul will go up there to get her counsel in light of the coming battle with the Philistines.
But who is the real power behind these false gods?
We look at idolatry from our modern or post-modern perspective. We think well, they are just these wooden, metal, or stone objects that they worship. They were imputing a personality and value and meaning to them. But that is not the divine viewpoint. The divine viewpoint is there is something going on there that is beyond our empirical data.
In passages like Leviticus 17:7 we read, “They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons.”
When they are putting the babies to be burned alive in the arms of Molech or Chemosh or Baal, they are worshiping demons. What the text is saying is that these false religions are empowered by demons.
Deuteronomy 32:17 uses the same phrase, “They sacrificed to demons, not to God…”
2 Chronicles 11:15, “Then he appointed for himself priests for the high places, for the demons, and the calf idols which he had made.”
Think about that. He is equating demons to idol worship.
The same thing in Psalm 106:37, “They even sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons.”
If you asked the typical Israelite “are you immolating your baby to a demon”? They would say “No. I am worshiping the lord Baal. I am not sacrificing to demons. That would be horrible.” But the reality is that what is behind a false religion, what is behind a false philosophy, what is behind anything that supplants the worship of the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is demonism.
Islam is demonism. Mormonism is demonism. Jehovah’s Witness is demonism. All of these are different manifestations of demonism. Secular humanism is demonism. Post-modernism is demonism. Modernism is demonism. Existentialism is demonism. Anything other than biblical Christianity is demonism. That is what the Scripture says. If it is not based on the literal interpretation of the text, it is not true and it is demonism.
In 1 Corinthians 10:20 Paul validates this in the New Testament, “Rather that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.”
This is a problem when the text says that “rebellion is like the sin of divination” it is because divination brings that intersection with the spirit world of the fallen angels. It takes us back to the lead angel of all the fallen angels.
So why is rebellion compared to divination?
We need to go back to the angelic conflict. In this chart it shows the course of the angelic conflict. The angels are created, I believe, before Genesis 1:1. The fall of Satan occurred between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. That is the only place, I think, that makes sense either exegetically or theologically. Then man is created and man falls. All of human history is related to this fall of the angels. That is why angels watch us. Angels observe us. The Scripture says they learn things from us that they cannot learn any other way.
Matthew 25:41 says that the Lake of Fire has been prepared, perfect tense. It has been completely prepared for the devil and his angels. It was not created for human beings. It has been, perfect tense, prepared for the devil and his angels. Some time after Satan’s fall, when God judged the fallen angels, He announced their guilt and their punishment to go to the Lake of Fire. He created the Lake of Fire, and then for some reason there is a delay before their being sent to the Lake of Fire. In that delay is all of human history, because human history is teaching why this is important.
I have had people ask why in the world would you have eternal death in the Lake of Fire, where somebody is going to suffer in the Lake of Fire for all eternity. You know we do not believe in annihilationism. That is a violation of our doctrinal statement. It is a violation of the Word of God. Annihilationism is a time that they will suffer for a while and then their souls are going to be annihilated. But this is an everlasting punishment that goes on forever and ever.
Why so severe? That does not sound like a loving God.
What God is demonstrating in history is that the sin that caused all of the pain and all of the suffering and all of the misery, all of the violence that occurred, and all of the horrific things in the ancient world as the Assyrians came through and they filleted their enemies alive. That means that they skinned them alive! It is as the American Comanches did and Apaches did. They would lay them out and see how long they could keep a person alive and screaming as they slowly pulled the skin off of their bodies.
Just think of the horrors of the Holocaust, all of the horrible things that were done to the Jewish people during the Holocaust, one of the most horrible events that ever happened in human history. But there have been many, many others. All of that is because of a simple decision that Adam made. He did not commit genocide. He did not commit infanticide. He did not abort any babies. He did not own slaves. He did not honor the fallen heroes of the confederacy or any of the other silly superficial cultural sins that people think of that are so bad today. He did not smoke. He did not drink. He did not chew or go with girls that do.
What did Adam do that was so bad? He ate a piece of fruit! That is the point. Any act, no matter how minor and innocuous that is an act of rebellion against God, rends the universe, brings corruption to every molecule and every atom in the universe, so that everything is distorted by sin, everything! The punishment for someone who does that, who has brought all this there. Eternity in the Lake of Fire is mild compared to the consequences that they have brought into the world.
What we see in our main passage on the fall of Satan is Isaiah 14:12–14. What this chart is showing is that Isaiah 14:12–14 is a convoluted passage to understand because Isaiah is talking in the past, before the Cross, but he is talking about what is going to happen in the future at the end of the Tribulation period. How at that point they are looking back on this prince or king that has led them and has now been cast down here into the bottomless pit, into Sheol. That is the framework for understanding this.
This person that is being talked about here, in Isaiah 14:3–11, is the king of Babylon. He is the one that is being personified here. He is empowered by Lucifer.
The main text is Isaiah 14:12–14, where what he has said in his heart in Isaiah 14:13 is the essence of sin. “I will” five times. That is rebellion. “I will” and not “God will.” That is the core original sin. It is rebellion against the authority of God.
1 Samuel 15:23, “Stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”
Stubbornness is the word patzar. It is translated stubbornness. That is not really the meaning of the word. It is more the idea of being insubordinate, rebellious, defiant, or arrogant. It is a synonym to the word for rebellion in the previous line. The idea of insubordinate based on the Oxford English Dictionary is that it is just a straight synonym. It means to be disobedient to authority, to be defiant, and to not be submissive to authority.
What is the command we keep running into in the New Testament? Husbands love your wives. Wives submit to your husbands. Children submit to your parents. Slaves submit to your masters. Citizens submit to government. Over and over again that is the word. The opposite is to be insubordinate. Another word that is used to translate this word is the idea of being presumptive. It is the idea of presumption. There are various meanings to the word presumption.
The second meaning of presumption is bold or insolent behavior or manners. The military used to have a court marshal offense called silent insolence, back before WWII. If you looked at your sergeant or commanding officer in what they thought was an insolent manner, because of the way you looked, you were headed for the brig. You were headed for a court marshal, because you had the wrong posture, the wrong attitude. They knew what it meant to teach humility and obedience to authority.
This is what is said here. Insubordination is defiance and idolatry. The first word is “sin” ’āwen, which is translated iniquity. The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis says that this word signifies also a negative or abuse of power or destructive power. It is interesting how that word is used here, probably with that nuance. People would think of that insubordination is an abuse of power. You are abusing your own power or position.
Idolatry is the word terāphîm, which are small household gods that were often a sign of inheritance and a sign of passing on the family jewels from one generation to another. Remember the story when Jacob is fleeing from Laban? He has Rachel and Leah with him. Rachel has taken the household gods, the terāphîm. Rachel hides them in her saddlebags. That is this pagan idea that somehow we are going to get the real power in the family with us. It is idolatrous.
The reason that Samuel says this is “Because you rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.” This is the same word in both places, mā’as, which means to reject, to deny, or repudiate. This is a harsh statement. God has really lowered the boom on Saul, and he knows it, that God has really rejected him. As a result, he is immediately confessing his sin.
Some of us have gone through something like this. We know we have disobeyed God. When God begins to punish us we are like, boy, I am going to confess my sin and hope it will all go away. God forgives you and instantly cleanses you of all unrighteousness, but that does not necessarily remove the consequences. I think he [Saul] makes a mistake here. Saul never really understood the role of Samuel.
Remember back in 1 Samuel 9–10 when Saul cannot find his asses. They are lost and he is looking for them. His servant says that they are near Ramah, which is the home of the seer, Samuel. Saul is oblivious. Here is one of the greatest prophets and priests that have existed between Moses and David. Saul does not have a clue. You can go through a number of things that we did when we studied that, that Saul really was clueless about the role of the prophet and the priest and even who he was and what he did. He was not interested. He was spiritually dense.
Here he is. He is confessing to Samuel, 1 Samuel 15:24. But Samuel is not the high priest. Samuel is a Levite, but he is not an Aaronite. He cannot forgive him. That is not his role.
Saul confesses, and it is a legitimate confession. He says “I have sinned,” chaṭa’, which means I missed the mark. Notice, we have already had ’āwen as one synonym for sin. Now we have chaṭa’, which is the main word for sin, to miss the mark, or to fall short. Saul says “I have sinned, for I have” and then he is defining that sin for what it is, “I have transgressed” that is ‘āvar, I have passed over, or gone beyond “the commandment of the LORD and your words.” Why? Because of the peer pressure, “I feared the people” more than I did God.
Some people think Saul is saying this to cover up his own irresponsibility, but it could be that he is also pressured by the people. He clearly does not understand spiritual things. Maybe the people did pressure him. This is often what we get from politicians who run the country based upon polls. They listen to the words of the people. Well, this is what the people want. They are not a leader.
A leader understands true right and true wrong. He leads the people even if they do not want to go. A true leader leads his people into combat. They follow him even if it is going to cost their life because they know they trust him to do the right thing. We do not have a leader like that. There are very few in government. Saul was a failure as a leader. He is a failure as a believer.
Saul goes on to say to Samuel, 1 Samuel 15:25, “Now therefore, please pardon my sin …”
This is the Hebrew word nāsā’, which has the idea of lifting or carrying a burden. It is often used to talk about removing the guilt of something, or being forgiven.
Saul is saying “please forgive my sin and return with me, that I may worship the LORD.” At least he understands that he needs to be pardoned.
This word is used in a great verse, Micah 7:18. Talking about God it says, “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?”
God can do that because Christ was going to pay the penalty for sin. He could pardon it and pass over it.
God—“He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.”
The Old Testament God is not pictured as this harsh, evil, paternalistic deity that is so concerned about justice that there is no mercy and love. That is not what is pictured here.
1 Samuel 15:26
But Samuel says, no, there are consequences to your sin. I am not going to go back with you to Gilgal. “You have rejected the word of the LORD and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” He repeats that. There are serious consequences. I am not going back with you.
1 Samuel 15:27–28
As Samuel turns, very dramatic, a dramatic situation, Saul falls down and grabs his robe to try and keep him from leaving. He seizes the edge of his robe where the tassels were. He grabs hold of some of these tassels and they tear off. Samuel looks down and uses this as the basis, almost like a parable. He says as you have torn this from my robe, “the LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.”
Saul will remain the legitimate king of Israel for the next ten years. Twice David is going to get the opportunity to kill him, but David will not because Saul is the Lord’s anointed. No human being has the right to take Saul from his throne. That is an important principle we will see when it comes to respect for authority.
David had tremendous respect for Saul as the Lord’s anointed, even if he was a loser, even if he was a failure, even if he was trying to kill David, which he was. Even when Saul was doing everything wrong and had murderous intent, and was involved in criminality (we do not know any leaders like that I know). Even when Saul was involved in criminality, it never justified disrespect for the Lord’s anointed. Never! We all need to take a lesson from that.
1 Samuel 15:29. Then Samuel says, “And also the Strength of Israel.” He gives God a new title: netzach. He is the power, the strength. He is the one who gives victory. It emphasizes the omnipotence of God. He is the Strength of Israel.
1 Samuel 15:29. He “will not lie nor relent.” That is the word nāham. It is an anthropopathism.
It is used in Genesis 6:6, where the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth. That is not saying that He regrets it.
It is an anthropopathism. It is expressing an attitude or an emotion does not actually possess in order to reveal something about God’s policies, purposes, and actions. It is a term of analogy. We cannot understand God as He is, so these analogies are used to help us understand Him better, and make Him a little more personable to us so that we can grasp what is going on here.
1 Samuel 15:30. Saul again confesses his sin. He says “I have sinned;” chāṭā’. This is what confession is. It is admitting your sin. He pleads with Samuel, “honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God …”
1 Samuel 15:31. Now Samuel goes back with Saul. He has confessed and he can go back. He is personally cleansed. He can go back and legitimately worship God. Samuel and Saul turn back and “Saul worshiped the LORD.”
There is no hint of irony. Samuel is not saying Saul, what a hypocrite! He has confessed his sin. I believe that at this point Saul was like many of us. He recognized he sinned. He failed. God has forgiven him, but there are consequences now. He has gone a bridge too far. Saul worships God.
The word for worship is shāchāh. It means to bow the knee, to show submission to the authority of God. That is what worship is. That is what we have there.
1 Samuel 15:32
Then Samuel, a great scene in that movie King David, tells Saul to bring Agag, who is king of the Amalekites here. The situation that has arisen here is that Saul did not kill all the Amalekites. Agag comes and he thinks “whew!” He thinks to himself that he is going to survive this and live. He thinks he is going to make it. Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” Agag does not think that a prophet or a priest is going to kill him.
1 Samuel 15:33. “But Samuel said, ‘As your sword has made women childless,’ ” you killed them, you killed their children, “ ‘so shall your mother be childless among women.’ ” This is an extremely picturesque and dramatic word in the Hebrew. It means this. It means Samuel hacked Agag to pieces. He chopped him up into pieces. He does this “before the LORD.”
This is not a sacrificial term. It is the term related to cherem. Samuel is completing this war that God called him to do, to completely ban, destroy the enemies, the Canaanites. Samuel is finishing the job that Saul did not finish. Samuel executes Agag. This is divine viewpoint. You know God and the prophets are not these sweet little mild people. Jesus is not this sweet and gentle Jesus. That is not the picture that we have when we see Jesus go in and manhandle the moneychangers in the Temple and throw them out. This is a picture of the judgment of God.
It concludes, 1 Samuel 15:34, Samuel goes home to Ramah. Saul goes home to his house in Gibeah of Saul. Then we are told, 1 Samuel 15:35, “And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death.”
That is an important verse because there are people who say that it really was not Samuel that the witch of Endor called up, but what the text says here is that Samuel is not going to see Saul again until the day Saul dies. Samuel is going to die, go to the grave, but then God is going to allow the witch of Endor to call him back. Samuel is going to announce to Saul that “you are going to be with me this day.” You are going to be defeated by the Philistines, and it is all over. “And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul.”
There are some of us that may say, boy, Saul is getting just exactly what he deserved. That is a pharisaical attitude. Samuel is grace oriented. He understands what could have happened, how God could have blessed Israel through Saul, and what a tragedy it is. Samuel feels it to the core of his bones. He deeply laments and mourns over Saul and what has happened. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, that is a grace-oriented and a godly attitude. We should not say, well, it is his volition. He is getting what he deserved. That is not how grace-oriented Samuel felt. That is not how we should feel.
“The LORD, also, nāham, regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.” This again is an anthropopathism, but it is showing that just as God regretted making man, not that He truly regretted, but in His permissiveness He allowed it to happen, but it is not His ideal will. That is the idea. It is not what He desired for Israel.
Next time we will come back, and we will get into the next chapter, 1 Samuel 16, which is when we make the big shift to talking about David.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things tonight, and to understand how important it is to submit to Your authority, to submit to the authorities You have established over us for Your glory, and because it is the right thing to do. Father, help us to look at the issues related to politics in our lives, as well as the different spheres of authority in which we operate that we may learn to be submissive to those authorities, especially when they are not doing things exactly the way we want them to. Not that it is wrong, but then we need to obey You and obey them because that is how You work in our lives. We pray this in Christ’s Name. Amen.”