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Be Careful What You Ask For
1 Samuel 9:1–25
1st & 2nd Samuel Lesson #038
January 5, 2016
“Our Father, again we express our gratitude, our thanks to You, because You are the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Once again, as we completed this last year, you provided the resources we needed to pay all our bills and take care of all of our financial needs. For that we are extremely grateful.
Father, we pray that as we look at this next year that we may look at it as an opportunity to accelerate our own spiritual growth—that we might look at how we live and how we are devoting our time. That as Paul says in Ephesians 5:17, we are to redeem the time. That means we need to make sure we are putting our time and effort in that which counts for eternity, even though we have to work, and we have to take care of a number of temporal responsibilities. We have to make sure that those do not get in the way of our preparation for eternity.
Father, we pray that as we continue to study Your Word that the Holy Spirit would strengthen us, encourage us, that we might be edified in our souls that You might be glorified. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to 1 Samuel 9. This is one of the chapters that does not contain a prayer. It does not contain a specific teaching. It is almost all historical narrative, which is covered much more quickly when you are teaching through the Word. A narrative is describing what is taking place. One of the things that we look at is what is going on in this section.
I had an interesting question today. It came in on the Internet. Someone asked if there were any passages or verses in the Bible that we might speculate about or not know a whole lot about? A lot of people may speculate and say a lot of things about it, but a lot is not there. That is true, but:
- the more we study something,
- the more we look at the vocabulary,
- the more we come to understand the original languages,
- the more we come to understand how these terms are used in other parts of Scripture,
- the more we come to understand how that verse is used within the framework of Scripture,
- the more we understand that it may have a lot more significance.
If you think about a jigsaw puzzle, it may be that one piece in the puzzle is not showing the main thing that is depicted in the picture, but it pulls everything together. That can be true for a lot of different verses.
But one of the things that we learn in Scripture is that all Scripture is God-breathed, 2 Timothy 3:16–17. Not some Scripture, not most Scripture, not the Scripture that seems relevant or significant to us, but all Scripture is breathed out by God. Even those verses that list genealogical information, just lists names, once you start studying a lot of those verses, it means something even if you do not know who those individuals are.
We have a verse like that in the very beginning of 1 Samuel 9. Even if we do not have a lot of information about those people, there are certain things that we can learn from that verse. God has put that information there and has seen to it that it is not only recorded for the Old Testament for Israel, but it is recorded for our benefit. It is recorded in the Scripture for all the ages, for eternity.
God has not just put something there because He needed to fill a gap or something like that. It has a reason even if we may not discern what that reason is right away. It may take years to do that.
In a passage like 1 Samuel 9, it is a passage that moves us, transitions us, from Israel without a king to Israel having a king. Saul is going to be anointed the king of Israel, of all twelve tribes. That begins at the beginning of 1 Samuel 10. 1 Samuel 9 has 27 verses that build up to the point where Samuel will take out his flask of oil to anoint Saul.
As we finished with 1 Samuel 8, we saw that the people were in rebellion against God, not against Samuel or against Samuel’s leadership. But they use that as a justification. They were really truly in rebellion against God. They told Samuel they wanted to have a king. The key phrase is “like all the other nations.”
They wanted to have a king like all the other nations and be like everybody else. I do not know about you, when you were a kid, but my mother had these little sayings, something like: “If everybody else had a wart on their nose, would you want one, too?” They were always very tacky illustrations. The point was: Why would you want to be like everybody else?
That was the exact problem that we have with Israel. They wanted to be like everybody else. They thought the grass was greener on the other side of the fence. And it is sometimes, but it still needs to be cut, mowed, and weeded. No matter what it is, it either has to be painted, repainted, cleaned, cut, whatever it is. It is never perfect on the other side of the fence. They wanted to have a king, and this was not going to be a king like God wanted. God is going to answer their prayers.
This is why I titled this Be Careful What You Ask For. There is an old African proverb that goes something like this: when the gods want to make you miserable, they answer your prayers.
God is going to take Israel through an extremely harsh lesson through Samuel. Sometimes God gives us the leaders that we want in order to show us what disastrous people they are. That has happened many times throughout history. At the end of 1 Samuel 8 the Lord tells Samuel to go ahead and give the people what they want, a “king like all the other nations.”
We expect Samuel to go and select a king right away. But what we discover is that Samuel does not do that. When 1 Samuel 8 opens up, what we find in the course of the description is that Samuel had gone back home to Ramah. He is going about his priestly duties. He is fulfilling his responsibilities as a judge, a leader of Israel. And he is still waiting on the Lord for God to give him direction as to who this person will be that will be anointed.
There is an important lesson there in terms of God’s timing—until God reveals to us, or makes clear to us, usually through circumstances.
Remember, God does not speak to us today like He did in the Old Testament. He speaks to us through His Word. But He does not speak to us apart from His Word. God is silent during these years just as God was silent for the last 400 years of the period in the Old Testament before Jesus came.
God has been silent since the close of the Canon. The Canon is enough. We are to learn to trust the Scripture. We are to learn to trust what God has said. God is teaching us that we are not to be looking for something else or something new. We have to wait on the Lord in His timing.
This is what we find in passages like Proverbs 3:5–6,“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
God’s timing is going to be perfect. It is not going to be your timing or my timing. What we see here is a lesson in how Samuel goes about his day-to-day work, just as we should, waiting on the Lord to bring about the circumstances and the timing for the next step, not trying to necessarily push things.
As we look at the structure of Samuel, we have studied through 1 Samuel 1–7, where the focus was on Samuel, who is the prophet, priest, and judge. Then from 1 Samuel 8 through the end of 1 Samuel we have the life of Saul, so there are basically two stages:
- The rise of Saul in 1 Samuel 8–15.
- The decline of Saul in 1 Samuel 16–31.
This occurs at the same time as the rise of David, who will not become king until the beginning of 2 Samuel.
Now this map, and we will look at it again in a minute, but it is a little better map than I used last time. This map focuses on the center of Israel. Remember, this orients you geographically.
Over on the west you have the Mediterranean Sea. Down to the southeast of Jerusalem is the Dead Sea. Jerusalem is located on the map at Jebus, the old Canaanite name, because at the time of Saul, Jerusalem has not yet been conquered, and the Jebusites still lived there.
This is really a map showing the wars and the battles of Saul, so ignore the lines and the movement. What you see on the map is that a lot of activity takes place up and down this green and yellow line, which basically takes place in the hill country of Samaria. The towns we should be aware of:
- Jerusalem (Jebus)
- Just north of Jerusalem (Jebus) to Gibeah (maybe 7 miles)
- Ramah (6 miles north of Gibeah)
We are not very far from the center of Jebus (Jerusalem). One of the things that you should observe here is Gibeah is Saul’s hometown. How far is Saul’s home town from Ramah, which is Samuel’s hometown? Not very far. Just keep that in mind.
You have key locations:
- Gilgal, to the east of Jebus that is going to be mentioned in the text.
- Mizpah, to the north of Jebus.
- Shiloh, to the north, where the tabernacle had existed for 300 years before it was captured by the Philistines after the Ark was captured at the battle of Aphek.
What are we focusing on? We are focusing on how the Lord is working in Israel to teach them a lesson. He is going to select and anoint Saul to be the king of Israel. This is the first person God has had anointed as the king over Israel. He is not the first person the Israelites have crowned king. The first person the Israelites crowned king was the son of Gideon. His name was Abimelech.
That is always one of my fun parts. I love reading the Hebrew in the Old Testament books because they are so filled with little puns and nuances. Gideon comes along after he had defeated the Midianites, and the people want to make him king. He acts humble. He says no, I am not going to be king, but then the next verse says that he had an ephod made, which is a priestly garment, and the people worshiped it. He does really well one minute, and then he just blows it the next minute and introduces idolatry into the people.
I am not going to ask for a show of hands, but how many of y’all have done really well spiritually one minute and blown it completely the next minute? That is pretty common. That is what Gideon did.
Then he has a son. Remember, the people wanted him to be king and he said no, no, no, I am not going to be king. What did he name his son? He named his son Abimelech. Abimelech means “My father is king.” Just a little hint there.
Abimelech lines up with a bunch of ne’er-do-wells in Shechem, and they crown him to be king. He is the first king crowned over Israel. I like to use that as a trivia point. He is the first person crowned king of Israel, but he is not the first person that the Lord anointed or had crowned king. We are going to see in this section, 1 Samuel 9–16, how the Lord selects and anoints Saul to be king over Israel. The first section is this chapter, 1 Samuel 9 where we see:
1. The Lord God directing Samuel to select Saul to be king over Israel, 1 Samuel 9:1–10:16.
One of the things that we see here is a comparison and contrast between Samuel and Saul. The writer is doing that specifically. I want you to turn back to 1 Samuel 1. It begins like this.
“Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim …”We are going to see a similar word here in a minute, Zuph. It is the same basic root. You can hear the similarity. “… of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph …”See, Zophim is a territorial name that derived from an ancestor whose name was Zuph, an Ephraimite.
Look how 1 Samuel 9 begins. It should be translated the same because it is the same thing in the Hebrew, “There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.”Both names, Samuel and Saul, begin virtually the same way.
The author wants us to see and make a comparison and contrast between Samuel and Saul:
- Both are introduced with extensive genealogies going back about five generations.
- Both came from the same region of the country and rose from obscurity to national prominence.
- Both Elkanah and Saul are unknown individuals. Their families are unknown. Notice that they both come from the same area.
Seven miles down the road is Samuel’s home town. How many people in Israel know who Samuel is? Everybody. How many people know who Saul is? Nobody.
- Both Samuel and Saul had names etymologically linked to the same verb, which means “requested.” Samuel was “requested” of the Lord. Shmuel is related to the verb shaal, notice the “sh” and the “l”.
Shaal means “to ask” or “to make a request.” Shaul is the one the people requested. They both have names that ultimately connect to the same verbal root.
- Both of them lead Israel in battle against the Philistines.
- Both of them built altars to the Lord.
So there are similarities there.
There are also some important differences. In contrasting them we see that:
- Samuel is spiritually focused from childhood. Saul is not. Saul is just spiritually dense.
I know you do not know anybody like that, but I know some people like that. Maybe one or two in the congregation, but I will not say anything.
- Samuel is submitted to the Lord. He wants to serve the Lord from the time he enters service when he is 3–4 years old. He is focused on submitting to the Lord, but Saul is not.
- Samuel shows long lasting humility. Saul starts off with a measure of humility, but as he is elevated to a position of power, pride takes over.
- Samuel is not necessarily appealing to the world. There is nothing said in the Scripture about Samuel’s physical appearance, but there is about Saul. He is physically attractive. He is tall. He is handsome. Some of the translations translate it tob. We will look at that. Saul was physically attractive.
What is interesting is we live in a culture where tall is considered “good”. You look at somebody tall. We like tall leaders in America. But in Israel, the only people the Scriptures make an issue out of in terms of their height are people like Goliath, Og, the king of Bashan, and Saul. None of these do well. The only people the Bible focuses on in terms of their physical height and appearance are not necessarily people who have succeeded or done well.
What we see at the very beginning, let’s look at the first couple of verses:
1 Samuel 9:1–2, “There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.”
I want to know is if anybody here reading that second verse keyed in on a particular word there? Did anyone catch a particular word? “Choice.” That is right.
That is the doctrine of the Magnum Bar. That is the same word. One translation actually translated it “He was elect.” He is not “elect” yet. It is choice. It is that idea of excellence, someone who looks good.
In fact, when you look at various translations, that is how they translate it for the most part. Saul is described as someone who is materially well to do. He is physically impressive. He is able to inspire a following among the Israelites in these first three or four chapters. He is skilled at battle. He is able to bring about a victory.
But Saul comes from a tribe (the Benjamites) that is spiritually depraved. In fact, Gibeah, Saul’s hometown, is the scene of an event back in Judges 19 where this Levitical priest comes with his concubine, just like what happens back in Genesis 19. It is like Sodom and Gomorrah.
If you go back and listen to the study I did of that, the vocabulary, the similar vocabulary between Judges 19 and Genesis 19 in the history of Sodom and Gomorrah is impressive. There are a huge number of similar words. The writer of Scripture is saying—see what is happening! In the heart of Israel, in an Israelite town. It is the same thing that those sodomites in Sodom and Gomorrah did. They are not just as depraved as the Canaanites were.
And this is Saul’s hometown. Saul is from Gibeah. This is not a good thing. This is not a great thing. That would not sound good to a lot of people. He comes from a tribe that has demonstrated spiritual disobedience and rebellion. In fact, the Benjamites brought about a civil war that almost destroyed the tribe of Benjamin.
Saul is depicted in 1 Samuel 9:1–2 as being “pasturally” incompetent. He cannot find the donkeys. Leaders historically are viewed as being shepherds. Saul is incompetent “pasturally”. He is spiritually ignorant. He is a little bit irrational at times.
In Judges 19–21 we see the last mention of the Benjamites, when they are almost eradicated. What happens here, in the right way the Scripture is written, is that by bringing these points out, it raises questions about: Is Saul really going to be a good leader?
Later on, the people would know the story, and they would immediately pick up on the fact that this genealogy here is designed to raise questions. Just like if you go to the opera, as soon as the bad guy comes out on the scene, or just before he comes out on the scene, you hear the base notes. That foreshadows what is about to happen.
That is what this is. This is the base note. You go, oh, the bad guy, the villain of this part of the story is about to come on the scene.
We also know that back in Genesis 49:10 that God had prophesied that the scepter would not depart from the tribe of Judah—not Benjamin, Judah. God’s intent is to raise-up a king and a dynasty that would be from the tribe of Judah. All of this is brought out and emphasized in this section.
We see the introduction of Saul’s family here. His father’s name is Kish. His grandfather’s name is Abiel. His great-grandfather’s name is Zeror. In the slide I have put them in line here:
Aphiah is the head of the clan. He is the one they are tracing back too. He is described, as we see in 1 Samuel 1, “Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.” The phrase in the Hebrew is gibbor chayil. In the early part of the Scripture a gibbor is usually translated “a mighty warrior.” Some of the ways this phrase has been translated:
- Judges 11:1, “mighty warrior”
- 1 Samuel 16:18, “a brave man”
- 1 Kings 11:28, “a man of standing”
- 2 Kings 5:1, “valiant soldier”
- 1 Chronicles 12:28, “a brave warrior”
This is the idea. It is originally a military term that describes someone who has conquered the territory, demonstrated his bravery and his courage on the field of battle. But as time goes on what happened to a lot of military men? The same thing that happened then has happened in our culture. They become successful in other areas.
The idiom “man of valor” expands from just somebody who has demonstrated success and ability and strength on the battlefield, to someone who has become successful in life, someone who has become wealthy, and someone who has become strong.
The idea is that Saul descends from a line of men who have great social standing and great wealth. The family, we learn, has a number of servants. They have donkeys. They have oxen. It indicates that he is from a family that has position, that has power, but he is not one of those who is in the front of the picture.
In 1 Samuel 9:2 we are told that Kish had a “choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person…” The word “handsome” repeated there is the same word tob. Tob is the word that means basically “good”, but it has a range of meanings. It can also describe someone’s appearance. There are different translations of this:
- The NKJV calls it “choice and handsome”.
- The NET translates these two verbs as hendiadys, which I do not agree with, calling it “a handsome man.”
- The Tanakh, a Jewish translation of the Old Testament, does the same thing, “an excellent man.”
The idea of “choice” here is excellent or select, not the idea of someone who is chosen. Ever since Calvin, that is the knee jerk response—to always translate these terms as “elect.” This has nothing to do with salvation, or even God’s destiny at this point. It is just saying this is a good-looking man who is head and shoulders upward. He is taller than anybody else.
Every time I read this I always think of Sam Houston because Sam Houston was that way. He was about 6’4”. He stood head and shoulders above his comrades. People of that generation, like George Washington, who was also 6’2,” stood head and shoulders above most people. People like Samuel Adams were about 5’6”. The shortest in the 19th century was James Madison, who was 5’4”.
Last week I made the comment, in talking about this, that they are looking on the outside. They are looking at the fact that this is a tall, good-looking man, therefore we can follow him. If he looks good on the outside, he must be good on the inside. We want to judge a book by its cover.
I made the comment last time as a warning to a lot of you that we have to be careful when we look at politics today. I made comments about the fact that one of the candidates is pretty short, not because I am against the candidate. But somebody came back to me and said that some people think you do not like him. No. He is the only one I do like.
But some people point out that in American history, since the beginning of the 20th century, especially with the rise of film, television, and pictures, that Americans pick presidents like they pick their cereal. If it has a good cover and it is attractive and it sounds good superficially, we are sold, and that is whom we go with. That is the wrong thing. We do not look very much deeper into the issue.
In the United States, in western culture, tall is supposed to be a sign of strong character and good leadership. As I pointed out last time (and I am expanding on this), in electoral politics generally speaking, the shorter of the two candidates has always lost. As we look back over the 20th century, the shortest two presidents were Jimmy Carter, who is 5’9” and a half, and Harry Truman who was 5’9”. Remember, Harry Truman ascended to the presidency because Franklin Roosevelt died. Franklin Roosevelt was 6’2”.
Truman got elected to the vice-presidency on Roosevelt’s coattail. When Roosevelt died, Truman became president. He only got reelected the one time. Jimmy Carter probably never would have gotten reelected despite his high IQ. He is a fool, just like Romans 1:22 says—that many profess to be wise and became fools.
Carter was a horrible president, and he only got in because the country was reacting against Republicans because of Watergate. But we have had a history, even in the 19th century, of a lot of tall presidents, and only two shorter ones.
In this election we have an interesting thing. Trump says he is 6’2” and weighs 198 pounds. That is on his website. I have looked at Trump. If he is 6’2” he weighs 240 pounds. Some people say he is only 6’. But he is tall. Rubio is 5’10” and Ted Cruz is 5’8”. Probably they are going up against Hillary Clinton, who is 5’7”, but she is a woman. It changes the whole dynamic because it is not going to be two men, one taller and one shorter. It is up to the Lord.
The most constitutional candidate that we have is Ted Cruz. I mean nobody understands the Constitution better than Ted Cruz. This is a guy who when he was about 13 years old memorized the Constitution and went around the state with a debate team writing the Constitution out on a board word for word, week after week after week throughout the year. This guy knows the Constitution better than anybody else.
But Americans do not want a president who knows the Constitution. If we did, we would not have elected Barak Obama. We probably would not have elected George Bush or George Herbert Walker Bush. We probably would not have elected half the presidents we have elected since the end of WWI. We would not have elected Woodrow Wilson. Every president we have had had moved us further and further away from the founders who understood the principles of liberty and freedom.
If we want liberty and freedom, we have to operate on the rules of the game. Can you imagine what it would have been like last Thursday night at the Cotton Bowl if the referees treated the rules of the NCAA the same way that the Supreme Court of this country treats the Constitution? Alabama would not have won. They would not have even scored. Michigan State would have won.
That is what we have done in this country. We no longer care about who is right. We care about who looks good. We care about who has got the best PR team. That is a shame, because the most qualified guy that we have had running for president in probably the last 35–40 years is Ted Cruz.
This is what happens. It is that we look on the outside. And that is what Israel did. God is slam-dunking them for looking on the superficial. That is what He did in 1 Samuel 8. He said, “These people are not rejecting you Samuel. They are rejecting Me and My leadership. Let’s give them what they want. It will be a disaster!”
That is often what God does with us. He gives us what we want, and it becomes a disaster.
The problem that we have coming up in this next election is that people are not going to vote for the person who is the most intelligent. They are not going to vote for the person who understands the law of the land the best. They are going to vote for whatever self-centered rationale that they have.
Remember, the majority of post-modern pagans, who do not know a clue about the Bible, American history, or the Constitution, are always going to vote for the wrong person most of the time. That is the history of about the last 75–100 years of American history.
What I am warning you about is—do not get your hopes up. Fight hard, work hard, volunteer for the person you think is the best one. But I know most of you, and I am just warning you, do not put your hope in the American electorate. Put your hope in God. Do not put your hope in men of flesh.
What happens in 1 Samuel 9:3 is that Saul has got a little problem. Some of his father’s “she-asses” are lost, that is the Hebrew word. “The donkeys of Kish…” It is a feminine noun. The donkeys of Kish were lost. That is not all of them. It indicates some of them.
Kish sent his son on a search and rescue mission to find the donkeys. He says to “take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” So we see there that he has several servants.
The servant that Saul takes with him is a pretty well-informed servant. It is very likely that this is the chief of the servants. This is probably the administrator, the steward over all that the family of Kish owns. But we learn a couple of things that are important here:
1. In the ancient world leaders are often compared to shepherds.
2. Often you have some cultures that refer to their kings as shepherd-kings. In fact, the Bible uses a shepherd analogy many times to relate to leadership, for example: Isaiah 56:11, Jeremiah 10:21, Jeremiah 23:1–4.
If you think through the Bible, some of the most significant leaders in Israel’s history were shepherds. They were nomads. The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses are depicted as skillful shepherds, especially Jacob and Moses.
But Saul is pictured here in a very, very negative light. The donkeys have strayed off. The she-asses have strayed off, and he cannot find his asses with both hands and the help of a servant. The donkeys are wandering loose. Saul is pictured here as inept. He cannot take care of these large animals. We are told that he goes through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha.
These are probably like Zuph, who we talked about in reference to Elkanah in 1 Samuel 1, and with reference to Aphiah, the Benjamite. These were probably one of the ancestors who originally staked out this territory following the conquest. We do not know exactly where these territories were located, but they went through the area of Shalisha and the area of Shaalim.
These would be areas that are to the north of Gibeah and Ramah. Saul is out here traveling and walking around for several days. We read that “he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them. When they had come to the land of Zuph…”We read about Zuph. That is going to be near Ramah on the map because Zuph, the Zophites were ancestors of Samuel. That tells us we are close to the area of Ramah. It had been about three days, and Saul had not been able to find the donkeys. He says, “Come, let us return, lest my father cease caring about the donkeys and become worried about us.”
Saul searched this large area for three days with his servant. If it is a slave, it is not a slave like we think of slaves. It would be a slave like an indentured servant, but he is more likely a servant who is taking care of all the family. He is traveling throughout with Saul. This servant is not named, but he is fairly sharp. He is probably the head servant. The way this is written in the Hebrew, it should certainly be understood that way. He is not just one from the servants, but he could be.
The text uses the word echad, the word that means first. It could mean the first of the servants. This would indicate that he is the main one. Later on we learn that the house of Saul had a servant named Ziba, who had fifteen sons. He is described in 2 Samuel 19ff. He was extremely wealthy. This could be that same individual.
Here is the Hebrew word aton, for the she-ass and the she-donkey. I am not making this up. That is how it is translated. I put documentation there, the “Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament” (TWOT) and the “New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis”(NIDOTTE).
Then in 1 Samuel 9:6, as they come along, they seek guidance. Notice the spiritual insight of the servant. Saul is not insightful. Saul grew-up in Gibeah, 7 miles from Ramah.
Who is the most significant person in Israel? Samuel. Yet Saul grows up 7 miles away, and he does not have a clue who Samuel is or that he is from Ramah, 7 miles down the road. He is really spiritually dense.
We read this after Saul said “let’s go home.” The servant says,“Look now, there is in this city …”That is Ramah. “… a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass.”Let’s go there. “… perhaps he can show us the way that we should go.”
Then Saul says something to him, they have this conversation. It shows that Saul is not too bright about spiritual things. He thinks that he has to pay off the man of God to get any help. Then they have this conversation. Some things we ought to note here:
- Saul is getting more and more frustrated and discouraged. He just wants to give up and quit. He is not going to keep going until he finds the donkeys. That is going to say something about his character and his ability to get the job done.
- Saul’s servant shows a lot more spiritual insight and knowledge than his master.
As I pointed out already, Saul is profoundly ignorant of Samuel and where Samuel lives. We are told in 1 Samuel 3:20 and in 1 Samuel 4:1 that Samuel was known to all Israel, except poor old Saul, who is spiritually dense.
- Saul never thinks about divine guidance, but it is his servant who says that “we ought to go to the man of God and get some help.” The servant is spiritually focused, whereas Saul has no clue about asking God for help in the crisis.
- Saul is ignorant of how to approach the man of God. He thinks that he needs to pay him in order to get guidance. Saul’s assumption is that spiritual insight is the result of paying for it.
We see that in 1 Samuel 9:7,“But look, if we go, what shall we bring the man?”There is a sense of positive there. At least he is thinking in terms of—we should not just expect it to be free—but he does not understand how things work, that he can just go to the prophet and ask him for guidance.
In 1 Samuel 9:8, the servant volunteers. We see the generosity of the servant. He has a fourth of a shekel of silver, which is not a whole lot. He has ten or twenty bucks, as a little tip, for the prophet, but that is about it.
Then in 1 Samuel 9:9 we come to an interesting parenthetical verse: “Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: ‘Come, let us go to the seer.’ ”
This indicates that by the time the book of Samuel is written, the idiom had changed. They no longer referred to the prophet as a “seer” but as a “prophet”. This is just a little note indicating and again confirming the accuracy of the historical value of Samuel.
Then we come to the next set of verses in 1 Samuel 9:11–14, where we see that God leads Saul to the seer. We see the invisible hand of God behind the scene. Remember Proverbs 3:5–6? We trust in the Lord, and He will direct our paths. Samuel is trusting the Lord; Saul is not. But God is still directing the paths. He is going to bring Saul to Samuel.
We are told in 1 Samuel 9:11— (and I want you to notice something here. Notice the verbs and notice the action. Up to this point things have gone along in a general pace, about 30 miles per hour, but notice what happens here):
Saul and his servant are walking up the hill to the city, and there are some young girls coming in a group. This tells us that it is evening. This is when they normally go and draw water for the evening meal. We are going to find out in a few minutes that there is going to be an evening sacrifice.
This was one of the few times in their culture when a strange man could talk, have a conversation with the girls. And Saul and his servant ask, “Is the seer here? And they answered them and said, ‘Yes, there he is, just ahead of you. Hurry now; for today he came to this city, because there is a sacrifice of the people today on the high place.’ ”
“Today he came.”
If you had gotten here yesterday he would not be here. If you got here tomorrow he would be gone. Today! He was here. Do you think that is a coincidence? That is the timing of God—“today on the high place.”
1 Samuel 9:13, “As soon as you come into the city…”Notice how the pace has picked up. “As soon as you come into the city, you will surely find him before he goes to the high place…”You do not want to waste time, because if he gets up there, he is going to be busy with the sacrifice. They are saying “you need to find him before he goes to the high place.”
“For the people will not eat until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now therefore, go up, for about this time you will find him.”Hurry!
There is this sense—There he is!—Notice the words that are used there. There he is, just now! Hurry! He just came for today! Find him before he goes to the high place! Go! The pace picks up a lot.
Saul and his servant go looking for Samuel. As they are walking up, they point out that Samuel is just in front of them. Do you think that was a coincidence?
See, when God is in things, the circumstances are going to work out. He will arrange the circumstances providentially. You do not have to look for them.
Samuel is not naval gazing looking for the will of God. You have heard me teach on the will of God before. If you want to know God’s will, you read the Scripture and do what God says to do. You go about your daily business, as Saul went about his, and God is going to direct your paths.
He is not playing some sort of shell game where you have to guess which half of the walnut shell the pea is under. That pea would represent the will of God. What you have to do is do what God says to do, and He will direct your paths.
Saul and his servant come to Samuel. Samuel is headed up toward the high place. What is interesting is the Hebrew word for “high place”is bamah. Bamah is the Hebrew cognate for the Greek word BEMA.
Even today, you go into a synagogue, what is the dais called? What is the platform called? It is called the BEMA. It is a raised platform.
In the ancient world, you would go to the coliseum to view the athletic contests. The judges were all sitting in a distinct set of benches that were called the BEMA. This word originally goes back to the Hebrew. It is a high place. That is all that it means. It is an elevated place.
This was a sacred site and an altar that Samuel had built there, because the Philistines destroyed Shiloh where the tabernacle had been about 20–30 years before.
He had built the altar here, and he would regularly serve as the priest there and offer sacrifices. Remember, he served as a Levitical priest. He would pronounce a blessing if he was in town. He would pronounce a blessing over the evening sacrifices.
The other thing that we see here is that eating is associated with worship. Eating is often part of fellowship with God. In the Church Age, we have the Lord’s Table and fellowship with man. Worshippers eat.
In the Old Testament they would participate in the eating of both peace offerings and fellowship offerings—the same kind of thing that we saw in 1 Samuel 1:4 when Elkanah’s family would take offerings to Shiloh, and then they would eat there. They would partake of those peace and fellowship offerings.
Then we come to the next section in 1 Samuel 9:15–27, which describes how Saul meets Samuel, and how God reveals His selection to Saul, which is in 1 Samuel 9:15–17.
This is what we see in 1 Samuel 9:15, “Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying…”
Some people who do not understand Scripture and do not teach Scripture verse-by-verse will go in and will jerk this verse out of context and say, if you want to know God’s will you have to listen to Him. He will speak in your ear. That is garbage!
God did not speak in the ear of anybody in Israel at this time except Samuel. It is a unique and distinct function for the leader of Israel, who is a prophet and a priest and a judge. He does not do that for everybody else.
This idea that God speaks to us today, other than through His Word is mysticism.
Mysticism is the modus operandi of the pagan. That is what the pagans did in the ancient world. That is not what believers did. Believers look to the Torah, the instruction of God. That is how God spoke—either through the Torah or through the prophets.
Once the Canon was completed and God has given us all that information, nothing new is added. So this is a unique situation. God spoke to Samuel. It is audible information.
The day before, God was speaking to Samuel and says in 1 Samuel 9:16, “ ‘Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin …”
Notice how precise it is. God does not speak in generalities. Yet a lot of these people you hear today when you watch these televangelists, when you listen to these preachers, and you listen to what they say God says to them, it is pretty general. It is never as precise as what you have in Scripture.
“… about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel …”
The word for “anoint” is the Hebrew word mashah. The verb mashah, which in the noun form is mashiach, meaning “the anointed one, the Messiah.”
That is where we get that term. The kings and the priests were anointed ones. That means they were appointed to a specific role and a specific task. Saul is appointed to be “the commander over My people.”
I want you to notice here that you have five uses of the phrase “my people.”This emphasizes that even though there is going to be a human leadership shift from Samuel to a king, the people are God’s people. The leader of Israel is an under-shepherd. The people do not become the king’s people.
It says, “… you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel that he may save My people Israel …”
Here is a use of the word “save” that does not talk about getting into Heaven. It is temporal deliverance from the Philistines.
“… he will deliver My people from the hand of the Philistines ...”
One of the roles of the royal mashiach, the royal Messiah, is to deliver people from their enemies. This is what is going to happen in a couple of chapters.
In 1 Samuel 11, one of the first things that Saul does is rescue the Israelites at Jabesh-Gilead from the siege by Nahash the Ammonite. That is the job of the executive branch. The job of the president, the job of a king, is to do two things. Anything else is ungodly and unrighteous. He is to:
- protect the people from foreign enemies
- and to protect the people from criminals in the country
That is it folks. In fact, if you read the original Constitution and understand the emphasis of our founding fathers, they saw the primary power of this country—who it is that had real power in any business.
Who really controls the business? It is whoever controls the money. What do we say whenever we think that there is corruption going on? Follow the money!
We think that criminal activity took place? What do we do? Look for the money trail! Because money talks.
So when we look at how our government was structured in the Constitution, who controls the money? According to the Constitution, it is Congress. The President should not be allowed to spend one dime unless the people say it is okay.
The Congress is the people’s house. It is the House of Representatives that originates spending bills. We have got to clean house. We have got to get rid of every single congressman who has allowed a president to initiate spending, and to spend without congressional permission. That is illegal!
A country cannot survive if the leaders are operating outside of the law. We have created not only a ruling class, but because of the way they just wink at the Constitution, they are just as bad as what you had all through the Old Testament, with all these kings who just flaunted the Torah.
They ignored what God said, just like they ignore what the Constitution says. It is the same problem. It is the problem of arrogance. The only solution is going to be interference from God. That is never fun for a nation—when God starts interfering.
The mashiach is to save his people. That is part of the job of the President. It is to give national security from external and internal enemies.
“… that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.’ ”
God is responding. He is going to deliver Israel from the Philistines, and both Samuel and Saul fought the Philistines.
Then in 1 Samuel 9:17 we read, “So when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him …”
Here is the Lord talking in his ear, whispering in Samuel’s ear again. It is audible. If you had a little MP3 recorder you could have held it up right next to Samuel’s ear, and you could have recorded the whisper of God. It was objective. It is not inside his head. It is outside. He is speaking into his ear.
“There is he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people.”
This is not the word we would expect for “reign”. This is the word atsar, which means he will “restrain” My people. That is what 1 Samuel 8 said. He is going to raise the taxes. He is going to build a bureaucracy.
We have a government where almost 50% of the people get a government paycheck. That is horrible. That is self-destruction. That restrains people because you have to tax everybody else to pay the salaries of those 50% that are getting a government check. You have half the people working to support the other half. That cannot work. That is going to fall apart sooner or later.
Atsar is word means to restrain, to close up, to retain, shut, withhold, refrain, stay or detain. It is a negative word. It is never used positively. The King James translated it “shall reign”. It should be “This one shall restrain My people.” He is going to cause problems, but he is the one I have chosen. God is indicating already that they are going to learn a negative lesson here.
As Saul came up to Samuel, he does not have a clue who he is talking to. Saul said, 1 Samuel 9:18, “Please tell me, where is the seer’s house?”Samuel introduced himself. “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today…”
Remember, the young girls had already told them that after the sacrifice there would be a group that would eat separately, and that would be honored. That is this group. This was typical. What we are going to see here is this meal that takes place is a meal with Samuel, where he is going to give the best meat, the best food, to Saul.
Who are these other dignitaries that are there? Let me suggest that they are the leaders of Israel, the elders of Israel, even though they are not identified as such. Samuel is laying the groundwork because he is about to anoint Saul to be the king.
In 1 Samuel 9:19–20, Samuel says that he is going to go up. “You will eat with me today. Tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart. But as for your donkeys, do not worry about them. They have been found.”
As they go up, they prepare to eat. They prepare to have this particular fellowship. What we see here that is really interesting.
As they come together to dine, they represent something that happened typically in the ancient world—that you would give the largest plate of food and the best cuts of meat to the person who was the guest of honor. He would get the most food and the highest quality food. This is indicated also in a number of passages. This food is one that had a lot of fat in it. We talk about low=fat diet. This was not a low-fat diet.
Look at some of the passages of Scripture. I pointed out a few. I have never figured out the emphasis on the fat. Jay Collins and I have had conversations about this. I have had conversations with Randy Price and others. Why is it that they valued the fat? I have not figured out why that is important, but they did.
God said in Exodus 29:22, “Also you shall take the fat of the ram, the fat tail, the fat that covers the entrails, the internal fat, the fatty lobe attached to the liver, the two kidneys, and the fat on them, the right thigh…”That goes to the priest.
Exodus 29:27, “… you shall consecrate the breast (of the sacrifice) as a wave offering … and the thigh of the heave offering … that is for Aaron… and his sons.”That is going to be the right thigh. I think the thigh that is going to be given to Saul is going to be the left thigh.
Leviticus 7:32, “Also the right thigh you shall give to the priest.” It is this fatty part that is considered to be the delicacy.
I do not have time to talk about the time we were sitting at a dinner in Kazakhstan. It was a goat's head on the platter. The oldest person was to get the honor of eating the eyeballs. They offered that to me. I said, no, no, no, George Meisinger is two decades older than me. I exaggerated. He is a decade and a half. He was so gracious. He said to the hostess, well you like them so much I would hate to take that away from you. You enjoy those eyeballs, and she did. Different cultures value different things.
Samuel, Saul, and the group ate, and we find as we come down to the last couple of verses, 1 Samuel 9:25, “When they had come down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on the top of the house.” If the weather were good, especially in the spring or summer, when it is warm, they would conduct their business on the roof outside.
Where do we see this in Scripture? We see this in John 3. Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night and they are sitting on the roof. It is where it is cool. It is too hot and stuffy inside the house where they meet. Here too they are meeting on top of the house.
The next day, in 1 Samuel 9:26, “They arose early; and it was about the dawning of the day that Samuel called to Saul on the top of the house …” He probably slept out there because it was cooler… “on the top of the house, saying, ‘Get up, that I may send you on your way.’ And Saul arose, and both of them went outside, he and Samuel.”
We will stop there. In 1 Samuel 9:27 we start getting into the actual anointing of Saul. We will begin there when I return from Kiev in three weeks.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things this evening. Above all, when we talk about sacrifice, we know that all sacrifices point to the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross for our sins, and that we have eternal salvation simply by trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
Now Father, we ask that You help us to recognize from our study that often what we think we need, often what we ask for may not be the best. Often we operate on pride and arrogance, looking at things on the outside and not on the heart as You do. We pray that You would give us wisdom and discernment, and especially in this upcoming election cycle, that we might pick men and women to serve and lead this country who are truly humble, who are truly dependent upon You, and truly understand the issues of good, integrity, leadership, and how to follow the Constitution of this country along with Your Word. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”