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1 Samuel 14:46–15:4
1st & 2nd Samuel Lesson #050
April 26, 2016
“Our Father, we are thankful for this time this evening where we can come together to focus upon You and Your Word—to learn from that which You have revealed to us and preserved down through the centuries, that we may come to understand how life really works, that we may come to understand truth about You, truth about us as human beings, fallen, corrupt, and under the control of our sin nature, and that we can learn the truth about Your grace and Your goodness—that You have provided everything for us.
Even though things may look very dark at times, nevertheless, You still remain in control. You provide for us. You sustain us. You strengthen us, and as we learn to walk with You, we come to understand how great and magnificent Your grace really is. Father, we pray that You would help us to understand the things we are studying tonight, that the Spirit can use these things that we study to strengthen our spiritual life. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We are in 1 Samuel 14, and we are in a transition section. This section began with 1 Samuel 8 where we see the desire of Israel for a king. We see God revealing to Samuel in 1 Samuel 9 that this king is going to be Saul. Then we are introduced to Saul, and we come to understand that Saul has certain character flaws. Not unlike everybody else.
It is always sad when people jump to the conclusion that Saul must not have been a believer because he had character flaws. If that were true, then we would all be in trouble. Saul is a perfect picture of the believer who is in disobedience to Him.
Saul is a believer, and that he will spend eternity in Heaven is clear at the end of 1 Samuel when he goes to the witch of Endor. The witch of Endor, who goes through her usual charlatan tricks, her fraud, to bring up the dead and talk to the dead, is totally surprised by the fact that this time God allowed Samuel to return from the grave, which really irritated Samuel. He is not happy about that.
But Samuel told Saul, “tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.” Now that does not mean you are going to be dead, like I am dead. “With me” has a much tighter connotation. Where Samuel was, that is where Saul would be, which can only be in Paradise, where Old Testament saints went when they died prior to the coming of Christ and the Cross.
Saul is a great picture for us, an object lesson, in arrogance and self-absorption and where that leads. We will see these things as we wrap up 1 Samuel 14.
1 Samuel 15 begins the last section of 1 Samuel. And in 1 Samuel 15 we see the big transition as we go into the end of Saul’s dynasty and the lead up to the selection of David, a man after God’s own heart.
1 Samuel 15 to the end of the book represents the last section where the focus shifts to David. This is the transition section.
Now we got to about 1 Samuel 14:46–47 last time. The last part of 1 Samuel 14 is a summary. It wraps up what is going on and gives us a progress report on Saul.
That is why I think that the break does not come between 1 Samuel 15 and 16, which is where David becomes the king. It is because what you get at the end of 1 Samuel 14 is this summary statement about Saul—basically a progress report.
Normally these statements are given at the conclusion of a person’s life. But what we see here is at the conclusion of the period where Saul has a measure of God’s blessing. But from this point on, he does not have God’s blessing. And in the author’s mind, that is where the shift occurs.
Here is a reminder of some of the geography here. This is important. The more I travel in Israel, the more I am on the ground, the more I look at things, the more I realize how important it is—especially in these last couple of chapters where we went through the battle at Michmash and looked at the pictures. And seeing the geography, it gives us a further dimension to understand what is happening.
What we have here is a basic map. You can always remember this if you think you are looking north. Just remember—on the left hand you have the west, the Mediterranean, and on your right hand you have, the east, the Jordan Valley and the River Jordan. To the north you are going to have Galilee, and to the south you are going to have Judah. You picture standing in Jerusalem looking north.
That is what we see here. Just north of Jerusalem (Jebus on this map) five miles or so, is Gibeah, Saul’s hometown. A couple of miles further on you have Ramah, which is Samuel’s hometown. Then it is in that area between Ramah and Bethel, just north of Ramah, that you have the location for the battle of Michmash. To the northeast of Gibeah is where you have the location of Geba and Michmash.
In this map you see through the lines some of the various troop movements that are taking place in the book of Samuel. We will concentrate on this center section here right now.
What you have is Ramah, right by the numeral 1. Geba is slightly north of due east. And north of that you have Michmash. The ravine in between is the area where Jonathan scaled the cliffs. You see the movement of the troops in the center section of the map.
- The black arrows represent the Philistine troops, as they sent one battalion north, one battalion east, and another battalion west, to secure the pass of Michmash.
- The blue arrows represent how the Israelites pursued them.
This is what we get at the end of the previous section, 1 Samuel 14:11ff. We see that the Israelites pursued the Philistines. They pursued them as far as Aijalon, which is to the west.
If you look at the one blue arrow pointing to the south, it depicts Saul’s movements sometime later. We do not know how much time goes by between 1 Samuel 14 and 1 Samuel 15. It could be a couple of years. It could be a longer period of time. But it is at that time that Saul moved south against the Amalekites.
But also, as we see in the summary verse in 1 Samuel 14:47, he moves against the Moabites, the Edomites. He is going to move this blue arrow north to go against the Arameans in the north. Saul excels as a military commander in securing the borders and the security of Israel. He understands that. He is very capable in some areas of his life.
We are told in 1 Samuel 14:31 that they drove the Philistines that day from Michmash all the way to Aijalon. That is when the people were very faint. That is where the whole incident with Jonathan tasting the honey in the forest occurred.
The Israelites were so faint at the end of the day that they were killing animals and eating the blood, which was disobedience, 1 Samuel 14:31–35.
And in 1 Samuel 14:46 there is a summary that after they had accomplished this defeat “Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines and the Philistines went to their own place.”
Now where is “their own” place? The Philistines go down along the coast. That is where the Philistine cities were located.
Here is an enlargement of the map showing the movements after the battle of Michmash where they pursued them to Aijalon, which is getting down into the area at the edge of the hill country.
If you have been to Israel, when you are traveling on the highway to Tel Aviv, it reaches a point where you start coming out of the hills and start heading down into the low country. The technical term for all the low country area along the west coast of Israel, is the Shephelah.
As you are coming down into the Shephelah, that area is where Aijalon was located. This is the same place where God stilled the sun so Joshua could continue to fight all day. It is located in that area.
We are told in 1 Samuel 14:47, “So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the people of Ammon, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he harassed them.”
Now we need to look at this verse to get the idea of what is going on here. We do not know a whole lot about the time lapse between 1 Samuel 14:46 and 1 Samuel 15, but this is a summary that will cover the rest of Saul’s reign, as he brings security to the borders of the nation.
Here is a principle: For a nation to exist it has to have secure borders.
This is because if your borders are not defensible and defended and secure other peoples and other cultures will overrun you.
You will no longer exist as a distinct culture and as a distinct nation. This is something that is not obvious to liberals in this country. Liberals think you can have open borders. In fact, we are seeing the influence of extreme liberalism in Europe right now.
Our President has just been in Europe. He has been telling the British that they cannot leave the European Union (EU). He has been praising the Prime Minister of Germany, Angela Merkel, and telling her how wonderful it is that she is letting all of these Assyrians and all of these Middle Eastern and North African refugees into Europe.
This is liberalism run amuck. What happens when this takes place is you are overrun as a culture. It destroys your distinctiveness. You basically let an alien culture come in.
This usually happens from military force, but it has happened with or without military force down through the centuries. It is how one nation is transplanted, how one culture is destroyed by another.
When we look at the Bible, we know that it teaches that God established in Genesis five different divine institutions. These institutions are for believer and unbeliever alike. They are not just for Christians. The first three divine institutions were established before the Fall.
- The first divine institution was human responsibility.
God gave every human being personal responsibility and made them accountable for their decisions and for their actions. Every human being is accountable to God for their decisions.
In the Garden of Eden the test was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were told not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because there would be a tremendous, drastic, severe penalty, and in the day that they ate of it, they would die.
They did not die physically, but they died spiritually. They were separated from God.
That is exhibited in Genesis 3:8 when God came to walk in the Garden. Adam and Eve expected Him. The idea is that God normally came and spent time with them, teaching them, talking to them, and enlightening them as to the nature of His Creation. He gave them the information needed by which they could organize all the empirical data that they were collecting on a day-to-day basis.
So Adam and Eve ran and hid from God. That was their response. They were afraid. Up to that time, there had been a harmonious relationship with God. But their disobedience broke that relationship, and now they had become accountable for their decision. They suffered a penalty.
When God rules his Creation, there is a penalty for disobedience. When man rules under the principles of liberalism, he tries to ameliorate the consequences. The only ones that get consequences and reap the ire of the culture are those who are holding to God’s standards. That is a corollary to the principle of suppressing the truth in unrighteousness according to Romans 1:18ff.
When people are suppressing the truth, they are angry. They become more and more angry when anybody reminds them that what they are doing is wrong, that they cannot do it. Think about a little kid. Everybody here has had experiences with little kids. You tell that little kid that he cannot do what he really wants to do and what is his response?
He gets angry, because you are trying to control him. You are trying to tell him that he cannot do what he wants to do. He cannot feed the lust of his sin nature. He wants to be able to do anything and everything he wants to do whenever he wants to do it, however he wants to do it.
That is what happens under liberalism and in post-modernism. You throw off those guards for the arrogant orientation of our sin nature. Then what happens is that we throw temper tantrums. We will throw them against God. We will throw them against anybody else that represents God and His standards, because we do not like that.
To understand the culture is to understand that the more it gets away from God, the more those who represent God and represent truth and the absolutes of Scripture are going to become the objects of scorn, hatred, and anger.
Our response is not to be a response of bitterness, a response of vindictiveness, or a response of vengeance. It is to be a response of grace, a response of kindness. A response that is firm in standing for the truth does not compromise, but we are to have that level of genuine compassion that we get from Scripture.
- The second divine institution is marriage.
Marriage was designed by God to be between one man and one woman. Anything other than that is always depicted in Scripture as personally, spiritually, and socially destructive.
The Bible does not come out and say that polygamy is immoral, or that having a concubine is immoral and a sin. But what it shows is that when these things were practiced, it was destructive to the family.
- Family is the third divine institution.
The family is the incubation of the next generation:
- It is where they are taught. It is where they are trained.
- It is where they are to learn discipline.
- It is where they are to learn about God.
- It is where they are to learn absolutes.
- It is where they are to learn how to think, how to reason.
- It is where they are to learn how to problem solve.
- It is especially where they learn how to submit to authority, in a biblical way, not in a Marine Corp boot camp way necessarily, but in a biblical way.
A child has to understand authority. If a child does not get authority orientation by the time they are four years old, you are going to have problems as a parent.
Sometimes you will find parents who want to spoil their young children. Some cultures are that way. But either you weep when they are one to four years old, because you are having to punish them, or you are going to weep after they are fourteen, and weeping will last a lot longer.
Not every child is necessarily going to respond well. Some are strong willed. But it is the role of the parents to teach them discipline, because that is what will get them through the rest of life.
Those divine institutions: Individual responsibility, Marriage, and Family were all designed before there was sin, even in the Garden.
That tells us that even in a perfect society, in an environment of absolute sinless perfection, those three divine institutions are necessary for stability in the human race.
Then after the Fall, and after all the horrors of the excessive freedom and autonomy and rebellion that occurred prior to the Noahic Flood, what you have after the Flood is God establishing a new divine institution—a fourth divine institution.
- The new divine institution was government.
God delegates government to man—the responsibility to govern themselves and to have judicial penalties, and to execute those penalties within society, whether it is something that involves anything from a misdemeanor, municipal problem, or to some sort of felonious activity.
After that, some 200–300 years later at the tower of Babel when the human race disobeyed God again, God then divided them by giving them languages. That is a totally separate divine institution.
- That fifth divine institution is the foundation for nations.
When any of those divine institutions are being violated, a nation and a culture will collapse.
If you go back and listen to the series I taught in 2008 on “Decision Making in the Voting Booth,” that is the framework for understanding how to make decisions when we vote for candidates.
- It is not how they look.
- It is not the political party they are in.
- It has nothing to do with their ethnicity.
- It is not their skin color.
- It is not their background.
- It is not what college or university they went to.
None of those factors; it has to do with their belief system—what they believe about those five divine institutions, plus Israel.
What we have seen in our nation in the last eight years is a tremendous collapse, because the erosion of those divine institutions went into warp drive about seven years ago. We are now seeing the consequences of that.
It is going to really hurt individual Christians in the church in coming years, but the root of all that is arrogance. Man wants to define his own reality.
And that is Saul’s problem. Saul is good in some areas. He is bad in other areas. We see this picture of how he is good and how he is strong. He understood the fifth divine institution.
Today in western civilization, this influence of liberalism does not understand the importance of the fifth divine institution of nations. They do not understand that. They want to have open borders. They want to take down all the barriers of culture. It is not necessarily in arrogance. It is not that there is prejudice and bigotry, although that certainly exists in some quarters.
It is a recognition that to have order, prosperity, and protection, there has to be consistency within a certain area.
When you leave your house, you do not leave the door open for anybody who can to walk in and take up their residence. Pretty soon you would not have anything, and neither would anybody else.
This is what Saul recognizes.
We have the Philistines on the east. Actually the description on the slide goes counterclockwise. Saul protects against the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Edomites, and then over to Philistia and up to the kings of Zobah. Zobah is an area in Syria, which is the area of Aram; and lastly, the Amalekites. Saul takes care of all the enemies on every side and defeats them.
Then we are told, “Wherever he turned he harassed them.” The word for “harassed” is an interesting word. It is the Hebrew word, rasha, which literally means something having to do with being wicked or condemning. But it is an idiomatic use where it means that Saul deals harshly with them. It either means:
- He defeated them.
- He destroyed them.
- He plundered them.
- He caused them to be destroyed.
- He established sovereignty in Israel.
So here is a summary of Saul and application to the Christian life:
- Saul, like many believers, has compromised with his sin nature.
- He has let his own self-absorption run away with him.
- He is arrogant. He demonstrates complete mastery of the arrogance skills.
- He is self-absorbed.
We have seen that he is very concerned about himself. He is not very interested in others. He shows a remarkable ignorance of priestly things and of the religion of Israel.
Remember when Saul is first looking for his lost donkeys? It is his servant that tells him as they approach Ramah, that this is the city of the prophet. Saul has no idea who the prophet is. Yet Samuel has been the prophet judging Israel for probably 20 years at that point.
That would be comparable to someone in this country not knowing that the President lives in Washington D.C. It is beyond our comprehension.
So Saul is self-absorbed. And when you are self-absorbed, as you ratchet that up, you become self-indulgent. You give into yourself. Then, as you go through self-indulgence, you commit more and more ethically questionable decisions, to wrong decisions. You justify yourself. You justify all your actions.
In 1 Samuel 15 we are going to see once again that Saul manifests self-justification. He does two things:
- You come up with a reason why you cannot be held accountable, divine institution #1, for the decisions you make. You blame somebody else for the decisions you make.
Both Adam and Eve in the Garden first manifested that. They were blaming each other. Adam, in a masterful sentence says: “Lord, it is the woman You gave me.” He blamed the woman and God in one shot.
That is how Saul is. He is in self-justification, self-deception because when you are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, you cannot see what is going on. There is no objectivity in your own life. You have slipped into irrationality because you are divorced from reality.
That leads to self-deification. You are basically worshiping yourself in the place of God. Saul has compromised his sin nature and let his arrogance run free. Christians can do that day in and day out.
- Even though we see all of these arrogance skills functioning in Saul, he still shows that in his business or professional life as king, he is exceptionally competent. He is able to fulfill his mission to protect the people even though he is filled with arrogance. However, that is not going to last very long.
- Saul’s spiritual life does not seem to impact his professional life for some time, but eventually it does. His arrogance in spirituality begins to cloud and shape his judgment.
Saul was told by Samuel at the beginning of 1 Samuel 15 that they were to slaughter, annihilate all of the Amalekites. That seems harsh to us, and we will deal with the issues behind that when we get there. But Saul is told to slaughter all of them—man, woman, child, infant nursing child, and all their animals. Everybody dies.
When he gets done and Samuel confronts him, what is Saul’s response? “Well, I did.”
I do not think Saul is lying. I think in self-deception he thinks he did what he was supposed to do. He has justified it so much in his own thinking that he is going to use these animals to worship God and to do it his way that he is blind to the fact that he has not been obedient. He cannot see the truth for what it is anymore. That is what happens.
We see this a lot of times in people’s lives. I do not know how many times I am asked a question by somebody, “How in the world can that happen? How can those people do what they are doing? It is not logical.”
But logic is not the issue. They are in spiritual rebellion. That means they are in irrationality. As a result of that, you cannot logically explain why they are saying and doing the things they are doing because it is irrational.
By definition, rationality cannot explain irrationality. It is a spiritual rebellion of a dark soul.
What we see is that Saul’s spiritual life does not impact his professional life for a very, very long time. But eventually it does. And there are disastrous consequences, not only for himself, but also for his family and for the entire nation.
- What is not said is what cast a shadow on this whole evaluation. He is evaluated well in light of what he has accomplished militarily.
So what is missing?
- There is no mention of God.
- There is no mention of God’s blessing on Saul.
- There is no mention on the fact that God is the One who provided this deliverance.
God is missing from this evaluation because God is missing from Saul’s life. The absence of God in this summary statement speaks volumes.
- The conclusion: In this section from 1 Samuel 14:47 through 1 Samuel 15, we are going to see the outworking of Saul’s arrogance. It destroys him. It destroys all of his hopes, all of his dreams. It will destroy his family, and it will almost destroy Israel. If it were not for God’s grace in providing David, it would have destroyed them.
One side note that I want to make you aware of as we go through this on-going, never-ending, horrible election season, this spring of 2016:
You have often heard me say that a nation often gets the leader that they deserve. A democratic culture is going to vote for somebody who goes along with their values. The leaders that we get are often the leaders that we deserve. That is in God’s permissive will. He lets that happen so that we can experience judgment.
But every now and then, God gives us leaders we do not deserve. And that is what happens with Israel. They are going to get David, whom they do not deserve. They wanted a king like all the other nations, and they got one. They do not see the problem. Spiritually they have not improved.
We have not seen anything yet to talk about the people having refocused their thinking upon God and turning back to God at all. But what we do see is Saul representing the self-destructive orientation and arrogance of the nation.
Saul is harassing these peoples, which means he is defeating them. He is bringing them down. 1 Samuel 14:48 “And he gathered an army and attacked the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them.” We will talk more about the Amalekites when we get into the beginning of 1 Samuel 15.
The Amalekites arguably are Israel’s worst enemy, and their longest sustained enemy in the Old Testament. In fact, when you talk in the Jewish community, when they identify an enemy, whether it is the modern day Iranians or whether it is the Nazi’s under Hitler—what term do they use to refer to their enemy? They are Amalek. They are all Amalek.
That is the term that they use to define the ongoing enemy in the world that is the present manifestation of anti-Semitism. Remember, in Esther we see the opposition there against the Israelites. Haman is a descendant of Agag, who is the king of the Amalekites. Amalek becomes the definitive term that Jews use to describe their enemy.
The last one listed is the territory of Amalek. It is not defined in Scripture. The Amalekites were first encountered as Israel came out of Egypt on their way to Mt. Sinai (Exodus 17). The Amalekites seem to be a roving band of terrorists, not unlike ISIS today. The Amalekites are a roving band, quite populous, a large group.
The Amalekites basically settled down after the Exodus somewhere in the area of the Sinai Peninsula south of Israel in the area of the Negev.
Remember, all this area is the area of the desert. To the south is Kadesh Barnea. This whole area is the area where the Israelites were for forty years before God allowed them eventually to cross over, go around Edom and Moab, then come to Mt. Nebo, and enter into Israel.
This map is showing the movements of Saul after the battle of the Amalekites, which is in the south. Saul will take off and go to Carmel. This is not the Mt. Carmel of Elijah. That is up in the north near Haifa. This is another Carmel in the south.
What we see is that Saul is going to be chosen by God to be given the privilege of fulfilling Old Testament prophecy to destroy the Amalekites.
God had promised this to Israel, to Moses, back in Exodus. It had been restated in Deuteronomy, and yet throughout all this time period the Amalekites were a problem. Saul is going to deliver Israel.
There are two key words in 1 Samuel 14:48.
- Saul “delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them.” “Delivered” is from the Hebrew word natsal, which means “to take something away or deliver.” It is used many times as a synonym for yasha, the word for “saved.” Yasha becomes the name Yeshua. That is the name for Jesus. It is the name for Joshua. It is from the noun meaning “to save or to deliver.”
Natsal is used in parallelism with yasha in Psalm 7:1, but in that context it means “physical deliverance,” as yasha does in many passages, the same as SOZO does in the New Testament.
In Psalm 39:8 it clearly has spiritual overtones, as it does in Psalm 51:14 and Psalm 79:9. This is a word that can picture spiritual salvation, but here it is picturing a physical deliverance from this enemy.
- Then Saul is going to “plunder them.” This is the word shasah, which also means “to plunder,” to completely despoil, these Amalekites. That was what Saul was supposed to do. But he took it for himself, which was in violation of God’s mandate.
1 Samuel 14:49–51 is a summary of Saul’s family. There is a genealogical reference here, but I am not going to deal with all the issues related to this. It is confusing. The first problem has to do with Saul’s sons in the first three verses (of the five verses) on the slide:
- 1 Samuel 14:49
- 1 Samuel 31:2
- 1 Chronicles 10:2
- 1 Chronicles 8:33
- 1 Chronicles 9:39
These five passages list Saul’s sons. The first three verses are grouped together coming out of 1 Samuel, and 1 Chronicles is the parallel.
We are told in 1 Samuel 14:49, “The sons of Saul were Jonathan, Jishui (Ishvi), and Malchishua.”
There is one that is not listed. That is Ishbosheth. He is not listed.
1 Samuel 31:2 is the battle of Mt. Gilboa, when Saul kills himself. Jonathan is killed, and the other sons are killed. We read that list:
“Then the Philistines followed hard after Saul and his sons. And the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua.”
Wait a minute. Abinadab is not mentioned in that previous list.
How do we do that? How do we pull those together? 1 Chronicles 10:2 lists the three sons as: Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua.
People back then, as they do today, had two or three names sometimes. It is believed by most scholars that Ishvi, mentioned in 1 Samuel 14:49, is the same person as Abinadab. Here are the options:
- You could say Ishvi is a variant of Esh-Baal that is in 1 Chronicles 8:33 and 1 Chronicles 9:39.
But to do that, as some scholars do, they have to change the reading of the Hebrew text from the name Ishvi to Esh-Yo, and there is no textual support for that anywhere. There is no variant listed in any manuscript that could possibly do that. That is pure conjecture and making it up as you go along.
In these scholars’ view, Ishvi should be read as a “man of Yahweh.” “Ish” being the Hebrew word for “man.” “Vi” would be the second syllable in Yahweh. Man of Yahweh would be parallel to “man of Baal.”
We normally think of Baal as the god in the Canaanite pantheon, who is the son of El. But Baal was also a Canaanite or Hebrew word for “lord.” Ishvi would be “man of Yahweh” and the scholars would translate that “man of Baal.”
- The name Ishbosheth means “man of shame” in 2 Samuel 2:8, but it is parallel to Esh-Baal. “Esh” is man. “Baal” is lord. The scholars try to make this connection, but there is no textual support for that at all.
- If Ishvi is not Esh-Baal or Abinadab, then there are two sons who are left out of the listings. Then there is an unknown one, Ishvi, added in, which does not make sense either.
What this boils down to is these are the kinds of things liberals attack conservatives on and say that there are contradictions in the Bible. Sometimes we have to take a little time and say, “look there are other explanations.” The best solution for this is that these three sons—Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchishua—are all adults in this second part of 1 Samuel.
But what happens is we come to 2 Samuel 2:10 and we are told that Ishbosheth, Saul’s son that survives, was 40 years old when he began to reign over Israel.
If Saul reigned 40 years, when is Ishbosheth born? When Saul begins to reign.
It is at this point when you have these genealogical listings in 1 Samuel 14:49, Ishbosheth is a baby, maybe one year old. He does not count yet. You do not even know at that time if he is going to live and survive. He would have been an infant at that time.
Who are being listed here are the adult sons. Those are the adult sons that are fighting in the army. They are the ones who were killed. This resolves the problem. Ishbosheth is the fourth son who came along later in life for Saul. He is an infant early in Samuel. That makes sense. That is an easy resolution.
There are some other problems that I am not going to get into. These have to do with some of the relationships in Saul’s family, whether Ner is his uncle or his cousin.
1 Samuel 14:50, “The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.” But the question here: is Abner Saul’s uncle, or is Ner Saul’s uncle? Think about that for a while and do some work on this one.
1 Samuel 14:51, “Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.”
Here is a most common genealogy. There are a couple of others. They try to work this out. But you have Abiel who is Saul’s grandfather. He has two sons, Ner and Kish. Ab is the Hebrew word for “father.”
Remember, the New Testament tells us that the Holy Spirit is in us crying out “Abba, Father.” In Hebrew, if you go to Israel, “daddy” is abba. Ab is the word for father. “My father is Ner” would be Abbi Ner or Abner. Abner is the son of Ner and is Saul’s cousin. And he is Saul’s general.
When Saul dies on Mt. Gilboa Abner is going to take over. He is going to go to the fourth son, Ishbosheth, not listed here, and make him king. Abner is going to be Ishbosheth’s basic strength.
So you have the three adult sons at this time: Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchishua, and then two daughters, Mirab and Michal. Michal is a funny word. Everyone has trouble pronouncing it because we look at it and think it is Michael, but Michael is a different term. It is spelled almost the same except it is a little different. The “I” in Michal is pronounced like an “e.”
Here’s what we read in closing out, and then a final comment: 1 Samuel 14:52, “Now there was fierce war with the Philistines all the days of Saul.” The Philistines are responsible for the death of Saul at Mt. Gilboa.
“And when Saul saw any strong man or any valiant man, he took him for himself.” What is happening here? It is foreshadowing. Who is going to be the strong man to come along in 1 Samuel 16?
In 1 Samuel 17 we are going to see David and Goliath. What is going to happen with David? David is going to be brought into Saul’s family.
What we are seeing is foreshadowing of what is coming up, but apparently what Saul was good at was identifying the good warriors, the good fighters, and he is strengthening his military. He understands that much.
That made him a good leader as far as protecting the security of Israel was concerned. That ends this second section of the book, 1 Samuel 8–14.
The next section begins with 1 Samuel 15 where the focus is on arrogance. The focus is on human beings who are in rebellion against God, and human beings who want to write their own rules. This is always a problem in the human race. We always have these leaders and people who want to do it their way.
You have two different problems:
This is where we want to go through the external formalities. We think that as long as we cross our “t’s” and dot our “i’s” and follow our set of rules, whether it is the terrible two or the nasty nine, whatever it is, as long as we do that we are “okay” in God’s eyes, because we are “okay” in our eyes.
That is “formalism.” Everybody has either a trend toward that or they have a trend towards out and out lasciviousness and licentiousness in the other direction. But the problem we are dealing with here with Saul is a problem of:
- Religious formalism
Saul wants to do everything right externally, but his heart is not toward God. He is not a man after God’s heart. He is just following the external codes. He is going to face a condemnation from Samuel in this chapter.
In 1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel says, “Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?”
What is better? To go through the external rituals like you are supposed to, or to obey the Lord? “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”
The sacrifices in the sacrificial law of the Torah were designed to teach spiritual principles about a person’s real relationship with God, understanding that sin makes us unclean before God. We are separated from God because of any kind of sin or uncleanness that makes us distinct from God. We have to recover, and there has to be a cleansing.
We find this principle all the way through Scripture. The formalism of the sacrificial code is designed not to be an end in and of itself but to be teaching principles of ongoing relationships.
We see passages like Hosea, who condemns Judah in his generation.
Hosea 6:6, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, (says the Lord) and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
God wants a person who has a personal relationship with Him, even in the Old Testament, a person who is concerned about a relationship, walking with the Lord and walking in obedience, more so than the formal structures of the Mosaic Law.
David recognized this in Psalm 51, in his great confession for his sin with Bathsheba and conspiring to kill Uriah the Hittite. David says to God in Psalm 51:16, “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.”
The sacrifices of God ultimately are a broken spirit (Psalm 51:17). What David means by that is submission to God’s authority. “A broken and contrite heart.” Another way of talking about submission to God’s authority, obeying Him.
Saul, on the other hand, is not submissive and obedient. He is going to be rebellious. He is going to be condemned for his rebelliousness because that is like the sin of witchcraft. It is Satan’s sin.
David says in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.”
Proverbs 21:3, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
Wait a minute. You have all these commands in Torah to sacrifice. Yes, but that is simply to be an external reflection of an internal reality. This was the basis for Isaiah’s condemnation of Israel.
Hold your place and let’s turn to Isaiah 1:11. Isaiah is indicting Israel because they are going through all the external ritual, all the formality, but there is no internal desire to obey God or to come to know God.
Isaiah 1:11, “ ‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?’ says the Lord. ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats.’ ”
I am sick of it! You are doing everything right for all the wrong reasons. You are going through the step-by-step procedures, but there is no personal relationship with Me.
Isaiah 1:12, “ ‘When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts?’ ”
You know, you have added other things as well.
Isaiah 1:13, “ ‘Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.’ ”
Isaiah 1:14–15, “ ‘Your New Moons and Your appointed feasts My soul hates;’— that means He rejects them—‘they are a trouble to Me. I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.
Isaiah 1:16–17, “ ‘Wash yourselves,’—that is confession, but it does not stop with confession—‘make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil.’ —Do not just give sacrifices. God is calling upon them to turn, teshuvah, to turn back to Him— ‘Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.’ ”
What is going to happen is that Samuel is going to give God’s instructions to Saul.
1 Samuel 15:3, “ ‘Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ” Kill everything. Wipe out their economy. Do not take any plunder. Kill every one of them. Why is that?
It is because God has given Amalek time and opportunity to turn to Him, but the Amalekites have continued to become a blight on humanity. It is time to discipline them, judge them, and remove them from history.
What is Saul going to do? He is going to completely blow it.
In 1 Samuel 15:18–19 Samuel says, “Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?” That is Saul’s condemnation. But Saul says, I did it, I did what the Lord said to do!
1 Samuel 15:22, “So Samuel said: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.’
Just stop there and think about this for a while. We are going to be here for a couple of weeks. Rebellion is like demonism. When we disobey God’s authority, in little things or big things, it is like demonism.
It sounds like a harsh statement does it not? But what was Satan’s original sin? “I want to be like God, replacing God’s authority with his (Satan’s) own authority.”
That is the original sin—rebellion against God. This is why the Bible emphasizes obedience to authority over and over and over again because the person who is not obedient to authority, the person questions authority, is setting himself up to be a god. It’s not that there are not legitimate times for us to question authority, but generally we are to be obedient.
Why? Because when we are not, we are setting ourselves up to be a god.
It is self-idolatry. It is that fifth arrogance skill, self-deification.
“Stubbornness” is not just general stubbornness. That is the person that is stubborn in their resistance to God. “ ‘Stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.’ ”
The horrible consequences.
Next time we are going to come back. We need to take some time to remind ourselves why Amalek deserves such a horrible punishment. We will look at Exodus 17, Deuteronomy, and a few other passages. Right now the lesson tonight is the dangers and the self-destruction of arrogance.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things tonight and to be reminded that often we become comfortable with our own sin. We become comfortable with our own arrogance. We are blind to the realities that are going on in our own soul. As a result, we are blind to the realities going on in the world around us.
Father, we pray that You would open our eyes that we can see objectively our own behavior—that under the ministry of the Holy Spirit in Your Word, that Your Word will sanctify us and challenge us in terms of our need to obey You and to deal with the sin that so easily besets every one of us. We pray that we might come to understand grace and genuine humility that can only be produced in us through the Holy Spirit, and that we might be willing to submit to Your authority and the authority of Your Word. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”