The Essence of True Freedom
1 Samuel 4:1
1st & 2nd Samuel Lesson #023
September 1, 2015
“Father, it is a great privilege we have to come together to study Your Word. It is a great privilege that we have Your Word. We have it in our language. We have an abundance of translations that for the most part are pretty good. They can give us pretty good insight into Your plan and purpose for history and Your plan of salvation.
Father, as we study Your Word, we recognize that You as the Creator of all things, both the physical as well as the social and spiritual, have established certain laws, certain absolutes that run true within Your Creation, even within a fallen creation. When we live in accordance with those principles, then we live in harmony with them. We can be blessed. We can experience success in life when we are doing it by the Holy Spirit and that which is produced in our life has eternal value.
Father, we pray, as we study Your Word tonight, as we focus on what You have revealed in the Old Testament here You have numerous principles that are laid out with reference to government, with reference to how political leadership should conduct itself. We learn from the Scripture negatives as well as positives. We learn to think in terms of Your Word. As believers we are not to just form opinions about government based upon experience, but we are to ground it first and foremost in Your Word and let that inform our decision making. Tonight, as we study more in 1 Samuel, we pray that you will guide and direct our thinking. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We are at a position between 1 Samuel 3 and 1 Samuel 4 where there is a time gap. As we’ve gone through our study of 1 Samuel 1–3, what we have seen is a focus on the family of Elkanah and Hannah his wife, who is unable to have children.
God is using that negative circumstance to bring her to a point in her life where she has to depend exclusively upon Him in order to solve the problem in her life. We’ve studied how she went to the temple, how she vowed to God that she would give her son: if God would give her a son, then she would give him back to the Lord to serve Him.
God is using that to change Israel. God has given them grace, but they have refused that. They’ve been in disobedience.
We’ve seen that this is part of that horrid period in Israel’s history, the period of the Judges, where Israel lived more like a fifth-world pagan nation than they did as the chosen people of God. They were mired in idolatry and moral relativism. The culture was characterized by a gross sexual sin. It was characterized by abuse of women. It was characterized by a priesthood that had become increasingly corrupt, by political leaders that had become increasingly corrupt, all because they were willingly ignorant of the Torah.
They were willingly disobedient to the Word of God. The result is that the failure to understand the truth of God’s Word led to a moral collapse, which led to an economic and a political collapse.
I think that that is important to stress today, because there are some in the political spectrum in our country who think that you can divorce morality from economics and politics.
Usually they go by the name of libertarians. Just focus on economics. Just focus on politics. Don’t worry about the social issues. Don’t worry about same-sex marriage. Don’t worry about abortion. Don’t worry about these other areas. Just focus on economics and politics.
But the Word of God says that all of His creation is interrelated. You can’t do something that is in the spiritual realm that doesn’t have economic and perhaps physical consequences. You can’t do something in the physical realm that doesn’t have negative consequences in the spiritual realm.
All these areas intersect. We don’t live in a world where these are compartmentalized from each other. We see this under the Torah, under the Old Testament Law.
God said that if you are obedient to Me I will bless you. I will bring the rains in their season. In other words, spiritual obedience is going to have a meteorological impact.
On the other hand, with spiritual disobedience, God says He’s going to make the ground dry up, and the sky is going to be like bronze. It is going to be hot. It is going to be dry. There is going to be a drought. There is going to be famine.
What you see is that spiritual rebellion has economic consequences.
The same thing is true in our society. When we look at the economic consequences that come as a result of divorce, that come as a result of sexual immorality, that come as a result of what happens when men in a society and young boys in a society become addicted to pornography.
It has an impact economically on a marriage when the marriage breaks up, the impact on the family, the impact it has on the children in a family. We can’t separate morality and spirituality from the more physical areas of economics or legislation, the things of that nature.
You can’t come along and make those kinds of bifurcations if you are a Christian and you are living in a world that you believe to be created by God, where everything intersects and everything is interrelated.
When we come to the Bible, we see that God gives us instruction in every area of His creation. He created not only the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that is in them, all the animals, all of the vegetation.
He created all of that, but He also created certain social absolutes that, if they are followed, lead to success. It leads to protection of our culture, the preservation of the culture, the perpetuation of the culture, such as:
Personal responsibility—Marriage and family, as we have seen, and—Government and nations.
When those [absolutes] are violated, and when those things break down, then a culture breaks down.
We see what is going on here in terms of summary, is that Israel is going to be soundly defeated in this battle. They are going to lose.
There are actually two parts to the battle. They are going to lose about 34,000—they are going to have about 34,000 killed. This is a devastating defeat. But it also leads to their virtual domination by the Philistines for approximately 20 years.
It is a great lesson in a nation: what leads to that loss of freedom and what leads to the recovery of that freedom, as we work our way through the history of that century. It is going to take time. It didn’t fall apart over night. It isn’t brought back overnight.
We are going to learn some things about the essence of true freedom. By that I mean it is not just physical, political, economic freedom, but it is fundamentally a spiritual freedom. If we are not free spiritually in terms of our obedience to God versus being dominated by our sin nature, then we can’t have genuine true political or economic freedom.
When we come to the end of 1 Samuel 3, which I did last week, remember? This is the episode where Samuel is sleeping in the temple. We see a picture of Eli, who is not in the temple. But Eli is pretty old at this point. He is pushing 90, the late 80s at least. According to Leviticus he should have retired at the age of 50. Priests were not to serve beyond the age of 50. We see again all the breakdowns in the protocols for the service of the priesthood, how he and his sons are abusing it.
Samuel is sleeping. Three times God calls him. He runs to Eli thinking it is Eli. Finally Eli says, “Hmmm, it is not me. It must be God.” He tells him that God is speaking to him.
God will reveal to Samuel, as He has revealed to this unnamed prophet at the end of 1 Samuel 2, that He is going to destroy the dynasty of Eli. He is going to bring judgment upon the house of Eli. Never again will they serve as high priest. Eventually the line is going to die out from having an active role in the priesthood.
We see Samuel as being somewhat young at that particular time. He’s probably ten or eleven. Some time goes by before we have the battle that occurs in 1 Samuel 4.
What I want to do is pause here for a minute and reflect upon some of the issues that we need to be paying attention to as we go through Samuel, as we think about this period of Israel’s history.
It is basically a three-part introduction and review for us before we begin to scratch the surface of the beginning of 1 Samuel 4. Let’s just look at the outline.
I am working on a printout. Once I get the first seven chapters done the way I like them, then I’ll put that out so you can follow along. I am trying to pull this together. In the first seven chapters we see that:
- YHWH is working to graciously provide a shift, a change in Israel, 1 Samuel 1–7.
The people of Israel are as low as they have ever been, as apostate as they have ever been, as degraded as they’ve ever been, but there is still a remnant. You have examples of Elkanah and Hannah. You also have an example of that unnamed man of God, the unnamed prophet that God sends to Eli at the end of 1 Samuel 2. There is a remnant, a small core of believers. God is going to graciously change the direction of Israel and it is going to take time. He does that first and foremost through the birth of Samuel.
- YHWH causes Samuel to be born in response to Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 1:1–2:10.
In the next major section we are going to see how:
- YHWH orchestrates the collapse of this old apostate order, the house of Eli, the priesthood of Eli and his sons, 1 Samuel 2:11–4:22.
We see how:
- There is a first announcement by YHWH to judge that old order given by the unnamed man of God in 1 Samuel 2:11–36.
As we see that in 1 Samuel 3, last time we saw how:
- YHWH is going to call the first prophet of the new order.
This is important. There is a pattern that we see here. God is going to change things, because He is going to bring a king to Israel, but we need to pay attention to how God does that. He doesn’t just plop that king there, because they are not ready for it.
They are in apostasy. They are self-centered. They are in rebellion against God. If He had brought David on the scene right now they would not have had the capacity to appreciate David for his spiritual focus, for his integrity, and for his ability to lead the nation.
God has to conduct some corrective action against the culture of Israel before they are going to be ready for David.
This is roughly around 1100–1080 BC. We are not sure exactly what those dates are, but it is sometime during that time period. It is going to be 70–80 years before David becomes the king. That gives you a lot of hope that you might not see that in your generation. It takes time to change course. The focus for believers always has to be on the hope that God gives us.
Introduction 1: First He’s got to call a prophet, a prophet that is following Him, that is going to have national leadership qualities. That is Samuel, because Samuel is not only a prophet, but he is also going to be the priest. He is going to be the judge of Israel. This means he is the most significant figure during this period of time, but he’s going to be the one who anoints the king.
There is a pattern here that the prophet comes first and then the king. You see this all the way through the Old Testament. The prophet is the one who anoints the king.
It is the prophet John the Baptist who precedes and anoints Jesus the Messiah at His baptism. The point that is illustrated here is that the king is not out from under the Law. He is under the authority of God. His appointment comes from God. He is not on his own. He’s not self appointed or just appointed by the people.
That is what happened when the men of Shechem in Judges 9 anointed Abimelech as the king of Israel. He reigned over Israel, the text says, for two years.
But God had absolutely nothing to do with it. He was just a human viewpoint solution, a human attempt to solve their problems totally apart from God. It ended up in failure.
Last time as we looked at this we saw that:
- God brought Samuel through a training process under an apostate priest. That is something that should expand your understanding of living in an apostate culture—that God can still bring about His desired ends, even though the leadership, the authority structure, is apostate and corrupt. Samuel learned under Eli.
- In 1 Samuel 3:11–18 we saw that YHWH called Samuel to begin his prophetic ministry.
- Then YHWH validated Samuel’s prophetic ministry so that the people recognized it, 1 Samuel 3:19–21. At the end of 1 Samuel 3 they are talking about how wonderful Samuel is. His fame is spreading throughout all of Israel.
This is all under this category:
- God (YHWH) preparing deliverance for Israel, 1 Samuel 1–7.
- YHWH is going to collapse the old order [Eli], 1 Samuel 2:11–4:22.
When we get to 1 Samuel 4:
- YHWH is going to cause Israel to be defeated. This is critical in how God (YHWH) is going to prepare them for what He is going to bless them with later on.
That happens sometimes in our individual lives, where God has to take us through a defeat in order to get us to quit relying upon ourselves, in order to quit relying upon our own capabilities and sufficiency, and to learn to completely and totally trust God to provide the solution, 1 Samuel 4:1–22.
YHWH causes Israel to be defeated, and they are just devastated. One of the reasons they are devastated is that God allows His Presence to be captured by the Philistines. The corrupt Philistines are going to capture God. They are going to haul YHWH off and put Him in a pagan temple.
Then we have one of the most humorous episodes that I think is in all of the Scripture when we get into 1 Samuel 5. He causes Israel to be defeated and allows the Ark to be captured to demonstrate His sovereignty over the enemies of Israel and their gods.
You’d think that just the opposite is what is happening—that the Philistines have defeated Israel. That means their gods are greater. But what God is going to do is turn the tables on the Philistines and demonstrate that He is sovereign, even over the enemies of Israel.
He is still sovereign, even when they are in defeat and despair. God is still in control. It is necessary to do this to cleanse Israel of the corruption of the priesthood.
They have allowed sin in their culture to go unchecked. There has to be a divine judgment and discipline in order to bring cleansing to the nation and to get rid of that leaven that has corrupted the whole loaf of Israel, as it were. That corruption has to be cleaned out.
In the process YHWH is teaching Israel to trust in Him alone. God multitasks in this. He’s got to teach them that He is sovereign over their enemies and over the gods of their enemies. He’s got to cleanse the nation from this stench, this corruption of the house of Eli. He’s got to teach Israel to trust in Him alone. That gives us an understanding of where we are headed in 1 Samuel 4. That is just the first part of the introduction.
Introduction 2: The second part of the introduction is to review our overview of what is happening historically, because we can get microscopic toward the details that are going on. But we have to see the flow of events that are taking place.
We are looking at the seven chapters in 1 Samuel where God is preparing to graciously deliver Israel from their own bad decisions, from their own rebellion, from their own idolatry, from their own sinfulness.
God is going to bring about a great change. But we have to look at the dynamics. How does God work to bring about this kind of change? What are the different elements of that?
Part of that involves judging the old order, cleansing it, and bringing Israel to a point of humility. That doesn’t always happen. It is not just a clean straight event. We are going to see that in fact Israel is somewhat obedient under Samuel.
But at the end of Samuel’s judgeship as Samuel is old, the elders of Israel are going to come to him and say, “We don’t want your sons. They are pretty corrupt. We don’t want them. There is nobody else.”
Notice, they are not seeking God’s counsel. They said we want to have a king like everybody else. They think the solution to their problem is having a king like all of the other nations.
What God is going to do is to show them that when they want to have a king like all of the other nations, they want to have a king after their own heart. That is going to lead to failure.
Then God is going to bring in a king after God’s own heart. He has to prepare them still to appreciate David. Otherwise, in their rebellion, they would not. The blessing of a godly king would just lead them to further disaster.
1 Samuel Chapters 1–7 are really the prologue to the book, the event of Saul’s identification and anointing.
We are reminded that it was always God’s plan for there to be a monarchy, for there to be a king over Israel. This isn’t something that was a second thought on the part of God. We’ll see this in a minute. We’ll go to Deuteronomy.
It was God’s plan for them to have a king, but it was the kind of king God wanted on God’s terms—not a king on their terms, who was going to be like everybody else’s king.
So often, what we see personally is we want to solve problems like every body else is solving problems. In problem-solving when we have a crisis in life, one of the first things we tend to do out of our sin nature is to just devise our own solution. We generate our own solution, “This is what I think will work.” We don’t consult the Word of God if we are carnal. We don’t go to the Lord in prayer. We just come up with our own idea of what will work.
The next thing that happens is that we look to what other people are doing. What seems to have success? What do people in the world do when they face this problem?
One example of this is, let’s say somebody has a problem with addiction. If you have a problem with addiction, then one of the first things that people do is—let’s go to a 12-Step Program. Let’s go to AA, or let’s go to whatever it is anonymous—Eater’s Anonymous, Drug Addict’s Anonymous, or whatever it is. Very few people take the time to analyze those particular programs. They are not very successful.
I remember I was so surprised about 16–17 years ago when I was pastoring at Preston City Bible Church watching Good Morning, America. There is a great cultural analysis program for you. They were celebrating, at this particular time, the 50th anniversary of Alcoholics’ Anonymous. I was just stunned when they actually admitted over the air, if my memory serves me, that the success rate of AA was only 17%.
I immediately thought it is probably that good, or better, for people who just try to quit on their own—eventually decide to solve the problem on their own.
Or they go to church, and they get with the Word. And God the Holy Spirit gives them the strength and the ability to deal with the problems in their life.
Recently this came up in conversation with some other pastors. I went back to check my figures. I ran across two or three insightful articles and studies that have been conducted since then.
One of them said that according to AA’s own sources, that they have a success rate of about 30%, which I still don’t think is very good.
The other was an independent study that was commissioned by a university. They came up with the fact that they had a 7–10% success rate.
If anybody is struggling in areas where they think that this is the default solution, because I hear Christians say this all the time, in fact, I have a pastor friend that asked me about this not long ago because someone in their congregation knew someone, had a friend that had a problem with alcohol. That was their default solution.
So often, what we find Christians and pastors do, is they have a sense of helplessness, and that seems to be what the culture finds success in—let’s get them into a 12-step program.
If you want to investigate that a little bit and maybe get another side of the story, there is a book by Martin Bobgan, who was a speaker here at the Chafer Conference back in 2008. He has a book out called Twelve Steps to Destruction: Codependency/Recovery Heresies 1st Edition. He has some very good facts and material in there on the problems with these types of programs.
But we have to understand, if we are believers, if we believe that the Word of God is sufficient, and the grace of God is sufficient, and the omnipotence of God is sufficient, then God can solve our problems.
There is no problem we face, there is no addiction we face, there is no problem, no difficulty that God can’t solve through His Word, applying the Word of God through the Spirit of God to address the problems we have in life.
We all have problems. We all have baggage from our sin nature, whether it is sins we committed before we were saved, or sins we committed after we were saved. Everybody has that kind of baggage.
But we have genuine forgiveness at the Cross. We have genuine forgiveness when we confess our sins. We have the power of God the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
But the issue is, are we really willing to trust?
Are we willing to follow the example of Peter walking on the water and just focus every bit of our mind on the Word of God, on the living Word of God, to solve our problems?
One of the things we see in this particular section again is how Israel fails to truly trust, radically trust, in the power of God. They continue to attempt to solve their problems through their own efforts.
The basic problem that we all face, and that mankind has faced since Adam ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden is what? It is sin. Sin has consequences. Sin reverberates through the physical areas of our life. It reverberates through various economic problems, political problems, military problems, and technology problems.
As we go through life, as we look at these problems that develop in our life, we look to some sort of solution. We say, “Well, what does the Word of God say about solving a technology problem? What does the Word of God say about drug addiction? I can’t find that in my concordance.”
The reality is that when we encounter difficulty in life, what we are rubbing up against is a surface problem. Whether it is addiction, whether it has to do with sexual identity, whether it has to do with just genuine problems of our sin nature, we’re deceptive, or we have power lust, or we are totally self-centered and arrogant. Whatever it is, the surface problem is just that. That is what we encounter.
What lays behind that are our more spiritual issues that can only be resolved by dealing with the root problem behind every one of these. That is our sin nature. As one of the old Pogo comic strips says, Pogo says, “We’ve met the enemy and he is us.” That is our problem. It is that internal enemy of the sin nature.
When we take this to a national level, and we are looking at the problems that any nation faces, whether we are talking about ancient Israel, we’re talking about modern Israel, we’re talking about modern America… when we look at the problems that we face, fundamentally we have to dig beneath the surface and realize that the issues are always spiritual.
We can address certain things at a superficial level, but unless we deal with the underlying causes, then we are never going to have real success. We’ll just put band-aids on a lot of problems. There is nothing wrong with putting a band-aid on a problem, but if that’s all we do, then we are not going to get very far.
You put a band-aid on the problem that keeps it clean. It keeps dirt from getting in. It keeps the problem from getting worse, but you have to address the underlying causes and the underlying problems, which always has to do with sin.
When we look at what is going on. We analyze these trends that are happening in Israel at this particular time. We see that they are in a downward spiral. If it weren’t for the grace of God they would have just imploded. God is going to be true to His promise.
We don’t have a covenant promise in the United States like they did. There is no covenant promise to Britain. There is no covenant promise to Australia, or to China, Russia, or any other nation.
The only nation that has got a covenant promise of God’s protection is Israel. God has to be true to that promise to preserve them as a nation in order to bring about His plan of salvation. As we look at this and go forward we have to recognize that:
- What underlies the political dynamics and the cultural dynamics is the failure to trust in the Word of God. We have to have a high view of Scripture. By that I mean a radical view that this tells us exactly how we are to think and exactly how we are to live, that this is God’s revelation to us—the God who made everything, and He is the one who designed everything to work the way it works.
The Word of God is going to provide us with a framework for understanding every area of human intellection. There is no academic discipline that is outside of the authority of God’s Word. You can’t go to music, you can’t go to art, you can’t go to political science, you can’t go to history, and you can’t go to literature and say this is an area that isn’t addressed by the Word of God. We have to understand that God’s Word addresses every area.
- If God decreed and instituted national entities and human government, then He is the one who has the right to inform us as to how government and society should function. He addresses all of these areas.
In American history, the early American colonists that came over fleeing religious oppression in England, and fleeing religious suppression on the continent, came here so that they could study the Word of God and apply it to every area of their life. You go back and you read those Puritan theologians and Puritan thinkers. They were thinking profoundly about what the Bible said. They were going back to the Old Testament and looking at what the Bible said about what made a culture, a society successful.
What made it work? What did the Bible say about the role of government? What could we learn from the Mosaic Law about how a nation was to operate?p>
There have been numerous studies done. One study was done by a professor over at the University of Houston. He and his students devised a program to analyze the letters, speeches, and the diaries of the founding fathers of America.
They discovered that the largest number of quotations (the guy’s name is Donald Lutz) came from the Bible. It was almost twice as many allusions and quotations that came from the Bible as came from the number two source, that was John Locke.
The primary influence upon the founding fathers was the Bible. They thought within a biblical framework. That doesn’t mean they were all Christians, but they operated within a Judeo-Christian worldview. They believed that the Bible gave good information, necessary information, for how a culture was supposed to live. They understood what we’ve organized as the divine institutions:
- Individual responsibility. Every person is responsible to God.
When the government steps in, the government is the one who says we’re going to assume responsibility for peoples’ future. We’re going to assume responsibility for their welfare. We assume responsibility for their success or failure in life. That is a violation of individual responsibility.
- Marriage. Marriage is to be between a man and a woman who are designed both physically and in terms of their soul, to merge together in a unity to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for their life.
- Family. Family is the outgrowth of that. It is the production of marriage. Marriage is the training center for the family. That is a primary mission given to parents. It is to train and equip their children to be successful godly adults. All of those were given before the Fall before there was sin in human history, and were designed to enable man to fulfill God’s intent for their life.
After the Fall you have two divine institutions:
- Government. The divine institution of government established in the Noahic Covenant.
- Nations. Nations were designed to restrain evil.
The first three institutions are designed to promote productivity into advanced civilization. If you don’t honor those, your civilization is going to deteriorate.
Order will fall apart into chaos. You will become less productive and less civilized. Just watch the news one night. We are becoming less productive and less civilized as each year goes by.p>
Post-Fall, we recognize that government’s role is to:
Restrain evil, primarily to provide justice and national identity.
We live in a world today where the vast majority of the intelligentsia, the academics and universities, no longer believe in borders and the significance of keeping a nation safe and secure as an autonomous nation—to provide for protection of the borders.
Of course, this is going to be a major issue and already is in the presidential campaign for the next election, because there are those in this country who just want open borders and want to let any body in without enforcing any laws.
That’s what we’ve seen on both sides of the isle for the last 20–30 years, ever since the last amnesty that we were promised was going to be the last amnesty that came under President Reagan.
You have to understand these distinctions: that as a Christian this is what we base things on. In American history they understood this. They went back. They understood that the Bible had to be the foundation.
What is interesting is the enlightenment from Europe doesn’t really have its impact here. It has impacted a few people. It impacted Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, a few others to a small degree, but it doesn’t have its major impact until after 1800.
We see the outworking of Enlightenment thinking, which makes rationalism and empiricism more authoritative than the Word of God, the Bible. That shifts culture. We move into Modernism starting in 1800.
Some people have put the beginning of Modernism at about 1815 with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, but it is at the beginning of that century that this worldview starts to shift to what is now called Modernism. That lays the foundation for the breakdown.
Modernism starts to fall apart by the early 20th century, and that lays the groundwork for Post-Modernism.
Post-Modernism causes a nation to totally disintegrate. We see something like that because at the root of Post-Modernism is the idea that there are no absolutes. It is pure moral relativism.
That is what is going on in Israel at this time. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. Once you get away from any sort of moral foundation that unifies a culture, it is going to disintegrate and fragment. That is what we see here.
Introduction 3: In the third part of this introduction to 1 Samuel 4, we have to look at some background to the Scripture. We have to pay attention to the time frame that is going on here.
I pointed this out before in our introduction to Samuel, because Judges is separated from Samuel by that little book called Ruth. When we start reading in 1 Samuel we are disconnected from what is happening in the period of the Judges, especially the end of the Judges. p>
I have created this slide to give us an understanding of the chronology, what is going on here:
At the top we see Jephthah, who is a judge who compromised. He makes a bargain with God after God has already promised to give him the victory. (Judges 11:30–31). He (Jephthah) says “Whatever comes out the door of my house to greet me when I come home I’ll offer as a burnt offering.”i>
When he had victory over the Ammonites he came home. His daughter ran out. And the Scripture says, “and he did to her as he vowed” ( (Judges 11:39).
Some people try to get around the harshness of that, but usually such people don’t recognize that the Book of the Judges is not real positive. It doesn’t present the leaders in the best light. It is showing they have been corrupted by the moral relativism of the paganism of their time. We see that with Jephthah.
Jephthah operates until about 1100 BC. This is about the time that Samuel is born. Samson’s and Samuel’s lives overlap a lot. It is very interesting how close their lives are.
What is going on in these first four chapters of Judges is happening at the same time that Samson is causing trouble. Samson begins his whole judgeship where he’s causing trouble and disrupting the relations between the Jews and the Philistines at about the same time that 1 Samuel 1 begins. p>
If you think about Judges 13–16 as happening at the same time as 1 Samuel 1–4, then you’ll get an idea that this is how corrupt Israel has become at that particular time.
Samson is born about 1123 BC. Let’s say he is 16–18 years old when he begins his escapades. That would make it around 1106–1105 BC.
This is roughly the time the Ammonite oppression ends.
It is just a couple of years before the Battle of Aphek in 1 Samuel 4. The reason I point that out is because when we end 1 Samuel 3, then start in 1 Samuel 4, it starts with the Philistines gathering to do battle against Israel.
Why are they gathering to do battle against Israel? The text in Samuel doesn’t tell us, but if we put these things together, it is probably because of all the chaos that Samson has been involved with over this period of time. The Battle of Aphek is dated about 1104 BC.
This would mean that Samuel would be about 10 years of age. That means he would have been born about 1115 BC.p>
So Samuel would be about 10–11 years of age at the time of the Battle of Aphek. You see at the bottom of the slide I’ve enlarged these panels.
The Battle of Aphek is in 1104 BC.
It is in 1084 BC, 20 years later, before Israel roundly defeats the Philistine at the Battle of Mizpah in 1 Samuel 7:11. When we draw this vertical line (in the slide) it is to show that basic time period of 1104 BC.
This is when things are really stirred up and we’re at some of the worst times in Israel’s history. Samson was raised up during this time, basically to be a professional troublemaker. He doesn’t do anything good until right at the end. He’s totally controlled by his emotions, by his lust patterns. He is very selfish. He’s very self-centered. He is a womanizer. He’s one of the greatest womanizers in all of the Scripture. He’s extremely self-centered.p>
Nothing good is really said about Samson until we get to the very end. He’s being used by God to constantly stir up trouble with the Philistines.
The reason for that is that there is a trend in the Jewish mentality to assimilate to the cultures around them, not to remain distinct. We saw that back in Genesis 35–38 when Jacob’s twelve sons are all intermarrying with the Canaanites.
That’s one reason God brought a famine into the land. He had Joseph taken out to Egypt and raised to a position of power. Then a famine came into the land. Jacob and the rest of the family had to go to Egypt. This took them out of Canaan. It put them in an environment where they were really despised by the Egyptians.
The Egyptians were racists to the max. They just despised the Semites. They were not going to intermarry, have affairs, or anything with a Jew. They would never even think about that.
They isolated Israel in Goshen. That allowed Israel to grow and develop as a nation without falling prey to assimilation.
This same trend toward assimilation was seen again during the period in the Northern and Southern Kingdom leading up to the 5th cycle of discipline.
It happened again recently in history in the 19th century. Up until the 19th century Jews really lived in isolation from the culture around them, but because of anti-Semitism, many of the cities and the towns where they lived isolated them into various ghettos. They were protected.
In Russia the Jews were isolated into what is called the Pale of Settlement. That is the area between Russia and Poland. It basically included parts of Eastern Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine. These were part of the Pale of Settlement.
But once the Haskalah, the name for the Jewish Enlightenment came in, in the late 1700s through the 1880s, Reform Judaism had come on the scene. The Jews could reject orthodoxy. They became much more liberal in their religious beliefs. They could just forget everything that they had been taught about Moses, because they didn’t understand it anyway.
Then the Jews were allowed under a couple of the czars to leave the Pale and to begin to develop. They were becoming more educated. They were beginning to assimilate. This happened in Europe, Germany, and France.p>
In fact, a lot of Jews thought that they had completely disappeared into the culture by the late 1800s. One of those that thought that was a French army captain by the name of Alfred Dreyfus. He was put on trial for treason. It wasn’t true. The charges were trumped up. They were trumped up against him because he was a Jew.
One of the men who came to observe and to report on the trial was Theodor Herzl. Herzl was an assimilated Jew who witnessed the anti-Semitism that was going on in the trial against Dreyfus. He said there is no hope for us to assimilate. We cannot be Germans or English. We can’t be French. We can’t be Austrians. We are Jews. That’s all we can be. We need to go back and get the land.
Thus was born modern Jewish Zionism in the 1890s.
Herzl held the first international Zionist convention to formulate a plan so that Jews could return to their historic homeland and eventually establish a Jewish nation.
All that is just to illustrate that the trend of the Jews has always been to assimilation, but the anti-Semitism that arose in Europe in the late 19th century, in Russia especially, then in the 20th century in Germany, pretty much ended that.
The Holocaust ended the idea that Jews could just assimilate.
Of course a lot of the Jews in America, the more liberal Jews, really haven’t gotten that point yet. They can’t assimilate. Why can’t they assimilate?
God is not going to let them because God has a plan and a purpose for them.
So God used Samson to stir up trouble. That is what creates this background. The Philistines are now going to be engaged in a battle against Israel. Those are three points of introduction. I haven’t even gotten to the main part yet, and that comes in Deuteronomy 17.
This is the foundation for understanding the role of political leadership in Israel. There are certain principles that we can extrapolate from this for today.
In Deuteronomy 17, Moses is addressing the conquest generation before they cross into the land. He tells them what the guidelines are for a king. This tells us that God always envisioned a king for Israel. This wasn’t something that just sort of came along at the last minute.
Moses said in Deuteronomy 17:14, “When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me…’”
That is prophetic. That is what happens in 1 Samuel 8. Israel comes to Samuel and they say “I want to have a king like all the other nations around us.” Moses predicted that, prophesied that – “You will come and say I want a king like all the other nations.”
What God says in Deuteronomy 17:15 is “you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses.” You can’t just get anybody. It has got to be the “one that God establishes from among your brethren” and “set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.”
There Moses is making the point:
- There will be a future king. That was God’s plan for Israel.
- The king would be someone whom YHWH chose, not one they chose.
- The king would not be a foreigner. He has to be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He had to be an Israelite.
- In Deuteronomy 17:16, “But he shall not multiply horses for himself.” In other words, he is not in the position to accrue wealth for himself.
How many times have we seen people like this elected to public office? For example, there was a President and his wife who left office in 2000. According to her testimony, they were pretty poor. Now some people estimate their value between $50–100 million. How in the world can we have politicians who don’t get paid that much make that kind of money and come up with that kind of wealth?
There are other congressmen I’ve heard people comment on in Texas, both Republicans and Democrats, who, when they left to go to Washington, were just worth maybe three or four hundred thousand dollars. Most of that was the value of their home. After they’ve served two or three terms in Congress, they are worth four or five million dollars. How in the world does that happen?p>
See, this is what God is warning them against in Deuteronomy 17:16. He’s not to “multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ ”
Deuteronomy 17:17, “Neither shall he multiply wives for himself.”
That was an ancient Near Eastern custom among kings to show how powerful they were and to build alliances with other countries.
Of course, Solomon violated Deuteronomy 17:16–17. He is violating these principles.
- We learn the king is not to multiply wives, lest he be led into idolatry. We see that the purpose here is to protect him from being led away from God, “lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.”
- Deuteronomy 17:18: the king is to write out a copy of the Law, and that is to be witnessed by the priest and the Levites. “Also, it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book.” Everyday he had to get up, and he had to write out his own copy of the Torah, so that he could then read it the rest of his life.
That would be a good exercise for teenagers starting about the age of 10, when they are pre-teens, to start writing their own copy of the Bible. That will keep them busy for the next ten years. Handwrite out an entire copy of the Bible, and then they have to read it.
It will increase their penmanship. It will have all kinds of additional benefits. That’s something that can be part of a home-school plan.p>
So the king is to write out a copy of the Law witnessed by the priest and the Levites.
- Lastly, in Deuteronomy 17:19, “And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes.”
It emphasizes the king is under the authority of the Word of God.
I only know of one candidate for President who makes an issue out of his regular study of the Word of God and his dependence upon the Word of God. And that is important. p>
It is not necessary, I don’t think, in this country for someone to be a believer to be President. We don’t have that kind of a litmus test, but they’d better understand those divine institutions. They better support them 100%. Otherwise they will just continue to lead us into disaster and into a nation that looks about as blessed as Israel did at the beginning of the Book of Samuel.
Next time we are going to come back, and we are going to continue to develop the introduction just a little bit more. Then we are going to get into the chapter itself.
“Father, thank You for the opportunity to study these things tonight, to reflect upon Your plan and purpose, how Your grace turned Israel around. That only Your grace could do that.
Your grace can turn this nation around. And beyond that we recognize that Your grace, Your sufficient grace, is able to turn our lives around. It is only Your grace that can do that as we face numerous personal challenges and problems and obstacles from our own sin nature. The only thing that can give us genuine victory over those areas is a dependence upon Your Word, the Holy Spirit, and Your grace.
Father, we pray that we might have the courage and the strength of our convictions to depend upon You in this kind of radical way, so that we may realize the benefits of Your grace in our life. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”