1 Samuel 12:1-13:23
Samuel makes it clear to Israel (and to us) that the transfer of power from the LORD as king, to Saul as king was not His perfect will. God allowed it, and would use it, but if only the people had simply yielded to the LORD as King, with His Word, His judges, and His priesthood, what a blessing it would have been.
Samuel has been a solid prophet, never in it for the profit, he even challenges the people to witness against him if he’d ever cheated or oppressed them (he never had) (1 Samuel 12:3-4).
Samuel points out the fact that God had been faithful to them, throughout their history – in His redemption from Egypt, during their wandering in the wilderness, and all throughout the time of the Judges – but they were worn down, and caved in to the ways of the world. We read in:
1 Samuel 12:12 (NKJV) ”And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king.”
So God gave them the human king they desired, as a matter of fact, that’s the meaning of Saul’s name “desired,” but God clearly warned them through Samuel. C. S. Lewis said, “There are two types of people in this world, those who say to God, ‘Your will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘Ok, have it your way if you insists.’” Israel was now the latter, in respect to government.
We usually think of Elijah when it comes to changing the weather, but Samuel was able to do so as well. When he prayed there was thunder and rain. So the people feared the LORD who sent the storm as a sign. Samuel’s heart was that the people would trust the LORD. The storm sign worked a little bit, the people fearfully asked Samuel to pray for them, something he was more than willing to do.
1 Samuel 12:23 (NKJV) “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.
Did you catch that? Samuel saw it as sin if he didn’t pray for the people and teach them God’s Word. What a heavy responsibility God’s servant leaders have!
Samuel’s warning is clear and concise – if the people did not serve the LORD, God would sweep them away…including their king (1 Samuel 12:24-25). Most of us know what it means for a sports team to be swept. Here we see it also happens to nations and their leaders.
It didn’t take long for things to begin to stir in the land, just a few years and the Philistines were in Israelite territory (see map below; notice the location of Geba). Jonathan was the brave one, he attacked the Philistines, who mustered up a huge army in retaliation. Saul is sweating bullets because he’s completely lost sight of the fact that when God is on our side, the enemy is always outnumbered. He was getting nervous, anxious, and impatient; he even broke God’s law by offering a sacrifice (something only the priests were allowed to do).
The LORD then showed Samuel the future. One day the kingdom would be stripped from Saul and given to a man whose heart was right. Samuel the prophet spoke:
1 Samuel 13:14 (NKJV) “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
If only Saul would have obeyed God’s Word – it’s as simple as that. He had an amazing son waiting in the wings, and it didn’t matter that the soldiers of Israel didn’t have the best weapons man could make, they had the maker of man as their weapon. God help us, help me to simply obey God and His Word.
One of the things that stands out to me as I read the Gospel of John is simply the way Jesus never did anything OR said anything contrary to His Father’s will. At this point in His life, (it’s about 6 months before He is crucified) Jesus is in the area of Galilee. The Jewish leaders had Him on their hit-list, so Jesus was laying low…His time had not yet come.
I wonder if His brothers wanted Him dead because they were trying to push Jesus to go to Judea. At this point they didn’t believe in Him; after His death and resurrection we know that James and Jude will come to faith, and be used in a mighty way, but now they were the epitome of Mark 6:4.
When Jesus came, He told truth; the world hated Him for it. Make no mistake about it, even though we’re only motivated by love and long for people to be saved and blessed, they hated Him, so they’ll hate us too…if we speak truth (John 15:18).
Eventually Jesus goes up to Jerusalem, and about the middle of the feast He enters the temple precincts and openly teaches the people. There was a lot of debate and heated discussion over Him (just as there is today). The religious leaders marveled at His knowledge, considering the fact that He had never attended their universities. Jesus explained to them that He had been given His truth from the Top – that His Father gave Him His words and doctrine. Jesus also explained to them that if they were open to doing the will of God, they would know that for themselves that Jesus spoke authoritative truth.
That’s the key isn’t it? If we come to God without an agenda, without preconceived ideas, if we come to God completely open to Him, we will know, His Word is truth, that Jesus is indeed the Christ, and this is how I am to live my life. Not according to my own inclinations or according to the influences of the world…but according to His flawless Word.
Jesus truthfully exposed the way they were disobedient to God in that they wanted to kill Him for healing on the Sabbath. Their only response was to demonize Jesus (John 7:20).
The people noticed that Jesus was speaking openly and was not arrested – had the religious leaders changed their minds about Him. Was He the Messiah? Tragically it came down to familiarity. Have you ever heard that saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”? Because they knew a bit about His upbringing they rejected Him…but they couldn’t kill Him yet – His hour had not yet come.
It was true for Him and it’s true for us – we’re invincible, until God says, “It’s time.”
A large part of David’s battle plan had to do with prayer and praise.
Apparently this Psalm was written after a momentary setback or struggle with Edom. We read in:
Psalm 108:10–11 (NKJV) “Who will bring me into the strong city? Who will lead me to Edom? 11 Is it not You, O God, who cast us off? And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies?”
David’s wondering, Lord, if You don’t help us, who can?
So he prays. He praises. He’s not anxious or afraid, his heart is steadfast (Psalm 108:1). He’s not sweating he’s singing. He acknowledges the greatness of God’s mercy and truth – this is not something we earn, we are promised victory because of the covenant we have with gracious and loving God.
David longs for God to be exalted in their victory.
David knows God loves Israel (he call them His “beloved”)
David knows that without God they can do nothing, but with God there’s nothing they can’t do. Psalm 108:13 is the Old Testament version of Philippians 4:13.
Psalm 108:12–13 (NKJV) “Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. 13 Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.”
Wow – how different we can be – a “Tree of Life” for someone, or the one responsible for breaking their spirit…crushing their heart, where they lose all confidence, enthusiasm, or even at times that motivation to live!
The difference is found in that tongue, among us, the words that we speak.
Will we be wholesome, or will we be perverse? True or false? From above or below? Building up or tearing down?
Ephesians 4:29 (NLT) “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
The wholesome tongue is literally a “healing” tongue – where your words are a source of healing, strength, and growth to those you speak to.
This can only happen when you get a good grip on grace and point people to Jesus, which is why Charles Bridges said, “…when there is grace in the heart, there will be healing in the tongue.”
Hurt people hurt people, healed people heal people.
The Tree of Life is mentioned 10 times in the Bible (Genesis 2:9; 3:22, 24; Proverbs 3:18;11:30; 13:12; 15:4; Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14). We lost it in the Garden of Eden, a form of it is made available after the Garden of Gethsemane, it will be enjoyed in Heaven’s Garden, but in the meantime this Tree of Life is planted in someone’s heart whenever they receive the Gospel – those words of life.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.