1 Samuel 11-12 - Skip Heitzig
Calvary Church is dedicated to doctrine. And we want you to experience the life change that comes from knowing God's word and applying it to your life. So we explain the Bible verse by verse, every chapter, every book. This is Expound.
We're in the word tonight. Turn in your Bibles to 1 Samuel chapter 11. For those of you who are new to Wednesday nights, let me just tell you what's up with this. We look at Wednesday night is it's kick back. We're in the living room. This is our living room. Welcome to the living room. And that's why it's a little more relaxed.
I'm on a stool. You're sitting down. We're going over larger sections of scripture. We're going to be covering two chapters. I know you're thinking, yeah, right. But that's our aim, at least. I'll announce that as a goal, as an aim, to cover a couple of chapters.
And by doing this, eventually, believe it or not, we've made it from Genesis to Revelation before. We've done it a few times as a church body. And we're doing it again. And we happen to be right now in the book of 1 Samuel.
We're going to cover every verse every chapter to the end of the book. And then we'll pick up and do another book. And we just cover books of the Bible that way, because we feel that there's just really great dividends and benefits to a church, a congregation, that is reading the scriptures together.
And I got to tell you, I feel like you are those that are described in 1 Samuel chapter 10. It said that when Saul went to Gibeon, valiant men went with him, those whose hearts God had touched. And I feel like you are those valiant men and women who, believe it or not, in the middle of the week, decide to come to church.
Listen, you tell your unbelieving friends it's Wednesday, and you're going to church, and they go, church, in the middle of the week? That's for Sundays maybe. But for them, many of them, never-- or at a funeral or twice a year, Christmas and Easter, but Wednesday night? So you to them are the outliers. You to me are my valiant men and women. This is my heartbeat--
--going through the scripture like this. So I'm glad you're here. And we are opening up in chapter 11 with something that sounds like it's right out of a newspaper. It's so contemporary. It begins with war in the Middle East.
So before we get into it, let's have a word of prayer together. Father, thank you for these valiant men and women, who take the time out of their week to bring Bibles, many to bring notebooks, and to take notes and to assimilate what we believe your Holy Spirit is teaching to us. We remember that the apostle Paul said, all of the things in the Old Testament were written for our learning, our admonition. And so we want to understand and derive lessons, that your Spirit might teach us through this historical narrative, this section of scripture, that deals with a very important time in Israel's history, the kingdom.
Because we serve you, Lord, our King. And one day, you will establish your kingdom. And we believe it to be one that will be a geopolitical literal kingdom on Earth from Jerusalem. So we read these chapters with great historical fascination, but with great prophetic anticipation. Teach us. Feed us. Speak to us. For everyone that has come, we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
Well, it was Tom Petty who sang the famous song in the '90s, "It's Good to Be King If Just for a While." Well, Saul was king for a while and discovered it's good to be king, but it sure is hard to be king after a while. Because no sooner is he named as the king, that a war breaks out in a territory adjacent to him-- all part of Israel, but not so close, but to the area just on the Eastern side of the river Jordan, which was still technically part of Israel. The tribe of Gad settled there.
And up there in Jabesh Gilead, where the war is threatening to take place, Saul will hear about that, and he will act. So yeah, good to be king, but there's going to be a time to fight as the king. And he'll find it to be very, very difficult.
Now, the war, that we will discover here takes place, sort of suddenly and probably because the neighbors to the east, the Ammonites-- I'll talk about them-- have discovered that Israel is vulnerable. They said they wanted a king. Up to this point, they haven't had one. One has been appointed, but they haven't had a time to get a standing army to centralize their government. So being in a vulnerable place, neighboring countries want to attack.
Now, this has been the case with the Middle East as far as history goes back and even in modern times. In 1948, when the United Nations declared Israel to be a modern state in the Middle East-- gave it their green light, gave it their sanction-- and as soon as their newly formed government made the announcement under David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister, Israel is now a nation, formed, we believe, by God, decreed by the United Nations, when all that happened, immediately in a vulnerable position, having no real organized government yet, no standing army yet, just a bunch of farmers with tools, the very next day-- May 14, 1948 is when Israel was established as a nation-- the next day, the neighbors of Israel invaded.
The Arab countries from all around invaded Israel, thinking we'll stop this cancer now before it grows any further. Well, fast forward a few years, that was unsuccessful. But it didn't stop the political enemies of that country.
I mentioned to you what happened in 1973 on Yom Kippur, how also in a vulnerable place, a day of worship, a high and holy day-- people in those days didn't keep their radios on. The security forces were not on guard. Egypt attacked. Syria attacked. And it was known as the Yom Kippur War.
So what we are reading about here has a parallel even in modern times. Now, we're going to get into this and think about and talk about this topic of warfare, because it is so prevalent as you go through the Bible. In fact, this surprises many Bible students. They start reading the Bible and going, man, it's a violent book. There's a lot of wars. And they may have thought that the Bible is just filled with thou shalt nots and blessed are the peacemakers.
But they discover, if they were to count, some 93 international warfare campaigns that take place in the Old Testament, battle after battle. And so typically, when you read about it, especially since many of these are the people of God, and God is leading some of them into battle-- and even the second king of Israel praised God, saying, it is God who trains my hands for battle-- they start wondering if this is really a good thing, a God thing.
Because certainly, Jesus was a pacifist, they think, or they say. They will cite the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus said, you have heard that it was said by those of old, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you don't even resist an evil person. And if somebody slaps you on the cheek, turn to him the other one as well.
So in reading that, they think, well, then surely, Jesus must have been a pacifist, and the New Testament is pacifistic, not aggressive or condoning of war at all. That was the thought of a Russian author by the name of Leo Tolstoy, who wrote a very famous book called War and Peace, a very thick book--
--big book. And Tolstoy evidently came to believe in Jesus later in life and took the position that the Sermon on the Mount was totally against police-- so he was into defund the police; that the New Testament and the Sermon on the Mount, that Jesus was against the military, so we shouldn't have a police force, said Tolstoy. We shouldn't have a military, and we shouldn't even have courts that condemn criminals and execute punishment on them.
It was a very radical stance, but it was a very influential book. And he believed he got his information from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Well, the book War and Peace influenced lots of people, including Mahatma Gandhi of India, who read the book and believed that we should resist, but it should be a peaceful resistance. And what Gandhi did happened to be very successful in his day in India.
So how do we balance what we read in the New Testament Sermon on the Mount with what we read in the Old Testament? Do we just say, well, the God of the Old Testament is different than the God of the New Testament? Any critical reading of the Bible would immediately discover that is not true at all.
First of all, in the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus said that you shall not even resist an evil person, but turn the other cheek to him, he was not giving instructions to the world or to world governments. He wasn't saying, you should adopt this as a nation for your political polity and your military policy, or police policy. He was speaking to citizens of the kingdom of God.
Number two, and Jesus said don't retaliate, he wasn't talking about nationally. He was talking about something personally. And it's important you make that distinction. He's saying, personally if you get attacked, you shouldn't personally retaliate. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.
But if you think that Jesus was teaching absolute passivity and that there's never a time to engage in a war, there's never a time to execute judgment, if you adopt that policy, and you think that's the way the world should be run, please never run for political office.
You won't have my vote. Because if you were to enact that thinking, you are essentially giving a permission slip to any thug who wants to take advantage of the weak. And there are plenty to do it. Oh, there's plenty of powerful people out there that would love if you would just roll over and give them what they want and not resist them. So Jesus wasn't speaking nationally when he said that in the Sermon on the Mount. He was speaking personally.
OK, I went on a little too long, but let's begin. That's just the introduction.
So I said two chapters. And you maybe are thinking correctly. If you said, Yeah, right. So verse 1, chapter 11-- "Then Nahash"-- interesting name, because the name means serpent. So then serpent, snake boy--
--"the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabeshgilead, and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, make a covenant with us, and we will serve you." Now, it says he was an Ammonite. And you read lots of -ites in the Old Testament, don't you? There's Canaanites, and there are Amorites and Gergashites. And then you read about different people, like Eliphaz, the Temanite-- this is Job chapter 1-- and the friends of Job. And you read all these ites. Ite is simply an ending. It's a suffix that tells you what country they're from or what tribe or clan they are from.
Now, here was Nahash, serpent, and he was an Ammonite. The Ammonite kingdom was east of the Jordan River. And it has retained to this day its ancient name, at least sort of. The capital of Jordan is Amman, Jordan. Amman is the modern equivalent of the ancient Ammon. It is the Ammonite kingdom. And that's the territory.
And the Ammonites dwelt there. They were a long-standing enemy of the Israelite nation. And this guy comes up to a town called Jabeshgilead. Now, Jabeshgilead-- let me just plant this in your head. You can write it down.
But if you come with us to Israel, I can't take you to Jabeshgilead, but I can point it out to you. Because it's presently in the country of Jordan. But when we go from the Sea of Galilee on the day we go down toward Jerusalem, and we go right through a town called Beit She'an and if you were to look across the Jordan River into the hills, you would see where this town of Jabeshgilead stood.
So it was on the eastern side. It was the area of the tribe of Gad. Nahash comes in and threatens them. According to Josephus, the threat was, either you let us-- you'll read about it in the next verse-- do something to you, or we're going to completely annihilate you and destroy your town. So immediately, the people of Jabeshgilead want to make a covenant. They want to make a deal. They want some kind of an arrangement.
Look at verse 2. You'll see the arrangement that Nahash is willing to give. "Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes." I don't know. I'm thinking, Yeah, not really. I won't go along with that. You got another deal? Because this one isn't working.
If I "put out all your right eyes and bring reproach on all of Israel." Now, we've showed you before, that in antiquity, mutilation was not uncommon. The cutting off of thumbs or fingers or hands was common. And in certain countries, unfortunately, to this day, that kind of mutilation still is common.
Now, what's the idea of taking out somebody's right eye? It is easier to control a defeated population by putting out their right eye, because it almost guarantees they won't be able to form an army and fight against you. Because once you take out somebody's right eye, you disable depth perception and peripheral vision.
So if somebody wants to shoot a bow and arrow at you, usually, in those days, they aimed with their right eyes. That's how they would approach. That's how they were taught to fight, using their right eye to place the arrow. Also, in a battle defensively, the shield was kept over a person, but they would move it and cover their left eye and see with their right eye to gauge where the enemy was coming. If you put out somebody's right eye, you're virtually guaranteeing they'll not be able to gather an army and fight against you. So that's the deal-- put out your right eyes, and we'll let you live.
Now, I want to throw something else out to you, because I think it's germane to the story. Later on, one of the prophets, named Amos, who was a fig grower down south, and God raised him up to be a prophet, will speak to different nations little postcards of judgment. And he has a special word for these people, the Ammonites.
And I'm just going to read a section. This is Amos chapter 1, verse 13. "Thus says the Lord, for three transgressions of the people of Ammon and for four, I will not turn away its punishment. Because they ripped open the women with child in Gilead that they might enlarge their territory." In other words, the Ammonites were known as brutal people, who would do anything it would take for them to destroy a people and take their land, destroy a group and steal the property, even this kind of brutality of taking pregnant women and killing them and their children.
So it's not unusual-- it doesn't strike the Bible reader or the Bible student, when they discover that that's just who we're dealing with, a very brutal people used to mutilating people for their own reasons. So look at the response, verse 3, chapter 11. "Then the elders of Jabeshgilead said to him, Hold off for seven days"-- like, let us think about this-- "hold off for seven days, that we may send messengers to all the territory of Israel. And then if there is no one to save us, we will come out to you."
Now, again, this strikes us as odd. It's like, Yeah, OK, well, yeah, I don't like those terms, but I'll tell you what. We don't have a better deal going, so we're going to see if we can get help and find somebody who will help save us from you, do battle against you. But if we can't find anybody to fight against you, then OK, we'll surrender.
And you would think, well, what leader in his right mind would agree to those terms-- Yeah, go ahead? A very confident one. Obviously, Nahash was confident that there's no way they're going to be able to organize an army in that time to defeat him. So he is very, very confident and would let them go and try to find help to deliver themselves from it. So he knew that they had no central government. He knew they had no standing army.
So verse 4, "the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news in the hearing of the people. And all the people lifted up their voices and wept." They knew they were in trouble. They knew the Ammonites were strong. They understood their reputation and their power. All they could do is weep. They thought, we're done for. If the people of Jabeshgilead are being attacked, we're going to be next. So all the voices-- they lifted up their voices, and they wept.
Now, verse 5 is interesting. "Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field. And Saul said, What troubles the people that they weep? And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh."
What I love about this verse is where we find King Saul. Saul has already been identified as king. Samuel has told him, you're the one that everybody's hope in Israel is resting upon. And yet, we find Saul back with the flock as a rancher, working out in the fields, like he was-- remember when he was looking for his dad's donkeys? Now he's been identified as king, but all he knows how to do is be a rancher. So he's working. He's a hard worker.
And I like this about Saul. Now I don't like much else about Saul. There's a few things I like about him the way he started out. But it will quickly turn sour and turn south. But I love this about him. He's not a politician. He's a rancher, which, I think, people like this make good politicians.
Because they would call it in Washington, they're outside the beltway. If you're inside the beltway, you know how D.C. works. You have all the political moxie. You know how to grease somebody's palms and get deals made. But when you're a rancher, you just come in and go, I don't see it that way. And I think it could make somebody very effective.
So he's a rancher. And I love that he doesn't mind hard work. He's not like, I'm king; it's good to be king; I want to be pampered. He's out working hard. He's not like, well, I don't agree with your policy. I'm going to HR, and I'm going to complain.
He's like, I'm just going to go work. So he's out working. He comes in and goes, dude, what's up? What's the trouble? And he said, well, we've been threatened.
And verse 6-- "Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused." Please notice the relationship between the Spirit of God coming upon him and the anger that issues forth from him. He's angry, but he's angry, it seems to indicate, as a result of the Holy Spirit coming upon him.
You say, what? Wait a minute. I thought anger was bad. Didn't Jesus talk about being angry with your brother, and if you're angry at your brother without a cause, you'll be in danger of the judgment? Yes he did. But there's also a time when the Spirit of God puts something on your heart that is a righteous anger, what we call righteous indignation.
Do you know that you're commanded to be angry? In the book of Ephesians, it says, be angry and sin not. It's OK to be angry for the right reason and in the right manner, but don't let your anger lead to sinful anger. It's what Martin Luther called an anger of love, an anger of love.
So these are God's people. And the Spirit of God came upon him and impressed, this is God's people. This is God's inheritance, heritage. And he's the king. So Spirit of God came upon him, and he gets angry.
Jesus got angry in the temple and drove out the buyers and sellers twice, once at the beginning of his ministry, once at the end. Took a cord, a whip, a whip of cords, and whipped people out, and said, You've made my Father's house a den of thieves, a house of merchandise, instead of a place of worship. So there is a place for reading the newspaper, hearing the news, and becoming righteously angry about what you see, instead of just saying, well, you know, it's just the world. Slavery ended because somebody got angry.
William Wilberforce was led to Christ by a previous slave trader named John Newton. John Newton bought and sold human beings, but in desperation, gave his life to Christ. After he gave his life to Christ, John Newton wrote a very famous song, "Amazing Grace"-- how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. He also influenced young William Wilberforce. And William Wilberforce grew to become very angry at the British slave trade. And in 1833, in the parliament in England, he abolished the slave trade.
Abraham Lincoln saw humans being sold down at the market in New Orleans, and it grieved his heart when he saw that for the first time. And he made it his goal to end slavery in America. So the Spirit of God came on Saul. His anger was greatly aroused.
"So he took a yoke of oxen"-- that is a pair of oxen-- "cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messenger, saying, whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel"-- notice the prophet Samuel is also going to war; he's the chaplain, I suppose-- "so it shall be done to his oxen. And the fear of the Lord came upon the people. And they came out with one consent."
Now, this sort of sounds a little bit like Judges 19, though not as gross as Judges 19, when the Levite from the hills of Ephraim took his dead concubine and cut her up into 12 pieces and sent a piece of her to all the 12 tribes of Israel, calling them to one place. Saul is getting a message across, but at least doing it with oxen-- still gross. But he's calling them to war. He's essentially saying, it's time to fight.
And there are times when it's time to fight, right? Isn't that what Ecclesiastes 3 says? To everything, there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven-- a time to be born, a time to die, a time to kill, a time to heal, a time to make war, a time to have peace. Saul knew, now is the time to make war, in the name of the Lord, against these bullies on the east.
So in verse 8, "When he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were 300,000, and the men of Judah 30,000." Well, I've got to tell you, the Ammonite King Nahash did not bank on a standing army of 330,000 men against him. But that's how many Saul was able to conscript.
"And they said to the messengers who came, Thus you shall say to the men of Jabeshgilead, tomorrow by this time that the sun is hot, you shall have help." So by tomorrow afternoon, you'll have your army. "Then the messengers came and reported it to the men of Jabesh, and they were glad." Sure.
"Therefore the men of Jabesh said"-- now, this is the message they're sending back to Nahash, who threatened them-- "Therefore, the men of Jabesh said, tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do with us whatever seems good to you." Now, remember the deal-- we'll make peace with you. I'll make a covenant with you, but I'm going to put out all of your right eyes. So they're saying, well, come on, do whatever you think you want to do-- wink, wink.
Because they knew that they were coming out with a promise of a large army. So the war is pretty much set. Now, I do want to underscore something. War is despicable. It's ugly, it's horrible, never to be glorified.
It's also very expensive. It costs human life. It disrupts communities. It costs not just men's lives, manpower, but man dollars. Do you know, that in 2020, the total cost of global warfare, warfare on a global scale, in the year 2020 was $1,981 billion. $1,981 billion was what it cost the world in the year 2020 alone to fight its wars. So it's horrible on every account.
And yet, though we have lived thousands of years, and we have a history to learn from, we still do it. In fact, only 8% of world history has ever been a time of peace. Why is that? You think, well, certainly we'd figure out a way to get along. Because people's hearts haven't changed.
We live in a fallen world. There's always a bully. There's always people who want to traffic human beings, kill human beings, prey upon the weak and the vulnerable, et cetera, et cetera. So sometimes, nations find it a necessity to go to war.
I love peace. But I love peace enough to fight for it. And sometimes, when it comes to establishing or making peace, you have to fight for it. That's the law of the jungle, unfortunately.
So we in the Western world have come up with a doctrine known as the just war theory. Some of you have heard of that, the just war theory, first articulated by Saint Augustine, later further articulated by Thomas Aquinas in his "Summa Theologica." He talked about when it is OK for nations to go to battle to fight each other. There are certain conditions for the war for the nation to feel like, I'm doing this for a good cause, for a righteous cause, a just reason-- the just war theory.
Even Martin Luther-- I brought a couple of his comments just to share with you. He said this. "Without armaments, peace cannot be kept. Wars are waged not only to repel injustice, but also to establish a firm peace." And he also said, "Violent means must sometimes be used to preserve the life and health of the body politic, just as a physician must at times amputate an arm or a leg in order that the whole body not perish. And this," said Martin Luther, "this can be a work of Christian love."
Now, for a war to be just, force has to be limited. Force has to be discriminatory, that is, you don't take it out on civilians. You want to eliminate civilian casualties. It's only armed combatants that you're after. And there's a whole list of things that would constitute what is he just battle.
But the just war theory has largely come from what soldiers and students of warfare have studied in the Bible. In fact, since we're on the subject-- and I did mark it, in case I had time. But I'm just going to make time. So in Hebrews chapter 11-- you know what Hebrews chapter 11 is, right? It's the Hall of--
--faith. It's all of faith. By faith, people do this, and by faith, people did that. And they were able to do great things by faith, right? Well, want to find out what else they did by faith? It says, "And what more shall I say? For time would fail to tell me of Gideon"-- well, he was a soldier; he led an army in a battle-- "and Barak"-- he did the same-- "and Samson"-- yup, he went to war-- "Jephthah, and also of David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouth of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, and turned to fight the armies of the aliens." This is all warfare.
Abraham engaged in warfare when he wanted to rescue Lot. David, Joshua, fought the Lord's war. It was at the command of God that they went out to battle. Even John the Baptist, when the Roman soldiers came to John the Baptist baptizing at the Jordan River, and they said, well, what should we do? Right? Because he's baptizing people, telling them to repent and turn, and get a new life.
So these army men come to him. They say, well, man, we're convicted of ours. So what should we do? And it's interesting. John the Baptist didn't say, quit the army. Read Leo Tolstoy's book War and Peace.
Be a pacifist. He just said, hey, be content with your wages. Be a good soldier, and be content with your wages was the idea of that-- just don't gripe. Don't grumble. Don't complain.
Then you remember in the New Testament a centurion. One who was a Roman officer, trained for battle, came to Jesus, and had a conversation with Jesus, and said, just speak the word, and my servant will be healed. You don't even have to come into my house. Jesus said, I haven't found this kind of faith even among all of Israel, commended a Roman centurion's faith even more than the Jewish people he had met.
And Jesus didn't say, well, you know, Mr. centurion, you really shouldn't be a centurion. In fact, there shouldn't be an army. Having to read my Sermon on the Mount? Because he didn't even mean that by the Sermon on the Mount. So he commended that soldier's faith. So back to our text. Yeah, I did say two chapters, didn't I?
So verse 11-- "So it was, on the next day"-- chapter 11, verse 11-- "So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three companies." if you know your Bible, you know that is what Gideon did in his battle with the Midianites, divided the standing army into three companies. It's a very common battle technique.
"And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and killed Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. Then the people said to Samuel, who is he who said, shall Saul reign over us? Bring them in that we may put them to death."
If you remember, in your previous chapter, when Samuel introduced the new king-- long live the king. There were some people who said, Yeah, we don't like this guy. We don't want him as king, and they were against him. So now that King Saul has cemented his place in their eyes as being a worthy king, some of these guys said, hey, who are those dissenters? Let's bring them out here, and let's kill them.
Now, this is pretty typical warfare behavior. When you have the taste for killing, like these people already had, killing a few more dissenters, to them, was no big deal. But not for Saul-- and this is another thing I like about Saul. Don't worry. That love fest will end soon.
"But Saul said"-- verse 13-- "not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has accomplished salvation in Israel." This is a day of salvation. This is a day of rejoicing. We're not going to kill people who didn't like me when I became king.
Now, again, I like this about Saul. And it shows me that his world view at this time is that life is sacred-- I'm not going to kill people, because life is sacred. Life is a gift from God. People are made in the image of God. A just war is one thing, but killing people just because they didn't like me, no. This is a day that God saved people.
So it could have been a bloodbath in Jabeshgilead by him taking dissenters and killing them, and he refused to do it. Keep this in mind. Because the men of Jabeshgilead will never forget this. It was Saul who saved their city. It was Saul who spared people's lives on that day.
And I say, they'll never forget that, because at the end of Saul's life, when Saul himself is beheaded, and they hang the body of Saul on the walls of Beit She'an, that the men of Jabeshgilead will cross the Jordan River, get his body, take it back to Jabesh, and give him a decent burial, to honor that man who did this for them. So they'll never forget that.
Verse 14-- "Then Samuel said to the people, come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there." And let me just give you a refreshment, because it's been a while. Gilgal, if you remember-- I'm going to jog your memory-- was base camp for the Israelites as soon as they crossed the Jordan River under Joshua. Their first battle was Jericho.
Just across the Jordan River as you go toward Jericho, there was a place. They called it Gilgal, which means circle, and that became base camp for all of their exploits. When they attacked Jericho, when they attacked the north, when they attacked the central hills, they always came back to Gilgal. So that became HQ.
It was also one of the places that Samuel would go and preach in his little circuit, that we discovered last time. Now, as far as Samuel and Saul, this is the first of three very important meetings that those two will have at Gilgal. Meeting number one, right here-- Samuel and the people are called. He calls the people to Gilgal with Saul.
Later on, chapter 13, Samuel will go to Gilgal when Saul offers a sacrifice, an animal sacrifice, prematurely, and chew him out for it. Then in chapter 15, also at Gilgal, after King Saul comes back from battling the Amalekites-- I know we haven't gotten there yet, but I trust that many of you already know the story-- and he refuses to kill the king of the Amalekites, and Samuel takes and kills him, and he reams Saul for not obeying God-- to obey is better than sacrifice. That very famous passage of scripture happened there.
And so he turned to walk away, and Saul grabbed Samuel's cloak and tore it. And Samuel turned back and looked at King Saul, and he said, Today God's going to tear the kingdom from your hands. So it becomes a very strategic place for these two in their meetings. This is the first place that it takes place.
So verse 1t-- "So all the people went to Gilgal. And there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. They made sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
Now Samuel said to all of Israel-- indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you said to me and have made a king over you. And now here is the king walking before you. And I am old and gray-headed"-- yeah, you're old and gray-headed, but you just went to battle. I mean, he's a cantankerous old man. He's going to be around for a little bit longer. You'll see it in him.
--"and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my childhood to this day." Remember, he was dedicated by his mother and left in the care of Eli, the high priest, in the Tabernacle. "I've walked before you from my childhood to this day. Here I am. Witness against me before the Lord and before his anointed-- whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I defrauded?
Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I received any bribe with which to blind my eyes? I will restore it to you. And they said, you have not defrauded us or oppressed us, nor have you taken anything from any man's hand. And then he said to them, The Lord is witness against you and his anointed as witness this day that you have not found anything in my hand. And they answered, he is witness."
Now, you will notice, in what I just read, a repeated word-- taken, taken, taken. I haven't taken. I haven't taken. Nope, you haven't taken. And I think it's noteworthy. Because he's about to leave the scene, and a king is about to come on the scene. This is the official inauguration of the king at Gilgal.
This is the beginning of the united monarchy. This is the official ending of the period of the judges. The period of the judges ends in this chapter officially. Samuel is the last judge. He's turning over the reins as a political ruler to a king that they asked for. So the judges. The united monarchy begins.
And he says, I haven't taken from you a thing, as if to contrast him to a king-- whom he already said, you really want a king like all the other nations? If you get a king, he will take from you. He will take your best produce. He will take your sons, he will take your daughters, and use them for his army, for his palace, for his government.
And I've got to say-- though I'm never on any anti-government rant, if you know me. I do think that this is pretty true of government. Government takes. Government will take. What Jesus said to his people is, I have been as a servant among you. I didn't come to be served. I came to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.
And that is how we are to be with each other, to serve one another. You have enough people taking from you. The king that you wanted, he's going to come, and he's going to take.
"And they said, he is witness. And Samuel said to the people. It is the Lord who raised up Moses and Aaron, who brought up your fathers from the land of Egypt." So this is really his State of the Union message. This is his farewell speech, so to speak. This is like his-- remember Joshua 24, the last message of Joshua to the people. This is very similar to that.
"It's the Lord who raised up Moses and Aaron"-- so he's rehearsing the history-- "who brought up your fathers from the land of Egypt. Now therefore, be still, that I may reason with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous acts of the Lord, which he did to you and your fathers-- when Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place.
And when they forgot the Lord their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, into the hands of the Philistines, into the hand of the king of Moab, and he fought against them." He's rehearsing recent history, the period of the judges. So he goes back to the Exodus, and he goes forward to the time of the judges, rehearsing a little bit of their history, giving them an oral, aural history, which is pretty prevalent.
Listen, if you want to get a Jewish person's ear, rehearse for them the great things God has done for them. If you remember, this is how Stephen gave a witness. Remember, Stephen was accused in the New Testament for deriding the Jewish nation, talking down on Moses, and saying the temple is going to be destroyed. And he's brought before the high priest, and the high priest said, is this so? Are these things so?
Immediately, Stephen answers the question by going all the way back to God calling Abraham. God called us. We're a mighty nation, and look what God did with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and goes all the way through their history to answer the question. So it's very important. Their history is very important, period, and certainly very important to them.
Verse 10-- "Then they cried out to the Lord and said, we have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord and serve the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve you. And the Lord sent"-- he's still rehearsing their history-- Jerubbaal"-- that's another name for Gideon, who fought the Midianites-- "Bedan, Jephthah, Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side. And you dwell in safety.
And when you saw that Nahash, the 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. Now therefore, here's the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the Lord has set a king over you."
Now, this is interesting, fascinating. It seems contradictory, though it is not. He said, look, you wanted a king, so you got a king. But then he says, here's the king the Lord said over you.
So both are true. God wanted to reign over them. They called out for a king. God had previously announced, however, way back, hundreds of years before-- you're going to ask for a king. Make sure that you set a king over you that the Lord your God chooses. So the Lord permitted this king, and Saul was set over them.
"If you fear the Lord"-- verse 14-- "and serve Him today and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.
Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes. Is today not the wheat harvest?" That's a question. If you're an Israelite, and I asked you, is today not the wheat harvest, what would you say?
You'd say, yes. That's probably what they said. OK, you didn't really participate much in that, but--
--that's OK. There you go. That's what they'd say. Yes, today's the wheat harvest. Now, the wheat harvest is the end of May, beginning of June. So we're in the middle of June, right around this time.
It's a time where it's typically hot and dry. The rainy season is the wintertime. The early and the latter rains have ended long ago. It's just hot and dry. So, "Is today not the wheat harvest?"
Yes. "I will call to the Lord, and he will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord in asking a king for yourself. So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day"-- highly unusual. "And all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel." So you might say, Samuel prayed up a storm.
And the Lord. put his amen on it with thunder and rain. "And the people said to Samuel, pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die. For we have added to all of our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves." Too little too late. "And Samuel said to the people, do not fear. You have done all this wickedness. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve Him with all your heart."
And watch this-- "Do not turn aside. For then you would go after empty things, which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing." The visual that he is painting is a person walking down a path, but getting diverted, getting sidetracked, getting distracted by something that moves him off course.
When we would take vacations, I always wish my dad would take the scenic route. Veer off a little bit, pause here. Look at that. He wanted to go straight ahead. Now, I still wish he would have taken the scenic route.
But you don't want to take the scenic route when it comes to following the Lord. You want to follow the Lord with all your heart, pursue him, and not get diverted, not get distracted. Don't get sidetracked. "Don't turn aside after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake"--
Now watch this. Let this sink in-- "because it has pleased the Lord to make you his people." You know, he's getting pretty hot and heavy with them. Yeah, you guys have sinned. You asked for a king. You didn't want God to reign over you.
But he wants to leave them with the assurance-- God loves it that you're his people. It has pleased the Lord to make you his people. I love that about God. Why did God choose you? Why did God choose me?
Now, you probably don't ask that question that way. You don't say, why did God choose me? But you've seen some Christians, and you wonder about them. Why did God choose them?
That dude is jacked. He's weird. He's off. She's-- get her away. Why did God pick them? It pleased the Lord to make you his people.
You see, Israel had nothing to boast in. In Deuteronomy chapter 7, Moses said, God didn't choose you, the people of Israel, because you were more in number or stronger than any other people. God didn't set his love on you for those reasons. And then he says, here's why God set his love on you. Because the Lord loved you.
What? The Lord loved me because he loved me? Yeah, the Lord loves you, because he decided, I'm going to love you. He set his love on you, because he has a genuine love for you. It's nothing about you that attracted him. There's nothing about your great, incredible character and integrity. He saves sinners. You qualify.
Some of you have been great sinners, been really good at it your whole life. Some of you still are. But the Lord has said his love on you, because the Lord loves you. And it has pleased him to make you his people.
And if you really want a reason beyond that, right before that, it says, for his great name's sake. See, God has a reputation, God has made promises. God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. That's why the people are still in that land today. Because God made a promise, and it is an irrevocable covenant.
The land covenant is an irrevocable covenant. You go, man, Israel and their politics, they can get messed up. Their whole election was messed up. But God has set his love on them. And God made a covenant with Abraham. And God has never been sued for breach of contract.
And God has a reputation, a name to uphold. And he is the friend of sinners. So that's why he loves us so well. It has pleased the Lord to make you his people.
"Moreover, as for me"-- because they said, pray for us-- "Moreover, as for me, far be it that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you. But I will teach you the good and the right way." Let that verse sink in. Samuel saw it as a sin not to intercede for people.
I owe you that much, at least to pray for you. And if I don't pray for you, I'm sinning against God. Prayer is survival gear, spiritual survival gear. You need it. So yeah, I can get by without it-- yeah, how are you doing with that? How's that working out for you? Probably not all that great.
The more you pray, the more you confide, the more you pray for others, that's the good way. That's the right way. "Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth"-- verse 24-- "with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you will be swept away, both you and your king."
We close with that. Consider the great things God has done for you. Can your mind rehearse that? Can you go back to the day when he saw you in your misery; when you cried out to him, and you said, Oh, God, save me; and where the Lord has taken you from that day to here, to today; how faithful he's been to walk with you, to put up with you, to work with you; to watch you fall and fail, only to pick you up, dust you off, get you back on the path, only to have you do it again? But he's there.
Thank how faithful God has been. Before you go to bed tonight, that's your homework. Besides reading the next couple of chapters and getting ready for our study next time, before you go to sleep, close your eyes, and start rehearsing the faithfulness of God in your life. And just thank Him. Thank you. You say, no, I'm not used to doing that. I'm kind of used to complaining to the Lord of what--
--and wondering why he didn't give me what I wanted that day and my pain in my back and my side, and my weird husband, or whatever.
I'm used to-- no, let today be a reset. From now on, you're going to close your eyes at night, and thank you, Lord. You've been so good to me today. You've been so faithful over the years. I have nothing to complain about. Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to thy cross I cling. Let that be the way you end each day, being mindful of the goodness of God.
It has pleased God to make you his people. And if you're not yet his people. It will please God greatly to make you tonight one of his people. He loves you, and he wants to save you. He loves you the way you are, but he loves you too much to leave you the way you are.
He wants to change you. He wants to restore you. He wants to save you. And if you have not called upon Jesus personally, let tonight be the night you do. Would you bow your head with me in prayer?
Father, thank you for your many mercies, your many gifts, your many blessings. We recount them. We recall them. We marvel at them. So thankful are we that it has pleased you to make us your people.
But Lord, in this crowd, in this group, and for some who are tuning in by radio, tuning in by internet, some still don't know you. Some here in this room still don't know you. They've been brought by a friend, brought by a friend at an invitation, or they've come for a while.
They have been good people. They've been committed people, committed in relationships, committed to their religion perhaps, even Christianity. But they haven't yet surrendered their life to the Lord Jesus Christ. They haven't been born again. I pray that tonight would be the night you'd change that. Change them as you bring more sheep into your fold-- sinners saved by grace. May we enjoy and relish and bathe in that grace tonight.
If you've come tonight, but you have walked away from the Lord-- you're not walking in fellowship with them, you're not serving him-- or if you've never given your life to Christ, and you need to come to him for the first time, either one, if you're willing to give your life to Christ tonight, I want you just to raise your hand up in the air, so I can notice your hand. Our heads are bowed. Our eyes are closed. Mine eye-- mine eyes-- my eyes will be open.
But just raise your hand up. And in raising your hand up, you're saying, Skip, pray for me. Tonight, I'm going to come to Christ or come back to the Lord, renew that covenant, that commitment. Just raise your hand up.
God bless you, right up here in the front, and on my left toward the back, over here on my left-hand side, and on the right, toward the back. Anyone else? Anyone else? This is your night. This is for you. God loves you enough to have you here hearing this so you can make this choice. Who else? Who else?
No, don't fight against God. Release your life to him. Say yes to him-- not no, not maybe next time, not wait. Now-- today is the day of salvation. Anybody else? Raise your hand up. God bless you, toward the back on my left. Father, thank you for these. Strengthen them, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Would you all stand? Hey, listen, we're going to sing a final song. I saw about 8 or 9 or 10 of you all together raise your hands. I want you to get up from where you are standing. Maybe somebody will stand with you-- you'll inspire them.
But if you're in the way back or in the front or on the side, get up and come as we sing the song. And just make your way up here to the front. I'm going to lead you publicly in a prayer to make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior. It's a step you will never--
--you'll never forget, you'll never regret. As we sing, just come stand right up here in the front. God bless you. God bless you I saw hands over here.
(SINGING) I'll stand.
Come on, we're giving this up. We're--
[APPLAUSE AND CHEERING]
--getting excited for you. Come on up.
(SINGING) In awe--
Come on up and make a stand.
(SINGING) --to the one who gave it all. I'll stand, my soul, Lord, to you surrendered, all I am--
I'll wait. We'll wait. We're waiting.
(SINGING) --is you.
Not trying to embarrass you. We want to encourage you. We want this to strengthen you. If you raised your hand, whether it's a first time commitment or a recommitment, you get up from where you're standing, and find the nearest aisle, and come and stand right up here. Let's sing this through one more time.
(SINGING) Lord, to you surrendered, oh, all I am is yours. I'll stand. So I'll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the one who gave it all. I'll stand, my soul, Lord, to you surrendered. All I am is yours. Yeah. I am yours. I'm yours.
Anyone else? Put fear on that faith.
(SINGING) i am yours.
Put feet on that faith.
(SINGING) I am yours.
All right, let's do this. You with the courage, who have come forward, I'm going to lead you in a prayer.
[APPLAUSE AND CHEERING]
I want you to say this prayer out loud after me. Say these words from your heart to the Lord. Say, Lord, I give you my life.
Lord, I give you my life.
I know that I'm a sinner.
I know that I'm a sinner.
Please forgive me.
Please forgive me.
I believe in Jesus.
I believe in Jesus.
That he died for me.
That he died for me.
That he rose again.
He rose again.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my sin.
I turn to Jesus as my Savior.
I turn to Jesus as my Savior.
I want to follow him as my Lord.
I want to follow him as my Lord.
In Jesus' name.
In Jesus name.
For more resources from Calvary Church and Skip Heitzig, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us, from this teaching in our series Expound.