Samuel’s Last Activities

1 Samuel

Samuel’s Last Activities

November 27th, 1960 @ 8:15 AM

1 Samuel 13-15

Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent. And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear. And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal. And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits. And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering. And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men. And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash. And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual: And another company turned the way to Bethhoron: and another company turned to the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness. Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears: But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock. Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found. And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash. Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father. And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men; And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD’S priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone. And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah. And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few. And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart. Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them. If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them. But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us. And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves. And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel. And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him. And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow. And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling. And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another. Then said Saul unto the people that were with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there. And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel. And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand. And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture. Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan. Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle. So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven. And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food. And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground. And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath. But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened. Then answered one of the people, and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food this day. And the people were faint. Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey. How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely to day of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines? And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint. And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood. Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the LORD, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day. And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew them there. And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD. And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Then said the priest, Let us draw near hither unto God. And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day. And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day. For, as the LORD liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. But there was not a man among all the people that answered him. Then said he unto all Israel, Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people said unto Saul, Do what seemeth good unto thee. Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped. And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken. Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die. And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan. And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not. Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place. So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them. And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them. Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchishua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal: And the name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of the captain of his host was Abner, the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him. Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley. And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal. And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent. Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God. So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD. Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal. Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
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SAMUEL’S LAST ACTIVITIES

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Samuel 13-15

11-27-60    8:15 a.m.

On the radio you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the early morning message in the life of Samuel entitled The Closing Days of the Great Prophet.  In your Holy Book, in these blessed Scriptures, you can easily follow the message of the morning if you turn to 1 Samuel, chapter 13, and the message follows chapters 13, 14, and 15.

Last Sunday morning at this early hour, we watched Samuel as he installed his successor, Saul the son of Kish.  There is to be a new administration, there is a new leadership.  They have a new king.  So Samuel resigns his office of chief magistrate, and he places into the hands of his young successor all of the destiny of the people of God [1 Samuel 12:1-2].  And the people ask Samuel to remember them in prayer as they begin this new adventure [1 Samuel 12:19], this new departure under Samuel’s successor.  And Samuel replies, “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for thee: but I will teach you the good and the right way” [1 Samuel 12:23].  So Samuel turns aside from judging Israel, an office that he had held for many, many years.  And he turns the reins of government over to the new king.

Now, we begin this morning with the life of Samuel, as he touched his successor in the closing days of Samuel’s ministry.  It says in the thirteenth chapter and the first verse, “Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years” [1 Samuel 13:1], then you have the incident described in this thirteenth chapter of 1 Samuel which delineates the beginning of the fall of the first king [1 Samuel 10:8, 13:8-12].  And isn’t it a remarkable thing—though sometimes it takes years to work out—isn’t it a remarkable thing that almost immediately and almost without exception, that immediately, how a man is in the course of his life, and how a thing is to be, is almost immediately apparent?

As I listen to people speak to me about their marriages, almost immediately—it’s not a matter of five years or ten years or thirty years or forty years—almost immediately, the course of the marriage is set.  If there is to be trouble, and turmoil, and unhappiness, and dissatisfaction, it will almost immediately appear.  If there is to be confidence, and assurance, and gladness, and happiness, almost immediately it is apparent.  It is the same way in practically all other relationships of life.  Almost immediately these things appear, and the set of a man’s soul and the destiny of a man’s life and the turn of a man’s fortune is almost immediately seen.

You have that so many times illustrated in the Scriptures, as well as in this following through in the life of Samuel and Samuel’s successor.  For example, it seems in the Word of God that almost immediately Adam fell [Genesis 3:1-6].  I sometimes find it humorous; these people who teach that those days in the first chapters of the Book of Genesis were eons and were ages.  In that event, Adam, who was created on the sixth day, lived thousands and millions of years as he lived out the remainder of the sixth day [Genesis 1:26-27].  Then the next day was the seventh day in which God rested [Genesis 2:1-3], and Adam lived through the seventh day, another millions and millions and uncounted millions of years.  Then it was that the incident happened when he fell in the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:6].  According to them, if those days are eons, if they are ages, if they covered vast, untold periods of years, then Adam was millions and millions and millions and untold, uncounted millions of years of age when he and Eve fell into that transgression.  There’s no such presentation in the Word of God at all.  The day was an evening and a morning.  It was a day as your day is, as our day is, in the revolution of the earth one time.  And Adam immediately fell.  It wasn’t a long process.  Almost immediately you have that story coming to pass, when he and his wife fell in that transgression [Genesis 3:1-6].

Almost immediately Noah fell after God had made a new earth for Noah and rejuvenated all creation and the race had a new beginning and a new start [Genesis 9:1-19].  Almost immediately you find Noah drunken and naked [Genesis 9:20-24] and bringing upon a part of his family an infinitely hurtful disgrace and an awful weight and curse; it didn’t take long.  Israel was that way.  One day Israel said to Moses, “Tell God, all that He says, we will do.  Every word that He speaks we will obey” [Exodus 19:8].  And immediately, almost the same day, when Israel said, “Everything that God says, we will do, and every word that God commands, we will perform” [Exodus 19:8], then, as Moses remained on the top of the mount talking to God face to face and receiving the laws and the statutes and the commandments [Exodus 19:20], the people down there in the valley who had just said, “All that God shall speak, we will do.  Every word God commands, we will perform” [Exodus 19:8], immediately the people down there in the valley said to Aaron, “Up, up, make us gods that we can bow down and worship before them, for as for this man Moses, we wot not what has become of him” [Exodus 32:1].  Almost immediately; that is a pattern of life.

In the thirteenth chapter of 1 Samuel, in Saul’s reign, one year [1 Samuel 13:1], it becomes apparent the destiny of this man.  And the terrific inexcusable secularism of his heart and his reluctance to wait upon the Lord becomes immediately apparent [1 Samuel 13:8-12].  Now, God had said to Samuel, “You tell Saul, when he goes down to Gilgal and when he gathers Israel together for battle, you tell Saul not to go into that battle until first he has the approbation of God.  Wait on Me, I will give him the victory.  And tell him to tarry seven days” [1 Samuel 10:8].

All of this was carefully rehearsed in Saul’s ear by Samuel the prophet.  We did that last Sunday morning, going through the Scriptures, rehearsing these things that Samuel said to Saul; “And you wait on the Lord.  Don’t you attempt this thing by yourself.  You wait on the Lord, and you wait seven days, and in those seven days the prophet will come, and he will make sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord, and God will give you victory” [1 Samuel 10:8].  So, now we begin at verse 8 in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Samuel:

And Saul tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed; and Samuel did not come . . .

And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings.  And Saul offered the burnt offering.

And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering

(on that seventh day; it was to be seven days, and the seven days had not yet passed)

It came to pass, that as soon as Saul had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to salute him.

And Samuel said, What hast thou done?

[1 Samuel 13:8-11a]

“What hast thou done?”  Does that strike a familiar ring in your minds?  “What hast thou done?”  That was the question God asked Eve in the day of the transgression: “What hast thou done?” [Genesis 3:13]. That was the question that God asked her son, Cain: “What hast thou done?  For the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth up unto Me from the ground” [Genesis 4:10].

And Samuel said, “What hast thou done?” and Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed”—  that was not true.  Seven days, God said [1 Samuel 10:8], and on the seventh day Samuel came [1 Samuel 13:8]; but Saul says, “Thou camest not within the days appointed” [1 Samuel 13:11].  That was not true.  On the seventh day, Samuel came [1 Samuel 13:10].  “And the Philistines were gathered at Michmash; Therefore, said I, The Philistines will come down upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord; I forced myself, therefore, and offered a burnt offering” [1 Samuel 13:11-12].  And Samuel said to Saul:

Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which He commanded thee; for had you obeyed the Lord, the Lord would have established thy kingdom forever.  But now thy kingdom shall not continue; the Lord hath sought Him a man after His own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over His people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord hath commandeth thee.

[1 Samuel 13:13-14]

Ah, I know it’s hard.  It is always hard.  I know it is difficult.  It is always difficult when we get restive and we become anxious and we persuade ourselves that all of this depends upon us; we have to do it.  And as Saul says, “I forced myself [1 Samuel 13:12].  It doesn’t matter about God; this is my affair.  Don’t talk to me about waiting on the Lord; I’ve got to move.  Don’t speak to me about getting God’s approbation and God’s approval and God’s favor; this is my work, and I’ve got to get it done.”  That’s Saul.

How much better had it been had the king obeyed the commandment of God and waited those full seven days upon the Lord’s prophet? And how much better would it be for us, instead of rushing into things foolishly and seeking to do things in our own strength and in our own power, our own ingenuity, our ableness, which is actually our feebleness; how much better to wait upon the Lord, praying about it, asking God’s wisdom in it, and then, having found God’s will and God’s purpose and obeying God’s commandment, then doing God’s work in God’s strength?  How infinitely better!

But Saul is not so turned.  “I felt this way,” he says to Samuel, “and I saw this,” he says to Samuel, “and I felt this,” he says to Samuel, “and I forced myself to go ahead and do this,” he says to Samuel [1 Samuel 13:12].  And Samuel replies, “Thou hast done foolishly” [1 Samuel 13:13].  How infinitely better to obey the injunctions of God and to wait upon the Lord!  So you have the beginning of the dissolution of the ministry and work and kingdom of Saul at the very start of his reign [1 Samuel 13:14].

Now, in chapter 14, you have an illustration of the foolishness of this man Saul.  He is being besieged on every side by Philistia, but Saul has a wonderful son [1 Samuel 14:1].  I preached a sermon one time here on that glorious boy.  There is not in the Holy Word of God a single sentence by which one would gain an impression that there was even a flaw in the character of Jonathan.  If ever there lived a son in whose heart shined the glory of God, the Spirit of Jesus, that son was Jonathan. About two weeks ago, I ate dinner in a pastor’s home, and he had a boy in that home, and the boy’s name was Jonathan.  I like that. If I had twins and they were boys, I think I would like to name them David and Jonathan.   Jonathan is beautiful in every gesture, in every facet of his character; a son above sons.  Now, he was not only flawless in his character, in the beauty of his life, but he was brave, and he trusted God.  He had an illimitable faith in the Lord.

And Israel, pressed on every hand by these blaspheming, uncircumcised Philistines, Jonathan says to his armor-bearer, “Come, let us go up against the garrison of Philistia,” just the two of them [1 Samuel 14:1].  And the armor-bearer, who’s called the young man, his armor-bearer, the young man says, “As God shall place these things in your heart, I will be with you to do” [1 Samuel 14:6-7].

Isn’t that a glorious thing?  That armor-bearer had an illimitable trust in Jonathan, as Jonathan had an illimitable trust in God.  So Jonathan says to his armor-bearer, “Let us go up against this garrison of Philistia, and this will be the sign.  When we approach them, if they say, ‘We are coming down to slay you,’ why, then that is the sign God does not want us to attack it.  But if they say to us, ‘Come up here and we will show you a thing or two,’ that will be the sign God has delivered them into our hands” [1 Samuel 14:8-10].  What an unusual sign, when the natural thing would have been that these Philistines would have come down to slay those two as they approached.

And it was an impossible situation—on a high pinnacle, on a high rocky eminence—that Jonathan and his armor-bearer could even get up there, if that was to be the sign, the difficult thing to do.  So Jonathan and his armor-bearer approached the rocky garrison high up there on a pinnacle.  And when he disclosed himself to them, why, the mocking infidels said to the two down there below them, “Come up here.”  And that was an impossible thing in itself to do without the help of God.  “Come up here, and we will show you a thing or two.  You come up here and we will cut your head off!”   And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “That is God’s sign.  Let us go” [1 Samuel 14:11-12].

Well, you can hardly believe such a thing.  And Jonathan and his armor-bearer, just those two, climb up that steep and difficult eminence of that high rock upon which the garrison of Philistia was built, and he and his armor-bearer jump down over the ramparts into the court.  And you never saw such a fight in your life as those two, Jonathan and his armor-bearer, attacking the entire garrison of Philistia.  Well, it was a rout, and the whole garrison falls to pieces, either in death or in fear and in fleeing. And from the fall of that garrison, there goes out throughout all of the armies of the Philistines a great trembling [1 Samuel 14:13-15].

The way the Bible describes the thing is very impressive.  Look at the fifteenth verse of this fourteenth chapter: “And there was trembling in the host.” There was trembling “in the field.”  There was trembling “among all the people: the garrison and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked.”  The very earth trembled, so that “it was a very great trembling.”  Well, it wasn’t long until the entire forces and armies of Philistia were in flight.  They were afraid of each other, they were slaying each other.  It was a great victory, brought to pass by that marvelous son Jonathan and his devoted, loyal, faithful armor-bearer [1 Samuel 14:15-23].

All right, so much for Jonathan and the great victory God gave that son.  Now, I want you to look at Saul.  Now you look at Saul, verse 24, “And the men of Israel were distressed that day.”  Why?  Why?  “Because Saul had put a curse upon the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies.  So none of the people tasted any food” [1 Samuel 14:24].

And they were faint; that was a war, that was a battle, that was a fight, and they hadn’t had any food, and they were distressed, they were faint, they were weary, they were weak; not because God said anything like that, just because of the foolishness of this king who says the big “I”—not that God may get a victory, or for the glory of the Lord, but that “I may be avenged on mine enemies” [1 Samuel 14:24].

What does God’s Book say?  “Vengeance belongeth unto Me” [Hebrews 10:30].

But, Saul says, “It belongs to me.  Cursed be the man that eateth any food” [1 Samuel 14:24].

Now, Jonathan didn’t hear that oath of King Saul.  And Jonathan, as he fought for God and fought for the people of the Lord, Jonathan came to a place in the woods where wild honey had flowed out of a tree and had dropped on the ground, and Jonathan ate of that honey [1 Samuel 14:27].

And when Israel learned that Jonathan had eaten it and his eyes were brightened—enlightened [1 Samuel 14:27], the Bible says—why, they came up to him and said, “Did you know that your father has put a curse on us?  Cursed if any man eateth any food this day?” [1 Samuel 14:28].  And Jonathan rightly said—look at verse 29: “My father hath troubled the land” [1 Samuel 14:29].  Instead of being a blessing to the people, instead of rejoicing in the victory, instead of thanking God and giving glory to God for the great deliverance from the enemies of the Lord, why, Saul acts foolishly and full of himself and full of “I,” and, full of his own purposes, does this foolish thing of cursing the people; “My father hath troubled the land” [1 Samuel 14:28-29].

Now turn the page to the latter part of that chapter, to verse 43, “Saul said to Jonathan”—now, you can’t believe this—”Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done.  And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, you say I must die” [1 Samuel 14:43].  And Saul answered, “God do so and more also; for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan” [1 Samuel 14:44].  Why, you can hardly believe that, that’s almost impossible to believe!  This glorious son—and because of the faith in God that Jonathan had, and because of his own personal devoted bravery, God had given to Israel, through this son Jonathan, a great victory and deliverance from their enemies.  And then, because of a foolish thing that Saul had said [1 Samuel 14:24], he turns to this wonderful son Jonathan and says, “Thou shalt surely die” [1 Samuel 14:44], when Jonathan didn’t even know of the foolish curse that Saul proposed to place upon the people.

Well, let’s thank God for the people.  You know, it’s like Abraham Lincoln said: “You can always finally and ultimately trust a verdict to the people.  They may make mistakes, but give them time.  Give them time.  Wait.”  And that’s the Lord’s truth.  People make mistakes, but they don’t make mistakes like one so-called dictator, or one so-called infallible, or one so-called all-important and all-powerful; it is far better that government and that authority lie in the hands of the people than for it to lie in the hands of one self-chosen, self-made, all-important dictator.  That’s true in a church; far better that the government of a church and the leadership of a church lie in the hands of the people than for one man to assume it, even though he may be the preacher.

Look what the people do: and the people said unto Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, Jonathan who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel?”  No, sir.  “God forbid: as the Lord liveth,” say the people, “there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day.  So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not” [1 Samuel 14: 45].  Aren’t you proud of the folks?  Aren’t you proud of the people?  “And they rescued Jonathan, that he died not.”

You know, the wisest man in the world will sometimes do very foolish things; the best of men, the wisest of men, and all of us together.  What is that saying?  “Two heads are better than one,” even if one’s a goat’s head.  That’s the Lord’s truth; it’s a whole lot better for all of the people to share in the decisions that are made rather than for the decision to be made for just one man—all of us sharing in it, all of us a part in it.  There is strength in a multitude of counselors.

Well, we must hasten now in just the few minutes that remain.  This is the last contact that Samuel has with Saul.  Chapter 15: Now, the Lord had said to Samuel, you go tell Saul this: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt” [1 Samuel 15:2].  You know how long ago that was?  That was over four hundred years—four hundred years.  Now the Amalekites were a Bedouin tribe that lived between Palestine and Egypt in the Sinaiitic Peninsula.  They were the descendants of the grandson of Esau, whose name was Amalek.

Now, when Israel came out of Egypt, the new nation just beginning, they came to a place in the desert called Rephidim, and they didn’t have any water; and the people thirsted for water.  And God commanded Moses at Rephidim to take the rod of his staff and to smite the rock, and out of the miraculous power of God, there flowed water [Exodus 17:1-6].

When that Bedouin tribe, the Amalekites, saw the spring of water that God had miraculously given to Israel, they attacked Israel in order to take away from them the miraculous gift of God.  Now, Amalek was not only trying to deprive Israel of the means of life—you can’t live without water—but they were also trying to wrest away from God’s people God’s miraculous gift [Exodus 17:8].

God had done that [Exodus 17:5-6].  It was a miracle of the Lord.  And Amalek sought to take away the very means of life for God’s people, and not only that, but the miraculous gift of God—Amalek tried to take it away from them.  And, of course, they sought to destroy the infant nation just as it was coming out of slavery and of bondage, and the Lord God said, back there in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Exodus where the story is told, “The Lord has sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek forever from generation to generation until they be destroyed” [Exodus 17:14-16].

Now, God doesn’t forget.  These things, you know, we say, well, time hides them away.  They don’t hide them away from God.  There’s no such thing as time with God.  He looks on everything as present.  All of it is before God, from the beginning to the end, right there before Him.

And God looked upon that four hundred years later, and He says to Samuel, “You tell Saul this is to be a holy war.  Everything of the Amalekites is to be destroyed.  Everything is to be devoted.  Nothing is to be kept.  Destroy all the people, all of them, and everything that they have—oxen, sheep, goats and all” [1 Samuel 15:2-3].

Now, Saul goes down there, he wars against the Amalekites, and behold, instead of obeying the commandment of God, he keeps Agag, the king [1 Samuel15:8-9], in order to lead him around in triumph—”Look what I’ve done; this is the king of the Amalekites” —just like the Romans did: they tied their vanquished to their chariots and they raced their triumph through the streets of the city.  That was what Saul was going to do with Agag.

And then Saul, as you know, was a herdsman, and when he looked on the best of the sheep and the oxen and the fatlings and the lambs, why, his covetous heart said, “Why, I can’t destroy them, I can’t devote these to God! This is no holy war to me, this is a way to enrich my own self.”  So he kept the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good he kept for himself [1 Samuel 15:9].  And then, coming back to Israel—coming back up into Palestine into Canaan—why, the Lord God said that night to Samuel, “Samuel, it repents Me that I have set Saul to be a king; he has turned his back from following Me, and he hath not performed My commandments” [1 Samuel 15:10-11].

Now, look at Samuel.  “And it grieved Samuel, and he cried unto the Lord all night long” [1 Samuel 15:11].  Isn’t that a glorious man, this man Samuel?  Isn’t he a glorious man?  You know, we think it’s a compliment to a preacher that nobody can follow him, and if a fellow comes and follows a preacher and he succeeds, some of the people hate him because he’s succeeded.  You see, that’s an insult to the former preacher that he should have a successor that was able to carry on his work, as though it were a compliment to the preacher that the work should die when he died.  There’s not even secret satisfaction on the part of this man Samuel that his successor is failing, and Samuel cries unto the Lord all night long.  What a glorious man, Samuel; when his successor failed, Samuel cried and grieved [1 Samuel 15:11].

So God sends Samuel to meet Saul as he comes back.  And can you imagine this man Saul?  There’s nobody like him.  Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said unto him, “Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.  I have done it” [1 Samuel 15:12-13].  And this is humor, this is irony.  And Samuel said, “What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” [1 Samuel 15:14].  God said it was a holy war; you were not to be enriched by it, but all was to be devoted to God.  What is this that I hear and what is this I see?

And then Saul says, “Oh, but, you see, I have kept these for sacrifice” [1 Samuel 15:15]. 

And then when Samuel says to Saul, “Sacrifice?  When God says you are to obey My word?” [1 Samuel 15:19].  Then look at him—in the twenty-first verse, Saul says, “The people did it.  I didn’t do it.  The people did it” [1 Samuel 15:21].  How opposite David.  When the sword of the Lord was raised high above Israel, David said, “O God, let that sword fall on me, and on my father’s house: but the people, these poor sheep, what have they done?” [2 Samuel 24:17].  Just the opposite: David, like our Lord, seeking to take upon himself the burdens of the people” [2 Samuel 24:17]; Saul says, “It’s their fault.  They did it” [1 Samuel 15:21].  Then that famous word, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of the rams” [1 Samuel 15:22].  And Samuel himself hews Agag to pieces before the Lord and according to the commandment of God [1 Samuel 15:33].

And then, verse 35, “And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death” [1 Samuel 15:35].  That’s the last time Samuel ever looked on the face of Saul.  When we disobey God, the prophetic Spirit leaves us.  “And the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him” [1 Samuel 16:14].  From that day until he died, wretched, miserable, lost, like any man is without God.  Oh, how we need the Lord!   Need to wait upon Him, need to ask His counsel and direction in every decision, in every obedience, “Wait, I say, upon the Lord” [Psalm 27:14].

Now, we’re going to sing a stanza of a hymn.  Somebody this morning to give his life to Christ in faith, in trust; somebody to put his life in the fellowship of the church, a family you or one somebody you, while we sing this song and make this appeal, would you make it this morning?  In the balcony round, the great throng on this lower floor, if God bids you here, would you make it now, while we stand and while we sing? 

SAMUEL’S LAST ACTIVTIES

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Samuel 13-15

11-27-60

I. Samuel turns his past leadership of Israel over to the new king Saul

II. Decline from sin begins immediately

1.    Saul’s decline as king set in motion from the start

2.    Adam’s sin was soon after Eve was created

3.    Noah declined just after leaving the ark

4.    Israel after deliverance from Egypt

III. Saul disobeys God’s command for him to wait seven days

1.    Saul lies about how long he actually waited

2.    God removes Saul’s lineage from ruling Israel

IV. Saul makes foolish decisions

1.    Fails to acknowledge God in victory

2.    Puts a needless requirement on his own army with the threat of death if they disobey

3.    Jonathan did not hear Saul’s warning and in ignorance disobeys

4.    Saul foolishly states that victorious Jonathan’s punishment is death

V. Saul commanded to destroy the Amalekites

1.    Saul is victorious but disobeys God’s requirements

2.    Saul blames the disobedience on the people

3.    Samuel’s last words to Saul is that obedience to God is better than sacrifices