Samuel’s Last and Greatest Act
December 4th, 1960 @ 8:15 AM
1 Samuel 16
SAMUEL’S LAST AND GREATEST ACT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Samuel 16
12-4-60 8:15 a.m.
Now this morning we come to the close of the life of Samuel, and the message is entitled Samuel’s Last and Greatest Act. If you will follow through the Bible with me, turn to 1 Samuel; 1 Samuel, chapter 13. Twice in the prophetic addresses of Samuel to Saul, twice Saul was told and Samuel mentioned that the kingdom was to be wrested away from him and given to another man. Samuel has no idea who this “man” is, nobody knows but God. But the prophet has told Saul by the word of the Lord that the kingdom is to be taken away from him and given to a man. Now look how he is described in 1 Samuel 13 and verse 14, “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 own people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord has commanded thee” [1 Samuel 13:14].
There is the expression that is so often used concerning that king who was finally chosen, “The man after God’s own heart,” when Nathan said to that man [David] [2 Samuel 12:13], “Because what thou hast done, thou hast given thine enemies cause to blaspheme” [2 Samuel 12:14]. Therefore, from that day until this, people have questioned this “man after God’s own heart” [1 Samuel 13:14]. But with all his faults and frailties and failures, the man whom God was to choose was the man that God loved [Psalm 89:20], and the greatest, of course, of all kings of all time, and the type of the great coming King in glory [Psalm 2:6, Romans 11:26].
So the announcement is made there, in 1 Samuel 13 and verse 14 by the prophet that Saul would not continue, and God was already then seeking Him out a man after God’s own heart [1 Samuel 13:14]. Now one other time, in chapter 15, turn to 1 Samuel 15, in chapter 15, verses 27 and 28; 1 Samuel 15:27-28, “And as Samuel turned about to go away, Saul laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it tore and it rent. And Samuel said unto Saul, The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, that is better than thou” [1 Samuel 15:27-28]. Those two places, those two times in prophetic utterance does Samuel say to Saul, “God has taken away the kingdom.” And the renting of that garment was a prophetic parable of what God was going to do. And He was going to give it to somebody who would obey God’s voice.
Now the remarkable thing about that announcement was this, instead of bringing joy to Samuel’s heart, it was so easy, so very easy for Samuel to look upon Saul with bitterness. Saul was Samuel’s successor; it would have been so easy for Samuel to look upon this announcement with great gladness. His successor had failed, he had fallen and even God Himself was going to take the kingdom from him. But instead of that, you look at Samuel, 1 Samuel chapter 15 and the eleventh verse, when God announced to Samuel that He was going to turn aside from Saul; now look, “And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night” [1 Samuel 15:11].
“And he cried unto the Lord all night.” Now look again, the closing verse of chapter 15: “Samuel came no more to see Saul unto the day of his death; nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul” [1 Samuel 15:35]. Now, when we come to the sixteenth chapter, which describes Samuel’s crowning act, it starts, “And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long, how long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?” [1 Samuel 16:1]. Isn’t that a remarkable thing? You never read in the Bible that Saul mourned for Samuel; there’s not even a hint of it. Samuel grieved over Saul [1 Samuel 15:11], but you’ll never read in the Bible where Saul grieved over Samuel. When Samuel didn’t come back anymore, when Samuel didn’t deliver God’s message to Saul anymore, when the presence and the counsel of Samuel were withdrawn from Saul and he never came to see him anymore, you never read where Saul grieved over the loss of Samuel.
Seems to me that Saul was rather glad to get rid of the old man. Isn’t that a mark of character? “Admonish a fool, and he will hate you. Admonish a wise man, and he will love you” [Proverbs 9:8]. Saul apparently didn’t like for the old man to come around, for when Saul found Samuel, usually it was a prophetic message from God. And had Saul listened to him, God would have continued him in the kingdom and made him the very type of the Lord Jesus, King Himself. But Saul wasn’t of that turn and he wasn’t of that nature, and when God’s preacher came and admonished him, he resented it; proud in his spirit and haughty in his attitude and boastful in his ways. He finally came to seek the life of Samuel [1 Samuel 19:21-23], you’re going to find this morning, to slay the man of God. And yet with all of that, Samuel never turned in his own heart towards Saul, “And Samuel grieved for Saul; and he cried unto the Lord for Saul all night long [1 Samuel 15:11], and the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?” [1 Samuel 16:1].
You know, that reminds me of the apostle Paul. Do you remember how the ninth chapter of the Book of Romans begins? Paul says, “For I wish myself were accursed,” were damned, my soul lost, “I wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my kinsmen, my brethren, according to the flesh” [Romans 9:3]. And do you remember how the tenth chapter of the same Book of Romans begins? “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for my people is, that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1], mourning over Israel, just like Samuel mourning over Saul [1 Samuel 16:1].
So the sixteenth chapter begins, “And the Lord said unto Samuel, ‘How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill now thine horn with oil” [1 Samuel 16:1]. Now, look. For the first time, you’re going to know in the millenniums and through the ages, for the first time, you’re going to know who it is that God hath chosen, the king whose throne He will establish forever and forever, whose greater Son, sitting on that throne shall be the Lord of heaven and the King of the whole earth [Revelation 19:16]. And God said to Samuel, “Fill now thine horn with oil, and go. I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided Me a king among his sons” [1 Samuel 16:1]. So, this new king is going to be from the tribe of Judah [Genesis 49:8]. A thousand years before, old and dying patriarchal Jacob said when he turned to that fourth son Judah, “Judah, thou art the lion’s whelp.
“Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall favor.
“Judah, the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be,” Judah [Genesis 49:8-10]. So we know the man after God’s own heart [1 Samuel 13:14], this king, is to be from the tribe of Judah. “Arise, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite” [1 Samuel 16:1].
All right, the second thing I see in that text: this King is going to be born in Bethlehem, “And thou, Bethlehem, though thou be little among these cities of Judah, yet [from thee] shall He come who shall rule My people Israel” [Micah 5:2]. And the third thing I see, He is going to be from the house of Jesse [1 Samuel 16:1]. Where did you ever hear of the house of Jesse before? When we read the Book of Ruth and followed the favor and mercy of God upon Ruth, there we found Boaz, and Obed, and Jesse [Ruth 4:21-22].
What a remarkable thing! So Samuel said, verse 2, “Why, I cannot go, I cannot do that! If Saul were to hear that I went to this little town of Bethlehem and there anointed someone to be king in his stead, he would kill me” [1 Samuel 16:2]. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t you be afraid. You leave that to Me. I will take care of that. You follow what I say and you do what I command, and you leave all of these other contingencies and exigencies and your fears, you leave them with Me. You go do this thing I have called upon you, and this is the way you can obviate all of this thing about Saul: You take a heifer with you, and you call the family of Jesse to sacrifice, and I will protect you” [1 Samuel 16:2]. So Samuel does that. He makes his way down to Bethlehem, and he calls the family of Jesse to a sacrifice” [1 Samuel 16:3-4]. “’Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.’ And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice” [1 Samuel 16:4-5]. So there you have the family and the aged prophet with the horn of oil in his hand [1 Samuel 16:1]—the crowning act of Samuel’s life.
Now I want you to see how we don’t ever learn. Even a prophet doesn’t learn. There’s something about human frailty and human infirmity. We just, no matter how fine we are—and there never was a finer one than Samuel, or how devoted we are, and never one more devoted than Samuel, or how much given to the work and ministry and obedience to the will of God, and there never was one that was more obedient or willing or yielded than Samuel—I want you to know how human infirmity is always with you, always with you.
What was it that impressed Samuel about Saul? It was his looks. Saul was the finest specimen in humanity! I suppose in the generation in which Saul lived there wasn’t a finer looking man in the earth than Saul. And when Israel saw him, after Samuel had pointed him out, immediately he was the man upon whom all the desire of Israel centered. For it says, “From his shoulders and upward, he was higher and taller and loftier than any other man” [1 Samuel 10:23], he looked the part! He was every inch a king, and Samuel was proud and glad and happy. Saul looked like the king that Samuel had anointed, he looked the part; looking on the outside, looking on the appearance, looking on the clothes and the dress, looking on the outside.
All right, now, I want you to watch Samuel. He’ll be that same way again. Even though he went through the bitter experience with Saul [1 Samuel 13:13-14], it’s not the outside of the man, and it’s not the stature of the man, and it’s not the good looks of the man, and it’s not the clothes of the man. It’s the heart of the man! It’s the inside of the man! But Samuel doesn’t learn, just like we don’t learn. Now, look. “And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab,” Jesse’s first son. Standing there with that horn of oil in his hand, he looked upon Eliab, and he said, “Surely, the Lord’s Messiah is before Him. Surely the Lord’s Christ is before Him. Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him” [1 Samuel 16:6].
Now, isn’t that just like he was before? What did the Lord say to Samuel? “Samuel,” and the Lord said unto Samuel, “Samuel, look not on his countenance or on the height of his stature; I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart—on the inside” [1 Samuel 16:7].
Then Jesse called his second son, Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And God said, “Neither hath I chosen this one” [1 Samuel 16:8].
Then Jesse made Shammah pass by, his third boy, and God said, “Neither hath the Lord chosen this one” [1 Samuel 16:9].
And Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “There is not a one of them, not a one of them [1 Samuel 16:10]. And these are all of your sons?” [1 Samuel 16:11].
“I don’t understand. God has sent me here with this vial of oil in my hand to anoint the man after God’s own heart, and all of your sons have passed before me, and God has rejected every one of them, handsome as they are, good looking as they are, gifted as they are, fine as they are, qualified as they are. But God says not so, and I don’t understand.” And Samuel said, “Are these all of your children?” And Jesse replied, “Well, they are all that matter. They’re all that matter” [1 Samuel 16:11].
Isn’t that the strangest thing you ever heard of in your life? Samuel, the great prophet, has sent word to the household of Jesse that he’s having a banquet with the family, and he wants all the family to come to the feast. And Jesse sees to it that the whole family is there, but there was one member of the family that they didn’t even consider worth calling. Can you imagine that? I cannot. What an event, when Samuel the prophet of God came to banquet with Jesse’s family and sent word to gather all the family together, “Are all thy children here?” And I guess Jesse blushed, if a man blushes. And I guess he hung his head down in shame, if a man hangs his head down in shame. And he said, “No, Samuel. I’ve got a little boy. I’ve got a little boy, the youngest, and he’s keeping the sheep, while all the rest of the family is here. Somebody’s got to keep the sheep. Somebody’s got to baby-sit. We can’t all come at one time. You wouldn’t expect that. Somebody’s got to keep the sheep. Well, we never thought about his coming. We never thought about his importance. We never thought about his amounting to anything. Well, look at Eliab there. Well, that’s the finest son, my firstborn! And Abinadab’s just like him, and Shammah is no less, but this child keeping the sheep?” This little one in the Primary department or singing in the Chapel Choir, why, we never thought about him.
And Samuel said unto Jesse, “Send and fetch him!” [1 Samuel 16:11]. Isn’t it a shame that that word “fetch” is no longer in the English language? There’s not another word that says “fetch” but “fetch!” There’s not another substitute for it. And yet we don’t use it any longer. There’s not another word that means “go get and bring back,” but fetch! But we don’t use it any longer. “Send and fetch him: for,” says Samuel, “we will not sit down till he come hither” [1 Samuel 16:11]. And for the first time, you look upon the man, the man. Imagine that! God says, “I have chosen Me a man after Mine own heart” [1 Samuel 13:14, 16:12].
And for the first time you look upon this greater king, the type of the Son of God [Matthew 21:15]. And what did he look like? He was ruddy, of a beautiful countenance, goodly to look to [1 Samuel 16:2]. What does that mean, he was ruddy? He was a boy, and the color of a child’s skin was in his face, and he was unshaven. He had peach fuzz on his face, goober feathers—just a boy, just a boy—looked like a girl of a beautiful countenance and goodly to look to, just a boy. There are many commentaries who think that word “ruddy” refers to the redness of his hair. He was redheaded. Maybe he had a few freckles on his nose, looked like a girl—just a boy. And when Samuel saw him, the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he” [1 Samuel 16:12]. And that is Samuel’s greatest and crowning act! And he had that boy, that ruddy-faced, unshaven lad, keeper of the sheep, he had that boy kneel in front of him. “And Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day and forward” [1 Samuel 16:13].
Doesn’t a thing like that thrill your soul? “And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him” [1 Samuel 16:13]—just a boy. And when he went back out there to keep those sheep, a lion came, and he rescued his sheep from the mouth of the lion. And a bear came, and he rescued those sheep from the paw of the bear. And when Goliath came, no different to this boy, for the Spirit of the Lord was upon him [1 Samuel 17:34-37]. You know, it’s wonderful to be a great Christian man. It is also wonderful to be a great Christian boy. Not someday to be a fine Christian woman, but right now to be a glorious Christian girl; nor someday to be a fine Christian man, but right now to be a fine Christian boy. “And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him” [1 Samuel 16:13] and that’s not unusual. Every once in a while and often you’ll find a boy, you’ll find a girl that has in them and around them and upon them the aura of the holiness and the Spirit of God, children of love and prayer and devotion and consecration, and sometimes they put the rest of us to shame. There he kneels, anointed with oil [1 Samuel 16:13]—a picture of the Holy Spirit of God. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon David.
Now, just briefly, and I’ll have to close now, but this is my last message, and I want to close with a word about the life of Samuel. So listen just quickly: in the nineteenth chapter of the [First] Book of Samuel and the eighteenth verse, you have the story of David as he flees away from jealous and impetuous and murderous-hearted Saul [1 Samuel 19:18]. And where does David flee to? You’d think he’d go to Bethlehem. You’d think he’d go to his people or to any one among the thousands of Israel who’s been here, who had been extolling and exalting in his heroic exploits. But no, he goes to Samuel in Ramah, and he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth” [1 Samuel 19:18]. That means, Naioth—Naioth means dwellings. And right by Ramah, there was a school of the prophets [1 Samuel 10:5], and David and Samuel lived together [1 Samuel 19:18]. Isn’t it a wonderful thing! Samuel crowned him, the greatest act of his life [1 Samuel 16:12-13], and now Samuel protects him. And this is the instance where I say Saul sought to kill Samuel, and Saul sent word and asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” He put them both together as traitors to the crown and Samuel protects David from death [1 Samuel 19:21-23].
Now, this last word: in the twenty-fifth chapter of 1 Samuel and the first verse, Samuel dies [1 Samuel 25:1]. This happened about sixteen years after the anointing of David. And it came at a lull in the hostilities between Israel and Philistia and between Saul and David. “And they buried Samuel in Ramah, his home, with great lamentation” [1 Samuel 25:1]. Now, I have a word to say about the twenty-eighth chapter, which closes the first Book of Samuel—I mean closes the life of Samuel. The prophecy is fulfilled, which closes the book. In the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Samuel, now Samuel was dead, and Saul’s army is on Gilboa [1 Samuel 28:3-4]. And down there in the vale of Esdraelon you have the armies of Philistia [1 Samuel 28:5].
And Saul is sore oppressed and he goes to the witch of Endor, and he asks her to bring up Samuel [1 Samuel 28:11]. Did that happen? Yes. I think it happened just as it says here in the Bible. I don’t think that woman had anything to do with it—I know she didn’t because when the woman saw Samuel she cried out in terror, it was an amazing thing to her [1 Samuel 28:7-12]. This was something I think God did, God allowed. He allowed an appearance of the departed Samuel to speak to Saul. And the awful, awful, terrible, terrible, terrible word is said to Saul, that tomorrow both he and his sons—and that included Jonathan—would be slain by the armies of Philistia [1 Samuel 28:15-19].
Now, I want to answer a question that is often asked, “Do you think Saul was a saved man?” Yes, I do, because, “The Lord will deliver Israel with thee into the hands of the Philistines,” this is the nineteenth verse of that twenty-eighth chapter, “and tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with Me” [1 Samuel 28:19]. Now, Samuel was God’s man. And when Samuel prophesied that tomorrow Saul and Jonathan and the other sons of Saul would be slain, Samuel said, “Tomorrow, thou and thy sons shall be with me.”
Saul was a converted man, I think. He was a Christian man, I think. But he’s like some converted men—they lose their lives. What did Paul say? “Lest I myself should become a castaway” [1 Corinthians 9:27]. Even after I preached the gospel to others, is it possible for me to become a castaway, that is, to lose his life and his influence? And any man can do that. It doesn’t mean you can lose your soul if you’ve ever been saved, but you can be like Saul. The Spirit of the Lord can depart from you, the spirit of prophecy can leave you [1 Samuel 16:14].
So, the end of the life of this marvelous man of God.
Now, while we sing our song, somebody this morning to give his heart in faith to Jesus, or somebody to put his life in the fellowship of the church, while we sing this appeal, would you come and stand by me? On the first stanza of the first verse, would you come? While we stand and while we sing.
LAST & GREATEST ACT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Samuel 16
12-4-60 8:15 a.m.
Samuel warns Saul
1. Saul disobeyed
2. God will replace
Saul with a man after God’s own heart
3. Samuel mourns
4. Saul seeks to
1. From the tribe
of Judah per prophecy 1,000 years earlier
2. Born in
3. From the house of
Samuel anointing the new king
1. Samuel assumes
it is Jesse’s older sons
2. God picked Jesse’s
Saul hates Samuel and wants to murder David
Witch at Endor
1. Saul disobeys
God but God still brings Samuel back
2. Samuel tells
Saul that tomorrow he and his sons will die
3. Saul is a faithless
king but is still a believer