November 20th, 1960 @ 8:15 AM
1 Samuel 10-12
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Samuel 10-12
11-20-60 8:15 a.m.
Now in our Bible, if you will turn to the first Book of Samuel, we shall follow the story of this prophet of God in his resignation. The title of the sermon this morning is: Samuel’s Resignation. In order that we might follow the story in the context, we shall begin reading at the [twenty-fourth verse] of the ninth chapter: 1 Samuel 9. Samuel has met Saul, his successor, and they have gone up to the feast together and the [twenty-fourth] verse says, “So Saul did eat with Samuel that day” [1 Samuel 9:24]. Now after the feast, beginning at the twenty-fifth verse:
And when they were come down from the high place into the city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house.
And they arose early; and it came to pass about the spring of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad.
And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may show thee the word—the will—of God.
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over His inheritance?
[1 Samuel 9:25-10:1]
Now we shall speak of that for a minute before we go on. Everything in Samuel’s life is generous, unselfish, unpretentious, unostentatious, humble, yielded, meek, surrendered. Just the very atmosphere about that man of God encourages one’s heart. This is his successor, and Samuel, though he refers to his gray hair, and though the people say that he’s too old to rule, and though this is the hour of his rejection—and, today the subject is Samuel’s resignation, yet there is no spirit of envy or jealousy or criticism or reluctance. In a beautiful spirit, in an unusually Christian gesture, does this man of God anoint the one who is to take his place.
Why, after this incident that I’ve just read to you, Samuel yet does some of his greatest works. He’s not more than sixty years of age at the utmost, still vigorous in life, strong in spirit, as the Word of God said of Moses, “his natural force unabated, and his eye not dimmed” [Deuteronomy 34:7]. Yet, this is the rejection of Samuel, and this is the rejection of Samuel’s house—his sons, his name, his inheritance, his heritage, everything. Not only that, but the Lord God Himself said, in the way the people had gone about this, that they had rejected God, not Samuel [1 Samuel 8:4-7]. So, the thing that Samuel is doing is not only a repudiation of him and his ministry and his household and his sons, but it also is a repudiation of the leadership of God. Yet, as Samuel does it, there is no mark, there is no gesture, there is no tone of jealousy or of envy, but he does it in a beautiful way with a beautiful spirit.
I realize that once in a while you’ll find somebody who seems to be free from envy and jealousy. But he is a rare person. Almost all of us are full of feeling when others are exalted over us or when somebody takes our place. Almost all of us look with a critical and a jaundiced eye at the excellence of others in an area in which we ourselves are supposed to excel.
It is difficult, for example, for men who are older to look with an uncritical eye upon younger men who are destined to take their places, and yet, that is a Christian virtue, thus to be yielded and to be humble and to be submissive, not grasping for ourselves, but in honor, preferring one another [Romans 12:10]. If there is an exaltation among us, let it be for him and not for me. If there are words of commendation, speak them of others and not of myself. If there is to be a place at the head of the table, let my friend have it, rather than yielding it to me. Oh, it would take prayer! It would take committal to God. It would take a revolution in our own hearts to come to that place that Samuel seems to have lived in, and seems to have followed, and seems to have known, just by the nature of his godly life.
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, anointing him to be in the prophet’s place, to be the chief magistrate of the nation, to take over the rulership and the direction of the people of God. Then what does it say? “And after he took the oil and poured it upon his head, Samuel kissed him, and said” [1 Samuel 10:1]. Why, he didn’t have to do that! I can see how a man of the melodramatic, say, at Mizpeh or at Gilgal, when there is a great convocation of the nation, I can see how Samuel, in this unusual gesture of affection, would have kissed Saul, his successor, where all the eyes of the world could see it. Look at Samuel: what a great man he is. Look at Samuel as he receives his successor. Look at him, and there on a platform where thousands of eyes of a nation could behold, he does this thing in the sight of men. This was private. Samuel had even asked that the servant go on before him, and just the two were left together: Samuel and Saul [1 Samuel 9:27]. And there, for no reason at all except out of the good, generous, prayerful hope of his own soul that this man who takes Samuel’s place may be wonderfully blessed of God, Samuel kissed him. Why, you just marvel at the generous-hearted spirit of this man who was truly God’s: “And Samuel kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over His inheritance?” [1 Samuel 10:1].
Three things Samuel points out to Saul in that word: first, he’s to be a captain over God’s people. He’s to walk before them and lead them in their campaigns for life, for destiny, for existence, for peace and for happiness. He’s their leader. And then he speaks of the origin of that selection that brought the vial of oil in its outpouring over the head of Saul, “Is it not because the Lord hath chosen thee?” It comes from God! And then the parish, the pastorate that God has given him, the inheritance of the Lord, the sheep of God’s pasture [1 Samuel 10:1]. Then after that the rest of this chapter, almost—first third of it at least, let’s say the first half of it, is Samuel speaking to Saul about what’s going to happen. And in this eighth verse is a very unusual thing, the disobedience to which caused the rejection of Saul:
And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and show thee what thou shalt do .
[1 Samuel 10:8]
There are many scholars who think that refers to that campaign when Saul was facing Philistia, and when Samuel tarried, Saul took upon himself the accouterments of the priest and the prerogatives of the prophet and violated the plain injunction of God and this simple admonition of the prophet Samuel. And he took upon himself the office of sacrificing to the Lord God, a thing in nowise was Saul to do. It was the office of Samuel, the intercessor and the mediator. And he was restive, and he wouldn’t wait on God, and he went ahead of the Lord. And [Samuel] said, “You are to tarry for me. Seven days shalt thou tarry, and I will come and show thee what thou must do” [1 Samuel 10:8]. But, Saul didn’t want to be shown. He knew more than Samuel. He knew better than God, and instead of waiting on the Lord, he took the reins in his own hands [1 Samuel 13:8-12].
Don’t you see how that is a parable of us? Somebody has said, “We will go further on our knees than any other way by which we can travel.” And how I need to be admonished of this thing that Samuel so earnestly lays as an injunction upon the heart of Saul: wait upon God! “Wait, I say, on the Lord!” [Psalm 27:14]. Don’t go ahead of Him. God will prepare the way. God will open the door. God will make the choice that is right and correct. God will not make a mistake. Wait on the Lord. Pray about it. Pray about it.
As long as there is not a clear injunction from God, as long as the way is not perfectly plain and perfectly open, wait! Wait. Lay it all before God: “Lord, this is everything I know about the situation, and this is everything that I sense and everything that I feel about the situation. Lord, I have named it all before Thee. Like an open book, I have spread it before Thee. Now, Lord, may direction come from heaven. What shall the Lord speak, and what is the Lord’s will? Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.”
Wasn’t it Samuel that said that? “Speak, Lord, Thy servant listens” [1 Samuel 3:10], is waiting with a golden ear for God’s silver words. That’s the injunction Saul disobeyed [1 Samuel 10:8], and because of that disobedience [1 Samuel 13:8-12], God rejected him [1 Samuel 13:13-14]. God can’t use a man that won’t listen to God. Nor can God bless a people that will not pray, and seek His face, and ask His will. Then the Lord leaves us to our own devices; we choose, we decide. We think we’re sufficient and able, we don’t have to look up to God. Then the Lord leaves us to our own choices and our own will. And by and by, when they work out in our choices, it’s just like it worked out in the life of Saul, there in consternation and confusion and finally in suicide and in death [1 Samuel 31:3-4]: all the outworking of his refusal to wait upon God [1 Samuel 13:8-12]. How different this story would have been had Saul had the heart and the spirit to listen to the admonition of this godly man, Samuel [1 Samuel 10:8]. Now you come to the coronation in the seventeenth verse and the tenth chapter of 1 Samuel:
All the people are called together unto the Lord at Mizpeh;
And Samuel says to them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought Israel up out of Egypt.
I delivered Israel out of the hand of the Egyptians….
And ye have this day rejected your God, who Himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations.
[1 Samuel 10:17-19]
The first thing he reminds them is, “It is God who saves us and delivers us. You asked for a king to do it! How foolish, when it is God who does it. But God said for me to hearken to your voice and anoint you a king so you can be like the world, like all the other nations” [1 Samuel 8:4-7, 19-20]. So, he says, “Now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your thousands” [1 Samuel 10:19]. And as they present themselves by tribes, and by families, and by clans, the lot falls upon the house of Kish, and they could not find the son of Kish [1 Samuel 10:20-21]. Now look at that twenty-second verse, “Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither” [1 Samuel 10:22].
Now there are many scholars who think—and I think it also, though I don’t claim to be the scholar that many, many of these devout men of God [were] who lived before our day—but I think their observation is correct. I think that little word there, “They inquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither” [1 Samuel 10:22]—I think, after listening to Samuel and after watching Samuel, the people began to tremble in their hearts about whether or not they had done right in saying, “We want to be like everybody else and we want a king [1 Samuel 8:5]. We don’t want God to reign over us. We want a king [1 Samuel 10:19-20]. The Ammonites have a king. And all these other heathen Canaanitish nations around us have a king, and we want to be like them. We want to have a king.” And I think after Samuel had spoken to them and prayed with them and talked to them, they began to waver in their hearts about whether they ought to go through and anoint a man or to listen to the prophet Samuel. But they’d gone too far.
And isn’t that so tragically true with so many instances that you see in life: how, after having made the choice and after having gone the distance, oh, just to have the opportunity to go back to the place where we were and make that decision over again. You have so much of that in the Bible. When Israel was not only encouraged but commanded of the Lord at Kadesh-barnea to go into the land and possess it, they refused, saying, “But there are giants in that land to overcome, and we are not able,” and they began to cry and to lament [Numbers 13:31-33]. And the Lord said, “All right, you go back into the wilderness until this whole generation dies and forty years wander in the desert until I can raise up a generation that will do My will” [Numbers 14:29-35].
And then, it was that the people said, “Oh, no, Lord, we’ll go in.”
“No, you don’t go in. You’ve made your choice. This is your bed. Lie in it.”
“Yes, but we’ll go in anyway.” And when the little group of them who were trying to force it led the rest of them into the land, they were hopelessly defeated and turned back in agony and despair [Numbers 14:40-45]. They couldn’t change the decision.
You have the same kind of a thing in the case of Esau, how with tears he sought repentance, but he could not find it [Hebrews 12:16-17]. He had sold his birthright, sold it for a mess of pottage [Genesis 25:29-34]. And he couldn’t have it back again, though he carefully sought it and wept over the decision that he’d made. Same thing about the story of Judas: the remorse that he felt when he saw Jesus condemned to die was beyond what any human heart could stand to look upon, and he committed suicide and took his own life out of the earth [Matthew 27:3-5]. So you find this thing here in this people. They inquired of the Lord further, “If a man should yet come thither [1 Samuel 10:22] . . . Lord, haven’t we made a mistake? Let’s undo this thing.” But there are so many things you can’t undo, not after they are done. And it was so here, the thing had already been settled.
And so they find Saul, and they have a compensation in him, he looks the part. “Ah,” they said as they looked at him, “Every inch a king. God save the king!” [1 Samuel 10:24]. Don’t you wish that everything was like it appears? Ah, but most of the time, in actual working out in life and destiny, when we go by appearance—just by the outside—how so many times are we rebuked, going by appearance. There he was standing. He was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward [1 Samuel 10:23], says the twenty-third verse. And when the people looked at him, they all shouted and said, “God save the king!” [1 Samuel 10:24]. He looked it. Ah, if all of our afterlife and all the things that follow were like the appearance of them, but like the old poet said, “It’s not all gold that glitters.” There’s a whole lot of the counterfeit in this world and in this life, and look beneath that appearance, look beneath those clothes, look beneath that polished manner, look beneath that handsome face, look at the soul and at the heart!
Do you remember last Sunday morning; I closed the sermon with God’s injunction to Samuel? Samuel himself fell into that. Be almost impossible for one who’s human not to fall into it, and when Samuel looked upon Eliab, he said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before me,” look at him, tall and handsome [1 Samuel 16:6]. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Samuel, look not on the height of his stature, nor upon his countenance, for God does not see as man seeth. Man looketh upon the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart” [1 Samuel 16:7]. Look on the inside, look at the heart and look at the soul, these are the things on which to build—build a house, build a home, build a church, build a life, build confidence, build an institution—how is he on the inside of his soul? That’s what matters.
How many of our people in us are cheap, and tawdry, and little, and measly, and weasly, and small on the inside of us? And how few of us are great, and generous-hearted, and godly, and loving, and kind, and forgiving, and obedient, and great on the inside? Yet, these are the things that count, not the outside, but the inside of us. So they start off with Saul, and he looks the part, and what wonderful things the people are prophesying for him.
Now in the eleventh chapter, and my time is gone—in the eleventh chapter, we have the occasion by which this man, Saul, is made truly king over Israel [1 Samuel 11:1-15]. Now I want to say just a brief word about the twelfth chapter, which is Samuel’s final word of resignation. Samuel says to the people—as they anoint Saul, as they receive Saul, as they install Saul as king over Israel—Samuel says, now this is in chapter 12, the second verse, “Now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day” [1 Samuel 12:2]. I could not help but notice and you could not from just reading the text, the two walking there: “behold, the king walketh before you”: and then the second: “and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day” [1 Samuel 12:2].
The walk of Saul and the walk of Samuel: how different! I haven’t time to expatiate upon it. But may I give you one instance of the difference that you’ll find in this chapter? In the nineteenth verse, “And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king” [1 Samuel 12:19]. “Pray for thy servants,” they said unto Samuel. And you will never find one instance where anybody ever asks Saul to pray for them. You’ll never find one instance where Saul ever prayed for himself or for the nation or for the people, and in that hour when the people say, “Remember to pray for me,” they spontaneously, unconsciously, unitedly, unanimously, immediately turn to Samuel: “Samuel, pray for thy servants” [1 Samuel 12:19]. That’s just one difference between the walk of Saul and the walk of Samuel; nobody ever thought to ask Saul to pray for them. It never entered into anybody’s heart, and apparently, Saul never even prayed for himself. But in any emergency and in any time of need or distress, immediately you’ll find them turning to Samuel, “Samuel, pray for thy servants.”
Now look how Samuel responds. In the twenty-third verse, and with this, I must close, “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but—as long as I have breath, as long as I can speak to frame the word, to pronounce it—I will teach you the good and the right way” [1 Samuel 12:23]. And that ends the resignation of the prophet of God: I will pray for you, and love you, and intercede for you as long as this heart beats. And as long as I have breath, I will seek to teach you the good and the right way. Why, you just can’t help but feel the holiness, the godliness, the breath of heaven, the aura of celestial presence, the Spirit of God upon this man, in this man, through this man, Samuel. And this ends his public ministry.
In the thirteenth [chapter], it begins, “Saul reigned” [1 Samuel 13:1], and you have the following story of the administration of the new king. Next time, we’re going to follow Samuel in the latter part of his days and then maybe in one other message sum up the meaning of his life. I would not be true did not I say that following the life of this godly man through these 8:15 o’clock services has been an untold, uncounted benediction to my own soul and my own life. Somehow, just to come in contact with a godly man enriches one’s own life and how much more so coming in contact with God’s man, the prophet Samuel.
Now in this moment when we sing our appeal, somebody this morning to give his heart to Jesus; somebody to put his life in the fellowship of our church; a family or one somebody you, on the first note of this first stanza, would you come and stand by me? While all of us stand and sing the hymn together.
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Samuel 10-12
11-20-60 8:15 a.m.
Samuel has a godly attitude even though he will be replaced as ruler of
Samuel loses all inheritance for his descendants
Samuel is not envious, angry, jealous whatsoever
Samuel anoints Saul and points out three things
Saul will be captain over God’s people
Saul’s anointing comes from God
Saul was to wait seven days for Samuel, Saul disobeys
Wait upon the Lord
Saul failed to wait resulting in judgment
Israel failed to wait for the king God intended for them, they got Saul
Failure to wait on God meant discipline for Israel even at Kadesh-Barnea
Samuel prays for Israel even after its failure and encourages them