Learning From Failure
If you got a Bible with you, I’m going to invite you to turn to the book of First Samuel. We’re going to be in chapter 15, which is a pretty big leap. I don’t know that I’ve made that large of a leap in scripture before. But as I told you last week, that we’re going to look at really the highlights of the book First Samuel and Second Samuel. A lot of it has to do with the parallels of this book to our circumstance today. Now, I want to be clear in saying this, when we read the Old Testament, reading how God identifies himself through a particular people group through Israel, and I’m not trying to make the equation of America is the second coming of Israel, okay? I don’t want to go down that road at all.
I don’t think that that’s a healthy road to walk down. But I do want to draw some similarities to the circumstance related to the book of First Samuel and Second Samuel, as it relates to us where we are today. When we dive in this message, this section of scripture, what I want us to approach this as understanding what here is going on, and we’re going to learn from the failures of an individual named Saul, who becomes king of Israel and make some application to our lives so we don’t end up following that same pattern. We’re going to look at a particular story that relates to King Saul.
I think this narrative story is here, related to the king not to say, “Okay, now, here’s how you apply this politically to where you are as a people,” but rather, I think the narrative is in this passage of scripture, so that we can personally connect to God in a way different than what Saul did, in a way that’s really obedient. What is happening in 1 Samuel 15? Well, let me remind us, if you were with us last week, we talked a little bit about the book of Judges. If you’ve ever read Judges, the Book of Judges is about judges. When you hear the word judges, don’t think in terms of an American judge like today. When judges were raised up in Israel, they’re usually raised up in regions.
These might not have been the only judges in Israel, but it’s the one that scriptures record for us. They were raised up in particular regions, really among individual clans in Israel, to help them thwart against attacks that are happening. God would raise up a judge and he would work as a deliverer for God’s people, who were facing persecution from a people, group around them for some reason. They were really facing it because of disobedience to God. They get into this Promised Land. They walk in as one people, and they separate as clans and they really live in separate clan identities. It’s under the book of Samuel that you find that God unifies this people through a king named David.
In the book of Judges, Israel’s very divided, and these judges are raised up, and they help Israel to thwart off enemies around them. They walk in disobedience, God brings excuse me, a people, group up against Israel, and Israel in that oppression turns back to God and the cry out to God, and so God raises up a judge and delivers them. By the time you get to the end of the book of Judges, Israel’s enemies are no longer on the outside; Israel’s enemies are on the inside. They’re actually warring against one another. When you read that book, you get to the end, it just gets depressing.
It’s like God’s people sent to this Promised Land with all the hope in the world, and they live in disobedience rather than follow after God. They’re judged because of it. First, they’re oppressed by outside people then they’re oppressed by their own people. The theme that is stated in the book of Judges a few times is that everyone does what’s right in their own eyes. This idea of individuality of declaration that I am God rather than God himself, and people choose to live life as if they were God. What happens in the book of Judges, is that really, Israel just starts to fall apart.
When you get to the book of Samuel, you see this last judge who’s raised up who is Samuel. We saw this last week that the story of Samuel, when God brings the kingdom of Israel together under one king who really becomes a picture of Jesus in many ways, but when God does that, it starts on the back of a prayer of a godly woman named Hannah. Hannah in chapter one, she’s experiencing adversity in her own family and pressure from her own culture and she chooses to rise up by bowing down not to her culture, not to her family, not to people around her, but to the Lord and she offers up a prayer to God and really offers up her child to the Lord, which is Samuel.
Samuel rises up as the last judge in Israel. When you read the book of Judges, you’ll see that Eli is a priest during this time, and he’s allowing his lineage to follow an ungodly line, and so God does away with Eli and raises up Samuel, and Samuel acts in chapter seven as a judge over Israel. In chapter eight, Israel rejects him and they want a king for themselves. When you get to chapter nine, chapter 10, they find that king in Saul. Now what’s ironic about Saul is when they go to anoint him, Samuel gathers all the people of Israel around like, “Okay, let’s have this big celebration of anointing our first king,” and they can’t even find Saul, he’s hiding.
They have to drag him out. He was that kind of a character just shy, and they bring him out and they anoint him as king. By the time you get to chapter 13, Saul is full of himself. He offers up a sacrifice in a way that God tells him not to do, and that’s when you get to the famous verse in 1 Samuel 13, we’ll talk about this next week. But in verse 14, he says, “God is seeking after a man after his own heart.” He looks at Saul, who walks in disobedience and says, “Saul, this is not what God wants. God is now pursuing after a man who’s seeking after his own heart.”
Then when you get to chapter 15, Saul does something again, where he displays his own arrogance and chooses to walk in disobedience. Because Saul does what everyone did in the book of Judges, he makes life about him. He masks this in some of the way that he conducts himself, which we’re going to look at. But he walks in disobedience because when you get to chapter 15, what God tells Saul is, “I want to go to the Amalekites and I want you to destroy them.” Now, we’re going to talk a little bit about why God would say that in a minute, but he says, “I want you go to the Amalekites and destroy them. I don’t want you to take anything for yourself.
Go and utterly destroy them and take nothing for yourself.” Saul leads an army in to destroy and they win the battle. They win the victory. But Saul brings some stuff back. Then God comes to Samuel and says, “Saul was disobedient. He did what I told him not to do. I’m going to tear the kingdom away from him.” He tells Samuel to go tell Saul, “Go talk to Saul.” He gives Samuel a message. In verse 10 of chapter 15, it says that Samuel was really tossing all night about this. Finally in verse 12 where we’re going to pick up, I’m going to read verse 12 to verse 19, so you can hear how this story unfolds, where Samuel comes looking for Saul.
It says, “Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul.” It was told Samuel saying, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself, then turned and proceeded on down to Gilgal.” I should just tell you guys the word Carmel is pronounced Carmel. If you don’t pronounce it that way, you pronounce it wrong, right? I’m kidding. But he goes down to Gilgal and Samuel came to Saul and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord. I carried out the command of the Lord.” But Samuel said, “What is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of oxen, which I hear?”
Remember, Saul’s told go fight in a battle and don’t take anything. I can imagine off in the distance Saul sees Samuel coming down the hill, he’s like, “Ah, we’ve got some animals here we’re not supposed to have. Cover them with blankets. We’ll tell him that they’re just tables.” Samuel shows up and he’s like, Saul’s like, “We did what God said,” and he’s like, “Oh, really? What is this talking table over here that I hear? Where are these sheep that are bleating? What is going on here?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites,” in verse 15, “for the people spare the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but the rest we have utterly destroyed.”
Then Samuel said to Saul, “Wait, and let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” He said to him, “Speak,” and Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were a little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel and the Lord anointed you king over Israel, and the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites and fight against them until they are exterminated.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of God?” When you get to this section of scripture, the narrative here is not about the Amalekites.
The narrative in the story is to share about Saul and his disobedience. I find that in our culture today, when we see the justice of God, sometimes we can’t hear the narrative, story and the significance of what this narrative is about, because we’ve got something else to deal with, and that is the destruction of the Amalekites. I want to talk about this just for a minute so we can look past that to the point of what this whole passage is. But I remember in our middle class, suburban areas of life when we see the justice of God, sometimes we kick against that.
We’ll say things like, “I don’t like the God of the Old Testament. I like the God of the New Testament. God is love.” We forget sometimes in our life, in order for God to be that great, loving God that we look for there needs to be justice. In our society where things may go a little bit easier than other places in this world, we like to emphasize the love of God and not the justice of God. But when you’re living in a place in the world that’s full of destruction and crime or even you’re being persecuted as a Christian, you find the justice of God as a very loving thing, right? But nonetheless, we look at passages like this and we’re like, “Gods talking about the destruction of the Amalekites.”- “Go down and utterly destroy them.”
How do you deal with that? Maybe you don’t ask that question. Maybe you’re okay with that. But if you’re not asking the question, if you talk about the Lord with anyone else, especially to a nonbeliever, they’re going to look at a passage like this and say, “How can you love a god like this?” What do you do with this? I think we’ve got to answer the question to be able to deal with the significance of Saul. But why would God order this destruction of the Amalekites? Well, when you look at the significance of scripture, and I put this in your notes, if you got the sermon notes here in written format, I put a bunch of references here, if you download our app, and you click on the sermon notes, you’ll see a bunch of references here.
You can look these up later. I don’t have time to go through them all. But I’m going to give you a little highlight to what these are saying. All the way back in Genesis 15:13-16. God calls a man named Abraham and says, “Through him, I will bless all nations.” God is the God who is very much in favor of all people, groups. God created them all in his image. God thinks life is important. There is no person that is born that is an accident, right. God foresees all of it. God permits all of it. God created everyone in his image. It is sacred. To hurt someone and to kill someone, to do anything violent against the person…
It can harm another individual, it can harm a people by harming someone else or a family by harming someone else, but it’s always a violation against God first, because God created everyone in his image, which is why I will say as a church, “Look, if you want to love God, the way that you love God is by loving others because God made people in his image, and he wants you to reflect his glory to people.” In 1 John 4:20 says that, “If we say that we love God and do not love other people, the love of God is not in us.” But here you have in this passage of scripture where God tells Abraham he wants to bless all nations through him, that God is now ordering the destruction the Amalekites.
Well, in that same reference of Genesis 15:13-16, God tells Abraham, he’s given him … He’s in this land, the Promised Land and God says, “Look, I’m going to send you away for 400 years, and I’m actually going to bring you back.” He says, “The reason I’m doing that is because the sins of the people in this land hasn’t reached its height yet.” What he’s saying is, “Look, there’s a people in this Promised Land that are walking in direct opposition to God, in a very negative way.” In fact Deuteronomy 12:31 says, they’re doing several abominable things, one of which they’re sacrificing their children by burning them alive to false gods.
God has for hundreds of years according to Genesis 15 is going to be patient with them. Finally, God’s going to say enough and he brings Israel into this land and in Deuteronomy chapter seven, one of the interesting things that happens here in verse two and three, when God brings them into this land, Deuteronomy 7:2 and three, it says, “I want you to go in and destroy.” He’s talking about defeating people in this Promised Land, utterly destroy them. Then in verse three an interesting thing, says, he talks about not intermarrying with them. Well, it seems contradictory. In chapter seven verse two go in and utterly destroy them and don’t intermarry with them.
If God’s talking about going in and utterly destroying a people, but then talking about not marrying within them, how can that be? Why would they even worry about marriage if they’re going to utterly destroy them, these people, wipe them off the face of the earth, right? What I think is important when you read this in the Old Testament context is recognized that, this language is speaking in hyperbole, meaning, this week The Jazz are going to take on the Denver Nuggets and I hope we utterly destroy them. I don’t want The Jazz to literally kill the other team. But what we’re saying is, we want them to decimate that team, to move on, right?
I think the same thing is true in the Old Testament language; they speak in this warfare language to intimidate the people around them. In fact, you’ll see this in Saul and Samuel’s interaction in this story where Saul is told by God, “Go destroy the Amalekites,” and Saul comes back and says, I totally destroyed the Amalekites. I took their king and I took some animals, but I totally destroyed them.” Then we find out shortly after this in the book of First Samuel, that king David has to fight the Amalekites again. We can look at and be like, “Wait, wait, wait a minute, I thought Saul killed them all except for the king, and except for their animals?”
The truth is, well, this utter destruction is really war language. It’s not, you’re just decimating all of the people. What it’s saying is, he wants them to end their way of life because it’s perverse against God. When God sends Israel into the Promised Land, it says in Deuteronomy 9:5 that he’s not sending them because Israel’s so great. The reason he’s sending them is because the people are so bad. God’s using this not as a genocide, but as a judgment. God’s working through people, especially the tribe of Israel, to highlight the goodness of who his God is.
He sends Israel into this land and when you read the story of Israel, when they first go into the Promised Land, in Deuteronomy chapter 25, starting in verse 17, it says when they’re going in as a people the Amalekites are actually the first group to attack them. The Amalekites come from behind and attack them and what that saying and recognizing, “Look, the Amalekites attacked you from behind when you were on this journey from Egypt into the Promised Land. When a group of people would travel, usually the back end of the group were considered the weak, the people that weren’t able to keep up, the young and the elderly.
These Amalekites come in and they just attack really the weak of the tribes of Israel and Israel didn’t forget that and the Lord didn’t forget that. We study even beyond this, if you ever read the book of Esther, you’ll know one of the primary characters in the book of Esther is a man named Haman. Haman tries to enact a law that would kill all of Israel, and Esther is raised up to rescue Israel for such a time as this is the famous phrase in the book of Esther, but Haman came from the Amalekites. The Amalekites are wicked people and God is bringing the judgment, but it’s important to recognize that when God brings this judgment, he’s not talking about killing everyone.
In fact, in Joshua chapter 10, if you want another reference verses 34 to 43, when Joshua leads the conquest for Israel into the Promised Land, it says he conquers all the people and then he goes back to his land. I think it says he actually destroys all the people. But by the time you get to Judges 1:10, it starts talking about all the people, groups that are still in the Promised Land, so which is it? Did he utterly destroy them? Or is that simply warfare language? In fact, the Book of Leviticus chapter 19, gives Israel laws in how to treat other people, groups that don’t belong to the tribe of Israel, how to care for them, love them, welcome them.
When you look at a story like this, I think it’s important to recognize, look, this is a time period where God is working through a particular people, group to bring about his Promised Messiah. Now, I don’t think that that means we then do this again today, because this is working through a certain group of people for a specific reason. When we look at how God is communicating this language, it’s important to recognize, well, God was patient for hundreds of years here, and these people were doing despicable things, they’re killing children and God finally says, “Enough is enough.” When I think about our time period today, if we were to read about something like that, we would want to rise up and do something about it.
What’s the problem when God does it? When you think about World War Two and the atrocity of all that that was, and we think about, was it godly to stand up to preserve the life that was being executed in those chambers? I don’t know anyone that would say no. It was a very godly thing to do, I think honoring because it was honoring of life. I think the same thing is true in a section like this that God’s ways are better than ours and God has certainly been patient. This is what’s happening in the life of the Amalekites. But the question in this, the real question in this passage, when you look at starting in verse 19, is just to ask, “But Saul, why did you disobey?
If you know this what God said for you to do and you’re the king of Israel, why would you disobey?” In fact, that is the exact question Samuel asked. If you look at it in verse 19, that’s exactly what he says, “Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you do that Saul?” Then Saul gives his response. He’s like, “I obeyed, sort of kind of.” That’s really what he says in verse 20, look at this, he says, “Then Saul said to Samuel …” Here’s his response. “Why did you disobey?” Here’s his response, “I did obey the voice of the Lord and I went on the mission of which the Lord sent me.
I’ve brought back Agag the king of Amalekites, and I’ve utterly destroyed the Amalekites. Look at me, I’ve destroyed them all. I even brought back the king as the trophy to let everyone see,” and then look at this verse 21, here comes, “But I obeyed sort of, kind of, but the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choices of the things devoted to destruction to sacrifice the Lord your God in Gilgal.” “Saul why did you disobey?” Saul at first, he wants to paint this good picture of himself and finally in verse 21, he tells us why he disobeyed. The first excuse he gives, “It wasn’t my fault.” “It’s not my fault. It’s the people, the people. I need to blame the people.”
This is as old as the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned, do you remember that? God shows up in the garden’s like, “Adam, why did you do this?” He’s like, “It’s the wife that you gave me.” It’s always everyone else’s fault. I’m never taking responsibility. It’s the people in the circumstance. It’s funny for us as people; we try to make excuses by our own behavior. Our tendency sometimes is to blame people. It’s like, if God had known better and he just gave me the right environment, I could have thrived. It’s the environments fault and the people around, it’s their fault. It has nothing to do with me God, it’s everyone else.
If everyone would just do what I want them to do, then life would be perfect. But, I think it’s important to remind ourselves, our first parents Adam and Eve had paradise and even in the perfect circumstance and the perfect environment, they still don’t walk with God. Is it really the people? I think Saul is using this as an excuse to blind his own failures in his character. I think yes, environments aren’t always easy. Yes, making the right friends can help certainly us make wiser decisions as people. But I think blaming others really stops us from addressing our own faults and living the life that God calls us to live.
Could you imagine making that excuse before God face-to-face one day? I know Saul’s doing it here before people. It’s not my fault, it’s the people’s fault. But can you imagine meeting God face-to-face one day and saying that to him? God, the reason I didn’t live for the purpose for which you created me and the reason for my design in this world, it was just too hard. The people around me, they were just difficult. I can imagine, if you just think about that for a minute, people are going to be people, no matter where you go in life. Just because you decide, I’m not going to follow God because people make it hard, does that automatically mean that people are just going to make it easy for you, wherever you go?
People are going to be people no matter what, wherever you go. Could you imagine God’s response to that? If we were to say, “God, I wanted to live for you, but it was the people God, people just made it too hard. I just didn’t … I couldn’t do it anymore because of the people,” and Jesus is saying, “Are you kidding me? Did you read my word?” Jesus gave his entire life into the point of death at the hands of people so that we could find life in him. He’s like, “Of course, I knew that that’s how people are. That’s the reason I came. I came to rescue people, because people are still important.
They’re made in my image.” Have you ever read Philippians chapter two, “Though being in the form of God, he makes himself a servant and willingly dies on the cross.” Of course, he knows life isn’t easy. Of course, he knows people can be difficult, but that isn’t the reason that we do or don’t follow God. Circumstances always change. Sometimes life is easy and sometimes life is hard, but we don’t follow Jesus because life is easy or life is hard. We follow Jesus because it’s true and its life transforming. Saul gives this first excuse, “God, it’s not my fault. It’s the people.” Then it he gives reason two, he disobeyed.
Ready, he says this, “But the people took some of the spoil.” Then he says, “The sheep and the oxen, the choice of the things devoted to destruction, look God to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal. It’s not like we’re totally bad. We’re still a good person.” That’s what he’s saying, right? “I mean God, yeah, of course, I didn’t give you everything that you wanted, but I gave you something. Be happy with something God. Yeah, we took the animals but doesn’t God know that we’re going to give it all back to him?” I didn’t tell you this. But one of the reasons I think God says this about the Amalekites when he says to Saul, “Saul, go into the land and destroy the Amalekites and take nothing.”
The reason God says this is because I think God wants to use this moment as to set himself apart from all the other gods and people in this area. What I mean is, during this time period and really any time period after this, when people go to war, there’s some profiteering from war. You go to war and you calculate the cost and also the reward, right? You can go to war and you can make profit from this. During Saul’s day, people would go into battle, and they would go into battle sometimes simply because they could conquer another groups food resources or land or they can make people slaves, and so they would go in war against people in order to get those things.
They would even entice their own people, their army that way, “Look, we’re a stronger army. We can dominate them. Think about how rich you’re going to get.” And so groups would go into battle. But could you imagine if Israel went into the battle and this gets spread among the land, “Israel came in and destroyed the Amalekites, ‘Oh man Amalekites had a lot of stuff. They’re always attacking people. How much did Israel get?’ ‘Nothing. Israel didn’t take anything.'” Could you imagine the people around, the would say, “What are you talking about? Then why’d they even go to war? What do they want?” They just simply wanted to declare the goodness of God and his holiness in this world. They took nothing. All that they said is, “They just want to walk with the Lord.”
That would have been an incredible message. But Saul takes stuff and he tries to cover up that sin by talking about how good he is. I’m still a religious person. Doesn’t God know that we’re going to still use this and we’re going to honor him and we’re going to make God happy by doing these things. I’m good, right? The problem with talking about our goodness in comparison to other people is, as long as you’re comparing yourself to other people, you’re always going to look good in some way. I heard a story once of a mob boss who’s brother had died.
His brother was his right man, right-hand man and a lot of the things that went on as he led as a mob boss, and when his brother passed, he went to a minister and he said, “Look, you’re going to do my brother’s funeral and you’re going to tell people my brother was a saint, and if you don’t, I’m going to kill you.” The minister, not wanting to be killed, but to still be honest, he does the funeral and he gets up and he says, “This guy that we’re burying today was the worst person I have known in this world, the worst person I’ve ever done a funeral for. He was despicable in things he did. He took advantage of people. He even killed people.
He was an awful individual. But compared to his brother, he’s a saint.” As long as we’re comparing ourselves to each other, we can always find someone else that we think that we’re better than. But the problem with this religious thinking is that, our comparison is not to other people. Our comparison is to a holy God. Saul’s using this moment to pacify as if he’s helping God out, right? Doesn’t God know … He’s saying, “Doesn’t God know that we’re going to offer this as a sacrifice? “Can’t God be happy?” It’s like God needs him to give him these things. It’s like, God this morning as we gathered the church, if we’re to think like Saul in this religious ‘I’m a good boy mentality,’ or ‘I’m a good girl mentality,’ as if to think we’re doing God a favor to show up, like God was sitting in heaven today, like, “Man, I really need someone to tell me how important I am.
If that person doesn’t get to church, I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.” Or God’s saying, “There’s something I really want to do. I’m a little bit short. If someone, just one more dollar. Can somebody help me out, just one more dollar and I can get …” This is how Saul’s treating this moment is if, “Doesn’t God know we’re going to tip him. God will get his little bit. We’re still good people we’re … I mean we didn’t follow God completely.” Religious way of thinking has us often consider this as people, where we think the whole point of Christianity is, “I did good things. Isn’t God happy?” Or, “I avoided bad things? I didn’t do bad things that other people do, doesn’t that satisfy God?”
But that’s not the point of Christianity. It’s not about living your life about doing good or not … Do you realize an atheist can do that every day without acknowledging God. They could do the same thing that a Christian does in behavior. They can do good and not do bad. Sometimes they can even do it better than some people that call themselves Christians. Samuel helps Saul see, “Look, this isn’t the point.” In verse 22, if you look at this is how Samuel responds to Saul in this. Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, I told to obey is better than sacrifice and to heed than the fat of the rams.”
Here’s what Samuel is saying in Israel’s day, what you do is connected to what you believe. Now, I think that’s true for us today but I think sometimes we deceive ourselves today but very much in Israel’s day, what you do is connected to what you believe. I always say for us like this guys, how you behave demonstrates what you really believe. People can give lip service to God all day long, but the demonstration of whether or not you’re really pursuing Christ or you know Christ is seeing how you behave. 1 John 4:20, I quoted that to us a little bit ago. If you say you love God and hate your brothers, the love of God is not in you.
Meaning, what you truly believe you obey. This is what Samuel’s saying to Saul’s, if you really think that you care about the Lord in your life, then you would follow the Lord. Samuel’s saying the same thing to Saul in 1 Samuel 13. God is pursuing someone after his own heart. What he’s saying? What is he saying? That what God is primarily interested in is your relationship to him. If you truly cared about the Lord, you wouldn’t simply look at your relationship to God as if you were just tipping him to satisfy God. What you’re really saying in that is that you ultimately care more about yourself. But what God is more interested in isn’t simply an empty act of burnt sacrifices.
What God is interested in is you. When God gets your heart, he changes your life and we walk in obedience to that, but what God wants more than anything this morning Saul, it’s you. Saul tries to do this blame game of pointing to people. He tries to show that look, he’s still a good person but in comparison to the Lord, no, he’s not holy and what God is interested in is his heart. This is what Samuel’s trying to wake us all up to. When you get to verse 24, you can say, “Oh, look, Saul repented.” Look, then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I have indeed transgressed the commandment of the Lord in your words, because I fear the people and listen to their voice.
Now, therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may worship the Lord.” We can look at and be like, “Oh, yeah, Saul’s doing what God would want. He’s turning his heart to the Lord.” Here’s what I don’t want us to fall into the trap of. I realized this is a narrative story and it’s saying Saul is begging for forgiveness here. But just because it’s a narrative story it doesn’t mean everything that’s happening in the story is godly. What I mean is this; there is a difference in what scripture talks about in being worldly sorrow and genuine repentance. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, it talks about this idea of worldly sorrow and genuine repentance.
Let me tell you the difference. Worldly sorrow tends to be one where you feel bad, not because you’re agreeing with God, but you feel bad because you got caught and you don’t like what you’re going to lose. This is exactly what Saul demonstrates here. Remember in verse 12, Samuel goes looking for Saul. He’s like, “Where is he?” “He’s on Mount Carmel.” “What’s he doing?” “Oh, he’s building a statue to himself.” How conceited is that? You just show up to my house, and on my front lawn, I’m like, “Look, how great I am guys. Look at this statue I have built of myself. Tell me how wonderful I am.” This is what Saul does.
Then when you look further in scripture, you see in verse 17, Saul says about Samuel that he thought he was humble in his own eyes. He thinks he’s less than his own eyes, not necessarily in the eyes of the Lord but in himself. Back before he was king, he was humble in his own eyes. Then when you’re look in the same passage of scripture, verse 26, and 27, you see Saul’s response to what Samuel says. Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king of Israel.” As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized him by the edge of his robe and tore it.
What Saul is showing here is what he’s really interested in. He grabs Samuel’s robe and he tears it because what Saul primarily wants is the fame of being king. He’s not going to just accept what God says, because he’s not pursuing God with his life. This is not genuine repentance, it’s worldly guilt. It’s like this, for us as people when things happen to us that we don’t like we feel bad for we get caught over, we feel guilty, not because it violates against God, because we’re embarrassed we got found out. What the Bible’s teaching us is genuine repentance.
Genuine repentance is about agreeing with God more than anything else. “You’re right God. You’re right. I’ve been walking a path that’s not about you. It’s masked in you to look a certain way, but God, really it’s about me. God, I want to let it go and just pursue you.” What inevitably happens for Samuel is he dies. Go on and continue reading the story all the way into First Samuel, he claims to the idea of being a king so much, even though God told him he didn’t want to be king anymore, that it leads him to his death. Now, I realize we’re probably not going to be kings and queens here, maybe of your own home. But the same thing is true with us guys, that there are certain things we know that God says to us, “Look, partial obedience is not what I’m interested in.
I’m interested in your heart and your heart would be fully dedicated to me.” Then we say to God, “God, at least I’m giving you the ram, at least I’m making the sacrifice.” Then we cling to the things that lead to death, rather than trusting the one who has life. How do we avoid this? How do we avoid this story being our story, but rather we see the beauty of Jesus being made known in our lives? Well, verse 17, actually gave you the answer. Verse 17, 18 and 19 really is the faithful response. This section is when Samuel came to Saul and he says, “Saul, why do I hear these sheep bleating? Why do I hear this noise of animals in the background if God told you not to bring any of them with you?”
He says, “Do you want to know what God says about this?” Samuel makes his excuses starting in verse 20, 21, 22 or excuse me, Saul makes excuses but it gives us the answer to the healthy relationship with the Lord here in verse 17. Samuel said … This is what God told to Saul, “Is it not true though you were little in your own eyes? You were made the head of the tribes of Israel. The Lord sent you on a mission to go and the Lord anointed you, excuse me and the Lord anointed you king of Israel and the Lord sent you on a mission and said, go.”
What’s he saying? Well, what he’s saying is, it’s important if you want to walk with the Lord, the healthy way one is to recognize who you were before you came to know the Lord. Without God, who are you? How could you possibly find worth in this world apart from your creator? You could make it up I guess for a little while, but at some point in your life, living that way, you’re going to get depressed over the lack of value that you find in yourself and Samuel reminded Saul saying, “Look, do you remember who you were apart from God?” All of us in sin and we can try to mask ourselves in religion. We can try to blame others for it.
We can build idols to ourselves to try to make ourselves feel great. But at the end of the day, who are you without the Lord? He’s the one that made you and gives you value. Who are you without the Lord? Then he goes and says to him this, “Wasn’t it the Lord that anointed you king over Israel.” Meaning, why did you not just walk in the identity that God gave you? He anointed you king over Israel. This word anointing is very important because I said to us last week, it’s in First Samuel that the word anointing is used for the first time related to a king. Hannah’s prayer was the first time it was used in chapter two and talking about a king that a king would be anointed, and now Saul’s anointed as a king.
But here’s what’s important guys, when you look at this word anointing, this word anointing comes from sheep and shepherds. That’s where Israel gets it from. You see them practicing anointing on people throughout their history, but it starts with the sheep and shepherds. Shepherds would anoint the heads of sheep in order to protect their sheep. What happened where the shepherd is … Sheep would oftentimes find bugs that would jump on them and they would burrow in the wool and sometimes they would land on their face when they would burrow in, sometimes they could go in their ear, and when they would go in their ear, it would drive the sheep mad and eventually kill the sheep.
A shepherd would anoint the sheep to bless the sheep, to protect the sheep, and to empower the sheep. It gave the sheep a position of importance. Israel started practicing this anointing on their leaders, to demonstrate the same thing with God. They would anoint their prophets and their priests and their kings to show God’s blessing and God’s protection and God’s empowerment. When you get to the New Testament, here’s what you find in 1 John 2:20 and 27, in 2 Corinthians 1:21 and 22, that God describes all of his people as anointed. If you belong to Jesus, you’ve been anointed by the power of God’s Spirit.
What that means is God’s blessing, God’s protection, God’s empowerment on you to do what he called you to. That’s what he says in verse 18. Now go on the mission, God’s called you to. Live for that glory. God has loved you. Let me ask you the question then, the question when you look at a passage like this is just to simply ask, I hope Saul would have done the same thing in reflection here. I don’t think he did. But to ask the question, why would God love you? Why would God love you? You can respond and say, “Look, God loves me because of the things I do. I’ve given him sheep. Or God loves me, because I’m better than other people.”
But what happens on the days or not? Or what happens when you don’t have the kind of things to give to the Lord? Sometimes in your life, you might have this happen in a relationship where someone comes to you, maybe your spouse and say, “Why do you love me? Why do you love me?” Now you’re put on the spot, you’re like, “Oh no.” You start to make the list? I love you because you’re a good provider. I love you because the way that you take care of our family. I love you because, and you give these reasons. But what happens when that person is no longer able to do those things?
Here’s what you communicate by saying to someone, I love you because of what you do for me. On the day that they are not able to do that anymore, are you now communicating to them that your love stops because the only reason that you were loving them is because they did that in the first place? I love what scripture says about the Lord in 1 John 4:8. God is love. God is love. It’s sort of to answer the question this way, “God why do you love me?” His response is not because of what you do. His response is better than that. His response is because of who he is. He loves because his being is love. It’s not about what you do or don’t do. It’s about what he’s done for you, and that invitation to belong to him.
You ask the question, “God, why would you love me?” Or, “God why would you love Saul?” The answer has nothing to do with Saul. The answer has to do with the grace and mercy of God. The question then for us is why would we ever leave that? Why would we ever leave that? Why would we not embrace the forgiveness and goodness of Jesus in the way that he has given his life for us and pursue that, rather than the things of this world? The answer is, because of the deception we believe in our own lives. We buy into the lie that the things around us make us significant.
The reality is, it always belongs to Christ. If we let go of those things, what we find is life. But if we cling to those things, what we find is death. The question then becomes in verse 19, then why not obey the Lord? Why not obey the Lord? Because if you’re here today and you understand the goodness and grace of Christ that’s been made known in your life, let me just say this, we all start our journey with God like Saul where apart from the Lord, we are nothing. The reason we have anything is because of him and we need him. We need to lay down the facade of blaming people. We need to lay down the facade of religion to make us look good.
We need to lay down the idols of life and just simply say, “Jesus, give me the value in you.” Jesus is enough. He covers our sin. He forgives us at the cross and he provides us his grace if we would by faith trust in him. All the Bible says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”