Samuel was a prophet of God. His mother promised that she
would give him to the Lord for his whole life and never shave his head, if the
Lord would bless her with a son. Samuel heard God talk to him. He was a judge of
God's people. When Samuel grew old he made his son's judges over Israel, but
they did not obey God's commandments and the people didn't like them either, so
God's people told Samuel to give them a king, like all the other nations had.
Samuel did not like this. God told Samuel that the people did not reject him,
they really didn't want God to rule them any more. Samuel anointed Saul king
over Israel and God sent many messages to Saul through Samuel. Samuel also
anointed David, God's first chosen king of Israel. God told Samuel to
judge a person by their heart, not by what they look like.
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
In the First Book of Samuel, you will
learn how kings became the leaders in Israel. Most of this book focuses on three
main people: Samuel, the judge and Prophet; Saul, the first king of Israel, and
David, the Lord's personal favorite king, who was anointed, but had not yet
taken the throne, because Saul was still alive. There are of course, other
stories to discover as well.
to note that the books of First and Second Chronicles have many of the same
stories as the books of Samuel and Kings plus some additional details that were
omitted from Samuel and Kings,
so Daily Bread has
already done the leg work for you and matched up the stories from Chronicles
with the stories from Samuel and Kings and combined the information for you,
just like we combined our studies of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Daily
We have indicated these "parallel" chapters at the beginning of each study, so
without any further ado, let's get started, shall we?
was a man named Elkanah, and he had two wives; Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had
children, but Hannah did not, and every year Elkanah went to the house of the
Lord in Shiloh to worship and sacrifice.
Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy
wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor
any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave
offering of thine hand: But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in
the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy
daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is
within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all
that thou puttest thine hands unto.
Each year at this
celebration, Peninnah would taunt Hannah, to make her cry because she was
barren. It would make Hannah so sad that she wouldn't eat, so Elkanah said to
her, Why are you so unhappy? Why do you cry and not eat? Am I not better to you
than ten sons? And Elkanah gave portions (for feasting) to Peninnah and her children, but he gave more
to Hannah because he loved Hannah, but the Lord kept her childless.
So after they had
eaten and drank in Shiloh, Hanna went to pray at the Temple, and she made a vow
to the Lord, that if He would allow her to have a baby boy, she would give him
to the Lord all the days of his life and never cut his hair. As Hannah prayed,
she was very sad and cried, and as she spoke in her heart, her lips moved, but
her voice was silent.
There in the
Temple, sitting by a pillar, was Eli, the high priest. Noticing that Hannah
moved her lips as she prayed, Eli assumed that she was drunk. When he mentioned
this observation to her, she told him that she had nothing to drink, but that
she had a sorrowful spirit. Eli said, Go in peace, and my god answer your
And God did indeed
answer Hannah's prayer, and she had a son who was named Samuel. When he was
weaned, they brought him to the Temple in Shiloh at the time of the yearly
worship and sacrifice, and Hannah said to Eli, I am the woman who prayed to the
Lord for this child, and He has answered my prayer. I vowed that I would grant
him to the Lord as long as he lives. And Hannah left Samuel under the care of
Eli the priest, who raised him in ministering to the Lord in the Temple.
This story may remind you a little of how Samson was conceived, because his
mother was barren before that. Matter of fact, we've seen many times when the
Lord has blessed women with children who were once barren. There was Sarah (Genesis
Genesis 21:2), Rebekah (Genesis
25:21), Rachel (Genesis
Genesis 30:22), Samson's mother (Judges
13:2-3), and now Hannah.
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
In the last
chapter, you may recall, we were briefly
introduced to Eli, the high priest. Well, Eli had two sons, named Hophni and
Phineas, who were wicked men and had no fear of God in them, and no respect for
the honor of ministering to the Lord, either. They abused the privilege of their
position by breaking the laws of the offerings and sacrifices by stealing
people's sacrifices by force, and they also defiled the women who came to
worship at the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
Now, Eli was very old,
and he knew about the evil ways of his sons, but though it grieved him at his
heart, he did nothing more than scold them about it. Hophni and Phineas ignored
Eli's concern and admonition, and continued in their disrespect and sin, but the
Lord definitely took notice.
One day, a man of God
(Prophet) visited Eli and gave him a message from God, saying, Why do you honor your sons
above me? Why do you belittle my sacrifices and offerings, to make yourselves
rich with the best of the offerings of my people Israel? I did say that your
family and the family of your father (the Levites) would serve me for ever, but
now, I will honor those who honor me, and those who despise me will be thought
Time for a little Daily
Bread Crumb! As you may know, in families of royalty, the throne is usually
passed down to the firstborn son of the king. Well, likewise, the high
priesthood of Israel was the same way. The eldest son of the high priest
inherited the office, whether it be by reason of death, or health issues or
whatever the cause be that the serving high priest left the office.
Aaron of course was the
first high priest of the Israelites when they were freed from Egypt. He had four
sons, but the two eldest died at the hand of the Lord:
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer,
and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire
before the LORD, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire from
the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
The next in line to inherit the high
priesthood was Eleazar and the fourth son of Aaron was Ithamar. Now we know from
the books of Joshua and Judges that Eleazar did indeed succeed Aaron, and then
Eleazar's son Phineas, but after that, we have Eli, who was not of Eleazar's
bloodline (you can see for yourself in
1 Chronicles 6:3-15). So somehow, the bloodline switched from Eleazar to
But how do we know Eli is of the
bloodline of Ithamar, seeing that Ithamar's family tree is not listed in
Chronicles or elsewhere in the Bible? Well, by a process of elimination, because
1) he wasn't from Eleazar's bloodline, 2) he WAS a high priest, and 3) one had
to be of one of the two sons of Aaron in order to execute the priests office.
To go one step further with this,
let's take a look ahead in the book of 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles shall we?
First of all, it appears that during
the reign of king David, the priesthood was shared by the descendants of Eleazar
1 Chronicles 24:1-3
Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron; Nadab,
and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. But Nadab and Abihu died before their
father, and had no children: therefore Eleazar and Ithamar executed the
priest's office. And David distributed them, both Zadok of the sons of
Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, according to their offices
in their service.
But when Solomon became king, he
gave the high priesthood to the family of Eleazar exclusively:
1 Kings 2:27
So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the LORD; that he
might fulfil the word of the LORD, which he spake concerning the house of
Eli in Shiloh.
1 Kings 2:35
And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his (Joab's) room over the
host: and Zadok the priest (of the bloodline of Eleazar) did the king put
in the room of Abiathar.
Now, resuming our study, the Lord
(through the man of God mentioned earlier), tells Eli that because of the sins
of his sons, and Eli's negligence to stop them, a day will come when the
strength of Eli's family will be reduced and all of his posterity would die at a
young age. And this will be a sign to you. Your two sons will both die in the
same day. And I will raise me up a righteous priest that will serve faithfully
forever, and your descendants will beg to be assigned to a priest's office.
Meanwhile, Samuel, just a child,
ministered to the Lord in Shiloh and Hannah (his mother) made him a coat each
year and brought it to him when they came up for the yearly sacrifice. And the
Lord blessed Elkanah and Hannah with five more children because she gave Samuel
to the Lord.
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
Reviewing what happened
in the last chapter, Eli was sent a message from God that because he neglected to do
something about his sons defiling the office of the priesthood, Eli's posterity
would never live to be old, but would die at a young age.
after this warning, Eli failed to defend the integrity of the priesthood, and as
you'll see, God's messenger wasn't just full of empty words.
Don't forget now, in the meantime,
Samuel is just a child, and Eli is teaching him to serve the Lord (righteously)
as a priest. At that particular time, it was rare that anyone received the Word
of the Lord. There was no open vision (a vision that takes place when one is
conscious, like falling into a trance, but with the eyes open).
But one night, the Lord called to
Samuel, and having never heard the Word of the Lord before, Samuel thought it
was Eli calling him, so he went to Eli and said, Here I am. Eli told Samuel to
go on back to lie down because he hadn't called him. This happened three times,
and then Eli realized it was the Lord calling Samuel, so he instructed him to go
lie back down, but if he (Samuel) heard the voice again, to answer: Speak Lord,
your servant is listening.
So the Lord did call again,
saying, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered as he was told by Eli, and the
Lord talked to him about Eli. He told Samuel that He would do something in
Israel, and anyone who heard of it ... Their ears would tingle. Perhaps this
is like what we refer to today as, a chill up the spine. At any rate, God was going
to do something that would grab attention. He said that He would do all the
things that He had spoken (through the man of God) concerning the family of
Eli because of the sins of his sons, and that he (Eli) didn't stop them. So God
promised that the sins of Eli's family would not be forgiven with sacrifice
nor offering, forever.
morning, Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about the vision, but Eli called Samuel
to him and asked what the Lord revealed to him, adding, May God do the same to
you and more if you hide anything from me that He told you. So Samuel told Eli
all of it, and Eli responded, He is the Lord: let Him do what He thinks is good.
Now, if Eli had been truly repentant
and had taken action with his sons to stop their evil ways when the man of God
warned Eli of the things that would happen because of their transgressions,
perhaps things may have turned out differently, but as you can see, Eli seems to
have sort of a "whatever will be, will be" attitude, and the ministry of the
priesthood ... Especially the high priest and heirs, deserves the utmost
reverence, of which the Lord saw that Eli and his sons didn't care to exercise,
so we'll see what happens to them as a consequence to their ways a little later
on in the next chapter.
Meanwhile, Samuel grew closer and
closer to the Lord, and all of Israel recognized that he was chosen to be a
Prophet of the Lord. You may remember that at the beginning of our study of 1
Samuel, we said that Samuel was the last judge. Some believe that Samuel was
the first "recognized" Prophet. Well, we certainly don't want to split hairs
about who was considered the first Prophet, but there are a few scriptures that
are interesting about this topic. First of all, Peter said:
Yea, and all the Prophets from Samuel and those that follow after,
as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.
And Paul said:
And after that He gave unto them judges about the space of four
hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the Prophet.
But the Lord himself referred to
Abraham as a Prophet, too:
Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a Prophet, and
he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore
her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that
Lord also said that He sent prophets since the day that Israel came out of
slavery in Egypt:
Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of
Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the
Prophets, daily rising up early and sending them ...
Of course there was Enoch, Noah,
Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Balaam and Deborah who are noted as being Prophets as
well, so we're not going to say that Peter was wrong, or Paul was wrong, or
anything of that nature. Let's just say that during the time period when the
judges ruled, there weren't any Prophets around until Samuel.
Don't forget, people will always
want to challenge Christianity by asking you tricky questions that have
absolutely nothing to do with your faith. Obviously, in a perfect world, they
would realize that it doesn't matter who was the FIRST prophet, and that living
a life that represents Jesus is all that really matters, so never let trivia,
debate, or provocation shake you. Just always ask the Holy Spirit to guide you
in sharing TRUTH with others, and be at peace within yourself that you do your
best to share the Word of the Lord and the Gospel as purely as you possibly can.
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
When our last chapter ended, Eli was told by the Lord through Samuel,
that the future was grim for he and his family.
Now at that time,
there were still battles between the heathen people who were never dispossessed
of their land in Canaan, and Israel who inherited the land from God. Just as He
had warned ... They would always be thorns in their sides.
In the days when
Samuel had begun to prophecy, the Philistines again made war against Israel and
at first, Israel was being defeated, losing about 4,000 men. So they decided it
was a good idea to take the Ark of the Covenant out to the battlefield, in hopes
that it would save them.
Now, who do you
think went with the Ark? You guessed it ... Hophni and Phinehas, Eli's sons.
When the Ark came into the camp, all of Israel shouted so loudly that the Earth
rang, like it did in Jericho.
So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came
to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people
shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the
people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took
Philistines heard it, they knew that the Ark of the Lord was in the camp, and
they were afraid, recalling all the great wonders that the Lord had worked on
behalf of Israel since He brought them out of the land of Egypt.
But the Philistines
then encouraged one another to be courageous and fight like men so that they
wouldn't end up as slaves to the Hebrews, as the Hebrews were to the Philistines
aforetime. They then defeated Israel sorely and stole the Ark of God, killing
Hophni and Phinehas.
One man from the
tribe of Benjamin escaped the disaster and ran to Shiloh the same day, with his
clothes torn and dirt on his head, as was customary when a person was in
mourning or devastation.
Now Eli, being
ninety-eight years old, and blind, sat waiting for the Ark of God to return, and
the man of Benjamin told Eli that there was a great slaughter of Israel,
including Hophni and Phinehas, and that the Ark of God was stolen.
If you read your text in your Bible, you'll notice that it wasn't when Eli heard
of the demise of his sons, that he was greatly affected, but when he heard the
news of the Ark of God being stolen, he fell backward in grief off his seat and
died, being an old and fat man. Eli judged Israel forty years. (Though this
story is not in the book of Judges, Eli was still considered a judge, even
though he was also a high priest.)
When Phinehas' wife
heard that her husband and her father-in-law were both dead, and that the Ark
had been taken, she went into labor and gave birth to a son, naming him Ichabod
(which means "no glory"), saying, The glory is departed from Israel, for the Ark
of God is taken. She died after giving birth.
To find out what happened next with the Ark of God, stay tuned for the next
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
Recounting what happened in the
last chapter of our story, the Philistines, who had made war with Israel, were
victorious and they captured the Ark of God.
Now, there were five cities of the Philistines: Asdod, Askelon, Gath, Gaza, and
Ekron. (If you look on an ancient map of Israel, you'll see that they are all in
the same general vicinity.) The Philistines took the Ark to Ashdod and put it in
the house of their god. The next morning, they found their god fallen down on
it's face in front of the Ark (as in worship), so they stood it back up, and the
following morning, they found it fallen down on it's face again, only this time,
it's head and both palms of it's hands were cut off and only a stump of it
In addition to this, the Lord destroyed many people of Ashdod and the
surrounding area. Many died, and there were also mice that plagued the
Philistine countries, similar to when the Lord sent the frogs, lice, flies,
etc., into Egypt. Those Philistines that survived the plague were struck with
emerods (tumors of the secret parts, or in other words; hemorrhoids). Yes, you
read that correctly.
So the men of Ashdod, realizing that the hand of the Lord was against them, had
a little meeting with the leaders of all the Philistines to decide what to do
with the Ark of God, and they decided to carry it to Gath.
Well, the people of Gath experienced the same fate as those of Ashdod, so they
sent the Ark on to Ekron. As you might imagine, the Ekronites felt like the Ark
was (if you'll excuse the expression) a hot potato, since their fellow
Philistines in Ashdod and Gath were devastated while the Ark was among them, so
the people of Ekron pleaded with the leaders of the Philistines to return the
Ark to the Israelites.
You'll find an interesting thing in this story concerning the Philistines. We
know of course, that they were a heathen people, and we know that they had their
own god, but the destruction that was occurring among them while the Ark was in
their possession, was so deadly that:
Why do people pray
to God in Heaven if they are unbelievers? Just something interesting to think
about. Incidentally, the answer is; because He is so undeniable, and the fear of
the Lord is the only hope of humankind ... He IS their maker. Even people who
claim not to believe, still have the instinct ... The understanding that He is
REAL, though they may deny it consciously, but again ... Instinctively, the
human creature knows that GOD EXISTS, because we are created by Him. Take a look
at what is written in the book Isaiah:
Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and
their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth
us? Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the
potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not?
or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no
In modern English
... Anguish will come to those who try and hide their plans from the Lord, and
secretly they think that nobody knows their intents. Their backward thinking is
viewed as potter's clay (of which form the potter can change, any time HE
pleases), after all, can any object say concerning HIM that made it, HE didn't
make me? or can a thing that is formed say concerning HIM that formed it, HE
didn't know what HE was doing?
Another thing to
remember, is that many people are believers in God, just not worshippers of Him
... Like the Philistines. Very sad, but true.
Now, back to our
For seven months,
the Ark was in the country of the Philistines, and there was uncertainty among
them as to what they should do with the Ark, because some believed that their
misfortune was of the hand of the Lord, and others credited it all to
happenstance, so they called together their priests and diviners (those who they
thought had special intuition or supernatural power of understanding), to ask
what to do, and how they should go about returning the Ark to the Israelites.
Their advice was to send the Ark back to the people of Israel. They advised not
to send it back empty, but with a trespass offering. Again, why would the
Philistines send an offering to God if they didn't believe in Him?
What was this
offering that their "prudent" men and priests advised the Philistines to send?
Five golden emerods (honestly), and five golden mice (representing an offering
for each of the five Philistine lords and their people). They also suggested
that just as the plagues of the Egyptians departed when God's people were freed,
perhaps the plagues of the Philistines would vanish likewise, once they returned
So the Philistines
followed the advice of their counselors and made a new cart on which to return
the Ark. They made their golden emerods and mice and laid them in a chest upon
the cart with the Ark, and sent the Ark of God on it's way, being driven of two
milk cows, separating their calves from them as not to encourage them in any
way. Their conclusion was that if the cows led the Ark up to Bethshemesh, then
all the evil that befell them was of God's hand, but if not, they would surmise
that all that had happened was purely by chance. (Why Bethshemesh? Because it
would be the obvious route to take when departing the countries of the
Philistines, if one's destination was an Israelite city.)
Well, guess what.
Those cows went straight on to Bethshemesh, just a lowing as they went, and
didn't stray to the right or to the left. The Philistines followed, of course,
to the border of the town to see if they would change course, but they did not.
For the people of
Bethshemesh (which was a town of Judah, by the way), this was a sight to see ...
Their beloved Ark of God, returning to them as they were harvesting wheat in the
valley! The milk cows brought the Ark to the field of one Joshua, where it stood
still, and there was a great stone there. The people split the wood of the cart
and offered the milk cows as a burnt offering to the Lord, and the people of
Bethshemesh offered sacrifice. When the five lords of the Philistines saw all of
this, they returned to Ekron that same day.
But that's not the
end of this story. The people of Bethshemesh looked into the Ark of the Lord and
He killed 50,070 people because of this. Only the Levite priests were allowed to
view the things of the Ark:
And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary,
and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after
that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch
any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of
Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.
But they shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest
men of Bethshemesh felt unworthy of the Ark remaining with them, so they sent
word to the people of Kirjathjearim that the Philistines had returned the Ark of
the Lord, and to come and bring it to their city.
Quite a story, wouldn't you say? And there's more ahead, so be sure to read on!
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
As you may
remember, when we ended our last chapter, the Ark of God had just been
returned to the people of Israel in Bethshemesh, but the Lord destroyed many
people there because they looked in the Ark. After that, the people of that city
felt unworthy to keep the Ark because of their trespass, so they called on the
neighboring city of Kirjathjearim to take it there.
The Ark remained in Kirjathjearim for twenty years, under the care-taking of
Eleazar, the son of Abinadab (not to be confused with Eleazar the son of Aaron).
During that twenty years, the children of Israel sought the Lord's favor, as
they were still threatened by the Philistines. During this twenty years, Samuel
judged Israel, guiding the people in the way of the Lord.
Samuel then spoke to all of Israel and told them that if they would devote
themselves to the Lord with all their hearts and SERVE HIM ONLY, that the Lord
would save them from the Philistines, and the children of Israel heeded Samuel's
advice. Then Samuel gathered all of Israel to Mizpeh and they fasted and prayed
there in repentance for their disloyalty.
Now, the Philistines heard that all of Israel was gathered in one place at
Mizpeh, so the leaders of the Philistines thought this was a good opportunity to
attack them. When Israel discovered the Philistines' plan, it frightened them,
so they asked Samuel to pray to God on their behalf, to save them from the
Samuel took a baby lamb and sacrificed it to the Lord with prayer, and the Lord
heard. While Samuel was still offering the sacrifice, the Philistines neared,
but the Lord sent out thundering so great that it overcame the Philistines and
they were defeated by Israel.
So Samuel set up a memorial stone at the boundary of their victory and called it
Eben-ezer (the stone of help), and said, Up to here has the Lord helped us. The
Philistines didn't come into the borders of Israel anymore and the hand of the
Lord protected Israel from the Philistines all the days of Samuel. Even the
cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were given back and there was
peace also between Israel and the Amorites.
Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life, and he traveled each year to
Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places, but his home
where he lived and judged was in Ramah, and he built an altar there to the Lord.
What's next for Israel? Well, you'll have to read on!
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
In previous stories to the story of king Saul in the Bible, the story of Samuel
the Prophet and judge in Israel is told. We find that Samuel was a man of integrity and well
favored by the Lord.
As Samuel grew old, and because of his age, one can imagine it wasn't so easy to
travel around Israel judging matters among the people. I don't want you to
forget that being a judge over Israel, was just exactly what the title implies.
Not only did the judge rule the people, but settled matters whenever there were
disputes, not much different from a court of law in modern times, with a judge
presiding. People would bring their "case" to the judge, and the judge would
decide, based upon the Law of the Lord and divine inspiration, what was the best solution for the
So ... When Samuel became elderly, he made his sons, Joel and Abiah, judges over
Israel in Beersheba. But his sons didn't follow the righteous ways of Samuel.
They had a fondness for money and accepted bribes, so their judgment wasn't fair
among the people.
The elders understandably didn't like this one bit, so they paid Samuel a visit
in Ramah and said to him, Look, you're getting old, and your sons aren't like
you. So make us a king to judge us, like all the other nations have.
Now ... This thing irritated Samuel, so he prayed to the Lord about it, and the
Lord told Samuel, The people aren't rejecting you, they've rejected ME, they
don't want ME to rule them. Just like they've done since they day I brought them
up out of Egypt, until this very day ... Just as they have forsaken me, and
served other gods, they do the same also to you.
Does this remind you of what Jesus said, too?
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
me take you back to the book of Deuteronomy for just a second, and let's
remember together, that the Lord in fact, (through Moses) predicted that this
When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and
shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a
king over me, like as all the nations that are about me ...
So the Lord told Samuel to oblige the people of Israel and listen to their
request, but still, to warn them of the seriousness of their decision and to
tell them how the king will reign over them.
And Samuel did ... Speaking the Word of the Lord to the people of Israel that
asked for a king, Samuel said, This will be the manner of the king that shall
reign over you: He will take your sons and make them work for him, to drive his
chariots and be his horsemen, and some will run in front of his chariots and
they will make his weaponry and he will make them captains of his army. He will
make them plant his crops and harvest them. And your daughters will be his
bakers and cooks and candy makers. He will take your fields and vineyards and
olive yards, even the best of them, and one tenth of your seed and your
vineyards and give them to his servants and his officers. He will take your
servants, and make them work for him. He will take one tenth of your sheep, and
you will be his servants.
Samuel continued, And you will cry out when this happens, because of your king
which you will choose, and the Lord will not hear you in that day. But the
people refused to listen to Samuel ... They insisted to have a king and be like
all the other nations, to judge them and go and fight their battles. Samuel
listened to all the things that the people had to say, and repeated them to the Lord, and
the Lord said, Listen to them and make them a king. Samuel then sent the men of
Israel back to their homes.
If you've ever read the books of Samuel, and the books of Kings, you know that
there were a few righteous kings that didn't treat the children of Israel in the
manner that Samuel described, and a precious few that were very honorable, so we
know from this, that God, through Samuel, was giving His people a warning of how
kings in general would operate; Okay, so you want a king? This is what you're in
It looks like we're in for some interesting chapters ahead, doesn't it?!
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
At this point in our story,
we're about to meet the man that becomes the first king of Israel.
Don't forget now, that Samuel is quite upset and offended by the whole business
of Israel choosing a king to replace judges in Israel. You may remember from the
beginning of the book of Judges, we learned that as long as a judge was alive
and overseeing the welfare of Israel as God guided, things went fine for them,
but when a judge died, then the people would always go astray.
And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge,
and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the
judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of
them that oppressed them and vexed them. And it came to pass, when the
judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than
their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto
them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
you know, throughout history, God has shown mercy and forgiveness to people,
because man is but flesh and blood and Original Sin is inherited by everyone.
And even though the children of Israel, His chosen people, made a choice to ask
for a king over them instead of following God's plans, our Lord still, knowing
their character and yet loving them deeply, stepped in to assist them. God told
1 Samuel 9:16
To-morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of
Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel,
that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have
looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me.
this man, who would be king of Israel, would essentially be chosen by God ...
But God gives everyone freedom of choice, and as with every human being that
ever lived, the decisions a person makes, whether chosen by God or not, are not
always the choices God wants.
Let's find out how this man learned that he would be king of Israel.
There was a man of the tribe of Benjamin named Kish, who was a "mighty man of
power". You can decide for yourself whether this means physically strong,
influential and respected, or rich. But at any rate, Kish had a son named Saul,
who was a fine young man and very tall, taller than any of the people.
One day the mules of Kish wandered off, so he sent Saul along with a servant to
go and find them. They searched far and wide for the animals but couldn't find
them, and finally Saul said to the servant, Let's go back home, or my father
will stop worrying about the mules, and instead worry about us. But the servant
convinced Saul to go on to a certain city because he had heard of a man of God
(Prophet) named Samuel, and thought perhaps he could guide them to the mules.
Saul was concerned because they had nothing to offer Samuel. They had eaten all
their bread, so how could they pay Samuel for his help? But the servant had a
fourth of a shekel of silver, so they decided to present that as their gift, and
they went on to the city. On their way, there were some young maidens going out
to draw water from a well, and they asked where they could find Samuel. The
maidens told them that there was a sacrifice and feast planned, and directed
them where to go.
Samuel, of course, knowing in advance because God had told him, was expecting
Saul, and when he came into sight, the Lord said to Samuel, This is the man I
told you about! He shall reign over my people.
Saul came near to
Samuel and asked where the house of the seer (Prophet) was. Samuel answered, I
am the seer, go up to the high place (a temple or altar, usually built on an
elevation, that the ancient Jewish people used for worship), you will eat with
me today and tomorrow I will tell you all you want to know, and you may go.
As for the mules
that went missing three days ago, don't worry about them, they're found ... And
the king that Israel desires, will be you.
Well, Saul thought that Samuel was joking with him, and he replied, I'm from the
smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family is the smallest of all the families
of the tribe of Benjamin. Why do you make fun of me?
Benjamin was at that time the smallest of the tribes of Israel? It wasn't many
generations before that the entire tribe was destroyed, except for 600 men. You
can review that story in The Book of
Judges, Chapter 19-21.
Samuel took Saul and his servant and set them in the most honored place among
the guests that were invited. Samuel told the cook to bring a special portion to
Saul. So Saul did eat with Samuel that day. The next day, Samuel told Saul to
ask the servant to go on ahead of them, but for Saul to stay a while so that he
could show him the Word of God.
How does Samuel convince Saul that he's not
kidding about becoming king of Israel? Just gotta read on and see what happens
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
Let's review what
happened last in our story about the first king of Israel, shall we?
Saul and his father's servant, being unsuccessful in finding his father's lost
mules, decide to go see Samuel the Prophet for help in finding them. The Lord
tells Samuel the day before Saul arrives that the man who would be king will
come to him tomorrow, so Samuel prepares a feast. When Saul arrives, Samuel
tells Saul not to worry because the mules had been found, and then gives him the
news about his very near future kingship. Saul thinks that Samuel is making fun
of him. Samuel sets Saul at the place of honor at the feast and Saul stays with
Samuel that evening.
The next morning, Saul prepares to return home. Now, remember, Saul thinks that
Samuel was just speaking in jest about being king, so Samuel tells him to send
his servant on ahead so he can tell him the Word of the Lord.
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, poured it on Saul's head and kissed him and told
him that the Lord had anointed him to be captain over His people. As a sign,
Samuel said, When you leave here you'll meet two men by Rachel's tomb, and
they'll tell you that the mules you went to search for are found and that your
father now worries what happened to you instead of the mules. Then when you leave there, you will
meet three men, one carrying three kid goats, another carrying three loaves of
bread and one carrying a bottle of wine. They'll greet you and give you two of
the loaves of bread.
Samuel continued, After that, you'll come to the hill of God where you'll meet a
group of Prophets, and they will prophecy, and the Spirit of the Lord will
overcome you, and you will be a changed man. When these signs come true, know
that the Lord is with you. Then go to Gilgal and I will be there in seven days
to make offerings and sacrifice and I'll tell you what to do then.
When Saul turned to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart, and all the signs
that Samuel spoke, came to pass that day.
So Samuel gathered all the people together and spoke the Word of the Lord to
them. I saved you from Egypt and from the hand of all that oppressed you, and
today, you reject your God who saved you out of all your troubles, and you have
said to Him, No, but give us a king. Now then, present yourselves before the
Lord by your tribes.
If you will recall the method by which they determined that Achan stole the
accursed thing from Ai, bringing all of Israel, first by tribes, then by
families, then by households, then man by man (this was probably done by casting
lots or perhaps by Urim and Thummim) until it was revealed that Achan had
committed the transgression. This was also how it was shown to the people that
Saul was the anointed one to be king of Israel. First the tribe of Benjamin was
chosen, then the family of Matri, then Saul, but Saul was nowhere to be found.
So they asked the Lord where he was and were told that Saul had hidden himself
among the "stuff." (One might assume the stuff was baggage, since people had
come from all over Israel to sort of inaugurate their new king.)
Remember earlier in our story, the Bible said Saul was (to use the exact words)
"a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of
Israel a goodlier person than he," so one might assume that he was humble, and
that was why he had hidden himself when all this "to do" was going on about the
Anyway, they went and found him and brought him before all the people. Don't
forget now, Saul was taller than anyone else, and Samuel said, See ye him whom
the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all
the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
Then Samuel wrote down in a book, what would happen in the kingdom, and sent all
the people home. Saul went to his home in Gibeah, along with a band of men whose
hearts God had touched, but there were wicked people who doubted in Saul and
despised him, but Saul humbly remained quiet about the matter.
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
we're about half way through the book of 1 Samuel, and Saul has
just been announced king of Israel.
The first thing that Saul had to deal with was war with the Ammonites. Let's do
a little refreshing before we continue ahead with our study ... Who are the
Ammonites? They were the children of Ammon, who was the son of Lot. If you would
like to review the story of their origin, you will find it in
Genesis, Chapter 19.
Do you remember any significant events involving the children of Ammon? How
about when Moses was leading the children of Israel to the Promised Land?
And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of
Heshbon with words of peace, saying, Let me pass through thy land: I will
go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to
the left. Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me
water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet;
(As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell
in Ar, did unto me;) until I shall pass over Jordan into the land which
the LORD our God giveth us. But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us
pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart
obstinate, that He might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.
Where is Ammon? It is the land that lies on the east side of the Jordan River.
We also know this about this particular region:
(That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old
time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims; A people great, and many,
and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them before them; and
they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead:
addition, Israel was commanded not to meddle with the Ammonites, way back in
And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress
them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of
the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the
children of Lot for a possession.
Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, nor unto any
place of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains, nor unto
whatsoever the LORD our God forbade us.
the Ammonites were forbidden to enter the congregation of the Lord because they
weren't hospitable to God's people when they were on their way to the Promised
Land from Egypt.
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD;
even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation
of the LORD for ever: Because they met you not with bread and with water
in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired
against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse
that we've got a refreshed memory about the children of Ammon ... On with the
story. The Ammonites, who were led by a king named Nahash, planned an attack
against Jabesh-Gilead. And what do you remember about Jebesh-Gilead? Well,
remember when the tribe of Benjamin had no wives ... Back when the children of
Israel destroyed all but 600 men of the tribe because of the woman who was
killed by the men of Gibeah (and her husband cut her into 12 pieces and sent one
to each tribe of Israel). You may remember that while Israel was repenting about
the ordeal, they made an oath that whoever didn't come to Mizpeh to participate
in making peace offerings would be put to death, and none from Jabesh-Gilead
attended, so they were all destroyed except for 400 chaste women whom they gave
to the Benjamites to marry.
So, now that we're familiar with who's who, let's continue, shall we? The men of
Jabesh-Gilead said to the king of Ammon, Make a deal with us, and we'll serve
you. Nahash answered, I'll make a deal with you if I may pluck out all your
right eyes. The elders of Jabesh said to him, Give us seven days to prepare and
then if there is no one to help us, we'll come out to fight with you.
messengers to Gibeah (where Saul lived) and explained their dilemma, and all the
people cried bitterly. When Saul heard the report of all this, the Spirit of God
came upon him and he was filled with anger. He took
a yoke of oxen and
cut them in pieces, sending them throughout all Israel with the message that
whoever didn't come and follow Saul and Samuel, the same would be done to their
can imagine, the fear of the Lord inspired them all to come out without
hesitation. Under Saul's command, they defeated Nahash and the Ammonites
victoriously. The people then suggested that those who questioned Saul's ability
to lead the children of Israel, be put to death, but Saul refused and gave the
Lord glory for saving Israel that day.
Samuel called all the people together, and a second time pronounced Saul king
before the Lord in Gilgal, with sacrifices, offerings and rejoicing.
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
Our last chapter ended
with the congregation of Israel at Gilgal rejoicing over their victory
over Ammon and sort of a "renew"ing of the kingdom.
Here's something to
think about. When we think of the kings of the Bible, we tend to think of their
position as a holy thing, which, in a perfect world, it would be. What am I
getting at? Israel was God's chosen people. They were different. OTHER nations
had kings to govern them, and that's what Israel was seeking in a king ...
GOVERNment. Not a holy king to guide them in God's Law. But don't forget what
Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God
commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess
it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your
understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these
statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding
people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them,
as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what
nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as
all this law, which I set before you this day?
They were a nation "so great" that God chose them for His own special people.
But even though they already had God's Law, which was divinely superior to any
other government that could possibly be implemented, it wasn't enough for them.
They weren't satisfied.
Let's talk about the "kings" and "government" topics a little more. In today's
era one would be hard pressed to say that people's incentive to elect any given
candidate is because of their likelihood to carry out God's will, but rather
because of the candidates probability of enforcing policies that would increase
the voters income level and comfort of living, and decrease the voters effort in
Now, for the past four to five hundred years since the Exodus, the children of
Israel had been living under the "government" of God the King. They knew full
well that whenever they (the children of Israel and their forefathers) turned
away from the Lord, things went awry ... Just like He promised. They also knew
full well that whenever they sought the Lord and turned to Him, things went
incredibly well. To have stuck with GOD as King would have been the "holy" thing
Another thing to be
mindful of is that its easy for one to wonder in retrospect, why the children of
Israel didn't see what they were doing. Well, not only was it told by God that
they would be stiff-necked and backsliding, etc., etc., but we tend to lose
sight that these stories happened over generations of time. One would think that
people would learn from the mistakes of their ancestors, but as silly as it
sounds, people want to make their own mistakes, claiming that one can only learn
from their OWN errors. Yes, I know how prideful that sounds, but most people, if
they heard a story about something that happened to their great grand-dad, would
think many things before learning any kind of lesson from it. For instance:
Times have changed; people have changed; the circumstances are different; etc.,
It's almost like
people think that their own mistakes are like part of their own unique
personality ... As if mistakes make up who they are. Some sick psychologist (I
believe) or some other genius, even came up with the idea that mistakes "build
character." Man, I never read anything in the Bible like that! Who do you think
is more respectable in God's eyes, who do you think He views as having more
"character" ... A person that strives not to make mistakes or a person who
believes mistakes are some kind of prerogative? At any rate, the children of
Israel were no different than people today in that sense, and they had thousands
of years less hindsight than we do today.
you may have with yourself is, "Wait a minute ... They had judges didn't they?
How much different could it be to have a king? Well, you might answer this way:
In times of trouble, GOD decided when and who to send to judge (lead, protect
and guide) His people. That sure seems quite different than a king. Well ... You
remember all the things Samuel prophesied about the future kings back in
8. Quite different from any judges, wouldn't you agree? That's not to say that
there weren't any good kings. A king was as good as his faith in God. If he had
strong faith, the Lord blessed him.
It's no wonder that
Samuel (being a judge and all) was offended and upset at Israel's insistence on
having a king. Remember, Samuel's entire life was devoted to serving God, and
now he's old and overwhelmed with disappointment. At the same time, he loves
God's people. You would imagine this was a difficult time for him, and he
probably felt like his heart was being torn in two.
Israel at this celebration they're having, and testifies to them of his
integrity, which the people affirm. He reminds them of the Lord's saving Grace
since the Exodus despite the fact that they had forsaken God numerous times, and how
it was the Lord
that appointed all their deliverers up until king Nahash of Ammon threatened
them, and they demanded a king.
The prophet Samuel
told Israel, Fear the Lord and things will go well with you and your king, but
rebel against the Lord and His hand will be against you. As a sign I will call
to the Lord and He will send thunder and rain, so that you'll understand that
your wickedness is great in asking for a king.
And the Lord did indeed
send thunder and rain that day, and the people revered the Lord and Samuel.
Samuel assured the children of Israel that he would continue to pray for them
and teach them the good and right way.
1 Samuel 12:24-25
Only fear the LORD, and serve him in TRUTH with all your heart: for
consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do
wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.
What's next for
the children of Israel and their new king Saul? Read on!
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
In our study
so far of 1 Samuel, we
recently learned about Saul's first victory over Ammon, and then Samuel's
address to Israel. Let's pick up from there.
First, we must remember that way back when, things weren't like they are today.
In today's time, the leader of a nation is the commander in chief all right, but
they don't go out to battle with the rest of the military. Also, don't forget
that these soldiers of Israel have had no military training whatsoever ... And
those that are strong enough in faith to fight, are relying on the power of God
to be victorious.
Let's recall what's happened recently in our story. Saul's military history
began with a battle against the Ammonites. The army that was united for Israel
consisted of 330,000 soldiers. They were victorious and a great celebration was
So ... What do you suppose the army of Israel did between battles? Since the
conquest of Canaan was over, do you think they had military bases where they had
boot camps and target practice and military strategy lessons? Well, perhaps
precious few of the soldiers were that enthusiastic to protect and defend their
new inheritance, but probably, except for a few bodyguards of the king, it's
likely that most went home to their families.
Now, let me remind you of something that the Lord warned Israel about way back
even before they crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land.
But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you;
then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall
be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the
land wherein ye dwell. Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do
unto you, as I thought to do unto them.
And there it was HUNDREDS of years later, and Israel was still troubled by all
those that weren't driven out during the occupation of their inheritance. In
fact, it's NOW THOUSANDS of years later, and Israel is YET troubled by them.
Now, back to our story ... Let's look at a few different things that are
directly affecting what happens for Saul. As you may remember from the Book of
Judges, as long as the children of Israel followed the commandments of the Lord,
things went smoothly in their conquest of Canaan, but whenever they went
backsliding, the disaster that they imposed on their enemies was turned back
upon them. In this story, it wasn't the children of Israel that erred, it was
Let me give you the setting ... Saul has now reigned for two years over Israel,
with one victory over Ammon. Apparently there was some peace time after that,
and the only military that Saul kept at hand were three thousand soldiers. Two
thousand of these were with Saul in Michmash. Saul's son Jonathan was with the
other thousand in Gibeah, who successfully attacked a military post of the
Philistines in Geba. The proximities of these places is something like this,
with Gibeah and Gilgal being approximately 15 miles apart.
So Saul spread news of this victory to all of Israel, then combined all three
thousand troops together in Gilgal and declared war on the Philistines.
The Philistines then assembled a huge army of 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen
and more soldiers than one could count. Just counting the chariots and horsemen
alone, it was twelve times the manpower that Saul had. Seeing this, many of the
soldiers of Israel were frightened and hid themselves in caves and forests and
such, and others went to the land of Gad and Gilead, east of the Jordan for
refuge. The remaining soldiers stayed with Saul, but even those trembled in
Now, Samuel had told Saul to wait for him, seven days, and he would come to
Gilgal and make offerings to the Lord before they went to battle. But when
Samuel was late in arriving, Saul grew impatient and made the offerings himself.
Just as Saul had finished making the burnt offering, Samuel arrived.
What have you done? Samuel asked Saul, and Saul explained that a number of his
troops had abandoned and the Philistines were gathered together. With Samuel's
absence, he was afraid that they would attack before offerings were made to the
Lord, so he took it upon himself to do it.
this was a mistake. How so? you may ask. Think back to the situation with
Abraham and Sarah, and when Sarah was impatient waiting for the child that the
Lord promised, and they took it upon themselves to have a surrogate ... You remember
that whole thing? But we're not just talking about impatience here, as you might
imagine, an offering as important as this was probably supposed to be performed
by a Levite priest, which Saul was not. I don't recall reading anything about
Samuel telling Saul, "In case I get stuck in traffic, go on ahead and start the
fire without me." God's timing isn't always our timing. How many times in our
own lives do we find it necessary to go on ahead with our own plans because
we're too impatient to wait on the Lord's plan? At any rate, Saul was told by
God's Prophet to wait for Samuel, and no matter what the circumstance, he should
Samuel said to Saul, You did a foolish thing and didn't obey the commandment of
the Lord. Your kingdom would have been established forever in Israel, but now,
your kingdom won't continue. You see, the Lord wants a man after His own heart
to be captain over His people.
you think Samuel was feeling about all of this? Remember, Samuel was annoyed
that the children of Israel chose to have a king in the first place, so one
might wonder what his perspective was. Well, one thing is certain, Samuel was a
Prophet of God, and he loved the people he served for the Lord. Even though
Samuel may not have been tickled pink about the prospect of having a human king
over Israel, he also knew that Saul didn't choose to be king either ... The
people wanted a king, and he was God's anointed, so one might assume that
Samuel, in the interest of the welfare of Israel, wished Saul prosperity, so
quite naturally, Samuel was disappointed at Saul, and he left Gilgal and went
home to Gibeah. Saul and Jonathan followed with the mere 600 soldiers that were
kingdom won't continue."
does that mean? Well, had Saul proved himself to be trustworthy to follow God's
Word, the throne would have passed on to his son Jonathan, and then Jonathan's
son after him, and so on, continuing in Saul's bloodline forever ... BUT
... Since Saul displayed dishonor in carrying out the Lord's commandment, he
lost the privilege.
the Philistines also had a camp in Michmash, and while Saul and Jonathan and
their small amount of soldiers remained in Gibeah because they knew they
couldn't defend the land, the Philistines raided the area in three companies, in
three different directions around Michmash. Obviously controlling the area, they
then prohibited the Hebrews from making any swords or spears ... And any farming
tools that they needed to have sharpened, had to be taken to the Philistines to
do it. So, when there was warfare, the Hebrews were weaponless, however, Saul
and Jonathan were both found possessing weapons ... Isn't that curious?
One might come to a few different conclusions about that, but consider this ...
Perhaps the Lord wanted to make the ultimate point, that weapons would not win
any battles for the children of Israel ... Only the power of God would.
Anxious to find out what happens next? Stay tuned!
THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL
As you may recall, things aren't looking too
bright for Saul and the army of Israel. Israel is not only sorely outnumbered by
the army of the Philistines, but they (except for Saul and Jonathan, his son)
have no swords or spears to fight against their opponents with, so basically,
they're sitting idle, while the Philistines are gaining control of more and more
Well, don't be too downhearted because the Lord is about to give 'em a break.
But first, a little tidbit ... You see, the ammunition of those days
was quite bulky, as one might imagine ... Arrows, spears, swords ... It must
have been quite a burden to carry any amount of those things. Not to mention,
the armor itself that a soldier wore was quite heavy. So, while en route from
the camp to the battle site, a soldier had an armor bearer, who carried the
armor and weaponry so the soldier wouldn't be too tuckered out to fight once he
reached the battle.
It seems that one day, Jonathan had an idea. While Saul sat idle in the
outskirts of Gibeah with the six hundred (bless their hearts) soldiers that
remained steadfast for Israel, Jonathan secretly summoned his armor bearer to
sneak over with him to the Philistines camp to sort of stir things up a bit. He
also professed his faith to his armor bearer that there's no limit to what God
can do, and that He could save Israel with many soldiers ... Or with just a few.
Jonathan's armor bearer agreed to go along with anything Jonathan thought best.
Now, the Philistine's camp was up on a cliff and Jonathan said, We'll reveal
ourselves outright to them, and if they tell us to come on up to them, we'll
take it as a sign from the Lord that we'll prevail over them, but if they tell
us to wait and that they'll come down to us, then we'll stay put, and not go
So, up they go, climbing this cliff, which in itself must have been a feat, and
the Philistines spotted them. Don't forget now, even though the Philistines have
been gaining control of the area, they're probably still a mite scorned because
of the last time Jonathan attacked their camp in Geba, and Saul made sure the
whole land knew about it, so the Philistines beefed up their army, and ever
since, the Hebrews have been apprehensive to confront them.
"LOOK! The Hebrews are coming out of their hiding places! C'mon up ... We've got
something to show you!" ... They mocked.
Well, Jonathan accepted this invitation as a victory, and immediately continued
to ascend the cliff with his armor bearer following. The hand of the Lord was
definitely with them, because the Philistines fell before them, effortlessly.
The earth even quaked, and Saul's watchman from Gibeah could see the Philistines
fleeing their camp and even killing one another in panic.
Saul heard that the Philistine camp was in an uproar, he asked who it was that
caused all the commotion, so they did a count and discovered that Jonathan and
his armor bearer were missing. Saul then called for Ahiah the priest to bring
the ark of God. (To refresh your memory a bit, in the days of Joshua, the
children of Israel would bring the Ark of God to a battle site in hopes that it
would save them.) While Saul talked to Ahiah, the confusion among the
Philistines camp grew even louder so Saul took his men and when they came into
view of what was happening they saw the Philistines killing ... Each other! News
of this spread quickly throughout the land, and all the Hebrews that had
previously abandoned Saul and Jonathan rejoined with them in battle.
Here comes an interesting twist to the story. Saul, anxious to further avenge
himself on his enemies, solemnly commanded the people that if anyone stopped
fighting and tasted any food until the evening, they would be cursed. The
Hebrews, though they were weary, feared the curse so they obeyed ... But
Jonathan didn't hear Saul proclaim the curse, and as they entered a forest, he
ate a piece of an honeycomb and he gained virtue.
people realized that Jonathan ate, they told him about the curse that Saul
announced, and Jonathan said that Saul hadn't done well with this curse, because
if they had eaten some food, they would have had more strength for an even
greater slaughter of the Philistines.
The Hebrews continued to strike down the Philistines until the evening and they
were very faint. Late in the evening when the fear of the curse had ended, the
people took a great spoil of the Philistines camp, killing sheep and oxen and
calves and eating them with the blood, which was against the commandment of God.
When Saul heard of it, he ordered that a great stone be rolled into the middle
of them so they could kill their sacrifices on it and pour out the blood so that
it was acceptable to God. This was the first altar Saul built as king.
After this, Saul wanted to go back to pursuing the Philistines during the night
and attack until the morning until there wasn't a single one left. The people
agreed, so Saul asked the priest to ask God if he would deliver them into the
hand of Israel, but God didn't answer. Saul knew that God didn't refuse to
answer without good reason, and that there was sin that was concealed, which was
why God kept silent, so he gathered all the people to find out who had sinned.
Saul then swore that even if it proved to be Jonathan his son who had sinned, he
would surely die ... But when nobody confessed anything, he decided to reveal
the sinner by casting lots. When the lot fell on Jonathan, Saul asked what he
had done. Jonathan said, I only tasted a little honey, and now I must die. Saul
answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
Whew! Ya gotta know this was a terribly emotional situation! Saul swore to the
Lord that even though it was his son, he would have to die, and was ready to
stand by his word for God. Jonathan, just as honorable, offered himself
But the people interjected ... "Should Jonathan, the one who initiated this
great salvation in Israel, die? God forbid! As the Lord lives, there shall not
one hair of his head fall to the ground ... He worked with God today!"
So the people rescued Jonathan, and Saul returned home. He also fought against
the neighboring nations on every side. There was bitter war against the
Philistines all the days of Saul's reign, and whenever Saul saw a strong or
valiant man, he took him as part of his posse.
adventures that happened during Saul's reign, next!