I. An Army In Israel Vs. 1-5
A. Saul Establishes An Army Vs. 1, 2
1. Here we see a fulfillment of what Samuel had previously told the people.
2. 1 Samuel 8:11, 12 11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.
3. V. 2 This is the first mention of Jonathan, Saul’s son. He will be a courageous, godly man.
B. Jonathan Leads An Attack Against The Philistines Vs. 3, 4
1. V. 3 Up to this point, the Israelites had been under the domination of the Philistines.
a. They were not free people but were under the control of the enemies of God.
b. Jonathan sought to bring liberty to Israel, and so he attacked the Philistines.
2.</p> The story of this attack was somehow changed.
a. The people heard that Saul was the leader of this attack, and Saul seemed happy to take the credit. The people gathered together under Saul.
b. It is a sad thing when people feel the need to take credit for things that they didn’t do.
c. We will go on to see that Saul would be very insecure and even paranoid about losing power as king. He would eventually accuse his own son of being treasonous.
d. Psalm 75:6,7 For exaltation comes neither from the east, nor from the west nor from the south.7 But God is the Judge: He puts down one and exalts another.
e. Psalm 84:10,11 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
3. V. 4 Israel became an abomination to the Philistines after they stood up for their own freedom. While they were under the domination, they were just another people group. But when they fought back, they became an abomination.
a. The same is true for the Christian. If you are a silent, passive Christian who never stands up for truth, Unbelievers will think that you are just a nice person.
b. But when you stand up for truth (as God leads you), then you will sometimes become disliked and disapproved of.
c. Guzik– …as soon as we show some boldness and courage against the LORD’s enemies, our spiritual foes consider us an abomination. If peace with the devil is more important to you than victory in the LORD, you will often be defeated and subjected.
d. Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
e. 2 Timothy 2:25, 26 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
f. NOTE-We need to remember that ultimately, Satan is the enemy, not people.
C. The Philistines Counterattack V. 5
1. V. 5 Very naturally, the Philistines counterattacked. That’s what the enemy does.
2. Israel now faced an army that had a great advantage over them with these chariots.
3. Luke 4:13 when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
4. The same is true for the Christian. Our spiritual enemy will fight us all of our days.
5. Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good…
II. Saul And His Ungodly Solution Vs. 6-23
A. The People Were Afraid Vs. 6, 7
1. V. 6 The danger was real. Jonathan had success against a garrison, but this was a huge army. The people hid locally wherever they could. Their fear was understandable.
2. V. 7 Some people fled the country. Those who followed Saul were trembling in fear.
3. NOTE-They had previously thought that a king (a man) would solve their problems.
4. NOTE-There was no crying out to God. They were looking to men.
B. Saul Tries To Make Something Better By Sinning Vs. 8, 9
1. V. 8 Samuel told Saul to wait for him in Gilgal. In order to seek God’s help against the Philistines, they were to offer a sacrifice before the battle. This would show that they were depending upon God, and not upon their own power.
a. For some reason, Samuel delayed his arrival. This caused a panic among the Israelites.
b. They understood that the Philistines might attack at any moment. Additionally, the longer they waited, the better prepared the Philistines would be. More people fled.
2. Saul became increasingly afraid. As more people left, Israel became more vulnerable. broke God’s law by making this offering.
3. Saul was willing to do things God’s way as long as it happened within his timeframe. When Saul became more afraid, he quit waiting on Samuel. Motivated by fear, not faith.
4. Saul made the offerings to the Lord, but it was sinful for him to do that. That was only for the priest to do. Saul didn’t act in faith, but in fear and independence.
5. Additionally, the people looked to Saul for leadership. He felt pressure to do something.
6. Regarding the things of God, the end never justifies the means.
C. Samuel Confronts Saul About His Sin Vs. 10-23
1. Vs. 10-12 The danger was real. They were truly outnumbered.
a. The Philistines had technical superiority over the Israelites.
b. Saul and the troops wanted God’s blessing and guidance.
c. All of that was true. But then Saul broke God’s law to get His blessings.
2. Notice the excuses that Saul uses…
a. The people were scattering. They were moved by fear. Part of this is their fault.
b. You (Samuel) were late. Part of this is your fault.
c. The Philistines were close & probably on their way to attack. Part was their fault.
d. I’m a godly man. I wanted to inquire of the Lord. Not my fault.
e. Saul admits no wrongdoing and justifies his ungodly actions.
3. Examples of this- Pastors that exaggerate in their preaching or are over emotional or theatrical just to get people to come to church. Faking miracles. False testimonies, etc.
4. V. 13 You have done foolishly is a stronger phrase than we might think.
a. The Bible says a fool is someone morally and spiritually deficient, not unintelligent.
5. Vs. 14, 15 Saul’s reign will continue another 20 years, but God announces through Samuel that Saul’s kingdom will end, and that his descendants will not follow him to the throne.
a. Samuel says that God was looking for a man who had a HEART like God’s.
b. No mention of talent, looks, intelligence, personality, etc.
c. What is most important in Christian leadership is the heart of a person.
d. Character and faith is more important than gifting, intelligence, or appearance.
D. The Problem That They Were Left With Vs. 16-23
1. Vs. 15-19 The Philistines had prevented Israel from having their own blacksmiths.
2. The situation seemed hopeless for Israel. Saul had failed to lead well and had proven himself to be a carnal man. He lacked faith in God.