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The Incredible Pact of David & Jonathan

Today we are jumping back into our study of the book of 1 Samuel. And it’s been awhile, so before we get into today’s passage, we probably need a quick review of what we talked about last.

We’re currently at chapter 18 of 1 Samuel, and the young lad David, has just defeated in quite a heroic fashion, the Philistine giant Goliath. But David should have never even been in this battle. King Saul was the Israelite champion – and if anyone should have stepped up to fight the Philistine giant, it should have been him! However, it seems fear had solid grip on Saul and all of his men, and none of them had the courage to face Goliath in battle.

As for David, he was only at the battlefield to deliver some goods to his brothers (who were in Saul’s army)  and to bring back the latest news to his father. But when David heard Goliath’s defiant boasts against the Lord and he saw how no one dared to stop him, David took action and asked to go fight the giant.

Even though David wasn’t even old enough to be in the army, he was still confident that God would help him defeat the Philistine champion. After all, God had helped him defeat both lions and bears in hand-to-hand combat on multiple occasions while he was protecting his father’s sheep.

And so after some time, after seeing David’s confidence, King Saul agreed to let David fight Goliath. And, well, you know the story.

Armed with just a sling and five stones, David killed Goliath and cut off his head with Goliath’s own sword – and the entire Philistine army fled from the Israelites who chased them all the way home.

It’s one of the most famous stories the entire Bible.

But we need to remember that the story of David & Goliath doesn’t just stand alone. It’s actually just a chapter of the bigger story of King David – and David is just a chapter in the bigger story of God’s interactions with His people. 

And that’s what we’re going to see in our passage today.

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The Lord Looks at the Heart

This morning we begin a new chapter in 1 Samuel – both literally and figuratively. Of course, we literally begin a new chapter just about every week, but today the direction of our story really takes a significant turn.

Today we are introduced to David.

Did you know that David is the most mentioned person in the Bible aside from Jesus Himself? David is mentioned by name over 900 times – that’s 3 times as often as Abraham – who is considered to be the Father of Israel! Of the 66 books of the Bible, David is mentioned in 28 of them!

As you go through the Old Testament prophecies, the promised Messiah is constantly connected with David and his kingdom. In the New Testament, that theme continues and Jesus is even referred to as the Son of David. If you remember the story of blind Bartimaeus, that’s how he refers to Jesus. In Mark 10:47….

When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Mark 10:47

David is obviously a very significant figure not only in the history of Israel, but in God’s overarching plan of Salvation for mankind! So I think it’ll be great to go through his life and perhaps see why God chose David to be such an integral part of the Salvation story.

I think I mentioned back 17 sermons ago when I started this series that the whole reason I wanted to go through the book of Samuel was to study the life of David! He’s such an interesting  and unique character – and of course, David’s life is filled with incredible stories. 

Slaying the giant Goliath, fleeing from the mad King Saul, pretending to be crazy himself to escape from the Philistines, leading his ever growing band of mighty men in great exploits against the enemy, rising from shepherd boy to King of Isreal, committing murder and adultery, but repenting and being called a man after God’s own heart, fleeing from his own son who tries to take his throne, and through it all composing hundreds of songs and poems to God that make up a significant portion of our Bible today.

David’s story is really incredible and I’m super excited to learn from his life as we go through these next chapters together.

To start off this morning, I just want to remind you where we left off last week. King Saul had been chosen by God to be the first King of Israel, and while Saul had been very successful in his military endeavours, he had been an utter failure in his relationship with God. Twice now Saul has been rebuked by the prophet Samuel for his disobedience. And because Saul had not been loyal to God, God has declared that Saul’s Kingdom will be torn away from him and given to another man – a man after God’s own heart!

But we closed the last chapter with both God and Samuel grieving over Saul’s foolish choices. The final verse we read tells us:

35 Samuel never went to meet with Saul again, but he mourned constantly for him. And the Lord was sorry he had ever made Saul king of Israel.

1 Samuel 15:35

It’s certainly not a very positive note and things are not looking very hopeful for the future of Israel. However, God’s purposes would not be thwarted by a disobedient King. God had already planned and accounted for all this and God was prepared to move forward with or without Saul. So we turn now to 1 Samuel chapter 16 to literally and figuratively begin this new chapter in the story of Samuel. Verse 1 begins like this:

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Passing the Baton

This morning we’ll be looking at 1 Samuel chapter 12 – which is often labeled in our Bibles as Samuel’s Farewell Address. Samuel had led the people of Israel for most of His life now – not as their king, but as judge, prophet, and priest. And on this day, Samuel would pass the baton of leadership to their newly chosen King, King Saul.

And I know we’ve been making this transition for a while now – we started back in chapter 8 when all the people of Israel asked God to give them a king to lead them. Even though God was their king and He had led them faithfully for several centuries – now the people wanted a human king to lead them. And so God decided to give them what they asked for. He had Samuel privately anoint Saul as their king in chapter 10. Then, to make the public announcement some time after that, Samuel gathered together all the people of Israel and through the process of casting sacred lots to reveal God’s will, Saul was chosen and proclaimed as King.

And while most of the people were eager to embrace Saul as their king, some of the people were a little more hesitant. In fact, some were openly opposed – they didn’t feel like Saul had what it took to be king. But all that changed in chapter 11 as Saul led the Israelites into battle against King Nahash of the Ammonites. God gave Saul a tremendous victory and all the people finally affirmed that Saul was indeed God’s good choice to be their King.

And so now, with all of Israel firmly in support of their new King Saul, Samuel prepares to complete the transition and pass the baton of leadership to the next generation.

Then Samuel addressed all Israel: “I have done as you asked and given you a king. 2 Your king is now your leader. I stand here before you—an old, gray-haired man—and my sons serve you. I have served as your leader from the time I was a boy to this very day. 3 Now testify against me in the presence of the Lord and before his anointed one. Whose ox or donkey have I stolen? Have I ever cheated any of you? Have I ever oppressed you? Have I ever taken a bribe and perverted justice? Tell me and I will make right whatever I have done wrong.” 1 Samuel 12:1-3

As this chapter begins, Samuel, the judge of Israel, holds court one last time. And in essence, he puts himself on trial. Actually, as you read through the chapter, there are three parties that will be examined for guilt – but he begins with himself. He invites the Israelites to testify against him – to point out any way that he has wronged them. And if he has done wrong, then he vows to make it right.

And this is something that we just don’t see in most of our leaders today. How many leaders can you think of that would willingly subject themselves to the accusations of an entire nation? How many would choose to go on trial and answer for any wrongs that they may have committed during their time in leadership? If you follow the news, it seems most leaders invest a great deal of time avoiding such things!

But not Samuel. He invites scrutiny and accountability. He welcomes public examination of his life and ministry. What kind of man does that?

Well, I’ll you what kind of man does that – a man of integrity! A man who keeps short accounts. A man who – when he does something wrong – he quickly admits it and makes it right before things go any further.

I don’t think Samuel was perfect or sinless. In fact, I’m sure of it! I’m sure he made his fair share of mistakes in life. He sinned just like everyone else. After all, the Bible tells us clearly that all of us have sinned – I’m sure Samuel was no exception! But what allowed Samuel stand before the nation with complete integrity is that He when he sinned, he immediately dealt with it. He didn’t hide it. He didn’t deny it. He didn’t justify it. But rather he confessed, he repented, and he made things right.

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The Transforming Power of God

Last week we witnessed the inauguration of King Saul – the first King of Israel! And for Israel to get it’s first king had been quite a process. But to briefly summarize it in point form:

The elders of Israel had foolishly requested it. God had graciously allowed it. Samuel had faithfully arranged it. Saul had reluctantly accepted it. And all the people gladly affirmed it. Well, most of the people gladly affirmed it.

You’ll recall at the very end of 1 Samuel chapter 10, as Saul’s Inauguration Day came to a close, it says…

…there were some scoundrels who complained, “How can this man save us?” And they scorned him and refused to bring him gifts…1 Samuel 10:27

So it would seem that not everyone was convinced that Saul was the man to lead their nation – or more specifically, they were not convinced that Saul was the man to save them from their enemies – which was really what they wanted a king for in the first place. You’ll recall back in chapter 8 that the elders of Israel, after being warned of how costly a king would be, they said to Samuel:

“…we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.” 1 Samuel 8:19

Having someone to lead them into battle was one of the underlying reasons for having a king. They wanted someone who could command the armies and give them victory over their enemies!

And at first glance, it would certainly seem that Saul was an ideal candidate for that! You’ll recall that he was a big boy – he stood head and shoulder taller than everyone else. He was just the kind of guy that you’d want to follow into battle. He’s no scrawny pencil-pusher – he’s a bit of a hulk! He’s a well built farm-kid that towered over everyone else!

So why would these scoundrel’s complain “How can this man save us?” Why would they doubt his abilities to be their king and lead them into battle?

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The Humble King

On Wednesday this week the world watched as the United States inaugurated their 46th President. For some, it was a day of celebration and joy – for others, it was a day of frustration and anger. But either way, this inauguration was, and will be, a significant milestone in the history of the United States.

But today I want to talk about another Inauguration Day – one that is equally or even more significant in world history. It just so happens as we’ve been reading along through the book of 1 Samuel that we’ve arrived just this week to witness the Inauguration Day for the First King of Israel – King Saul.

We’ve been leading up to this moment for the past few weeks. We saw three weeks ago how the people of Israel had rejected God as their king! Although God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt and had given them the blessings of the Promised Land, it seems the Israelites no longer wanted to be led by an invisible God – they wanted a human King to lead them like all the other nations around them.

Now of course, God warned them that having a human king would make their lives that much more difficult – human kings take and take and take – but even with that warning, the people insisted and so God decided to give them the king that they so badly desired!

Then two weeks ago, we were introduced to that first King-to-be – a tall and handsome man named Saul. Saul was out looking for his father’s donkeys who had wandered away from the family farm, and in the search for the donkeys, God led Him to cross paths with the prophet Samuel. God had told Samuel earlier that he would send him a man from the tribe of Benjamin and that man was to become Israel’s first King. And so, as Saul approached Samuel – looking for advice as to how to find his father’s donkeys, God told Samuel that this man, Saul, was the man that would lead His people, Israel.

With that knowledge, Samuel then invited Saul to a banquet as the guest of honor, and invited Saul to spend the night at his house – eventually explaining to Saul how God had chosen him to be King. In fact, the next morning as Saul was heading home, Samuel took out a flask of olive oil and anointed him as King of Israel.

Now as you might imagine, Saul could hardly believe what Samuel was saying – I mean, who was He that God should choose him as King? Why, just yesterday he was wandering the hillsides looking for lost donkeys! And now God wanted him to be king over Israel? 

And so Samuel gave him a series of signs to prove that what He was saying was true. Samuel told Saul exactly what would happen on Saul’s journey home – who he would meet, where they would be going, even what they would be carrying – and of course, everything happened just as Samuel described. 

One of the final things that Samuel said would happen was that the Holy Spirit would come upon Saul and change him into a new person and that He would prophesy along with a group of prophets that He would meet along the road.

And that’s just where we’re going to pick things up today – with Saul on his way home – the anointing oil still dripping down his head – about to meet this group of prophets. Our passage begins in 1 Samuel chapter 10, starting at verse 10.

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Saul Transformed

Today we continue looking at the book of 1 Samuel. As I’ve mentioned before, this book bridges two main eras in Israel’s history – it begins in the era of the judges and it ends in the era of the kings. During the era of the judges, the nation of Israel functioned more as a loose confederation of tribes rather than as a single, unified nation. Under the judges, they had no national government or capital city or standing army – in fact, they had no king, except of course, for God. God had chosen Israel as his people and He was their King.

But two weeks ago, we read how the Israelites rejected God as their King and they asked God to give them a human king – just like all the other nations had. Of course, God knew that this was not in the best interests of Israel, but God choose to give them what they wanted, and he agreed to give them a king.

So last week we were introduced to Israel’s first King – a tall and handsome man named Saul, although at this point in our story, Saul is not the king yet. He’s actually just out running errands for his father, Kish – looking for some donkeys that had strayed away from the family farm.

But as he’s out looking for these donkeys, God perfectly arranges all the circumstances so that Saul ends up running into the prophet Samuel who cryptically tells Saul that He and his family are the focus of all of Israel’s hopes! He doesn’t outright tell Saul yet that God has chosen Him to be king, but you can be sure that Saul’s mind is in overdrive – trying to figure out what Samuel was talking about.

But we ended last week with Samuel then inviting Saul to be the guest of honor at a banquet at the local place of worship. Saul is still hesitant to believe that he deserves such honours – but Samuel knows without a doubt that Saul will be king – even if Saul isn’t fully convinced.

We pick up the story now in 1 Samuel chapter 9, verse 25.

25 When they came down from the place of worship and returned to town, Samuel took Saul up to the roof of the house and prepared a bed for him there. 26 At daybreak the next morning, Samuel called to Saul, “Get up! It’s time you were on your way.” So Saul got ready, and he and Samuel left the house together. When they reached the edge of town, Samuel told Saul to send his servant on ahead. After the servant was gone, Samuel said, “Stay here, for I have received a special message for you from God.”

1 Samuel 9:25-27

Now there are a couple of translation issues that I should mention this morning – one is in these verses, and the other I’ll mention a little later on. But in these verses, many translations don’t talk about Samuel making a bed for Saul on the roof – but instead they refer to Samuel simply talking with Saul up on the roof. And I’m no Hebrew scholar, so I can’t really say which is more accurate – but I would assume both are implied. We can see in the following verse, that Saul obviously spent the night at Samuel’s house, because Samuel is telling him to get up the next morning, so it would make sense that Samuel made a bed for him. 

And at the same time, it would be hard to imagine that Saul didn’t have a few question for Samuel! After everything that happened that day and after everything that Samuel said to Saul, I think it would be pretty safe to assume that Saul and Samuel had a very long talk that night! 

Likely, Samuel told Saul about the people asking for a King and how God choose to grant them their request and that Saul was the man that God had chosen for the job. We might assume that Samuel told Saul about some of the responsibilities of a King and how important it was for Saul to honor God in all of his kingly duties. After all, Israel was still God’s special possession and so any king had better take good care God’s people!

Now of course, all their conversation isn’t recorded for us in the Bible, but that kind of conversation would certainly make sense.

So now, the next morning, as Saul and his servant are about to head home, Samuel instructs Saul to send his servant on ahead because God had a special message for Saul. So the servant goes on ahead and we read in chapter 10, verse 1:

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