*image originated here
1 Samuel 11 – 16
Saul is off to a strong start when he rescues the city Jabesh in Gilead. The Philistines has besieged the city with the only hope of treaty being that the Israelites would let them gouge out the right eye of everyone in the city. When Saul hears about it, he is coming in from the field with his oxen. He cut the oxen into pieces and sends them throughout Israel saying that any who won’t come to help Jabesh will have their oxen cut into pieces just like that. Israel is greatly afraid of him and of Samuel so 330,000 men come to the city’s aid.
The people are then glad that Saul is their king and cry out for those who complained against him to be killed.
“But Saul said, ‘No one shall be put to death today, for this day the LORD has rescued Israel.”
-1 Samuel 11:13
After this, the nation goes up to Gilgal with Saul and Samuel to reaffirm the kingship in the presence of the LORD. Samuel then retires telling the people that he has given them the king they asked for to lead them. He tells them that if he has been unjust, cheating them or taking bribes then they should bring that before him and before God now or forever let it be. The people agree that he hasn’t been unjust or cheated them, or taken any bribes. So he finishes by reminding them of all that God has done for them since Egypt and how they have sinned against Him by asking for a king.
“Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the LORD has set a king over you. If you fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God–good! But if you do not obey the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your fathers.”
-1 Samuel 12:13-15
Then for their sin, Samuel calls on God to send down thunder and rain on their wheat harvest that day. The people are afraid now that God will kill them all because they have added to all their other sins by asking for a king. Samuel’s answer is an incredible reminder that it isn’t because the Israelites are so great or even that they have failed so many times, that God accepts or rejects them. It gave Him great joy to claim them as His own for His glory, but He will keep His promises when they do not follow Him.
“For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because he was pleased to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”
-1 Samuel 12:22-25
It doesn’t take very long after this for the people and their king to turn away from following God’s commands. His disobedience all comes down to impatience and greed. Saul again gathers the army to go up against the Philistines. Samuel had commanded Saul to wait for him 7 days and then they would make sacrifices and Samuel would tell him what he should do. The army gets restless and starts dispersing so Saul makes the sacrifices without Samuel fearing the Philistines will hear about his weakening army and come down to destroy them. When Samuel arrives he is furious and deeply grieved because Saul has stopped following God and disobeyed Him. The consequences of Saul’s actions affect the rest of his life and that of his sons’ lives too.
“‘You acted foolishly,’ Samuel said. ‘You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.”
-1 Samuel 13:13-14
Israel is now without weapons except for Saul and his son Jonathon. One day Jonathon decides to go with his armor bearer up to the Philistine outpost, but he doesn’t tell his father. When they get there they decide that if the Philistines ask them to come up to them so they can teach them a lesson, it will be a sign that God has given the Philistines into their hands. Sure enough, God gives the outpost into their hands and the two men kill some twenty men in a halfacre panicking the entire Philistine army. Saul’s scouts see the army of Philistines melting away and tell the king what is happening. He calls for the Ark of the LORD but as he is talking to the priest the tumult in the enemy camp increases so much that finally Saul and the Israelites pursue them. At this time Saul puts an oath over the army that no man shall eat until the last of his enemies are conquered. Jonathon not knowing what his father’s oath was, sins by eating some honey in a field they are passing through. He is then told what Saul said. Jonathon disagrees with his father’s oath saying, how many more enemies could they have conquered if the army could have refreshed itself among the plunder. The men are so hungry at the end of the battle that they are slaughtering sheep and oxen on the ground, eating them with the blood still in them and sinning against God because of this. Someone tells Saul so that he sets up a stone to slaughter the animals on so that the people will eat them without the blood and not sin against God. He also builds an altar to the LORD, this is the first time he has done this.
Saul wants to finish what they started, but the priest reminds him to inquire of God first what they should do. So Saul asks God if He will give the Philistines into their hands. God does not answer. Saul then brings forward the commanders of the army to find out what sin has been committed that God will not give them victory. The lot falls to Jonathon, Saul had commanded the guilty party’s death, but the people save Jonathon because God gave him victory over the Philistines.
All the days of Saul’s life thee was bitter war between Israel and the Philistines.
Samuel again comes to Saul with a message from God. Saul is to take the Army and destroy completely the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they entered the promised land. They are not to spare anyone or anything breathing, all are to be put to death. Saul does not obey God, but allows his men to take plunder from the cattle and sheep and spares the Amalekite king Agag taking him prisoner. God tells Samuel that He is sad He made Saul king because Saul has again disobeyed His commands.
Samuel goes out to confront Saul on his way to find him he finds out more about what Saul has done and how he has erected a monument in his honor at Carmel and then gone on to Gilgal. Saul lies to him at first, saying he has done all God told him to.
“‘Stop!’ Samuel said to Saul. ‘Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.’ ‘Tell me,’ Saul replied. Samuel said, ‘Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel.'”
-1 Samuel 15:16-17
Again Saul tries to deny that he has done anything wrong, after all, they were just saving the animals to be sacrificed to God. Samuel’s answer is harsh and final, he will never come to King Saul again and a new king will be set in Saul’s place.
“‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
-1 Samuel 15:22-23
Saul begs Samuel to pray that the Lord will forgive him and begs Samuel to come back with him and worship. Samuel tells him no that Saul has rejected God and God has, in turn, rejected him.
“As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, ‘The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors–to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.”‘
-1 Samuel 15:27-29
God will not change his mind about Saul, but Samuel does go back with him to worship. There Samuel kills King Agag as Saul should have done. Then Samuel leaves mourning over Saul’s sin and God is grieved he ever made Saul king over Israel.
It is important for us to remember that coming before God to worship Him is meaningless when we live every other moment of our lives in rebellion against Him. Going to church won’t save you, believing it will could destroy your eternity! Don’t make the mistakes Saul and his people made. Honor God! Follow Him! Obey His Commands!