You may not yet understand how you have rejected God as your True King, but I’m sure you know how rejection feels. You love someone and they betray you or leave you. They act one way to your face, but another behind your back. They say they love you back, but they don’t mean it. Or someone has rejected you for a place on a team, a part in a play, or a position of employment. Rejection hurts! And that’s how God feels toward us.
As we conclude our 1 Samuel study, we’ll see that our rejection grieves the Lord. nclude our 1 Samuel study, we’ll see that our rejection grieves the Lord.
BODY: In 1 Samuel 15, the LORD rejected Saul from being king of Israel because he had rejected the Word of the LORD God who is the true King over all. Saul represents all of us. For all humanity since the time of Adam has been in rebellion against God as its true King. We can recognize that we have rejected God as our True King, so that we may repent and follow Him as our True King.
Below is an automated transcript of this message:I’m here with my son, pastor Jonathan Combs. He pastors at our Rocky Mount campus. We’re here broadcasting to you live from our Wilson campus. We are happy to be with you this morning. I thought, Jonathan, maybe I would just look online and see if I can see who’s with us right now. Let’s see; hey, Mark, good to see you. Hey, Jan. Tyler’s here. Uh, Amy, nice to see you. Who else have we got here? There’s Rhonda. There’s Teresa. Hey, there’s a lot of people that’s just from the Wilson site, right? Let’s see if I can do this. I’m learning, Jonathan. We’re also broadcasting at our Rocky map campus. Let’s see what we have here. So, who do you see there that you can say hello to? I’ve got people sharing this stream . We’ve got Kendra, Joanne, Jo Ellen. What’s up, James? My wife’s on here. Your wife’s watching? Yeah, that’s good. Right? Invite some more friends because we’re just getting started right now. Give him a call; give them a text and say, Hey, check us out. We are team preaching today; you can watch and see if we know what they’re doing. Because, Jonathan, I’m not used to doing this. I’m not used to sharing the stage, man.
We’re concluding today in 1 Samuel, chapter 15 and concluding there. The series is entitled, “The Original Game of Thrones.” Before we dig in, I want to just talk about something for a second. Then we’ll dig in, okay? I’m gonna ask you to pray for us. I’m just thinking about you right now and about all the different changes that are happening in our country right now. I have two thoughts I want to give you: (1) If you have a need in your life right now, there’s so many things changing, contact the church. We’re still here. We’re still answering calls. We’re still answering emails, etcetera. Contact us and let us know if you have a prayer need; you can do it today, actually, online. Also, any time during the week, leave us a message and you let us know if you have a need in your life. Be aware of this; this is not going to last forever. Every season has a beginning, a middle and an end. When this season passes, there’s going to be a lot of people, all of a sudden, trying to figure out how to get by.
The church needs to be strong for a time like this. We need to be prepared in order to be strong. The church is what? It’s not the steeple, it’s the people. The church is the people; that is us. So, if you’re in need right now, let us know. If you’re able to give, don’t forget that we are the church and if the church is going to be strong, then we must give. A lot of you are in my age group; I’m used to writing a check and turned it in on Sundays. I’m going to have to learn how to give online during this season; I am learning. Take some time during the message today or before the sun sets today if you’re able to give. Help the church stay strong during the season when the church has a real need.
Let’s dig in now. Jonathan, we’re going to be closing up the chapter today, closing up our series today with Chapter 15. We’ve entitled this series, as we mentioned before, “The Original Game of Thrones.” I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of sad to see us finishing here. I guess we’ll come back, maybe, in a year. Next year, we’ll come back and pick it up in chapter 16. We’ll pick up with David’s story.
Here is just a reminder; we’ve said this verse every week. The theme of this series has been 1 Samuel 8:7 (ESV) And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” From what we know, this seems like something that happened in its time. But the truth is this; we have been playing this “game of thrones” since the beginning of time.
If we go back and read in our bible, in Genesis, we will see Adam and Eve begin dethroning God in chapter three. This is something we’ve struggled with for all of humanity; we want to set up a king for ourselves other than King Jesus, other than the king, who is God. We continue to struggle with this. It’s fitting, I think, that the end of our sermon series is titled, “Have you rejected the true king?” This is something each and every one of us really struggle with. We may not recognize it, but I think, as we dig in today, we’re going to see just how true that is. We all struggle with it.
Let me open us with a word of prayer. Heavenly Father, thank you so much for everyone that has gathered online right now. Lord, I don’t know how they’ve showed up today. Perhaps they’re struggling with something in their own life. Perhaps things are going fairly smooth so far. We’re coming from all different places, all different walks of life . This is a unique way for us to do church, but God, we know we know one thing to be true. You are God of all things. You are Lord of all and you can take care of us, no matter what the situation. You can use any suffering, You can use any pain for Your glory and for Your Name’s sake. I’m praying right now, Lord, that as we discuss this final chapter that we’re wrestling with today, that it will minister to someone that’s watching, that’s listening in right now. That you will use the words of 1 Samuel to really encourage and also bring us back into alignment with your Son, Jesus. That is your ultimate goal, God, is that we would more than just prosper in a worldly sense, but that we would prosper in the sense that we would know who You are. We would know who we are through You and that, God, You would truly show us our life’s purpose and meaning through Your Son, Jesus. Help us now, as we wrestle with this text together, that it will truly show off the cross and glorify Your name. We love you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
So this question is the title of the last sermon. This question is the title. We want you to think about it today. It’s this question, have you rejected the true King? You might be thinking about that right now. You might be thinking, I don’t get that, I don’t understand. This is what the message is going to be about. It’s going to talk about how all of us, every single one of us have rejected the true King.
Before we dig in, maybe you don’t understand the question yet, but I guarantee you understand what it means to feel rejection because, at some point in their lives, every one of us has felt rejection. You’ve applied for a job that you didn’t get. You made a phone call to ask a girl out and she said no. Or maybe you hung up before she answered because you’re afraid. Back in the day, Jonathan, we used to have these rotary phones. You had to be a real man to ask a girl out back in that day. what I’m doing to you. It’s called Rotary Dial. I sent girls letters with boxes, you know, to check; don’t ever put a “maybe” box because they will always check “maybe.” Maybe it’s been more serious than that. Maybe you felt rejected from the time you were born by your parents or your family or someone. All of us, at some point in our lives, have felt rejection.
Well, that’s the amazing thing about this message today. Can you imagine that the God of the universe, who made us and loves us, actually feels pain? He actually feels sorrow. He actually feels our rejection. That’s what we’re going to get our minds around today. And by the way, you know, preaching through an Old Testament narrative is some of the heaviest lifting that a pastor will ever do. Wouldn’t you agree, Jonathan? Yes, I would agree. We study together every Wednesday; the first three or four hours, we go through the “valley of despair,” because we are trying to figure out what this is about. This is hard; the Old Testament can be that way. But it is God’s word and if we look for Jesus on every page and in every paragraph, itf helps us to turn the key of what this is about.
As we’re looking at Chapter 15 today, Jonathan, we uncovered something. There’s actually a book written by a certain author who entitled it, “The Hard Sayings of the Old Testament.” Two of these hard sayings are in chapter 15 of 1 Samuel. That’s right. So, if there was any way possible, when we’re preaching through a book of the Bible, that we could’ve skipped chapter 15, maybe we would have voted for that, right? But no, we’re not gonna skip anything, because that’s the kind of church we are. We believe that God’s word applies and we’re not going to skip over hard sayings. We’re going to deal with them and look at them through the lens of Jesus.
Today we’re looking at 1 Samuel, chapter 15, where the Lord rejected Saul from being king over Israel because king Saul rejected the Lord. And as we consider this, it really is true that since the time of Adam and Eve, all humanity has rejected God as the true king. We can recognize that we, too , have rejected God as our true king so that we may repent and follow Him as our true king.
As we look at the text today, it shows three ways we’ve rejected God as our true king. So we are able to repent and follow Him. Jonathan, why don’t you kick it off; we’re gonna take it in three portions of reading. You read and then we’ll talk about it.
1 Samuel 14:47-15:9 (ESV) 14:47 “When Saul had taken the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned he routed them. 48 And he did valiantly and struck the Amalekites and delivered Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them. 49 Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchi-shua. And the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn was Merab, and the name of the younger Michal. 50 And the name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. 51 Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. 52 There was hard fighting against the Philistines all the days of Saul. And when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he attached him to himself. 15:1 And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” 4 So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. 5 And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. 6 Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7 And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.”
All right, what’s this one about, pastor? So here’s what we’re talking about. We reject God as the true King in three different ways as we’ll see in this chapter. Here’s the first way.
1. By failing to fully hear and obey His Word.
This is the first way that we reject God; we fail to hear and obey what it says in His word. At the end of Chapter 14, we have a summary of Saul’s life and of his reign. It lists some of his sons, some of his daughters, some of the people that were around him. Actually, his uncle was the commander of his army; Abner was his name. Throughout Saul’s life he was doing war on every side.
Here’s the truth. The people had asked for a king like the nations. That’s what they asked for. Be careful what you ask for, church. They asked for a king like the nations, and boy, did they get one, Yeah, that’s what they got in Saul. Here’s how they specifically prayed. They said, Samuel, we want a king like the nations who will fight for us. Well, that’s what Saul does his whole career. He fights all around.
Check this map out. Take a look at this map; you’ll see that in the north, he’s fighting the nation of Iran. What was that guy’s name again, Jonathan, that he mentions in the beginning? Then, you’ll see that to the east he fought the Ammonites, the Moabites to the south, the Edomites to the west and the Philistines.
Today, in Chapter 15, we see that God has, through the prophet Samuel, asked Saul to go and fight the Amalakites, which are southwest of Israel. The Amalakites were the first people group that struck the people when Moses was leading the Israelites out oWf Egypt and out of slavery. The Israelites were weak; they still had stragglers in the back. They weren’t being fed by man; they were thirsty. At that point was when the Amalekites struck. God never forgot that the people did that.
Let’s dig down at a couple of thoughts. One is the son of Saul; he mentions this fella named Ishvi. We don’t know who that is, but apparently a lot of people had nicknames in those times. Jonathan, we all have nicknames, right? We call you “Fini,” because when you were little, your older brother, Stephen, couldn’t say Jonathan. He would say “Jonafin.” Finally, it went from “Jonafin” to “Fini.” “Fini” became your nickname. I don’t know what my nickname is. I’m not sure if you ever gave me one. You are “The Dad,” says Jonathan. You are the definite article. Yeah. I don’t know. I think maybe I intimidate people or something.
There’s a son not named here because we have the oldest son, Jonathan. There is a son named Abinadab or his nickname is Ishvi. We also have another son named here. What was the other son’s name? Malchi-shua. Oh boy, Jonathan, that was right on the tip of your tongue. I’m proud of you. But the one that’s not named is Ishbosheth, who must have been the youngest son. And he actually survives, as we’ll see later in Saul’s life and becomes king for the eight years before David is king over all of Israel. So that son is unnamed. You also see that Michal is named; she is the princess that king David later earns by being a great warrior against the Philistines. He earns her as his wife; David gets the princess. Her name was Michal.
Do you know something I really like? In chapter 15, verse one, it opens up with Samuel reminding Saul of who he is. He tells Saul to remember it’s the Lord who anointed you king. You wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for the Lord; remember that. Therefore, listen to the words of the Lord. Obey. Listen. The Hebrew word there is Shema; that’s one of the most popular words in perhaps all of the Hebrew language, because that’s the prayer that you teach a child to pray when they get up in the morning and when they go to bed at night. It is the prayer of “here, o, Israel, the Lord thy God is one God.” (says in Hebrew, “Shema….) It’s a prayer that every child would know in the Hebrew language. He says to listen.
Then, he says, remember what Amalek did? Look at Deuteronomy 25:17-19 (NLT) “Never forget what the Amalekites did to you as you came from Egypt. They attacked you when you were exhausted and weary, and they struck down those who were straggling behind. They had no fear of God. Therefore, when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies in the land he is giving you as a special possession, you must destroy the Amalekites and erase their memory from under heaven. Never forget this! That was several 100 years before Saul, but God had told Moses to put that in the book of Deuteronomy. Never forget that! When we were at our weakest, the Amalekites struck down our old people and their young people as they were leaving Egypt.
He says again, in Exodus 17:16 (NLT) “He [Moses] said, “They have raised their fist against the Lord’s throne, so now the Lord will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.” Moses tells the people they have raised their fist against the Lord’s throne. You see, that’s what it looks like when you reject the Lord. It’s like you’re saying, I’m rebelling against you, Lord. So now, the Lord will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.
Jonathan, I told the congregation that two of the hardest sayings in the Bible are in chapter 15. I’ll take on the first one and I’m gonna give you the second one. I actually feel like the first one is harder. It’s this phrase in verse three is when we first see it.
We see that Hebrew word, khä·ram’, back when Joshua was first bringing the people into Israel. They’re getting ready to go against the city called Jericho and they marched around the walls. There was a man there that God had said the same thing. I want you to do khä·ram’ against Jericho; the only exception was a woman named Rahab who had hidden the spies of Israel. Don’t kill her or anyone inher house; rescue them. But kill everyone else. Don’t take any of the silver or gold. It belongs to the Lord.
There was a man named Achan; remember that story? He took some of the devoted things and hid them under his tent. When they went to battle against a city called Ai, they were defeated. We see what is going on here. It’s the same phrase, khä·ram’, devoted to destruction devoted to judgment.
God is really, in a way, testing things all here. He’s saying that I’ve waited all these hundreds of years now, and the sin of the Amelikites has risen and risen and risen. I’ve shown them mercy, but they haven’t turned away and it’s risen and risen and risen. Now, Saul, you’re the first King of Israel. I’m going to trust you with this. I want you to be an agent of my judgment, like a surgeon with a scalpel cutting out a cancer, so that it won’t destroy the the country of Israel there with all the ugliness of the sinfulness of the Amelikites. God says, I want you to excise this cancer from Israel.
Now, to modern ears, that’s hard to hear. It’s hard to hear that God would say to wipe out a nation like that. And yet, we see early on that God repented of making man back in the Book of Genesis and he sent a flood but he also rescued a people through Noah. You see, God is serious about His Holiness. When we look at Genesis 18:25, it says, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right.” God visits Abraham and he says things were going bad down in Sodom and Gomorrah, right? I’m going to go down and judge Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham has a nephew down there named Lot. Abraham says, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right.” Abraham is a man of faith, but he’s questioning God’s righteousness and His judgment. That’s something we do as well, isn’t it? In a way, that’s what Saul does here, too. We think we know better; judgment is better than God’s judgment.
Abraham does this. It’s really an amusing thing that he does. He says, Lord, would you destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if there were 50 righteous? The Lord says if I can find 50, I will not destroy it. Abraham then asks, Lord, forgive me for saying this, but what if there were 45? What if there were 40? What if there were 30? Lord, I hate to ask this, but what if there were 20? Finally, he asks, what if they were 10, Lord? The Lord says, if there ad\re 10 righteous, I will not destroy it for their sake. You can’t say that the Lord isn’t merciful. But as you look at this, it’s very difficult.
Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Old Testament scholar and President of Gordon Conwell Seminary, wrote: “God was acting through Israel like a surgeon who at times must remove some healthy flesh in order to be certain that all of the contaminated flesh is excised. This is not doing evil [so that] good may come; it is removing the cancer that could infect all of society and eventually destroy the remaining good. God could have used hurricanes, pestilence, famines, diseases or a host of other “natural” judgments on the Canaanites. In this case, however, he chose to reveal his judgment directly through the Israelites.” That’s from a book that Dr Kaiser wrote called, “Hard Sayings in the Old Testament.”
When we go through the Bible, we must not skip over the hard sayings. We must recognize that God is holy; He’s serious about righteousness but he’s also merciful. That’s why He gives us Jesus.
We will look through now a couple of other details and then we will need to read some more. One detail is in verse six. Saul here says to the Kenites in verse six, he says, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” Look, you need to get out of the land of the Amalekites because I’m getting ready to come in there and destroy and we don’t want to kill you. This is because the Kenites have been friends of Israel. In fact, Moses’ father in law, Jethro, (you know, I always kind of felt like that was ruined for me because of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Everything doesn’t really fit in the Bible. Jethro, really? And I’m looking for Ellie May.) was a Kenite. They were a people who lived in tents and traveled. They were a people that moved around a lot so you would find them in a lot of the lands of the Middle East. So, in verse six, he says to them to move, and they do. They move out. He says to them, you have shown kindness to Israel so they move out so he doesn’t touch them.
But here’s the real problem. It’s all the way down in verse nine,”But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.” The people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, and they only destroyed that which was worthless. So that’s the problem. They listened a little bit; it was partial listening, right?
Jonathan, when your older brother, Stephen, was about the age of your Kinzie; she’s three years old, right? No, she’s four. How did that happen? But when he was her age, he was such a daddy’s boy. If I started telling him to do something, he would take off running before I could complete the sentence. I remember one time I was trying to ask him to go to the garage and get a tool because I was working on something in the house. I said, Steohen, go to the garage and get my screwdriver. Before I even got the word, screwdriver, out, he was running. I turned to Robin and I said, let’s see what he brings back because this will be interesting. Stephen goes out to the garage. I look out the window and he seems to be standing in the garage with this blank look on his face. He comes running back and says, Daddy, I can’t remember what you told me to get. It’s because he took off running. He had quick obedience, but he hadn’t yet learned to listen to all the instructions.
You know, we can be like that . Stephen’s problem was that he was young and he wanted to please me. Usually, our problem is, we pick and choose the parts we want to listen to. That’s what Saul did. He chose the parts he wanted to listen to and ignored the rest. Stephen was young, but that wasn’t Saul’s problem. He had an obedience problem, right? That’s what we have. We have a hearing and obeying problem. That’s one of the ways that we reject God as king.
Let me keep reading, and then I’ll let you pick up the baton here, Jonathan. I can tell you’re ready to preach.
1 Samuel 15:10-23 (ESV) “10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. 12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” 13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” 16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.” 17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 20 And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” 22 And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”
The second way we reject God as the true king is this.
2. By presuming to put our own desires ahead of God’s.
First of all, we’ve got the second hard saying in this passage, right off the bat. Look at verse 11; we’re going to see it three times in this text. We might look at it and try to gloss over and say, well, this is something odd in the text, Yet, it says it three times, so we gotta deal with it. But I’m going to get to that a little later. But just so you know right there, Verse 11 says, God regretted. It’s the Hebrew word, nacham, and it means to repent, to be sorry, maybe to lament. But regret is a good translation.
So this is the second hard saying, right? How does God regret something? He can see the future; he never makes a mistake. So here we are. Two hard sayings in this scripture. I’m going to cheat a little bit. I’m gonna push this off to the next point. I will deal with this in a minute.
In verse 11, God tells us why. He doesn’t just say he regrets making him king. He tells us why, which I appreciate. He says, here’s what Saul is doing. He’s turned back from following Me. He’s a rebel. He’s doing His own thing. And not only that, He’s not obeying me. He heard me clearly. He heard me and yet he chose to not follow the instructions. He only partially did it. Partial obedience is no good. This causes Samuel to have a reaction That tells us a lot about who Samuel is. I think, in the text, he cries all night. He weeps, pleading before God. He’s mourning that Saul has not lived up to his expectations. I really think Samuel must have thought that Saul would be the guy. I think he was somewhat enamored by Saul, too. Even though he gives Saul to the people, this king is going to do some things you don’t like. He gives them all the bad news. And yet, I think in his heart, Samuel’s still really hoping Saul would be a king after God’s own heart . Samuel is like a father to Saul. He’s an older man and he anointed Saul. I think he loves him, right?
Here’s a question. It just popped in my head. It didn’t occur to me when we were studying. Is it possible, as Samuel is crying all night long, that he is also feeling God’s spirit, that his weeping is also as Jesus wept? It’s this idea of God regretting. I’m just adding some fuel to the fire here. What if Samuel is feeling what God felt? I think that’s fair to make that assumption where we’re seeing a picture of Samuel’s heart and certainly a picture of God’s heart. And it seems they share that heart together.
What we see in Verse 12 is this ; if we were confused about what Soul has done wrong here, hopefully you’ve gotten the part where he’s partially obeyed. He’s kept some stuff he wasn’t supposed to keep, but not just that; we see that Saul is about Saul. He’s a guy after his own heart if you could say that. He goes out of his way to build a monument to himself in verse 12. One writer, Robert D. Bergen, in the New American commentary says, “The sequencing of Saul’s actions ––performing acts of self-interest prior to those of devotion to God––was reflective of his entire life”. This really is reflective of his entire life, his self interest. We saw that in the last chapter that you preached that he makes these laws. He makes these oaths that have nothing to do with the people fighting. He wants to avenge himself, and here he builds a monument. Look how good I am; that tells us a lot about Saul.
Have you ever noticed that people, who have a low self esteem, often try to take credit for things that belong to others? Their low self esteem ends up being pride. It’s like the flip side of the same coin, right? We see this in Saul. Samuel shows up there. Saul makes an excuse, we did what we were supposed to do. And yet, Samuel shows up and says, “Hey, wait a minute, what is this bleating and lowing of cattle that I hear? It’s a really hilarious question to me because Saul is trying to say, Hey, we did exactly what we were supposed to do. I heard this as I was approaching and then, of course, Saul does what Saul does best; he makes an excuse. It wasn’t me. I don’t know if anyone else is reading this text and you buy Saul. I’m not buying it. I think he’s trying to say, face both in front of Samuel and in front of the people. I think we’re going to see that more, as we continue to read.
Have any of you ever played this game, are there any parents in this room that have ever played, any parents online ever played this game called, who got into the candy? It’s not a hard game with little kids. I think that’s what Samuel’s dealing with here. He hears the bleating and lowing of cattle. If you ask the question, who got into the candy at my house, it’s almost always one person, and I’m not gonna call Kinzie out or anything, but she’s funny because she’ll say it wasn’t me. In fact, the other day she blamed it on the baby, who is only a little over a year old. She blamed the baby for getting into the candy, which is really high up on the shelf. It’s pretty impressive, actually, that Kinsey can get in it. But here’s the problem with the game, who got into the candy; if you ask a little one, there’s already chocolate all over their face. Who got into the Kit Kat candy? No, it wasn’t me; the baby made me do it. The baby did it. This is what we do. We grow up but we still act like infants. We still do the same thing. God looks at us so we don’t grow up. We don’t grow up. God asks, who got into the candy, and your whole face is covered in chocolate. We say, it wasn’t me; God, it wasn’t me, but you were caught red handed.
This is the sacrifice that Saul threw in because he thought that it would impress the prophet Samuel. This sacrifice would’ve been what’s called a peace offering and you get to eat the peace offerings. It wasn’t a burnt offering. A burnt offering is an offering where the whole thing is burned up, and so it all belongs to God. But what they were going to have, basically, is they were getting ready to have a big barbecue. Yeah, they saved all the good stuff. I saved all the goods for God. Who saved the filet mignon? Right? Because we’re going to do a peace offering to God; it’s pretty ridiculous.
We see in verse 18, really clearly, if you’ve ever felt the sense that God gave you a mission. It says in verse 18 that Saul had received a mission from God; yet, he didn’t follow through on that mission. Instead, he pounced on the spoil. I don’t think there’s any irony in this that the writer here is really comparing the two things you’re supposed to devote to destruction just like Jericho. And it shouldn’t shock you that since you’re rejecting God, he’s rejecting you. That shouldn’t surprise you at all. That’s what we see here; he has a mission. I think this is really the heart of today’s text.
In verses 22 and 23, it’s good news to me if you look at it in the right way. This is good news that Samuel tells us that the heart of worship is more important than the worship itself. We could get on stage and make all the cool movements to put it in modern terms. We could pray a certain way; we could do all this cool stuff. But if the heart’s not in it, then it’s not at all what God wants. It’s not obedience, it’s not listening. I really appreciate this passage of scripture. I think it could be used all over the text of scripture. Obedience is better than sacrifice, and he tells us again why.
Honestly as we see Saul’s life come into play here, we get why this is the accusation that God makes on Saul. He says rebellion is like the sin of divination. Now, I don’t know if you’re like me and you read the word, divination, and you wonder what’s this one about? We kind of had to wrestle with divination. It’s, in a sense, witchcraft. What does this have to do with rebellion? I mean, we read that initially and you probably heard that as we were reading along and you thought that this is where the Bible gets weird and you don’t understand it. But if you dig a little deeper, I think you understand how rebellion is as divination when we hunt for answers through witchcraft/ divination.
What you might could say, in modern terms, is if you were going to go see a soothsayer and you ask him, show me my cards Tell me my horoscope or what does it say on the Ouija board. You are looking for signs from anything but God’s word. That would be divination in a sense.
How was that like rebellion? It shows that you will go to anybody else to find answers other than God. What an ultimate heart of rebellion. That is to say, I don’t really care what God has said. I don’t care what His word says. I will look for news anywhere else. That really is at the heart of rebellion. So it makes so much sense that he said this. Then he goes on to say presumption; the word here is the idea of stubborn insolence to push back. We even say that. Do you have any push backs? That’s what he says here; presumption is like idolatry. This is the idea here. It’s so cool that we’re ending today, talking about this idea. Here’s what Saul has done, he’s dethroned God and put himself on the throne. He has presumed to know better than God; presumed to have superior wisdom than God. He decided, You know, God said to kill all this stuff, but wouldn’t it be better, God, if we brought this back as a peace offering and had us a big barbecue sacrifice? Wouldn’t that be way better? And to keep Agag, who we’ve not mentioned. He kept the king; maybe they were friends. Who knows? Maybe he wanted him there to make fun of him; he was a spoil of war. I don’t know. But, he presumed to know better than God.
Before we sit here and beat Saul up, let’s just think about this for a second. Are there times in our lives where we presume that we know better than God? In fact, we would presume, just reading this story, reading that God has judged the Amalakites and has told them what to do. We, with our modern minds, say, I’m better than God. I’m a better judge than God. How could he know? These cattle, these infants, these women…how could He know that they need judgment? I’m a better judge than God. We presume that even now. So let’s not think ourselves greater than Saul. Let’s be humbled by the text.
You know, how often do the people of God decide to take the throne of God for themselves? How often and what is it that I’m doing? Let me put myself in the story for a second and go, what is it that I’m doing that shows rebellion? God has given me a mission; He has given the great commission. Go and make disciples of all nations. But you might say that’s for certain people. That is a clear mission from God to all believers. And we would make the excuse and say, well, you know, I know better than that. I’m going to rebel against that. We make a holy example and say, well, there’s evangelists that are better. I don’t have the gift. I’m an introvert or, I mean, whatever personality, whatever. But it’s a command.
We try to say we agree with this page , but we do not agree with that page. The Old Testament is too hard; I’m a New Testament person. But we need the whole book to gather points to Jesus, to the wisdom that we need in Christ. We want to pick and choose, and we presume that it’s under us instead of over us, right? We presume that we can decide instead of saying God is the king. So we enthrone ourselves. We would very much like a bible of our choosing, with words of our choosing and a God of our choosing. Yet, it’s not so.
This is what Saul is suffering from and, therefore, God rejects him. That’s what we see in Verse 23. The reason God rejects Saul is because Saul rejects God. It’s very interesting here that God is responding with regret and grief; it’s fascinating. We’re going to talk more about that. We are going to read in just a moment about repentance. Saul really doesn’t get it. We’re gonna learn, when we get to this text again next year in 1 Samuel, about this person named David who understood what it meant to want what God wanted, not what he wanted. David made some massive mistakes. Perhaps a worse mistake than Saul made his whole life, yet David’s approach was the way that God desired. He cared more about what God wanted than what he wanted and his own desires.
Psalm 51:16-19 (NLT) “ 16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. … 19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings…” This is after David was confronted by the prophet Nathan for committing adultery and for killing the woman’s husband. I can’t really think of a worse thing. Nathan comes and says that a son is going to be taken and you know you’re being judged for this. What does David write? Here’s what David writes. A reflection; such a reflection. All for Samuel.
If you’re watching this right now, I want you to understand that there’s a lot of things you can get out of our reading and our study together, but understand this, God desires your obedience for you to hear Him. Really hear Him and obey His word. He desires that more than he does some outward show of affection. He cares more about your heart than He does the actions that will follow a true heart change. We get this out of order alot. We want to show signs that we’ve done something. But the sign starts in the heart.
So Gary, if you’ll continue here. I mean, you’re my dad. This is hard for me. You know this is pastor Gary but he is also my father. So, father, continue reading, please. Yes, thank you. I shall do so.
1 Samuel 15:24-35 (ESV) 24 Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.” 26 And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. 28 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29 And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” 30 Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul bowed before the Lord. 32 Then Samuel said, “Bring here to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him cheerfully. Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” 33 And Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the Lord in Gilgal. 34 Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Wow . So here’s the third way that we see we reject God as our true king.
3. By caring more for what others think of us than God.
This moment that Saul has of repentance sounds good. It sounds like my repentance at times, which concerns me. Yet in the middle of it, I did notice an excuse. And as we see that story continue, I see where Saul’s heart is really at. You’ll notice in Verse 24 he says, I feared the people. Part of his repentance is he did it because the people made him. His repentance was not do with me as you will God; it was not You are God and I am not. Instead of fearing God, he feared man. I almost wish he would have said, pardon me, God, but no. Again, he cares about people. He cares about what Samuel thinks. You’re walking away saying the exact same thing over. No, God has rejected you, and here’s why.
While Samuel is walking away is when Saul rips a tassel off of his clothes. You know, the priests of that day, the prophets of that day would be wearing symbolic tassels. They were symbolic reminders of God’s commands. We may have not seen that irony, but when you picture it, he’s wearing something with like, tassels, and each one of those tassels has meaning. When Saul rips that off, it has meaning to it. It has this irony to it, that he broke a command.
If you’re a Hebrew reader during that day and it’s always our challenge, isn’t it, Jonathan, that we first have to understand what it meant to the hearers of that day before you bring it across the Bible Bridge to the modern reader. But it literally says that he tore the wing or the edge off of his robe, which would have had those tassels representing the commands of the Torah. He ripped the commandments. He ripped the symbol of the commandments. He breaks a command; he rips a command. He rips off a corner and so God rejects him as king. It has a picture, a clear picture there.
Now, in the middle of this text, I’ve gotta deal with it. There’s no getting around it. What I saw was like bookends. Before, God tells Samuel, I regret that I made Saul King. Now, He rejects Saul. He rejects him as King. I regret that I made him king. Then in the middle, in verse 29, all this. We could have, if we were titling a sermon that had book ends like this, we could have titled it, “The God who regrets.” It would have scared all of us to death to title it that; it still kind of bothers us. It still bothers me a lot because in the middle of verse 29 he says, “for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” This is God; He is not a man who egrets, he’s not a man that he would regret. God says to Samuel back verse 11, “I regret that I’ve made Saul King. Then he closes chapter 15 and in verse 35 it says, “And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.” It begins with He regretted; it ends with He regretted. In the middle, Samuel gives us a theological understanding of who God is.
So, Pastor Jonathan, that seems like such a clear contradiction right there in the same chapter. Normally, we’d have to stretch it out but it’s right there in the same chapter. So what do we do with it? That word means repent; the King James Version says he repented. That sounds even worse. He repented that he made Saul king. That’s strange.
Honestly, though, verse 29 helps us. It helps us in that Samuel tells us what God’s regretting is. The regret that he mentions in 11 and 35 is not like a man because God doesn’t regret like a man. He is not a man that he should regret. Okay, this is good. I see where you are going with this. So what if the possibility here is not that God is somehow changing His mind, because if we believe rightly about God. He’s unchanging. He doesn’t change His mind. In fact, He has foreknowledge. He knows. He stands outside of time, so he knows what has happened in the past and in our future. He knows that He is creator, He is creator of all of that.
So if that’s true about God, that He cannot change. The idea of regret is that we would go back and change it. To repent is that we would go back and change what we did. We would feel that sense. But perhaps that’s not the kind of regret that God has. Rather, His is one of grief, of lamentation. You mentioned Genesis six, where he said this before. “I regret that I made man, I’m gonna wipe them off the face of the Earth with the flood except for Noah.” He said this before.
I appreciate what Pastor John Piper said about this, and this really helped my thinking. He said, “God may also be capable of looking back on the very act of bringing something about and lamenting that act in one regard, while affirming it as best in another regard … God is able to feel sorrow for an act in view of foreknown evil and pain, and yet go ahead and will to do it for wise reasons.” What that means is God knew exactly when He made Saul King, He knew what Saul would be, and yet it was still the right choice, although it grieved Him to do it. When he feels that sense of regret, it’s not like you and I feel regret. He has his own form. Let’s not limit God. He has a whole range of emotions that we may not really be able to understand or attain because he’s God. He feels a sense here that He knew that He had to make Saul King to prepare the way for David to prepare the way for Jesus. I’m going to give them their king. I’m gonna give them the king that they wanted, the one that they desired, the one that’s like the other nations. Even though it grieves me to do it, I’m gonna do it for their own good. I think that’s His kind of regret.
Here’s what I’ve noticed about the way you got at this, and it’s that anyone who believes in the Scripture should look at what’s really going on. We don’t believe the Bible ever contradicts itself. This is what we believe. We believe it’s God’s word. And since it’s God’s word, and as Paul wrote to Timothy, it’s God breathed. Samuel says, God’s not like a man, that he should grieve or that he should repent on that. That apparent contradiction has to be solved.
I hope for you as you’re listening, you have a deeper understanding of God. He feels our rejection, and it grieved Him. Yet, at the same time, not the way it would grieve us. This paints an even better picture of who God is to us in the light of salvation. God decided to make people like me and you; to make people like you watching, to make Adam and Eve, who He knew beforehand would sin and would decide to choose something other than Him. And yet God, who we know in Genesis six, regretted that in the sense of His regret, at the same time, he was planning all along a rescue. A rescue that tells us a lot about who God is. that God was sacrificial from day one. He was loving from day one. His mercy was great from then on. He didn’t become this. He’s always been this. He’s always loved. And so this salvation through Jesus has been planned from the moment of creation. This gives such wonderful new meaning to me; that God loved me before, long before, I ever existed. He already had a plan to save me. I’m so thankful for that.
I can’t help but notice that ends with this idea of old man Samuel getting the job done. His story is kind of coming to an end. Samuel is still a guy who follows after the Lord. He doesn’t care how old he gets. He doesn’t care. In verse 33, he finishes the mission. It’s a little graphic. It says he hacked Agag into pieces. They should make this stuff into a movie or something. It would be fascinating. Samuel follows through on the mission that Saul couldn’t do. Saul was unwilling to do it. But Samuel finishes the task.
I appreciate old Samuel. He’s probably a very old man at this point but he has not slowed down a bit following God. We see that he’s grieved, hearing that Saul is more concerned about what others think over what God thinks. It’s always a trap. It leads us to be like Saul, where even in the midst of his repentance, he can’t fully repent. He excuses himself, and he just wants Samuel to show up. Do you see it? He rips that tassel. He says, honor me before men. All I ever wanted, Samuel, was for you to be the guy that shows up and tells everybody that you endorse me as king . That’s all he wanted. He didn’t really want Samuel. He didn’t really want God as king.
Proverbs 29:25 (ESV) The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. I’m wondering, have you put your desire to please others over pleasing God? It is so easy to do. Will you repent of that today and turned to him? Will you turn to God with all of your heart?
Jonathan, this is part 8. It’s the last part of our series, “The Original Game of Thrones.” I would ask the viewer today, have you been playing the game of Thrones? Have you made yourself or some other person or some other wisdom on the throne of your heart rather than the Lord Jesus?
You might say, I don’t think I have. Have you gone against obeying God’s word? If you have, you’ve rejected God. Have you cared more about what someone else thinks of you rather than what God thinks of you? Well, then, you’ve rejected God from His throne. Have you presumed that what you want is more important than what God wants? Well, you’ve rejected God. You don’t have to check all three of these boxes off. Just check one of them off and you’ve rejected God .
As we summarize today, I want you to take note of something that is happening in the Old Testament. It happens over and over again. There’s Adam and then later we’ll have the second Adam, Jesus. We have the first version that we see doesn’t fulfill God’s plan. We have Cain, the first born, and then the second born, Abel. Abel pleases God and Cain doesn’t please God. We have the twins, born to Isaac. We have Esau and Jacob. Esau was born first; he doesn’t please God. But Jacob pleases God. We have the twins born to Judah, Zerah and Perez. Zerah doesn’t please God but Perez pleases God. Eli comes first in the book of first Samuel; he doesn’t please God, so God sends Samuel, who’s a foreshadowing of Christ and then God gives the people their king. They asked for Saul, but Saul rejected God.
We will get to the chapter 16 maybe next year. Maybe it’ll be live instead of online. Praise the Lord. I hope so. When we get there, he gives us David. What we’re looking at here is all along in the Old Testament. He’s getting us ready for the second Adam, for King Jesus. That’s what He’s been doing all along.
Can I pray for us right now? Can I pray about coming to Jesus? Dear Lord, we just pray first of all for the person right now that’s here today listening that they would make You king, that they would say, Jesus, I believe in my heart right now that You died for my sins, that you raised from the grave on the third day and that You live today Come and live in me and make me the person You want me to be. My friend, if you’re praying that prayer right now, you’re making King Jesus the king of your heart, the king of your life. Others may be here today and you’re listening right now and you’re a believer, but you’ve been making excuses or you’ve been putting others opinions ahead of God’s opinion. You’ve been putting the wisdom of others over God’s wisdom in His word. Right now, I pray with you that you would repent of that and say, God, I want to put You first. I want You on the throne in my life. We pray all these things now in Jesus’ name and for His sake, Amen.