God is our Creator and He has made us for Himself. The throne in our hearts was built for Him. No other will satisfy our heart’s desire. So we keep on searching. That’s what’s going on in our Scripture text today. We will see a son searching for his father’s donkeys, a prophet looking for a prophesied prince and a people searching for a king like the other nations.
In 1 Samuel 9-11, the LORD answered Israel’s desire for a king, anointing a Benjamite named Saul to rule over them and save them from their surrounding enemies. We can understand that the LORD answers our heart’s desire for its true King today.
Below is an automated transcript of this message:All right. Good morning; good early morning! Don’t make fun of the people who come in in the middle of my sermon. The rest of you, apparently, sprang forward today; we’re glad to see you are here this morning.
We’re in part five of our series, entitled, “The Original Game of Thrones.” We take our theme text from 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.” And so, the original game of thrones goes all the way back to the beginning of the Bible, where Adam and Eve rejected God as their king, and they decided they wanted to be the king of their own lives. Sin entered into humanity and has changed their desires and bent their desires.
We still bear the image of God but it is bent by sin and the fact that we’ve put ourselves on the throne of our hearts. And so this has been going on since the beginning, yet Christ has come to announce that He is king and has come to set us free from this sin problem that we have now.
We have desires. If you think about desire, desire is something that God gave us and it can be a wonderful thing. But what’s happened because of sin? It tends to go towards evil rather than good. He gave us God given desires. But then our desires are often bent. So this struggle goes on in our hearts; we are looking for our heart’s desire and what we are affected by who sits on the throne. If you’ve put self on the throne, then your desire tends to go towards that which is not pleasing to God and really will not meet your deepest need. Everything you put there will not fill your deepest need. You’re looking for something. This is what we do all throughout our lives; we are looking for something that will satisfy the throne of our hearts. Until we put Jesus there, nothing will satisfy.
Once you put Jesus on the throne of your heart and not your desires, they begin to come into alignment with His desires. This is the state that Christ wants to bring us to; He wants to be king of our hearts. And so then we find the desire of our hearts. If you’re here today and you’re going through a season where it just seems like you keep looking but you can’t find that which would satisfy you. You feel like you are in a constant search. This is the state of the person who has yet to have Christ as king of their life.
This is why the 4th century Bishop of Hippo declared, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” so said Augustine of Hippo in his writing confessions. The first question in the Westminster catechism asks is this. What is man’s primary purpose? The answer to man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. We were made for God, and that’s what we’re looking for. Until we find Him, we are continually searching for that which will satisfy. He made us for Himself. The throne of our hearts was built for Him, and we’ll never be satisfied until we find Him.
Today, we will see a son searching for his father’s donkeys and we’ll see a prophet looking for a prophesied prince. We’ll see a people searching for a king like the other nations. A lot of looking and searching is going on as we read the text today.
They won’t find what they’re looking for until they find God in 1Samuel, Chapter 9 to 11. Here we go again; three chapters. I hope you’re ready. The Lord answered Israel’s desire for a king and anointed a Benjaminite named Saul to rule over them and save them from their surrounding enemies. I believe that we can understand that the Lord answers our heart’s desire for a true king today.
How does the Lord do this? The text gives three ways that God answers our true heart’s desire for a true king. Let’s look; we need to get started. I’m going to do a lot of reading again today. Here comes the story; listen closely.
1 Samuel 9:1-27 (ESV) 9:1 There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people. 3 Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to Saul his son, “Take one of the young men with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.” 4 And he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then they passed through the land of Benjamin, but did not find them. 5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us go back, lest my father cease to care about the donkeys and become anxious about us.” 6 But he said to him, “Behold, there is a man of God in this city, and he is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way we should go.” 7 Then Saul said to his servant, “But if we go, what can we bring the man? For the bread in our sacks is gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What do we have?” 8 The servant answered Saul again, “Here, I have with me a quarter of a shekel of silver, and I will give it to the man of God to tell us our way.” 9 (Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he said, “Come, let us go to the seer,” for today’s “prophet” was formerly called a seer.) 10 And Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was. 11 As they went up the hill to the city, they met young women coming out to draw water and said to them, “Is the seer here?” 12 They answered, “He is; behold, he is just ahead of you. Hurry. He has come just now to the city, because the people have a sacrifice today on the high place. 13 As soon as you enter the city you will find him, before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat till he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now go up, for you will meet him immediately.” 14 So they went up to the city. As they were entering the city, they saw Samuel coming out toward them on his way up to the high place. 15 Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the LORD told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel in the gate and said, “Tell me where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found. And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” 21 Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?” 22 Then Samuel took Saul and his young man and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, who were about thirty persons. 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion I gave you, of which I said to you, ‘Put it aside.’” 24 So the cook took up the leg and what was on it and set them before Saul. And Samuel said, “See, what was kept is set before you. Eat, because it was kept for you until the hour appointed, that you might eat with the guests.” So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25 And when they came down from the high place into the city, a bed was spread for Saul on the roof, and he lay down to sleep. 26 Then at the break of dawn Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Up, that I may send you on your way.” So Saul arose, and both he and Samuel went out into the street. 27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to pass on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.”
“There was a man…” what a great way to start a story, right? This is how chapter one started as we began to consider Samuel and his father, Elkanah. And now we’re going to introduce a new player; his name is Saul. By the way, the ESV is the only translation I’ve found that says Benjaminite. The other translations tend to say Benjamite; in the Hebrew that means, “son of my right hand.” The people that are “the sons of my right hand” are Benjaminites.
How God answers our heart’s desire for its true King:
1. God sends.
I want you to take note of verse 16; God says to Samuel tomorrow about this time, I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin. Now, Saul probably thought his father, Kish, sent him because Kish did in fact send him. But it was not Kish it all. Kish was only doing what the Lord God had told Kish to do, and the donkeys, I believe, were only doing what the Lord told the donkeys to do. We know that the Lord has told donkeys to do things before in the past. Just as he told that donkey that had a man named Balaam riding atop his back. He even taught the donkey to talk to Balaam. The donkey said, hey, quit kicking me; there’s an angel in front of us. Go back and read that. That’s an interesting story in the Book of Exodus.
So, God sent the donkeys and these donkeys, as we read in Hebrew, were actually she donkeys. I don’t know if that’s significant in Iraq, but that’s what it says in the original Hebrew. They were female donkeys and they got lost. Saul, who’s about 30 years of age at this time, which is significant, because in Judaism this is considered a marriageable age or the age where you can enter him with the elders. Saul’s father, Kish, is a man of means, as you noticed in verse one, it says he is from the tribe of Benjamin, and he’s a man of wealth. Literally, the Hebrew word is “gabor,” which means hero or champion. He’s very wealthy; he is very well to do. One mark of that is that he has donkeys, which were considered a royal animal in Israel.
We know that Jesus rode in on the coat of a donkey, , which was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9. Donkeys are often seen throughout the Bible.
I started to name this sermon, “the donkey king.” There was so much about donkeys in chapter nine. It was so interesting. Saul thought his father sent him, and he thought he was looking for donkeys. But it turned out that God sent him and it wasn’t about the donkeys at all.
I don’t know what you think you’re looking for today. I don’t know what somebody told you you should be looking for today, but that really doesn’t matter. You’ll never find what you’re looking for; you’re not even looking for the right thing, but God is looking for you. He told the man of God, I want you to look for a man. He’s a Benjaminite, which is what it says in the ESV translation. Benjamite is in the other translations, which is what I’m accustomed to say.
He’s going to come from the tribe of Benjamin. That’s not an accident. Benjamin was the last of the 12 tribes, the last born to Rachel, the wife of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. He was not only the last of the tribes because he was the last one born, but also at the end of the book of Judges, you will find out that the tribe was almost fully decimated by a civil war in the city of Gibeah where the problem happened. This just happens to be where Saul is from; he is from Gibeah.
And so, Benjamin is the least of the tribes. He hears Samuel saying to him, “and for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” Do you see that when Samuel was talking to Saul? Here is the man of whom God spoke to Samuel. Saul approaches Samuel. Tell me where the house of the seer is; I’ve got to find it.
Here it is; it’s in verse 20, “As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago…” So he knows Saul is worried about the donkeys; Samuel says don’t worry about the donkeys. Somebody has found them. It was never about the donkeys, anyway. And then he says this, “Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” This is kind of a play on words.
There’s this interesting thing going on in 1 Samuel. Samuel’s name means, “God heard.” Remember that God heard, and now Saul’s name has the idea of “to be asked for, that which is asked for, or that which is desired.” So Samuel means, “God heard,” and Saul is “the desired one.” That’s what Saul’s name means. The people were looking. They desired a king like the other nations. That’s what Saul’s name means, ironically.
If you think about what Saul looked like, there’s not many places in the Bible where the Bible gets real specific about someone’s appearance. Did you take note of that? The Bible went into great detail. He’s so handsome. How handsome is he? He’s the most handsome man in the whole country. He could run as a contestant; Saul would have won for best looking man. He’d been on the front page of GQ. He’s the best looking man in Israel; he’s a head taller than the tallest man in Israel. If there ever was a kingly looking dude, it is Saul.
The people are asking for a king like the other nations, and so God gets one for them. He’s the best looking, he’s the tallest. Outwardly, he looks like a king. If you looked up the word, king, in the dictionary, there would be a picture of Saul right there. He’s a kingly looking dude. He had a pronounced chin, a great nose and a beautiful head of hair.
He’s got a problem, though. He doesn’t even carry pocket change, which seems strange to me. He’s out there with an unnamed servant; he’s not good at looking for donkeys. He has looked all over the place. This place is called Shalishah; I couldn’t find it on a map anywhere, but he went through this land looking for donkeys. He’s not good at finding donkeys; he doesn’t carry any pocket change. He turns to his servant and he says, what are we going to give the man of God? The servant says, I got quarter of a shekel of silver. He didn’t even think of going to see a man of God. He’s looking for donkeys.
What we’ll see with Saul is he has some good traits as kings go, he wasn’t the worst that Israel had. If you keep reading, Israel has some horrible kings. He wasn’t the worst, but he was kind of like Isaac’s first son. Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau was a man of the woods. He was a hunter; he was a “man’s man.” He was a big, tall, hairy guy. If he walked in the room, the other guys would tremble, whereas Jacob hung out at the tents and he was more of a thoughtful, thinking kind of man. God rejected Esau but he chose Jacob. Remember that story? Well, Saul’s kind of like that . He’s very impressive. All the men would have said, let’s hang out with Saul. He’s good looking. He’s masculine. He probably was quarterback for the Israeli football team. I was awesome but he’s not spiritual minded. He’s never even heard of Samuel. He’s coming to the city of Ramah. It’s not named, and the reason it’s not named is the same reason Samuel is not named because we’re seeing this from the perspective of Saul.
Saul is ignorant of spiritual things. He’s really good at farming. He’s really good at working hard. He’s a faithful son who does what his father says. He’s good looking. He’s got a lot going for him. But he’s not spiritual minded.
1 Samuel 2:20 (ESV) “ And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. “ All Israel footnote , except for Saul, knew that Samuel was a man of God. Even his servant knew. So they went up to see Samuel but they needed directions. He’ll even ask women for directions, so he’s got some good traits. He stops there, you know; a lot of men won’t ask for directions from anybody. But he does; he stops by a well there.
There’s a lot of wells in the Bible with women drawing water, because that was women’s work in those days. We have this throughout the Bible. When Moses came upon a well in the wilderness, he met his wife. When Abraham sent his servant to go back to their homeland to get Isaac a wife, the servant came up to a well and he met Rebecca there. When we look into the New Testament, we see Jesus going up to a well, there in Samaria; He met the Samaritan woman; introducing himself to her as the Messiah, and she believed it. Usually when you see women out of a well, you, you’re looking for a marriage to about take place. You know, it just looks like you might get married.
Saul, though, was looking for something else. He was looking for donkeys, and now he’s looking for a man of God to help him find the donkeys. So they go and when he gets there, God taps Samuel on the shoulder. God has already told Samuel the day before Saul got there; Samuel sees Saul come up. He says, there he is, in verse 16. God has already told Samuel that He will send him a man from the land of Benjamin. God sent him. Saul’s father, Kish, thought it was for lost donkeys. It wasn’t his idea; it was God’s idea. God sent Saul to old Samuel .
He took him up to his house up there; remember Mizpah is where they had a worship service. A sacrifice takes place; Samuel gives Saul the leg portion. Samuel told the cook, give Saul the leg, which really meant he got the breast also. He got a half. In those days, this portion belonged to the priests. This portion was called a peace offering; it belonged to the priest and his family. What we have going on here, apparently, is Samuel is adopting Saul as his son. He’s given him the priestly portion. He gives him the head of the table which belonged to Samuel. Samuel’s two sons were worthless and so he adopted Samuel to be his son. Do you see it? And so Samuel gives Saul the head of the table. He gives him the priestly portion , and he begins to speak over him. Saul is blown away. He went from looking for donkeys to being offered a crown. He doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s being adopted by this man of God that he didn’t even know. Saul was looking for lost donkeys and God sent him here to listen to a preacher.
Romans 10:14-15 (ESV) “14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” He thought he was looking for donkeys, but God had sent Samuel to look for him, and he’s getting ready to give him the word of God. He’s not giving him the whole word yet, but he’s preparing him for it.
You know, God sent another man. His name is Jesus and he gave Him the authority to be our true King. The authority says in John 5:22-24 (ESV) 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” You see, that’s Who God sent to us. You know, we think we’re looking for God.
Sometimes, people even say that they found God because it kind of feels like they did back in the 1970’s. Actually, there was a billboard button campaign started by Campus Crusade For Christ and the Billy Graham Association. You couldn’t drive across the United States on any interstate without seeing one of these billboards that said, “I found it.” It was a good idea; I’ve still got a blue button. I should’ve wore it today; it is somewhere at my house. When you wore the pin, you were supposed to say, if someone asks you what you found, I have found Jesus. I understand that it was a good campaign, but it’s theologically incorrect. You haven’t found anything. You’ve been looking for donkeys; that’s what you’ve been doing. You’ve been looking for donkeys; you started trying to put donkeys in your heart.
Here’s the truth. God’s been looking for you; He sent Jesus. The scripture says in Luke 19:10 (ESV) “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” He’s looking for you. Has he found you?
Back in 1987, U2 released a song entitled, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” Well, you never will but God will find you. Do you understand how He has sent His prophet in His word and how He sent Jesus defines you.
Let’s keep reading. I could just camp out there a while, but I got two more chapters. Let’s go!
1 Samuel 10:1-27 (ESV) 10:1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. 2 When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3 Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. 5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. 8 Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.” 9 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. 10 When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11 And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12 And a man of the place answered, “And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place. 14 Saul’s uncle said to him and to his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To seek the donkeys. And when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15 And Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16 And Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything. 17 Now Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah. 18 And he said to the people of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19 But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your thousands.” 20 Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot; and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. 22 So they inquired again of the Lord, “Is there a man still to come?” and the Lord said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 23 Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24 And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!” 25 Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his home. 26 Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.
So we see that God sends. And now we see:
2. God speaks.
Is He detailed or what? He says, I’m gonna give you a threefold sign. There’s a lot of “threes” in this one. When you depart from me, you’re going to head over to Rachel’s tomb. Pop up the map real quick. I can’t get through anything without a map, right? This is the sea of Galilee. Down here is the Jordan River and this is the Dead Sea. So here’s where all of this has happened. The donkey hunt right here is in Ramah, right? Everything’s right in here. Gibeah is right here. This is where it’s all happening. What’s getting ready to happen is coming. We’ll pop the map up again.
But the first stop, it’s kind of ironic, is that it’s Rachel’s tomb. If you go to Israel today, pop up the next photo, you can go to Rachel’s Tomb. There’s actually an edifice built there where you have to sign in and you can go in and look at Rachel’s tomb. People know where it’s at to this day; it’s still a place to visit. This, in Hebrew, is “Kä·var’ Rä·khāl’” the tomb of Rachel. This is a real place. Why do I show you these kinds of photos? I want to repeat it again. It’s because the Bible is neither myth nor fairy tale. These places and maps of places are because these events really happened at real places at real times.
Here’s what seems to be happening. These three signs that he’s going through is like he’s going back in history, through the history of the call of Benjamin. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin; he actually named him Binyamin, which means, “son of my misery.” And Jacob renamed him Benjamin, “son of my right hand.” By going by their first, he goes by Rachel’s tomb and he meets two men who tell him his donkeys are not lost anymore. Now your father is worried about you.
Then he goes by the “Oak of Tabor” where he runs into three other men who are going up to Bethel, which is a place, by the way, where Jacob had the dream, where he saw the ladder with angels going up and down. It’s also the place on his way back home after he had his wives and his sons. He’s got 11 sons. He hasn’t had the 12th yet coming back, and he has a dream that kings will come from him and he’s right. More than one king will come from Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.
The three men are going up to Bethel and they’re carrying some things. One man’s carrying three goats; that’s a lot of goats. One man is carrying three loaves of bread. One man is carrying a skin of wine. The second man, that has the three loaves which are offerings, gives two of the loaves to Saul. Here again, that’s a priestly portion. Here again, Samuel says to him that you are now my son and you get what my family gets.
Then, he says, you’re going to run into some guys. They’re going to be playing a lot of instruments, and when that happens, you’re going to prophesy. Sure enough, it happens. And so he begins to prophesy. He begins to behave like Samuel’s son in many ways. We have this phrase, “God gave him another heart.” Now don’t be confused; this is not salvation. This is not as we see in the New Testament. It’s not even how we see in Jeremiah, who says, “I will give them a new heart.” It is, instead, what you see in the book of Judges, when God’s spirit rushes upon someone and gives them the spiritually gifting necessary to do their calling.
When God rushes upon Samson, Samson becomes a warrior, and he kills 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. There’s a lot of donkeys used in the Bible. When God rushes upon Sampson, he makes him a warrior. When he rushes upon Saul, he gives him the gift of leadership and kingship. He needs it because he’s got a low self esteem problem, which continues to give him trouble.
As you read about this, you see a couple of things here. In these three chapters, Saul looks great. He’s a good looking fella and it seems like he’s modest. But as we find out, it’s more like low self esteem. It’s not really modesty. “I’m the least of the least of the least.” Then, we see in this chapter when it’s time to introduce him, Samuel already knows that Saul is already. He’s already anointed him, but now, in front of Israel, he does the lot thing. What’s that? That’s where you cast lots. It’s like casting dice. The lot went to the tribe of Benjamin. Then the lot went to the clan that his father is from. The lot went to Kish and the lot went to Saul.
And then, they ask, where is he? Saul is hiding. The donkeys were found. Saul is hiding among the baggage. What’s the baggage? It’s probably implements of war, because the last time they came down there to Mizpah, the Philistines attacked them. The implements of war are probably stacked up everything over there in case they needed them to fight. Saul is hiding under there. They can’t find them. It’s kind of strange , isn’t it? He’s gone through all these signs. God gives three confirming signs. He gives His word, and then He confirms it. He speaks, and then He confirms it. He confirmed it with a triple sign. But now Saul is still hiding. You know, it’s one thing to hide from getting an earthly crown. But it’s a whole other thing to hide from getting a heavenly crown.
Some of you might be hiding today. You know, that’s what Adam did whenever God called to him. God went looking for him. Adam was hiding because he had sinned. God asked Adam, where are you? He was hiding.
Saul is hiding. They had to find him; they had to fish him out of there. Samuel tried to make the people feel better about it. He got him out; he’s a head taller than everybody. And he asks the people, have you seen anybody like him before? Samuel is trying to build Saul up because he had been hiding. So the people proclaimed, “long live the king,” but there was kind of a split about it. Some men of valor followed him home to Gibeah, and some of those worthless fellas asked, who’s this guy and what good is he going to be? There’s a mixture of responses here. God has appointed prophets to speak to us, and they’ve written these many words.
In the last days, God sent us Jesus, who is the word Incarnate. He’s the Living Word and the last Revelation. Hebrews 1:1-2 (ESV) 1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. These are the days that we live in. That’s where our book, called the bible, comes from. God has spoken, yet He still speaks, and even now, I would humbly say, even though I am but a mere man, I would humbly say when I proclaim the Word that the Word speaks again, afresh to you because the Holy Spirit makes that happen. As I’m preaching from the Old Testament with these wonderful stories, the challenge for us is to always look for Christ because He’s on every page. He is the ultimate word of God. He’s the one who speaks most fully to us.
Peter says this when he’s speaking of Jesus, Acts 2:22-23 (ESV) 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” In other words, God attested to Him. He confirmed Him. How did He do that ? He defeated sin, death and the grave. He’s the only one who ever got up after being in a grave for three days. God spoke through Him, the fullest revelation. Do you want to know who God is? Look at Jesus. He is the fullest expression of God to us. If you want a confirming sign, He got up after three days. When the Jews said that they wanted a sign, He gave them His only son. He gave us the sign of Jonah, who was in the belly of the whale or the belly of the fish for three days. Do you have spiritual ears to hear? That is the question.
And then here’s the third. Let’s go to chapter 11.
1 Samuel 11:1-15 (ESV) 11:1 Then Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead, and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.” 3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days’ respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.” 4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud. 5 Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. 6 And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. 7 He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man. 8 When he mustered them at Bezek, the people of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. 9 And they said to the messengers who had come, “Thus shall you say to the men of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have salvation.’” When the messengers came and told the men of Jabesh, they were glad. 10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.” 11 And the next day Saul put the people in three companies. And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. And those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. 12 Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.” 14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. You see a repetitive word. It’s the word save, salvation. God saves. (1) God sends (2) God speaks and the third point:
(3) God saves.
God had told Samuel that Saul would be the one to save them from the surrounding enemies, and so Saul immediately went back to plow the fields with his oxen. The call was still not confirmed. There was still a division in Israel about if Saul was even the right guy.
But now this happens; Nahash the Ammonite comes. The serpent comes and he attacks. He besieged the city of Jabesh-gilead, which is on the far east of the limits of Israel. Here comes my map again; here is Jabesh-gilead. It would have been an Israelite town on the west side of the Jordan; over here is Ammon. And by the way, they’re still a city today. It’s the capital of the country called Jordan. Ammon, Jordan is the capital. You can see Jabesh-gilead. Down here is the city of Gibeah where Saul lives. They gathered at Tirzah, which, in the scripture today has a different word for that city. But it’s the same city and they gathered here.
They went into battle and Saul broke them up into three groups, which is the same way God told Gideon to do. He took his 300 and broke them into three groups. Here, Saul follows the same pattern. He has the threes again, 300,000 from Israel and 30,000 from Judah. And they go on the attack. They completely blow away the people of Ammon. They completely demolished them so that there’s not even two men standing together from the Ammonites.
4 “ When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud. 5 Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. 6 And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.” When they call out and ask for help, the word comes to Saul, and the spirit of God rushes on him, and he becomes completely enraged, inflamed with righteous anger. And he gathers the people. He does something kind of strange. He butchers his father’s oxen that he’d been plowing with and he cuts it up into pieces and sends it to all the tribes.
In the same city of Gibeah, in a story earlier, a Levite concubine had been raped. It’s a horrible story; it is in the book of Judges, and he cut her into pieces and send all the pieces to all the tribes of Israel and asked them to come and to judge the people of Gibeah for allowing that to happen and and the Benjiminites would not turn over the people of Gibeah for judgment. This completely demolished the tribe of Benjamin and really inflicted pain on all of Israel. So there’s this memory.
When Saul sends out the pieces of the oxen (a leg of an oxen shows up at your house or the head of an ox shows up at your house and the messenger comes up with it and says, This will be you if you don’t show up.) They all showed up. He instituted the draft and everybody came. 330,000 strong. And they did as they were instructed to do.
When they won the battle, some said in verse 12, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” They were in a killing mood. Saul sounds like a king here; he sounds like a good king. He really does. He held his peace at the end of chapter 10. He didn’t say a word to those guys who despised him and he held his peace. I’m telling you, he’s not just good looking, but it sounds like he’s the right guy. In the future, though, we’re going to get disappointed. I’m just going to give you a preview of what’s coming. He is going to, ultimately, disappoint God and disappoint us, but
I hope I finish well. It’s one thing to start out well, but I hope I finished well, don’t you? Don’t you hope you finish well? I want to finish well for Jesus. I don’t want to retire. I might get to where I can’t do this job, but I don’t want to retire on Jesus. I want to keep on doing whatever I can do. I don’t wanna finish poorly.
Saul finishes poorly, but he starts out okay. It really looks like he’s the right guy. 13 But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.” Saul says, nobody’s dying today because today the Lord… he gives credit to the Lord. Saul doesn’t take the credit now. He sounds pretty good, he says that today the Lord has given us salvation over our enemies. We are not killing anybody. He sounds awesome. I really like the way he starts. Samuel’s heart bulges with pride. He’s thinking, this is my boy right there. Samuel says, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom.” He’d been anointed; he was the crown prince. In other words, he was the designated one, but they’re going to make him the king. They’re going to put a crown on his head.
Gilgal is the place where Joshua had led the Israelites in, and they renewed the covenant. They had the first passover in the land and all of those men who had not been circumcised in the wilderness were circumcised at Gilgal. At Gilgal, they stacked up the twelve memorial stones where they had crossed over the River Jordan that God had parted. For them, Gilgal was a place of beginnings for Israel, and now there’s going to be a transition from the judges to the age of the kings.
Samuel rightly says, let’s go to Gilgal and they take him to Gilgal. and The people get excited; they offer sacrifices. The chapter closes with Saul and all of the men of Israel rejoicing greatly. What a great ending. I wish we didn’t have to go to chapter 12 next week, but we wil. We’ll get there but at this point, it’s looking good for Israel. They’ve got a king that they desired. They have their heart’s desire. The said, we want a king like the nations that will fight for us. They now have him, they think.
God wants to save you. We see this word, saved, all through here. Salvation. God wants to save you but you have to confess the true king. His name is Jesus. It says in Romans 10:9-10 (ESV) 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Have you done that? He wants to save you today. God sends. God speaks. He is speaking now. And then, God saves. When God appeared to Jacob at Bethel, He said, “Kings shall come from your own body” (Gen. 35:11). So, it happened that the next boy that was born to him was Benjamin. When Jacob was laying on his deathbed (his name, as you know, was changed to Israel, and he had 12 sons. This is where the 12 tribes came from) and each son came in as Jacob lay on his deathbed. When Benjamin came to him, he laid his hand on him and said, you’re like a wolf; you’re like a warrior. Whatever you go after, you’ll get it; you’ll pursue it and you’ll get it. You’re like a ravenous wolf.
If you would have marched with the tribe of Benjamin, their banner was a wolf head flying over them. They were always great warriors. They were known as archers; a lot of them were left handed. The Bible says this; I don’t know what that was about, but that’s what it says. And they were great warriors, and the first king was from the tribe of Benjamin. But when Judah came, this is one of the sons that came up the Jacob, Judah came to him and he gave the longest blessing, he laid his hand on Judah, and called him a “lion” (Gen. 49:9) whom Jacob prophesied that “his brothers would praise and bow down to him” and that the “scepter” nor the “ruler’s staff” would not “depart from him” (Gen. 49:10).
The line of this king will come after Saul in a shepherd named David. But it will be fulfilled in Jesus, Son of David, Son of God, the Lion of Judah! As the prophet, Haggai, declared, He is the “Desire of All Nations” (Hag.2:7).he says, you’re like a lion. If you’ve seen the tribe of Judah coming up in there and notice how they were separated from the other tribes, 300,000 came from Israel and 30,000 came from Judah. They would have had that one flag of a lion. Saul came first from the tribe of Benjamin the Wolf, the warrior. But then God is looking for another man; He’s coming. A man that doesn’t look that impressive to look at. He’s the least of the litter; the runt of the litter. But he’s a man after God’s own heart. He’s from the tribe of Judah and his name’s David.
There’s one coming from him ; if you were to see Him hanging on a cross, you wouldn’t think He looked like a king. But that’s the true King. With eyes of faith, if you look to the cross and see Him, the lion of Judah, the lamb of God and if you’ll ask Him to be your King and your Lord and Savior, you’ll find your deepest desire.
As it says in the book of Haggai, “the desired of all nations will come.” That’s His name. His name is Jesus. He’s the desired one.
Let’s pray, Lord, thank you for your word. Oh, Lord, I pray that you would apply it. Only you can “rush” upon the people with your spirit so that they become new so that they get a new heart. Lord, I pray today for the one that’s far from God, that you would bring them near. You can pray now, Dear Lord Jesus. Pray with me, Dear Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. I’ve been looking everywhere, but now I’m looking to Jesus. Would You come into my life? I believe You died on the cross for my sins, that You were raised from the grave and that You live today. Come and live in me. Make me a new person. Make me a child of God. I want You to be my King, my Lord and my Savior. Others are here today and you’re trying to share the throne or you’re looking for something somewhere else, You know Jesus. But you haven’t completely given over to Him. You’re divided in your heart. Give your whole heart to Him today. Make Him both Lord and Savior. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.