Sometimes we make a mess of our lives and don’t know how to clean it up and we don’t want to admit it’s our fault. How we respond to the mess we make with our lives matters to God.
In 1 Samuel 13-14, although the newly anointed King Saul was regal in appearance and enjoyed popular support, he soon demonstrated a fatal flaw–– he foolishly rebelled against God’s Word and made trouble for himself and his nation. We have the same fatal flaw as Saul. When we rebel against God’s Word, we make trouble for ourselves and others.
Below is an automated transcript of this message:Good morning, church; good morning online church! We’ve had some technical difficulties today. Last week, we did low tech, we just took my phone and did the whole service. But, this week, we tried to get things more up and looking sharp; looks like the only app that’s working right now is Facebook live. Those of you who have been trying to go to church center, we’re still working on that. Apparently, so many churches in America are using it that it crashed today, so be praying. Not just for us, but for all of the churches in America right now that are trying to use that app. We’re thankful for that app, and maybe we’ll get it up and running before it’s over. But, we’re thankful that Facebook live is working today. Welcome to all of you that are tuning in and watching this on Facebook live today.
You know, this week I kind of thought about changing up the service and thinking maybe I should just be talking about what’s going on in our country and and make it more timely to the point of the things that we’re addressing in our lives every day right now. But, most of my team and most of the people I’m talking to in the church said to me, pastor, you’ve been going through first Samuel and we want you to continue there. We need some normalcy; we want you to keep doing what you’ve been doing.
We believe that God’s Word will be applicable to our present time. We’re going to keep going through 1 Samuel. We’re in a series that we’re calling, “The Original Game of Thrones.” We’re going through the book of First Samuel, picking up in chapter 13 today. It’s the time period in Israel when they have changed from the time of the judges to the age of the kings. That’s where we’re at today.
Our theme verse for this series has been in 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.
Not only are we talking about what was happening in Israel, but it’s what’s happening in our hearts and in our lives today because ever since humanity began, in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, we’ve rebelled against God as our king. This caused an attitude of rebellion that the Bible calls sin. We’re trying to put the crown on our own heads, and as a result, we have fallen into rebellion against God.
As we look at today’s sermon, looking at chapter 13 and 14, there are two questions. Well, there is actually one question, but they occur at the beginning and towards the end like book ends. It’s this question, what have you done? It occurred to me that this question not only occurred in this reading today and for Samuel, but it’s actually in Genesis, chapter three, speaking of Adam and Eve.
Here’s what happened in the garden after they sinned by eating the fruit, they hid themselves from God. God was looking for them and asking, why are you hiding from Me? And they said, it’s because we ate the fruit. And so, God was asking about this; He asked the man and the man said, the woman who you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate it. So Adam blamed his wife. I guess that’s been going on ever since, Right, ladies? I mean, the man blames the woman. And so the Lord God said to the woman, what is this you have done? What have you done? The woman said, the serpent deceived me and I ate. She blamed it on the snake. That’s how excuses go. That’s how blaming goes. We blame our troubles on someone else.
I want you to take note of that question, what have you done? That’s a question that most of us heard when we were children, right? There’s been a point in their lives where a mom or a dad came into the room and caught us doing something. And they asked, what have you done? This is a question that God, the Father, had for Adam. We’ve entitled this sermon today, “What Have You done?”
Have you ever seen some images like this? (Images on screen) Let me see if we can get the camera on some of these images. Here’s a child that found out what he could do with marshmallow cream, and the parent comes in and says, what have you done? Here’s a child who was trying to help the dog and the dog is looking at him like, I had nothing to do with this. right? Here’s another one; this little girl found the paint; I don’t know if that’s ever coming off. What have you done? Here’s the peanut butter baby. This child just wanted to take a bath; he was sitting inside the toilet. Here are children in a bubble bath that has turned into a bubble room. What have you done? We find it pretty funny afterwards, but the one who has to clean up the mess never finds it funny.
We have done these things, people. God is still asking, what have you done? We’ve made a mess of our lives, and we need help cleaning it up. What have you done ? What have you done? We make a mess, and we don’t know how to clean it up. We try to blame it on others. What have you done?
In 1 Samuel, chapter 13 and 14, we will see these two questions like bookends. What have you done? What have you done? The newly anointed King Saul was regal in appearance; he looked like the kind of person that ought to be king. He enjoyed popular support. But he soon demonstrated a failure; he foolishly rebelled against God’s word. He decided that he was going to wear the crown without the Lord being his king. We can see that when we do this, we make trouble for ourselves. Saul made trouble for himself. We can see the same thing today; that we make trouble for ourselves.
Let’s look at the text now. Notice, there are three ways that we rebel against God and against His word. As a result, we cause trouble for ourselves. Let’s look at the word today. By the way, we’ve got two chapters to read. You can’t say that you didn’t get your Bible time in today because I’m going to read to you now.
1 Samuel 13:1-15a (ESV) “1 Saul lived for one year and then became king, and when he had reigned for two years over Israel, 2 Saul chose three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent home, every man to his tent. 3 Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” 4 And all Israel heard it said that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become a stench to the Philistines. And the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal. 5 And the Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude. They came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns, 7 and some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. 8 He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. 11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, 12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” 13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 15 And Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal. The rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the army; they went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin.” This is God’s word.
Here’s how we rebel against God’s word and cause trouble for ourselves and for other people. Here’s the first way:
1. By continuing to make excuses for our sin.
Notice how Saul made an excuse when Samuel came to him and saw that he had offered the burnt offering that he was not supposed to do. That was Samuel’s job. What did Samuel ask him? What have you done? I love the timing of this. Don’t you love the way the story is told to us? Just as soon as Saul did it, here comes Samuel. Perfect timing.
Have you ever had that happen in your life? I’m one of those people who can’t get by with anything. The minute I’ve tried to do something I shouldn’t, or trying to sneak and do something, that’s when mom or dad showed up. Even, as I’m getting older, that’s when some friends showed up or maybe my wife showed up. I’m telling you, I can’t get by with anything.
Saul is the same way, right? When he finishes that which he should not have done, here comes Samuel with this question. What have you done? If you look at verse one, you’ll probably have your own translation in your hands right now. I encourage you to have your Bibles in your hands right now. The ESV as well as the KJV all say this; “Saul lived for one year and then became king and when he had reigned for two years over Israel,” that’s verse one. A lot of the modern translations work this out because the Hebrew is kind of difficult. They smooth it out by saying, when Saul was thirty years old, he later reigned for 42 years. If you have the modern translations, they smooth it out that way. May I say to you, as I look at it, it seems to me that if we just look at it as it is in the original Hebrew.
Perhaps it is saying that when Saul was first anointed, he went back to farming for a year. We see that he went back, got his oxen and started ploughing again. And then we know that he went and fought that battle and won the battle. When they brought him to Gil Gal, they celebrated him as the king. He had been anointed king but he went back to farming for a year. He became the king after that battle and now, two years later…. Maybe we could look at it like that and just say, three years after his anointing. Scholars are divided on it, so I don’t think we’ll be able to settle it today. But I didn’t want to skip over this without addressing it.
As we’re looking through this story, just to give you perspective, Jonathan defeated the garrison. In fact , as we go through this story, we’ll find that Jonathan wins the battle. Jonathan defeats the enemy at the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba. Then, we see that Saul “toots his own horn.” He blows the trumpet throughout all the land; Saul picks a fight. I don’t know if we should read it that way or not, but it certainly looks that way. Saul often takes the credit when it actually belongs to someone else. He has a hard time giving credit where credit is due, but he’s really, really good at giving blame when it belongs to him.
We’ll see this character flaw in King Saul. Notice, that whenever Jonathan fought this battle, the Philistines reacted strongly. The scripture said that that battle was like a “stench in their nostrils.” In other words, it really arouses them.
Let’s look at a map for a second . Tech, please scroll in a little tighter. All of you at home know I love maps, right? I love maps. I love charts. If you look right here, you can see the river Jordan. Here’s Gilgal; actually there to cite possibilities because we’re uncertain. But we know that it’s just west of the river Jordan. They are gathered at Gilgal but the battle takes place here in a place called Michmash. All of this area you can see if you’re able to scroll in tight at home. There’s this huge mountainous area right here and there’s a passage between Gilgal and Michmash in that area in central Israel.
What happens when the Philistine show up? They show up in great numbers. It says that there were “thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude.” That sounds like what Israel was supposed to look like, but instead the Philistines are the ones who show up with people like “sand on the seashore in multitude.”
What are the Israelites doing? They’re hiding. You know, that’s what Adam and Eve did. That’s what the Israelites are doing, because that’s what fear causes. It causes us to hide. It makes us afraid to do that which is necessary.
In verse seven, we see that all the people were trembling. The people that are with Saul and Saul is falling apart. I can kind of relate to Saul a little bit; I’m a type A guy. Saul’s been here for seven days. It’s the morning of the seventh day and his troops started out with 3000 and now they’re just going home. The ones that haven’t gone home are hiding. Saul starts to panic and instead of obeying the word of God, he tries to offer the sacrifice himself. We have to understand that he was not qualified to do this.
You can see, clearly, in the book of Leviticus that only the high priest is allowed to offer a burnt offering. Someone like Samuel could do it. Saul was commanded to wait for seven days for Samuel to come and do it but he broke the command. He broke the Levitical law; he was not qualified to do it. You see, disobedience is not what God is looking for.
We think if we offer a sacrifice, if we show up at church, if we tune in online, we can check the box this week and say, I’ve pleased God. We think if we offer the sacrifice, we’ve pleased God. But the sacrifice is not what God’s looking for; He’s looking for obedience.
Saul thought he would get God’s favor by offering the sacrifice. How foolish that he felt, by breaking God’s word, he could win God’s favor by offering a sacrifice. Samuel comes and says to him, “you’ve broken God’s word, how foolish of you.” Samuel makes that accusation. I can’t get over what Saul said. He said, I was in a tight spot. He makes four excuses if you look closely.
The first excuse was: (1) The people were scattering and I’m losing. (2) Samuel, you were late, so it’s partially your fault that I sinned. Have you tried that on your mom and dad yet? Have you tried that on your spouse yet? It’s actually your fault that I raised my voice; it’s because of you. (3) The Philistines were coming. (4) I had to do it because who wants to go into battle without the Lord’s favor? He makes four excuses, and then he says, so I forced myself. Sounds like a child. That’s how Saul always reacted when he was near Samuel, he was the king, but he became small when he stood in front of God’s man Samuel. So, Samuel boldly says, you’re foolish. It was just symptomatic of Saul’s spiritual dullness that he had no idea that he had sinned. He believed he could obtain God’s favor through disobedience. He didn’t wait for Samuel’s seven-day wait. He didn’t obey the Torah’s rules concerning priests and sacrifices.
We see, in verse 14, the result, he says. 14 “ But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” This gives us that longing for such a man. We will see later in the book a man named David. Even in David, though, it kind of gives us a longing for a better man, a man named Jesus. He says, your kingdom will not endure. God would have made it endure forever but now it will not continue. This is the word he gives and then he walks away and leaves Saul standing there with his mouth agape.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul warned the Ephesians not to be fooled by those who make excuses for their sin. Ephesians 5:6 (NLT) “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.” Excuses don’t count with God. When we make excuses for our sin, we are acting like the fool like Saul acted. But when we confess our sins, we’re acting in a way that God can forgive.
Look what it says in 1 John 1:8-9 (NLT) “8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” Just like those children’s images that we saw at the beginning , parents have to move in and clean up peanut butter and and paint and magic marker, Children can’t clean it up themselves. They can make a mess, but they can’t clean it up. Neither can we but God can; it begins with stop making excuses for your sin and start confessing your sin to God.
Let’s dig back in; let’s read some more.
1 Samuel 13:15b-14:23 (ESV) 13:15 …And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. 16 And Saul and Jonathan his son and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin, but the Philistines encamped in Michmash. 17 And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual; 18 another company turned toward Beth-horon; and another company turned toward the border that looks down on the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness. 19 Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears.” 20 But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle, 21 and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. 22 So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan, but Saul and Jonathan his son had them. 23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash. 14:1 One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 2 Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah in the pomegranate cave at Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men, 3 including Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. 4 Within the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side. The name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5 The one crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba. 6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” 7 And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” 8 Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.” 11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12 And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.” And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him. 14 And that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre of land. 15 And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic. 16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude was dispersing here and there. 17 Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Count and see who has gone from us.” And when they had counted, behold, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there. 18 So Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God went at that time with the people of Israel. 19 Now while Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle. And behold, every Philistine’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion. 21 Now the Hebrews who had been with the Philistines before that time and who had gone up with them into the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 Likewise, when all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed hard after them in the battle. 23 So the Lord saved Israel that day. And the battle passed beyond Beth-aven.
Here’s the second way that we make trouble for ourselves by disobeying God’s word.
2. By putting our faith in numbers rather than God.
There are two places in this reading, we see that Saul was counting how many he had. He was worried about his lack of men. And so we see him hiding in a cave near a pomegranate tree with his priest, the great grandson, if you will, of Eli that we read about in earlier chapters. He is surrounded. We see that the three companies have surrounded from the north and from the west and from the south. He says, let’s count because he’s really good at counting, He says, let’s count to see who’s missing because he hears this battle taking place. That’s not how his son Jonathan thought.
Notice how Jonathan thought; he’s counting. He’s got 600 men and then he hears a battle taking place. Let’s count to see who’s missing. But how did Jonathan think? If you look at how Jonathan felt, all you have to do is look at what he says to his armor bearer. He talks about the Lord in such a way as those who believe in God often speak.
In verse six it says, “6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” Jonathan only sees number one; that’s the Lord. He’s just hanging out with his armor bearer, and he says, let’s go pick a fight. He knows something that God plus me is a majority. He knows this; we don’t have to count. He’s counting by God. We’ve got all that we need.
But notice throughout this there’s a lot of counting going on. We see that Saul is counting; he’s counting how many tools he has. I’ve only got two swords. I’ve got one and Jonathan’s got one. He’s counting how much money they’ve had to spend to the Philistines, just sharpening their tools. So everybody else in the army there apparently carried farm implements in order to do battle. It’s not a good count. And then he has to count who was missing. When he counts who’s missing, he sees that it’s his son Jonathan, and his armor bearer that are missing.
He goes for a moment to his priest because he’s thinking that spiritual people are supposed to ask God before they jump in the battle. So he thinks that for a second; I think the reason I say I’m applying that motive to him is because he doesn’t wait for God to reply. I can’t think of a place anywhere in Scripture that such a thing happens. He asked for God to do something, and then he didn’t stick around to see him do it. It seems unthinkable that he would do that, but here’s what he says in verse 18, “So Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God went at that time with the people of Israel.”
Many translations assume he meant that it’s actually the ephod. Let me pop up another photo. He was wearing the ephod of the high priest. It was used to seek the Lord for decisions using the Urim and the Thummim, which were inserted into the breastplate over the heart (Ex. 28:30). The high priest would keep something called the Urim and the Thummim; he would pull this out and we don’t know exactly what it looked like. Some think it was two stones that had certain names on it. One had one meaning one the other.
And so, he said to his priest, come and bring your ephod and let’s see if the Lord wants us to attack. As soon as he asked the priest to do that, the priest came wearing it. Then, he says, withdraw your hand. Let’s just attack because he feels like he’s gonna get left out of the battle. And so he hangs up on God. He starts the prayer and then hangs up. He’s such a type A guy. He feels like prayers are a waste of time and he doesn’t have time to wait for that. So he jumps on it and he begins to attack.
We see what God does. God was looking for a man like Jonathan. You see, Jonathan was a man after God’s own heart, which is why later we see in the Bible that he and David became best friends. They saw the Lord in each other, and Jonathan was a man after God’s own heart. And so Jonathan said, God, You can do this by many or by few. He doesn’t care how the numbers roll out. God can do this, and so they attacked.
I love this story. It’s one of my favorite stories in the world. When we show the picture, this is actually the area in Israel called Michmash. The names of these two crags were“Bozez” (“shining”) and “Seneh” (“thorn”). Over here sits Jonathan and his armor bearer. And over here sits the Philistine garrison. They climb down into this pass and they get down there and then the Philistines see them down here and say, Come up to us. And then Jonathan says , I knew it. Now we know they’re dead. Now we know that God is on our side, and so they climb up. Can you imagine how tired they were? Go back home and watch the movie, “The Princess Bride.” They waited for them to climb up. And they’ve got the guy that’s getting ready to fight with a sword, who says, I’ll give you a moment. I will let you go ahead and rest and catch your breath.
They fight. I have a picture of it in my head; they climb up there and then the Philistines see that there’s only two of you guys and they take a break. It’s not in the Bible; I’ve got “The Princess Bride” picture in my head. Anyway, they climb up there and they defeat 20 men in the half acre. The Lord has given them supernatural strength, and so great confusion breaks out.
We see in Verse 20 that there’s an earthquake and the Philistines gets so confused they begin to kill each other. And then we see that there were actually Israelites who had gone to the Philistine side because they thought they were going to win. And when they saw that the Philistines were losing, they switched teams. Maybe some of you are like that with your football teams. I don’t know. And so you just switch sides to see whoever’s in the Super Bowl. Some of the Israelites are doing this.
Notice this. Saul was counting numbers of people and swords, but Jonathan was counting on God. It says in the scripture in Psalm 20:7 (ESV) Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Who are you trusting today? Are you worried about your 401 K? Are you worried about your job? I understand; all of us are. We’re all concerned, but we don’t have to trust in these things. It was never these things that were taking care of us. It was always the Lord. I’m praying right now in our country that people are falling to their knees andt not just going through the motions like Saul did. He wouldn’t even wait for God to answer, but that we would call out to the Lord and we would call out to the Lord and we would not stop until He answers. I’m praying that with you today; we don’t depend on chariots and horses.
We trust in the Lord. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” We look at our country today and it doesn’t make sense, but we can depend on the Lord.
Let’s look at the third way we cause trouble for ourselves by breaking God’s word.Let’s keep reading.
1 Samuel 14:24-46 (ESV) 24 And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.” So none of the people had tasted food. 25 Now when all the people came to the forest, behold, there was honey on the ground. 26 And when the people entered the forest, behold, the honey was dropping, but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath, so he put out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes became bright. 28 Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food this day.’” And the people were faint. 29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies that they found. For now the defeat among the Philistines has not been great.” 31 They struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. And the people were very faint. 32 The people pounced on the spoil and took sheep and oxen and calves and slaughtered them on the ground. And the people ate them with the blood. 33 Then they told Saul, “Behold, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood.” And he said, “You have dealt treacherously; roll a great stone to me here.” 34 And Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people and say to them, ‘Let every man bring his ox or his sheep and slaughter them here and eat, and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’” So every one of the people brought his ox with him that night and they slaughtered them there. 35 And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord. 36 Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them until the morning light; let us not leave a man of them.” And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” But the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.” 37 And Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day. 38 And Saul said, “Come here, all you leaders of the people, and know and see how this sin has arisen today. 39 For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But there was not a man among all the people who answered him. 40 Then he said to all Israel, “You shall be on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side.” And the people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.” 41 Therefore Saul said, “O Lord God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant this day? If this guilt is in me or in Jonathan my son, O Lord, God of Israel, give Urim. But if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim.” And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped. 42 Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan.” And Jonathan was taken. 43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” And Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am; I will die.” 44 And Saul said, “God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan.” 45 Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, so that he did not die. 46 Then Saul went up from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place.
3. By judging others while ignoring our own sins.
Did you see the question again? The first time it was the father Samuel speaking to his son, Saul. I say father and son because that was really their relationship mentor and follower. But here we actually have the father, Saul, who says to his son, “Tell me what you have done” in verse 43. This is no accident. We see it twice; the first time it was appropriate. Here, it was not. Here it was the father’s fault, not the son’s. The sin was on the father, but he was unwilling to admit it.
This is what we do; this is the mistake we make. We judge others while ignoring our own sins. That’s how we make trouble for ourselves. We make trouble for ourselves by judging others and ignoring our own sins.
Why were the men so hungry that they fell on the plunder instead of pursuing their enemies? Because Saul was a man who spoke vulgar oaths; who swore when he was deciding to be really macho and proved that he had something to do with the battle, when in fact he had nothing to do with the victory. That day, he saw the men pursuing that they were winning, and he made them swear an oath. No one can eat until I avenge myself against my enemies. What’s all this “I” talk about? What’s all this “my” enemies? “ My,” “I” will avenge. He forgot about God. He forgot about his own men. He didn’t care for them. He only wanted credit.
The men became famished. They’re pursuing the Philistines. Then they get to that section where the Philistines apparently ran into a forest to escape. Remember what Israel is; It’s the land of milk and honey. Honey is dripping as if it were from heaven. What kind of a story is this? Apparently, as they were running through the forest, they were banging into the limbs to such a degree, there was such a tumult and remember, there was an earthquake because God shook the land. The honey was falling out of the trees and dripping to the ground like manna.
Honey is well known as an energy food; it is power packed. You can live on it. Jonathan sees it as he’s running along. He’s not even going to bend over because he’s doing battle. He takes the tip of his spear and he gets himself some honey and eats it. The guy next to him said, Oh, you shouldn’t have done that. Your father made us swear an oath that we wouldn’t eat until we killed all his enemies. Jonathan replied to him, my father has troubled the land.
That word trouble. We haven’t seen that word in a while. It’s back there. When a man named Achan hid the stuff that he wasn’t supposed to have under his tent. Joshua was leading them into the land, in a similar area, and they were defeated. It just so happened they sent 3000 soldiers up there, which is what Saul started out with, and they were defeated because there was sin in the camp.
Maybe Saul remembers the story well enough. But it wasn’t that they were defeated. What he was upset about is that God didn’t speak to him when he asked. Well, of course not. Why would God speak to him? He just hung up on Him earlier. He just disobeyed His word just before that. Why would he speak to Him as if he could just demand from God like He’s some kind of “celestial Santa Claus?” God is not the guy who does your laundry; you could just drop off. No, it’s not like that. God wants you to be in a relationship with Him. But, Saul was upset because God didn’t answer and so he said, there must be sin in the camp. Even if it’s Jonathan, he will die. Wow, I don’t think he meant that when he said it, but that’s in fact what happened. And he says to him, what have you done, Jonathan? He’d lost his perspective.
That’s what happens to us. You know, this is the problem we have when we try to put the crown on our head; it sits uneasy. As we read in Shakespeare, King Henry IV said, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” Why? It belongs to King Jesus! So, 1) Stop making excuses for your sin, 2) Stop putting faith in numbers rather than God, and 3) Stop judging others while ignoring your own sins.
Saul is not thinking clearly; he just wants to stay in power, and he’s even willing to kill his own son in order to be in control. Are you like that?
Today, is your life out of control? Well, join the club! I would say, everybody in America feels that way this morning. Life is out of control right now. That’s how it feels. But the truth is, it’s always been that way. You just had the illusion that you thought life was under your control, but it’s never been under your control. It’s always been under God’s control.
Sometimes the only way He can get our attention is to cause the earth to shake. Another way to get our attention is to cause things to be shaken up in her life so that we actually look to Him. When you look to Him, don’t do it in some flippant fashion. Okay, once You give me this, then I can be back in control; I will loan You the crown for a minute, but then I need it back. Instead, He wants you to say this, You’re the Lord. He wants to know what you did with Jesus? He’s the one after my own heart. He says He’s the fulfillment of that. What have you done with Jesus?
“As the Lord lives” (45) – The people responded with their own oath, Jonathan would not even lose one hair on his head, for God had worked though him to save Israel. So they saved Jonathan, who had saved them. You see, Saul’s not all the king. He’s not all the king that he’s cracked up to be. He can’t get people to obey him at a time like this; they recognize that God’s anointing is actually on Jonathan.
It says in verse 46 that he went up from pursuing the Philistines. It’s the end of that story, and they could have finished off the Philistines that day if Saul had been a true man of God. For forty years, he’s in constant battle with his surrounding enemies and with the Philistines in particular.
Jesus warns us that our spiritual blindness makes us hypocritical judges. We’re not qualified to wear the crown, nor are we qualified to hold the gavel. Matthew 7:3-5 (ESV) “3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Saul had a log in his eye, and his anger and his desire to be in control was troubling.
The whole nation and your life may be troubled today, my friend, and it’s easy to see trouble in others. Isn’t it easy to see that Saul had problems? He was foolish, boisterous and spiritually dull. He made excuses and blamed others. He was judgmental and he was a hypocrite. He was angry. He was a foolish oath maker. He swore when he didn’t get his way. He even turned on his own family. Every one of us are like him. We all sin. We all try to wear the crown and be in control. We’ve rebelled against God and tried to wear His crown. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
Would you surrender to Jesus today? He’s the king. That’s what God wants you to do today . Would you surrender to King Jesus and say, I want you to be Lord and Savior of my life. The crown belongs to Him. Stop making excuses for your sin. Stop putting faith in numbers rather than God. Stop judging others while ignoring your own sin.
Remember when God asked Adam and Eve, what have you done? They said, we’ve sinned, but they blamed it on others. That very day, He gave the answer. He said this, there’s one coming that His heel will be bruised by the serpent, but He will crush his head. You see, when we sin, we need to confess because God wants to take our sin and offer us his righteousness. Even in the midst of our trouble, He’s ready to save.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You for Your word. Lord, this happened a couple 1000 years ago, but we haven’t changed. Lord, Your word never changes. Lord, we pray for the one right now that’s sitting in their living room or maybe in their car. I don’t know where you are, my friend right now, but I know this; that if you call out to Jesus, He will save you. There’s no other name given under heaven or earth by which to be saved. In the name of Jesus, you can pray with me right now. Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. 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 the person You want me to be. Forgive me of my sins. I want You to be my Savior, my Lord and my King. Lord, I give you my life. Those that are praying that right, know this, that if you confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Others are here today and you’re a believer. But you’ve been looking at numbers. You’ve been looking at others. Maybe you’ve been blaming people right now. Would you do this? Would you recognize He’s “either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.” Would you recognize and give Him praise right now that He’s never left the throne; therefore, you do not need to be afraid. We declare all this now in the name of Jesus and for His sake. Amen.