Chasing After God's Heart
Wrapping Up First Samuel
Wrapping Up First Samuel
We’re going to cruise over the last several chapters of First Samuel today and wrap up our journey through First Samuel.
We know that Saul was the first king of Israel; and soon after, while Saul is still serving as king, David is anointed as king of Israel.
What we saw last week was that Saul was becoming more and more violent towards David. Saul, anointed as king of Israel, and David also anointed as king of Israel.
Finally, Jonathan - Saul’s son warns David that Saul is out to kill him.
In the closing chapters of First Samuel - you can get a good overview if you have a study Bible we see titles that show the contrast between the two:
Saul kills the priests at Nob
David saves the city of Keilah
Saul pursues David
David spares Saul’s life
David spares Saul again
David Flees to the Philistines
Saul and the Medium of En-dor
The Philistines reject David
David’s wives captured
David defeats the Amalekites
The Death of Saul
What the narrator of Samuel is doing is giving us a contrast in character. Saul and David though both anointed king of Israel operate on very different levels.
Saul - though by all outward appearances a great selection for king - shows us again and again why we should not judge by outward appearances. He was taller than anyone in Israel, he was more handsome, and yet he is exactly the opposite of what Israel really wanted as king.
Saul takes on the role as king and even steps in where he isn’t called to take on the role fo the priest offering a sacrifice. This is the beginning of his downfall.
Commanded to wipe out the Amalekites - every living thing (man, woman, child, and all of their beasts) instead he leads the Israelites in taking the kings and the best of their possessions.
The people in their search for a king expressed their desire to have someone who would lead them into battle, and in perhaps the most famous text from First Samuel we read of the conflict with Goliath, and Saul is there with the army looking for anyone that is willing to go face down Goliath.
In that moment Saul himself put his confidence not in God, not in himself, he was looking for anyone that would go face Goliath for the people of Israel. Then when David steps forward he doesn’t trust David either but trusts in his armor - it’s like he is willing to trust in anything but God.
We see him as increasingly jealous of David.
Seeks to kill David on multiple occasions.
David - by outward appearances not a great selection for a king. He is repeatedly described as a youth - we know he was likely the youngest son of Jesse, but this may also describe his size.
When anointed king he is brought in from herding the sheep.
David in facing Goliath - was not out with the Armies of Israel, but three of his oldest brothers are.
David recognizes that Israel is God’s chosen people - when he sees Goliath he asks, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
He tells Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go fight this Philistine.” David refers to himself as Saul’s servant.
In challenging Goliath he says, “You come to me with a sword and a spear…but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel... This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, … that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into my hand.”
Continues to serve Saul - playing music for his tormented soul.
Making conquests over Israel’s enemies.
Refuses to take Saul’s life.
Saul’s Downward Spiral
Saul’s Downward Spiral
In chapter 28 of First Samuel, Saul consults a medium. At this point Samuel has died and Saul is looking anywhere for counsel. He has outlawed the mediums and necromancers in Israel, and so they have been put out of the land.
The Mosaic Law specifically forbids mediums and necromancers, as well as other forms of divination:
“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.
“If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.
Necromancy and other forms of divination were common in the ancient Near East; biblical religion is THE ONLY one known to forbid it. By driving out the mediums Saul was certainly trying to be faithful to the Lord, but now he’s even going against his own better choices.
Saul goes to a Medium at En-dor and has her bring up Samuel.
We read what happened in chapter 28:15-19
Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”
Samuel recounts what happened when Saul over stepped his role:
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. 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.”
How do you seek after God’s own heart?
How do you seek after God’s own heart?
The Bible is so clear on what God requires of us…and yet… we all fall short.
We know we sin. If we were to go on reading through 2 Samuel, which I encourage you to do you will find that David has plenty of his own faults too. Yet, he is still referred to as “a man after God’s own heart.”
Because he seeks to honor God, and when he screws up, he confesses it to God and is ready and willing to accept the consequences.
Perhaps one fo the more famous confessional psalms is Psalm 51 where we read
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
That’s David praying, after he’s given into and fed his lust, committed adultery, and upon finding out that his affair has produced a child he has her husband killed - that’s murder. Those are pretty heavy sins, yet he is still referred to as “a man after God’s own heart.”
God’s love is greater than our darkest sin.
God’s more ready to forgive than we are to ask for forgiveness.
God has borne the penalty on the cross in Jesus.
Way back in Genesis when Cain and Abel are competing for the Lord’s attention we read these words:
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
The Apostle Paul writes:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Sin is indeed living in all of us.
Paul concludes chapter 7:
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
And then the glorious reminder
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
We see evidence of God’s drawing us to him throughout the Bible, the Old and New Testaments. Some choose to do it their own way, our challenge is to do it God’s way. God really does want what’s best for you - the best life you can possibly live is the life you were created for. AMEN!