Below are applicable sermon messages from the Christian Heritage Association's Chaplain, Mr. Clell Drumheller, of Houston, Texas. Mr. Drumheller offers an invitation to those who read his sermons that "If you need counseling with any spiritual matter, please, contact a good local Bible-believing church near you. If for whatever reason, this is not possible or practical, please contact Pastor Clell Drumheller of Truth in Love Ministries at www.truthnlove.org."
Saul’s Continual Wars
(Focal Passage: I Samuel 14:47-52)
Submitted by Pastor Clell Drumheller
I Samuel 14:47-52:
47 So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the people of Ammon, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he harassed them. 48 And he gathered an army and attacked the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them.
49 The sons of Saul were Jonathan, Jishui, and Malchishua. And the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal. 50 The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. 51 Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.
52 Now there was fierce war with the Philistines all the days of Saul. And when Saul saw any strong man or any valiant man, he took him for himself.
The rebellious, often straying Israelites had asked for a king like the heavy-handed, abusive, absolute despots of the surrounding pagan nations. They at this time received in full measure the kind of earthly king they had asked for, effectively displacing their true King, the Lord, Himself. The name Saul, even, means “asked for”. When praying it is wise to observe the advice, “Be careful what you ask for. You might, just, get it.” (I Samuel 8-9)
In the focal passage we see that by means of a number of successful military campaigns Saul took full political control of the tribes of Israel. He subdued, at least, temporarily the nation’s enemies to the west and to the north, as well as all along the eastern frontier.
In fact, throughout his approximately forty-year reign, even though early on God rejected him and his descendents as the royal house of Israel, Saul, still, enjoyed a very successful military career – except for his final and decisive battle. As we will see in later chapters, Israel went down when its apostate king, who they with great insistence had asked for, went down.
In this passage we are provided with some background information that will be helpful as we go forward into future lessons. While, in this study, we should look back at prior accounts in Scripture, we should also look forward to later occurrences in the life of Saul – and, also, to the application of the truths revealed in this lesson as they relate to us, today.
I. Saul Gave the People What They Wanted – What They Believed They Needed. (Verses 47-48)
A. Saul was an excellent war-leader (however, he brought continuous war – never, peace).
B. He harassed Israel’s various foes consistently.
C. He sought revenge against the Amalekites, as the Lord commanded. (Deuteronomy 25:17- 19) In this case God commanded genocide! Israel fought with this hostile and powerful Bedouin tribe for centuries. Saul had already defeated an Amalekite invasion. (I Samuel 11)
D. Saul temporarily delivered and, thus, some security to the Israelite nation.
E. Saul repelled and held in check:
1. Moab to the east and somewhat south.
2. Ammon (modern day Jordan) to the east.
3. Edom to the south of Moab.
4. The kings of Zobah to the north; these were kings of small Syrian kingdoms in the Bekah Valley.
5. Philistia to the west and southwest.
(Note: But for the intermingling with “Arabic” tribes, the modern day Palestinians are, effectively, the Philistines. In fact, except for the Amalekites, there seems to be no reason to believe that these ancient tribal enemies of Israel have disappeared. They have, merely, been covered over with the effects of centuries of Islamic paganism. While there are different sects involved, nowadays, most Westerners do not discern essential religious or ethnic differences among these peoples. Nevertheless, they, themselves, are quite aware of them. Still and all, as in ancient times these nations/tribes, still, hold a strong hatred for the Jews. Though in different forms, today, their basic animus towards Israel is, still, religious [now, it is Islamic] and ethnic.)
By human standards, King Saul would, probably, be viewed as an overall success. However, by God’s perfect standard, Saul was an abysmal failure. Of course, God’s standard, the ultimate standard, is the only one that really matters in the final analysis.
II. Saul’s Household Is Recorded in Part. (Verses 49-51)
A. Ishbosheth is not included (probably, because he was born late in Saul’s life and was not involved most of the major events, including battles, of Saul’s career).
B. Jonathan, Saul’s intended heir, was the eldest.
C. Saul, Jonathan, Jishui (also called “Abinadab” in I Samuel 31:2 and elsewhere), and Malchishua all died in battle, losing to the Philistines (I Samuel 3; I Chronicles 10)
D. Saul married off both his daughters, Merab and Michal, to David (with David getting to keep Michal).
E. Abner, Saul’s cousin and scheming commanding general survived until the reign of David.
III. Saul, again, Puts Himself, not the Lord, First. (Verse 52)
In Deuteronomy, Chapter 17, knowing what the people would do, the lord gave instructions concerning how a king should behave. In I Samuel, Chapter 8, God warned the people through the prophet Samuel of what their king would, actually do -- to their sorrow. I Samuel 8:4-21 reads:
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9 Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”
10 So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. 11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men,[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”
19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the LORD. 22 So the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed their voice, and make them a king.”
By the end of his tragic life and reign King Saul had committed many other atrocities, owing to his self-willed rebellion against God. His misdeeds, whether tyrannical actions or, simply, high-handed sins against the Lord, include the following:
1. He forcibly recruited “any strong man or any valiant man” and pressed him into military service for himself. (Verse 52)
2. He performed an unlawful, forbidden public sacrifice. (I Samuel 13)
3. He spared Agag, the captured king of a dangerous enemy of Israel, as well as the spoil that God had commanded him to utterly destroy. (I Samuel 15)
4. He tried to murder David, his God-appointed successor (I Samuel 18 and elsewhere), as well as Jonathan, his own son. (I Samuel 20)
5. He ordered the murder of eighty-five priests of the Lord. (I Samuel 22) [This is one kind of predictable result when a nation embraces the current, erroneous notion of “separation of Church and state” or something like it.] In this action Saul used an impious Edomite, named Doeg, who he had recruited and promoted to be one of Israel’s top military officers.
6. He consulted the witch of Endor (a medium) in direct rebellion against God’s prohibition, which Saul, himself, had formerly enforced! (I Samuel 28) This rebellion against God took place, just, before deaths of Saul and his sons, and the destruction of the standing army of Israel, which Saul had developed. Almost, everything that Saul built, God brought down.
7. He committed suicide, after a servant would not obey Saul’s command to murder him [to engage in assisted suicide of the king]. (I Samuel 31)
As was stated earlier, by God’s perfect standard, Saul was an abysmal failure and God’s standard is the only standard that really matters in the final analysis.
How does your walk with God measure up? Do you have sin(s) to repent of and confess? Don’t delay seeking the Lord’s restoration. Do you, even, have a personal relationship with the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? If your sins have not been washed away by Jesus’ precious shed blood, please, don’t wait another minute to call upon Him for forgiveness – salvation -- in faith, turning from your life of sin. Make no mistake about it; we all sin as Romans 3:23 tells us. Also, do not be deceived, “your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). If you need counseling with any spiritual matter, please, contact a good local Bible-believing church near you. If for whatever reason, this not possible or practical, please, contact Pastor Clell Drumheller at Truth in Love Ministries. May God’s best be yours.