Evening Bible Study
Samuel is the
last of the “Judges”. He is the man who will bridge the gap between the time of
the Judges and the beginning of the Kings of Israel.
We’ve seen God
raise up Samuel to bring a victory over the Philistines.
As Samuel grew
old, the nation became concerned because Samuel’s sons were not good men. The people demanded a king.
Last week we
saw the unusual process involved when God chose Saul to be king over
Israel. Something about lost
donkeys. Saul is about to get his first
:1 Then Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and
all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a covenant with us, and we will
– Nachash – “serpent”. If this makes you think of Satan, that’s
probably pretty accurate.
were the descendants of Lot’s incestuous relationship with one of his
daughters, along with the Moabites. They were constant enemies of Israel. It
was against the Ammonites that Jephthah had fought (Judges 10-12). It’s been about ninety years since
Jephthah defeated the Ammonites and put them in their place. They’re beginning
to push again at the borders of Israel.
The Ammonite threat apparently was building for some time. We will find that
the fear of the Ammonites was one of the hidden factors in why the people were
demanding a king from Samuel. (1Sam.
And when you saw that
Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king
shall reign over us,’ when the Lord
your God was your king.
records (Antiq. 1:6:5) that this war with Nahash takes place one month after
the people have made Saul their king.
He also wrote that Nahash had been making war against all the Jewish people
living on the eastern side of the Jordan River.
I don’t know the source of this text, but “The Message” has an extra
paragraph added to the end of the last chapter:
10:27 The Message) …Nahash, king of the Ammonites, was brutalizing the tribes of Gad and
Reuben, gouging out their right eyes and intimidating anyone who would come to
Israel’s help. There
were very few Israelites living on the east side of the Jordan River who had
not had their right eyes gouged out by Nahash. But seven thousand men had
escaped from the Ammonites and were now living safely in Jabesh.
Nahash has laid siege to Jabesh Gilead. He intends to either wipe it out or
make slaves of its inhabitants.
A siege will cut off all traffic coming in and out of a city. It’s a way of starving a city to death.
:1 Jabesh Gilead
Yabesh – “dry”.
Play map clip
to Jabesh Gilead.
This was the city of Jabesh in the land of Gilead, the land east of the
Jordan River, about 50 miles from Saul’s home in Gibeah.
Back when the
nation of Israel brought judgment against the tribe of Benjamin for sheltering
the wicked men of Gibeah, it was the city of Jabesh Gilead that had not responded (Judges 21:8-14) to join the
When the nation realized they needed to rebuild the tribe of Benjamin on
the last surviving 600 Benjamite warriors, they needed women.
One of the
things they did was to punish Jabesh Gilead for not helping against Benjamin. They
killed everyone in the city except for four hundred virgins, which they gave to the
men of Benjamin.
Saul is not
only from the tribe of Benjamin, but he’s specifically from the rebuilt city of
There’s a good chance that Saul has some sort of a family connection with the city of
:2 And Nahash
the Ammonite answered them, “On this condition I will make a covenant
with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all
:2 put out all your
Nahash tells the people to either be: 1) wiped out by him, or 2) lose their
Some suggest this
is the ultimate to enslave people.
Do you want to treat
these men like slaves? No, we will not come!”
that he put out the right eyes because a warrior would hide his left eye behind
his shield while fighting and only look at the enemy with the right eye. If you
put out the right eye, then the warriors are helpless.
:3 Then the elders
of Jabesh said to him, “Hold off for seven days, that we may send messengers to
all the territory of Israel. And then, if there is no one to save us, we
will come out to you.”
Nahash agrees to the seven days grace period. He most likely doesn’t think
there is anyone to help.
Even if Nahash has heard that there is a new Israelite king (Saul), he
knows they don’t have an army.
:4 So the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news in the
hearing of the people. And all the people lifted up their voices and wept.
:5 Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul
said, “What troubles the people, that they weep?” And they told him the
words of the men of Jabesh.
:6 Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his
anger was greatly aroused.
:6 his anger was
The Spirit and anger
It is possible to be filled with the Spirit and also be angry.
Jesus got angry
in the Temple. Twice.
The first time was at the beginning of His ministry.
(Jn 2:14–17 NKJV) —14 And He
found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money
changers doing business. 15 When He had made
a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the
oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to
those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a
house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples
remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your
house has eaten Me up.”
Three years later the Temple was back to being a
marketplace and He had to do it all over again (Mat. 21:12-13)
Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all
those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money
changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be
called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
I have a hard time seeing either of these events being
done without some amount of anger and passion.
The problem for us is when we get angry and make excuses about it. Our
anger is rarely “righteous”.
(Jas 1:19–20 NKJV) —19 So then,
my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to
wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does
not produce the righteousness of God.
A safer thing for us is to stay away from anger:
4:30–32 NKJV) —30
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed
for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath,
anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one
another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave
:7 So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them
throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying,
“Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to
his oxen.” And the fear of the Lord
fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.
:7 cut them in pieces
This sounds like what the Levite did with his dead concubine after the men of Gibeah had
raped and killed her. (Judg.
The Levite had taken his dead wife, cut her into pieces, and sent parts of her to
all of Israel.
I imagine that when the people of Israel got meat delivered to their
doorsteps, they knew that something serious was up.
:8 When he numbered
them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men
of Judah thirty thousand.
:8 Bezek – Bezeq – “lightning”.
See map video
Seventeen miles to the west of Jabeshgilead. Thirty-five miles north of Gibeah. This becomes the staging ground for their
attack on Jabesh Gilead.
:8 three hundred
thousand … thirty thousand
In all, 330,000 men show up. The ox
bit was pretty good at getting their attention.
:9 And they said
to the messengers who came, “Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh Gilead:
‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have help.’ ” Then the
messengers came and reported it to the men of Jabesh, and they were
:9 they were glad – Do you think???
:10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you,
and you may do with us whatever seems good to you.”
:11 So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three
companies; and they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch, and
killed Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it happened that those who
survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.
:11 Saul put
the people in three companies
strategy, an unusual thing for a farmer and part-time donkey-herder.
The Ammonites are wiped out. Sounds
like a “God” thing.
:11 until the heat
of the day
It would have
been about a five hour battle.
:12 Then the people
said to Samuel, “Who is he who 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 accomplished salvation
:13 Not a man shall
be put to death this day
Just as there are going to be people who will oppose you, there will be
people who will be for you who will want to stick up for you. And sometimes their ideas are not good.
Saul demonstrates great grace here.
He is aware that God has done the work.
He sees no place for revenge.
5:43–48 NKJV) —43
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor
and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you,
love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you,
and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be
sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the
good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what
reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet
your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax
collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall
be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
When we love our enemies, and even pray for them, we will
be a little more like our Father in heaven.
He loves His enemies. He does
kind things to those who hate Him.
advice to “put them to death” comes from inside of you.
When we’ve been in a tough battle, when we’ve faced opposition, sometimes
we turn around and take our frustrations out on those who are next to us
instead of proper enemies.
If I come home from work after a hard day, it’s easy to say unkind things
to my family, when it’s really the issues at work that I’m upset with.
Learn to be gracious.
:14 Then Samuel
said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.”
See map video
Gilgal was that first place of Israel camping in the Promised Land after
having crossed the Jordan River under Joshua.
Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day
of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho.
Last week we saw Samuel set up Gilgal as a place for Samuel and Saul to
meet. (1Sam. 10:8)
You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will
come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace
offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you
With Shiloh being destroyed in the Philistine war, it seems that the people
are using Gilgal as one of the places for gathering the nation.
Samuel uses this opportunity to strengthen and confirm what God has done in
choosing Saul as king.
:15 So all the
people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they made
sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord,
and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
:15 they made Saul
God picks leaders
Even though it is a good thing that we all aspire to mature and serve the
Lord, possibly even in some sort of a leadership role, there is also a sense in
which God is the one who picks out leaders.
When James and John wanted to have the number one and two spots in the
kingdom, part of Jesus’ response to them was:
10:39–40 NKJV) —39
They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will
indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you
will be baptized; 40 but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but
it is for those for whom it is prepared.”
In other words, God is the one who chooses leaders.
We know that Saul was already the king.
He chosen “king”
before Samuel met Saul, when God whispered in Samuel’s ears about meeting him
the day before.
He became “king”
the moment that Samuel poured oil on his head.
He was confirmed
“king” when they drew lots and Samuel finally picked Saul out to be king.
Here, after the
great victory, the people realize that Saul really is their king.
We see the same ideas when Moses led the nation.
There was a
fellow named Korah (Num. 16)
who led a rebellion against Moses. Korah
and his friends thought they could do a better job of leading than Moses and
The earth swallowed up Korah and his rebels.
Then God had the tribes each submit a “rod” to be kept
before the Ark. (Num. 17) In the morning, Aaron’s rod had budded
and produced ripe almonds, showing that he was God’s pick for being priest.
God makes sovereign picks.
confirms the picks with “fruit” (or “nuts”) – like Saul’s victory.
Man does well to recognize what God has already done.
I find it interesting to see that God picked a man from the tribe of Benjamin to
face a crisis in Jabesh
Benjamin is the one tribe that had a pretty close connection to this city,
even though it was located within the tribe of Gad, it was Benjamin that had
this deeper connection because of the mess from Judges 21.
Who would have been better suited to have a passion to raise and lead an
army to save Jabesh Gilead, if not someone from Benjamin?
I find it interesting
that a city that had been wiped out by Israel (Jabesh Gilead) is now being
saved by Israel, and particularly
I find it interesting that the wicked city of Gibeah has now been rebuilt, and it is the one
that has produced the first king, as flawed as he was.
It almost seems
as if God is cleaning up the messes of Judges 19-21 with this war.
And it happens in the middle of a terrifying enemy – Nahash.
In the middle of a war, God demonstrates grace.
:1 Now Samuel said to all Israel: “Indeed I have heeded your voice in all
that you said to me, and have made a king over you.
Now that the people have a king and it has been a pretty successful thing,
Samuel wants to remind the people that this isn’t the time to forget the Lord.
:2 And now here is the king, walking before you; and I am old and
grayheaded, and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you
from my childhood to this day.
:3 Here I am. Witness against me before the Lord and before His anointed: Whose ox have I taken, or whose
donkey have I taken, or whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed, or from
whose hand have I received any bribe with which to blind my eyes? I will
restore it to you.”
:3 whom have I
Samuel is going to have some difficult things to talk about with the
people, but before he does, he asks them to examine him.
This is the same idea behind Jesus teaching us about judging others.
NKJV) —1 “Judge
not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what
judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will
be measured back to you. 3 And why do you
look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your
own eye? 4 Or how can you say
to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is
in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove
the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck
from your brother’s eye.
Too often people take this to mean that we should never
have an unkind word to say to others, even if it’s true.
Jesus’ whole point is to make sure that you look in the
mirror and examine yourself first before pointing a finger at others.
:4 And they said,
“You have not cheated us or oppressed us, nor have you taken anything from any
:5 Then he said to them, “The Lord
is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day,
that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they answered, “He is
:5 His anointed
This is Saul. He has had the oil
poured over him. He has been “anointed”.
:5 you have not
found anything in my hand
Even though Samuel’s sons had been known to take bribes, the people had
never seen anything wrong in Samuel.
The point is this –
Even though the people were afraid of Samuel’s bad sons becoming leaders,
the fact was that Samuel was still the “judge”, and he was still good.
The people were demanding a king out of fear and a lack of trusting God,
not on the fact that Samuel might have been wicked.
In other words,
they had the wrong reasons for wanting a king.
:6 Then Samuel
said to the people, “It is the Lord
who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of
:7 Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous acts
of the Lord which He did to you
and your fathers:
:8 When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of
Egypt and made them dwell in this place.
When they cried for God to help them, He helped them.
:9 And when they forgot the Lord
their God, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of
Hazor, into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab;
and they fought against them.
When the people walked away from the Lord, they got into trouble.
:10 Then they cried out to the Lord,
and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us
from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.’
:11 And the Lord sent
Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of
your enemies on every side; and you dwelt in safety.
– some have suggested this might be another name for Barak.
The Point: Every time the people cried to God for help,
He delivered them.
:12 And when
you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me,
‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king.
Apparently the people had been aware of the building Ammonite threat at the
time that they asked for a king.
This time, when the trouble came, instead of crying to God for Him to
deliver them, they chose their own plan.
They decided what needed to be done instead of the Lord. This time they opted for a king to help them
instead of God.
:13 “Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom
you have desired. And take note, the Lord
has set a king over you.
:14 If you fear the Lord and
serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who
reigns over you will continue following the Lord
:15 However, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was
against your fathers.
:14 obey His voice
The way out
Samuel is laying out the two choices before the people.
Even though they have sinned in why they have asked for a king, God is
still willing to help them.
Have you ever
heard the phrase, “You made your bed, now lie in it”?
We’ve been told that if we’ve made a mess of things, that we’re just going
to have to live in that mess.
Sometimes we get to thinking that God is saying the same thing to us as
Don’t get me wrong – there are consequences for our actions. If we’ve made a mess, there will be a mess to
be cleaned up.
But the point is that some things can be cleaned up.
It may have been the wrong time for the people to be asking for a king, but
God has given them a king and now they have a chance to choose to follow the
Lord instead of just following what the others nations are doing.
Even when we’ve made wrong choices, there is a way out of our mess and we can still
choose to fear the Lord, serve Him, and obey Him.
Example: It’s not an uncommon thing
for people to initiate a divorce, then remarry, and then realize that they had
made a stupid mistake, sometimes wishing they could go back to their first
You can’t unscramble an egg. But you can make a good breakfast.
You may have made mistakes, but you can still choose to
serve the Lord from where you are right now.
:16 “Now therefore,
stand and see this great thing which the Lord
will do before your eyes:
:17 Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the Lord, and He will send thunder and
rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which
you have done in the sight of the Lord,
in asking a king for yourselves.”
:17 your wickedness is great
The idea of having a king is not wrong.
God already had given the people laws kings in Deuteronomy 17.
The issue was motive. The issue was
“why” they wanted a king.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but
have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and
understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so
that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me
:18 So Samuel called to the Lord,
and the Lord sent thunder and
rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
:17 wheat harvest …
The beginning of the wheat
harvest occurs at the end of June and the beginning of July. It seldom rains in Israel during that
time. The sky is usually cloudless.
Why is Samuel doing these things?
trying to impress the people with the notion that the things he’s saying are
from God. He wants them to pay
He’s made them think about his own integrity.
He’s going to demonstrate that God is giving him the words to say.
It’s important that the people don’t go away from this gathering with the
idea that Samuel is simply upset because he’s now out of a job as leader of the
It’s important for the people to realize the truth that they have sinned
and they need to seek the Lord.
:19 And all the
people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all
our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.”
:20 Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this
wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord
with all your heart.
:21 And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things
which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing.
:21 after empty
Turning to the wrong things won’t help you.
(Je 2:13 NKJV) “For My
people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living
waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no
In the Holy Land, because of the lack of water, the people would collect rain water in huge
underground reservoirs, called cisterns.
They were carved into the rock and the people would divert the rain
water into the cisterns to store it. But
woe to the person who spends all this time carving out a cistern that doesn’t
hold any water. A lot of work for
In contrast, God is like a fountain of living waters, an artesian well, a
source of fresh bubbling water.
Sometimes we spend time on things that are “empty”
that really seem like a great way to lower your electric bills?
I think it’s an “empty thing”
Sometimes the things we spend our time doing in life are just as silly and
What do you turn to when you’re in trouble?
We need to look to the Lord.
:22 For the Lord will not forsake His
people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for
us, who can be against us? 32Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is
God who justifies. 34Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall
tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or
sword? 36For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels
nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be
able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
:23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I
will teach you the good and the right way.
:24 Only fear the Lord, and
serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has
done for you.
:25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and
:23 in ceasing to pray
The implication is that Samuel has been continually praying for the
people. And he isn’t about to stop.
There actually is a time that God told someone to stop praying. God told Jeremiah:
do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make
intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.
God had gotten to the place with the nation where He was
going to bring judgment and nothing was going to stop it.
But that is the exception to the rule.
As a general rule,
a spiritual leader will pray for his flock.
It would be a sin not to.
Samuel is considered in the Psalms as a man of prayer:
(Ps 99:6 NKJV) Moses and Aaron were among His
priests, And Samuel was among those who called upon His name; They called upon
the Lord, and He answered them.
We need to pray for those we lead.
but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the
ministry of the word.”