Study Notes

1Samuel 8:1-9:27


At the end of chapter seven, there was a section which I feel ties in more with the events of chapters eight through ten. There we read,

1Sam. 7:15-17 Now Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he used to go annually on circuit to Bayth-ALE and Ghil-GAWL and Mits-PAW, and he judged Israel in all these places. Then his return was to Raw-MAW, for his house was there, and there he judged Israel; and he built there an altar to the LORD.

The prophet Samuel lived in Raw-MAW where both his house and the altar he built were, but he also went every year to three cities to judge Israel. This was his ministry route and routine for many, many years.

8:1-3 Samuel's Greedy Sons

Samuel had two sons, naming them Yo-ALE, whose name means "Yahweh (or Jehovah) is God," and Ab-ee-YAW, meaning "My Father is Yahweh (or Jehovah)."

Samuel was in ministry since he was in elementary school. He heard the voice of God. He was in ministry both at home and abroad. He acknowledged the Lord in everything he did - even in naming his children. The boys couldn't have asked for a more godly role model than their father Samuel.

Now many commentators have blasted Samuel for appointing his sons as judges over Israel. But I do not see that as a fault. As I read these three verses, I see that they "turned aside" from Samuel's ways. They certainly must have been of godly character at some point for Samuel to place them in such a position. Men of God raised by a man of God, yet who turned away from God.

How did this happen? They...

1Sam. 8:3 ...turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.

The love of money.

In the gospel of Luke, we read that someone came to Jesus and said,

Luke 12:13-15 And someone in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the {family} inheritance with me." But He said to him, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?" And He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed..."

Greed. The desire for more money, more wealth. The writer of Hebrews also warned,

Hebr. 13:5 Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have

Why can't we love money? Jesus said,

Matt. 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

Loving money will force you to make a choice. Paul reminded Timothy,

1Tim. 6:9-10 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.

What's the difference between an apostle who follows Christ faithfully for life and one who plunges into ruin and destruction? Greed. Judas Iscariot's greed led him down the path of apostasy, plunging him into ruin and destruction.

Too many in ministry have been ruined and destroyed by a love of money. If this can happen to judges, apostles, and ministers, what can happen to you if you continue to live in greed?

8:4-6 Israel Demands A King

Israel had enough of corruption in their leadership. And they felt it was time to do something about it. What they should have done was confront Samuel and say, "Listen, your sons are corrupt. They need to be removed from this place of position. We need to pray and ask God to find righteous, godly men who will hear from the Lord to judge us as you have done these many years."

The Lord honors it when we recognize a problem of unrighteousness and seek His counsel in bringing about a righteous solution. But that's not what happened. Here, Israel saw an unrighteous problem and decided that they would get it rectified their own way.

Do not be fooled by this in your own life. It is easy to feel righteous when carnally trying to solve a problem of unrighteousness. One of the most frequent situations I run into regarding this is that of dealing with someone who sins against you. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 18,

Matt. 18:15-17 "And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen {to you,} take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer."

This is the formula that Jesus gave us. No stipulations, no exceptions, no loopholes. But I can't even count how many times people have made excuses to me why they cannot follow this righteous outline. And people have come up with some pretty good-sounding alternatives. But what I always say is this, "If you are trying to bypass God's way to arrive at a godly solution, it will not happen. It won't. Don't fool yourself. God won't honor it, and it will not happen."

Israel tried to arrive at a righteous solution by an unrighteous decision by demanding a king. This obviously upset Samuel, but Samuel prayed.

8:7-9 A Sympathetic Lord

Imagine how Samuel must have felt - it was like he was being impeached. "We don't want your kind of leadership anymore. We want a king - and you're not it!" The Lord can relate. He says, "Samuel, they've forsaken you in the same way they've always forsaken me."

You know what's great about the Lord?

Hebr. 4:15-16 ...We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as {we are, yet} without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

Every temptation, every trouble, every circumstance that hurts you, bothers you, upsets you, and floors you, Christ can relate. He can sympathize. He's been there, done that, and knows how you feel. That makes me feel confident to approach the Lord with every problem - whether I need grace or mercy.

No Surprise

Now this demand for a king didn't take God by surprise either. You can't surprise God. He knows all the punchlines to all your jokes. He knows when you're planning a surprise party. And He knew all along that Israel would demand a king. He even told Moses that.

Deut. 17:14 "When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,'

God knew that they would imitate the world's ways in desiring a king. And so He spends the rest of Deuteronomy 17 telling them that if they do this, they had better take the king that God chooses, rather than whom they would choose.

Then He explains the rules by which this king will live: He must be an Israelite, must not multiply horses to the kingdom to trust in power. Must not multiply wives to himself to be a stumbling block. Must not multiply riches to himself. He has to be a Biblical scholar, writing his own copy of the Law of God, and reading it every day. Otherwise, he will be a lousy king, exalting himself above his countrymen, and turning away from the commandments of God.

8:10-18 Samuel Warns Israel What A King Will Do

God told Samuel to tell Israel that a king will demand taxes, servants, lands, and livestock. And when they start to complain about it, not to expect God to feel sorry for them and fix the mess that they have gotten themselves into.

8:19-22 Israel Disregards Samuel's Warning

Stubbornly, Israel continued to demand a king, so the Lord conceded to their wishes. Believe it or not, God will allow you to continue down a path of sin if you insist on it.

I remember years ago, we would make hot chocolate for my daughter, but put ice cubes into it so that it would cool enough to keep her from burning herself. But when she saw that others were drinking it hot, she began to insist. "No," we'd tell her. "You can't drink it hot. You'll burn yourself." But she would cry and pout and insist. Finally, we gave in. "Don't say we didn't warn you." And wouldn't you know it? The very first sip, she burned her mouth and started screaming.

If we demand enough, God will often let us do the same thing. He's given us a free will. And though He is always faithful to warn us, He won't prevent us if we're insistent. But let us not expect Him to bail us out when we have defiantly gone out in our own direction despite repeated warnings.

9:1-2 Saul

Chapter nine opens up with the genealogy of Saul. His father was Keesh, son of Ab-ee-ALE, the son of Tser-ORE, the son of Bek-o-RATH, the son of Af-EE-akh. This family was from the tribe of Benjamin. The Benjamites, you may recall, were known more for their ability as warriors than as godly men.

Keesh's son Saul was the tallest and most handsome man in all of Israel.

9:3-4 Searching For Donkeys

When Keesh's donkeys got out, he sent his son Saul along with a servant to search for them. They traveled for many miles - though the lands of Ephraim, Shaw-lee-SHAW, Shah-al-EEM, and the land of the Benjamites, but did not find them anywhere.

9:5-14 Seeking The Seer

By the time Saul and his servant got to Tsoof, it was apparent that they'd better head home. But the servant had an idea. He knew that the prophet Samuel lived in Raw-MAW, and they should seek his counsel.

Saul had a concern. "You can't just ask a man to prophesy without paying him, and we've got nothing." But the servant had some silver with him, so payment wasn't going to be a problem.

As it turned out, Samuel was just returning home from his circuit of cities, to bless the sacrifice that was scheduled for that day.

9:15-17 Samuel's Revelation

The Lord had told Samuel the day before what to expect. The king that Israel had asked for would arrive in town from Benjamin the next day.

9:18-20 Divine Guidance

I love the way this story happens. Keesh's donkeys happen to run away. Saul happens to end up in Raw-MAW. The servant happens to suggest they look for the seer. Saul happens to walk right up to Samuel in the city.

Have you figured out yet that nothing "just happens" in your life? As believers, we cannot attribute anything to the "luck of the draw." There are really no coincidences for you as a Christian. (The rabbis say that "coincidence is not a kosher word.")

The Scriptures say,

Prov. 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.

But at the same time, we cannot begin putting spiritual significance on every little detail we observe.

Prov. 20:24 Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, how then can man understand his way?

We can't look at a situation and say, "this is what God is doing." It is an impossibility and very presumptuous. With my recent affliction of having a paralyzed vocal chord, I know that it isn't just coincidence or bad luck. How then should I view it? That's the catch - I can't understand it, because my steps are ordained by God. In fact, I could assume many things about it.

judgment of God: I'm being judged for sin in my inward heart that isn't being repented of.

Attack of satan: I'm hitting the enemy too close for his comfort by teaching the Word and leading people to Christ.

Refiner's fire: God is using this to make me more dependent on Him, and to cause me to grow closer in my walk with Him.

Thorn in the flesh: This has happened to keep me from being prideful as the Lord blesses the church.

Glory to God: The Lord has made this happen to heal me miraculously and cause many to be saved and others' faith to be strengthened.

Opening new doors: The Lord wants to raise up others in the music ministry, and has taken away my ability to sing.

Many of these possibilities are opposites. They cannot all be true. I'll stick to what I know: God has allowed it. It's happening for a reason. I will entrust myself to the mercy of God while I go through it.

Saul didn't know that while he was on this stupid trip looking for some stupid donkeys that his entire life was about to take an incredible turn. He was about to become king over all of Israel!

Whether you are in pain and suffering, or blessings of abundance, you need to understand that you don't understand. You cannot know what God is doing, you just need to have faith that the Word is true when it says,

Rom. 8:28 ...God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.

The assurance I can give you is that if you love God and are called, then He's working it all out for good.

9:21 Benjamin The Smallest

Why did Saul say that the tribe of Benjamin was the smallest? Remember what had happened at the end of the book of Judges. Some men of Benjamin had raped a man's concubine to death, and then the rest of the tribe defended the action rather than bringing the men to justice.

Judg. 20:11-14 Thus all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united as one man. Then the tribes of Israel sent men through the entire tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What is this wickedness that has taken place among you? Now then, deliver up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove {this} wickedness from Israel." But the sons of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the sons of Israel. And the sons of Benjamin gathered from the cities to Gibeah, to go out to battle against the sons of Israel.

Most of the Benjamite men were killed as a result. It took a long time to repopulate an entire tribe with so few left.

9:22-27 Samuel Meets With Saul

Samuel begins to meet with Saul regarding the Word of the Lord about his future. Next week, we will see Saul crowned king.

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