Study Notes

1Samuel 11:1-12:25

11:1-3 Nahash Besieges Jabesh-gilead

You may recall that in our study of the book of Judges, the Benjamites refused to bring the men of Ghib-AW to justice for raping and murdering a woman. All of Israel gathered against them to do battle, but no one from Yaw-BASHE Ghil-AWD came to assist.

Because of this, Israel also struck down the inhabitants of Yaw-BASHE Ghil-AWD. Although the city had continued to exist, they were a reproach in Israel, and did not expect anyone to help them when Naw-KHAWSH the Ammonite besieged their city. In fear, they attempt to surrender, but Naw-KHAWSH's condition is that the right eye of every man in the city will be gouged out.

Why did he make this demand? It would make them almost unable to fight. Think of it... Without your right eye, you cannot aim your bow, cannot peek out from around your shield, or have any depth perception. This would be a terrible handicap in war. Plus, it would be a humiliating reproach upon them - an lifelong and obvious testimony to their weakness.

This adds depth and weight to the fact that Jesus taught,

Matt. 5:29 "And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

It is better to make yourself handicapped and humiliated than to be whole in hell.

In desperation, the people of Yaw-BASHE Ghil-AWD decide to call for help, though they are expecting none. "Give us a week to find help, otherwise, we will agree to your terms."

11:4-9 Saul Answers A Cry For Help

The messengers came to Ghib-AW, the city which years ago had been the scene of the terrible crime that caused the depletion of the tribe of Benjamin. Saul lived here, and when he heard of Yaw-BASHE Ghil-AWD's predicament, the Spirit of God once again came upon him.

Remember that when the Spirit came upon the judges, they were empowered for battle against the enemies of the children of God.

This happened to Oth-nee-ALE:

Judg. 3:9-10 And when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Oth-nee-ALE the son of ken-AZ, Caleb's younger brother. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Koo-SHAN Rish-aw-THAH-yim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Koo-SHAN Rish-aw-THAH-yim.

Also, when Israel was oppressed by the Midianites:

Judg. 6:34 ...The Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; and he blew a trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called together to follow him.

Also, for Samson against the Philistines:

Judg. 14:19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them

The Spirit also comes upon us for empowerment. Oh, not to kill, but to give life. Jesus said,

Acts 1:8 shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses..."

So the Spirit came upon Saul, and he immediately rallied Israel by threatening to cut up the oxen of any man who failed to gather for war. As a result, 330,000 men assembled at BEH-zak to fight the Ammonites.

11:10-13 Victory Over The Ammonites

Saul leads Israel to victory over the Ammonites. This leadership is welcomed by the people, who remember that when he was chosen by lot, some

1Sam. 10:27 ...certain worthless men said, "How can this one deliver us?" And they despised him and did not bring him any present...

"Let's put those naysayers to death," the people tell Samuel. But Saul refused, and insisted that no Israelite be put to death on that day, giving the credit for the victory not to himself, but to the Lord.

11:14-15 Saul Recognized As King

Samuel calls the people to renew the kingdom at Ghil-GAWL. He had anointed Saul privately, and the Lord had chosen him by lot publicly. But it wasn't until the people were convinced powerfully that he would be recognized as king. Now that he has shown himself able to lead victoriously, Saul is recognized as the king.

12:1-5 Samuel Declares His Righteousness

Samuel begins his farewell speech as the nation's "leader." (Of course, it had been God who was leading Samuel all along.)

I have found that no matter where you work, the one who catches the blame for everything that goes wrong is the last guy who left. "Why weren't these files in the right place?" "Stan, the guy that quit last week, it's his fault." "Who built this frame crooked?" "It was Jimmy, the guy that retired last month." Your reputation begins being trashed the day you leave the job.

Samuel points out that his life has been under public scrutiny since he was a child serving in the tabernacle. He says, "If I've done anything wrong, let me know now, and I'll make it right." No one could name a single instance of wrongdoing.

How awesome it would be if we could stand in the same righteousness! Can you stand in front of everyone you've ever known and say the same thing? You can't change the past, but you can

Titus 2:12 ...deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age

Can we learn to live with this in mind: each day, living in such a way that we can say, "I have taken nothing, defrauded no one, done nothing wrong to a single person today."

12:6-13 You Never Needed A King Before

Samuel then reviewed Israel's history, reminding them that it was the Lord who delivered them from Egypt, from See-ser-AW, captain of the army of Khaw-TSORE, and the Philistines and the Moabites. He used guys like Moses and Aaron, judges like Gideon (Yer-oob-BAH-al), Bed-AWN, Jephthah, and Samuel. He had always delivered them without the help of an earthly king before.

God was the king, and the judges were his officers. Now Israel has demanded a king, and they've got one in Saul.

12:14-15 Serve The Lord

Even now that they've chosen a man over God as their king, Samuel tells them it's not too late. They simply need to follow the Lord, and God will bless them. But if they do not, God's hand will be against them.

The same has been true throughout the ages. It's a wonder not many of us have caught on yet! If we live righteously and follow God, He watches out for us and blesses us. If we abandon His Word and His ways, then He removes the blessings and we flounder in misery. Why do we wander? James wrote,

James 4:8-10 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

If we will turn from sin and draw near to God, we can rest assured that we will not be out of his will and blessing.

12:16-18 A Miraculous Sign

God confirmed what Samuel said by sending a sign. Signs are one way that God removes a person's doubt.

John 4:46-53 ...There was a certain royal official, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him, and was requesting {Him} to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him, "Unless you {people} see signs and wonders, you {simply} will not believe." The royal official said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he started off. And as he was now going down, {his} slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. They said therefore to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." So the father knew that {it was} at that hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives"; and he himself believed, and his whole household.

Signs don't bring faith, for faith comes by hearing. But signs can remove doubt that is an obstacle to faith. This official wanted to believe, for he came to Jesus. But Jesus knew that he would not believe without being shown this sign.

This is of course not the ideal form of faith that God desires. When Thomas believed after seeing, Jesus rebuked him, saying

John 20:29 ..."Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed {are} they who did not see, and {yet} believed."

So, after hearing the truth of Samuel's message, and proving it with a miraculous sign, the people of Israel were without excuse before the Lord.

12:19-25 Israel's Repentance

Fortunately, Israel believed that what Samuel said was from the Lord. They recognized that they had in fact sinned when they asked for a king.

They knew from their history that God frequently judged Israel for their sin, and implore Samuel to intercede for them. Samuel reassures them again that if they will simply follow the Lord, the Lord will not judge them for this sin.

Maybe tonight you feel like you've gone too far in your sin. You feel like you've hit the limit of God's mercy. Let me reassure you as Samuel did.

Lam. 3:22-23 The LORDS lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.

Hebr. 13:5 ...He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,"

Ps. 103:11-13 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on {his} children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

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