We're continuing in our series of sermons on Samuel. Samuel was an exciting character in the Bible. He did a lot of things. Our focus will be on 1 Samuel 10, and chapter 11 today.
You know, a donkey is a bit like a four-wheel-drive Hummer. When a donkey gets loose you never know where that thing can go. It could go up the mountain. They could go anywhere. Saul's daddy one day said, "Saul, I need for you to go out and hunt the donkeys down. They've gotten away." Well, what kind of a job is that? You have to search Palestine to find those critters. Well, it was tough. And he went out looking for his father's lost donkeys, but what he found was a throne, and not a donkey. He never did find the donkeys. Somebody else found them, but Saul found God's divine appointment for his life. You never know what God will do with your life if you place it in His hands, do you? You may be in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, you may be in McDonald, Tennessee. When you turn your life over to Jesus Christ He's in charge and He'll take care of you.
Who is our God? God is the King of Kings. Israel's God was the King of kings. God Himself was their King. He ruled them through a theocracy. But when they looked out at all the other nations around themselves, those nations didn't have a theocracy, they had a monarchy. Israel said, "We want a monarchy. We want to be like our neighbors. We want to be like the pagans." And they insisted on exchanging the King of kings with Saul. Do you think that was a good trade? Why do we want that type of stuff? We may have something good and we're going to leave it for something bad.
God had always been their king, and they snubbed God. God had always been their King. You can read about this in 1 Samuel 10. He didn't feel very good about it, I can imagine, because they chose somebody else. Rather than reject them, I want you to notice something very nice about God. When they rejected Him as their King He still loved them. In fact, God decided to help them in their unwise decision. Now, normally if you bite something off you have to chew it. But they bit it off and He said, "I'll help you chew it. I'll help you in your predicaments. You're insisting on this and so I'm going to let you do it. But I'll help you in your unwise decision." You know, God usually gives us what we want, within certain parameters. If you want a character like Jesus Christ, God will give that to you. If you want to leave Him, God will let you do that. And God decided to help them. When we make an unwise decision, God still helps us. He does not forsake us. He gives us a second chance. It's always there. And some of you have taken that second chance. You've been out of the church for years. And now you're coming back in. What a God we serve! He's always there to welcome us back.
Come over here to 1 Samuel 10. Notice who God chose to set up this new king. The king-maker was none other than Samuel. 1 Samuel 10:1, Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him, saying, "Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance? So he anointed Saul as the new king.
Now I want you to look at the next few verses, 1 Samuel 10:2-6, all of the happenings that the prophet, Samuel, predicted would happen. Some people would say, "These were coincidences." You know, Jeanie Dixon can guess what is going to happen in the future, maybe. Although she can't. But, Samuel was a true prophet of God. He predicted a large number of things that would happen here. Look at verses 2-6. I'm just going to list them off:
Do you know the statistical probability of those events happening in that order? The probability of events mentioned in that sequence in these 5 verses is one in eight million! 1 And it happened just like that. Just as God said, just as Samuel predicted. That's amazing! This would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to Saul that he was called of God. You need to know that you're called of God. As a pastor I need to know I'm called of God without a shadow of a doubt. And I know that.
Let's go to 1 Sam 10:9 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God did something very special to him. God changed Saul's heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. Everyone of them. That same day the were all fulfilled.
God's unseen hand works in the happenstance's of life. If you look back on your life, there've been a lot of coincidences. But maybe they weren't. If you will zealously follow the lead of God you will see that in the happenstances of life His hand is leading you. Let me tell you a story. This happened right after World War II.
January 10, 1948 Marcel Sternberger took a new route to work so he could visit a sick friend on the way. At noon he came to the subway. He took a different subway car that he'd ever taken before. It was real crowded, there was standing room only. But just as he entered a man jumped up and ran out the door. So he quickly sat in this seat. He noticed the man next to him was reading a Hungarian newspaper. And he had grown up in Hungary so he struck up a conversation with the stranger.
They started talking and eventually the man shared a tragic story. It seems that back in the war which had recently gotten over not too long ago that he was sent to a labor camp. Eventually the Russians came and captured him. They took custody of him and he ended up burying German soldiers during the war. After the war he walked hundreds of miles to get back to his homeland. When he got back to his home town, he came to his uncle's house and other people were living there. He came top his grandparent's house and somebody else was living there. He came to his own house and it was occupied by strangers. Finally he did meet somebody that he knew and he said, "Where is my family?' Your family were all taken to the concentration camp and they were all gassed at Auschwitz
Sternberger sat and listened to this sad tale. Slowly he began to remember he had heard a similar story recently from a young woman who herself had been taken to Auschwitz to die but was moved to a factory. All her family had been gassed in the concentration camp. He had been so moved by the story that he had written it down on a piece of paper. He wrote her phone number down and her name and a couple other details. "Could there be a connection?" he thought. He got the wrinkled paper out of his pocket and studied it. The train reached the station. As they were about to get out, he said to the man sitting beside him: "Is your first name Bela?"
The man turned as white as a sheet. He said, "Yes." "Was your wife's name Marya?" The man looked like he might faint. "Yes!" Sternberger took the man to a telephone booth and he dialed the number on the paper. A lady answered and said her name was Marya. Sternberger asked if she remembered him. "Yes, I remember you." Then he asked her where she lived before the war and she told him the street address. Sternberger turned to the man and said: "Did you and your wife live on such and such a street? "Yes!" Said the man as he stood there white as a sheet. Then he handed the phone to the man and said: "Here, take the phone and talk to your wife! She's alive!" When the man realized he was talking to his wife he broke down into uncontrollable crying. Sternberger put him in a taxi and he went to the home of his wife. Each had thought the other was dead. And what a sweet reunion they had.2
Now you can think that all the events that led them together were just coincidences; they were just happenstances. They just happened to be on the train. We need to realize that God's hand leads in our lives at times. Don't you think so? God leads us far more than we would probably ever know. We need to recognize that. But the Readers Digest where this story appears says: "Was it chance or did God ride the Brooklyn Subway that afternoon?" God is involved in our lives. God was involved in Saul's life. He's involved in your life. He wants to lead us if we will just listen.
Continuing our story we read:1 Samuel 10:9 says God changed Saul's heart. He changed his character. "The grace of God dwelled in his heart." 3 I think Saul was genuinely converted. God's Spirit filled his heart. He was changed into a different person. I Samuel 10:6 He was born again.
Saul had been anointed in a private ceremony, but God wanted to publically announce the king to everybody. And so they got everybody together at Mizpah. Samuel gathered all the people of the country, all the leaders. They came together and all twelve tribes were represented. It must have been an exceedingly great crowd. It was far more important. They were selecting the king of God's people. Here God publically chose Saul among all the people of Israel to be their selected their new king. And He did it fairly.
Well, how did He do it? I don't really know, but I think they all stood before Samuel, and I think maybe a representative walked slowly in front of Samuel, and Samuel was probably wearing the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim on it. Everybody looked on with interest. As each leader of each tribe walked by, one of them would light up. The Urim lit up like a bright red stop-light. "Well, that's not the one." So the next one would come and it would light up red. And so on. Finally, the smallest tribe of all, the tribe of Benjamin leader came by and the Thummim lit up, probably like a green "Go" light. That was God's choice. Look at 1 Samuel 10:21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri's clan was chosen. Finally Saul son of Kish was chosen. Now, I don't know exactly how that worked.
The crowd was stunned. All surely expected that God would choose from the most powerful or largest tribe. But God chose an unknown farm boy from the smallest tribe. How often God uses the least for His Greatest.
Samuel 10:21. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. They had a new king but they couldn't find him. And, where does it say he was? Are you reading on ahead; I hope you are. This is an interesting story. God through Samuel revealed that their new monarch was hiding among the baggage. Everybody had come. They were all in a tent-city like Oshkosh where all the Pathfinders were. Once they extracted him from among the baggage and he stood up and unfolded himself they found that he stood a full head taller than anybody else. "Wow! There's our king!" They were impressed. By the way did you know that most leaders are tall? Most Presidents. People want to look up to their leaders.
Apparently he was also unparalleled in his looks. He was a fine-looking man. Judging by externals, he was impressive. Instantly the crowd shouted: Long Live the King! (Verse 24). They accepted him just like that!
Now, God chose Saul, didn't He? Did God know that Saul would turn out bad? Remember he consulted with the witch of Endor and everything else. Did God know that? So Why did God choose Him in the first place? And we can ask another question: Why did Jesus choose Judas? Did Jesus know that Judas would turn out bad? And, why did God create Lucifer? Did He know that Lucifer would turn out to be the devil? What I think the answer to all these questions is, God wants to give all of us chance. He doesn't judge us so much by what we're going to be but by the potential of what we could be. He gives us that chance. Everybody has an equal opportunity to be saved. Nobody is doomed to die in the darkness and destruction of the lost at the end of the world. We can all be saved, even Saul could have been a great king.
Now notice here in 1 Samuel 11 one of the greatest things that he ever did. In the year 1043 BC there was trouble in Palestine. (Sounds like currant news doesn't it!) Na-Hash the Ammonite king of the East besieged Jabesh Gilead, an Israelite town on the far side of the Jordan River. The Ammonites were descendants of Lot. This gives you the story here where you've got Abraham's kids and Lot's kids and they're fighting. That's typical. They may have thought they were the true Palestinians. This is so modern. The Bible doesn't say just why they attacked. But one of the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QSam) includes a verse just before verse 1 of chapter 11 4. In fact, many Bibles has this verse in it. I want to show you what this missing paragraph has. It's very interesting. It gives you the reason why they attacked. This missing verse adds a very interesting detail. Many scholars think this should be a part of the Bible.
King Na-Hash had already gouged out the right eye of most captured Israelite men on the East side of the Jordan river. I don't know why he wanted to gouge out their right eyes, I don't understand that. Maybe he did this so the archers and sling shot experts could not aim well any more. But seven thousand Israelites had escaped and holed up in the fortified town of Jabesh Gilead. Now king Na-Hash was coming to gouge out their right eyes. Look at 1 Samuel 11:3. They had this big problem The elders of Jabesh said to him, "Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue us, we will surrender to you."
"Give us a week!" What an elders meeting that must have been! That was a pretty serious problem, wouldn't you say? None of them deserved any help because of their tarnished reputation. Remember Levite's concubine? She was ruthlessly killed. (Judges 19-21) Levi dismembered his concubine's body and sent a sample to each tribe. Immediately Everybody joined him in meting out retribution upon the killers. The whole nation rallied together. Everybody came except the townspeople of Jabesh Gilead! They did not come to help. They stayed at home in their Lazy Boy chairs. They wouldn't help. Now it was they who were going to have their right eyes gouged out. Now it was they who needed the help. So they sent out messengers to everybody: "Could you please come and help us? We didn't help you when you needed help, but now we need help, so it's different now."
They finally had gotten seven days to find rescue. There was no cell phone or even a post office. Runners, like the old American Western Frontier were sent out to ask for help. Imagine seeing a sweat soaked exhausted man run up to your town gate. A crowd soon surrounded him. Wide eyed and fearful he begged for help. Word of the impending doom came to King Saul.
Notice 1 Samuel 11:4-6. When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. See, they had forgiven their brothers, hadn't they. They wanted to help. Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, "What is wrong with the people? Why are they weeping?" Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said. When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger.
Saul came alive with leadership. Instantly he determined a successful plan to enlist an army. In 1 Samuel 11:7 He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, "This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel." "We're in this together," even though I don't even know if he had consulted with Samuel. Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they turned out as one man. And they came out and helped.
It was an uncivil savage way to sign up an army but it worked. 330,000 fighting men answered the call to come and help their brothers. They assembled in Bezek, about 15 miles west of the besieged town. Bezek was down in a valley hidden from the view of the enemy.
Saul's army must have looked like a rag tag bunch. No uniforms, no suitable weapons. The Philistines had the patient on the technique of smelting iron. Sauls soldiers had only crude ox goads, and farming tools made of wood or brass, all coming to fight against this enemy.
Saul led the attack at dawn. As the sun came up three groups came over the hills. Each consisted of over 100,000 angry farmers, herders, and vineyard workers. They slaughtered the Ammonites. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together - verse 11.
I imagine that everywhere Saul looked after that he saw smiles on every face. "You are our king. You're the man!" He was an instant hero. This military victory marked the high water point of King Saul's administration. From then on it went downhill. We're going to talk about that next week. He had a great start. What was the reason for His great success? Back in 1 Samuel 11:6 tells the secret. It says, The Spirit of God came upon him in power! Now, don't ever think, if you're a doctor, if you're a preacher, if you're a nurse, or whatever it is, don't ever think, "Well it's my thing that has gotten me where I am." No! It's the Holy Spirit. Give the credit to God. And that's the reason: the Holy Spirit came upon him. Ellen White speaks about the Disciples of Jesus at Pentecost.... "The Holy Spirit did for them that which they could not have accomplished for themselves in a lifetime." 5 And that's what the Holy Spirit ca do for you.
You know, here we are living in the last days, this is the year 2004, the last abbath in August and we're approaching the fall of the year. Time is flying. We are approaching the end of the world. If there was ever a time when God's people need the Holy Spirit it's right now. The only reason we're going to be successful in giving the 'Loud Cry' in the last days is if the Holy Spirit comes upon us. The Holy Spirit came upon Saul and he accomplished a phenomenal deliverance. And everybody talked about it, I'm sure, for a long time. He did that because of the power of God, because God took care of him, because God was with him. I think that we need to realize that if there is any success in our lives, it's because we put God first. That's the reason. So, let Jesus be the King of your heart. Invite the Holy Spirit into your life. Let Him be in charge of you, He will take good care of you. He'll make you a new person, a new woman, a new man, a new boy or a new girl, whatever you are. Let Him be in charge of you and He will take good care of you.
1. The books of Samuel, Vol. 1 p. 114, by Cyril J. Barber, Loizeaux, Neptune, New Jersey 1994
2. "It happened on the Brooklyn Subway", Reader's Digest, May, 1949, p. 45-48.
3. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 613, Ellen White, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1958
4. 1 Samuel 11 the missing verse: "Now Nahash, the king of the Ammonites, had been oppressing the Gadites and the Reubenites, gouging out the right eye of each of them and allowing Israel no deliverer. No men of the Israelites who were across the Jordan remained whose right eye Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had not gouged out. But seven thousand men had escaped from the Ammonites and entered into Jabesh-gilead."
5. Acts of the Apostles, pp. 38.40, EG White
Other SOURCES: 1st and 2nd Samuel, by J. Vernon McGee, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1991 Men of Character, Samuel, by Gene A. Getz, Broadman and Holman, Nashville, TN, 1997 Bible Amplifier, Samuel, by Alden Thompson, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Boise, ID, 1995 The NIV Application Commentary, 1st and 2nd Samuel, by Bill T. Arnold, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 2003 "Chosen to be God's prophet," Lessons from the life of Samuel, by Henry Blackaby, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2003
Hymn of Praise: #3, God Himself Is With Us Scripture: 1 Samuel 10:5-7 Hymn of Response: #99, God Will Take Care Of You 040828 #557
Return to McDonald Road Sermons Index
Return to McDonald Road SDA Church Home Page
McDonald Road Sermons converted to HTML and
last updated August 29, 2004 by Bob Beckett.