Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered September 11, 2004 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Heeding His Leading

1 Samuel 15 & 16

Today is the last of a series of sermons about that Great prophet named Samuel. And what a great man he really was, and we have been learning a lot about Samuel, and I hope you have been enjoying this series. And this one is called "Heeding His Leading." It's about First Samuel chapter 15. In this final study we are going to actually learn more about God than we are about Samuel. And really, when you read the bible you should be learning about Jesus and about God, that is your primary purpose. These stories are just meant to just illustrate something about God. Never forget that. You are not just reading the story of Jonah you are not just reading the story of the turning of the loaves and fishes into a whole meal for the 5,000. You learning something about God. So, let's do that as we turn in our Bibles to 1 Samuel chapter 15.

The time is 1026 BC and there was trouble with the Amalekites. Samuel 15:1-3, Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over His people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says [and we should listen up, when our God is speaking]: "I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys."

Destroy them! The Hebrew word means "exterminate them". That is pretty clear. It doesn't mean you should go and give them a spanking. You should exterminate them. The Amalekites were wild desert people, nomads who had descended from Esau. They were not good people. They were very evil. As God's people were led out of Egypt, remember that? Moses was leading the children of Isreal out of Egypt, you know who were the first ones to attack them were? The Amelekites. And do you know how they attacked them? They came up from the rear and attacked the stragglers the older folk, the children. That is who they attacked. These were bad people

Over the years these unscrupulous bedouins attacked again and again. You can read this in Exodus 17. Joshua was doing battle with them and as long as Moses held his hands up, God's people were winning. But you can't hold your hands up very long. They get tired. And so Aaron and Hur helped Moses hold his hands up till sundown, and God's people were victorious. When the battle was over, God made a promise. You can read it in Exodus 17:14. This was given even before the giving of the Ten Commandments. I am going to read this promise from the New Century Version. Exodus 17:14, The Lord said to Moses, write about this battle in a book so that people will remember. And be sure to tell Joshua, because I will completely destroy the Amalekites from the earth.

Now God delayed retribution for almost 400 years. From that day they were doomed to die, but their destruction did not take place for another 400 years. Finally the Supreme Commander of Heaven, the God Almighty, told Samuel to appoint King Saul to exterminate the entire nation from the face of the earth, from their kids to their cattle. Why wait 400 years? Grace! That's the reason. Because we serve a God of Grace and a God of Mercy, God gave them a lengthy opportunity to change their ways. Nehemiah 9:17 says Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness. What God we serve! He gives us a chance! Our God is zealous to save us.

But, their cup of iniquity finally filled up. They became hopelessly evil. There was no chance that they would repent. And so because they had proven how wicked they were, God decided to go ahead and exterminate them. They worshiped idols, engaged in immorality and Idolatry. They even offered their own children as human sacrifices. These were evil people.

Now, if we ourselves, here in the year 2004, persist in our sins, God will eventually have to act, won't he? Just because you do something wrong, because you drink that thing, or go here, or you do that, or you are involved with this, and you don't get slapped by God, does that mean he approved of what you did? That means he is patient with you, that means he is merciful to you. That means he is giving you another chance to repent. Don't keep monkeying around with sin. Get serious about your battle with transgression. Pray that you will be Victorious over sin. That God will give you the ability to overcome that sin. Strive for all that you are worth. Because, God is a God of mercy, but at a certain point we cross a line. And he even promises to give us a chance to be victorious over sin, but don't press it. Don't keep going and going.

Unfortunately, the Amalekites have a lot in common with the United States of America. I truly believe that the United States is about to cross a line of wickedness. I mean, we are wicked here! With our pornography, with gambling, with immoral lifestyle, satanic music, violent TV, you could go on and on and on. Have we also reached judgement time? Has God been lenient with us? How much longer will the United States go on? I don't know. But I know that people and nations cannot keep spurning the Lord. I believe that we are living in the last moments of time. And I don't think it is all that much longer until Jesus comes, I don't really know. But I think that America needs to make an about face. We have sown the winds and are reaping the whirlwind. The elemental forces of nature are beginning monumental changes. You are going to hear more about that two weeks from today when we begin our series on Last Day Events. You they say things come in threes. We've had Charlie and Francis and now Ivan the Terrible. I saw a sign posted on a business in Florida on TV. It said, "1. Charlie, 2. Francis, 3. Ivan, for sale." I would hate to be living in Jamaica. I prayed for those people last night. We need to pray. These are bad times we are living in. Who can say that things are not ripe for the Second Coming of Christ? Hurricanes, and storms we are told will be more powerful and more numerous just before the Second Coming of Jesus. The Amalekites became the object of God's wrath. And America could follow suit.

Come back now to 1 Samuel 15:4 So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim--two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men from Judah. And Verse 7, Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. They went all the way from Israel clear down to territory west of the Red Sea's western branch and east of the Nile river near Egypt. This was a humongous battlefield. It may have taken them many, many weeks to accomplish. And God blessed and a great slaughter eliminated these wicked people. This is a thumbnail sketch of what is going to happen in the last days when the fire destroys the wicked from the earth.

Unbeknownst to Saul, his biggest battlefield was not between Palestine and Egypt; his biggest battlefield was in his heart. Because that's were he was about to fail. Little did he know that this was his last chance to retain his kingship. You see, God wanted a king that had unquestioning faith that leads to obedience. And God had told him to do this, and this was his chance to either make it or break it. You never know when you will reach that same point in your life.

Well, God told them "you go down their, you annihilate those wicked people, you even annihilate their children and their infants." Now why would God do that? Why would God tell them to Go down their and kill the babies ? Had the babies sinned? No. Why not adopt those babies? I don't know. Maybe the inherited predispositions would be too strong to overcome. God told him to eliminate them all, and as far as we know he did.

Verse nine says that Saul saved some things back. He saved the best stuff for his troops and they retained a lot of stuff. "He pounced on the plunder" the New International Version says. Now I think they did some rationalizing there. When they attacked the Amelekites, they killed them all, all of these goodies were lying all over the place, and since the Amelekites had been pestering them, and fighting them, and marauding them, and stealing from them, for 400 years, maybe it was time for Israel to reclaim some of these possessions that had belonged to their forefathers in the first place. I mean, these are family heirlooms and keepsakes lying out there on the dessert. My great-great grandpa used to own that. Why shouldn't we take it home? Why shouldn't we keep some of these sheep that our grandfathers had worked for years and years to bring up to a certain standard. Why burn up these things? So the troops must have argued and Saul listened. And why should they listen to an old prophet that was past his prime anyway? So Saul capitulated and putting their wishes above God's will, they retained the best of the plunder.

Now look at 1 Samuel 15:10, 11. Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel. I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions. Samuel was troubled and, what did he do all night long? He cried to the Lord.

God was broken hearted at Saul's worsening attitude. And old Samuel hadn't slept all night because he loved Saul as his own son. Samuel loved Saul. Samuel had tutored Saul of these years. And he hated to see the man fail. So as a consequence he didn't sleep all night. And then he got up the next morning. He must have been exhausted. He headed out to do God's will. To do that, he needed to hike all the way from his home in Ramah all the way down south to Carmel, not Mount Carmel, but another Carmel, 37 miles he had to walk! He got down there to Carmel and all Samuel could find was a big, fancy monument that Saul had built for himself, because of his pride. Saul wasn't there. The people said they thought he had gone on to Gilgal. And so Samuel had to backtrack 37 miles back to Ramah and then 17 more miles out to Gilgal! And finally, after walking 92 miles over several days, old Samuel found Saul. The next time you get to be eighty years old try doing that. Have you ever walked 92 miles in two or three days?

The Exhausted Prophet came near. He saw thousands of tents. He saw a tremendous herd of cattle and sheep. It became his job to confront someone in a leadership position with public sin. I've had to do it. Probably you've had to do that, too. It is so hard especially when you really care for the individual.

In 1 Samuel 15:13, When Samuel reached him, Saul said, "The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord's instructions." Saul was in a triumphant mood having just accomplished such a great victory. In self justification he brags that he has done exactly as God asked him to do. In 1 Samuel 15:14, But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?" "What's that? And, what is this lowing of cattle that I hear?"

Saul said, "Well, actually the people, the troops did that. I did not do that. And they did it so they could sacrifice to "your God". Not my God...but your God. Can you see how Saul was drifting away from the Lord? If the truth were known they actually purposed to use these animals as a substitute and save their own cattle and not have to spend their own best cattle for an offering. That's why they did it. They were substitutes. Saul did not want to acknowledge his own personal sin. I imagine a heated controversy ensued between him and Samuel. Samuel said, "Well, Saul, you don't understand." Saul said, "I just did it for the people." Samuel said, "you used to be humble but you are getting too independent." 1 Samuel 15:19, Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?"

Saul was hoodwinked into thinking that disobedience was actually obedience. His pride and fantasizing had perverted reality. He said that sparing of King Agag was proof of obedience, but actuality Agag was there and alive proved his disobedience to God. He thought he was obedient when he was just the opposite.

Samuels next words struck terror in the cold heart of tall Saul. 1 Samuel 15:22. But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. I tell you, God wants us to heed His lead. That's what God really wants. Look at 1 Samuel 15:23. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king." Now, those words must have really hurt Saul.

Saul started at this point to eat humble pie. He was sorry he got caught; he was not sorry for his sin but fearful of its penalty. God classified Saul the same as a witch or an idol worshiper. "You're just as bad as a witch. You're as bad as an idolater." As far as God was concerned, Saul was washed-up as a king.

I want to ask you a question about Saul. You know, Saul started out really tall in the people's estimation, and he did very well at the very beginning. And then he slipped and slid so far and fast. Why did he do that? Have you ever thought about why Saul went wrong? Where did Saul go wrong? His heart was not right. When you are a leader, you are not an independent sovereign. You are not the master of the people. You are the servant of the people. You are always subject to God. He was not their master. He was their servant. Saul lost sight of that. Saul's disobedience disqualified him as their king. That's why so often when a pastor goes out, or a leader goes out, or even the President of the United Sates is caught with some lady, he has to be dismissed. The people don't re-elect him. They don't want him. Saul's disobedience disqualified him as king. Benjamin Franklin said: "He that cannot obey, cannot command."

Saul, the tall Benjaminite, had capitulated to the effects of lofty pride. His victory over the Amalekites was the most brilliant victory he had ever gained. His success had over puffed him, and he thought his superior generalship had brought victory, when it was God who gave him the success. Proverbs 16:18 says, Pride goes before destruction. How different Saul had grown from that day when he was modestly hiding in the baggage. The glitter from his crown had blinded his vision. His lofty self centeredness led him in a steep downward spiral where he eventually committed suicide. Proverbs 14:12. There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

He felt that his success was due to his superior abilities when in reality all successfulness is due to God. Paul said in Philippians 2:3 ...But in humility consider others better than yourselves. Never get puffed up about yourself.

God had removed His presence from Saul. The Holy Spirit was withdrawn and Saul thought he could change that, so he grabbed a hold of Samuel. And Samuel went to leave, and Saul accidently tore the worn robe of God's prophet trying to change God's decree. But we serve a God Who does not change His mind - 1 Samuel 15:29. Hebrews 13:8. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. James 1:1(KJV). ... with Whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

1st Samuel 15:33. Samuel put Agag to death before the Lord at Gilgal. That's a short sentence and yet that says a lot. Judgement was rapid upon the king of Esau's descendants. Old Samuel is no wimp, is he? Old white bearded Samuel. I don't know how old he was, 80 maybe. Next time you reach 80 or so, try walking 90 miles after a sleepless night and then imagine topping it off by despatching AGAG. He's not a wimp. 1 Samuel 15:35 - Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him.

Saul continued to rule for another 15 years, but it was a government without God's favor. Why did God allow Saul rule to go on as king for 15 more years? Why would He do that? Grace! We serve a God of mercy!

He's a God of grace, a God of mercy, a God that wants to give us a second chance and a third chance. 2 Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. That's why God delays His judgments.

Just because you're out there with your marijuana, you"re out there with your sin, or your vice, or whatever it is, God doesn't instantly come down here, it doesn't mean that He approves of that, He's giving you time, He's giving you mercy, He's giving you grace that you may come back to Him.

Saul was rejected by God and yet he went on for 15 more years. He had fifteen years to repent. Repent before you get mired down in your sin. Place God first in your life again.

I would like to compare Saul and David. Which of the two kings were without sin? David was faultless, right? He never sinned, right? When Bathsheba came by he looked the other way, didn't he? Which of the two kings was without sin? Neither of them. Both Saul and David were open sinners. David's sin was adultery. Is that worse of better than retaining some of the plunder? So what is the difference? David openly and genuinely repented. David was sorry for his sin. Saul was proud. David was humble. Saul was a king after the heart of the people. David was a king after the heart of God. God had given the Israelites their first king, Saul, because he was a person after their heart. That's what they wanted. His character was a reflection of their character. David was a man after God's heart. No leader, no pastor, nobody, is faultless. But they wanted a king who would rely on God when he sinned, who would submit to reproof and correction.

You know, we don't hear too much from Samuel after this. He anointed David the son of Jesse to be the next king. The focus of scripture from this point seems to swing from Samuel to David. Finally 1st Samuel 25:1 concludes the story of Samuel: Samuel Died. People came and mourned and Samuel was buried at his home. And this is the end of the life of Samuel.

Samuel was one of God's finest leaders in the entire Scriptures. Samuel was a man of God, a man who was not afraid to do God's will. He was consistently following the Lord. He was consistent in heeded God's leading. Samuel was a type of Jesus Christ. You will meet noble Samuel when you get to Heaven. When you get to heaven you're going to see Samuel. And you're going to ask him some questions.

In this story, are you more like Samuel? Or are you ,more like Saul? Do you have a Samuel in your life who instructs, guides and rebukes you and cries all night over your sins? Should you be a Samuel to a needy person? Are you heeding God's leading? And if you do, you could be a modern-day Samuel. You could be involved in helping others and in holding up God's standard.

Hymn of Praise: #71, Come, Thou Almighty King
Scripture: 1 Samuel 15:19-22
Hymn of Response: #590,  Trust and Obey

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