1 Samuel – Chapter 15

1 samuel chapter 15

Verses 1-3 – God knew that the Israelites could never live peacefully in the Promised Land as long as the Amalekites existed. The Amalekites lived by attacking other nations and carrying off their wealth and their families; they were the first to attack the Israelites as they entered the Promise Land; and they continued to raid Israel’s camps at every opportunity.

Verse 9 – Anything under God’s ban was to be completely destroyed (Deuteronomy 20:16-18). This was set up in order to prevent idolatry from taking hold in Israel because many of the valuables were idols. To break this law was punishable by death (Joshua 7). Selective obedience is just another form of disobedience.

God Rejects Saul as King

Verse 11 – God’s comment was an expression of sorrow, not an admission of error (Genesis 6:5-7). An omniscient God cannot make a mistake; therefore, God did not change His mind. He did however; change His attitude toward Saul when Saul changed. Saul’s heart no longer belonged to God. He was only interested in his own interests.

Verse 12 – Saul built a monument in honor of himself. What a contrast to Moses and Joshua, who gave all the credit to God.

Verses 13, 14 – Saul was only deceiving himself when he said the good animals were for a sacrifice to the Lord. Dishonest people soon begin to believe the lies that they tell others. Then they lose the ability to tell the difference between lies and truth. When people’s lies are found out, they will lose all credibility in relationships with others.

Verses 22, 23 – Samuel was God’s spoke person, so even though it grieved him, he had to tell Saul what the Lord had said to him. Have you ever spent all night crying over someone who has turned his or her back on the Lord? Samuel did. In today’s society people think that witchcraft is someone who conger up evil spells to do harm to others, but God calls “rebellion”  witchcraft and “stubbornness” iniquity and idolatry. Then Samuel says the words that were painful for Saul to hear, “He has rejected you from being King.”

Verse 23 – Rebellion is a serious sin. It’s much more than arrogance, independence, or strong-mindedness. Scripture equates them with divination (witchcraft and idolatry). Rebellion against God is perhaps the most serious sin of all because as long as a person rebels, he or she closes the door to forgiveness and restoration with God.

Verse 26 – If we don’t act responsible with what God entrusts us with, eventually we will run out of excuses. One day, we all must give an account for our actions (Romans 14:12; Revelation 22:12).

Verse 30 – Saul begged Samuel to go with him to worship so the people would think God still supported him. Saul was more concerned with “saving face” in front of Israel than guilty of disobeying God.

1 Samuel – Chapter 14

1 samuel chapter 14

Verse 1 – Saul’s poor leadership was not a result of personality traits but of decaying spiritual character; he had no communication with Jonathan; he made a foolish curse; and he ignored the well-being of his own soldiers. Jonathan went alone to attack the Philistines because he knew it was no problem for God.

Verse 6 – While the majority of the men that were with Saul were afraid to attack, Jonathan and his armor-bearer trusted God. God honored the faith and brave action of these two men with tremendous victory. Our God is never intimidated by the size of an enemy or the complexity of a problem. With God, there is always enough resources to resist the pressures and win the battle.

Verse 12 – Jonathan didn’t have the authority to lead all the troops into battle, but he could start a small skirmish in one corner of the enemy’s camp. When he did, panic broke out among the Philistine and the Hebrews who had been drafted by the Philistines revolted. Sometimes a few small steps are what’s needed to begin the chain of events leading to eventual victory.

Verse 19 – “Withdraw your hand” refers to the Urim and Thummim. They were withdrawn from the linen ephod (vest) as a way to determine God’s will. Saul was rushing the formalities of getting an answer from God so he could hurry and get into battle to take advantage of the confusion in the Philistines camp.

Verse 24 – Saul had made an oath without thinking through the implications. Saul’s impulsive oath sounded heroic, but it had disastrous side effects.

Verses 32-34 – One of the oldest and strongest Hebrew food laws was the prohibition against eating meat containing animal’s blood (Leviticus 7:26, 27). This law began in Noah’s day (Genesis 9:4) and was still observed by the early Christians (Acts 15:27-29). The blood represented life and life belongs to God.

Verses 35, 36 – Throughout Saul’s reign, he consistently approached God only after he had tried everything else. How much better if Saul had gone to God first, building an altar as his first official act as king. God is too great to be an afterthought.

Verse 39 – Saul had issued a ridiculous command and had driven his men to sin, but still wouldn’t back down even if he had to kill his son. Sticking to the story, just to save face, only compounds the problems.

Verse 43 – Evan though Jonathan was unaware of Saul’s oath, he was willing to accept the consequences of his actions.

Verses 44, 45 – Let’s not be like Saul. Admit your mistakes, and show that we are more interested in doing what’s right.

Verse 47 – Why was Saul so successful right after disobeying God? Sometimes ungodly people win battles. God may have given Saul victory for Israel’s sake. Regardless of God’s reasons for delaying Saul’s demise, his reign ended exactly the way God had foretold.

1 Samuel – Chapter 13

chapter 13

Verses 3, 4 – Jonathan attacked and destroyed the Philistine outpost, but Saul took the credit. Saul’s growing pride started out small-taking credit for a battle that had been won by his son. Taking credit for others accomplishments, indicates that pride is controlling your life.

Verse 6 – Anytime we only look at our resources, we have a tendency to panic. The Israelites became terrified and hid when they saw the mighty Philistine arm. They forgot that God was on their side and that He can’t be defeated (Romans 8:31-37), “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Verse 9 – Our true spiritual character will be revealed under pressure. The methods we use to accomplish our goals are as important as the attainment of those goals. In 1 Samuel 10:8, Samuel gave specific instructions for Saul to follow (10:8), “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”

Verses 11-13 – When Saul felt that time was running out, he became impatient with God’s timing. When making a decision, God’s timing is everything. He works all things out for our good for those who love the Lord, who are called according to His purpose and in His timing. When you are obedient to God, He is responsible for the consequences. Saul had plenty of excuses for his disobedience. But Samuel nailed the real issue: “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you.” Sometimes excuses are nothing more than disobedience. God always knows our true motives. By trying to hide his sin behind excuses, Saul lost his kingship (13:14).

Verses 19-22 – After this incident with Samuel, look how many men are left with Saul – 600. Israel was in no position to conquer anyone. The army had no iron weapons and there were no facilities for turning their tools into weapons.

1 Samuel – Chapter 12

chapter 12

Verses 1-3 – Samuel continued to serve the people as their priest, prophet, and judge, but Saul exercised more and more political and military control over the tribes (7:15). In Samuel’s farewell speech, Samuel asked the Israelites to point out any wrongs he had committed. By doing so, Samuel was reminding them that they could trust him. He also reminded them that having a king was their idea. Samuel was reminding them so the people could not blame him when God punished them for their selfish motives.

Verse 10 – The Baal’s and the Ashtoreth’s were pagan gods.

Verse 11 – Jerub—Baal was the name given to Gideon when he demolished the altar of Baal (Judges 6:32).

Verses 12-15 – God had given the people a king, but He never changed His requirements for right living. God is the true King of every area of our life.

Verse 17 – The wheat harvest came near the end of the dry season during the months of May and June. Because rain rarely fell during this period, a great thunderstorm was considered a miracle.

Verse 22 – God did not choose Israel to be His people because they deserved it (Deuteronomy 7:7). He chose them that they might become His channel of blessing to all people through which the Messiah would come (Genesis 12:1-3).

Verse 23 – We may disagree with others but we  should continue to pray for them. Samuel told the Israelites he didn’t agree with them wanting a king but never the less he would still pray for them.

Verse 24 – Taking time for reflection allows us to focus our attention upon God’s goodness and it will strengthen our faith in Him.

1 Samuel – Chapter 11

samuel chapter 11

Israel Makes Saul King

Verses 1-3 – At this time, Israel was very susceptible to invasion by tribes such as these Ammonites from east of the Jordan River. Why would Nahash give the city of Jabesh Gilead seven days to find an army to help them? Because Nahash was betting that no one would come to the city’s aid. He was hoping to take the city without a fight.

Verse 6 – Anger is a powerful emotion. It can drive people to hurt others with their words or physical violence. Saul was angered by the Ammonites threat to humiliate and mistreat his fellow Israelites. The Holy Spirit used Saul’s anger to bring justice and freedom. When injustice or sin makes you angry, ask God how you can channel that anger in a constructive way to help bring about a positive change.

Verse 8 – Judah, one of the 12 tribes, is often mentioned separately from the other 11. Three reasons; Judah was the largest tribe (Numbers 1:20-46); Judah is the tribe from which most of Israel’s kings would come (Genesis 49:8-12); Judah would also be the tribe through which the Messiah would come (Micah 5:2).

Verse 14 – Saul had been anointed at Ramah (10:1); then he was publically chosen at Mizpah (10:17-27). By defeating the Ammonites, it confirmed his kingship in the people’s minds; at this time, all the people confirm his rule.

Verse 15 – This fellowship offering was an expression of gratitude and thanksgiving to God, symbolizing the peace that comes to those who know Him and live in accordance with his commands. Unfortunately, this attitude did not last with Saul, just as God had predicted (8:7-19).

1 Samuel – Chapter 10

1samuel chapter 10

Verse 1 – When an Israelite king took office he was not only crowned, he was anointed. A priest or prophet always anointed a king. This anointing ceremony was to remind the king of his great responsibility to lead his people by God’s wisdom and not his own.

Verse 5 – The presence of Philistines garrisons meant Israel’s enemies were encroaching seriously on Israel’s territory.

Verse 6 – Throughout the Old Testament, “God’s Spirit” “came upon” a person temporarily so that God could use him or her for great acts. This was not always a permanent, abiding influence, but sometimes a temporary manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Yet, at times in the Old Testament, the Spirit even came upon unbelievers to enable them to accomplish God’s purpose (Numbers 24; 1 Chronicles 36:22, 23). However, as Saul’s power grew, so did his pride. After a while he refused to seek God, the spirit left him (16:14); and his good attitude melted away.

Verses 10, 11 – A prophet is someone who speaks God’s words. The phrase “everyone who knew him” previously describes the citizens of Gibeah, probably Saul’s family and friends. Their question, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” – reflects their amazement.

Verse 19 – Israel’s true king was God, but the nation demanded another. Imagine choosing any human being instead of God.

Verse 20 – Only the high priest could use the Urim and Thummim, which were designed to give only yes or no answers. God had instructed the Israelites to make the Urim and Thummim for the specific purpose of consulting him in times such as this (Exodus 28:30; Numbers 27:12-21).

Verse 22 – Often people will hide from important responsibilities because they are afraid of failure, afraid of what others will think.

Verse 25 – The kings of Israel, unlike kings of other nations, had specific regulations outlined for them (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Pagan kings were considered gods; they made their own laws and answered to no one. “Deposited it before the Lord,” means that Samuel put the book, as a witness to the agreement, in a special place at Mizpah.

Verses 26, 27 – Some men became Saul’s constant companions, while others despised him. At this time, Saul took no notice of those who seemed to be against him, although later he would become consumed with jealousy (19:1-3; 26:17-21).

1 Samuel – Chapter 9

1 samuel chapter 9

God Chooses Saul

Verses 2, 3 – Saul looked impressive – seemingly good leadership material according to human perception. To own many donkeys was a sign of wealth, and to lose them was a disaster. This encounter with Samuel was no ordinary encounter. Often we think events just happen, but as in this story about Saul, God will use common occurrences to lead us where He wants. No opportunity is wasted.

Verse 6 – The city where the servant said the prophet (or seer) lived was probably Ramah, where Samuel moved after the Philistine battle near Shiloh (7:17). Saul’s lack of knowledge about Samuel showed his ignorance of spiritual matters. Saul just wanted to find the donkeys.

Verses 7, 8 – Saul felt it inappropriate to approach the man of God without a gift. Or he may have thought the prophet would ask for a reward for telling him where the donkeys were.

Verse 9 – The text clarifies that the term “prophet” eventually replaced “seer” but the terms describe the same office.

Verse 13 – Blessing the sacrifice was part of Samuel’s priestly role.

Verse 21 – Saul’s outburst reveals a problem he would face repeatedly – feeling inferior. Everything Saul did was selfish because he was worried about himself. For example, Saul said his clan was “the least” in the smallest tribe in Israel, but in verse 9:1, it says his father was a “man of standing.” Although Saul had been called by God and had a mission in life, he struggled constantly with jealousy, insecurity, arrogance, impulsiveness, and deceit. He never committed wholeheartedly to God.

1 Samuel – Chapter 8

1Samuel chapter 8

Israel Rejected Samuel’s Sons as Leaders

Verses 1-3 – As an old man, Samuel appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. Somehow, they turned out to be corrupt much like Eli’s sons (2:12). If grown children do not follow God, realize that you can’t control their choices that they make. Don’t blame yourself for something that is no longer your responsibility.

Verses 4-6 – The people wanted a king, thinking that a new system of government would bring about a change in the nation. But because their basic problem was disobedience to God, their other problem would only continue under a king. Our obedience will be weak if we ask God to lead us but continue to live by the world’s standards and values.

Verses 19, 20 – Samuel plainly explained to the people what would be required if they chose a king over God to lead them. The Israelites refused to listen. When we have an important decision to make, we should consider the negative aspects, not just the positive. The Israelites wanted to be like other nations that were ruled by a king not God. But God never intended them to be like other nations. God wanted other nations to follow Israel’s example. God’s view and purpose for His people has never changed. As Christians, we are to set examples of whose we belong to. The ways of the world will creep in if we are not careful and then no one will see a difference in our life or someone that doesn’t know Christ.

1 Samuel – Chapter 7

samuel chapter 7

Verse 1 – The ark was taken to Kiriath Jearim, a city near the battlefield, for safekeeping. It wasn’t taken back to Shiloh perhaps because it may have been destroyed in an earlier battle with the Philistines. Apparently, the tabernacle and its furniture were saved because we read that the tabernacle was set up in Nob during Saul’s reign (21:1-6) and in Gibeon during the reigns of David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 16:39; 30; 2 Chronicles 1). Samuel’s new home became Ramah, his birthplace.

Verses 2, 3 – Israel mourned and sorrow gripped the nation for 20 years. The ark was put away like an unwanted box in the attic. Samuel, now a grown man, roused them to action by saying that if they were truly sorry, they should do something about it. We won’t receive new guidance from God until we have acted on the previous directions God has given us.

Verse 4 – Baal was believed to be the son of El, chief deity of the Canaanites. Baal was the god of thunder and rain. Ashtoreth was goddess of love and war (she was called Ishtar in Babylon and Astarte or Aphrodite in Greece). She represented fertility.

Verse 6 – Pouring water on the ground “before the Lord” was a sign of repenting from sin, turning from idols, and determining to obey God alone.

Verses 7-10 – The Philistines heard of Israel’s gathering and marched up towards Israel. Samuel offered a sacrifice and cried out to the Lord, who answered him by causing the Philistines to become confused.

Verse 15 – Samuel judged Israel throughout his life, though his ministry seemed to decline somewhat following the appointment of Saul as Israel’s king (chapter 12).

Verse 17 – Samuel’s establishment of an altar to the Lord further suggests Shiloh had been destroyed.

1 Samuel – Chapter 6

samuel chapter 6

Verse 2 – Priest and diviners represented the Philistines religious authorities.

Verse 3 – A restitution offering applied to situations where holy things (the ark) became defiled. However, a rat and tumors made of gold was not the requirement commanded by Moses from God. How easy it is for people to design their own methods of acknowledging God rather than serving Him in the way He requires.

Verse 6 – The Philistines knew Israel’s history and what their God had done for them coming out of Egypt. They were determined to learn their lesson quicker than the Egyptians had.

Verses 7, 8 – Two cows that had just given birth were hitched to a cart and sent toward Israel’s border carrying the ark. For a cow to leave her nursing calf, she would have to go against all her motherly instincts. Only God who has power over natural order could cause this to happen.

Verse 12 – The cow’s path left no room for doubt about God’s guidance.

Verse 15 – Beth Shemesh was a city appointed for the Levites (Joshua 21:16).

Verse 19 – The Levites should have covered the ark but they did not. Only Levites were allowed to move the ark. Because of their disobedience, God carried out His promised judgment. God did not want the cycle of disrespect, disobedience, and defeat to start all over again. The Israelites had used the ark as a power to their own ends. God didn’t kill these men of Beth Shemesh to be cruel. He killed them because to have ignored their presumptuous sin would encourage the whole nation of Israel to ignore God.