1 Samuel 11-12:   “Saul Leads Israel In Victory Over The Amonites / Samuel’s Farewell Speech

By

Jim Bomkamp

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1.     INTRO:

 

1.1.                     In our last study, we looked at chapters 9-10 and the search that Samuel made to find a king for the children of Israel, and we saw that the Lord led Samuel to select Saul, the son of Kish, a Benjamite.

 

1.1.1.  We took a long look at the character of this man Saul and discovered that though the Lord chose Saul to be king over Israel that He chose him because Saul was the type of king that they wanted and because since the Israelites were now going to be in God’s “permissive” will instead of His “perfect” will that the Lord was going to use this king to discipline them.

 

1.1.2.  We looked at the danger of evaluating preachers and ministries based upon external appearances rather than the real substance of their ministry based upon the scriptures.

 

1.2.                     In our study today, we are going to look at chapters 11-12 and we will see king Saul in his best form as he initially handles well the testings that the Lord puts him through.

 

1.2.1.  In chapter 11, the Amonites come and threaten the people of the city of Jabesh-gilead, and they tell the people of the city that they will destroy them in battle or if the people are willing to have the Amonites gouge out all of their right eyes that they will allow the city to surrender to them, and only in this way they will make peace with them. 

 

1.2.2.  When this threat is made by the Amonites, the people of Jabesh-gilead then send for help to the other tribes.  Saul hears about their plight then and becomes angry as the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him, and he summons all of the children of Israel together to go to battle against the Amonites. 

 

1.2.3.  The Lord helps the children of Israel in battle against the Amonites and they destroy the Amonites in battle.

 

1.2.4.  In chapter 12, the Israelites formally accept Saul as their king and have a coronation ceremony for him as their king.

 

1.2.5.  Samuel begins chapter 12 however with his farewell speech as leader over God’s people, and in that speech he:

 

1.2.5.1.      Defends his conduct before the people all throughout his lifetime.

 

1.2.5.2.      Recounts Israel’s history contrasting God’s faithfulness and the people’s faithlessness.

 

2.     VS 11:1-3  - 1 Now Nahash the Ammonite came up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a covenant with us and we will serve you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “I will make it with you on this condition, that I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you, thus I will make it a reproach on all Israel.” 3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Let us alone for seven days, that we may send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to deliver us, we will come out to you.” -  The Amonites come up against the city of Jabesh-gilead and besiege it, then when the people of the city ask to make a covenant with them, the Amonites tell them that they will make this covenant if they can gouge out the right eye of everyone in the city

 

2.1.                     This man “Nahash” the Amonite, appropriately his name means “Snake,” for the despicable offer that he makes to the people of the city of jabesh-gilead to gouge out their right eyes to make peace truly is serpentine.

 

2.2.                      With the right eye gouged out of the men of war, they would not be able to hide behind their shields (that is if they were right eye dominate like most people are) and their archers would not be able to shoot accurately since they would have no depth perception.

 

2.3.                     The Lord here is dealing with the people of the city of Jabesh-gilead.  If you remember from Judges chapter 21, when the nation had to come together in battle against the tribe of Benjamin because of the horrible wickedness that they had participated in regarding a man’s concubine who was raped and murdered, it was the people of the city of Jabesh-gilead who had refused to come together to help out their Israelite brothers.  Now, they are crying out to their brothers to come and to rescue them.

 

2.4.                     The people of Jabesh-gilead are wise in asking for a week to consider the offer by the Amonites.  This gave them time to see if Israel would rescue them.

 

2.5.                     The Amonites probably granted this request for a week to think about this because they didn’t think Israel could be brought together to help out the people of Jabesh-gilead and they weren’t prepared just yet to attack anyway.

 

3.     VS 11:4-8  - 4 Then the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and spoke these words in the hearing of the people, and all the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5 Now behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen, and he said, “What is the matter with the people that they weep?” So they related to him the words of the men of Jabesh. 6 Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became very angry. 7 He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout the territory of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen.” Then the dread of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out as one man. 8 He numbered them in Bezek; and the sons of Israel were 300,000, and the men of Judah 30,000. -  Saul hears about the plight of the people of Jabesh-gilead and is enraged as the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him, and he summons all Israel together by using a threat

 

3.1.                     In chapters 9-10 we saw the search for a king which ended with the Lord’s selection of Saul.  We then saw that Samuel privately anointed Saul as king over Israel.  Then, Samuel introduced the children of Israel to their new king.  However, what we notice here is that after those events that instead of taking up ruling over Israel as king that Saul went back to the farm and resumed his farm duties.  The crisis that comes up here though catapults Saul into being formally accepted by the children of Israel and after defeating Ammon he begins to govern over the people as king.

 

3.2.                     Saul had an affinity for the people of the city of Jabesh-gilead because he had descended from a woman from that city.  After the tribe of Benjamin had been virtually wiped out, it was determined that the young men from the tribe of Benjamin could kidnap girls from the city of Jabesh-gilead and take them as their wives.  Saul had come about as a result of one of these marrages.  See Judges chapter 20-21.

 

3.3.                     We see here that the reason why Saul was successful in this campaign was because the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him.  It was not because of any innate leadership abilities that Saul had, nor was it the result of coincidence.

 

3.4.                     In Judges 20-21, when a Levite’s concubine was raped by the Benjamites until she died, the Levite cut her up in pieces and sent a piece to every tribe with a note about what had happened and a challenge to respond.  Saul evidently borrowed that idea to some extent when he cut up his oxen here and sent a piece to each of the tribes and threatened them that if they didn’t come out to fight that the same thing would happen to their oxen.

 

3.5.                     Sometimes in the scriptures we learn not only from what is written but also from what is not written.  What I do not see here in Saul’s response is that though he is stirred by the Spirit to muster an army and defeat the Amonites, he does not inquire of the Lord about this.  King David, the man who will follow Saul and who was called by the Lord as a man after his own heart, always inquired of the Lord before he went out in battle.

 

3.5.1.  Note also that Saul is not a worshipper.  He does not worship the Lord and exalt His Name before going out into battle. 

 

3.5.1.1.      It is no wonder that after this great battle that Saul became lifted up in his own pride and ability for he hadn’t worshipped the Lord going into the battle. 

 

4.     VS 11:9-12  - 9 They said to the messengers who had come, “Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh-gilead, ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you will have deliverance.’ ” So the messengers went and told the men of Jabesh; and they were glad. 10 Then the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.” 11 The next morning Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp at the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. -  The children of Israel conquer the Amonites laying siege against the city of Jabesh-gilead

 

4.1.                     After Saul had mustered the army of 300,000 Israelites together, he tells the people of the city of Jabesh-gilead that he will deliever the city in the heat of the next day.

 

4.2.                     The men of Jabesh-gilead cause the Amonites to become over-confident and to let down their guard.  The men of Jabesh-gilead sent word to the Amonites that on the next day that they would come out to them and they could do to them as they wished.

 

4.3.                     Saul separated the army of Israelites into three companies and attacked the Amonites in the middle of the night (2Am-6Am), possibly following the example of Gideon in his defeat of the Midianites (Judges 7).

 

4.4.                     The Amonites were so taken by surprise and soundly defeated in battle by the Israelites that they scattered to such an extent that there were not even two Amonites together.

 

5.     VS 11:12-13  - 12 Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is he that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has accomplished deliverance in Israel.” -  The men of Israel now want to put to death those who hadn’t want to accept Saul as king, however Saul dissuades them from this

 

5.1.                     Saul is handling this first test of his new kingship very well.  Wisely, he determines to be noble and not to go after those detractors who despised him as their king when Samuel had presented him to the nation. 

 

5.1.1.  Later on during his reign, Saul didn’t allow any dissent and would have dealt harshly with these ‘worthless fellows’ who refused to acknowledge him as their king.

 

5.2.                     Saul will spiral downhill quickly after our story today however.  He should have been more cautious of himself than ever after this glorious victory that the Lord gave him over the Amonites, however instead Saul was less cautious and discerning and he ended up being carried away in his pride.  We will see very soon that because of his disobedience the Lord will take the kingdom away from him.

 

5.3.                     Saul did not appreciate as he should have what a blessing it is to be used by the Lord.  Saul on this day got to see the Lord do great things on behalf of His people.  He got to see the power and glory of the Lord up close, yet he really didn’t value this as he should have.  Saul goes from serving the Lord to serving himself after this battle. 

 

5.3.1.  We Christians need to consider what a blessing it is when the Lord uses our lives for His service.  What a blessing it is to win someone to Christ or to be used to help another Christian in their walk in the Lord.  In fact, whenever God uses our lives through any of the various gifts of the Spirit and ministries we might be involved in, this is a tremendous blessing for us.  Nothing on earth compares to the blessings of God using our lives mightily in service for Him!

 

5.3.2.  We Christians can’t experience those blessings of being used by the Lord however until we surrender our life totally to Him and tell Him to use us as He will. 

 

5.3.2.1.      Have you surrendered your life completely to Christ to be His disciple, His vessel to use as He wills?

 

5.3.2.1.1.  The other day, I was blessed as I listened to long time Christian musician Annie Herring’s testimony of how she came to know Christ.  She said that back in the early 70s she had record contracts, a band, and fame offered to her, and that in fact it was as if at that time that she was being offered whatever this world had to offer, or, she could choose just to have Jesus.  She chose to have Jesus and she surrendered all of her life, hopes, and future to the Lord to do His will.  I remembered then my own commitment 30 years ago that I made to give my life 100% to the Lord to do His will.  Each of us must make such a complete commitment to the Lord if we are to be His people and to inherit eternal life.

 

5.3.2.1.2.           Sen. John Ashcroft in a 1996 speech said, “No reserves. We are called to live a life of total commitment. I believe that this is true not only as its relates to our faith but in every aspect of our existence. God’s word makes it clear that God abhors the tepid and the middling: “I know your deeds, that you are lukewarm, so I am about to spew you out of my mouth.” ( Revelation 3:15 , 16 ) No half measures, no reserves.”

 

5.3.2.1.3.           In Deut. 10:11-12, the Lord spoke to Moses of the total commitment to Him which His people are to have, “11 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, proceed on your journey ahead of the people, that they may go in and possess the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.’ 12 “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

 

6.     VS 11:14-15  - 14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come and let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they also offered sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. -  Samuel tells the people to assemble at Gilgal so that they can renew their commitment to Saul as their king

 

6.1.                     As was mentioned earlier, formerly Samuel had presented Saul to the people as their king, however the people were now going to formally accept him as their king, or renew their commitment to him as king.  What we read about here is known as a king’s “coronation” ceremony.

 

6.2.                     It is significant that Samuel brought the people to Gilgal.  In the book of Joshua we see that Gilgal was the city that Joshua first brought the Israelites to when they had initially crossed the Jordan River and entered into the land of Canaan.  At Gigal they reconsecrated their lives to the Lord and those were circumcised who had not before been circumcised.  Gigal became throughout the era of the conquest of Canaan the city that the people went to in between battles so that they could reconsecrate their lives to the Lord.

 

6.3.                     There was great rejoicing of the Israelites there in Gilgal, and the people offered up peace offerings to the Lord.

 

7.     VS 12:1-5  - 1 Then Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have listened to your voice in all that you said to me and I have appointed a king over you. 2 “Now, here is the king walking before you, but I am old and gray, and behold my sons are with you. And I have walked before you from my youth even to this day. 3 “Here I am; bear witness against me before the Lord and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? I will restore it to you.” 4 They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” 5 He said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day that you have found nothing in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.” -  Samuel begins his farewell speech by defending himself and his ministry to the people

 

7.1.                     Being brought to the tabernacle and dedicated to the Lord by his mother at a very young age, Samuel had always lived a public life before the people.  His life was an open book you might say. 

 

7.2.                     Being such a remarkably faithful man before the Lord all of his life, Samuel knew that there was no one who could bring a charge against him for he had always lived his life before the people as being above reproach.

 

7.3.                     I had mentioned in an earlier study that when the people demanded that they be given a king that Samuel was very disappointed on many levels. 

 

7.3.1.  Samuel knew he was being rejected by the people as their leader.  God had appointed him to serve over the people in the function of a priest, judge, and a prophet.

 

7.3.2.  I believe that Samuel was also disappointed that he could not turn his ministry over to his sons to carry on.  His sons were rebellious and wicked and had taken bribes from people and thus they were rejected by God and the people as leaders.

 

7.4.                     The people for their part affirm back to Samuel that indeed his life was blameless before them.

 

7.5.                     What a testimony it is for us as Christians if we live consistently in a life of obedience and service to the Lord!  Perseverance and not becoming weary in well-doing speaks volumes to those of the world around us who are watching our lives and testimony.

 

8.     VS 12:6-11  - 6 Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. 7 “So now, take your stand, that I may plead with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous acts of the Lord which He did for you and your fathers. 8 “When Jacob went into Egypt and your fathers cried out to the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron who brought your fathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place. 9 “But they forgot the Lord their God, so He sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. 10 “They cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned because we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth; but now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve You.’ 11 “Then the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Bedan and Jephthah and Samuel, and delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around, so that you lived in security. -  Samuel recounts for the people how that the Lord had always been faithful to the children of Israel

 

8.1.                     When Samuel tells the people in verse 7 to ‘take your stand’ he is telling them to stand up and take notice because he has some important admonition from the Lord to share with them.

 

8.2.                     God’s faithfulness:  Samuel reminds the people that when the children of Israel were slaves living in Egypt and cried out to the Lord that He raised up for them Moses and Aaron who brought the people up out of Egypt and slavery.

 

8.3.                     Their failure:  The children of Israel forgot the Lord their God and thus the Lord sold them into the hand of Sisera, the captain of Hazor’s army, the Philistines, and the Moabites.  It was the people’s sin that brought upon them all of their difficulties and trials.

 

8.4.                     God’s faithfulness:   Samuel reminds the people that when the children of Israel confessed their sin and cried out to the Lord while being oppressed by other nations, that the Lord raised up other judges to deliver them, including Jerubbaal (Gideon), Bedan (probably Barak), Jepthah, and Samel (he was the last of the judges to deliver the children of Israel).

 

9.     VS 12:12-16  - 12 “When you saw that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ although the Lord your God was your king. 13 “Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 “If you will fear the Lord and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the Lord, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. 15 “If you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers. 16 “Even now, take your stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes. -  Samuel tells the children of Israel that even though they were rebellious when they asked for a king that they can still have God’s blessing on them if they will just listen to His voice and not rebel against His commands

 

9.1.                     There is no doubt that the children of Israel had sinned in asking for a king:

 

9.1.1.  They had demanded a king, they wanted to have a king and now they have him. 

 

9.1.2.  They had also sinned by desiring the wrong things in a king.  They wanted a king like the other nations, not a king who would be after God’s own heart.

 

9.2.                     There was still hope for the people however.  The Lord had not given up on them as His people, they were still under His covenant, and if they faithfully obeyed the law of the Lord they would inherit the blessings promised by the covenant.  However, if they rebelled against the Lord and disobeyed His law they would inherit the curses of the law.

 

9.3.                     Samuel admonishes the people to take a stand for the Lord and be righteous in His eyes, and if they will do this they are promised that they will see great things that He will do before their eyes.

 

10.            VS 12:17-22  - 17 “Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call to the Lord, that He may send thunder and rain. Then you will know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the Lord by asking for yourselves a king.” 18 So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. 19 Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.” 20 Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 “You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile. 22 “For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself. -  Samuel tells the people that he will ask the Lord to confirm the words he has spoken to them by causing a huge thunderstorm to occur during that dry time of the season

 

10.1.                We see here that the Lord works a miracle through Samuel much in the same way that He worked through the lives of other prophets of the Old Testament, for instance, Elijah, when Elijah prayed for draught and also for rain and the Lord answered his prayers.

 

10.2.                Samuel tells the people that the thunder and rain that would occur at his word was sent to reinforce to the children of Israel their wickedness in asking for a king for themselves, and in doing so rejecting the Lord as their king. 

 

11.            VS 12:23-25  - 23 “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way. 24 “Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25 “But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away. -  Samuel vows to continually pray for the children of Israel

 

11.1.                Samuel is such an example to us as believers in Christ of how we ought to be people of prayer.  Samuel was a man who was always coming before the Lord in prayer on behalf of God’s people, and God mightily answered Samuel’s prayers.

 

11.2.                Prayerlessness is a sin.  Samuel tells the people that he will not sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for the people.

 

11.2.1.                     The apostle Paul was an example for us of how we ought to be in prayer for one another, notice these instances for example:

 

11.2.1.1.             Colossians 1:9-10, “9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

 

11.2.1.2. 1 Thessalonians 3:10, “10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?”\

 

11.2.1.3. 2 Timothy 1:3-4, “3 I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.”

 

11.3.                Christian leaders especially need our prayers for they will be under the most attack by the enemy.

 

11.4.                Samuel warns the children of Israel to serve the Lord in truth and with all of their hearts and to consider the great things that the Lord had done for them. 

 

11.4.1.                     Considering the great things that the Lord has done in the past helps us to trust Him in our present difficulties when they arise.

 

11.5.                Finally, Samuel warns the people that if they do wickedly that they will be swept away.  This was prophetic for judgment from God because of the people’s turning away from the Lord would one day cause the northern and southern kingdoms to be taken captive by Assyria and Babylon, respectively.

 

12.            CONCLUSIONS:

 

12.1.                As we think about these two chapters and how God was working mightily through king Saul’s life in this very first part of his reign, we need to consider again what a blessing it is for us as Christians when the Lord works mightily through our lives.

 

12.1.1.                     Is your life totally committed to the Lord so that He can bless you mightily by using your life in a great way for His service?

 

12.2.                We saw what an example Samuel was as a prayer warrior for the people.  How is your prayer life?  Are you praying without ceasing as the scriptures tell us to do?  Are you a person of prayer?

 

12.2.1.                     Will you commit yourself today to praying each and every day for God’s work and for all of the saints?

 

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