1 Samuel 11:4-11

Angry with Sin

1 Samuel 11:4-11

Sermon preached on January 11, 2009 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Quotations are from New International Version. (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Martin Niemller a German pastor who was one of the founders of the Confessing Church, which opposed Nazis in the 1930’s. Because of his opposition to the Nazis' control of the churches, Niemˆller was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945. He narrowly escaped execution at the end of the war. After his release he expressed deep regret about not having done more to help the victims of the Nazis. He is most famous for a quotation from one of his speeches after the war. He said,

“In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me — and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

It’s a great poem, one that shows that we shouldn’t just care about what happens to us, but that we should care about what happens to other people. We should be concerned about those who are oppressed, those who face injustice, who are in danger.

That’s one of the lessons from our text too. For what we see here is that,

Saul, under the influence of the Spirit, was outraged at what Nahash threatened to do to the people of Jabesh Gilead.

Saul had been anointed king over Israel and he was responsible for the city of Jabesh Gilead. In verse 6 we read,

“When Saul heard these words,
the Spirit of God suddenly took control of him,
and his anger burned furiously.”

As we saw a couple of weeks ago, Nahash was attempted to humiliate God’s people. Rather than honoring them and learning about God through them—Nahash despised and hated them. He delighted in seeing them weak and disgraced. It was a most horrible thing that he wanted to do. How could the men of Jabesh Gilead shine for God and reflect His image if they were marred by having one eye gouged out? They couldn’t.

Thus when Saul heard about this, he was quite rightly outraged. His rage was righteous because it was initiated by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God took control of him and he burned with anger.

It’s interesting that sometimes in the Bible

there is a relationship between being controlled by the Spirit and being angry—angry about sin, about oppression.

We see this in our text and elsewhere. Jesus was filled with the Spirit. John 3:34 speaks of Him of having the Spirit without measure, whereas the rest of us have the Spirit, by measure. (Ephesians 4:7) Yet He was sometimes angry. Remember what Jesus did when He saw the moneychangers in the temple? In John 2:14-17 we read,

“In the temple courts he found men
selling cattle, sheep and doves,
and others sitting at tables exchanging money.
So he made a whip out of cords,
and drove all from the temple area,
both sheep and cattle;
he scattered the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables.
To those who sold doves he said,
‘Get these out of here!
How dare you turn
my Father’s house into a market!’
His disciples remembered that it is written:
'Zeal for your house will consume me.'"

He will filled with the Spirit and He was angry with their sin.

Being filled with the Spirit, or being controlled by the Spirit is often associated with anger. We have many examples of this in the Old Testament. In Judges 14 we read how God used Samson's love for a Philistine woman to start the Israel's deliverance from the Philistines, who were ruling over Israel. The first part of the chapter tells us that his parents didn't understand his love for the Philistine but that the whole thing was from the Lord. Samson's Philistine wife betrayed him by telling his riddle. We read,

"Then the Spirit of the LORD
came upon him in power.
He went down to Ashkelon,
struck down thirty of their men,
stripped them of their belongings
and gave their clothes to those
who had explained the riddle.
Burning with anger,
he went up to his father's house."

On the face of it seems something trivial but if we look deeper, it seems probable that Samson was angry because of the Philistines seemed to control everything in Israel. They were always winning and thus were continually oppressing God's people. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he burned with anger.

The situation is a little clearer in the next chapter. Samson burned some of the Philistine crops because his father-in-law had given his wife to another man. A mighty force of the Philistines went up to Judah to get Samson. What happened next was absolutely incredible. Rather than supporting the judge that God gave them, 3000 men from Judah went to Samson and said, (Judges 15:11-12)

"'Don't you realize that the Philistines
are rulers over us?
What have you done to us?'Ö
'We've come to tie you up
and hand you over to the Philistines.'"

His own people tied him up and were going to hand him over the Philistines! Rather than looking to the Lord and the deliverer He gave them, they were going to cooperate with the Philistines. I'm sure that Samson's blood boiled in him. After the Israelites tied up Samson, the Philistines were coming toward him shouting, (Judges 15:14-15)

"The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power.
The ropes on his arms became like charred flax,
and the bindings dropped from his hands.
Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey,
he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men."

Although it doesn't mention the word 'anger' there, the fact that he killed a thousand Philistine men suggests righteous anger for the Lord and His people.

That's what we should have. We should be angry with the sin in the world. As the psalmist said in Psalm 119:136,

"Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed."

When you see evil, when you see injustice, when you see oppression, when you see horrible evil—you should be angry with it and do as much as possible to fight against it.

There's something else in our text that shows us this. There's a very interesting reference in verse 4. We read,

"When the messengers came
to Gibeah of Saul and reported
these terms to the people,
they all wept aloud."

The city of Gibeah is mentioned. Gibeah was infamous in Israel. You'll remember the horrible story. A Israelite from Ephraim had a concubine who was unfaithful to him. She returned to her father's home in Bethlehem. The man went to her to try to persuade her to return. She agreed and they set out for home. As they neared Jebus, (later called Jerusalem) the man's servant suggested that they stay the night there. But at the time it was occupied by the Jebusites and the Israelite was unwilling to go into an foreign city. So he went on to Gibeah. They sat in the city square but no one took him into their home for the night. Finally, an old man gave him shelter. But some wicked men from the city pounded on the door and wanted to commit the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah with the guest. They wouldn't leave so the visitor sent his concubine outside to them. They abused her until the morning when she died. The man went home, cut her up and sent the pieces throughout Israel, looking for justice. The men of Israel gathered against Gibeah and asked for the guilty men to be given up, but the people of Gibeah and their tribe, the Benjamites, refused to give them up. It resulted in a series of great battles that almost wiped out the tribe of Benjamin.

That's the history of Gibeah. It was a city that was unconcerned about an outrage that was committed by some of its men. Thousands upon thousands in Israel died because the people of Gibeah weren't outraged at what happen to the man and his concubine. A guest in their city, fellow Israelite, was brutally raped to death. Not only did they not stop it, they refused to punish the men who did it. Can you imagine? The people of Gibeah were comfortable with sin, with evil. It did not outrage them. It did not make them burn with anger. They accepted it and supported it! Their tribe was nearly wiped out because of it.

So God is teaching us that we should not be comfortable with the sin around us. We should not be comfortable with the sin of society.

Now the great lesson for us here is that

you should be angry with the sin in the world, the sins of others.

You should not be comfortable with the sin around you. What Nahash wanted to do to the people of Jabesh-Gilead was an outrage. He wanted to bring disgrace upon Israel. Saul was correct to be angry about it.

One of the things that the world is demanding of the church today is that we be comfortable with their sin.
They don't want us calling it sin.

Abortion is a great sin. Unborn babies are murdered by the millions in our country. Are you comfortable with that? Shame on you if you are.

There's great pressure on everyone now to accept
homosexuality. If there's one thing that the world today wants is for you to be comfortable with gays and lesbians. If you're not comfortable with it—they'll liken you to racists and hate mongers. They'll tell you that it's natural and that the Bible doesn't teach that its wrong. But those things are not true.

There's great pressure on the church to accept
adultery. If someone leaves their spouse for someone who is their 'soul-mate', for someone who they are more compatible with—that's not wrong, that's good. That's what they'll tell you.

There's great pressure on Christians to accept pre-marital sex. Read the newspapers. They'll tell you that teaching abstinence doesn't work—that you should just accept the fact that teens are going to 'experiment' and that the best thing is to education them about safe sex. Don't buy into that. Pre-marital sex is wrong. It's a great sin.

Are you an angry with sin? Are you angry with the sin in our society or are you pretty comfortable with it?

Lots of people today who claim to be Christians seem to be pretty comfortable with sin. They're comfortable with abortion, with adultery, with homosexuality, with premarital sex, living together before marriage, with lying, etc., etc., etc..

Christians, don't be like that. Don't be a partaker of other's sins. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:22,

"do not share in the sins of others.
Keep yourself pure."

Christians, don't be comfortable with sin. Be angry with it.

This also means that

you should be angry with your sin.

It's not mentioned here, but one of the clear themes we see in the Bible is that the ultimate cause of the oppression of the people of Israel was their sin. We are told this time and again in the book of Judges, in Samuel and in Kings. We see it in Ezra's prayer in Ezra 9:7. Ezra said to God,

"Because of our sins,
we and our kings and our priests
have been subjected to the sword and captivity,
to pillage and humiliation
at the hand of foreign kings,
as it is today."

So what we should understand about our present passage is that the reason the Ammonites were such a threat to Israel and to Jabesh Gilead was because of the Israelites sin.

So a second lesson we should deduce from our text is that you should be angry with your own sin. We must not be hypocritical and be angry with other people's sins and not with our own. In Matthew 7 Jesus said,

"Why do you look at
the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye
and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
'Let me take the speck out of your eye,'
when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite,
first take the plank out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly
to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

What about your sins? Are you angry with them? Do your sins disgust you? Are you fighting with everything in you to try and get those sins out of your life?

What about the little sin that you indulge in once in awhile?

You may think that it's not hurting you and that it won't hurt you in the future—that it's only something minor and that it won't really hurt you. It won't jump up and bite you.

That's crazy thinking. That's like the old joke about the guy who jumped off the top of a skyscraper without a parachute or anything else. As he passed the 20th floor on the way down he was heard to say,

"So far so good."

Yeah, you can get away with indulging in sin for awhile, but not for long. It will just up to bite you.

Imagine if I had a real
hand grenade here and I pulled the pin and laid it on the pulpit in front of me. What should you do if I did that? You should get out of here as fast as you can. You should run for the exit. Now can you imagine if you were doing that, if I was up front, calm, cool and collected, and said to you,

"What's the problem? It's been 4 seconds and it hasn't gone off yet. I don't think it's going to go off at all. I'm pretty comfortable with this. It's been 6 seconds now. Nothing to worry about. It's not going to hurt me. Nine seconds now…"

What would you think if I was talking like that? You'd think I was talking foolishness. And you'd be right. Just because you can get away with something for a little while does not mean that you can get away with it indefinitely.

It's the same way with anyone who's indulging in sin, no matter how little—and thinks that it's not going to jump up and really hurt them.

You see, sin, even little sin, is not neutral. The aim of sin is to destroy you. Don't think that it's not that bad, that you can co-exist with it. Be angry with your sin. Get rid of it.

The second great lesson we see in our text is that

you should be angry enough against sin, against injustice, that you should show support for innocent people who are in trouble.

The other thing that is common today among many who profess to be Christians is that

they don't show support for those in trouble like they should.

It would have been an outrage if the people of Israel never responded to Saul's call. They did that even though they themselves weren't threatened. The men of Israel actually took up arms and went to confront the Ammonites who were threatening Jabesh Gilead. They could said,

"I'm not in any danger. Why should I put my life at risk?"

You need to support those who are being threatened. You should be angry when injustices occur in the world.

What's your attitude toward prisoners? Many people don't care at all and say,

"Well, they deserve to be there."

Not all of them do.

What's your attitude toward those who are slandered, or charged with wrongdoing and the accusations against them don't meet the biblical criteria of having more than one accuser?

You can be suspect that they did it and so falsely judge them. You can be neutral and pretend not to know what the truth is—and that doesn't help the accused at all if they're innocent.

Christians, support those in trouble who haven't done anything wrong. Be angry at the evil that oppresses the innocent. Take your stand with them.

The third lessons relates to your being a New Testament Christian,

your anger at sin should not be temporary.

The New Testament teaching about the Spirit's influence is somewhat different than the pattern we see here with Saul.

One of the things that we see with Saul was that the Spirit's operation that took control of Saul was only temporary. We see this from 1 Samuel 16:14 which reads,

"Now the Spirit of the LORD
had departed from Saul,
and an evil spirit from the LORD
tormented him."

Here we see Saul being angry against sin. Later, it was different. He promoted sin, injustice, violence against the innocent.

There is an working of the Spirit that can be very powerful yet such working is only temporary and is not saving. That's the kind of working that Saul had. Jesus spoke about that in Matthew 7:21-22. He said,

"Not everyone who says to me,
'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only he who does the will
of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
'Lord, Lord,
did we not prophesy in your name,
and in your name drive out demons
and perform many miracles?'
Then I will tell them plainly,
'I never knew you.
Away from me,
you evildoers!'"

You need the permanent working of the Spirit in your life. That only comes through acceptance of Jesus. When you believe in Jesus—the Spirit comes in power, in permanent, transforming grace. Accept Jesus. He's your only hope.