1 Samuel 10:1-16

Sermon preached on November 16, 2008 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

At the prison service on Thursday evening I preached the same sermon that I did here last Sunday. You'll remember that I began with the story about me being worried about Patricia in Germany when we hadn't heard from her. After the service one of the guys came up to me and said,

"Would you adopt me?"

I'm not exactly sure what prompted him to say that, but I think it was probably because he didn't have anyone that worried about him or cared for him.

As you go through life it can be a great help to you to know that God cares for you and is with you. In our text we see that

God is giving Saul such assurances and is equipping him for his task.

This passage can be a great help to us. Although the assurances God gives us aren't the same as the ones that He gave Saul, there are principles that are taught here that should give us boldness and confidence as we live our lives and go forth with the gospel.

Does God care for you? What assurances of His care has He given to you? Can you be sure that He will be with you, that He will take care of you? Will He provide you with what you need?

Let's look at our passage to see what it means for us.

The main thing we see here is that Samuel gives Saul of three signs that will come to pass that should assure him that God has called him and will give him everything he needs for his task.

First Samuel tells Saul that when he leaves him he will meet two men near Rachel's tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will tell him Saul that the donkeys that were lost have been found and that now his father is worrying about him. The mention of Rachel's tomb is significant. Last week I mentioned Genesis 35 and how Jacob was told that kings would come from him. Right after that Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. In a very real sense, Rachel was Israel's matriarch and her tomb was a reminder of Israel's past history and especially the beginnings of the tribe of Benjamin. John Woodhouse writes, ((1 Samuel, Looking for a Leader, p. 170-171)

"Rachel's tomb points us back to the book of Genesis where the promises of God that defined Israel's existence were repeatedly heard…"

It's interesting as well that Rachel's tomb was at Bethlehem the location of the future town of Bethlehem. This first sign of Israel's first king was given at Bethlehem, the future birthplace of Jesus, the King of Kings.

The second sign was that Saul would meet three men at the oak of Tabor. They would have three goats, three loaves of bread and a skin of wine. Samuel told Saul that they would give him some bread—the very thing they needed for their journey home, as before they went to see Samuel they were out of bread. The men would be on their way to Bethel. Bethel means 'house of God' and got its name from Jacob's encounter with God there when he saw what has been known as Jacob's ladder.

The third sign would take place as Saul approached his home. The fact that there were Philistine garrisons there shows how far the Philistines had penetrated into Israel and what a threat they were to them. There Saul would meet a group of prophets and Samuel told him that the Spirit of the Lord would rush upon him and that he would prophesy and be turned into another man. David Tsumura writes, (The First Book of Samuel, p. 288)

"the spirit of the Lord functions as the means by which he takes ordinary people and makes them fit for his service. The onrush of the spirit of the lord was necessary to dispel any doubts Saul might have of his choice and as a public demonstration that he was now the 'prince'."

The point of all this was that God was assuring Saul that he had indeed been chosen to be king over Israel and that God was going to equip him for the task. In verse 9 we are told that God changed Saul's heart and all the signs were fulfilled. In verse 10 we read that the Spirit of God took control of Saul and he prophesied along with the other prophets.

What does all this mean for us? What lessons are there for us?

The first is that

God wants His servants to be sure of their calling—what they need to do.

If you're going to have success in what the Lord has called you to do—you need to have a great amount of assurance that the Lord will be with you and enable you to carry it out. That's what the Lord was giving Saul here.

We see the same thing in Joshua 1. God met with Joshua and told him to be,

"strong and courageous".

He told Joshua that He would be with him and that no one would be able to stand against him that He would give him every place he set his foot. He told him not to be terrified nor discouraged but to lead the people with courage. It's a great thing to know your duty and that God has called you to it and know that God is with you and will enable you to fulfill it.

The worst thing is to fail to do your duty. Remember the Parable of the Talents? In Matthew 25:25-27 Jesus spoke about a man who was given one talent and he took it and hid it in the ground. His master was furious with him and called him a wicked and lazy servant. He told him that he should have used it to gain more money for him. He said to the other servants, (Matthew 25:30)

"throw that worthless servant outside,
into the darkness, where there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Saul was like that later in his life. He apparently didn't learn this lesson. We may even have a hint here of Saul's lack of faith in verse 7. The third sign was given near a Philistine outpost. The Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament that was translated in the 3rd to 1st centuries B.C.) has Samuel saying to Saul in verse 1,

"Has not the Lord anointed you
to be prince over his people Israel?
And you shall reign over the people of Israel
and you will save them from the hand
of their surrounding enemies.
And this will be the sign to you
that the Lord has anointed you
to be prince over his heritage."

If that is the correct reading, Samuel told Saul that his main job was to save Israel from their enemies. Then in verse 7, Samuel says,

"Once these signs are fulfilled,
do whatever your hand finds to do,
for God is with you."

Some understand that to mean that after the third sign had been fulfilled that Saul should have attacked the Philistine outpost there. He should have taken up the battle against the Philistines. But instead Saul did nothing.

Now I'm not sure that that's a correct interpretation, but it could very well be. But be that as it may, Saul's subsequent actions showed that he didn't learn this lesson. The signs were not impressed upon his heart like they should have been. Remember when Goliath challenged Saul and the armies of Israel? We read that, (1 Samuel 17:11)

"On hearing the Philistine's words
Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified."

The point that Saul should have learned from all these signs is that

God controls all things and that He can enable His servants to accomplish great things.

Consider the details in the three signs. Samuel's predictions were not the vague, nebulous predictions like those of Nostradamus. Nostradamus was a French writer whose prophecies have been proclaimed by some to have predicted many major world events. But the problem with Nostradamus' predictions was that they were so vague as to be worthless as far as predicting things beforehand goes. It's noteworthy that no one has ever interpreted any of Nostradamus' writings to actually predict an event in advance. They're too vague for that. Those who see predictions of major world events in them are merely reading those events back into Nostradamus' writings.

But Samuel's predictions weren't like that. They were specific and detailed. Samuel told Saul exactly what was going to happen. Those predictions should have indicated to Saul that God's knowledge and power are so great that anyone who is fighting for Him cannot be defeated.

Samuel's three signs showed God's great providential power and interwove that power to the promises to the patriarchs. Saul was shown that God's power extents to the wandering of donkeys; to strangers he meets; to what those strangers will say; to controlling the hearts of these strangers to make them generous to Saul and supply him with food. Saul was shown that God's power could come upon him like it had come on Samson and that it would enable him to defeat all the Lord's enemies.

Saul didn't learn that lesson. But you Christians should know that. What power is available to you. As the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:20

"Now to him who is able to do
immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power
that is at work within us…"

Or as Paul prayed for the Ephesians in Ephesians 1:17-23,

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better.
I pray also that the eyes of your heart
may be enlightened in order
that you may know the hope
to which he has called you,
the riches of his glorious inheritance
in the saints,
and his incomparably great power
for us who believe.
That power is like the working of his mighty strength,
which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead
and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
far above all rule and authority, power and dominion,
and every title that can be given, not only in the present age
but also in the one to come.
And God placed all things under his feet
and appointed him to be head
over everything for the church,
which is his body, the fullness of him
who fills everything in every way."

Christians, don't be afraid to go out in the power of the Lord. As Paul wrote to Timothy, (2 Timothy 1:7)

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

The second lesson we see from our text is that there is a

coordination between the Word and Spirit.

They go together and should never be separated.

Some Christians today look down somewhat on the 'Word of God' and elevate the promptings of the Spirit. It's like they equate the 'Word' with 'law' and the Spirit with real Christian living.

But there is never such a discontinuity in the Bible. One of the principles we see from our text is that, (Davis, p. 99)

"Saul the king, who is promised Yahweh's power, is to submit to Samuel the prophet who brings Yahweh's word."

In verse 8 Samuel said to Saul,

"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."

Davis writes, (p. 99)

"Yahweh's Spirit gives power; but that power is to be exercised in obedience to Yahweh's word. The Spirit and the Word must never be separated."

This is a great lesson for the church today. Davis writes, (p. 99)

"Many crave dramatic signs of the Spirit's power but have little enthusiasm for common obedience to the Lord's word."

There is no discontinuity between the Word and Spirit. The Spirit gave us the Word. As we read in 2 Peter 1:20-21,

"Above all, you must understand
that no prophecy of Scripture came about
by the prophet's own interpretation.
For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man,
but men spoke from God
as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

Indeed, the Word is always the basis by which we judge everything else. In Galatians 1:8 Paul wrote,

"But even if we or an angel from heaven
should preach a gospel
other than the one we preached to you,
let him be eternally condemned!"

What we must understand is that we live in a different age than Saul. The Bible tells us that miracles are no longer any true sign that someone or some spirit is from God. In Revelation 13:13-15 we read about the beast from out of the earth.

"And he performed
great and miraculous signs,
even causing fire to come down
from heaven to earth in full view of men.
Because of the signs he was given power
to do on behalf of the first beast,
he deceived the inhabitants of the earth.
He ordered them to set up an image
in honor of the beast who was wounded
by the sword and yet lived."

We live in a different age than Saul. In the age of Saul the forces of evil could imitate some of the lesser signs, as we see with the magicians of Egypt, there were able to duplicate some of the signs of Moses. But they could not keep up. Here in our age, they can perform great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven like Elijah did on Mount Carmel. In Matthew 24:24 Jesus said,

"For false Christs and false prophets
will appear and perform great signs
and miracles to deceive even the elect—
if that were possible."

What's the only way we can keep from being deceived? It's by judging everything by the Word of God.

One of the things that is clear from Revelation 13 is that there was a great discontinuity between the first beast and the Word of the Lord. We read, (Revelation 13:4-7)

"The beast was given a mouth
to utter proud words and blasphemies
and to exercise his authority
for forty-two months.
He opened his mouth to blaspheme God,
and to slander his name and his dwelling place
and those who live in heaven."

The first deceived many because of the great wonders and miracles that surrounded his appearance and miraculous signs that occurred after his fatal wound had been healed. But Christians should be able to judge that those miracles come from the evil one because of the blasphemies. They will be able to tell they are false because they have a different gospel.

This leads us to our third lesson for Christians.

Because of Jesus you don't need the kinds of signs that were given to King Saul.

Are you thinking— "How can I be assured that God will be with me? He hasn't given me signs like He gave to King Saul. How do I know that He has chosen me? How do I know that He will be with me if I venture out on His work?"

The answer lies in Jesus, in His work, in His commands and promises to you. You live in a different age than Saul. You live in the last times. You don't need signs like were given to Saul. As we read in Hebrews 1:1-3,

"In the past God spoke to our forefathers
through the prophets at many times
and in various ways,
but in these last days he has spoken
to us by his Son,
whom he appointed heir of all things,
and through whom he made the universe."

You know all about Jesus and His death and resurrection for you. You know about the giving of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Your assurance comes from the internal testimony of the Spirit. As we read in Romans 8:14-17

"because those who are led
by the Spirit of God
are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit
that makes you a slave again to fear,
but you received the Spirit of sonship.
And by him we cry,
Abba, Father.
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit
that we are God's children.
Now if we are children,
then we are heirs—heirs of God
and co-heirs with Christ,"

Not only do you know about your calling, but other Christians know about it as well. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

"For we know, brothers loved by God,
that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you
not simply with words, but also with power,
with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction."

You know who you are. As Peter said in 1 Peter 2:9,

"But you are a chosen people,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people belonging to God,
that you may declare the praises
of him who called you out of darkness
into his wonderful light."

You know that you have everything you need for your great task. In 2 Peter 1:3-4 we read,

"His divine power has given us
everything we need for life and godliness
through our knowledge of him
who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Through these he has given us
his very great and precious promises,
so that through them you may participate
in the divine nature and escape the corruption
in the world caused by evil desires."

You know what your task is. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus said to His disciples,

"All authority in heaven and on earth
has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always,
to the very end of the age."

You know what your calling is. You know that God has supplied you with everything you need. All we have to do is go out boldly with the gospel.

For those of you who aren't Christians, what you should understand from this passage is that

God's saving power needs to come upon you.

Nothing else will do.

Saul had the Spirit of God come on Him and it overpowered him and he prophesied. It became a proverb in Israel, "Is Saul also among the prophets?"

But it was only temporary. In 1 Samuel 16:14 we read,

"Now the Spirit of the LORD
had departed from SaulÖ"

In the first part of his reign Saul did great things for the Lord. Yet he was unfaithful to the Lord and didn't obey the Word of the Lord. He perished. In Matthew 7:21-24 Jesus 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!'"

If you're not a Christian you may have many gifts that the Lord has given you. You may even be using them for good. Don't think that that's enough. Those things will not save you. You need Jesus to save you.

The Bible is all about Jesus and how you need Him. Even in Samuel's signs there are things that bring Jesus to mind. The first sign involved Bethlehem—the birthplace of the King of Kings. The second reminds me of the bread and wine that symbolize His broken body and shed blood. This sign was given at Bethel where Jacob had his vision of the ladder to heaven. There's only one way to heaven—through Jesus. The third sign, the Spirit coming on Saul on the Hill of God, happened near Saul's home—which was just 3 miles north of Jerusalem, where Jesus died for our sins—where the power of God defeated our enemies. You need Jesus. Go to Him today.