Return to the Lord
Comments for Study 3
1 Samuel 7:2-8:22
Memory Verse: 7:12
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I. Return to the Lord (7:2-17)
>1. Why were the people so sorrowful? (1-2)
* 1 Samuel 7:1-2 "So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord. They took it to Abinadab's house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord. It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the Lord."
* "Kiriath Jearim" -Kiriath Jearim means city of forests.” Kiriath-Jearim was located at modern Abu Gosh nine miles north of Jerusalem. It was on the border where Dan (before they moved north), Benjamin, and Judah joined before Dan began their migration northward (Josh. 15:9,60; 18:14-15). (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* "Abinadab's house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord" -Perhaps Eleazar was there to guard people from coming and touching the ark more than from it being stolen for the later would require more guards. Also, after the deal with the Philistines and the Israelites who died, no one would want to steal it. The ark was not taken to Shiloh where it was at before the Philistines took it because Shiloh and the temple there was burned down by the Philistines when they took the ark. At this point the tabernacle that Moses saw built might have been set back up and the ark placed in it as it had been during the days of Moses. The ark and perhaps the tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) stayed in this location until David attempted to move it to Jerusalem "from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill" around forty years later. (2 Sam. 6:1-8) Note: 21:1-9 seems to indicate that perhaps the Tent of Meeting was in Nob.
* "all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the Lord" -The Israelites had not repented and sought after the Lord. They kept him tabernacle and ark on a lonely hill in one man's back yard. They had turned away from God and done their own things and so the Philistines' hand was over them. The Philistines returned the ark, but they still made Israel their slaves, demanding tribute.
* The KJV reads 7:2 as, "And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord."
* "twenty years in all" -The NIV text should be as the KJV. The twenty years was how long it took for Israel to realize their sins and repent. They turned to the Lord their God for forgiveness and help.
* Saul was king over all Israel for forty-two years. (1 Sam. 13:1; 2 Sam. 2:10) David reigned over all Israel for fourty years (2 Sam. 5:4), though not all of Israel at first. Thus, the twenty years was how long Israel lamented, not how long the ark was in Kiriath Jearim. A study of the book of Judges shows that the Lord sent many judges who helped out different parts of Israel for short periods of time, including eight in the one hundred years before this event. During the last twenty the Israelites were tired of constantly being attacked.
* Samuel had stayed in the background of Israel, learning and teaching God's word for twenty years. (3:19-4:1a, 15-17) He was around twelve when called so now he was just past thirty. Samuel kept teaching until the Israelites were serious about returning to the Lord. Samuel was following God's lead, working behind the scene and waiting for the right time. Samuel did not try to start a big revival meeting until God had prepared the hearts of Israel for a it. Samuel did not try to use his skills to bring people to the tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) and the ark until they understood the word of God. He worked on God's time and in God's way. Samuel humbly performer his duties as priest, prophet, and judge during his whole life. (1 Sam. 1:28)
>Why did they mourn and seek the Lord? (3; 4:10)
* 1 Samuel 7:3 "And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, "If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines."
* 1 Samuel 4:10 "So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers."
* "the Philistines" -Philistine refers to a group of non-Semitic people perhaps from first Asia Minor and then Crete who occupied and gave their name to the south west part of Palestine. Ancient Egyptian records from the time of Merneptah and Ramses III referred to them as the “prst.” Ancient Assyrian records include references to the Philistines in the terms Philistia and Palastu. The origin and background of the Philistines had not been completely clarified. Ancient Egyptian records include the “prst” as part of a larger movement of people known as the Sea Peoples, who invaded Egypt about 1188 B.C. by land and by sea, battling the forces of Ramses III, who, according to Egyptian records, defeated them. The Sea Peoples, a massive group that originated in the Aegean area, included the Tjeker, the Skekelesh, the Denyen, the Sherden, and the Weshwesh as well as the “prst” or Pelesti, the biblical Philistines. As they moved eastward from the Aegean region, the Sea Peoples made war with people in their path including the Hittites in Anatolia and the inhabitants at sites in North Syria such as those at the site of Ugarit. According to biblical references, the homeland of the Philistines was Caphtor (Amos 9:7; Jer. 47:4). (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* The book of Joshua and Judges shows that when Israel had a leader who feared and loved the Lord they won battles. Yet after the battle was one and the leader was no more, the Israelites returned to a life of sin, forgetting the Lord and serving other gods.
* If the Israelites had been diligently studying the Bible in peaceful time instead of seeking him only when they were in trouble they would have understood the truth and what to do when trouble came.
* Deuteronomy 28:15, 25 "However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you... The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth."
>What did Samuel tell the people to do if they really wanted to return to the Lord?
* "If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts" -God does not want his people to have half a heart toward him. He does not want ninety percent of our heart. He wants all of our hearts.
* "then rid yourselves of the foreign gods" -The root cause of the Israelites problem was that they did not serve the God who called them out of slavery in Egpt, the God that they had made a commitment to at Mt. Sinai.
* "and the Ashtoreths" -Ashtoreths was a goddess of love, sex, fertility, and war, worshiped in various forms by many peoples of the ancient Near East, including many Semitic peoples like the Canaanites. The worship of Ashtoreth is frequently combined with the worship of Baal in accordance with the common practices in fertility cults to associate male and female deities. The Babylonians called her Ishtar and the Greeks, Astarte (31:10)
* "and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only" -God wants us to be committed to him. Jesus taught, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." (John 15:9-12)
* "he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines" -God initiates by calling us. We need to respond in faith and obedience. If we do, then the Lord will stay with us and deliver us.
* God puts his people in environments and situations where we can be purified, grow in faith, and seek him with all our hearts. David wrote in Psalm 23, "your rod and your staff comfort me." A good shepherd needs to rap staying sheep with his rod and staff to keep them from harm and in green pastures.
* Troubles in one's life do not always mean that we are outside of God's will for our life. Take for example Paul's near death episodes and Jesus' crucifixion and death. However, we should always example our heart in the presence of the Lord with prayers and petitions. Romans 12:2 states, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."
>How did they respond? (4)
* 1 Samuel 7:4 "So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only."
* "Baals" Baal was the supreme make deity of the Phoenician and Canaanite nations. In the Ras Shamra inscriptions he is known as the son of Dagon and the heir to the throne of El. He was a fertility-god whose domain was in the sky, from where he fertilized the land and thus controlled nature. Baal worship had similarities to the worship of the Lord, the God of Israel.
* "served the Lord only" -They repented. Repentance means to stop sinning and start living the way God intends us to live. It means stop loving the things of the world more than him. It means to fear God, not men. It means to follow Jesus' example.
>2. What did Samuel do next? (5-6)
* 1 Samuel 7:5-6 "Then Samuel said, "Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the Lord for you." When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, "We have sinned against the Lord." And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah.'
* "Then Samuel said" -The text does not say how Samuel communicated with all of Israel. He might have been preparing this for a long time as he ministered at various locations. (16) He probably incorporated runners from young men that he was teaching and raising up as prophets and Bible teachers. (10:11, 19:20, 24)
* "Assemble all Israel" -Samuel knew the time was ready for a revival meeting for all Israel. This did not happen over night and not without the Lord's continual work. People often claim they want a revival in the land, but they don't want to personally engage in the work of witnessing, Bible study, prayer, and obedience to Jesus' world mission command. We can learn from Samuel here.
* "Mizpah" -Mizpah means watchtower or lookout.” Mizpah was commonly used in Palestine to refer to places used to provide security. The name appears in two different forms, Mizpah and Mizpeh, with the same basic meaning. This Mizpah (modern Tell en-Nasbeth) was in Benjamite territory, on the main north-south road across the hills, and only five miles (8km) north of Jerusalem. (Judges 20:1, and 2 Kings 25:23)
* "intercede with the Lord for you" -Samuel would speak to God and God would answer him. Samuel prayed for the people.
* "they drew water and poured it out before the Lord" -As a sign of the washing of communal guilt. (Lam. 2:19; Mark 1:4) Like baptism, the sign was a display of the work of God on a person's heart.
* "they fasted" -Fasting is denying the flesh so that the person and concentrate on the Lord.
* "they confessed" -Public confession is important, but only at the right time and right place. A great revival involves confession of sin accompanied by repentance.
>What kind of leader was Samuel at Mizpah?
* "and Samuel was leader of Israel" -Samuel was a spiritual leader; a prophet, priest, and judge. Only a few men in the history of Israel were all three.
* Samuel did not point to himself. He pointed people to the Lord. He did not seek honor, glory, or material gain for himself. He was humble and meek.
* Before we get a leader like Samuel, we get a leader like Eli. Before Jesus' second coming is the leadership of the anti-Christ for seven years.
>When the Philistines gathered to attack, what did Samuel do? (7-9a)
* 1 Samuel 7:7-9a "When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. And when the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. They said to Samuel, "Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines." Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it up as a whole burnt offering to the Lord."
* "the Philistines heard" -The Philistines had control over Israel for many years. They were benefiting greatly at the expense of Israel. They were not about to loose their source of easy food and materials. When Israel had gathered they assumed it was to fight against them, throwing them out of their land.
* The meeting at Mizpah must have taken many days for the Philistines to hear about it, gather forces and march to Mizpah.
* "they were afraid because of the Philistines" -The Philistines were large and powerful fighters. They were the bullies of Palestine and Israel was their favourite nation to pick on.
* Who or what is the Philistine in your life? Who picks on you, makes you afraid, is a cause of distress, subjects you to servitude or slavery? How do you deal with it?
* "Do not stop crying out" -The Israelites asked Samuel, the God appointed and approved priest, judge, and prophet to pray to the Lord on their behalf. We should ask others to pray for us. We should pray for us. Romans 8:26-27 states, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."
* When people repent of their sins and turn their hearts to God we can be sure that the other side will send Philistines to break up the work of God.
>What was his prayer topic? (9b)
* 1 Samuel 7:9 "He cried out to the Lord on Israel's behalf, and the Lord answered him."
* "on Israel's behalf" -Samuel prayed for the nation. We too should pray for a nation that is like Israel here, and pray for God to help a people humble and dependent on the Lord.
* "the Lord answered him" -Unlike the previous battle, the Israelites did not try to manipulate the Lord by bring out the ark. Rather they relied on the Lord, asking for help with prayer.
>How did God answer? (10-11)
* 1 Samuel 7:10-11 "While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Car."
* "sacrificing the burnt offering" -The worship service did not end just because the enemy was advancing up the hill (watchtower). They prayed and offered up a burnt offering.
* "drew near to engage Israel in battle" -The Philistines were about ready to throw spears and shoot arrows.
* "the Lord thundered" -Some say this was a thunderstorm and others a big earthquake. The area was prone to earthquakes and all would know of one. So most likely the loud sound was neither, but the Lord himself. What else would cause the Philistines and not the Israelites to panic?
* "they were routed by the Israelites" -The Israelites knew the Lord was with them and gained confidence. They had the uphill advantage too.
* "Beth Car" -Beth Car means house of sheep.” The location is not known. Some claim that copyists changed an original Beth Horon.
>3. Why did Samuel set up the Ebenezer stone? (12)
* 1 Samuel 7:12 "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the Lord helped us."
* Such a great deliverance should not be forgotten. A memorial needed to be made, like the modern nations set up memorials. Yet unlike modern memorials this one did not contain the names of the dead, but of the living God.
* When the Lord works great things in our life we should make a record of it, whether in writing like a year end summary, a picture or painting, a worship service or meal like Thanksgiving in Canada and the USA, or a physical object like the stone Samuel set up.
* Whatever memorial we set up we can say, "Yes, on that day the Lord Jesus helped me when I humbly sought his help."
* Jesus gave us the communion service so that we would remember him and what he did for us. "Do this as often as you do it in remembrance of me."
* The benefit and power of a ceremony is to remember and celebrate.
* Once Jesus warned the disciples about the yeast of the Pharisees. They misunderstood him because their minds were on the food they had left behind. "Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, 'You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'" (Matthew 16:8-11) I know that not remembering and not learning has caused me to miss things that I should have learned.
>What does Ebenezer mean?
* "Ebenezar" -Ebenezer means "stone of help" or "stone of the Helper".
* The Lord promised to be the protector of his people when they were obedient to the covenant. (Ex. 23:22; Deut. 20:1-4)
* Samuel's explanation has double meaning; this far geographically and this far in time.
* Samuel gave Ebenezar, the place of victory the same name as Ebenezar, the place of defeat (4:1) because they stand is such plain contrast. Which Ebenezar are you in now?
* Samuel giving a copy name, and the reason for it, shows that he knew of what happened. In fact, most believe that all he recorded or at least oversaw the recording of everything up until this point in the book we are reading.
>4. What was the results of Israel's repentance, seeking the Lord, and Samuel's prayer? (13a)
* 1 Samuel 7:13a "So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again."
* "were subdued" -After forty years of being over Israel. (Judges 13:1)
* "did not invade Israelite territory again" -From now on with Saul and David the Philistines were on the defensive, not the offensive.
* Jesus loves us and is with us "to the very end of the age". We just need to submit to his leading to be delivered.
>How is Samuel's life simply told? (13b-17)
* 1 Samuel 7:13b-17 "Throughout Samuel's lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines. The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to her, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from the power of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. Samuel continued as judge over Israel all the days of his life. From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also judged Israel. And he built an altar there to the Lord."
* "Throughout Samuel's lifetime" -Samuel was born in 1105 B.C. Around twelve years later the Lord called him while he was sleeping in the temple at Shiloh. Twenty years later in his early thirties are the events of this chapter. A few years later Saul was anointed king before Samuel was forty. Samuel died at an old age shortly before the end of Saul's forty year reign. Samuel lived to a very old age. All of his life he lived a life that pleased God. We should not slow down or retire from our service to the Lord.
* "Bethel" -Bethel was ten miles (16km) north of Jerusalem. "Because of Bethel's abundant springs, the area around Bethel was fertile and attractive to settlements as early as 3200 B.C., and first supported a city around the time of Abraham. Entering Canaan, Abraham built an altar at Bethel, calling upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 12:8), and returned here after his time in Egypt (Gen. 13:3). His grandson, Jacob, spent the night here on his way to Syria to find a wife. In a dream the Lord confirmed the Abrahamic covenant, and Jacob responded by renaming this locale which was previously called Luz, “Bethel” (house of God; Gen. 28:10-22). Probably the name “Bethel” is referred to but out of chronological sequence in the earlier Abraham passages. When he returned with his large family, Jacob came to Bethel again to hear the Lord's confirmation of the covenant and his name was changed to “Israel.” Here again Jacob set up a stone monument (Gen. 35:1-16; Hos. 12:4,5). Extensive fortification of Bethel came after this patriarchal period. (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* "Gilgal" -Gilgal means circle,” and probably referring to a circle of stones or a circular altar. Such a circle of stones could be found almost anywhere in Palestine and led easily to naming towns “Gilgal.” The many references to Gilgal in the Old Testament cannot thus be definitely connected to the same town, since several different placed named Gilgal may well have existed. Samuel's circuit city could be near tell Jiljulieh or at Joshua's first landing place near the Jordan and thus the farthest from his home.
* "Ramah, where his home was" -Ramah means high,” applied to several cities located on heights, especially military strongholds. In 1 Samuel 1:1 the long form, Ramathaim-Zophim, is used. Some have argued that Ramathaim-Zophim is identical with Ramah of Benjamin. (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* "he built an altar there to the Lord" -The altar at Shiloh was destroyed by the Philistines. A new one was needed.
* Not since Moses and Joshua did a man of God have a national ministry like Samuel.
>What is the basic Biblical truth we should learn here?
* Samuel did not expect the people to come to him. Rather he went to the people. He set up three sites where the Israelites could obtain his services of priest, prophet, and judge besides his home. They were all located on the border of Ephraim and Benjamin.
* Other important Biblical truths are "The Lord will provide" (Gen. 22:14) and "Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14) God with us.
* Also, if we turn to God and he will help his people. "Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you as well."
II. Such as All the Other Nations (8:1-22)
>5. What kind of family life did Samuel lead? (1-3)
* 1 Samuel 8:1-3 "When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice."
* "When Samuel grew old" -This was around twenty years after the victory at Mizpah. Samuel was in his late fifties or early sixties, an old age for that time. Exact dates for the life of Samuel are had to establish whereas dates for Saul, David, and Solomon are historically documented.
* "he appointed his sons as judges for Israel" -Judges were appointed by God, not man. No judge is listed as being called by man. Samuel was wrong in appointed his sons as judges, just as Eli was wrong in appointing his sons to take his place as high priest. Ordaining one's sons as a replacement is more than an error when a man of God designates his son as anointed by God without seeking God's hand. A study of Abraham and Isaac shows that they would have chosen the wrong son if God didn't correct them. Jacob on the other hand blessed his son properly. David was also corrected by the Lord.
* Samuel also was wrong about Saul and was surprised when God chose David over his brothers. Samuel was a good spiritual leader, but did not recognize that God looks at the heart and not the outside appearances.
* The possibility exists that because of his error in appointing his sons as judges and with Saul that Samuel learned that a man after God's own heart is what God seeks and so could accept David's appointment as future king even though it surprised him.
* "Beersheba" -Beersheba was in-between the Canaan and Egypt in the geographic center of the dry, semi-desert region known as the Negeb in Judah's territory. Its known as the gateway to the desert. Abraham lived here for awhile (Gen. 21:33) as did Isaac (Gen. 26:23).
* "They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes" -Exodus 23:8 is clear, "Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous."
* "perverted justice" -Deuteronomy 16:18-20 instructs, "Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you."
>Why might children like this grow up in a family with spiritual parents?
* "his sons did not walk in his ways" -In the end each generation must decide for themselves if they will follow the Lord. John 1:12-13 states, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."
* Just because a parent believes in God and lives by faith and obedience does not mean the children will grow up that way. Children can learn very quickly how to give what their parents want to avoid discipline and receive blessing while never accepting righteousness in the heart. This is part of the sinful nature inherited from Adam.
* Every parent wants the best for their child. Often, the parent transposes on their children what they want or wanted themselves to be onto their child in the way that they prefer to learn. This only making matters worse for not only the child, but people around them. A good parent recognizes that God often makes the next generation in a new mold to teach and to test the parents. God has established four learning styles; tackle/hands-on, visual/observation, optical/listening, and literal/analytical. We all learn in a combination of these; however we excel in one more than the others. A parent is wise to identify how his child and self learns and uses it to teach the ways of the Lord.
* A person who knows the word of God and is forced to live in a "godly" environment without believing in the God that is taught in the Bible has the potential to do great damage to themselves and others. Such people obtain hard hearts as they false lives making themselves susceptible to Satan's influence. Jesus taught, "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation." (Matt. 12:43-45) And Jesus said to a man who he healed, but kept on sinning, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." (John 5:14)
* 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 states, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building."
>6. Why did the people say that they wanted a king? (4-5)
* 1 Samuel 8:4-5 "So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."
* "you are old" -A slight acknowledgement that Samuel had been a good leader.
* The Israelites claimed that there was a problem in Israel. They assumed the problem was because they didn't have a king for having a king seemed to work for all the other nations around them. The real problem was that they didn't acknowledge and follow their true king, the Lord God.
* "Your sons do not walk in your ways" -This was true, and they must have remembered Eli's sons and the problem they brought. In reality this was also an excuse to what they really wanted.
* "king" -A king, among other things is status symbol for a nation. The Israelites assumed that a king would be someone who would do for them what they did not want to do. They only saw the good aspects of a human king, without acknowledging and/or accepting the many bad aspects of having a human king.
* "The attempt to set up a dynasty had first been make after Gideon's triumph over the Midianites, but he maintained Israel's theocratic tradition: 'I will not rule over ou, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.' (Judges 8:23) Ever since Moses had obeyed the Lord's call (Ex. 3:1-12), Israel's leaders had been divinely designated, and took their orders form God himself. The question of their setting up a dynasty did not arise until Abimelech, Gideon's son by a Canaanite concubine (Judges 8:31) tried the experiment, which was short-lived. Nevertheless the comment, 'In those days there was not king in Israel' (Judges 18:1; 19:1) and especially the added refrain in Judges 17:6 and 21:25, 'every man did what was right in his own eyes", indicates the writer's opinion that the king would have restrained lawlessness and established order." (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries - 1 & 2 Samuel)
* The two phrases in the above point expresses the truth that Israel did not obey the Lord God, their King. For although he was their King, they did not obey him and did what they wanted to do most of the time. They proved themselves over and over again to reject his direct ruling. Some pastors have used this phrase to point out that some in the congregation do not follow their directions and commands. A pastor who does so is not following the Lord God as his king and needs to study who controlled things in the time of the book of Acts.
* "There is no compulsion to accept the rule of God, yet ultimately there is no escaping it, for he appoints the King." (Joyce G. Baldwin, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
>Why did Samuel oppose this idea? (6-7a)
* 1 Samuel 8:6-7a "But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you"
* "this displeased Samuel" -Samuel was personally offended. He had served God and the people without asking for anything except accepting his sons as judges, following his direction, and supporting his ministry, all according to God's plan. He took their request as a personal attack against his leadership. It was not and so Samuel did not recognize that he was accountable to the people just as the people were accountable to him. If Samuel was accountable to the people he would not have appointed his sons as judges and/or would have taken them out of office. Samuel knew that he was accountable to God, and lived in fear of God. However, all leaders should not let their leadership go to their heads. As the saying goes, "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."
* From many aspects things were going great in Israel compared to years before Samuel. Israel had ride themselves of the foreign gods, lived according to the law of God, and worshiped the Lord. Add to this the fact that the Philistines had let them alone after Mizpah.
* "such as all the other nations have" -The Israelites were never meant to be like other nations. They were to be different, the Lord would lead them directly. "I will be your God and you will be my people." (Gen. 17:8; Exo. 6:7; Lev. 26:12)
* "nations" -Nations is "goyim" in Hebrew, which is also translated "Gentiles" elsewhere.
* The apostles tell the church we are to be different than the people around us too. 1 Peter 2:9-10 states, "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. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." This is especially true in church matters and marriage. "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.' Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) This does not mean that we should completely cut ourselves off, especially to the extremes of being a monk. Rather we are to be separate in our heart, mind, soul, and actions. After all, how can we obey Jesus command to preach the gospel to all nations and make disciples if we are completely separated physically.
* The price of serving and helping others is that often they will reject us and turn against us.
>What did Samuel do about it?
* "so he prayed to the Lord" -Samuel didn't use his authority to override them. He didn't yell at them. He didn't complain. He didn't curse them. He didn't go alone with it. He prayed.
* God commanded. Samuel obeyed.
* Samuel denied himself every time. This time, even though he disapproved he prayed on behalf of the people anyway. He was truly a great intermediary.
* God forsaw and prepared for this day. Samuel must have known Deuteronomy 17:14-20 which states, "When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us," be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, "You are not to go back that way again." He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel."
>What can we learn from Samuel? (Ps. 149:4, 120:1-2)
* Psalms 149:4 "For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation."
* Psalms 120:1-2 "I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me. Save me, O Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues."
* When man continually sinned before the flood God said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever." (6:3) If a person persists in rejecting God's leading (making God his personal king) the Lord will let the rebellious get what they want even though it means trouble and disaster.
>7. Who was Israel rejecting? (7b)
* 1 Samuel 8:7b "it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king."
* As already mentioned, Israel rejected God as their King all along. Are we any different? Has the church, elders, pastors and laymen alike obeyed Jesus? Jesus taught many times that when he comes he will take his church home to be with him, there he will separate the sheep from the goats, the obedience from the rebellious "where there will be weeping and gnashing of the teeth." (Matt. 8:12, 13:42, 50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30)
* I wrote extensively on this in the manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires.
>What did God's history lesson reveal to Samuel?
* 1 Samuel 8:8 "As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you."
* The struggle against man and God from the fall onward is always, "We do not want this man to be our king." (Luke 19:14)
* Samuel, as God's representative was feeling the rejection that the Lord God had always known.
>What instructions did the Lord give Samuel?
* 1 Samuel 8:9 "Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."
* Samuel was told to do three things:
1) Listen to them means do what they asked of you.
2) Warn them solemnly means warn them not harshly but with seriously, legally, and compassionately
3) Let them know means to tell them straightly and clearly what the king will do.
>8. How do most kings lead and how should we lead? (10-18; Matt. 20:25-28)
* 1 Samuel 8:10-18 "Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day."
* God knew that the king would do these things because selfishness rules the human nature more than obeying the compassionate laws of the Lord.
* No congregation or Christian organization, group and/or gathering should ever have one person who rules over the others. Judges or facilitators of the elders or board of directors is better than a king. Jesus taught, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28) I know of a man of God who studied, taught and preached from the Bible continually, but yet did not obey this simple teaching and instead required all to follow his direction or suffer public humiliation. He was not accountable to a board of elders and when people continually brought this to his attention he set up a false board of elders. In the end all he accomplished before being consumed by fire was to raise up a group of little kings who followed his example and then spread them all over the world. He is an example of the end for all who have false humility; a fire will consume his house. If he was only like Samuel in practice.
* Solomon put a heavy burden on Israel to the point to when he died his son wanted to do the same thing which caused the nation to split in two.
>Why does their response show about mankind? (19-22)
* 1 Samuel 8:19-22 "But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles." When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, "Listen to them and give them a king." Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Everyone go back to his town."
* Fallen mankind cannot govern himself without the consequences of the sin he breaths in and out. Thus the government cycle of: democracy, republic, monarchy, dictator, anarchy, democracy, and so it repeats.
* When men stubbornly reject his leading he will allow them to engage in their sin and let the sin run its course. He still uses it for his own purpose.
* Why are there wars? Because sinful name rules himself? When will wars end? When God rules man in the flesh in the person of Jesus christ.
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