SAUL DISOBEYS GOD
Proverbs 14:12, ESV
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
1 SAMUEL 11:1-11, NIrV
1 Nahash was the king of Ammon. He and his army went up to Jabesh Gilead. They surrounded it and got ready to attack it. All the men of Jabesh spoke to Nahash. They said, “Make a peace treaty with us. Then we’ll be under your control.”
2 Nahash, the king of Ammon, replied, “I will make a peace treaty with you. But I’ll do it only on one condition. You must let me put out the right eye of every one of you. I want to bring shame on the whole nation of Israel.”
3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days to report back to you. We’ll send messengers all through Israel. If no one comes to save us, we’ll hand ourselves over to you.”
4 The messengers came to Gibeah of Saul. They reported to the people the terms Nahash had required. Then all the people wept out loud. 5 Just then Saul was coming in from the fields. He was walking behind his oxen. He asked, “What’s wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” He was told what the men of Jabesh had said.
6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully on him. He became very angry. 7 He got a pair of oxen and cut them into pieces. He sent the pieces by messengers all through Israel. They announced, “You must follow Saul and Samuel. If you don’t, this is what will happen to your oxen.” The terror of the Lord fell on the people. So all of them came together with one purpose in mind. 8 Saul brought his army together at Bezek. There were 300,000 men from Israel and 30,000 from Judah.
9 The messengers who had come were told, “Go back and report to the men of Jabesh Gilead. Tell them, ‘By the hottest time of the day tomorrow, you will be rescued.’ ” The messengers went and reported it to the men of Jabesh. It made those men very happy. 10 They said to the people of Ammon, “Tomorrow we’ll hand ourselves over to you. Then you can do to us whatever you like.”
11The next day Saul separated his men into three groups. While it was still dark, they broke into the camp of the Ammonite army. They kept killing the men of Ammon until the hottest time of the day. Those who got away were scattered. There weren’t two of them left together anywhere.
At the end of 1 Samuel 10, Saul was crowned king of Israel. As chapter 11 begins, his people already needed their leader to save the day. Nahash the Ammonite surrounded the Israelite city of Jabesh-Gilead with his soldiers. He offered the people a terrible deal: “I’ll let you serve me, but only if I can poke out your right eyes!” He gave the people of Jabesh-Gilead a week to wait for help to arrive. That was a huge mistake! When Saul heard his people were in trouble, God’s Spirit transformed him into a mighty warrior! With 330,000 men, he charged in and smashed Nahash’s mighty army to bits!
+ Why was Saul able to completely defeat Nahash and the Ammonites? (vs. 6)
+ What good news did Saul’s messengers give to the people of Jabesh-Gilead? (vs. 10)
1 SAMUEL 12:1-2, 6-11, NIrV
1 Samuel spoke to all the Israelites. He said, “I’ve done everything you asked me to do. I’ve placed a king over you. 2 Now you have a king as your leader. But I’m old. My hair is gray. My sons are here with you. I’ve been your leader from the time I was young until this day.
6 Then Samuel said to the people, “The Lord appointed Moses and Aaron. He brought out of Egypt your people who lived long ago. 7 Now then, stand here. I’m going to remind you of all the good things the Lord has done for you and your people. He is a witness.
8 “After Jacob’s family entered Egypt, they cried out to the Lord for help. The Lord sent Moses and Aaron. They brought your people out of Egypt. They had them make their homes in this land.
9 “But the people forgot the Lord their God. So he put them under the control of Sisera. Sisera was the commander of the army of Hazor. The Lord also put the Israelites under the control of the Philistines and the king of Moab. All those nations fought against Israel. 10 So the people cried out to the Lord. They said, ‘We have sinned. We’ve deserted the Lord. We’ve served gods that are named Baal. We’ve served female gods that are named Ashtoreth. But save us now from the power of our enemies. Then we will serve you.’ 11 The Lord sent Gideon, Barak, Jephthah and me. He saved you from the power of your enemies who were all around you. So you lived in safety.
Samuel was a little boy when he first began serving Israel. Now, he was a wrinkly old man. He’d been the leader of the Israelites for many, many years. With King Saul now in charge, old Sam had a couple of things he wanted to say to his people. First, he reminded them of the countless times they’d been rescued from destruction by the powerful hand of the Lord God. He also reminded them of the countless disasters they created for themselves by worshiping other gods. And finally, he reminded them that God saved them from their sin-made disaster by sending judge after judge after judge.
+ What were the names of some of the men God sent to rescue his sinful people? (vs. 11)
+ Why do you think Samuel wanted to remind the people what God had done for them?
1 SAMUEL 12:12-18, NIrV
12“But then you saw that Nahash, the king of Ammon, was about to attack you. So you said to me, ‘No! We want a king to rule over us.’ You said it even though the Lord your God was your king. 13 Now here is the king you have chosen. He’s the one you asked for. The Lord has placed a king over you. 14 But you must have respect for the Lord. You must serve him and obey him. You must not say no to his commands. Both you and the king who rules over you must obey the Lord your God. If you do, that’s good. 15 But you must not disobey him. You must not say no to his commands. If you do, his power will be against you. That’s what happened to your people who lived before you.
16 “So stand still. Watch the great thing the Lord is about to do right here in front of you! 17 It’s time to gather in the wheat, isn’t it? I’ll call out to the Lord to send thunder and rain. Then you will realize what an evil thing you did in the sight of the Lord. You shouldn’t have asked for a king.”
18 Samuel called out to the Lord. That same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people had great respect for the Lord and for Samuel.
The Lord had come to the rescue of his people through all of their sin-caused troubles. Despite this, the Israelites said, “Give us a king to fight for us instead!” This was a foolish request, but God gave them exactly what they asked for. Now that his leading days were done, Samuel warned, “If you keep turning from God, no king can save you from the powerful hand of the Lord!” The old priest wanted to show his people how deadly serious their sin was, so he prayed. God answered that prayer by sending a fearsome thunderstorm. It was the Lord’s way of saying, “Listen to what Samuel said!”
+ What did Samuel say that God would never do to his people? (vs. 22)
+ Though he would no longer lead the people, what did Samuel promise to do? (vs. 23)
1 SAMUEL 13:1-7, NIRV
1 Saul was 30 years old when he became king. He ruled over Israel for 42 years.
2 Saul chose 3,000 of Israel’s men. Two thousand of them were with him at Mikmash and in the hill country of Bethel. One thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. Saul sent the rest back to their homes.
3 Some Philistine soldiers were stationed at Geba. Jonathan attacked them. The other Philistines heard about it. Saul announced, “Let the Hebrew people hear about what has happened!” He had trumpets blown all through the land. 4 So all the Israelites heard the news. They were told, “Saul has attacked the Philistine army camp at Geba. Now the Philistines can’t stand the Israelites.” The Israelites were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.
5 The Philistines gathered together to fight against Israel. They had 3,000 chariots and 6,000 chariot drivers. Their soldiers were as many as the grains of sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash. It was east of Beth Aven. 6 The Israelites saw that their army was in deep trouble. So they hid in caves. They hid among bushes and rocks. They also hid in pits and empty wells. 7 Some of them even went across the Jordan River. They went to the lands of Gad and Gilead.
Saul remained at Gilgal. All the troops with him were shaking with fear.
All through the book of 1 Samuel, the Israelites and the Philistines were at each other’s throats. Sometimes, the Israelites won. Other times, the Philistines won. After Saul’s son won a battle for Israel, the Philistines decided they were not messing around. They sent thousands of chariots and swordsmen to attack, a mighty army as uncountable as a beachful of sand. Saul’s soldiers were spooked at the sight of so many Philistines. Instead rushing to meet their enemy head-on, the Israelites ran away. They hid in caves, pits, and even tombs. This battle appeared to be over before it even began!
+ What was the name of Saul’s son? (vs. 3)
+ How many chariots and horsemen did the Philistines bring to the battle? (vs. 5)
1 SAMUEL 13:8-9, NIRV
8 He waited seven days, just as Samuel had told him to. But Samuel didn’t come to Gilgal. And Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the friendship offerings.” Then he offered up the burnt offering.
As the king, Saul’s job was to lead and defend his people. As the high priest, Samuel’s job was to offer sacrifices of animals and food to God. If he was going to win, Saul knew he needed God’s help. Before the big battle began, Saul asked Samuel to offer a sacrifice to God. Samuel had told Saul, “Wait for me. I’ll be there in seven days.” But a week passed and Samuel was nowhere to be seen. Seeing his scared soldiers starting to scatter, Saul made a disaster of a decision. Ignoring Samuel’s instructions and disobeying God’s clear commands, Saul went ahead and made the sacrifice himself.
+ When Samuel didn’t show up on time, what did the soldiers start doing? (vs. 8)
+ Why would Saul think it was a good idea to offer the sacrifice himself?
DAY 6 – two parts
1 SAMUEL 13:10-14, NIRV
10 Just as Saul finished offering the sacrifice, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to greet him.
11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.
Saul replied, “I saw that the men were scattering. I saw that the Philistines were gathering together at Mikmash. You didn’t come when you said you would. 12 So I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down to attack me at Gilgal. And I haven’t asked the Lord for his blessing.’ So I felt I had to sacrifice the burnt offering.”
13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You haven’t obeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. If you had, he would have made your kingdom secure over Israel for all time to come. 14 But now your kingdom won’t last. The Lord has already looked for a man who is dear to his heart. He has appointed him king of his people. That’s because you haven’t obeyed the Lord’s command.”
BIBLE STUDY – PART ONE
King Saul’s timing was terrible. If only he had waited just a few more minutes! Old Samuel showed up the second Saul’s sacrifice was finished. “What have you done?” the old priest asked. That’s never a good question to hear! After listening to Saul’s sorry excuses for his sinful sacrifice, Samuel spoke up. He let the king know that there would be a colossal consequence for his dreadful decision. Saul had a chance for his family to rule Israel forever. Instead, his days as king would now be numbered. In fact, God had already chosen the man who was going to replace him!
+ What was Saul’s excuse for offering the sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel? (vs. 11-12)
PROVERBS 14:12, NIRV
12 There is a way that appears to be right. But in the end it leads to death.
BIBLE STUDY – PART ONE
Proverbs is a Bible book stuffed with wisdom. It points us to what’s right and steers us away from what’s wrong. And the wise words from this single verse perfectly describe why King Saul’s dreadful decision ended up in disaster!
The Philistine army was frighteningly large. But Saul’s army? They were simply frightened! The king thought, “We’re dead as a duck without God’s blessing! We need to offer a sacrifice!” With Samuel late and the clock ticking, he had to make a choice.
Saul had studied God’s laws. He knew only priests were supposed to offer sacrifices. But in his mind, offering the sacrifice himself seemed like the right thing to do. In the words of today’s verse, there was a way that seemed right to Saul and he followed it. But in the end, it led to death – the death of his kingdom!
Have you ever done something that seemed right to you, but you knew that God said it was wrong? Perhaps you lied because you thought it would keep you out of trouble. Maybe you stole something small because nobody would notice. Whenever we ignore what God says and do what we think is right, we’re headed for disaster. In fact, Jesus tells us that all sin leads us to the biggest disaster of all: a forever, fiery death outside of God’s good kingdom!
Here’s the good news: though our ways lead us to forever death, God’s way leads us to forever life! What exactly is God’s way? Simple. We need to understand that we’re sinners. We’ve turned from God’s way and followed our own. Because of that, we’re headed for death.
God’s way is to trust in the good news of his Son Jesus. He wants us to believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. If we follow God’s way instead of our own, we’ll spend forever in a kingdom with the best king of all: Jesus!
+ God’s way leads us to forever life. If we follow our way instead, what does it lead to?