Big Talker

And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand.” 1 Samuel 17:41-47.

David went up against Goliath with a sling and a stone, but also with much more than that. He came with boldness, and confidence that God was with him. He had taken on challenges before while protecting his father’s sheep. And he credited God with killing the bear and the lion. And now his zeal for God’s honor propelled him forward.

This is a rare thing; not that God will deliver us, but the boldness and eagerness to honor God’s name. We are all heirs of God’s covenant, and our faith in Christ comes with spiritual weapons that are able to invade the physical world. But we must dare to speak it and do it, even though the rest of the congregation trembles.

The Agency of Man

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 1 Samuel 16:1-5.

God had made Saul king. This comes with the power to govern, make war, execute the wicked. Samuel is right to fear this. Could God just grant him immunity and protect him? Maybe not. God gives authority and then leaves it up to the user to either use it or abuse it. Yes, He eventually punishes the abuser, but He gives man great power, and the opportunity to make mistakes.

Samuel also has power and authority. It is the reason the elders at Bethlehem tremble at his approach. He is the man of God, with the power to bless and curse. A visit from the prophet is like the investigative reporter setting up camp at your office. This could go badly.

This kind of authority is hard to find today. The man of God is not taken seriously. He does not bless and curse. He does not call out sin. He no longer speaks for God. We need that.

Judgment Day for Amalek

And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” 1 Samuel 15:1-3.

God has had plans to wipe out Amalek for a long time. It was his command that His people drive all the idolators out of the land, but this has never been fully obeyed. They did just enough to get settled into their land, then it was all compromise and make peace with the enemies of God.

And for hundreds of years the Israelites have dabbling in the idolotry of the land. This has never been acceptable to good, and that has never changed. He is ahold God who wants a holy people, who love and obey Him only.

Bible critics point this out to make their case against God. They are reasonable and compassionate; the God of the Bible is a harsh and demanding ogre. People can be good without God. God is the creation of an unenlightened, primative people from the Bronze Age.

And yet, the history of godless people is pretty alarming. In the 20th century alone, state sanctioned genocide has racked up millions of corpses. Mankind can be a pretty ruthless god himself. So we must choose sides. We can be for the God who made us, who will rule and reign for eternity, or we can inhabit the hell of our own making, refusing to abide by the rule of the true God.

That’s Just Not Right!

Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” And Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am; I will die.” And Saul said, “God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan.” Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, so that he did not die. 1 Samuel 15:43-45.

This chapter begins with the king’s son, Jonathan, deciding to go on a raid against the Philistines, taking only his armor bearer. They succeed beyond expectations, creating a panic amongst their army that has them fighting each other. Saul exploits this disarray and sends his men into the fray. They are already tired and hungry, but Saul makes a rash vow that anyone who eats before they have routed the Philistines be is cursed.

People took such vows seriously. Words have power, and people believed. This is a powerful combination. Unfortunately for Jonathan, he was busy when this vow was made and he didn’t get the memo. So he had come upon some honey and ate it. After this is discovered, Jonathan realizes he must die. The people will have none of it. They all know it was a stupid vow, and Jonathan was a hero. But the vow must be fulfilled, so they paid a random to spare him.

Today, trapping people in their words is great sport. We even make up new words, like transgender pronouns, to trip people up. They serve no real purpose but to meet some transient demand. Other words are now secret “dog whistles” to alert people to racist motivations they forgot they had. It is tiresome and stupid, and it probably won’t last. But we need to come to one another’s defense until it is over.

Saul’s Impatience

He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 1 can Samuel 13:8-14.

Just because you are king, that does not mean you can ignore the rules. Samuel’s spiritual authority superceded Saul’s governmental authority. Saul crossed an important line, and that cost him the kingdom.

America has crossed that line so often we no longer know where the line is. We have decriminalized the killing of unborn children, normalized adultery, divorce, and homosexuality, and even choose our “gender identity” against our God-given assignment. We believe we can do anything we want, and that God is irrelevant. We are a doomed nation, and it started with a lukewarm church that mistook earthly prosperity for God’s approval.