Share This Episode
Truth for Life Alistair Begg Logo

Saul Steps Up! (Part 1 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
November 8, 2022 3:00 am

Saul Steps Up! (Part 1 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1082 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

November 8, 2022 3:00 am

Israel wanted a king so that they could be like all the other nations. Getting the king they requested, however, didn’t actually give Israel what they really wanted. Find out why as we continue our study of 1 Samuel on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



The Nation of Israel had God as their king, but they wanted a human king so they could be like the other nations.

Today on Truth for Life we'll discover why getting the king they requested didn't actually give Israel what they really wanted. Halasterbeg has titled this message, Saul Steps Up. I invite you to follow along as I read from 1 Samuel in chapter 11. Then Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you. But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel. The elders of Jabesh said to him, Give us seven days respite, that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel.

Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you. When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud. Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, What is wrong with the people that they're weeping? So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying, Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen. Then the dread of the LORD fell upon the people, and they came out as one man.

When he mustered them at Bezak, the people of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. And they said to the messengers who had come, Thus shall you say to the men of Jabesh Gilead, Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have salvation. When the messengers came and told the men of Jabesh, they were glad.

Therefore the men of Jabesh said, Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you. And the next day Saul put the people in three companies. And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day.

And those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. Then the people said to Samuel, Who is it that said, Shall Saul reign over us? Bring the men that we may put them to death. But Saul said, Not a man shall be put to death this day. For today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel. Then Samuel said to the people, Come, let us go to Gilgal, and there renew the kingdom. So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the LORD, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

Amen. In 1935, a Scottish physicist by the name of Robert Alexander Watson Watt received the largest wartime award in the Second World War for an invention. Many people had been working on radar, but he was the first person to put together a unit that actually worked in practical terms. And they paid him or gifted him $144,000, which was in the 1930s.

It was a substantial amount of money. Ironically, later on, driving in Canada, he found himself caught in a speeding trap, in a radar trap. And he was not only a clever man, but he was a humorous man, and he rode his own little dog or oak concerning what had happened to him.

It went like this, Pity, Sir Robert Watson Watt, strange target of his radar plot, and thus, with others I could mention, a victim of his own invention. Now, there is a sense in which, as we come back to our studies here in 1 Samuel, true definitely for some is that very idea. Because in their quest for a king—which is what we've been dealing with now for some time—it is fairly obvious, and quickly so, that these people could not get exactly what they wanted. You remember, they wanted to have a king.

They had only had judges up until this time, and they thought if they could have a king, then they could be like the other nations. And they couldn't actually get what they wanted without, at the same time, virtually getting what they didn't want. Although what they didn't really want was what they actually needed. And so, as I said to myself during the week, that reminds me of old Watson Watt, because these people are beginning now, as the story unfolds, to see that they're virtually victims of their own designs and their own desires.

They wanted this to be the case, and now, as they find themselves in the middle of it, it seems a little more daunting than they had perhaps anticipated. The genesis of this whole thing is, as I've said, the request on the part of the people for a king. That's back in the 5th verse of chapter 8. They've said to Samuel, "'You're old.

Your boys are not in a position to pick up where you're leaving off, so make a king for us so that we can be like the rest of the nations.'" Now, Samuel's response to that was displeasure. He took it personally. He felt that it was a rejection of his own leadership. He'd done his best for these people, and now they said, "'We don't actually want you.

You're old. It's time to move on.'" It's the kind of thing that happens in business and industry every day. Eventually they said, "'We need somebody younger, somebody better, somebody brighter, somebody bigger.'"

Well, that's the kind of thing. But God says to Samuel, he says, "'Samuel, you need to know that you don't need to take this personally, because they're not actually rejecting you. They are rejecting me.'" And you'll see that in the 7th verse of chapter 8. They haven't rejected you. They've rejected me from being a king over them.

But they proceed accordingly. And in chapter 9, God introduces Samuel to the one that he has chosen. "'Here is the man,' he says, "'of whom I spoke to you.'" And the text tells us that God had communicated with Samuel, saying, "'Tomorrow you're going to meet a fellow from the tribe of Benjamin, and when he comes, essentially I will tap you on the shoulder, and I'll say to you, here's your man.'" And then in chapter 10, advancing through the story and at the beginning of it, we have the record of Saul being anointed privately. You will remember that Samuel, quite unexpectedly for Saul, took out a flask of oil, poured it on his head, and kissed him. And that might seem a bizarre thing to do, except in the context in which they found themselves. It was an indication of the fact that just as God had anointed priests for his service, so now, in inaugurating the kingship, Saul was to be anointed and set apart in this way.

So that took place privately. In the balance of chapter 10, what had happened privately was now confirmed personally to Saul. And if you were here, you will remember the signs, the evidences that God gave to Saul that something dramatic had taken place in his life. And do you remember the story of him and the tambourineists and the people doing the music? And all of a sudden him prophesying as well, and then the word going out among the people is, Saul among the prophets as well?

How bizarre is this? And then, in the 24th verse of chapter 10, what had been taking place privately, confirmed personally, we now find Saul being acclaimed publicly. And in verse 24 of chapter 10, the people said, There is none like him among all the people, and all the people shouted, Long live the king. Now, you have to wait until the end of chapter 11 for the final stage to come, and I think, as I read it, you would have picked it up there in verse 15. So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. So there you've got a kind of four-stage operation.

You've got the anointing that take place privately, the confirmation that he experiences perfectly, the acclamation which comes publicly, and then finally, at the end of the chapter, this takes place in that way. Now, I want to step even further back for a moment so that we don't lose anybody along the way. What we've said in coming to this—because we're studying material that is 11th century B.C. That is a long time ago by any standards. And so the inevitable response on the part of anybody who's thinking may be, Why in the twenty-first century A.D. would we go back such a long way and look at this material?

Now, the answer to that is very simple. It's because we're not particularly interested in historical narrative per se. No, we're actually dealing with the fact that the Bible is given to us from the very mouth of God, that we're dealing with the Bible. And in the Bible, God speaks. What God has done by his actions throughout history has been recorded for us verbally in Scripture, so that when we go to the Scriptures, we might hear from God himself.

That is the conviction which underpins this. And we have used as an underlying verse the fourth verse of Romans 15, where Paul has said to the readership, Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. So in other words, the material, ancient though it may be, exists for our instruction also, not only in the immediacy of the moment, but in the long-term lasting benefit of its truth.

So where then does the hope lie and the endurance and the encouragement come? Well, the answer to that is in knowing ultimately what the Bible is about. And when Paul writes to Timothy in his letter, he reminds him, he says, you know, you've had a tremendous background, Timothy, because your grandmother followed Jesus, and your mom followed Jesus, and you know, you know that you have lived in the benefit of the instruction of those who have made known to you the sacred writings, i.e., the Scriptures.

They made known to you the sacred writings, which are able to—I could give prizes out for anybody who can finish that sentence and read marks for everyone who can't—who have made known to you the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. So what is the purpose of the Bible? What is the storyline of the Bible? The answer is, it is the story of salvation. It is the story of God's plan to redeem and restore mankind despite the fact that mankind has determined from Genesis 2 on to go its own way. And the story of the Bible, from Genesis 3 all the way to Revelation chapter 22, is this story.

That's why the story of the Bible always takes us to Jesus, because Jesus is the only one who can save us. Now, when you realize that—that this theme then runs all the way through the entire Bible—then we wouldn't be surprised if, when we came to a very difficult passage of the Bible—namely, for Samuel 11, at least very difficult for me when I was trying to understand it and study it—then we wouldn't be surprised if then salvation provides us the key to understanding the text, if salvation provides, if you like, the melody line which runs all the way through. Remember, I've told you before I did music at school in Yorkshire when I was a teenager. I wasn't any good at it at all, but it seemed a soft option, until I discovered that it wasn't. And you were supposed to be able to look at the score of, you know, Haydn's clock symphony or something and be able to see which of the instruments was carrying the melodic line. Well, it was like—but I had a friend called Norman Salmon, and he was very good. And so if he turned the page, I turned the page.

And every time he'd do a head fake, he'd turn back, then flip back again. But I stayed with him, because if he went, I was done, because I hadn't a clue. I looked at it. I don't know where it is. Maybe you've got a friend like that who's doing that with you in the Bible.

You've been looking in this Bible forever. You don't know where to turn. They're gonna help you. They're gonna show you where the melody runs. You said, Oh, that's what it's about?

That's exactly what it's about. Now, let me show you how the melody line runs through this chapter. We'll start at the end of chapter 10 with the question of verse 27. Remember, our thought here is salvation. The question they asked, how can this man save us? Into chapter 11 and to verse 3, where they send out the messengers. And the thought in mind is, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you. And then in verse 9 of the eleventh chapter, tell the people, Tomorrow by the time the sun is hot, you shall have salvation. And then in verse 13, And so said, Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel.

Okay? Well, let's start at the beginning then. At the end of chapter 10, and this question, How can this man save us?

Well, the man in question, of course, was Saul himself. And we can safely assume that this is not simply inquiry. There's a kind of question that asks, like, Could you tell me where McDonald's is? That is simply inquiry. This is not inquiry. They're not just saying, Well, I wonder.

No. There is mockery in this question, and there is animosity in the question. This is a question that is raised, you will notice in the text, by those who are described as worthless fellows. So you have to say to yourself, then, Why would they react in this way? After all, they have been part of the process that has led to the public acclamation of Saul. They've been part of the group, presumably, that started to say, Long live the king. Now they respond as they do. Now, it doesn't appear that the question is posed in light of any inadequacy in Saul.

Well, how would we know that? Well, because Saul hasn't done anything. He hasn't done anything.

You know, it's like most people elected to public office. I mean, there's no reason to start criticizing them. They haven't done anything yet. They haven't had a chance. He hasn't had a chance. He's tall.

He's handsome. He has been looking for donkeys. He's been hiding in baggage.

And he's done nothing. And he's gone home. That's what it says at the end of verse 26.

Saul also went home to his home at Gibeah. So the reason for their reaction, the reason for their concern, their disappointment—how can this man save us?—has to lie somewhere else. Now, how would we know where?

Well, by paying attention to the text. You will remember that in verse 25 of chapter 10, Samuel had made it clear to the people, telling them the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord. Now, Samuel, in reminding these people of the rights and the justice of the kingship, has made it clear to the people that Saul's kingship is going to be subordinate to God's kingship.

Ah, there's the problem. We wanted a king to be like all the other nations. If you're gonna give as a king who is still subordinate to God as king, then we're not gonna be like the other nations. And therefore, the kind of salvation that we want, which sets us free to be unlike what we really are, is not gonna be ours. Therefore, how can this king save us?

Now, the underlying issue is straightforward. Verse 19 of chapter 10. Samuel says, Today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses. When you reject God as the Savior, you don't have a Savior.

It's straightforward. If you fast-forward all the way to the Acts of the Apostles after the ascension of Jesus and the appearance of the apostles on the streets of Jerusalem, what do they say? They say, there is salvation in no one else—except in Jesus. Because he's the only one who's qualified to save. So that if you reject the Savior, you'll inevitably find yourself saying, Well, how could this one save me? The answer is, he couldn't.

He can't. That's why the Semes says, I think we read it. It didn't mean Psalm 146. Don't trust in princes.

For their breath will eventually expire, and they'll be gone, and they'll be irrelevant. Though there's only one in whom to trust. It is not God's intention that his people be like everyone else. We've been set apart for a reason, set apart for salvation. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. We know many of you are financial supporters of the Ministry of Truth for Life. We want you to know when you give a donation today to support the teaching you hear on Truth for Life, we're going to invite you to request a copy of Alistair's new devotional book, Truth for Life 365 Daily Devotions.

This is volume two. And just like in volume one, Alistair presents a passage from scripture for us to consider each day. Then he offers his own thoughts on the passage for reflection.

In fact, he stepped into the studio recently and recorded a sample where he looks at a verse from the book of Hebrews. This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days declares the Lord. I will put my laws into their minds and write them on their hearts.

And I will be their God and they shall be my people. Hebrews 810. The law of God is a masterpiece revealing our deep guilt and at the same time, graciously teaching unholy people how to approach a holy God in worship.

Its instructions form a carefully assembled tapestry. If one thread is pulled, the entire thing unravels. This means that there are no small matters in the law. When we break a single command, we become guilty of violating the entire thing.

Why? Because God's law is no arbitrary set of rules and regulations. It is an expression of the character and nature of our perfect and pure God of glory.

When you add this all together, it amounts to a terrifying reality. How can we ever hope to measure up to such a high standard? And yet, for those who know Christ Jesus by faith, the law no longer condemns us. The Son of God fulfilled God's law himself, so that his people no longer have to face his wrath. We have escaped God's just penalty on our sins through Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.

Now the law does not remain outside of us. It is written upon our hearts. Now the Spirit of God who wrote it there goes to work to transform us so that we gladly accept its duties and obligations. In Christ, we are not only saved from the penalty for not keeping the law, we also have the resources to keep the law as never before. This is the case for everyone who calls on Jesus as Lord.

What sins are you particularly struggling against or giving into? By the Spirit, you have all the resources to obey your Father, looking to the law neither as a ladder to heaven nor as a source of condemnation, but as a guide to life. Armed with this hope, you can battle against your sin with the confidence that comes from Christ's great victory.

You know, think about it. What a great way to start the day meditating on these life-saving gospel truths. You can request your copy of the book, Truth for Life, 365 daily devotions, volume two. It's our way of saying thank you when you support the ministry of Truth for Life. And if you'd like to purchase volume one, you'll find it online along with volume two at slash 365. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening. Tomorrow we'll find out what it was that was necessary for the people's faith to be restored and for Saul to be empowered to finally step up as the king. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-08 07:42:45 / 2022-11-08 07:47:44 / 5

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime