1 Samuel 9-17
Saul Rejected by Samuel
Background: Samuel was the last of the Judges and the first of the prophets who would be a counter-balance to the kings of Israel. For the righteous kings, Samuel and the later prophets would be a great counsel. For wicked kings, they would be a thorn in the king’s side. The prophets would make and break kings and their desire to reign for generations. With the desire of Israel to have an earthly king, they have chosen to remove themselves further from God’s power and glory, just as they did when they refused to see God at Mt Sinai. Instead of having Moses and Judges as their go-between with God, Israel would add a new layer of bureaucracy with an earthly king, distancing themselves even more from God.
Who is Saul?
1 Sam 9-10
Israel wanted a king, just like all the nations around them. They were tired of the endless of cycle of invasion, servitude, God sending a Judge, deliverance, and then invasion again. They saw the value of having a king, who could build, train and maintain an army. No longer would Israel have to defend itself with shepherds and farmers against iron chariots. Other nations would fear Israel and its king, realizing they were no longer a band of loosely confederated tribes with no real earthly leader. A king would allow them to conquer their enemies, establish trade and peace treaties, and perhaps allow the nation to have a long period of peace and safety.
Because of an Israelite Civil War during the time of the Judges, the tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out. There were but 600 men from the tribe of Benjamin who survived the war caused by their protection of those who followed Belial and supported rape and lawlessness. Saul came from this small tribe. (http://joelsmonastery.blogspot.com/2010/05/gospel-doctrine-lesson-19-reign-of.html)
We get an interesting description of Saul, “a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” (1 Sam 9:2). This description could technically have both a literal and a figurative part. The term “goodly” seems to be tied to his physical stature. Why? Because a big and strong man seems more king-like than a short, squat one. What a great thing to literally have to look up to one’s king, because he is simply so tall.
While Saul in his early years was also humble, we find that one’s beginning does not mean they end up the same way. Saul searches lost animals, and in his journey comes across Samuel, who anoints him king and tells him he will come across strange events on the way home. These events include Saul prophesying with the “sons of the prophets” a group of young men who were in training for the calling. It is likely that this group followed Samuel, and perhaps were even started by him. It will be common in Israel’s history for groups of young men to follow a prophet in a “school”: Elisha and others following Elijah, John and Andrew following John the Baptist, Peter and the disciples following Jesus.
Saul is anointed Captain of the Host
1 Samuel 10
As Samuel anoints Saul with oil, he asks, “Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?” (1 Sam 10:1). The Captain of God’s host is Jehovah, the Angel of God’s Presence. This Angel is the captain over the heavenly host, and Saul will now symbolically be the captain of God’s earthly host of Israel. In other word’s, the earthly king of Israel becomes the Son of God, a mortal version of the deity of Israel. In a previous lesson, I discussed how Elohim gave Israel to his divine Son Jehovah as his inheritance. Jehovah’s earthly inheritance is now given to Saul as his mortal counterpart.
The concept of earthly king symbolizing God, or even being viewed as God is a common motif in the ancient Middle East. For Egyptians, the Pharaoh represented Horus, the divine son of Osiris. Pharaoh was often viewed as the divine son standing before Osiris. In fact, in later Egyptian hieroglyphs, others were often portrayed standing before Osiris as if they were the son of Osiris! And in Facsimile 3 of the Joseph Smith Papyrus, Joseph interprets it as Abraham sitting on the throne teaching others - Abraham represent Osiris, or the chief God of the Judgment!
Facsimile 3: Is this Osiris or Abraham judging from the throne? Both are correct!
Samuel Rejects Saul
1 Samuel 11-14
Saul quickly is victorious in battle against his enemies. The people quickly learn to love their king. But Samuel does not sit back on his laurels and rest. He continues to warn the people and their king to follow the Lord and his commandments, or they will suffer for their disobedience.
In preparing to battle the Philistines, Saul divided his 3000 strong army between himself and his son, Jonathan. Saul awaited the arrival of Samuel, who would offer sacrifice to Jehovah prior to the battle.
The Philistines were strong, and settled in the valley below the Israelites. Samuel had not shown up yet, and Saul could see his army was in disarray with some deserting out of fear. Saul felt he could wait no longer, he had to move before his entire army ran out on him. He offered a burnt offering to God. Immediately, Samuel showed up.
Saul explained his reasoning to Samuel, “The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering“ (1 Sam 13:12).
At this point we will begin seeing two overlapping stories begin regarding the rejection of Saul and the choosing of David. Here, Samuel proclaimed that Saul was rejected and the kingdom would be given to another. Later, we’ll see Samuel proclaim it again, but the second time Saul’s reaction is clearly greater.
Saul and his son Jonathan continue to have much success in destroying the Philistines and others around them. It does not seem to Saul nor Israel that the Lord has rejected him as king.
This time Samuel Really Rejects Saul
1 Samuel 15
“Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord” (1 Sam 15:1). Suddenly, the rejection of Saul in chapter 13 seems forgotten. Saul is still God’s anointed king. This is evidence that portions of the Old Testament as we now have it were written by 2 authors (or more) who wrote differing versions, and then these were recombined into one story later on, perhaps by the great Redactor, Ezra.
The Lord wanted the Amalekites completely annhilated. “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (vs 3). They were not to leave alive anything, including men, women, children, nor animals. Israel went down to battle and slaughtered them.
Saul “took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
“But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly”.(vs 8-9).
Saul claimed that he saved the animals to sacrifice before God. Agag, the Amalekite king, was spared because that was a common act done in war, sparing the king alive and having him sit as a prisoner in one’s castle as a reminder of the victory.
Neither Jehovah nor Samuel were amused. Saul tried to explain that Israel’s purpose was honorable, and that Samuel should be pleased with his battle. But the prophet would have nothing to do with it.
“Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (vs 22-23).
Obedience requires a full commitment and exactness. If a little child was running into a busy street, would it be okay if when the parent shouted for the child to stop and return, the child were to delay a few moments to grab the ball in the street first? Saul was messing with Jehovah’s inheritance, not his own! The safety of the entire nation depended upon exact obedience, because Israel was surrounded by many enemies just waiting for Saul to slip up.
Saul was now, for the second time, rejected as king. This time, Saul took the news poorly. First he begged for another chance, and was turned down. As a witness of God’s rejection of Saul, Samuel hacked the Amalekite king Agag in pieces. As Agag was no longer king of Amalek, Saul would no longer be king of Israel. This is also foreshadowing Saul’s death.
Samuel calls David as King
1 Samuel 16
David Defeats Goliath
The Lord sends Samuel to the family of Jesse, to choose one of his sons as the new king of Israel. Samuel had to go in stealth, “How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me” (vs 2). The Lord has him go, pretending to offer sacrifices in the region, something that Samuel, as a traveling prophet/priest often did in various locations.
After seeing Jesse’s eldest son, Samuel is pleased and ponders whether he is the one. The Lord answered him by explaining, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (vs 7).
Saul was a “goodly” man, as in he was very tall and strong. He seemed to be the perfect person to be king, as he literally stood head and shoulders above everyone else. But God ended up rejecting Saul, because inwardly king Saul was not right with God. His heart was not completely in tune with God, but in doing things his own way.
It would require looking through all of Jesse’s sons, and then sending for the youngest tending the sheep, before the Lord saw the one with his heart in the right place: David. Samuel anointed David, “and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward” (vs 13).
Compare David’s heart and desires with Saul’s: “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him” (vs 14). With wickedness, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, allowing an evil spirit to fill him instead. Each of us has such a struggle. We are either a Saul or a David, depending upon our absolute faithfulness and the desires of our heart. And this can change throughout our lives. Saul began as a king filled with the Spirit of the Lord, prophesying with the sons of the prophets. But now, due to his rebellions, found himself at odds with God. Saul wanted to be king for the wrong reasons. He eventually came to see it as his right, rather than as a holy anointing that he had to regard carefully and guard humbly. It was not his inheritance. It was the Lord’s inheritance, and he was anointed to be captain of Israel under Jehovah. In losing his way, he wandered among evil spirits, who enticed him to hang onto the power and the belief that he could remain king by his own skill and cunning. That is definitely a sign of insanity, when one attempts to defeat God at his own game. Satan also tried to do this, and still tries to this day to defeat God for the kingdom of Israel.
With the evil spirit of insanity hounding him. Saul seeks for relief. He sends his general to find a worthy young man who was skilled in playing the harp. David is found and is brought forth to dwell in the king’s palace and play for him. David carries the Spirit of God with him, and his playing chased the darkness away, bringing Saul peace.
David and Goliath
1 Samuel 17
Here is where we see another conflict in the story. We’ve just seen how David has been selected as part of the king’s household to play the harp and soothe the king’s troubles.
But now we find David living at home, and sent by his father Jesse to check up on his older brothers who have been drafted into Saul’s army! And there is a big problem. The Philistines have a champion or hero, named Goliath.
The average cubit is 18 inches, a span = 9 inches. This would make Goliath nine feet, 9 inches tall. He would tower over the average Israelite soldier, who was probably not much more than 5 1/2 feet tall. Goliath would come out frequently, issuing a challenge. Israel’s hero must come out and fight him, and the winner take all. No one dared answer his challenge.
David was amazed. How dare this Philistine challenge the Lord’s host? David was brought to Saul’s tent, where David proclaimed that God could help him defeat the giant. As David approaches the Philistine, the man laughs and mocks Israel for sending a boy:
“Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.....Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field” (vs 43-44).
But David was undaunted:
“Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
“This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls 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 all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands” (vs 44-46).
With a few chosen stones, David takes his sling and downs the giant. Then the boy picked up Goliath’s mighty sword and sliced off his head. The Philistines fled in panic, and Israel chased after them, defeating them soundly.
God would prove his power, not only against the Philistine gods, but also against the giants of the earth - even as in the days of Enoch (Moses 7:13-15). David became another Enoch, who could work God’s miracles to defeat the enemies and establish God’s Zion on earth. David also became a prototype of Christ, who would deliver Israel and the world out of the hands of the two giants, Death and Hell.
Angel of the Lord’s Presence discussed in detail in my previous lesson: http://joelsmonastery.blogspot.com/2010/02/lds-gospel-doctrine-class-old-testament_15.html
Israel as Jehovah’s inheritance: http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/2010/03/god-gods-and-sons-and-daughters-of-god-in-the-hebrew-bible-part-iii/