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Crying for a King

March 10, 2013 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: Crying for a King (Samuel)

Topic: I Samuel Passage: 1 Samuel 13:13–13:14

Crying for a King

Crying for a King
I Samuel 13:13, 14
March 10th, 2013
(One Lord: So Great a Salvation)

 

I. Intro: Freedom from a King

Listen to the following indictment:

The history of the present King...is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny...To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

...He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

...He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

...He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction...unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us...For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world...For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent...He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us...He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

...In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Now even though that is only about a quarter of the original document, many of you might still recognize those words. Those are selections from our American “Declaration of Indepedence” from the rule of King George III of England.

You see, our identity as a people has long been defined by our efforts to win freedom from a king. We are a fiercely independent people, aren't we? But as wonderful as this independence is, there is another kind of freedom that we have to fight, not for, but against.

Turn with me this morning to I Samuel 13.

 

I. The Passage: “A Man After His Own Heart” (13:13, 14)

This morning, as we open the word of God, I'd like us to do two things:

First, as we prepare to return to a study in the book of Samuel, I'd like to try and summarize what is in the book we call I Samuel? In the original Hebrew Bible, the book of Samuel is one book. In a later translation of the Bible, the book was later divided into two books. And as many of you know, last July we concluded a 41-part study of I Samuel. And so as we prepare to study II Samuel, we need to review what we learned from the first half.

Second, after looking at what is there, we also need to talk about “Why what’s there is there?” What did the writer of this book want to communicate to his readers? What lessons did He want to leave them with. And most important for us, what lessons does God want us to learn from I Samuel?

But what we find here in I Samuel 13 are two verses that I believe really summarize the message of this book. Let's look at those verses. 13 and 14...

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."

So let's do this: let's allow these verses to point us back to a number of key passages from this book, passages that can help paint for us the big picture of this book. And one of the things we'll discover, or be reminded of, is that the book of I Samuel is built around three main character, all of whom are mentioned in these verses (although only two of them are named): Samuel, Saul, and David.

 

A. Samuel’s Declaration of God's Word (13a)

The first thing we notice about these verses is that, at the beginning of verse 13, Samuel is speaking to Saul. And if we look at the content of his message, it's pretty easy to see that Samuel is speaking to Saul with authority. To understand that authority we need to turn back to I Samuel 3:1. Look at what read there:

Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. [now skip down to verses 19 and 20]...And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD.

And so Samuel has been raised up for God's people, not only as a prophet, but also as a judge and a priest of sorts. So when he speaks to Saul in chapter 13, He is speaking the words of God to Saul; His declaration is divine.

 

B. Saul’s Disobedience to God's Will (13b, 14a)

But we know from 13:13, 14 that Samuel's message was a message of judgment against Saul. As it tell us, Saul has “done foolishly”. He has “not kept the command of the LORD”. Therefore his “kingdom shall not continue”. But what kingdom is Samuel speaking about here? Well turn over to I Samuel 8. Look at verses 4-7:

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, "Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations." But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, "Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.

So God's people are crying for a king, but for all the wrong reasons. If we flip over to I Samuel 12:13-15, we discover what God requires when He grants their request for a king:

And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you. If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king.

 

C. David’s Devotion to God's Ways (14b)

But as we know from Samuel's declaration against Saul in chapter 13 that this king did not keep God's commands. In at least two very important circumstances, Saul rebelled against God's will. And so as 13:14 tells us, God was now going to raise up a new king, a man who would obey God because he was “a man after God's own heart”.

In I Samuel 16:7 we see how God emphasize the importance of the heart when it comes to the most important requirements for a reigning royal. We read:

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."

And when we go to the next chapter, to I1 Samuel 17:34-37, we see that this heart is fueled by an incredible faith in God, even in the face of a GIANT threat:

But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God." And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."


And we see it again in that same chapter in verses 45-47. David, this “man after God's own heart”, says this to Goliath, the Philistine warrior:

"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."

And what most of the second half of I Samuel shows us is how David's heart of faith is put to the test in the face of ongoing adversity. Instead of being humbled by God's judgment, instead of being sorry for his disobedience, Saul becomes bitter. His heart grows even harder. He cannot accept that David will be the new king, and so he seeks to kill David.

But if you turn over to I Samuel 24:9-12, you can see, once again, how David's faith in God is what carries him forward. Even when David has a chance to kill Saul and end his exile, even when he has a chance to remove Saul and claim the throne which God has promised to him, David restrains himself. Listen to what he tells Saul about sparing his life:

And David said to Saul, "Why do you listen to the words of men who say, 'Behold, David seeks your harm'? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, 'I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD's anointed.' See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.

What set David apart, not as the king the people wanted, but as the king the people needed, is exactly what we read in I Samuel 30:6 “David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.”

And as we discover from the last chapter of the book, God did indeed judge between David and Saul. In the end, Saul and his sons were cut down in battle against the Philistines. David trusted in God's methods and God's timing, and as we leave the book of I Samuel, we see how God works all of this out.

 

III. Lessons from the First Half

But that very quick review of I Samuel should leave us asking another question: who cares? Or to put in another way, “Why should any of this matter to us today?” It's hard enough to keep up with politics today. Do we really need to know about the politics of ancient Israel 3000 years ago?

Well, if we believe this is the word of God, than we know, as II Timothy 3:16 puts it, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable” for us. And so in light of these three characters, I think there are three lessons I we need to take away from the book of I Samuel:


1. Samuel: The Reality of His Revelation

First, I believe God wants to remind us this morning, through the ministry of Samuel, about the reality of God's revelation.

Do you see why the book of Samuel has to begin with Samuel? The people thought they knew what was best. If they did, would God need to raise up a prophet for them? Do you think you know what is best? God always knows what is best for us. We need him to speak to us, just like they needed Samuel.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

If we are trusting ourselves, we are walking in darkness, stumbling, groping. We need the light of God's word. Samuel reminds us that we need to hear from God.

 

2. Saul: The Reality of Our Rebellion

Second, when we read about Saul, I believe God wants us to remember the reality of our rebellion.

It's one thing to resist the rule of a wicked king, to seek independence from a cruel tyrant. But every single one of us has gone much, much further. We have resisted the rule of THE King, of a perfect king, the King of Heaven. We have sought to be independent from him. And we have fought against him, especially when we feel He is threatening our so-called throne.

Listen to what Paul writes about us: And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds… (Colossians 1:21) He also says in Romans 8: For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. [8] Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7-8)

We have all declared independence from God through our me-centered choices. We are all 'control freaks' in that sense. We're all little 'Sauls'. But that is the kind of freedom we need to fight against.

 

3. David: The Reality of His Rule

The third lesson we need to take away from I Samuel comes from the life and example of David. David reminds us of the reality of God’s rule [or reign].

Why did God want a man after His own heart? Because if that kind of man is leading, God is leading. Even hundreds of years after David died, God spoke about a coming 'David':


Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days. (Hosea 3:5)


This was fulfilled in the angel Gabriel's words to Mary:


He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, [33] and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33)


Was there an end to Saul's kingdom? Yes! Samuel announced it. But because of Jesus' perfect obedience to God, His kingdom will endure forever. Jesus is the Son of David who can save us and leave us?


Does anyone like being told what to do? No! But we were made to be ruled...ruled by God! We need Him to tell us what to do. We are lost without Him. We are all crying for a king, but the counterfeit kings of the world will lead us astray, into ruin. We need Jesus. We need God's king. We need God as our King.


To bow before His throne, to submit to Jesus, is true freedom. Because Christ accepted God's punishment for rebels like us, because He was defeated for us, we can surrender and share in God's victory. He is our King, but also our Father.