How can the early testimony of Samuel, Saul, and David prepare us for the coming of Jesus?
At this time, the Ark of the Covenant had been returned to the Israelites, but it remained away from them for 20 years. All Israel longed for the return of the Lord ever since His ark was taken from them by the Philistines. Samuel, the last judge and the priest of God, called upon all Israel to put away their false gods and serve the Lord only. They gathered to repent of their sins and return to the Lord at Mizpeh, but the Philistines misinterpreted their assembly as a military uprising and they were determined to route it. So they sent an army to destroy them. But rather than trust in their own strength, the people called upon Samuel to continue praying for the Lord for them. The Lord heard Samuel’s prayer and He delivered His people.
This one moment in history teaches us a great deal about the coming of the Lord. The Lord, after nearly 2,000 years, has not yet returned to His people and they all long for Him to return to them. The opportunity for them to hasten His return was taken from them by the Lord’s enemies. The idols among God’s people, even now, exert their influence to keep them from turning back to God.
But Samuel’s counsel to Israel tells us how we can hasten the Lord’s return; put away the false gods from among you and serve the Lord only. Following this counsel quickly brought deliverance to God’s people in the days of Samuel and it will soon do the same in our time. But this gathering of the Lord’s people will be misinterpreted by the enemies of God. In order to secure the grip they will have over the world, they will move their forces to destroy us. It will be in those days that the Lord will help His people as He did in the days of Samuel. He will fight for us and through Him, we will overcome.
But ancient Israel did not understand this lesson yet, for they sought a king to rule over them. They forgot how the Lord helped them and repeatedly delivered them from their enemies. All they wanted was to be like the other nations that constantly grieved them. Despite their ignoring His many warnings, the Lord hearkened to His rebellious people and prepared a king for them. He sent Saul to Samuel. A Benjamite who counted himself as the least in Israel, Saul was revealed as the Lord’s king to Samuel and he began to instruct him at once.
God’s people ignored the Lord’s warnings to follow the world’s designs. Israel would later find this to be a terrible mistake. Like them, the people of God today are not content with the Lord’s leading. Because they have not fully separated themselves from the world, they incorporate worldly ideas and methods within their lives and their houses of worship. Many have become so determined to follow their own wills, they attack their fellow servants to do so. But like ancient Israel, they will soon find out that their course before the Lord was misguided.
Before Samuel selected their king by lot, he rebuked Israel for rejecting the Lord who delivered them from Egypt until now. When Saul was chosen, he hid himself among the stuff. While many accepted their newly chosen king, others despised him and gave him no homage. But Saul had held his peace. Saul, at the beginning of his reign, had the humility of character to consider himself unworthy to lead God’s people. Even when people despised him, he did not let his pride marshal up his anger to seek vengeance. God chose him to rule over all Israel and he focused on doing that.
This understanding is clearly manifested in his handling of the threat to Jabesh-gilead. Upon hearing the cruel intentions of Nahash the Ammonite, the Spirit of the Lord moved him to come to the aid of Jabesh-gilead and defeat the enemy army. When the men of Saul sought to put his adversaries to death, he did not relent to their purposes. The Lord had saved them that day and he would give Him the praise, not His enemies.
When Samuel stepped down as the judge of Israel, he asks the people to witness against him if he has done wrong in his position. All Israel knew that Samuel had done them no wrong, but that he lived upright before the Lord and man.
But unlike Samuel, the course of Israel in asking for a king was anything but upright. Through thunder and rain, the Lord made it clear to the people of the evil they had done before Him. The people, in their shame, repented before Him. Though Samuel was no longer judge, he did not cease from serving his people. He continued to teach them the good and right way and counseled them not to turn from God, lest they and their king be consumed by their sins.
But Saul soon found himself beginning to be consumed by pride and self-exaltation. When he and his son warred against the Philistines, he took the credit for Jonathan’s victory and declared it to all Israel. This move roused up tens of thousands of Philistines to rally against Israel and occupy their land. This forced many Israelites out of their homes.
Saul also lost respect for the priest’s office. Rather than waiting on the Lord’s priest, he gave in to his impatience and made the offering to the Lord himself. Samuel rebuked this foolish course and informed him that the Lord would not continue his reign over Israel forever. Note the key cause of this: impatience. When Saul saw his army scattering, he foolishly believed that he could intrude into the priest’s office with impunity. His impatience led him to disregard the Lord’s priesthood. A generation in the last days will seek to do in this time what Saul did in his. They will intrude into the office of the Lord in an attempt to gather the world. In so doing, they will cut themselves off from their continued eternal existence as Saul was cut off from his continuing kingship.
But this walk was in sharp contrast to the walk of Jonathan, his son. Jonathan was a man of strong faith and it was by it that the Lord delivered their enemies into the hands of Israel. In this instance, he and his armorbearer had attacked the Philistines and saved Israel from their hands. Saul’s watchmen beheld the slaughter among the Philistines. Saul, seeking more information on this event, inquires of the Lord. But rather than wait on the Lord, he orders the priest to cease before His will is known.
No matter what the situation, God comes first. We must never ignore His messages for the time to come, for they are given just for the moments we will soon be in. Inquiring of the Lord is vital for us today because we need to know how we can prepare for Jesus’ coming. This must not be sought after in haste or impatience, but in humility and an eagerness to do the Lord’s will. This requires time that few will be prepared to invest because of their impatience. Like Saul, they will focus on the world around them rather than the God before them. As such, we must prepare for Jesus sooner rather than later.
But Saul’s pride also troubled Israel. Seeking greater glory, he pronounced a curse upon his own men if they should eat before the evening. This prideful course troubled his army, for they were faint. Though the Lord provided provision for Israel in the honey that was on the ground, Saul’s oath had prevented them from partaking it. This drove the Israelite forces to desperation, for they flew upon the spoil of their enemies and ate of the animals while their blood was still in them.
But Saul, in his disobedience to the Lord’s command to utterly destroy the Amalekites, proved once and for all that he was not fit to be king over Israel. He had rejected the word of the Lord for the pleasing of his army. Like many before him, we have also taken this dangerous course. In our desire to please people, we reject the word of the Lord. In seeking to please the world, we reject God. This has brought down many a person of God over the years and many are making the same mistake now. They must repent of this and seek the Lord’s will, lest they be rejected as Saul was rejected.
After Saul’s rejection, the Lord sent Samuel to anoint a king among Jesse’s sons, a man after His own heart. When the Lord showed him that He chose none of the sons assembled, the prophet inquires of Jesse, and learns of David, the youngest of his sons. He is sent for and is anointed by Samuel accordingly.
In passing over the more attractive sons of Jesse, the Lord made it clear that He looks upon the hearts of His people. Those He uses for service cannot be proud in heart, lest they defile the work He has to be done. If we desire to be used by the Lord in the last days, we must humble ourselves. Only through humility can the work move forward.
The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul when the Lord rejected Him. But contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that the Lord sent an evil spirit to trouble Saul. Rather, the protection Saul had from the evil spirit was gone and as a result, the evil spirit troubled him. When his servants suggested that David come to play his harp so that the evil spirit would depart from him, they mistakenly thought that the playing harp drove the spirit away. It was the Holy Spirit, the spirit that Saul rejected. Had Saul hearkened to the Holy Spirit, the evil spirit would not have troubled his reign.
But because he hearkened to the evil spirit more than the Spirit of God, he relentlessly pursued after David. Evil spirits cannot prophesy, so this one repeated the ones the Lord gave concerning the fall of his kingdom, which kindled his wrath. The evil spirit convinced Saul that the only way to end this was through seeking David’s life. This led him to pursue David relentlessly. Those who reject the Holy Spirit in the last days will be led to pursue a similar path.
The Spirit of God revealed Himself once again in the battle between David and Goliath. Upon hearing the defiance of this uncircumcised Philistine, David’s zeal for the Lord of hosts stirred him up. He boldly denounced the Philistine who defied his God. Word of this reached Saul and when David was brought before the king, he volunteered himself to be the champion of Israel. When the king questioned David’s ability to fight this man of war, he did not tell Saul of his victories over the lion and the bear as one who delivered his flock by his own strength. He proclaimed that the Lord who delivered him from the two beasts of prey would also deliver him also from the Philistine champion.
David did not forget how the Lord saved him and neither should we, for in the day we are delivered out of the hands of Satan and his minions, we will know that it was the Lord who delivered us. We will know that He delivered us from our sins, and out of this corrupted world. In the deliverance to come, we will not tremble, for the Lord and His Son will triumph over our enemies.
Goliath underestimated David, for he saw him only as a mere youth. But when David spake, he gave counsel then that we should hear now. “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear…” (1 Sam. 17:47). David acted on this understanding. There was no trembling in him, for he charged at Goliath with his sling and his stones. When Goliath fell, so did the courage of the Philistines. But his defeat not only gave Israel courage. Through it, we have courage now. Battles of the Lord are not won by earthly weapons and neither will the final one be. It will be won by the Lord. The victory is His and we must trust in Him as David did to truly claim it. David’s faith and his victory amazed the king so much, he forgot whose son he was. He saw a side of David he had never seen before. The one who played the harp for him had secured an unforgettable victory for him. He now had unforgettable evidence that the Lord was with this youth.
The battle had secured David’s place within the kingdom of Israel, for Saul had set him as captain over a thousand of his men. But as David’s popularity grew among the people, so did Saul’s envy and fear of him. Though Saul laid trap after trap for him, David behaved wisely in all his ways. His godly character had even drawn the love of Saul’s children. This moved him to seek David’s life and David fled from him. Seeking refuge in the house of Samuel, David told the prophet all that befell him. But David was not safe from Saul, for he had sent messengers to arrest him in Naioth. But what happened to these messengers is nothing short of remarkable. The Spirit of God came upon each company of messengers, including Saul himself, and they prophesied before Samuel.
Mark this lesson well: The Spirit of God saved David’s life through prophesying. This one encounter successfully demonstrated what prophecy does; it saves the lives of God’s people. Prophecy is meant to be more to us than a study. It is given to us to save us from God’s enemies. This is one of the strongest reasons why God’s people should take up the study of Bible prophecy. When the time of trouble comes upon us, the Lord will save His people who have prepared themselves in this way. The Holy Spirit will certainly utilize this coveted tool before the coming of Jesus. Without fail, many will be saved by it.
But the true intentions of Saul as to why he sought David’s life had not been revealed. So David and Jonathan developed a way to determine them and it worked. When Saul revealed his murderous intentions toward David to Jonathan, he quickly counsels David to depart. Saul acted against the Lord’s decree that the kingdom would depart from him. He who had once thought himself the least of Israel now sought to be greatest by continuing his reign. He, like many today, fight against the Lord’s will for their lives, especially His judgments.
Resisting God has never brought true success to anyone. We must avoid this, especially in the days before Jesus’ return. Only those who fear and obey Him will enter Heaven, just as the nation of Israel did (Exod. 23:20-23).
In fleeing Saul, David had manifested a lack of faith in the Lord to protect him. Even David had his moments of weakness! When he encountered Ahimelech the priest, he feigned himself to be on an important errand for the king. He did not trust the Lord to move upon Ahimelech’s heart to serve him. Moreover, David had fled from the Promised Land to the land of his enemies, the Philistines. He did not trust God to secure him in the land of his fathers.
Trust in God is vital, especially now. Though we may not know when His Son is coming, we know that He is coming. In those days, God’s people will be in great peril. As such, we must trust in the Lord only to provide refuge in our trials, for the arm of the man will fail us. Even the inhabitants of Keilah, whom David saved from the Philistines, were ready to deliver him to Saul. But what saith the Scriptures of how David was saved from Saul? “…And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand” (1 Sam. 23:14). God protects His people and in Him, we must place our faith.
He even delivered him from Saul’s hand. When David testified before Saul that he had the opportunity to kill him, this alone pricked the heart of this spirit-maddened king. The Lord saved David once again, this time through godly character. It was the godly character of Samuel that moved all Israel to gather at his burial and lament his death and it will be godly character that will deliver God’s people at His Son’s coming.
But David still had not taken this lesson to heart, for once again, he turned to the Philistines to deliver him. But God taught David through them that he should only place his trust in Him. David had feigned to Philistine king of Gath that he had warred against Israel to protect himself from Saul. But he soon found himself recruited by the king to genuinely war against them. In this bind, the Lord delivered his erring servant. Though moving upon the princes of Philistines, God saved David from slaughtering his own people.
In God, deliverance is secure. This object lesson calls upon all who read it to seek after the Lord. He proved through each encounter with the Bethlehemite that He cares for and protects His people. Our enemies are many and their intentions towards us are cruel. But in the Lord, our protection is sure. May this lesson encourage you to seek Him out, for in the last days, He will be our only safeguard.