Rehoboam, the Kingdom Divides (1 Kings 12)

Rehoboam, the Kingdom Divides (1 Kings 12)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, September 29, 2019
We will be turning to 1 Kings 12 in a minute.

A number of years ago I read a book called “Good to Great.” This is a book by Jim Collins about how companies went from beyond being “good” companies to actually being “great” companies. Collins and his research team looked at several different companies and compared many different things about what the companies did or didn’t do. One thing consistent about the “great” companies is that their CEO’s were humble. Even when they were rich they were humble. They would look to themselves first when looking at mistakes. They would look out the window to other people to give credit to success as opposed to looking in the mirror, at themselves. The companies that were successful but didn’t last had CEO’s that liked to talk about themselves.
Collins says on page 193:
“Shortly before his death, I had the opportunity to meet Dave Packard. Despite being one of Silicon Valley’s first self-made billionaires, he lived in the same small house that he and his wife built for themselves in 1957, overlooking a simple orchard. The tiny kitchen, with its dated linoleum, and the simply furnished living room bespoke a man who needed no material symbols to proclaim ‘I’m a billionaire. I’m important. I’m successful.’ ‘His idea of a good time,’ said Bill Terry, who worked with Packard for thirty-six years, ‘was to get some of his friends together to string some barbed wire.’ Packard bequeathed his $5.6 billion estate to a charitable foundation and, upon his death, his family created a eulogy pamphlet, with a photo of him sitting on a tractor in farming clothes. The caption made no reference to his stature as one of the great industrialist of the twentieth century. It simply read: ‘David Packard, 1912-1996, Rancher, etc.’”

There is something that we all admire about humility and we all hate about people who talk about themselves. However, it is so easy to talk about our achievements and our successes. We all do it. But how much do we do this.

In conversation with Professor S. F. B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, the Rev. George W. Hervey asked this question:
“Professor Morse, when you were making your experiments yonder in your room in the university, did you ever come to a stand, not knowing what to do next?”
“Oh, yes, more than once.”
“And at such times what did you do next?”
“I may answer you in confidence, sir,” said the professor, “but it is a matter of which the public knows nothing. I prayed for more light.”
“And the light generally came?”
“Yes, and may I tell you that when flattering honors come to me from America and Europe on account of the invention which bears my name, I never felt I deserved them. I had made a valuable application of electricity, not because I was superior to other men, but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone, and was pleased to reveal it to me.” In view of these facts, it is not surprising that the inventor’s first message was, “What hath God wrought!”

He is what Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great would call a type 5 leader. A type 5 leader gives credit to other people for success. A type 5 leader is humble.

As we look at Rehoboam we see that he was far from humble and he did not seek the Lord. Let’s look at Rehoboam.

Theme and application:
Seek the Lord and His wisdom and we will be alright. Rehoboam sought the wisdom of man and not the wisdom of the Lord.

Let’s read 1 Kings 12:1-24:
Then Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 Now when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it, he was living in Egypt (for he was yet in Egypt, where he had fled from the presence of King Solomon). 3 Then they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 4 “Your father made our yoke hard; now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.” 5 Then he said to them, “Depart for three days, then return to me.” So the people departed.
6 King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you counsel me to answer this people?”7 Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” 8 But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him. 9 So he said to them, “What counsel do you give that we may answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?” 10 The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’ But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! 11 Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”
12 Then Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day as the king had directed, saying, “Return to me on the third day.” 13 The king answered the people harshly, for he forsook the advice of the elders which they had given him, 14 and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people; for it was a turn of events from the Lord, that He might establish His word, which the Lord spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
16 When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying,
“What portion do we have in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
To your tents, O Israel!
Now look after your own house, David!”
So Israel departed to their tents. 17 But as for the sons of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. 18 Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the forced labor, and all Israel stoned him to death. And King Rehoboam made haste to mount his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
20 It came about when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, that they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. None but the tribe of Judah followed the house of David.
21 Now when Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, 180,000 chosen men who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. 22 But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,23 “Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin and to the rest of the people, saying, 24 ‘Thus says the Lord, “You must not go up and fight against your relatives the sons of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing has come from Me.”’” So they listened to the word of the Lord, and returned and went their way according to the word of the Lord.

I. In 1 Kings 12:1-24 it introduces Rehoboam and tells how the kingdom is divided and they are not to go to war. We can find similar information in 2 Chronicles 10.
a. In verse 1it tells us that he goes to Shechem because all Israel went to Shechem to make him king.
b. Notice verse 2 introduces us to Jeroboam, son of Nebat. He was in Egypt where he fled because of Solomon, yet he hears the news of Rehoboam becoming king. We see this in 1 Kings 11:26, 40.
c. Verses 4-5 give conditions which 10 tribes would like before his coronation.
i. Before his coronation they would like their load lightened.
ii. In verse 5, he asks them to depart for three days and he will look into it.
iii. In 1 Kings 4:7, 21–25; 9:15 it tells of Solomon’s demands.
d. In verses 6-11 we have the wise words of the older men (verses 6-7) and the wicked words of the younger men (verses 8-11).
i. If Rehoboam is a servant they will serve him.
ii. Proverbs 15:1: a gentle answer turns away wrath
iii. Verse 8 tells us he forsook the council of the elders and sought and followed the council of those he grew up with.
iv. Verse 10 is telling: Sarcasm: “My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins.” In other words, my father was weak!
v. Verse 11: he will intensify the discipline.
e. In verses 12-15: Rehoboam rejects the council of Israel’s leaders.
i. Someone has said: The error of youth is to believe that intelligence is a substitute for experience, while the error of age is to believe that experience is a substitute for intelligence.
ii. Verse 12: they all came to Rehoboam the third day like he requested.
iii. Jeroboam was part of their group.
iv. Verse 13: he answered them harshly
v. Verse 14: he spoke to them with the advice of the young men.
vi. Verse 15 tells us why. This was from the Lord. Solomon and Jeroboam knew this would happen: 1 Kin 11:11, 31.
f. Verses 16-20: the reaction of the leaders:
i. Verse 16 shares the rejection of the other tribes. They were essentially saying, “what portion do we have in David’s tribe.”
ii. They go to their tents, basically saying: David’s tribe is on their own.
iii. Verse 17: Those that lived in Judah stayed under Rehoboam.
iv. This was prophesied in: 1 Kin 11:13, 36
v. Verse 18: King Rehoboam sends Adoram, head of the first labor and he is stoned. Rehoboam flees to Jerusalem for safety.
vi. Verse 19: until the day of the writing Israel and Judah were in rebellion against each other.
vii. The other 10 tribes made Jeroboam king.
g. Verses 21-24: the aborted attack (Title from the Outline Bible)
i. Verse 21; he assembles 180,000 to go to war
ii. Verses 22-24 have the message from Shemaiah the prophet that this division is from the Lord.
iii. The war is aborted.
II. The summary of Rehoboam in 1 Kings 14:21-28
a. We must read 7 more verses to complete the picture:
b. 1 Kings 14:21-28: Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. 22 Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy more than all that their fathers had done, with the sins which they committed. 23 For they also built for themselves high places and sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and beneath every luxuriant tree. 24 There were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel. 25 Now it happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, that Shishak the king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. 26 He took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and he took everything, even taking all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. 27 So King Rehoboam made shields of bronze in their place, and committed them to the care of the commanders of the guard who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. 28 Then it happened as often as the king entered the house of the Lord, that the guards would carry them and would bring them back into the guards’ room.
c. We see in verse 21: he was 41 when he became king and reigned 17 years in Jerusalem
d. Notice the detail, the city that the Lord chose to put His name there.
e. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess.
f. Moody Bible Commentary shares: This pagan nation east of the Jordan was frequently in conflict with Israel (cf. Gn 19:30-38; Dt 23:3; 1Sm 11:1-15), and Ammonites were specifically forbidden to be part of the assembly of Israel (cf. Dt 23:3; Neh 13:1-2). Rehoboam’s failure to follow the Lord was compounded by his mother’s pagan influence. And what impacted the king would also have spiritual consequences for the people.
g. Swindoll shares:
h. The name Naamah means “sweetness, pleasantness,” which probably described her general disposition. This narrative tells us twice, in verses 21 and 31, so that we won’t miss its significance, that Rehoboam’s mother was “the Ammonitess.” She was an Ammonite woman with considerable influence. So much so, she convinced her husband to abandon Yahweh for a particularly detestable idol. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king. We know that Solomon reigned for forty years, so Rehoboam was nurtured by Naamah the Ammonitess, the worshiper of Milcom and Molech. One archaeologist writes,
i. Molech was a detestable Semitic deity honored by the sacrifice of children, in which they were caused to pass through or into the fire. Palestinian excavations have uncovered evidences of infant skeletons in burial places around heathen shrines. Ammonites revered Molech as a protecting father. No form of ancient Semitic idolatry was more abhorrent than Molech worship. His mother, Naamah, reared her son in the worship of Molech, and Solomon consented to the practice by building temples to the false god. The sin that Mom loved and that Dad permitted, ensnared the son. So it should come as no surprise that he led his kingdom into the same deadly trap.
j. Verse 22 is key: Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord.
i. They provoked God to jealousy more than their fathers.
ii. They committed sins.
iii. Verse 23 tells what they did: high places, asherim, sacred pillars
iv. Asherim are wooden symbol of a female deity.
v. Verse 24: cult male prostitutes
vi. They did according to all the nations which the Lord dispossessed
k. Verses 25-28: King Shishak of Egypt.
i. Verses 25-26 tell us what happened. The king of Egypt, Shishak came and took treasures from the house of the Lord and the king’s house, even the gold shields Solomon had made.
ii. 2 Chronicles 12:5-8 and 12 give more information. God was going to hand Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah over to Shishak, but the prophet Shemaiah told them that and they repented. Once they repented the Lord chose not to hand them over to Egypt, though they would be servants.
iii. Verse 27: Rehoboam replaced them with bronze shields. The Moody Bible Commentary shares: The change from gold to bronze, a much less expensive metal, indicated the decline in the wealth of the kingdom under Rehoboam after great glory under David and Solomon.
III. Applications
a. We must listen to elders.
b. We must only serve the Lord. It seems that Rehoboam’s mother was a pagan and we definitely see Rehoboam get into high places, sacred pillars and Asherim which were wooden symbols of female deity (14:22-23).
c. We must only serve the Lord as we see it says that they built Asherim, sacred pillars and asherim on every high hill and beneath every luxuriant tree. I notice the word every. This seems to emphasize that this was very common.
i. We may not do that, but we do have our own idols.
ii. Comfort is an idol and we must guard against the idol of comfort.
iii.Worship is our response to what we value most.
iv. Prestige can be an idol.
v. Money, obviously, can be an idol.
vi. What about the desire for nice things: nice restaurants and nice clothes and nice vacations and nice cars and nice books and nice shelves and nice desks and nice jewelry and nice watches and nice clocks and nice computers and nice televisions and nice ___________. These can be an idol.
d. 14:24 says that Judah under Rehoboam did all of the abominations of the nations which the dispossessed. Are we different from the world? James 4:4 says that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Romans 12:2 says to not be conformed to the pattern of the world but be transformed… Are we like the world? Many times we try to blur Christianity with the culture, and even other religions of the world, we cannot do this.
e. Jesus must be Lord of all.
f. When we seek the Lord and His wisdom we will be alright. Rehoboam sought the wisdom of man and not the wisdom of the Lord.
Seek the Lord and His wisdom and we will be alright. Rehoboam sought the wisdom of man and not the wisdom of the Lord.

According to the National Geographic website (their kids’ version that is) the Pufferfish can inflate into a ball shape to evade predators. Also known as blowfish, these clumsy swimmers fill their elastic stomachs with huge amounts of water (and sometimes air) and blow themselves up to several times their normal size … But these blow-up fish aren’t just cute. Most pufferfish contain a toxic substance that makes them foul tasting and potentially deadly to other fish. The toxin is deadly to humans—1,200 times more deadly than cyanide. There is enough poison in one pufferfish to kill 30 adult humans, and there is no known antidote.
Like Pufferfish, human beings can blow themselves up with pride and arrogance to make themselves look bigger than they are. And this pride can become toxic to a marriage, a church, or a friendship. No wonder the late Bible scholar John Stott once said, “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.”
Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.


Absalom, the son who led the insurrection (2 Samuel 13-18)

Absalom, The Son Who Led the Insurrection (2 Samuel chapters 13-18)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on September 22, 2019 

We are going to be going to 1 Samuel chapter 13 if you would like to turn there while I setup the passage.

I am not one who cries in public. I can be pretty stoic and hold my emotions in check pretty well. It is not to say that I do not have emotions, I just keep them in check. Given my thoughts on tears I found the following article humorous:

GQ had a humorous analysis on when guys should or should not be allowed by society to shed tears. “Male crying is not new,” the female author notes. “It’s been happening for as long as men have had eyeballs. But it was almost always done behind at least three closed doors.” Here are some of GQ’s rules about public crying for men:

  • It is okay to cry if you’re in extreme pain, like, say, a piano were dropped from a fifty-story window on your foot. If you’re gonna cry from pain, it has to be at least an eight on the pain scale.
  • It’s okay to cry at certain works of art or film. For instance, if you don’t get misty-eyes atToy Story 3, you are a monster.
  • It’s almost weird if you don’t sob the first time you hold your newborn baby. No shame in that, bro.
  • It’s definitely weird if you sob during a sports event, although you can cry if you are actually one of the athletes out there on the field. But even then, you should cry only if you win. And if you’re just a fan, the rule here is much simpler: never, ever cry.
  • Never, ever cry during an argument. As the woman who wrote the article notes, “Sorry, guys, but crying during an argument is kind of our thing.”[1]

As we look at Absalom, we see two people who were quite emotional about each other, but they could not deal with each other. David loved Absalom and he cared for him, but he would not tell him that. Absalom wanted his father’s respect and relationship, but David did not let that happen.

Let’s look at 1 Samuel chapters 13-18 as we talk about Absalom. I will read parts of the chapters as we summarize Absalom’s life.

My theme: Absalom, The Son Who Led the Insurrection

  1. Allow me to put this in context.
    • We are in 2 Samuel chapter 13.
    • This means that David has risen to the throne. David has expanded Israel’s borders conquering many local city-states.
    • David has taken many wives and fathered many children.
    • Two chapters before this David had an affair with Bathsheba and had her husband killed in battle.
    • 1 chapter before this, in 2 Samuel 12, David was rebuked by the prophet Nathan for his sin with Bathsheba.
    • This is the context in which we look at 2 Samuel 13.
    • However, we also need to set the table and consider Absalom’s birth.
    • 2 Samuel 3:3 tells his birth.
    • …and his second, Chileab, by Abigail thewidow of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur
    • Absalom was the grandson of another local king.
  2. First episode of Absalom.
    1. Starting at 2 Samuel chapter13:1-17: the rape of Tamar by Amnon. Amnon would be Absalom’s older brother, really a half brother. Amnon loved, or thought he loved his half sister Tamar. So, Amnon develops a ruse in order to get Tamar with him and he rapes her. But Tamar is the sister of Absalom. Absalom hears about it and he is angry.
    2. David hears about this and he is angry, but he does not do anything.
    3. So, after two years Absalom develops a plan and in 2 Samuel 13:18-29: Absalom has Amnon killed.
    4. One writes: Absalom took his dejected sister into his own house, expecting his father, David, to punish Amnon for his incestuous act. After two years of suppressed rage and hatred, Absalom plotted his own revenge. He gave a feast for King David and his princes at his country estate. Although David did not attend, Amnon did and was murdered by Absalom’s servants after Absalom got him drunk. Then, afraid of King David’s anger, Absalom fled across the Jordan River to King Talmai of Geshur, his mother’s father (2 Sm 13:21–39).[2]
    5. In 2 Samuel 13:30- 39: Absalom flees to Geshur for 3 years, the home of his maternal grandfather (2 Sam 3:3).
    6. David cared about Absalom but did nothing. Look at 2 Samuel 13:37-39:

Now Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day. 38 So Absalom had fled and gone to Geshur, and was there three years. 39 The heart of King David longed to go out to Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, since he was dead.

  1. In 2 Samuel 14:1-24: Joab, David’s military commander works with a woman from Tekoa to tell a story to David and get Absalom recalled.
  2. Absalom is recalled, but David says he does not want to see him.
  3. David does not restore the relationship, David does nothing.
  4. In 2 Samuel 14:25-33: we have some extra detail about Absalom’s family. We hear about Absalom’s hair and that is important later. Look at 2 Samuel 14:25-26:

Now in all Israel was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him. 26 When he cut the hair of his head (and it was at the end of every year that he cut it, for it was heavy on him so he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head at 200 shekels by the king’s weight.

  1. However, the Bible says the king would not see Absalom.
  2. Look at 2 Samuel 14:24: However the king said, “Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face.” So Absalom turned to his own house and did not see the king’s face.
  3. So Absalom manipulated things to see the king, his father.
  4. David and Absalom see each other, but it is just going through the motions.
  5. Look at 2 Samuel 14:28-33: Now Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, and did not see the king’s face.29 Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king, but he would not come to him. So he sent again a second time, but he would not come. 30 Therefore he said to his servants, “See, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire. 31 Then Joab arose, came to Absalom at his house and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?” 32 Absalom answered Joab, “Behold, I sent for you, saying, ‘Come here, that I may send you to the king, to say, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me still to be there.”’ Now therefore, let me see the king’s face, and if there is iniquity in me, let him put me to death.” 33 So when Joab came to the king and told him, he called for Absalom. Thus he came to the king and prostrated himself on his face to the ground before the king, and the king kissed Absalom.
  • Now, the insurrection begins.
    1. Now, let’s see what this leads to, in 2 Samuel 15:1- 6: Absalom meets with people who wanted to meet with the king and stole away the hearts of the people.
    2. One writes: Within four years of his reinstatement, Absalom sought to assert his claim of succession and cunningly prepared to revolt against his father’s throne, probably during the thirty-second year of David’s reign.[3]
    3. In 2 Samuel 15:7-12: We see Absalom’s plan to take over the kingdom.
    4. Next, in 2 Samuel 15:13-37: David flees Jerusalem, Absalom comes into Jerusalem. Psalm 3 is written about this time in David’s life.
    5. In 2 Samuel 16:1- 14: David is cursed by Shimei, a member of Saul’s family as he flees.
    6. How amazing is this, the mighty king of Israel is fleeing because of his own son.
    7. In 2 Samuel 16:15- 23: Absalom enters Jerusalem and sleeps with David’s concubines on the roof of the palace. By the way, this was suggested by Ahithopel who gave council to David, but then switched allegiance to Absalom. Ahithopel was the grandfather of Bathsheba. 2 Samuel 11 says that David went on the roof of the palace and say Bathsheba taking a bath. He then had an affair with her and killed her husband. Now, on that same roof, Absalom shows all Jerusalem he has taken the kingdom. This is because taking the concubines shows that you have taken the kingdom. But this insurrection is not over yet.
    8. In 2 Samuel 17:1- 14: Hushei is used to counter Ahithopel’s council to Absalom and this leads to Ahithopel killing himself.
    9. In 2 Samuel 17:15-29 there are preparation for the battle.
      1. We have The Relay(17:15–23): Hushai sends news of Absalom’s plan to David, who now has time to mobilize his army.
      2. We have TheReplacement(17:24–26): Absalom appoints Amasa to command the Israelite army in place of Joab.
  • We have TheRendezvous(17:27–29): Three friends of David—Shobi, Makir, and Barzillai—bring him and his soldiers food in the wilderness.[4]
  1. The battle:
    1. In 2 Samuel 18:1- 5: After urging, David agreed not to lead them in battle. David asked Joab to deal gently with Absalom.
    2. Now, let’s read about his death.
    3. 2 Samuel 18:9-15:

Now Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. For Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. And his head caught fast in the oak, so he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going. 10 When a certain man saw it, he told Joab and said, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Then Joab said to the man who had told him, “Now behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 The man said to Joab, “Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Protect for me the young man Absalom!’ 13 Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.”14 Then Joab said, “I will not waste time here with you.” So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. 15 And ten young men who carried Joab’s armor gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him.

  • In 2 Samuel 18:16- 33: News reaches the king that Absalom is dead.
  • Once again, king David did love him, look at 2 Samuel 18:33: The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

Let’s make some applications:

  1. David did not discipline his son, or children, he ignored the problem(s). We must discipline our children when there is a problem (2 Samuel 13 and 14). We must stand for truth and justice even with adults as much as we can.
  2. It seems that David was likely an absent father. He has so many children by different women and he likely was not present.
    • As Chuck Swindoll writes: Twenty years transpired between 2 Samuel 3 and 13. David’s kingdom grew, and the friends who remained loyal to him during his humble days in the wilderness began to reap the rewards of their devotion. The Bible calls them “the thirty,” as you may remember from our first chapter. Eliam gave his beautiful daughter in marriage to Uriah, a fellow member of this elite “band of brothers.” And David gave Uriah an estate just behind the palace. He also gave Eliam’s father an important role as one of his chief advisors—secretary of state in his royal cabinet, if you will. His name was Ahithophel. (Another name to remember.) During these twenty years, David remained exceptionally busy. He defeated the Philistines, conquering Moab, Edom, Ammon, and Aram. He also wiped out a number of massive invading armies.
    • And when David wasn’t conquering or building, he was lost in the endless affairs of state. Much of his time was spent in secret council chambers making decisions concerning war, diplomacy, building, taxation, administration.
    • The remainder was spent in travel, on parades, giving speeches, and making appearances in one venue after another.
    • He had too many wives and too many children to have much of an influence on any of them—except by accident. He helped conceive lots of children, but he helped rear none of them. I count eight wives who are named, a number of unnamed wives who bore him children, and no fewer than ten concubines. Then each of the named wives has at least one child, though Michal had none. She had her father’s (King Saul) temperament, which may explain her remaining barren (2 Samuel 6:20–23).[6]
  3. We must be present as parents and servants of Christ. We must be present with other important relationships.
  4. David was reluctant to pursue restoring the relationship with Absalom. We must try to restore relationships (Matthew 5:23ff; 18:15-17).
  5. Absalom tried to bring about justice on his own. We must never try to take the law into our own hands (2 Samuel 13:24-29; Romans 13)
  6. There are other lies, deceit and sexual immorality in this passage and we must beware of all of them.

This illustration comes from Chuck Swindoll:
I once had the unfortunate task of trying to counsel a family very much like David’s. The father was extremely busy making a lot of money. His girls and his one boy soon sensed that his business meant more to him than they did. And so they began to live cheap, sensual, compromising lives that they didn’t even bother to conceal. The behavior of the children became so notorious that the testimony of the church came under criticism by the community, so I had to visit the family at their home. At one point I had to break up a fistfight between two of the girls after they brought down the dining room chandelier and knocked a shutter off the window. The mother sat there wringing her hands, muttering, “I just don’t know what I’m going to do with these children.” Obviously the relationships between each member of this family had been broken for a very long time, if ever there were any to begin with.

At the age of forty-two, the father’s heart stopped beating long enough to cause significant brain damage. By most standards, he was dead, although his body lingered for some time at the veteran’s hospital. As the children visited, hoping for some sign that there might be a chance for reconciliation, the grief mounted as his condition declined. Finally, he died. The dismal atmosphere of remorse and profound heartache that filled the mortuary made it almost impossible to breathe.
This father had departed emotionally long before his tragic end. He left his children with no moral guidance. He left his wife to fill the role of both parents. He left his family with no reason to think that they were important and loved. And he left them with no way to heal the deep, emotional wounds they both suffered and inflicted. Ultimately, he left them to make it on their own.
For years, the lingering wounds have continued to afflict the man’s children. I don’t know that they will ever enjoy a normal relationship with a mate or their children or anyone intimate.

I urge you to make the effort now to repair those broken relationships. Trust me, it’s worth it. Again, I repeat: It’s never too late to start doing what is right! Make contact today. Begin with these words: “I have been wrong. I love you, and I want a close relationship with you. Please forgive me and tell me how we can make it happen.”
Tough words, I know. But they’re easier than, “If only I had . . .”
I remember memorizing a very short poem by John Greenleaf Wittier in grammar school with all my classmates. It was an assignment required by a very wise teacher. She knew that those in her class were too young for it to make much sense then . . . but someday it would register. I cannot name the times I have repeated these words to myself and others during my adult years. Because they fit so perfectly the tragic story of this well-known father and his rebellious son, I leave them for you to ponder:

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!” (Poem: John Greanleaf Whittier, The Complete Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and company, 1884, (151))

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.




[1]Adapted from Lauren Bans, “Bawl So Hard,” GQ (June 2015)

[2]Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale Reference Library (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 8.

[3]Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 14.

[4]H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible(Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), 2 Sa 17:5–29.

[5]M. G. Easton, Easton’s Bible Dictionary(New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893).

[6]Swindoll, Charles R.. Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives (Great Lives Series) . Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Abigail (1 Sam 25)

Abigail, The Woman Who Saved Her Husband’s Neck[1]

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on September 15, 2019

I am going to be going to 1 Samuel 25 in a moment. Please turn there.

Ignitemedia video titled “Smart.”

The following warnings were found on consumer products:

On a Duraflame fireplace log: “Caution—Risk of Fire.”

On a Batman costume: “Warning: Cape does not enable user to fly.”

On a bottle of hair coloring: “Do not use as an ice cream topping.”

On a cardboard sun shield for a car: “Do not drive with sun shield in place.”

On a portable stroller: “Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage.”[1]

Okay, so we need to think about things and seek wisdom. This means that we must not be rash, and we must listen. We are on a sermon series of people of the Old Testament. Today, we come to Abigail.

My theme today is taken from Chuck Swindoll’s book:

Abigail, The Woman Who Saved Her Husband’s Neck[1]

My application:

Listen to wise council.

I will read the passage as we talk about it.

  1. Meet David and Nabaland the incident
    1. Let’s read verses 2–13:

Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel (now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite), that David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, visit Nabal and greet him in my name; and thus you shall say, ‘Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. Now I have heard that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us and we have not insulted them, nor have they missed anything all the days they were in Carmel. Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we have come on a festive day. Please give whatever you find at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

When David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in David’s name; then they waited. 10 But Nabal answered David’s servants and said, “Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?” 12 So David’s young men retraced their way and went back; and they came and told him according to all these words. 13 David said to his men, “Each of you gird on his sword.” So each man girded on his sword. And David also girded on his sword, and about four hundred men went up behind David while two hundred stayed with the baggage.

  • Notice the request in verses 2-9.
  • Meet Nabal and Nabal was very rich.
  • How rich? 3000 sheep, 1000 goats
  • Verse 3 explains that Abigail was intelligent and beautiful, but he was harsh and evil…
  • Notice right here how highly this talks of Abigail.
  • Abigail means “Joy to the father.”
  • Nabal means “fool.”
  • He was a Calebite, a descendant of Caleb.
  • In verse 4, David heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. David was in the wilderness.
  • We find out later in verse 16 that David’s men were protecting Nabal’s men. This incident takes place in a wilderness where there could be a lot of danger.
  • Verse 5 shows that David sent 10 young men.
  • These young men go to Nabal and they are extremely respectful, yet they are rejected.
  • These men are supposed to greet Nabal in his, David’s, name.
    • The assumption is that Nabal will know who David is.
    • One would think that news would travel of David victories.
  • It is actually clear that Nabal knew of David, but Nabal is from Saul’s hometown.
  • The Moody Bible Commentary shares: His [David’s] men had protected the shepherds and Nabal’s sheep from robbers and wild animals. At this festive moment, David asked for a token of appreciation for his labor. So he sent ten young men (v. 5) to ask Nabal to give them goods that Nabal had on hand. David was not operating a protection racket. Rather, when Nabal’s men accepted the protection that David had provided, they made him contractually obligated to provide for David and his men. In response, Nabal referred to David as the son of Jesse (v. 10), the pejorative term Saul used for David. He accused David indirectly of breaking away from Saul, his master.[2]
  • The retaliation(25:13): David becomes angry and plans to punish Nabal.
    • David tells his men basically to prepare for battle.
    • David will fight with them.
    • 400 men to fight.
    • 200 stay with the supplies.
    • Nabal does not stand a chance versus these warriors.
    • By the way, David is acting rash. Later on, he grows in wisdom. In the previous chapter David was calm and collected not killing Saul when he could have, but now he wants vengeance. Now, David is acting like Saul.
    • There currently are similar traits in Nabal and David, though later David is wise in that he listens to wisdom and Nabal does not.
  • The wise woman(25:14–35): Nabal’s servants tell his wife, Abigail, about the incident and warn her that David is coming.
    • Let’s read verses 14-35:

14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Behold, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, and he scorned them. 15 Yet the men were very good to us, and we were not insulted, nor did we miss anything as long as we went about with them, while we were in the fields. 16 They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the sheep. 17 Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.”

18 Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys.19 She said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 It came about as she was riding on her donkey and coming down by the hidden part of the mountain, that behold, David and his men were coming down toward her; so she met them. 21 Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have guarded all that this man has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; and he has returned me evil for good. 22 May God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of any who belong to him.”

23 When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David and bowed herself to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please let your maidservant speak to you, and listen to the words of your maidservant. 25 Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.

26 “Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, since the Lord has restrained you from shedding blood, and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal. 27 Now let this gift which your maidservant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who accompany my lord. 28 Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil will not be found in you all your days. 29 Should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling.30 And when the Lord does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and appoints you ruler over Israel, 31 this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord, both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself. When the Lord deals well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.”

32 Then David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, 33 and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand. 34 Nevertheless, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from harming you, unless you had come quickly to meet me, surely there would not have been left to Nabal until the morning light as much as one male.” 35 So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, “Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request.”

  • First, we see Abigail’s appeal to David (25:14–31): Abigail prepares a large supply of food and rides out to meet David, pleading with him not to kill her husband.
  • Apparently one of the young men who worked with Nabal told Abigail.
  • By the way, Abigail is the wisest person in this chapter.
  • Also, take note that this is one of many incidents in which the Bible highlights the wisdom and knowledge of women.
  • Abigail is in an arranged marriage. Most of the time these worked quite well. In this case it seems that her parents did not notice Nabal’s problems.
  • Back to the narrative, the young man made it clear to Abigail that David’s men were “scorned” or insulted.
  • Verse 15: David’s men were good to them. They were not insulted.
  • Verse 16 is interesting: they were “a wall” to them. This means that David’s men were protecting them and keeping them safe.
  • Yet, Nabal would not pay them. Swindoll compares this to not tipping your waiter or waitress.
  • In verse 17: one of the servants seems to tell Abigail what she should do. The servant recognizes that David and his men will retaliate.
  • The man, Nabal, is worthless and apparently not approachable.
  • In verses 18- 35 Abigail intercedes.
  • In verse 18: Abigail gets supplies together.
  • The ESV Study Bible compares the supplies to a list of the food supplied to an Egyptian expeditionary force to Palestine during the reign of Ramses II.
  • In verse 19: she sends her men ahead but she follows.
  • Notice how she takes action. She is truly a wise woman.
  • Nabal does not know what she is doing.
  • She met David and his men.
  • In verse 23: Abigail talks with David.
  • She is humble and bows down before him.
  • The Moody Bible Commentary shares: Her words in vv. 24-31 are the longest recorded speech by a woman in the OT (though see the song of Deborah and Barak in Jdg 5). She explained to David that her husband’s name summed up who he was. Nabal (“fool”) was his name, and folly was in him (v. 25).[3]
  • In verse 24: she asks him to listen.
  • She even takes the blame, though the blame did not belong with her.
  • Abigail asks him to disregard Nabal.
  • In verse 26: she wants them to kill their enemies and not Nabal.
  • In verses 28-31: she requests forgiveness and gives a blessing to David.
  • The Moody Bible Commentary sheds light:
  • Abigail spoke prophetically of David life; years would pass before God would promise a dynasty to David (cf. 2Sm 7:8-17). (2) David was fighting the Lord’s battles. (3) No evil would be found in David all his days. This statement could have been a subtle warning to David not to commit an evil against Nabal, rather than a prophecy (Youngblood, “1, 2 Samuel,” 248), since David did commit evil later in the case of Bathsheba. (4) The Lord will protect David. (5) The Lord will destroy David’s enemies (v. 29). She explained that this destruction of the Lord would be like His using a sling against them. This imagery would have resonated with David, who slew Goliath with a stone and a sling. (6) Taking vengeance against Nabal and his innocent household would be a guilty load on David’s conscience after he became king. Abigail ended her reasoned request for forgiveness with a request: When the LORD shall deal well with my lord, [i.e., “when you become king,”] then remember your maidservant (v. 31). “To remember” means “to act in a special way on a person’s behalf.”[4]
  • In verse 32: David responds favorably. ESV Study Bible: David, having calmed down, agrees with Abigail completely and thanks the Lord and her. In his restraint about shedding the blood of fellow Israelites, David shows himself more qualified than Saul to be king. Giving up vengeance meant breaking the vow made in 22. If one vows to sin, however, it is better in the eyes of the Lord to break the vow than to commit the sin vowed, a principle that Jephthah (Judg. 11:29–40) and Herod the tetrarch (Matt. 14:7–9) should have heeded. (Of course, making a rash oath in the first place was a sin that needed to be compensated for, asLev. 5:4–6 requires.)[5]
  • In verse 33: David blesses her and is grateful that she has kept him from avenging himself.
  1. The widowed woman(25:36–38):
    1. Let’s read verses 36-38:

Then Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she did not tell him anything at all until the morning light. 37 But in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him so that he became as a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.

  • After a night of heavy drinking, Nabal is told by Abigail about the terrible danger he had been in; he suffers a stroke, or a heart attack of some sort. Ten days later the Lord strikes him and he dies.
  • The wedded woman(25:39–44):
    • Let’s read verses 39-44

39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal and has kept back His servant from evil. The Lord has also returned the evildoing of Nabal on his own head.” Then David sent a proposal to Abigail, to take her as his wife. 40 When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her, saying, “David has sent us to you to take you as his wife.” 41 She arose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Behold, your maidservant is a maid to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” 42 Then Abigail quickly arose, and rode on a donkey, with her five maidens who attended her; and she followed the messengers of David and became his wife.

43 David had also taken Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both became his wives.

44 Now Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was from Gallim.

  • Following Nabal’s death, David asks Abigail to become his wife, and she accepts.[6]
  • David proclaims a praise to the Lord. It is like David is happy that he did not shed the blood, but the Lord vindicated him.
  • Verses 40-44: she marries David and there is an update on his other wives.
  • Apologetics study Bible: 25:43Throughout his lifetime David acquired at least eight wives (2 Sm 3:2–5, 14–16; 1 Ch 3:1–5) and 10 concubines (2 Sm 15:16), in addition to Saul’s harem (2 Sm 12:8). The Lord did not approve of David’s departure from His plan for marriage. It would have destructive consequences later, when deadly rivalries developed between the women (see 1 Kg 1:1–4; 2:17–25) and families (2 Sm 13:1–32; 1 Kg 2:24–25) within David’s harem. God’s ideal plan for people from the beginning was for one man to marry one woman, and for the couple to remain in an exclusive sexual relationship for as long as both partners were alive.).[7]

Let’s make Some applications:

  1. We must be willing to listen to the wisdom of others.
  2. We must NOT be rash as David was (1 Samuel 25:13).
  3. We must listen as David did to Abigail (1 Samuel 25:32).
  4. We must be willing to act to help others as Abigail did (1 Samuel 25:18ff).
  5. We must have the humility of Abigail (1 Samuel 25:23ff).


Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.



[1]Submitted by Amy Simpson, Wheaton, Illinois; preaching today

[2]The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 17051-17052). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[3]The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 17051-17052). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[4]The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 17061-17066). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.


[6]H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible(Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), 1 Sa 25:1–44.

[7]Ted Cabal et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith(Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 446–447.

Saul Did Not Seek the Lord (1 Samuel 15)

Saul Did Not Seek the Lord, We Must Seek the Lord

(1 Samuel 15:15, 21)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on September 8, 2019

We are going to be turning to 1 Samuel 15 in just a moment so I invite you to turn in your Bible’s to that passage.

Os Guinness traces our contemporary idea of human freedom that “began in the Renaissance … blossomed in the Enlightenment and rose to its climax in the 1960s.” The classic statement of the Renaissance view is that of Pico della Mirandola, as he imagines God addressing Adam: “You, who are confined by no limits, shall determine for yourself your own nature …. You shall fashion yourself in whatever form you prefer.”

Throughout the centuries this same view of human freedom—limitless potential apart from God—has been expressed by other key thinkers.

  • Leon Batista Alberti: “A man can do all things if he will.” (15th century, Italy)
  • Karl Marx: “Man is free only if he owes his existence to himself.” (19th century, Germany)
  • Friedrich Nietzsche: “If there were gods, who could bear not to be gods? Therefore there are no gods.” (19th century, Germany)
  • Herbert Spencer: “Progress is not an accident, but a necessity. Surely must evil and immorality disappear; surely must men become perfect.” (19th century, England)
  • Walt Whitman: “One’s-self I sing, a simple separate person.” (19th century, America)
  • John F. Kennedy: “Man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” (20th century, America)
  • Ayn Rand: “Man’s destiny is to be a self-made soul.” (20th century, Russian-American)
  • O. Wilson: “Humanity will be positioned godlike to take control of its own ultimate fate.” (21st century, America)[1]

The person we are going to talk about today only thought about himself. He did not seek the Lord. He was the anointed king of Israel, but he did not seek the Lord. Notice this in 1 Samuel 15:15:

 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.”

Notice the pronouns, Saul did not acknowledge the Lord as “our God” but as “your” God. Notice again in verse 21, 1 Samuel 15:21: But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”

Saul focused on himself and not the Lord.

We are preaching on people of the Old Testament. We have talked about Cain, Abraham, Esau, Achan and now we come to Saul.

My theme and application:

Saul Did Not Seek the Lord, We Must Seek the Lord

I am going to summarize Saul’s life and then we will settle down in chapter 15.

  1. Introduction to Saul
    1. In chapter 8 we see that the people of Israel wanted a king. This was NOT a good thing. They wanted a king to be like the other nations (1 Samuel 8:5). But the Lord was their king.
    2. In 1 Samuel 9 we are introduced to Saul.
    3. Saul is of the tribe of Benjamin.
    4. He was looking for a lost donkey in the hill country of Ephraim, in the area of Shelisha, in the districts of Shaalim and Zuph, he finally approached Samuel in Ramah for guidance
    5. Samuel privately anointed him king (10:1). Samuel predicted certain events that would happen near Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin, at the great tree of Tabor, and at Gibeah of God (vv 2-8).
    6. He soon rallied Israelite and Judean forces to deliver Jabesh Gilead from their Ammonite oppressors. Saul might have been eager to do this since many Benjaminites of his day were descendants of women whose ancestral homes were in Jabesh Gilead (Judges 21).
    7. They left Gibeah of Saul to Bezek where he prepared the forces for battle (1 Sam 11:6-8).
    8. They crossed the Jordan and defeated the Ammonites.
    9. Israel confirmed Saul as king at Gilgal from that point on his kingship was not doubted by most of the populace
    10. Saul and his son Jonathon then mustered troops in Micmash, Gibeah of Benjamin, and the hill country of Bethel.
    11. The Israelites were probably dependent upon the Philistines for the manufacture and repair of copper and iron.
    12. In 1 Sam. 13:3 Saul’s son met the Philistines head on at Gibeon. He took their garrison.
    13. There is a war with the Philistines in chapter 13 and then Jonathon, Saul’s son, wins a battle in chapter 14.
    14. Saul has a great rise to power in 1 Samuel 9, but he was the people’s choice. He was head and shoulders above everyone else (1 Samuel 10:23).
    15. Then, beginning in 1 Samuel chapter 13 we see his epic downfall. He made his first major mistake in chapter 13, his second mistake in chapter 14 and his third in chapter 15.
  2. Saul is rejected: 1 Samuel 13 and 15
    1. In 1 Samuel 13 we have the battle with the Philistines
    2. Saul was supposed to wait seven days for Samuel to arrive and make sacrifices (verses 8-9).
      1. Kings were not to make sacrifices. They could make sacrifices for themselves but not the community.
      2. Samuel was to convey the Lord’s battle plans.
    3. Saul makes the offering himself. Saul takes matters into his own hands. Saul did what he was not supposed to do.
    4. Samuel arrives (verses 10-12).
    5. Saul is rejected verses 13-14.
    6. Saul moves on like nothing happened (verse 15). He did not repent or anything.
    7. In chapter 14, the Israelites defeat the Philistines but not led by Saul. The king’s son, Jonathon took his armor bearer on a secret raid of the Philistine’s camp.
    8. Saul makes a curse in that chapter and does not follow through with it. He makes another mistake. You can read that later on.
  • Saul does not obey again: 1 Samuel 15
    1. In verse 1 Saul is anointed again, the Lord gives second chances.
    2. 1 Samuel 15:1-3: Then Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
    3. We look at that and must think, we thought Saul was rejected, well it seems that God gives him a second chance.
    4. When we see that they were supposed to utterly destroy everything, this means that that area was “under the ban.” This means in certain cities they were supposed to kill everyone and not take bounty. Bounty goes back to the Lord. This goes back to Deuteronomy. Saul disobeyed.
    5. Verses 8-9: Hecaptured 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, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.
    6. They spared Agag, the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings and lambs.
    7. Saul disobeyed.
    8. God communicates to Samuel: 10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, 11 “Iregretthat I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the Lord all night.
    9. Do things bother us? Samuel was distressed and cried out to the Lord all night.
    10. Swindoll shares: The Hebrew word translated “distressed” here means to burn with anger. Samuel was incensed with Saul and sat up all night stewing in his righteous rage. The Lord gave the rebellious king yet another chance to do what was right, to bow in submission to Israel’s true King, but, again, he blew it.[2]
    11. Now look: 12 Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul; and it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself,then turned and proceeded on down to Gilgal.” 13 Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have carried out the command of the Lord.” 
    12. Saul does not get it at all.
    13. He had no guilt.
    14. He setup a monument to himself.
    15. I like Samuel’s response: 14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”
    16. Samuel heard the sheep and knew that Saul disobeyed.
    17. Now, notice Saul’s response: 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord yourGod; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.” 
    18. Notice how he says, “The Lord, ‘your’ God”?
    19. Saul did not bow to the Lord.
    20. Now, verses 16-21: 16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Wait, and let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak!” 17 Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel,18 and the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 20 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord yourGod at Gilgal.” 
    21. Once again, Saul would not bow to the Lord.
    22. Samuel’s next words: 22 Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
      As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
      Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
      And to heed than the fat of rams.
      23 “For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
      And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.
      Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
      He has also rejected you from being king.”
    23. Notice that Saul would not bow.
    24. If you read the rest of 1 Samuel, which I encourage you to do, you’ll see that Saul became totally self-absorbed the rest of his life. He chased the Lord’s anointed, David, all over Israel. But God was still at work.
  1. Apply:
    1. Swindoll shares these first few applications. How you finish is more important than how you start. Remember that, finish well. Finish serving the Lord.
    2. Rationalization is disobedience because it refuses to accept the truth.
      1. The most destructive lie is the one you tell yourself.
      2. Saul rationalized disobedience.
    3. Remain accountable. We all need accountability partners (Prov. 27:17).
    4. Reject pride.
    5. Pursue truth.
      1. Strict obedience is better than good intentions.
      2. There is truth that is not popular such as: Don’t marry a non-believer; Abstain from sexual immorality.
  • If you have messed up, don’t be like Saul, repent.
  1. More applications:
    1. We must submit to the Lord’s leadership.
      1. This means sometimes we must wait on the Lord.
      2. This means we must not NEED to be in leadership, or in front, or in powerful places to have fulfillment.
      3. This means that we must submit to the Lord’s people.
        1. We must submit to leadership in society (Romans 13).
        2. We must submit to church leadership (Hebrews 13:7 and 17).
  • We must submit to the Lord’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  1. We must submit to the Lord’s leading through the Word, the church, reason and the Holy Spirit.
  1. 1 Samuel 15:12 shows that Saul setup a monument for himself, or let the people do that. We must be humble and not take credit, but give glory to God (1 Cor. 10:31).
  2. 1 Samuel 15:17 shows that Saul was a no one and he knew that, and the Lord anointed him. We must recognize everything we have comes from the Lord. Positions we are placed in comes from the Lord.
  3. The Lord is sovereign, we must bow to Him and cast our crowns to Him (Rev 4:8-11). The Lord worked in this process and went to David, who is the Lord’s choice (1 Samuel 13:14).
  4. God is most glorified in us
    when we are most satisfied in him.[3]

A CEO has taken on a new job, and the outgoing CEO says to him, “Sometimes you’ll make wrong choices. You will. You’ll mess up. When that happens, I have prepared three envelopes for you. I left them in the top drawer of the desk. The first time it happens, open #1. The second time you mess up, open #2. The third time, open #3.”

For the first few months, everything goes fine. Then the CEO makes his first mistake, goes to the drawer, opens up envelope #1, and the message reads, “Blame me.” So he does: “This is the old CEO’s fault. He made these mistakes. I inherited these problems.” Everybody says, “Okay.” It works out pretty well.

Things go fine for a while, and then he makes his second mistake. So, he goes to the drawer and opens up envelope #2. This time he reads, “Blame the board.” And he does: “It’s the board’s fault. The board has been a mess. I inherited them. They’re the problem.” Everybody says, “Okay, that makes sense.”

Things go fine for a while, and then he makes his third mistake. So, he goes to the drawer and opens up envelope #3. The message reads: “Prepare three envelopes.”[4]

Own up to our mistakes, repent, serve the Lord.

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.



[1]Os Guinness, A Free People’s Suicide (IVP, 2012), pp. 154-155

[2]Swindoll, Charles R.. Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives (Great Lives Series) . Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.


[4]John Ortberg, in the sermon “Guide,”

Samuel, the Prophet who Anointed the first two kings of Israel (1 Samuel 3)

Samuel, the Man Who Anointed the First Two Kings of Israel (1 Samuel 3 and selected verses)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on September 1, 2019

We are going to be turning to 1 Samuel 3 in a minute, if you would like to turn there.

Think with me about hearing:

Mark Batterson describes the amazing ability of the human ear in his book Whisper:

The act of hearing is detecting vibrations of the eardrum caused by sound waves, and the intensity of those waves is measured in decibels. On one end of the sound spectrum is the sperm whale, the loudest animal on earth. The clicking noise it uses to echolocate can hit 200 decibels. Even more impressive, researchers believe that whale songs may travel up to ten thousand miles underwater! Next to the sperm whale is jet engines (150 decibels), air horns (129 decibels), thunderclaps (120 decibels), and jackhammers (100 decibels).

What’s on the other end of the sound spectrum?

A whisper, measuring just 15 decibels.

Technically speaking, our absolute threshold of hearing is 0 decibels. That corresponds to a sound wave measuring 0.0000002 pascals, which causes the eardrum to vibrate by just 108 millimeters. That’s less than a billionth of the ambient pressure in the air around us and smaller than the diameter of a hydrogen atom![1] 

I want to connect that with Samuel in a minute. Samuel heard the voice of the Lord.

When did you know what you were going to do with your life? Did you know that was what God wanted you to do? In the Old Testament there are two books called Samuel. They are named after the prophet Samuel. Samuel was the prophet who found and anointed King David. Samuel was one of Israel’s greatest and most famous prophets. In a second, we will look at God’s call on Samuel’s life.

We will read the passage as we talk about it.

  1. Samuel is ministering under Eli
    1. Verses 1-2: Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well)…
    2. Twas the night of Samuel’s calling and all through the Temple not a creature was making noise except Samuel.
    3. Samuel is likely 12 years old at this time, at least that is what the Jewish historian Josephus had written.
    4. The young boy Samuel was going to bed for the night.
    5. He would sleep in a room near the Ark of God.
    6. It was sometime before dawn and we know this because the Lamp of God was still lit.
    7. In Exodus chapter 27:20-21 God had told them to bring clear oil to keep the lamps burning.The candlestick which was 7 branched was filled with just enough oil to burn through one night.
    8. The Lord gave the Israelites the instructions to make this candlestick in Exodus 25:31-39.
    9. Anyways, they were still lit and now God tried to communicate to Samuel.
    10. In 1 Samuel chapter 1 we have the account of Samuel’s mother, Hannah. She would come to the temple to pray. Hannah was a Godly woman. She couldn’t have children but she wanted to badly. She came to the House of God every year and would sacrifice and pray for a son. She was praying and wept bitterly. She made a vow to God that if He gave her a son, she would give him to the Lord all the days of His life.
    11. She went home and God gave her a son. This son is now Samuel. Hannah weaned him and then dedicated him to the Lord’s service.
    12. Now Samuel was ministering to the Lord with Eli.
    13. Eli is approaching his 98thyear and his son’s are not good men at all.
    14. This passage says that word from the Lord was rare at that time and so were visions.
    15. But on this night something miraculous happened.
  2. Samuel hears from God.
    1. Read with me verses 2-9:Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was, that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.” Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him. So the Lord called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the Lord was calling the boy. And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
    2. Now, we see that Eli’s eye sight is not very good.
    3. We have already talked about the lamp of God.
    4. Samuel is sleeping in the temple near where the Ark of God was.
    5. The Lord speaks to Samuel.
    6. Imagine the sound of Samuel’s feet going to Eli’s room. Imagine Eli wondering what is going on and then Samuel asks what he needs.
    7. Eli tells him he did not call him.
    8. Eli should have known this was from the Lord, but it seems that this is making the case that Eli is not close to the Lord as this time.
    9. Eli is the priest of God, but if you read in 1 Samuel 2 Eli’s sons are wicked and the message that Samuel is going to hear is condemning of Eli and his family.
    10. So, Eli could have thought this was a dream.
    11. Have ever dreamed that you heard someone speaking? I have dreamed many times that I hear my children or something else and I get up and look around and all is quiet.
    12. But Samuel heard it again. Again, Eli hears his feet coming to his room. Eli sends him back to bed.
    13. Now, notice verse 7 says that Samuel did not know the Lord yet. This means that he did not know the Lord in the way that he would as a prophet.
    14. No one knew the Lord back then like we do today. They did not have the Holy Spirit then.
  • The Lord calls Samuel a third time.
    1. Let’s read verses 10-17: Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. 14 Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”15 So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 Then Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17 He said, “What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him.”
    2. Sometimes it is heard hearing from God. One writes: I neglected to tell my new patient, a little boy, how his hospital room intercom worked. Soon his light flashed. I called his name and asked what he wanted. There was complete silence. I repeated myself. After a long pause he said, “Jesus, I hear you but I don’t see you. Where are you?” I couldn’t wait to get to his room and give him a hug.[2]
    3. This time Eli knew it was the Lord. Eli instructed Samuel to say, “Speak Lord for thy servant is listening.” Samuel went back to bed and this time the Lord actually came to Him. Samuel could actually tell that His presence was there.
    4. The Lord said, “SAMUEL!!! SAMUEL!!!” Samuel responded speak, for Your servant is listening.”
    5. Notice the Lord came and “stood” before Samuel. This is called a Theophany or a Christophany. This is an appearance of God in physical presence in the Old Testament. But I think it is a Christophany, which means this is an appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament. Hebrews 1 and Col. 1 says that Jesus is the visible image of God.
    6. Notice the message. This young man hears a message condemning. Look again at verses 12-14: In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. 14 Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
    7. God had already told Eli this message in the previous chapter. Eli’s sons were wicked and Eli did not rebuke them. Eli’s family is going to lose the priesthood and this happens 130 years later. Dr. Constable shares: Under the Mosaic Law the penalty for showing contempt for the priesthood, for disobeying parents, and for blasphemy was death ( 17:12; 21:18–21; Lev. 24:11–16, 23). This would be what Hophni and Phinehas would experience (cf. 4:11). The cutting off of Eli’s line happened about 130 years later (cf. 1 Kings 2:27, 35).1
    8. Samuel’s first prophetic act was to tell this message to Eli as we see in verses 16-18.
    9. Interestingly enough, all Eli says is “It is the Lord, let Him do what He sees fit.” Eli could have taken his sons before the elders and had them judged.
  1. Let’s make applications:
    1. We must always be prepared to say yes to God.
    2. We must be listening for God to speak.
    3. We must be opened to hear from God
    4. We must be in a place to hear from God. Samuel was a servant. He served and ministered to Eli as a young boy. This put him in a position to hear from God.
    5. God is the main character. We must allow God to be the main character in our life.
    6. God speaks:
      1. In His Word
      2. Through people
      3. Through prayer
    7. As a parent we do not want to be like Eli. Chuck Swindoll makes the case that Eli was so busy in the temple that he failed to be the spiritual leader in the home.

We must be like Samuel. Samuel was a minister already at age twelve. We must be encouraged that God spoke to Samuel. God will speak to us by His word, maybe through people and many other ways. However, I think we may not hear Him if we aren’t ready to hear Him. As you go out today: look for God to speak. Be ready for God to speak and know that if you are not hearing anything maybe it is because you are not paying attention.

Do you know Jesus?

Confess, Believe, trust, commit:

Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.


[1]Mark Batterson, Whisper (Multnomah, 2017), page 8

[2]Mary Williamson, Kirbyville, TX, Today’s Christian Woman, “Heart to Heart.”