Samuel and Saul: What Meaneth the Bleating?

Introduction:

   Prior to the nation of Israel having a king, they were governed by the Lord by way of judges and prophets.  When Samuel became old, he made his two sons Joel and Abiah judges over Israel.  His sons walked not in the honorable way in which he had served God and the nation of Israel.  Instead, they perverted judgment by accepting filthy lucre and brides.  It was after this that the elders of Israel met with Samuel at Ramah.  They said unto him:  “Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways:  now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5).  This displeased and troubled Samuel, “When they said, Give us a king to judge us.  And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.  And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee:  for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.  According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.  Now therefore hearken unto their voice:  howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them” (1 Sam. 8:5-8).  Samuel did as God commanded him.  He warned the people that a king would bring great burdens upon them.  Nevertheless, the Israelites insisted upon having a king over them to judge them and to fight their battles

   Samuel then communed with God concerning this matter.  “And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king” (1 Sam. 8:22).  God informed Samuel that the young man Saul, the son of Kish of the tribe of Benjamin, would be the king over the nation of Israel.  Privately, Samuel anointed Saul to be captain over the nation of Israel (1 Sam. 10:1).  Saul did not even relate unto his family that Samuel had anointed him for such a noble calling.  When the prophet Samuel called the people together at Mizpeh for the purpose of presenting Saul as their king, Saul hid him self and would not come forth.  There were those who were sent forth to fetch him.  Even after Samuel presented him unto the nation of Israel as their king, Saul returned unto his home in Gibeah.  It was only after the people expressed fear concerning the Ammonite army that Saul called the nation of Israel together to raise a military force to go against the Ammonites.  With the blessings of God they were able to conquer the Ammonite army. 

   Samuel urged the people, along with their king, to faithfully serve the Lord and obey His commandment, and the Lord would bless them.  But if they disobeyed God and failed to serve Him, then the Lord would consume both them and their king.  

   Even though Saul depicted a humble attitude when he was first anointed as king of the nation of Israel, he became very arrogant and self-willed.  On one occasion when Samuel, as God’s spokesman, instructed Saul to remain at Gilgal seven days before going against the army of the Philistines which far out numbered the Israelite army.  As soon as the seventh day began, Saul waited no longer for Samuel, but made a peace offering unto God.  Immediately after he had done this, the prophet of God arrived.  Samuel said unto him:  “…What hast thou done?  And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord:  I forced my self therefore, and offered a burnt offering.  And Samuel said to Saul, Thou has done foolishly:  thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee:  for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.  But now thy kingdom shall not continue:  the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee” (1 Sam. 13:11-14).  This meant that the reign of Saul would not be past down to each new generation of his descendants. 

   Nevertheless, God blessed the nation of Israel during the time that Saul remained as king by giving them victory after victory over the armies of their enemies.  On one occasion, the prophet Samuel instructed Saul:  “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (1 Sam. 15:3).  Upon receiving these instructions, Saul did lead the Israelite army against the Amalekites.  “And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.  And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.  But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good and would not utterly destroy them:  but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.  Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king:  for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments.  And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.  And when Samuel arose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.  And Samuel came to Saul:  and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord:  I have performed the commandment of the Lord.  And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?  And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amaekites:  for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.  Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night.  And he said unto him, Say on.  And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?  And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.  Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?  And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.  But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.  And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (1 Sam. 15:7-23). 

Discussion:

I.                   TO CLAIM ALLEGIANCE UNTO THE LORD IS NOT ENOUGH!

A.     Saul claimed that he had obeyed the commandment of the Lord; when in reality, he had not. 

1 Sam. 15:13, “And Samuel came to Saul:  and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord:  I have performed the commandment of the Lord.

1.      To this, Samuel said: 

…What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear” (1 Sam. 15:14).

a.          Brother N. B. Hardeman, a noted faithful gospel preacher of the past, said in reference to this:  “A cow mooed and called him a liar.”                                                

B.     It is not enough for us to claim allegiance unto the Lord, we must submit unto His commandments. 

Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” 

C.     Many, even in the church, are drifting away from a “thus saith the Lord” and adding innovations unto it for which they have no Biblical authority. 

II.                PARTIAL OBEDIENCE UNTO THE LORD IS INADDEQUATE.  IN REALITY, IT IS DISOBEDIENCE!

A.     Evidently, Saul thought that partial obedience would suffice in obeying the Lord’s commandment. 

1 Sam. 15:15, “And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites:  for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

1.      The late and faithful gospel preacher, brother Guy N. Woods once pointed out that the pioneer preachers used to use an illustration designed to show that people may do a lot that the Lord said do, and yet not do anything because the Lord said do it!  The illustration ran somewhat like this:  Some man who lived over on the eastern seaboard when Kentucky was a wilderness, decided to move his family to Kentucky.  He had several children and a grown son or so and he sent his oldest son ahead to prepare the way for the family, to erect a crude log cabin, build a barn and dig a well so there would be some place for the family when it came.  Before the son left, the father drew a crude diagram of how he wanted the thing arranged and showed the son where to build the log cabin and where to erect the barn and where to dig the well.  The son took this diagram and when he reached the spot designated, he looked it over and he examined the diagram he said, “Yes, my father is exactly right with reference to the house, that is where it ought to be built,” so he erected the cabin on the spot designated.  He examined his diagram and he said, “Yes, he was right with reference to where the barn ought to be built,” and so he built the barn at the spot his father had said.  But when he came to the well, he said, “He is entirely wrong about that.  That is not the place where the well ought to be; it ought to be over here at another spot.”  So he dug the well at the place that he thought it ought to be.  The pioneer preachers used that illustration and from it drew this conclusion:  That son didn’t sincerely obey his father in any instance.  True, two times out of three he conformed to what the father said; but he didn’t do it because the father said it!  He did it because it met his own approval.  When his judgment differed from his father’s, he didn’t hesitate to set aside his father’s preference for his own.

2.      Of the commandments of the Lord, Saul did only that which pleased him. 

1 Sam. 15:11, God said unto Samuel:  “It repeneth me that I have set up Saul to be king:  for he is turned back from following me, and he hath not performed my commandments.  And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.” 

1 Sam. 15:26, “And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee:  for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.” 

B.     Adding innovations unto worship to please others and our self.

1.      Instrumental music. 

Gal. 1:10, “For do I now persuade men, or God?  Or do I seek to please men?  For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” 

John 4:24, “God is a Spirit:  and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” 

III.             MAJORITY ACTION OR ACCEPTANCE IS NOT THE STANDARD IN RELIGIOUS MATTERS.

A.     Saul attempted to “pass the buck” of responsibility unto the people.  But he as king was in charge and went along with what was done. 

1 Sam. 15:9, “But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.” 

1 Sam. 15:19-21, Samuel said unto Saul:  “Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?  And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.” 

B.     The following principle stated under the old covenant is also true in the new covenant. 

Exodus 23:2, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:” 

Matt. 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate:  for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” 

C.     Sadly, many brethren are ready and eager to “jump on the band wagon” of anything that comes along in the brotherhood of the churches of Christ.

1.      They remind me of the philosophers at Athens who always wanted to hear of something new. 

Acts 17:21, “(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)”

2.      Some brethren’s faith is weak and they are inclined to bend with every wind of doctrine that comes along. 

Eph. 4:14-15, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” 

D.    If a majority were the standard of that which is right, then:

1.      The antediluvians would have been right and Noah would have been wrong. 

Gen. 6:5-8, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.  And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

2.      The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah would have been right and should not have been destroyed. 

2 Pet. 2:7-8, “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:  (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” 

IV.              WHAT MIGHT BE CONSIDERED AS NOBLE OR A WORTHY DEED WILL NEVER JUSTIFY DISOBEDIENCE.

A.     Disobedience can never be justified by the concept that the end justifies the means.  Yet, this was precisely the attitude of Saul in altering God’s command.

1.      Some, in the name of religion, promote lying or other violations of the scripture if it is done for what they consider as a good or beneficial work.

2.      The Apostle Paul was accused of saying, “…Let us do evil, that good may come?”  He then states:  “…whose damnation is just” (Rom. 3:8). 

B.     There have been many unscriptural innovations inducted by those of the Restoration Movement.  Incidentally, we do not owe our allegiance unto the Restoration Movement, but unto Jesus Christ and His pattern for the church in the New Testament.

1.      The Missionary Society.

2.      More recent innovations similar to the Missionary Society have been an organization set-up by Everett Anderson to do the mission work of the church (members of his immediate family were officers of it).  Also, the so-called:  “Churches of Christ Relief Effort, Inc” located at Nashville, TN and has a board instead of being under the oversight of an eldership.  Its area of endeavor is in the realm of benevolence.                            

Closing:  Obeying the commandments of the Lord is essential to our salvation (Heb. 5:8-9; 2 John 9; Rom. 6:17-18; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 22:14; Eccl; 12:13-14).  There are not any non-essential commandments of the Lord?                       

 --Dub Mowery

 [Note:  I do not read or quote the more lengthy passages of scripture, but rather narrate the contents therein.]

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