Last week, our reading ended with the Israelites proclaiming, “Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” (1 Samuel 8:5) Despite Samuel’s warnings, they persist in their desire. God speaks to Samuel and says, “Obey their voice and make them a king.”
The first king in Israel is a man named Saul. We meet him in 1 Samuel 9. This week’s reading covers his anointing as king and his fall from that position due to his disobedience to God. Israel longs for a king who is a deliverer -- someone who will make sure they are sheltered from the threat of the Philistines and other Canaanite enemies who remain in the Promised Land. In the eyes of the Israelites, Saul brings this protection immediately, defeating the Philistines and leading the Israelites in battle, thus fulfilling his worldly role as king.
But this is not the only thing the Lord desires in a king for His people. The Lord wants a sustainer -- a shepherd, someone who will keep His people from straying from Him. God longs to be both the deliverer and sustainer of His people. Rather than trust in the Divine King, the Israelites choose to hope in a human king. God’s priority is for the king of His people to be a leader who seeks after Him and leads His people to do the same. It is in this area where Saul falls short and forfeits his right to lead Israel. God says, “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned his back from following Me.” (1 Samuel 15:11) From Saul, the first king in Israel, we learn that God is more concerned with our obedience to Him than He is with our worldly success. From Saul, we also see that the Israelites -- and all humanity -- need a Greater King.
FOR THIS WEEK'S SERMON OVER 1 SAMUEL 13 & 15, LISTEN BELOW
OLD TESTAMENT VISUALIZED
KINGS OF UNITED ISRAEL
1 Samuel 14:1-15
Israel is under attack. Due to Philistine domination, only King Saul and his son, Jonathan, even own a sword. The Israelite people, including King Saul himself, have no faith that there can be any deliverance from their plight.
Jonathan’s view differs greatly from that of his father. While Saul disobeyed God’s instructions and fails to trust God for victory, Jonathan believes that the Lord can save, “whether by many (soldiers) or few.” As the Israelite soldiers wait hopelessly on the battlefield, Jonathan calls to his young armor-bearer to go up with him to attack the Philistines, believing that God has the power to save. The Storytelling ingredient is rich in displaying God’s power. As the twosome climb the mountain to face the enemy, they believe that God will show them if He wants them to engage in battle. They are overjoyed as they receive God’s go-ahead. As they fight, the enemy begins to fall and then God Himself causes chaos to overtake the Philistines. The ground shakes and the soldiers run in terror. Jonathan’s trust in God brings freedom to the Israelites. We must rely on God in tough situations to bring us freedom as we call out to Him and walk in trust.
- When Jonathan invited his armor-bearer to go with him to the Philistine outpost, what was Jonathan’s intent?
- What did Jonathan believe about God? How do you think his strong belief may have encouraged his armor-bearer to believe?
- Who is someone you know that could use some encouragement that God is powerful enough and loving enough to help them?
An armor-bearer is an officer chosen by a general because of their bravery not only to bear the general’s armor but also to stand by them in time of danger (Easton’s Illustrated Dictionary). In this passage it is clear that Jonathan is a passionate man for the Lord who is leading a young armor-bearer. Additionally, Jonathan has great faith which his armor-bearer chooses to emulate.
Activity 1: Be an Armor-Bearer for Christ
For this activity you will need an individual, full length picture of each family member. Mount on paper. If you have butcher paper you could also draw around each other and decorate. Discuss: If you are God’s armor-bearer, how can you use your mind, mouth, hands, and feet to serve Him? Write your ideas beside your picture. God calls us to live bravely for Him and spread the good news of Jesus as we work alongside the Holy Spirit. Pray together that you can be bold and faithful. Read Ephesians 6:10-19 for ideas.
Activity 2: Read Hebrews 11:1-12
Look at verse 1. How does the Bible define faith? Look at a couple of the heroes in this passage. What actions did each of them take to show their faith in a mighty God?
Small Group Discussion
- What sin is there to avoid?
- What is the difference between remorseful and repentant?
- How do we guard our hearts from pride?