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1 Samuel 13-15

Lessons From the Fall of King Saul

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • April 28, 2024

  • Sermon Notes

Lessons From the Fall of King Saul

1 Samuel 13-15


Illus. Lessons from a fall.


This morning we continue in the book of 1 Samuel; we will specifically be covering some situations and scenes that take place over the course of three chapters and depict the fall of king Saul. In the chapters leading up to this, the people had demanded a king to rule over them. It was seen as a rejection of the Lord as their king, the Lord listened to their request and king Saul was put in place. Saul was tall, strong, wealthy, and likely well educated. He had a great deal going for himself from the people’s perspective. Saul had also gotten off to a great start. In 1 Samuel 11, he led the Israelites in victory over one of their enemies, the ammonites. Saul gave credit to the Lord for the victory, the people crown Saul as king, and that chapter ends with the people of Israel rejoicing greatly.

In chapter 12, we see Samuel, the prophet, priest and judge coronate the new king, and step down from certain aspects of his leadership in the land. That coronation ceremony came with a warning, however.


1 Samuel 12:14-15, Now if you fear and worship the Lord and listen to his voice, and if you do not rebel against the Lord’s commands, then both you and your king will show that you recognize the Lord as your God. But if you rebel against the Lord’s commands and refuse to listen to him, then his hand will be as heavy upon you as it was upon your ancestors. (NLT)


In the chapters that follow, we see Saul listen to his own voice rather than the voice the Lord. We see him show contempt for the commands of the Lord, and an unwillingness to listen to the Lord’s instruction in his life. It would result in his downfall and we study the next chapters of Saul story, we will look back and underline certain lessons we can learn from the fall of king Saul so that we can not only avoid the errors of his ways, but also know where to go if we fall in our lives today.


The final words from Samuel in chapter 12 were these:


1 Samuel 12:24-25, Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do evil, both you and your king will be swept away.


  1. Commit to the Lord Unconditionally


  • The first scene we will highlight from the fall of king Saul, comes in 1 Samuel 13.


  • At the beginning of the chapter, we learn that Saul had been serving as king in Israel for two years. He was around 32 years old at the time and as the new chapter opens, we understand that the Israelites are in the middle of a battle. They are up against the Philistines, a common enemy, and enemy that we latter learn will be at war with Saul for the rest of his life (14:52). Saul had assembled two thousand foot soldiers to be with him, and then 1,000 to be with his son.


  • In verse 3, we read that Jonathan, the son of Saul, attacks a group of soldiers and defeats them.


  • In response, Saul blew a trumpet throughout the land and took credit personally for what Jonathan had done. People in the land began to hear it was Saul who had attacked the Philistines.


  • From there, Saul headed back to the town of Gilgal from there. It was the place that Samuel said in 1 Samuel 10:8 that he would meet Saul.


1 Samuel 10:8, You shall go down ahead of me to Gilgal; and behold, I will be coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and inform you of what you should do.”


  • The Philistines heard what had happened, they prepared a counterattack. They assembled 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and a so many people that they looked like the sand on the seashore. The men of Israel saw that they were outnumbered and in trouble and they ran and hid, other crossed over to the other side of the Jordan river.


  • Due the difficult circumstances, the people did what they thought was best, so they fled, they were de-committing, running and hiding in light of the vast army they were up against.


  • In verse 7 we read that those who decided not to run and remain following Saul were trembling. That word “trembling” is also translated “terrified,” “afraid,” or “frightened.”


Read: 1 Samuel 13:8-15


  • The army, those with Saul, once numbered 3,000, was down to 600.


  • They were scattering from him. Samuel had made clear that he would come, that Saul was to wait seven days, and at that point, Samuel would offer the sacrifice and tell him what to do next.


  • Saul became concerned that even the people with him may end up leaving, or running away, ends up panicking, taking matters into his own hands, and in so doing, he disregards the commandments and instruction of the Lord.


  • In verse 12, answering Samuel, Saul responded, “I saw the people scattering from me, and you did not come at the appointed time, and I thought…”


  • Saul thought the people were going to leave him, and the Philistines were going to take him out, and he thought about Samuel not being there yet…he saw the unfavorable conditions on the surface, and decided to do his own thing.


  • First, he tried to take things into his own hands by not believe the word given, that Samuel would show up and tell him what was next.


  • Secondly, he tried to take matters into his own hands by attempting to take on the role of priest, by offering the sacrifices that were reserved for the role of priests in Israel. He disregarded the command of the Lord.


Illus. Not the last time…2 Chronicles 26.


  • Saul gave three excuses for what he did. First, the people were scattering. Second, the Philistines were coming. Third, he says to Samuel directly, you didn’t show up on time.


  • Saul didn’t confess his error, humble himself under God’s hand, he doesn’t say, “you know what, you are aright, I went against God’s clear commands.”


  • Rather he says, people are leaving, the Philistines were coming, you were delaying…


1 Samuel 13:12, So, I worked up the courage and offered the burnt offering.


  • That is an interesting statement and admission, it is as if he was saying, “some unfavorable circumstances were taking place, so I worked up the courage to disregard the Lord and His commands and took matters into my own hands.”


  • He worked up the courage to sin against God. Saul’s courage was misapplied in this situation.


  • So often we see courage depicted much differently in the Bible.


Joshua 1:8-9, This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


  • Saul did the opposite, he did not wait, and used his courage to do according to what goes against what is written in God’s word.


Illus. Conditions.


1 Peter 5:8-9, Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.


Proverbs 16:3, Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.


1 Samuel 13-14, But Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly! You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for the Lord would now have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”


  • Saul was told here that his kingdom would not endure. This means that there would be no more kings coming through his family line. The next king would not be one of his sons. The Lord was seeking a man after his own heart, and Saul had shown that he was after Saul’s own heart.


2 Chronicles 16:9, For the eyes of the Lord roam throughout the earth, so that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.


  1. Never Withdraw from Waiting on Him


  • At the end of chapter 13, we read about more battling with the Philistines. They send out three companies to surround the Israelites strategically.


  • Saul and Israelites learn about it, but they find themselves at a disadvantage militarily.


  • Specifically, there were no blacksmiths in Israel (vs. 19), this means that there was nobody in the land who could make swords or spears, and this being the case, there was nobody equipped to sharpen even their everyday farm equipment, let alone a sword or spear.


  • If the Israelites wanted a sword, or a spear, or if their farm tools needed sharpening, guess who they had to go to? Their enemies, the Philistines!


  • When a battle would come, there were only two swords in the land, one belonged to Saul, and the other to Jonathan his son. Everyone else seems to be stuck with unsharpened farm tools at this point.


  • Still, they had a battle on their hands. So, in chapter 14 we see Jonathan call on his armor bearer and then come up with a plan to go against the Philistines.


  • While Jonathan went out to try and take out the enemy, we read in verse 2 of chapter 14 that Saul stayed back with the six hundred men that were left and sat under the shade of a pomegranate tree.


1 Samuel 14:6-7, Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come, and let’s cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised men; perhaps the Lord will work for us, because the Lord is not limited to saving by many or by few!” His armor bearer said to him, “Do everything that is in your heart; turn yourself to it, and here I am with you, as your heart desires.”


  • In verses 8 to 15, Jonathan devises a plan. His plan is that he and his armor bearer will show themselves to the Philistines. If they see them and says “stay there, we will come meet you,” then Jonathan and his armor bearer were not going to go up to them. But, if they see them and says “come up to us,” then they would go and it would be a sign to the that the Lord was delivering the Philistines into their hands.


  • As they revealed themselves to the Philistines, they came through a very narrow mountain pass. The Philistines only saw the two of them, but as soon as they see them, the belief is that Jonathan and his armor bearer are only the first two of many to come.


  • In verse 11 we read that the Philistines said to one another “Behold, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they kept themselves hidden.” Their belief is that the men who had scattered from Saul and ran into the hills, were all coming out of hiding to take out the Philistines.


  • The Philistines were worried, so they call the two of them up, and there were 20 men there and Jonathan and his armor bearer take them out.


1 Samuel 14:16-22, Now Saul’s watchmen in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude dissolved; they went here and there. So Saul said to the people who were with him, “Look carefully now and see who has left us.” And when they had looked, behold, Jonathan and his armor bearer were not there. Then Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For at that time the ark of God was with the sons of Israel. While Saul talked to the priest, the commotion in the camp of the Philistines continued and increased; so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”


  • Saul had watchmen keeping an eye out on what was going on with the Philistines. The people were trembling and the earth quaked (many believe an earthquake took place), and the people started losing it, melting away. Some translation tell us that began beating each other…They were going here and there and in disarray.


  • Saul looks around in order to find out who was missing and realizes that Jonathan and his armor bearer were missing.


  • At that point, he calls for the priest, Ahijah and says “bring the ark of God here.”


  • We know from previous studies that the Ark of God represented the presence of God. But an important note is that other translations read that Saul called on Ahijah to “bring him the Ephod.”


  • This could have been the case because an ephod was closely connected with the ark. From verse 3, we know that Ahijah was present with the people, and was wearing the ephod.


Illus. Urim and Thummim


  • He calls on the priest for direction. But while waiting, the commotion increases, and conditions got worse, and here is what Saul says to the priest, “withdraw your hand.”


  • In other words, things are too busy, too crazy to wait on direction from the Lord, we need to move!


  • Saul was too impatient to wait for the Lord’s direction.


  • Saul was not willing to wait for the word of the Lord, His heart was not right. In contrast, the one to come was David, who would one day write these words…


Psalm 62:1-2, My soul waits in silence for God alone; from Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be greatly shaken.


Psalm 37:7, Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him…


Psalm 27:14, Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.


Psalm 62:1-2, My soul waits in silence for God alone; from Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be greatly shaken.


Isaiah 40:31, Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.


  • “Those who wait” Is one word in Hebrew, it depicts on who is waiting expectantly, waiting with sure hope in, lingering and longing for patiently.


Illus. Gold!


Psalm 37:5, Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you. (NLT)


  • That comes with the prayer and posture of, Lord, I am going to wait for direction from you. If you haven’t given direction, I will wait. I will commit to you and trust that you will help.


  • Saul started in the direction of waiting, but when the waiting required patience, he was not willing!


Illus. Worth the wait.


James 1:2-5


III.    Choose a Life of Obedience Not Expedience


  • Chapter 14 goes on to depict what the Bible calls, Saul’s foolish order. The order was that the men at war we’re not allowed to eat any food until Saul’s enemies were avenged.


  • Think about this, it is certainly not enduring wisdom that comes from above. Saul told the men, go fight the battle and eat nothing until you win.


  • Prior to his son Jonathan hearing the orders, he dipped his staff into the honey and ate some….His eyes were brightened!


  • The people tell him about his father’s orders and Jonathan sees it as his father bringing trouble on the land.


  • The chapter ends will Saul addressing his son Jonathan who had eaten honey which was against his orders.


  • He was going to put Jonathan to death, but the people spoke up for Jonathan, not that he was the one who had brough great victory to the Israelites. Saul relented, and the Philistines again ended up fleeing.


1 Samuel 14:52, Now the war against the Philistines was severe all the days of Saul; and when Saul saw any warrior or any valiant man, he attached him to his staff.


  • As the scene shifts from chapter 14 to chapter 15, we come upon the scene of another battle.


  • This time, it is with another enemy. It is in this battle that the Lord gave Saul another opportunity to demonstrate obedience to Lord, but Saul would again choose expedience over obedience.


  • The order, was to “strike Amalek (the Amalekites) and completely destroy them in battle.”


  • The Amalekites were a wandering tribe that descended from Esau. They had attacked Israel without provocation when the Israelites were crossing through the desert after leaving Egypt.


  • The Amalekites attacked Israel from behind, the targeted the elderly, babies, children, mothers with young children; all the tired and weary, all who straggled behind in the rear.


  • The Lord told Moses that once Israel entered into the promised land, the Amalekites would need to be wiped out.


  • Here in chapter 15, the order was given to Saul, but Saul chose not to obey the Lord and wiped out everyone and everything except for the Amalekite king and the best of the sheep, oxen, valuable animals, lambs, and anything they thought was good.


1 Samuel 15:10-15


  • Samuel heard from the Lord that Saul had turned his back on following Him. At hearing the news, Samuel, who once did not even want a king in Israel other than the Lord, cries out to the Lord all night.


  • When the morning came, Samuel went to confront Saul. On his way he learns that Saul had set up a monument for himself. Saul had set it up, a monument for himself, his pride was at an all-time high.


  • And then Saul comes out to meet Samuel and greets him with these words, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have carried out the Lord’s command!


  • “Carried out” in Hebrew means to “establish,” or “accomplish,” the Word of the Lord. But Saul had consistently and continually done the opposite.


  • Samuel said, if you obeyed God, why am I hearing animal noises?


1 Samuel 15:20-23


  • The Lord had rejected Saul. Saul was not committed to the instruction of the Lord.


  • As the chapter closes, we see Saul admit that he had violated the command of the Lord, and his reason? He feared the people and listened to their voice rather than God’s voice.


  • Saul then asks Samuel to stay and go worship with him, but Samuel was not willing.


1 Samuel 15:27-30, Then Samuel turned to go, but Saul grasped the edge of his robe, and it tore off. So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you. Also the Glory of Israel will not lie nor change His mind; for He is not a man, that He would change His mind.” Then Saul said, “I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before all Israel, and go back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.”


  • The Lord had rejected Saul as king. His replacement would be anointed in the next chapter. People will begin to see David as the king, and Saul will spend much of the rest of his life struggling with that reality, filled with rage and jealousy, and many attempts to kill David personally.


  • Saul had shown himself to be more concerned with expedience than obedience.


  • Right to the end of chapter 15, honor me before the people, before the elders and Israel, so that, catch this, I may worship the Lord your God.


Illus. Conquered.


Jonah 2:2, “I called out of my distress to the Lord, and He answered me.”


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