I Samuel 13:23-16:23
We are in The Nation Stream today as we continue the story of King Saul and his courageous son Jonathan. We are reading from God’s Word Translation today.
Commentary by Drake Travis
The battle between Israel and the Philistines is an over-arching backdrop for the reading today. Saul’s hollow and selfish character is fully revealed and as the phrase goes, “the handwriting is on the wall” as to what’s IN THE AIR where things are going and what needs to happen to get the nation to where God can glorify Himself through this nation of Israel.
In chapter 14, Jonathan shows his cagey and intelligent nature as a battle strategist and defeats the Philistines in the first battle described here. Remember what is developing: in the prior chapter, Jonathan wins the battle, and Saul his father, declares that he:Saul had won the battle [I Sam.13:3-4].
So without saying or doing anything to “right” this mis-perception, Jonathan goes right ahead, without Saul’s knowledge, and marches into [and wins!] the next battle. Keep in mind that Israel does this without legitimate war material, arms or weapons. It was truly the hand of God stepping in to give victory in spite of Saul-the moral hot-air balloon / turned control freak obsessed with being Mr. Everything… The man has paltry management skills and tries to compensate this through trying to monitor all matters like a school marm who forgot to retire 25 years ago.
Next he orders an ill-timed fast that all must follow – or be executed. And who violates the illicit fast unwittingly? His son Jonathan, who is spared only by the level-headed soldiers around him.
Yes, Saul has battle victories throughout his life. We’ll grant him that, but the victories had almost nothing to do with Saul; absolutely nothing – almost.
In chapter 15, Saul errs again when he doesn’t finish the job in decimating Amalek. They brought some of the animals back so they could, uh, “sacrifice them to God” uh-hum, yeah right! Saul is an ante-example of how not to obey the Lord. The LORD doesn’t need our version of obedience in order for us to obey Him. God needs to obeyed precisely. Again, Saul can’t do what he is told. Samuel’s famous words, “to obey/follow instructions is better than sacrifice” still is relevant now and always will be. Saul reveals his weakness of character again in v. 24 “…I was afraid of the people and listened to them.” Saul is a typical politician that does not listen to wisdom or prophets or God. He consults the people; !he takes a poll! v.s. asking of God what to do.
Samuel finishes a gruesome task and ‘does in’ the last of Amalek in front of Saul and the LORD. Saul again stands corrected. btw, Samuel never saw Saul again. God and Samuel left him. Think of it, why would God and Samuel try to stay around and communicate with a king who has his “fingers in his ears”?
In Chapter 16, Samuel is assigned to find and anoint the next king. After a process that piques the interest of anyone literate, David is chosen and the Spirit of the LORD comes over David. He has nice skin, bright eyes, is handsome and talented – sounds like a catch for sure! It isn’t long before his musical skill takes him right to King Saul and it turns out Saul needs David to give him peace of mind amid the evil Saul has given himself to. It is very intriguing the way God orchestrates a contrast between Saul and David. It’s these encounters that reveal the completely stark characters that emerge between these two men from different generations. Saul and David – this is just the beginning – the showdown continues next week!
Lord, may we be found like David. Not for his flaws but because of his heart that turned to you over and over relentlessly for guidance and approval and peace. We also ask that Your Spirit rest upon us the way it came over David. Take us into your presence for worship; the very thing we were born to do. Amen.