Morning Light – May 13th, 2015
Today: [1 Samuel Chapter Thirteen]: Characteristics of a Saul Leader. In this chapter Saul comes under pressure from the occupying armies of the Philistines. We see in what Saul does and does not do the characteristics of a “Saul Leadership”. Saul insulated himself from the people. He took credit for exploits he had nothing to do with. He intruded upon other anointing and presumed he could do it all without acknowledging other leaders. In the midst of all of this there was not a sword or spear found in all of Israel. The sword represents the word of God – that under a Saul leadership will be neglected and ignored. God is returning the sword of His word to the people however as he calls us up not to a Saul mentality but to the spirit of David who was a man after his own heart!
[1Sa 13:1-23 KJV] 1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, 2 Saul chose him three thousand [men] of Israel; [whereof] two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.
Saul’s reign is initiated and true to the warning of God he gathers the choicest young men to his personal body guard (1 Sam. 8:11 “… he will take your sons and appoint them to himself…” What is the character of Saul’s reign at this time? He initially chooses Michmash as his garrison which means “hidden”. Isn’t that the way of leaders? They do not rule openly (although they work very hard to give this illusion of total transparency). Rather they hold the people they serve at arm’s length in order to maintain the pretenses of authority and the mystique of rulership. This has largely crept into the church. When you see a leader insulate himself from the people you will then know he is under a Saul influence. Jesus was never this way. He walked in total authority yet in complete transparency and availability (Matt. 19:14).
3 And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that [was] in Geba, and the Philistines heard [of it]. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear. 4 And all Israel heard say [that] Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and [that] Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.
Here in this chapter we find the first reference to Saul’s son Jonathan. Jonathan is a unique character of great piety and loyalty to both his father and his father’s successor, David. Saul is hiding in Michmash surrounded by 3000 body guards but Jonathan goes up to Geba (which means “hill”) and defies the entire nation of the Philistines who at this time completely domination the children of Israel.
What application can we extract for ourselves regarding the Philistines? The word Philistine means “sojourner”. They were never at rest. This is a major stronghold in people’s lives. The Philistine spirit does not rest and will not abide you entering into the rest of God. These are the people and circumstances in your life by which you never have a quiet day – and if you do the phone rings with some new controversy. These are people who live their lives reeling from one conflict to the next. If you are not embroiled in troubles of your own they will draw you into their own problems and misery. This is the Philistine spirit that Jonathan assaults with great impudence as though to say “no! I will not come out of the rest of God!”
After Jonathan destroys the garrison at Geba the PR machine goes to work proclaiming the victory. Notice the little fact however that they don’t attribute the victory to Jonathan but to Saul. The Saul spirit will always seek to take credit for what others have actually done. They will skew the report and inflate the results and turn healing a hang nail into a major miracle!
5 And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which [is] on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits. 7 And [some of] the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he [was] yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. 8 And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel [had appointed]: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. 9 And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering. 10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.
Jonathan wins the victory at Geba and Saul takes the credit. The Philistines hear that Saul supposedly did this and they muster a great army to retailiate. However Saul isn’t prepared to take responsibility. Saul begins the chapter in hiding and now the people are hiding. Remember 2 Peter 2:19 … of whom a man is brought into bondage of the same is he overcome. Saul hides in fear at Michmash now the people are hiding in every cave and thicket. Where is all the pomp and ceremony of Saul’s prestigious coronation? Where are the accouterments and finery he surely surrounded himself with? It is all still there but meticulously configured to be in hiding. What is modern day Christianity hiding from? A current poll shows that 83% of Americans believe they are Christians – but only 9% believe in the inerrancy of the bible and the reality of the new birth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The tide of secularism and rationalism overwhelms our culture yet the fulfilling the Great Commission is relegated to missions boards and outreach programs that are operationally disconnected from the congregations that support them. The church building and it’s insular traditions have become the modern day Michmash. As the 3000 men mentioned above we congregate around our Saul leaders and boast about how great we are while the Philistines rule the land.
11 And Samuel said, 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; 12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. 13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast 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. 14 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. 15 And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people [that were] present with him, about six hundred men.
Saul starts out with 3000 men but after they draw the attention of the Philistines only 600 remain to actually fight. If the nearest mega church announced that beginning next Sunday the congregation would meet in the parking lot and filter out across the city to share Jesus with every one they meet – how many would be left?
Saul realizes he is in trouble and expects Samuel to come and back him up. When Samuel fails to appear then he takes it upon himself to do Samuel’s job. This is very common today. The office of pastor is universally recognized but the pastor doesn’t have every anointing to meet every need. The prophet isn’t actually welcome for the most part so the pastor without thinking presumes to fill the gap. In fact if you were to ask the pastor does the church need a house prophet as an active and vital part of the ministry of the church the answer would be decidedly no. When Saul adopted this attitude it set an expiration date on his rule. God’s purpose is to establish leaders. He wants to give his people permanence in leadership to rule and bring peace and blessing – yet because of insecurity and ego men and women in leadership try to do it all themselves and presumptively step out of their anointing. The end result is always failure which now Samuel predicts will happen to King Saul.
16 And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people [that were] present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash. 17 And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way [that leadeth to] Ophrah, unto the land of Shual: 18 And another company turned the way [to] Bethhoron: and another company turned [to] the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness. 19 Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make [them] swords or spears: 20 But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock. 21 Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. 22 So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that [were] with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found. 23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.
The Philistines made every effort to avoid seeing an Israelite with a sword in his hand. As long as the people were not armed the Philistines would sharpen their plows and their farming implements. The Philistines were willing to maintain a working relationship with the people of God as long as they didn’t take up the sword. They didn’t mind if Saul and Jonathan had a sword – but they didn’t want the people to be armed. So it is today. The world doesn’t mind if our leaders, our pastors and preachers wield the sword of the word of God. They glance at our churches as they drive by or surf past our websites or television broadcasts. They know as long as the people don’t become a people of the book – there is absolutely NO threat. This is why God wants US to take up the sword of the Spirit – the word of God on our own and individual accountability. The world has nothing to fear from a Christian who has nothing more than a nodding acquaintance with the word of God. Let us determine we will be those who make the modern day secularists do a double take when they see we have chosen to give the word of God first place in our hearts and first place operationally in our lives.
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