1 Samuel 15:10
Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying,
Sermons
Saul RejectedAlexander Maclaren1 Samuel 15:10
Samuel's Intercession for SaulB. Dale 1 Samuel 15:10, 11
The recorded instances of Samuel's praying are of an intercessory character (1 Samuel 7:9; 1 Samuel 8:6, 21; 1 Samuel 12:18, 23). The last of them is his intercession for Saul. He appears to have been told by God in a dream of the result of the probationary commission which had been given to the king. Agitated and distressed, and not yet clearly perceiving it to be the fixed purpose of God (ver. 29) that Saul should no longer reign over Israel as his recognised servant and vicegerent, Samuel gave himself unto prayer, if thereby he might avert the calamity. Respecting his intercession, consider -

I. ON WHOSE BEHALF IT WAS MADE. Chiefly, doubtless, on behalf of Saul, though not without regard to the nation, on which his rejection seemed likely to produce a disastrous effect. Intercession should be made for individuals as well as communities. "Satan hath desired to have you," said he who is the perfect example of intercessory prayer, "but I have prayed for thee" (Luke 22:32). There were many things in Saul calculated to call it forth.

1. His good qualities, exalted position, and intimate relationship to the prophet.

2. His grievous sin (vers. 11, 19, 23), exceeding his previous transgressions.

3. His great danger - falling from his high dignity, failing to accomplish the purpose of his appointment, losing the favour and help of Jehovah, and sinking into confirmed rebellion and complete ruin. "It repenteth me that I have made Saul king; for he is turned back from following me" (vers. 11, 35). When a change takes place in the conduct of man toward God, as from obedience to disobedience, it necessitates a change of God's dealings toward him (otherwise he would not be unchangeably holy), and this "change of his dispensation" or economy (Theodoret) is called his repentance. It is not, however, the same in all respects as repentance in men. No change in him can arise, as in them, from unforeseen events or more perfect knowledge, seeing that "his understanding is infinite;" yet, on the other hand, as in their repentance there is sorrow, so also in his - sorrow over those who turn from him, oppose his gracious purposes, and bring misery upon themselves (Genesis 6:6; Judges 10:16); and of this Divine sorrow the tears and agonies of Christ are the most affecting revelation.

II. IN WHAT SPIRIT IT WAS MADE.

1. Holy anger against sin, and against the sinner in so far as he has yielded himself to its power, arising from sympathy with God and zeal for his honour (Psalm 119:126, 136, 158).

2. Deep sorrow over the sinner, in his essential personality, his loss and ruin; not unmingled with disappointment at the failure of the hopes entertained concerning him. Sorrow over sinners is a proof of love to them.

3. Intense desire for the sinner's repentance, forgiveness, and salvation. "And he cried unto the Lord all night" with a loud and piercing cry, and in prolonged entreaty. The old home at Ramah, which had been sanctified by parental prayers and his own incessant supplications, never witnessed greater fervour. Wonderful was the spirit of intercession which he possessed. Well might the Psalmist, in calling upon men to worship the Lord, single him out as pre-eminent among them that "call upon his name" (Psalm 99:6). But still more wonderful was the spirit which was displayed by the great Intercessor, who often spent the night in prayer, and whose whole life was a continued act of intercession, closing with the cry, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Would that more of the same spirit were possessed by all his disciples!

"We are told
How much the prayers of righteous men avail;
And yet 'tis strange how very few believe
These blessed words, or act as were they true."

III. TO WHAT EXTENT IT AVAILED.

1. Not to the full extent he desired. Saul did not repent, neither was he exempted from the sentence of rejection. The relation of the sovereignty of God to the will of men is inexplicable. How far the Almighty may, by special and extraordinary grace, subdue its opposition we cannot tell. But he has conditioned the general exercise of his power by the gift of freedom and responsibility, he does not destroy or recall the gift; and the power of human resistance to the Divine will is a fearful endowment. There are stages of human guilt which would be followed by the wrath of God "though Moses and Samuel stood before him" (Jeremiah 15:1). "There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he shall pray for it" (1 John 5:16). "The sin, namely, of a wilful, obstinate, Heaven daring opposition to the ways of God and the demands of righteousness, and which, under a dispensation of grace, can usually belong only to such as have grieved the Spirit of God till he has finally left them - a sin, therefore, which lies beyond the province of forgiveness" (Fairbairn, 'Typology,' 2:341).

2. Yet, doubtless, to obtain many benefits for the transgressor, in affording him space for repentance and motives to it. Who shall say how many blessings came upon Saul in answer to Samuel's intercession for him?

3. And to calm the soul of him who prays, to make known the will of God to him more clearly, to bring him into more perfect acquiescence with it, and to strengthen him for the duty that lies before him. "And he arose early to meet Saul in the morning" (ver. 12).

1. How great is the privilege and honour of intercessory prayer.

2. Since we know not who are beyond the reach of Divine grace, we should never cease to intercede for any.

3. If intercession does not avail to obtain all that it seeks, it does not fail to obtain invaluable blessings. - D.







I am with thee.
Jonathan was a brave and generous leader of men. In the picture we are to study we see Jonathan, tired of inaction, and longing to be against the enemy, suddenly determine to do a little skirmishing on his own account; and yet there was a profoundly religious spirit controlling the impulse which led him to make the attempt. Jonathan devoutly believed that God was able to work by the few as well as by the many. He made known his purpose to his armour bearer and no doubt awaited with interest the attitude which that young man would take in the matter. Then the armour bearer replied with a warm-hearted enthusiasm and fidelity that must have made Jonathan's generous blood tingle, "Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart." Who could not win victories backed by such armour bearers as that? Go back through history and you will see that the men who have done the greatest work in the world are the men who have been backed by faithful helpers with staunch and loyal hearts. Moses was chosen to lead Israel out of Egypt, but God gave him Miriam and Aaron for armour bearers. Joshua became the great soldier and leader of his nation, but what a splendid armour bearer he had in Caleb. Daniel stands out gloriously against the dark background of wicked Babylon, but the three brave Hebrew boys that went into the fiery furnace rather than betray their faith in God were worthy armour bearers to such a leader. Paul shines forth from Ephesus, and Rome, and Athens, and Corinth as the great leader and evangelist, but who can ever tell how much Silas, and Barnabas, and Timothy meant to the great apostle as armour bearers to encourage and sustain him? Of course God works through leaders. I do not wish for one moment, to shirk my own responsibility or my own duty with reference to a revival. But feeling in this way, I also feel just as certainly that I cannot win in this church and in this city many souls to Christ, unless the men and women of this church shall be loyal and faithful armour bearers. There are many ways in which the individual members of a church may be helpful armour bearers to. the pastor in a time like this.

1. The first is in their attitude to God and to their fellow Christians in relation to the meetings. Sincere and earnest prayer which takes possession of the heart and life must help to sustain the pastor in leading a campaign for the saving of souls. Do you think that Peter could have won that victory on the day of Pentecost if the hundred and twenty had been going about criticising him; or bad been making outside engagemants to take away their interest from the meeting. So both your attitude to God and your attitude toward your fellow church members are of the most serious importance. Revivals never come easily. A revival of religion is campaign waged against the world, and the flesh, and the devil. Every liquor saloon in this country is dead set against a revival of religion. Not only are these against it, but the greed for money, and the love of ease and self-indulgence, in church members as well as in outsiders, ere all against a revival of religion. Hence a real, genuine revival of religion always comes hard.

2. If you are to be a real armour bearer you, too, must handle the sword of the Spirit; you must not wait for the pastor to hunt out individuals one by one and win them to Christ. You must be faithful in your own place and with self-denial and earnestness seek to win souls yourself. There are many souls who are waiting for but a touch of influence from the outside to turn the balances on the side of righteousness. And what joy it would bring to you if you were to thus feel yourself a real armour bearer in Christ's work. It seems terrible, when the human heart is capable of such marvellous things in the way of loyalty, and zeal, and enthusiasm, that we who profess the name of Jesus Christ, and have been redeemed by His precious blood, should be so lacking here. What glorious deeds have been done through the chivalric earnestness of human souls!

(L. A. Banks, D. D.)

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