1 – “And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”” (1 Samuel 15:20-21, ESV)
RAF: Like Eve in Eden thinking it was better to add that the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil shouldn’t be touched either, so here, they thought they could do one better than just following what God commanded. Whether it be subtracting or adding to what God says, either makes us God. And He will not stand for it. Many believe it is good and right to add works in salvation, that it is noble and higher than simply believing God to be justified. But in the end, it isn’t what He commanded. We cannot make His Word better.
2 – “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22, ESV)
RAF: God would rather be listened to, obeyed, have His desires cherished, than receive sacrifices He never asked for.
3 – “Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.” (1 Samuel 15:34-35, ESV)
RAF: This is not to be thought of as the regret of men when we make a mistake. God cannot err. And Saul is in fact doing the very things God said he would do. It is rather expressive of how God does not delight in the punishing of men’s sins. He grieves over the fallenness of His image-bearers. There is nothing perverse in Him that would take glee in His prophecy of the evil a King would do coming to pass. He is full of compassion over His people and pained at the performance of our sin, and the loss of our failures.
4 – “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV)
RAF: Oh how we labor to be seen and thought of certain ways by men – when all the while He is examining, observing our hearts. It is His gaze alone that ought to be considered in our decisions. How this would keep us from secret sins.
5 – ” Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him.” (1 Samuel 16:14, ESV)
RAF: The text does not require that this imply moral evil on the part of this spirit – but merely that in however it was engaged by God in regards to Saul, it brought discomfort and hardship upon him.
6 – “He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.” (1 Samuel 17:8-11, ESV)
RAF: What a glory that Christ is our champion. That He endeavored to face the enemy of our souls, a giant before whom Adam had already fallen, and who had terrorized us all. But He is the One who fought for us. He went into the fray to liberate us. He went before us. Though He looked meek and mild, lowly and not like a soldier at all. Nailed to the Cross we even thought Him defeated. But He had won the day. He has conquered not only sin, but the death it brings. He has won our lives – forever. He is our Lord and King. We will serve Him for He rescued us from the bondage of our guilt and shame and weakness. He overcame the World, the Flesh and the Devil.
7 – “And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”” (1 Samuel 17:26, ESV)
RAF: David is dumbfounded. Why in the world should there be some special favors shown to one who only does what is right and fitting and ought to be done? But don’t we assume God “owes” us favors when we are obedient to His Word – which is only what is right and fitting and ought to be done? See: Luke 17:10.
8 – “Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”” (1 Samuel 17:28, ESV)
RAF: We are masters of imagining we know the motives of other’s hearts. This is a very great evil. Oh Lord, deliver me from it.
9 – “And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”” (1 Samuel 17:37, ESV)
RAF: This is how we do battle with those sins we have no natural ability to conquer. We trust in the strength of the Lord. He delivered us from the bondage of Satan and brought us into His kingdom. Won’t He deliver us in these things too? Faith.
10 – “Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:40, ESV)
RAF: 2 Samuel 21 will tell us that Goliath had four brothers. Is it possible David took 5 stones with the thought he might go after the rest? Who knows? But I do know our Champion is more than ready to meet all the hosts of Hell on our behalf.
11 – “And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.” (1 Samuel 17:43, ESV)
RAF: Woe to any who imagine that the staff of the Great Shepherd does not wield more authority than any royal scepter, and more power than any rod of iron. The Shepherd of our souls will vanquish any and every foe in the zeal of His love for and protection of His own beloved flock.
12 – “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45, ESV)
RAF: Brute power is absolutely nothing compared with Divine authority. When Christ commissioned us to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth – it was in light of the fact that all AUTHORITY had been given to Him, in Heaven and on earth. That is the strength in which we go. See: Matthew 28:18
13 – “and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”” (1 Samuel 17:47, ESV)
RAF: Christians, especially in America, need to remember that it is not the courts or the politicos who will be our deliverance – it must be the Lord. If we are putting our trust in politics, politicians or the Supreme Court, we will soon find they are utterly useless in spiritual matters. The One we must look to, wait upon and trust – is our Lord and God Jesus Christ. Change men’s hearts by the power of the Gospel, and you won’t need to change the laws of the land.
14 – “So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.” (1 Samuel 17:50, ESV)
RAF: So Christ prevailed over Satan, death and Hell with the cross. There was no sword in the hand of our King.
15 – “Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” (1 Samuel 18:3-4, ESV)
RAF: What honor Christ bestows upon us, to clothe us in His own righteousness.
16 – “Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy continually.” (1 Samuel 18:29, ESV)
RAF: Just because you are God’s man in God’s place doing God’s will does not mean you will not have enemies. Even from those who do not have the slightest reason to be so.
17 – “And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.” (1 Samuel 22:2, ESV)
RAF: What a picture of the Church. And what qualifies us to be allied with our King? Distress of soul. Poverty of spirit. Bitterness from the ravages of sin. A poor army indeed, but brought to serve the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord’s.
18 – “And when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord taking vengeance himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”” (1 Samuel 25:30-31, ESV)
RAF: Blessed are those who restrain our foolishness, and do so with an eye toward sparing our consciences from what will torment them later. I have never regretted any sin I didn’t commit. But burn in regret at many I did.