Old Testament Lesson 25 (1 Samuel 8 -10; 13; 15-18)
June 12–18

KING SAUL

Israel Demands a King

1 Samuel 8:1–7, 20   The children of Israel rejected Samuel as their judge because of his unrighteous sons, just as they had done with Eli.

— The people wanted to be “like all the nations” (v. 5).

— President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“‘Give us a king’ cried the children of Israel when they had seen the glory of the surrounding kingdoms. From Moses and Joshua through about three centuries they had been led by the less colorful judges. There was an absence of glory and pageantry, and then the people led by their elders demanded ‘Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.’ (1 Samuel 8).  . . .  And Samuel called the people together and explained to them that the people of the Lord should be different with higher standards. ‘We want to be like other peoples’ they demanded. ‘We do not want to be different’ . . .  [1 Samuel 8:11–18]

“Not so different are we today! We want the glamor and frothiness of the world, not always realizing the penalties of our folly. . . .  We cannot stand to be different! . . . The Lord says he will have a peculiar people but we do not wish to be peculiar. . . .

“When, oh when, will our Latter-day Saints stand firm on their own feet, establish their own standards, follow proper patterns and live their own glorious lives in accordance with Gospel inspired patterns, aping no one who has not a better program! Certainly good times and happy lives and clean fun are not dependent upon the glamorous, the pompous, the extremes.”
(endnote: 1)

1 Samuel 8:9–18   Samuel warned Israel about kings. Sometimes we exchange things of great value for things of lesser value (vv. 11–17). Consider what Eli and his sons gave up because of their choices. Also consider what the Israelites were giving up because of their demand for a king. Sometimes we also give up things of great value for things of lesser value.

●  1 Samuel 12:12, 19–22   Israel was supposed to regard Jehovah as their only king (v. 12). Nevertheless, the Israelites still demanded a king, and the Lord instructed Samuel to appoint one for them (vv. 19–22).

“WHOM THE LORD CALLS, THE LORD QUALIFIES”

President Thomas S. Monson explained how the Lord sustains those whom He calls into His service:

“Some of you may be shy by nature or consider yourselves inadequate to respond affirmatively to a calling. Remember that this work is not yours and mine alone. It is the Lord’s work, and when we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. Remember that whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.”
(endnote: 2)

President Monson then told the following story:

“Should we feel [an] assignment too arduous or time-consuming, let me share with you the experience of a faithful home teacher and his companion in what was then East Germany.

“Brother Johann Denndorfer had been converted to the Church in Germany, and following World War II he found himself virtually a prisoner in his own land— the land of Hungary in the city of Debrecen. How he wanted to visit the temple! How he desired to receive his spiritual blessings! Request after request to journey to the temple in Switzerland had been denied, and he almost despaired. Then his home teacher visited. Brother Walter Krause went from the northeastern portion of Germany all the way to Hungary. He had said to his home teaching companion, ‘Would you like to go home teaching with me this week?’

“His companion said, ‘When will we leave?’ “‘Tomorrow,’ replied Brother Krause.

“‘When will we come back?’ asked the companion. “‘Oh, in about a week—if we get back then!’

“And away they went to visit Brother Denndorfer. He had not had home teachers since before the war. Now, when he saw the servants of the Lord, he was overwhelmed. He did not shake hands with them; rather, he went to his bedroom and took from a secret hiding place his tithing that he had saved from the day he became a member of the Church and returned to Hungary. He presented the tithing to his home teachers and said: ‘Now I am current with the Lord. Now I feel worthy to shake the hands of servants of the Lord!’

“Brother Krause asked him about his desire to attend the temple in Switzerland. Brother Denndorfer said: ‘It’s no use. I have tried and tried. The government has even confiscated my Church books, my greatest treasure.’

“Brother Krause, a patriarch, provided Brother Denndorfer with a patriarchal blessing. At the conclusion of the blessing, he said to Brother Denndorfer, ‘Approach the government again about going to Switzerland.’ And Brother Denndorfer submitted the request once again to the authorities. This time approval came, and with joy Brother Denndorfer went to the Swiss Temple and stayed a month. He received his own endowment, his deceased wife was sealed to him, and he was able to accomplish the work for hundreds of his ancestors. He returned to his home renewed in body and in spirit.”
(endnote: 3)

SAUL IS ANOINTED KING

●  1 Samuel 9:9–27   Samuel was called a seer.  This might suggest that he had access to the Urim and Thummim as the presiding prophet in Israel.

●  1 Samuel 9:1–17   Saul was appointed Israel’s first king.

●  1 Samuel 9:2   Saul was “a choice young man, . . . and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he.”  His good qualities included:

— He was diligent in his search for his father’s donkeys (1 Samuel 9:3–4).
— He was willing to listen to and follow the wise counsel of his father’s servant (1 Samuel 9:5–10).
— He trusted the prophet Samuel and communed with him (1 Samuel 9:18–25).
— He was humble (1 Samuel 9:20–21).
— He was spiritually reborn, and he prophesied (1 Samuel 10:6–10).
— He forgave his critics (1 Samuel 11:11–13).
— He recognized the help of the Lord in Israel’s victory over the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:13).

●  1 Samuel 10:1   The prophet Samuel anointed Saul to be “captain” as a reminder that the Lord was still king, and that kings received their callings from the Lord. Saul was later called the king of Israel.

●  “Anointing with oil was a symbol of endowment with the Spirit of God; as the oil itself, by virtue of the strength which it gives to the vital spirits, was a symbol of the Spirit of God . . . and spiritual power [Leviticus 8:12]. Hitherto there had been no other anointing among the people of God than that of the priests and [the] sanctuary. . . .  When Saul, therefore, was consecrated as king by anointing, the monarchy was inaugurated as a divine institution . . . and the king was set apart from the rest of the nation as ‘anointed of the Lord.'”
(endnote: 4)

●  1 Samuel 10:21–23   On the day of his presentation to the people, Saul hid himself and could not be found.

Saul’s Weaknesses Show

●  1 Samuel 13:7–8   Two years after Saul was anointed king, the Philistines gathered a mighty army. Saul’s men were so afraid that many of them hid and scattered. Saul asked Samuel to offer sacrifices to the Lord in behalf of the people.

●  1 Samuel 13:9   When Samuel was delayed in coming, Saul offered the sacrifices himself even though he did not have the priesthood authority to do so.

●  1 Samuel 13:10–14   Samuel rebuked Saul for his presumptuous act, saying he was no longer “a man after [the Lord’s] own heart.”

●  1 Samuel 13:19–21   There was “no smith” in Israel, meaning that at this time the Israelites did not know how to work with iron. The Philistines guarded the secret carefully to maintain superiority in weapons over the softer brass weapons of the Israelites. And even these weapons—the share, coulter, axe, mattock, and goad—had to be taken to the Philistines for sharpening.

●  1 Samuel 14:15   The “spoilers” among the Philistines were assigned to go out and destroy crops, homes, barns, cattle, and so forth. Their prime purpose was not to take human life, but to make living difficult for the civilian population.

Saul Is Rejected by the Lord as Israel’s King

●  1 Samuel 14:43–45   Saul’s attitude when he was rebuked by Samuel was unrepentant, and he sought to justify himself, nor did he repent later. He saw himself, rather than God, as the source of law.

● Spencer W. Kimball said he following about rationalizing sin:

“Saul rationalized. It was easy for him to obey as to the disposition of the kings, for what use were conquered kings? But why not keep the fat sheep and cattle? Was not his royal judgment superior to that of lowly Samuel? . . .

“How like Saul are many in Israel today. One will live some of the Lord’s revelation on health except that he must have his occasional cup of coffee; she will not use tobacco nor liquor for which she has no yearning anyway but must have the comforting cup of tea.

“He will serve in a Church position, for here is activity which he likes and honor which he craves, . . . but rationalization is easy as to tithe paying which he finds so difficult. He cannot afford it. . . . He is not sure it is always distributed as he would have it done, and who knows anyway of his failure?

“Another will attend some meetings but Saul-like rationalize as to the rest of the day. Why should he not see a ball game, a show, do his necessary yard work, or carry on business as usual?

“Another would religiously attend his outward Church duties but resist any suggestions as to family frictions in his home or family prayers when the family is so hard to assemble.

“Saul was like that. He could do the expedient things but could find alibis as to the things which countered his own desires.”
(endnote: 5)

●  1 Samuel 15   Obedience is better than sacrifice. Saul had been very disobedient:

— The Lord had commanded Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites and to take no spoils for themselves (vv. 1–3).
— Saul brought back the best of the animals (vv. 4–9).
— He followed his own judgment rather than doing the Lord’s will (v. 11).
— Saul blamed his people for wanting to save the animals (vv. 15, 21).
— He also excused himself by saying he kept the animals so he could make a sacrifice unto the Lord (vv. 13–15, 20–21).

●  1 Samuel 15:19–23   Saul was rejected by the Lord as king.  Saul had become puffed up with pride and was disobedient, rebellious, and stubborn. Honor from people was more important to him than honor from God.

— Obedience is the first law of heaven, and is greater than sacrifice (v. 22).
— Samuel said, “Stubbornness is as . . . idolatry” (v. 23).  Anything we put before the Lord becomes our substitute “god.”

●  1 Samuel 15:24–28   Saul’s repentance was too little and too late.  God had rejected him as king.

THE RISE OF DAVID

David Is Anointed to Become King

1 Samuel 16:1–13   David was anointed King of Israel while Saul was still sitting upon the throne.   He did not immediately become king; he was anointed to become a king at some future time.

●  1 Samuel 16: 6–7   The Lord “looketh upon the heart” when judging his children.

● Elder Marvin J. Ashton said: “We . . . tend to evaluate others on the basis of physical, outward appearance: their ‘good looks,’ their social status, their family pedigrees, their degrees, or their economic situations. The Lord, however, has a different standard by which he measures a person. . . .  He does not take a tape measure around the person’s head to determine his mental capacity, nor his chest to determine his manliness, but He measures the heart as an indicator of the person’s capacity and potential to bless others.”
(endnote: 6)

● Elder N. Eldon Tanner said:

“By referring to Samuel’s experience while choosing a king, we may get a better understanding of the fact that man is not qualified to judge. The Lord had rejected Saul as king of Israel and instructed the prophet Samuel to choose a new king. He told him to go to the house of Jesse, who had eight sons, and that while there the anointed one would pass before him and Samuel would know who was to be chosen.

“When the first son, Eliab, came before him, Samuel thought he was the chosen one, but the Lord refused him and then gave the prophet Samuel the key as to how to judge: ‘Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.’ (1 Sam. 16:7). Each of the seven sons then passed before Samuel and was rejected. Then David, the youngest, was sent for and was approved by the Lord.

“The reason, therefore, that we cannot judge is obvious. We cannot see what is in the heart. We do not know motives, although we impute motives to every action we see. They may be pure while we think they are improper.

“It is not possible to judge another fairly unless you know his desires, his faith, and his goals . . .  At best, man can judge only what he sees; he cannot judge the heart or the intention, or begin to judge the potential of his neighbor.”
(endnote: 7)

David Serves King Saul

●  1 Samuel 16:14–23   Because Saul had been disobedient, the Spirit of the Lord departed from him. Increasingly, Saul failed to find peace with himself until at last he became a miserable, guilt-ridden man. He sought a musician to soothe his depression.

— Evil spirits are not sent by God, nor does God give revelations through the evil spirits which sometimes trouble men (v. 14). He cast these evil spirits out of heaven long ago for their rebellion against him.

— The Joseph Smith Translation corrects this passage to say, “An evil spirit which was not of the Lord troubled him” (JST 1 Samuel 16:14).

David’s Character

●  1 Samuel 16:18   David was recommended for both his music and his valor. He also became Saul’s armor bearer.

● David was also an artist of deep sensitivity (Psalms).

— His music was both soothing and exhilarating.
— His prophecies of Christ were accurate and beautiful.
— Psalms is quoted in the New Testament more than any other book.

David Slays Goliath

●  1 Samuel 17:1–3   Saul’s army battled the Philistines in the valley of Elah—one of the numerous valleys or wadis descending from the hill country of Judah toward the Mediterranean Sea. This particular battle occurred near Azekah almost directly west and a little south of Jerusalem.

●  1 Samuel 17:4   Although it seems peculiar to us today, in ancient times it was not unusual for opposing armies, which were generally quite small, to select one representative from each side to fight a personal contest. The outcome of that contest determined the winner of the battle.

●   1 Samuel 17:4–11   The Philistines choose Goliath, who was 9 feet 9 inches tall. His armor weighed 150 pounds. His spearhead alone weighed 12–26 pounds.

●  1 Samuel 17:20–27   David showed his faith in Israel’s cause.

●  1 Samuel 17:31–27   David also showed his faith in the Lord. As a youth, David had slew both a lion and a bear, which prepared him to face Goliath.

— The same can be true for yourselves. As we face and overcome the challenges of our lives, we can develop the confidence, character, and faith to defeat our own Goliaths (1 Samuel 17:45; Ephesians 6:11-18).

— President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“There are Goliaths all around you, hulking giants with evil intent to destroy you. These are not nine-foot-tall men, but they are men and institutions that control attractive but evil things that may challenge and weaken and destroy you. Included in these are beer and other liquors and tobacco. Those who market these products would like to enslave you into their use. There are drugs of various kinds which, I am told, are relatively easy to obtain in many high schools. For those who peddle them, this is a multimillion-dollar industry, a giant web of evil. There is pornography, seductive and interesting and inviting. It has become a giant industry, producing magazines, films, and other materials designed to take your money and lead you toward activities that would destroy you.

“The giants who are behind these efforts are formidable and skillful. They have gained vast experience in the war they are carrying on. They would like to ensnare you.

“It is almost impossible to entirely avoid exposure to their products. You see these materials on all sides. But you need not fear if you have the slingshot of truth in your hands. You have been counseled and taught and advised. You have the stones of virtue and honor and integrity to use against these enemies who would like to conquer you. Insofar as you are concerned, you can hit them ‘between the eyes,’ to use a figurative expression. You can triumph over them by disciplining yourselves to avoid them. You can say to the whole lot of them as David said to Goliath, ‘Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.’

“Victory will be yours. . . . You have His power within you to sustain you. You have the right to ministering angels about you to protect you. Do not let Goliath frighten you. Stand your ground and hold your place, and you will be triumphant.”
(endnote: 8)

●  1 Samuel 17: 38–44   Saul chose David and Goliath mocked him.

●  1 Samuel 17: 45–47   David’s response to Goliath.

●  1 Samuel 17: 48–51   David slew and beheaded Goliath.

DAVID VS. SAUL

David and Jonathan

David quickly became a hero after he killed Goliath. King Saul and the entire kingdom honored him. However, none was as true to David as was Jonathan, Saul’s son.

●  1 Samuel 18: 1–4   David and Jonathan made a covenant of friendship.

—As Saul’s son, Jonathan was next in line to be king. However, the prophet Samuel had anointed David to become the next king, and Jonathan had absolutely no jealousy of him.

—Notice that in this case we see a wonderfully righteous son (Jonathan) coming from a terribly wicked father (Saul)—just the opposite of what happened in the case of Samuel’s sons.

Saul’s Growing Hatred

●  1 Samuel 18:5–7   After David slew Goliath, Saul took him into his home and set him over his armies. David was honored by the Israelites for his success in battle, but David showed absolute loyalty to King Saul.

●  1 Samuel 18:6–11  Saaul became jealous of the acclaim people gave to David, and sought to kill him with a javelin. Note that the Joseph Smith Translation of 1 Samuel 18:10 indicates that the evil spirit that came upon Saul was not from God.

President Ezra Taft Benson said:

“Saul became an enemy to David through pride. He was jealous because the crowds of Israelite women were singing that ‘saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’ (1 Samuel 18:6–8).

“The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgment than of God’s judgment. . . . ‘What will men think of me?’ weighs heavier than ‘What will God think of me?’ . . .   Fear of men’s judgment manifests itself in competition for men’s approval. The proud love ‘the praise of men more than the praise of God’ (John 12:42–43) . . .  Would we not do well to have the pleasing of God as our motive rather than to try to elevate ourselves above our brother and outdo another?

“Some prideful people are not so concerned as to whether their wages meet their needs as they are that their wages are more than someone else’s. Their reward is being a cut above the rest . . .  When pride has a hold on our hearts, we lose our independence of the world and deliver our freedoms to the bondage of men’s judgment. The world shouts louder than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. The reasoning of men overrides the revelations of God, and the proud let go of the iron rod.”
(endnote: 9)

●  1 Samuel 18:14–16  David “behaved wisely” after the Lord blessed him with success in battle.

●  1 Samuel 18:20–25   Saul offered to let David marry one of his daughters (Michal) if David would fight the Philistines. His real motive was a hope that David would be killed.

●  1 Samuel 18:26–28   David triumphed over the Philistines and married Saul’s daughter Michal.

FOOTNOTES

1: Church News, 15 Oct. 1960, 14.

2: In Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 62; or Ensign, May 1996, 44.

3: In Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 64–65; or Ensign, May 1996, 45-46.

4: Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 10 vols. [1996], 2:2:95.

5: In Conference Report, Oct. 1954, 51.

6: In Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 17; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 15.

7: “Judge Not That Ye Be Not Judged,” Ensign, July 1972, 35.

8: In Conference Report, Apr. 1983, 66; or Ensign, May 1983, 46, 51.

9: In Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 4–5; or Ensign, May 1989, 5.

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