Last Updated on : November 23, 2014
Who Is Your King?
Whom Do You Serve?
By J.B. Scaramastro
Chapters seven and eight of the first book of Samuel brings us to a very interesting turning point in the history of Israel. Even though it is a significant period in the history of Israel it is typical of them from their beginnings as the Kingdom of God up until the present times. Their actions and what they thought provide much food for thought for those of us who "the lord when he cometh shall find watching..." Luke 12:37. For these reasons the consideration of the events contained in these two chapters is important to each and everyone of us. Let us start by considering 1 Sam. 8:1-5.
The name Joel, which in the Hebrew is Yahel, means, "Yahweh is strength", or more literally "He who will be powerful." The name Abiah, which is Abiyah in the Hebrew, means father, that is, worshipper of Yah. Through the names of his two sons Samuel was trying to teach the people the two aspects of faith brought out in Heb. 11:6 which says:
Samuel was teaching the people that Yahweh is all powerful and can and will accomplish the promises He has made (see Is. 55:10-13). Therefore, we can and must obey His commands and diligently seek and serve Him. Now notice where Samuel placed his two sons because he is continuing to teach the Israelites through them. He places them in Beer-sheba which means well of the oath (see margin of Gen. 26:33) in the Hebrew. What is he trying to teach the Israelites by placing them there? Well the answer is found in Genesis 26 because this chapter records the faith of Isaac in his successful strivings with the Philistines (see Gen. 26:13-16). Samuel is telling the Israelites that if they demonstrate the faith In Almighty God which Isaac had in his strivings with the Philistines and which he was teaching them about through the names of his two sons, that they could be just as successful in their strivings with the Philistiness
Unfortunately, his two sons were not true to their names and did not provide a much needed example.
Thus they not only provided a bad example which as judges would necessarily corrupt others but they broke the commandments of Almighty God as contained in the Law. (See Ex. 23:6,8 and Deut. 16:19)
The elders then take advantage of the situation that has been narrated in 1 Sam. 8:1-3, namely, the facts about Samuel's two sons and his old age, and they went to Samuel in Ramah and presented a demand which stemmed from wrong motives and desires. Look at 1 Sam. 8:4-5:
continuing verse 3 from the A.V.
Here we have somewhat of a successful spiritual revival accomplished by the efforts of Samuel. What he reminded them to do was follow the first three commandments as recorded in Exodus 20:1-7 and what the Lord Jesus Christ referred to as the first and greatest commandment of all which is found in Deut. 6:4-5. Having done this the Israelites could then partake of the salvation of Almighty God that took place in this chapter.
This spiritual revival did not take place overnight, but had been in the makings over the period of twenty years indicated in 1 Sam. 7:2. Samuel had begun his task when Israel was at a spiritual low. They were given over to idolatry, and those who were in charge of the true worship were desecrating and polluting it, namely Hophni and Phinehas -- Eli's two evil sons. The statement that "every man did what was right in his own eyes is an apt description of the conditions existing in Israel at this time. It was because of these conditions that Israel found themselves in bondage to the Philistines when Samuel comes on the scene to complete the work begun by Samson. Samson had demonstrated both the faith in Almighty God that was needed in order to defeat the enemies of Israel, and also the weakness that caused their failure. He had provided an excellent example of the necessity of cutting-off the lusts of the flesh, and the turning to, and the placing of faith in Yahweh. Israel failed to see this though, and therefore, remained in bondage to the Philistines.
This spiritual blindness and resulting lack of faith, unfortunately, was typical of their history. (see Is. 6:9,10; Jer. 5:20-21; Matt. 13:13-15). For example, they had been told to destroy the inhabitants of the land that was given to them by Almighty God. One of the places in which this commandment is given is in Deut. 7:1-5, 16. Notice how thorough this destruction is by the use of such phrases as "smite them," "utterly destroy," "make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them....," "thou shalt consume all the people....," "thine eye shall have no pity...," etc. The all knowing God knew that anything less could mean their own destruction. Putting it another way, He was telling them that "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." The Divine remedy and/or Divine preventative is,
This is what they were commanded to do and it is what we are commanded to do if we want to obtain a place in God's rest.
Now notice verse 17: "If thou shalt say in thine heart, these nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them?" The Omniscient God already knew before they got into the land exactly what would happen and proceeded to tell them of this and give them encouragement. Verses 18-26 provides this Divine encouragement which is based on a remembrance of what almighty God had done for them and what He would continue to do for them.
In Deut. 8 the Divine encouragement continues but with an added warning for God reminds them that it is He and not their own arm that will accomplish this and that if they forget almighty God and become disobedient then what was to happen to the nations they were to drive out would become their lot also. (See. Deut. 8:17-20).
In Deut. 9 God continues to drive home the reason why these nations are being destroyed and thus what the Israelites must avoid. In this chapter, He reminds them that it is not because of their righteousness that He is driving out the nations before them, but because of the wickedness of these nations. (See Deut. 9:3-6).
Along with these words of encouragement and admonition (and many others like them), the Israelites had all the visible signs of Almighty God's Presence in the miracles that he performed, and in the destruction of one king and his people after another under the leadership of Moses and Joshua. Yet even with all this mass of evidence of God being with them to guard, help and protect, we find the children of Joseph coming and saying the following to Joshua after the dividing up of the land to the 9-1/2 tribes West of the Jordan (please remember the fact that Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim (see Num 13:8,16) and that they would be playing on his sympathies due to natural descent.) (The incident that is being referred to is found in Joshua 17:14-18):
"...I am a great people..." Oh what pride! They yet had to learn the meanings of Prov. 11:2 and 16:18. This statement demonstrates their lack of faith in Almighty God, who they acknowledged had blessed them, and where they did place their faith, namely in their own arm. But Joshua does not give in to their total lack of faith, but takes ahold of their very own words and cuts off their request and cuts down their pride. Look at what he says: "and Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for theyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee."
Again they complain to Joseph even more emphatic and faithless than before -- really revealing that they placed no faith in Almighty God but in the arm of flesh which was definitely balanced in favor of the Canaanites. See what they say: "And the children of Joseph said, the hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns and they who are of the valley of Jezreel."
Again, Joshua does not give in to their pleadings, but completely and decisively places the problem back into its proper perspective. He says:
The power that had made one king and his people after another fall to Israel under the leadership of Joshua!
What could possibly stop them!! WHAT COULD??? Could the Canaanites with their powerful armies and iron chariots stop them? Certainly not! They had Almighty God, Yahweh of Armies, on their side who in Ps. 2:1-9 and Ps. 37:7-15 tells all men everywhere exactly what He thinks of even their strongest efforts to oppose Him. These quotations concern the opposition of the setting up of His kingdom on this earth by rebellious mankind. Now these nations are equipped with nuclear weapons not just iron chariots and what is the divine commentary on even this show of might against Him:
Therefore, what could possibly stop the Israelites? Only their total lack of faith! Only themselves!
It was the case then and it is the case now. Look at what the apostle Paul says in his letter to the Romans chapter eight verses 28-39: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." This is a positive declaration that no matter what happens, whether it appears to be bad or good, it is for the ultimate good of those "that love God" and "are called according to his purpose." (It is for their ultimate good as long as they obey God's commandments and continue faithful until the end. See John 14:23-24 and 2 John 6). This plan or purpose of God is then set out in verses 29-30. Notice that there are five parts to this plan which is the number of mercy and grace. It is the number that filled the measurements of the tabernacle. Then after declaring that everything is for the ultimate good of those who love God and are the called according to His purpose, and that there was and is a Divine plan in which God has been taking out of the nations "a people for his name." (Acts 15:14) Paul then declares in verse 31 that knowing these facts we are assured of success because God is on our side. (See Ps. 118:6, Jer. 29:11, Heb. 13:6)
Paul continues in verse 32 by saying that God is so interested in the salvation of His people that He "spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all" (See John 3:16) This fact shows that He is willing to give us anything that is for our benefit in obtaining our salvation. (See 1 Cor. 3:21-23)
Paul then shows in verses 33-34 through the use of a series of questions and answers that once God has declared someone righteous His decision can not be changed, and that there is no individual that can accuse us or bring a charge against us because if he even dared we have "Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
Paul thus having shown that both God and the Lord Jesus Christ is on our side as long as we obey their commands and continue faithful continues his reasoning by posing the question whether anything or anyone could separate us from the love of Christ. This he does in verse 35 and the things he considers there are reminiscent of what he himself endured (See 2 Cor. 11:23-28 and 6:4-10). When verse 28 is kept in view these things cannot separate us. In verse 36, Paul cites Ps. 44:22 confidently declaring the fact that these things cannot separate us from the love of Christ because we suffer them for his sake. Paul's emphatic conclusion is: "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Notice that "we are MORE than conquerors" not just "conquerors." Paul is telling us that we are not only victors over these trials and tribulations but if they are kept in the proper perspective they can develop in us the type of character which God approves. (See. Rom. 5:1-5).
Then, Paul, in verses 38-39, lists all possible forms of separation which he confidently affirms cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Look at verses 38-39:
STOP THERE! Paul has left only one thing out of his list, namely, you yourself. Nothing and no one "Shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" except you yourself. This is exactly what Isaiah was telling the Israelites or Christadelphians of his time. He says in Isaiah 59:1-2:
This can be our problem as it was most certainly the problem of the Israelites in the time period we are considering. It is urgent that we avoid placing ourselves in this situation though, because it could be our destruction
Remember the Lord Jesus Christ put forth a very searching question that relates to the time in which we live. He said in Luke 18:8, "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" So let us examine ourselves and determine where we stand before it is too late. After all, that is what we are directed to do, particularly at this time, by the Spirit of almighty God in Paul when he wrote in 1 Cor. 11:28, "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." It is also contained in the directive of the Lord Jesus Christ to the ecclesia of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22. Let us look at what he has to say to the ecclesia of Laodicea keeping in mind that each of the seven ecclesias addressed represent a different time period in the development of the ecclesia of Christ and therefore the Laodicean ecclesia represents the ecclesia prior to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven or during the last days. The Lord Jesus Christ begins in verse 14 as follows:
The Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning of that creation which we want to be part of He is "the firstfruits of them that slept." (See 1 Cor. 15:20-23) By being the first to obtain eternal life and through whom others can obtain eternal life he is the beginning of the creation of God referred to not only here but in other places such as Col. 1:15-18.
Now notice what he says to those of Laodicea: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot." These people were hypocrites. They professed to be his servants but did not put that profession into action. This type of person is very dangerous to the well being of the ecclesia because laziness can not only be contagious but it can make the lightstand go out. Almighty God wants all of you not part of you. He wants complete self-sacrificing, humble and obedient service not half-service or service of self. Remember what he commanded the Israelites in Deut. 6:4-5:
Christ's judgment on this type of a person is recorded in verse 16:
What was specifically wrong with these brethren is contained in verse 17:
These Christadelphians or brothers of Christ thought that they were spiritually rich (as well as possibly materially) and well-off, and unfortunately did not realize they were spiritually destitute and anemic. They are the typical brother and sister you meet so often who state that they devote so much time to the service of the Lord. Why they spend twenty minutes a night reading the Word of God, and they attend the mid-week Bible class occasionally, and they attend the Sunday morning services every week.
"Well! What else do you do brother? Do you watch television every night?" "Oh yes! I spend only two or three hours at that a day though. Except on week-ends, of course, when they have so many sports activities one right after the other that is so wholesome to watch. Why! you hardly have time to get home on Sundays before the games have started!" "Very interesting brother! What else do you do?" "Well, I occasionally take in a good movie or two." "That is very interesting also brother especially seeing you referred to them as good movies, I really didn't know there were any that fit this category having noticed their titles in the papers. What else do you do brother?" "Well, the family and I like to attend the various social functions, neighborhood parties and such like. As a matter-of-fact they refer to me as the neighborhood-good-Joe. They really like my ability to entertain. You know how it is! A little fun never hurt anyone. You have to be a well-rounded individual:" "Oh, really brother! You must not be aware of such passages as Eph. 5:11-16 which says
or freeing the time. Freeing it from what? Freeing it from the ways of the world,
and giving it to God. As John continues on to say in the passage just quoted:
These very same ideas are aptly put forth by Paul in 2 Cor. 6:14-18 to the ecclesia at Corinth.
Thus our separation from the world must be total.
Your natural inclinations are to serve the flesh and not God, so that if you even give in part way you are finished. (See Prov. 4:14-16). Therefore, it is important to put off the desires of the flesh immediately and totally.
The inclinations of the flesh or the propensities of the flesh, which are referred to as sin's flesh or flesh of sin, or sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3) or sin that dwelleth in me (Rom. 7:17,20), are just those natural desires of the body with which you are born (Rom. 7:23). When you are born you have a need of the following:
1. Food and drink
2. Love and attention
All three of these desires can turn into sin if uncontrolled. If the desire for food and drink is uncontrolled the result is a glutton and or a drunkard. If the desire for love and attention is uncontrolled the result is promiscuity and all forms of perversion. If the desire for shelter is uncontrolled we have materialism in its various shapes and forms. Where does the needed control come from? It comes from only one source--THE WORD OF GOD (Ps. 119:105; 19:7-11; Prov. 6:23; 2 Tim. 3:14-17.). It is the only thing that abides forever therefore if we want to abide forever we must be filled with it. (See John 6:63). It is like an altar because it sanctifies (See John 17:17 and Ex. 29:37), and as nothing unclean was placed on that altar we must likewise cut-off the ways of the flesh and world in order to truly understand it. These ideas are brought out in Rom. 8:3-18.
It is for these reasons that the Lord Jesus Christ gives the ecclesia of Laodicea very good advice. Look at Rev. 3:18 --
In other words, he was telling them to become faithful, (See 1 Pet. 1:7) and spiritually rich (See Matt. 13:44-46 and Matt. 6:19-21) and righteously clothed (Rev. 19:8) and spiritually perceiving (Matt. 6:22-23, Matt. 15:14, John 9:41). This passage is reminiscent of that in Isaiah 55:1-2:
This is good advice for each and everyone of us to consider and do. If we do consider this advice and apply it to our lives then listen to what Christ has to say:
Notice that he says that he is at the door knocking but you cannot hear that knocking unless you are spiritually attuned to it, which can only come from a concentrated study and meditating upon the Word of God. (See Luke 12:35-36; 13:25-28).
If we can follow these directives through, then by the grace of Almighty God we will hear the words
Yes, the Israelites had Great Power on their side but failed to recognize it and consequently they fell victims to the flesh. They lost their faith in Almighty God and did not drive out and destroy the inhabitants of the land God had given them. Therefore,what Almighty God had told them in Num. 33:53-55 and what Joshua had reminded them of in Joshua 23:11-13 came to pass. Many other words of warning and encouragement were given by both Moses and Joshua. The last recorded words of Joshua in the 23rd and 24th chapters of the book bearing his name are just filled with them. In these chapters he constantly reminds them who their king is and who they must serve and obey If they did not want the cursings of the law to come upon them. For example look at Joshua 23:3-6 and 24:14-15. Then in verses 16-18 of Joshua 24 they acknowledge God as their king. In order to determine that they are acknowledging God as their king by their statements look at Exodus 19:5-6 and Psalms 114:1-2. Unfortunately their desire to serve Yahweh as expressed in the twenty-fourth chapter of Joshua did not continue for we read in Joshua 24:31,
As a result of this we have the stage set for what occurs in the book of Judges. We open up in the book of Judges with the fact that Israel did not carry out what God commanded them and in chapter two we have the verdict of Almighty God. (See Judges 2:l-3). Then in Judges 17:6, and 21:25, we have the divine commentary on this period in the history of Israel which says,
This is the sad situation that Samuel had to correct in order to bring the salvation of Almighty God to Israel. But let us consider this verse a little bit more. It is obvious that during this period there was no Israelite ruling over Israel. Therefore, we can look for a deeper significance than this as the meaning of the verse. Especially seeing that it is connected with their spiritual decadence.
There truly was a king in Israel, but they did not recognize Him as such. Their king was the Almighty God, as already indicated, whose word they failed to obey, who they had failed to acknowledge, and for which they found themselves in bondage. This is the reason why they came and asked Samuel for a king like all the heathen, which was a fulfillment of another prophecy in Deut. 17:14. It also is not the first time that they failed to recognize their God-king. Look at Judges 8:22-23 where Gideon must remind them of this fact. This was their tendency all the way down to the time of Christ when Pontius Pilate's last efforts to seek the Lord Jesus Christ's release were blocked with the cry, "we have no king but Caesar." (John 19:15). This rebelliousness has continued right down to the present where they have claimed that the nation of Israel is in existence by their own strength.
The answer of God to Samuel in 1 Samuel 6:8-9 is certainly revealing. This is indicative of their attitude all the way up to the present time.
It was this continuous rebelliousness that finally destroyed them from off the land of Israel. They depended on the flesh, on the strength of Egypt, or Assyria, or in Caesar, and Almighty God gave them exactly what they wanted.
Again the questions are posed: Who is your king? Whom do you serve? Remember what Paul says in Rom.15:4 and 1 Cor. 10:6-12.
It is obvious then that we can fall victims to the same type of reasoning and state of mind and way of life. Therefore, let us
"earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints," (Jude3)
For it will not be long before we hear the words of Isaiah 26:20-21 (which if you read the context, it occurs at the time of the resurrection):
May we all be able to pray with John, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." (Rev.20:20).