Don’t be a phony or a conformer – represent God correctly by obeying His commands.

Don’t become arrogant like King Saul and lose the kingdom.


Royal Obedience

1 Samuel 1-15

The key idea today is “distortion.” The dictionary defines distortion as: “To twist something out of its original shape.” That is what I did with my face with an app on my iPad. I can do the same for you. Doing this with someone’s face is funny, distorting the Word of God is not. Many people today distort God’s word to what they want it to look like instead of what God intends it to look like. We need to be faithful and honest as we study God’s word and as we teach others His truth.

As we continue through the Bible this year we have come to the Book of First Samuel, we will examine three major distortions of the perfect picture God set before his people.

First let’s set the scene of 1 Samuel

Samuel is recording his family history for us. His dad Elkanah of Ephraim (he was in the lineage of Joseph just like Naomi from last week). Elkanah had two wives, Hannah was childless and heartbroken while Peninnah had several children.

As we often see when the men in the Old Testament went against God’s will and married two or more woman there was problems.

Genesis 2:18  The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Genesis 2:24  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Mark 10:5  “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6  “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7  ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8  and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. 9  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

We see God’s plan and when we follow it we prevent a lot of issues.

Peninnah purposely provoked Hannah to the point of tears and to the point where Hannah would not eat the double portion of food her husband blessed her with.

1 Samuel 1:6  And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7  This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.

In Hannah’s despair she did not give up asking the Lord to grant her a child. She prayed so fervently that the priest Eli thought she was drunk. When he realized she was in anguish he blessed her.

1 Samuel 1:17  Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 18  She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

Hannah was encouraged, even able to eat, and believed that God had heard her and would give her a child.

Hannah did give birth to a son and she named him Samuel, which means God has heard, and good to her word she dedicated Samuel to the Lord’s service when he was 3 years old.

1 Samuel 1:24  After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. 25  When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, 26  and she said to him, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. 27  I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28  So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

How many people make promises to God to get out of a jam or as a bargaining chip to get what they want and then renege on their promise? Hannah was a righteous woman and God blessed her with 5 more children. (1 Samuel 2:21)

Hannah was righteous and so was her son Samuel. When he was small he ministered before the Lord and grew in stature and in favor with the Lord and man (1 Samuel 2:18, 26).   God spoke to him in chapter 3 to warn Eli of the doom that was coming. In his farewell address after he anointed Saul king he asked the people if they had anything against him.

1 Samuel 12:3  Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD …4  “You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”

Samuel led the people for 42 years, he was faithful and righteous, and he was God’s man.

How are you doing?

I am not asking if you are perfect, I am asking if you are faithful and growing.

We see Samuel’s tender heart towards God when King Saul rebelled.

1 Samuel 15:10  Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11  “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.

That is what we should look like – we should be true and right not distorted. The Bible is real and shows the evil and the distortions of His people. We need to become more like Samuel in our sensitivity to God’s will.

In the first 15 chapters of 1 Samuel we see: The Distortion of Phoniness, The Distortion of Conformity, and The Distortion of Misrepresentation

The Distortion of Phoniness – 1Samuel 2

No one likes a phony, no one likes a hypocrite – so often that is what is said about Christians. They say one thing and do another. They don’t live what they say they believe. Sometimes the accusations are true, sometimes people who are not Christians don’t understand that we never claim to be perfect or sinless. If you see me sin that doesn’t make me a hypocrite – that makes me a sinner. When I sin and claim it is not sin or if I hold you to a standard that I don’t hold myself to then I would be a hypocrite.

It is exactly this kind of phoniness and hypocrisy that we find at the Tabernacle in Shiloh.

1 Samuel 2:12  Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD. … 17  This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD’s sight, for they were treating the LORD’s offering with contempt.

They were stealing the people’s offerings, they were robbing God of His portion and they were threating the people when they were trying to follow the commands of God.

These were the priests, Eli’s sons, who were to be leading the people to God.

Do you know that as a Christian you are a priest?

1 Peter 2:9  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We minister before the Lord and must make sure we are not wicked in His sight. We must follow His word and lead others in the way of righteousness. It is your job to learn and know not just mine.

2 Timothy 2:15  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Eli fails as a father because he allows the wickedness of his sons to persist. As the priest he should have removed his wicked sons but he let them continue to show contempt for the Lord. Eli merely gave them a slap on the wrist – God was not pleased and Eli was punished because of it.

You can’t just talk religion or appear religious. We must be genuine, authentic, the real deal. Truly live what you believe. Don’t be a phony or a Pharisee.

The next distortion we see is:

The Distortion of Conformity – 1 Samuel 8

The people ask Samuel to anoint a king over them so that they can be like all the other nations.

1 Samuel 8:4  So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5  They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

Samuel warned them how bad a King would be. Taking their sons and daughters, taking their best fields and taking a tenth of their grain and flocks. And the Lord will not answer them when they cry for relief from the King (v. 18).

The King, the government taking a tenth was bad – how bad do we have it in America – we are taxed to about 40% of our income.

Even after all the warnings from God the people did not change their minds.

1 Samuel 8:19  But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20  Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

The people were rejecting God – they wanted to be like everyone else. Do you struggle with that peer pressure?

Peer pressure doesn’t just effect teenagers.

Why did you wear what you wear, eat what you eat, think like you think?

Peer pressure its self is not bad, it is the peer pressure to do wrong that is bad.

Especially if it is to be like everyone else and not following God.

Romans 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Don’t conform – don’t be like the world around you – be different

Transform – renew your mind – know the Will of God

Then you will be able to represent God and not distort who He is or what He wants.

The Distortion of Misrepresentation.   1 Samuel 15

God allows the people to have a king though it was not His perfect will. He gave them what they wanted even if it was not what was best. God will give you what you want when you refuse to take what He is offering. He knows what is best but will let you suffer until you decide to accept what He is offering.

The new King starts well and is just what the people wanted – a strong military leader.

The Ammonites were defeated and Jabesh was defended.

1 Samuel 11:11  The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

In King Saul’s arrogance and falling to the pressure of his men he disobeyed the Lord and misrepresented who God was. Because of his sin the Kingdom was taken from him and given to David, a man after God’s own heart.

Saul was commanded to destroy the Amalekites for their sin (Ex 17:8-16; Dt 7:2; 20:17, 25:17-19).

But King Saul thought he knew better and kept the King of the Amalekites alive and kept the best of the flocks alive also.

1 Samuel 15:20  “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21  The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” 22  But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23  For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”

If you do what you think is right and say it is what God wants you to do – you are misrepresenting God and that is a dangerous position. King Saul did not like the results and neither will you.

We are God’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and we had better represent Him correctly because we will be accountable for our actions and attitudes.

What picture of God are you presenting to the world? How are you presenting yourself to others?

Are you a phony?   Are you a conformer?   Are you misrepresenting God?

Don’t be like King Saul and the Israelites be like Samuel.

You have a choice today – Follow the Lord’s commands or follow your own.

If you are truly thankful for what the Lord has done we should follow what he asks.

If you have not been baptized into Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins then today is the day.

Don’t think “I am alright” make sure you have done exactly what God has commanded don’t what God ask and for the reason He asked.

I want all of us to be thankful for the salvation God has given.