Natan’s Commentary on 1 Samuel 11 to 13

1 Samuel 11

1 Samuel 11:4, Then the Spirit of Elohim came upon Saul. How do we know that this was not merely the human passion of anger that aroused in Saul causing him to take action as opposed to the moving of the Spirit? Indeed it was human passion, for this verse says that “his anger was greatly aroused.” But the fact that the fruits of his action led to YHVH’s will for the nation of Israel being accomplished indicates that Saul was motivated by the Spirit, and that this was not just a purely human reaction. Often times it is hard to determine if one’s actions are carnally motivated or they are being led of the Spirit. This is where righteous judgments must be made (John 7:24), and the fruits must be evaluated whether they be good or bad (Matt 7:16–20). When the will of Elohim is accomplished, then we can be sure that it was a Spirit-directed activity. In the case of Saul’s anger against Nahash the Ammonite, his anger led to the rallying of Israel’s troops, the defeat of Israel’s enemy, the salvation of Israel, unification of Israel under Saul and Samuel, and the renewal of the kingdom of Israel resulting in national revival (vv. 13–15).

1 Samuel 11:14, And renew the kingdom there. According to The ArtScroll Rubin Edition Prophets Commentary, Gilgal was the place where Joshua had originally set up the Tabernacle of Moses upon Israel entering the Promised Land (p. 69; Josh 5:9–10). From the time of Joshua to Samuel, Israel had fallen on hard times physically and spiritually. As a nation, Samuel was leading Israel back to the geographical spot where it was last a great nation and walking in will of YHVH. A wise person once said, “If you’re not hearing the voice of YHVH in your life and he seems to be silent, then go back to the last place where he told you to do something and you said, ‘No.’ That’s the spot where he told you to go right and you went left.” This principle applies to nations and to individuals as well. Reflect on this as pertaining to your life.

1 Samuel 12

1 Samuel 12:1ff, A king over you. The establishment of Saul as king in Israel was a constitutional or limited monarchy, unlike the kings of other Eastern nations of the time where the king had total, unlimited and absolute power. Their kings ruled by whim and fancy, while Israel’s would be subservient to the Torah; their kings placed their self-aggrandizement above the national interest, while Israel’s king was charged with upholding and safeguarding the nation’s righteousness, and with guiding Israel as the bearer of [Elohim’s]—not the king’s—majesty (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 1187). “The [Israelite] king was bound to respect the liberty, honour, and the property of his subjects, and his powers were strictly limited by the fundamental laws of the Torah (Deut 17:14–20). Prophets, psalmists, and sages all conceived of the king as a shepherd of his people, whose scepter should be a scepter of peace, pity, and righteousness” (The Soncino Pentateuch, p. 649). This is the basis of a republican form of government, which, in theory, describes the American form government. As you become more familiar with YHVH’s laws it will become evident that certain aspects of the American legal code derive from the Torah. This truth underscores the fact that our society has deep Judeo-Christian roots.

1 Samuel 12:3, Whose ass have I taken? The moral integrity of spiritual leadership is essential. Most leaders in Christian church would strongly assert their probity (honesty and decency), and at the same time would deny that they are building their ministry kingdoms for personal benefit, but what is the real truth? How do they treat their children and wives behind the scenes? What is their response toward their detractors? How do they treat other “competing” ministries? Do they live off of YHVH’s sheep, or do they use tithes and offerings for the care and feeding of YHVH’s sheep? If they do receive income from their flocks, how dependent are they on that income? To what degree do they make decisions affecting the congregation in order to solicit a response that will ensure the security of their position as chief leader and beneficiary of the congregation’s largesse? To what degree do they angle their teaching and preaching to curry the favor of their constituents thus keeping the funds flowing toward them? These are questions that spiritual leaders all need to ask of themselves.

1 Samuel 12:17, Your wickedness is great. Samuel, speaking for YHVH, called Israel’s desire to be like the other nations and to have a king rule over them a great wickedness. To emphasize YHVH’s displeasure, Samuel asked YHVH to send a destructive rain upon Israel’s wheat harvest (verse 18). As a result of this punishment, Israel recognized their sin of rejecting YHVH’s mode of ruling them, and choosing instead to accept a worldly form of government (verse 19). But how deep was Israel’s repentance? Did it bring about a course change for the nation? No. How often does YHVH attempt to capture our attention because of sin in our lives, and as a result of his punishment and the impending physical loss (our personal “wheat harvest”) we verbally admit our sin, but our hearts remain hardened and predisposed to continue walking in the same sin?

1 Samuel 12:19, We have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.The people knew they had sinned, but they refused to repent and to turn away from their sin. To know one has sinned and to even admit it is not the same as repentance, which means deeply regretting that sin, and then with one’s whole heart turning away from that sin and walking in righteousness.

1 Samuel 12:22, It has pleased YHVH. Despite Israel’s unrepentant recalcitrance, what was YHVH’s response to his people? Some Bible teachers would have us to believe that the concept of grace is foreign to the Old Testament and is revealed only in the New Testament. YHVH’s response to Israel’s rebellion is but one of many such examples of his mercy superseding his judgment that are found in the Tanakh. What are some other examples of this?

1 Samuel 13

1 Samuel 13:13, You have not kept the commandment. The nation of Israel was a constitutional monarchy, not a dictatorship run by a tyrant king who was free to do whatever he wished. Israel’s constitution was the Torah, which the king of Israel was to know thoroughly and to obey. This is something Saul was not committed to doing, because he had a heart of pride and rebellion and not obedience toward YHVH. He followed the laws of Elohim only when it suited him, otherwise he followed the dictates of his own heart. This is why YHVH rejected him as king over his people Israel.


King Saul and the Church

1 Samuel 24:16–21 (also 26:25), Here King Saul prophesies that David will succeed him as king over Israel, and that he will do great things and prevail. There were other instances of Saul coming under a spirit of prophecy (also 10:10–11; 19:23–24).

Saul was capable of hearing the voice of Elohim, but because of unrestrained carnality, a spirit of rebellion (15:23), and his inability to submit to the will of Elohim, he was spiritually conflicted. Clearly, YHVH was not in his heart (15:15, 21, 30). Within Saul was a constant struggle between doing the will of Elohim and his own will. The latter usually won out, because he had not unconditionally surrendered his will to YHVH (15:23, 26). Saul was swayed more by popular opinion than by the Word of Elohim (15:24, 30). Saul was able to worship Elohim (15:31), but was spiritually weak and not able to obey the Word of Elohim (15:23, 26). Is it possible to love and worship Elohim without obeying his Word?

Yeshua declared that those who love him will obey his commandments or his Word (John 14:15). James wrote that the demons even tremble before Elohim (Jas 2:19), even though they are in rebellion against the Word of Elohim.

Faith, works and obedience must accompany the worship and fear of Elohim (Jas 2:14–26). Though Saul paid lip service to YHVH, his heart was far from him. He obeyed when it was convenient and expedient to him.

Isaiah similarly spoke of the rebellious Israelites who drew near to YHVH with their lips, but in reality, their hearts were far from him (Isa 29:13). Yeshua quoted and applied this verse to the hypocritical and rebellious religious leaders of his day (Matt 15:6–7).

Have you ever thought that Saul may be a spiritual type of the church, which teaches and obeys the Torah-Word of Elohim only in part, but otherwise follows a Torahless (at times, even anti-Torah) belief system?

But let’s not be arrogant against our Christian brothers! How much of the Saul-mentality do we still have in us—even among those who claim to love and to follow the Torah? How do we find the spiritual blind spots in our own hearts?


Can the Same Person Be Both a Prophet of Elohim and Demonized?

Below are two examples from the life of King Saul who at times prophesied while under the influence of the Set-Apart Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) of Elohim, and at other times he was under the influence of an evil (demonic) spirit (e.g., when he tried to murder David, when he sought counsel of the witch of Endor).

1 Samuel 18:10, Saul…prophesied. Saul prophesied (Heb. naba). Naba can refer to the prophetic utterances of both true and false prophets. When Saul was under the influence of the Spirit of Elohim he prophesied by the Set-Apart Spirit. When under the influence of an evil spirit, he “raved” (NAS). Is Saul a picture of modern Torahless prophets in the church who sometimes prophesy and sometimes rave?

1 Samuel 19:20–24, Saul and his servants prophesy. Though Saul and his servants were under the influence of an evil spirit, when they came under the influence of the Spirit of Elohim, they would prophesy by the Spirit. Many people in the church claim to be prophets, though they are only walking partially in Torah and partially following the rudiments of this world or pagan and church traditions that violate the Torah-word of Elohim. These are Babylonian prophets who prophesy mixture: sometimes truth and sometimes error.

Do King Saul-type prophets exist in the church today? Many of us have seen or heard those in the church who claim to be prophets, yet they are largely Torahless in belief and practice (all the true biblical prophets were Torah-obedient, as far as we know), are profiting from their careers as prophets (“for-profit prophets?”), and many of their “prophetic” words are later proven to be impossible to substantiate, or are flat-out dead wrong! However, sometimes, their prophecies are right on. What do you make of this? Can this be reconciled from the Scriptures?