Lesson Forty Nine


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Memory Verse: 1 Samuel 15:22
Further Study: 1 Samuel 11-15; Patriarchs and Prophets, 612-631; The Bible Story, vol. 3, pp. 170-185

One summer my family took a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. We visited Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. As its name suggests, the main attraction is a suspension bridge that hangs between two points high above the Capilano River. I have a fear of heights, and more specifically bridges over water, so this wasn’t what I would call a fun excursion.

At first, Saul demonstrates a level of humility as we find him hiding in the baggage or farming as if nothing major had changed his life. He demonstrates courage and faith as he leads Israel against the Ammonites. But what follows for Saul is a struggle of faith versus fear.

What follows for Saul is a struggle of faith versus fear.

When we arrived at the bridge site, my plan was to wait for my group to walk the bridge and return. But the way the park is arranged, the suspension bridge is the entry to most of what you will experience. To not cross the bridge, would mean you would have paid admission for nothing other than a view of the gift shop. I was faced with a bridge over water that swayed not only back and forth, but up and down. Fear was absolutely present.

Saul was to meet Samuel in a week’s time. Together they would move the kingdom forward as God directed. But Saul was afraid. His enemies were great. His weapons were few. His fear spread to his troops and added another problem—desertion. That’s what fear does—it either holds you where you are, or you run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. 

That’s what fear does—it either holds you where you are, or you run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.

I would have run if I could, but it wasn’t an option. Staying in one place didn’t seem to be a smart choice either. I could say my fear spread to my group, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, the adults were having a bit of sport at my dilemma with some fairly unhelpful suggestions. That’s when I felt a small hand take mine. I looked down to see my six-year-old grandson’s face looking up at me. “I’ll take you across, Grammie,” he said. “I’ll get you there safely. Just hold my hand.”

All of us encounter fear or worry. If we like Saul, focus on what we don’t have or become overwhelmed by our problems, fear will take hold and cause us to either get stuck or make unwise choices. Faith, on the other hand, is remembering that Jesus stands next to us and quietly takes our hand. He says, “I’ll get you there safely. Just focus on me.”

I did make it over that bridge. True to his word, my grandson held my hand and while I won’t say I wasn’t afraid, I put my faith and trust in a little boy’s love. When you do the same with Jesus, you will face your own fears and be renewed.

Digging Deeper 

A very serious lesson for us is found in these chapters that trace the beginning of Saul’s kingship over Israel. We find it in the story where Samuel gave Saul the opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty to God. Samuel gave Saul specific instructions related to the attack on Amalekites. 

This is a tough story for us to understand in the twenty-first century. God specifically directed Saul to lead Israel to completely destroy the Amalekites and everything in their city. The Hebrew word used here is cherem, which means “to consecrate to God.” Saul was given specific directions. He was told to cherem the Amalekites (dedicate them to God) by “slaying them” (1 Sam. 15:21). In other words, they were dedicated for destruction.

The lesson comes when we see that Saul followed God’s orders through Samuel, but in his own way. He allowed Israel to keep the best of the flocks and herds in order to do a bit of a “trade.” They kept the Amalekite animals and substituted their own less valuable animals. God would get His share, but the people would benefit too.

Saul also did his own interpretation of God’s instructions by not killing Agag. Saul probably had no intention of keeping Agag alive. He had no use for him, with one exception. Agag was a valuable war trophy. To keep him alive, parade him among the Israelites or other surrounding nations was a way to gain back what he’d lost previously. Agag was how Saul thought to gain back the confidence of the people in his military prowess. He’d then kill him later. In his mind, he rationalized no differently than his people. I’m following what God said but doing it better—in my own way.

I’m sure you see the lesson. We can be tempted to do the same. We read God’s Word and have every intention of following it, but we sometimes do it in a way to gain something for ourselves. After all, God gets what He wants, we get what we want—is there a problem? There is! As soon as we get to a place where we begin to convince ourselves that compromise to God’s law is acceptable, we are in dangerous territory. We’ve opened the door to Satan and his twisting of God and thus begins a slippery slope into sin we never thought or anticipated.


Making it Real

For family worship, talk about Saul’s story. Then take time to “rewrite” it. Identify where he made poor choices and decide what he could have done instead. If you have children in your family, make this a time to emphasize how choices make a difference. Particularly help them to understand that some choices have eternal consequences.



Respond & Share

How can you keep fear from overwhelming you and remember that Jesus is holding your hand? Share with us in the comments below!


Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.


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