“Unit 17: Day 4, 1 Samuel 12–15,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 17: Day 4,” Old Testament Study Guide
While the Israelites were gathered to confirm Saul as their king, Samuel exhorted them to follow the Lord. Saul and Jonathan, Saul’s son who was a captain over the Israelite army, led the Israelites to victory in battle against the Philistines. Saul’s disobedience resulted in the Lord rejecting him as the king of Israel.
What are some reasons people might use to try to justify or excuse their disobedience to the Lord’s commandments?
As you study 1 Samuel 12–15, look for principles that can help you overcome the temptation to try to justify disobeying the Lord’s commandments.
In 1 Samuel 12 we read that while the Israelites were gathered to confirm Saul as their king, the prophet Samuel spoke of his ministry among them and testified that the Lord was the true leader of Israel.
Read 1 Samuel 12:14–15, 25, and consider marking the warning Samuel gave as he spoke to the Israelites.
You will see the importance of Samuel’s warning as you read about Saul’s choices in the chapters that follow.
In 1 Samuel 13:1–4 we read that a group of Israelite soldiers under the command of Saul’s son Jonathan attacked a group of Philistine soldiers stationed in Israelite territory. Knowing this attack would lead to war with the Philistines, Saul gathered additional soldiers.
Read 1 Samuel 13:5–8, looking for how some Israelites responded when the Philistine army advanced.
Why do you think the Israelites were so afraid?
To understand 1 Samuel 13:8, it may help to know that the prophet Samuel had previously told Saul to go to Gilgal and wait seven days for Samuel to come offer sacrifices to the Lord (see 1 Samuel 10:8). This sacrifice would be a way to seek the Lord’s blessings before the Israelite army went into battle. It would also help the soldiers dedicate themselves to the Lord and strengthen their faith. It was important for Saul to wait for Samuel because Saul was not authorized to perform the sacrifice.
Read 1 Samuel 13:9–12, looking for what Saul did in these critical circumstances.
What reasons did Saul give to try to justify his disobeying the Lord’s commandments?
Read 1 Samuel 13:13–14, looking for a consequence of Saul’s disobedience.
From these verses we learn that even though we may try to justify our disobedience to the Lord’s commandments, He will hold us accountable.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How could understanding the preceding principle help someone resist any attempt to try to justify disobedience to the Lord’s commandments for any reason?
Read the following statement by Elder Bruce A. Carlson of the Seventy on reasons people may give to try and justify disobedience to the Lord’s commandments. Think about how this statement relates to Saul’s situation and situations you might experience and to the blessings of obedience: “At times we may rationalize that the Lord will understand our disobedience because our special circumstances make adherence to His laws difficult, embarrassing, or even painful. However, faithful obedience, regardless of the apparent size of the task, will bring the Lord’s guidance, assistance, and peace” (“When the Lord Commands,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 39).
In 1 Samuel 13:15–23, Samuel left Saul, and the Philistines sent raiding troops to destroy the land and torment the Israelites.
In 1 Samuel 14 we learn that Jonathan and his servant, trusting in the Lord, courageously attacked a group of Philistine soldiers. This act, combined with an earthquake that followed, caused confusion and panic in the Philistine army. Saul’s army then attacked the panicked Philistines and defeated them.
During this battle, Saul forbade his soldiers from eating so that he could take vengeance on his enemies. Jonathan was unaware of this command and ate some honey while pursuing the Philistines. Later in the day, when Saul sought revelation from the Lord about whether to attack the Philistines during the night, no answer came. Saul concluded that the Lord did not answer because someone in the army had sinned. He gathered the people together and swore an oath that whoever had eaten earlier in the day would be put to death, even if it were his own son Jonathan. When he learned that Jonathan had eaten some honey, Saul said Jonathan must die.
Do you think Jonathan should have been put to death? Why or why not?
Consider what this account shows us about Saul’s tendency during this time to make poor or hasty decisions by focusing on himself.
Read 1 Samuel 14:45, looking for how the people responded to Jonathan’s death sentence.
Sometimes we might be tempted to try to justify our disobedience to some commandments because we are obedient to other commandments. For example, someone might say, “Because I pray and read my scriptures daily, it’s OK if I don’t attend my Church meetings.”
Look for truths in 1 Samuel 15 that can help you overcome the temptation to try to justify disobedience in this way.
According to 1 Samuel 15, the Lord gave Saul a second chance to prove his obedience. He commanded Saul to destroy all the Amalekites and their livestock. The Amalekites were a murderous people and were enemies of the Lord (see Deuteronomy 25:17–19).
Read 1 Samuel 15:7–9, looking for whether Saul obeyed the Lord.
According to 1 Samuel 15:10–12, the Lord told Samuel that Saul had turned back from following Him and had disobeyed His commandments. Samuel was grieved, and he visited Saul.
Imagine being present for the discussion between Saul and Samuel contained in 1 Samuel 15:13–19.
- Read the following verses, and answer the questions that follow in your scripture study journal:
1 Samuel 15:13. What did Saul say he had done?
1 Samuel 15:14–15. How did Saul try to justify the fact that he and his soldiers had been only partially obedient to the Lord’s commandment? (Think about how Saul’s situation is like the example mentioned earlier of praying and reading scriptures each day but not attending Church meetings.)
1 Samuel 15:16–17. What do these verses imply about how Saul’s attitude had changed since the time he was anointed as king?
1 Samuel 15:18–21. Even after being rebuked by Samuel, what did Saul do?
1 Samuel 15:22–23. What is the most important offering we can give the Lord?
From Samuel’s words in verse 22, we learn that the greatest offering we can give the Lord is our complete obedience to Him. You may want to write this in the margin of your scriptures.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What experiences have you had that have helped you understand the importance of striving to obey the Lord completely?
Read 1 Samuel 15:24, and note the explanation Saul gave for disobeying the Lord.
One principle we can learn from Saul’s mistake is that seeking to please others rather than the Lord can lead us to disobey His commandments.
- In your scripture study journal, write about two or three examples of this principle in our day.
In the remainder of 1 Samuel 15, we read that Samuel told Saul that the kingdom would be taken from him and given to someone else. Samuel also followed the commandment the Lord had given Saul and killed the king of the Amalekites.
- Review the principles you have learned throughout the lesson. Then answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What is one way you will apply what you have learned today?
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 1 Samuel 12–15 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: