We Want a King! – 2

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Scripture Text – 1 Samuel 7-11

For centuries, the people of Israel had looked to Jehovah as their King, but then they came to a point where they asked the Lord to give them a king just like the other nations. It was a critical time in the history of Israel, and it took the prayers and guidance of Samuel to bring them safely through this dangerous time of transition.

Seeking The Lord – Continued

Please read 1 Samuel 7:3-17 to get the background for this section.

They commemorated the victory (1 Samuel 7:12). The setting up of stones to commemorate significant events has been a part of the Hebrew culture since Jacob set up a memorial at Bethel (Genesis 28:20–22; 35:14). Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan (Joshua 4:9) and twelve more on the western bank at Gilgal to mark the place where the waters opened and Israel crossed into the Promised Land (Joshua 4:1–8, 19–21). A great heap of stones in the Achor Valley reminded the Jews of Achan’s disobedience and sin (Joshua 7:24–26), and another pile of stones marked the burial place of the king of Ai (Joshua 8:29). Another heap of stones stood at a cave at Makkedah to mark where five kings had been defeated and slain (Joshua 10:25–27). Before his death, Joshua set up what became known as a “witness stone” to remind the Israelites of their vow to serve the Lord alone and obey Him alone (Joshua 24:26–28).

“Ebenezer” means “stone of help” because the monument was a reminder to the Jews that God had helped them that far and would continue to help them if they would trust Him and keep His covenant. The founder of the China Inland Mission, J. Hudson Taylor, who I love to read about, had a plaque displayed in each of his residences that read “Ebenezer—Jehovah Jireh,” Together, these Hebrew words say, “The Lord has helped us to this point, and He will see to it from now on.” What an encouragement to our faith!

They respected Samuel (1 Samuel 7:15-17). It is most likely that the meeting at Mizpah marked the beginning of Samuel’s public ministry to the whole nation of Israel, so that from that time on he was a focal point for political unity and spiritual authority. The nation knew that Samuel was God’s appointed leader (1 Samuel 3:20–4:1), and when he did eventually die, the entire nation mourned him (1 Samuel 28:3). He made his home in Ramah and established a circuit of ministry to teach the people the law, to hear cases, to give counsel, and to pass judgment. Because Israel had wanted a king, Samuel is considered to be the last official judge of the list of judges from the Book of Judges in the Bible in Israel. After that time Israel was ruled by kings. Samuels two sons assisted him in his leadership role by serving at Beersheba (1 Samuel 8:1–2). Israel was blessed to have a man like Samuel to guide them, but the times were changing rapidly and Israel’s elders and people wanted the nation to change as well.

et rejected God

Rejecting The Lord

Probably twenty or twenty-five years elapsed between the events recorded in chapter 7 and those in chapter 8. Samuel was now an old man, about to go the way of all moral man, and a new generation had emerged in Israel with new leaders who had new ideas. As in all things down through the ages, life goes on, circumstances change, and God’s people must have wisdom to adapt to new challenges without abandoning old convictions. Like more than one great leader, Samuel in his old age faced some painful situations and had to make some difficult decisions. He left the scene convinced that he had been rejected by the people he had served so faithfully. Samuel was steadfastly obedient to the Lord, but he was a man with a broken heart.

God had chosen Moses to lead the nation of Israel and Joshua to succeed him (Deuteronomy 31:1–15), but Joshua wasn’t commanded to lay hands on any successor. He left behind elders whom he had trained to serve God, but when they died, the new generation turned away from the Lord and followed the worthless idols of the land instead (Judges 2:10–15). There was an automatic succession to the priesthood, and the Lord could call out prophets when needed, but who would lead the people and see to it that the law was obeyed? During the period of the judges, God raised up leaders here and there and gave them great victories, but nobody was in charge of the nation as a whole. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” – Judges 21:25 (see also Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1). The “nation” of Israel was a loose confederation of sovereign tribes, and each tribe was expected to seek the Lord and do His will.

Asking for a king (1 Samuel 8:1-9). Knowing and believing that Israel needed a stronger central government, the elders presented their request to Samuel and backed it up with several arguments. The first two must have cut Samuel to the quick: he was now old and had no successor, and his two sons were not godly men but were known for taking bribes (1 Samuel 8:3–5). How tragic that both Eli and Samuel had sons who failed to follow the Lord. Eli was too easy on his wayward sons (1 Samuel 2:29), and perhaps Samuel was away from home too much as he made his ministry circuit to the various cities. Samuel’s sons were miles away in Beersheba where their father couldn’t monitor their work, but if the elders knew about their sins, it was most likely certain that their father must have known also.

To Be Continued

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Adaptation of excerpts from Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Successful, “Be” Commentary Series.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture links provided by Biblia.com

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of teaching, encouragement and intercessory prayer from the Holy Bible, the written Word of God and author of the ministry website, For The Love of God. He lives in Delta, Colorado with his beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom they affectionately call Bella.
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