We Want a King! – 4

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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.

Obeying The Lord

Please read 1 Samuel 9:1-10:27 to get the background for this section.

The focus now shifts from Samuel to Saul, God’s choice for Israel’s king. He was from the tribe of Benjamin, which had almost been exterminated because of their rebellion against the law (Judges 19–20). Jacob compared Benjamin to “a ravening wolf” (Genesis 49:27), and the tribe was involved in numerous battles. Benjamin’s territory lay between Ephraim and Judah, so Saul’s tribe was adjacent to the royal tribe of Judah. In spite of what Saul modestly said to Samuel when they met, he belonged to a powerful and wealthy family that owned real estate and animals and had servants.

Physically, Saul was tall, good-looking, and strong, the kind of king people would admire. Even Samuel, with all his spiritual perception, got carried away when he saw him (1 Samuel 10:23–24). His weakness for admiring the physical qualities even showed up when Samuel went to anoint David (1 Samuel 16:1–7). Saul was obedient to his father and concerned about his father’s feelings, and he was persistent in wanting to obey his father’s will. To invest all that time and energy looking for the lost animals suggests that he wasn’t a quitter. There was a certain amount of modesty in Saul (1 Samuel 9:21; 10:14–16), however there was no indication whatsoever of a spiritual lifestyle.

Samuel meets Saul (1 Samuel 9:1-25). Saul’s home was in Gibeah, which was about five miles from Ramah where Samuel lived, and yet Saul didn’t even know what all Israel knew, that a man of God named Samuel lived in Ramah. How Saul could live so close to Israel’s spiritual leader and not know about him is a bit of a mystery and suggests that Saul simply lived and farmed with his family at Gibeah and minded his own business. Apparently he didn’t attend the annual feasts and wasn’t greatly concerned about spiritual matters. Like many people today, he wasn’t against religion, but he didn’t make knowing the Lord a vital part of his life. It’s a good thing the servant knew about Samuel and that Saul heeded his advice!

et lost donkeys

A rather insignificant event brought Saul and Samuel together—the loss of some of Kish’s donkeys. The animals were valuable, of course, and later somebody found them and returned them to Kish, but who would have thought that Israel’s first king would be called to the throne while searching for donkeys! David was identified with sheep (Psalm 78:70–72; 1 Samuel 17:15) and saw the people of Israel as sheep who needed protection and guidance (2 Samuel 24:17). The Lord works in unusual ways, but if Saul had not obeyed his father and listened to his servant, the story might have been different.

It was evening when the two men arrived at the gates of Ramah, because the young ladies were going out to draw water. Asking the girls if the seer, which the early prophets were called, was there, they were given a long detailed answer. Perhaps the Jewish maids were happy to chat with a tall, handsome stranger! Even the time of Saul’s arrival at the city was providential, for Samuel appeared just as Saul and his servant entered the city. Samuel was going up to a “high place” outside the city where he would offer a sacrifice to the Lord. Since there was no central sanctuary in Israel at that time, the people brought their sacrifices to a shrine that was dedicated to the Lord and located on a hill near the city. The pagan nations worshiped their false gods at the high places and also indulged in filthy practices there, but the people of Israel were forbidden to join with them (Psalm 78:58; Hosea 4:11–14; Jeremiah 3:2).

The day before, the Lord had told Samuel that Saul was coming to Ramah, so he was prepared to meet him and give him God’s message. Samuel couldn’t say he was happy about the changes going on in Israel, but he was obedient to the Lord. When Saul appeared, the Lord spoke again to Samuel and confirmed that this was indeed the man of His choice and that Samuel should anoint him as king. “God’s anointed” was one of the titles for the king (1 Samuel 12:3; 24:6; 26:9, 11, 16; Psalm 2:2, 6). The Lord would use Saul just as He did Samson (Judges 13:5), to begin to weaken the Philistines and prepare them for David’s final conquest of this enemy of the Jews (1 Chronicles 18:1).

Samuel’s response to Saul’s request must have shocked the young man when Samuel identified himself as the one Saul was seeking. It must have further surprise him that he would feast with him that day, that Samuel had a special message for him, and that the missing donkeys had been found and returned to his father. Furthermore, all the desires of Israel was fixed on Saul, because all Israel wanted a king. Saul didn’t understand what Samuel was saying, but everything would be explained to him the next day. Samuel ignored Saul’s protest that he was a nobody who belonged to an insignificant tribe, and he escorted Saul and his servant to the banquet hall at the high place where the feast would be held. Saul was given the special portion of the fellowship offering that belonged to the priest (see Leviticus 7:32–33), and the cook informed him that the portion had been set aside especially for him. Strange things were happening! After the feast, Saul returned with Samuel to his house, and there they had a long talk in which Samuel rehearsed for Saul the events that had led up to this meeting.

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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