by Linda Claassen Mitchell
The people demand a king: Day 1
They have rejected God.
1 Samuel 8:1-7 (IEB): “When Samuel became old, he appointed his sons as judges over Israel. His oldest son’s name was Joel, and his next son’s name was Abijah. They were acting as judges in Beer-Sheba. However, Samuel’s sons did not live the same way he did. Instead, they tried to get money dishonestly. They took bribes. They twisted justice to obtain money.
Therefore, all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, ‘Look, you are old, and your sons are not following your good example. Appoint us a king to lead us – like all the other nations have!’
When the elders said that, Samuel knew this was a very bad idea. So he prayed to Yahweh. But Yahweh told Samuel, ‘Listen to whatever the people say to you. They have not rejected you. They have rejected Me; they do not want Me to rule over them! (a)”
Following the footnotes:
(a) See Numbers 23:21; Deuteronomy 33:5; 1 Samuel 10:18-19; (12:8-12; I’ll cover in a future study); Jer. 10:7,10.
Numbers 23:21(IEB): “God has found nothing wrong in Jacob. He saw no fault in Israel. Yahweh, their God, is with them. They praise their King.”
Deuteronomy 33:5 (IEB): “Yahweh became King over Israel. The leaders of the people gathered together. The tribes of Israel assembled.”
1 Samuel 10:18-19 (IEB): Samuel said to the Israelites, ‘This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt. I saved you people from the power of the Egyptians and from the power of all the other kingdoms that oppressed you. However, today, you have rejected your God! He saves you from all your troubles and problems. But you said to Him, ‘No, appoint a human king over us!’ Now come stand in the presence of Yahweh – arrange yourselves by your tribes and by your clans.”
Jer. 10:7, 10 (IEB): “(7) Everyone should revere You, O King of all nations. This is what You deserve. There are many ‘wise’ men among the nations, in all their kingdoms. But none of them are as wise as You! (10) But Yahweh is the true God! He is the only living God; He is the King forever! The earth shakes when He is angry. The nations cannot sand up to His indignation.”
As I leave my study today, there is no doubt in my mind that God is my King and He deserves my reverence. It is also clear that He will let me walk away from Him. It is my responsibility to keep my focus on His will and to serve Him, not the other way around.
The people demand a king: Day 2
Samuel warns the Israelites:
In 1 Samuel 8:8-17 God tells Samuel to warn the Israelite people that the ruling king would exercise his special privileges over them. He will take their sons and daughters and will make servants of them. He’ll take their best fields, vineyards, and olive trees. He’ll tax the people 10% on their produce and flocks, and make all of the people his servants.
1 Samuel 8:18-21 (IEB): “(18) ‘When that time comes, you will cry out for relief because of your king whom you chose for yourselves. (b) However, Yahweh will not answer you at that time.’ (19) But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ They cried out. ‘We want a king to rule over us! (20) Then we will be just like all the other nations. Our king will lead us. He will be our hero (a) and lead us and fight our battles!’
(21) Samuel heard all that the people were saying. Then he reported everything to Yahweh. Yahweh answered Samuel, ‘Listen to them. Set up a human king over them.’ So, Samuel told the men of Israel: ‘Everyone go back home!’ (b)”
Following the footnotes:
(b) 8:18 See 1 Kings 12:4, Jeremiah 22:13-17
(a) 8:20 Hebrew: shafat = judge us
(b) 8:21 literally, “Each one, go to his town.” Perhaps Samuel wanted them to reflect more on the serious implications of such a proposed, radical change of government.
1 Kings 12:4 (IEB) The people said to King Solomon’s son Rehoboam: “Your father forced us to work very hard. Now, therefore, make things go easier for us. Do not make us work as hard as your father did. Then we will serve you.” But Rehoboam was even harder on them.
Jeremiah 22:13-17 (IEB) Jeremiah gives a message from Yahweh to the Kings of Judah: “How terrible it will be for him who builds his palace by doing wrong. He cheats people, so that he can build its upper rooms. He is making his own people work for nothing. He’s not paying them for their work. He thinks: ‘I will build a great palace for myself. I will have large upper rooms.’ So, he cuts out big windows for it. He uses cedar wood for the walls. And, he paints it red.
Does having a lot of cedar wood in your palace make you a great king!? No. Your father was satisfied to have just food and drink. He helped those who were poor and needy. So, everything went well for him. That is what it really means to know Me!’ says Yahweh.
But your eyes and heart only look for what you can get dishonestly! You are willing to kill innocent people to get it. You are making it hard for people. You even steal things from them.”
The Israelites had served God but now they wanted to “be just like all the other nations”.
They wanted to serve an earthly king. Why is it that we always seem to want what the world has, when we already have a far better life under God’s control?
The people demand a king: Day 3
Saul meets Samuel
1 Samuel 9:2-6 (IEB): “Kish had a son, and his name was Saul. Saul was a good-looking, young man. No Israelite was more handsome then he was. Saul stood a head taller than anybody else. One time, the donkeys that belonged to Kish (Saul’s father) got lost. So Kish said to Saul, his son, ‘Take one of the servant boys with you. Get up, go search for those donkeys.’ Saul went throughout the hill-country of Ephraim. And, he went throughout the land of Shalishah. However, he and the servant could not find the donkeys. They crossed into the land of Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there, either. They went all over the territory of the tribe of Benjamin, but they still did not find the donkeys. They arrived in the region of Zuph. Saul said to his servant boy who was with him, ‘Come, let us return home. My father has probably quit being concerned about the donkeys and started to worry about us!’
But the servant answered, ‘Listen, there is a man of God in this town. People have a lot of respect for him because everything he says comes true! Let us go there now. Perhaps he could tell us which way we should go?’ ”
1 Samuel 9:14-17 (IEB): “So Saul and the servant went up to the town. Just as they were entering the town, look, they saw Samuel. He was coming out of town toward them. (He was on his way up to the place of worship.) The day before Saul came; Yahweh had revealed this to Samuel: ‘About this time tomorrow, I will send a man to you. He will be from the tribe of Benjamin. You must anoint (b) him as prince over My people, Israel. He will save My people from the domination of the Philistines, because I have seen My people suffer so much. And, I’m listening to their cry for help.’
When Samuel first saw Saul, Yahweh responded to Samuel. He said, ‘Look, This is the man I told you about. This is the one who will rule over My people!’ ”
Following the footnotes:
(b) Officially rubbing the candidate with oil signified his separation to Yahweh for a particular task as well as preparing that person with divine guidance.
1 Samuel 9:18-19 (IEB): “At the gate, Saul approached Samuel. Saul asked, ‘Could you please tell me where the seer’s house is?’ Samuel answered Saul, ‘I am the seer. Go on ahead of me to the place of worship. You and your servant are supposed to eat with me today! Tomorrow morning I will answer all your questions.”
Saul was just trying to save the lost donkeys, but God had other plans. His plan was to have Saul rule over His people. Although at times the Israelites appear to be just as stubborn as those donkeys, God has heard their cries for an earthly king.
I leave my study today reminded to be careful what I ask for.
When the people rebel against God: Day 4
Saul becomes King
Samuel told Saul the missing donkeys that he was looking for had been found. He also told him that all that was worth desiring of Israel belonged to him (Saul). Saul was confused because he was from the smallest tribe in Israel, and his clan was the least important clan within the tribe of Benjamin.
1 Samuel 9:22 (IEB): “Then Samuel took Saul and his servant boy and brought them into a large banquet room. He gave them an important place at the table. There were about 30 guests.”
Later Samuel and Saul went into town and Samuel talked to Saul. Saul spent the night on the roof of Samuels home. At dawn the next morning Saul left the house with Samuel. At the edge of town Samuel told Saul to send the servant on ahead, but asked Saul to stay a moment because Samuel had a special message for him.
1 Samuel 10:1 (IEB): “Then Samuel took a small container of olive oil, and he poured the oil on Saul’s head. (c) He kissed Saul and said, ‘Yahweh has just appointed you to be the leader of His people Israel.”
Following the footnotes:
(c) This act shows how God selected a man to be king, thus making him the earthly representative of the heavenly King (God). It was like crowning someone as king. “Messiah” (“Christ”) means “the anointed one”.
Following the footnotes from 1 Samuel 9:16 on the topic of the anointed king, See:
1 Samuel 2:10 (IEB): “Yahweh smashes His opponents. He thunders in heaven against them. Yahweh will judge the whole world. He will give power to His King. He will make His anointed King strong.” (Referring to Christ)
1 Samuel 12:3 (IEB): Samuel says to Israel “Listen, here I am. If I have done anything wrong, testify against me in the presence of Yahweh and His anointed king (Saul).”
1 Samuel 24:6 (IEB): “…Saul was the anointed king of Yahweh. I should not do harm to him, because he was Yahweh’s anointed king!”
Psalms 2:6 (IEB): “He (Yahweh) says: ‘I have anointed My own King! (b) He will rule in Jerusalem on My holy mountain’.”
Following the footnotes for Psalms 2:6 Compare:
Matthew 28:18 (IEB): “Jesus came to them and said ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'” Jesus was the anointed king referred to in Psalms 2:6
As I leave my study, I see again that God is in control! It was no accident those donkeys got loose, because the search brought Saul right to Samuel, right where God wanted him. Samuel was faithful, and God told him everything about Saul (and his donkeys)! Saul was the human king the people demanded. Christ is the King of God’s plan. His plan for me is always so much better than what I think I want.
The people demand a king: Day 5
Samuel gives Saul three proofs that what Samuel has said is true and from God.
1 Samuel 10:2 (IEB): “After you leave me today, you will meet two men. They will be near Rachel’s tomb, on the boundary-line of the tribe of Benjamin at Zelzah. They will tell you: ‘The donkeys that you were searching for have been found! But now your father has stopped being concerned about his donkeys; he is worrying about the two of you! He is asking, “What should I do about my son?” ‘ ”
1 Samuel 10:3-4 (IEB): “Samuel continued, ‘Then you will go on from there until you reach the old tree at Tabor. (Possibly a terebinth tree. This was a famous landmark) Three men will meet you there. They will be on their way up to worship the one true God at Bethel. One man will be carrying three little goats. One man will be carrying three loaves of bread. And one man will be carrying a leather bag of wine. They will greet you and they will offer you two loaves of bread. You must accept the bread from them.”
1 Samuel 10:5-6 (IEB): “After that, you will go to Gibeah-ha-Elohim. (This Hebrew name means “the hill of the One True God”. This was Saul’s hometown.) There is a Philistine fort there. As you are approaching this town, you will meet a group of prophets who will be coming down from the place of worship. And a harp, a tambourine, a flute, and a lyre will precede them. And, they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the Always-Present One will come over you – and you will prophesy with these prophets! You will be changed into a different person.”
Samuel tells Saul what to do next:
1 Samuel 10:7-9 (IEB): “After these proofs come true for you, do what ever you find to do. The one true God is with you. ‘Go on down to Gilgal ahead of me. Listen, I will come down to you later. Then I will offer whole burnt-offerings and I will sacrifice peace-offerings. But you must wait for seven days. Then I will come to you and tell you what you must do.’ When Saul turned his back to leave Samuel, God transformed Saul into a new person. All of the signs (or proofs) came true that day.”
Samuel gave Saul specific instructions about the three signs (or proofs) to look for and what to do next. As I was reading these scriptures I was thinking; “wouldn’t it be nice if God would just tell me what I should look for and what I should do.” But wait! He has! The New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are full of proofs that Jesus Christ is the son of God! And He gives very specific instructions about what I should do! (Hear the Gospel, Romans 10:17; Believe the Gospel, John 3:16; Repent of my sins, Luke 13:3; Confess Christ as the Son of God, Matthew 10:32; Be Baptized, Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38; and Live Faithfully, Revelation 2:10)
I leave my study today praising God for the clear instruction found in His word.
The people demand a king: Day 6
The three proofs come true.
Samuel gave Saul 3 proof to show that what Samuel had told Saul was true and was from God.
1 Samuel 10:10-11 (IEB): “When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, look, Saul did meet a group of prophets. And, the Spirit of God came over Saul. He did prophesy among the prophets! People who had known Saul in the past saw him – look, he was prophesying with the prophets! They asked each other, ‘What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also one of the prophets!?’ (c)”
Following the footnotes: (c) This was a proverbial statement of surprise. Saul was known for becoming the first king of Israel; he was not known for being a prophet.
1 Samuel 10:12 (IEB): “A local man answered, ‘Who is their (d) father?’ (This became a famous saying: ‘Is Saul also one of the prophets!?)”
Following the footnotes (d) The Greek Septuagint (LXX) has “his” here instead of “their”. If that is the correct reading, it would have the sense of: “Who would have expected Kish to have a son among the prophets!?” (Compare Matthew 13:54-55.)
Matthew 13:54-55 (IEB): “He came to his hometown. He was teaching them in their synagogue. They were greatly amazed at him. They asked, ‘Where did Jesus get this wisdom and these miraculous powers!? Isn’t it true that he is the son of Joseph, the woodworker, and that his mother’s name is Mary!? His brothers are James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.”
Just as Samuel had said; Saul was changed into a different person.
1 Samuel 10:13-16 (IEB): “When Saul finished prophesying, he went to the place of worship. Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant boy, ‘Where did you go?’ Saul answered, ‘We were searching for the donkeys. When we could not find them, we went to talk to Samuel.’ Saul’s uncle asked, ‘Please tell me what Samuel said to you.’ Saul answered his uncle, ‘He told us plainly that the donkeys had already been found!’ (However, Saul did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about his becoming king.)
So here we have evidence that all of the proofs were fulfilled.
As I leave my study today I am reminded again how powerful our God is. What He says is always true!
The people demand a king: Day 7
Samuel calls the people to the presence of Yahweh.
1 Samuel 10:17 (IEB): “Then Samuel called for all the people of Israel to the presence of the Always-Present One at Mizpah. (a)”
Following the footnotes: (a) The purpose of this assembly was to reveal god’s choice to the people of Israel and to define what the new king could and could not do.
1 Samuel 10:18-22 (IEB): “Samuel said to the Israelites, ‘This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: “I brought Israel up out of Egypt. I saved you people from the power of the Egyptians and from the power of all the other kingdoms that oppressed you.” However, today, you have rejected your God! He saves you from all your troubles and problems. But you said to Him, ‘No, appoint a human king over us!’ Now come, stand in the presence of Yahweh – arrange yourselves by your tribes and by your clans.’ Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near. And the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. Samuel made the Benjaminites pass by – clan by clan. And Matri’s family was chosen. Then he caused each man of Matri’s family to pass by. And Saul, the son of Kish, was chosen. But when they searched for Saul, they could not find him. Then they inquired of Yahweh again: ‘Has Saul come here yet?’ Yahweh answered, ‘Yes, look, he is hiding behind the baggage.”
My thoughts: He was hiding behind the baggage!? This is the man who will lead the Israelites?
1 Samuel 10:23-25 (IEB): “So they ran and got him out of there. When Saul stood among the people, he was a head taller than anyone else. Then Samuel said to all the people, ‘Do you see the man whom Yahweh has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people!’ Then all the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!’
Samuel explained the duties of being king to the people. He wrote down the rules in the charter, and placed the book in the presence of Yahweh. (This legal document was preserved at the sanctuary of the tabernacle.) Then Samuel dismissed all the people; everybody went home.”
1 Samuel 10:26-27 (IEB): “Saul also went to his home in Gibeah. God touched the hearts of some brave men to join Saul. But some troublemakers said, ‘How can this man save us!?’ They hated Saul, and they refused to bring gifts to him. However, Saul kept silent.”
As I leave my study today I realize that Saul was the physical image of what the world values. He was tall and good-looking. He had the physical attributes of a leader, but not the character. Of course this may have been just the point that God was making. Saul meets the demands of the Israelites for an earthly king, but will only be able to defend Israel with God’s help. Whether the Israelites like it or not – God is the only real King.