The family of Abraham has grown into a mighty nation at the time of the Judges. Their King was God alone, and each man was responsible for governing his own inheritance inside the territory of his own tribe. Judges resolved conflicts and were excepted to know how to apply the Law of God. The origin of the idea of judges is that when Moses’ father-in-law noticed that leading the Israelites and answering all of their demands was taking an enormous toll on Moses, he suggested that God-fearing and faithful men were chosen to administer justice and resolve conflicts in Moses’ place. Later, a few of the Judges were champions raised up by the Lord, to rescue the people from their enemies and to set a Godly example for the people. After spending 400 years as captives in Egypt, God’s chosen people were learning the importance and responsibility of freedom. Beginning in the books of I and II Samuel, a shift occurs from self-governance to the time of the Kings. Because of sin, the time of the Judges was wrought with conflict, suffering, and confusion. God’s offer to be their king was many times rejected and consequences of “doing right in their own eyes,” were inevitable.
The Tabernacle moved to Shiloh and would reside there until Soloman was permitted by God to build a temple. Samuel is the last of the Judges. Notice in I Samuel 1:1 that it says that Samuel’s father is an Ephrathite, referring to the fact that he was from Bethlehem, and not because he was from the tribe of Ephraim. I Chron 6:16-28 records his lineage in the tribe of Levi.
The book of I Samuel begins with the story of Hannah, his mother. God hears her prayer for a child and allows her to have a son, who she then dedicates to the Lord. Samuel is called by God, when he is a child, living in the temple with the priest Eli. He is a priest who replaces Eli’s wicked sons, he is a Judge sought out for his wisdom and discernment, and he is also the first of the writing prophets.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
Considering the fact that Samuel was the replacement for two sons of the previous High Priest, Eli, because the sons were wicked and caused the nation to hate coming to the temple, it's heartbreaking to now read that Samuel’s own children are rejected because of their behavior. The man who faithfully served the nation since his childhood has now lost the confidence of the people. The request must have been felt intensely. To be rejected by the very ones he loved and served, was a humiliating blow. It had been about 400 years since Moses prophesied that the time would come when the descendants of Abraham, freed from the bondage of Egypt, would cry out for a King.
When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.(Deuteronomy 17:
On the surface, it seems logical that they would not want to have Samuel’s sons to be their leaders, but what they are actually moving away from is a system that acknowledges God as the King of Israel, served by men who were at liberty to reign under him over their own affairs. It was a pushback and a separation from God to ask for a human being to be king instead of God.
Their desire is to be just like all the nations around them. In other words, they do not value the fact that they are a miracle. God made a promise to Abraham, and He fulfilled it. They don’t acknowledge His faithfulness or His authority, they would rather be like everyone else. The instruction of God, through Moses, was to be sure to have God select their King, when this time inevitably came, from among the tribes of Israel, and not to choose to be ruled by someone outside of the nation.
6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.
Maybe Samuel felt like he had failed the Lord. Maybe, knowing that this would be a separation between the people and their accountability to God alone, he asked God to change their minds. At any rate, he knew where to turn. Sometimes, we are called by God, the results are not what we expect them to be. That doesn’t mean you misunderstood the assignment. It doesn’t mean you are a failure. God knows who you are, He knows the end from the beginning, and best yet, He has a plan in place that overcomes our failures and feelings. Be encouraged, while serving the Lord is often difficult, and can at times be very discouraging, it is also worth it. The people rejected Samuel, but God did not.
7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
What a terribly sad statement. They rejected God. They did not want God to reign over them. This is not the first time this family turned against God.
And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord. (Exodus 16:8)
God, forgive us when we get caught up in ourselves! We forget that time is short. The things that we choose to complain about, the grudges we hold, the hurts we harbor, simply aren’t worth the time we waste on them. The last thing we want to do is reject God, His word, or His Spirit. The Lord recognized the truth of what they were actually rejecting. They could justify it all they wanted to, but they were rejecting God. God, protect us from ourselves!
And Samuel called the people together unto the Lord to Mizpeh; And said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you:
So, they were not just like everyone else. Their inheritance and history from God himself had made them who they were. It is wise to remember what God has already done in our lives. How He drew us to him. How He saved and forgave us for things we wouldn’t want anyone else on earth to know. How He intercedes on our behalf when it looks like the enemy is winning. How he delivers us, picks us up, dusts us off, and tells us to try again. He is full of loving kindness and is long-suffering toward us. How quickly we forget. Samuel calls the people together and reminds them where they came from, the legacy they were entrusted with, and most importantly who it was that had kept them all this time.
And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands. And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken. 21 When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found. Therefore they enquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither. And the Lord answered, Behold he hath hid himself among the stuff.
At the trial of Jesus, Pilot mockingly proclaimed, “Behold, your King!” He didn’t understand the truth of his statement. Jesus Christ is the King of kings; the king that will rule on the throne of David forever. Take a minute and compare Saul to King Jesus. God chose Saul for the benefit of the nation, to show them what kind of ruler a mortal man can be. He blessed Saul, but Saul chose disobedience. Jesus was obedient to the father in all ways, even unto death. God anointed Saul, but Saul chose to reject God’s anointing of David later on. “Christ means Messiah, or, anointed one. Saul is a continuation of the idea of “doing right in our own eyes.” Christ proclaimed, and lived out, the statement “I and the Father are one.” Instead of hiding from his authority “among the stuff” like Saul, Jesus spoke with authority. Instead of being physically impressive like Saul, who was ”head and shoulders above the people”, king Jesus impressed with true ability, wisdom, and perfect righteousness. God was every bit in control of the selection of Saul, and his poor performance should have been very useful in learning a hard lesson about recognizing what makes Jesus the “one and only wise king.”
And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward. And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
This is King Saul, the first King of Israel. Did the people care he was hiding, this fellow that would represent them to all the other nations? No, they did not. What then did the people like about him? He was taller - maybe he looked like a King. The nation saw the outside, but God knew the inside. There are some major character flaws in Saul the son of Kish. They were very quick to replace God as their king, with an impressive-looking man. He will not admit when he is wrong. He will not obey God completely. For a while, the consequences do not appear, but in the end, the people will suffer. Men who love and serve the Lord will die by Saul's hand and from his unwise decisions. Ultimately, he will be replaced by King David, losing his family and hurting the nation in the process.
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!