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Basic Bible: Israel Rejects God as King

I Samuel 9:1-2; 10:17-26

Every word of scripture from I Samuel 9:1 through I Samuel 10:26 is God’s answer to Israel’s demand that Samuel “make us a king”. Saul was God’s answer to the demand that the elders had placed upon Samuel. The text before us consists of two snippets extracted from the Lord’s answer. The first (9:1-2) focuses upon the king’s genealogy and his physical appearance. The second (10:17-26) is the record of God’s revealing the chosen king to the people.

Little is known of Saul’s lineage aside from that which is revealed in opening verse. His father Kish was known as a mighty man of power of the tribe of Benjamin. The territory allotted to the tribe of Benjamin was the geographical center to the entire nation. Saul’s physical appearance speaks for itself. He was a choice young man. He literally stood head and shoulders above men of normal stature. He projected the look of a strong leader.

The details contained in the narrative between the two passages before us describe the manner in which the Lord made His choice of Saul known — first to Samuel, and then to Saul himself. God reveals much to us in this narrative but provides little information concerning Israel’s rejection of Him. God made His choice of Saul known to the people at Mizpeth (v. 17). The gathering at Mizpeth involved logistics. It required the presence of elders and leaders from each tribe of Israel. The events recorded in I Samuel 9 and the first 16 verses of chapter 10 took place weeks, perhaps more than a month earlier than Samuel’s call for the children of Israel to gather at Mizpeth.

The people responded to Samuel’s call because the elders of Israel had come to Samuel earlier and demanded that he “now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (8:5).

The people came and Samuel spoke the words which the Lord had given to him (10:17-19). The message (paraphrasing): You have rejected Me. You have rejected the One who has delivered you from bondage and from times of trouble and adversity. You have said “set a king over us.” The Lord’s words at Mizpeth were the same which He had spoken earlier to the elders of Israel who had demanded of Samuel that he make them a king (chap. 8).

In chapter 8, God warned the elders that their sons and daughters faced a future of servitude to the king which they demanded. The elders did not listen. They insisted that Samuel make them a king. Samuel turned to God. The Lord told Samuel to do as they demanded. God, the rejected King, gave the people the king that they desired.

New Testament believers know the rejected King. The Son has declared Him to us in Luke 15:11-32. The prodigal son wanted his inheritance now. The father granted that request, knowing that his son would surely squander all that he would be given. The father honored the son who rejected him — the son who wished him dead. The rejected father waited and watched for his son to return to him. New Testament believers know that the Lord God is watching and waiting for Israel to return to Him. We know that He shall receive His prodigal people with loving arms.

The Lord made His chosen known to both Samuel and Saul weeks earlier. God revealed His chosen king to the people, not by the lips of Samuel, but, by the casting of lots. The people saw the lot fall upon the tribe of Benjamin, then upon the family of Matri, and then upon Saul the son of Kish. Saul was not present. He could not be found. Saul was unknown to the vast majority of those present. Saul could have been any unknown individual in their midst. They asked God if the man that He had selected would come forward.

The scriptures do not reveal the manner in which God answered. While we do not know the manner in which God spoke (It may have been through Samuel), we know that all present knew that God had answered when they beheld the son of Kish. Saul stood head and shoulders above all present. Samuel said: “See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen” (v. 24). The people shouted, “God save the king.” It was a shout of approval. The actual Hebrew text translated as “God save the king” means “May the king live!”

“Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it before the Lord” (v. 25). That which Samuel spoke and recorded to the people at Mizpeth was the same words which he had delivered to the elders in I Samuel 8:11-18. The cost of rejecting God would be high. They would cry out to God and He would not hear (see 8:18).

All returned to there homes. Saul returned to Gibeah but not alone. There went with him a band of men whose hearts God had touched. God moved a band of men to stand with Saul.

In the picture before us, we see one anointed by the Lord; we see one whom God is with; we see a chosen individual who possessed all the needed ingredients to succeed. God, the rejected king, gave Israel the king that they desired.

How much more God has given to them who call upon Him believing. New Testament believers have the surety of the Comforter. We are empowered beyond measure. Let us witness of that which we have received.

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