Wednesday, November 21, 2012

LXXXIX - I Samual 8-9 - Israel Wants A King

Chapter 8  -  The very first five verses of this chapter tell an all too familiar story.  Samual's sons, Joel and Abijah, were much like Eli's sons Hophni and Phinehas.  They had engaged in idolatry and perversion of justice.  Up to the point in History where the books of Samual pick up, God had chosen Israel's leaders one at a time.  Then Eli's sons had tried to succeed their father and had quickly proven themselves unfit.  So God raised up Samual to interupt the priestly line that Eli's sons had corrupted.  Then Samual appointed his sons to follow him, but they too proved unfit.  At this point the elders of Israel came to Samuel and declared they wanted a king to rule over them.  In verse 5 they used the reasons that Samual is getting old and his sons were unfit for serving as leaders.  {The elders of Israel comprised a kind of senate that represented all twelve tribes of Israel.  Although Samuel did not agree with them wanting a king, the fact that they represented all of Israel was something Samuel could not ignore and simply brush aside, although I'm sure he was tempted to do just that.}  Note in verse 5 that they said "appoint us a king as all the other nations do".  Wanting to be like all other nations is the opposite of "holy".  This reasoning could not have turned out good, and Samuel was wise enough to know this.  But he did the right thing:  He took it to the Lord in prayer.  Vss 6-->  God surprised Samuel by saying, "go ahead and give them a king.  They have never accepted Me as their king.  But be sure to warn them about what having a king will be like."  In vss 10-18 Samuel tells these elders exactly what they could expect from a king:  The king will take their sons and place them into the military.  He will take their daughters and make them bakers and perfumers to serve the king and his court.  He will take at least a tenth of the harvest for himself.  He will take the best of the livestock to serve him and his military.  He will make everyone his slave in the name of the kingdom, rather than in the name of God.  And you will beg for relief from your king.  If we look back at Deut. 17:18-20, we'll see Moses giving an almost identical warning about having a king.  But in the remaining verses of chapter 8, they still want a king.  Samuel takes it to the Lord in prayer once again, and again the Lord told him to give them a king.  God knew Samuel's heart, and He assured Samuel that he would not be held responsible for the foolish decision the elders were about to make.  {The smartest thing the elders did was to insist that Samuel be the one to select the king, rather than the group of elders themselves.}

Chapter 9  -  Saul

Chapter 9 starts a new narrative.  It begins by introducing a Benjamite named Kish, a man of standing, which means he was a prominent citizen of the tribe of Benjamin.  My research tells me he was either a man of wealth or an accomplished military man, or both.  But this chapter is not concerned with Kish, but rather his son, Saul.  Verse 2 says Saul was handsome and a head taller than anyone else.  {He looked like one who would be king, and satisfactory to the elders of Israel.}  We also see in the early verses of this chapter that Kish has trained Saul well, giving him responsibilities, such as not only overseeing the livestock, but also the somewhat mundane duties of finding strays, usually a task assigned to lower ranking servants.  In vss 3--> it tells how Saul and a servant searched for missing donkeys throughout the land of Benjamin, spending more time than it should have taken.  Saul decided to give up the search because he did not want his father to become worried about their safety.  This speaks well of Saul's character.  However, his servant knew about Samuel and they were close to where Samuel was.  The servant talked Saul into trying to find the prophet to guide them to where the donkeys were.  Another positive testimony to Saul was that he did not want to approach the man of God without a gift (vs 7).  They were able to scrounge up a gift minimally suitable for meeting with the prophet and so they were able to locate him through the help of some young women who were drawing water at the town well.

Vss. 15-27 - Samuel and Saul's First Meeting

The meeting between Samuel and Saul was not a chance encounter.  God had told Samuel that Saul was coming.  In vss 15-17 God told Samuel that He would send to him a Benjamite who Samuel is to anoint as king, and would deliver Israel from the Philistines.  God made certain there was no mistaken identity as (vs 17) God pointed him out to Samuel when their paths crossed.  Verse 18 records Samuel and Saul's initial meeting.  Saul did not know Samuel, as he asked Samuel where he could find the "seer".  Samuel responded by identifying himself as the seer and by inviting Saul to join him in the sacrifice ritual.  Afterwards, he would turn his attention to Saul's concerns ("all that is in thine heart").  Samuel did not want Saul to be preoccupied with anything.  He responded to Saul's immediate concern for the donkeys, saying they have been found and that Saul was not to be concerned with them any longer.  He gives Saul a clue to the bigger picture in vs 20 when he says that "the desire for Israel: was more important.  This statement suggested national prominence was about to be placed on Saul.  In verse 21 we see another favorable characteristic in Saul.  He says that he is from the smallest of the tribes in Israel, and from the least of the clans of that tribe.  This suggests a humble attitude in Saul, at least at this present time.  The rest of this chapter tells of Samuel treating Saul like the king he will become, placing him at the head of the dinner table and serving him the best of the food.  And in the last verse of the chapter, Samual takes Saul aside and begins to tell him that God has a mesage for him.

Next post  -  Saul Becomes Israel's First King

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