Israel’s First King – 1 Samuel 8-9

Out of all Israel, God selected Saul, from the tribe of Benjamin, to be their first king.

17 So when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people.”  1 Samuel 9:17 (NKJV)

It was known from earliest prophecy that the scepter of Israel’s eternal King would be in the line of Judah, not from Benjamin.  Judah’s line would not be installed until Israel’s second king, King David. 

Why did God start with Saul, who would turn out to be a failed king?

For many years before this, the prophet and head priest Samuel had acted as a leader and a judge over Israel.  The people were enjoying a time of peace and prosperity after the Lord had thundered and sent the Philistines back into their own land.  But since this deliverance, the hearts of the people began to wander once again away from God.

By now, Samuel was getting old, and he appointed his two sons to be his successors.  But these were a poor choice.  Like Eli’s sons before him, Samuel’s two sons were corrupt.  Perhaps as a result, instead of seeking a godly successor to Samuel, the people clamored for a secular king, one like the strong nations around them.  This troubled Samuel, but the Lord told him to give the people what they wanted.

 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 1 Samuel 8:7 (NKJV)

God did have Samuel warn the people of the consequence of installing a king.  A king would take many things from them for his own purposes, including their sons and daughters as soldiers and laborers, their fields, vineyards, and olive groves as his supplies, and he would collect a tax on everything they produce.  Lastly, they would surrender their independence and become his servants.

But the people wanted a leader after their own hearts, one who would fight for them against their enemies, so the Lord gave them King Saul.

Sometimes we want something so much that we ignore the warnings that God is trying to send us. and pursue it anyway. As a good friend once asked me after I did that, “How did that work out?”  I had to admit, it worked out quite poorly.

But God is so good to us that He does not say, “I told you so”.  Instead, He begins working to bring about a better plan, one that is more centered on God and His purposes for our lives. He is the good and benevolent King that we are seeking, the One who will truly care for us.


Does any of this apply today?

Father God, help us to focus our motives on You and not on our own selfish desires.  We will enjoy peace, serenity, and a release from fear when You take Your rightful place in the center of our lives. We seek Your blessing, protection, and direction in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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