Thursday, March 31, 2022
The First Book Of Samuel. Day 31, Samuel Addresses The Assembly And Formally Hands Over The Nation's Leadership, Part Two
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
The First Book Of Samuel. Day 30, Samuel Addresses The Assembly And Formally Hands The Nation's Leadership Over To Saul, Part One
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Monday, March 28, 2022
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Saturday, March 26, 2022
Earlier in Chapter 9 the Lord revealed to Samuel that he was about to meet the man he was to anoint as king of Israel. The Lord told him what time of day the next day to expect this man and that the man would be a Benjamite. When Samuel arrived back at the city gates of his hometown the next day at the specified time, there was Saul of the tribe of Benjamin. Samuel invited him to a special feast, to which he had already summoned thirty important fellow citizens, and Saul was given the place of honor at the table and a special cut of meat that Samuel had reserved for him. These actions put Samuel's public stamp of approval on Saul as the candidate for king.
Today we will find Samuel conducting a private ceremony with Saul to anoint him king of Israel. Then Saul will have to wait seven days before he is pronounced king before a great assembly of Israelites at Mizpah.
In yesterday's passage Samuel had invited Saul and his servant to lodge overnight at his house after the feast. That is where we pick up today. "After they had come down from the high place to the town, Samuel talked with Saul on the roof of his house. They rose about daybreak, and Samuel called to Saul on the roof, 'Get ready, and I will send you on your way.' When Saul got ready, he and Samuel went outside together. As they were going down to the edge of the town, Samuel said to Saul, 'Tell the servant to go on ahead of us'---and the servant did so---'but you stay here for a while, so that I may give you a message from God.'" (1 Samuel 9:25-27)
Roofs were flat in those days and were utilized as a sleeping porch, a guest room, or a gathering place. Since Saul and Samuel had what were probably several hours of conversation on the rooftop that night, and since Saul (and presumably his servant also) slept on the rooftop that night, we can safely assume that the events of Chapter 9 took place during a time of year when it would have been a comfortable temperature for sleeping outdoors.
I would love to read an account of the conversation that took place between these men but the author of 1 Samuel has not recorded the words for us. Saul may have revealed to Samuel his great desire to do something to help protect Israel from attacks by the Philistines. He may have talked about his political and military ambitions. He might have talked about his ambitions for his country. It could be that he's had the feeling for a long time that an opportunity would come his way to do some big things for Israel. Samuel may have spoken of his sadness over the Israelites' demand for a king instead of keeping the Lord as their only king. He probably laid out the responsibilities of a king and made certain Saul understood what he'd be getting himself into. Whatever the two men discussed on the rooftop, I think they formed a mutual respect for each other. As we study the reign of Saul we will clearly see that he cares very much about Samuel's opinion of him. We will see that Samuel feels a fatherly affection toward the younger man and wants to mentor him and assist him in the faith so he will be the type of king Israel needs. But in time, because Saul has no real heart for the things of the Lord and because he will become prideful and arrogant, the friendship between these two men will be irreparably shattered later in the book of 1 Samuel. This will break both their hearts but they will not speak to each other again for the remainder of Samuel's life.
But for now that day is still far ahead in the future and Samuel anoints Saul as king of Israel and provides him with several signs that will prove that the Lord really did tell Samuel that Saul is the man who is to be Israel's first king. "Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him, saying, 'Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over His inheritance? When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel's tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, 'The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, 'What shall I do about my son?'" (1 Samuel 10:1-2) This sign has some very specific details to it. If it deviates in any way from how Samuel describes it, it is not to be trusted. If it comes true exactly as predicted, it is to be accepted as proof that Saul is to accept the position as king.
But the Lord won't give Saul only one sign because He understands human nature. He created us and knows how our minds work. He knows how easy it is for us to talk ourselves out of something even when we've been provided with confirmation that we're on the right track. So He doesn't give Saul only one sign because Saul might be able to convince himself that it's just a coincidence when he meets two men near Rachel's tomb who tell him the donkeys have been found and his father is worried something has happened to him. The Lord gives a second very specific sign to watch for. "Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them." (1 Samuel 10:3-4) If Saul does not meet three men at the great tree of Tabor, and if one is not carrying three young goats, and if one is not carrying three loaves of bread, and if one is not carrying a skin of wine, and if they do not greet him and offer him two loaves of bread, then Saul would have reason to doubt his anointing as king was directed by God. But if all these things come to pass exactly as predicted, they are a second confirmation of his calling in life.
The Lord is going to be yet more gracious by providing a third sign. He knows how prone humans are to giving in to doubts and fears. He knows that a third sign will be needed for Saul to believe he truly is being called to lead the nation. This will relieve his doubts that the anointing is really from God but it won't (as we will see later in Chapter 10) relieve his doubts about his own ability to handle the enormous responsibilities of a king. I'm reminded of one of the most famous quotes from Shakespeare's works: "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown." There is no heavier burden on earth than being the leader of a nation and being responsible for making decisions on behalf of millions of people. When the day comes for Saul to wear the crown, he is going to have to be certain in his heart that the Lord directed Samuel to anoint him as king. Although he will still be plagued by fears and insecurities, he would not have been able to move forward at all without knowing that the Lord has indeed called him to this role in life.
Here is the third sign Saul is to look for: "After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you." (1 Samuel 10:5-7) Not only must Saul meet a procession of prophets with musical instruments who are actively prophesying at the time, but Saul will feel compelled to prophesy with them. He has never done such a thing before. He is not a prophet. But, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he will be enabled to give accurate prophecies---indeed, he won't be able to keep from doing so. It will be beyond his control. This will be the final confirmation he needs that, as Samuel says, "God is with you."
As we've said before, we sadly won't find Saul being the type of man we hope he will be. But that's not because he won't be given every opportunity and advantage to be all he could have been. Had he yielded himself fully to the Lord and been determined in his heart to honor the Lord in everything he does, his life and his reign would have been blessed immeasurably. His personal life would have been blessed by a close and satisfying relationship with the Lord. His public life would have been blessed by being a better leader of Israel than he actually will be, for not only could he have helped the Israelites in their struggle against their enemies, but he could have set an admirable spiritual example for the people to follow. We've seen the spiritual and moral decline that began taking place during the era of the judges; Saul could have turned that completely around. He's going to hold the most powerful and prominent position in the land and that will give him more influence over the citizens than anyone else has, which means he will be provided with a greater opportunity than anyone else to turn wayward hearts back toward the Lord. As we move through the Old Testament we will see what a wonderful effect godly kings have on the populace and we will see what a terrible effect wicked kings have on the populace. The coronation of a godly man equals revival in the land. The coronation of a sinful man equals an increase of idolatry and lawlessness in the land.
Samuel says goodbye to Saul for now but says he will see him in a week's time. "Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do." (1 Samuel 10:8) Why is there a seven day waiting period between Saul's private anointing and his public coronation? I am not sure but possibly it's to teach Saul to have patience. A person who serves the Lord must learn to trust the Lord's timing and wait for it. Getting ahead of the Lord only gets us in trouble and we'll find Saul getting in trouble later in the book on a different occasion when he does not wait after being specifically told to wait.
In tomorrow's study we'll find the three signs coming true exactly as Samuel said they would and we'll also find Saul struggling with a reluctance to step into the role the Lord has chosen for him.